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Something I've seen noted on several fansites which also intrigues me- In the Taltos books, Vlad and his wife have read Paarfi's Romances. However, according to the timeline of the Khaavren books "written" by Paarfi, his first work of fiction, The Phoenix Guards was written at a point when Vlad and Cawti were in their seventies or older. My personal theory is that some of Paarfi's earlier historic works had the same quirks as his later fiction, and so they were enjoyed in a So Bad, It's Good way. Otherwise though, this seems to be a major plot hole.
Let's blame it on Verra.
They've read some of Paarfi's work, but as far as I know, there's no indication that they read the Khaavren Romances themselves...? Paarfi was a writer before he struck gold with the Romances, like you said. I'm on board with your personal theory.
In his introduction to Phoenix Guards, Paarfi lists interviews with "the Baroness of D___________" as a major source, and 500 Years After contains events to which Sethra Lavode, Baroness of Dzur Mountain was the only witness who survived long enough to tell anyone. It stands to reason that Sethra was familiar with Paarfi before the Romances were published, and Vlad could easily have picked it up from her.
The introduction to Five Hundred Years After indicates Paarfi had written a romance called Three Broken Strings which apparently attained some renown, and also indicated that people who read it also tended to pick up his historical monographs.
Another thing, on the issue of Great Weapons. It's stated at some point that the user determines whether or not they want to destroy the soul of someone they kill. However, when Vlad accidentally kills someone with Godslayer in Dzur it seems like he automatically destroyed their soul even though he had no intent to do so. Similarly, in his highly disturbing slaughter of a village in Sethra Lavode, Morolaan (spelling?) thinks of his victims as sacrifices to Vera which seems to be literally "letting God sort them out", but doesn't exactly fit the two options noted above.
A related question- why would you want to destroy someone's soul in the first place? I understand how the Jhereg will use Morganti weapons to send a serious message, but it really seems like a Moral Event Horizon- how could you hate someone enough to do that?- why wouldn't it be sufficient to put their body through a cheesegrater so that they wouldn't be brought back to life- why would you care whether or not the gods chose to reincarnate them at some point in the future?
The Serioli forged the morganti blades as a means to end all wars by making them to horrible to even think about. This worked - for the Serioli. The Great Weapons were created as a way to kill the gods and the Jenoine, because they ruled/rule now over the planet which belonged to the Serioli first.
But Dragaerans are generally pretty ruthless, right? The Jhereg especially (those who aren't probably get... weeded out... quickly). There are a couple of scenes, IIRC, where some of Vlad's friends seem honestly puzzled that wanton slaughter is something that bothers him.
Also, as of Dzur, Vlad isn't at all familiar with Godslayer, and Godslayer is still very young and not even awake yet.
Let's be fair: If in our world, not only was the existence of the soul empirically proven, but a mechanism produced which could destroy that soul, does anyone seriously believe for a second that this mechanism would not be at some point introduced? A nuclear-equivalent "ultimate deterrent"; a means of revenge or control, a religiously-fanatical 'cleansing of the sinners'... Even as an implement of justice a step above, or concurrent, with the death penalty.
Given that events in Vlad's life confirm that reincarnation occurs, and that a reborn person retains at least some of their former personality-traits and can recall their former lives through magic, it's technically true that destroying the soul may be the only way to permanently remove someone from Dragaera. Unless you're sure your enemy is going to pass on to eternity and not be reincarnated, a Morganti weapon may be your only option to expunge an utterly-hated foe.
Vlad's (well, Godslayer/Lady Teldra's) automatic destruction of the sorceress' soul was explained at some point, as being a proportionate response to the severity of the attack, but it seems as if soul destruction is the default setting (if you will) for a Great Weapon.
Hawk further elaborates on this, revealing that Great Weapons actually need to feed to maintain their full powers, although they'll refrain from doing so if their wielders disapprove. Lady Teldra was most likely starving when the sorceress attacked, and wasn't "awake" enough as yet to sense Vlad's objections even if he'd warned her not to.
Regarding all of the Epileptic Trees (especially the Kragar as Mario idea), Brust responded that no character is anyone else. However, this isn't true, as Sethra Lavode and Kiera the Thief are the same person. I wondered if Brust changed his mind, because there is a comment in one of the Khaavren books where Paarfi says the same thing, but of course Garland becomes Graycat and Grita becomes Orlaan.
They probably just changed their names. Grita seems to be the rough equivalent of Mordaunt from the Musketeer trilogy, and he used at least one alias. His mother Milady (=Illista) had many.
The quote from Brust was "No-one else is anyone else." and was made after the Sethra/Keira revelation. My interpretation of it was more that he was saying "That was the only time I will ever use this plot device in the Taltos novels" rather than "It will never appear in a Taltos novel"
However Sethra pretty much outright told Vlad that she had other identities, but that they were "no one he knew." So it's possible that the "no-one else is anyone else" simply applied to all characters that had thus far been introduced, not any future characters.
The Garland/Graycat incident was a case of Exact Words — Paarfi says "Graycat does not appear in this book under any other name", and indeed he doesn't. When Khaavren recognizes Graycat as Garland, Graycat replies that he left the name Garland behind him at the end of Phoenix Guards and won't reclaim it until he returns the the Imperial Court (which he never does). Paarfi never said Graycat hadn't or wouldn't appear in other books in the series under other names.
There were flying castles before the Interregnum. How could anyone reach them if they couldn't teleport or levitate easily?
It's possible that the castles raised and lowered themselves to take on passengers and supplies. Impractical, but they did some crazy stuff before the Interregnum.
Teleportation was decidedly impossible, but clearly levitation on a scale adequate to supply a castle existed, since levitation adequate to hold a castle up in the air existed.
Mechanical elevators and cargo cranes, powered by counterweights or beasts of burden, could also suffice.
Why is everyone (at least on the main page) assuming the House of the Pheonix is doomed? They are the House of the Phoenix. The Empire and the House of the Phoenix seem to be match each other - Adron's Disaster killed the Empire and seemingly the House of the Pheonix (Zerika lived under a false name) but both are reborn as Zerika leaves the Paths of the dead. My theory is that after a cerain number of cycles - probably something like 17x17x17x17 (or more) - the empire "dies" and is then "reborn." This is probably either a bug or by design inherently to the cycle itself, with the House of the Phoenix as something of a destroy/rebuild job.
Doesn't Zerika IV's reign start the second Great Cycle? So there have only been two Phoenixes of that caliber, Zerika I and IV. Even Sethra Lavode hasn't seen what happens with this sort of thing, and given how miserable everything looked after Adron's Disaster, it's no wonder everyone's freaked out about the Phoenix House dying. But we've seen no solution to that and we may never since it will be another cycle/couple thousand years before it comes up. In the meantime, important people and gods will worry and hopeful find a solution from keeping the Cycle from crumbling.
If events in Tiassa set a precedent, there's at least one option (i.e. hooking up with a deceased Phoenix in the Paths of the Dead, like Aliera hooked up with Kieron) by which Zerika IV might avoid being the very last of her House. No knowing how many generations could get away with that, however.
Aliera herself was considered acceptable as Dragon Heir, despite being half-Dragon and half-deity. Presumably if Zerika had a child whose father was a god, that child would be considered a true Phoenix.
The system of Dragon bloodlines is a bit confusing at times. It's stated that Dragonlords' "e'whatever" designation indicates their descent from an illustrious ancestor, yet it's unclear whether that lineage is traced down through the male line of descent, the female line, or by whichever sex the famous ancestor in question happened to be. The fact that Morrolan isn't considered an e'Kieron, despite his mother having been Adron's sister, suggests it's only the male line of descent that's relevant; however, this runs counter to the existence of an e'Lanya bloodline, as the original Lanya for whom they're named was female. So how, exactly, is a bloodline traced from one generation to the next among Dragonlords, and how does tracing ancestry through only one parent's lineage even make sense in the first place, for a gender-blind society?
Dragonlord's choice which bloodline they cleave to upon reaching maturity, perhaps? There's no reason they can't trace ancestry through both parents' lineages, but choose to honor a specific one. Or maybe it's simply agreed to on a case-by-case basis which lineage is "dominant" in a relationship and thus any resulting children are counted as members of such. Or maybe the "choice" is based on something like birth year and which house is dominant in the Cycle. Or maybe important rituals of foretelling at the child's birth. Or maybe... Well, suffice to say there are a lot of ways such might be decided, just that no narrator has ever known it or considered it relevant to mention.