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Sunday, April 27, 2014

“T'sais” from The Dying Earth by Jack Vance

First appeared in The Dying Earth.

T'sais fights her desire to destroy things (their sight offends her).  She visits Pandelume to visit Earth in order to see beauty.  He grants her wish with a few protective spells and a live sword that attacks of its own.

She watches Liane the Wayfarer as he prods a couple he has bound.  He will torture them until the man reveals where his brother is.  She decides the Liane is evil and attacks, releases the couple--the wife now dead.

Three moor-men capture her and plan to show her “love”.  She is able to get her sword eventually, but only escapes to a deodand.  Finally, a hooded man, Etarr, rescues and cares for her wounds.  T'sais is disillusioned, but Etarr, her savior, has been scarred due to a lover, Javanne.  She gave him the face that most disgusted him.  He wants to find her at the Black Sabbath to return his face but doesn’t revenge.  He still sees beauty in the world.

The Black Sabbath is interrupted.  "The Green Legion of Valdaran the Just arrives to vanquish the demons.

*SPOILERS HERE ON*  Javanne escapes but Etarr captures her, learns that his face was destroyed in the attack.  They launch spells each other into immobility.  T’sais aids Etarr, so that they are able to fly to the God of the past who restores justice.

Characters take on dimension here, complexity, a little shading here and there.  Etarr, with his scarred past, desires a straight future. T'sais, formerly a caricature of her hate, seeks love and finds it in a difficult place.  Likely, what kept this from having as frequent reprintings as others in the novel was the difficult subject matter.  The novel's first cover draws its image from this tale.

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