Mar 18, 2008

Casting a larger shadow

Liberality tagged me with the Book Meme. The instructions for this meme are as follows:
1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

This book was on my nightstand, I am reading it for the second time. It's George R. R. Martin's A Clash of Kings, book two of the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. I don't know why I'm re-reading this series, because I have thrown the last two books of the series across the room through various parts of the story... I don't know if he kills ALL of the main characters off in horrible ways in ALL of his books, but ... shit. These books are fricking depressing. He's got my attention though, if he'd just hurry up and finish the next book so he can kill off the final living member of the hero's family AND his family pet so I can quit hoping that somehow, someway this story manages to end up with a happy ending. Awesome books, but it's like: hell, if I wanted to see a neverending story where the bad guys win in the end I'd blog about politics or something...

"You are too kind, more wine?"
"No, no, truly I ... Oh, gods be damned, yes. Why not? A bold man drinks his fill!"

And the five people I tag are: Greg, Ryan, Everett Eugene, Bobby jr, and Lauren.

I sorta like the whole randomness of it, but chaos yields somewhat lackluster results. If I could have picked and chosen, I would have gone with this passage:

"Why are you so helpful, my lord Varys?" he asked, studying the man's soft hands, the bald powdered face, the slimy little smile.

"You are the Hand. I serve the realm, the king, and you."

"As you served Jon Arryn and Eddard Stark?"

"I served Lord Arryn and Lord Stark as best I could. I was saddened and horrified by their most untimely deaths."

"Think how I feel. I'm like to be next. "

"Oh, I think not," Varys said, swirling the wine in his cup. "Power is a curious thing, my lord. Perchance you have considered the riddle I posed you that day in the inn?"

"It has crossed my mind a time or two," Tyrion admitted. "The king, the priest, the rich man- who lives and who dies? Who will the swordsman obey? It's a riddle without an answer, or rather, too many answers. All depends on the man with the sword."

"And yet he is no one," Varys said. "He has neither crown nor gold nor favor of the gods, only a piece of pointed steel."

"That piece of steel is the power of life and death."

"Just so. . . yet if it is the swordsman who rule us in truth, why do we pretend our kings hold the power? Why should a strong man with a sword ever obey a child king like Joffrey, or a wine-sodden oaf like his father?"

"Because these child kings and drunken oafs can call other strong men, with other swords."

"Then these other swordsmen have the true power. Or do they? Whence came their swords? Why do they obey?" Varys smiled. "Some say knowledge is power. Some tell us that all power comes from the gods. Others say it derives from law. Yet that day on the steps of Baelor's Sept. our godly High Septon and the lawful Queen Regent and your ever-so-knowledgeable servant were as powerless as any cobbler or cooper in the crowd. Who truly killed Eddard Stark, do you think? Joffrey, who gave the command? Ser Ilyn Payne, who swung the sword? Or . . . another?"

Tyrion cocked his head sideways. "Did you mean to answer your damned riddle, or only to make my head hurt worse?"

Varys smiled. "Here, then. Power resides where men believe it resides. No more, and no less."

"So power is a mummer's trick?"

"A shadow on the wall," Varys murmured, "yet shadows can kill. And oftimes a very small man can cast a very large shadow."

And for those of you out there who may consider yourselves writers more than bloggers, you might relate to this : Don't Blog. Write.


The Poor Blogger said...

This is from "God and Empire" by John Dominic Crossan, the brain behind the Jesus Seminars (which reimagined Jesus as a Palestinian cynic):

But this usage is most inadequate, and indeed, if anything, "Son of Man" is an even more exalted title than "Son of God." So be patient as I locate this title within its matrix in Jewish eschatology. Tha ancient world had a tradition of expectin the rise of four worlwide empires, to be followed by a climactic fifth one.

Doesn't sound like a good book from that bit, but I've been really impressed ... if not with his take on Jesus, then with his take on civilization. He says it is basically legalized violence ... an elected mafia.

Liberality said...

thanks for playing along ;)