New Website Page

Posted: February 9th, 2012 under Website Update.

There’s a new page up at the Paksworld site,  history stuff mostly, to place the current books in the deep-history context.     Yes, I know there are still typos.  My webguru caught several, but missed a few, as did I.  We’ll fix as our mutual schedules allow.   If you go there from the front page instead of the new page link, you may need to refresh your browser.  The history page is under Info/Background, and Background was previously empty.


  • Comment by Jim Elgar — February 9, 2012 @ 1:27 pm


    Thank you.This helps tie together many hints from many places in your books.

  • Comment by Rob Conley — February 9, 2012 @ 1:54 pm


    Thanks for sharing some of the back history of the World of Paksenarrion.

  • Comment by Rolv Olsen — February 9, 2012 @ 2:47 pm


    This also gives me an excuse to bring up one matter that continues to puzzle me: Why does the Girdish Fellowship avoid being utterly corrupted by their power?
    Normally, human nature bveing what it is, any power without some counter-balance would degenerate into tyranny. Fintha is a Theocracy, and as C.S. Lewis has taught us, that is the worst of all possible form of government, since rulers who believe they are divinely appointed, may easliy be tempted to perpetuate the worst thinkable crimes with perfectly good conscience, while an ordinary tyrant may eventually repent.
    So how come Fintha persist being so well rules, and the Order of Gird continue in their benevolence? Or do you have some surprises up the sleeve? 🙂

  • Comment by elizabeth — February 9, 2012 @ 3:21 pm


    Rolv: You’ve seen the roots of problems ahead in both Surrender None and Liar’s Oath; not just Luap, but the continued intolerance, the maneuvering for power (remember Cob’s comments on the new Marshal-General? and Marshal Binis?) Gird’s attempt to take that away–successful for a time–could not keep human nature from greed, resentment, etc. So you’ve seen some of the recent fruits in Oath of Gold, in Marshal Haran’s treatment of Paks, in the ways she was treated by different Marshals after she left Fin Panir. The Fellowship has changed from what Gird hoped for–the fact that his daughter Rahel refused the Marshal-Generalship when she might have had it (and that was partly Luap’s fault; he had taken way her one really supportive woman friend) certainly allowed more problems sooner. It became harder for women to become Marshals, for instance, for a couple of hundred years, and they’re still less common than male Marshals.

    What has saved it–as much as it has been saved–has been the relatively open routes to power by all yeomen and a strong heritage of Old Human consensus governance (the village council approach.) The very prejudice against rank and wealth that is one of the Fellowship’s problems is also a brake on the ambitions of the more…um…rank-minded Marshals.

    Would I have surprises up my sleeve? I’d better, don’t you think? You folks seem to like them.

  • Comment by Rolv Olsen — February 9, 2012 @ 3:36 pm


    As expected, your explanation makes sense.
    Still, it’s surprising – and a strong testimony to the quality of Gird’s vision – that it’s not far worse. Maybe the Paladins – and their horses (or rather the other way around) – also function as an important counterweight?
    I’m very concerned about the tendencies towards theocracy in our own world, such as the efforts to create anti-blasphemy laws under the pretext of “respect for religion”. (You can probably guess whom I would have voted for in November if I had been American …)
    Being a pastor in one of the few remaining state churches in the world, I see on close range some of the damage to both church and state from having too close ties.
    To say we like your surprises is definitely an understatement. 🙂

  • Comment by Ed Schoenfeld — February 9, 2012 @ 4:04 pm


    Without claiming in any way to speak for Elizabeth, here are a couple of speculations regarding cultural stability among the Girdish.

    1) While theocracies can be among the most vile of governments, they are also among the most stable, any change being contrary to divine will. In real-world history we might think about a society evolving more at the pace of Ancient Egypt, and so far without major invasions since the time of Gird. Something like 6 or 7 centuries of relative stability would not be extreme, and in Paksworld were are just finishing the 5th century.

    2) The life-cycle of a society is somewhat impacted by the length of available memory, i.e. life spans and the number of people with long ones). In fantasy worlds the presence of long-lived Elder races would tend to reduce the rate of change still further(see Tolkien). This idea does not work as well in the ‘real’ world because the lengthening of life span here has been accompanied by a dizzying pace of technological change, but in Paksworld the most advanced (= change producing) technology (i.e. magery) has been suppressed. So longer periods of stability seem reasonable.

    3) While Girdish organization is centered in Fintha, it is not monolithic. Tsaia provides at least one more major center with some effective independence, plus there is a robust communication between the outlying granges. So corruption in Fin Panir could be met by opposition from Verella, or a combination of outlying granges; Elizabeth hasn’t given enough detail about the year-to-year history of the Girdish for us to think that hasn’t happened at times.

    4) The doctrine of the religion is also important. In Paksworld, the Girdish were in origin strongly biased against exploitation and emphasized individual responsibility; this would seem to be a fairly ideal doctrine to resist corruption. Individual injustices would of course still take place (note the attitude of the Marshall who arrested Arvid), but likely not at a level involving large swathes of the hierarchy. Typically someone else in the hierarchy would be motivated to ‘clean up’ a problem Marshall rather than just defend their own turf.

    5) That last bit gets reinforeced because the gods and demons are demonstrably real. Even if all the other Marshalls wanted to let a corrupt leaderships become exploitative, Gird might have something to say to one of them, or raise up a paladin to take care of the issue. It is not impossible that this is part of Paks’ role, as the Girdish seem to have become set in their ways and ignorant of the actual role of magery in Gird’s time. Similarly, *someone* is going to notice if a Marshall or three start being sectret worshippers of Achyra, so it’s less likely for a ‘corrupt’ cell to thrive among the Girdish.

    I hope that made sense. For me, one of the beauties of reading this series is the way Elizabeth has put all of that history and sociology into character reactions. It’s just the way people are; no detailed appendices required (except in Elizabeth’s head).

  • Comment by Ed Schoenfeld — February 9, 2012 @ 4:07 pm


    Somehow I knew my long post would cross with Elizabeth’s response. 🙂

    All I’m really saying is that it seems quite reasonable for the ‘reforms’ to take place after a few centuries of stability, nd for the Gridish ‘mistakes’ to take the form of overcorrecting rather than outright moreal corruption.

  • Comment by Ed Schoenfeld — February 9, 2012 @ 4:11 pm



    I have some of the same concerns you do. My country is trying to legislate matters of conscience that ought to be persuaded. Not a positive direction.

    (Sure, there has been some of that all along, in any society, but we had been setting the arrow to personal freedom of belief for a long long time, and to see the direction turning is dismaying to say the least.)

    But I will follow Tolkien in thinking that escape is sometimes necessity rather than insanity.

  • Comment by elizabeth — February 9, 2012 @ 4:53 pm


    Ed & Rolv: I am opposed to theocracies and think our founders were wise to ensure that we did not have a state religion. The misuse of the concept of religious freedom (which occurred in Europe before survivors of the religious wars moved here) to change from “free to believe what one chooses” to “free to impose one’s beliefs on others” bothers me a lot. Yet it exists in several (if not all) religions: the desire to impose religious laws on a populace that does not agree is not limited to (never was limited to) Christianity, or any particular branch of Christianity.

    I failed to mention another factor in the Fellowship’s relative success in evading the worst problems of theocracies: there is no claim of divine authority, because Gird was not a god, and even though he’s considered a saint and someone you can pray to for help (in Catholic sense) he’s still not considered a god: he was in a sense canonized, but not deified. The claim of authority runs back to an obvious human who is not (as in Christianity) the son of a god. What special powers Gird has came only with his death. There’s just that much less authority in the authority with which Marshals (and even the Marshal-General) can speak…and everyone knows it.

    This makes the Code both more and less powerful. More, because of not having any “Word of God,” or any particular deity, claiming it–and thus it blocks a little of the tendency of religious leaders to draw on divine authority for what they say. Less, because it is not, and has never been claimed to be, the “Word of God.” It’s the word of Gird when Gird was alive–when Gird was completely human–and the words of those who have revised it over the years. Some people revere it as the law and don’t think about how it got to be what it is, but many do think about it, and know that the triennial conventions of the Marshalate tinker with it from time to time. People believe in the high gods (or a selection of them) but there’s no stone tablets, gold plates, or anything else with Divine Truth written on them.

    And Ed’s right, that having the Elder races with their long memories, and their varying stories of how the world came to be, and their different names for their deities, has affected how things change. Humans having minds that work in sequences, for many people there’s a sequence of “High gods/Elders/saints and small powers/us.” So people who are comfortable praying to Gird or Falk and the merin of the local well, and so on, may well consider the high gods, those who made the universe, to belong, in a sense, to the Elders.

  • Comment by elizabeth — February 9, 2012 @ 10:11 pm


    Jim & Rob: Glad you’re enjoying the history stuff. To repeat the same old song, there was a lot more of this in the Lost Notebooks, but this is what I’ve been able to a) remember, b) cobble together from clues in the books and c) make up afresh. If I ever find the Lost Notebooks (and I really do expect to find them AFTER finishing this group of books) I may have to write the Revisionist Histories because I got it all wrong…and then have long academic arguments with myself about the relative reliability of the historians involved. Could be fun for my old(er) age, huh?

  • Comment by Rolv — February 10, 2012 @ 5:35 am


    Elizabeth and Ed,
    Many valid points.

    But even though Gird is not divine, he’s sometimes perceived to be, and is close enough to divine to make it a real problem.

    It’s not confined to religion, though, you see exactly the same with the rule of the Party.
    The problem is not mainly related to religon, though, rather with totalitarian power. When “the cause” becomes more important than the people, beware, the checks on abuse of power are gone.

    But Fintha seems (NB the non-weasly use!:-)) to be a rare exemption, a non-authoritarian theocratic state. I still find it almost too good to be believable, but only almost. And if you compare to the logical inonsistencies in another favorite of mine, the Wheel of Time, and even with the sudden and unexplained disappearance of dragons in late Third Age in Middle Earth, it becomes negligible.

    I think the freedom to share your convictions with others is an indispensible part of religious freedom, and the right to be exposed to conversion efforts as well, but it’s a vast gap between trying to convince/convert someone and to impose one’s conviction on them. Sadly, many zealots have not grasped the difference.

    The Revisionist Histories sounds like a great idea! And it only adds to the credibility!

  • Comment by Rolv — February 10, 2012 @ 7:02 am


    Speaking of theocracies, it may be useful to keep in mind that although theocracy often was perceived as the ideal, theocratic rule was rare in Medieval Europe.

    Admittedly, the Popes frequently employed theocratic rhetorics, but reality was vastly different. The closest to a European theocracy probably was the Byzantine Empire – and of course the tiny Middle Italian Papal Domain.

    The Khalifate was theocratic in principle, but hardly in practice, and with the emergence of Sultans, even the pretext disappeared.

    The only real theocracies, though, were Geneve under Calvin and Cromwellian England. The Habsburg and the Guise tried to establish theocratic states, but neither succeeded, though one might make a case for Spain being theocratic.

    In conclusion: Theocracy has been the exeption rather than the rule in Christian and Muslim tradition. i hope it stays that way, but there are ominous signs in both traditions, such as the Taliban, the Salafists, and even to some degree in what I percieve as their American counterparts, the more extreme parts of the Religious Right.

  • Comment by Jenn — February 10, 2012 @ 8:41 am


    Enjoying this blog.
    In my church’s history the relatively recent document Dignitatis Humanae started a schism by those who disagreed with it.

    On a side, there are some strange hyperlinks on the new website page. One is where it say “people find…” which takes you to if you click on it. Maybe it is just my computer.

  • Comment by elizabeth — February 10, 2012 @ 9:13 am


    Jenn, please send me every weird link you find–both the words highlighted and the destination. I entered those links myself, with cut & paste from the destination intended on my website, so not sure how they’ve gone astray.

  • Comment by Jenn — February 10, 2012 @ 7:25 pm


    They all appear to be gone now.

  • Comment by Richard — February 10, 2012 @ 9:56 pm


    Rolv (#12), I’m no historian to argue this out properly, but cannot agree to Cromwellian
    England being a theocracy. Theocracy means the clergy running the army (the whole state, but that includes the army); Cromwell’s Commonwealth was more the other way round: typical revolutionary-military dictatorship.

    Interesting to compare Cromwell with Gird, but don’t push it too far.

  • Comment by elizabeth — February 10, 2012 @ 10:51 pm


    Mmm…I disagree, Richard. Theocracies do not require the military to have its senior military commanders clergy, but that the rules for all (and decisions about which wars to fight) are referenced to a single theological source. Depending on the religion, the clergy may or may not be expected to have expertise in military science, and experience has shown that piety does not equate to ability in tactics and strategy. So the clergy doesn’t run the army (in any practical sense) but does define its mission.

    Some questions to play with: Was the Roman Empire (in the West) a theocracy after Augustus because the Emperor was proclaimed a god? What about Jews in the Exodus, with Moses claiming to have been given the Word and the Rules? Does this make Moses more like Cromwell, or Gird, or…?? What about the Egyptians, who seem to show that you can have a theocracy without monotheism?

  • Comment by Iphinome — February 11, 2012 @ 12:56 am


    Under Moses it was certainly a theocracy. Um assuming you take the story that has been passed down at face value that is. Their code of law at the time was based on what was claimed to be the word of god. Moses was getting orders directly from the big guy. The covenant made the Hebrews god’s priests and no differentiation between the concept of state and that of religion, the state was the religion in so much as a band of nomads could be called a state.

    Please forgive all the qualifiers. I don’t want to appear to endorse or reject the biblical story of Exodus as my opinion of it isn’t the issue. At least I didn’t use “seems.”

    Now I’d like to wade in on the conversation of problems caused by theocracy in Fintha.

    It game them freedom to hold Paks against her will in Fin-Panir for the crime of having her temper closer to the surface after having been abused and mind raped by kuaknum. She didn’t commit any crimes, didn’t follow any unapproved gods, wouldn’t have been called insane by any competent court, wasn’t a minor. And yet the religious authority was able to hold her until she consented to undergo a second mind rape this time at their hands. In other realms would they have been able to keep someone who broke no laws? Require them to move along sure, but hold?

    I’ll withhold my other issues with Gird’s fellowship for now except to say that while I’m happy to cosplay as Paks, I have no love for the actions of Gird’s cult.

  • Comment by elizabeth — February 11, 2012 @ 8:24 am


    iphinome: To call something a theocracy does not require agreeing that the claimed authority comes from a real god. A theocracy (as opposed to a non-theocratic dictatorship) claims that its right to power comes from religion, and ultimately from a god (usually through a particular prophet/saint/inspired person), and claims exclusive and overriding power. The rules made are claimed to be those in accordance with divinity, and thus cannot be questioned. The Jewish exodus under Moses was, to my mind, a theocracy. Calvin’s Geneva was a theocracy. Rome under the emperors claiming divinity was not a theocracy…because the dominant law did not make emperor-worship the only religion or the only source of law. The pre-existing secular Roman law continued to function.

    As to your other questions–people suspected of harboring evil (or ill intent, as revealed by any behavior not approved in the community) have been killed in many human societies, imprisoned in others. You’re applying a specific modern standard and metaphor to what is at best a 13th c. society (and modern societies are not as advanced as some like to think.) . A more accurate metaphor would be Rep. Giffords: the bullet in her brain did a lot of damage, but she would die if surgeons had not gone in and–in the process of fixing what they could–done additional damage. Paks had taken a bullet to the spirit; left there, it would have continued to do damage and made her increasingly a danger to herself and others. Her personality had changed; her behavior had deteriorated over a period of months. Personality changes and deterioration of behavior have long been considered early signs of serious mental illness (still are, but in recent years the concept of PTSD has emerged as one possibility.) I never intended the Fellowship of Gird to be a model of the perfect religion–or a model of the worst, either–but there are many “actions of Gird’s cult” I approve of. Its deficiencies are those of any entrenched power structure run by humans.

  • Comment by Iphinome — February 11, 2012 @ 9:10 am


    I thought I was applying Gird’s standard. He forbid magery but he didn’t drill into the minds of magelords to remove it. In the end he let Luap and the others leave to a place where they could be themselves. Maybe he wanted to apply a little conversion therapy to Luap, pray the magery away, but it wasn’t the inclination he punished even if said inclination wasn’t something he approved of.

    Paks was ill. I don’t argue the point but she hadn’t done anything. Even in Kolobia, even in charmed armor when she had no real control over her actions she only harmed servants of her captors.

    Yes the deficiencies are the work of humans. Humans in a theocracy with no secular authority to put the brakes on what they see as the High Lord’s will.

    I apologize for being argumentative. Of course what you say is right and I do love the books very much *hugs autographed copy of Deed* but whenever I read through Divided Allegiance I get twisted up, I gnash my teeth, sometimes I cry and it isn’t the kuaknom I blame, its the Fellowship of Gird.

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — February 11, 2012 @ 9:59 am


    I’m going to throw out my two cents/shilling/whatever denomination (pun intended) you care to use about the in-story religion of Gird.

    If Gird isn’t divine, why did Gird’s symbol show up for humans in chapter 27 of Divided Allegiance along with the circle, harp and hammer? Elizabeth, I’m not necessarily expecting an answer since I suspect that it’s part of the ongoing story. I guess I had always classified Gird and Gird’s followers more in the “demi-god” realm than in the “saint” realm.

  • Comment by elizabeth — February 11, 2012 @ 10:43 am


    iphinome: No need to apologize, and if you want to keep blaming the Fellowship, that’s your privilege. I also get furious with some of the Girdish (but not all). You’re supposed to feel anguished about what happened to Paks. But I had hoped that the dilemma I built into the situation would be clearer and not dismissed as simple arrogance by all of them…because in my view it wasn’t.

    Gird had come to believe that magery was not inherently evil, but had not been able to convince the majority of those who had suffered from its misuse…but he did understand inherent evil (remember that kuaknom who cursed him? Gird had no descendants, just as the curse had said. He would have agreed that the kuaknomi/iynisin were inherently evil, committed to evil, and being contaminated with that evil was not like having magery.) The division among the Girdish about magery has lingered to this day. What’s remembered is how much misery magery caused the Old Humans when the magelords came, and how liberating it was to be free of them. Gird underestimated how hard it would be to get the rest of the peasants and smallholders to feel as he felt.

    You say Paks “hadn’t done anything” but in fact she had: she had changed for the worse, she had shown unreasonable levels of anger and resentment…unreasonable to those who saw it. She is not the first person they’ve seen go bac; they know what may come of it if nothing is done. Eventually, she’ll have to be killed, because eventually she will “do things” that everyone will know about. A modern psychologist familiar with PTSD (and not realizing that in this fantasy world evil is a tangible thing that can actually be transferred) would have seen something to worry about in her change of personality and behavior, and would not have wanted to wait until she committed a horrific act or several before getting into treatment. Just because something is “an illness” doesn’t mean you leave it untreated, and that’s particularly true of illnesses that pose a clear threat to others. (We saw the result of the badly-managed move from institutional care of serious mental illness to community “care,” in which persons incapable of recognizing the level of their illness wavered between mildly strange and seriously dangerous as they went in and out of short-term sentences–and were put back on meds–and on coming out refused them again.) Turning her loose on the community would not have gone well–she was on a downward course. The mental surgery might–or might not–work perfectly. It didn’t, and that was tragic, and the failure of others in the community to give her support was infuriating (to me, too. There was gnashing of teeth and wishing to kick characters through the membrane that separates the writer’s life from theirs. (What I may not have made clear–showing all this through Paks’s imperfect viewpoint–is how hard this was for Arianya. and how much she blamed herself–even before Kieri reamed her out–for putting a vulnerable person in a position they could not handle.)

    But there’s plenty of blame to go around, starting with me–I made up this world, so its faults are my fault. Within the world, as it’s set up, I focus on three in particular. Paks herself, who had almost deliberately ignored opportunities to grow deeper, and who kept trying to ignore them even while in training in Fin Panir. She’s stubborn; she clings to her simplistic view of things, including good and evil: the good people you help, the bad people you bash. She didn’t like self-examination and evaded it as much as possible. And it was her decision not to put on her helmet the night she was hit over the head and captured. It was hot and she chose comfort over safety. Arianya, who makes the decision to let her train for paladin immediately after joining the Fellowship, against advice that Paks lacks the experience and spiritual depth–that advancing her is dangerous. Arianya has reasons; the number of paladins has fallen dangerously low, and she sees Paks’s potential and wants to help her to it. But it’s a mistake (in the short term. Would Paks, however, be the paladin she is, had she not been forced to confront herself?) And the kuaknom, whom I do blame. They delight in spoiling anything beautiful and good. They saw her potential and wanted to ruin it.

  • Comment by Jenn — February 11, 2012 @ 11:40 am


    That last bit was so insightful. Our lives are effected by so many things. Our choices and free will, others choices and free will, the results of inanimate things (train stopping on the tracks or a electrical black out). It will be interesting to look at our lives in clear hindsight on the other side and be able to say “Oh that is why that happened and that effected that which move this…”

    Also, coming from a church that houses the Far-(loony)-left, center-left, the (very rare) middle, the center right, and the far-(self-righteous)-right (you can imagine the family scwabbles!), I often wonder do the Girdish and Falkians suffer from the same factions?

  • Comment by elizabeth — February 11, 2012 @ 12:26 pm


    The Falkians certainly had factions in the past, but they’ve declined in numbers so at the moment I don’t see any active in-house splits. The Girdish have had, and continue to have, factions. Two are particularly active-fault zones now and you’ve already seen a little of both. One of these is a major factor in Book IV.

  • Comment by elizabeth — February 11, 2012 @ 12:35 pm


    Gird’s exact status in the hierarchy is beyond me….once I started this universe on its way, it began throwing surprises at me (a sign of a real live universe, I think, but still.) So I had in mind that he was a saint with the kind of powers saints are supposed to have, in religions where saints have powers. Then I wrote his book. Then I wrote Luap’s book. Then I looked at Gird and thought “What is going on here?”

    I have one possible clue to the answer to your question, but it’s deep in Book V rumination, so I can’t discuss it now.

  • Comment by Iphinome — February 11, 2012 @ 7:36 pm


    She had changed. And that change was forced on her not by the fellowship but by the kuaknom, removing it was in her best interest and in society’s best interest. But in the end whatever tipping point Kieri’s trust might have been in her mind, she had as much choice as a gay kid being packed off to “straight camp.” With all due respect Lady, and I have much for you, you’re very impressive and more than a little scary in person, I can’t see what they did as anything but a second violation. I expect and accept that evil will come from the servants of evil. When the servants of good violate someone they’re not only committing an evil act, doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, but they’re hypocrites to boot.

    Having a theocracy gave them the power to do it. She had joined the Fellowship of Gird, maybe that gave them more legal right though no more moral right. Her personality did change, it was changed not be her but by a third party. But personalities do change, different aspects of self come forward while they grow up. Paks was still growing up. That wasn’t the true cause. It could have been an acceptable explanation to an impartial third party. Kieri had untrusted soldiers turned out but not violated even though they might very well have gone on to do wrong.

  • Comment by elizabeth — February 11, 2012 @ 8:27 pm


    I think our disagreement here comes from “author knowledge” of the insides of the other characters that you can’t have because I didn’t write it right. I understand why you see this as two violations–because the bullet and the surgeon’s scalpel are both intrusions on the brain–both “violations.” And you don’t agree that the circumstances justified treatment without free consent. (That’s still an issue in medical practice today, as I’m sure you’re aware.)

    When I was a kid, and desperately sick (which I was; I nearly died), dragging me 250 miles to a doctor I’d never seen before–when I was miserable and scared–was a violation–I wasn’t given a choice, not about that or about the surgery that followed. Medical practice then wasn’t what it is now–but it did save my life. You’ll say, with justification, “But you were a kid; kids can’t make informed decisions.” True. Neither can people with some mental illnesses. Figuring out what they can decide at a rational level–if they have any understanding of their disease–isn’t easy even now. People make mistakes in both directions about when to intervene and how strongly. That decision will be made at different times in different cultures.

    Where we disagree is on motivation and on methods. I’m not going to try to convince you…esp. because you find me scary. You’re entitled to your own views.

    From my POV, I’ve been inside Arianya’s head and the heads of others in the Fellowship; I know which ones are mean, vindictive, cruel, and which ones aren’t–which ones make certain categories of mistake without any intent to cause harm, which ones make different categories of mistake. I know the history of the Fellowship–what it’s done well and where it’s failed. The flaw as I see lies in human nature itself–all the power structures, religious and secular, will have fracture lines when they’re grown beyond what human nature can sustain.

    One other thing. You contrast Kieri’s throwing people out of the Company with Arianya’s attempted mental surgery, as if Kieri could have made either choice. He couldn’t. Neither he, nor his physicians and wizards, had the ability to attempt what Arianya and the Marshals did. He had the legal authority, as a feudal lord, to impose punishments (from a whipping to dismissal to death) but no ability to offer anything potentially curative.

    But I’ve got to get to other things now, so please understand that I’m only stating my side of the story, and not trying to beat on you.

  • Comment by Iphinome — February 11, 2012 @ 10:31 pm


    Of course Lady, I’m sorry if I’ve taken up too much time.

  • Comment by elizabeth — February 12, 2012 @ 6:18 am


    iphinome: You didn’t take up too much time…seriously not seeking apologies here. I wish I had 48 hour days…

  • Comment by Richard — February 12, 2012 @ 3:58 pm


    Iphinome, there are now so many interesting things going on here at once that I too wish I had 48 hour days.

  • Comment by pjm — February 14, 2012 @ 7:06 am


    “I made up this world, so its faults are my fault”. Ah, but we are discussing faults with its people, and if there were none, that would (in my view) be a fault with the world. I think you have done an excellent job when we can argue about the motivation and morality of people in a made-up world as though they were real.

    Congrats, and I am looking forward to reading “Echoes”.


  • Comment by Rob Conley — February 15, 2012 @ 11:39 am


    I hope you find the lost notebooks. I know with my own Majestic Wilderlands, a roleplaying game setting I been using since the early 80s, I lost probably a third of material I created and it sucks.

    In a fit of craziness in my teens (the 80s) I created a four thousand year long king’s list. It turned out be useful for various other background items. But then 15 years ago during a move it disappeared 🙁 Paper only so it gone and I am left with bits and pieces scattered throughout other writings.

  • Comment by Rolv — February 16, 2012 @ 3:59 am


    Although Elizabeth already answered for me :-), I add my reply. The basics of a theocracy is that authority is supposed to be divinely ordained, and that God’s law is the law of the land. That’s why I regard Cromwell as theocratic.

    And, of course, to say that a country is theocratic is not implying that the God/gods in question are real, only that the professed God is perceived as being the source of authority.

    Yes, Old Testament Israel was supposed to be a theocracy. That’s why they were reluctant to anoint kings. Still, Aaron and the priests gave some counterbalance to the judges/kings.

    In addition to what you pointed out, Augustus did not become a god until his death, and that was the rule (with the exeptions of Gaius Galigula and Nero) until Domitian.

    Pharaonic Egypt could be regarded as theocratic.

    Even if you don’t take the OT account at face value (and sometimes you really have to make some leaps of faith to do it), the self-understanding of OT Israel is that it is a theocracy.

  • Comment by Rolv — February 16, 2012 @ 4:12 am


    I think you may regard the damage done to Paks as “spiritual gangrene”. To intervene was the only way for Paks to survive without becoming infested with their evil.

    You may perhaps compare with how the Orcs of Middle-Earth came into being; Melkor captured elves and broke them, making a mockery of their true nature.

  • Comment by Iphinome — February 16, 2012 @ 6:07 am


    Rolv: I used qualifiers to avoid making other people feel I was advancing any agenda. If you feel the need to discuss the subject please feel free to email me privately. I use gmail, you can guess the username.

    I do not deny any of the consequences to Paks if she had not undergone the invasive Girdish procedure. I deny that she was given any choice in the matter. If you can’t say no you can’t really say yes either. Best case, it was statutory mind rape. Though I still contend that all she did was stop struggling.

    I also deny that it was for her own good. If keeping her caged up in Fin Panir was for her own good they could have kept doing so till spring, or till she could be delivered by the girdsmen somewhere safe for her. No, once the evil was purged she was a free person again.

    Yes I know this was to Arianya’s anguish and I do not place any blame on her for letting Paks leave, only that it negates any best interest argument.

    Compare her healing at the hands of Master Oakenhallow. His way of holding her was like putting his arms around someone who’s freaking out, holding her and saying “Shhhhhhhhh” until she could take a deep breath, wipe her nose and make a choice. Kieri’s visit might have done the same if there had been a choice rather than capitulation.

  • Comment by Rolv — February 16, 2012 @ 3:42 pm


    As I said, it’s really irrelevant to the discussion on theocracy whether one accepts the OT as history in modern sense or not. (But I stll maintain that it takes a leap of faith to take it all at face value.)

    Sometimes we have to choose the lesser evil. If Arianya had not removed the rot, Paks would have been utterly corrupted, and Master Oakhallow would never had he opportunity to heal her.

    Kieri could not help her. He lacked the skill. Had she gone with him, she would in all likelihood have been beyond help from Master Oakhallow.

    Yes, she had a choice, and she did agree upon the treatment. But she could no more choose to reject treatment and still become well than I could choose to reject treatment for my heart attack and still survive.

    No, letting Paks leave did not negate the bedst interest argument. It wasn’t their intentions that failed, but their skill; they didn’t find and remove all the damage. But you can’t one the one hand blame them for not giving her the choive of operation, and then balming them for not forcing her to stay.

  • Comment by Iphinome — February 16, 2012 @ 7:54 pm


    Rolv: Isn’t it a bit hypocritical to cut away parts of her mind “for her own good” but not keep her safe afterward for her own good?

    Their choice of methods to remove the evil may have been, in Arianya’s mind, to help Paks but the goal was to kill what was inside her.

    Choose the lesser evil? Thank you for making my point. You just moved the fellowship of Gird from lawful good to lawful neutral. So long as the corruption was destroyed, that was a win. Well unless you happen to be the infected person. The fellowship isn’t worth of the paladins in their, and Gird’s service. Paladins don’t accept evil just to gain some perceived good. They find a third option. Why accept less from the people who train paladins?

  • Comment by elizabeth — February 16, 2012 @ 11:49 pm


    Ah–now we’re getting to something deeper. iphinome, you seem to be operating from a definition of “good” that I personally don’t agree with…let’s check that out.

    Paksworld is not set up as a D&D universe with “lawful/neutral/chaotic”, “good/neutral/evil” categories…in fact, one of the things I most disliked about the game setup was Gygax’s approach to good and evil, which did not fit with my experience of real people. (I studied under Dr. Lear, whose book on treason in Roman and Germanic law informs the way I imagined gnomes and dwarves…where one considered law impersonal and the other very, very personal….not law v. chaos, but impersonal law v. personal loyalty.)

    From the gnomes, the Fellowship acquired a respect for law–but that respect was mediated through Gird, who was human and not gnomish, and whose human heritage included believes and behaviors alien to gnomes: so both fairness in trade, value for value, but respect and admiration for generosity, gift-giving, friendship, storytelling, (none of which gnomes understand or practice) and an ambivalent attitude towards authority (which the gnomes abhor.)

    Now: we could look deeper and discuss the varying theories of good and evil that exist in the world, the one you prefer, the one I prefer, etc. That might be profitable (or not, depending on how uncomfortable the participants in the discussion are.) I’m not sure I understand your paradigm, but I’m fairly sure that if it’s close to the D&D one it won’t really work with these books. You will miss some of what the book is about, by judging the characters’ actions by standards it was never intended to meet. I may be wrong about what you really think good and evil are.

  • Comment by Iphinome — February 17, 2012 @ 10:04 am


    Second draft of my reply, now with 20% less stream of consciousness. Special note to Richard: Please don’t ask me to set it to the tune of the Major General song, I might very well kill myself in trying.

    I used the alignment system as what I expected to be a common point of reference. DC comics is not based on dungeons and dragon’s alignment system. Superman is lawful good. The Adam West Batman was lawful good. The movie Batmans… Batmen… are not.

    Yes that system is flawed. There’s such a fine line between the three lawfuls and nearly no distinction between neutral good and chaotic good.

    The Girdsmen in Fin Panir who held Paks captive and preformed spiritual surgery on her do not have an alignment, but their actions can be described using alignment. If that isn’t a comfortable point of reference then I can withdraw the statement with my most humble apologies and beg the Lady’s pardon.

    I’ll speak no more of alignment.

    I’ve seen evil defined as complete selfishness and no regard for others, sociopathy. That would make an infant the most evil creature on earth. Fits but feels wrong. Another one is evil acts are ones designed to add to the amount of misery in the world. That would have made Mother Teressa who saw misery and suffering as noble an evil person. Also fits, also uncomfortable.

    I think the latter comes close to what I really believe. Bullying is evil, torture is evil, rape is evil. But then so is genocide. The end result, to eliminate a category of or all people could be argued reduces misery. Thomas Aquinas seemed to think evil was defined by the result. But I’m not Catholic and that makes earthquakes evil.

    For that matter, the Gods of Paksworld are not the God or Gods of our world so we have to leave out the ideas of sin or rejecting God as evil. Even if you wanted to apply an equivalent the Girdish freely admit theirs is not the only path.

    We could try harm done with malice aforethought. But that eliminates manslaughter.

    Then there’s slavery. Slavery is evil. But why? A slave may be well treated, even happy. A slave is less though, less than fully human. Degradation, even if its only conceptual I would have to see as intentionally harmful.

    No short answer. As with most things that seem^H^H^H^H you’d think are simple, it isn’t. The intended result, misery makes evil. The motivation, malice corrupts the result and makes evil. Disregard for the consequences makes evil.

    Maybe I don’t understand evil at all. If the Lady Moon so commands, I will spend the weekend at the library searching for the answer.

    But we still have the problem that started all this. I don’t think Paks gave consent. Nothing in the text left me believing that she and Kieri could have walked out the door together and rode off to Tsia. If I’m wrong about that the point is moot. If I’m right then intent would have to excuse methods and results when defining evil for the act to not be evil.

    Or I could be completely wrong.

  • Comment by Rolv — February 17, 2012 @ 11:31 am


    No, I don’t find it hypocritical. Their intentions were good, it’s their knowledge and skills that proved insufficient.

    Helping Paks and killing what was in side her were two sides of the same coin. The only way to help Paks was to kill what invaded her.

    When you say: “So long as the corruption was destroyed, that was a win. Well unless you happen to be the infected person.”, I totally disagree with you.

    It was a win, ESPECIALLY if you were the infected person. I will argue that it would have been immeasurably better for Paks to die miserably in the wilderness after having left all her belongings in the Grove, than not to submit to Ariyana’s treatment, even if she mignht have made a great career as Captain.

    No, by choosing the lesser evil, thne Fellowship accepted responsibility and acted horourably. The world is not all black and white with distinct border markings everywhere.

    Yes, Paladins often choose the lesser evil. Haven’t you seen how often Paladins go to swar and kill people? War is always evil, but sometimes a necessary evil, and a lesser evil than submitting to tyranny.

    My apologies for my long rants. Hopefully, you realize that it’s a tribute to the quality of the child of your brain.

  • Comment by Richard — February 18, 2012 @ 3:13 am


    (So much for my attempt to move the discussion to the successor thread)

    in my book, theocracy has to be about more than law alone; high political office (at the least, the ability in practice as well as theory to appoint and, most important, dismiss office holders at will), control of tax money, power to direct and curb the army and police, all must be the exclusive preserve of professional clergy.

    Gird’s Marshals qualify (in Fintha). In 17th century England, I don’t even know if the Independents had professional clergy – I naively think the whole point was they professed not to – but even if they did Cromwell was never a full-time clergyman, nor claimed to be a theological authority among them.

    Yes he claimed, and maybe genuinely believed, that military victory was proof of God’s will, but that is another matter; King Charles I too had claimed a divine right to rule.

    ‘Nuff said on a side issue.

    Iphinome, not G&S but limerick form. Did you decide against reading the first 50, and its spoiler space? Look (cautiously) as far as #3.

  • Comment by Iphinome — February 18, 2012 @ 4:50 am


    Your servant sir.

    In training a free sword named Paks
    got angry and slipped with an axe.
    The marshals seemed stern,
    but have no concern.
    She’s a convert now so relax.

    On the blog this talk about evil,
    is causing too much upheaval.
    To ‘nome came rebuke
    that would frighten the duke.
    Its over now so be gleeful.

  • Comment by Richard — February 19, 2012 @ 1:02 pm



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