R. Scott Bakker's "The Four Revelations of Cinial’jin"

R. Scott Bakker just posted a short story on his website, one set in Eärwa's past, titled "The Four Revelations of Cinial’jin."

Haven't read it yet, but based on the comments it looks good!

Here's a teaser:

You drink of the River and it is clear. You drink of the River and it is foul. You breath of the Sky and it never empties. You weep, and the Sea stings your lips. Rejoice, and mourn, for you belong to this World.

Heaven does not know you
– Nin’hilarjal, Psalms to Oblivion

Aisralu. . .

The Men shouted and laughed. Papa. . . A walnut tree stood upon the rising pasture, great with age and solitude, dark with interior shadow. Please, Papa. . . He would not think that death could be beautiful.

The Men had bound him in their ignorant fury, pierced his flesh with nails. They raised him upon a pole, and piled sheaves of bracken about his feet. He watched them pour the oil from amphorae, wondered at the viscous beauty as it pulsed in the open sun, the skin-pricking sun. The Horns towered high, gold-gleaming while all the World’s glory thrashed and screamed below, nimil-clad Ishroi sheeted in the blood of obscenities, Totems tipping into masses of caterwauling Sranc. Betrayed! Betrayed! We are Betrayed! As they stand milling, the Men, so clear in the open sunlight, the filth, the bestial hair, the imperfections of frame, the scarred and diseased skin, dark, so that their eyes seem afire beneath their brows. Glimpses of doggish teeth. Quya Chariots scored the desolation of Shigogli, trailing lines of racing, roiling dust, fleeing the descent of Dragons. A torch was brought forth, little more than a bundle of blurring air in the open sunlight–and jubilation roared through the slovenly mob. Ciogli, the one called Mountain, stood upon the carcass of Wutteat, the Father of Dragons, beating down Bashrag with hammer and fist, only to be felled by a lone, impossible arrow, which had found the slit in his cauldron helm. As a weeping boy-child was given the torch, which he held in abject indecision, glancing to the mobbing Men in equine terror, bullied forward by the haranguing chorus, his shoulders hitching to soundless sobs, resembling his dead sister in the beauty of his cheek, the delicacy of his frame and heart–just as she had said one rare day that he remembered. “He is my image.” The boy thrust forward, a push like a blow, so that he stumbled, almost kissed the unseen flame. A shadow caught his eye, raised his gaze from the hellish din, so that it would be his curse to see it. The same mouth slung about indecision, the same tipping look, though he did not hate fear so much as his sister. Nin’janjin leapt from the tumult, his spear poised high, running Cu’jara Cinmoi through, and a moan passed through the Host of Nine Mansions, the very earth seemed to stagger. The boy grimaced in terror, of him and of his revenge–maddened kin, clutching the torch in two small brown hands, lowering it like something that might break of its own weight. The Copper Tree of Siol staggered, then fell. The boy let slip the torch, which bounced and dropped into the heaped bracken. The Inchoroi screamed in mewling exaltation, raised an iron pole so that all could see the corpse of Cu’jara Cinmoi, the Hated, the Beloved, bound upon it. And the flames took shallow root across the oil-soaked portions, spinning outward, smokeless lines which begot incendiary blooms, until all the fuel heaped about his bound feet was skinned in frantic orange and gold, the fire sinking in, sparking deeper and deeper, unlocking curlicues of smoke, threads that became ribbons that became streaming plumes, hanging like ink, misting like fog, raising a shroud across the hollow sky, smearing the sun into a blinding stain. Betrayed! Betrayed! We are Betrayed! And in the pits they overcame him, sweet Ensialas, his youngest son, and he cried out to the skies, to the boiling-robed Quya, who were there to save them–to save them!–not to flee. And a cool fell across his scalp and shoulders, the gift of rolling fronds of smoke-shadow, even as heat began chewing his feet, biting and biting with children’s teeth, and he rolled his face across the world, peered through the breezy screens, across the raucous assembly of Men, and saw misery-pocked faces, the demented grins of mortals inflicting their horror of death upon another, hands outstretched in wild gesticulation, fists brandished against his image, and beyond their mobbing, horsemen in gleaming cuirasses, banners tipping as they yanked their horses from their galloping rush. And she grew still in his arms, Aisarinqu, at once kindling light, and a stone, such a heavy stone, and he wept for holding her so punishing was her weight, his life strained unto ripping by her density, the gravity of her stationary heart, her mouth hung about emptiness, and he shrieked, for the bottomlessness, for the finality, for the treachery and the violence-to-come, and for the relief, the sobbing knowledge that her suffering had ended, that he now cradled oblivion in his arms. He began choking, coughing up the convulsions that wracked his bound form, flapped him like a blanket, for the fire was upon him, and he could see it, laving the white lines of his feet, the searing, the blistering, the charring–his feet, which had been with him since… since… now writhing and kicking of their own volition, and he threw his eyes skyward and he screamed and he laughed, knowing that this… this he would remember, that his burning would not pass through him, fall away into the black-of-black, but would dwell forever as another horror, so welding him to who he had been. For he was standing in the blackness, the dank that forever ruled the guttural foundations of Siol, his hand upon the neck and shoulder of his daughter, Aisralu, who even now clutched her belly, her womb, groaning against her headstrong pride, whispering, Please… Father… Please… You… Must… again and again, searching for his eyes, her face a summit, a beauty he had worshipped, bent into a pageant of strangers by anguish. He screamed and he laughed and through the screens of smoke he saw maniacal grins falter, the howling stumble, as the horror the Men celebrated became their own. Aisarinqu screams and Aisarinqu screams, again and again, not so much words as a storm of occasions, a piling of instants across an age, for theirs had not been a happy union. It seemed he should be a thing of wax, that the roaring phosphor should melt and consume him, not cook. He thrashed screaming and laughing, realizing, for the first time in ten thousand years comprehending, that he was a thing of meat, that he was of the self-same flesh, the very thing that nourished him, boar-squealing, bloody and alive. That is the sole curse of the Ishroi, she hissed. To only hope they had fathered their sons! His eyes were pinched and pricked by the effluence of the encircling furnace–no longer his own. Blackness fell away from her face, and for a wondering instant he gazed upon her, beloved Aisarinqu. A second, shrieking revelation. The white spark of some faraway light refracted in her tears, so that her contrition seemed holy. Fire is a thing that eats. A wondering instant, before the wrath seized his fists anew.

He slumped into his corporeal torment; burning seemed… proper.

Follow this link to read the whole tale.

12 commentaires:

Yagiz said...

"You drink of the River and it is clear. You drink of the River and it is foul. You breath of the Sky and it never empties. You weep, and the Sea stings your lips. Rejoice, and mourn, for you belong to this World.

Heaven does not know you.
– Nin’hilarjal, Psalms to Oblivion"

This is truly beautiful. I thought I was reading Guy Gavriel Kay for a second.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Yagiz. It is beautiful. I just posted it as a status. Reading The Darkness That Comes Before right now for the first time. It's going slow, but I think that's because I'm occupied by school at the moment.

Note that I have never read Kay. Sadly.

2400_AndreasKlein said...

Read Scott Bakker, NOW! The Prince of Nothing and The Aspect Emperor can probably teach You more than many lectures. Even though I liked Kay, Bakker feels a little bit more "daring" in his books. For me, Scott Bakker is the best fantasy author, period (note the "for me").

Cursed Armada said...

I thought this was very cool of Mr. Bakker to do for his fans. I loved it even though it was confusing... Iv'e come to the conclusion that when reading Bakker's work you have to just buckle up and hold on. Bring on the Unholy Consult indeed!

alabrava said...

I am thinking this is told from the perspective of a Nonman, that would be why everything is so run together in the excerpt.

Ludwig Van said...

"Read Scott Bakker, NOW! The Prince of Nothing and The Aspect Emperor can probably teach You more than many lectures."

Mr Bakker is a great author, certainly one of the best in contemporary fantasy. But like many of his more deluded fans, you vastly overestimate the philosophical originality of his novels. His outstanding storytelling and memorable worldbuilding removed, you probably won't find a single significant philosophical notion in the "Second Apocalypse" series that is Mr Bakker's own.
It would be foolish for any fantasy reader to ignore Mr Bakker's works as he is one of the genre's most imaginative, demanding, interesting and - as you wrote - daring authors. But it is equally foolish to exaggerate the supposed novelty of his personal philosophy.

Anonymous said...

" His outstanding storytelling and memorable worldbuilding removed, you probably won't find a single significant philosophical notion in the "Second Apocalypse" series that is Mr Bakker's own."

Do you not follow his blog? Either the guy's original or he's a madman. If you think you see the same old same old, then you simply don't see what he's doing.

Ludwig Van said...

No, the blind fans' problem is, that they don't know much about contemporary philosophy or psychology and thus believe in Mr Bakker's astounding originality. I regularly read the "Three-Pound Brain" and much of what Mr Bakker writes is very interesting, provocative and ingenuous. But he is not some lone, heroic fighter against a tide of academic brickheads who don't know or don't want to know what he's going on about. That is just the cool image he wants to create for himself...

Anonymous said...

So academics aren't insular? So most academics see themselves as part of the problem instead of the solution? Bakker seems spot on to me.

I'm not sure where you're getting the lone hero stuff. If anything irritates me it's the time he spends tearing himself down. The insecurity. The lack of faith in his ideas. The only thing he regularly calls himself is 'crackpot.' That's a cool image?

2400_AndreasKlein said...

@Ludwig Van:
I do agree with you. I would never dare to recommend his books based on their philosophical originality, nor do I claim to be able to judge it compared to contemporary philosophy. I just fail to think of a better overall fantasy writer. At least he does not simply translate poetry from other languages, leading readers to falsely believe it is original work.

In fact, I do not recommend Bakker's non-fantasy books, making me a little bit less of a "blind fan" I hope.

Ludwig Van said...

O, I agree with you - though I still find Mr Martin to be the superior writer, especially when it comes to characters and plotting. But Bakker is one of fantasy's best, no doubt about that. The way his Second Apocalypse 'feels' (regarding its pseudo-historic atmosphere, as well as the cultural and mythological background) is very unique. As a secondary world, it works much better than most, and Mr Bakker's story has been gripping and intelligent so far (partly because of his well-applied psychological and philosophical notions).
One question, though: Who is the author who "simply translates poetry from other languages"? Mr Erikson perhaps?

2400_AndreasKlein said...

I was referring to Guy Gavriel Kay, who was mentioned earlier. I fully understand that he pays homage to the historical time period of his fantasy (and his books are among my favorites as well), but reading Under Heaven, the direct translation of Chinese philosophical poems bugged me a little. Some readers may not know about the originals.

I have not noticed anything similar in Erikson's work, but also can't really recall any poetry from his series.

Martin and Scott are about equal for me, personally. I am not a real "fan" of Bakker, but I really wish more people would read his books.