Question about Amerasu and her magical abilities?

Darth Angelus

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Hello, long time no see!

I posted this question over at Tad Williams's forum, so I thought I might post it here as well.


First off, a disclaimer. It was over twenty years since I read Memory, Sorrow and Thorn in its entirety. However, I have looked up certain key scenes in far more recent years.

I am amazed by the creativity in Tad Williams’s worldbuilding in Osten Ard, particularly with regards to the Sithi and Norns. The following should not be taken as criticism, just an attempt on my part to better understand a certain aspect of it.


I do have a question about a certain character, her abilities (particularly the magical ones) and her untimely death.

As the title of this thread suggests, I am talking about Amerasu, Sitha and mother of Ineluki the Storm King.


As I recall, she was portrayed as very capable with magic, in a way much as one would expect from the mother of the main villain the Storm King. Yet, she seemed to be taken out very easily by Ingen Jegger, the huntsman of Utuk’ku. In spite of Ingen Jegger’s position, I would still bet on Amerasu - the tree from which the apple that was Ineluki came - coming out on top in a fair confrontation between the two of them.

Move forward to Green Angel Tower for a little comparison, it seemed as if Pryrates was able to freeze the legendary knight Camaris with one of the three great swords, rendering him immobile. From that scene, it would seem competent magic-users in Osten Ard have an advantage against mundane fighters, however good. Of course, it might require them not to be taken by surprise.


I will be straight with you, I used to think Amerasu’s easy death at the hands of Ingen Jegger was a kind of plot hole. Sorry, but that was my interpretation as a teenager, perhaps motivated by a disappointment that Amerasu (who I liked more than most characters in the series) died. However, researching a few years ago, I have another possible explanation...

In Green Angel Tower, Utuk’ku mentions that she ”broke” Amerasu before Ingen Jegger killed her. I am suspecting this is probably the reason Amerasu was so easily taken out?


Or, perhaps aptitude for magic is not as strongly inherited as I assumed, and you have to be kind of mad to search for magical power in Osten Ard to approach Ineluki’s level of ability?


Or, perhaps Amerasu’s magical powers were massive, just not made for dominating foes in combat or combat-like situations as that of some of the main villains?


Or, perhaps a bit of a combination of these?



What do you think is the truest explanation? Why wasn’t Amerasu capable of defending herself better against Ingen Jegger, in spite of being Ineluki’s mother and being portrayed as very competent at magic? Do you agree it was probably because Utuk’ku ”broke” her before that, or do you find another explanation more plausible?



Please remember I do not intend this as criticism! I no longer think it a plot hole, as I find Utuk’ku breaking her a satisfying enough explanation. I just want to know what others think about this.


Besides, any other discussions and/or explanations about Amerasu as a character are welcome.



Thanks in advance!

Darth Angelus
 
What do you think is the truest explanation? Why wasn’t Amerasu capable of defending herself better against Ingen Jegger, in spite of being Ineluki’s mother and being portrayed as very competent at magic? Do you agree it was probably because Utuk’ku ”broke” her before that, or do you find another explanation more plausible?

I see a few things at work here:

1) Sithi/Norn magic is not the same as "mortal" magic. Their powers seem more similar to Tolkien's elves, where it has to do more with shaping nature and creation in astounding ways... impossible architecture, hidden cities, harnessing witnesses, etc. At one point during the final volume, I recall a quote from one of the Sithi (perhaps Jiriki or Likimeya) that mortal wizards are very different. Recall also that the Words of Making and Change that Pyrates wielded so effectively came from the Dwarrows, who gave them to Ineluki. Their power is totally independent of the Sithi.

2) Surprise vs planning. Amerasu was focused on what amounted to a council meeting to discuss plans and was caught completely by surprise in a place her and her entire people thought was completely safe. Pyrates managed his feats as the culmination of a plan years in the making that brought everyone involved to HIS stronghold where he had set up numerous traps and prepared himself for battle.

3) Though the Sithi and Norns developed witchwood weapons to counteract iron, iron still hurts them. The only person to hurt Pyrates was Miriamele using a Sithi arrow. Similarly, Ingen's attack benefits from using iron, a substance Sithi are vulnerable to, particularly when combined with the elements above.

4) I think you're correct that Utuk'ku had a huge role in it as well. Based on later scenes of battle between the immortals, their conflicts don't necessarily take place in the way men hitting each other with swords do. I got the impression that before Ingen even arrived, Amerasu was expending great effort in some sort of test of wills with Utuk-ku. On the other hand, I also always thought Utuk'ku was really more bragging here than actually claiming she literally broke Amerasu herself.
 

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