Wed
Jul 21 2010 2:17pm

The Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Gardens of the Moon, Chapters 4 and 5

Welcome to the Malazan Re-read of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapters 4 and 5 of Gardens of the Moon (GotM). Other chapters are here.

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

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

CHAPTER FOUR
Setting: Pale

SCENE 1
Tattersail meets with Whiskeyjack, Quick Ben, Fiddler, and Kalam to tell them Hairlock is insane. They reveal their suspicions about Sorry being connected to Shadow as well as their theory that Shadowthrone and Cotillion are in fact Emperor Kellanved and Dancer. We learn that Shadow’s throne was originally occupied by a Tiste Edur, but had been empty for millennia until the Emperor and Dancer’s deaths. Fiddler senses something happening, possibly involving Sorry, and the squad takes off.

SCENE 2
Paran awakens before Hood’s Gate but before he is claimed by Hood, Oponn (the twins of Chance) interfere to have someone close to Paran take his place in death’s realm in the future. After they leave, Shadowthrone arrives and agrees to let Paran live so he can use him to find out who opposes his plans. Paran wakes in front of the Bridgeburners looking over what they had thought was his corpse; they bring him to the barracks.

SCENE 3
Tattersail does a Deck reading, which includes the Mason of High House Death in a prominent position, and predicts a confrontation between the Knight of Darkness and High House Shadow.

SCENE 4
Whiskeyjack and Dujek discuss their belief that the Empire is trying to kill the Bridgeburners. Dujek tells Whiskeyjack the Bridgeburners have his permission to “walk” (desert); Whiskeyjack responds that the soldiers will back Dujek.

SCENE 5
The Bridgeburners and Tattersail meet and discuss that Hairlock is being chased by Hounds through the warrens, that Sorry probably tried to kill Paran and is a tool of Shadow, and that some outside force (a god or Ascendant most likely) intervened in opposition to Shadow and plans to use Paran somehow. Tattersail agrees to nurse Paran back to health while the Ninth Squad head to Darujhistan.

SCENE 6
Gear, a Hound of Shadow, chases Hairlock out of the warren and tracks him to Tattersail’s room, where it attacks. Hairlock tries to steal Gear’s soul, but Paran wounds the Hound with his sword Chance and it retreats. Paran and Tattersail both hear a spinning coin. End of Book One.

Amanda’s reaction to Chapter Four
The poem about the Bridgeburners at the start of Chapter Four by Toc the Younger is very pretty, etc., but someone with more of a knowledge and appreciation of poetry is going to have to dissect it on my behalf—Bill, perhaps! I think these poems will be something to come back to when I’ve read more of the book(s) since their events and characters will be known to me in greater depth.

Hairlock has “chewed holes in his own Warrens and he’s tasting Chaos”—here are more hints about the magic system and the way it works. And again:

“He needs to slip through the Warrens the unconventional way - the regular paths are all trip-wired.”

Last of all:

“Hairlock’s using the power of Chaos, the paths that lie between Warrens, and that’s unhealthy...”

These little snippets are both making the magic clearer and more ambiguous. I can see what Bill meant, though, when he hinted that the Warrens were not just a handy transportation method! I also note the points regarding “Chaos” that some of the commenters following this re-read have made—where the term “chaos” might be a GotM-ism.

We also hear from Quick Ben of the Bridgeburners that they are aware of Tayschrenn’s possible ambitions towards the throne of the Empress. The problem is that no one is quite clear on whether Tayschrenn and Laseen are operating in unison, or whether Tayschrenn is planning to take the throne. Tattersail also voices her suspicions about the fact that the Second, including the Bridgeburners, are planning to proclaim Dujek Onearm Emperor.

There is a nice observation about Whiskeyjack:

“His impassive expression fell away, revealing a war of emotions. He keeps his world bottled up, but the pressure’s building. She wondered what would happen when everything broke loose inside him.”

I can’t imagine the sort of pressure that Whiskeyjack would be under: a product of the previous Emperor, disliked by the current Empress, handed deadly missions which many of his squad don’t come through alive, monitored and watched constantly, contemplating mutiny...tough job!

Erikson keeps up the grim, relentless descriptions of war in casual throwaway lines:

“The sapper’s mismatched uniform still carried the stains of the tunnels. Someone else’s blood had splashed thickly on the front of his tunic - as if a friend had died in his arms.”

I’m really enjoying the combination of Kalam and Quick Ben—Erikson shows well the easy completion of each other’s sentences of two companions who have spent a great deal of time together.

It’s very interesting that the Bridgeburners are willing to share their suspicions about Sorry, yet Tattersail doesn’t trust them enough to give them the information about the Virgin of Death from her Reading with Tayschrenn. Unless it comes up later, she doesn’t even mention the fact that she did the Fatid with the High Mage who is their enemy.

“It certainly seems,” Tattersail said, “that since its arrival in the Deck and the opening of its Warren, Shadow’s path crosses the Empire’s far too often to be accidental. Why should the Warren between Light and Dark display such...obsession with the Malazan Empire?”

I just have no idea what this means [Bill’s interjection: Actually, based on your identification of Shadowthrone, ya kinda do.], but it intrigues me enough to record it. Interestingly, it is also pointed out that the Warren of Shadow was closed and inaccessible for millennia, until 1154th year of Burn’s Sleep (the last year in the reign of Emperor Kellanved). Significant? I think so!

The mystery of Quick Ben thickens [Bill’s interjection: Oh, how often you’ll be saying that!]: he knows an awful lot about the situation, and his sorcery has a flavor that Tattersail doesn’t even recognize. Another god?

Mention was made of Hood, the god that Dassem betrayed (this was referred to back in the Prologue—y’all keeping up okay? *grin*). This next extract is worth mentioning on two counts:

“All at once other Ascendants started meddling, manipulating events. It all culminated with Dassem’s murder, then the Emperor’s assassination, and blood in the streets, temples at war, sorcery unleashed.”

Firstly, Dassem’s death helped, in some part, bring about the current situation. Secondly, I’m now completely on board with Bill’s frustration and confusion with all the different terms! What are Ascendants? Sorcerers? Mages? Gods?

Nice scene with Paran—people really don’t stay quite dead, do they? Not sure about this sentence:

“Oponn, the Twins of Chance. And my sword, my untested blade purchased years ago, with a name I chose so capriciously...”

Was it just me who flicked back through all of Paran’s scenes to see whether this sword was mentioned as something important prior to this? For those who didn’t, I couldn’t find anything—anyone in the know want to shed any light?

And we’re back to not understanding a word of what is going on! I think Oponn made a deal to keep Paran alive and, in exchange, someone close to Paran has to die in his place? Okay, we have mention of Ascendants again—this time connected to Shadowthrone (who I believe is Ammanas, because of the Hounds). So Ascendants are “potential” gods, maybe? But then Paran says to Shadowthrone:

“The day you die, Shadowthrone...I will be waiting for you on the other side of that gate. With a smile. Gods can die, can’t they?”

So Shadowthrone is a god? And also an Ascendant? *joins Bill in sulking about all the terms* I do think that I have worked out that Paran convinces Shadowthrone to leave him alive and in thrall to the other god under the “better the devil you know” principle.

Erikson writes black, sarcastic military humor extremely well (either as a result of being in the military himself or reading a lot of war fiction).:

“Hell of a night,” the first marine said.

“You got a thing about stating the obvious, haven’t you?”

The Readings that Tattersail does seem to reflect matters happening in the Warrens and involving the gods:

“She sensed an immediacy to this reading. High House Shadow had become involved, a challenge to Oponn’s command of the game.”

In this Reading the Mason of High House Death could be *anyone* and I suspect Erikson is throwing in a few red herrings immediately, with Fiddler making reference to when he learnt the stone-cutting trade!

It is nice to hear about Tattersail from an external point of view:

“She’s a survivor - and loyal. It’s not common news, but she’s been offered the title of High Mage more than once and won’t accept...”

Makes you wonder why she hasn’t accepted? And also reveals the extent of Tattersail’s skills as a mage.

The discussion between Dujek and Whiskeyjack resonates with unspoken loyalty. They’re talking indirectly about the mutiny and the future of the Bridgeburners. I really enjoyed this scene, particularly the feelings revealed by the switch in fortunes between Whiskeyjack and Dujek. Also, Whiskeyjack (having been taken down by political machinations and demoted to a lowly position) must have sympathy for Dujek, knowing that he is suffering a similar slip in fortunes and clash with the Empress.

Interesting concept of healing here, that “shock is the scar that bridges the gap between the body and the mind” and that healing the flesh on its own will not heal the trauma of a painful wound. Paran’s mind might not be what it was, after the shock of being half-dead and then being pieced back together by the god who wishes to use him.

We get our first proper look at the Moranth in this chapter—including the Quorls, which are alien and insect-like. Erikson drops in another of those throwaway lines that will probably turn out to be important in six books time!

“There was one among you,” Whiskeyjack said, “one-handed. He was five times marked for valor. Does he still live?”

Whiskeyjack observes that if the Moranth ever had a thirst for power, the Malazan Empire would suffer greatly—but the color factions “marked an ever-changing hierarchy” with immense rivalry.

We also receive an insight into just how much Sorry puts the squad on edge and is not properly accepted (after a truly shocking flashback torture scene description that is shocking when you bear in mind Sorry’s age and sex—sure, she’s being ridden by a god, but it still leaves you sickened by the image).

“Though the woman had been with the squad for two years, still his men called her a recruit...Recruits were not Bridgeburners. The stripping away of that label was an earned thing...Sorry was a recruit because the thought of having her inextricably enfolded within the Bridgeburners burned like a hot knife...”

It is a badass scene at the end between the Hound Gear (the Seventh) and Tattersail. We also see the taint of Hairlock’s new magic and Paran reveals to Tattersail the god that has claimed him. An entertaining end to the first book.

I gradually feel as though some of these strands are beginning to come together. During some passages I still have no idea what Erikson is writing, but I am starting to grasp other elements. The main thing I have learnt is: Don’t trust anyone! [Bill’s interjection: Bingo!]

Bill’s commentary on Chapter Four
The poem you mentioned doesn’t give us quite as much info as some of the earlier chapter-opening texts, but it does offer some tantalizing hints to the drama of the Bridgebuilder name. As for the poetry itself, well, it’s always a mixed bag I’d say with Erikson. This one’s a bit too tongue-tripping in its use of alliteration for me: “tattooed tracery the tales a tracking...“ If the poem were longer I hate to think of where we would have gone:  “Remember! Roared Rake in rampant rage”. Though to be fair, he does show a more subtle touch: “hard/arch, line/side/vanishing span.” But enough poetry analysis; he isn’t aiming for Frost here after all.

What a great opening line to a chapter:

“Hairlock is insane.”

And how can you not love Quick Ben’s response:

“Of course he’s insane...he’s got the body of a puppet!”

[Amanda’s interjection: I have to say, I do love the way that Erikson begins his chapters, whether with prose or snappy dialogue—they certainly drag you in and get you reading!]

I’m glad you’re enjoying the humor Amanda, that “black sarcastic military humor” as you call it. It’s one of my favorite aspects of the series. Not only does it break up incredibly grim scenes—the old “comic relief”—but it also does such a great job of characterizing these people and also making us empathize so much more with them. Not just the funny part, but also that sense of resigned camaraderie that deepens the connections between them and makes us feel their losses (and there will be losses) all the more deeply.

The opening scene is actually pretty clear-cut, at least on the surface. We get some pretty straightforward explanation/recap/theory about Sorry, about what happened to the First Sword, and, as Amanda points out, about their suspicions with regard to the High Mage and perhaps Laseen. It’s all speculation of course, and later we’ll get some counter-information in typical Erikson fashion, but the clarity (if not certainty) of this opening scene is a welcome respite from the more arcane name-dropping in the previous chapter.

Even the next scene, despite the otherworldly setting and presence of several gods (or is it Ascendants?—right there with you Amanda) is relatively straightforward as Oponn intervenes with Paran’s entry in Hood’s gate (and what a fantastically creepy image of that gate formed from writhing bodies), the arrival of Hood’s agent (humorously disappointed in the “unimaginative” choice of death’s face), and Paran’s clever play against Shadowthrone (better the devil you know...).

We’re also nicely set up with some suspense here as we’re now wondering who the “someone close” to him is who will die in his place. His sister we’ve already met? The one we haven’t? Someone we don’t know yet? The great thing about such a pronouncement is it’ll be tough to know, even if somebody close to him dies. If that’s the one mandated here then we’ll always be on the edge, asking “was that death the one, or was that just a ‘normal’ one?” We’ll certainly come back to this one. [Amanda’s interjection: I must admit, this wasn’t a point that occurred to me—whether we’d end up questioning if that person close to him died a natural death or not. I’ll be sure to bear it in mind!]

There is an odd little bit in this scene that’s worth highlighting and that’s Paran’s reaction to the Hounds:

“He was slow to realize he had bared his teeth.”

It isn’t often you get a human character doing this, so a little red flag should probably go up at such an odd description. When an author has the character himself realize it, thus bringing even more attention to the detail, it’s likely a good idea to file this one away for future thought. [Amanda’s interjection: Again, completely oblivious! Just goes to show you need to analyse the words more carefully in this book than in normal fantasy fiction. I have duly filed this away. Thanks Bill!]

Tattersail’s Deck reading brings us back into the more arcane and obscure, the more jargony, with Knights and Masons and Houses, but her musings on it are pretty clear—lots of death and some of it personal, possibly even her own. With what we’ve just heard with regard to Paran, one has to wonder if this is part of that. We get an echo of what we’ve just seen at Hood’s Gate, then, a few pages later, Tattersail’s reading has its own echo in the conversation among the Bridgeburners, as we learn that both Fiddler and Whiskeyjack were once masons.

This is pretty typical Erikson as we’ve already seen, all these echoes. Sometimes they’re direct, like here with the mason references or earlier with the mother’s lament in poem form echoed by Rigga’s lament to Sorry. These sorts can emphasize an idea (the sorrow of war) or clarify what happened earlier (Oponn’s intervention). Other times the echoes come from slightly different directions, bouncing around you so things sound almost the same but not quite so you’re never quite sure what you’re hearing and what direction the “true” source is. Rather than serving to clarify, they more often than not confuse.

The confusion is made worse when those echoes span entire books, so you’re reading a scene that you vaguely recall parallels another from, say, 4000 pages ago, but it’s been years since you’ve read that earlier scene so who knows what you’re really recalling. Some readers will hunt down that scene ruthlessly. I confess to a more lazy attitude. I’ll tell myself, “Hmm, this sounds familiar. Probably kinda important if he’s bothering to retell this scene from a different angle.” Then, with admittedly only a small sense of guilt, I’ll shrug and move on, figuring that either it’ll come back to me (rarely), that what I was supposed to figure out will eventually get explained anyway, perhaps when some character as clueless in the book as I am in life needs clarification from his mates (occasionally), that I’ll get it on a re-read (more likely when the sum total of books don’t weigh more than a medium-sized mammal), or that some sucker will volunteer to read the books and explain it to me in a blog posting (wait).

What sort of reader are you Amanda, in these sort of cases? Anyone else? [Amanda’s interjection: Oh man, I am such a lazy reader! I will often read forums and Wikipedia in order to see what other people made of books with extensive themes that carry through multiple volumes—I have been enjoying Leigh’s WoT reread on this very blog for that very reason *wink*—so I think one or either of us needs to man up a little and keep good notes so that we can come back to these situations!]

A lengthy post on a single attribute of Erikson’s writing, but it’s one of my favorite aspects of his style. Some may find it repetitive, but I find it stimulating as I try to piece things together.

This chapter post is getting long so just a few more quick points. We get a key line to the entire series when Tattersail warns Quick Ben:  “...power draws power. If one Ascendant parts the fabric here and now, others will come smelling blood.” You can be sure this is going to be replayed again and again, with some trying to avoid it and others hastening it. [Amanda’s interjection: This line made me think of sharks circling—ruthless killers with their own interests. A good example of how Erikson’s imagery can be very successful.]

Sometimes, I admit, Erikson can try a bit too hard. Such is the case, for example, with this description of Sorry near the end of the chapter:

“She’d raised her hood. Despite the dawn’s burgeoning light her face remained in shadow.”

Pretty sure we didn’t need that one.

It’s a tribute, I think, to Erikson’s skill at concisely creating real characters, even minor ones, when the deaths of the two guards who let the Bridgeburners through with Paran’s body is a sad scene. It’s easy to create characters whose deaths are doled like so many cards in a game of War and whose endings evoke a collective shrug (think “red shirts”). It’s much harder to make us feel a sense of loss even for a pair of characters given a total of about a page of book-time. That’s good stuff. I’m curious as to whether you had any reaction to their deaths, Amanda. [Amanda’s interjection: I feel heartless—I sort of slid over that passage, acknowledging that it had happened, but it didn’t really cause me any grief. I wonder if a) This is as a reaction to the altogether grimmer fantasy that is written these days (after all, in someone like Eddings’ work, so few people died that when people did it really affected me) and b) this is why authors such as GRRM seek to shock with deaths in their books now, in order to gain a reaction from jaded readers who shrug at death in literature?]

The Hound’s attack is another example of good writing in that so much of it was set up earlier: Paran’s sword, Tattersail’s ability to stand up against it even for a little bit (“she’s a Master of her Warren”), the Hound itself (“Was this what Hairlock was doing? Drawing a Hound after him?”), and Hairlock’s use of chaos magic. In a chapter that mentions the Mason, it’s not a bad time to tip a hat to Erikson’s own superior brick-laying abilities when it comes to plot.

 

 

CHAPTER FIVE
Setting: Darujhistan, on the continent of Genabackis

SCENE 1
Kruppe dreams of walking out of the city and encountering 6 beggars in an inn on a hilltop. The beggars are consecutively presented as either his Gifts, Doubts, Virtues or Hungers, and a seventh figure may be his Humility. They mention the “youth at whose feet the Coin shall fall,” and Kruppe also hears the spinning Coin.

SCENE 2
Crokus Younghand, a young thief, breaks into an estate, stealing the jewelry of a beautiful young maiden, Challice d’Arle. Before he leaves, he admires her sleeping form. Nearby, an assassin named Talo Krafar is injured by a crossbow bolt and, trying to ambush his supposed hunter, shoots at Crokus exiting the d’Arle estate, but Crokus avoids the bolt when he bends down to pick up a dropping coin. Moments later, Krafar is murdered on Krul’s Belfry, and two of his killers set off after Crokus, who has a series of lucky coincidences as he manages to escape from them. The killers—apparently assassins with magical abilities—mention that an Ascendant meddled, and that they want no witnesses.

Amanda’s reaction to Chapter Five
The first “Rumor Born” segment of poetry makes me think somehow about the Moon’s Spawn, the floating home of Anomander Rake. I don’t know if this is intended! The second segment talks about the hooded shadow and the knotted rope, which is all to do with Cotillion. Hey, look at me go! I’m totally interpreting these poems now! (Probably not even close to the actual meanings, but I get points for effort, right?)

The dating convention has changed at the chapter heading, which totally lets us know that we’re now reading about a whole different place. This next section takes us to Darujhistan (which I can see becoming a real pain in the arse to keep spelling correctly!) At the moment I don’t know if this date corresponds to what we’ve seen in Pale, or if we are moving to an earlier or late period in time.

Is it just me who finds it extremely difficult to immerse myself back into a novel when the switch in viewpoints is so fundamental? It feels almost as though starting a completely new novel, and takes me a little while to get on board with a new set of characters. I wonder whether this is a factor in making Erikson’s books feel so challenging to read?

We meet the loquacious, garrulous Kruppe, a diviner dreaming his way out of Darujhistan and away from the “dark, brooding smudge in the sky above it...” Is this Moon’s Spawn, or the smoke from fires? It’s entertaining how much we can establish about the character of Kruppe before he even opens his mouth—rotund and unused to walking; more concerned about his own wellbeing than anything else; a focus on wine; trying to deny his own power. This is one of Erikson’s greatest strengths: his characterization is sharp and vivid, providing us constant tiny details so that we are able to fix these characters in our minds.

The same theme of the ever-spinning coin is mentioned by Kruppe (whose annoying habit of referring himself in the third person is already grating on me, no matter that it helps cement his personality).

Within his dream Kruppe enters an inn, peopled by a half dozen beggars who must be more than what they seem, especially since they refer to him as “hapless one” and he greets them with “...do not think he is bereft of contributions to this honored gathering.” There is also mention of the beggars’ spokesman tasting Kruppe’s particular flavor, which sounds like a reference to his Warren. The beggars speak to him of the Spinning Coin, which is becoming a theme to the book (the idea of chance, I guess?)

I’m not entirely sure whether Kruppe is talking to himself! The beggars are referred to as Gifts, Virtues, Doubts and Hungers. Kruppe’s arrogance and lack of humility is particularly marked by the point where he questions how the gods have remained alive so long. I just want to mention here my thought that the gods in this book seem so...ordinary at the moment. I’m used to Gods being omnipotent and unkillable—these gods appear to be far less than such, and might be why the small letter at the start of the word. It sounds very much as though the game started by the gods will play out in Darujhistan, especially because the Spinning Coin is to fall at the feet of a youth whom Kruppe seems to know.

Erikson gives us a stark rendering of the atmosphere in the city of Darujhistan: an underworld bathed in blue light from the gasses drawn from caverns beneath the city; over twenty thousand alleys; “...a world webbed with empty clothes-lines and the chaotic shadows they cast.”

We switch to the viewpoint of Crokus Younghand, a thief attempting to rob the D’Arle estate for the gems brought as courting gifts to the youngest daughter. I do love me a roguish thief of a character and I’m hoping Crokus will prove to be such—or maybe Erikson plans to overturn this particular cliché of a character?

I don’t know if I’ll be alone in this, but I’m finding Chapter Five the least graceful of the chapters so far; the abrupt switches in viewpoint (we rapidly meet our third new character in the form of Talo Krafur—although how amusing that he is given a full name and some history, and then bows out so quickly!) and the long paragraphs of dense information about the new situation. Although we’re given plenty more information by Erikson than usual, it feels as though it is coming too thick and fast to process effectively.

I am interested in the idea of the rooftops being “...the assassins’ sole domain, the means by which they traveled the city for the most part undetected. The rooftops provided their routes on missions of unsanctioned...activities or the continuation of a feud between two Houses, or the punishment for betrayal.” I am slightly amused on two counts: the first is the image of these packed rooftops, with loads of Assassins wandering back and forth; and the second being the idea that no one has worked out how the Assassins travel on their missions!

“An assassin war had begun this night.” This means political unrest, two or more factions, and a vaguely organized assassin’s guild. Which is a much more familiar concept in fantasy books these days—maybe when Erikson wrote it, it was still a fresh idea? Does anybody else know? Which novels prior to GotM introduced a guild of assassins?

I’m a little squeamish about Talo’s wound and the amount of blood it’s producing: “horrifying volume”!

Aha!

“The word of Pale’s fall to the Malazan Empire had been on the tongues of everyone for the past two days.”

Now we know the timeline corresponds, despite the very different date convention.

One thing that occurs to me is that I’m struggling to know whom to root for! I like both Whiskeyjack and Tattersail well enough, but they have Hairlock and Sorry amongst their ranks. (Although Sorry can’t be said to be on their side, really!) In opposition to them are Lorn and Paran, both of whom are given realistic motivations so that you understand why they are doing what they’re doing. And now we’re being presented with sympathetic characters in Darujhistan who will more than likely end up on the other side of a conflict from our Bridgeburner friends. This is without even considering the future viewpoints of Anomander Rake and Caladan Brood, which I’m sure we’ll encounter. I guess Erikson is exploring the notion that in a conflict it is never a matter of being good versus evil.

Crokus is saved from the crossbow bolt of Talo by the Spinning Coin falling at his feet, which leads us to assume he is the youth of whom Kruppe speaks at the start of the chapter.

Those who kill Talo are intriguing, to say the least! We’re handed a number of mysterious details that don’t tell us a great deal: they have oddly shaped eyes, they sniff the air, they can sense power, and they do magic in an ancient language. It sounds as though they are also involved in the “secret war with the Guild,” so they have their fingers in the pie that is Darujhistan. Just a couple of other points: the commander of the hunters is female, and one of the hunters has killed an Ascendant in the past. I am most curious about these! [Bill’s interjection: You left out one other important detail—they came from above. Put that together from something you’ve already mentioned and you’ve got where they’re coming from!]

I don’t know how much of a can of worms I’m opening here, but I’m very impressed by Erikson’s portrayal of women so far: in all ways, they seem exactly equal to the men. We’re not seeing stroppy women, or princesses in need of rescue, or eye candy buxom barmaids. Erikson has not lovingly described his women in tight leather or inappropriate battle outfits. In fact, Tattersail represents curvy women everywhere! Long may this refreshing take on women continue...

Bill’s comments on Chapter Five
My guess is, Amanda, that it isn’t just you who finds the constant switch in viewpoints a bit off-putting (anybody else out there?) I actually like those multiple shifts in my novels, though of course it needs to be done well.

I’m guessing Kruppe is the kind of character that people either love or hate (or love to hate). Myself, I love him. No matter how grim or apocalyptic the context, his language and syntax often cracks me up. I can see, though, how for some he might be the Jar Jar Binks of the Malazan world, and so I credit Erikson for taking a risk with him. I have to imagine he knew how polarizing Kruppe might be in style, especially that third person deal, which I find more annoying in person (or back with Bob Dole) than I do with Kruppe.

I found his whole dream meeting, filled with substance as it was—the spinning coin, the foreshadowed confrontation with gods, etc.—to be a wonderfully understated bit of humor, such as when his aspects (if such they are) nod at the conversation but “mostly remain intent on the bread and cheese,” and Kruppe’s dismay when faced by “his own” dancing language turned on him—“Kruppe is too clever by far.”

I’m glad you mentioned the description of Darujhistan, one of the more evocative and original with regard to a fantasy city that I’ve seen.  Rather than the usual focus on towers (always a stand-by way to make a fantasy city “beautiful,” even better if they’re “impossibly slim”), you have this wonderful focus on the light, the blue-green glow of the city. It’s an easy thing to just take for granted and ignore, but if you slow yourself down and really visualize our characters moving through Darujhistan at night, it adds a rich texture to all that happens. Of course, it’s also a major plot point down the road, but you gotta love when aesthetics and pragmatics fall into line.

Here we get more evidence of Erikson’s careful brick-laying. Beside the description of the gas lighting that will play a part later on, and Talo’s blood dripping in the belfry (he does bow out quickly, Amanda, but not before awakening a god!), we get a casual aside about Crokus’ uncle and a tiny detail about the clotheslines hanging above the streets of Darujhistan. Both, naturally, play a big role in the ensuing action, no matter how insignificant a throwaway line they seem originally (Really? Clotheslines? You’re interrupting the action to tell me about clotheslines?).

By the way, remember how I mentioned that you really need to think about that Darujhistan glow to get its full impact?  Stop for a moment and picture those cloaked assassins floating slowly out of the sky, cloaks like “black wings,” and now re-visualize them so instead of just dropping out of a regular old dark night sky they’re dropping down out of this unearthly blue-green glow. Yeah, see?

And come on, you’ve gotta love that chase scene. Crokus’ uncle’s deadpan “Evening, Crokus” when Crokus is whipping through his uncle’s room on his way out of the window, as if fleeing for your life from non-human assassins is a nightly occurrence—you almost expected his uncle to ask him to pick up some ale on his way. We go from the fearsome Tiste Andii assassin—cloaked and daggered and crossbowed—felled by a mighty cat, to all the near-misses and quarrels flying as Crokus keeps “stumbling,” then back to the deadpan delivery to close it with:

“Rough night, Crokus?”

“No, nothing special.”

I think you raised two excellent broader points Amanda. One is the idea that it isn’t always clear who to root for: sometimes you’re happy when someone wins, sometimes you’re happy when someone loses, sometimes you’re hoping for some kind of win-win situation, sometimes you just wish the two sides can get together and have a beer (and that just might happen) and sometimes after an event you’re left wondering “was that a win or a loss?” Grey is definitely the predominant color here, rather than black and white.

The other point was his portrayal of women. I never really noticed it, just sort of took his non-condescending portrayals for granted, but your comment will have me paying more attention as we go along. Anybody else have some thoughts on the topic?


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

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

129 comments
buddhacat
1. buddhacat
Great job Amanda! It's refreshing to see it again from your vantage. You've caught a lot more than I did on the first read. And your commentary is tops too.
Thomas Jeffries
2. thomstel
Is it just me who finds it extremely difficult to immerse myself back into a novel when the switch in viewpoints is so fundamental? It feels almost as though starting a completely new novel, and takes me a little while to get on board with a new set of characters. I wonder whether this is a factor in making Erikson’s books feel so challenging to read?

Yes. In my mind, it's the #1 reason they're a challenge.

Second is "what's with all these proper nouns?!".
Chris Hawks
3. SaltManZ
The role of women in the MBotF is definitely intentional, and derives from the existence of magic, the ultimate leveller of the proverbial playing field.

Man, I had a blast reading Kruppe's debut again. "Kruppe is too clever by far," had me in stitches.

In retrospect, I'm impressed by how strongly Quick Ben and Kalam's friendship is, well, impressed upon readers. If I recall, they're only together for two books in the entire series (and not sequentially, either) and yet in my mind QB&K belong together like PB&J.

@2 "what's with all these proper nouns?!"

Thankfully, they'll taper off a bit in subsequent books. For example, "Warren" only gets the capital treatment in this book, I think.

As for the POV switches, yeah, it can be a challenge. I remember getting slightly frustrated on my first read; just as I thought I was starting to get a grasp on the Bridgeburners and Pale, suddenly I'm starting over in Darujhistan. But that's kind of a microcosm for the entire series. Deadhouse Gates will do the exact same thing, and later books will take it to even more extremes. (I'm looking at you, House of Chains and Midnight Tides.) What starts to get to me are the mid-chapter POV switches. They're fine now, but by the time you get to Reaper's Gale, he'll be working on so many characters that at times you'll be lucky to get an entire page of one character.
buddhacat
4. Nep Furrow
One way to think about Gods and Ascendants is that Gods are a subset of Ascendants. All Gods are Ascendants, but not all Ascendants are Gods. Gods are Ascendants who have accepted worshipers.
buddhacat
5. crkinne
Great commentary. I'm on my first read of the series, about halfway through the third book, so its nice to have this shorter recap of the events of GotM without having to reread the whole book.

Regarding the whole gods/ascendents thing, I may be wrong but it seems to me that a god is merely an ascendent who has worshippers. It also seems to be implied in MoI that ascendents continue to gain power as they age, so that young ascendents are relatively weak, though this does not seem to apply to Shadowthrone and Cotillion.

Also, Kruppe may be my favorite character in the whole series; he is hilarious, but also deceptively intelligent.
Thomas Jeffries
6. thomstel
Chapter 4:

Info- and Action-packed end to the Pale storyline. And Tattersail punts Hairlock across the room! Good guys tie it up with a field goal!

The humor between the two guards outside Sail's place? Fiddler's sword in the puddle moment? The merest hint of the depraved grins that are in our future with the Malazan military. One of the best aspects of the series, IMO, is the ground-level interactions of the troops.

The mentions of Hairlock's extracurricular warren activity...eh. I don't really recall a ton of other supporting story that backs this up throughout the series later, and so would classify it as a GotMism. It does help (at this point) to think of the warrens as the spaces within...say, a chunk of Swiss...with Hairlock burrowing through the solid material/Chaos in his attempts to stay hidden, but that analogy leads to more confusion later, so don't get really attached to it.

I'm really fond of the part where Whiskeyjack and Dujek listen to Sorry getting bawled out (primarily by Kalam, whose Corporal-ness is easy to forget), and then WJ just leans down the trapdoor and yells "Quiet!" and watched them run around getting their stuff packed before nodding in satisfaction. I think it's the parallel I can draw between that scene and myself, my kids and a messy bedroom that makes it stick in my mind so clearly.

Chapter 5, Kruppe's Dream:

Kruppe's humility is not allowed in with the rest of his aspects. Is that because Kruppe's humility is in such short supply? Is it because his humility is so humble compared to the rest of his facets? Is it because Kruppe is Kruppe? Man, I love this scene. The part where he purses his lips and mutters "Kruppe is too clever by far" when bested at wordplay with one of his aspects...golden.

Also of note, this scene shows one of only a few (if any other) times that Kruppe has decided to beat it because the stakes are too high. His initial reason for leaving the city behind smells of "escape", until he faces down his own inner...somethings...and is convinced he should stay and tweaks as many noses as he can, gods or otherwise. Kruppe shows fear throughout the series, but not often of the "turn tail and run" variety. GotMism?

Chapter 5: Peeping Crokus, Hidden Andii

Since Bill spoiled the bit that the assassin killers were Tiste Andii, I don't feel too bad about that terrible section title...

Wow, does Crokus's break-in scene ever come full circle. Some later this book, the rest in Toll the Hounds. Moon imagery, balconies aplenty, and night's quiet embrace to hide them all.

Remember the name Krafar for Book 8 too. I totally forgot Talo when other family members show up, and wasn't much the worse for wear. Excellent catch on the blood being shed having some serious consequences though...don't think I ever realized that interaction before!

And as for the chase? This whole scene plays so well in your mind's eye that it'd be the best, and worst, thing to see if they ever morph the series into a TV/film. Best, because it reads and flows like a movie would, full of imagery and action and dramatic entrances/narrow escapes. Worst because it'd be the sort of scene that Hollywood would foul up in every way possible because they can't make movies that compare with my own imagination. Plus, they'd slap a bunch of crap 3D effects on it too and try and charge me an extra four bucks to see it that way. Crossbow bolts flying at my face FTW!
M D
7. Abalieno
"as well as their theory that Shadowthrone and Cotillion are in fact Emperor Kellanved and Dancer."

Quite a spoiler...

Actually this is one of the parts Erikson handled perfectly. He gives plenty of hints, yet the great majority of readers get the big reveal only in the second book, and it's done so cleverly. Imho, you should have kept that out of the summary since only hints were given and the ambivalence is much more precious.

@Amanda

"Ascendants", as the name implies, are mortal beings that "ascend" to god-like status in the pantheon. It's a process where one sacrifices mortality to achieve something else. You'll see various flavors of this, so pinpointing a strict definition would only confuse things more. Just stick to the generalization.

Shadowthrone, as the name implies, is the name picked by the one who currently *appears* to sit on the throne of Shadow. So the ruler of the corresponding warren.

About "gods" not being the usual type of gods one should remember that the Malazan series is in Erikson's own definition "homeric". So think of greek gods who meddle with mortals and each representing a particular facet/desire/myth.

"I’m a little squeamish about Talo’s wound and the amount of blood it’s producing: “horrifying volume”!"

Ahah, totally missed that part. Maybe it's the place that draws blood.

Crokus is saved from the crossbow bolt of Talo by the Spinning Coin falling at his feet, which leads us to assume he is the youth of whom Kruppe speaks at the start of the chapter.

Yep, and a very obvious instance of Oponn "recruiting" Crokus. It's important to notice that there will be plenty of cases in the series of mortals that "ascend" because they are chosen by a god, but against their own will. It's rather frequent that gods manipulate mortals against their will or knowledge, and sometimes mortals declare war to their own gods/patrons ;)

This is a broad theme of the series, since it deals with human condition and what it takes to go against greater powers, whether they are gods or nature itself. There's always a spark of humanity that can be surprising and that can take even gods off balance and overturn their plans.

or eye candy buxom barmaids.

Well, if my memory is correct you won't have eye candy, but you'll soon have buxom barmaids as soon someone enters a particular tavern particularly appreciated by Kruppe himself :)

Also, start to look for sub-text when Kruppe talks.

I'll probably have more to comment later.
M D
8. Abalieno
The role of women in the MBotF is definitely intentional, and derives from the existence of magic, the ultimate leveller of the proverbial playing field.

I'm not sure this is the main reason. Mages aren't predominantly female and we'll soon meet Lorn who's actually a mage killer and without mage powers. There will be women in position of power all over the place. The Malazan empire is definitely not sexist.

It's also interesting to notice that there's an open mind even in regards to sexual orientation. There will be a particular lesbian relationship that will be seen as nothing particularly weird or unacceptable. Sometimes the Malazan empire is shown as more civil that our world ;)
buddhacat
9. Claydisc
theory that Shadowthrone and Cotillion are in fact Emperor Kellanved and Dancer


wow, totally flew by that one on first read. And I also missed the inferences about Fiddler and Whiskeyjack being masons. Wheels within wheels. I also really liked Whiskeyjack's exchange with the Moranth--very spy-thriller-esque. I suppose I will really have to wait until I've read a few more of the books to really see how Erikson ties past threads together and if it is also a case of me thinking "I kinda remember that from before...moving on" like Bill.

Most enlightening summary for me so far (and we're only five chapters in). Keep it up!
Steven Halter
10. stevenhalter
Amanda:
I do love me a roguish thief of a character and I’m hoping Crokus will prove to be such—or maybe Erikson plans to overturn this particular cliché of a character?


We'll be seeing a lot of Crokus and yes, there will be character development here.

You'll see the equal treatment of women as characters a lot in the series. Particularly among the Malazan military.

crkinne @ 5:

Shadowthrone and Cotillion aren't your ordinary starting out Ascendants. (Not that there really are any 'ordinary' ones). Shadowthrone, at least, also belongs in the god category.

For hints on who they really are, I really liked the name -- a cotillion is a kind of dance. That was my first clue. Dancer seems to have a sense of humor as he ascends.

Yes, the building of Kruppe's character through his actions is really well done. Note, however, that there is how Kruppe appears and then there is how Kruppe really is, and then there's well, there's just Kruppe.
Steven Halter
11. stevenhalter
Yes, the shifts of location and characters is hard to take sometimes. Especially when there's a cliff hanger to a particular set of character's and it might be a while before you get to see what happens to them.
a a-p
12. lostinshadow
Amanda I have to say, I am very impressed by your read as a first timer. I certainly didn't catch 1/5th of what you're getting here. Keep up the great work.

The sudden shift of location and character was definitely off putting the first time round and as mentioned above (sorry can't find it now) gets worse as the series goes on to the point of shifting within a chapter, which can be disconcerting to say the least. It's definitely something I personally have trouble with largely because I have a horrible memory for names so I'm often going through a chapter wondering if I'm supposed to know the character of it's a new one.

On the issue of who to root for: yes, it's very difficult to figure out who's good or bad and so who to root for. The one exception, to me at least, is the Bridgeburners. Somehow my allegiance to them as a reader was immediate and unwavering from the first scene onward.

Though Amanda, on your comment that "I guess Erikson is exploring the notion that in a conflict it is never a matter of being good versus evil." I would add that it's a bit deeper than that in the sense that Erikson is actually exploring whether or not it is actually possible to ever define absolute good or evil.
Joel Glover
13. apricotmarmalade
@Thomstel

I think an interesting thing to remember about this book is that it was originally a screenplay. That's probably why the action sequences in D'stan are so cinematic. I guess once some of the strictures get peeled away , that allows some more epic sweep stuff in the later books.
Steven Halter
14. stevenhalter
There are a number of events throughout the series that are epic in scope. Some of these are both epic and cinematic (some sorcerous battles are particularly cool looking in my mental imagery). Some things are epic but not so cinematic -- moments of self realization among characters.
Matt LaRose
15. TheLegend
@Amanda

Until that moment Erikson never revealed that Paran ever named his sword.

Erikson's grim military humor, as you put it, is one of the reasons I love these books so much. He is very much heavily influenced by Glen Cook in this regard.

I am very much in the love to hate Kruppe category. I hate reading his chapters but I like him as a character.
Steven Halter
16. stevenhalter
TheLegend @ 15:

I asked Glen Cook (at Minicon a few years back) if he had read Erikson. He said he had and liked it but that, "Erikson sure is hard on his characters."
Matt LaRose
17. TheLegend
shalter @ 16.

That is funny coming from him. Considering how hard on his characters he is. Erikson is tougher on his though.

They are 2 of my favorite authors however
Tony Zbaraschuk
18. tonyz
I didn't get the reveal on Shadowthrone until later when it's specifically stated. (There are a _lot_ of things I missed on my first read of GotM; re-reading it now when I know much more of what's going on is sometimes an exercise in "How could I have missed that? It's so obvious.")
Kenneth Sutton
19. kenneth
I'm so glad you're doing this read/re-read, because I picked up the first book shortly after you started, and I've now finished it. I love books that are worth/can stand up to repeat reading, and this certainly fits the bill!

A word to the wise: If you are a USian reading this on the Kindle, volume 2 is not available on Kindle in the US. Major bummer there.
Joe Adams
20. golffuul
Great job, Amanda and Bill. I resigned myself, after the first three chapters, to the understanding that I am supposed to be bowled over by the author and his relating the Malazan world to me. Now, being a bit further along, I understand that the story begins to settle in and I actually was thankful to the author for changing the viewpoints as much as he did, because it's easy to anticipate the action being taken up by another character. What I admire about Erikson's writing was that he was adventurous enough to try to this style of writing at the BEGINNING of a 10+ volume series. Simply amazing. I like authors who are successful in taking that chance.
buddhacat
21. WJD
@ Amanda
1. What are Ascendants? Sorcerers? Mages? Gods?

2. I’m a little squeamish about Talo’s wound and the amount of blood it’s producing: “horrifying volume”!

3. One thing that occurs to me is that I’m struggling to know whom to root for! I like both Whiskeyjack and Tattersail well enough, but they have Hairlock and Sorry amongst their ranks. (Although Sorry can’t be said to be on their side, really!) In opposition to them are Lorn and Paran, both of whom are given realistic motivations so that you understand why they are doing what they’re doing. And now we’re being presented with sympathetic characters in Darujhistan who will more than likely end up on the other side of a conflict from our Bridgeburner friends. This is without even considering the future viewpoints of Anomander Rake and Caladan Brood, which I’m sure we’ll encounter. I guess Erikson is exploring the notion that in a conflict it is never a matter of being good versus evil.

1. You don't need to be so confused. As has been sad upthread, all gods are ascendants, but not all ascendants are gods. A simple way to remember it is this: Gods are ascendants with an aspect. Saying that the only difference is worshippers is not quite correct, because you will see (soon in fact) gods without worshippers, and later on in the series ascendants that have worshippers they don't even know about.

Regarding the difference between mages, sorcerors, adepts and talents: There is no difference, they are all just different names for a person with an ability to use magic. Or at least that have a sensitivity to it. For example, Whiskeyjack calls Quick Ben wizard...that doesn't mean he is something different than a mage.

2. Very good job catching that bit as it is important soon. Also you mentioned that you liked how Kanar was killed off immediately but was given a background and motivations. Erikson will do this quite regularly, I think its his point of showing that no one is just fodder, every individual in this world has their own story.

3. Exactly right that Erikson doesn't tend to have "evil" characters in his books. Even the ones that you don't like willhave their motivations explained so you can understand them. Which occasionally leads to rooting for the person you had wished dead 2 pages previous, even though their goals haven't changed.
Tricia Irish
22. Tektonica
Thanks Amanda and Bill....I"ve managed to finish GotM, so I'm having trouble keeping my comments strictly to these chapters. I'll do my best....but I must say....awesome! On to Deadhouse Gates....

I got that ST let Paran live/go, but I thought that was because he would know who Oponn had chosen to play with....not necessarily that he, ST, would use him. He'll just watch him, right? Great scene. Funny as well as ominous. I really like Paran. I like that he's human too, although after being resurrected, I don't know if that's truly the case.

Loved the interaction with Whiskeyjack and Dujek.....the interplay of QB and Kalam with Sorry.....boy is she/he creepy. I can't wait to find out more about Dujek/WJ and the history of the Bridgeburners.

Hairlock, the marauding puppet, is terribly creepy and very funny at the same time. I'm assuming that roaming chaos was what made him insane, that and having the body of a puppet! ;-) (Every time chaos is mentioned, I get a flash of Maxwell Smart.)

I did pick up on the dog connection with Paran baring his teeth ;-) That remains to be played out, but I'm glad you mentioned it, Bill.

I loved the description of place in Darujistan.....the lighting and the description of the rooftops and alleys, make the city a character in it's own right. Good visuals! All of his characters are so richly developed, even the peripheral ones....Erikson is really good at describing clothes and mannerisms and the way people walk, etc. to create a persona, without destroying momentum.

Kruppe for instance.....he's such a goofy round little gourmand, but so so much more! He is a riot. It took me awhile to cotton to him, but once I got his manner of speaking of himself in the third person, I looked forward to his scenes. He wears a unique disguise.

And yes, Bill. Very gray. No one is really all "good" or all "bad". Many are victims of their circumstances....as are we all, in a way.....they do the best they can with incomplete information. Some have more information than others and few share it. Trust is hard to come by, which is why I think the Bridgeburners are so unique....they've been together for so long through so much. And there are other characters who warrant trust. A couple.

I find Paran very smart and calculating. He figures things out by reading between the lines. He isn't a great swordsman, having never drawn his sword before, which is mentioned several times. He's a noble, not a good thing in the Empress' service, and he's a tool of Lorn's and now of Oponn. But he keep his own council. He keeps questioning and maintains his identity. Maybe he's just easier to relate to than a god or ascendent or whatever magical being....

As for Erikson's women....good point Amanda. He has portrayed them so equally competent and interesting and important, that I didn't even notice! That is a good sign.

Even after finishing the whole book, the larger plot is murky.
I don't mind Erikson changing pov's at all. He's building a very large and complicated world with a very long history. Erikson just plunges us into the deep end, so I'm just floating, underlining, and enjoying the ride!
Chris Hawks
23. SaltManZ
@22 "On to Deadhouse Gates...."

My personal favorite of the series. I can't wait until the Reread gets to the end of that one.
buddhacat
24. oqeiurscv
Don't get hung up on the ascendant/god thing. As far as I can tell, there really isn't a practical difference. It does seem that gods were created immortal(Mael,Draconus) while ascendants earned their way into the pantheon. However, since Hood is a Jaghut, I may be wrong.

I love the idea that anybody can ascend. If I remember right, Erikson and Esselmont first developed Malazan as the background to a role-playing game. The idea that enough "experience points" will eventually result in a character becoming god-like is definitely a RPG concept.

So is the lack of straightforward good/evil characters. In Malazan as in an RPG, it's every man/woman for him/herself
M D
25. Abalieno
About the switching of PoVs and cliffhangers at the end of a chapter: I think Erikson is against the use of cliffhangers himself and has confirmed so in interviews.

Chapters, in particular after GotM, usually have an integrity even if there are different, seemingly unrelated PoVs. Every chapter wraps up a certain concept and can be considered as a single entity with a specific conclusion. There's always a theme that binds together a chapter, so even the most disparate PoVs are put together for a reason and relate to each other. Ofter you see different approaches to the same theme, different voices. So you rarely find something that doesn't fit or that "derails". There is a solid structure and also one reason why Erikson writes so quickly. He plays within a structure he knows well, developing the theme within, which is then linked to overall plot of the novel, which is then linked to the overall plot of the series.

Erikson explained some of this is one of his recent blogs if you want to look further into it, but you'll see this clearly in the next books anyway.
buddhacat
26. kramerdude
As to the Shadowthrone/Cotillion reveal, one thing that strikes me odd (or just a GotM-ism) is that there is a section in DG where Fiddler has this ah-ha moment about the identities of ST/Cot. So the fact that it seems they've outed the identities here as well. Maybe Fiddler just forgot the discussion.

As to Tattersail's deck reading, I took the Mason to be Fiddler and the Soldier to be Whiskeyjack. Given WJ's position later on, this seemed reasonable but maybe I read to much into it.
M D
27. Abalieno
The idea that enough "experience points" will eventually result in a character becoming god-like is definitely a RPG concept.

Yes, and one of the worst widespread urban legend about this series.

Everyone could ideally become ascendant, but the process has absolutely nothing to do with "experience" of any kind. Ascendancy is not a prize, a reward or whatever.
M D
28. Abalieno
So the fact that it seems they've outed the identities here as well. Maybe Fiddler just forgot the discussion.

Nope, Fiddler doesn't know who Shadowthrone is, nor the reader is supposed to know, assuming he doesn't read spoilers on the internet.

Everyone I know who read the books never figured out who ST was till the reveal in the second book. Sadly the spoilers can ruin most of the fun.
buddhacat
29. Gilbetron
Thanks for the re-read, guys! I started reading this series last year, loved it, and yet promptly gave up. I've been wanting to dive back in ever since, and this commentary is really helping me come to terms with what I've missed so far. So helpful!
Matt LaRose
30. TheLegend
Abalieno @27

"Ascendancy is not a prize, a reward or whatever."

Except that during one point in the series it is actually handed out in this exact manner.

It is however not exactly akin to just going through the motions to collect "experience points" like in an RPG just to become a god. It is obviously more complicated than that.
buddhacat
31. Marc Rikmenspoel
Amanda is certainly picking up FAR more than I did when I read GotM. The plot makes a whole heck of a lot more sense to me in this read/reread than it did back two years ago. Keep up the good work, both of you.

As to Kruppe, I like him. But I am a bigger fan of his "mentor." It is well known that Erikson modeled the Bridgeburners, to some extent, on Glen Cook's Black Company. However, very few seem to recognize that Kruppe was inspired by Mocker, a character in Cook's first Dread Empire trilogy. Mocker is also a short, fat man who wears a robe and has unique affectations in his speech. He's a great unarmed fighter, rather than having Kruppe's dream-skills, but consider this bit of dialog on how he helps his wife stay beautiful:

"Skilled artificer, self, magician of reknown, having at hand secret of beauty of women of fallen Escalon, most beautiful of all time before fall, retaining light of teenage years into fifth decade, provide potations supreme against ravishes-ravages?-of Time."

Mocker is great, easily the equal of any Black Company character in terms of being a colorful personality.
buddhacat
32. David DeLaney
Just finished rereading GotM myself, and I have to say that it turns out the LAST time I reread it (because I'm fairly sure this isn't my first reread) we must have been a good deal further from the end of the series. I definitely didn't remember this much being all in the first novel... and I also got a good deal more of what's going on here than I did the first time through. The Crimson Guard, for example, I _know_ I didn't know anything much about until I read that particular Esslemont side novel.

"deceptively intelligent" - heh, and -exactly-; when Kruppe's speaking to someone else, it's ALMOST always something different than what he's actually thinking (and he has reasons for this). Got to keep a close eye on him; his dreamscape will recur later also, and be Important.

One of the things that makes these books 'difficult' is that there's not Just One Plot. Nor is there Just One Party Of Characters On One Quest With Some Sidequests, as seems to be the case in a lot of fantasy/urban fantasy - there's protagonists, and there's cardboard cutouts they interact with and get info/plot coupons from - not here. The world is wide, and deep; and everyone in it is the star of their OWN story, has their own concerns, and their own levels of misinformation, right up to the Empress (and beyond).

And we're seeing how the stories and plots weave together, and fight with each other, and interfere and reinforce, not just how the -characters- do. The Tiste Andii aren't doing things for the reasons the Empire is, and have their internal differences; the Jaghut doesn't even know most of what's going on (no, you haven't seen the Jaghut yet), and even most of the Ascendants/gods aren't fully informed of what all the other ones are doing. And Sorry has her own agenda, and Crokus is trying to do his own thing in amongst this all, etc etc.

By the time you get to the end of this book, o best beloved new readers, a lot of plot sequences will be ended or tied off, some unexpectedly, but there's still going to be many loose threads wandering off into the distance that only got woven in at a few points. (I expect there'll still be some left after The Crippled God ... but for a lot of it you'll at least be able to piece together what went where, if maybe not why.)

(Oh, and it's USUALLY okay to root for the Bridgeburners, even though they do some horrifying things along the way themselves.)



--Dave "green glow on the horizon -> frisson" DeLaney
M D
33. Abalieno
@30

Except that during one point in the series it is actually handed out in this exact manner.

I don't know what you're referring to, but there are plenty of mortals ascending and the process is the polar opposite of what is described.

I do think that if someone believes that ascendancy is the result of killing stuff then he missed completely the meaning of the whole series and the reason why the mythology was built that way.

@31

However, very few seem to recognize that Kruppe was inspired by Mocker, a character in Cook's first Dread Empire trilogy. Mocker is also a short, fat man who wears a robe and has unique affectations in his speech.

Erikson is also a huge fan of Dickens and there's a particular character in Bleak House that is exactly like Kruppe. You never know where inspiration comes from:

Mr. Chadband is a large yellow man with a fat smile and a general appearance of having a good deal of train oil in his system. Mr. Chadband moves softly and cumbrously, not unlike a bear who has been taught to walk upright. He is very much embarrassed about the arms, as if they were inconvenient to him and he wanted to grovel, is very much in a perspiration about the head, and never speaks without first putting up his great hand, as delivering a token to his hearers that he is going to edify them.

“My friends,” says he, “what is this which we now behold as being spread before us? Refreshment. Do we need refreshment then, my friends? We do. And why do we need refreshment, my friends? Because we are but mortal, because we are but sinful, because we are but of the earth, because we are not of the air. Can we fly, my friends? We cannot. Why can we not fly, my friends?”
M D
34. Abalieno
Also, a nice tidbit:

'But if you think I'm going to help you without knowing what you're planning, you're mistaken. There's more to all this than you're willing to tell me. If it was just your survival at stake, why don't you just desert? I doubt Dujek would chase you down. Unless, of course, Tayschrenn's suspicions about Onearm and the Second are grounded in truth - you've plans for a mutiny, proclaiming Dujek Emperor and marching off to Genabaris.'

It's interesting to notice that Tattersail figures their plan quite well, and it this part is important because it clarifies what happens later. At this precise point the Bridgeburner's plan is exactly that she describes. With the only difference (and this is actually hard to track and figure out) that it's not Dujek that they plan to put on the throne, it's Whiskeyjack ;)

And even more interesting is the fact that this is another of Quick Ben typical master plans, and, obviously, Whiskeyjack knows nothing about it (and it's one reason why Quick Ben doesn't answer Tattersail directly):

Whiskeyjack handed a cup to Tattersail. 'Stay with us in this, Sorceress. Quick Ben doesn't usually foul things… too badly.' He made a sour face, 'I admit, I'm not completely convinced either.'

What a convoluted dialogue going on there ;)
buddhacat
35. Flibbertygibbet
First, I love these recaps! I'll be reading right through to the bitter end.

As a female fantasy fan, the way Erikson deals with gender roles was a delight, and was MASSIVELY refreshing. Female marines! Who are bad-ass! An Empress! It made such a change for me, and made reading the Malazan books even more fun. And it was something I noticed at once, because it's so rare to see well-written female characters, sadly.

Having said that, there is still a bias towards male characters that becomes apparent later in the series. I won't name names in honour of first-time readers, but an awful lot of the characters that are most important to the plot are male. So it's not perfect in terms of equal representation, but still miles better than most.
Sydo Zandstra
36. Fiddler
@Amanda and Bill:

I'd like to say I enjoy the dynamics in your comments. Keep responding to each other. :)

@comments:

Most things have been covered here. I'll add my 2 cents.

@Amanda:

I can’t imagine the sort of pressure that Whiskeyjack would be under: a product of the previous Emperor, disliked by the current Empress, handed deadly missions which many of his squad don’t come through alive, monitored and watched constantly, contemplating mutiny...tough job!

Very sharp observation. Keep this one in mind. It's something most people missed in GotM. (for the record, it's one of the few things I did pick up on my first read).

I’m used to Gods being omnipotent and unkillable—these gods appear to be far less than such, and might be why the small letter at the start of the word.

This is something you'll see throughout the whole series: ascendants can 'upgrade' and become gods (and not in an RPG way as somebody stated), but the other side of the coin is that gods can also diminish in power. They can fade away without completely disappearing: there will always remain something. These are an example of the latter.


@Bill:

We go from the fearsome Tiste Andii assassin—cloaked and daggered and crossbowed

Assassins (in general, not only the Andii here) are often mages too in these books. A deadly combination that makes the assassin war on the rooftops the more spooky.


Abalieno@8:

Mages aren't predominantly female and we'll soon meet Lorn who's actually a mage killer and without mage powers. There will be women in position of power all over the place. The Malazan empire is definitely not sexist.

Agreed. Especially in the Malazan army. Where GRRM has one big strong woman in armour, and plays the 'freak' card (Brienne), Erikson has lots of them joining Heavy Infantry and the Marines. I find this more realistic (as far as fantasy goes), because I've seen enough women I wouldn't like to arm wrestle with ;)


It's also interesting to notice that there's an open mind even in regards to sexual orientation. There will be a particular lesbian relationship that will be seen as nothing particularly weird or unacceptable. Sometimes the Malazan empire is shown as more civil that our world ;)

Without giving spoilers, are you referring to the one we see in Memories of Ice or the one in the Bonehunter army?



Tek@22:

I got that ST let Paran live/go, but I thought that was because he would know who Oponn had chosen to play with....not necessarily that he, ST, would use him. He'll just watch him, right?

That's how I read it too, Tek. Although, in later books he is asked to perform a task for Shadowthrone. But he doesn't mind it then and there.


Flibbertygibbet@35:

An Empress!

Who also was/is the most skilled assassin in Malazan. (Kalam possibly excepted, but I'm not even sure there)
Tricia Irish
37. Tektonica
Abelieno@25:

Thanks for explaining Erikson's chapter/book/epic organization method. That should help the reading of these for us first timers.

As for figuring out who Shadowthrone and The Rope are....I thought is was a clear cluebat in Ch.4. Combined with the dates and time lines.....nine years since they died, nine years since that Warren was opened...duh. I'm not particularly bright, maybe I was just paying close attention to these clues thanks to all of you saying, "Pay Attention!"
Steven Halter
38. stevenhalter
One thing that may be of interest regarding the chapter poems/headers is that we will be meeting most of the writers of these as we go along in the series. I find that a fun detail when we meet someone. It makes the poems seem more concrete in a way.
Steven Halter
39. stevenhalter
So, now we all know that Shadowthrone/Ammanas and The Rope/Cotillion are the Emperor/Kellanved and Dancer respectively.

But, here's a question to ponder as you're reading--Just who is the Emperor? We'll find bits and pieces of this interesting story as we go along.

The backstory of the series is one of the very interesting things about this world. The story of the Emperor and Dancer's rise to power would make a fine series all by itself-- what we see are tantalizing rememberings and stories that indicate a richness of detail.
Matt LaRose
40. TheLegend
shalter @38

That is one of the things I like about this series is that we always meet the poem writers eventaully (for the most part anyways.
buddhacat
42. Marc Rikmenspoel
@33 Thanks for pointing that out, perhaps Mocker was also inspired by Dikkens (that's "Dikkens" with two "k's", the well-known Dutch author of Stickwick Stapers and Rarnaby Budge).
buddhacat
43. Taitastigon
Hello Amanda & Bill, love your project. Been fan of the cycle for years, having reread it 3-4 times. Quite a challenge you are facing ! And I am looking forward to you getting to Deadhouse Gates. Where GotM is an intimate chamber piece, DG is a fullfledged symphony, in terms of scale.
buddhacat
44. Taitastigon
@thomstel, #6

*Fiddler's sword in the puddle moment?*

Not only funny, but casting an interesting light on the sappers within the military - a totally unhinged, anarchistic, but absolutely necessary crew. My favs, be it Fiddler, Hedge, Cuttle, etc...
Matt LaRose
45. TheLegend
Taitastigon @44.

All the sappers are totally unhinged and hilariously funny. Almost all my bust out loud laughing in the series can be directly attributed to a Malazan sapper.
buddhacat
46. PJBrs
Hello, my first post here! I read the first five installments in the MBotF and then quit, because I really had lost sight of the big vision by then, but this reread seems a good occasion to try again.

So who do we think is the Mason in Tattersail's last reading? I thought that the description of the Mason in the reading was very close to how Caladan Brood was described in the Anomandaris poem earlier:

Caladan Brood, the menhired one, winter-bearing, barrowed and sorrowless.


... and in the reading:

His massive, vein-roped hands held stone-cutting tools and around him rose roughly dressed menhirs. Tattersail found she could make out faint glyphs on the stones, a language unfamiliar to her but reminiscent of Seven Cities' script. In the House of Death the Mason was the builder of barrows, the placer of stones, a promise of death not to one or a few but to many. The language on the menhirs delivered a message not intended for her: the Mason had carved those words for himself, and time had worn the edges—even the man himself appeared starkly weathered, his face latticed with cracks, his silvered beard thin and tangled. The role had been assumed by a man who'd once worked in stone, but no longer.


So, could Brood be the Mason?
Sydo Zandstra
47. Fiddler
PJBrs@46:

Welcome!
I'll answer your question without giving spoilers for first time readers.

It is not Caladan Brood. Brood carries Burn's Hammer (which implies that he has a connection to her). And that Sleeping Goddess is not connected to High House Death. :)

(Note that even gods can have a position in one of the High Houses)

Other possible Masons have been named already in this discussion though ;)
buddhacat
48. PJBrs
Fiddler@47

Thanks for clearing that up!
M D
49. Abalieno
It was announced today that Erikson wrote the final word of The Crippled God.

The series is complete :)
Amir Noam
51. Amir
Bill and Amanda,
First, I'd like to thank you both for this project you've undertaken. I've only read the series once (only got to Toll the Hounds) over the span of several years. English is not my native language, so it takes me a bit longer to read. However, I'm enjoying your commentaries so much that I've actually gone and started re-reading GotM just to keep in sync with this blog (and also, gone and registered for tor.com. Imagine that :-))

@Bill:
might be the Jar Jar Binks of the Malazan world

You take that back, sir! :-)

It took me time to warm up to Kruppe, but even when he's goofy and funny, he's always intelligent and never to be dismissed.



That's a pretty huge clue-by-four that Erikson puts there in chapter 4, but I'm almost sure I've missed it on my first read (it's been years). Probably could have skipped this particular spoiler in the episode recap (though I've never thought to check "cotillion" in a dictionary - thanks for the tip, shalter @10).
I'm definitely in the camp of accepting most unexplained tidbits at face value until they are better explained later on.
buddhacat
52. WJD
@36, about the Empress-
"Who also was/is the most skilled assassin in Malazan. (Kalam possibly excepted, but I'm not even sure there)"

No.
Dancer.
Evidence to come.
M D
53. Abalieno
Another little tibit.

A part that stays opaque is the slaughter in Itko Kan, in particular its motivation. Quick Ben gives his own version according to his sources and he says that it is a Claw (and not Shadowthrone) that kills all the survivors.

So first Shadowthrone goes and unleashes the hounds, then Laseen sends the adjunct to investigate, and finally sends a Claw to hide whatever was left.

In fact this version is confirmed by the adjunct, between the lines, when she speaks with Paran (who's suspicious):

As for your time in Itko Kan, nothing unusual occurred there, do you understand me?

It's obvious that she was ordered to keep the whole thing secret and that Laseen doesn't want it public. Why?

Paran is suspicious of Topper, a Claw:

'And Topper timely arrival?'
'Convenience.'


Sure, convenience ;)

Paran's report confirms that someone wanted to silence whoever could talk:

'The trail's been thoroughly obscured, Adjunct. The only people left in Gerrom aren't likely to talk.'

Now the point is that Quick Ben tells us that what happened in Gerrom wasn't done by Shadowthrone, but by the empress, through a Claw (Topper probably).

Why?

The only reason is that what happened in Itko Kan was an attack to the empire. A message. Laseen is now ruling he Malazan empire and she seems to want to keep the nature of this attack hidden.

So the reason of Laseen's reaction explains Shadowthrone's motives (that become more obvious if one knows who Shadowthrone is). Basically ST wants to send a message: "Hello? We're here and we will do as we please."

If it was any other attack Laseen would have it public, so to fight it more directly. A threat to the empire is a threat for everyone, no reason to keep it hidden.

But.

This specifically is a threat to HERSELF. Why? Because the emperor is alive, and has no fears announcing he's so. It's then really obvious why Laseen doesn't want that people realize the emperor is alive.

This is even more clear after reading Night of Knives since it's Laseen that declares the emperor dead (in that particular night), even if she knows well that he hasn't died. And now here he comes to announce his return (with a slaughter, no less) and claim to the throne.

It's him haunting her nightmares and telling her he'll not forgive her usurpation. And Laseen doing hush-hush investigation because if the truth comes out and people realize the emperor is alive then even the truth of Laseen usurpation would come out.

It's a power struggle and Shadowthrone has a clear advantage.

Do you think this wraps up what happened in Itko Kan or you have better theories?
Sydo Zandstra
54. Fiddler
@WJD:

Dancer isn't around as in Malazan politics anymore, since he Ascended.

Edit: I have read all the books, so I know how badass Cotillion can be. I was stating about non-ascended assassins. ;)
Steven Halter
55. stevenhalter
@WJD, @Fiddler

Sorry is there, though--and her later self.
Sydo Zandstra
56. Fiddler
@Shalter:

I consider them to be ascended. :)
Steven Halter
57. stevenhalter
53@Abalieno:
I'd say that's a pretty decent representation of Laseen's motives.
Mieneke van der Salm
58. Mieneke
Whew, finally made it through the comments :)

I had this whole bit about the mason and who he might be, but all my guesses have already been stated (that'll teach me not to be late next time!), so let's just say that to me the one that makes most sense is Whiskeyjack and leave it at that.

These two chapters were really action-packed weren't they? My favourite scene has to be the scene in front of Hood's gate between Oponn, Paran and Hood's henchman. The way Oponn and said henchman are dickering about Paran, while he's lying there trying to get a word in edgewise, is genius. I love that death's henchman looks like what the beholder thinks he should look like. My favourite lines: "The apparition opened its jaws as if to laugh, then clacked them shut. 'No,' it muttered, 'not again.'" For some reason that line cracks me up every time. Wonder what that says about me?

Now for chapter five and our entry in Darujhistan.
I guess I'm in the "love to hate Kruppe"-posse, cause he just makes me go WTH? every time. I can't recall whether this got better for me as time went on last time I read the books, but his talking about himself in the third person just drives me nuts! Good catch on the flavour though Amanda, I never even noticed that!

Enter Crokus. Now Crokus I love, I've got a soft spot for him. I love the burglary scene where he moves to look at the girl. Was anyone else waiting for her to pop up, or was that just me?
And when he flees and gets saved by Oponn, is that a case of Oponn choosing Crokus sort off like better the devil you don't know, to offset Paran? So does that mean they'll use Paran as a diversion and Crokus as the true weapon? If that's the case how does that fit Tattersail's pronouncement that 'He's going to be used, like a sword."

And like Bill I loved the chase scene though for some reason the chase scene from Aladdin kept popping into my mind when I was reading it yesterday :S Don't know what was up with that lol

As for the question Amanda posed about assassin guilds pre-GotM, the Nighthawks from Raymond E. Feist's Crydee world spring to mind. They play a part in Silverthorn and that was first published in 1985. Can't think of any other ones off the top of my head though.

@ all the commenters. I love reading everyone's comments. They add so much depth to my understanding, even when they sow more confusion, they make me think about it harder and understand better that way! And one thing that has become a little clearer is the whole ascendant/god status, those explanations really helped!
Adam Bodestyne
59. thanners
I nearly missed this post because you changed the tag that I was searching on (was previously "Malazan Re-read of the Fallen", and this time it was "malazan reread of the fallen" ).

But it's okay! Obviously, I found it, anyway. (c:

Again, loving this re-read. Seeing little things that I've somehow missed after multiple of my own re-reads, as well as going back over things and trying to figure out whether I understood something when I read it here, or whether things only clicked for me later on.

For some reason I'd missed that Talo Krafar bled out on K'rul's Belfry so early in this section of the book, although I did realise it as a significant location.. later on.
Amir Noam
60. Amir
thanners @59:
For some reason I'd missed that Talo Krafar bled out on K'rul's Belfry so early in this section of the book, although I did realise it as a significant location.

I'm pretty sure I haven't given this any attention when I first read the book.

Shedding blood in any god's temple is never a good idea in the Malazan world, even a temple that has been abandoned for millennia (actually, this usually makes it worse).
Amanda Rutter
61. ALRutter
I just want to say how much I am *loving* all of these comments - they help my read SO much (although I am chafing at the bit now to get to Deadhouse Gates, even though I have simply loads of Gardens of the Moon to get through still!)

D'you know something? Even with Bill's big reveal of Shadowthrone and Cotillion, I still didn't make a proper connection with when they died and the rise of the Shadow warren - stupid? Moi? *rolls eyes*

And I would like to claim credit for having noticed that Krafar bled out onto a god's temple, but I seriously was just mentioning the blood thing because it freaked me out - not because I thought it was significant. Maybe I should have kept that quiet and basked in the fact that you're all so impressed with what I'm picking up! ;-)

Anyway, please keep these comments coming. I read each and every one of them - and I am liking the contrast between those new to the series who are as mystified as me and trying to build connections and those who have read it over and over and are patiently assisting us newbies!
Gerd K
62. Kah-thurak
@Amanda
I dont really remember when I realized who Shadowthrone and Cotillion were, but it most certainly wasnt in my first read of GotM. And I bet this is true for allmost everyone else... so no need to feel stupid about it ;)

I do think that I realized the connectionb between Krul's "revival" and Krafar's death in my first read though.

And actually you should look forward to Deadhouse Gates. I would so love to read that book for ther first time again ;)

And thanks for the work you and Bill put into this reread, it's great fun!
ezzkmo .
63. ezzkmo
I've been following along with the re-read since it started...it finally gave me a reason to stop leaving the books for another time, and now I've dove in head first and loving every page of it!

Amanda does a fantastic job of providing a 1st-time reader (like me) page by page commentary of trying to figure out what the heck is going on, and also picking up on lots of elements and putting the puzzle together. At times I feel like I'm trying to keep my head above water, only to have it pushed back down occasionally when 7 other characters and terms are thrown at us when we turn the page!

And Bill's own thoughts on his 2nd time through expand on the puzzles us 1st-timers are assembling. I have a feeling some of our puzzle-solving may be on the right track, and most of it will come crumbling down 5 chapters or 5 books later.

Anyways, I'll be following along with this re-read as much as I can, and hopefully I won't ever fall far behind. Thanks for all the work put in, you guys are doing a phenomenal job!
Tricia Irish
64. Tektonica
Abelieno@54:

That about sums it up for me. When I figured out who ST was in Ch. 4, it all became clear. Haha. Is there more later?

I missed the bit about Krafar, the assassin, bleeding on K'rul's temple bringing K'rul back. Is that what you all are saying? I'll watch for more misplaced blood, in that case. There just isn't anything trivial in these books is there?

Kruppe says some pretty profound things to his "hungers/doubts" in his first dream sequence:

Shall Kruppe accept this challenge, then? What are gods, after all, if not the perfect victims?.....Perfect victims of confidence, claims Kruppe, ever blinded by arrogance, ever convinced of infallibility. Is it not a wonder that they have survived this long?"

So it appears the gods can be beaten at their own games, if not killed.

I love Kruppe's conversation with the dream beggars, which are really just aspects of himself. First they are characterized as Hungers, then Beggars and finally as Gifts waiting to "find their voice". He is surprised by himself, as we all surprise ourselves, perhaps, at various times by insights and unexpected courage. (And he rejects Humility! LOL. )

We talk a lot here about the plot...thank goodness!.....but Erikson is also a very cunning philospher, dropping nuggets about personal character, like the above, into a dialogue about a coming battle. Choices.

Mieneke@58:

I like Crokus, in that I don't dislike him. He provides some "normalcy", being a regular old human....now touched by Oponn and the Coin. But tell me why you really like him? Just curious.
M D
65. Abalieno
Self amend @53

It's actually Kalam and not Quick Ben to explain there's a Claw behind what happened in Gerrom, which actually makes it more reliable since Kalam was a Claw himself, so he has his sources.
buddhacat
66. Taitastigon
Tek@64

- There just isn't anything trivial in these books is there? -


*g* No, SE makes it a point of making about everything UNtrivial in his books.

As in: Re your observation on gods, there is this one very little, hidden comment towards the end of Deadhouse Gates:

*But it occurs to me that even as mortals are but pieces on a gameboard, so too are the gods*

This little phrase, casually slobbed out by one of the protagonists of that tome, simply defines the core concept of the entire cycle.
buddhacat
67. Taitastigon
Amanda@61

- (although I am chafing at the bit now to get to Deadhouse Gates, even though I have simply loads of Gardens of the Moon to get through still!)-

Amanda, enjoy GotM to the fullest, because it is a nice Intro 101 to the Malazan world. SE knew back then where he wanted to go with this, but didn´t have a publishing deal to do so. In retrospect, GotM feels a little bit hesitant, really like a test run.

DG will come as a shock, because this was written by an author with the confidence of having a publishing deal for the entire cycle under his belt. SE simply goes ballistic in DG, then again in MoI - to me, those 2000 pages together are genre-defining and made his reputation.
Matt LaRose
68. TheLegend
Abelieno@54: See and the more I think about Gerrom the more I think it was still ST.

Why obscure the facts even more? Cotillion as Sorry has much more to hide than Laseen does, even with her usurpation of the Malazan throne.

I don't feel that Laseen ordered the slaughter of Gerrom, she doesn't have a good reason for it. You say that ST is trying to send a message and Laseen is reacting to it by killing all the people in Gerrom to obscure the nature of the message. The only person likely to even come close to getting the message is Laseen.

Why destroy a town, with a high level operative (Topper), wasting resources on something that cannot even be perceived by anyone but Laseen anyways?

I would be more inclined to say that Cottilion did it to cover his trail rather than either Laseen or Shadowthrone.

Am I totally out to lunch here?
M D
69. Abalieno
There aren't enough reasons to believe the opposite.

Cotillion is more moderate than ST and wouldn't start a massacre so easily. It's ST who "forces" Cotillion to possess the girl, and it's Cotillion who names her "Sorry", as a kind of ambivalent cynic message, to her and her victims.

Laseen has plenty of reasons to hide the trail. There's a power struggle going on between those who side with Laseen and those still faithful to the emperor. It's what causes the purges. And it's not a case that the Bridgeburners, through Kalam and Quick Ben, also pick the trail left by ST. Laseen's suspicions are precisely (but not solely) about the Bridgeburners, and she's mostly correct (since the Bridgeburners are planning to replace Laseen with WJ).

It's then ST who sends Sorry over to Genabackis in order to make a contact with Dujek (because Dujek is "old guard" and so ST thinks he's still loyal to himself) and try a coup against Laseen.

What are the first moves of Sorry/Cotillion on Genabackis?

1- Kill all Claws she finds (loyal to Laseen).
2- Kill Paran (who's under Lorn, who's under Laseen)

But then Oponn arrives and steps into ST plans by rescuing Paran ;)

P.S.
The only ones who know for sure the emperor is still alive are Laseen and Tayschrenn (and Topper). And probably Quick Ben already figured it out.
Steven Halter
70. stevenhalter
I had forgotten that Gerrom was the market town where Sorry's father would have sold the catch and thus people there could identify her and her father. This makes me lean towards Shadowthrone as being behind the killings.

Laseen is certainly not beyond suspicion and I think that Abalieno is catching some of her motivations correctly. That's another thing that will be interesting to watch for--what are the Empresses' motivations, both currently and for userping the throne?

Cotillion seems somewhat less inclined to indiscriminate killing than Shadowthrone so I don't think he would have done the killing. Also, note that the killing is done with sorcery and the Emperor is an extremely accomplished mage.
M D
71. Abalieno
If one can interpret the meaning of the "pigeons" we would have a definite answer.

Sadly it doesn't suggest anything to me.
buddhacat
72. HoosierDaddy
"Is it just me who finds it extremely difficult to immerse myself back into a novel when the switch in viewpoints is so fundamental? It feels almost as though starting a completely new novel, and takes me a little while to get on board with a new set of characters. I wonder whether this is a factor in making Erikson’s books feel so challenging to read?"

Oh the places you will go!
Maybe here, maybe there,
It could almost be anywhere!
Sydo Zandstra
73. Fiddler
Re: Gerrom massacre.

I think Shadowthrone is responsible for this one, for the very reason Sorry's father was going to sell his wares there.


SMALL SPOILER BELOW








Consider where he ends up in DG. Gerrom was massacred to hide the fact that he was taken.








.
a a-p
74. lostinshadow
blood on the temple: now that was one of the few things I picked up on my first read! Possibly due to having a degree in antrhopology my immediate reaction to blood in temple was "hello previously sleeping god!"

Re Gerrom massacre
I always assume Shadowthrone was behind the massacre and Lasseen had sent her adjunct and Topper to a) determine what happened and b) hide the mess (including possibly identify and kill any survivors who could tell a different tale than her "official" version)

On Shadowthrone and Cotillian: so far read the series to the end of book 6 (one small and one big annoying work project prohibiting me from immersing myself in book 7 at the moment) and as the story continues to unfold, I have to say I like Cotillian more and more and Shadowthrone less and less.

Crokus - I have to admit, first time round I wasn't particularly impressed with Crokus, thought he was filling the "sort of normal boy thief caught in events bigger than himself" role. He has grown on me as the story continued. He's among my favorites now - and definitely deserves some sympathy.
Tricia Irish
75. Tektonica
Fiddler@73:

I had a bad feeling about Sorry's father, that was just bypassed very quickly when Cot claimed Sorry.....guess I'll find out next book, eh?

Hi Lost@74:

Crokus - I do feel sorry for Crokus, he's stepped in it alright! Ummm, I was going to say more, but I won't yet. (I'm a hundred pages into DG.) He's has a naturally sweet nature, but hasn't blossomed in the plot yet.

And Cotillion does seem to have a bit more "character" than ST, at least so far. He's had more on screen time, anyway.
buddhacat
76. Billcap
Thanks for all the great comments everyone. A few responses:

“In retrospect, I'm impressed by how strongly Quick Ben and Kalam's friendship is, well, impressed upon readers.”

I think this is one of the major strengths of Erikson’s writing; he handles relationships better than just about anyone in the genre. Too often, these end up as perfunctory: throw together a fellowship to take down a dark lord, put them in bad situations where they share fear or save each others’ lives and ta da--instant “friendship”! With Erikson though, thanks to the banter, the way they finish each others’ sentences or know things without having to talk to each other, etc, along with the fact that for many of these people we’re seeing them not at the start of their lives’ adventures but in the middle or even the winding down, the relationships feel much more true and real. Which is another of the several reasons deaths in these books have such an impact. We mourn not only the loss of a character we’ve grown to like, but we also mourn the loss of the relationship and the effect on the survivors. And because those survivors carry their grief so honestly for so many pages, we readers carry it with us as well, instead of not even noticing after a few chapters that the character who died hasn’t been mentioned for a while.

“I have a horrible memory for names so I'm often going through a chapter wondering if I'm supposed to know the character of it's a new one:

Erikson doesn’t make it any easier by having several characters have multiple names, so you have to remember their actual name (if we ever know it), whatever alias they might be using at the particular moment (in addition to past and future aliases), their new names (the Malazans are big on giving names), their title names at times,:Knight of Darkness, First Sword, Destriant, Good Knight Moon (OK, I made that up, but kinda works for Rake), etc.

“Glen Cook”
Absolutely. If you haven’t read the Black Company series, you just need to. (hmmm, next re-read . . . ?)

“Kanar was killed off immediately but was given a background and motivations. Erikson will do this quite regularly, I think its his point of showing that no one is just fodder, every individual in this world has their own story.”

Another reason these books are so strong, as we’ve mentioned before and I’m sure will mention again. Names are important in Erikson because it’s hard to just ignore a death of a name, which is why we get so many of them even for the “minor” characters. Names get intoned in this series, not just tossed in as weird concoctions/spellings to make sure you know you’re reading a fantasy novel. It’s one way, I’d argue, he ensures that “attention must be paid”.
buddhacat
77. Billcap
“Trust is hard to come by, which is why I think the Bridgeburners are so unique....they've been together for so long through so much. And there are other characters who warrant trust. A couple.”

I like how the characters themselves muse on this, or are shocked to realize they’ve met someone whom they can trust

“He's a noble, not a good thing in the Empress' service, and he's a tool of Lorn's and now of Oponn. But he keep his own council. He keeps questioning and maintains his identity”
Boy, is this going to play out!

“One of the things that makes these books 'difficult' is that there's not Just One Plot. Nor is there Just One Party Of Characters On One Quest With Some Sidequests, as seems to be the case in a lot of fantasy/urban fantasy - there's protagonists, and there's cardboard cutouts they interact with and get info/plot coupons from - not here. The world is wide, and deep; and everyone in it is the star of their OWN story, has their own concerns, and their own levels of misinformation, right up to the Empress (and beyond).”

good description. “Sprawling” is a good word for Erikson and is much closer to how life really works than that One Plot format or its siblings, the Dual and Tri Plots (let’s form a Fellowhip, then split it, then split it once more . . .). People in reality don’t have the singular focus you usually see in books (if they do, they tend to get medicated or arrested as serial killers): we change our goals and priorities as situations change or as we age or interact with new people, we lie to ourselves and others, we take two steps forward and three back then one and a half sideways, we don’t know everything about why we sometimes do what we do, less about why those even closest to us do what they sometimes do, and almost nothing at all about everyone’s else motivations (which are also constantly changing or unclear event to them perhaps). When we do learn something, it’s often too late or we’ve forgotten why we wanted to know it, or we don’t act any differently despite learning something. What we thought we knew turned out to be wrong, but sometimes we ended up doing the right thing anyway. Or not. And yet we keep going on despite our cluelessness or because of it. It’s just messy. But rich. And fun. So fun.

“it's USUALLY okay to root for the Bridgeburners, even though they do some horrifying things along the way themselves.”
as they themselves will often mourn

“*Fiddler's sword in the puddle moment?*

Not only funny, but casting an interesting light on the sappers within the military - a totally unhinged, anarchistic, but absolutely necessary crew. My favs, be it Fiddler, Hedge, Cuttle, etc...:

Yeah, I agree--the sappers are my favs as well. The purebreds: Brood, Dujek, etc. have their moments and gravitas, but I love the mutts

“And probably Quick Ben already figured it out.”
almost always a good assumption, no matter what “it” is :)
Mieneke van der Salm
78. Mieneke
Tektonica @64
I think it's the combination of whimsy (let's take the turban for keeps, just because) and dry humour ('Rough night, Crokus?' he stared at her, then said, 'No, nothing special.')

That and the fact that somewhere in the back of my brain, I seem to remember (very muzzily I might add) that he's one of the nice guys, at least when he made his appearance this read-around I reacted with a feeling of hey I liked this guy!

Furthermore he gets dragged into all of this without wanting to be (much like Sorry was) and I guess I feel sorry (pun not intended) for him (and her). What's weird is, Paran gets dragged in against his will just as much, but for some reason I don't pity him. Huh, I only just now realised I feel like this... I wonder why. Must have a think on that lol
Tricia Irish
79. Tektonica
Thanks for the explanation, Meineke@78. I like Crokus too, but am still waiting for him to develop. (I've finished GotM and am 150 pages into DG now.) I agree that he was dragged into this and has lost much, but still seems to have that dry humor intact. Despite his life on the streets of Darujistan, he is still young and naive and a "normal" human. Bright. Observant. Thoroughly likable. We'll see where he goes, eh?

I feel more sympathy for "Sorry". Not only was she dragged into this mess against her will, she was then possessed by two beings, at least one of which we know is Evil. I expect her complexity to be central in coming books. She had quite the intro. RAFO.

Billcap@76&77:

Thanks for your observations about Erikson's excellent personalization of both large and small characters. It truly invests a tough story with emotion. Plus, you never know who's really important, in the present or future books. Perhaps his point is, everyone is important, no matter how small the part.

Sprawling is indeed the word to describe this work! I loved your paragraph in #77 about Real life! Hysterical and so true!
Steven Halter
80. stevenhalter
Tektonica@79:

Shadowthrone's actions to this point in the story certainly seem to be evil, however, I would say that we don't yet know that he is indeed Evil.
Amir Noam
81. Amir
I think one of the recurring themes in the series is that very few characters are really "Evil" (if any). It's an easy mistake to classify the characters as "Good" vs. "Evil", but pretty fast the line gets blurred.

GotM very early on marks several characters as "bad guys" - Laseen, Tayschrenn, etc. (Shadowthrone is deliberately left as a mystery). However, almost none of Erikson's characters are one-dimensional and we very quickly find out that each has his/her own back story and rationalization for their actions.
a a-p
82. lostinshadow
Mieneke@78
Maybe one of the reasons you don't feel as sorry for Paran as you do for Crokus and Sorry is that as we see from the prologue, Paran chose to become a soldier and at one level at least made some kind of choice to lead a dangerous life (though granted he couldn't have forseen all that would befall him). And he made this choice despite the warnings of many a reader's favorite character, Whiskeyjack.

Amir@81 yes, the lines between "good" and "evil" are definitely blurred in this story. I think one of the main points of this story is that all can be "flawed" in some way and as you say it's more about why they act as they do than whether such act is "good" or "evil".
M D
83. Abalieno
@80

Shadowthrone is neither evil nor good. He's merely insane ;)

Btw, the theme of "choice" will play a significant part in the series.

Think for example whether T'lan Imass are good or evil. And think of what they chose (and why).

There's some serious twist there.
Amir Noam
84. Amir
Abalieno@83:
Shadowthrone is neither evil nor good. He's merely insane ;)

Oh, I like this! Sums it up nicely :-)

Regarding the T'lan Imass: they do both good and evil things, but I mostly think of them as "tragic".
Julian Augustus
85. Alisonwonderland
Using the actions of a few individuals to condemn a whole species or race is not what I would consider the actions of a "good" people. And the Imass have done it at least twice I can think of. They may be tragic, but in my book they deserve whatever tragedy befalls them.
Mieneke van der Salm
86. Mieneke
lostinshadow @82
I think you're right. I think Paran's choice to become a soldier and thus place himself in harm's way, lessens the pity I feel for him, because this might not be the sort of danger he reckoned on, but he did sign up for it.
Steven Halter
87. stevenhalter
Mieneke @86

Yes, I think that's a good observation. Also, there are their relative states. Sorry is a fisher girl minding her own business when Wham she's cast into the affairs of Empire and gods.

Paran is a noble son who joins the Imperial service (as an officer--arranged via noble contacts) who gets thrust into more than he bargained for, but maybe not more than he hoped for (okay, he probably didn't hope to get assassinated by a god).

Eventually, I think these different beginnings will also bear out on the differing outcomes for Sorry and Paran.
Matt LaRose
88. TheLegend
shalter @87

Differing outcomes indeed. Lol
a a-p
89. lostinshadow
Alisonwonderland@85

have to agree with you there - I'm only through book 6 but at least for now I'm not too sympathetic to the genocidal T'lan Imass
buddhacat
90. PJBrs
Abalieno@83, Amir@84:

What "good" things have the T'lan Imass done in you opinion? I've read the first five books, but I cannot remember anything that I would find "good". Maybe I missed something? What did you think of?
Steven Halter
91. stevenhalter
Abalieno@83, Amir@84, Alisonwonderland@85, lostinshadow@89, PJBrs@90

There are lot's of things to talk about of the T'lan Imass. However, we haven't quite met them yet, so I'll refrain except for saying that as always, not everything is as it seems on the surface.
Amanda Rutter
92. ALRutter
Abalieno@83, Amir@84, Alisonwonderland@85, lostinshadow@89, PJBrs@90, shalter@91

Oh, I am *so* relieved you said that we haven't quite met them yet, because I've been sat here wracking my brains trying to remember them being mentioned in any great detail :-D
Sydo Zandstra
93. Fiddler
@Amanda:

You should meet (have met?) one near the end of this book... :)
Matt LaRose
94. TheLegend
ALRutter @92

Ya we haven't seen them yet but they become very important later on. Even if we really don't see them very much in GotM.
Steven Halter
95. stevenhalter
Fiddler@93

We won't actually see one (or even see the name, I think) until chapter 9.

They have been vaguely referred to, but not by name (how's that for a vague reference to a vague reference, lol).
Sydo Zandstra
97. Fiddler
@shalter:

I know. ;) The 'have met' part was in case Amanda is also ahead in reading when compared to posting.

(which I think I saw her implying somewhere)

She should meet the first one soon, in that case. :)
buddhacat
98. Taitastigon
@Fiddler #97

I do assume Bill & Amanda are ahead in reading. I am curious, how will they do 100-150 pages per week and complete in 8 months for a total volume that is close to 9,000 pages today. Pure math would suggest close to 16 to 24 months...IMHO impossible unless you have worked ahead, giving you the option to decide to up the weekly volume to maintain schedule.

Then again, maybe say *screw it* to the original timeline (SE would ROFL over THAT one) & take it as it comes, considering how complex the series becomes.
This is a case were speeding up things results in loss of key elements, and boy, does HE hide them...
(This may be the only cycle out there that could benefit afterwards from a *reread of the reread*...*gg*)
Chris Hawks
99. SaltManZ
@98

I've been wondering about the pace, myself. We haven't even come close to doing 100-150 page a week yet; it's been more like 40-60. At this rate, it'll take 2 more months to finish GotM--the shortest of the books by a long shot.
Tricia Irish
100. Tektonica
I agree...let's move faster! I don't know how to talk about the current chapters, having read the whole book now.....and how can you NOT plow ahead? It's so exciting! I don't want to blow things for Amanda, but I have TONS of questions I'd like to ask!

Faster daddy, faster!
M D
101. Abalieno
I'd say better the current pacing, which is more focused.

If someone wants to go ahead there are always the Malazan forums.
Sydo Zandstra
102. Fiddler
@Tek

You have my email addy, remember? ;)

Ask away there :D
buddhacat
103. Taitastigon
Salt/Tek, I have the same concern, but kinda agree with Aba. For the purpose of this project here, speeding up will very likely compromise the quality. I myself have reread the cycle 3-5 times (depending on which volume, I have my favorites)& even after that, I keep discovering things that I missed doing on my own. I do not now how far ahead A & B have worked so far, but even if you step up, once we reach Deadhouse Gates, it possibly will come to a grinding slowdown. I did a *quick one* on DG these days - it is emmeffing compact, like a brick. GotM is like a breeze, in comparison.

I dunno, let´s see what A & B think.
Sydo Zandstra
104. Fiddler
I agree with Abalieno too.

Besides, Bill and Amanda have other online bookstuff to work on too. And RL jobs, I suppose. ;)

The current set up is good enough, since there is room to discuss things related to future stuff.

We're handling that well enough, regarding spoilers. :)
Tricia Irish
105. Tektonica
I agree about Deadhouse Gates. I have a feeling that GotM is the "simplest" of these books...it follows a much more linear arc than DG.

GotM is the intro to This World, some of the characters, and the scope and sweep of the history of the Malazan continents. As such, I appreciate when you all say, "pay attention to this or that character or twist."

My guess is that each book may have it's own pace. I was 150 pages into DG before I kind of had a handle on what was happening.....a zillion new characters and story lines for starters! It might benefit from a slower pace....like this one. I think GotM could be faster. Each book is bound to be different and build and become more complex. It was just a thought. (The books are so great, I just can't go that slowly!)

Obviously, it's up to A & B...and I'll be happy with anything!
Chris Hawks
106. SaltManZ
I should stress that I'm not necessarily complaining about the current pace—I like that I can do this reread "on the side" while I read other books—it's just that I can't help but notice that the initial proposal of 100-150 pages/week isn't anywhere close to being met.
buddhacat
107. Taitastigon
@106

*it's just that I can't help but notice that the initial proposal of 100-150 pages/week isn't anywhere close to being met.*

I guess you need at least 3 chapters to get there.
But...*shrug*...as you said before...
Amanda Rutter
108. ALRutter
Just to pop something quick up here - not sure how Bill feels, but I'm enjoying spending more time on each chapter and giving it the love it deserves than speeding through. With regards to why we're currently sticking with two chapters a week - well, that is down to how much Bill and I are babbling away about the chapters! We sent over the Prologue and chapters 1 and 2 for the first post originally (which got us close to the 100 or so pages) but the post went on forever and was deemed too long by the powers that be.

On a personal level, I am handling the slower pace better. I do have an awful lot of book-like commitments on top of this one (FanLit, my own blog, a SF/F Masterworks re-read blog, and then various weekly posts that I organise for FanLit) - oh, and a RL job ;-)
Gerd K
109. Kah-thurak
@AlRutter
I like the current pace very much. It is a re-read after all, so I dont see the necessity to read along with you, to enjoy your recaps and comments. For new readers the pace is naturally too slow, but well... I dont see how you could keep up with them, without loosing quality (which is high at this point).
Amir Noam
110. Amir
I think that it's OK for the pace to be different from book to book (or even within a single book).

Personally, I would have liked the current GotM re-read pace to be increased to about 4 chapters a week. However, it's of course up to whatever is most convenient for Bill and Amanda.

Note that in such a complex work, we'll always miss on some things no matter how slowly we take it :-). I think that I must have read Lord of the Rings about 20 times in the past 20 years and in every read I've always found something new that I'd previously missed.
Tricia Irish
111. Tektonica
Amanda@108:

You have another life? Besides us? Dang.

I tend to be impatient generally, but I love your blog here. Keep up the good work and enjoy! Don't stress yourself out, but feel free to cover more ground if you have time! I'm loving the series!
Sydo Zandstra
113. Fiddler
@Amanda:

I saw a picture of your bookshelves (on your own blog, I think). Those have to be funded from somewhere aren't they? ;) :D
Steven Halter
114. stevenhalter
I think the current pace is about right. It makes Wednesdays something to look forward to :-)
Matt LaRose
115. TheLegend
@shalter 114.

It does except when I don't read up to the current chapters. Something I usually do on Tuesday night but SC2 came out yesterday so my time got spent doing other things. Lol
buddhacat
116. Taitastigon
@Amanda

Keep it as is.I, quite frankly, don´t mind if it takes way longer to maintain quality. Especially because the talkback section per segment will grow exponentially just with the work to piece things together. Great work so far !
buddhacat
117. SSSimon
The chase scence is what got me hooked on Erikson. It really reads like a movie and it's both great and easy to visualize it in your head. When I read it for the first time I was blown away and had to put the book down. To me it had the same impact as the lobby fight scene in The Matrix (seen for the first time). Whoa!
Jeffrey Strauss
119. strizzel
Kruppe -
Firstly, I absolutely LOVE his sections. I also find for me though that his sections serve a practical purpose, his style of monologue is so different from other characters that if I am lulling off, I get woke up right away :)

Ascendants/Gods -
May have already been said, but didn't feel like reading through all 100+ comments to see. I see the difference being that ascendants are powerful individuals who are additionally (typically anyway) immortal. They are not necessarily gods however, for example, consider sisters Envy and Spite, AR's 2 brothers (as far as I can recall, these characters are not recognized on any of the cards of the Deck), though as I'm typing I recall that SR is labelled as the White Crow in the Tiles
Steven Halter
120. stevenhalter
strizzel@119:The comments are some of the best part. They aren't (usually) just random exclamations of approval. There is quite a bit of analysis contained in many of them.
Jennifer Fiddes
122. junefaramore
Skipped the comments to say thanks. Thought I was reading into things too much and confusing myself till I read the reread up to where I left off. Didn't want to spoil figuring out more now that I am aware he's intentionally spinning my brain. Moved onto chapter six and already feel more comfortable with things. The Deck of Dragons was actually one of the easier things for me to get because I have been into tarot so long.
Sydo Zandstra
123. Fiddler
Welcome, junefaramore :)

Read on, and catch up with us. We're nearing the end of book 4.

Although, books 2 and 3 are heartbreakers...
David C
124. David_C
On female characters in the MBofF :

I feel that there aren't enough of them to remove the book from the realm of being male-oriented. However, they are well enough written to merit praise.

Above people have also praised (future) openness towards sexuality, and there is the completely understated multi-racial, multi-peopled nature of the Malazan empire. At the risk of being labelled a jingoist, I want to say that Erikson reflects urban liberal Canadian values into his universe. (To be perfectly clear, I am not saying that these values are unique to urban Canada, just that they can sometimes be found there.)

This is one of the reasons that I find the WoT series annoying. In it, the Two Rivers viewpoint dominates, and other cultures are seen as exotic and in contrast to the plain-speakin' folk of Two Rivers. ... and the women are so insanely jealous and unworldly! I hesitate to state what parts of the real world remind me of the sexual politics of the WoT.
Vincent Lane
125. Aegnor
I'm reading this series for the first time, and reading these recaps at the same time (just Amanda's comentary though so as to avoid spoilers). Due to that I can't really read the comments and so I don't know if what I'm going to say has been pointed out or not.

Amanda's comment on why the 'g' in gods is not capitalized and what that means. It's just correct English grammar. The word 'god' is a noun and the rules of English say it should not be capitalized unless it is the first word in the sentence. The same goes for the plural 'gods'. In the case of the Judeo-Christian god 'God', it is considered a proper noun (a name) and those are capitilized in English.

So the lower case 'g' is not implying anything whatsoever about the power of these gods. It is just proper grammar.
Steven Halter
126. stevenhalter
Aegnor:It is somewhat safe to read the comments in general. In deference to Amanda, we try not to outright spoil big events.
However, note that this is a different level of spoilage insurance than over in the Game of Thrones reread. Hints are sometimes given and Amanda doesn't mind too much and sometimes even requests them. Some things do occasionaly slip through but people are prettty well behaved. The moments of discovery from Amanda are well treasured. (Well, and everyone else also.)
The level of discussion in the comments is quite high on average and Steven Erikson sometimes even drops by. So, the comments can be well worth reading after reading the pertinent sections.
Vincent Lane
127. Aegnor
stevenhalter,

Interesting. I might read them then. I could do what you do with the ASoIaF read, and post my own impressions on each chapter, but I've never had any self control when it comes to reading ahead. I don't know how you and Leigh do it.
Steven Halter
128. stevenhalter
Aegnor -- One day at a time :-)
Actually, with Game of Thrones, the hard part is not avoiding all the spoilers and such outside of the books.
Alex P. W.
129. Alex_W
Hello again!

Just finished the 5th chapter. And boy, I love this story, or better "stories". I also enjoy a lot reading the comments here of you all. And I must say, it really was a spoiler of Bill to state that ST and his compagnion are in fact The Emperor and Dancer. Since it is not clearly stated so far yet in the book. On the other hand, I must admit too, that I'm surprised that so many readers state here, that they did noct suspect anything about that on their first read. Well, It's my first read too and even in the first chapter already, when ST and Rope appear the first time, and including the poem before the prolouge and then, wenn ST and Rope talk about wanting revenge on the Empress and if I remember right, one of them blaming the other (I don't recall exactly which one of them) that it was for him underestimating the Empress (then named still Surely and not beeing the Empress yet of course) that put them two in the present situation/circumstances in the first place. Well, already then I more then suspected, they were the Emperor and dancer who got killed by Surely just to return as ST and C./R. And after chapter 4, it seemed to me to be quite clear for everyone paying attention while reading. But even so, it is never really stated actually, that they are, so it's still a Spoiler of Bill :-).

Then there were two other spoilers, which I didn't figure out myself but only when I read the comments. First, that the mysterious assasin's are in fact Tiste Andii, which I had no idea about before. The other, that the spilled blood in the temple has eventually awakened a god. This never occured my mind while reading.

But so far, I'm happy that these are the only spoilers here detected by me. Otherwise I enjoy reading these coments here really a lot too an it's part of the fun reading the book. Hey, I actually registered here on this page today :-)

Well I certainly will continue reading the book and hopefully all of them in this series and comparing my experience with your comments here, even though, it's been a long time since they were written by now :-).

So untill some other time.

Al.
Alex P. W.
131. Alex_W
Thank you Steven. I'm positively surprised somebody reads the comments here still :-).

Yeah, I'm sure I will have lots of fun still alongside the journey and Adventures of Ganoes, the bridgeburnes & Co. in the future. Sadly I had not much time to continue reading today. Only a tiny bit of Chapter 6. I hope tomorrow there will be more :-).

Until soon.

Al.
buddhacat
132. Mark_B
I read GotM a few years ago, and have started reading it agian and plan on reading the entire series. I must say, I really do love these read alongs. Al, I did not catch the ST & Dancer hints at all first reading or this one. In fact the summary really surprised me. I had to go back and re-read the entire segment and when I saw it, it was so obvious. How did I miss that?

Anyway, great to see someone else on here at the same time, I look forward to more comments as we move along!

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