(urth) The Pelerine (COTA 12)

Lee Berman severiansola at hotmail.com
Thu Sep 9 20:09:23 PDT 2010

>Andrew Mason

>People comment from time to time on characters in BOTNS who aren't
>named, although they seem significant enough to have names - e.g. the
>Autarch or the old boatman. One I haven't seen discussed is the
>Pelerine Severian talks with in COTA chapter 8. I think she is
>particularly notable, because this part of the book is very carefully
>structured. The odd chapters contain stories from Foila and co.: the
>even chapters contain meetings of Severian with people connected with
>the Pelerines. Three of them are named - Ava, Winnoc and Mannea - but
>this one, even though the chapter is called after her, is just 'the
Welcome Andrew! I think your observation of how the chapters alternate is
good. I often think that chapter names provide more clues to what is going
on than what is frequently acknowledged here. Especially good is your 
observation that, as much as we might obsess about names, sometimes the 
non-naming of a character can be a marker of significance.
Why DO the other Pelerine characters get names but this one doesn't? I think
this is Wolfe being especially devious. Which means that I don't really know 
what the significance is. All I have is a guess and some conjecture.
When Severian is talking to Cyriaca, she first tells him that she has had no
contact with any of the Pelerines since leaving. Later, under fear of torture, 
Cyriaca tells Severian that she got a letter a week ago from her friend,
Einhildis, saying the Pelerines were stationed at the Autarch's battle camp
at Orithiya.
Being at Orithiya, and unnamed, I must guess this older Pelerine is Einhildis.
I don't see anything mysterious about Einhildis herself. So my guess is that her
un-naming is a pointer back to Cyriaca, telling us to pay careful attention to 
all she says and to read as much as possible into it, including omissions and
My conjectures about Cyriaca are:
1. She is a family member of Severian's, probably aunt. They have sex, so no great
surprise there. Perhaps she is mother to Agia and Agilus as she plans to go to escape
back to Nessus to sew and cook.
2. Her mysterious (and likely lecherous) uncle who told her so many stories and seems
to know more about the cosmic history of humanity than anyone else on Urth might be
Father Inire.
3. Severian's question to Cyriaca about whether the Pelerines dabble in necromancy is 
never answered, suggesting to me that they do. Meaning they are probably associated
with the Witches. (I think the Citadel is mentioned to have a Red Tower and a Tower of 
Healing). We know that the Pelerines are primarily an exultant order. But we have 
evidence (secret beautification, khaibits, experiments with hairless creatures) that
exultant Chatelaines also have some connection to witches. Secret connections all over
the place.
4. Cyriaca discusses the landing of cacogens in the north and they they'd want to "avoid
the mirrors at the House Absolute so they could escape the eyes of the Autarch." She 
discusses political tension between exultants and the Autarch, between the Autarch and the
cacogens (hierodules). Stuff even Thecla knows only as rumor. Again, it seems Cyriaca's 
uncle has been filling her in on very secret stuff known only by the guys at the very top.
Of course the cacogens do show up at the House Absolute for Dr. Talos' play, so Cyriaca 
isn't a perfectly reliable source of information. Still, I think the whole thing (along with
Palaemon and Rudesind forgetting their lines) smacks of a big set-up for Severian. A play
designed to set him on a particular course. Severian has been steered to Orithya. 
Master Ash observes that the Ascians mounting their current massive offensive can only be
explained by one purpose: "your foes have need of an immediate victory and are straining 
every limb". I assume that need is related to the presence of Severian on the battlefield.
I'm still not completely sure which parties are hoping he will be killed and which parties
are hoping he will become Autarch and New Sun.
Well, okay probably too much. As the old Autarch tells Severian, "you asked me for a light for
your candle, and I tried to give you the sun...". But hopefully at least a little helpful. 		 	   		  

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