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Back to the book club questions! This is an especially interesting one.

Michel Ney also exhibits contradicting traits. He is gentle in person and violent on the battlefield, a kind and romantic soul who secretly fantasizes about rape and murder. Did these dark aspects of his nature make it difficult for you to see him as a romantic figure? Would you have preferred Elza’s true love to be more heroic, in the traditional sense?

So what do you guys think of Michel? Chime in, please!


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 21st, 2012 12:09 pm (UTC)
I thought Michel was brilliantly written. Mainstream 'heroes' generally seem rather one-dimensional and bland to me, and I really like Michel's complexity. He understands and accepts his knowledge of violence in a Christian world - this man has no illusions about who he is, what the world is, and what he is called upon to offer. Still, he has a moral vision and does his best to uphold it. How much more desirable could he be?
Nov. 21st, 2012 12:49 pm (UTC)
I'm glad it worked for you. He's very complex, I think. He does think that killing is wrong, and he does love battle. And the reconciliation of these things is complicated -- that he is what he is, but that has a purpose and a value. He's sworn to service, and I think that's one of the things she finds attractive about him. (Even if he hasn't yet told her the half of it!)
Dec. 3rd, 2012 01:48 am (UTC)
Now that I've read the whole thing, I'm coming back to the discussion. I love Michel. Traditional heroes live in a very simple world, no shades of grey. Since I don't live in that world, and neither does anyone whom I know, I'd rather see a hero who is a real person who is trying to be the best person they can be.

Plus, Michel is pragmatic and has mostly made his peace with the things in his life that would cause him cognitive dissonance, without lying himself into that peace. I like him.
Dec. 3rd, 2012 10:55 am (UTC)
I'm glad. He's trying to come to terms with the difference between what he is and what he thinks he should be, and as you say to make peace with what he is. Elza's giving him a valuable piece of that peace, if that follows?
Dec. 3rd, 2012 06:13 pm (UTC)
Right, because she understands and affirms his choices, and also because she has different and complementary skills and views. It's so fascinating to me (and rather sad, although I do love the relationship Charmian comes to with Dion and Emrys) how much better these incarnations work than Agrippa and Charmian.
Dec. 5th, 2012 10:30 am (UTC)
I think Agrippa and Charmian is tragic in the original sense of the word. He was really young, only nineteen at the disastrous dinner, and he blew it. Lots of guys would at nineteen! He just hasn't ever imagined that there are women who don't want to get married. Isn't that what all women want? His experience is so limited. And of course he wants to marry the first woman he slept with. It's not that he's bad. It's that he's really young and inexperienced.

And from that comes an entire series of mistakes.

Not that Charmian doesn't make mistakes too. She should have told him about the baby. He would have asked Caesar to send him back to Egypt. But since she took the choice away from him, he never had the chance to prove that he did care.

And now they have a chance to do this again, older and wiser. But they're still going to make mistakes!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )