Numair

Jan. 8th, 2011 04:07 pm
zodiacal_light: A map of Tortall (tortall)
I like Numair.

There's a dissonance in the books, between how characters act and how the text treats them. I'm pretty sure this has come up in every one of these posts, and it will continue to. It is rarely more clear, imo, than with Numair.

Pierce seems to act, randomly, like Numair is some flighty, immature mage. But, aside from one really out-of-character scene in early PotS (one that seriously makes me wonder if he has a special little garden somewhere), we're not shown that - and what we know of his history makes it unlikely that he would be either flighty or immature.

You can't really be either and successfully escape from the Emperor Mage of Carthak, or survive on the streets of Tortall - or, for that matter, be a mage as powerful as Numair is without blowing your ass up.

This is why, incidentally, Pierce's flippant explanation for why Daine and Numair are soulmates bothers me so damn much - Daine in the books reads very immature to me ... and Numair doesn't read particularly immature at all. I sometimes wonder if Pierce honestly knows her own characters, or pays any attention to what the hell she writes.

The most glaring example of the textual dissonance, for any character, occurs in WM. The setup for it is this: Daine, ignorant of what she's doing, uses meditation on a whim to stop her heart. And Numair yells at her for this - and not particularly nastily, either.

...And every. single. character. in that scene makes some comment belittling his anger, and talking about how utterly unreasonable it is. Daine even makes some condescending (but, admittedly, in-character for a bratty teen) comment about not being able to talk to him with "this pet he's in".

All I could think about, for that whole scene, was that Numair was right to yell at Daine. Sometimes, especially when dealing with potentially dangerous crafts - and what is more dangerous than magic? - you have to yell. I've been yelled at, a lot, for doing stupid shit when crafting ... and no, ignorance is no excuse. She stopped her heart because she wanted to hear the whales. Daine damn well deserves at least a round of yelling ... but when Numair does this, the text unambiguously and emphatically sides against him, in a way that makes it abundantly clear that Pierce wants us to see Numair as unreasonable and his anger as over-the-top and silly.

Um. No.

This is why I find it hard to talk about her characters, and why I find these posts, frustrating as they are, valuable. It's almost like there are two characters (or more): the one who shines through in action, and the one(s) we're told via text (or deuterocanon) exists. There's the flawed (and more interesting, imo) Alanna you see if you look at her actions - and there's the perfect and frankly Sue-ish Alanna of the text/deuterocanon. Sometimes, there's a third version, the ideal, like we see with Daine: there's the not-really-all-that-nice Daine evidenced by her actions, the text!Daines who are all some variant of Awesome Ecowarrior after WM, and this shadowy Platonic form of Daine, who I can sort of see when I think through what Pierce was likely trying to do with her (and failing, imo).

We get the show/tell split with Numair, pretty explicitly. What we see of how Numair acts doesn't match what the text tries to tell us, or what Pierce tries to tell us. I keep pointing to that Daine-stops-her-heart scene because it's only the most obvious instance of this dissonance that I see: I don't see an unreasonable man at all.

As an aside, I'm sick of Pierce belittling male anger, not least because she sets up this male anger bad/female anger good split that ends up belittling female anger too, by making it just some cute personality trait, and not a flaw for women. Look. I know that too often in fiction and real life female anger is belittled - hello, I'm a temperamental female, I've experienced that often. But the solution is not to then go "Ha! I will belittle MALE anger instead, and make female anger always cute and righteous!"

I don't like hard dualism in any form. I also don't agree with any form of feminism that utilizes dualism at all - and Pierce's morals in Tortall are very dualistic. This is a huge part of why I also get so damn frustrated that all good women in Tortall can fight somehow; it's fine and laudable to say that women can fight, but it's a really warped aesop to take it as far as Pierce does, and say that to be a good/worthwhile woman you must fight.

...And I'll leave that for the Varice post, and get back to Numair.

Ok, head-canon. Most of this will be jossed when the Numair book comes out, I'm sure.
-The Numair we see in canon is largely a facade. He's still a nice guy, but his real personality is not all that jokesterish, and he's got a dark side. (I wish people in canon actually had dark sides... *sigh*)
-Numair, power-wise, is not much more powerful than Roger and Thom, if he's more powerful at all. It's more that he has a ton of esoteric knowledge, thanks to the Carthaki university, that they don't.
-Numair's Gift either was always black with sparkles (gah) or, if I actually use Pierce's incredibly stupid deuterocanon, it changed color from amber because the uni students learned ways to recolor their Gifts, not because he's so uber-powerful or any shit like that.
-If Numair recolored his Gift, his grandma gave him hell for it.
-Numair has a scary grandma.
-Numair is much more loyal to Tyra than Jon - or Daine, for that matter - realizes. I'm working on an AU where he's actually a Tyran agent, but even in canon or non-badass-Tyra fics, I still see him as being very strongly loyal to his home country ... and not really all that happy with being the pet mage of another monarch, though it's better than life on the streets.
-Numair was living on the streets for longer than just a few months. (Where the hell did that fanon convention come from, anyway?)
-Numair had to flee Carthak because he refused to do battle magic for Ozorne.
-Numair's bisexual, and may have had a not-terribly-good-but-he-was-young-and-clueless relationship with Ozorne. If he did, he cottoned on to how awful and manipulative Ozorne was around the time he fled.
-Numair has trouble saying no to women when they proposition him. This is literally the only explanation I can swallow for why he marries a former student who has nothing more than a major crush on him. Well, the only explanation that doesn't make him basically predatory.
-Numair falls out of love with Daine really fast, though he won't leave her or the kids.
-Numair and Onua are really good friends. Onua is actually his best friend, which he'd tell you if you asked.
-Numair is a verbose and sometimes morose drunk, and his reflexes get faster when tipsy ... because he usually moves slower than he could, which is a street magician's trick.
-Actually, I'm wrong. There's another potential explanation for him marrying Daine I can sort of buy, but it requires me to assume things about godborns that aren't at all evidenced in the text - and that's that, basically, he sort of has to to keep her from going on a Carthaki-palace-style rampage when she's refused. GOD, Daine/Numair is so squicky and wrong and out-of-character for Numair, and it's pretty sad when the only way to make your wondrous love match work is to assume that one or the other partner is morally fucked up. Either Numair's a predator, or Daine's hugely unbalanced. THANKS, Pierce. (This is why in most of my fics, Daine/Numair never happens. I can't square it with their characters.)
-Numair likes needling Jon and Alanna. Jon's wise to it, but Alanna never quite catches on that it's deliberate.
-This isn't quite head-canon, but I've toyed with the idea that a young Numair has already enacted the necessary magics for the Sorcerer's Sleep, and so if Numair is ever killed, there's potential for a Roger-style resurrection. Zombie!Numair may not be insane if this happens, but his Gift would go back to its natural color.
-Another not-quite-head-canon bit: I toy with the idea that it wasn't the simulacrum that died, but the real Numair. It would be a neat, if dark, way to explain away Numair's out-of-character reciprocation of Daine's crush in RotG, and Numair's ooc flightiness in early PotS.
-Young Numair was actually not all that fond of Lindhall, until things went to hell with Ozorne and Lindhall got him the hell out of the country. Now Lindhall's his favorite teacher ever.
-Young Numair was a hell of a brat, and prone to pranking his teachers. Really unsubtly, too. This is directly responsible for why young Numair's not fond of Lindhall. XD
-If Numair had stayed in Carthak, he would have married Varice. They were genuinely in love.

***

My Fics
Canon compliant:
Her - Numair learns the hard way not to go pub-crawling with Lindhall.
Love Consumes All Things - Ozorne has only ever had one great love in his life.
Traitors and Monsters - Ozorne and Arram. Sometimes, falling in love is the start of the whole downfall.

Allegiance AU:
Difference - Daine comes to Tortall. Things are different, in this world.

Making the Best of Things AU:
So far, Numair's a pretty minor character in this 'verse, but he does show up in the following two fics.
Some People - Ten people who weren't ever wary of Thom, and one person who should've been.
Weird Folk - Ten friends Daine makes in Tortall.

What a Flicker Brings AU:
Numair becomes a major character in this 'verse.
Never - Thom never asks Numair what he sees in the charms.
Old Ghosts - Numair never looks Thom in the eye.
Fools in Love - Daine asks an impertinent question.
The Way to His Heart - Numair can cook a grand total of three things.
Nine Clues - Nine ways Thom knows Numair is just as broken as he is. Spoilers for an in-progress fic.
Reasons - Numair is a silly romantic, which makes him way too easy to tease.

Her

Nov. 26th, 2010 01:04 am
zodiacal_light: Crack: Because Numair's Gift is a shameless slut. (crack)
"I swear to Mithros, Numair," Lindhall said, reeling on his stool. Only a quick grab by the other mage, whose reflexes, paradoxically, sharpened when tipsy, saved him from falling clear off his seat. "She's the most beautiful thing in the world."

Numair nodded, plastering his most sincere look of sincerity on his face. He didn't think he succeeded too well, judging by the look Lindhall was giving him, and he suspected he was also being redundant. For good measure, he tried on a smile.

"Mithros, Numair, how is it you manage to win over the ladies with a grimace like that?" Lindhall asked, taking another long swig from his tankard.

Numair was starting to regret going drinking with Lindhall. His smile faded as he registered a faint pounding in his temples; he glared into the depths of his ale. He wasn't supposed to get a headache until after he'd finished drinking.

"Much better!" Lindhall said, grinning at Numair's sullen expression, and damn him, but he actually sounded genuinely cheerful. "The brooding look fits your whole mysterious-mageyness better anyway, Arram. Goes with the whole pretentious name and swoopy black robe and dramatic nose and all." He nearly clocked Numair upside the head with the tankard when demonstrating the robe's supposed swoopiness.

Numair grabbed Lindhall's arm and repositioned it in a safer place, and incidentally dragged the older man's attention back to his unfinished ale. Lindhall sipped it meditatively while Numair ran a finger down his own nose and squinted at his watery - ale-y? - reflection. What, by Shakith, was wrong with his nose?

"Anyway," said Lindhall, thankfully dropping the matter of Numair's dramatic nose and not-so-thankfully going back to his previous topic of conversation. "She's just… She's gorgeous, Numair, just gorgeous. Curves in all the right places," he said, drunkenly motioning in the air in front of him. Judging by the arcs he described, this girl was very well-endowed indeed.

Numair nodded and hummed agreement when Lindhall eyed him suspiciously. Mollified, Lindhall went back to rhapsodizing about his new love.

"She's just … perfect, you know?" Lindhall had the absolute soppiest grin on his face. "Not too big, not too small, sharp as a razor, and, most importantly," he stopped to take another pull of his ale, "she's been with me through thick and thin, all the way from…" Here Lindhall paused, looking around the nearly-empty pub warily. He caught Numair's eye, looking more suspicious than ever, and shrugged meaningfully.

Numair snorted. Had there been anyone still in the room, they would all now know Lindhall was hiding something. "I know," Numair said at Lindhall's meaningful stare. Then Numair's brain caught up with him, and he turned to stare at his old mentor. "Wait. Lindhall?"

The other mage turned to regard him suspiciously, nose buried in his tankard. "What?"

"I thought you came down alone."

Lindhall choked on his ale, sputtered, and dissolved into a fit of laughter that nearly knocked him backwards off the stool. "Mithros, Numair, you didn't think I was talking about a person, did you?" At Numair's utterly confused expression, Lindhall doubled over, pounding the table, and gasped out, "I was talking about my axe!"

That settled it, Numair thought. He was never, ever going drinking with Lindhall again.

Never

Nov. 26th, 2010 01:00 am
zodiacal_light: Humour: Because angst is not jolly. (Default)
He never asked Numair what he saw in the charms. He knew the mage could see magic - could see it all too easily, to the point that Thom wondered sometimes how he managed to walk around the palace without going flash-blind. Thom knew how many magical artifacts were kept in Legann.

Thom never asked, because he was never sure he wanted to know the answer. He'd had one dream ripped away from him already, and so he'd stubbornly keep at his charms and runes and paints, and if they were mere shadows with no substance, well, he didn't really care as long as they gave him purpose.

So Thom never asked Numair if there was any actual magic to his lucks, but Numair believed in them anyway, and that was good enough for him.

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zodiacal_light: Humour: Because angst is not jolly. (Default)
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