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▶  More from Fiction Before the Rising Sun
‘The Sanguinary Field’
Impressions of Chapter 27 of Gene Wolfe’s Shadow of the Torturer
Reading from pages 164-168 of Shadow & Claw
Is He Dead?
Fittingly, as a ruler should, before recounting his duel the Autarch discusses the social implications of the practice, deciding that it is a good, as the duelist is likely to show courage in service to the state and acquire a good mate and have children. He goes on to point out that though good men die in duels, such men are murdered in the absence of dueling traditions and that cultivates murderers instead of duelists, men with the lowest character.
“The vanishing sun, whose disc was now a quarter concealed by the impenetrable blackness of the wall, had dyed the sky…colors falling upon the throng of monomachists and loungers much as we see the aureate beams of divine favor fall on hierarchs in art, lent them an appearance insubstantial and thaumaturgic, as though they had all been produced a moment before by the flourish of a cloth and would vanish into the air again at a whistle.”
The chaos of the duel is masterfully addressed from the muddled perspective of the witless hero sucked into a very specific dance of death, highly favorable to the specialist and lethal to the novice. Surviving by some agency he fails to understand, the hero wanders from the field of malice and betrayal he had been lured to holding the hand of the only innocent person he has ever known.
Diction of note
Menthol Rampage
prev:  ‘To the Renascent Stars’     ‹  before the rising sun  ›     next:  ‘If Poison Had a Face’
yusef of the dusk
book of nightmares
black & pale
by this axe!
the greatest boxer
the gods of boxing
your trojan whorse
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