in the Shadow of Greatness


June 16, 2006

are the elders homicidal?

Shadows of Amber :: Canon Law :: Are the elders homicidal?

Are the elders homicidal? Good thread.
Have I linked this before?

Some captures from my comments.

Quote: AmberDiceless at Tue Oct 14 2003 11:45:09

I've always tended to assume that Random went to a good deal of trouble to appear to be a "homicidal little fink" when his brothers were around, simply as a means of self-preservation. As the youngest and smallest, he would have had to learn ways to keep them off his back, and appearing dangerously unpredictable and prone to grudges would be an effective way to do it.

It occurs to me that this kind of posturing might be very common among the Elders--that they aren't, by nature, nearly as bad as they intentionally make themselves out to be for one anothers' benefit.

That's a great point. I buy into that with some reservations.

Namely that our royals don't just act the part, they become the part. What I mean by that is that their own motives are very layered and complicated.

Random decides at an early age to take a pose, he refines something that becomes effective to his desired results. He then makes sure he does it enough to remind folks. He gets them to believe it by believing it himself.

This then can occasionally surprise, by becoming more than true; perhaps the example of the truck driver being a case.

Where Royal Reflex is the Role you've made your Legend. And vice versa. It becomes a dance with momentum that can take a royal surprising places.

Quote: Yorlum at Sun Nov 2 2003 21:26:20

I still do not see Benedict as being any better than the others, though.

...he was all set to kill Corwin... Clearly his brother had no higher a value than shadows.

Those shadow people were Benedict's people--an extension of his status. I think the only thing you can conclude from your example is that Benedict decided that Corwin did not have a higher value than the people under Benedict's protection.

IOW, Benedict was clearly after Corwin because he had defied Benedict's status--not because Corwin was no more important than shadows. It was the royal hubris of one prince versus another.

By the interpretation of Benedict as a bland killer that you are suggesting, he still only acted once a -certain- line was crossed: a line that related directly to Prince Benedict.

Quote: Yorlum at Mon Nov 3 2003 13:03:25

Perhap, but that hardly puts Benedict above killing his kin.

Corwin says a couple of times, "I fear Benedict."

From this standpoint, the mad-killer portrait you are suggestion certainly holds water. Add this to the presumption that there isn't anyone in the family who thinks that they can "take" Benedict and you have a major issue.

But everything else in the story argues that this can't be.

You can't interact with Benedict as much as happens in the five books and imagine everyone in the family knows he is a fella that will kill you as soon as you cross him.

You may be afraid he will embarrass you.
You may be afraid he will kick your ass--severely.
You may be afraid he will put you in the infirmary for months....
...or drag you to Amber beaten and in chains.

but I don't quite see the crux you are driving at, whereby the scene with Corwin is anything more than a terrific example of Benedict terrifying Corwin into reacting for his own purposes, using a very legitimate 'excuse' of the killed servants to press outstanding issues with his younger, dangerous, acting-oddly brother.

To think otherwise is to believe that the "black grass gambit" can stop the Master Killer Swordsman of Amber and that is a much much harder pill to swallow (for me, YMMV.)

To return to the premise of the thread more directly--if you are making a case that all of the royals are sociopathic folks of which Benedict is the just the oldest and most successful--this argument also seems to fail because the royals do allow each other breaks and escapes at the "point of no return".

They all "know" they will recover from serious injury, but---

Brand doesn't kill Corwin, not once but three times.
Caine doesn't kill Corwin--no matter his explanation for this later.
Gerard doesn't kill Corwin--even though he makes every effort to convince his brother he will--and is rather transparently incapable of doing so, even though Corwin almost buys into it.
Benedict doesn't kill Corwin--

--call this all sloppy writing, or whatever, but if the royals are really homicidal psychos they are extremely ineffective ones, blundering at every turn.

It seems a straighter "think" to suppose they are extremely good at scaring the wits out of each other with brinksmanship.

The royals can all say what they will about how mean and ruthless they are to each other--but results show otherwise.

Quote: Yorlum at Mon Nov 3 2003 14:39:36

I cannot buy into the Brinksmanship theory based upon the lengths of their lives. Such a tactic can work once, maybe a few times, but not over and over for centuries and more.

au contraire...
if you value your life more than anything but the respect of your hubris... you are very nearly then a 'practical coward'.

Most of the royals demonstrate that when the situation is unknown, fleeing is the best choice: "...lives to fight another day" seems to be the banner coiled beneath the family crest. The obvious exception to this being 'home'....Amber or Oberon's regard (which damn few of the kids ever seem to have earned.)

To suppose sensory exposure (like fear or beauty) will dull with repetition is a slippery slope both from a pragmatic and a metaphysical perspective. And the way that family members fall into 'rememberance' of times past at the drop of a wistful nod--seems to suggest that sensory experience is quite dear to them, not tired at all.

Perhaps they are not cowards--but they hold their lives more dear than most mortals do.

Filed under : Amber at 16.06.2006