Sunday, 18 June 2017

Heroes II

SM Stirling, The Sword Of The Lady (New York, 2009).

See Heroes.

Rudi Mackenzie, on a heroic Quest, is able to send occasional letters home.

Rudi's mother, Juniper, the Chief and High Priestess of the Mackenzie Clan, is also a musician.

Juniper's songs based on Rudi's letters circulate among the Mackenzies and their allies.

The songs change and Juniper responds by changing them further.

Thus, the story of a vision of the Virgin to one of Rudi's companions is in circulation although we have reason to believe that this did happen.

Juniper mythologizes the Quest while it is happening. Rudi's half-sisters read his letters like an adventure serial and one of them is a bard, quoted at the beginnings of chapters. Juniper's husband quotes:

"'...yet half a beast is the great God Pan...'" (Chapter Six, p. 158) (see here)

If Rudi were to die on the Quest, then there would definitely be a Denial - a myth of his Resurrection and eventual Return.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I'm a bit puzzled over why the songs composed by Lady Juniper should change at all, unless she revised them due to information from later letters. I would have expected Juniper to write down "official" texts of her songs, which would then be used for authoritative copies. After all, the PPA, Mackenzies, Bearkillers, Mount Angel, Corvallis, etc., were LITERATE, and even had mechanical printing presses. That should have prevented or slowed any "unofficial" changing of Juniper's songs.

And I remember that line quoted by Sit Nigel from Elizabeth Barrett's Browning's poem "A Musical Instrument"! Poul Anderson had Dominic Flandry being STARTLED when Aycharaych quoted it's last stanza in A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS. Was this perhaps an indirect allusion by Stirling to Anderson's book?

And if Rudi had died on his Quest, I really don't think there would have been any "denial myths." Both because any survivors from the Quest who made it back home would not have put up with any such nonsense and again because the peoples involved were literate.


Paul Shackley said...

I think you underestimate the power of the human mind even in literate societies to deny and distort facts. Look at the present state of the world!

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Ummmmmm, good points! I'm reminded of how tightly totalitarian regimes like the former USSR controlled the media. Precisely in order to deny or distort facts. And North Korea is a current example.