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▶  More from Fiction Before the Rising Sun
‘Holy Domnicellae’
Impressions of Chapter 18 of Gene Wolfe’s Shadow of the Torturer
Reading from pages 112-117 of Shadow & Claw
The Destruction of the Altar
Assured by his young guide, the imperfectly lovely Agia, that he was sure to die in the coming due and hence had no need to save his money, Severian agrees to pay for a hired ride.
A discussion of an ancient fable involving the archangel Gabriel and mortality, leads Agia to the statement that Severian is a frightening man, that he looks like an aristocrat and has the manners “of a shoemaker.”
The low class tart then goads the noble and his whore in a passing carriage to a race and disaster strikes, with their carriage careening into the tent cathedral of the Pelerines, a sect of women who travel about in the name of the Christ-like Conciliator. During the race Severian grabbed her and she said in true feminine form, “I’m glad you did that. I hate men who grab me,” and then kissed him profusely, wonderfully demonstrating the insanity of her gender.
Having destroyed an altar and their hired carriage, Severian and Agia are questioned as to whether or not they took a sacred relic and Agia is stripped naked by the servants of the priestess since she has no honor such as the man of a life taking caste who might be trusted.
The reader is left with the impression that this event was no accident at all and that Severian is stumbling along the path of his destiny. He though, is more intrigued by Agia than the rumblings of destiny such as his coming duel with a member of one of the dueling castes. In character he remains believably adolescent stubbornly resisting the tug of the fates as they seek to jar him from his small heart-felt course.
Diction of note
The Jericho Bone: Fruit of the Deceiver and Forty Hands of Night, 2nd Edition Omnibus Collection
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pillagers of time
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