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Anathem - Erasmas

Fraa Erasmas as depicted in Anathem Trailer

Erasmas (Raz) is the protagonist of the 2008 book Anathem by Neal Stephenson. The novel is written as a first-person narrative by Erasmas detailing his thoughts and adventures during the crisis caused by the arrival of the Daban Urnud in orbit around Arbre. The novel takes place during the years A.R. 3689–3691, when Erasmas is 18–20 years old.

Before the novel[]

Erasmas was born in A.R. 3671 to a sline family living in the unnamed city next to the Concent of Saunt Edhar. At the age of 8 he was collected and became an avout in the Decenarian math at the Concent of Saunt Edhar. He took as an avout name that of Erasmas, a fraa who lived at the Concent of Saunt Baritoe in the 1300s. His name as a child outside the maths was Vit, a name he would later resurrect to hide his avout status while traveling in the saecular world.

Erasmas was selected, along with Lio, Jesry, and Arsibalt to be on the team which winds the Great Clock every day during Provener. Erasmas became the fid of the cosmologist Orolo and wanted to be accepted into the Edharian Order to continue studying under and working with Orolo. Erasmas is later inducted into the Edharian Order.

During the novel[]

The novel opens just prior to Apert at the Concent of Saunt Edhar, when Erasmas and his contemporaries seek to enter one of the three orders at this math. Following the Anathem of Orolo Erasmas violates some of the strict rules of an Avout to seek out answers as to why Orolo was cast out. Working with his friends they are able to discover that Orolo was was using the telescopes at the Concent to observe an alien spacecraft in orbit around Arbre. Erasmas himself, along with his friends and others, is suddenly called to Voco and told to make their way to a Convox being held in the distant concent of Tredegarh.

Erasmas, however, first seeks to find Orolo who he believes has moved to the famous astronomical observing site, Bly's Butte. However, once Erasmas and his companions reach Bly's Butte Orolo has left. The Thousander Fraa Jad correctly identifies the island of Ecba as Orolo's destination. Erasmas, now accompanied only by Cord, Sammann, Yul, and Gnel, go on a dangerous journey over the North pole of Arbre to reach Ecba. Once there they find Orolo, but he is killed after the volcano on Ecba is rodded by the Daban Urnud after a small probe craft lands.

Erasmas is evacuated to Tredegarh where the Convox seeks to understand where the alien spacecraft came from as well as ways in which to deal with the threat that it poses. Following the unmasking of Jules Verne Durand as an alien spy, Erasmas joins the mass evacuation and travels with friends from the Concent of Saunt Edhar, the Thousander Fraa Jad, Jules Verne Durand, and four members of the Ringing Vale to the distant city of Elkhazg. There the team (Cell 317) trains in the use of hardened spacesuits as part of a daring plan to infiltrate the Daban Urnud.

Once the team reaches the spaceship, Erasmas is faced with the powers of the Thousanders, as Fraa Jad manipulates his consciousness to follow different worldlines where different choices were made. Erasmas then blacks out, and when he is revived two weeks later, the new government of Arbre has reached a peaceful agreement with the travelers from another cosmos.

At the conclusion of the novel Erasmas is working with Avout, Ita, and Deolaters and others from the Saecular world, as well as members of the four alien races, to create a new math-like center of science and scholarship named after Saunt Orolo. In the final pages, Erasmas at last marries Ala.

Fraa Erasmas (namesake)[]

Fraa Erasmas of the 14th century A.R. was a teacher at Saunt Baritoe, teaching graph theory, among other things.

Dictionary Entry[]

A fraa at Saunt Baritoe’s in the Fourteenth Century A.R. who, along with Suur Uthentine, founded the branch of metatheorics called Complex Protism.
The Dictionary, 4th Edition, A.R. 3000