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Sword & Citadel (The Book of the New Sun #3-4)
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2011 Reads > S&C: Severian and Glokta

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message 1: by Vance (new)

Vance | 362 comments Was Abercrombie influenced by Wolfe? How similar are they? A torturer as a protagonist is difficult to pull off and both do it well, and I do find some similarities. They both find their jobs distasteful in many ways but find themselves continuing.

I actually find Glotka more interesting (although I did not complete the Wolfe series yet) in that he actually takes some pleasure in the torture while hating himself for it. He is sympathetic while being truly cruel at the same time. Very odd combination, but it works.


message 2: by Jlawrence, S&L Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jlawrence | 960 comments Mod
I haven't read The Blade Itself yet, but the trick of making a torturer a deep and even likable character is definitely one of the things that fascinates about Severian, so it would be interesting to see what Abercrombie has done with a similar set-up.

As far as I remember, Severian never takes pleasure in torture. However, I do remember him putting forth some abstract argument in its favor (or at least in favor of the violent punishment of criminals) at one point of the book, which was disturbing on a totally different level, and created that same kind of tension between sympathy and repulsion towards a character. I'll be on the lookout for that passage.


message 3: by Larry (new) - added it

Larry (lomifeh) | 88 comments Severian has a very interesting view regarding torture. He approaches it in a very mechanical manner really for the most part. I won't spoil but to him it feels like it's mostly a job, his calling. I don't see him like Glokta at all.


Paul  Perry (pezski) | 489 comments Other than their profession I see no commonalities between Severian and Glokta. I think that Glokta is far more human - as you say, Vance, the way he hates himself for taking pleasure in the pain of others, his desire for redemption while in practice settling for survival and revenge - while Severian is a mythic figure, a vessel through which we explore the world of Urth. Despite Wolfe's explicitly christian parallels (view spoiler) I find the resonances more with ancient epics like Gilgamesh and the Mahabharata.


message 5: by Jared (new)

Jared (jared_king) | 51 comments A bit of a tangent, but wasnt there a weapon in The Blade Itself called 'The Divider' or something? A nod to 'Terminus Est'?


message 6: by Patrick (new)

Patrick (halfadd3r) Jared wrote: "A bit of a tangent, but wasnt there a weapon in The Blade Itself called 'The Divider' or something? A nod to 'Terminus Est'?"

Wow! Good Catch!


message 7: by Jlawrence, S&L Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jlawrence | 960 comments Mod
That's awesome if Abercrombie was making a nod to Severian's sword there.

I found the passage where Severian puts forth an argument for torture and the guild's "justice" - it's in ch. 3 of Sword. More on it below...


**** SPOILERS, Sword, ch. 3 - 11 ****



It's when Dorcas is depressed and silent and he thinks she's come to despise him and his profession, and possibly despise herself for loving him. So he attempts to give an philosophical defense for his guild's practices.

What's interesting is not only how at odds this argument is with his mercy towards Thecla, but how shortly after making this argument he betrays the guild *again* by refusing to kill Cyriaca. (We could possibly throw in there his freeing of Agia when he had her trapped, too -- though she was not charged guilty by his society's laws, she had tried to kill and will most likely try again).


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