Okay, okay, okay. I know, I know. But I can’t help but love the line, “He’s an intelligent being, so yes.”

The self-satisfied smugness of it. You can settle a lot of religious questions– “Does God really want me to keep all my wealth?” “Does God smile on our faith above all others?” “Was God really cool with me killing that dude?”– with “He’s an intelligent being, so yes.” At least, you can do that if you have unshakable confidence that anyone but an idiot would believe what you believe. Which works out pretty well for Iver!

But that’s the only thing working out for him here, as he runs smack into the brick wall of his own limitations. We’ve already seen Magda pay respect to what she thought was a homosexual relationship, and that was a relationship between her enemies. Gondolessa and Harky are her mentors…better mentors, she is realizing, than her own people’s leader. And that’s before we even get to her relationships with Gravedust and her uncle.

Iver’s pretty good at manipulating people en masse, but that’s spoiled him into overestimating his ability to manipulate individuals. He sees Magda as a young, naïve creature, clay to be molded as he sees fit. So why not use her connection to Penk and simply sever any more inconvenient bonds she might have? That’s a decent idea as long as you assume he’ll be successful. But as is painfully obvious, the bonds Magda forms are far too strong to be sundered by the contempt of her warlord. All he’s done by opposing those bonds is enter a contest he’s bound to lose. And thus he’s reducing, not increasing, any influence he has on her.