Wednesday, February 27, 2002

THE FIRES OF HEAVEN



By Linda

The Good Queen’s Justice in Kore Springs, is a two storey, thatch-roofed structure of red brick where Min, Siuan and Leane were tried and sentenced by Gareth Bryne (The Fires of Heaven, Fanning the Sparks). The inn’s name refers to royalty, as is common for Andoran inns. Bryne himself was given scant justice by good Queen Morgase, thanks to Rahvin, but he did dispense justice according to Andoran law to the three women.

The Upriver Run, Tar Valon, is where the Yellow Ajah agents send their reports (The Fires of Heaven, Figs and Mice). The name refers to travelling and the local industry of river trade (and information).

The Nine Horse Hitch, in Lugard is a green-roofed inn whose sign has no picture, only the name (The Fires of Heaven, The Nine Horse Hitch). Min, Siuan, Leane and Logain paused there briefly while Siuan contacted a Blue Ajah agent. From Siuan’s reaction to the name, it certainly has a sexual meaning, and one too graphic to depict, although Jordan was coy about what this is, as this interview shows:
Moderator: What exactly IS a Nine-Horse Hitch? C'mon, tell us ;) We can handle it… we're all big boys and girls.
Robert Jordan: If you don't know already REALLY you aren't old enough.

- SCIFI.COM Chat Transcript: Robert Jordan, November 14, 2000

Having said that, there really is a nine horse hitch…3 rows of 3 horses hitched together to pull a plough, or a hitch of one lead horse and 4 rows of 2 horses to pull a wagon. Such a large number of horses would only be used for heavy loads or when much strength is needed. It is to be noted that Min, who worked with horses, had never seen a nine horse hitch before.

Some readers have suggested the inn is a brothel, and that the name is a pun on ‘nine whores’ itch’: nine whores itching to get to work (and hopefully not itching with anything else, although we haven’t see any hints of STDs), but Jordan has said there is no prostitution in the Wheel of Time world:

The question of Hake's inn in The Eye of the World is answered: it is not a whorehouse, at least not more than any other inn. Due to the increase in women's power, the very concept of prostitution is unknown; but women have much greater freedom in choosing their partners, both casual and permanent.

- Plots, Characters and Wheel of Time article

However, we also see Lugarder women:

without aprons, hair hanging loose their shoulders and skirts sometimes ending a foot or more clear of the ground, often shouted back even ruder replies

- The Fires of Heaven, The Nine Horse Hitch

to the laughing invitations of the roughly dressed wagondrivers.

If there is no prostitution, the inn is not a brothel, but it might be a place for a casual encounter.

Other readers have suggested the name is phallic, referring to a very long pole to hitch nine horses to (nine horse hitching rail) or that it does not refer to anything specifically, but it implies that both bondage (hitch) and multiple partners (nine) are involved. Multiple participates - an orgy, if you like – are more likely what the name refers to. It could represent eight people with one astride one of the others or a large daisy chain. Judging by other Lugarder inn names and signs (eg The Good Night’s Ride and The Wagon Seat, see below), horses symbolise men and wagons women, therefore the Nine Horse Hitch probably represents nine men (horses) and one woman (wagon).

The number nine is the most yang (‘masculine’ ) number and represents truth, order within order, male courage and endurance. The horse represents vitality, speed and conquest. (This also expands on the sexual connotation.)

The Farrier’s Hammer, Lugard (The Fires of Heaven, The Nine Horse Hitch). A farrier takes care of horses’ feet and is part smith, making and fitting horseshoes, and part vet, trimming hooves and treating foot diseases. A farrier’s hammer is used to nail horseshoes to the horse’s hoof. The name refers to a local occupation. Siuan considered that it did not have a sexual connotation (but she could be wrong).

The hammer is a symbol of male strength and creativity. In Freemasonry it is the attribute of the Lodge Master.

The Dancing Bear, Lugard (The Fires of Heaven, The Nine Horse Hitch). The inn’s name refers to a bear on a rope that has been trained to move about on its hind legs while music plays, giving the impression of dancing. Its purpose is to entertain and the possibility that the bear might break free and attack was part of the entertainment. Bears symbolise strength, masculine courage, gluttony and lust. Again, this could have a sexual connotation.

The Silver Pig, Lugard (The Fires of Heaven, The Nine Horse Hitch). The inn name is a reference to mining and the trade and transport of smelted metals. A silver pig is an ingot of silver, which would be transported in this bulk form from mines to smithies and foundries by wagons such as we see in Lugard. The term pig for an ingot was more usually applied to lead (and later, iron). The innkeeper is aiming for business from the merchant class.

The Domani Wench’s Kiss, Lugard. The inn’s sign has a painting of a Domani woman, bare to the waist, with her lips puckered (The Fires of Heaven, The Nine Horse Hitch).

The Good Night’s Ride, Lugard, is the inn run by Duranda Tharne, an agent for the Blue Ajah. Many downmarket inns in Lugard have sexual references to show the roughness of the place, and this one is no exception. Siuan thought the inn name vile. The inn’s sign has:

an improbably voluptuous woman, wearing only her hair arranged to hide as little has possible, astride a bare-backed horse

-The Fires of Heaven, The Nine Horse Hitch

The Wagon Seat, Lugard, is where Bryne’s men stayed. The name refers to travel, and the main industry of transport and is also a sexual innuendo, since the inn’s sign has an explicit picture (The Fires of Heaven, The Nine Horse Hitch). Women tend to be represented as wagons in Lugarder inn names.

The Bellon Ford Inn, Bellon, in Amadicia was where Nynaeve played maid (The Fires of Heaven, A Small Room in Sienda). The inn is named after its location.

The King’s Lancer in Sienda was damaged by a Seanchan elephant (The Fires of Heaven, A Small Room in Sienda), just as Seanchan forces damaged the Amadician troops soon after. The lance is a symbol of earthly power and masculinity and the fact that the inn was damaged symbolised the lack of real power Ailron had in Amadicia and his eventual utter defeat by the Seanchan.

The Light of Truth in Sienda was where Elayne and Nynaeve met Galad, who is strongly linked with Light and Truth (The Fires of Heaven, A Small Room in Sienda). The inn advertises for custom among the Children of the Light just as the King’s Lancer aims to attract the King’s soldiers. This reduces fights among the two groups, fights being bad for business.

The Little Tower in Salidar, the meeting hall for the rebel Aes Sedai, was actually an abandoned inn (The Fires of Heaven, Sallie Daera).

The Blue Bull, Samara, was seen by Nynaeve and co as they battled their way through the riots (caused by Whitecloaks and Dragonsworn fighting over the boat Riverserpent) to the docks (The Fires of Heaven, Leavetakings).

Blue is considered a very idealistic colour, symbolising eternity, truth, faith, purity, and the spiritual life. Bulls represent virility and danger, and are a death and resurrection symbol. Hence two crusading forces sworn to the Light are fighting each other.

The Dancing Goose, Samara, was another inn seen while Nynaeve, Elayne and co were battling their way to the docks (The Fires of Heaven, Leavetakings). Geese represent vigilance and love. The Aiel refer to battle as the dance. Nynaeve thought that Galad’s sword-fighting was like dancing. He seized the boat because he cared for the two women and wanted to look after them.


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Written by Linda, June, 2007

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great!
Was wondering whether anyone has compiled a summary of all the inns and taverns of WOT
Would an amazing list!

jan said...

What a super star!
Thank you!

I often close this series & find myself on Google, looking things up.
And considering the number of times I've read these books, that says little for my memory!
But often as not, I can't find the meaning of whatever obscurity I've just read!

Your blog is well and truly bookmarked!

Thank you!!!

Linda said...

Thanks, Jan. :)