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From: David_Lebling@avid.com
Subject: (whorl) Mint
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 97 09:58:41 

[Posted from Whorl, the mailing list for Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun]

I'll definitely have to spend some time carefully reading all the recent
posts before replying in detail; there's a lot to absorb.  I hope I can
find the time!

In the meantime, I'd like to take up the question of Maytera Mint, aka
General Mint, aka the Sword of Echidna.

First, let me reassure Algae that Mint was not possessed by Echidna,
cognomen aside.  When Echidna's theophany begins, Mint is described as
advancing "head bowed."  When Echidna calls on her, she "barely nods."
In short, she doesn't look at the Window.  In her previous theophany (of
Kypris), she looks away from the Window and thus only gets partly
possessed.  Kypris wonders later about the effect of this partial
download; it's enough to make her a superb general and masterful
politician -- Mainframe knows what a full download would have done!

In any case, Mint is very interesting. She has an unrevealed past which
we learn tantalizing bits about.  For example, she refers to at least
five major things she gave up or renounced, presumably to become a
sibyl.  This occurs during the Kypris theophany, when she looks away
from the image of Kypris _because it looks too much like her_.

But wait, Mint is a small, apparently mousy woman. In the Grand
Manteion, we get to be Peeping Toms as she changes clothes, and she is
very critical of her body and her appearance; but she remarks that once
she was called beautiful.  She's repeatedly described as shy, quiet, and

At one point Marble implies that some great sadness or other terrible
experience lies in her past.  It can't be overtly sexual, otherwise she
would not be able to see the goddesses.  She cannot, for example, be
Auk's mother (something people seem to hint at now and then).  She's too
young in the first place, she would no longer be a virgin in the second,
and third, such references were metaphorical anyway.

What lies in Mint's past?

What did she renounce?

Of all the characters in _Long Sun_, she is the one who changes the most
in the course of the story.  Auk may become more responsible, but from
the start we know he's a good guy at heart.  Silk changes allegiance
from a set of trumpery gods and goddesses to a real one, but otherwise
is the same Silk.


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