Who is Mario, really? So far, we have some sketchy (and sometimes conflicting) information via various parties, so the question of his identity and history are still largely open.
Mario and AlieraEdit
Aliera is not one to necessarily hold to convention, (especially since she herself is the daughter of a goddess) but it seems at least possible that Mario could be an ex-Dragon himself, making the tryst with Aliera more plausible.
However, with the release of Dzur, we are given a detailed description of his features, which appear to be those of an elderly merchant, and nothing like a Dragon.
Another interesting speculation about Aliera and Mario is the question of when they actually first met. Paarfi shows them first meeting in the Imperial Palace in Dragaera City shortly before Adron's Disaster. Another possibility, however, arising from the additional speculation that her father Adron was possibly the one who really commissioned the assassination of Tortaalik, is that they first met at Redface. Alternatively, perhaps they had met long before this, and when Adron considered assassinating Tortaalik, Aliera said that she knew someone who did that sort of thing.
Escaping Adron's DisasterEdit
At least by Paarfi's account, Mario was in Dragaera City at the time of Adron's Disaster, raising the question of how he survived. The explanation that Paarfi gives is that when Sethra Lavode attempted to teleport Aliera out of the city, Mario was included in the spell, and "landed" somewhere near Aliera's disembodied soul.
Possibly this is the cause for WHY Aliera ended up disembodied? Because Sethra wasn't counting on teleporting two people?
Status in Vlad's timeEdit
It highly unlikely that Mario might be a member of the Jhereg Council.
- See also Speculation:Jhereg Council.
It is also unlikely that he might be the Jhereg Heir, since the Princes of the House represent the House to the Empire, which is far too much publicity for an assassin.
Who is Secretly Mario?Edit
There are all sorts of speculations about other people who "might secretly be" Mario; indeed, SKZB even pokes fun at this by having Vlad jokingly ask in Issola if Teldra might secretly be Mario (she says "no", but of course (s)he would say that, regardless).
It might be fun to play around with the idea, but be warned that Steven Brust is on the record as stating the following:
- Unless I've forgotten something, or get a brainstorm--nobody is anybody. That is, there are no more characters who are really some other character in disguise [...] it feels like cheating. I don't like things all tied up neat and clean with everything explained--I can't suspend my disbelief.
- (Above is an extract from a USENET posting, citing a personal e-mail from Steve from 1998)
And worse (from a Mario-speculating perspective), he has made a definite pronouncement as follows:
- Question: "Have we met Mario face-to-face in the Vlad books (even if disguised as someone else)?"
- Steven Brust answers: No.
That answer, however, was given prior to the publication of Dzur, in which Mario actually appears (and is himself, and no one else.)
However, prior to this revelation, the common chief candidates for "Who is Mario?" were:
- The Demon
- The Mysterious "Number One" of the Jhereg. (Who turned out to have been a very old man named Curithne, now deceased).
As mentioned above, Mario is described by Vlad Taltos as looking like an elderly merchant - 2500 years old, round-faced and friendly, somewhat short for a Dragaeran, physically unimpressive. It may be that either the advanced age, or his entire appearance, is an illusion or disguise of some sort. Obviously, disguises and appearance alteration would be a highly appropriate skill-set for an assassin to cultivate, so that is the simplest and most probable explanation.
However, we can speculate about his age in Dzur as if it were for real. For example, another possible reason for his appearance of great age, in contradiction to Paarfi's description of him being very young, might be that because of some confusion during teleporting away from Adron's Disaster, Mario ended up in a dimension or plane of existence where time passes at a different rate, and he was there for about two millennia (in his personal time) before returning to Dragaera.
Yet another speculation is that the haywire teleport sent Mario 1.5 millennia or so backwards in time. When his personal existence brought him back to near the time of Adron's Disaster, he could have sought out his younger self and trained him as an assassin (and perhaps introduced him to Aliera), then made sure that his current self was nowhere near Dragaera City when the Disaster occurred.
Or possibly that the haywire teleport damaged his body in a way that aged him physically.
Finally, it might be that the young, nondescript individual (that Paarfi reports that Khaavren saw make the first, abortive assassination attempt on Tortaalik) was Kragar (with the further speculation that Kragar was formerly Mario's apprentice or partner).
- See also Speculation:Kragar.
Of course, the most likely explanation is that Mario is simply that old, and looks exactly like he does, and Paarfi, having never met him, made up how old Mario was because Paarfi really had no idea.
(But then, Paarfi did know about Mario and Aliera. And why would Aliera have found a grandfather figure so attractive? (Note from Tiassa_(book), grandfather figures might actually not be a problem for Aliera.).
...Or would he have been a grandfather figure? Aliera was actually a young-looking 500 at the time, and if Paarfi got his age wrong and Mario were, say, 900 then, they might still have been roughly contemporary by Dragaeran standards. At the time of Dzur, ~500 years after that, Aliera is a young-looking 1000, Mario a prematurely older-looking 1400, possibly deliberately aging his appearance a bit to blend in. It might be nothing special. Steve R 11:34, 29 August 2009 (UTC) )
Another possibility - All of these books are narrated by Vlad into a recorder. Maybe he purposefully lied about Mario's appearance to help protect him from identification.
It's also possible that Mario is a master of disguise. This would certainly seem to be a useful skill for an assassin.