Libby Beer and Old Ammett- Dalemark spoilers

Rowland, Jennifer A B jennifer.rowland at ic.ac.uk
Mon Sep 18 05:41:58 EDT 2000


Hi all (Becca here),
Another question that isn't quite related: are Libby Beer and Drowned Ammet
gods? I never knew. It's probably right there in the book, and I've just
passed blithely over it a zillion or so times.

I thought they were gods before I read Spellcoats- I still think they are
effectively, but they may be others like the One, *very* old Undying who got
trapped and mythologised into the role of gods. I don't know where their
"magic" comes from- if all Undying have magic, does Mitt? Is he only free of
godhood because he never let pictures be made of him and he is thought of as
historical and not mystical? (certainly all Tanaqui's family seem to be
magic- is that because of their mother the River-spirit? Was she born a
human Undying or does she emanate from the river- she's the One's daughter
but is that a physical relationship or a waterly/spiritual one?) We see
Tanaqui start off as an ordinary-seeming child and she then becomes the
Weaver, a sort of Fate- does that sort of "amplification" always happen to
Undying once they take up a role? If so, why do/did they not move on like
Duck did, by changing identities? If Libby Beer "resigned", what would be
left of her, and what would happen to the ships? Would she get freed when
people stop believing in ship's luck, as they seem to have by Crown of
Dalemark?
What does the power of their names have to do with all this- is it by
calling someone a god-name that their power is invoked and they are forced
to act in a godly way? (This would fit with the mages who weave their names
in their gowns to gain power, like "I slew the Beast").

Were there some original true gods, who, erm, put the human-immortality
genes into the Dalemark population, so that recently-born Undying are
qualitatively different from older ones? (This doesn't *seem* to be what is
meant, as far as information is ever given, but who knows.)

I'm sorry, I've just thrown down my own puzzles about the "theological"
background, not very helpful. The thing about dwj is that this is so
mysterious and yet it's very satisfying and comprehensible-*seeming*. 
A sort of tangle of unresolved and even contradictory beliefs is much realer
than Everyone Knowing the Exact Truth, as can happen in fantasy. Each era in
Dalemark has its own answers to what the Undying are- the people in Shelling
have small figures that they worship, representing nature-spirits, the
people in Moril's time have old customs that a lot of them don't really
believe, and yet Libby Beer is still seen in the Holy Islands, and I get the
feeling that in modern times there's a sort of C of E, all rational and not
much belief in the old "fairy tales" of spirits and heroes, but a religion-
someone says at some point that "saying the One was her grandfather was
probably just what we mean when we say he is our Grand Father". (This must
make it easier for the Undying who are around).
Jennifer
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