Monday, September 20, 2010


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The Encyclopedia of the Long Sun has character information and commentary for the following books by Gene Wolfe:

The Book of Silk:


The Book of Horn:


Note: this is an updated database. If you can fill in any of the blanks, post in the comments. If you create an entry worthy of the EoTL, we'll credit you with all the tidings of Pas. You can e-mail me at alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com.

GALAGO: One of the chems on the Ayuntamiento. Galago is a cousin of Councillor Loris and got on through nepotism, as Potto details to Mint in the opening chapter of Exodus of the Long Sun.

GALGLIARDO: An astronomer-scientist of Blanko. He may be someone else in the series hiding under an assumed identity in Soldo. 

GAUR: One of Urus' crew in the tunnels.

GAYFEATHER: A teen girl from Silk's palaestra.

Gecko. VBM

GELADA: A criminal sent to the pit. He kills Dace and eats his left arm. He is killed by Auk as retribution. Auk later explains to Chenille that he killed Gelada to win the good opinion of his fellow criminals. They'd never respect him otherwise.

GIB: A bouncer who fights for Silk's rebels. Auk saved his life.

GINGER. She gets her hand blown off.

GODLING: An aspect of Pas sent out in the Whorl. Pig is one. Silkhorn meets a big one outside of Blood's villa. According to Pig, the godlings are sent out by Pas to make people leave the Whorl.

Goldcrest. VBM

Goral. VBM

GRANDECITTA: A skyland city of the Whorl.

GREEN: One of two planets in the Short Sun Whorl. Green was the original planet of the Vanished People, where they were trees and vines. They are able to dream-travel to places they have already been. When the Vanished People began using inhumi to kill other Vanished People, they realized what they had created in the inhumi and abandoned Green and Blue rather than continue the practice. Green is the only place where it is warm enough for the inhumi to reproduce, according to Juganu.

Silkhorn becomes one of the Vanished People (and thus possibly part inhumi, since their previous form was influenced by the Vanished People). They later testify on his behalf at Silkhorn's trial in Dorp. There is much evidence of their intervention in Silkhorn's life, including his ability to move through any kind of brush, his ability to talk to animals, and the fact that he was able to transport himself from the lander on Green to Silk's body on the Whorl at all.

GRIAN: The flier who escaped the Trivigauntes by flying away. 

Grison. VBM

GUAN: A member of Spider's team of spies working for the Ayunamiento, he is found dead by General Mint, Spider and Remora in the tunnels.

GULO: The augur Quetzal sends to help Patera Silk. Despite spying on Silk for the chapter, Gulo is a devoted supporter of the Calde. He instructs some boys and himself chalks "Silk for Calde" on the walls of buildings. Later he leads massive crowds in prayer as Silk's acolyte.

GYRFALCON: A merchant of New Viron. He is deeply afraid of Horn's influence in the city and exiles him to find Pajarocu. He is an arms manufacturer, and may have supplied Marrow with his cache. He is killed at the wedding, which he attended directly on Silk's invitation, with a cadre of bodyguards. Silk was anticipating the attack and had Gyrfalcon there to defend his family.

HADALE: A major of Trivigaunte. She is General Saba's subordinate. She believes Saba has gone crazy and imprisons her after she flies the airship towards Mainframe.

HAMMERSTONE: A chemical soldier, father of Olivine. Hammerstone is found by Patera Incus dying in the tunnels. Incus tinkers with him illegally to turn his loyalty to Incus himself. He originally was in love with Moly, but after he was put in coldsleep, he went in a different direction. When the Trivigaunte airship attacks, he escapes the bonds of criminals from the Pit and wages war on their female troopers.

Hare. VBM

HARI MAU: The Gaonese chieftain who goes to the Whorl to find Silk and brings back Silkhorn on a lander.  He possibly regards Silk as a father figure and may even reverence him as a god. 

HART: A teen in Silk's palaestra. He is wounded in the fighting.

HIDE: Horn's son, twin to Hoof. Hide becomes a member of the force in Blanko, where Silkhorn convinces him through dream travel that he is in fact partly his father.

HIERAX: One of Pas' children, the evil god of death.

HOLLY: A teen in Silk's palaestra, included because she was Nettle's classmate.

HONEYSUCKLE: Mint's maid in the Calde's Palace.

HOOF: One of Horn's twins sons, the other being Hide. Author, in part, of The Book of Horn. They are identical twins.

HORN: Born in 317. The author of The Book of Silk and The Book of Horn. A part of him appears to move into Babbie after he takes possession of Silk's body on the Whorl. His corporeal body dies in the lander on Green.

HORN (Neighbor): One of the Vanished People who tells Horn that his own name is Horn. He is probably telling the truth and is Silkhorn.

HOSSAAN: Also known as Willet. At the beginning of Nightside the Long Sun, he is the second-in-command of Sigana in the Trivigaunte spy network. After Crane's death, he becomes the chief intelligence agent in Viron. He leads some female pterotroopers on a raid of the Viron government. Silk comments that all he had to do was wait outside for the troopers to arrive.

HUS: A boar-like creature of Blue. Robert Borski asked Wolfe the etymology of the word: Hus is a little embarrassing. It's an old word for house. (A hussy was a kept woman: a house woman, like a house dog, rather than a housewife--a woman who was shacking up.) When I started the book, I wanted to combine the house-pet idea with the wild-boar idea, and called Babbi a hushhog. I hadn't gotten very far before I realized that most readers would see the word as hush-og and my characters began referring to him as "hus." So I left it at that.

HYACINTH: The whore Silk falls in love with after falling into her bed in Blood's villa. She sends him a love note and they meet at Ermine's and make out. She is consistently identified with the mother.  Hyacinth dies in the Whorl and Silk's essence moves into Horn as he mourns her death.

Hyacinth is a Trivigaunte spy under the command of Sigada. Her father was also a spy, positioned as a clerk in the Juzgado. Instead of going on a lander, she remains in the whorl, probably because she hopes to reunite with the Trivigauntes. There is a significant school of thought that Hyacinth is a male changed by plastic surgery into a female. There is also a long argument about whether or not she is a chem.

Horn reveals in his afterword that she was a foul creature and that Silk's faith in her was entirely misplaced. And indeed, her tete-a-tete with General Saba in the Trivigaunte airship probably indicates both a past relationship and a loyalty to Trivigaunte that spans the entire Book of Silk.

HYRAX: One of Spider's associates in the intelligence network. He is killed in the fighting in the tunnels. Maytera Marble sheds light on the meaning of his name - it's given to children whose parents have died in childbirth.

INCANTO: The name by which Silkhorn goes while he's under the care of Inclito's family in Blanko. It's given to him by Inclito on their ride out to his estate in In Green's Jungles.

INCANTO (Inclito's brother) Died during infancy. Inclito's mother was barren, and this first child was an enchanted child, according to Robert Borski.

INCUS: An augur who is also a black mechanic. He is the pawn of Scylla. After the Whorl colonizes Blue, he becomes Prolocutor of Viron, as Hound tells Silkhorn in Return to the Whorl. Many critics believe Incus is a woman.

INHUMI: A species native to Green. The inhumi take their genetic material from other organisms and replicate their behavior as mirrors. As reflections of humanity, they kill because we kill each other.

This is clarified during a conversation between Jahlee, Hide and Silkhorn during In Green's Jungles:

"Sinew and Bala and all the other people on Green? Are the inhumi going to kill them all the way they did the Vanished People that were there?"

"No," I said.

"Are you sure?"

"As sure as I can be without actually knowing the answer, Hide. I can't possibly know-I'm sure you must realize that. You were asking my opinion, and my opinion is that they won't."

I found his next question startling, as I still do. It was, "Because of something we did?"

I said, "Of course not. Do you think that we can save an entire whorl, my son? Just you and I?"

"It isn't just us. There's Sinew and Bala and their children, and Maliki, and a lot of others."

"Ah! But that's a very different question. In that case, yes. Green will be saved because of things we've done and things we'll do. So will Blue. The Vanished People know it already, and I should have known it too when they asked my permission to revisit Blue. If the inhumi were to enslave humanity here, the Vanished People wouldn't want to come back; and if they were to exterminate it, no such permission would be needed."

Hide nodded, mostly I think to himself.

"You are always bored when your mother and I talk about the whorl that we left to come here-the Long Sun Whorl. So I'll try to make this as brief as I can. When we were on the lander, I thought as we all did that Pas had made a terrible mistake, that Green was a sort of death trap filled with inhumi."

"It is."

"No, it isn't. There are inhumi there, of course, and in large numbers. But not in overwhelming numbers. They prey upon the colonists-or try to – exactly as they prey upon us here."


"And they are killed in the attempt, not every time but quite often. Sinew and the colonists can kill them, you see, and frequently do. They lose nothing by it. The inhumi can kill them, too. I cleared a large sewer on Green once, Hide. It was choked with human bodies, several thousand I would say."

"That must have been horrible."

"It was. But, Hide, each of those bodies represented a slave or a potential slave, an inhuman who had bled to death instead of working and fighting for his masters. Sinew's victories leave him stronger, but the inhumi's leave them weaker."

Tonight Hide made the same argument to Jahlee, couching it in his own terms and presenting it much less concisely than I have given it here.

She shook her head. "We'll win. We're winning on both whorls already."


"Because you fight among yourselves far more than you fight us. Do you remember the question I asked your father when we came to the gate of Qarya?"

Hide shook his head.

"I asked what good the ditch and the wall of sticks were, when we inhumi can fly. He didn't answer me, because he knew the answer. Would you like to try?"

"I guess not."

"You sell your own kind to us for weapons and treasure," she told him almost apologetically, "and the more numerous you are, the crueler and more violent you are. Your cruelty and your violence strengthen us."

He stared at her, puzzled.

"Ask this man you call your father. He'll tell you."

I said, "He hasn't, and he won't."

She ignored it. "You took part in the war Soldo fought with Blanko. Who do you think won it?"

"Blanko," Hide said.

"You're wrong. We did."
IOLAR. The flier Musk attacks in the air. He drops into Lake Limna, where he is picked up by Councillor Lemur, who casts him back into the lake after Iolar refuses to admit the secret of the fliers' propulsion modules.

JAHLEE: The inhumi who is Krait's mother. She passes on his genetic material to her offspring. Jahlee feeds on Lizard Island more than once. She is dug up by Silkhorn in order to help the Gaonese side of the war.

JERBOA: An augur who took up his post in 271. His acolyte is Patera Shell. Pas put a part of himself in Jerboa before he died. When it is removed from Jerboa and reintegrated with Mainframe, Jerboa dies. Auk picks up his body and moves it.

JUGANO: An old inhumi that Silkhorn enslaves. He feeds off both Hoof and Silk. He provides the disturbing description of inhumi breeding in Return to the Whorl.

Kalan. VBM

KENBAAR: A lieutenant in the Army of Dorp.

Kerria. VBM

KINGCUP: The owner of a livery stable. Along with Newt for the Juzgado, she joins the Ayuntamiento as a representative of the people.

Kit. VBM

KUPUS: The leader of the mercenaries that Duko Rigoglio hires to fight for Soldo. Short, stout and brave. 

KYPRIS: Goddess of whores, she has conflict with Scylla. After possessing Chenille, she convinces Silk to carry out her plan. Like Pas, Kypris wants to bring the whorl to the Short Sun whorl while Echidna and Scylla wish to continue their god games.

LEMUR: Councillor of the Ayuntamiento until he is killed by Doctor Crane on his submarine. Distracted by the revelation that his corporeal body is dead, Lemur drops Crane's azoth. Lemur was the de facto leader of the Ayuntamiento.

At some point his corporeal body dies while being maintained by life support systems in the Ayuntamiento's hideout submarine in Lake Limna. While his chemical form is distracted by the revelation his biological body is dead, Crane kills him with the azoth he lent to Silk. At first the Ayuntamiento spreads the rumor that Loris is alive, and it is by making a simple deduction that Quetzal assumes Loris is dead. He may also have viewed the scene himself from the air.

LIANA: The woman who allows Silk past the front lines of the battlefield in Calde of the Long Sun. She is around 20.

LIJAM. The minister of war of Trivigaunte.

Lily. VBF

LIME: One of General Mint's commanders. She leads an army of women during the first charge on the Alembrara, a corps that is later turned into nurses.

Linsang. VBM

LION: One of Musk's lynxs.

LOACH: A resident of Viron who drives a wagon that carries the dead. He is a pallbearer at Orpine's funeral.

LORIS: A chemical member of the Ayuntamiento. He becomes the presiding officer after Lemur's death. Described as a handsome, elderly man. He dies after firing his needler at invading Trivigaunti troops. Silk comments that he probably wanted to go down like a fighting man. He seems to realize that he is in his corporal body now and his biological body is no more.

All material in The Encyclopedia of the Long Sun is copyrighted. Please do not reproduce without express written consent. The character format and list for the Book of Silk is by Sean Whalen.

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  1. I first posited that Hyacinth might be a male chem, but I no longer believe it. But I still do not believe she is what she seems. Or even that her father is her father in any straightforward sense.

  2. I agree with you there, but I think the idea that she was once a male might have some credence to it.

    I'm going to go back and look for details on that to flesh out the entry.