Malazan Reread of the Fallen

The Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Gardens of the Moon, Chapters 20 and 21


Welcome to the Malazan Re-read of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapters 20 and 21 of Gardens of the Moon (GotM). Other chapters are here.

A fair warning before we get started: We’ll be discussing both novel and whole-series themes, narrative arcs that run across the entire series, and foreshadowing, so while the summary of events may be free of spoilers, the commentary and reader comments most definitely will not be. To put it another way: Major Spoilers Next Eight Months.

Another fair warning! Grab a cup of tea before you start reading—these posts are not the shortest!


Murillio worries Rallick has lost too much blood to kill Orr. He muses on a giant time-keeping device built over a thousand years ago by a part-Jaghut named Icarium who traveled with a Trell (another race). He runs into Kruppe (literally) who tells him Coll has been healed and gives him masks for Lady Simtal’s party—one for Murillio, one for Rallick, and Kruppe keeps one for himself. Murillio tells Kruppe he’s figured out Kruppe is the Eel and Kruppe magically makes him forget.

Baruk tries, to no avail, to convince Rake not to attend the party. Both expect a “convergence” of power. Rake learns the new year is called Year of the Moon’s Tears. When Baruk tells him not to worry, the name was given a thousand years ago, Rake tells him that’s not so long; in fact, Icarium (with his Trell companion Mappo) visited Rake 800 years ago. Rake also mentions the presence of Caladan Brood and Osric/Osserc (with whom Rake continued an “old” argument). Baruk hints he knows Kruppe is the Eel when a message comes from him.

Mammot has awakened from his trance/entry into the Jaghut barrow and Baruk tells Rake Mammot is one of the T’orrud mages. Mammot tells them he was caught “for a time” but not sensed by the Jaghut, and that he estimates two to three days before the Jaghut awakens fully. Baruk learns that it is Mammot’s nephew Crokus who is the Coin Bearer. Rake asks to make sure Mammot will be at the party (he will) then leaves abruptly.

Lorn enters the city and heads for Whiskeyjack and his squad. Her wound is healing less quickly than expected due to her time in the barrow.

Circle Breaker was one of the guards at the gate Lorn entered through; he notes she matches the description given him by the Eel. He switches jobs with the other guard so he can be at the party.

Lorn finds some of the squad at Quip’s Bar. Fiddler and Hedge, playing cards with a Deck, tell her they’ve been expecting her. Whiskeyjack arrives and tells Lorn they’ve mined the city, Tiste Andii assassins have been hunting them, and they lost Sorry. Lorn tells him Sorry was a spy and isn’t dead but in hiding because Lorn has been hunting her for three years. Lorn tells him she’s giving the orders now.

Lorn tells Whiskeyjack she doesn’t believe Rake and the Andii are in the city. She asks why the squad hasn’t taken out the rulers since the Guild deal isn’t going to work. Whiskeyjack says they’ve arranged to be guards at the party tonight with that possibility in mind. Lorn realizes Whiskeyjack isn’t “broken” as she’d expected. She leaves, saying she’ll return in two hours.

Quick Ben says Kalam is getting impatient on his mission, Trotts says he’s been successful in his, and Whiskeyjack tells Quick Ben Lorn didn’t drop off something Paran had expected her to.

Apsalar and Crokus are waiting in K’rul’s tower before heading to the party so Crokus can talk to Challice. Both realize Apsalar is at war in herself but she tells Crokus she thinks everything is okay, she’s holding things together.

Serrat, about to attacks Crokus and Apsalar, is instead taken by surprise and told to warn Rake to leave Crokus alone—the message is from someone Rake/Serrat know who is not as far away as he once was and also comes “compliments of the Prince.” Serrat leaves and Crokus thinks he felt something.

The Jaghut (Raest) awakens and remembers his rise to power, enslavement of the Imass, attack by other Jaghut who imprisoned him. He rises and goes after the Finnest.

Crone witnesses five dragons above the barrow’s hills.

Raest causes an earthquake by sending a spear of pain into Burn, the goddess who sleeps deep in the earth. The dragons confront him, led by Silanah red-wings, whom Raest distinguishes as “true-blooded Tiam” as opposed to the four Soletaken dragons, “whose blood is alien to this world.” They fight.

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty:
So, here we are starting the seventh book of seven—the end play—and, great… Two poems again, as is Mr Erikson’s wont at the start of a new book…

The first poem (or extract really, in this case—a work defining Darujhistan) is by Maskral Jemre, an unfamiliar name to me. He/she speaks about the Flaying of Fander marking the Dawn of Gedderone, which leads to a festival in Darujhistan. Two matters here—one is the quote:

It is as if the gods themselves pause their breath.

Well, this is certainly how we find matters at the start of Chapter 20! The second matter is the fact that I couldn’t tell whether Maskral is male or female—and I would say that this is similar for a great many of the names that Erikson uses. I don’t know if it constitutes much of a discussion point, but it occurred to me, so I thought I would bring it up.

The second poem is entitled “T’matha’s Children”—I’ve had a look through the Glossary and the list of pertinent people featured at the front of the novel, but can’t find any reference at all to T’matha. However, because we know of Mother Dark and that the Tiste Andii have some connection to dragons, I might be tempted to assume that Mother Dark and T’matha are one and the same. There is also a reference in the poem that also indicates this:

brought light into dark and dark into light

I enjoyed the thoughts of Murillio as he dwells a little on the naming of the year. As he himself mentions:

The arrival of Moon’s Spawn threw the new years title [Moon’s Tears] into a different light.

Since Erikson has explicitly made this connection, it almost makes me feel as though he is employing deliberate misdirection to prevent me from thinking what else it might mean.

I just wanted to pull out the fact that the wheel marking the Cycle of the Age was gifted to Darujhistan by a man named Icarium, who supposedly had Jaghut blood. This emphasises again that the Jaghut were much more than just about the war with the Imass.

Still loving Kruppe’s way of speaking!

“Twas healed magically,” Sulty said. “By some stranger, yet. Coll himself was brought in by yet a second stranger, who found a third stranger, who in turn brought a fifth stranger in the company of the stranger who healed Coll.”

In the same section, where Murillio confronts Kruppe about being the Eel, we receive another show of magic from Kruppe—slight, subtle, and definitely magic that suits the little man i.e. just a flutter of his fingers that induces forgetfulness.

Anomander Rake sounds as though he could be somewhat of a rake in truth—lounging comfortably, smiling slightly, suggesting that he has good taste in attire. I like the guy more and more!

We have hints that the relationship between Anomander Rake and the T’orrud Cabal has soured somewhat, thanks to the killing of members of the Assassins Guild.

There are mentions again of Rake’s eyes, this time changing colour from dun green to amber to grey. I’m deeply curious as to how this relates to dragons!

The small hints about Rake’s past, where he considers the visit by Icarium and Osric, come thick and fast. I have no doubt that this should be filed away for further use!

Regarding the line ”Osserc, as the local worshippers call him“—local to where/whom? “Osric and I argued, as I recall, and it was all Brood could do to keep is apart. It was an old argument”—what did they argue about? How powerful must Brood be to ensure that Rake doesn’t lay the smackdown on other people?

We learn that Baruk does not know Kruppe is the Eel, but suspects that he is:

The alchemist smiled. “As I said,” he laughed, “everyone will be there, and in this case, everyone is an appropriate term.” His smile broadened at Rake’s blank look. “The Eel, Lord. Darujhistan’s master-spy, a figure without a face.”

“A masked face,” the Tiste Andii reminded him.

“If my suspicions are correct,” Baruk said, “the mask won’t help the Eel one bit.”

The last few paragraphs of the section involving Baruk, Rake and Mammot gives lots of little details that no doubt add to the overall picture but elude me right now: Why is Baruk so scared about Crokus being Mammot’s nephew? Is it simply because Baruk knows that Crokus is the Coin Bearer? How does Mammot know that Crokus is the Coin Bearer? Why is Rake’s tone strangely flat after regarding Mammot?

I do love the heavy foreboding inherent in:

Baruk had no time to think about Rake’s sudden departure. It was his first mistake of the day.

It is also great how Erikson introduces Lorn’s arrival into Daru with the line:

A woman with a shaved head and long flowing robes ran shrieking from the gates, a shred of brown fur streaming from one hand.

It misdirects for a few lines as the reader wonders if this signals the arrival of the Jaghut Tyrant. It also ties back into the first poem of the two at the start of this chapter, telling about the Flaying of Fander.

Lorn’s wound not healing—red puffy flesh—gives me a sense of worry (however much I don’t like her). The fact that the Jaghut Tyrant’s magic might negate Otataral’s healing properties might become something we need to know in the future.

Eyeing the two guards stationed at the gate, she approached warily. Only one seemed to pay her any attention, and this man spared her but the briefest glance…

What is the betting that this guard turns out to be someone we already know? *grin* And oh! Just read on slightly—hello to Circle Breaker again!

The exchange between Circle Breaker and the other guard, Berrute, showcases a number of the matters we have discussed previously in the comments to each post: an extremely minor character being given a name and a few tidbits of history; and a discussion between two characters being used to add flavour and depth to the novel, rather than just saying “Circle Breaker was able to swap shifts with another guard to enable him to be present at Lady Simtal’s fete.” Would love to know Circle Breaker’s proper name!

Oh wow, this is why I love Gardens of the Moon—for scenes like that with Lorn finding the Bridgeburners! The way that it is revealed that Fiddler is actually using a Deck of Dragons to play the card games! ”Knight of House Dark is the wild card“—I guess it is true that this game will play out due to the actions of Anomander Rake, and they cannot predict him.

“But what about this damned Virgin of Death?” groused the healer.

“She’s had her teeth pulled. Take a look, the Rope’s right outa the picture, ain’t he?” Fiddler laid another card. “And there’s the Dragon bastard himself, sword all smoking and black as a moonless night. That’s what’s got the Hound scampering.”

This is delicious writing! I love the fact that recent events are being gradually shown by Fiddler. Lorn’s question is pertinent—is Fiddler a talent? When she asks whether he should be using the deck, does this indicate that those without talents are not actually allowed to handle them? It probably isn’t a question that needs answering but I found myself curious about it.

“Throne inverted” is the card pulled for Lorn—not too sure what this is in reference to, unless it indicates something to do with Laseen stealing the Throne from Kellanved.

“Orb.” Fiddler laughed. “True sight and judgement closes this game, wouldn’t you know it?”

Again I think that Lorn is being laughed at here, and reference being made to past events, but I don’t quite know if I’m barking up the right tree with that.

I like how Whiskeyjack is snide towards Lorn when he says that if the Bridgeburners had known of the plans about Sorry, then they could have done something. That pointed remark of his shows that secrets are not always the wisest course. It also goads the Adjunct into taking over his squad, which is part of the plan of keeping Lorn close so that they will be able to deal with her and potentially tackle the Jaghut Tyrant.

The plans of Whiskeyjack and the Bridgeburners really start to pull together with this scene between him and Lorn. It is interesting that Lorn is convinced that all of the Tiste Andii are elsewhere, and equally interesting the scorn with which she mentions the idea of Anomander Rake leaving Moon’s Spawn. Especially so when we think about the fact that Laseen knows the Jaghut Tyrant will bring Anomander Rake into the fray! There are lies within lies in this scene—to the point where I’m no longer quite sure whose plan is what, and who knows what will really be occurring.

“Your Corporal Kalam ranked among the best in the Claw before his… his falling out”—how intriguing! What did Kalam do?

Apsalar sounds as though she will come to a point where one set of warring memories in her brain will take over the other—at the moment Shadowthrone’s memories are coming more to the fore, considering she describes Unta and sounds as though she is having to convince herself about missing her own father. The “smooth, black stone” that takes Apsalar inside is concerning—she could just be describing the way she is feeling, but thanks to her possession any odd thoughts of this nature might be residue of Shadowthrone. Including his magic?

Thanks to the hints from everyone about who is protecting Crokus from Serrat—the biggest clue comes here:

A low chuckle answered her. “Compliments of the Prince, Serrat. Take it up with our mutual friend.”

I take it this Prince is K’azz D’Avore? *wink*

The Jaghut Tyrant refers to himself as Raest and was worshipped as a god by the T’lann Imass.

The power he commanded insisted upon subjects. Strength was ever relative, and he could not dominate without the company of the dominated.

This is the reason why the Tyrant enslaved the Imass—they were subjects that did not die and could suffer his tyranny. We also hear that the Jaghut are normally solitary creatures, who do not desire community, but in order to defeat Raest they banded together.

And FINALLY we see the dragons! What is it that Crone screams?

“Silanah! Dragnipurake t’na Draconiaes! Eleint, eleint!”

Silanah is the red dragon—I have my suspicions that this might be Anomander Rake’s alter ego and he is only able to assume the form thanks to the sword Dragnipur (connected to what Crone says)—right? Or very wrong?

Ouch, Raest is a bit of a bad ass… (Yep, I am Queen of No-Brainer Statements right now!) His first actions are to wound a goddess and create a volcano, and yet he’s not at full power?

Another mention of Soletaken—shapeshifters—in reference to the four black dragons. Raest recognises them as dragons “whose blood is alien to this world”—so Tiste Andii then? The Jaghut Tyrant is unable to enslave dragons—interesting to know. Also interesting to see him try and woo the black Soletaken to his cause. We also have confirmation that Raest is able to possess others:

His power was absolute, the vessel that carried it had little relevance. If need be, the Tyrant would find other bodies, bodies in the thousands.

This thundering battle of sorcery between Tyrant and dragons is just amazing—my mind did all kinds of WOWOWOWOWOW at what I imagined! What an epic ending to Chapter 20!

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty:
I think you pulled out the key line of that first poem, Amanda—the one pointing to the lull before the storm. Just wanted to add that Fander is yet another name to add to the long list for future reference…

On the second poem, I’m unsure myself as to just what’s going on here but might hazard that T’Matha bears some resemblance to Tiam, a name we see just a bit later and one associated with true dragons (The children of chaos?). But “matron” usually calls up something else in my mind and though we do see eventually a connection between dragons and “that other” I can’t quite connect it to the “birthing of dragons.” And certainly Mother Dark does get called up as well by the light/dark. Ideas?

In usual Erikson fashion, we get a character—Icarium—that sort of leaks out in dribs and drabs: he makes timepieces (very, very cool timepieces, not to mention oddly prophetic in this case), as you mentioned Amanda he has some Jaghut blood, and has a Trell companion. And then, via Rake, some more driblets: the Trell is named Mappo, and oh yeah, the two of them visited Rake 800 years ago (speaking of characters exposed bit by bit, as you guessed Amanda, you want to hold onto the name of Osric/Osserc as well—we’ll be seeing him, Mappo, and Icarium eventually).

Who else loves Kruppe’s seemingly confused response at Murillo’s implication that Rallick will recognize him despite the mask? And then a few pages later, Baruk’s wry remark: “the mask won’t help the Eel one bit.”

Who else also thinks that while Rake does have obviously bigger things on his mind than a party, he’s actually being somewhat honest in telling Baruk:

“I would like to attend this fete. My own people hold little to such social affairs. There are times when I grow weary of their dour preoccupations.”

The answer to your question on Rake’s tone toward Mammot, Amanda, is it is some more foreshadowing re: Mammot and the Jaghut in this scene. The first comes when Mammot tells us “withdrawal proved easier that I’d imagined.” (Really, who believes anyone when they say that?) Then when Rake asks him quite, quite seriously, and “in a strangely flat tone” if he’ll be at the party, then when Mammot’s “of course” leads Rake to look forward to that meeting with “something like anticipation,” and finally the line about Baruk’s mistake. [Amanda’s interjection: Hmm, does this mean that Mammot has been possessed by the Tyrant in some form?!]

Okay, here we go with another Deck reading. I’ll toss in my interpretation and let you all have at it (though sometimes I think it’s more fun to ignore these sort of interpretive moments and watch the crowd get their teeth into them first—any preferences?):

Well, we’ve got Rake as Knight of House Dark as Amanda gleaned, and the wild card obviously. Virgin of Death I’m going with Sorry, who has had her teeth pulled when Cotillion (the Rope) was evicted from her by Shadowthrone. Certainly with the convergence coming up the Herald of Death is no surprise (and I could say more here about that but perhaps too spoilerish so I’ll hold off). We’ve seen Rake face Shadowthrone (The Hound) down and we’ve had enough references to Rake and dragons by now so that isn’t all that obscure. As for Orb, I have a few ideas but think they go in the spoiler realm, so I’ll hold off (the discussion thread is fine for that sort of thing though).

Okay, here’s one I need help on—Captain of Light. The Captain of Light is rising, and sure we know the Jaghut is about to rise, and in fact when he does so he “walked into the light”—but I can’t quite put him as Captain of Light. We’ve got Paran as a captain, but I have some issues with that one as well, though he’s certainly on the rise. Fiddler adds an intriguing tidbit: “That Captain’s already dancing on the Knight’s shadow,” but to be perfectly frank, I’m not sure what that phrase means here. I can see Paran dancing “in” Rake’s shadow, as they’ve already met and Rake has saved him once and Paran is making some moves. But I’m not sure what Paran dancing “on” Rake’s shadow would be—perhaps there’s no difference? Someone dancing on “Rake’s shadow” might be the someone playing with Serrat, who gets revealed (to some extent) as a Crimson Guard and agent of Brood, so perhaps that could be the Captain of Light? Though Brood seems to have his own connection and I’m not sure about how the Guard might connect to Light. Hmm, I’m now wondering if Raest returns as a candidate as his possession of Mammot could be seen as “dancing on Rake’s shadow”?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

As for those without talent using a Deck, Lorn isn’t worried about ones without talent but those (like Fiddler) with talent, as the Deck can do some odd and dangerous things when one with talent uses it (as we’ll see in some great Deck readings in the future!)

Also, while we’re on the subject of my ignorance, anybody know what Paran was expecting Lorn to “drop off”? I seem to have missed something (probably something embarrassingly obvious, in which case I’ll have to shamefacedly hand in my Tor Re-reader Decoder Ring) [Amanda’s interjection: I just thought that the something to be dropped off was the Finnest? But then I guess he wouldn’t have known about it, so I think I need to hand in my Tor First-Reader Decoder Ring. *grin*]

On Aspalar’s “smooth black stone,” I’m thinking it’s the seer still keeping watch over her. And while we’re in that scene, Anybody catch Crokus, listening to Sorry, thinking this to himself:

Possession, Coll had said. Two sets of memory warred in the woman, and the war was getting worse. He wondered if Mammot had shown up yet.

Now sure, he has a reason for thinking that, as Mammot is supposed to help Sorry, but still, c’mon: possession—Mammot, possession—Mammot. Love it.

Good pick up on who has been tormenting poor Serrat, Amanda; we’ve only had one “Prince” mentioned, so if you can recall that, this isn’t so much a hint as a declaration. Even more intriguing than this reveal, I think, is the line: “as Rake well knows, he’s not as far away as he once was.” “He” being Brood.

So, if you wondered just how bad the Jaghut could get, or at least, this particular Tyrant, now you know: killing other Jaghut, driving “countless species” into extinction, “bending nature to his will,” even taking on the earth itself as it resists him. That’s all in the past though, right? Now he’s still weak, newly wakened, most of his power still inaccessible in his Finnest? So he “stabs” Burn (a goddess sleeping deep, deep in the earth), raises “a line of hills,” and causes a volcano. You can see why Rake refuses to call the outcome “certain.” Even if he sends his best backup.

And what backup, eh? That’s not a bad guess re: Silanah, Amanda, based on all the dropped clues re: Rake and dragons. Note, however, the distinction Raest makes, calling Silanah (twice the size of the others) “true-blooded Tiam (to the file cabinet with Tiam!)” and “eleint,” then stating that she leads not other “true” dragons, but “Soletaken” dragons—not quite the same thing.

Oh, and just a minor clarification on the Jaghut Raest and the T’lan Imass/Imass. If you look carefully, you’ll see he calls them Imass, which if you recall is what they were called before they underwent the ritual making them the undead T’lan Imass.


Lorn plants the Finnest acorn in a garden. She imagines the death and destruction about to be visited upon Darujhistan and feels herself breaking down. She sets off to kill Crokus and take the Coin, her “last act.”

Kruppe heads toward the party, thinking of how “someone” is protecting Crokus perhaps even better than Kruppe has been. He also plans to let Circle Breaker retire tonight after the party, which he feels will be a crux for future events.

Crokus and Apsalar head for the party.

The squad is hired at the party. Quick Ben tells them the Jaghut has been freed and is winning whatever battle it’s fighting out in the hills.

Kalam and Paran, at the Phoenix Inn, discuss killing Lorn. Kalam tells Scurve the bartender to get a message the Assassin’s Guild master that a big contract is waiting for them at the party. They head to the party.

Baruk and Rake head to the party. Baruk marvels at the power of the battle outside the city and that Rake seems so calm despite the fact that Raest is clearly winning and will be in the city in hours.

Lady Simtal and Turban Orr meet Baruk and Rake (who is wearing a dragon mask) and welcome them. (Orr doesn’t recognize Rake’s name and is suspicious of Baruk’s power and influence.)

Murillio and Rallick hope Baruk doesn’t see them. They watch as Kruppe heads toward Rake and Baruk.

Baruk tells Rake Kruppe is the Eel. Kruppe reveals he knows Rake is a Soletaken dragon. (Baruk thinks the mask is merely a mask.)

Orr recognizes Circle Breaker and realizes he’s the spy Orr has been seeking. Before he can move to kill him, Rallick crashes into Orr and provokes him into a duel.

Murillio and Lady Simtal are in her bedroom.

Rake steps in to be Rallick’s second in the duel. Mammot, wearing a Jaghut mask, joins Baruk.

The squad realizes Rake is there. Quick Ben tells Whiskeyjack the magical battle outside the city is wreaking havoc among all the magic-users, including him. They can’t protect themselves by using their barrows because the Jaghut, even at this distance, would “take the weaker ones.”

Crokus arrives, after leaving Apsalar at the garden’s back wall. He joins the crowd waiting for the duel, standing next to Circle Breaker. Kruppe arrives and gives Circle Breaker a message from the Eel, which is about his lucrative retirement in a different city via the Eel. Rallick kills Orr easily then leaves. Baruk introduces Rake to the witch Derudan, who worries about the Jaghut. Rake tells them his concern isn’t with who is beyond the city walls.

Rallick bursts in on Murillio and Simtal (after the sex) and tells Simtal that Orr is dead, that Coll will be returned to his status/house. Rallick leaves, then Murillio as well, though not before leaving Simtal a dagger, knowing she’ll commit suicide. He already starts regretting what his vengeance makes him feel like.

Crokus grabs Challice and brings her into the garden.

Circle Breaker leaves, happy.

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty-One:
Even with my lack of interest in poetry, I can appreciate the beauty of the poem Anomandaris that starts Chapter 21. Every single line is just gorgeous, but I particularly love:

Their sorcery bled from them like the breathing of stars and I knew then that dragons had come among us…

Intrigued by the fact that the poem is called Anomandaris, which bears a great resemblance to the name Anomander, non?

We can infer that Lorn has left the Finnest at the fete—this just cannot end well, but at least it looks as though all the main players will be present there! Hmm, I’m pretty sure that when Paran was sent by Lorn to kill Sorry that the Adjunct knew Sorry was being possessed by Shadowthrone? Ah no—I just read back and realised that this occurred during a conversation with Topper. Remember him? I almost didn’t! Will we see him again because I kinda liked him? So Lorn won’t be aware that the reason Sorry is untraceable is thanks to a god relinquishing control of her.

It’s a really sad scene with Lorn, actually, no matter how much I despise her at times. She really is breaking apart, as she tries to stay aloof and behind the mask of the Adjunct. And yet she frustrates me as well! She feels the pain of death and insignificance and knows one day that she will be part of it, but she still chooses to go ahead with the plan that will cause such destruction. Alright, Raest has now been unleashed, but she could still ask Whiskeyjack not to explode the city intersections.

Aww, Kruppe—I can always rely on you for a little light relief. (Although I really need to make sure that I still read every word of his closely considering there are many revelations lost in the gentle patter of his speech.) In this little scene I loved the fact that he tried to fasten the last button of his waistcoat, and then shrugs and leaves it. There is another little hint about his power, but doesn’t give any real indication of how he comes to know the pattern—but I do suspect that Kruppe’s ability is tied into dreams and daydreams:

He’d spent the last hour seated at his table, to all outward appearances musing on nothing of great importance, though in his head a pattern formed, born of his Talent, and it disturbed him greatly.

I’m guessing that the “something like lightning” that Crokus can see is the Jaghut getting closer and closer to Daru—that description of clouds which are an eerie and sickly ochre colour leave a deeply ominous impression. There are tiny hints that Crokus is starting to feel real affection for Apsalar—making sure that she will be okay in the event that things go wrong; enjoying the feel of her hand in his, and finding it hard to remember what she was capable of during her possession. I think the last sentence in the section really represents everything about Crokus:

Eyes wide, yet seeing nothing, Crokus allowed himself to be guided down the stairs.

This really shows the naive child who is being led by the nose by various people.

Why does Trott using the name Niganga cause Whiskeyjack to think ”Hood’s Breath!“ like that? Just as a quick aside—I recently read The Lies of Locke Lamora for the first time and found it deeply enjoyable but the real world swearing left me cold and jarred me out of my reading. I would like to say that curses such as ”Hood’s Breath“ are much more in keeping with a fantasy world. What are your thoughts?

Starting to know Quick Ben as we do, hands up who is now scared as anything about the Tyrant after seeing him so shaky and scared?

“Don’t you get it?” Quick Ben said shakily. He took a couple of deep breaths, then continued, “That creature out there is in a fight. We’re talking major sorceries, only it’s getting closer, which means that it’s winning. And that means—”

“We’re in trouble,” Whiskeyjack finished.

Paran rubbed his red-shot eyes. “She must have given them something,” he insisted wearily, “even if they didn’t see it.”

We know from the rest of the conversation between Paran and Kalam that the ”she“ in question is Lorn, so is Paran referring to the Finnest? Does he know about it? And the ”them” in question is the Bridgeburner squad, right?

I really enjoyed Kalam finally losing patience and threatening Scurve with violence if he doesn’t get a message to the city’s Master of the Assassins—the whole little scene was comedy gold, from Paran’s drawled comment, to Kalam politely giving the innkeeper coins for his trouble after promising to kill him, to the fact that Kalam is trying to get in touch with the Master of the Assassins so that he can con Laseen out of coin. Love it!

Those Greyfaces have been mentioned by Kalam—and this time he brings them up because of something about them nagging at him. Another little mystery that I’m sure is building up to something important. *grin*

Rake’s arrival at the fete certainly causes a stir—there can’t be too many seven foot tall men around though, right? I like that his mask is that of a black dragon—more hints. I’m a little unsure of the timeline now, though—is the Tyrant still on his way in? Has he defeated the dragons sent to try and stop him? I’m just ascertaining whether Rake was one of those dragons, but now I’m thinking not.

Baruk sighed. Anomander Rake, a name known by poets and scholars, but not, it appeared, by councilmen.

This line made me giggle! However, it does also have a lesson with regards to forgetting history—at one point Rake would have been known as an historical figure, now he is just part of myth and stories. What have we forgotten of our own history, now only known by scholars?

Oh, again Erikson provides us with much amusement, at the point where Kruppe meets Rake! First of all, Rake’s incredulous “Do you jest?” made me laugh, and then their conversation (which I sense is deeper than it seems) is also entertaining.

“It is easy to fool oneself,” Rake answered, “into viewing those beneath one as small and insignificant. The risks of oversight, you might say.”

This could be taken in so many ways—such as Rake purely trading quips with Kruppe, or Rake letting Kruppe know that he isn’t underestimating him.

Turban Orr’s messenger being sent to Pale—through the thunderstorm: we know that they are unlikely to get there. Add to that the fact that Orr suffers a rather terminal case of knives-in-the-body later in this Chapter, and I am wondering whether Erikson mentioning this is deliberate or just to flesh out details of Orr’s ponderings.

We see a lot of plot strands coming together at the end of this Chapter: Rallick finally facing up to Orr (despite Murillio’s fears that he wouldn’t be recovered enough to take his revenge); Lady Simtal being taken down a number of pegs, as Murillio woos her during the duel between Rallick and Orr; and the first steps towards Coll being reinstated.

*shudders* More indication that Mammot is being possessed:

“Good gods, Mammot! Where did you get that hideous mask?”

The old man’s eyes held his briefly then shied away. “An accurate rendition of Jaghut features, I believe,” he said softly. “Though I think the tusks are a little short.”

We hear that all the mages are affected by the Jaghut unleashing his power but equally they don’t want to access their power in case Raest destroys them or consumes them. This definitely puts the citizens of Darujhistan at a disadvantage against the Tyrant.

Crokus appears to still be under the influence of Oponn as he manages to sneak through Whiskeyjack’s squad as they stand guard—I’m assuming it is this that keeps him invisible as he makes his way through the garden? Equally it could be the Crimson Guard who have been protecting him from Serrat.

I’m really pleased that Circle Breaker gets to walk away—over the course of his chapters we’ve seen him weary, scared and frustrated and, even knowing so little about the man behind the name, I am glad he will find peace. From the fact that he is sweating at the idea of the duel between Rallick and Orr, I am guessing that he relates to one of both of these men. Erikson has probably even told us his name in passing!

The duel between Rallick and Orr reminds me a little of that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark—where Indiana Jones faces off against the guy twirling his sword in a fancy manner and then just shoots him. All this time we’ve been building up to a mighty duel, with much being made of Rallick’s ability with a blade and the fact that he might be too hurt to duel effectively, and then he really just assassinates Orr.

Rake is aware that there is something building within Daru:

“Should it prove necessary,” Rake said, “I will attend to the matter personally. I do not believe, however, that our greatest threat is the one beyond the city’s walls. A suspicion, Witch, no more.”

The Lady Simtal was gone, and he dared not study too closely the creature in her place.

Now does this only mean that Simtal changed demeanour as she realised that she was no longer in power and would be defeated by Coll’s return? Or did she actually change into a creature?! [Bill’s interjection: Can’t be too careful in fantasy books, but in this case, the mundane first answer is the right one.]

Murillio reveals a little more about himself:

Justice had seduced him and he wondered what he had just lost, he wondered at the death he felt spreading within him. The regret following in that death’s wake, so unanswerable it was, threatened to overwhelm him. “Mowri,” he whispered a second time, as close to praying as he’d ever been, “I think I’m now lost. Am I lost?”

This is bleak and that little cry for help at the end really moves me. Who is Mowri? [Bill’s interjection: She’s in the glossary under Ascendants—Lady of Beggars, Slaves, and Serfs. We’ll see people swear to or by her now and then.]

Gosh, Crokus really is reacting without thinking right now, isn’t he? Imagine kidnapping Challice! Not exactly the way to win her heart, or to keep himself safe…

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty-One:
I agree with you that Lorn’s progression through this novel is a sad one. As before, just when you think she might be turning down a more human path, she shuts it off: “Find the Coin Bearer. Kill him.” Good use of those short, abrupt sentences to convey the coldness and the cutting off of her humanity.

I too liked that last line about Crokus being led down by Sorry. And you’re right Amanda, the flickerings of affection have already begun. (The boy is doomed, doomed!)

On your BTW, Amanda re: swearing, I have the same reaction. I mean, you go to all this trouble to craft a world with different species, cultures, moons, flora and fauna, magic for god’s sake, and then you’ve got character throwing around contemporary slang swearing. Some I can live with, as they have the characters speaking (mostly) “English” for the obvious reason that we need to be able to read the books (even Tolkien didn’t put all of LOTR into Elvish), so anything w/ bodily connections I can tolerate, but the others just seem a bit lazy.

Pesky Greyfaces, always hanging around at dusk…

You have to figure Erikson had some fun with the masks in the round-up-the-usual-suspects collage (though I’m not sure I needed Mammot’s—a bit of overkill I thought). They’re all pretty clear, but just another name to remember Amanda—Rallick’s tiger mask and the reference to the god Trake.

Ahh Kruppe’s slippery, double-edged language. I think we can count on him knowing that Rake can in fact take dragon form and so when Baruk tells him Rake’s dragon mask is just that, a mask, look how cleverly funny Kruppe’s ensuing lines are:

Such is the irony of life . . . that one learns to distrust the obvious

[Such as the mask is just a mask.]

On Rake’s line re: “oversight,” I think this hearkens back to a few liners earlier in the book. One is when Brood complains to Crone that “Rake’s disdain for everything beneath him has left us stumbling and flat on our faces one time too many.” Another is the conversation between Baruk and Rake where Baruk wonders if Rake cares if Darujhistan is destroyed so long as Rake “wins.” Here I think Rake is musing on the fact that he must stand constant guard against his (and his people’s) own potential to disregard those “below” him and my guess is he thinks many others of power have failed to do the same.

The irony of Orr thinking about how the “Moon’s Lord” would surely be defeated by the Empire just after meeting said lord isn’t quite as satisfactory for me as I still have some issues with folks not recognizing Rake’s name, especially as Orr knows about Pale and one would think would be going all out to learn some intel on what the city has to deal with. But time to move on from that complaint, I guess.

My guess is that most fans have a large soft spot for Circle Breaker, one of the very, very few Erikson characters who seem (so far) to have played their part and moved on to have another life beyond the misery of war and death and horror. I love that last line describing him moving out through the gates.

I agree Crokus is acting without thinking (hmm, adolescent boy anyone?), but I thoroughly enjoyed his big build-up to this moment culiminating in “Gorlas? Is that you? I’ve been waiting all night!”

Things will be moving fast and furious now. Buckle up!

Bill Capossere writes short stories and essays, plays ultimate frisbee, teaches as an adjunct English instructor at several local colleges, and writes SF/F reviews for

Amanda Rutter contributes reviews and a regular World Wide Wednesday post to, as well as reviews for her own site (covering more genres than just speculative), Vector Reviews and Hub magazine.


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