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The Darkness That Comes Before (The Prince of Nothing, #1)
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Prince of Nothing > TDTCB -- Character Analysis: Cnaiür (spoilers)

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John | 136 comments Cnaiür is a fascinating character, and an interesting counterpoint to Kellhus. If Kellhus is one of the only "fully awake" characters we see, Cnaiür has a greater self-awareness than many and, equally important, a greater understanding of the Dȗnyain than any other character. Unlike Kellhus, who stands outside of culture, Cnaiür is in a position of being both inside and outside his Scylvendi culture. He has a sharp mind which was further sharpened by his encounter with Moënghus and the insights that resulted. Yet, almost from the first, he is conflicted about, well, pretty much everything. Right from the first, when Moënghus asked him what was his heart's desire, Bakker tells us that his answer, to be a great chieftain, was a lie (so what was it he wanted?). He's managed, in some ways, to make himself the epitome of the Scylvendi warrior, "most violent of men," a brutal warrior-chief who, it seems, can only be removed by treachery (and, as we see, not even then!) Yet he's also hated by his fellow Scylvendi and denigrated for not being one of them, not being like them: "weeper," "faggot." Much the way that a Dunyain can stand outside of a culture and simulate the things it values just to fit in, Cnaiür seems to know--or think he does--what pose to strike, yet there's apparently something subtly wrong about his performance.

But at the same time, he IS bound and determined in many ways by Scylvendi culture, particularly when he is outside of it, in Nansur. Where Kellhus can be all things to all people, Cnaiür is himself, is Scylvendi. His ability to step outside of his culture is incomplete, I suppose.

And that's enough to get things started. Thoughts?

John | 136 comments I'd also like to throw out a more direct question--I've got thoughts on the matter, but I'll hold off a bit to let others think about the question.

Kellhus believes that Cnaiür is "mad." And to be clear, in case you don't remember this, we're told by author something to the effect that "Kellhus realized Cnaiür was mad." Something like that--so it's not that Kellhus tells someone this (like Cnaiür, we should probably be cautious about anything Kellhus says). So my question is this: to what degree should we agree with this assessment of Cnaiür? Or what does Kellhus mean by this ("mad" is, after all, not one simple thing)?

message 3: by Maggie, The Malazan Queen of Chaos (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maggie K | 1196 comments Mod
and 'mad' is very subjective as well....maybe only in Kelhus's world is Cnaiur mad.

message 4: by Kathi, There’s no such thing as too many books! (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kathi | 777 comments Mod
Looking again at Cnaiür after reading all 3 books:
(view spoiler) He is the character I had the most trouble with--he just seemed to be all over the place, mentally, emotionally, militarily, etc.

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