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The end of the tunnel, and a question.

Yelm's Light


Research is finally complete, to the tune of 183 pages of notes.  Well, mostly.  Now that I have the basis, I'm going to check out some of the wikis to see if they have anything interesting or unique to add.  The synthesis begins.

I realized in researching the last book that I was missing the two stories that were the germs of Earthsea, The Word of Unbinding and The Rule of Names, both from Le Guin's short story collection, The Wind's Twelve Quarters, which is basically a sort of retrospective of her first decade of published work.  (I happened to have that book as well, primarily because when I find an author that I really like I tend to buy up everything that I can get my hands on that they've ever written.)  Unfortunately, they have a much different tone than the Earthsea series, and some of the rules of magic are in flat contradiction to the later books.  So I read and discarded them; there's really nothing in there that I find that bears on the setting that isn't already better explained and executed later.

This brings me to a question that cropped up while I researched the last few books.  While there are things that Le Guin meant to be mysteries from the beginning, there's one issue that nags at me.  It has to do with Segoy, the Creator.  In the very useful appendix to Tales From Earthsea, where she gives a great deal of background for the world itself, there's a small section relating to Segoy which is as inconclusive as it is unsatisfying (to me).  The logic is a bit complex, but bear with me.  Let me quote the relevant statements here, interspersed with my own comments.  Note:  I've omitted page references because of the differences in various editions, using somewhat less specific but indicative ones.



"Its [The Creation of Ea's] thirty-one stanzas tell how Segoy raised the islands of Earthsea in the beginning of time and made all beings by naming them in the Language of Making - the language in which the poem was first spoken."

(from 'The Beginnings' section in 'A Description of Earthsea,' in Tales From Earthsea)

So there is no being before Segoy, whether he is a being or not.  (I'll use the general pronoun, with the understanding that gender is inconclusive or even inapplicable.)



"It may be that Segoy is or was one of the Old Powers of the Earth.  It may be that Segoy is a name for the Earth itself.  Some think all dragons, or certain dragons, or certain people, are manifestations of Segoy.  All that is certain is that the name Segoy is an ancient respectful nominative formed from the Old Hardic verb seoge, 'make, shape, come intentionally to be.'  From the same root comes the noun esege, 'creative force, breath, poetry.'"

(from 'The Beginnings' section in 'A Description of Earthsea,' in Tales From Earthsea)

Here we come to multiple ambiguities.  If Segoy  is an Old Power, he must be the first, since there are no Old Powers of the Earth that aren't connected to one of the islands, unless you count the sea itself, which isn't in the mold of the other Old Powers.  I don't find the supposition that Segoy is another name for the Earth particularly compelling either, but it's not germane to the issue I want to deal with.  As for 'what is certain,' I don't find it certain at all:



"'Tehanu,' the dragon said.

The child turned to look at it.

'Kalessin,' she said.

Then Ged, who had remained kneeling, stood up, though shakily, catching Tenar's arm to steady himself.  He laughed.  'Now I know who called thee, Eldest!' he said.

'I did,' the child said. ' I did not know what else to do, Segoy.'

She still looked at the dragon, and she spoke in the language of the dragons, the words of the Making.

(from the chapter 'Tehanu' in Tehanu)

If Tehanu calls Kalessin 'Segoy' in the Language of the Making, at best the etymology is the reverse:  that the Old Hardic words are a derivation of the name Segoy.



"'My name was Irian, of the Domain of Old Iria on Way.  I am Orm Irian now.  Kalessin, the Eldest, calls me daughter.  I am sister to Orm Embar, whom the king knew, and grandchild of Orm, who killed the king's companion Erreth-Akbe and was killed by him.  I am here because my sister Tehanu called me.'"

(from the chapter 'The Dragon Council' in The Other Wind)

Assuming that the familial references are literal, Kalessin, being the son of Orm, cannot possibly be the Segoy, since Segoy was before all beings.  This leaves us with the assertion that Segoy is an ancient, respectful nominative, and brings me to my contention:  that Segoy is the word for Father in the Language of Making.  Segoy is the Creator, the Father of all...and Tehanu calls Kalessin Father because it is literally so.  (One wonders how that works out, since Tehanu is one of the 'winged people' and Kalessin is a dragon, but Tehanu's true origin is shrouded in mystery.)

The reason I bring this up is that it will definitely appear in the variant...so, does anyone have any counterarguments?  Is there some logic I'm missing or that is fallacious, or do you have other interpretations?

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