Again on Ascendancy

Few more spurious quotes from the very end of House of Chains. Relatively spoiler-free.

The proportions had begun wrong. From the very start. Leading her to suspect that the proclivity for madness had already existed, dark flaws marring the soul that would one day claw its way into ascendancy.

I have walked into the Abyss.
I am as mad as that goddess. And this is why she chose me, for we are kindred souls…

This is another good example that illustrates what Ascendancy truly is and how it is regulated. Even if it’s a theme of the book making the process more blurred and defying categories, since at the core “Ascendancy” is strictly linked to the ambiguous production of meaning. Dancing on a edge to keep a fine balance.

He did the best he could – with such honour as to draw, upon his sad death, the attention of Hood himself. Oh, the Lord of Death will look into a mortal’s soul, given the right circumstances. The, uh, the proper incentive. Thus, that man is now the Knight of Death—’

Even here Ascendancy is the result of both convenience and kinship. A wicked sort of reward. The honor of failure. There’s no salvation in Ascendancy. There’s no glory.

This is why Ascendancy is symbolized by T’lan Imass. Immortality made into failure.

T’lan imass / glory & ghosts

‘The glory of battle, Koryk, dwells only in the bard’s voice, in the teller’s woven words. Glory belongs to ghosts and poets. What you hear and dream isn’t the same as what you live – blur the distinction at your own peril, lad.’

Karsa’s expression soured. ‘When I began this journey, I was young. I believed in one thing. I believed in glory. I know now, Siballe, that glory is nothing. Nothing. This is what I now understand.’
‘What else do you now understand, Karsa Orlong?’
‘Not much. Just one other thing. The same cannot be said for mercy.’

‘The heart is neither given nor stolen. The heart surrenders.’
The bonecaster did not turn round. ‘That is a word without power to the T’lan Imass, Onrack the Broken.’
‘You are wrong, Monok Ochem. We simply changed the word to make it not only more palatable, but also to empower it. With such eminence that it devoured our souls.’

The very last few words that conclude the book, in italics, deliver not only the answer to all this, but also a huge revelation that hit with all its power. Neither of the three preceding books ended on a so high note.

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