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From: "Robert Borski" 
Subject: Re: (urth) Severian's Daughter
Date: Mon, 29 Jul 2002 13:23:00 -0500

J-the-Genealogist having self-corrected herself:

> Well, as I glance back over UTNS, it seems unlikely
> that Thais could be Severian's kid by Dorcas. The
> last he saw of her was a decade or so before leaving
> to get the New Sun, and he returns several more
> decades latter, if poor shriveled Valaria is any
> indication. Thais is in Severian's estimation "fairly
> young", so perhaps a grandchild?

Glad you caught this, because any daughter by Dorcas would be at least 50
years old (Severian making the trip to Yesod in the tenth year of his
Autarchy and returning 40 years later), and while the granddaughter
postulate is interesting, it is also flawed. This is because Severian and
"Thais" have met at least twice before.

Bear with me here as I attempt to explain why I believe this is so.

Shortly after Severian joins Odilo, Pega, and Thais on their makeshift raft,
Odilo begins an anecdote about how his father once encountered Severian in
the secret passageways of the House Absolute. Severian, dressed in the
fulignin of a carnifex, is thought by Odilo père to be on his way to a
masque, "of which there are several in one part or another of the House
Absolute on any given night. Yet," as Odilo fils continues to explain, his
father "knew none was to take place in our Hypogeum Apotropaic, neither
Father Inire nor the then Autarchy having much fondness for those

Notice now both Severian's and Thais's reaction:

"I smiled, recalling the House Azure. The dark woman shot me a significant
glance and ostentatiously covered her lips with her hand." Severian thinks
Thais wants him to cut Odilo's anecdote short here, but I believe she's
attempting to enjoin his silence, fearing he's recognized her. Thus the
significance glance.

There are also clues in the House Azure and Hypogeum Apotropaic
references--these being the two places Severian and Thais have encountered
each other previously.

The second of these takes place in CLAW. Severian, having escaped from the
antechamber where he and Jonas have been imprisoned, is now looking for
Terminus Est.

"I ascended some distance, reconnoitered the corridor there until I was
certain I was still lower than the antechamber, then began to climb again
when I saw a young woman hurrying down the stair toward me.

"Our eyes met.

"In that moment, I felt sure, she was as conscious as I that we had
exchanged glances thus before. In memory I heard her say again, "My dearest
sister," in that cooing voice, and the heartshaped face sprung into place.
It was not Thea, the consort of Vodalus, but the woman who looked like her
(and no doubt borrowed her name) whom I had passed on the stair in the House
Azure--she descending and I climbing, just as we were now."

Thea/Thais and Severian each continue on their respective ways. But then who
is the very next person Severian encounters? Odilo père--who will then pass
on the anecdote of their meeting to Odilo fils, who will then tell the story
to Severian on the raft fifty years hence. (Obviously, all the stairs in the
House Absolute are designed by M. C. Escher.)

As for the first encounter in the House Azure, once again Severian is
ascending a stairs, this time with his inamorata-of-choice, who asks:
"'Aren't you coming?' She had already reached the top of the stair, nearly
out of sight. Someone spoke to her, calling her 'my dearest sister,' and
when I had gone up a few steps more I saw it was a woman very like the one
who had been with Vodalus, she of the heart-shaped face and the black hood.
This woman paid no heed to me, and as soon as I gave her room to do so
hurried down the stairs."

Thus Thais/Thea appears at the very least to be a khaibit--perhaps assigned
to a Mata Hari role. She is, after all, encountered in the Hypogeum
Apotropaic, which belongs to Father Inire, and who better to function as
putative spymaster? And is it khaibit technomagic that accounts for how
Thea/Thais is able to preserve her youth (there being at least fifty years
between encounters 2 and 3) or has Father Inire simply taught her how to
access the Corridors of Time? Both seem possible, but I like another theory
better still.

Given how Thais is "tall, dark and hollow-cheeked" like Severian himself,
and recalling that witch-prostitute connection, as well as the Cumaean's
words about how "there are those who ride the night air who sometimes choose
to borrow a human seeming," then factor in the twice-echoed "My dearest
sister"--well, is it possible that Thais is Merryn?

(Not that there may not be still another relative of Severian's aboard the
raft, but I'll save my Pega-Pelagia-Agia speculations for elsewhen.)

Robert Borski


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