Welcome to the Malazan Reread 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 chapter five of The Crippled God.
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. Note:The summary of events will be free of major spoilers and we’re going to try keeping the reader comments the same. A spoiler thread has been set up for outright Malazan spoiler discussion.
Withal approaches the throne room in Kharkanas and is almost brained by a thrown amphora. He enters the room into the middle of an argument between Yan Tovis, who is insisting that only a Tiste Andii of royal blood can sit the throne, and Sandalath, who really doesn’t want the honour. Eventually she is talked around, although she plans to decline the honour as soon as another Tiste Andii arrives. She blames Tavore for her current predicament, because she believes she shouldn’t have been there at the reading where she was given the card of the Queen of Darkness. Withal suggests to her that he might not be the best consort for her—he thinks that the Tiste Andii will look down on him as a mere mortal. But Sandalath tells him they will see him as a threat.
Yedan Derryg watches the wall of light ahead of him, with the faces trying to break through. He talks to Pithy about it—the fact that they are children here on the Shore, and that they are threatened by those beyond the Lightfall. Yedan and Pith talk about what might inspire the Letherii to fight here. Yedan provides lofty ideals—they should fight to save the world—while Pithy says that money might work better. When Yedan asks Pithy which of the two causes would make her stand and fight, she says neither and confesses that watching Yan Tovis and Yedan as they saved the Shake has made her decide to fight for what is right.
Yan Tovis watches Pithy talking to her brother, and feels the relentless call of the First Shore to her Shake blood. But she feels aggrieved that her people are being chained to the Shore, that they will have to be involved in the fight to come. Skwish and Pully approach Yan Tovis and tell her that she has to surrender to the Shore.
We see five Pures ascending the Spire, led by Reverence, a Forkrul Assail whose body has been battered in fights with Jaghut and T’lan Imass. She thinks about their judgment upon humanity, their defence of the world. As she reaches the Altar of Judgment, Reverence looks upon the heart of the Crippled God, and glories in the fact that they will soon pierce it and allow the blood to feed them and then open the gate of Akhrast Korvalain. The Pures discuss how to deal with the invaders who arrived by Warren into the keep and now inflict damage upon the Watered and Shriven. Sister Calm is trying to convince them that Brother Diligence should be sent, he who happens to be Sister Reverence’s closest ally. The Forkrul Assail are also aware of those approaching them from the west—but they seem to think they have armies enough to deal with the threat. Sister Reverence drops into conversation the fact that the Spire and Altar is where they are most vulnerable. As they agree that Sister Calm shall head into the west to face the threat there, they are interrupted by Watered Amiss, who tells them there are ships of war in the harbour.
Sechul Lath remembers his time within and facing Chaos, remembers the birth of the twins named Oponn, and is interrupted by Errastas. They discuss their plans while watching over Kilmandaros, who is facing down Korabas.
The Snake prepare to leave the city in which they have rested and head out again into the Glass Desert.
Withal really doesn’t have it easy, does he, having hooked up with Sandalath? She isn’t the easiest of partners to deal with in the first place, and now he finds himself consort to the Queen of Darkness, and dreading the arrival of any other Tiste Andii because they will see him as an upstart human in their realm. I wonder what Sandalath was going to say about Withal that Mother Dark whispered in her ear, that she changed to the fact that he will be needed?
Alright, this Lightfall, with the faces pushing through—I realise that I have no idea about whether we’ve seen this before. Did I skim over it somehow when we covered it in Dust of Dreams? It just seems such an incredible threat for me to have completely neglected to remember it!
“If the enemy destroy us, they will march down the Road of Gallan. Unobstructed, they will breach the gate to your own world, and they will lay waste to every human civilization, until nothing remains but ash. And they will slay the gods themselves. Your gods.”
Who are this enemy trying to push through?
We’ve seen the Forkrul Assail presented as our enemy for this novel—but these enemy behind the Lightfall seem to be just as much of a threat?
I loved seeing Pithy confess that she would now fight for what is right, rather than for saving the world or for the money.
So the Shake storyline begins to confuse me again. These faces on the other side of the Lightfall are the Tiste Liosan? They are the ones trying to fight through, who are able to take down worlds and gods? Forgive me, but I just haven’t seen them as capable of this sort of carnage. They’ve always seemed like a complete joke, really.
So, the Forkrul Assail are massively intriguing, they really are. First of all, it seems like they are invaders to this world, that they came from somewhere else originally. They are the one species that both the Jaghut and the T’lan Imass are willing to do war against—considering their outright hatred for each other, the fact that they are able to both hate another species shows how bad that species must be. And the Forkrul Assail feel that they should defend this land against the nasty spread of humanity—yet they are invaders themselves. That is some breathtaking hypocrisy, for a race that values judgment.
Interestingly, there appears to be conflict between the Pure over a few things, like how to deal with the approaching threats. Sister Calm and Sister Reverence really don’t see eye to eye. All of this implies that those seeking to do battle with them could somehow divide and conquer.
And a rare point of clumsiness from Erikson, as Sister Reverence gestures to the Spire and tells the people who already know that this is their point of vulnerability. Because he so rarely does things like this, it stands out when he does!
I wrote very little describing the scene where Errastas and Sechul Lath talk together, but that is mainly because I don’t understand much of it. One thing that did jump out is their mention of Calm—I presume this is Sister Calm, who we just saw with Sister Reverence? She is playing the double crossing game, and working with the gods that the rest of her people are seeking to take down? To what ends?
Also, it was interesting that Sechul Lath believes that Olar Ethil is providing a suitable distraction—to what they are up to, as they try to defeat the dragon Korabas?
I would welcome any sort of explanation for that scene with Errastas and Sechul Lath! (I miss Bill).
Amanda Rutter is the editor of Strange Chemistry books, sister imprint to Angry Robot.