Help me gain the wit that Iain M. Banks thinks I should have.
September 20, 2009 9:42 AM   Subscribe

In Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks there is a part where one of the Estodiens say to Quilan, 'I hope you have the wit to realise you past two little tests there, Major, not one'. It appears that I do not have the wit. Possible spoilers inside.

This comes after Quilan's training when he first meets the second Estodien. One of their helpers circles around behind him and instead of him taking the hand offered in front of him. He spins and crouches down in his 'defense position'.

One test he passed was to know that he was about to be attacked; but what was the other? Was it as simple as him spotting someone who was out of place and a potential threat? But doesn't that just link into the 'first' test?
posted by Nufkin to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What chapter is that part in?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:05 AM on September 20, 2009

Response by poster: Chapter 10, page 222-224 in my book.
posted by Nufkin at 10:25 AM on September 20, 2009

Best answer: I don't recall all of the plot of that one. Could passing the second test mean that he recognized the first test as a test and didn't attack his "attacker"?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:10 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I agree with ROU_Xenophobe

He spots the threat then responds (the awareness test). And he spots the larger test the threat involved. (his reaction to the awareness test)

Estodien: 'I hope you have the wit to realise you passed two little tests there, Major, not one.'
Quilan: 'Yes, sir. Or the same one, twice, sir.'

A couple pages later the Estodien talks about what he's looking for:

Quilan: 'I am not trying to pass your tests, Estodien. I am trying to be honest. I assume your tests are good ones. If they are and I do my best and fail while somebody else succeeds then that is better than me succeeding by telling you what I think you want to hear rather than what I feel.'
Estodien: 'That is calm to the point of smugness, Quilan. Perhaps this mission requires somebody with more aggression and cunning than that reply indicates you to be in possession of.'

What I want someone to explain to me is why big helper who threatens Quilan here is allowed to toss a random servant out the window a few chapters later. That never made sense to me.
posted by pseudonick at 12:12 PM on September 20, 2009

Best answer: I think the cruelty to the servant was just in the plot to demonstrate how divided the society is - as in how little empathy the high castes have for the low castes? They are a race of predatory creatures with a caste system, I guess it was supposed to demonstrate how violent they could be. Remember that this was a society that went from peace to all out civil war much faster than the Minds of Contact could ever have expected.
posted by memebake at 12:32 PM on September 20, 2009

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