Monday, 30 May 2016

Niall In Combat

"A hostile point struck into [Niall's] targe."
-Poul and Karen Anderson, The Dog and The Wolf, Chapter XI, section 2, p. 217.

"They rallied as before in the swale below...clustered around their tuathal chiefs." (ibid.)

"...the Romans, who worked together like arms and legs on a single man..." (ibid.)

A barbarian chief knows from experience about Roman military discipline and coordination but cannot match it among his own men.

"...the bravest among his men was prone to terror at night, when anything might stalk abroad. Let fear take hold of the host, and at best they would stumble over each other as they fled wailing back to camp." (ibid.)

Brave men afraid of the dark, wailing in terror? Barbarism was a mixture of what we regard as maturity and immaturity. When CS Lewis' Merlin realizes what his Pendragon expects of him, he loses his composure:

"It was horrifying to see that withered and bearded face all blubbered with undisguised tears like a child. All the Roman surface in Merlinus had been scraped off. He had become a shameless, archaic monstrosity babbling out entreaties in a mixture of what sounded like Welsh and what sounded like Spanish.
"'Silence,' shouted Ransom. 'Sit down. You put us both to shame.'
"As suddenly as it had begin the frenzy ended. Merlin resumed his chair. To a modern it seemed strange that, having recovered his self-control, he did not show the slightest embarrassment at his temporary loss of it. The whole character of the two-sided society in which the man must have lived became clearer to Ransom than pages of history could have made it."
-CS Lewis, The Cosmic Trilogy (London, 1990), p. 654.

The Andersons capture this two-sided society in The King Of Ys. Meanwhile, their rich vocabulary continues to amaze:

"...the lamellar cuirass told of senior rank." (p. 219)

"'I command the vexillation.'" (ibid.)


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

VERY interesting, the bit you quoted from Lewis' THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH. Yes, I think Lewis did show us what barbarism is like and how thin a veneer civilization can be. And, yes, the same is true of the Andersons THE KING OF YS.


Paul Shackley said...

I think that "VERY interesting..." is the highest praise yet!

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Because what you said comparing Lewis to the Andersons WAS interesting!


S.M. Stirling said...

There are early Renaissance manuals of courtly manners which specify, among other things, that it's bad to stamp your feet and scream when angry, or to go off sulking and stand with your face in a corner refusing to talk to people.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

Composure, self control, strict courtesy, etc., are things difficult to master!