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Old Jun 8 2014, 11:52 AM   #1
Kim
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Default F'lar and Lessa: Why?

Does anyone besides me find Lessa falling in love with F'lar highly suspect? How do you go from being deliberately kept in the dark on policy, what can only be described as rape, and borderline physical abuse, to twu wuuuuvvv? Honestly, the phrase Stockholm Syndrome keeps popping into my head.
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Old Jun 8 2014, 12:25 PM   #2
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

Good question. Basically Anne's books, and in particular her Pern books, are bodice-ripper romances in a soft sci-fi guise.

In-universe, though, I don't think we can forget that Lessa was severely traumatized by seeing Fax and his men slaughter everyone she cared about when she was barely adolescent. Then she had to pretend to be a drudge for some of her most formative years to survive, and spent most of that time plotting revenge.

Suddenly F'lar offers her the opportunity to become the next Weyrwoman (by default, since Ramoth was the only queen dragon at the time), by far the most powerful position a woman on Pern could aspire to, and eventually the means to get her home hold repopulated and back on its feet.
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Old Jun 8 2014, 12:32 PM   #3
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

Ah, but Lessa had no real power. Her life was still totally controlled, both by R'gul and his boring lessons, and then by F'lar after he became Weyrleader. And it was really Lytol that got Ruatha back on its feet after Lessa ran into the ground to spite Fax.
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Old Jun 8 2014, 12:42 PM   #4
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

Perhaps to start with, but she did come into her own later. After all, the WW is responsible for Weyr management, even if the Weyrleader is her superior when fighting thread.

I suppose great mating flight sex might have had something to do with it, once she got over the shock of the first time. If she had been truly unhappy with F'lar, her telepathic manipulations might have been enough to encourage some other bronze to fly Ramoth, and that would have been the end of the problem.
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Old Jun 8 2014, 12:47 PM   #5
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

I'd have to go look up the passages again, but F'lar himself said that the first mating flight was violent and that he wished Lessa hadn't been a virgin for it. He then said something about it might as well be rape if the dragons weren't involved. That doesn't sound all that enjoyable to me.

Getting off for a bit now, but I'll check back in soon.
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Old Jun 8 2014, 12:53 PM   #6
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

Agreed, and what really put me off was his comment about being "in a position to persevere". A man with any sense, judging by modern Western standards, would back off instead of forcing himself on an obviously unwilling woman. After all, there would be more mating flights, and Lessa certainly didn't expect him to be faithful to her.

I suspect that Lessa fell in love with F'lar because "he was there".
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Old Jun 8 2014, 06:12 PM   #7
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

I guess my problem is that I am viewing it by modern Western standards, not Pernese standards. F'lar did a horribly poor job of handling Lessa, both sexually and personally. Lessa should have turned on him, but as you put it, it's a bodice-ripper.
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Old Jun 8 2014, 11:30 PM   #8
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

I have the same "problem".
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Old Jun 8 2014, 11:51 PM   #9
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

Y'know, if I was trying to win the support of a woman I knew was a schemer who was used to subterfuge and plotting, I would have taken her into my confidence and let her know my plans, not demand obedience and keep her in the dark.
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Old Jun 9 2014, 12:25 PM   #10
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

The thing is, nobody went near Lessa before Ramoth rose (I imagine R'gul was smart enough to steer clear himself, and intent enough on staying in power that he kept everyone else off), and whatever training/instruction she was supposed to receive about the Weyrleadership was all either assumed general knowledge or stuff that R'gul was supposedly teaching her. Plus, she was a pretty drudge in a brutal Hold, so F'lar's expectations weren't really that surprising.

Once it had happened, she still had to work with him, and she comes from a background where arranged marriages are par for the course. I find it highly plausible that she grew to love him after the fact. She's a pragmatist, and the alternatives weren't really any more appealing.
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Old Jun 9 2014, 01:20 PM   #11
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

Ah, but Lessa "blurred" her appearance (don't ask me how that would work) and she kept herself smelly and unappealing. She may also have "nudged" any man who went after her anyway. You do have a point about the arranged marriages, though as strong-minded as she was her father may have let her choose had he lived.
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Old Jun 9 2014, 03:37 PM   #12
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

Yes, she did - but the weyrfolk don't have a clue that she could do that.

I'm not sure what she'd have been like if her father had lived. She might not even have developed her psychic strengths to such a level at all without the hardships that necessitated her making the most of her mental potential.
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Old Jun 9 2014, 04:55 PM   #13
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

She would not have grown up thinking she'd inherit Ruatha. That's something that's always bugged me. Women did not rule, nor did they expect to. So why did Lessa?
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Old Jun 10 2014, 12:14 AM   #14
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

Because she was the last-known survivor of the Ruathan Bloodline.

Her second-cousin Barla had disappeared, and her son was too young to be any use against Thread.

If Lessa hadn't agreed to go to the Weyr, they would probably have put in a Warder (Lytol?) to help her until she married and produced an heir. The bloodline is the important factor, as in the case of Chalkin.
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Old Jun 10 2014, 12:54 AM   #15
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

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Because she was the last-known survivor of the Ruathan Bloodline.
Right; plus at that point in the series Anne hadn't developed the rules of Pernese inheritance. In feudal times, if the last known survivor of the blood was a woman, she inherited and then whomever she was married off to got the holdings with the expectation that the new husband would be in charge of decision making. (Other fictional example: the entire storyline about 'who should marry Sansa Stark and become Lord of Winterfell' which is only happening because they believe the younger boys to be dead.)

In reality, a lot of women in history still ended up controlling their own vassal property, either through marrying absentee husbands or by becoming regent after their untimely demise. I'm not sure Lessa ever did have a full plan for what would happen after the death of Fax, but I'm positive that she would have ended up making a canny marriage for herself with someone who would have been a great political match for Ruatha. And should that lordling cause her trouble, well, I'm sure someone with her 'talents' would have found a way to take care of it.

Since she's already a young woman, who despite her years of drudgedom, thinks of herself as Lady of Ruatha and then Rightful Weyrwoman, it seems reasonable to say that she tolerated F'lar at first because she recognized he was a canny political operator, and because he was a tool to regain some power to the title of Weyrwoman. (Because he, in turn, is trying to turn her against the other bronzeriders so that he can gain and maintain the Weyrleadership.) She had reason to be grateful to him, for killing Fax and bringing her to Benden. And they had very similar viewpoints on the rightful place of the Weyr, tithing and the need to ready the Weyr for the return of Thread.

I don't find it highly suspect that two extremely manipulative political operators who began working together because they had mutual political goals - in a world where those goals are sealed by the ritual sex of their dragons - would end up falling in "love" at the end. Especially when it turns out that they're both very good at achieving their aims.

To sum up, I do think Lessa falls in love with F'lar, and vice-versa. I just don't think their concept of love is the same one the fandom uses.
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Old Jun 10 2014, 01:40 AM   #16
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

Which makes the interesting point: Who would have made a suitable husband for Lessa, bearing in mind that Fax had also killed off all the heirs to the other Holds he took over.
Would be an interesting story in its own right.
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Old Jun 10 2014, 12:57 PM   #17
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

Hard to say, as we don't really hear about many Lord Holders' sons other than the chosen heirs.

Possibly one of Lord Groghe's sons, as he had quite a few (15 at the time of DragonSinger) and trained them well, with a few exceptions. Haligon and Horon were close to her age in Runner of Pern (though about Jaxom's age in TWD) and they didn't seem to be the oldest boys in the Fort family --- unless the fact that they walked the Gather just behind the Lord and Lady Holders is significant. And Bemis is way younger.
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Old Jun 10 2014, 01:09 PM   #18
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

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Which makes the interesting point: Who would have made a suitable husband for Lessa, bearing in mind that Fax had also killed off all the heirs to the other Holds he took over.
Would be an interesting story in it's own right.
The High Reaches heir was alive but in hiding, but certainly there was a shortage of Bloods in the northwest corner of Pern. That still leaves all the major holds in the east and southwest. Maybe Asgenar or Larad had a suitable brother.
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Old Jun 10 2014, 08:48 PM   #19
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

I what would have happened if she got with Toric?
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Old Jun 10 2014, 09:21 PM   #20
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

Toric was somewhat younger than her, wasn't he? I also think she might have considered him another Fax, which would have repulsed her.
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Old Jun 10 2014, 11:50 PM   #21
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

At the time Fax was killed, Toric was theoretically holdless --- kicked out of his native hold and just travelling around with trader ships. He went south with F'nor 2 or 3 turns later, and either stayed there mostly alone for 7 turns, OR came back when F'nor did, returning there in real time shortly after. 7 years into the Pass he was a big man in the South, but also married. He wasn't declared a Lord Holder (and originator of a Bloodline) until Jaxom and Sharra were married.

So when Lessa might have taken back Ruatha, there was no way she would have met Toric or considered marrying him. A few turns later he was leader of a hold on another continent and too busy consolidating his own territories to ally with a small hold far away in the north. Even if he happened not to be married by then.

Lessa was about 21 when she went to Benden Weyr. Toric was 18 when he left home, and that was at least 2 turns before the Pass started.
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Old Jun 10 2014, 11:55 PM   #22
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

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Toric was somewhat younger than her, wasn't he? I also think she might have considered him another Fax, which would have repulsed her.
I think it was mentioned in TWD that Jaxom was a couple of turns younger than Sharra. About the same as the difference between Lessa and Toric.

Toric didn't start getting land-grabby for several turns after the Pass started --- really not until the Oldtimers went south and he felt entitled to some recompense for putting up with them.
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Old Jun 11 2014, 01:18 AM   #23
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

I agree Lessa and Toric would most likely never had met. I don't think they were that far apart in age. Lessa and F'lar were not that close in age, ten years I think.

With Lessa and Toric being ambitious, would they have gotten together if they had met?
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Old Jun 11 2014, 02:39 PM   #24
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

On the whole, I think Lessa and Toric would not have got together.

No opportunity before Fax's death, and after that (in the alternative story) she needed a husband from some kind of Bloodline to help her defend 'ruined Ruatha' and provide her with acceptable heirs. Toric was from a crafter family.

Toric had lost any claim he had to a hold in the North, assuming High Palisades counted as a hold and not a craft-hall. His father had declared him holdless. Moving to the Southern Continent gave him a chance to set up his own hold and keep expanding it, as long as he had Weyr support. Marrying Lessa wouldn't contribute to his goals, as she'd always be more concerned with Ruatha and he wanted his own Hold.
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Old Jun 11 2014, 06:02 PM   #25
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

Lessa and F'lar are by personality all about using each other. And for Lessa, if she'd become Lady Holder and wed, there really hasn't been anyone close to her age introduced that she wouldn't trample over. Which doesn't mean there wasn't one given how many Lords there are and how many children they have.

Making an alliance with Fort would probably have been the best for her though. Fort had an army, was close by, and the highest ranking. Get Fort in your pocket and the other Lords will back off while you pull Ruatha out of the ruins it'd become.

Imagine a young Lessa coming to Lord Groghe, demanding to be presented his sons, and then sort of shopping her way through them. "Oh, that one's pretty but he hasn't two wits to rub together. That one's smart but I'll kill him before a month is out. What else do you have left?"
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Old Jun 11 2014, 11:53 PM   #26
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

D. M. Domini, I was about to come here and say the same thing. It would undoubtedly be one of Groghe's sons, to keep her major border secure and ally herself to a strong economic power.

That said, if one of Groghe's sons didn't work out, Asgenar was single at the time. I don't know if he's old enough to have made that a plausible match, and depending on the terms of his inheritance, I doubt Lessa would have gone for making Ruatha a Lemos vassal. But Lemos had money and soldiers at the time, if on the other side of the continent.

ETA: More fodder for thought experiments is that Lessa turns out not to be particularly fertile. And it isn't entirely because of riding, but rather that she seems to be too small to bear children safely. Which makes her future post-marriage dicey, to say the least.

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Old Jun 12 2014, 05:53 PM   #27
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

She was a tiny woman married to a tall strong man, and probably Felessan was a big baby. So she might have been OK with a smaller husband. And she wasn't so much 'infertile' as unable to carry beyond the first semester, due to going between so often. (Quickening refers to the baby's first kick.)

I don't think she would have married a man who was a Lord Holder in his own right, but more likely one of his brothers who had been trained in Hold management. A Lord Holder would have the choice of several sons and nephews, all of whom had been trained to lead, in case the one he preferred died of one of those Pernese plagues, or was thrown by his runner, etc.

Obviously Lady Holders in their own right were a rarity by the Ninth Pass, but being married to a man who had his own Hold to manage and protect from Thread would not be an asset.
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Old Jun 12 2014, 06:39 PM   #28
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

It's weird that we never see two major houses absorb one another on Pern. Maybe I just want to see what would happen there.

Not to raise the spectre of this debate again, but she barely survives F'lessan's birth which ultimately has to be done via emergency c-section, which is implied to be quite the grisly affair. She is then advised to avoid getting pregnant again. After that, she and F'lar take measures to prevent her falling pregnant again, although it makes her miserable. No mention is ever made of Lessa using between for that method. She isn't infertile because of between - we know of plenty of WW who manage to conceive and bear children, she's infertile because of physical damage due to his birth.

I'll allow that it might not have happened if the circumstances were different, but I think her size and childhood malnutrition aren't particularly optimal for childbearing.
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Old Jun 13 2014, 12:09 AM   #29
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

Size wouldn't make too much difference for conception, assuming she got her body-fat percentage high enough (which she apparently did or Felessan wouldn't have existed.) But it could literally make giving birth deadly. It's possible she suffered enough uterine damage from the labor and c-section that a pregnancy can't implant, though.

My question is more why did she buy into F'lar's theories on Thread more than why did she fall in love? (She doesn't seem to until towards the end and at that point it's been several YEARS, remember--long enough for Ramoth to mature and clutch and those to hatch and mature enough to between to Southern. And in any case, F'lar's THERE, she likes Mnementh, and Ramoth is happy, it mostly works.) But then again, ti's really because the plot demands it and DF is kind of patched together so the plot at times only sort of makes sense.
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Old Jun 13 2014, 12:23 AM   #30
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

Hang about - who says she needed a c-section?

We're told that her labour was rough, but that might mean F'lessan was badly presented, or had shoulder dystocia, or that Lessa had too much blood loss from a previa or an abruption. Lessa could have had a post partum infection, or a poorly repaired fistula. Unless you can point to an exact citation, don't all jump on the c-sec bandwagon!
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Old Jun 13 2014, 01:02 AM   #31
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Actually it specifically states in one book (perhaps Dolphins) that she DID have a C-section, which along removing the appendix is the only surgery extant before AIVAS is found. Which frankly I don't buy. I don't see the concept of surgery surviving at all over the centuries.
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Old Jun 13 2014, 04:22 AM   #32
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Thank you! I'd forgotten that line, but you're absolutely right.

(p182 of US paperback)
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Old Jun 13 2014, 04:30 AM   #33
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

You're welcome. I still don't buy it. Among other things they'd have to know how to do blood transfusions, how to type blood, etc. I just don't think they had that knowledge any longer.
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Old Jun 13 2014, 05:56 AM   #34
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Not all patients have transfusions after c-sections - I've just done some reading around, and it can be under a unit of blood in 50% of cases, and usually not more than 3 units. For comparison, I lost well over a unit during a (mostly) normal labour.

I imagine if it was a question of doing a c-section or letting mother and baby die they'd do the c-section regardless. Sure, they'd lose some fraction of the mothers, but I think the biggest killer would be infection, not anaemia. (Though the anaemia really, REALLY sucks. Especially when you're getting no sleep.)
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Old Jun 13 2014, 10:30 AM   #35
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That makes sense. I think they actually had a fairly good handle on infection. They were pretty good with homeopathic drugs.
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Old Jun 13 2014, 11:45 AM   #36
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That makes sense. I think they actually had a fairly good handle on infection. They were pretty good with homeopathic drugs.
Herbal drugs, please. (Sorry - pet gripe of mine )

Homeopathy doesn't actually do anything beyond the placebo effect, and it certainly isn't a drug.
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Old Jun 13 2014, 12:04 PM   #37
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My bad, sorry. *grins* I'm not up on the terminology, but still the Pernese seemed to do quite well in that area.
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Old Jun 13 2014, 12:21 PM   #38
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

The Pernese in general had become superstitious about any surgery more invasive than stitching up wounds or fixing broken bones. It was allowable for animals, especially valuable bloodlines, but cutting into humans was considered a major indignity (because it was animal surgery). In MHoP, Lord Groghe's father died because he refused surgery for an inflamed appendix, and his wife totally agreed with him. Lessa's surgery was first mentioned (retconned) during a post-AIVAS discussion of extant surgical techniques.

The Healer Hall presumably trained all healers in minor surgical techniques, and at least a few in major procedures. Whether a person had the opportunity to get an appendectomy or C-section would depend where they lived, and what training their local healer had (IF they had one), or the availability of a dragonrider to bring in a surgion-healer. Most births were probably attended by midwives, not healers. The likelihood is that most 'modern' Pernese had seen (or heard about) a baby animal being delivered by C-section, with at least one of the participants dying, and thought it was the same process for humans, i.e. gory, messy, and probably deadly.

The Healer Hall had already lost the knowledge of inoculation in Moreta's time (6th Pass) and Capiam had to reinvent it from vaguely remembered student notes. You tend to remember and maintain the techniques you use frequently ---possibly by that time the Pernese had become highly resistant to the endemic diseases, and it took an old, almost extinct plague to almost kill them off.
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Old Jun 13 2014, 01:31 PM   #39
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

Retcon's a pretty strong word; F'lessan's birth happens off-camera and is consistently alluded to have been a pretty awful experience, post-DQ. That the c-section itself isn't mentioned until Dolphins doesn't seem to be a retcon so much as someone who isn't particularly close to Lessa having the indelicacy to mention exactly what happened.

(In fact, I'm inclined to think it happened in the original draft of DQ and that's why the details remain fairly consistent.)

It seems likely that the practice of human c-section would survive on Pern due to the number of human women who would need one in any given year. Pern undoubtedly has a miserable record of childbirth death regardless, but there's plenty of history of successful c-sections occurring throughout history in conditions comparable to Pern. (Ancient Jews did it, Romans did it, the contemporary surgery was rediscovered by white people observing an African tribe that practiced it.) Pern also has topical analgesics and, if not complete bacterial knowledge, the awareness that surgical disinfection is important.

Pernese medicine is pretty terrible by the Ninth Pass, but it never devolves into full-on 'bleeding humors' level of awful.
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Old Jun 13 2014, 08:16 PM   #40
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Default Re: F'lar and Lessa: Why?

The reason Lessa believes F'lar about Thread returning is because she herself has experienced "warnings" - including the one that saved her life when Fax invaded. F'lar says something about the Red Star becoming brighter in the mornings, and she says "Mornings... that's when the warnings come." I think that makes her open to the idea.

Later, of course, F'lar is the only one who treats her with any sort of respect. Not enough, of course, but compared to R'gul! So she continues to support him. And soon after he becomes Weyrleader the Star Stones line up, so he has more to argue with.
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