Hi, and welcome back to the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn re-read and analysis! There may be false messengers in this post. Just sayin.’
So, New York kicked my ass, and this post is (obviously) coming out late. Also, you may notice there is only one chapter. It’s because it’s a very long chapter, and I was already late, so I figured we’d do it this way, and I may attempt three chapters next week. We’ll see how it goes.
As I say with each of the posts I make in this series, If you have never read this series before, and have somehow found this site by accident, there WILL BE MASSIVE SERIES-BREAKING SPOILERS throughout this re-read and analysis. I do not believe I can stress this enough. DO NOT read this if you have never read the series before, unless you just don’t mind knowing how a many-thousand-page epic series concludes. There will be Spoilers. The will be MANY Spoilers. You have been warned.
Let’s just jump right in, folks.
Chapter 34 – Forgotten Swords
Vorzheva and Josua have an argument in his chambers about him only wanting to study “old things,” and ignoring her. She leaves in a fury. Binabik, Jarnauga, and Strangyeard come to Josua’s chambers to speak about the mad prophet Nisses’ book, “the Weird of the Swords,” the book present in their dreams. They pull out Morgenes’ manuscript, believing it to have clues about their struggle, knowing that Morgenes made many preparations before his death about the coming events. Binabik reads from Morgenes’ work about the forging of three Great Swords – Camaris’ black sword Thorn, forged from a meteor; the Rimmersgard sword Minneyar (Memory), forged from the keel of ships out of the past; and Sorrow, forged from witchwood and iron, too antithetical ingredients. They then read a rhyme which Morgenes had included from Nisses’ book, which seems to imply that the three Great Swords will be necessary in combating the darkness of the upcoming days. They decide they must find the swords, but do not know where to look for them, other than Sorrow, which is out of their grasp for the time being. Josua sends for Isgrimnur, needing the duke to stand by his side when he tells of their new findings at the Raed that night, then they discuss that Pryrates’ must be behind Elias’ actions. Isgrimnur arrives, and they all discuss possible fates and locations of Minneyar and Thorn, but are unable to come up with anything solid – they break so that Binabik, Strangyeard, and Jarnauga can go back to searching the archives for more records.
Simon is hanging with Sangfugal and Towsesr, upset that he was not invited to this night’s council (and also upset that they previous made him come when he didn’t want to go). Isgrimnur walks by, and Towser and the duke reunite cheerfully, the duke explaining all that is going on, and it turns out Towser may know where Thorn is hidden. He demands to be taken before the prince to explain.
Once there, Towser tells the story of how in Camaris entrusted Thorn to his squire, Colmund, who used the sword to reforge his broken barony in the north, before taking a crew to the mountain Urmsheim to attempt to hunt down the legendary treasure of the ice dragon, Igjarjuk. Strangyeard remembers the story that Colmund made it at least as far as the monastery of Saint Skendi at Vestvennby, which gives them a starting place to look. Josua thinks for awhile and then asks Binabik to lead a crew to the north to attempt to discover Camaris’ sword Thorn. Binabik also asks if he may take Simon, so that along with Isgrimnur’s man Sludig, and “three or four others” from Josua, they will lead a small party, leaving the next night.
Simon is not very honored or pleased by Binabik’s assuming Simon would go on the trek. Binabik understands, and then gives Simon a ring entrusted to him by Morgenes – he wants Simon to have it now in case Binabik does not return from his journey. There is writing in the ring which neither Simon or Binabik understand, that says something about “death” and “Dragon.” Binabik then wishes that Simon would consider the matter of the journey, and hopes they will always remain friends.
Simon finds Miriamele, and discovers she is upset that Josua will not allow her to travel to Nabban to seek help from her uncle Leobardis. Simon then tells her he is leaving on the mission with Binabik, and may never return. Miriamele gives Simon her blue scarf to bear as “her standard,” then kisses Simon on the cheek and they part ways.
Vorzheva has a clandestine meeting with a monk, paying him for services yet unrendered, and tells him to be on his way.
The next evening, Simon and Binabik stand with Haestan (who didn’t want an untrained boy traveling north with naught a teacher), Ethelbearn, Grimmric (these are the three Josua has chosen to travel), and Sludi and prepare to leave. Jarnauga gives Binabik one last clue, that Colmund had left word at Skendi’s that he would be searching for the “Rhymer’s Tree,” which the party will search for. Simon ponders why he is heading out yet again, after having such a brief time in Naglimund, then gets seated on a horse for his first time. Josua then sees them off and they travel away into the darkness. High above them, at the Stile, the hunter Ingen Jegger sees them leave and gets ready to pursue them.
Jeez, that was a long chapter. Seriously, I think it took me almost thirty minutes just to do my pre-analysis read-through. Then another thirty to go back and highlight important parts. Let’s see what we can figure out here.
I do not feel that Vorzheva is written as a very sympathetic character. Don’t get me wrong – I know it’s not cool of the prince to ignore his woman and treat her as a serving girl, but if she really has such an issue with priorities that she gets upset with Josua for talking about what may save the world instead of what will make her happy that evening, then I don’t think I particularly care how much he ignores her. Which is bad, because I know in hindsight that eventually (would that be hind-foresight?), she is meant to be a character that we like, respect, and cheer for. But right now, I just don’t really care about her. Especially since she is so obviously trusting of Cadrach, who at this point (being drunk and demanding money), doesn’t seem like the best person to send along with the princess – that’s just damned stupid, ya’ll.
In other news, how did the “Great Swords” get their name, and why was that name given to them? I mean, I know why they would be called the “Great Swords” in one sense – because they are all unique, powerful, and magical weapons that are all very “great.” However, all three of them were forged long before Ineluki’s plan to exact revenge on all the people of the world, and two of the three were forged long before there was even a human-Sithi conflict for Ineluki to worry about. The name “Great Swords” shows up in the mad prophet Nisses’ book, and are named thus by other scholarly types as well (such as Morgenes), and in the modern times, are very much associated with the Big Plan of defending against Ineluki’s evil (though, of course, it’s all really his big plan to begin with). But I never really get the feeling that we are explained exactly why these swords were implied to be specifically forged for this purpose, which is definitely what the books (and their name of “Great Swords”) seem to imply.
This, of course, leads us to the primary quest of the series – that is, recovering the
MacGuffins Great Swords, so that the good guys can thwart the bad guys’ plans. The False Messenger makes his/its appearance again here, urging the heroes towards doom, death, and destruction, all while skillfully playing off as though they are instead searching for salvation. This reeks, to me, of Utuk’ku’s manipulations, but that still brings up the point that these plans of Ineluki’s and Utuk’ku’s seem to have originated a long, long time ago. Nisses was the priest during Hjeldin’s rule, which I believe was right after Fingil, which means that it was not long at all before Ineluki began planning his revenge. Granted, there is nothing inherently illogical about an undead Ineluki immediately trying to figure out how to screw over all the humans, but it seems as though the plans for the revenge came very quickly.
This also makes me wonder why Nisses ever wrote the book to begin with. I have some thoughts on this, and I figure I’m right (cuz I said so, that’s why), so what the hell, let’s pontificate for awhile. We know from the situation with Elias and Pryrates that people who walk the Road of Dreams can run into horrible beings like Ineluki, Utuk’ku, and the Red Hand. It’s just a fact that those beings seem to creep around in this place. Binabik comes to the conclusion (eventually) that Utuk’ku, especially, had been using the Dream Road for her purposes all along, and that’s when he figures out the whole False Prophet thing. Nisses, being a learned man who wanted to know things, probably knew of the Road of Dreams, and occasionally frequented it. Once there, he was probably coerced, forced, manipulated, or some-other-against-his-will-type-verb-ed into writing this book about the Swords, as Utuk’ku and Ineluki had forged their plans to release the Storm King and TURN BACK TIME! It’s even possible that, since Nisses was from Rimmersgard, he had been corrupted just by living too close to Stormspike. Anyway, after encountering the beings and writing the book, Nisses went (to use a scientific term) “quite effing looney,” (from seeing things which weren’t meant for mere mortals’ eyes) and offered his new-found knowledge to King Hjeldin. During this revealing-of-knowledge, the magical forces were either so powerful that the bewildered king simply fell off Hjeldin’s Tower while Nisses fell to the ground dead, or they both committed noble suicide to avoid what Elias would himself eventually become.
So that makes Nisses a hero. Cool, huh? Except that his writing of the book to begin with almost caused the destruction of everything. So not cool?
This chapter introduces two new characters who will be with us for a little while – Ethelbearn and Gimmric – as well as brings back into the story Sludig, who is pretty awesome through this and the next book, but becomes rather unfortunately unimportant by TGAT. Haestan’s reason for following along is to help train Simon, which seems a little goofy – aren’t there a lot more soldiers that will need training in Naglimund?
Finally, just because there was a lot of it for such an expositional chapter, let’s talk about various emotions covered in this chapter. According to Towser’s tale, Camaris grew very sorrowful after Ebbekah’s death. Some nice foreshadowing for the Big News that we eventually get about Camaris, Ebbekah, and Josua. The man goes to some pretty great extremes to eventually rid himself of that sorrow, by visiting the Sithi. It’s nice to see Isgrimnur, portrayed as the series’ “manly” man, have so much love and tenderness to his wife. And Simon calls the princess “Miri,” his first time using that shortened version (though possibly by accident?), which shows he’s already developed a more familiar relationship with the princess than he may even be aware of. He gets his first kiss from her as well, and it’s a very well-written scene. And Simon of course volunteers at this exact moment to go on the journey, because Miriamele will think it’s brave. Ahh, for young love.
Thanks for reading, don’t forget to follow Olaf Keith’s blog as he breaks down the history of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn.