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December 02, 2023, 07:12:48 PM
Marc-- thank you!

The Madness of King Conall

Started by duck, September 27, 2023, 07:38:17 AM

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Had Kelson not survived the fall into the waters in QfSC, then Conall would have become King.  What kind of King do you think he would have been?  Who would have been his confidants and advisors?  Would he have been viewed in history as a successful king?

The challenge to anyone providing a comment is that you ought to be able explain why you take the perspective you do.

So, if you think he would have been a crap king, you need to explain why and perhaps even extrapolate out possible noteworthy events in his reign that support your argument.  For example, one might say he was crap king because he decided to invade the Connait and got killed in the first battle creating a succession crisis leading to the enemies (and perhaps even some ostensible friends) of Gwynedd taking advantage including a new and successful Mearan uprising, Torenth annexing territory and various border lords switching sides. 

Although he was fairly immature at the time of QfSC, there's a certain degree of realpolitik about Conall and his sense of responsiblity and duty does step up a notch. He was trained to be a ruler, and would have become Duke of Carthmoor in time and many people (eg Arilan) do note that he is the grandson of Donal-Blaine.  He certainly comes across as much more ruthless and pragmatic compared to Kelson.  He takes steps to ensure continuity in the monarchy by setting up a succession plan, getting married and begetting an heir (something that Kelson hadn't quite managed to achieve up to that point).  And also (importantly) recognises that a deryni queen for Gwynedd at that point is important.  Even in relation to his lessons with Tiercel, there's a certain degree of ruthless pragmatism to his actions. [the question of how and when he and Tiercel first met and commenced learning the deryni arts is an intriguing one perhaps for another thread].  Only at the last does Tiercel realise that maybe Conall has been using him for his own benfit and had no interest in showing the Camberian council anything - except his own power and authority

I suspect that would have been something of a warrior king since he didn't seem to have much in the way of scholarly or philosophical chops (mentioned briefly in QfSC when he visits the castle library but offset by him at least recognising that there may be some tomes of value in the library).  In QfSC he tells Rothana that he them to become the greatest Haldanes of them all (motto: Make Gwynedd Great Again!?). 

As for advisers and people who might retain/gain influence.  Morgan and Duncan are already on the outer.  Of the non-royal dukes, Ewan would probably still retain some influence (ref QfSC succession plan discussed with Ewan). His maternal uncle, Saer de Traherne would likewise also be in a position of influence.  Maybe Arilan has his chance to be an influencer.  At least initially, i suspect they would have all fallen by the wayside in time. Ewan was older and Codex has him passing in 1129.  Arilan is deryni and therefore potentially able to uncover his questionable past behaviour.

I think Conall was going descend into madness as a result of his assimilation of Tiercel's memories and the Haldane assumption ritual had only delayed/postponed this. (remember that the Protocols of Orin specifically stated that a healer, guide and guardian were needed to assimilate memories(although two of the roles could potentially be undertaken by the one person but three people would be better) which segues into who helped Stefan Coram do his memory assimilation!) and that means maybe no-one would be safe from the foibles and whims of a mad Conall – not his mother, siblings, wife or other nobles.

As an another aside, I reckon that un-named hotshot knight in DR/DC who was explaining how simple things would be when dealing with Wencit would be up there as one of Conall's faithful followers although he perhaps may not have lasted much longer after a "oh dear, i didn't think about that!" moment


Interesting topic to chew on.

I think one of Conall's major flaws as a human being, much less one in any position of power, is that he is fundamentally selfish/self-centered. I think he would rationalize his actions as being in the best interests of the kingdom, but at the heart of pretty much everything he does, there is a heaping helping of self-interest.

KK alludes to Conall as being the sort of man who isn't above using his newly discovered powers to mentally tamper with attractive young ladies at Court in order to have his way with them without them being aware of it. There is a high element of risk taking for him in this illicit activity, unless Tiercel also taught him some Deryni methods of contraception (doubtful), though perhaps he counted on any unexpected pregnancies among the daughters of other Court nobles not being traced back to him and creating a scandal at Court because no one would have suspected him of being capable of mind tampering. (Not to mention that he didn't spare a second thought for how traumatic this would be to any young lady he had tampered with! It would be analogous to someone being slipped a date rape drug, having no memory of ever being drugged, and waking up a few weeks later with morning sickness. Yeesh!) There is also his casual tampering with Vanissa's mind, even though that relationship might have been consensual. (Or possibly not entirely, since the huge rank disparity between them might have led her to feel like she had little choice in the matter of becoming his mistress.) As a King, he might have felt even more entitled in his lack of self-control, using his powers both to coerce any lady who took his fancy and to ensure that her husband or father remained unaware of his "seduction." (I don't think he would see it as rape. I think he'd rationalize it as persuasion of a woman who of course found him attractive, but just needed a bit of help overcoming her natural modesty.)

If he is unscrupulous enough to tamper with a girl's mind just for his own momentary pleasures, then how much more likely might he be to tamper with the minds of his Council members in order to sway a vote in the direction he wants it to go, since that would have even bigger stakes (in his mind, anyway)? He doesn't strike me as a man who likes to hear the word "No," at least when it's applied to him and what he wants to do. He tolerates Nigel's authority because he has to, and because he respects his father and even loves him as much as Conall is capable of loving anyone. But that love and respect aren't strong enough to win out over Conall's extreme self-centeredness, as we see in QFSC.

In our very first glimpse of Conall in HD, he seems like a decent enough youth, willing enough to follow his cousin Kelson. By the time we see him again in the Histories of King Kelson trilogy, he has seemingly changed and seems to resent his cousin. I think perhaps when Kelson became king (something Conall had always known would eventually happen, and which he may or may not have resented even as a young child), Conall might have assumed that as Kelson's cousin and Nigel's heir, he would have a lot more power and influence on Kelson than he ended up having, especially once that uncouth Border lad Dhugal returned to Court and clearly had the King's favor. (Note, despite Conall looking down his aristocratic Lowlander nose at the Borderers in Transha, he seems to deal with other Border folk like Ewan well enough without getting on his high horse, not to mention that his mother's family is from Rhendall, which is Claiborne's neighbor, so even though he was born and raised in Lowland culture, Conall is technically half-Borderer himself. I think the Borderers at Transha rub him the wrong way specifically because of their association with Dhugal, and he sees Dhugal as a threat to his power and influence.)

I think with Kelson and Dhugal both out of the way, he would have put someone more malleable in Cassan and Transha, or perhaps gifted one or both of those to one of his younger brothers, assuming they would be loyal to him. Thanks to Tiercel, he is aware of the Council, so he might have tried to put out some feelers to discover who they are and how to contact them in case they might be of some use to him. (Though he would probably have wanted to consolidate his hold on the throne first, and also would want to be certain he could shield his memories very carefully before contact with a fully trained Deryni.)

I think his attraction to Rothana is real, but I think it is also amplified by her being Kelson's love interest, so apart from her own natural attractiveness, there is the lure of being able to have Kelson's girl for himself. I think he tries to win her over with the idea of her becoming a Deryni Queen to help usher in a new era of human/Deryni accord; however, I don't think he really cares so much for the welfare of Derynikind so much as he wants a hook he can catch Rothana with. I think he certainly wouldn't want too many Deryni at Court, because he would see them as a potential threat to his power, and their ability to read minds would make it more difficult for him to keep his secrets. It's also a given that he can control every human at Court, but if you throw in too many Deryni courtiers, especially if they are fully trained, his grip on power is less secure. He may go for a "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer" approach and keep some at Court anyway in order to keep a closer eye on them, but my hunch is that he would prefer to keep them at arm's length as much as possible.

I see a lot of resemblance in some ways between Donal-Blaine's ruthless pragmatism and Conall's, though I think Donal's one saving grace is that he genuinely had what he felt were the Kingdom's best interests at heart. Some of his actions were pretty reprehensible, but his affair with Jessamy and his attempted rape of Alyce were at least due to his desire to breed a Deryni/Haldane child who could help secure the Kingdom for his heir. Ruthless, but not wholly self-interested in the same sense as Conall using his new powers just to sleep with the pretty Court maidens without their knowledge or consent for no better reason than just being a post-pubescent male who likes his fun. Donal at least knew that what he was trying to do to Alyce was wrong, and he was capable of feeling guilty for it, but he had rationalized it as necessary. I don't think Conall would have even considered it as wrong. Something not socially acceptable, and therefore needing to say hidden, sure.  But not wrong. Pesky notions of good vs evil don't apply to Conall Haldane.

I don't think Conall would have made a good King. I think he would have surrounded himself with Yes Men and not listened to any advice that contradicted whatever he wished to do. He might have been persuaded to change his mind if presented with a rational argument for why his initial plan wouldn't work, but the person doing the persuading would likely need to be careful not to step on Conall's ego in the process. Given his abrasive personality when dealing with those he considers to be inferior, he likely would create enemies, and depending on who those enemies are, that might lead to rebellion after a while. I think he'd spend his life looking over his shoulder, wondering if someone might discover his secrets and distrusting anyone who appeared to be a threat to his power, eventually including his own Queen. (Rothana is definitely not the biddable sort, and being a fully trained Deryni, she would be able to resist any attempts on his part to turn her into a puppet Queen.) Rothana would definitely want the best for Gwynedd, both out of the love she had for Kelson and also because it's her son and heir's patrimony, so if Conall's behavior ended up being against the Kingdom's best interests, I can imagine a very divided Court, perhaps with the King's loyal retainers pitted against those who support the Queen, and both vying for Prince Alban's affection and loyalty and trying to raise him with very different ideas of what sort of ruler he should eventually become. If Rothana raises enough popular support (which she might, especially if Conall begins a descent into madness due to his assimilation of Tiercel's memories), his reign might even end with a coup to depose him and set Alban up in his place.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!


As for Conall's attitudes towards women, remember that Conall tried to pimp out Vanessa to Tiercel, saying or implying that a mind wipe would fix everything. (And the fact that Tiercel didn't seem upset about the misuse of powers or abuse of a person indicates something about him too.)


I suspect he'd evil his way to goodness.

He repeatedly reamed as much information off dying deryni to improve his magical abilites; as he got better and better at this he'd solve more and more problems by simply stripping information from every mind in range.

The thing is, that isn't just going to provide technical information; it will also provide the subject's thoughts on all sorts of things...including their king. If everyone he's mindreaming is thinking "I wish Kelson was still king" that's going to be a massive wake up call. Seeing the consequences of his actions from the victim's point of view is going to both shake his confidence in what he is doing and provide him with the motivation to do better.