Why is our penultimate moon question and this one should be should be mercifully brief since if we listen to Hespe’s introduction to her tale the answer to why Jax stole the moon it was because he was in Love with her, which is a fine sentiment to fight a war over. Just ask Helen…or Lanre for that matter. However, love is an impossible subject for anyone to ever hope to define as it has far too many possible variables and interpretations for the written page to accomodate.
‘I want it. I want to have it for my own.
Desire, though, is a different emotion altogether. It is one short step away from want and holds an underlying element of personal gain about it, unlike true love which is more usually associated with selfless giving, so desiring the moon is a completely different motive. This is where the cracks in love start to appear and the lethani becomes difficult to walk.
I spotted another love-crack in the chapter where we first hear of Felurian. Pat called it The Jealous Moon which always struck me as a rather dark phrase. What could the moon possibly have to be jealous of? Colours, apparently, which makes some sort of sense I suppose. But Imho jealousy is not a loving emotion at all and is instead more like loves evil twin sister, it’s more like… anti-love! The green eyed monster can be a very destructive force in the world and is never a good thing for anyone involved and if you’ve known what it’s like first hand then you’ll know just what I mean. Desire is not really good love either since it has a definite element of bad love about it. Its probably a similar sort of thing to what Vashet says she can see building inside of Kvothe, something deeper than the lethani, like a shadow on the heart.
Something dark happens when love becomes desire. Something pure has been broken, and that will make two pieces. Desire, therefore it is the part of love that leads to the darker side of life, the broken side. In Pat’s world that is a pretty good description of the land where Jax the unhappy boy once lived and is likely the only kind of love that exists there. This two-kinds-of-love way of thinking might explain why Jax’ attitiude towards the moon changes a lot during his quest. It’s characteristic of a split personality, very jeckyl and hyde, very gollum if you prefer.
At first we hear from Jax how he just wanted the moon to make him happy, and he was so moonstruck that he left his home to find her and in doing so, crossed between realms so that he could gaze at the moon in the mortal skies. Soon enough he began thinking himself in love with her, and that is all well and proper practice in any good love story you would think.
But then he spoke to the hermit and suddenly this loving attitude towards her changes into a much darker way of thinking instead, and by the time that these two characters parted company Jax was following a new path away from love and wanting to make the moon come to him instead. The tale of Jax ends with a pretty solid statement which sums up his final desire which was to make her a tool in his hand, nothing more, and that doesn’t sound much like love now, does it?
‘Now I have your name so I have mastery over you. And I say you must stay with me forever. So I can be happy.’
Bad call Jax, you had her love right there in the palm of your hand, your heart had stirred into life for the first time ever, and your mouth had finally learned to smile. For the first time ever, you what it was like to be happy and you had achieved your heart’s desire. But then, just when his happiness had been finally achieved came a change in him, it was almost as if the dark voice inside his head suddenly took over and with this change, love became desire and that small change led the moon down a much darker future than what it might have once been. Just when ludis actually sounded rather keen to give her own love to him in name and body both.
One answer to why might be because having a moonlit sky was deemed necessary for any realm, essential perhaps. We all know Teccam’s famous quote that a wise men fears a moonless night and Felurian echoes his words almost verbatim in telling us that a wise man views a moonless night with fear. Has she read Teccam? Or is this just a universal truth known to all such immortal folk? Sunlight is what makes things grow, and this is true of Planet Earth and Planet Temerant both. But some of our moon answers so far suggest that the light of Pat’s moon may not be just reflected sunlight as we might blithely assume but a seperate kind of light altogether, an inner radiance, a special light filled with the potential for magical possibilities which could have quite unguessable properties to all those it shines upon. Felurian loves the moonlight, too, and in our very first view of her she is seen brushing it through her hair. To her, moonlight is a tangible thing and we later see her sew a shaed with moonbeams. I bet you a jot that if she felt the need for such advertising she could have braided moonbeams into her hair to really spell out her moonlove.
‘but most of all my people dread, the portion of our power we shed. when we set foot on mortal earth…’
Despite the implied danger in this line never having been explained to my satisfaction the fae do still continue to visit mortal, most famously so when the moon is both full in mortal and absent from the fae. This means that the fae travel to the mortal realm with perfect coordination to perhaps not only bathe in the full moons light but to also avoid exposure to their own realms version of a moonless night.This exodus may not be a choice to them but a necessity. We can, again, only speculate on what fears a moonless night in the fae might entail but might it not be possible that it involves the thing that Kvothe encountered when shaed gathering? Could it be that moonlight keeps these demons in the outer dark at bay? The example made of the Cthaeh tells us that the light surrounding his tree is anathema to them, but could that statement not also apply to moonlight, too?
Terran moonlight has always been especially associated with our womenfolk due to a correlation between their monthly cycles and that Ludis is a lady is likely not incidental. Perhaps there might be another Temerant tinfoil angle to consider there, too. Indeed, the indications from elsewhere in these pages point the finger at the Adem people being those who remembered the lethani which, when tied in with these moonlight thoughts, might create an equation that could explain their unique method of conception. Now being a man I am unqualified to take that course of thinking any further without looking stupid and on that note we might also reconsider Kvothe’s answer to the question…
‘how do you follow the lethani? Which he gave as ‘How do you follow the moon?
This was an answer that left a sudden hole in the conversation which implies that this was a deep answer. Deep and secret. He himself felt that it was either very clever or very stupid and one oddly satisfying speculation is that this answer might only really be considered clever if it were spoken by a woman! We might also note that Kvothe’s full explanation of the situation even managed to include the word pregnant!
The effect that moonlight has on some people in our books is almost physical and according to Hespe, Jax felt a warmth at the touch of ludis hand. His first smile came to him with her kiss and he after tasting her breath he feels sure that his happiness depended upon her continued presence. Perhaps without the touch of sweet moonlight neither mortal nor fae can ever really be …happy. Auri’s strange relationship with the moon will only add more tinfoil on this fire but a study of Kvothe’s little moon fey is a study for another day.
Whilst there is very little proof to back all of this wild tinfoil up using terran thinking, this is fantasy fiction ffs and so it is quite possible that moonlight is just as important as sunlight in being an essential part of life as opposed to simply being a desirable one. If that is so then it might help answer some of our other moon questions and may even explain the real reson why the creation wars were fought for her sole posession. Perhaps the fall of Ergen was actually the direct result of her leaving their skies for the faen realm and that the encroaching blackness which hid the army Selitos saw approaching Myr T was in fact an account of the moonlight being actively stolen away before his very eyes. This would directly link the fall of seven cities with the theft of the moon, the changing of the sky and the breaking of the land. It also adds the thought that it was then only the city which remembered the lethani that kept hold of their secret Ergen moonbeam link. I suspect that moonbeams may well have an integral role to play in the creation of the fae itself. Perhaps Pat will tell us more about the moon himself one day, perhaps not, but all of these thoughts are at least worth putting up on the table for future discussion and disection.
Since all of the possible reasons Why? are quite unprovable then perhaps the only Why did Jax steal the moon? answer which we can really trust to follow is ‘because he could’ (although historical fact checkers have declared this statement partially false). Aleph has previous form with the moon since his was the power which first named her for what she was when he gave names to all things. He set her facing the mortal sky although he doesn’t own her. Oh no! He is a classic example of an old name knower who also knows the space between things.
Now if Jax acquired the power to steal the moon, we should perhaps ask ourselves who else could have done the same? In Bet you a jot I used historical figures and Cealdish currency to play out Hespe’s tale and ended up awarding Aleph the gold mark, which I feel is going to be a minimum requirement for all those who might aspire to wield stealing the moon level powers. However, I also had Selitos as a character in that equation and this is the sort of power we usually associate with gods, not mortals and so I reckon stealing the moon would be way beyond even his not insignificant talents and so I will drop him from the list of suspects. But since Bast tells us about the Cthaeh’s involvement in Jax life, and given that the Cthaeh has own level of godlike powers then that should qualify him as a fitting substitute and so we shall find a place for him this time around at Selitos expense. Lyra’s place can be taken by Ludis and since Ludis cannot steal herself our field of actors, and therefore suspects, is now reduced to three. Aleph, Iax Cthaeh, cleverly disguised as Tinker, Jax, Hermit. Jax has already been unmasked as Iax which just leaves the other two roles for us to consider.
Which isn’t one of the classic six questions, but there is no good reason why it shouldn’t be either and so this part will go a little off moon as we move into either/or territory. Now we know from Bast that Iax definitely spoke to the Cthaeh before he stole the moon and if we translate that fact over to Hespe’s version this meeting needs must reflect in Jax story, too, and so we can mark him as being portrayed as either the tinker or the hermit. But Which is Which?
‘Old beggars in stories are never really old beggars, they’re always a witch, or a prince, or an angel or something.’
Simmon knows how these sort of stories work and this general storytellers device will also apply to tinkers and hermits both. Mythology is chock full of superior beings walking the land in disguise, meddling with the affairs of widows sons and bold orphans by handing out wisdom and magical weapons to aid them in their life quests, and this tale is not very different. Now Jax could only begin to achieve his goal because of the items that he found in the tinkers third pack, special items reserved for only the wealthiest customers, and you would have to be rich as the king of Vint to have afforded all three, assuming that the tinker would have ever considered trading them away all at once. What this really means is that whoever held the pack held the power and so it should be true to say that the tinker who’s pack it was once could, by using the exact same items, have also stolen the moon!…if he so desired. However that tinker behaved like the archetypal role model for all tinkers ever since and therefore we can be pretty sure that he had a much more moral compass than to consider something like that. He would never steal the moon because the moon doesn’t belong to him, which is a compelling enough reason not to steal anything. This attitude doesn’t sound anything like the Cthaeh in disguise to me.
‘but for the taking of my hat you could have had my help in catching her.’
However, the tinker did have an anger inside him and he did know what the tools in this third pack might be capable of in the wrong hands. Although he refused to use them in that way himself he still knew that he was handing a child a dangerous weapon and that his actions have now sent a potential threat out into the world, like an arrow shot into the future. This last line of his implies that he could have been the one who directly helped Jax to steal the moon and so the tinker does have the Cthaean knowledge required and is well worth his place on our list of potential moon thieves.
The hermit had powers of his own, not least of which was an ability to understand things more deeply than others could. A very Cthaehish thing. He didn’t instigate it but he clearly helped Jax further along on his quest by using his listening skills to open the third pack where Jax could not. His explaining of the relative powers contained within was a crucial element as he must be held at least partially responsible for the outcome of his actions by doing the very thing that the tinker would not. Jax mis-interpretation of his wise words of wisdom could be seen as blameless coincidence in a court of law but the bottom line is that it was the hermity who gave Jax the power to steal the moon and not the tinker who refused to help him any further than his handshake deal demanded.
If one of these two characters is going to represent the Cthaeh, and the other is going to be Aleph then it would appear that their contribution to the moontheft was equally important and essential so we should perhaps give them both gold mark power since they both helped Jax achieve his desire. These are god level powers we are talking about here and it would appear that stealing the moon was an act which required the combined help from both gods to make it actually happen. However, since we only have one coin to award this good god and bad god shall just have to share this prize as equals, and so they can be thought of as being different sides of the same coin. One for heads and one for tails.
Catching the name of the moon in what is the tales equivalent of the nameless void would take her back to the state that she was in before Aleph first spun her from the nameless void and so this theft would be more of an act of Un-naming, and that is definitely going to be a bad thing, a thought which now sends us a much darker image, the sort of thing that makes us think of skin dancers and of having power over someone else’s true name. This possession image will be seen to draw a parallel with Lanre later on and twining the moon into these two Cthaeh links which Bast speaks will create an isosoles triangle for another day, but at the end of today, it seems pretty clear to me that in Hespe’s story the hermit was really the cthaeh and the tinker was really Aleph, the two Aleu who define the universe between them. That’s about all the who, what, where, when, why, how, which that I can come up with, and somewhere within is a path to the correct answer. Some pieces are better than others but that doesn’t disqualify anything. The book of the moon is closing now and what to believe is up to you. Which moonpath will you be putting your jot on?