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From: <akt@attglobal.net>
Subject: (whorl) Bad Horn
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2001 09:37:38 

Allan ( not Wooly Mammoth or Bug <g>):

Primo post on Horn, made me actually think about the books for the first
time in quite a while. I'd never viewed Horn quite that way, but now I
think you're right. (And I also agree about Silk's sanctimonious chats
with the girls--Silk's attempt to save Fava's life, however, is truly

> He is a serial adulterer, (even before the affair with Seawrack if I
> read the clues right) who sells the lives of Nettle and his sons to
> Krait to save his own life. He sneaks off on his mission without
> goodbye to his wife, tricks Seawrack and Babbie into missing the
> and deserts Evensong on the river even though he knows she can't go
> to Goa or to her own people and is in serious danger. All of these
> actions are rationalised by a most persuasive narrator, one who
> constantly bemoans his lost wife. The more I read these passages, the
> more they sound like a drunken trucker in a bar telling all and sundry
> how much he loves his wife before going to the local whorehouse.
> (What is this thing Wolfe has with his heroes deserting their female
> companions by rivers or the sea, Sevarian does it with Dorcas, and I
> think of few Wolfe characters who are married and faithful.)
> Horn is not a terrific father either. I'm sure all of us with teenage
> kids can sympathise with a father getting annoyed with sulky
> sons, but Horn actively hates poor old Sinew, even after he follows
> on the long and dangerous journey to Pajoruco. He takes pleasure in
> shocking his son by showing his relationship with Seawrack. He
> Sinew of wanting to kill him, and considers killing Sinew himself. He
> only makes some reconciliation with his son after the fighting on the
> lander when he is forced to admit that his son has some good
> Horn is a careless and violent man, blaming others for his own
> He loses all of the supplies that he was given for his mission, and
> violently beats the man who was supposed to be looking after the boat,
> although he had no proof that he was involved in the theft.
> But worst of all is the savage and brutal rape of Seawrack. His excuse
> is that he was acting under enchantment from the Siren's song. (I
> see that standing up in a court of law: "Honest, Judge, she was asking
> for it. She sang at me.") I would argue that, even though Seawrack may
> have seduced him with her singing, the brutallity of the attack comes
> from Horn's character. It must have been pretty bad if he is advising
> her not to go swimming afterwards because the bleeding may start
> It makes you wonder what his sex life with Nettle was like, and may
> explain why she was willing to go off with the new, improved Silk at
> end of RTTW.
> (As an aside, I know that Wolfe's attitude to women has been
> before, but these books do seem to bring out the worst in him. Women
> seem to be inconvenient accessories, to be picked up or dumped at the
> hero's convenience. And I found Silk's chats to the teenage girls
> embarrassingly unreal)
> So, I don't like Horn. This makes his transformation into Silk more
> noticable and dramatic, and may explain why his character is almost
> completely erased by the end. I say almost, because the killing of
> Jahlee at the end of RTTW could have been the emergence of the violent
> nature of Horn, showing Silk that he was not fully redeemed and not
> quite the saint that he thought he was. An explanation for his refusal
> to stay on Blue and become their leader because the danger of the
> corruption of power was still in him?

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