Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Philosophical Question

What do you do when you discover that the belief system you've had all your life no longer has meaning for you ? Juliet E McKenna's Aldabreshin Compass series poses this very interesting question. McKenna's protagonist, Kheda, as the Warlord of an Aldabreshin domain, is expected to read the portents relating to the various events and endeavours of the domain, but he no longer believes in the truth of the portents he reads. In part, this is the result of the magic he's been subborning since the events in the latter half of Southern Fire. When mages and savage warriors invade the Chazen domain, the nearest neighbour of Daish Kheda, he goes north through the Aldabreshin Archipelago, hunting for some lore with which to defeat the invaders and to protect his domain. What he finds is Dev, a northern wizard (from the "barbarian unbroken lands"). He half-bribes, half-bullies Dev into assisting him, thus subborning magic - something that any Aldabreshin knows is punishable by a hideous death. Fortunately, Kheda instead finds himself Warlord of the suddenly masterless Chazen domain (having already allowed his son, Daish Sirket, to claim the Daish domain when he fakedshis death to go in search of the lore to defeat the invading mages). He is shaken by the events that have led him to this point, but he'd already been shaken by doubts about the value of his belief in portents and omens, when the mages and savage warriors invaded the Chazen domain; there had been no warning of the invasion beforehand. So he increasingly finds himself doubting the wisdom he shares, thus undermining his own role as Warlord. The final book of the Aldabreshin Compass series (Eastern Tide) isn't out until October, but it should prove interesting reading as it will finally resolve Kheda's dilemma (I hope !)


Martin LaBar said...

To answer your initial question: You change belief systems, I guess.

Michele said...

Indeed - but it must be a long and difficult process, particularly if like Kheda (or like a priest who's lost his faith), one is obliged to continue living "a lie" so to speak. Kheda, as the Chazen Warlord, must go on reading the portents for his people, but he no longer really believes in what he's doing. It can't be easy to live with or deal with that - nor with the loss of your lifetime's beliefs - Kheda is a grown man, and although McKenna doens't specify his age, I'm guessing he's in his 30s at least. He's been brought up, as the eldest son of the Warlord (and therefore likeliest to inherit his father's title), to believe with his whole heart and being yet now he's full of doubts and uncertainities. I can't recall if he actually topples over into outright disbelief in what he's required to do - but I'm in the process of re-reading the series, so I'll have an answer for that in due course, but it's clear that he's struggling mightily with these issues.