Tuesday, September 14, 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 worth 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.
Macaque. VBM

MAGNESIA: Marble's original name when she was loaded onto the Whorl. See Marble.

MALIKI: Abanja's name in Qarya.

MALRUBIUS: Severian's first master in the guild of the torturers as a boy. Silkhorn later takes on his form as an eidolon to influence the events of The Book of the New Sun which follows after the The Book of Silk and The Book of Horn.

MAMELTA:  The sleeper who Mucor wakes. She is dying in her own coldsleep container when Silk saves her, having been woken in an airless environment. He frees her. They descend into one of the ships connected to the Whorl, where Silk views the universe outside it for the first time. She is killed by Scylla in Lake Limna.  Mamelta is commonly identified with Kypris, and some even believe she essentially was Kypris with changed memories. She is also linked to Hyacinth and to the mother figure that has a tremendous influence on Silk. His desire for Mamelta is akin more to a strange fascination. That is because she is "Ma" his mother born again.

MANDRILL: An associate of Gelada's. He left Viron for Palustria.

Maple. VBF

MARBLE: Born in 12 as Magnesia. Chemical woman who has been sibyl of the Sun Street manteion for over 300 years. She is one of Silk's closet confidantes. She leaves the whorl on the lander and ends up living on an island on Blue with Mucor. She is composed of many parts of her sister sibyls, and once she takes Maytera Rose's better parts, she becomes extremely fast, agile, and powerful.

Marl. VCM

MARROW: A grocer in Viron, he becomes one of the leaders of New Viron on Blue.  He appears to want to exile Horn because of the popularity he might command within New Viron. Silkhorn implies that he is killed by Gyrfalcon in a power struggle.

MARMOT: An unemployed cull who fights for General Mint.

MARZO: One of Duke Rigoglio's guards in Soldo.

Marten. VBM

Matar. TBF

MATTAK: Colonel Oosik's son. He is a member of the Guard loyal to the Ayuntamiento. He goes by Cornel Mattak.

Mear. MBM

MERL: A resident of Viron who runs into Hari Mau and his gang while they're looking for Silk. They have some kind of conflict, which Merl later relates to Silkhorn in Hound's shop.

MINT: Born in 296 in Viron. Sibyl of the Sun Street manteion. She is possessed and some part of Kypris remains in her. She leads the rebel army against the Ayuntamiento and is known as the Sword of Echnida. After the landers leave the Whorl, Mint becomes calde and survives an assassination attempt that puts her in a wheelchair.

MOCKORANGE: A sibyl from the old days who gave Mint her first instructions.

MOLPE: Daughter of Pas. The goddess of music. She is second born after Scylla. Scylla says of her, "Molpe took the arts, like you'd expect." She's described as having hair strewn across her face. She is the patroness of the second day of the week, Molpsday, and is identified with birds and butterflies. She has a strong association with Mucor, and is said to suffer from bouts of insanity.

MOLY: Molybdenum was a chemical maid in the Sun Street cenoby. She fell in love with Hammerstone but he went into cold sleep underground. When Maytera Rose became pregnant and Maytera Betel sick Moly was forced to volunteer her parts to Maytera Betel. It is likely her hand that remains a part of Maytera Marble, not Maytera Rose's. After Hammerstone returned from coldsleep, he didn't go looking for Moly. He may have gone to the Sun Street manteion and not found her. They are reunited and married in the Calde's Palace after Marble ends her time as a sibyl, but are separated after the journey to Blue.

MONEY: The citizens of the Whorl chop up cards that are used to power the landers. This creates cardbits. On Blue, some enterprising individual creates fake cards of a different color, silver or gold. In Green's Jungles finds Silkhorn musing about the problems of currency:

But what confusion! Much of it is in silver-of various grades and alloyed with a variety of other stuffs, generally nickel. Some of it is gold, more or less alloyed with copper and lead. It ranges in hardness from a buttery little ingot contributed by Cantoro (may the Outsider smile upon him, now and forever), to three broad disks as hard as flints.

Nor is that all. There are real cards, too, such as we used to use in the Whorl. How much silver is a card worth? How much gold? I have asked half a dozen merchants, bankers, and moneylenders thus far, and received a full dozen replies. That is scarcely to be wondered at, and not all the cards in circulation here are in serviceable condition. (To think that we used to chop them up into a hundred cardbits, never once considering that they could never be reassembled!)

Moorgrass. VBF

MORA: Inclito's daughter. She is captured and raped by the men of Soldo.  She and her father resemble Chenille and Calde Tussah. She knows that Fava is an inhumi but doesn't tell her father. Fava gets her to spy against Blanko. She steals Rimando's horse, but her and Eco fall in with mercenaries loyal to the Incanto. They shower them with gifts. Possibly an alternate future for Chenille as a distinguished woman of power.

MORAY: An augur killed by Eft. He was bringing the Pardon of Pas to the injured.  Silk discovers his body with his arms crosses over his torso.

MOTA: A follower of Hari Mau.

MOTHER: The god of the Vanished People possessed by Scylla.

MUCOR: Biological daughter of Blood, granddaughter to Maytera Rose. She takes care of the remnant of her grandmother left on Blue. Aids Horn and Silk, and Silkhorn. Born in 317. Almost everything she does for Silk is incredibly heroic but no one really notices. Silk seems to be her God. Silk meets her in her room in Blood's mansion. She later possesses a number of key figures in his life and usually is around to torment him. She wakes the sleeper Mamelta, and possesses Cassava at the funeral of Maytera Rose. Her paranormal powers can cross worlds, but it takes a heavy toll on her. 

MURTAGON: A famous artist. According to some, a woman.

MUSK: Blood's lover. He hates Silk and tries to kill him at Maytera's funeral, but is killed himself by Maytera Marble.

NABEANNTAN: The town that Pig says he comes from. A mountain town. No idea whether this is accurate or if it simply belies a larger truth.

NAT: A magnate of Dorp. He wants Beroep's boats. He sends troopers from Dorp to arrest Silkhorn. Beroep calls him a thief. Judge Hamer is his cousin.Windcloud calls him "fat." In the context of the trial, it is really strange how much we don't know about Nat. Sure, he accuses Silkhorn unjustly (says Silkhorn), but he never does anything directly to harm him and may be seeking the rightful return of his property.

NEIGHBORS: See Vanished People. The term neighbor itself has many connotations in Wolfe's oeuvre, most recently in The Sorcerer's House. It usually means faerie, but it also may connote a creature that resides entirely in a "neighbor"ing world of its own.

NETTLE: Horn's wife. Like Horn, she becomes a Vanished Person. Her presence on Lizard Island may in fact be her dream traveling from another location. In Silkhorn's final conversation with Patera Remora before he returns to the whorl, Remora asks him, "Who's Nettle?" This indicates that Nettle had not exactly been her vivacious self during their years on Blue and that she may even have been dead then.

What happened to Nettle is strongly hinted at by Silkhorn during this passage of In Green's Jungles:

Sinew had found an altar of the Vanished People in a wood, and had tried to persuade me to visit it without exposing himself to the humiliation of my refusal. Now I wonder what wonders I missed by my surly rejection of his implied invitation. Was it an altar like the one to which Oreb guided me today? If not, in what respects did it differ, and why? Did Sinew himself worship there? If he did, did he experience what I experienced today, or anything of the kind? Have you visited the place, Nettle? 

Yes. She did visit the altar, and that is where she likely made the same bargain Horn did with the Vanished People during his stay with He-Pen-Sheep.

NEWT: The representative from the Juzgado in the new Ayuntamiento. Possibly Hyacinth's father, possibly a Trivigaunte spy.

NINE: The nine gods are Pas, Echidna, Scylla, Kypris, Thelxiepeia, Molpe, Hierax, Phaea and Spighx.

NIZAM: The Trivigaunte flying trooper who brings Tick to the airship.

NOVELLA CITTA: A town on Blue.

Olive. PBF

OLIVINE: The daughter of Corporal Hammerstone and Maytera Marble. She meets Silkhorn in an abandoned house in Viron. She "haunts" the Calde's palace, bothering Mint and Bison.

ONORIFICA: Inclito's maid.

Oont. VBM

OOSIK: The commander of the bio guards of Viron. He first meets Silk after a member of the guard shoots Silk with a needler. He returns Silk's possessions to him, reveals his sympathy to Silk's cause and his moral ambiguity as to who prevails in the conflict. He also tells Silk that he's had sex with Hyacinth multiple times, but that he meant nothing to her. In return for his behavior, Silk keeps him in his position after the revolution. He appears to have extensive relationships with the Trivigauntes. Possibly he is being blackmailed with information from his consort Hyacinth.

ORCHID: The mistress of her eponymous whorehouse. Worked for Blood until he is killed by Silk. When she hears of Blood's death, she takes it pretty well so she probably didn't care much for him. She is described a large but not unappealing woman. She gives Silk 100 cards for an appropriate funeral for her daughter.

OREB: The night chough possessed by Scylla who follows Silk around and generally keeps him alive.

ORPINE: Orchid's daughter, killed by Mucor in Chenille's body. Orpine comes to Mucor's attention when Silk visits Orchid's. She may have threatened Mucor.

OUTSIDER: Silk's god, the one true God who Silk pledges himself to after abandoning the nine. He is commonly identified with the Christian God.

OXLIP: One of Horn's sisters.

PACA: A dead man in the tunnels below the Whorl. Possibly sent to the pit.

PAJAROCU: A phantom town on Blue's western continent.

PAREL: A servant girl of Dorp.

PAS: Typhon, ruler of Earth. He has he and his family deified and loads them onto the starcrosser Whorl. After his family decides to kill him, he hides himself by possessing various people in the Whorl, including Patera Jerboa. Silkhorn speculates Pas had a place for himself on Blue. This is likely Lizard Island.

Peeper. VBM

Petel. see Titi

PHAEA: Echidna's fourth child, "the goddess of food and healing." The Vironese thank her before they eat. Maytera Mint tells Auk to pray to her when he's hungry. It's unclear to what extent Phaea was involved in the destruction of Pas. She is described as "Fierce" Phaea and "fat" Phaea.

PIG: A godling Silkhorn meets in the Whorl. Pig is blind until Silkhorn takes him to the pole where he has his sight restored by a doctor. He tells Silkhorn he's never seen a lander, so we can infer that he spent his whole life on the Whorl. He may have never had eyes.

PIKE: Silk's first mentor at the Sun Street Manteion. When he dies, Silk becomes senior augur. Silk's later vision of Patera Pike is assumed to actually be Silkhorn.

Poppy. VBF

Pork. VBM

POTTO: The intelligence officer and member of Ayunamiento. Potto used blackmail to become a councillor. He is now a chem enacting out the life of a man in suspended animation.

QARYA: The village Sinew lives in on Green. It is surrounded by a wall of brick and earth and a small moat outside that.

QUADRIFONS: A minor god who is an aspect of the Outsider. God of passageways.

QUETZAL: The inhumi who impersonates the human prolocutor of Viron. It is difficult to say with any confidence what living person Quetzal stole his genetic material of. What is clear is that he enters the whorl from Green in the year 298. He impersonates a human augur and becomes Prolocutor the following year.

RAJAN: Silkhorn's name when he is directing the war against Han in Gaon.

Ratel. VBF

REMORA: The coadjutor of Viron at the beginning of Nightside the Long Sun. Scylla - through Oreb - influences Silk to not like Remora, who is something of a blowhard intellectual. Silk can't help liking Remora after he reads the letter Remora wrote asserting his authority as calde to the chapter. Although he struggles to make himself understood at times, Remore is actually one of the heroes of the series as well as an extremely intelligent, calculating and loyal man. Quetzal demotes him to augur of the Sun Street Manteion, making him Silk's replacement. Instead he becomes Prolocutor of New Viron.

RIGOGLIO: The duke who opposes Inclito and Blanko and is conquered by Silk. He dies during dream travel on Urth. He is a sleeper on the whorl who came over on one of the landers.

RINGS: Robert Borski has summarized the place of the rings Silkhorn receives in The Book of Horn thusly:

ROSE: The sibyl who was Blood's mother. She dies in her room in the Sun Street cenoby, where she is discovered by Marble in Lake of the Long Sun. She and her arm live on as part of Marble.

ROTI: A follower of Hari Mau.

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. Hmm...I'm pleased to see my explanation of Moly to be incorporated here. Although, I must note that it has hardly been universally accepted.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Please expound further on that James. I'd love to quote you if you want to link me to it. Or just comment and I'll add your speculation to the entry.