‘The Darkness that Comes Before’ Book Club Part One: The Monk and the Sorcerer

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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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  1. Avatar Michael Cain
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    says:

    Come on, guys!  Some of you want me to write 50,000 words worth of novel this month.  Some of you want me to read good-sized chunks of complex books.  I haven’t written anything on my own blog for a month, Thanksgiving is almost here and the house is a disaster area, the dog insists on her chunk of my time…  I’m getting too old to keep up with all of this :^(Report

  2. Avatar Don Zeko
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    Even after five books, three of which frequently let me peer inside his head, I’m still not confident that I understand how Kellhus’s mind works or what it is that he wants. So I find myself constantly looking for insight into Kellhus’s thoughts and motivations as I re-read, and therefore a couple of questions and observations spring to mind. For one, it’s interesting how the Dunyain begin as a sect that despises sorcery, but after 2000 years have come to believe that sorcery does not exist. Their materialism, which Kellhus demonstrates when he refuses to believe Leweth’s stories about sorcery, spirituality, and the No-God, is only possible because of their seclusion, so I’m going to be paying close attention to Kellhus’s reaction to the various parts of the wider world that contradict it.

    I also wonder how Kellhus views Moenghus. We know that he’s been sent to kill him, and that in theory Dunyain are utterly without compassion or human attachment, but he keeps addressing questions to his father that imply a need for emotional support and guidance. This seems odd to me. It’s strange enough to see moments of confusion or indecision in Kellhus, but he adds to that by, in some sense, seeking out his father at such moments. None of this is what I expect from a Dunyain.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Don Zeko
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      says:

      Excellent observations. Then again, perhaps he is not so much looking for guidance as he is attempting to understand his father’s motivations so that he can be better prepared once he finds him…? It seems likely also that the revelations of the Dunyains’ own limitations play a part here as well. Kellhus is suddenly more powerful and more vulnerable than he believed he would be in the wider world.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to E.D. Kain
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        says:

        Good point, although in light of some similar moments in the second book, I’m still inclined to find at least a bit of an emotional connection to Moenghus in those flashes of vulnerability. I’m going to be keeping this in mind when we get to The Thousand-Fold Thought.Report

  3. Avatar Plinko
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    says:

    I’m reading for the first time, so mostly I’m in a state of bewilderment, trying to get a sense of what everything is and where it might start to go.

    I know that I now appreciate the comment (probably yours, ED) that perhaps no small part of the popularity of ASoIaF is that the names are familiar and memorable. I’ve had a devil of a time keeping the place and faction names straight through the first few chapters, much less gleaning what motivates the characters we’ve encountered so far.Report

  4. Avatar Stephan Cooper
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    says:

    I think there is also a point that the Dunyain aren’t completely devoid of emotion just heavily diminished of it. Moenghus was not entirely without water and Kellhus occasionally feels something.

    Which leads to a question about the Dunyain end-goal, would a truly self-moving soul be inclined to ever actually move? Being completely free of the darkness that comes before could be a dead-end resulting in stasis rather than enlightenment.Report

  5. Avatar E.D. Kain
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    says:

    So sorry to everyone who is reading along. I have FINALLY posted another post for this book club here.Report

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