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Just for fun...
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 4 May, 2020 03:25PM
Recent discussion of Malygris led me to wonder if Malygris and Maal Dweb got into a fight, who would win?

Seriously, it might be fun to contrast the mystical and personal attributes of such as the two named archimages, and perhaps other memorable wizards named in CAS' works.

For example, we know quite a bit about Namirrah, the wizard who destroyed Ummaos and much of Xylac in The Dark Eidolon. We know a fair amount of Maal Dweb and Malygris. How, and why, do you respond to their characters as presented by CAS?

Perhaps Sambon?

Some may have positive aspects. I, for one, found "...Yos Ebni, sage and archimage, who won supremacy over men and demons in elder years by defying all mortal temptation and putting down the insubordination of the flesh," to show admirable and virtuous will power.

Could be fun to kill some time this way...

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 4 May 20 | 03:26PM by Sawfish.

Re: Just for fun...
Posted by: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 4 May, 2020 08:43PM
Haha, I wouldn't mind more fun threads. Threads to discuss the nature of Smith's stories, characters, beasts, etc.

Malygris and Maal Dweb are quite similar beings, right down to tyrannizing their lands but suffering from loss or ennui. One difference is that Maal Dweb's sorcery relies on advanced technology, to some extent, but still I imagine the two would be evenly matched, and their war would end tragically and perhaps ironically. If I remember correctly, both have henchmen in the form of hulking monsters, though Maal Dweb's are mechanical.

Smith had written some of the most fascinating sorcerers in literature, and I might have dismissed wizards as silly cliches if it weren't for his enchanting tales (and the Kalevala, that Finnish epic whose sorcerers are of a folksy, believable kind, and also create wonders through their beautiful use of language like Smith). Wizards clearly appealed to him on a deeply personal level, and his poems are like natural spells and incantations. I like that his wizards feel more like genuine people, whose lives are shaped by very human desires enriched (or sometimes twisted) by perspectives and experiences in the world beyond immediate society. By my understanding, Smith was a bit of an outsider in both Auburn and the modernizing world, and I can see something of that in the eerie, powerful, mournful, twisted, wistful, beautiful, and vengeful qualities of his sorcerers. I was definitely inspired by this quality of his work.

Sabmon may be the wizard I remember most fondly, and it's interesting he's portrayed in such a dignified way when Smith didn't seem to think so highly of ascetics. But then again, Sabmon was also a wide-minded outsider who shunned materialistic distractions, and he wasn't an intolerant bigot or blind follower.



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 4 May 20 | 09:00PM by kojootti.

Re: Just for fun...
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 4 May, 2020 09:56PM
Terrific post, kojootti!

Now I have to think of something worthy to contribute...

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Just for fun...
Posted by: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 5 May, 2020 12:42AM
No rush! I'll just add that if Vizaphmal (the alien from "The Monster of the Prophecy") counts as a sorcerer, I'll add him to my list of memorable favorites. He's essentially an advanced scientist, but he is also referred to as a wizard, and he certainly has all the traits and prestige of one, even having a wand of life and death. With his otherworldly knowledge and powers, he appears magical to humans, just as Maal Dweb appears magical to his unfortunate subjects. And his appearance is sorcerous in itself, with all those strange intricate limbs, that prestigious flaring crest, and all those colorful mottlings and moons all over his body which constantly change shape and color. It's almost a shame Smith didn't write more stories with him, like he planned to, but I suppose an alien sorcerer in alien settings would step right off the slope of sorcery and end up in pure chaotic weirdness!

Re: Just for fun...
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 5 May, 2020 03:22AM
What a lovely, celebrating path the forum is walking down here! CAS would have been amused and chuckled satisfied! (And perhaps written a few more tales!)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 5 May 20 | 03:28AM by Knygatin.

Re: Just for fun...
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 5 May, 2020 11:36AM
...concerning Maal Dweb....

I re-read The Flower Women last night. Coming as it does immediately after The Maze of Maal Dweb in the old Ballentine Xiccarph volume, you can piece together a fair view of his personality and what drives him.

He's no longer driven by thirst for power, revenge, studious application to the mysteries of the arcane. He is basically interested in amusing himself. He states directly in Flower Women that he's bored, but bear in mind that in Maze, he bags exotic females simply to make interesting statuary.

Unlike Avyctes, the older sorcerer from The Double Shadow, who pursues ultra-mundane lore in a pure quest for abstract knowledge, apparently not using his powers for personal gain, as does Malygris, by implication, and Maal Dweb, himself, Maal Dweb is at the time of the stories mostly interested in passing the time pleasurably.

An epicurian archimage...

I'd never thought of this before, but CAS did an excellent job of differentiating characters of all sorts, making them well-developed individuals. No slam to Tolkein, but even Gandalf is not well-developed, and to my mind Saruman is simply Sauron, but not yet as far down the Dark Path...

I'm finding that there is quite a lot here to explore, by way of CAS's character development within the context of the short story form. I had never realized it, but one of the main intuitive attractions to his best writing is that in a story like Master of the Crabs, the elder sorcerer, Lumivix, projects a definite impression as an individual. He seems to be a sort of journeyman, not particularly skilled, hard-working and ambitious, but within "normal", non-pathological limitations.

In short, I was a SW engineer before retiring, and in retrospect, I think I was, at work, a lot like Lumivix; it was often taxing, but I was not going to let it beat me. ;^)

Then you get those two brothers who, in Death of Malygris, propose to rob his supposed corpse of talismans, and even to eat a small bit of his flesh. These are definitely lesser individuals, not like Sambon, or even Lumivix. Not talented, but looking for shortcuts.

Then we have the two outcast necromancer brothers in The Empire of the Necromancers. Whereas someone like Nammirah is to a degree tragically ennobled by his mad quest for revenge, these two are repellent low-lifes. Petty opportunists, like street thieves in a third world country.

Gosh, there's quite a lot to CAS, isn't there?

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 5 May 20 | 12:03PM by Sawfish.

Re: Just for fun...
Posted by: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 5 May, 2020 01:29PM
That's some excellent insight Sawfish, and that's one reason I can return to his stories and not get bored by them, a rare quality even in good authors. In his best stories, Smith's characters are usually as subtly varied in mannerism and mindset as real people can be. I think some fans have a tendency to overlook Smith's characterization, and a part of me assumes this is because a lot of CAS fans were primarily Lovecraft fans, who tend to assume (not all of them) that characters don't matter in weird/cosmic fiction. I even recall a couple members on this very forum, in the old days before I joined, stating that Smith didn't care about humans and that no one remembers his human characters, which is quite rich, because I remember his characters and their individual traits very well. Even the thieves from "The Tale of Satampra Zeiros" and "The Ice-Demon" display such different personalities from each other, with Quanga being more of a rough and stoic survivalist than Satampra, and Quanga's companions being impatient complainers who are driven by an even more base greed than him.

Even the necromancers Nathaire and Namirrha, both of them outcasts who act out their revenge against the higher order of society but receive an ironic doom in doing so, aren't merely the same character in different costumes. Nathaire strikes me as the more sneeringly deranged of the two, fueled by his contempt of a cruel and ignorant society, while Namirrha is much more composed and intensely focused until he can finally taste the vengeance he so madly craved all his life. I wouldn't be surprised if Nathaire's louder and bossier personality was a result of his ten younger pupils serving as an audience for his ranting. And then there's Gaspard du Nord, the sorcerer who went out of his way and saved the very people who probably would condemn him and kill him if they had the chance, and he struck me as a much more mentally and emotionally mature individual.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 5 May 20 | 01:30PM by kojootti.

Re: Just for fun...
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 5 May, 2020 02:49PM
Excellent stuff, kojooti!

There's so much more to be said, and now the onus is on me to come up with something decent in response. :^0

Got to try to remember Nathaire, or re-read the story(s) he's in. Sounds French-ish, so maybe Averoigne?

Thanks for the pleasant exchanges!

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Just for fun...
Posted by: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 5 May, 2020 03:09PM
Averoigne indeed! Nathaire is the villain of "The Colossus of Ylourgne", and Gaspard is the hero who faces him.



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