Jul 14 2010 2:04pm

The Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Gardens of the Moon, Chapters 2 and 3

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 2 and 3 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!

Setting: Pale, on the continent of Genabackis, two years later

Two mages, Tattersail and Hairlock, have just survived a spectacularly destructive magic battle with Moon’s Spawn, a floating mountain/sky keep that is home to a large population of Tiste Andii and their lord Anomander Rake. Moon’s Spawn had been protecting Pale, but is now retreating, leaving the city open to the depredations of the Malazan army’s allies, the Moranth. Hairlock is missing the lower half of his body, and as Tattersail wonders at his strange cheer, four Bridgeburners show up (Whiskeyjack, Sorry, Quick Ben, and Kalam). Tattersail learns almost all the Bridgeburners were killed during the attack, buried while tunneling under Pale.

Tattersail flashes back to an earlier planning session that reveals tension and suspicion between the Empress and the Bridgeburners under the command of Dujek Onearm. We learn more about the campaign in Genabackis: the Tiste Andii and the mercenary company the Crimson Guard, under the command of Caladan Brood, have fought the Malazan 5th Army to a standstill in the north, while here at Pale, the High Mage Tayschrenn has arrived to lead an attack on Moon’s Spawn and drive it off. As Tattersail recalls the battle, she realizes Hairlock and her lover Calot (another mage) weren’t killed by Rake but someone else; she suspects Tayschrenn. Two other High Mages were killed: Nightchill was torn limb from limb by a Ken’Ryllah demon (her lover Bellurdan collects the remains) and A’Karonys was crushed by ethereal wings of ice. Moon’s Spawn retreats from the battle, moving south.

Back to present time, Tattersail watches as Quick Ben performs a soul-shifting ritual that puts Hairlock’s mind into a wooden puppet, which they give to her. She agrees to be part of their plans if it means vengeance on Tayschrenn.

The Bridgeburners discuss that the Empress is deliberately killing off all the old guard that served the Emperor.

Tattersail does a reading of the Deck of Dragons while Hairlock observes, and she draws the Knight of Darkness and Oponn, the two-faced Jester of chance. She sees a spinning coin on Oponn’s card, and afterward also hears the sound of a spinning coin.

Amanda’s commentary on Chapter Two:
So, events have moved on another two years. Our extract this time is written by Felisin—is this the same Felisin that is Paran’s sister? What part does she have to play in the future?

The Moranth have allied with the Malazan to destroy the Free Cities—we join the action with Tattersail, a mage in command of the 2nd Army’s wizard cadre. The siege of Pale is finally over, but the “sorcery that had been unleashed here today had been enough to fray the fabric between the worlds.” Here we have an indication that the use of sorcery is more than a little dangerous; we also learn that the Moranth allies are hated for their demand for “an hour of blood” against the citizens of Pale.

What also occurs to me is that in usual fantasy novels this siege of three years would have comprised the bulk of the action, yet in this book it is a brief mention and nothing more (at the moment anyway—I don’t know if we’ll flashback to this battle at any point).

Erikson continues his rather grim and gruesome descriptions at the start of the chapter: Tattersail reflects on the piles of burnt armor that used to contain men and women and she talks with the wizard Hairlock, who has been destroyed from the hips down: “Pink, mud-spattered entrails billowed out from under his ribcage, webbed by drying fluids.” Fairly gross, I think you’ll agree!

Linked into the idea that we’re not seeing the three years of the siege, we don’t see the build-up of enmity between Tattersail and Hairlock or the reasons behind her not liking him. We do see Tattersail’s instant feeling of foreboding towards Sorry when they meet: “Something wrong there. Careful.”

We understand that Whiskeyjack has had a fall from grace since the Prologue, and that Laseen is using the Bridgeburners as a disposable force at the forefront of the worst of the battles:

Names heavy with glory and bitter with the cynicism that every army feeds on. They carried with them like an emblazoned standard the madness of this unending campaign.

Whiskeyjack and Tattersail are both numbed by the scale of the destruction they’ve faced. Tattersail is the last of her cadre standing, while the Bridgeburners have gone from fourteen hundred to thirty or thirty-five. From the hints being dropped it sounds as though the mages may have caused the destruction of the tunnels that the Bridgeburners were assigned to. Certainly Tattersail is distraught when she realizes where Whiskeyjack had been that morning. Certainly the battle hadn’t gone as it should have done:

Tayschrenn’s not making any friends. Good. The day had been a disaster, and the blame fell squarely at the High Mage’s feet.

Calot is a century old! Is this usual with mages? Dujek used to be under Whiskeyjack’s command and now he’s High Fist? It would be interesting to find out how this happened. The dark foreshadowing of Calot’s death is inserted in such a casual and offhanded manner that you almost skip past it.

For once in Tattersail’s flashback, we are handed a whole heap of information at once! “The enormous mountain hanging suspended a quarter-mile above the city of Pale” is home to the Tiste Andii, and is impenetrable by any means, including Laseen’s undead army. Well, okay, it sounds like we’re being handed a whole mass of facts pertinent to the story, and yet it actually gives us more questions than answers—or it did for me anyway! I’m busy pondering what Moon’s Spawn is; how it floats; who is in charge; what the undead army are and how they came into being; why Moon’s Spawn tangled with the Emperor previously; why the Moon’s mysterious lord is involving himself in the current conflict...?

Ouch, exchanges like the following make my head hurt. What is going on? Does anyone care to elucidate for me?

“Something in the air, soldier?”

He blinked. “High in the air, sorceress. High as they come.”

Tattersail glanced at Calot, who had paused at the tent flap. Calot puffed out his cheeks, making a comical face. “Thought I smelled him.”

There are plots within plots all the way through this story. The idea that the Claw sent to hunt down Pale’s wizards might also target Malazans shows how on their guard everyone has to be, demonstrating no sign of weakness.

Wow, this paragraph was seriously as though I had started reading the book in a different language:

“The Tiste Andii are Mother Dark’s first children. You’ve felt the tremors through the Warrens of Sorcery, Tayschrenn. So have I. Ask Dujek about the reports coming down from the North Campaign. Elder Magic—Kurald Galain. The Lord of Moon’s Spawn is the Master Archmage—you know his name as well as I do.”

I sincerely hope at least some of this will begin to make sense soon! I also think that Tattersail’s thoughts concerning Caladan Brood might prove to be important in the future of this book or others:

“Calot was right: the name of the man commanding the Tiste Andii alongside the Crimson Guard did sound familiar—but in an old way, echoing ancient legends, perhaps, or some epic poem.”

Argh, and here’s another of those paragraphs! It should be telling me plenty of back-story and yet it doesn’t tell me anything:

“Hairlock had been with the Empire longer than she had—or Calot. He’d been among the sorcerers who’d fought against the Malazans in Seven Cities, before Aren fell and the Holy Falah’d were scattered, before he’d been given the choice of death or service to the new masters.”

One point I’d like to mention is that the brief flashes of humor sometimes come as a real shock because they’re so unexpected amidst the relentlessly grim descriptions. It is brusque military humor as opposed to light-hearted frippery, but it still manages to soften the intensity of the rest of the prose.

Tattersail’s memory shows us how Tayschrenn (under orders from Empress Laseen) condemns the mages under Dujek to death. There is a real sense of foreboding as Hairlock says:

“Anomander Rake, Lord of the Tiste Andii, who are the souls of the Starless Night. Rake, the Mane of Chaos. That’s who the Moon’s Lord is, and you’re pitting four High Mages and a single cadre against him.”

We don’t actually know how powerful this makes Anomander—although the fact he has a poem composed about him gives some indication!—but we do know that it does not sound like a good position to be pitted against him.

The magical battle between Rake and the Mages is awe-inspiring and titanic. It is interesting to note that different mages appear to channel different Warrens.

Whiskeyjack, Quick Ben and Kalem set Tattersail on the path to revenge against Tayschrenn for the fact that essentially murder was committed against the 2nd Army. Whiskeyjack knows that “someone in the Empire wanted the Bridgeburners dead.”

Tattersail is 219 years old! And Hairlock has been soul shifted into the form of a wooden marionette, using a magic art that has been lost for centuries. “This was Elder Magic, Kurald Galain, if the legends were true, and it was deadly, vicious, raw and primal.”

Well, this second chapter takes us right to the heart of the conflict with Anomander Rake and shows us that no one can be trusted. I think this is the chapter that has hooked me, especially since I like Tattersail’s point of view. This is despite the fact that I still have no real idea about what is going on or where the story is going! I feel as though my commentaries are that of a wide-eyed country girl walking into the big city for the first time. “Wow, look at what is happening here! And check this out! This character is amazing!” I’m sincerely hoping that Bill is bringing you enough in-depth commentary and thoughts on the series as a whole to make up for my lightweight chatter in these first few chapters :-)

Bill’s commentary about Chapter Two:
Felisin’s “Call to Shadow” does another concise and relatively clear job of introducing the war, though it’s a lot clearer reading it now, knowing what the “Moon” and “Dark” refers to. Believe me, I was with you on that whole “Who? What? Huh?” thing my first time through, Amanda.

The opening scene of Chapter Two, with Tattersail looking over the devastation of Pale, is a pretty good jolt for those expecting the same old same old lead-in to a big battle scene. I’m glad you noted that because I like how Erikson plays with expectations by having us arrive after the battle. As a reader, you see a line like “The siege was over, finally, after three long years” and you’re like, “Whattya mean over? I just got here! Did Tolkien whip us from Lothlorien to Gandalf wandering the Fields of Pellenor thinking the siege of Gondor is at an end? No!”

Of course, now I know I’ve got lots of battle scenes to come—and some great ones at that—but I remember getting here and thinking “What the hell. Over?” This scene also clues us in early on that these books are going to have a pretty grim body count, as Tattersail muses on the almost 20,000 Pale residents about to be killed (on top of those already dead) and then learns that almost 1400 Bridgeburners died in the tunnels. Not to mention, of course, that we’ve got half a Hairlock sitting there conversing.

This chapter, as Amanda points out, is where Erikson starts to earn his reputation for throwing us into the middle of things without worrying overmuch about whether we know what’s going on. The obvious plot example, of course, is beginning after the siege, but that will get explained relatively soon in Tattersail’s flashback. Worse is the sudden deluge of unfamiliar and unexplained vocabulary, some of which Amanda has already wondered about: Tiste Andii, Archmage (as a category—“an” archmage—rather than a title), Mother Dark and Mother Dark’s Children, Kurald Galain, the Holy Falah’d, Elder, T’lan Imass, Jhag Odhan, a slew of warrens, and the Deck of Dragons. Combine that with the other place names that get tossed around, references to previous and obviously important events such as the past legendary actions of the Bridgeburners, or Dancer and Kellanved killing Mock (hmm, must be of Mock’s Hold from the Prologue, so we think we’re okay and then wait, what, he was Tattersail’s lover?) and it’s enough to set the brain a-whirling.

Which I actually kind of enjoyed my first time around, preferring it to the clunky exposition we see too often where characters suddenly drop into a nicely chronological reminiscence of whatever the author needs to fill us in on, or when characters ask to have “it” explained to them yet again: “Yes, yes, the famed lord of Golgerland of whom we’ve all heard. But tell me about him one more time.” Seems we share a pet peeve Amanda. Anyone else?

On Rake’s first mention: My favorite part of that is the utter sense of power and the “don’t mess with this guy” vibe we get with regard to Caladan Brood when Tattersail and Calot recite the poem Anomandaris: “Wake him not. Wake him not.” And then the kicker being that the poem’s not even about him. You can almost hear the heavy organ chord in the background: Duh Duh Duh! And of course, we all know that how much you should fear someone is directly proportional to how many names they have: "Anomander Rake, Lord of the Tiste Andii...Rake, The Mane of Chaos...Moon’s Lord...  Not to mention, he’s the Knight of Dark in Tattersail’s Deck of Dragons reading. That’s some serious nameage!

This is also the chapter where we get that Erikson sense of scale that boggles the mind, sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. We’ve got an entire floating mountain hanging over the city, Rake throwing down waves of sorcery that are wiping out legions of troops (all from a nice little balcony on Moon’s Spawn—think he has some lovely potted plants there? A shrubbery?), A’Karonys sending bolts of fire up into the sky so Moon’s Spawn itself looks like it’s aflame—this is some serious fighting going on!

I admit to lapping this one up, but as I moved through the book/series I found the sense of scale a bit bewildering at times in terms of power levels. If A could beat up B and B could beat up C how come C just kicked A’s ass? Or why doesn’t A just waltz in and...? I’ll be very curious if you have any of the same issues as you go on, Amanda.

But more on that later. For now I’ll just re-enjoy picturing the carnage around Pale: mmmmmm, intesssstinnnnnes! (And what that says about me I don’t want to know).

You’re right to spot Tattersail’s discomfort with Sorry, Amanda, but did you also notice how uncomfortable she makes Quick Ben? You’re also right about how we don’t get what led to the enmity between Tattersail and Hairlock. Sometimes I want those answers and sometimes I just like that sense of history and three-dimensionality that sort of thro-away reference offers up; it just makes these characters feel all the more alive and real.

[Amanda’s interjection: I did notice that Quick Ben doesn’t want to be anywhere near her—and does he also block her from sensing the magic that he’s using to transfer Hairlock? I do actually agree with you that, in some cases, it is better for the reader to not know everything—it does lend weight to the idea that we are joining these characters on their journey, a journey that has already started and will continue after we leave them.]

I’m wondering if you noted any of these few references, which will come to play major roles later on:

  • The fact that the T’Lan Imass refused to acknowledge Sully, headed off to some distant place and came back pretty beat up.
  • Bellurdan being sent off to study some ancient scrolls. (Gothos’ Folly)

[Amanda’s interjection: I didn’t notice either of these references! *scurries off to read the chapter AGAIN*]

Finally, just a fair warning to you Amanda about that flashback from Tattersail regarding the battle. This is probably as good a point as any to mention how you just can’t assume with Erikson that your narrators are telling the truth or even know the truth themselves. For instance, while you’re happy we finally got this bit of clear info from Tattersail, I’ll just point out we get another view of the battle from Rake later on in Chapter Six, and then yet another (notably different) description in a whole other book (Memories of Ice). Beware characters bearing gifts of exposition, I’d say.

[Amanda’s interjection: Ah, unreliable narrators—something that authors such as Gene Wolfe have used to great effect in their own novels. That doesn’t make things any easier for the new reader, but, again, it makes the characters far more three dimensional and real.]

Setting: Genabaris, Pale, on the continent of Genabackis

Sailing to Genabackis, Paran is informed by Topper that he is to take command of Whiskeyjack’s squad (where Sorry—his quarry—is) and take them to the city of Darujhistan, the next on the Empire’s list of conquests. Topper also tells Paran that Sorry has “corrupted” the Bridgeburners and possibly Dujek’s entire army. In the port city of Genabaris, Paran finds out he is to be transported to Pale by the Moranth and their flying Quorls.

Tattersail, in Pale, meets Bellurdan, who is mourning Nightchill and says he plans to raise her barrow on the Rhivi Plain. Meanwhile, Whiskeyjack, Kalam and Quick Ben think that Laseen is trying to eliminate the Bridgeburners, speculate again about who Sorry is, wonder if she was involved in the garroting of an officer, and discuss a plan to “turn the game,” involving Hairlock. Tattersail does a Reading of the Deck of Dragons for Tayshrenn, and sends a message to Whiskeyjack.

In Pale, Paran meets with Toc The Younger, a Claw member, who warns him that both Whiskeyjack and Dujek are hugely popular among the soldiers and hints that the soldiers’ loyalty to the Empress shouldn’t be tested. He also tells him that his Claw Master was assassinated.

Paran meets several of the Bridgeburners, then is killed by Sorry/Cotillion on his way to the barracks. Shadowthrone and Cotillion discuss their ongoing vengeance scheme with Laseen and that something has entered their Shadow warren.

Amanda’s commentary on Chapter 3:
I seriously wish that I appreciated poetry more, since I do have a nasty tendency to skim past any form of it in books. Seriously, my eyes glaze over! Here we have the author Gothos (who may or may not become important later on—who knows?! *grin*) and the term “Thelomen Tartheno Toblakai”.

I’m assuming that we’re on the same timeline as the previous chapter concerning Tattersail, since we’re not given a chapter heading showing the date this time out.

Wow, this scene between Paran and Topper is dripping with animosity [Bill interjection: he does “animosity” well, that Erikson]—including Topper’s assertion that he doesn’t know why the Adjunct has such faith in him. Paran also reflects on Whiskeyjack’s fall from grace—especially considering his victories, which Topper points out: “All in the Emperor’s time.” Again, we also see reference to the gods having direct influence on people’s lives: “The gods are playing with me. Question is, which gods?”

I find it curious and wonder if it is deliberate that “gods” is spelled with a lower case initial letter?

And my word! Reference to “the recruit”—is this Sorry? Does this imply that the Empress/Adjunct know that Sorry is more than what she seems? Are the Empress and the Adjunct working to the same ends anyway? “Your recruit’s found her weapon, and with it she means to strike at the heart of the Empire.”

Aha, answered my own question there as I turned the page! Don’t you love knowing that I’m writing this commentary literally as I’m reading the book for the first time? You are getting a stream of consciousness from me according to what I have just read. *grin*

So Paran is being sent to take command of Whiskeyjack’s squad in order to stay close to the recruit and take Darujhistan. Got it! And hey, I love this line—pretty much sums up Gardens of the Moon so far for me!

“There were too many omissions, half-truths and outright lies in this... this chaotic mess.”

Once we move onto the scene between the agent and the Captain—seriously, what’s wrong with assigning a few names?—it is just mind-blowing to see all the tiny little details that Erikson inserts into his prose. You can imagine him crafting each paragraph with great care to ensure he is providing just the right level of detail. For instance:

“ the port city of Genabaris the heavy Malazan transports rocked and twisted... The piers, unused to such gargantuan craft moored alongside them, creaked ominously...”

Here we learn that these Malazan transports rarely come to Genabaris—at least, I think that’s what we learn. And I don’t even know whether that is of any importance!

I’m just wondering if I’m being incredibly dense. Is the nameless captain actually Paran? And is the agent one of the Claw? I think in some cases I’m looking for more complicated explanations because of my expectations of this novel. But I don’t understand why Erikson doesn’t just call the captain Paran if it is he...

Quorls sound most bizarre, and I am intrigued by the concept of the Moranth tribes being identified by colours. We are drip-fed tiny little details like that as we need to know them, which is pretty much what Paran is told by Topper in the first scene of the chapter.

An interesting scene between Tattersail and Bellurdan (the Thelomen High Mage—a word that ties back to the poetry at the start of the chapter) talking about Nightchill, and I believe, making reference to the fact that they will be able to resurrect her once they have regained their power after the battle. Tattersail tries to convince Bellurdan that Tayschrenn, rather than the Moon’s lord, killed Nightchill. Bellurdan disagrees:

“Tayschrenn is our protector. As he has always been, Tattersail. Remember the very beginning? The Emperor was mad, but Tayschrenn stood at his side. He shaped the Empire’s dream and so opposed the Emperor’s nightmare.”

Kalam and Whiskeyjack suspect that:

“...somebody high up has us marked. Could it be the court itself, or maybe the nobility...”

Kalam’s roan horse reminds me of Sparhawk’s stallion Faran from the Elenium trilogy by David Eddings with “their mutual mistrust”!

Quick Ben is hiding his feelings about Sorry from Whiskeyjack. The Bridgeburners are hiding Hairlock’s true role from Tattersail. Whiskeyjack knows the full extent of their next mission, but is hiding it from Kalam and Quick Ben. Of course, Sorry is hiding who she really is from everyone. Tell me, who isn’t hiding something?

Tattersail does a Reading of the Deck for Tayschrenn (which, I have to say, is a very effective manner of introducing some foreshadowing into the tale). The Spinning Coin (which I don’t quite understand still) is mentioned by him, which is disconcerting since it was something Tattersail saw on her own. Does Tayschrenn have actual information? Was he able to see Tattersail’s Reading? Is he just guessing? Or has he also Read the Spinning Coin, since he is an adept with the Deck?

The Reading brings in the recruit in the form of the Virgin card, which Tattersail seems to recognise as Sorry—more than can be said of anyone else so far. It also reveals:

“Assassin, High House Shadow. The Rope, a count of knots unending, the Patron of Assassins is in this game.”

Could this be the mysterious Cotillion from the first chapter?

Argh! I sense this paragraph is key, but I only understand every third word!

“Deception is the Patron Assassin’s forte. I sensed nothing of his presumed master, Shadowthrone himself. Makes me suspect the Rope is on his own here. Beware the Assassin, High Mage, if anything his games are even more subtle than Shadowthrone’s. And while Oponn plays their own version, it remains the same game, and that game is being played out in our world. The Twins of Luck have no control in Shadow’s Realm, and Shadow is a Warren known for slipping its boundaries. For breaking the rules.”

I liked the reference to the Shadow Warren being a relatively new power—it gives a little more indication of how intricate this magic system will prove to be.

Paran’s discussion with the Claw (Toc the Younger) provides some more background to the situation: confirming the Bridgeburners were all but wiped out in the siege of Pale. Whiskeyjack still has many followers across the Armies, the Claw warns that there might be a mutiny if the Bridgeburners are messed with further, the Claw agents have been decimated by the Tiste Andii—who can “...pick out a Claw from a thousand paces”—basically, the situation at Pale is an explosion waiting to happen!

And I’ve found a fantastic summary of the situation tucked away in this section (from the point of view of Paran):

“Taking command of a squad that had gone through four captains in three years, then delivering a mission that no sane soldier would consider, coupled with a brewing firestorm of a large-scale insurrection possibly headed by the Empire’s finest military commander, against a High Mage who looked to be carving his own rather big niche in the world.”

Oh my word! Had to read that last section of the chapter three or four times! What a cliffhanger! Just when you’re starting to get used to Paran—and appreciating his unflinching honesty and humour—he goes and gets killed! Will he come back to life? Or is that him done? What a way to make me want to read further...

Bill’s commentary on Chapter Three:
Amanda, the “...this chaotic mess” line is a great one of Paran’s to pull out as it does a nice job of summing up the series. It is indeed a chaotic mess from the outside and we as readers are fed a steady diet of omissions, half-truths, and outright lies via a host of unreliable narrators. In fact, I think Erikson throws us a few of those sort of lines.

The claw agent’s line to Paran about the Quorls—“life’s on a need to know [basis]” —also does a nice job of summing up the reading experience (clearly in book one we haven’t earned the right quite yet). And Whiskeyjack’s line to Quick Ben: “Who’s in the know and who isn’t?” could just as well be muttered by the reader trying to figure out whose suspicions and theories to trust about who is going after whom and why. As you say, is there anyone who isn’t hiding something? (Short answer? No.)

Those Deck readings are indeed a good foreshadowing tool, though, big surprise, quite often a murky one (though good job with Rope). First, of course, you have to keep track of who is who at any given point: who is the Virgin, who is the Mason, etc. (Good luck on that!) And, just as you point out with regard to newly risen Shadow, who is who is in flux. I thoroughly love the idea of a world whose powers are in major chaos: new ones constantly rising, old fights being fought, sides shifting, new alliances and/or betrayals, etc. Then, of course, you have the readings that are wrongly interpreted, or contradictory. No easy road map to the future here!

It’s funny, I don’t recall ever being bothered by Erikson not using actual names (“the recruit” rather than “Sorry”, say), but I can see your frustration with this. One of the sources of confusion I do remember hitting me early on is the frequent references to Adepts, Ascendants, Gods and Patrons. I remember on my first read wondering what the difference was among these terms (not to mention the “archmage” category from earlier). Scale of power in Erikson’s universe has always been muddy for me, as I mentioned earlier with regard to the fighters, and the same holds true with those wielding power beyond physical strength and skill. I’d love to say after nine books that I’ve got it down now, but to be honest, I still can’t exactly delineate the differences, though I know a bit more about each and have certainly seen sundry examples.

The scene with Bellurdan’s grieving over Nightchill’s death is pretty grim, even by Erikson standards. Lots of authors would have been happy with him grieving still; many would perhaps have had him refuse healing as part of that grief and some would have gone as far as keeping her remains for burial. But I think fewer would have had her remains described as in a “large, lumpy burlap sack, covered in brown stains” with “clouds of flies swarm[ing]” around while “the stench hit like a wall.” Erikson isn’t content with giving us a vague, abstract sense of war’s sorrows and losses via body count or easy splashes of blood. The loss doesn’t just bleed pretty red; it stinks. It draws flies. It is feasted on by worms, as Whiskeyjack reminds us a few pages later, thinking of the Bridgeburner dead. And too often, he also reminds us, it goes unmarked by far too many. Or if it is marked, as Tattersail bitterly thinks, it’s as nothing but data, soon-to-be-forgotten: anonymous aide would paint a red stroke across the 2nd Army on the active list, and then write in fine script beside it: Pale, late winter, the 1163rd Year of Burn’s Sleep. Thus would the death of nine thousand men and women be noted. And then forgotten.

The ink color—red—and the writing—fine script—are wonderfully biting touches, as is the stark abruptness of that closing line. Another example of that “crafting with great care” you mention.

The darkness, as I find often the case with Erikson, is nicely balanced by humor, which Erikson tends to do quite well, and the scene between Paran, Picker, and Antsy is a great example. I’m wondering if you find the book funny?

[Amanda’s interjection: I think I bring up the very dark humour in my next chapter analysis, in fact!]

And then, as you say, just as we start to feel kind of good about Paran, between his comedic scene with Picker and Antsy and his stick-up-for-himself banter with Hedge, bam! He’s killed. C’mon, who saw that coming? Even knowing it was coming this time around, the suddenness still shocked me. As a reader, besides surprising me, it also taught me that in this world, anybody can be killed at any time from any direction. Turns out it also taught me that being killed isn’t always the same as dying, and even if it is, dying isn’t always the same as dying. And there’s your answer on if he’s “done” or not, Amanda, but that’s a topic for another chapter...

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.

Chris Hawks
1. SaltManZ
Man oh man oh man. I love this. The summaries draw me right back into the world, and I absolutely love Amanda's written-as-she-reads newbie commentary; there's certainly nothing "lightweight" there. It's probably my favorite part, to be quite honest!

I had said previously that I wouldn't be rereading along with you guys, mostly because I want to use my time to read new stuff, but, but... I find myself trying to convince myself that 100 or so pages a week shouldn't really take too much time, right?

What would help, I think, would be to announce which chapter(s) are coming up for next week; either at the end of the current post, or on the reread main page.
Karina Odde
2. avendesora
I'm in the middle of The Bonehunters right now and it's been a couple of months since I read the Gardens of the Moon. I can definitely relate to the entire "What? Where? What is happening"-confusion. I wasn't totally overwhelmed however. My Gardens of the Moon included a little text written by Mr. Erikson himself, and I remember some sentence or other that sounded something like "I don't want to pour information on my readers" or something like that. I knew Erikson wouldn't be generous with the history lessons.

I can appreciate a good old info dump, but with Malazan Book of the Fallen, I've learned to love just going along with the story and getting smarter the further you go. It's more rewarding in some ways. It forces you to keep your mind razor sharp at all times and I have to admit there are some details here that I did not notice upon my first reading! Which is why, some years in the future hopefully, I'm getting a little excited about reading the series a second time around!

This post also reminds me what made me fall completely for the series as well. Just reading names like Tattersail, Tiste Andii and Anomander Rake, remembering how curious I was when I first read them and how it left me craving for more. It's nice to see them again.

However, Amanda and Bill, you're doing a great job and keep up the good work!
Joe Adams
3. golffuul
Loving the re-read. Being a first time reader of this series, but still being a few chapters ahead of you, it is really helping to solidify and inform me of things that I might have missed. I am really looking forward to more books in this series. I have so many books to read, and so little time. AH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Great job guys, keep up the good work. I'm rooting for you, Amanada, as a fellow Malazan noob!!
4. tearl
Ah, the battle with Moon's Spawn before Pale. Without spoiling anything, the echoes and aftereffects of this battle reoccur throughout the story. I suggest newbies re-read and become familiar with it.
Steven Halter
5. stevenhalter
I remember my first reading of chapter 2 and in particular the "battle" between Rake and the mage cadre and how that scene completely blew my mind.
I knew at that point that this wasn't going to be just the same old fantasy series at all.

The mental picture of Rake standing on his balcony on a flying mountain and offhandedly throwing out waves of power that rip apart masses of infantry was iconic.

As Bill mentioned, we will get several views of this scene as we continue in the series.

We also begin to see some glimpses of time scales. The various mages are a few hundred years old. In the description of Anomander Rake we see "Lord of the black-skinned Tiste Andii, who has looked down on a hundred thousand winters," hmm, 100,000 now theres a time scale that sets this apart.

Whenever you see something by Gothos (as at the beginning of Chapter 3) take note.
Emmet O'Brien
6. EmmetAOBrien
I admit to lapping this one up, but as I moved through the book/series I found the sense of scale a bit bewildering at times in terms of power levels. If A could beat up B and B could beat up C how come C just kicked A’s ass? Or why doesn’t A just waltz in and...?

I think that's very much deliberate and part of the point, because I don't read Ericson as having these powers on a linear scale, I read them as different powers with different aspects that do not by any means necessarily compare directly. (Same way as in other mythoi even the most powerful faerie can be held off with cold iron, however feeble the person wielding it. Only more complex.)
Steven Halter
7. stevenhalter
Yeah, power scale and how things "Really" work are very tricky concepts. Just when you think you understand, something will come along and unveil another twist and another layer of knowledge.

With magic, so far you have seen that there are various warrens that have something to do with magic and can sometimes be traveled through. Mages have different powers and some (at least) seem to have enhanced life spans and toughness--not everyone could carry on a conversation with their lower half gone like Hairlock.
Matt LaRose
8. TheLegend
Killed never means dead in this series and it never seems like the cheap cop-out that comics use so frequently.

Remember this for later because revelations in later books make this statement seem interesting.

Kalam and Whiskeyjack suspect that:

“...somebody high up has us marked. Could it be the court itself, or maybe the nobility...”

If there is one thing I know about this series is never take what a character says as the truth.

I think that everyone needs to be clear is that GoTM was originally written as a screenplay by Erikson and it was revised heavily after that didn't pan out for him and Esslemont. Some of the stuff that gets mentioned in the GotM never makes it into any of the subsequent novels.


All the characters are hiding something at some point during this series.

The fact that we are thrown into the story halfway through does make it interesting as they all have back stories that most of us at this point do not know.


After reading all the books more than once (except for DoD) I have come to the realization that what Erikson uses for titles mean nothing from God to Ascendant to High Mage. Great power can be gotten in a lot of ways in the Malazan world from faith to pure force of will, to guile, it can even be granted from another.
Robin Lemley
9. Robin55077
In essence, the battle of Pale sets the tone for the entire series. Not necessariy that the events of Pale are themselves all important to the rest of the series (though some of them are), but more that through this battle we see/learn how important every detail Erickson has written can be.

For example, through the death of the Bridgeburners we see the willingness of someone in power to throw away an important and very elite portion of their army. Through our initial contact with Rake, we get a small glimpse of the role magic and gods/ascendancy will play throughout this series, but, more importantly, we take pause as "hey, wait a minute. The gods/ascendants take a very active role" in this series. This early in the series we are put on notice that this will not simply be "casting down of lightening bolts from Mount Olympus." Through the death of Paran we are put on notice to "expect the unexpected." We get the sense that everyone's lack of trust and "looking over one's shoulder" seem to be a way of life.

All of these "traits" and so many, many more, make this series of books so utterly enjoyable and different from everything else out there.

Amanda, you are correct in your understanding that the mages (for the most part) draw their magic from a specific warren. However, although it is often the case, never assume that a mage only has access to one. (This is Erikson, after all!)

I loved your note of the humor running through this book. It is a subtle, dry, type of humor but it is there. I think it is often overlooked in the darkness of the "war" but it is there and really adds to the joy of reading for me.

Amanda & Bill, thank you both so much for devoting your time to this. I am sure it is appreciate by all.
Thomas Jeffries
10. thomstel
If the first section is being thrown into the deep end, these chapters are definitely the equivalent of surfacing and finding you're in the Pacific Ocean.

The vocabulary here is so dense, as Bill and Amanda noted, that it doesn't really pay to focus on it now. Maybe throw a little yellow sticky note in your book so you can pop back and see what you can decipher once you've gotten some more story? That stuff is why re-reads of this series are particular rewarding. However, knowing the sort of conversations that come later in the series, these conversations really do feel like clunky info-dumps. In particular are some of the Edgewalker/Cotillion exchanges, which read a lot like: *grunt* "What?" "That." "Oh." *grunt* "Good luck." "Yeah..."

And wow, there's not really a throwaway character in this whole section. Everybody comes back except for maybe the random Claw that picked up Paran at the dock. But there's a whole book left to find out that it was Tayschrenn in disguise!

Also, note the offhand reference to a garroted officer and a later reference to a dead Clawmaster? Connect-the-dots, laa- la la la.

On to Power Levels: Don't try. Really. Just enjoy when favorite badass A runs into other favorite badass B. When C, D and E show up, you'll know it's a party.

And one final note: Getting stabbed and bleeding out, getting blown up by munitions, getting run through the heart, getting killed by a demon, getting conflagrated by a firestorm, getting smooshed flat by a giant slugbeastmommadinosaur, and keeling over from absorbing an entire species's thousands of years of guilt and misery...yeah, none of those are sure-fire ways to get permanently dead in Malazan. Hell, even becoming Death itself isn't a sure-fire way to stay dead!

I love this series...
a a-p
11. lostinshadow
I'm really liking this format of one newbie and one more experienced reader.

And Amanda, I would say you're doing great - certainly way better than I did the first time round - and I can't read the poetry either. It actually takes me longer to go through a poem than to read 100 or so pages.

I myself was really intrigued with the Deck and I think her use of it was a major reason for why I liked Tattersail right off the bat. I think I imagined it would be some magical and mystical version of a Tarot deck (which was a particular interest of mine back when I was first reading this) but of course I underestimated the complexity that Erikson is capable of.
Mieneke van der Salm
12. Mieneke
Right, these were the chapters that sold me first time around. You just gotta love Erikson for his shock value, from the massive battle of Pale to the rawness of Bellurdan's grief to Paran's assassination, he keeps you reeling!

Things that I noted during reading were many more than last time. I love how re-reading this and actually have somewhere to talk about it to makes me read differently!

I loved the irony of Mock's Hold, where Dancer and Kellanved killed Mock, 'Sail's lover, also being the place were they were murdered.

Tattersail is 219 and we know Anomander Rake is ancient, but are only mages, ascendants and assorted powers longlived or are people longer-lived in general in the Malazan? I was just wondering...

Just as I was wondering: do we actually know it was Tayschrenn who killed Calot and the others? I know they all assume this, but where is the proof? Is this another case of untrustworthy points-of-view or is it just that obvious and I missed it?

There was also this idea that popped into my head, but I can't really get it to make sense, about Paran and Whiskeyjack and there being some connection or foreshadowing there. Let me explain. When we first meet Paran he's this young naive kid who wants to be a soldier and find glory. It's also the first time we meet Whiskeyjack a hard-bitten, weary and experienced warrior who's rather cynical about life and soldiering. Then we go to chapter one and there's Paran having just seen his first action (or rather the aftermath of action)feeling proud, nauseated and disgusted, but proud, thinking that he he's now truly a soldier. Enter chapter two and we're back to Whiskeyjack having gone through (his umpteenth) battle and having just lost half his squad. From his interactions with Tattersail, you can sense he's decided that not feeling or pretending not to feel is the best way to cope.

This mirroring of views and emotions between Paran and Whiskeyjack just struck me as significant. And I'm not sure whether it's just meant to drive home the cruelty of war and what it does to those who fight in it or whether Whiskeyjack is a sort of foreshadowing of what Paran might have become if not for what happens next?

Does that make any sense or am I just babbling? I'm finding I'm rather hazy on what exactly happens in the next three books (which are all I read) so I don't know whether this is blown out of the water at all lol

And Amanda, I think the spinning if the coin is like the rolling of the dice, it's a bet and once the coin stops spinning you don't know which of the twins of Oponn is gonna end up facing upwards, so as long as it's spinning nothing is set in stone and things and events might be changed. At least that's how I interpreted it!
a a-p
13. lostinshadow
Hmm, I'm sure the more experienced readers will chime in on this but I seem to have a vague recollection (and it's embarrassing that it's vague because I have read the first 3 books 3 times) that somewhere around book 3 we get some hints that Tayschrenn is not as guilty and/or evil as he appears at first blush.
Tricia Irish
14. Tektonica
I'm well and truly hooked. Pg. 415, Ch. 14 now....I feel like I"m getting a sense of each character and a bit of back story on them....probably just enough to be wrong, from what you all say.

Tattersail and Tayschrenn seem to go back quite a ways, and tolerate each other, at best: The tough facade ill suits you, 'Sail. Always has. There's always a risk of knowing too much. Be glad I spared you....Tayschrenn.

So it's obvious he's withholding information...for her sake? I doubt it.

ooooooh, Quick Ben and Kalam....awesome. Ch. 12 in Darujistan gave me a whole new insight into those two! Wow.

Ch.2.Whiskeyjack speaking,"His name's Quick Ben." Not the one he was born with." No kidding!

Warrens: A number of you have said the jury's still out on exactly what they are. We certainly see them enough, but it's just guess work on my part as to what they are.....great stores of magic and power, as well as pathways, and "bunkers" of safety for the person whose Warren it is. There only seem to be a few Warrens listed in the glossary. Are they just the most important ones, or do the mages share access to various Warrens? I love that they each have color and a particular flavor. Then there is the chaos warren....which runs between Warrens?

Magic: I'm assuming, like EmmetAObrien@6 that each kind of magic user has different abilities and different levels of skills. It seems most of life in the Malazan empire is suffused with magic. But what exactly is a mage vs. an archmage vs. an adept vs. an Ascendent vs. a god (lower case)?

Capt. Paran: I hope you've grown to like him a bit more, Amanda. His interaction with Picker and Antsy and Hedge was pretty funny, but what really got me was Erikson's elegant prose when Paran thinks about himself:

What frightened Paran most, these days, was that he had grown used to being used. He'd been someone else so many times that he saw a thousand faces, heard a thousand voices, all at war with his own. When he thought of himself, of that young noble-born man with the overblown faith in honesty and integrity, the vision that came to him now was of something cold, hard, and dark. It hid in the deepest shadows of his mind, and it watched. No contemplation, no judgement, just icey, clinical observation.

He didn't think that that young man would see the light of day again. He would just shrink further back, swallowed by darkness, then disappear, leaving no trace.

That one stopped me cold! How many of us who have lived several decades, ahem, can recall a callow youth full of optimism and lofty ideals? Before the reality of making a living and acquiescing to superiors, and compromising with partners, and hiding parts of yourself for your children's sake, becomes the just a part of life? Not that our core has to be icey and dark, but getting back to that can prove a challenge. Ummmm...I think we all have that person hiding in the shadows.

Enough Wall-o-text. Sorry. I just love this book/world. Thanks Amanda and Bill and Tor. Wanna do two per week?
Chris Hawks
15. SaltManZ
@13: Erikson never gives us a POV from Tayschrenn that I recall (though I think Esslemont might in his books) so anything you read about his motivations in the MBotF must needs be taken with a grain of salt.

But yes, he's generally portrayed more favorably in later books.
16. Steve Diamond
It was really Paran's assassination that got me into this series. That and the absolute carnage at the beginning. How many novels have we all read that struggle to have their ENDINGS be as nuts as this beginning.

I'm surprised no one brought up Nightchill. The name stood out so much on my first read that I remember thinking, "She has to be important. I wonder why?" And I remember feeling so vindicated when the answer finally came. That's the thing about this series for me: in the beginning you have to work hard to figure things out. The reward for divining things before the typical Erikson "If you haven't figured it out by now, here's the deal" moment is so awesome.

And I agree with everyone, this format of 1 newbie and 1 with experience is great.
17. WJD
Just a couple of comments.

Yes, the gods and ascendants play very active roles in the world. Some may choose to retreat into hiding for a milennia or three, but other than that they are usually in the thick of things.

On aging: Mages live much longer lives than normal humans. Ascendants are immune from aging. Other races, like the Jaghut, TTT and Tiste Andii that have been mentioned already age differently as well. There are other ways besides being a mage for a person to extend their lives. You'll learn more as the series progresses, but the Malazan Empire is over 100 years old and a number of the important founders are still around.

Readings in the Deck of Dragons: We have only seen divination type readings from Tattersail so far I believe. These show what gods and ascendants are going to be important or influencing upcoming events. There is a second type where cards are given to regular people to help determine their future. When a regular person receives a card in this capacity, it does NOT mean they have gained a permanent place in that house.

The one line that nobody has mentioned so far as regards to foreshadowing that I think should be noted by first timers is when Tattersail comes upon the Bridgeburners shifting Hairlock's soul into the puppet: about Quick Ben "He's no novice."
"No, he's not."
18. Abalieno

“Hairlock had been with the Empire longer than she had—or Calot. He’d been among the sorcerers who’d fought against the Malazans in Seven Cities, before Aren fell and the Holy Falah’d were scattered, before he’d been given the choice of death or service to the new masters.”

This is typical of Malazan empire and empires in general. The Malazan empire is not "evil" and it is built on indiscriminate pragmatic rules. It doesn't conquer to destroy, but to assimilate. You'll later learn that there is quite a number of Malazan soldiers and mages that were originally part of autonomous local populations that tried to oppose themselves to the conquest. So the Malazan army is often made of people who where originally enemies of the empire. There's a particular "theme" here, about how war ultimately is made between people who are all equal (and how an army isn't simply made out of thin air as in other fantasy tales with a great number of expendable red shirts).

So that quote basically says that the empire conquered Seven Cities (north of Quon Tali) before it moved to Genabackis. Aren was the main capital and the Holy Falah was simply the local cult that ruled Seven Cities. Hairlock was an old enemy of the empire that now works at its services (or seems doing so).

Anyway, these two chapters are so dense with details that this time the advice is to simply pay attention and "move on". The tangle of plot is way too complicated and there are various layers that are still completely hidden at this point. Don't cling too much on the details and you'll see that the story will slowly start to unravel in a satisfying way. Things will get MORE complicate, but the deliberate and even too forced opaqueness will be mostly left behind.

The Spinning Coin (which I don’t quite understand still)

This is a metaphor for "luck", and so Oponn. It should be pointed out that the twins are one male and the other female. One face of the coin represents good luck, the other bad luck. In particular: the Lady pulls (from woes), the Lord pushes (toward woes). Even here metaphoric, the Lady representing good luck, and the Lord bad luck.

Depending on whose attention you draw you can hope for the best, or the worst.

I liked the reference to the Shadow Warren being a relatively new power—it gives a little more indication of how intricate this magic system will prove to be.

Oh, that's really nothing. The "Shadow" they talk about is just a superficial layer of actual Shadow ;) Things will get complicate, but I think this starts to shape up in the fourth book, long way to go.

Then you missed the particular part that I said could be interpreted like Erikson speaking directly to the reader, and it is again Toc speaking to Paran:

'Out of your depth, Captain? Don't worry, every damn person here's out of their depth. Some know it, some don't. It's the ones who don't you got to worry about. Start with what's right in front of you and forget the rest for now. It'll show up in its own time.'

Gothos poem about the Toblakai is also so crazy when read in retrospective. Every word, and in particular:

"Still standing, these towering pillars
mar the gelid scape
of my mind..."
Tricia Irish
19. Tektonica
Thomstel@10 states, Everybody comes back except for maybe the random Claw that picked up Paran at the dock. But there's a whole book left to find out that it was Tayschrenn in disguise!

I just reread that, and am rather mystified that is was Tayschrenn in disguise. Why? Was he sent to slow Paran down? Assess him in some way? For someone else? For himself? It's seemed such a small throw away, and it could be very interesting. I'm re-assessing Tayschrenn's motives/true allegiance already. He's from the 7 cities. Whiskeyjack wiped out the Seven Cities mages in the final battle that ended that war....except Tayschrenn, obviously. Just what side is he playing. What a chess match!

Toc the Younger is interesting first I thought that was who Thomstel was talking about, but on a reread, I realized Toc met Paran on the plain outside of docks. But Paran remarks on how "different" Toc was than most Claws. Who is this guy? He is what's right in front of Paran when the lines that Abalieno quotes@18 were delivered. He comes back in soon too, in a much more involved way. Anyone want to shed some light?
Tony Zbaraschuk
20. tonyz
A lot of this makes a great deal more sense when re-read in the light of later events and later books. I'm not entirely sure if this is an improvement: I sometimes think that one reason we read these books is just to find out what's going on, and the question comes up: when you've found out all the mysteries, is there anything else beyond them?

With the Malazan books, one usually needs multiple re-reads to figure things out (discussion helps, as other people notice things you haven't, and some of them are the sort of OCD types that _can_ list everything.)

I don't know if anyone's numbered all the Warrens: there are plenty of them, but the rate at which new ones appear slows down a lot.

The Malazans certainly have some of the tricks of conquest down. Particularly Machiavelli's note about being willing to grant citizenship widely, which is the mark of long-lasting civilizations (compare the duration of Rome on the one hand, with Nazi Germany on the other...) They do seem quite willing to assimilate; they're trying to conquer Genabackis, not destroy it. Pale becomes a Malazan base; Darujistan will... well, we'll see over the next few books.
Steven Halter
21. stevenhalter
Tektonica@19 Tayschrenn isn't from 7 cities (that's Hairlock among others). I don't recall that it has been explicitly stated where he is from, except that at some point he is in Kartool.
Matt LaRose
22. TheLegend
Tek @19 shalter @21

IIRC Tayschrenn is one of the original group that the Emperor and Dancer put together when they formed the empire. He has been around since the beginning although we don't get to know that for some time yet.
Hugh Arai
23. HArai

Tayschrenn's motivations are even more complicated than most. You see multiple versions and layers as the series goes on. I believe that what Thomstel@10 was trying to say is that since the final book is unpublished there's still time for us to see yet another layer. He wasn't actually that random Claw in disguise.

The Warrens mean different things to different races,nations and individuals. They're all the things you listed plus much more. The listing in the GoTM glossary is not exhaustive, and the best you can say for each entry is that it matches the understanding of some of the people in the series.

But what exactly is a mage vs. an archmage vs. an adept vs. an Ascendent vs. a god (lower case)?
At this point the simplest answer is that it depends on the individuals. If you were to ask various characters from the books the answers would be highly varied. All of them describe individuals with some power beyond the norm.
24. Abalieno

Toc the Younger is the son of Toc the Elder.

How's that for an explanation? ;)
25. Christopher Byler
Here we have the author Gothos (who may or may not become important later on—who knows?! *grin*)

Gothos? Important? Could be... :)

Anyway, the thing that struck me most about this passage on rereading (aside from the events I remembered) was the implication that Quick Ben used Kurald Galain to perform the soul transfer on Hairlock. How is that possible?
Matt LaRose
26. TheLegend
@25. I was thinking the same thing. As far as I can remember he never does later either
27. David DeLaney
I'm happy to have found this reread as well; I'm going to be doing my own reread soon (and have the books, except for the first one which I have to dig out of a box, stacked upside down in anticipation).

(Is it a Bad Thing to be giggling helplessly while reading Amanda's reactions to having her brain stirred by the Eggbeaters of Plot and having all sorts of things she doesn't know about yet dropped in? Because if so, then I guess I'm currently evil.)

This will be the first overall reread for me, though I think I've reread the first couple books a long while back. The mention of "Toblakai" as early as chapter 3 of this book caught my eye... and yes, knowing SOMETHING about what-all's going on here should make this a much more ... nuanced? fraught? resonant? ... read.

"it gives a little more indication of how intricate this magic system will prove to be." - ... oh, you have NO idea. Yes, the Warrens are complicated. I regret to say that I was frustrated for a while over not figuring them out at ALL. But yes, they're usable as quick transportation; they're also the sources of power for sorcerers, at least in and around the Malazan Empire, and there's about a dozen of them that humans can use - Fire, Sea, Healing, Mind, Shadow, etc. There's several more that Elder Races of various kinds use. And yes, mages tend to use only one or two of them, though there are exceptions. (One of whom you've already met, though you don't know it yet.) They're ALSO alternate planes of existence, though not the only ones. And they're also something ELSE again that we don't even start finding out about for quite a while (but it's related to why the Deck is "of Dragons"...).

Oh, and ... I've described this series before as what a typical fantasy world might be like if it REALLY HAD Elder Races involved. Humans are just the latest intelligent froth to float to the top of the social system; there's Deep Time-level history here, wars and conflicts from ages ago, decisions made in ancient times that are reverberating now, etc. Fortunately, usually only the last 300,000 years or so of history is relevant. (One reason why there's so much detail flying around that's crucial, or at least notable, is that there's been a lot of TIME to accumulate it; see comments above about Erikson's anthropology/archaeology career. It makes it a deep, rich, chocolatey series, in my opinion - Erikson has got a LOT of background detail from the original RPG setting available, and isn't afraid to use any of it.) But there's not just one Elder Race here, or two (as in Tolkien with the Elves, the Dwarves, and standing-in-for-gods the Valar/Maiar); there's ten or twelve of THOSE as well. Many of which haven't been even mentioned yet. It gets ... complicated.

Good luck, Amanda, and yes, I think it's worth it.

Robin Lemley
28. Robin55077
@25 & @26

I agree that I cannot remember another specific time when Quick Ben used this warren (although IIRC, they sometimes state that he used multiple warrens but don't necessarily list them all), but doesn't it make sense that he would have some relationship/connection to the warren of Darkness considering where he ends up in the Deck?
Justin Adair
29. Hobbyns
Wonderful recap... and the comments are deep and open up even more for me to this amazing series.

The first book is easily the most linear and approachable of the series, which is saying something considering how byzantine the first book already is. I have to admit I've lapsed in picking up the next one I'm up to, which is Reapers Gale. This re-read is already making me want to pick it up soon.
Amanda Rutter
30. ALRutter
Welcome back everyone and pleased to see you again. I love waking up in the morning and looking through all the comments left overnight! A few responses to follow (if I don't respond directly, I still read and appreciated your comment!)

#1 @Salt-Man Z - Aww, anymore of that and you'll have me blushing! I definitely think that 100 pages a week is manageable - join us on the full re-read. You know you'll regret it if you don't *wink*. I think, at the moment, if you assume two chapters at a time then you won't be too far wrong for the weekly post.

#2 @avendesora - I really agree with you that I'm actually enjoying the extra work and making the connections. I do feel rewarded for the effort I'm putting in. And, already, Anomander Rake just sounds so epic!

#3 @golffuul - Nice to see another newbie along for the ride, and glad we're managing collectively to assist your understanding a little.

#4 @tearl - That makes it sound like homework *grin*

#5 @shalter - As I say, everything to do with Anomander Rake is epic and intriguing and everything I want from my fantasy. Thanks for the heads up re: Gothos.

#6 @EmmetAOBrien - "Only more complex" - isn't this the byline for the Malazan series? *grin* "It's fantasy. But more complex." Tor, you're welcome - you can use that for free! :-p

#7 @shalter - Strangely, I'm not as hung up as Bill on whether A beats C, or is worse than B. I am just accepting the different power levels right now - maybe it'll become more of an issue as I read further, trying to get a handle on degrees of power.

#8 @TheLegend - The back story thing was really brought home seeing Tattersail interact with Hairlock and then Tayschrenn. We know that so much has occurred between them to bring them to these attitudes towards each other, but the story isn't paused for us to catch up.

#9 @Robin55077 - Really nice points you make there, especially "expect the unexpected". This is something I am definitely taking to heart.

#10 @thomstel - Ha, I think you've thrown a few of us, making us think that Tayschrenn is actually that random Claw! Ooh, nice little hint regarding the dead Clawmaster... I think you're enjoying the power you have over me in terms of Malazan knowledge *grin* - means you can drip feed all these little hints!

#11 @lostinshadow - Thanks for the compliment! Me and Bill were really hoping that the combination of newbie and experienced reader would appeal to anyone joining us on this epic re-read. I also see it as some sort of mystical Tarot - I guess from your comment I should disregard that notion?

#12 @Mieneke - Gosh there are some good questions in your post, and most of them hadn't even occurred to me! I especially like the mirroring idea between Paran and Whiskeyjack - even if it isn't right, it sounds ace.

#13 @lostinshadow - Ha, I have read some fantasy books multiple times and I still get surprised by events that happen - and those are the "easy" fantasy books :-p

#14 @Tektonica - Good points all. I did end up appreciating Paran a bit more - which is why the end of the chapter came as such a shock! Ha, two posts per week? No way *grin* Besides, if we did that, the experience would be over all the sooner...

#15 @Salt-Man Z - I'm glad to hear that Tayschrenn is looked at more favourably in later books because I found him intriguing, to say the least. I also like how you allude to the unreliable narrator aspect.

#16 @Steve Diamond - Glad you also like the format! Nightchill was mentioned in such a breathless rush that it didn't occur to me that she would be of such importance - I'll be keeping an eye on her from now on. When she is brought back to life. If she is. *groans*

#17 @WJD - Another great hint for us newbies, thanks, and one I didn't pick up on. I love getting my hints this way - they intrigue me and make me want to read on so that I can find out what you are referring to!

#18 @Abalieno - I really appreciate your straightforward, pragmatic look at what constitutes the Malazan Empire and their attitude to war. Ha, the point about expendable red shirts is well made - and definitely one of the bigger differences between this and other fantasy novels. In the Malazan books we get to see both sides of the conflict. Ooh, and mention of the pulling and pushing again, connected to Oponn...

#20 @tonyz - Discussion definitely helps! These comments in response to Bill and I are just opening my eyes to a lot of what I've missed!

#25 and #26 - Damn, what is Kurald Galain?!

#27 @David Delaney - You are EVIL, you hear me?! *winks* "One of whom you've already met, though you don't know it yet" - you tease! And a hint of dragons to come? I love dragons!

Keep the comments coming, folks :-)
Chris Hawks
31. SaltManZ
Okay, okay, I gave in and started rereading last night. And it's wonderful! (Up through Chapter 3 currently. This will be my third time through, at least for the first 6 books.)

@25/26/28: I found the mention of Kurald Galain odd, too. Odder still was the fact that it was described as Chaos sorcery. I think we can probably chalk that one up as a "GotMism". (For the newbies: KG is actually the warren of Elder Dark, racial warren of the Tiste Andii.)

What caught my eye on the reread was the fragment of Call to Shadow that starts Chapter 2. First off, to answer Amanda's question: Yes, this is apparently Felisin Paran. I had my doubts (which I'll explain in a second) but looking at the birthdate, it's pretty obviously Ganoes' youngest sister.


But what REALLY jumped out at me was the line "In the Year of the Shattered Moon"! This is significant for a number of reasons: One is the fact that, hey, this phrase should mean a lot to someone who's read the entire series. The second is that Felisin is describing the Fall of Pale, yet (depending on how you slate Toll the Hounds into the problematic timeline) the mentioned Year (and its associated events) won't occur for another 3-5 years. Beyond that, how would Felisin even know about those events, and when could she have possibly written about them? It could be prophetic, except she attributes the YotSM to the Fall of Pale which (presumably) has already taken place.

I'm going to go ahead and guess that Erikson ended up stretching the timeline out a lot more than he originally intended as the series progressed, and that this is but the first indication of the massive timeline irregularities that we'll begin to see as the series continues.
Chris Hawks
32. SaltManZ
Oh, and here's a link that might be good to add to the Reread index page:

It's Erikson's "Life as a Human" blog, where he's written 8 articles (so far) about working on the final book of the MBotF. Good stuff.
33. EarthandIce
Hi all!
My interpretation of the Deck of Dragons is similar to Tarot, but with twists depending on the focus of the reading. In Tarot, each reading is different depending on the person/situation being read and the diviner. The diviner plays a role in the reading whether it is noticed or not.

Warrens, my take on them is they are a repository for different magics that can be used as transportation, but even more. I am going to have to go back and re-read the first part of the book and take notes just like I did with WoT. Here comes another set of index cards.

Oh, and as far as the descriptions of the aftermath of the battle, an anthropologist that has done any excavation or examination of remains from some of the ancient battles of our world would be able to do fair descriptions. Bones can tell many tales.
34. Abalieno

Strangely, I'm not as hung up as Bill on whether A beats C, or is worse than B. I am just accepting the different power levels right now - maybe it'll become more of an issue as I read further, trying to get a handle on degrees of power.

It actually doesn't become an issue (at least till the point where I've read). There are very rarely direct showdowns or confrontations and when they happen they are more subtle.

Luckily this story, in spite of spectaculars powers at play, never loses its focus to become a dry A vs B.
a a-p
35. lostinshadow

What I meant was that the Deck does seem like a Tarot Deck, but I while I had expected the Deck to simply mirror aspects of the Tarot, as you get into the series the Deck and its influence evolves into something far beyond traditional understandings of Tarot.

So no, don't disregard the idea of the Deck as Tarot, it is clearly inspired from that but just expect it to evolve into something more complicated than that.

but then again, that's pretty much the modus operandii for everything in this series. *grin*
Mieneke van der Salm
36. Mieneke
@#32 Salt-Man Z Thanks for the link!! More reading to do :D
Matt LaRose
37. TheLegend
@30 Amanda

Kurald Galain is elder warren of dark

@31 Salt Man Z

I found it funny too but the whole discussion is pretty confusing as they talk about Hairlock using the paths between Warrens. They make it sound by using the paths between warrens is flirting with Chaos. The whole section makes even less sense when you get to later books and they talk more about what the Warrens actually are.
38. billcap
Hi all,
I just wanted to pop in and say thanks for the tremendous response; it’s exactly what we were hoping for. I’ve actually been out of town and, gasp, even electronic touch, the past month or so and am about to be so again for another week, so I’ve just managed to gulp down all the comments quickly in this in-between moment of existence in the modern world. Great comments, discussion, additional insights, etc. here and when I get back I look forward to joining Amanda in responding. Glad you’re all enjoying the reread and I’ll see you in a week!
Thomas Jeffries
39. thomstel
Clarification: My mention that Tays was the Claw at the docks with Paran cannot be construed from anything else that appears later in any of the books. As HArai@23 pointed out, my comment was meant to illustrate that perceptions of events occurring in earlier books can be totally upended by revelations in later volumes. I think we've been batting it around enough that it's not a spoiler at this point to say: The Enfilade at Pale is one such event.

Sorry for that bit of confusion. The series is tough enough without me throwing people off the scent.

Anyway, some hints that might help with the confusion of what went on during the magery at Pale:


- Rake used Kurald Galain (Elder Dark).
- A'Karonys likely used Telas (Path of Fire).
- Nightchill used Omtose Phellack (Warren of Ice).
- Tayschrenn used Thyr (Path of Light), and possibly Telas.


If you're so inclined, you can now make some educated guesses as to the sequence of events. Motives? Who needs to know motives? (They don't come to light until later books.)
40. WJD

Nightchill didn't use Omtose Phellack during the Enfilade. I'm not sure if she even has access to that, but using OP has some serious repercussions in the Malazan world.

I believe Nightchill is stated to be a practitioner of Rashan in the book when introduced. That is the non-Elder warren of darkness.

Also if you're trying to list all the warrens used during the enfilade, Tattersail used Thyr, Calot used Mockra, and Tayschrenn used what you said probably, and also definitely Aral Gamelon.
Matt LaRose
41. TheLegend

Aral Gamelon is the Imperial warren correct?
Chris Hawks
42. SaltManZ
@41: No, Aral Gamelon is home to certain demons, and used to summon them. (Though demons are not limited to just Aral Gamelon.)
Matt LaRose
43. TheLegend
@42 That makes more sense and is crazy revealing at the same time.
Steven Halter
44. stevenhalter
#30 @ALRutter

There will be many views of dragons to come. As another foretaste -- note in the description of Anomander Rake -- "...who has tasted the blood of dragons"

As with everything, this has more meanings than one might think initially.
Thomas Jeffries
45. thomstel

I didn't even think of Tays using Aral Gamelon here, thanks for the reminder.

As for Omtose Phellack, given that this is GotM, I wouldn't totally rule out Nightchill's use of it. Quick Ben (in MoI) suspects she used Rashan, but none of the effects of her magic seem to reflect that source (icy wings, blue fire, etc.). As you mentioned though, unveiling OP has consequences, but considering her age and experience, I figured she has the skills to handle that.
Tricia Irish
46. Tektonica
Perhaps you are using the" Path of Confusion"...are you in on this game too? You had me going!

I've started my Warren list..thank you all. They definitely get more interesting/important/complicated, even later in this book. What Warren did Hairlock use?

Salt-Man Z@32:
Great weblog link! Wow..some very powerful writing, but then what would you expect? Thank you.
Hugh Arai
47. HArai
Tektonica@46: I don't think it was stated what pre-puppet Hairlock used. Puppet Hairlock is quite interesting because in GoTM he's referred to as using the Warren of Chaos which doesn't seem to exist in the rest of the series. Unfortunately not only is the warren system really really complex but there are some 'GoTMisms' or inconsistencies between GoTM and the remainder of the series, and this is one of them.
Robin Lemley
48. Robin55077
I am probably making a mistake by posting this here rather than on the "Prologue" review, but I feared that if I posted it there, no one would see it. My copy of GotM was just returned to me this evening so I didn't have it to review prior. Sorry!

I believe what may be the most prophetic line in the prologue occurred when Paran is talking to Wiskeyjack about the death of Dassem Ultor and the fact that Dassem may have betrayed a god. Wiskeyjack tells Paran to heed the lesson. Paran asks what lesson, and Wiskeyjack says:

"Every decision you make can change the world."

Reading that line in hind-sight sent a shiver down my spine. At the age of 12, Paran would have most likely believed that "no" decision of his would matter to the world.

Just remember this line when you get to the later books!
49. Toster

the "Warren of Chaos" does crop up again all throughout the series, it just loses its status as a proper noun. its called, variously; the warren of chaos, the warrens of chaos, chaos and maybe some other things. can't remember. but basically, chaos is the oil and the warrens are the gears. except this oil will literally tear your soul to pieces.
Travis Nelsen
50. Zangred
Well, now you've gone and done it! When I first saw the announcement for this re-read I was fairly excited at the prospect of being able to follow along with you all, gaining further insight into the earlier books, while I continued on with my own re-read.

I finished The Bonehunters a day or so after I read the posting for the Prologue and Chapter 1, and was about to pick up Reaper's Gale, at which point I started thinking, well maybe I'll just start over and follow along with the re-read here instead of continuing on. So I thought about it, and came back daily to read new comments, and thought about it some more. Then I read the Chapter 2 and 3 post. And came back today to catch up on the comments. And now I've decided yeah, I'm starting over. So today I'll be going back to GoTM and following along with the re-read here. I'm excited about it, probably more than I should be!

ALRutter@30: "And a hint of dragons to come? I love dragons!"

Hoo boy, you are in for a helluva treat later on.
Tricia Irish
51. Tektonica
I feel like I should post here just to get this thread back in the left hand column on Tor's main page! No one's going to come here, if they can't find it!

It is hard to find too....if you click on the right hand column flag, you get the "coming soon" post with no links. Otherwise you have to go into the July post archive on the lower left. There has to be an easier way! Help, Tor!
Chris Hawks
52. SaltManZ
@51: Eh? The right-column link takes you here. You do have to scroll down to get to the individual entries, but it works, and has been working for at least the past week.
53. kramerdude
So, I was starting a reread of MBoTF back when the project was initially announced lo those few months ago. Decided to pause after reading GoTM and the first few chapters of DG for this to start. Nice thing was I got through Dust of Dreams and Return of the Crimson Guard in the interim. So I'm going to skim the GotM chapters as this proceeds and then will reread through the rest of the project. Should be fun.

A few things I noticed in these chapters.

So many mentions and odd snippets of the Seven Cities campaigns that at this point in the initial read mean absolutely nothing to the reader. So much information that gets filled in on this as the series progresses. Of course there's a lot in general in this regard to the topics that others have mentioned above.

Another interesting thing I found was the discussion between Shadowthrone and Cotillion as Ch 3 ends. Does anyone re-reading remember when they first sussed out the identities of these two mysterious figures? For the life of me I don't recall the exact time I picked up on it anymore. But I did notice this time that Paran recognizes the accents of the two and the fact that it could be construed a pretty big hint?
a a-p
54. lostinshadow
@53 I read the first three books way back when they first came out so the memory is a bit fuzzy but at the time, no one had warned me about how complex the series was and I'd thought it would be a run of the mill fantasy story so I was reading fairly carelessly.

All that was to say that I am fairly certain that I only figured out who Shadowtrone and Cotillion were when one of the characters blatantly stated it. and was like huh? (like I said, I was zipping through all unawares of all the cluebats I was missing)
Tricia Irish
55. Tektonica

Since Erikson wrote this book 10 years before the others, and had to be persuaded to do so, if I'm reading the forums correctly, my question is this:

Were all these connections meant to be cluebats? Had he worked this all out before he wrote MBofF, or did he conveniently use vague things he had dropped in here to flesh out the remaining books? I ask because some of these things you all say, "oh yeah...if you go back and read the first book after the others, you see it all!" It's just so unknowable at first read!

If he had worked this all out already, why would he stop writing for 10 years
Does anyone know? I'm just curious about how people write and why.

As for Shadowthrone and Cotillion.....I noticed that Paran recognized their voices....any other glaring clue-by-fours I missed that would let me guess who they are?
a a-p
56. lostinshadow
I haven't followed any of the forums so I have no idea why he stopped for such a long time but...

he must have had most of this mapped out because it all starts falling together so well. for example that Toblakai in the poem? other than a cameo appearance in book 2, he doesn't become significant at all until book 4 (which was published after the gap).

currently reading book 6, which suddenly feels like it's all coming together (though of course I may be wrong *grins*)
57. Clairificus Rex
Woohoo! I have read these books multiple times, I read the first five and then reread them all every time I got a new one. I havent read DoD yet coz i wanted to read it and the 12th in a row as one big book :D

Loving this re-read and all the comments, its adding depth to my memories and of course im gonna start rereading!

Ok so in response to 31. Salt-Man Z
"Beyond that, how would Felisin even know about those events, and when could she have possibly written about them? It could be prophetic, except she attributes the YotSM to the Fall of Pale which (presumably) has already taken place."


So that poem was almost certainly written by the second Felisin, who is considered by many to be the same person as the first (hence shared birthdate), when she is drugged and fattened and being held by the worshippers of the crippled god.

Love the series, love everyone's comments and insights, love love love!

Oh P.S. I think the thing with the warrens is that they are what those connected with them need them to be. Or even to some extent what their believers believe them to be, judging from the weakness of Krul. I found that since there is soooo much to think about and understand that the warrens was one of the things i could let go and accept. Not suggesting in any way that anyone else SHOULD do that, but maybe that first time readers and Amanda could just accept them as they are, without losing anything of the Malazan experience.
Chris Hawks
58. SaltManZ


I had considered that, but figured the birthdate sealed it as the first Felisin. Though I suppose you're probably correct that history never knew the fate of the first, and considers the second to be her. I'm still not entirely comfortable with that explanation, though I'll concede its plausibility.
59. kramerdude
@55 and 56

Most likely it took that long for him to find a publisher to agree to print and distribute the book.

But yeah, I think a lot of big world defining points had been established long before the writing of the books. Like I said all the allusions to the Seven Cities campaign, the allusions to the Toblakai, the allusions to Dassem Ultor, et al. are all played up significantly in later books.

As for other clue-by-fours, there are a few smaller ones and one big one upcoming in Chapter 4.
Chris Hawks
60. SaltManZ
I recommend reading Erikson's introduction to Night of Knives at Amazon if you haven't yet. A couple of quotes:

"The world of Malaz was born in 1982, and from that moment onward the world's history slowly took shape."

"We shaped the world of Malaz through dialogue; our gaming was novelistic and with themes that were, more often than not, brutally tragic."

"To this day, we continue to work on the Malazan world's history, poring over its details, confirming the sequence of events, discussing the themes, subtext, and ensuring the consistency of cross-over characters. We hammer away at the timeline and the fates of countless characters, many of whom no one else has met yet."
Robin Lemley
61. Robin55077

With respect to warrens you wrote:

"...but maybe that first time readers and Amanda could just accept them as they are, without losing anything of the Malazan experience."

LOL, that is certainly the easiest thing to do. There is no way to figure them out this early in the series and even after reading all of books at least twice (except RoTCG which I still need to read), I feel I still could not provide a very clear explanation to anyone. I feel that I have a pretty good understanding...but maybe I am just accepting them as they are? :-)

One thing I will say about warrens...take 95% of what has been said about them on the blog so far and know that people are describing the most "popular" and most commonly discussed warrens in the books. There are, however, others mentioned in various books (and they are specifically called warrens) that do not fit any of the descriptions I have seen to date. Just when you think you know exactly what a warren is!!!!
Robin Lemley
62. Robin55077

Here is my humble take on a few of your questions/observations:

"I find it curious and wonder if it is deliberate that “gods” is spelled with a lower case initial letter?"

My take: You will find this throughout the entire series. I have always viewed it as perhaps a verification that, although the gods each have thier circle of worshippers, and most of the gods are acknowledged as being very powerful, they are not necessarily revered. No one is awed by them. They are gods in the same sense perhaps that that QB is a mage or Kalem is an assasin. That is just who they are and what they do. Perhaps they are not a big enough deal to warrant a capitol "G"?

"Tell me, who isn’t hiding something?"

My take: No one! Remember that always! :-)

"The Spinning Coin (which I don’t quite understand still)..."

My take: The coin means that Oponn (Twins of Chance) has entered the play. The spinning reflects that they have not yet made their decision as to whether to "push" or "pull" (the two sides of the coin). Once the decision is made, (presumably that side of the coin would be facing), the spin will stop.

Once again, thanks so much for doing this re-read.!!!
Sydo Zandstra
63. Fiddler

currently reading book 6, which suddenly feels like it's all coming together (though of course I may be wrong *grins*)

The Bonehunters is one of my favourites (3rd after Memories of Ice and Deadhouse Gate). I especially love the end part, with all what happens and the dialogues between the Bonehunter soldiers.

And Shadowthrone does something very naughty there to Oponn. But that scene made me laugh out loud! About time somebody did something to those irritating twins. ;)
Tricia Irish
64. Tektonica
Finished MBotF yesterday. Loved it. Some very interesting events, introductions and cliffs left dangling. On to book 2. Geez this is good. Does it just get better and better? Wonderful writing.

Ch. 4...major cluebat. Nice to have that figured out!

You know, this is really interfering with Real Life!
Julian Augustus
65. Alisonwonderland
Tek @64:
Finished MBotF yesterday.

Really? You managed to zip through all 9 books (so far published) that quickly? That must be some record!

Just kidding. I think you meant GotM.
Tricia Irish
66. Tektonica
oops. You are right, Alisonwonderland. **grins**

I'm no speed reader. I like to fact, I'm not starting book 2 until I've reread several marked areas in GotM. And fed my family....
Sydo Zandstra
67. Fiddler

Deadhouse Gate is going to blow your mind.

The only characters you know will be Fiddler, Kalam, Crokus and Apsalar.

Personally I'm not too fond of Felisin, but I appreciate the storyline.

Coltaine and the March of the 7th Army are awesome.

Iskaral Pust and his wife are funny.

Happy reading :-)

edit: book 3 Memories of Ice will follow on book 1.
Julian Augustus
68. Alisonwonderland


We haven't reached the relevant chapters yet in this re-read, but I remember when I first read GotM I was totally lost twice: the first time was when Tool formed up to dispose of the warriors attacking Lorn and then in later conversations with Lorn described how he may be able to set free Raest (the Jaghut Tyrant) because his own Telann warren lies very close to Raest's Omtose Phellack warren. It felt like I was reading a foreign language! The second was at the end of the book in Lady Simtal's garden when the previously unknown magic-killer (the Azath) suddenly appeared to save the day.

The circumstances in which the T'lan Imass and the Azath were introduced in the story annoyed me at the time; I thought the author was cheating ... it seemed so, so Deus es Machina. Of course on the subsequent re-read I noticed that he had slipped in a passing reference to "the emperor's undead forces" and mentioned the Imass earlier, but of course I had no idea what they meant at the time.

I wonder if you had the same reaction I had?
Julian Augustus
69. Alisonwonderland

Looks like Fiddler beat me to it, but you will find book 2 completely different from GotM. Only a few of the characters in the first book appear, and mostly in a minor capacity. But you are also going to be introduced to a whole new set of characters who are important to the overall story, like Coltaine, Icarium and Mappo, etc., and the action takes place on a completely different continent. The vague references to Seven Cities in the first book (that made no sense at the time) are about to take center stage. Prepare for lift-off!

Deadhouse Gates (book 2) is my second favourite Malazan book next to Memories of Ice (book 3), and with Midnight Tides (book 5) makes up my top 3.
Tricia Irish
70. Tektonica

Oh boy, Oh boy**licks chops** I can't wait!


I wondered why Crokus went with Apsalar? Into the next book, obviously....but why? Love? I doubt it's that simple. (Does Apsalar take on her namesakes' characteristics by acquiring her name? Maybe the Seer?)

I did find the convenient "drop in" of the Azath (which I still have no clue about!) and Tool, a bit deus ex seems a bit that when Erikson runs into a problem, he just introduces new characters, a new magic item/system, etc. to solve the problem. But you seem to indicate that these are elaborated on in coming books, so perhaps he's still just building his world.
A very big world.

OK...I'm not going to discuss ahead anymore....I don't want my hands slapped....I'll save my questions for the appropriate chapter discussions. If anyone wants to answer any of my questions, post in my shout box, please.

Alisonwonderland and Fiddler....check your shout own shout boxes, please.

Glad to hear Dead House Gates is good....onward!
Sydo Zandstra
71. Fiddler

@Tek (and others):

You will find out that The Rope may have left Apsalar, but that the skills remain.

And she's not too happy about using them.
a a-p
72. lostinshadow
Fiddler@63 - not quite at the end yet, am trying to savor since I rarely get my hands on fantasy books I haven't read before. (not saying I've read everything out there, just that it's hard to get any fantasy books out here in Istanbul so it's very hard to just discover and then access new stuff)

Tek@70 I'm pretty sure he's thought most of this through before - the answers to your questions seem to be slowly unfolding in book 6 but in a seemless way that to me at least says Erikson meant it all to happen like this.
Sydo Zandstra
73. Fiddler

Have you considered They are in the UK and Germany too.

And if you use the small sellers under their flag, you can do a good deal.

(Example: I once bought a trilogy for 75 cents; sending costs on top of that were about 4 Euro).
74. Clairificus Rex
An important thing to note is that these books are NOT like a normal fantasy series. I know that may seem like a simplistic comment but it is important to really understand.

The first time i read them I remember being angry that the second book was in a different time and place with mostly new characters and on a totally different story line. The thing is that most fantasy and sci series are telling u the story of a few characters in a setting. This series really really is a story about a world or a setting, with more than 500,000 years of relevant history. In some ways the individual characters are less important that the world (which may be why he is so comfortable killing them). So the books skip from continent to continent, character to character, war to war and from epoch to epoch. The overall arch of the story is about the world and the warrens (and stuff outside them).

I can also assure you that no matter how big and powerful and deus ex machina you think something is, there will always be something that can control/oppose/limit it. And the Azath are a major and important theme, not an easy plot device.
Thomas Jeffries
75. thomstel
One important aspect of the most powerful Malazan beings includes their ability to recover from pretty much anything.

Because of this endurance, other major players have recognized that killing other powerful beings isn't all that great an option. Too much risk/effort for too little a reward. Throughout the series you'll see lots of instances of the most powerful being ensnared/trapped in some fashion, or divested of the bulk of their power.

Obviously there's still the risk that the power will be returned, or that the being will get loose, but for those who measure their existence in eras (as opposed to millenia), having a potential enemy or rival out of the picture until a certain sequence of events occur is preferable than having them out of the way for strictly a period of recovery time.

The "sequence of events" required to free/repower the enemy is something that can be controlled if one is careful.

This part of the tale is why later it tends to feel like there's gods and ascendants in every nook and cranny of the Malazan world, entrapped, depowered, or forgotten. Still potent in many cases though.
Chris Hawks
76. SaltManZ

I feel your pain! I just started the reread this week, and having caught up to (presumably) this Wednesday's chapters, I'm still itching to read on.

And if you want to discuss later books, I'll reiterate the recommendation that you join the forums at We'd be happy to have you!
Matt LaRose
77. TheLegend
My biggest problem with the reread is slogging through Kruppe's chapters I never realized how much trouble I had with them.

I have to say I think I must have skimmed through them all the other times I read the books.
Sydo Zandstra
78. Fiddler
@The Legend:

Could be worse. Could be Tehold and Bugg (characters we get to meet in Midnight Tides).

(I know everybody loves them, and I admit their dialogues are well written, but I got tired of the verbal sparring after a few chapters with them).

I find Kruppe a cool and interesting character.
Amanda Rutter
79. ALRutter
Kruppe is an acquired taste for sure *dry tone*
Steven Halter
80. stevenhalter
Skimming over Kruppe's chapter is probably a mistake. There are some very important details there. Actually, that can be pretty much said about every chapter.
Sydo Zandstra
81. Fiddler

Kruppe is an acquired taste for sure *dry tone*

Now that is an understatement worthy of one who is so immodestly capable as Kruppe.

Tricia Irish
82. Tektonica
I really grew to like Kruppe, when I got comfortable with his manner of speaking. He is much more than he appears. I love that he defies the standard tropes.

Salt-Man Z@76: Thanks....I'll pop over to and check it out. Now that I've finished GotM, I'm itching to discuss it ALL!!

ClarificusRex@74 & thomstel@75: I like the huge arc of history in these books. Even if "players" power up and down, it gives me hope that they might reappear...and in this world, hope is hard to come by. (I hate losing characters I'm invested in!) I've never encountered such a complex magic system and such a long tangled history, involving both gods, mortals, and various incarnations in between. Great fun!
Chris Hawks
83. SaltManZ
Kruppe has long been my "comedic" character of choice in the series, preferable to Pust, Tehol/Bugg, or Ublala Pung. The clever, twisting wordplay that produces his humor is fantastic, and when he actually ends up narrating a good portion of a later book (yes, that's right) I found the effect to be mesmerizing, even moving at times.
Thomas Jeffries
84. thomstel
Kruppe's voice in GotM is yet another facet of why people say Malazan is a hard read.

Just when you get into the groove of hearing all the new proper nouns being thrown around everywhere in Book One, here comes Kruppe: kind, humble, deprecating Kruppe. Doing a 180 from powerful, decisive action to meandering, roundabout dialogue creates a new barrier to enjoying the tale. Shifting to a whole new set of (mostly) less powerful characters doesn't help either.

Couple things to keep in mind with Kruppe though:

*** SPOILERY ***

- He's probably one the "goodest" characters. Yeah, he might leave you with the bill at lunch, or swipe a couple *coughdozencough* pastries from the tray, but in terms of compassion, he's pretty high up there. While other characters are looking out for the greater good, Kruppe will also keep a close eye on the individuals involved too.
- He's so humble, in every sense of the word. ;)
- Believe it or not, you'll probably learn to like him. A lot. Erikson is mighty fine at penning a character that at first blush is just a pain to read about, then can turn that character around and make him/her your favorite. See also: Karsa, in 1st part of House of Chains; Hellian, throughout 2nd half of the series.
Amir Noam
85. Amir
I didn't particularly like Kruppe when I first read Gardens of the Moon. However, during later books he became one of my favorite characters. Though I have to admit that in Toll the Hounds (last book I've read) his sections made the book crawl to a standstill for me and were really painful at times (which is why TTH is my least favorite book in the series).

And comparing to other "comedic" characters which were mentioned, I think that every single scene with Tehol/Bugg is pure gold. I wouldn't mind a book just with those two. Can't wait for the re-read to get to these guys :-)
86. kramerdude
Admittedly the first time I picked up GotM many years ago, I set it down after trying to slog through the Darujhistan section (Book 2). Came back probably 6 months later, slogged through it and the rest of the book.

Funny when I reread it, it was one of my favorite sections. And as shalter (#80) says some very important details there, but will hold off on comments until the next update is posted.
a a-p
87. lostinshadow

thanks for the suggestion, but the problem with amazon is that the orders often get stuck in customs and at times get lost in customs. So I usually ask my friends to bring the books to me (my brother in law carried all 6 Malazan books over from the UK) but that is becoming a harsh favor to ask as airlines keep reducing the permitted weight of baggage.

and another thing, due to my extreme speed in reading I am not allowed to buy every book I want to read because that would conservatively speaking average to a book a day and I cannot afford either the space or the money. What I really need is a public library. :)

back to the MBotF, I like Kruppe, and Tehol/Bugg, Pust not so much.

Clairificus Rex@74 - Well said, I too was really angry the first time I picked up book 2; it's one of the reasons why I keep warning all newbies here and elsewhere that the second book does not pick up where the first one left off. But as you say, this is the story of the world, not the characters and it is very well thought out.



isn't Karsa's evolution through the story just amazing? he was a really unlikable, even offensive character in the beginning and I'm not sure he ever becomes likable per se but definitely one of my favorite characters to read. Complete opposite to Felisin I, who I liked and felt sorry for initially and who really derailed and became hard for me to read as the story unfolded.
Matt LaRose
88. TheLegend

And see I am the exact opposite of you. While Tehol/Bugg verbal sparring does eventually get tiresome after a while, I can't seem to get in the mindset of Kruppe.


I agree that skimming those Kruppe is a bad idea and the reread is really forcing me to actually read through it rather than cheat.

Thomstel@84 and lostinshadow@87

Karsa is probably my favorite character in the series.
Thomas Jeffries
89. thomstel

Karsa is the character I feel most refreshed after reading. Knowing that an intelligently-focused HULK SMASH moment will solve (pretty much) all his problems is very cathartic compared to the duplicitous, double-dealing, long-term planning that the other characters tends to favor. With Karsa, there's zero need to wait until the end-o'-the-book convergence for awesome.

And even when he's not being awesome, he's usually involved in some hilariously sexist commentary with Samar Dev. Which, while being fairly offensive, is still a good read.
a a-p
90. lostinshadow
And for all that in your face violence, racism and sexism he (Karsa) displays, he also has some nice insights, particularly in his view of Samar Dev's love for technology.
Steven Halter
91. stevenhalter
Quick Ben has always been my favorite. Kind of the polar opposite of Karsa.
Amir Noam
92. Amir
shalter @91:
Quick Ben has always been my favorite.

I always liked Quick Ben, but I find that I can't really call him "favorite" since I think I can't relate to him or put myself in his shoes.

He's definitely one of the more interesting characters (about 12 dimensional :-)), but he's almost always a mystery. Other characters I find much easier to relate with because their motives and reactions are so, well, human and understandable (and I include several non-human characters in this).
93. Abalieno
I actually liked more Kruppe in the first book.

It starts as a really complex character and what he says has always a double or triple meaning. Kruppe in book 1 deliberately plays so that he can be underestimated, while he is instead serious in truth. It's a carefully controlled play he does for a very specific reason.

But in book 3 he loses a bit of his complexity as there are too many things going on and Kruppe is mostly used as a humorous interlude. He's still busy doing great things, but he was at his best in the 1st book.

Even his verbose way of speaking used to be justified and hide a number of important things.
94. Tree Frog
To be clear, those of you who are new to the series do not need to obsessively track who is the Mason/Spinner/Soldier of House X throughout the books. Just know that this character or that character is associated with this group or comes from that background.
Steven Halter
95. stevenhalter
Amir @92 One of the interesting things about Quick Ben is that the more you learn about him, the more it appears there is to learn.
Matt LaRose
96. TheLegend
Shalter@95 Or annoying. Quick Ben is another favorite of mine and I always want to know more about him. Unfortunately Erikson likes to spoon feed us info about him.
Julian Augustus
97. Alisonwonderland
Amir @85:
Though I have to admit that in Toll the Hounds (last book I've read) his sections made the book crawl to a standstill for me and were really painful at times (which is why TTH is my least favorite book in the series).

You think TtH is painful, wait till you try DoD!
Sydo Zandstra
98. Fiddler

I happen to start rereading TtH and DoD soon, since I've only read both once.

I'll let you know what I think. (1 read of each isn't enough to form a decent opinion, I think)

Or maybe I'll start with tBH...
Amir Noam
99. Amir
Alisonwonderland @97:
You think TtH is painful, wait till you try DoD!

I've heard of this sentiment and I'm kinda dreading starting reading DoD. I've actually picked it up just this week when I've unexpectedly encountered it in a local book store (usually it takes them much longer to get these here after they are released in the US/UK).

Well, I think I'll start with the Esslemont books first - just started Night of Knives recently. Feels nice (and weird) to hold a Malazan book that is less than 20,000 pages long :-)
Tricia Irish
100. Tektonica
Where do the Esslemont books fit in the reading order? iI saw them today at my local B & N, but didn't pick them up because I didn't know when or even "if" we were including them here.

Should I read them anyway, and between what books?
Chris Hawks
101. SaltManZ
Tek @100

Read Night of Knives before Bonehunters, and Return of the Crimson Guard before Toll the Hounds. It's the authors' suggested order (original publication order) and yes, it looks like the reread will cover them, as they're shown on the index page. And yes, you should absolutely read them (RotCG is especially important.)

Esslemont's third book, Stonewielder, is due out late November.
a a-p
103. lostinshadow
re Quick Ben

While I don't dislike him, I still (through book 6) haven't really warmed up to him. Somehow he seems too much like some kind of omniscient puppeteer but with nothing particularly sympathetic about him.
Thomas Jeffries
104. thomstel
As for Alisonwonderland@97...

Hey now, DoD wasn't that had, well, and ... oh yeah it had...

Yeah, I suppose I agree.

I would sum up that book as "had some really great parts". Not exactly a coherent narrative, not exactly a hopeful message, but good parts. I still really like the scene where the Marines are tracking down a certain musician to do the Reading in Letheras. The Perish and the Snake and the Bolkando crew can sod right off though. And the Barghast...don't even want to talk about it. Ever. Can we skip that part of the re-read btw?

Given that the book is intended to set the threads humming for the finale, I suppose having all sorts of separate setup plots makes some sense. Doesn't mean it's an easy read. For the first-timers, I envy you not having the cliffhanger haunt you for months. HAIL THE MARINES!
a a-p
105. lostinshadow
Just finished the Bonehunters. I am in awe at the complexity of this story. I think I need time (and probably a reread) to digest.
Steven Halter
106. stevenhalter
lostinshadow @ 103
Re Quick Ben

I wouldn't describe Quick Ben as a puppeteer so much as someone who does seem to know where many of the strings (from other puppeteers) are and how to use that knowledge.

Of course, with Hairlock he is a puppeteer for a while in a literal fashion, lol.

Most of the time, Ben is all about using knowledge and smarts over sheer force. Just every know and then he lets loose with some force of his own when the situation demands.
Matthew Fisher
107. iguanaaa

I'm a bit late to the commenting party, but I thought I'd try and answer the question about Quick Ben and Kurald Galain. I don't have the books in front of me, but if I'm not mistaken we do see Quick Ben use Kurald Galain again in Memories of Ice (in the confrontation with Bauchelain). As to how it is possible, there is speculation that at least one of his 12 ... dimensions (thanks Amir @92) might be the reason.
108. Clairificus Rex
What happened to the next installment?? Could we move to Chapter 4 now please??
Amanda Rutter
109. ALRutter
Well, Bill and I have handed them across to the Tor blog admins, so hopefully it will be imminent :-) I've given them chapters four and five!
111. Carolynh
Whew! If I thought it would help, I'd start my reread right away. As a first time reader of this series, I feel as though i've been thrown into the deep end and I might be drowning already. The level of detail is enormous, and my poor brain can't begin to keep track of it all. No wonder people reread (and reread) this series. There's enough detail in a single paragraph to last for multiple chapters. I'll never remember it all. I just hope I can remember enough of it to follow (most of) the threads.

That said, I am thoroughly enjoying what I've read so far even though I feel a little bit as though I was dropped into the middle of Lost after the hatch explosion.

Favorite thing so far: I think it's the Deck of Dragons. I want one of those

I'm also trying to follow Bill's advice about not getting too attached to anyone, which is certainly counter-intuitive compared with most other books, where getting attached to a character is critical.

I'm starting to feel as though I need a scorecard, maybe even multiple scorecards.
Steven Halter
112. stevenhalter
Carolynh@111:Welcome! Many scorecards, indeed. Don't be too afraid to become attached--as long as you don't mind a few tears along the way.
Amir Noam
113. Amir
(Holy propagation delay, Batman!)

As shalter said, welcome!
Don't feel too intimidated. I believe most first time Malazan readers feel like they've been thrown into the deep end.

The beauty of the books is that you will be able to follow along each book, but with each re-read you'll discover more and more threads that are interwoven into the same story and you can't see them on the first pass.

Good luck with your reading, and when you've caught up (or even now if you don't mind spoilers) then join us in the discussion, which only really happens on the page of the weekly re-read chapters (right now chapters 6-7 of Deadhouse Gates). I only saw your post by chance.
114. carolynh
Thanks! I hope to catch up (eventually) but I'd rather read at a reasonable pace for me than rush through --even though I'd like to join the current discussions. Let's see if I can make any headway against the ongoing chapters before I talk more about catching up!
115. Arnold3k
I've had this series in my "must read" list for a while now and having delved into a couple of space operas waiting for Martin to get on with his next book, decided to take the plunge back into fantasy. I started reading the series and am overwhelmed with lots of name dropping, lots of characters and past events. I use my Nook highlighting and note taking to keep track of character, places and event names to keep on track but finding this site was the best. AWESOME work! Thanks. I am now coming back here after every chapter to compare notes and thoughts. Thanks again.
116. Arkash
Brand new reader ! Just finished these chapters.

Damn... didnt see that ending coming ! I'm assuming death is not that definitive in the universe, but damn... ^^
117. Alex_W
I must say, this quick death of Paran surprised me a lot. And somehow disappointed me to. He lets himself get done with so easily? Well, but on the other hand, the person who whacked him isn't even a person right, but far more than that. So, he probably can be forgiven. As Shadowthrone would probably say "It's not so bad, to get whacked by a g..."

And knowing now, reading all this posts up to the 3rd chapter, death isn't always death in this world right. So hopefully my dear Paran will return somehow soon to the Malazan world as a fare more powerful beeing as he was before and get his revenge as as nicely as they come. I, for myself, like Paran a lot. The way he talks straight to no matter who and how powerful that person is. The way he reflects about himself. I can very easily identify myself with him so far. And for me that's something important, to be able to get hooked to a story.

And as to my late entry here again, I just started to read GotM now. It's the first time for me too. Even if no one reads this post here anymore, I couldn't resist to write my comment here right now, where it belongs, after the chapters I just finished. I'm looking forwart to read on.


Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment