The Count of Years Commentary: 4    [ Text ]

The five wars

The account of the eight iliu-ktuvok wars derives from the iliū, and has obviously suffered a good deal of abstraction and idealization (e.g. the identical thousand-year length of each war). Nonetheless these were real wars, and from the descriptions we can infer that both sides developed some rather advanced technology. We would have a very different picture of Almea if our access point was the period of these ancient wars.

The creation of the ktuvoks

Amnigō = 'children of Amnās'. V. ktuvok derives from Elkarîl ktuphuq 'swamp thing'.

The ktuvoks are described as having 'Houses' (aurē), the normal word for the dominion of a lord; it shouldn't be inferred that their political organization was anything like that of Cuzei. For a description of ktuvoks and their way of live, see The Biology of Almea.

1. The war of Nexi

Nexi means 'starfish'.

The demand that the ktuvoks 'make right' (eyēvu) their crime follows Cuzeian morality. Crimes are offenses agains the community, and can always be recompensed. The murder of the child was shocking, but the deeper crime is the refusal to negotiate, since this is a definitive rejection of community.

2. The war of metal

The catalog of edged weapons is of course those known to the early Cuzeians. 'Darts' (tirū) are needle-like objects, thrown or embedded in a wall to impede climbing; 'stars' (alaldi) are sharp-edged discs thrown at an enemy.

3. The war of spirit

It can be seen that the hallucinatory storytelling ability of the iliū has military applications.

4. The war of fire

Names: Nîtardis 'smoke bird'; the other names are opaque.

It's tempting, isn't it, to read this as a mythologized account of a nuclear war.

The Zone of Fire is called the ogonas Obondōsiex 'Obondōsiu's fire' in Cuêzi. This is not the only mythological account that suggests that it is artificial.

Ambretāu and Obondōsiu's fire are reflected in the story of Évetel and the Fellrock in the Caďinorian Aďivro (itself compiled from far older Caďinorian sources) There, the iliū distract Škagon and the ktuvoks with singing and magic, and Évetel destroys the Fellrock with magic either learned from the Guardians or derived from the iliu song-- elements which seem to belong to the third war. The account in the Aďivro is evidently a retelling of a portion of the Count of Years-- perhaps the portion which most impressed them, or which seemed most compatible with their own cosmology. (They would be more cold to alternative accounts of the creation of the world or of men.)

5. The war of machines

Through the fog of mythology, we can dimly perceive a technology which perhaps outstrips our own. It's uncertain how much of this technology remains; possibly some has been lost, or voluntarily abandoned.

Living in a technophilic age, we may find this difficult to understand. Would we ever voluntarily live with more primitive technology? Perhaps we would-- the Amish do, and I've sometimes wondered if, once the technology exists to create self-sufficient space habitats, some human groups might use them to re-create some idealized form of the past. Our minds and bodies, after all, evolved to fit a world very different from modern urban civilization, and the lack of fit causes any number of problems, from epidemics to pollution to totalitarianism.

On the other hand, it may be only our own stage of history-- and our own aesthetics-- that create such a strong break with our own past. Massive industrial landscapes already seem a bit old-fashioned. The few cities of the iliū may be all they need for an extremely advanced technology.

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