Janni Lee Simner (janni) wrote in tdir_readathon,
Janni Lee Simner

Choosing or being chosen

So I just finished part one, and I had this thought. Will does not choose to be an Old One; it's something he's born to--and, by implication, he's also born to serve the Light, not by choice, but simply because that's who he is.

But then, the people who serve the Dark, are they also born to it, and not of their own choosing? And if so, can they be held any more responsible than Will for what they were born to be? Did those who serve the Dark even have the option of choosing otherwise?

I can't remember whether the books deal with this. It will be interesting to find out.

Of course, that uncomfortable thought wasn't enough to stop this bit from Merriman making me go all shivery, in a good way:

It is a burden. Make no mistake about that. Any great gift or power or talent is a burden, and this more than any, and you will often long to be free of it. But there is nothing to be done. If you were born with the gift, you must serve it, and nothing in this world or out of it may stand in the way of that service, because that is why you were born and that is the Law.
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I was thinking, on my most recent reread, that there must be a reason the Rider hovers around Will on the first few days of his life as an Old One. Especially at the smithy, when the Rider offers to break bread with Will, I think there's a real sense that the wrong choice could destroy Will for ever. I wouldn't be surprised if there are one or two Lords of the Dark who could otherwise have been Lords of the Light.

I'm sure that some of the people who serve the Dark began as mortals; for example, I believe that the painter in Greenwitch and the shipwright in Silver on the Tree chose to ally themselves with the Dark. I'm also sure that some of the Lords of the Dark will always have been Dark -- the Brenin Llwyd comes to mind. Does that mean the Brenin Llwyd has no culpability for his evil? I don't know. It's an interesting question.
I wouldn't be surprised if there are one or two Lords of the Dark who could otherwise have been Lords of the Light.

It's a fascinating idea. Because of the nature of the story, we get so little backstory of the Dark in comparison with that of the Light. Eeenteresting. Another "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" scenario.
I've always thought of it as a hierarchy, and based on your place within it you have more or less choice. Will and the other Old Ones were born to this, which is to say that their places and alliances are fixed. In service to the Light, their paths and choices may waver, but their allegiance will not, because it is so written in who they are. I suppose that the Dark has its own version of that level within the hierarchy; perhaps the Rider is one.

And then there are the humans, the regular people who are born and make choices and whose paths are not set. They (I can give examples but I don't want to spoil it for those who might not have finished the book) are taking the slow road, and at each crossroads they can choose to act for the Light or for the Dark. But again, because they were not born to this, their allegiances are not fixed.
I'm sure that I remember, at some point, there being something about how whether or not to serve the Dark is always a choice. Not that I specifically remember where, and maybe I'm interpolating it from somewhere else. :)

But then there's a difference between people like Will, who's essentially a Guardian, and people like the Drews, who are attempting to serve the Light but only by choice. I don't know if there's a similar distinction between people like the Rider and people like Hawkins.

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I guess the question is, whether serving the gift is the same as serving the Law.

Now that is a useful distinction--thanks!

Everyone is making much sense in their talk about how Will must have had at least some choice, too, or else why would the Dark bother trying to control him at all?
I'm with the others who have said they think it's about the gift itself, and that you get to choose whether to use it for Light or Dark. I'm also prepared to go with a certain amount of predisposition towards one side or the other, whether through character or inclination or a wholesome upbringing or some combination thereof.

But I do think that Will could have chosen the Dark—perhaps initially through ignorance, the way he almost does by taking the bread the Rider offers him (sabotaged by John Wayland Smith and his convenient hoof-burning) or by opening the doors to rescue the non-existent dog/Mum (there's an equation for you!), from which he is warned off by Merriman and the Lady. Those initial lapses would have been mistakes that wouldn't necessarily have seen him serving the Dark, I think, but would have been a claim. And if he made enough of those mistakes, he might fall into the need to justify his choices by making more of them...not sure, it's all highly speculative. But yes, I do think Will always chooses for Light or Dark, just as they all do—just that his choice matters differently because his choice is not that of a non-magical individual, but of a magical one and a reasonably powerful one at that.