Malazan Reread of the Fallen

The Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Gardens of the Moon, Chapters 22 and 23

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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 Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapters 22 and 23 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!

Chapter Twenty-Two

SCENE 1
Raest enters Kruppe’s dreamworld and faces Kruppe, Tool, and K’rul. He disappears into “another body.”

SCENE 2
Kalam and Paran find Apsalar in the garden glade. Apsalar vaguely recalls killing Paran and that Kalam is an “old friend.” All three recognize there is something strange about what they’d taken as a stone bench but turns out to be a wooden block that is growing where Lorn planted the Finnest. Whiskeyjack orders Fiddler and Hedge “loose.”

SCENE 3
Rallick runs into Kruppe, who tells him his “destiny awaits him” and also that the world is “well-prepared” for Raest, which makes no sense to Rallick. Rallick then meets Vorcan, who is surprised that Rallick could overcome Orr’s “protective magic,” then decides that Rallick’s “skills are required.”

SCENE 4
Crokus learns Challice didn’t betray him, that he doesn’t really love her. He goes to find Apsalar.

SCENE 5
Mallet can’t enter the glade because the wooden oddity (now the size of a table) “hungers” for him. Mallet confirms Apsalar is no longer possessed and that she has “somebody else inside” who has been there “all along” protecting her. The other presence is trying to erase/cover the memories of Apsalar’s actions as Sorry but needs help as it is dying. Paran orders Mallet to help (Mallet’s preference as well). Vorcan and Rallick enter the glade.

SCENE 6
The wooden structure (later identified as an Azath) has no effect on Rollick (he actually slows its growth) due to the Otataral dust. Kalam offers the Empire’s proposal to Vorcan to have her and the guild kill the T’orrud Cabal of mages that rule Darujhistan. Vorcan informs them of her assumption that Baruk and the Cabal have allied with Rake and that Moon’s Spawn has been involved fighting Raest. Kalam tells her the Malazans are just as happy to let Rake take Raest on, and that she needn’t try to kill him. Vorcan personally accepts the proposal (outing herself as a High Mage) and then orders Rallick to stay near the Azath to slow its growth. Crokus, who has overheard, comes out when Rallick is alone (the Azath now looks like a small house). Rallick tells Crokus to warn Baruk and Mammot about Vorcan.

SCENE 7
In the carriage, Rake tells Baruk Raest is weakened and while he’ll keep an eye on the situation, he thinks the mages can handle it. He then warns Baruk to clear the streets and asks for a point of high vantage. Baruk sends him to K’rul’s tower.

SCENE 8
Mammot is revealed as Raest-possessed. Quick Ben stops him from incinerating a female mage (Derudan) who then momentarily stuns Mammot and tells Quick Ben it’s up to him as that was all she had. In the attack, Whiskeyjack’s leg is broken, Paran’s sword absorbs a “lance of energy” and Paran disappears, and many partygoers are killed.

SCENE 9
Paran finds himself in a strange place (Warren, I assume?) and is witness to a large house rising out of a lake. He looks on as Tool and the Finnest (an oak-fleshed Jaghut figure) fight. Tool asks Paran to defend the Azath (the house) which is meant to imprison the Finnest. Paran tries to block the Finnest’s power with Chance, but the sword has no effect. Instead, the Omtose Phellack Warren magic awakens the Hound’s blood in Paran and Paran leaps onto the Finnest and tears it apart. Tool pulls Paran back and the Azath takes the Finnest via roots rising from the earth to pull it down into the ground.

SCENE 10
Paran reappears at the party. Quick Ben uses seven Warrens and strikes at Mammot. Hedge uses munitions on the weakened Mammot.

SCENE 11
Crone circles over where Raest had vanished into Kruppe’s dreamworld. She hears Silanah cry out and Crone sees what Silanah does and her response is joy and surprise.

SCENE 12
Looking into the crater formed by Hedge’s munitions, Quick Ben and the others see a “man-shaped form coalescing” at the bottom of the pit. Roots from the Azath in the glade pull the form (Raest) into the garden. Derudan leaves. Kalam realizes the problem with planting munitions in Darujhistan.

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty-Two:
“Ravens” by Collitt is our chapter opener, and it is one of those poems that I enjoy, being fairly simplistic on the face of things (dealing with Great Ravens, such as Crone), but can lend itself to deeper meanings. I will take the simplistic option and leave the rest of you to let me know if I missed anything crucial. *grin* I did love the line:

Your damning cawls deride histories sweeping beneath your blackened wings.

This conveys everything about the Ravens staying distant from conflicts, watching the world unfold beneath them and the passage of days and years. We already know that Crone has seen thousands of years, and this line emphasises that point.

The continued scene between Raest and the dragons is still as epic—the dragons breathing magic like fire from their jaws, and Raest tossing around raw power. We also see Raest’s continual desire to destroy, as he callously destroys a guardhouse full of soldiers. As someone in the notes pointed out, we also see the destruction of Orr’s messenger—did Erikson just resolve a plot point? I think he did!

He’d met another man, similarly clad and riding a horse. He killed both man and beast, irritated at their intrusion.

Once again we enter Kruppe’s dreamworld, signified again by the fact that the sky takes a different shade—here a “sourceless mercurial glow.” When Raest discovers Silanah’s Warren gone, I wonder if this is because he has now entered Kruppe’s dream and, since Kruppe doesn’t have that particular Warren, it can’t be present? Also, since we are in Kruppe’s dream, we know that K’rul is likely to be using him again to face off against Raest. I do love how Kruppe points out that Raest is:

“…felled by indifference, made insignificant in your mighty struggles by lowly Kruppe into whose dream you have ignobly stumbled.”

I’m not sure why Raest believes there to be Imass inside Kruppe—unless this is to do with K’rul? Or maybe it is the flavour of Kruppe’s Warren?

Ah, no it isn’t either of those things! Here is Tool again! And it seems as though he is definitely involved against his will:

“Onos T’oolan, Sword of the First Empire, is once more called upon by the blood that once warmed his limbs, his heart, his life of so very long ago.”

This signifies to me the time when Tool was an Imass and still alive—were all the Imass so bound such?

“You remind me of Hood. Is the Death Wanderer still alive?”

Here we have again another example of a god who has expired for whatever reason. (Or who had expired when Raest was truly alive before—he might well be alive again now! Didn’t we see him when Paran was taken by the Twins? [Bill’s interjection: Not actually Hood himself but his Herald])

Oooh! Rake is Silanah’s master! What gives him that power and right over her?

Everything is in a time of great flux during the telling of the Book of the Fallen. K’rul states:

“It is now we gods who are the slaves, and the mortals our masters—though they know it not.”

And what will happen when mortals do realise they are the master? It strikes me that the gods will suffer…

Hey, K’rul is the Maker of Paths *grin*

When given the sensible choices, Raest chooses to pursue the course of power. Although, having said that, I don’t think the choice of death or dwelling in chaos, is particularly appealing!

Paran thinks:

…there was something very wrong with this garden.

Now this could either be because Paran is feeling the approach of the Tyrant since he now seems more sensitive to magic and Warrens. But in an earlier chapter Whiskeyjack has already been told:

“Your backs will be to the garden, which has, ah, run wild of late.”

I know from hard-won experience that Erikson rarely plants (Ha! Inadvertent pun!) something without intending it to carry meaning at a later date, and therefore I am suspicious that the arrival of the Finnest in the garden has created additional problems. Again:

Here, the captain felt as if he was within a primordial presence, breathing slowly and heavily on all sides.

Do we have a hint here as to who would be better between Kalam and Cotillion? As good as Kalam is, he is taken down easily by Apsalar (under the influence of the Rope’s memories). I both adore and ache at the comment by Apsalar that Kalam is an old friend.

When Whiskeyjack says, “We let Fiddler and Hedge loose” it makes me think of two dogs straining on a tight leash!

When Rallick sees Kruppe, and he talks with his voice sounding strange, are these words from K’rul? And another broad hint that Rallick has taken on the qualities of Otataral:

“Councilman Turban Orr possessed protective magic, yet it availed him naught.”

With Rallick (as we saw with Murillio in the previous chapter) we learn that revenge isn’t all that—both of these men have pursued their goal for so long that now neither knows quite what to do and feels lost. Rallick especially, because he suspects that Coll will never regain his wits and so it would all have been for nothing, essentially. There should also be comment made on the fact that Orr wasn’t an innately bad man—he was an adulterer and cared a little too much about his own skin and power, but did he deserve to die simply to remove the power from Lady Simtal?

The scene between Challice and Crokus is a sweet and crucial (in my opinion) scene. Crokus gains his first taste of rejection, but also learns that obsession doesn’t equal love and realises that he is far more worldly than this girl who suddenly becomes far less interesting. I’m amused at the idea of them tripping each other and Crokus’ bungled attempt to woo her. Also interesting is her mention of a servant of the Rope—again we see that “regular” folk in the world of the Malazan Empire and Darujhistan have contact with gods and ascendants.

As Mallet steps into the garden we have another hint that this is the Finnest at work, since whatever lies there senses Mallet’s Talent with hunger.

The earth around it looked soaked in blood.

I wonder if this is thanks to all those people that Raest is killing.

Rigga will preserve her indeed—here we learn that the Seer has been protecting Apsalar from madness, but is dying. I like that Paran says Apsalar should be saved, despite what she did while under the Rope’s influence. Also, it strikes me that Mallet would have seen much of sadness during this time of war and so for him to say that Rigga’s presence is the saddest thing he’s ever felt—well, that must be sad indeed.

Gosh, we are certainly reaching the business end of the tale now! Finally we see that the Malazans have identified the T’orrud Cabal as the true power in Darujhistan, and the contact with the Assassins’ Guild always involved making a contract for their lives. This is terrible! I love the Bridgeburners, but I really enjoy reading about members of the T’orrud Cabal as well! Having affections on both sides of a conflict makes me torn. Interesting that Kalam had not realised that the Cabal were in cahoots with the Lord of Moon’s Spawn; and also that Vorcan is a High Mage (I can’t recall if we were told that explicitly before?)

At this point Crokus’ innocence is shattering down around his ears, isn’t it? Now he is forced to make a decision between Apsalar and his uncle, and also realise that his uncle might well die at the hands of an assassin High Mage. Tough times for poor Crokus!

Hmm, the clearing of the streets to prevent loss of life from the Tyrant will also help to prevent loss of life from the Bridgeburner’s Sappers and their plans—deliberate? There is both humour and horror in the idea of Rake unsheathing that sword to clear the street!

Thank goodness Quick Ben does access his Warren at that point and realise Mammot is much more than an old man! Things happen so suddenly here! Paran vanishes, Whiskeyjack breaks his leg, Derudan burns through her power—it seems as if everything is going wrong…

Alright, followed everything fairly well up to the point where Paran appears in this strange place—is it Raest’s Warren? The magic struck Chance and hence dragged Paran into the Warren? Now we have more information about the strange wooden “house”—it being an Azath that will trap the Finnest, represented in the Warren (?) by a Jaghut figure. I guess the T’lann Imass is Tool, without being given any further hints about his name.

“You are a long way from home, mortal”

Says the T’lann Imass to Paran—he’s come a long way as well, since we watch him rip a magical construct to pieces with his teeth. The blood of the Hound infects him still, and gives him the power to resist slavery by the Jaghut Tyrant. This was the boy who dreamt longingly of becoming a soldier, way back in the Prologue. I have to say, my feelings towards Paran are so much warmer, with every interesting and dignified thing he does.

SEVEN Warrens?! Quick Ben holds the power of seven Warrens within him?! “Awaken the Seven within me”—hmm, that could mean the seven Warrens, but I have my suspicions that Quick Ben might be suffering a form of possession of his own. Well, not possession, but has the abilities of seven people within him…

Help, did the Jaghut jump to Hedge? Is that the manic glare that Quick Ben recognised? Or does Hedge simply have a manic glare when he is about to do something reckless, such as blow up the place? [Bill’s interjection: The latter.]

“Crone shrieked in joy and anticipation—and surprise. ‘And now it comes! It comes!’ Is this Anomander Rake? [Bill’s interjection: Pretty sure it’s the demon lord.]

EEEEK! The end to the chapter totally deserves capitalization! I’m going to have to re-read this a few times just to grasp the events, and what is properly going on… Now we see that Moranth munitions are anathemic to mages who have their Warrens opened, which was why Quick Ben got so freaked about Hedge—who was definitely not possessed—except maybe by madness. *grin* The Jaghut Tyrant, though, is only truly destroyed when the Azath reaches for him. Speaking of which, Quick Ben and Derudan are so scared about this thing—I feel sure we’ll see MUCH more about this! Can this be anything to do with the Pannion Seer? And finally the hints about the Greyfaces and the gas—which have been planted ever since we first reached Darujhistan—are revealed. I do think Whiskeyjack’s panicked response to the idea of the whole city going up means that the Bridgeburners have some morality.

CAN’T. STOP. READING.

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty-Two:
I too liked Kruppe’s line on how Raest is felled by “indifference.” It’s a line that I think will echo down through the series as many of the ancient gods and ascendants indignantly find humans care little for their concerns or squabbles.

As for the Imass in Kruppe, Amanda, I think Raest is just seeing the kinship between the elder Imass and the younger humans: a biological fact rather than any magical one. Thus his reference as well to the similarity in language/vocalization.

I like K’rul’s sense of age and sorrow and realism in his conversation with Raest, his recognition that they “are both of the past,” and that their “time has passed.” My memory of K’rul is a quiet, weary resigned sort of dignity so I’ll be curious to see if that holds up through the reread, but this sort of scene is exactly what I was thinking of. I also like the humor of the operatic sort of “final” choices K’rul lays out and the way Raest just sort of says “heck with it” and disappears.

As for what happens when humans start to realize their power, Amanda? Oh, just you wait. Just you wait.

Speaking of humor, I love Apsalar memory of Kalam as “an old friend.” That’s a spit take. Another point there as well. I know there was a bit of discussion last week on the ethics or morality of the Bridgeburners, and while this doesn’t wipe the slate clean, I think the way Kalam stops Paran from killing Apasalar and then Paran’s defense of her to Whiskeyjack gives us yet another prism to see them through.

As for a fight between Cotillion and Kalam, Cotililon himself I believe has a future line about he’d think twice before taking on Kalam (I’d still go with the Rope myself though I’d pay dearly for a ringside seat), but you’ll see both in pretty impressive action so you’ll have a better sense.

I hadn’t thought of Kruppe’s strange voice as the voice of K’rul, merely that he was half-in, half-out of his dreamworld and distracted.

On Orr’s death, I think one can make the argument that there were lots of reasons that was a good thing beyond simply removing power from Lady Simtal, but I’m also not sure those other reasons would have figured much for these guys—they’re hard men in a hard world, though I think the repercussions of their acts, and the surprising lack of satisfaction is certainly part of Erikson’s commentary on such ways of living. And we’ll certainly see lots more on the corrosive effects of vengeance as a lifestyle choice.

I like too, while we’re on Rallick and Coll, Rallick’s view of himself as acting only in the role that Coll should have assumed. Rightly or wrongly, I think part of this is also meant to show not just the ripple effects of action, but also the ripple effects of inaction. Nature abhors a vacuum and all that.

I also enjoyed the scene between Crokus and Challice for its humor and coming-of-age aspect. I also appreciated the craft in having Challice’s father learn it wasn’t Crokus who killed the guard via a seer. We obviously have the seer we met earlier and who is protecting Apsalar from the memories of Sorry, but by having this little throwaway line, that seer becomes not an artificial creation to fill the singular plot point of someone who can see Sorry’s future and help her but instead she becomes just a common thread in the tapestry of this world and so we accept her presence so much more. It’s a little thing but it’s often the cumulative effects of such “little things” that separate mediocre writing from the good stuff.

And just as the earlier scene with Kalam, Paran, and Apsalar showed the “softer side” of the Bridgeburners, so does the one with Mallet, Paran, and Apsalar/Rigga (no coincidence, either, I think, that Paran is involved in both). And you’re absolutely right Amanda, how sad must this be if the squad’s healer call it the “saddest thing I’ve ever known”? I like how Mallet is fighting against the “logical” reason—that the presence is there so “it could now jump in and take over.” Much of what he’s seen of the world has to drive him to that conclusion, and yet, because of what’s in him and I’d guess what he’s seen in his squadmates and the mage cadre, he fights that “obvious” belief and puts his faith in a better view of the world and the people in it—I find this scene quite moving.

I’m thinking that the clearing of the streets has all to do with Rake facing off against the demon lord whom he senses rather than any knowledge of the street mining.

Raest is taken by the Azath but that doesn’t mean he’s destroyed, Amanda. (Tough to be totally destroyed in these books!)

And for all the amazing occurrences—Quick Ben’s unveiling of 7 (7!) Warrens, Mammot’s possession, Hedge’s manic glee with the munitions—one of the most important events in that garden scene is one of the most mundane, but it will have major repercussions. (Oh, what the heck—it’s Whiskeyjack’s broken leg.)

As for the Azath, note that both Quick Ben and Derudan know of them meaning there’s more than one. And you’re right—we will hear lots, lots more of them.

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

SCENE 1
Paran finds himself suddenly in Shadow Warren, attacked by the Hound Rood, who is “confused” by some “kinship” between Paran and Rood, according to Cotillion. The Rope distinguishes between his use of Sorry (“she knew it not”) and the less “merciful” use of Paran by the Twins. He admits, though, that his original plan was “flawed” and he plans to start a new one. Paran gives him the sword Chance. Cotillion tells Paran “try not to be noticed.” Paran returns to the garden and tells Mallet he’s going after Lorn.

SCENE 2
Crokus, mourning Mammot’s death, runs to Baruk’s place. Above him, barely above the rooftops, hangs Moon’s Spawn.

SCENE 3
Lorn has sensed the “death” of Raest and bemoans the fact that Whiskeyjack probably still lives, though she thinks they (she, Laseen, Tayschrenn) can deal with that once they control Darujhistan. Before she heads after Crokus (the Coin Bearer) to kill him, she deploys “Tayschrenn’s gambit”: a demon Lord of the Galayn which she orders to attack Rake.

SCENE 4
Baruk mourns the death of Mammot, though celebrates that Rake didn’t use his sword on him and that he sensed Mammot’s last thought was “relief.” Derudan arrives at Baruk’s and tells him of the Azath, Mammot’s death via Hedge’s munitions, and Quick Ben’s seven Warrens. Both feel the release of the demon lord (Baruk realizing this was the danger Rake had anticipated) and then the deaths of two of the cabal, which Baruk informs Derudan comes at the hands of Vorcan.

SCENE 5
Rake, atop Krul’s tower, feels the demon lord’s release and sends Silanah back to Moon’s Spawn. K’rul appears and both share a feeling of being lost “in this world, in this time.” K’rul says he cannot help as he can only manifest at the temple and in Kruppe’s dreams. Rake promises to try and save the temple. The demon lord “veers” into dragon shape and Rake does the same. As he heads toward battle, he feels Vorcan’s attacks on the mages but mistakes them as the mage from the Crimson Guard (Cowl).

SCENE 6
Kalam stops Fiddler and Hedge in time. They see the demon lord approaching and recognize it as Tayschrenn’s. They run.

SCENE 7
Lorn tries to attack Crocus, but is prevented by one of his Crimson Guard watchers (Blues). Another (Fingers) escorts Crokus to Baruk’s and tells him the coin is Oponn’s and warns him to dump the coin if his luck turns.

SCENE 8
Lorn runs from Blues and is killed by Meese and Irilta.

SCENE 9
Paran finds Lorn, takes her Otataral sword. The Twins appear and wonder why Shadowthrone, the Rope, and the Hounds spared Paran. Paran faces them down and they leave; he carries Lorn away.

SCENE 10
Rake attacks the demon lord.

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty-Three:
Felisin is our author for this chapter, speaking of “she” who “turned the blade on herself to steal the magic of life.” *shrugs* We’re not given a great deal, really. Except the poem is a continuation of that right back at the very start of the book, which told the tale of Kellanved and Dancer—this “she” could be Laseen? I could speculate further on who “she” is but I think I’ll wait—or have someone cleverer give me the big reveal!

Hmm, methinks Erikson gives a clue when he tells us that Paran’s world shifts with the words:

He ducked beneath a tree into shadow…

Shadow Warren, where the Hounds dwell? This connection between Paran and the Hounds—was it the blood of a Hound that created it? There have been pointers towards it since Paran bared his teeth at that first Hound, which is the first one he met, right? What has given him the kinship with them? Is it the fact they are all being used?

Good question from Cotillion—is it better to be ignorant of being used, or be in full knowledge of it? Is Apsalar in a better position, with holes in her memories, lost in a strange place, and with people who hate her though she doesn’t know why? Or is Paran, as he watches all those close to him perish?

“Now what?”
“Now?” Cotillion seemed surprised. “Now I start again.”
“Another girl like her?”
“No, the plan was flawed.”

Here we have evidence of Cotillion changing tack, realising that his plan so far has not worked and hence starting out anew.

Oh man, when Crokus realises that Moon’s Spawn hangs just a few feet above the top of the buildings—what an awesome moment that would be on film! And it seems here that Crokus’ severance from his childhood is now complete with the death of his uncle, the only member of his family still with him. Alright, so there is Rallick, Murillio and Kruppe—but Crokus now knows that they have been intimately involved in the plots surrounding Darujhistan and the Malazan Empire, so I doubt he feels much trust in them anymore.

Lots to say about the segment with Lorn.

She was the arm of the Empress. The woman called Lorn was dead, had been dead for years, and would remain forever dead.

The choice Lorn made is now complete and she is ruthlessly suppressing any hint of the woman she used to be. From here on in, we might as well called her the Adjunct rather than Lorn. She also unleashes a demon on the city of Darujhistan—despite her brief qualms about the lives of all those who live there. And she is super fast; is this another facet of the Otataral qualities?

Through the eyes of Baruk, we are given even further reason to trust and admire Anomander Rake, since he shows compassion in not trying to tell Baruk of Mammot’s possession. Baruk is another who finds himself at a crossroads. Three of his closest friends and part of his power base have now died, and the battle over Darujhistan is coming to a head—this is not a time that I envy him at all. I was never sure of Baruk when I first saw him conversing with Crone, but he is now a stern backbone of the tale.

And back to Anomander Rake himself—again, the cinematic quality of Erikson’s writing shows itself as we see Rake standing atop the tower, black eyes watchful and silver hair and grey cloak billowing in the wind. Rake’s quiet and resigned conversation with K’rul—his admission that he is rarely rewarded in spirit for interfering in the world—is heartbreaking. Knowing that Rake is prepared to face off against a Demon Lord for little benefit to himself creates further respect. There is also another little pointer about the identity of those protecting Crokus:

He considered the message delivered by Serrat, courtesy of a foul mage he’d thought a thousand leagues away. Was the sorcery the work of these unwelcome intruders?

And FINALLY! DRAGON! All the little hints and slips about his pupils and ever-changing eyes, the Soletaken part of this tale, the force of nature that is Rake himself and his quiet confidence in the face of a Jaghut Tyrant feared by all—now, he is DRAGON! *punches air*

Ha, and the Demon Lord has also shifted in a dragon—this is about to become titanic! I just love Kalam’s understatement:

“Now things are going to get messy.”

Now we meet those protectors of Crokus, and they are indeed of the Crimson Guard—I shall diligently file away the names Fingers, Corporal Blues and Cowl because I’m pretty sure I shall be meeting them again (and Cowl appears to be the foul mage mentioned by Rake).

So, I have another situation where I think: has Lorn actually been killed? Sure, Paran watches the life leave her—but the life left him as well before he was brought back to the land of the living! If Lorn is dead, then I do appreciate the ignobility of being slain by two thugs. And there we have the reason for Meese and Irilta being introduced into the story, I’d guess—so that we know who it is and their station in life as we watch them take down a woman who, until now, has been so much more powerful than them.

“No…glorious end…for the Adjunct. If you’d come…a few minutes sooner…”

Lorn doesn’t know! And Paran doesn’t tell her—that he intended to be the one to bring her death. Compassion on his part?

I feel fiercely proud of Paran for standing up to the Twins—and even threatening them. After all he’s been through—and after all they have done with their meddling—they deserve to fear Shadowthrone and Cotillion!

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty-Three:
I think you’re right that it is the Hound’s blood that gives Paran that connection.

And you’re right that Moon’s Spawn over Crokus (Was that already a movie title? With Richard Dreyfuss?) is a great cinematic scene, but what I especially love is that it’s not introduced visually, but rather in sensory stages: the sound of hundreds of birds then the reek of their nests, and only then the sight of Moon’s Spawn nearly touching the rooftops.

On Lorn, as I’ve said before, she lost me a while ago, all the while recognizing she has some sympathetic qualities. But each time she is faced with a choice she chooses the wrong (in my view) one and so after a few of these it’s hard to keep feeling sympathy. I think Erikson pushes us in this direction in particular here by having her bemoan the fact that Whiskeyjack lives and looking forward to now dealing with him publicly before giving us her qualms, so the reader is already set to not buy her newest, “I could be a better person . . . ”

I have to confess her speed is one of those “power” moments I have trouble with in the series that I’ve mentioned once or twice before. So Lorn moves faster that the demon could follow, yet the demon lord gives Rake at least some trouble. In fact, even Rake realizes he may fail, as he tells Silanah she may avenge him if the demon lord kills him. My math says if A = B and B= C then A should = C, so if the demon would have trouble with Lorn (being unable to see her) and Rake has trouble with the demon, then…no, I just cannot at all picture Rake working up a sweat facing Lorn. Is this my fault?

I too love that quiet scene between Rake and K’rul. (And it is quiet: “Rake whispered,” Rake murmured,” K’rul “sighed,” K’rul “sighed,” “Rake said quietly.”) Two ancient beyond belief beings full of quiet dignity and weariness, each staving off despair born out of longevity and experience of a world that so rarely rewards the good, and one helpless to aid the other in one of his greatest tests, a helplessness accepted and then (quietly) rewarded anyway:

“I will do my best, then, to avoid damaging your temple.”

What a great scene.

Tucking in his wings, Anomander Rake, The Son of Darkness and Lord of Moon’s Spawn, plummeted.

To quote a line from my childhood: “Nuff said.”

Yes, we’ll see the Crimson Guard in the future, including, surprise, in “Return of the Crimson Guard” (go figure). They’re good, eh?

Despite my dislike of Lorn, even I felt a twinge of sadness at her passing (but only a twinge). My favorite part of that scene though is the face-off between Paran and the Twins. A few lines that particularly resonate for me throughout the series:

  • “Shadowthrone never plays fair.” (No, no he doesn’t.)
  • “You and Cotillion both used mortals and paid for it.” (The mortals are coming into their own. And the gods themselves shall tremble!!)
  • “Her armor removed, she proved light in his arms” (This is the saddest line associated with Lorn I think and there’s that word again—“armor.”)

And here again, we see Paran facing down ascendants, gods, “powers”—we’re being nicely set up for the future Paran Ganoes, who has come a long way from the boy we saw at the beginning. And who has a ways yet to go.


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 fantasyliterature.com.

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

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