Wed
Aug 25 2010 2:03pm
The Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Gardens of the Moon, Chapters 14 and 15

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 14 and 15 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 FOURTEEN

SCENE 1
Tool explains to Lorn that he was chosen to help her free the buried Jaghut tyrant because it can enslave all those living on the continent and if they’d sent a Bonecaster, a Jaghut Tyrant and enslaved Bonecaster would have been unstoppable and would kill most of the gods. As Tool is without a clan, his enslavement would stop with him and not enslave the rest of his kin. He tells her the plan is to have Rake try and stop the Tyrant and thus weaken himself. He also relates the Tiste Andii are alien, coming to this world from Kurald Galain, the Warren of Darkness, where Mother Dark “sought something outside herself and thus was born Light”—causing her children to accuse her of betrayal. They either left or were cast out and while some still use the Warren of Darkness, others use Starvald Demalain—the “First Warren”—the home of dragons.

SCENE 2
Kruppe, Crokus, Coll, and Murillio head toward the hills on their spy mission for Baruk.

SCENE 3
Sorry follows Kruppe’s group, planning on killing Crokus as the Coin Bearer, though she has a bad feeling about where they’re heading.

SCENE 4
Tool finds the barrow and plans to open it in the morning. Lorn realizes that Tool is telling the truth that humans came from the Imass, had inherited their world and worries that humanity will become like the current Imass, only “deliverers of death.” She also realizes the Jaghut, which according to Tool had abandoned the ideas of community, empire, of the “cycles of rise and fall, fire and rebirth,” would not have started the thousands-year-old war between Jaghut and Imass and that this Tyrant must have been more like a human than a regular Jaghut because he enslaved and destroyed. She wonders if this is a wise course.

SCENE 5
Paran and Toc the Younger, following Lorn and Tool, come across the ravens killed by Hairlock days earlier. Toc has a vision of a “small shape,” a warren opening, an attack on him and his horse. He tells Paran he thinks they’re heading into an ambush.

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Fourteen
Right, I’m figuring this first poem regarding Silverfox is related to Tattersail in her new incarnation—when she was reborn as the shapeshifter the tattoo of the fox left the Rhivi woman who gave her birth. Also, she sees the Deck—which I think tells of the rising of the Jaghut Tyrant. How did I do? *grins*

I think the brief snippet from Gothos’ Folly speaks of the war between Jaghut and T’lan Imass, but not so certain on that one!

And, interestingly, for the first time in a little while—and maybe to signify the differences between the races we’re now hearing about—we have dates at the beginning of the chapter. A range of them which I believe give us a comparison for the Tiste Andii, the Malazan humans, the T’lan Imass and the Jaghut—again, I’d love it if people could point out whether I’m barking up the wrong tree here...

I’m not completely sure either about the carelessness into which Lorn allowed herself to slip—whether this is to do with her confrontation with Tool or whether it relates to the scene with Tattersail and Tayschrenn still; maybe both?

It is both good and bad that Lorn regards the fact that Tool is willing to seek the Jaghut Tyrant perhaps for his own ends as something ominous. It shows that she is aware that terrible consequences may arise as a result of freeing the Tyrant, but her words in a separate paragraph are concerning:

How could she be held responsible for anything?

She is hiding behind the position of Adjunct and deciding against acting of her own free will now, thanks to the reminder provided by Tayschrenn that she belongs to the Empress.

I’m saying this a little too often methinks—especially for the progress I’ve made through the novel; over halfway through now—but I’m confused about the exchange between Lorn and Tool about the flavours of the Jaghut Omtose Phellack and the Tellann Warren. I picked up some of it but not why exactly these two were linked enough for Tool to be able to free the Tyrant.

What scares me now is the idea of this Tyrant unleashed. The ability to destroy continents and enslave all living is terrifying—but I can see now exactly why the T’lan Imass sent an expendable to deal with it, for fear of the Tyrant enslaving a Bonecaster and being able to face down the gods themselves. Makes me feel sorry for Lorn when she realised that she was expendable, too.

Gotta question the sanity of the Empress here—even if she does believe that Anomander Rake has the capability thanks to his scary sword of being able to take down the Tyrant. This is a high risk game she is playing—what if Rake fails?

God, my memory is truly awful! I recall someone using—or maybe they were just describing—the magic of Starvald Demelain, but I’m damned if I recall where I last saw it. Would be interested in a direction towards this, since we now know that this is the home of dragons. Also, I recall the Warren of Chaos being termed the Eldest Warren but here we have Starvald Demelain being referred to as the First Warren—is this a pesky GotM-ism, or have I touched on something that will become clear later on?

And very interesting that the Tiste Andii came to this world, rather than being born to it... There is a deeply interesting back story there, I’m sure...

The scene with Murillio, Crokus, Kruppe and Coll is very entertaining, especially when Coll completely dismisses Kruppe’s use to the party. Crokus also demonstrates a quick use of brains by saying, when he realises their destination is the Gadrobi Hills:

“Are we looking for a rumour?”

I’m amused at the idea of them riding along on mules when Kruppe could have easily procured or otherwise provided horses for them! I think as well that Kruppe maybe intends to use the ravens to find where they should be heading—he deliberately mentions them as a form of information and then ravens are referred to as Lorn and Tool reach the barrow in question.

Lorn’s terror is infectious to the reader:

To fling this Jaghut Tyrant into the hands of the Empire’s enemy, to trust this Tiste Andii Anomander Rake to destroy it, yet at great cost to himselfthus opening the way for Malazan sorceries in turn to kill the Son of Darknessnow seemed precipitous, absurd in its ambitions.

Haha, it does look like I’m fairly on the mark with the ravens, since Lorn observes that they have been with them for days and wonders about their behaviour! What makes Tool angry about the fact that Lorn does not comprehend the true scale and age behind the barrow marker?

The idea of Lorn sitting and crying for the future of the human race is a poignant and very affecting moment.

Were they destined one day to become human versions of the T’lan Imass? Was war all there was? Would they bow to it in immortal servitude, no more than deliverers of death?

A very bleak image.

And in the final scene with Toc and Paran, we finally see the first example of Toc being able to predict the future thanks to the loss of his eye. He knows that Hairlock is about to ambush them using his Warren. I am worried about Paran—that sort of single-minded urge for revenge is never healthy.

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Fourteen
Nice job on the opening poem being Tattersail in her new body. Even before we get the name Silverfox at the close, clues are the “hide walls,” her affinity to the Deck we’ve seen before, the reference to “this” life (implying she’s had another). The obelisk has some Deck meaning later (not giving much away to say in a little while K’rul will associate himself with it), but it also appears to be linked to the Jaghut’s tomb, which is about to be opened (“shattered”).

And nicely done on the second snippet from Gothos (seems to be popping up a lot, doesn’t he?). I like the “deepening pits” as I imagine them becoming skeletal. I think too there are a few interesting nuances here. One, as I think I’ve mentioned before, the whole T’lan Imass war against the Jaghut seems to be justified by the Tyrants’ cruel rule, etc., but there are always these little niggling hints that it wasn’t perhaps as clean or righteous a war as is often presented by the Imass. I wonder if the “sighing calm” is a subtle example of this. It also, and this may be reading way too much into it, evoked for me the image of Cuchulain fighting the sea—an old Celtic myth and a great Yeats poem—an image of eternal futility.

I’ll point out the usual smooth movement between scenes we get in Erikson: from the first poem alluding to the Jaghut’s tomb to the second via an actual Jaghut we’ve seen before (Gothos) giving us the reference to the T’lan Imass’ “immortal war” against the Jaghut.

Then, still using Jaghut as a link, we jump to Lorn seeking the Jaghut barrow. We get some foreshadowing of something “big” coming for the T’lan Imass, which Lorn links to the Jaghut tomb, but the question for the reader is is she correct? We also get some ominous foreshadowing when Tool explains why he was chosen—the fear of what might happen should the Jaghut possess/enslave someone.

And nicely timed with some of our discussion on the last posting, we’re privy to some Imass history of the Tiste Andii telling us that Darkness is their goddess, that they came to this world from the Warren of Darkness (Kurald Galain), that their goddess (Mother Dark) was lonely and sought out “something outside herself” and thus was born Light, that the Tiste Andii in response “rejected” Mother Dark, that they then were either cast out or left themselves, and that some, now use, along with Kurald Galain, the First Warren—Starvald Demelain, which was the home of dragons. This is one of those major, major backstories that we get added to layer by layer, clarified, rewritten/retold/revised depending on p.o.v., etc. But it’s certainly something to pay attention to.

As for the warrens, I’m sure we’ll get into this in the discussions. My own view, Amanda, is not to worry overmuch about them at this point, especially as I think some warren aspects don’t necessarily mesh smoothly with the latter books. Chaos, for instance, is one of those, described as both a warren and the “paths” that lie between warrens. I’d look at them here just in their practical use and in the later books start to dig a bit more into them, both when we get more information on them, see them more broadly, and they’re a bit more internally consistent. (Cue major discussion thread on warrens at the end of this post in three, two, one...)

You’re absolutely right on Laseen’s play I think; her view seems to be go big or go home on this one.

That bleak view of humanity is a constant undercurrent in this series and gives it a level of depth and seriousness that I at least really respond to. Lorn wondering if humans have inherited from the Imass along with the world, their single-minded focus on war and if humanity would also “bow to it [war] in immortal servitude, no more than deliverers of death.” And we get maybe the first direct questioning of whether the T’lan Imass war was perhaps not so benign as Lorn realizes the Jaghut would not have started the war. And we get the even more bleak sense of history repeating—this endless realization of humanity’s destructiveness and inability to do anything about it as “such tears had been shed before, and would be again . . . And the winds would dry them all.” Kallor, therefore, as the symbol of the whole human race: never learning, driven by ambition and desire for domination over people and the world itself to perform destruction upon destruction in either cruelty or obliviousness. In later books, we’ll see how much of this relates to our modern society. It’s a difficult view to argue against, I think.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

SCENE 1
Quick Ben, guarded by Trotts since Kalam is still injured, spies on Hairlock and wonders what he’s doing waiting on the Rhivi Plain.

SCENE 2
Hairlock ambushes Paran and Toc, throwing Toc through a warren and closing it off. The sound of Shadow Hounds is heard.

SCENE 3
Quick Ben, aware of the ambush, calls on Cotillion/Rope/Dancer through the link with Sorry and tells him Hairlock is on the Rhivi Plain, as per his agreement with Shadowthrone.

SCENE 4
As Tool works on opening the barrow, Lorn runs into Kruppe’s group and attacks, wounding Coll and knocking out Murillio, though not before he wounds her. Realizing she hadn’t needed to attack, she agrees to let them stay to recover then head back to Darujhistan in the morning.

SCENE 5
Sorry/Rope tells Shadowthrone of Quick Ben’s news. ST tells Rope Quick Ben had been a high priest of Shadow, and Sorry thinks Ben will have to pay for his “many deceits.” She appears near Kruppe’s party in time to see the attack by Lorn and when Lorn leaves, heads toward the group to kill Crokus.

SCENE 6
Hairlock, afraid of the approaching Shadow Hounds, tells Paran he’ll kill him later and opens a warren to flee through.

SCENE 7
Quick Ben cuts the strings to Hairlock.

SCENE 8
Hairlock collapses before he can enter the warren and begs Paran to throw him through and in return he’ll give Paran his life. Paran refuses. The Hounds tear Hairlock apart while a Great Raven swoops overhead. The Hounds turn to attack Paran but stop as Rake arrives. Rake tells the Hound Rood to leave and tell Shadowthrone not to interfere here, with the Malazan war, or with Darujhistan. The Hounds attack and Rake kills two (Doan and Ganrod). Shadowthrone appears and Rake tells him he’d warned the Hounds. He says while ST might be his match (especially if Rope is around) a fight would get “messy” and kin would try to avenge Rake. ST agrees but says Rope is involved, and his plans “extend far beyond Darujhistan, seeking to reach the Malazan Throne itself.” Rake says he’d rather Laseen on the throne than a servant of shadow and ST agrees to recall Rope, tells Rake Paran has a connection with Oponn, then leaves with his hounds. Paran tells Rake something of what happened with Oponn and when Rake examines him, he determines Oponn left “hastily” a while ago, that Paran is no longer their tool, but his sword is. He advises Paran to get rid of or break the sword when his luck turns.

SCENE 9
Paran touches one of the dead hounds and gets its blood on his hands, sending him into Dragnipur’s warren, walking with numberless chained people pulling a huge wagon. A Hound attacks him but then leaves him. Paran talks to a man who says Rake killed him long ago, then says the Hounds are causing problems. Paran says he’ll try to do something and follows the chains all the way to below the wagon. Stumped, he calls on Oponn and forces him to help. Oponn (the male one) tells Paran the chains are held within the warren of Darkness—Kurald Galain—and perhaps getting the Hounds in there would free them. Using Oponn as bait, Paran gets the Hounds to plunge into the warren. They disappear and Paran appears back on the Rhivi Plain, where the Hounds’ two bodies have disappeared.

SCENE 10
Sorry, now no longer possessed, appears near the group disoriented and seemingly not remembering anything since her possession back at Itko Kan. Coll convinces Crokus to head back to Darujhistan and take Sorry to his uncle Mammot.

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Fifteen
Our regular snippet of poetry this time serves up an intriguing little piece about the Jaghut—not sure quite what it means, but I’m sure I can be enlightened by our regulars in the comments section. *grin*

Well, we’re given a little more information about the sticks and strings that Quick Ben uses to seek Hairlock in this brief scene. I think it was Mieneke that pondered on the possible link between these strings and those that a puppet should actually have—here we learn that the strings do form a bond between Quick Ben and Hairlock, and that he can see something of Hairlock’s actions using the sticks and string.

We’re given a couple of hints about Ascendancy here in this section with Paran. First he says:

Now he would use Oponn, the Twins’ power, that horrifying edge of destruction that came with Ascendancy

And secondly:

Pulling an Ascendant into the fray...how precisely do I do that? Of course, if Oponn’s as eager as last time...

Does this mean that the Ascendant is within Paran? He is an Ascendant, but only at certain times when the power is brought forth? Is he only Ascendant because he has the sword Chance? Is that the only source of his power? Lots of questions!

Oh God, is Toc gone for good? Cast into the Warren of Chaos?

Ah *light dawns*... the piece of torn cloth that Quick Ben uses is from Sorry, which enables him to reach her and call upon Cotillion who lives within her. I do just wonder about this though:

He heard wry amusement in the Rope’s voice. “I provide the link, correct? The means by which you stay alive in all this. I congratulate you, Quick Ben. Few mortals have ever succeeded in avoiding my lord’s inclination to double-cross. It seems you have outwitted him...”

Is Quick Ben really mortal though? I’m inclined to think not. Why does using Cotillion mean that Quick Ben outwits Shadowthrone?

In the scene where Lorn encounters our men from Darujhistan, we finally see true evidence of Kruppe’s abilities as a mage, where he tries to open a Warren in the presence of Lorn’s Otararal sword. Does Kruppe have no knowledge of Otararal or did he simply not recognise it? This show of mercy, where Lorn allows the party to remain alive, is a positive reinforcement of the fact that she is definitely conflicted in her loyalty to the Empress right now. Or, if not to the Empress, then to the plans that Laseen has conjured up to rid herself of her enemies. Lorn has already been impressed by Dujek, and changed her intentions towards him. Also, deeply amusing that Lorn has no concept of just how important Crokus is, as she leaves him alive.

It makes me shudder that Sorry now knows the actual name of Quick Ben and who he used to be. The power of names has already been emphasised in GotM and I wonder if her knowing his true name will have consequences. Cotillion/Sorry is also affected by the dampening power of Tool, and finds it difficult to use the Warren or gather shadows.

Even Oponn’s powers could not overcome the influence of a Tellann Warren.

Here we have further evidence that even gods are younger than the T’lan Imass.

Teehee, Quick Ben cut Hairlock’s strings! And he is unable to escape from the wrath of Shadowthrone!

Anomander Rake is so bad ass! He has just become my favourite character here. His appearance against the Hounds, the way the very ground trembles at his approach, is so deeply cool. How does Paran know about Tiste Andii, enough to recognise Rake as one when he appears?

This exchange leaves me a little bemused:

The Tiste Andii glanced at Paran. “Whatever you’ve done to draw the attention of gods, it was unwise,” he said, in Malazan.

“It seems I never learn,” Paran replied.

The Tiste Andii smiled. “Then we are much alike, mortal.”

Mortal?

Is Rake talking directly to Oponn at this point? Is it Oponn thinking “mortal?” like that? [Bill: I don’t think so.] Or is it Paran wondering at the fact that the Tiste Andii must therefore be immortal? [Bill: This is my reading, too.] Is this an Ascendant talking to an Ascendant? [Bill: Maybe an apprentice Ascendant?]

And this is Rake talking to Shadowthrone:

“They were warned, Shadowthrone. I want one thing understood. You may prove my match here, especially if your Rope is about. But I promise you, it will be messy, and there are those who will avenge me. Your existence, Shadowthrone, could become uncomfortable. Now, I’ve yet to lose my temper. Withdraw your Realm’s influence from the proceedings, and I will leave it at that.”

Hmm, so Shadowthrone—especially with the Rope—are more powerful than Oponn, since Rake doesn’t seem to consider Oponn a threat at all? And who is it who will avenge Anomander Rake in the event he is killed? Someone we’ve seen already, or a new player? The Dragons?

Another tidbit of information about Rake’s sword:

“Over for all time, for Doan and Ganrod.” Shadowthrone looked up.

“There is no release for them?”

“None. Nor for any who would pursue vengeance.”

The sword really does deliver the final end for creatures that no ordinary means can kill. But from the fact that there is the possibility that creatures can be released from the sword suggests that they do not actually die—in fact, the slaves imply eternal servitude...

And here we have some nice symmetry, as Shadowthrone recalls Cotillion from Sorry—“forcibly extracted”—and Paran learns from Rake that Oponn no longer has control of him. We also learn that Oponn have done damage to Paran, which Caladan Brood would be able to heal—intriguing, non?

Bill covers the section well on when Paran is sucked into Dragnipur—but one extra point I want to pull out is the fact that Paran submits to the Hound, the blood of a Hound sucks him into the sword, he is empathetic towards their misery, and “he heard the Hounds howl, and fought back a sudden desire to join his voice to their cries.” Add that to what we have seen before and there is definitely a link growing between Paran and the Hounds.

And that last scene with Sorry makes me well up—she’s so lost and desolate! It interests me that Coll instantly says for Crokus to take her back to Mammot—who is Mammot that his name is the first to come to mind when dealing with someone who looks to have been possessed?

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Fifteen
The author of the opening poem is Fisher, a name to file away for the future. (How big is that file cabinet getting, Amanda?) [Amanda: Far, far, far too big...] The poem itself might have some hints of revelations in the future; I’m unsure whether to go into them here or not.

We’ve been watching Paran move out of passive mode for a few chapters now, but we’re getting a real sense of his active determination here in those lines you quoted, Amanda. We’re also getting a sense of his willingness to defy/fight the gods themselves, an aspect of his personality that will have major repercussions throughout the series.

We also get some foreshadowing as he does indeed eventually “pull Oponn kicking and screaming,” though into Dragnipur rather than onto the Rhivi plain. This sets some precedent as well for future events—this idea that the gods can be “pulled” into our world, even against their will.

As far as Toc being gone, while you know I’m not going to spoil it for you, I’m going to pull out a line that I’ll use again and again in these situations, one of my favorites from a character in these books (a very late book I think):

“...does nothing dead ever go away around here?”

I think you can easily replace “dead” with “tossed into a warren,” “that disappears,” “chopped into little pieces and scattered across the ground,” or “buried underground for thousands of years.” Who knows what happens to Toc? (Well, actually, lots of us, but we’re not going to tell you.)

That’s a good guess on the true names, especially as the power of those names is such a standard trope, but I don’t believe we ever see this in the series. Anyone?

I agree Lorn’s surprising mercy is interesting. My own reading is she’s feeling guilt over not giving into her second thoughts on releasing the Jaghut and this is a way to assuage those feelings.

I’m not sure on Kruppe and the Otataral; my guess would be he just doesn’t recognize it as the Assassin’s Guild uses it and it’s hard to imagine Kruppe/the Eel being unaware of it. I find more interesting in that regard Sorry’s reaction to Otataral:

A flash of rage ran through her. Memory was attached to Otataral, a very personal memory.

Remember that Sorry is also Cotillion and this is really his “memory.” Because this (if I’m right) is more of a “lateral” reference than a forward one and doesn’t have any real plot impact (that I can think of), I don’t think it qualifies as a “spoiler.” But just in case, skip the next bracketed bit:

[I think it’s actually in Night of Knives by Esslemont that we learn that Laseen “killed” Cotillion and Shadowthrone with the help of Otataral—anyone recall mention of this in Erikson’s books? I just wanted to point it out just so we can see again how well integrated all this is.]

Back to our regularly scheduled commentary...

I do like how we get a clue as to Shadowthrone and Cotillion’s power. While Rake demands they no longer meddle, it isn’t a threat of clear-cut annihilation. In fact, he concedes a fight between them would be “messy,” “especially if your Rope is about.” That’s some hefty respect. (Though I enjoyed his “Now, I’ve yet to lose my temper.” You don’t want to see Rake mad, obvously).

Amanda, you mentioned Paran’s vengeance earlier and now he starts to question his impulsive, single-minded focus on vengeance and sees what it has cost him. The cost of vengeance is a major theme—we’ve gotten a sense of it with Lorn’s musing on the T’lan Imass, Rake mentioned it when Shadowthrone asked if the two dead Hounds might be released from Dragnipur (some more foreshadowing), and Paran applies the idea not only to himself (losing Toc) but also Gear.

It is this last thought which leads us to the strangest events in this chapter (which included a man made of shadows, a manic puppet, a one-eyed archer marksman, a pack of giant dogs, and a soul-sucking sword): Paran’s entry into the the realm of Dragnipur.

For the first time, we actually see what has only been hinted at: an “impossibly huge” wagon pulled by “figures [“many of them not human”] on all sides, each shackled with long iron chains, leaning forward as if pulling at an immense weight.” What a great visual that is. And think of what is unseen, as the stranger (yes, we’ll see him again) who saves Paran from being crushed under a wheel tells him “there are dragons among us.” Before we leave we get a bit more info about the warren inside Dragnipur—that it carries within it the Warren of Darkness—Kurald Galain. What it’s doing in there, why there is a wagon, where they are going or coming from—these are all questions we’ll have to wait on. Oui, tres intriguing...


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.

181 comments
Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter
@Amanda: "How did I do? *grins*"
Very good on that one. *grin back*. The tattoo/naming catch is accurate.
The Obelisk card here does seem to relate directly to the barrow marker and the Jaghut Tyrant. Note that in the Deck the card Obelisk is "unaligned". This means it doesn't have a House, but stands alone. It is usually associated with the earth (the barrow works there also) and with the goddess Burn--the one who keeps being referred to as asleep in some of the dates. We'll also see some K'rul influence there.
Steven Halter
2. stevenhalter
@Amanda:
Not sure whose dating the Third Millennium is. The Year of the Five Tusks is a Darujistan date -- we'll see why shortly. The other two dates are Malazan and T'lan Imass, obviously.
Steven Halter
3. stevenhalter
@Amanda:
Omtose Phellack and the Tellann Warren are related by their historical period. They both are elder warrens that come before the various non-elder "newer" warrens. How exactly warrens work and what they are is something we'll be discussing throughout the series (Erikson reveals pieces here and there).
Omtose Phellack and the Tellann Warren are also related by the long war between the Jaghut and the T'lan Imass.
Steven Halter
4. stevenhalter
@Amanda:
"have I touched on something that will become clear later on?"
I'm not sure if clear is the right word--maybe less obscure.
Chaos is the formless void. We'll find some disagreement among the Elders as to whose warren comes first. It would make sense that Chaos comes first, but it is debatable that it is a Warren.
Rob Munnelly
5. RobMRobM
Amanda - note that Toc the Younger has a chapter intro piece of prose poetry elsewhere in GoM, so I'm betting he makes it somehow.

I'm a newbie as well (halfway through Deadhouse Gates) and you've done better than I did at figuring out these chapters.

Rob
Steven Halter
6. stevenhalter
@Amanda:
The Tisti Andii coming to the Malazan world is an event that we will get to see more of and the events surrounding that arrival do indeed provide lot's of backstory.
Steven Halter
7. stevenhalter
@Bill on 14:
I had the same thought of the image of the sea and futility. As we'll see futility gets brought up often as a theme for the T'lan Imass.
Chris Hawks
8. SaltManZ
@Bill: I agree that Cotillion's reaction to otataral stems from the events in NoK; that's how I took it as well.

And I gotta say, that "...does nothing dead ever go away around here?" line applies to Toc the Younger perhaps more than anyone/thing else. :(

shalter @4: Agreed. Starvald Demelain as "the first warren" makes sense, though.

@6: With TCG on the horizon, and an upcoming trilogy on the earlier life of Anomander Rake, I'm interested to see just how fully fleshed out the history of Mother Dark and the Tiste races actually gets.
Pnr060
9. Pnr060
@Bill:
I believe there may be some magic-by-true-naming going on in Midnight Tides and Reaper's Gale, specifically involving the Undersea Cemetary for Eldritch Abominations and the god that's co-opted from it.
Pnr060
10. kramerdude
Re: Silverfox poem

While I agree with the tyrant barrow reading of this peom, I also see some dual meaning with some future plot points regarding the sickness of Burn (as Obelisk) in MoI.

Interesting what you can possibly read into all these on a re-read.
Steven Halter
11. stevenhalter
@Amanda:
"Why does using Cotillion mean that Quick Ben outwits Shadowthrone?"
Remember that QB outwitted ST to a certain extent when he got him to make the deal for no assassinations of QB (guess who would have been the assassin) in exchange for giving Hairlock to ST. So QB is completing the requirements of that deal and thus finishing the outwitting.
Steven Halter
12. stevenhalter
Salt-Man Z@8:
Yeah the Rake trilogy should have some pretty cool stuff.
Steven Halter
13. stevenhalter
@Amanda on 15:

“It seems I never learn,” Paran replied.

The Tiste Andii smiled. “Then we are much alike, mortal.”

Note how this echo's the Kallor poem and Brood's comment. But in this case, sense it is self applied, it reflects a certain wisdom and self awareness on Paran and Rake's parts that Kallor lacks.
Pnr060
14. kramerdude
@Amanda - Re:Starvald Demelain

This came up in Ch. 10 in Lorn and Tool's conversation while watching the conflagration with Tattersail and Bellurdan. It's in your commentary.

And yep we'll see a lot more about S.D. and dragons throughout.
Steven Halter
15. stevenhalter
@Amanda:
Good question on Mammot. This is another foreshadowing that he isn't just the simple historian that Crokus thinks he is.
Pnr060
16. billcap
9. Pnr060
"I believe there may be some magic-by-true-naming going on in Midnight Tides and Reaper's Gale, specifically involving the Undersea Cemetary for Eldritch Abominations and the god that's co-opted from it."

good call, I'd forgotten about that. It was something about them disappearing for good once nobody knew their names anymore, is that right? And then calling them up by name? Anyone know if we see this sort of magic anywhere else besides that particular setting/list of names? Wonder if that's a god-thing?
Pnr060
17. kramerdude
Amanda and shalter@15:

Note also that Coll says:

" knows the right people, they can help her".

While there is definitely some foreshadowing there it could also be read simply that Crokus knows and trusts Mammot implicitly as opposed to Coll trying to send him to someone such as Baruk directly.
Steven Halter
18. stevenhalter
Bill@16
I don't think we see mages using names to conjure with as we do in other fantasies. In TMBotF, Erikson seems to usually use names as more of a psychological effect and character defining effect than a direct magical effect.
Note the nicknames that many of the Malazan soldiers have. (Speaking of "Night of Knives" (and I agree with you on the Cotillion ref) we'll see there where the nickname tradition seems to come from).
Steven Halter
19. stevenhalter
kramerdude@17: That's true also--always layers going on here.
Thomas Jeffries
20. thomstel
Re: Toc, where have you gone?!

Toc is never really gone, no matter how final his demise seems to be. Getting chucked into Chaos? Way more ambiguous regarding his death than later activities...

And he's one of those characters that throughout his story, he makes both good and bad decisions with dealing with situations and personalities far beyond himself, and yet mostly comes off as retaining his humanity (save for one seriously dark moment in MoI with some venison).

It is a shame that we won't see him until Book 3 though. But heck, when he comes back, so does Tool, at which point the story turns into the Malazan version of Bosom Buddies.
Steven Halter
21. stevenhalter
The "depossession" of Sorry at the end of Chapter 15 is indeed poignant. It's a very well done moment as we see Sorry, from Crokus' groups vantage, looking completely lost and and skittish.
Her last memory is going to get stuff to fix nets and now she's in a completely different place, dressed differently, etc.
Not surprisingly, this is also an important and long running thread. Sorry is lost--who is Sorry (even in her own mind)?
Rajesh Vaidya
22. Buddhacat
@Amanda:
"Why does using Cotillion mean that Quick Ben outwits Shadowthrone?"

It means no direct line from QB to ST and his Hounds. Thus, ST is not able to double-cross QB and kill him despite the deal.
Tai Tastigon
23. Taitastigon
shalter @18

- In TMBotF, Erikson seems to usually use names as more of a psychological effect and character defining effect than a direct magical effect.-

Hmm...you may wanna check into MoI when QB meets Talamarandas. At least in that circumstance, having the real name was put as equivalent with effective magical dominance. It is not a concept that SE seems to push very hard in general, though.
Tai Tastigon
24. Taitastigon
@Amanda

*(How big is that file cabinet getting, Amanda?) *

You will have to rent some office space with what´s yet to come, I´m afraid...*ggg*
Steven Halter
25. stevenhalter
@23--Yes, in MOI the use of names having power escalates some, but Talamandas is somewhat of a special case--spirits as opposed to people. So, it seems that names may have more power over gods and spirits than people.
Tai Tastigon
26. Taitastigon
shal @25

Ups, right. Spirit vs. living flesh. Darn details.
Best to disregard @23 then for the purpose of this discussion, is misleading.
Tony Zbaraschuk
27. tonyz
It's probably true that the Jaghut would not have launched a genocidal war against the Imass. It's arguable that what they did do to them was worse. We'll find out more of the reason behind that endless war (and all its ambiguities) in Memories of Ice.
Rob Munnelly
28. RobMRobM
As a newbie halfway though DG, I've been concerned about participating in this forum and picking up spoilers. But the good news is, after reading the posts so far, I have found that there are so many characters with so many complex names in the posts, I'm increasingly assured that I won't remember most of them or the associated spoilerific info beyond the time I finish reading the post. So...I can keep hanging out here.

Rob

P.s. What's the name of that guy beginning with T who has sometime to do with names and spirits? I can't recall....LOL

Edit for typo
Tony Zbaraschuk
29. tonyz
It's probably true that the Jaghut would not have launched a genocidal war against the Imass. It's arguable that what they did do to them was worse. We'll find out more of the reason behind that endless war (and all its ambiguities) in Memories of Ice.
Steven Halter
30. stevenhalter
RobMRobM@28:
Yeah, I think we are all behaving well with the spoilers to either not say specifics or to limit it to specifics that won't make a difference at this point if you haven't got anywhere near there. So, please do read and participate!
Steven Halter
31. stevenhalter
Taitastigon@26: Your post @23 seemed good to me--just needed the spirit clarification. I'd forgotten just how much goes on in MOI with QB.
Pnr060
32. EarthandIce
Taitastigon@ 23: The use of the name was not by our 'good guys' but by necromancers when they attempted to take Talamarandas from his Barrow.

Oh, shalter@ 25 got the distinction.

As one of the newbies, I too appreciate the posts. Granted I think I will have to read the series more than twice to pick up everything, but wow.

I just finished Memories of Ice, and boy it sure gets complicated after Gardens. I could not put it down last night until I finished it. 11:30 pm.... Now I have to wait 2 weeks for the Library to get Chain of Houses back, bleh.

Should I go to one of the outrigger novels? I have read the novellas about, rats I can never spell the names right, the necromancers. I do not want to meet either of those guys in a dark alley!

Hi RobMRobM, I am really enjoying this series, and I look forward to the 'outrigger' novels. I am growing to like and respect the Tiste Andii, especially Anomander Rake.

I actually have a question for some of the veterans. Does Anomander catch up with Kallor? A yes of no is sufficient.
Elena Vaccaro
33. EarthandIce
Oh, in addition to Mammot knowing the right people to help deal with Sorry, he is Crokus' uncle. Crokus also knows he works with the High Mage of the City Baruk.

I have to figure out a timeline........

Yaaaa I go my avitar to post!!!
Pnr060
34. Karsa_Orlong_Is_Bad_Ass
@32 - I wouldn't read any of of Esslemont's books until after Reaper's Gail (RotCG is mostly between RG and ToH) and NoK is "just history"

enjoy house of chains -- one of the best! :)
Tai Tastigon
35. Taitastigon
shal @31

= Taitastigon@26: Your post @23 seemed good to me--just needed the spirit clarification. I'd forgotten just how much goes on in MOI with QB. =

Dude, and now, I have to retract from the retraction. I am fussing thru BH to find Fiddler´s reference re QB´s shapeshifting...& I am finding a sh*tload of things, just not THAT. *gg*
Damn - I am fully reevaluating BH - thx, Fiddler !!! Even if not intended !

One of the things I stumbled over: A conversation between Samar Dev and Taxilian...- where Taxilian refuses her his real name, because it would grant her binding power over him....!!! And here we are talking living bodies.

So, it seems that this name-binding shtick seems to work for Elder magic. Since we do not know - at this point - what Elder magic actually means, I can go ahead, grin my head off...and feed the neophytes a really nasty R A F O !!! *evilLoooooooooL*
Julian Augustus
36. Alisonwonderland
EarthandIce @32:
I actually have a question for some of the veterans. Does Anomander catch up with Kallor? A yes of no is sufficient.

Depends what you mean by 'catch-up'. If you mean does Rake give Kallor his just desserts, the answer is No. They do meet, however, in MoI.
Steven Halter
37. stevenhalter
Taitastigon@35: Samar Dev strengthens the spirit angle I think since she is a witch who deals with spirits.
Tricia Irish
38. Tektonica
Hi all. Sorry I'm so late to today's party. It was a busy day.....

Seems most of the big plot points have been gone over....I'd like to comment on some of the great lines in these chapters.

In Ch. 14 Kruppe and company on their way to the Gadrobi Hills:

Kruppe: smiled beatifically at Murillio, “Nay, lad, the true masters at acquiring information need no such clumsy pieces of metal; indeed, we disdain them.”

….We observe without being observed. We learn while remaining a mystery to all…..

Kruppe describing Coll:
“A sponge, squeezed beneath the burden of armor. See the man down our precious water, see it immediately reappear salty and grimy on his weathered skin. What yon poisons have leaked forth? Kruppe shudders at the thought.”

On Crocus: “You and Rallick share a lot more than you think, and that’s why you’re the most qualified man here.” ….barring the necessary brains, of course, which is my true skill….”


Kruppe is so entertaining! Great comic relief. SE writes wonderful dialogue.

I really didn't like Lorn very much before this chapter. I have such hopes that she might assert herself. She starts doubting her mission and the Empress’ wisdom. This is her conscience trying hard to re-emerge and her real, buried "self" trying to resurface. “To fling this jaghut Tyrant into the hands of the Empire’s enemy, to trust this Tiste Andii Anomander Rake to destroy it, yet at great cost to himself – thus opening the way for Malazan sorceries in turn to kill the Son of Darkness – now seemed precipitous, absurd in its ambitions. “

And later:
She now knew with a certainty that what they were doing was wrong, that it’s consequences went far beyond the petty efforts of a mundane Empire.
Alas. Sigh.

Meanwhile out on the Rhivi Plain....Toc's Inner Sight is starting to emerge!

I was getting worried about Paran losing his humanity but there are signs of hope.
….Now he would use Oponn, the Twin’s power, that horrifying edge of destruction that came with Ascendancy. Paran’s conscience worried for Toc who had no god’s protection.

I loved this exchange between Paran and Hairlock, before his demise:

Paran: I was looking forward to chipping you into kindling. Is your magic a match for my hatred?
Hairlock: What do you know of hatred? When I return I’ll show you precisely what hatred can achieve.
QB cuts Hairlocks strings (savage grin) and HL flops.
Here come the Hounds!
Gear eyes Paran for later and tear Hairlock apart….
They turn for Paran…
“Come to me, Gear. I’m tired of being used and death doesn’t seem so frightening anymore. Let’s be done with it.”


Boy, Paran has the revenge bug bad! He seems to recover his conscience after Rake tells him Oponn has released him. His empathy with the Hounds when he's within Dragnipur is a nice 180 from his anger and revenge with Hairlock.

What exactly is the connection between Paran and the Hounds now? Is it because he touched their blood or because he helped the two in Dragnipur?

It's interesting how the Male twin of Oponn so fears being within Dragnipur and so close to Kurald Galain and the Queen of Darkness....Why?

Dragnipur is sighted as a god slaying sword.....what does THAT mean?

I loved the dialogue between ST and Rake. Rake is tons of awesome and just gets better.

Thanks for all the comments on True Names.

Earthandice@23: I'm right behind you....pp. 367 MoI...pretty awesome stuff.

Welcome RobM. Glad you came over to the "Dark" side! It's a good crew.
Steven Halter
39. stevenhalter
Tektonica@38: The blood is a big connection.

Dragnipur being sited as a god slaying sword means exactly what it says.
M D
40. Abalieno
I was writing a lengthy reply on another forum and the argument of discussion is something we tackled even in this re-read, so I thought about pasting it here as well even if not strictly about these last two chapters.

If it's too long tell me and I'll just put a link. It's a discussion on characterization, the purpose of literature, and the purpose of the Malazan series as a whole.

--
the soldiers are just random mouthpieces for the author, who'll switch attitude (I cannot speak of personalities: they don't actually have personalities) with every scene.


Take Gardens of the Moon. On my first read I could hardly match a Bridgeburner name with the corresponding character, if I did the description of the personality of that character would still be rather limited.

I'm following Tor re-read of the same book now. With the struggle to memorize names and context out of the way I'm discovering a whole new layer in characterization that was almost entirely missing on my first read. Dialogue that was before just between anonymous masks is now consistent with the character and unexpectedly rich in nuances. I feel like I'm reading a wholly different book. Not just consistent but filled to the brim with cross-references that required the insight I didn't have before. Things to glide over or just producing a big question mark and then move on with the reading. The last two pages I've read about Rallick Nom gave an introspection and depth to the character that I didn't remember was there, written really well. The tension of Kalam and Quick Ben when they are found by Sorry, and the realization that what they thought was correct, and that it meant they would be dead. Then the scene with Whiskeyjack waiting for them with the rest of the squad, a scene where every line adds something to the characterization and true friendship of the whole squad, the dialogue between them, and then the arrival of Quick Ben who cringes in front of WJ, and WJ losing his patience. An undeniable feel that these characters have been together for a really long time, and not just since the beginning of the written page. Characters that come out of the page, with natural dialogue between them and drawn from what they are, and not directed to the reader.

That scene is as great as any Black Company scene written by Glen Cook, and it's from a book that is far from the best Erikson delivered when it comes to characterization.

The confusion and inconsistency isn't of the characters, it is of the reader. The books pretend a reader to memorize and familiarize way more than it is possible, way more than what it is reasonable to ask, and that's why re-reads are so revelatory in this series about both characters and plot. The confusion of the reader is undeniable because the series represents the far opposite of "accessibility". It's actually a big flaw the series has. It is inimical, too dense and unwieldy. But the characterization is there in that ink and it is consistent. It requires more patience than usual because you only get quick glimpses at a big number of characters, and they only become "real" characters with a lot of pages and time, time that is definitely not easily available among readers who are already having an hard time getting through a so dense book and digesting the way Erikson writes.

Erikson's characterization can be compared to an impressionist painter who only delicately dabs and sketches. It will take time to familiarize and recognize a character for what it actually is, and to appreciate the panting that at a first glance appeared as just a confusion of random colors. The forms are in the painting, but it takes time to make the eye used to them and recognize them for their merit.

This opposed to a traditional type of characterization (neither better nor worse, just different) where you stay in the mind of a character for the long haul. Full-on introspection that begins giving you the context of where and how that person is living, what he feels, what he loves, his fears, his desires. And that makes a reader familiarize and understand with the character. Identify himself and so "caring" for the personal story and feel emotional attachment.

The heritage of "modern" fantasy was not in delivering characters that are "gray". But in forcing the reader into their PoV. We often have warring factions, but we zoom into both of them, taking both sides. Any of the recent fantasy with gray characters could be turned into solid black and white by just removing the corresponding PoVs. Without motivations and alternative observation points, every story becomes polarized.

The thing Erikson successfully or unsuccessfully tries to realize with his characterization is about starting to show that "stories" exist with the characters, but also in spite of them. The real world chews characters and spits them out, is disdainful of personal stories. A book can usually follow the life of a character through an ideal arc, whose premises define its conclusion. But that's the nice trick and deceit that traditional literature does to the real world. The illusion that there is "sense" and "meaning". Beginnings and ends. Justice. Payoff. We create "meaning" out of a meaningless, unjust world. Lives are cut short and no one actually dies only once he solved his issues. Flaws, imperfections, lack of meaning and especially the lack of understanding of others are the things that are always true. Humanity is about the damnation of the deceit of seeing "meaning" where there is none. It's a tragedy, and the Malazan series is written as a tragedy. It's not "fantasy", it's a 1:1 copy of this world, an only slightly misshapen mirror.

To grieve is a gift best shared. As a song is shared.
Deep in the caves, the drums beat. Glorious echo to the herds whose thundering hoofs celebrate what it is to be alive, to run as one, to roll in life's rhythm. This is how, in the cadence of our voice, we serve nature's greatest need.
Facing nature, we are the balance.
Ever the balance to chaos.


"in the cadence of our voice" means a written page. Language. Or what only separates humanity from the rest of life forms. Nature is the chaos from where we desperately scrape meaning.

With that lacerating truth in the mind, Erikson realizes characters whose story (and characterization) is shred and tattered. Suspicion and opaqueness are traits that are true in our world. And if a foe suddenly turns into a possible ally it's not "inconsistency", it's understanding. Full-on introspection doesn't work like that even for ourselves. (Foster Wallace attempts "true" full-on introspection with the result that it generates a tremendous annihilating whirlpool that either sucks you in or hurls you away) We don't have the privilege of a personal writer who overlooks what we do and inscribes meaning and finality into our lives. We are opaque and uncertain even to ourselves, even less to one that merely observes. Meaning is not "found" outside, it is created within. The story of the Malazan series is unmindful of characters, it's up to the characters to find their path, only to see it end abruptly. And up to the reader to decide what to do with them.

The only journey that lay ahead of him was a short one, and he must walk it alone. He was blind, but in this no more blind than anyone else. Death's precipice, whether first glimpsed from afar or discovered with the next step, was ever a surprise. A promise of the sudden cessation of questions, yet there were no answers waiting beyond. Cessation would have to be enough. And so it must be for every mortal. Even as we hunger for resolution. Or, even more delusional: redemption.

Now, after all this time, he was able to realize that every path eventually, inevitably dwindled into a single line of footsteps. There, leading to the very edge. Then gone. And so, he faced only what every mortal faced. The solitude of death, and oblivion's final gift that was indifference.


The Malazan series is not consolatory, it is about compassion and reconciliation.
Tai Tastigon
41. Taitastigon
Aba @40

Lotsa text, Aba. Why don´t I give you my short, cynical version ?:

Most of the genre bitches whine and complain that nobody takes the genre seriously in terms of literature, being dissed as *lightweight*. Along comes SE and goes medievally Dostojevski on them...next thing ye know, all the genre bitches whine and complain about MBotF being too complicated, uncomprehensible, that they would like more pre-chewed, easier, *lightweight*.

Go figure.
Or worse - we deserve the reputation that we got...^^
Rob Munnelly
42. RobMRobM
Nice to be here. Tek and Fiddler (among others) know me from the WoT re-read, where I've been one of the most active posters. Won't be that here but will try to follow along and post a bit.

I have decided that Kruppe is my favorite character in the series so far - as of 3/4 way through DG. So slippery.

Rob
Tai Tastigon
43. Taitastigon
Rob @42

Dude, then you´re gonna love him in MoI !
*Man of Lard*.
Classic ! Looooooooooooooooooool !
M D
44. Abalieno
@41

Generalizations are bad. In the end celebrating a writer while dissing another is about repeating the same mistake without any factual argument and is just another pointless war between fans of writer and fans of another throwing insults and humorous remarks at each other.

We don't need to decide if "X" is a better writer than "Y" or what is literature and what is comfort food. Especially here. The discussion is useful when it helps to understand better a book. Everyone will then take out of the book any value he wants, as a personal thing.
Amir Noam
45. Amir
@Amanda:
"It seems I never learn,” Paran replied.

The Tiste Andii smiled. “Then we are much alike, mortal.”

I'm not sure I follow what confused you here. Rake is immortal; Paran is not. Therefore, there is nothing strange here for Rake to call Paran "mortal".


RE: Starvald Demelain:
This warren came up before when Lorn and Tool observed from a distance the clash between Tattersail and Bellurdan. Tool has commented that several warrens are used, including Starvald Demelain. Lorn doesn't recognize that name and Tool just says that it is not just an Elder warren, but that all other warrens came from it. (Another thing to keep in mind here, as well as throughout the series, is that we get bits of information from unreliable sources! All we learn here is that Tool believes it is the First Warren).

Amanda, since you seem to like dragons, keep an eye out for any mentions of Starvald Demelain in the series. This name means a lot.


shalter @18:
In TMBotF, Erikson seems to usually use names as more of a psychological effect and character defining effect than a direct magical effect.
Indeed. Also remember at the beginning of GoTM that Cottilion finally decided to go ahead and posses Sorry just becuase Shadowthrone deliberately lets her know their names. I don't have the book handy right now, but I believe he told her: "You see, there are names and then there are Names". Knowing their names would trigger all kind of alarm bells in the empire if anyone is to learn of their connection with events. Ironically, it seems that everyone around - from the Empress to the Adjunct and down to a squad of marines - is able to know of the extent of the involvement of High House Shadow in this.


Buddhacat @22:
It means no direct line from QB to ST and his Hounds. Thus, ST is not able to double-cross QB and kill him despite the deal.
Makes a lot of sense. Thanks for clearing this up.


RE Otataral:
A flash of rage ran through her. Memory was attached to Otataral, a very personal memory.
I've only recently read Night of Knives and, wow, did that comment from Cotillion make my eyes pop open! Shows how nicely integrated Erikson's and Esslemont's stories are.


RE Rake: Love his "Now, I've yet to lose my temper" line. Really fits with his ability to just lean back in front of the fire enjoying a good wine. This guy is all kinds of cool.


Abalieno @40:
Thanks for the (long and) insightful analysis. I share your sentiments.
Travis Nelsen
47. Zangred
Amir@45:

I'm not sure I follow what confused you here. Rake is immortal; Paran is not. Therefore, there is nothing strange here for Rake to call Paran "mortal".
----
I think Amanda was confused about Paran's reaction to Rake calling him mortal, not that Rake actually called him a mortal.

Still, there really isn't much to be confused about here. As we know, knowledge of the Tiste Andii, and Rake in particular, is sparse at best. Certainly not common knowledge. It's probable that Paran would not know much more about the Tiste Andii than a few generalities and a description of their racial features. So Paran's reaction was a realization that the Tiste Andii are immortal (remember that at this point Paran does not know it is Rake he is talking to, just a Tiste Andii).
Tricia Irish
48. Tektonica
Abaleino@40: That was great. A lot to digest with my first cup of coffee this AM. Will do another peruse later. Just wanted to say thanks. Very thoughtful and insightful about Ericson and the series. It certainly explains why I like it so much. Not easy. Not pretty. Stark. Thoughtful. Human. An oddly hopeful.
Steven Halter
49. stevenhalter
Abaleino@40: I liked the comparison to impressionism. That also ties in well with Taitastigon's comparison to "Pulp Fiction" in last week's thread. As you noted, we get bits and pieces of the story and characters that can then be woven together into a coherent picture. It's also reminiscent of the pointillist painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat. If you start right up close to the painting, you will only see a bunch of little dots. As you gradually step away you see the whole picture.
As we get further into the series, we will see that Erikson uses this technique from book to book, and not just scene to scene.
Matt LaRose
50. TheLegend
Amir@45

I think it is fair to say that the squad of marines isn't your normal squad of marines.

@Amanda

Toc and Paran are my two fav characters I wish they would have gotten more "on screen" time together than they actually did. I like to think they would have gotten along very well together (just like they did for the last couple of chapters)
Steven Halter
51. stevenhalter
I touched on this last week, but now that we see that is indeed Rake who causes Cotillion to vacate Sorry, we also see that Rigga, the seer, was a pretty decent seer. From when they meet:

Rigga will preserve you because we are linked, you and I. But it is all I can do, understand? Look to the Lord spawned in Darkness; his is the hand that shall free you, though he'll know it not.

We see that she predicted that it would be Rake who freed Sorry.
Steven Halter
52. stevenhalter
@Bill:

You’re absolutely right on Laseen’s play I think; her view seems to be go big or go home on this one.

Definitely. Laseen is making a couple of big gambles here. She is betting that Rake can take out the Tyrant and she's betting that someone can take out Rake afterword. She's also making the assumption that taking out Rake would be a good thing for her. I'd have to say that she was dead wrong on the last point. If Rake had been killed here, a lot of things would go wrong in the future.
Operating on bad assumptions and faulty knowledge seems to be a continuing problem for Laseen.
Amir Noam
53. Amir
TheLegend @50:
I think it is fair to say that the squad of marines isn't your normal squad of marines.
Oh, most definitely. I just found it amusing that after all the trouble that Shadowthrone and Cotillion went through to mask their involvement from empire officials (including slaughtering a whole village) everyone involved sees right through their masks.
Amir Noam
54. Amir
Something else has occurred to me:
Does anyone else feel that it is quite odd for the T'lan Imass to participate in this insane plan to free a Jaghut Tyrant? The Imass sole purpose in life (such as it is) is to exterminate Jaghut. The Imass owe no specific allegiance to either Laseen or the Malazan Empire (as Tool notes, they swore personally to the old emperor).

Why would they ever try to free a Tyrant?
If their purpose was to free it only so it can be destroyed by Rake, then this strikes me as inconsistent with Imass behavior elsewhere in the series - they fight their own fights. Even suicidally at times.
Steven Halter
55. stevenhalter
@54:That's a good question. A little later in the book:

Very slight spoiler:





Tool and Lorn are talking and he mentions that he is compelled. He also mentions that performing the act will free him of his vows and that once he realizes who this particular tyrant is he has misgivings.
Who or what is doing the compelling, he doesn't mention.
Matt LaRose
56. TheLegend
Amir@53

I agree with you. It was almost seen through right at the start too. Although I think Quick Ben has more contacts which allowed him to find out easier that most would have.
Sydo Zandstra
57. Fiddler
Taitastigon@35:

I am fussing thru BH to find Fiddler´s reference re QB´s shapeshifting...& I am finding a sh*tload of things, just not THAT. *gg*
Damn - I am fully reevaluating BH - thx, Fiddler !!! Even if not intended !


You're welcome. :D

Just give me a shout if you think you've found it... ;)

@RobM:
Good to see you caught up :)
Pnr060
58. NmareBfly
Re: Paran's response to the 'mortal' comment.

I've always thought that while discovering the Ande's immortality was a piece of the reaction, there's also the fact that Paran himself has been killed and brought back. In a way, he's not exactly a mortal either.

It's hard to read too much into a one word reaction, though.
Thomas Jeffries
59. thomstel
shalter@52

Laseen is making a couple of big gambles here.

From what we know so far, that's true. However, consider: Laseen seems to operating under the assumption that major players add unnecessary risk to the expansion of the empire. Just as everyone wants Oponn out of their hair, and Rake wants Shadow kept out of what happens in Daruj, so too does Laseen want Rake out of the way. Her real gambit here stems more from the idea that she wants him dead, as opposed to incapacitated/distracted.

Now, given that, the plan is somewhat sound, if convulted:

1) Send the BB to Daruj. They are to plant seeds (hardy-har) that will contribute to the mayham later, covert-ops, possibly contact Assassin Guild, etc.
2) Send Paran with the BB to root out what's going on with Sorry, try and nullify Shadow's part in the action.
3) Send Lorn and Tool to wake up the Jaghut Tyrant after stealing the majority of his essence in the Finnest. Take Finnest to Daruj so the Tyrant follows, and bet on Rake feeling compelled to protect the city. I'd bet Rake vs. de-powered Tyrant too.
4) Send one of Tays's major demons via alternate route to bat cleanup once the Tyrant is down. Rake removed from play. Incredibly gutsy call...Laseen's on her own here: I would bet Rake could have downed both the demon and the Tyrant.
5) Tool may be enslaved by the Tyrant and turned against more mundane forces in Daruj. BB are there too to light up the night, and Lorn's sword could do some serious damage as well. End result: severe de-stabilization of Daruj's major players.


The only thing I can't see Laseen leaving out is Moon's Spawn. It's kind of a big deal to have all the other Andii, none of which are slouches, still hanging out overhead constantly. Betting they'll lose all hope and go emo if Rake is gone? Pfft.

So having said all that...yeah, you may be right. Especially since Step #6 is "Sit a continent or two away, with no contact to anyone, and wait and see how it goes."

Go me for proving your point. :)
Mieneke van der Salm
60. Mieneke
Sorry to show up late to the party. But yesterday was so busy it wasn't funny anymore. I brought cookies to make it up *grin* Excellent comments again this week. I can't contribute anything that hasn't been already said, but I do have two points.

I knew those sticks and strings of Quick Ben's would be important lol I just love the visual of Hairlock collapsing like that when QB snips the strings.

And I was wondering about the damage Oponn did Paran, which Brood might have healed. Is Rake referring to the same thing Mallett talked about, that they healed Paran's body so quickly after he was assassinated without also healing his spirit/soul? Or is he referring to them abandoning him when the Hounds come? And just the fact that they used and discarded him?
Steven Halter
61. stevenhalter
thomstel@59:

"Sit a continent or two away, with no contact to anyone, and wait and see how it goes."

lol--that's a good capture of Laseen's strategy and how it keeps going bad.
Yes, getting Rake killed is Laseen's goal. Killing people to simplify things seems to be her general goal: The Emperor & Dancer, many of the 'Old Guard', the Bridgeburners, ...
Or, I should probably say trying to kill things ...
Steven Halter
62. stevenhalter
Mieneke@60: I took it to be a spiritual hurt that Oponn inflicted by rapidly leaving (and maybe by being there in the first place). Kind of what Hedge alluded to.
Pnr060
63. Karsa_Orlong_Is_Bad_Ass
@52: Operating on bad assumptions and faulty knowledge seems to be a continuing problem for Laseen.

...or maybe she is thinking about it better than anybody else. Maybe she only told part of her plan to Lorn. Maybe the plan only *appears* to be aimed at Rake and is in fact aimed someplace else...and by freeing the tyrant and forcing the fight she'll cause something else to happen...

I think 40 said it great -- earlier I tried to say it differently -- Erikson trusts his reader to figure it out. That is (almost) unique in the genre, and some people aren't up to the trust.

the trust needs to go both ways. if/when we see somebody competent doing something (with full deliberation) that appears incompetent, we should trust that something else might be going on and it is up to us to figure out what it is.
Tricia Irish
64. Tektonica
Re: Paran's response to the 'mortal' comment.

It was stated this way, Mortal?

My initial reaction was that it was said/thought by Rake. That he was wondering if Paran was mortal. Maybe it was Paran wondering if he was indeed mortal after his visit with the Oponn twins at Hood's gate.

Funny, how many ways that can be intrepreted.

As for Laseen's gambit.....I found it odd that Lorn came to Pale with seemingly, one set of instructions....get rid of Sorry, kill threatening mages, cut One Arm loose and kill the bridgeburners, take Darujustan, weaken Rake by having to fight the Jaghut tyrant so he can be killed.....but really she has a different agenda.... I think.

It seems to me, she would've been better off parlaying with Rake and finding out just what he was really about before trying to "off" him, as he would've made a formidable ally.

I've never understood why One Person wants to rule the Whole Wide World. It's so vast, and one so far away is not in a good position to know what works in a particular place within a singular culture. What is this desire for hegemony with us humans, anyway? Ummmm....seems to be a theme....
Steven Halter
65. stevenhalter
Karsa_Orlong_Is_Bad_Ass@63:
...or maybe she is thinking about it better than anybody else.

Maybe, but I'm sticking with the "she's messing up" line. I think events will bear this out.
if/when we see somebody competent doing something (with full deliberation) that appears incompetent, we should trust that something else might be going on and it is up to us to figure out what it is.

Yes, there are many times when there are deeply layered plots going on. I'm sure Laseen thinks taking out Rake will result in all sorts of things. But, I think she's wrong in the things that would happen and I don't think she's all that competent as a grand planner.
Note, that I completely agree that Erikson is writing with a lot of depth here. I just disagree with which direction that depth is pointing in this case. :-)
Robin Lemley
66. Robin55077
@Amanda & @ 11 Shalter, @ 22. Buddhacat

"Why does using Cotillion mean that Quick Ben outwits Shadowthrone?"

Nice observations by both Shalter and Buddhacat earlier. I also wanted to add a simpler explanation to this question.

Remember, at this point, no one knows that Cotillion has possessed Sorry. A few of the Bridgeburners are suspicious, but no one is sure. Certainly Cotillion and Shadowthrone at this point think that they are being so sneaky as to not just the possession of Sorry but their personal little "war" against Lasseen, and their true identites.

When Quick Ben was in the warren making the deal with Shadowthrone, ST ask Quick "How then, do you intend to call upon me? Surely, you'll not once again enter my realm." QB says, "Lord, you will be contacted. I guarantee this, but I can say no more about it."

Then, QB returns and he and Kalam are talking when Sorry shows up to tell them that she has found an assassin at the Phoenix Inn. QB asks her how she found them and she eventually states that she sensed his power. It was only at that point that QB knew for sure that Sorry had been possessed by Cotillion. She senesed QB's return from the Shadow warren through Cotillion's link with that warren. QB believed that she was Cotillion, was even counting on it being true, but he did not know for certain until that point. After Sorry leaves, QB says to Kalam, "She's the one we thought her to be. So far, so good."

Now, when QB has tracked down Hairlock and is ready for ST to send the hounds, he calls, "Sorry! Hear me, woman! I know you. I know who you are. Cotillion, Patron of Assassins, The Rope, I call upon you!" Cotillion relays the loction to ST, the hounds are are sent, etc., ect.

Thus, a very simple expanation is that QB outwitted ST because he knew that Sorry was Cotillion. ST and Cot. had no clue that anyone knew that. They thought it a secret known only to them.

I find that for myself, sometimes I am looking so hard for the deep, hidden meaning in these books, that it is easy to overlook some of the simpler, easier ones. LOL
Steven Halter
67. stevenhalter
Tektonica@65:

I've never understood why One Person wants to rule the Whole Wide World. It's so vast, and one so far away is not in a good position to know what works in a particular place within a singular culture. What is this desire for hegemony with us humans, anyway? Ummmm....seems to be a theme....

Yes, I'll vote for it being a theme.
I think it is interesting that Laseen's motivations are (most probably) different that the Emperor/Dancer's were. I think the Emperor/Dancer had/have a complex long term plan and they didn't let Surly in on it.
Robin Lemley
69. Robin55077
A personal observation.

Just wanted to say that I think it was this week's chapters that on my initial read made me into a fan of this book, this series, and Erickson.

Up to this point, I knew that I was feeling a bit lost in all the details. I knew without a doubt that I was missing a whole lot more than I was getting. However, my personal rule is that I always read the first two books in any series (especially High Fantasy), before I make a decision on whether or not to continue. Some writers start out slow, some bog you down in so many details at the beginning that it takes a while to get to the story, Erickson dropped me into the middle of a scene that I could tell was a small part of a huge picture, even if I had no clue what the picture was.

I pushed my way through it, hoping at some point, I could "catch up" and understand what was going on. Finally, I got to this point in the book, and for some reason I realized that I was grasping a little bit more than I thought I was and that this was going to be a great story.

At this point, I finally realized the complexity of Quick Ben's deal with Shadowthrone, his plan to get rid of Hairlock (after all, how do you kill a possessed puppet who travels the warren of Chaos?). I was finally beginning to grasp the power of Rake and the vulnerability of the Gods. I was finally beginning to understand Erickson's ability with words and his style of writing, his ability to make me think.

And then, absolutely out of nowhere, Erickson went and, with a mighty flick of his pen, threw Toc the Younger into the warren of chaos!

I still remember thinking, WTF? I loved that character! The son of a soldier of the "Old Guard." The son of man who had been chosen for "death" by the Empress. Toc, who despite his father's history with the Empire, had become a Claw. So much story there! So much I want to know about him.

No! Bring him back, get him out of there! I'm not ready for Toc to leave the story yet! I read on feverishly for many chapters, looking for some hint that Toc was okay, that he was coming back. After numerous chapters and no hint that he was returning, I realized that I loved this story, with or without Toc the Younger. And I realized that, even if it cost me a character that I loved, there was no way I could abandon a writer who brought forth that kind of a reaction from me half-way through a book that I wasn't even sure I was understanding!
Julian Augustus
70. Alisonwonderland
Robin @66:

I agree with your assessment. Shadowthrone didn't think it was possible for QB to contact him without revealing his (QB's) location, so he agreed to the deal and was waiting for QB to come back into contact so he can sic his hounds on QB. However, QB, by going through Cotillion instead, didn't reveal his location to Shadowthrone for the double-cross. Cotillion thought it was clever (ha! he hadn't realized when he was Sorry that QB is a master of deceit and more clever than just about anybody except possibly Kruppe).
Steven Halter
71. stevenhalter
Robin@69:
Good set of observations. Thanks for sharing that.
I remember being hooked at the description of the battle of Pale. I was bowled over by the use of magic and the descriptions. No timid elves hiding in a forest there.
I also remember having the same sort of reaction when Toc vanished. WTF exactly. It jars you out of your usual assumptions about how a fantasy novel is going to proceed.
Rob Munnelly
72. RobMRobM
@69 and 70 - had a similar response but I noted Toc the Younger as being the author of some type of prose poem at a chapter head so had internal confidence - not yet confirmed in the text - that we'll see him again later.
Steven Halter
73. stevenhalter
RobMRobM@72 - Yeah, I remember thinking along the same lines on my first read, but then thinking, "Well, maybe he wrote some poetry in between becoming a Claw and going to war".
Tony Zbaraschuk
74. tonyz
Shalter @67:
I think it is interesting that Laseen's motivations are (most probably) different that the Emperor/Dancer's were. I think the Emperor/Dancer had/have a complex long term plan and they didn't let Surly in on it.


Or they let her in on it and she disagreed with them.

Or she's partnering with them to achieve their long-term aim. (I can't quite make myself believe that, given a lot of apparent evidence otherwise, but it wouldn't be entirely impossible.)
Pnr060
75. Karsa_Orlong_Is_Bad_Ass
@65. shalter

...I'll just say "maybe"...:)

but, i think you'll have to admit when this is all over that "thank god they let the tyrant go - it would never have worked out otherwise."

and the only question is "was that an accident? or did Lasseen make a gamble that it would turn out that way?"


@ 74. tonyz

I've read these books 4 or 5 times (once, when book 7 came out, I read the first 6 again and then read 7 and then read the first 6 again...). Now maybe I'm dense, but I'm still not sure what Laseen's motivations are. Everytime I think I know what she's up to, we get a new wrinkle (including Esselmont's stuff)

I think it was a couple of chapter's ago that somebody pointed out the Big Enemy(tm) is the Crippled God. Somehow I think everything that is going on is aimed at the CG and we are just seeing the consequences of various different strategies of fixing the "CG" problem. if ST and Cot really wanted Lasseen dead, don't you think she'd be dead ina blink of an eye? but she isn't - why not? what information are we missing to figure it out? did she *really* kill them (or try to)? or was it important that everybody just think that so that they can set in motion what needs to be in motion to save the world.

again, my ubur point is that the characters are all doing things for reasons - they can be cowardly reasons, selfish reasons, etc. etc...but i have yet to see smart characters do things for stupid reasons. SE writes with far too much consistency for him to let that happen.
Steven Halter
76. stevenhalter
Karsa_Orlong_Is_Bad_Ass@75:
... That's all possible of course. But, remember Cotillions reaction to the Otararal sword. If everything was really an elaborate con then he would have not had that internal reaction.
If Laseen is really on top of things then we would also have to assume she's fully supportive of the events of the Chain of Dogs.
And, she'd have to either be a really great actress or really committed to be on top of all of the events in "The Return of the Crimson Guard."
All these things are possible but I think a simpler explanation is that she is out of the loop and others (like ST) really do have deep and complex plans.
Now, I don't think that Laseen is stupid, I just think she's making decisions without complete information.
(Good discussion by the way!)
Pnr060
77. Karsa_Orlong_Is_Bad_Ass
@76. shalter

Ahh...the chain of dogs. so sad. I can't wait to read the re-read comments on that one. I think there is a distinction between what people drive themselves vs. what other do that they have to react to. Lasseen (and, btw, I can't believe that I'm defending her -- one of my least favorite characters!) had to *react* to what happened in the chain of dogs (and to some extent RotCG), but she was in charge of what is happening to the tyrant. when people "fail" (e.g. get somethign they don't expect or want) it is often when they react inappropriately to other people's plans.

I think it is yet to be proven if Laseen is/was a chump that bumbled around or a key player in a grand scheme that had the difficult job of being the one that is hated and the one that is forced to do despicable things so that a greater good can be achieved.

there have been a lot of comments about the "gray" that Ericson writes in -- I think Laseen and the tyrant is just another gray area that we as readers would be making a mistake if we interpreted it as a black and white thing.
Steven Halter
78. stevenhalter
Karsa_Orlong_Is_Bad_Ass@77:
Ok, if we're just talking about the tyrant plan, then its possible that Laseen (and others) had a deeper plan then just having Rake kill the Tyrant and then killing Rake.
Julian Augustus
79. Alisonwonderland
Well, I've read Reapers Gale, and I've read Return of the Crimson Guard, and it would take a lot to convince me that Surly was operating on any kind of long-range plan remotely similar to what Shadowthrone and Cotillion appear to be doing.
Steven Halter
80. stevenhalter
Alisonwonderland@79: Yeah, those events would require a pretty large amount of 'commitment' on the part of Surly.
Pnr060
81. Karsa_Orlong_Is_Bad_Ass
@80 Shalter

yeah -- it'd pretty much make her one of the top heroes of the series. woudn't that suck!!?? :)
Pnr060
83. kbig
great posts, I'm just catching up now.

I always thought Laseen's plan was shaky at best myself, but I imagine that she has little context for a Jaghut Tyrant: Jaghut are extremely rare and there haven't been any Tyrants for a hundred thousand years. Of course she would manage to choose Raest, one of the blackest Tyrants and one who had to be separated from his soul and imprisoned instead of killed.

re: why don't ST and C just off Laseen?
two reasons, imo.
First, power draws power, and displays of power invite convergence. Laseen is still Surly, the assasin who founded the Claw, no weak individual. Additionally, her position as the Empresss of the largest empire in the world makes her a conspicuous figure. Shadowthrone and Cotillion do not need that kind of attention.

Second, Shadowthrone was Kellanved. He built the Malazan Empire, and whatever its current place in his designs, he probably does not want to see it destroyed by civil war, something that might happen if the gods show up to assassinate the Empress one day.

As far as the QB shapeshifter discussion (spoilers) :



We later (this may even be in a later book I don't remember) learn that Quick Ben's multiple-warren prowess is because he had a cadre of a dozen mages soulshifted into his body to preserve them in a time of crisis. I think that the personality known as Delat that Shadowthrone doesn't recognize as his former High Priest of Shadow is no longer wearing his own face, making ST THINK that he has shapeshifting powers, when he in fact does not. Although in a later book Fiddler does ask QB if "we'll finally get to see what your soletaken form is" and he says no, but doesn't say whether he could do it if he wanted to.
Robin Lemley
84. Robin55077
@ Too many posts to reference here. :-)

Re: My personal take on Lasseen and her Motives

I have been a little bit surprised (pleasantly) to see all of the posts so far relatived to Lasseen. What surprises me most is to realize that nearly everyone it seems, views her differently than I do. Thus, I am probably wrong. LOL Keep in mind, that I am acknowledging right now that I am most likely wrong, but here is my take anyway.

I have never "disliked" Lasseen, and, in fact have always felt very sorry for her. I always felt that she was completely misunderstood by her military and her citizens. I always felt that Lasseen was loyal to one thing, and one thing only....the Empire. I think she did everything she did to preserve the Empire, rather than for any personal gain.

When she killed Kellanved & Dancer and took over as Empress, K & D had not been seen or heard of for a period of 8 or 9 years (if I recall correctly). K&D simply went off to do their own thing one day and never returned. After a period of years (not days, weeks, or months, but years) of waiting, Lasseen stepped in and took charge. Someone had to do it, and she was third in charge behind K & D so it made sense that it would be her. I do not think that she ever intended to "steal" the empire from K&D, she simply did what had to be done to preserve the Empire.

Also, keep in mind that Kellanved, was horribly brutal in forming this Empire. In fact, he is referred to on numerous occassions, as being insane. These references to his sanity and his brutality are made throughout the series, not by enemies of his, but by persons loyal to him. Therefore, I think you have to give them credence. Over the course of 100 odd years, he forms this Empire, then walks away, and for all intents and purposes abandonds it to pursue "personal business" apparently without a care for what is happening in and to the Empire. Eventually, Lasseen takes the steps she feels are necessary to protect the Empire. I certainly cannot fault her for that and even see it as a bit admirable.

As far as the characters know, she killed K&D to become Empress. However, we as readers know, nothing is ever as it seems. When it comes to the whole "assassination" plot/scenario, I believe she even saw herself as an assassin that night. After all, she created the Claw so she certainly knew all about assassinations. I feel that she believed she had two choices. Step aside and let K&D take control of the Empire once again, for whatever period time they wanted to play at rulers of the Empire before they disappeared again, or, take control herself and preserve the Empire. However, the joke was unwittingly on her, since the plan was K&D's for the actions of that night to proceed exactly as they did, which allowed K&D to enter the Deadhouse and, once there, ascend to the Throne of Shadow.

The events following the Chain of Dogs were horrible, however, once again, her back was against the wall. She could let the Empire tear itself apart over this, or take steps to preserve the Empire. Once again, she chose what was good for the Empire. Keep in mind that almost everyone who knew the details of the Chain of Dogs was dead. The main survivor, an ex-Fist of the Empire, was the one left alive telling the tale. History is written by the conquorers, not the conquored, and dead men can tell no tales (usually, at least). If the truth came out, and people became outraged over the results of that event, as they most certainly would have, the Empire would have been divided. Not its citizenry for the most part, but the military. I think she honestly believed that if the military fractured and took sides and became embroiled in the events of the Chain of Dogs, the Empire could not have survived that. She took the first out she could find.

I am certainly not saying that I agree with all her decisions. She certainly made some horrible ones over the years (in my opinion the biggest being the Chain of Dogs aftermath) however, I think she did the best she could with the best of intentions.

Do I think she was a good Empress? Not at all. I think she bit off way more than she could chew and I suspect that she knew that they day she did it. I also believe though, that she did what she did for the good of the Empire.
Robin Lemley
85. Robin55077
@ 83. kbig

I never found it "odd" that Shadowthrone didn't recognize Quick Ben as a former High Priest of Shadow for the simple reason that during the time Quick Ben would have been a High Priest of Shadow, Shadowthrone was Emporor Kellanved, building and expanding the Malazan Empire. Emporor Kellanved would have had no reason to know, or even to care about, anything relavant to a High Priest of Shadow located somewhere in Seven Cities.

When he bacame Shadowthrone, he would have presumably learned of Ben Adalphon Delat (probably spelled that completely wrong, but too lazy to look it up) because of Ben's leaving the preisthood and the death sentence to be carried out by The Rope. I would not have expected him to recognize QB when he appeard before him. It was only when QB admitted "I did indeed rise far, Shadowthrone, in service to you" and opened his warren to leave at the end of that meeting, that ST recognized him as Delat.
Pnr060
86. MDW
I think Laseen chose very badly after the Chain of Dogs but also before it. Before the rebellion there were multiple characters (and a mention in the beginning of GotM) who noted that Seven Cities was about to rebel and that under the old Emperor it would have already been dealt with decisively. Laseen did not send out the Claw to kill the ringleaders or order the Army into action. It would only have taken replacing Pormqual with someone halfway smart and energetic to make the tragedy about one quarter the size it was. Her actions at the end of the Bonehunters were a terrible grasp at expediency over stability. I don't see how the empire is going to survive if she keeps running off the good and replacing them with people variously incompetent, shiftless, or treacherous. How many armies had she lost at that point, 5?
Pnr060
87. Karsa_Orlong_Is_Bad_Ass
@84. Robin55077

I've always been a bit suspicious of the idea that K+C *wanted* to continue to run the empire. They went off and (small spoiler) figured out how a bunch of shit worked by spending time in the Azath, came back and realized that everybody else in the cosmos was going to totaly screw up the response to the CG and saw an opportunity to come out on top of it all. All they needed to do was take over the shadow relm...and to do that all they needed to do was arrange their "assination".

if you think this is far fetched, think about what happens in book 7 (RG) and how they arrange for a ton of stuff to come together in exactly the right spot at exactly the right time to get what they want done.

I see a lot of people say "well, Laseen created the claws"...but Cotillion created his own little org (spoiler avoided! :)) and I don't think Laseen was anywhere near the assassin that Cot is/was.

So...I think they were in on it together. K+T had to go run shadow, somebody had to stay behind (and not "drown") to run the business and Surly drew the short end of the stick. She's now manipulating the system as best she can to get the right thing done. a bunch of nasty shit comes out of the woodwork (which you expect because you are at war with the crippled god!) and she has to react to it. nobody understands her and she is all alone. kinda sad really. but necessary.

thanks again for the commentary -- I love how everybody is throwing the ideas out and we are talking about the ideas, not about the people typing them in! :P
Pnr060
88. MDW
Didn't we learn in HoC that post-Raraku Quick Ben had gone on an infiltration mission along with Dancer? I don't understand the whole shapeshifter/not recognized by ST bit.
Tai Tastigon
89. Taitastigon
This is what I love about this cycle - the whole SPOILER warning thing is pretty much meaningless - you dudes have been discussing pretty intimate stuff over the last 40+ posts...but even I as a multiple rereader of the whole thang so far have to go back and search for some of the thangs ye mention.

Darn ! ;0)
Pnr060
90. MDW
Further thoughts about Laseen : I agree that when Kellanved and Dancer disappeared for several years something needed to be done about the continuance of the Empire. (I haven't read Dust of Dreams or the Crimson Guard novels so I might be missing information). I don't see that Surly was necessarily the third in line or the right person to take over. I think subsequent events have established that she may have been a good assassin but is not a good empress. It's true that after Kellanved and Dancer were "dead" and Laseen had officially taken the throne the rest of the inner circle couldn't do anything without kicking off a war they preffered to avoid. It was K&D's plan to die and they seem to have accepted some pretty big downsides to bring that off.
Robin Lemley
91. Robin55077
@ 90. MDW

I stated that Surly/Lasseen was third in line because it was specifically stated in the series somewhere. Perhaps in Night of Knives but I'm not sure. Sorry I was lazy and didn't look it up.

I agree that she was not a good Empress and was ultimately not the right person for the job. I was just tyring to point out that I don't view her as a "bad" or "evil" character but rather that I believe she tried (without a lot of success) to keep the Empire together. She made some horrible, horrible mistakes. Not preventing the uprising in Seven Cities (which resulted in the Chain of Dogs) being perhaps the worst, when you look at what all the Empire lost as a result.


@ 87. Karsa_Orlong_Is_Bad_Ass

"... and I don't think Laseen was anywhere near the assassin that Cot is/was."

Cotillion was in a class nearly alone when it came to assassins. There is a line in one of the books (I can't remember where, so maybe someone can help me here) and I am thinking it is from Cotillion's POV (although not 100% certain on that) stating that the only assassin Cotillion was afraid to face, or was not certain of the outcome, was Kalam. I think it is generally acknowledged that no other assassin could match Dancer.

I know for certain that the line is there, somewhere. Just don't have a clue where! I hate it when I can't find something !?!
Gerd K
92. Kah-thurak
Spoiler for Return of the Crimson Guard ahead

Jugded from what we see of Laseen in RotCG I would not dismiss her abillities as an Assassin. She fights barehanded against avowed soldiers of the guard and wins.
Robin Lemley
93. Robin55077
@ Amanda

"I’m amused at the idea of them riding along on mules when Kruppe could have easily procured or otherwise provided horses for them!"

You will find that Kruppe has a special affinity toward mules. Mules seem to be his transportation mode of choice whenever possible.

As for the references to ravens...you will find later in the series that some ravens are far more special than others. Remember, you have already met one, Crone, whose master is none other than Rake.

"Pulling an Ascendant into the fray...how precisely do I do that? Of course, if Oponn’s as eager as last time.... Does this mean that the Ascendant is within Paran? He is an Ascendant, but only at certain times when the power is brought forth? Is he only Ascendant because he has the sword Chance? Is that the only source of his power? Lots of questions!"

I think Paran is referring to the fact that Oponn is linked to his sword, Chance, and that through that link he believes he should be able to pull the Ascendant (Oponn) to him. Paran just doesn't know exactly how to do it. Kind of like, "it's good in theory, but how do I make it work?"

Re: Paran's trip through Dragnipur.

Wow! I thought this would be commented to the heavens. It has barely received any comments at all. NO ONE, be they God, demon, mortal, Jaghut, K'Chain Che'Malle, Forkrul Assail, etc., not a single soul has ever, ever escaped from that sword. NO ONE...EVER! And Paran just walks in, releases the two Hounds of Shadow, and walks back out.

Definitely something to think about!
Robin Lemley
94. Robin55077
Re: "Immortality" of Tiste Andii and/or T'lan Imass

The term "Immortal" is a bit misleading in that both of these species can and do die throughout the course of this series. However, when compared to the lifespan of humans, a lifespan that encompasses hundreds of thousands of years might as well be immortal. I guess it is all relative.

I just wanted to clarify that "immortal" does not mean that they never die.
Amanda Rutter
95. ALRutter
@93 Regarding no comments on the trip into Dragnipur - I don't know about anyone else, but I'm a bit shaken up by it. Nightmarish, scary, chilling - take any descriptive term along those lines and you basically have how I feel about it. It is beyond cool.
Chris
96. MatCauthonReborn
I'm not sure if this is a spoiler so maybe look away




Still looking? Good

What other possible reason could Laseen have for Rake to fight the Tyrant?

Dragnipur needs strong beings to drag the wagon that carries access to Kurald Galain and keep ot away from Chaos i.e. keep reality from being destroyed.

Perhaps Laseen knew about the need to keep supplying Dragnipur with souls?

I don't believe it but it is possible that she had some interest in keeping the wagon moving.

Also,

Releasing the Tryrant might also force Cotillion to show his face in personal defence. How awesome for her would it be if the Rope, Rake and the Tyrant all took each other out?

End of spoilery musings
Travis Nelsen
97. Zangred
Robin@94

I'm not sure about others, but I've never perceived immortal as meaning they never die, just that they live forever. Hah! What I mean by that is unless they are killed, they will not die. Hoo boy. They don't die of old age, they have to be forced to die by "other" means. After all, vampires are generally considered immortal beings, but plant a stake in their heart and they aren't around any longer to claim otherwise. The immortals in Highlander were immortal, until you go and chop off their head, then not so much. Immortals can always die, its just a matter of how. :)

As far as the Tiste Andii and T'lan Imass are concerned, they are immortal in that they will continue to live until something happens to make them not live any longer, but its not natural causes that cause them to die.
Gerd K
98. Kah-thurak
@93 Robin
I think it is the connection of the Hounds of Shadow to Kurald Emurlan and thats Warrens likeness to Kurald Galain as well as their connection to Paran who may at this point allready be "afflicted" by his later calling, which makes Parans visit possible.
Gerd K
99. Kah-thurak
@93 Robin
I think it is the connection of the Hounds of Shadow to Kurald Emurlan and thats Warrens likeness to Kurald Galain as well as their connection to Paran who may at this point allready be "afflicted" by his later calling, which makes Parans visit possible.
Steven Halter
100. stevenhalter
Robin55077:
I agree that Laseen isn't bad or evil and is trying her best (as she thinks) to shore up the Empire. It's just that her best isn't quite good enough.
If she had really wanted to do what was 'best' for the Empire, there was at least one other candidate available when she took over who would have (I think) done a much better job. We'll happen across this reference eventually.
Steven Halter
101. stevenhalter
Karsa_Orlong_Is_Bad_Ass@87:
I think that is close to the plan as far as Kellanved & Dancer. I'm not convinced that Surly was in on it. The events in KoN don't seem to bear that out--but we'll have plenty of opportunities to talk about K&D's plans.
Steven Halter
102. stevenhalter
Robin55077@93:
Yes, the trip to Dragnipur is majorly important. One difference with Paran's being in there is he wasn't slain by the sword--he got pulled in via the hound blood connection. Paran's been busy -- killed by a god (Cotillion), returned to life and manipulated by a god (Oponn), wounding a Hound of Shadow, chatting with Rake, pulled into Dragnipur, chatting with someone in there, freeing the hounds and returning.

Amanda@95: Yeah the inside of Dragnipur is a nasty, bleak place--and its even worse than we know at this point (cue ominous music). :-)
Tricia Irish
103. Tektonica
I just assumed that Paran made it in and out of the sword because he wasn't killed by it. I was plenty confused about the Hound's blood being able to pull in there in the first place, however! I guess because the Hound was there, it's blood took Paran there?

I was most curious about Kurald Galain...we were so close! What did the Hounds encounter in there? Are they dead or now serving the Queen of Darkness? And just where IS this wagon with the chains inside of Dragnipur? Does Dragnipur have it's own warren?

Paran seems to have had quite a few encounters with gods and warrens. This must have some effect on him! I'm voting for near ascendency for him. ??
Tricia Irish
104. Tektonica
Shalter@100 & 102:

What a busy morning on this thread! As I was typing, I see Shalter got there first with similar thoughts.

@100: Laseen: Being a newbie (middle of MoI now) I am pretty fuzzy on the overarching plot re; Laseen/Kelenved/Dancer. I suspect there is some BIG plan somewhere that we will piece together over the books. * I will add that if we were taking a vote on what character would've made a better choice than Laseen for emperor/ess, I would've chosen Whiskeyjack. He was a Fist over Dujek, was demoted probably because he was powerfully threatening to Laseen/Surly, as we saw in the beginning of GotM, and he has incredible moral character. A great soldier.*
Steven Halter
105. stevenhalter
Tektonica@103:

And just where IS this wagon with the chains inside of Dragnipur? Does Dragnipur have it's own warren?

These are good questions. The wagon is inside Dragnipur. I'm not sure if Dragnipur should be considered to contain a warren or to be a warren in and of itself.
Tai Tastigon
106. Taitastigon
Tek @103

*I was most curious about Kurald Galain...we were so close! What did the Hounds encounter in there? Are they dead or now serving the Queen of Darkness?*

Will be clarified in The Bonehunters. It is...kind of complex and cool.
Tai Tastigon
107. Taitastigon
shal @105

I think Dragnipur contains a warren.
Mieneke van der Salm
108. Mieneke
@62 Shalter
Do we know when Oponn leave Paran though? I took it to be during the encounter on the Rhivi plains, but now I'm not so sure anymore!
Steven Halter
109. stevenhalter
Taitastigon@107:
I reread a few places and I agree that the sword contains a warren.
Elena Vaccaro
110. EarthandIce
Tektonica @ 38 : You probably have finished by now, tried to post yesterday and got timed out on the computer. Wanted to warn you not to try to start the last three chapters late at night. I wound up finishing it Tuesday night at 11:30 when I usually am in bed by 9:00 pm

Abalieno @ 40 : I agree with you on many points. Great insight.


Taitastigon @ 43 : I know. I have laughed out loud at these books, something I do not usually do. I have come to really like Kruppe. In some ways he reminds me of Belgarath, trying to fly under the radar while being one of the movers and shakers.

I am not sure who brought up the ability of the Bridgeburners to ‘get’ what is going on. My thoughts are Whiskey Jack allows more individual thought in his squad, in addition to the familiarity of the regular troops to Quick Ben. Even in Gardens of the Moon, I realized he was much more than what he was showing himself. Whiskey Jack knew this and made extensive use of his abilities. Then there was the invention of the card games, with the undefined rules. My feeling is there are more ‘talented’ people in Whiskey Jack’s squad than he makes known.

107 & 109 : Yes, not sure which book, I think when Paran was in the Sword to free the Hounds he saw the Warren under the Wagon. Yes, when the Hounds attempted to attack Oppon, they jumped into the Warren.

Ok, I will stop the Wall of Text now.
Steven Halter
111. stevenhalter
Mieneke@108:
I think Oponn leaves completely at the confrontation of Rake and the hounds of Shadow. From the text:

Do I speak with Oponn directly? I thought it I sensed a presence before, but when I looked more carefully… nothing.' Rake shifted grip on his sword, the point rising. 'Do you hide within, Oponn?'
'Not as far as I'm aware,' Paran replied. 'Apparently Oponn saved my life or, rather, brought me back to life. I've no idea why, but I've been told that I've become Oponn's tool.'

So, Rake sensed Oponn briefly and then they fled. That's how I read it anyway.
Elena Vaccaro
112. EarthandIce
Robin55077 @ 84 : No she was not #3, Dassem Ultor was. I am reading Night of Knives, which deals with the time when Kellanved & Dancer are supposed to ‘return’. Everyone thinks they are to re-take the Empire but they want more than the Empire. Laseen took out Dassem in a very public way with a public story and one that was known only to the participants, who by the way were supposed to not leave the campaign alive due to the attention of the Claw.

Yes, Paran walking into the Sword and releasing the Hounds is monumental. The fact he was not chained in the Sword is also significant, I believe. Aghhhh. I will have to do a timeline for this series. Four books read and getting timelines all confused!!!
Steven Halter
113. stevenhalter
EarthandIce@110:
The warren within Dragnipur is the space that the wagon travels through. The area under the wagon is a gate to Kurald Galain, the Warren of Darkness.
Julian Augustus
114. Alisonwonderland
Robin @84:
Keep in mind that almost everyone who knew the details of the Chain of Dogs was dead. The main survivor, an ex-Fist of the Empire, was the one left alive telling the tale. History is written by the conquorers, not the conquored, and dead men can tell no tales (usually, at least)

I afraid I'll have to disagree with you here. The survivor you are mentioning, Korbolo Dom, was not a conqueror. At least not in the sense that his rebellion had succeeded. In fact, he was captured by Kalam and brought in chains to Lasseen, ostensibly to face justice. The rebellion had been crushed. So, on what kind of consideration for the empire would Lasseen embrace defeated former enemies as heroes and turn the people who had crushed the rebellion into villains? For Lasseen to turn the rebellion on its head and turn former enemies into heroes, and turn true supporters of the empire, most of whom had died in service to empire, into targets for hate mobs and pogroms, is completely beyond the pale. I can't see how that can possibly be good for the empire, and events in RotCG confirm that.

Incidentally, Korbolo Dom was not the only survivor of the rebellion. His chief advisor, Mallik Rel, an even more disgusting character, survived. We find out what happened to both Korbolo and Mallik in RG and RotCG.
Matt LaRose
115. TheLegend
Alisonwonderland@114

There are more survivors that just that from the Chain of Dogs. Although most of them ended up in the Bonehunters. Khundryl Burned Tears even though they were on the opposite side of the Chain of Dogs they have a true telling of what happened as well.

Can I just say that the comments exploded in the last couple days and I am having a heck of a time keeping up.
Julian Augustus
116. Alisonwonderland
If I had to go out on a limb (and one can never be sure with Erikson) I'll say Surly was just power-mad - one of those who want power for its own sake and whose sole interest is getting power and keeping it. She tried to assassinate the three people ahead of her in the empire, Kellanved, Dancer and Dassem, to get to the throne, and once she got there she tried to kill all the members of Kellanved's inner circle who were still loyal to the old emperor. Many of them arranged their own "deaths" and disappeared. Then she started on Whiskeyjack, first demoting him from Army commander to sergeant, and then did her damndest to kill off the best troops in the empire, the Bridgeburners. I honestly can't see how all these actions could possibly be for the good of the empire.

Somewhere at the end of MoI, when Tayschrenn was telling his story (which I didn't believe anyway) about how he and Laseen were planning for the Master of the Deck, and when Kalam went into the palace to confront Laseen the first time and she persuaded him to turn back, I gave her the benefit of the doubt that maybe she had a long-range plan to protect the empire from the coming convergence. But now I think she was just a power-hungry incompetent. Let's see if tCG presents a different side of the her motives.
Chris Hawks
117. SaltManZ
shalter @11:

It had occurred to me that the "presence" that Rake got a fleeting glimpse of was not Oponn, but rather of Paran himself, if you get my drift (having read through MoI.)
Julian Augustus
118. Alisonwonderland
The Legend @115:

yes, I was talking more about the Chain of Dogs survivors who used to be leaders of the rebellion. I originally had further comments about Mallik Rel but I deleted them before posting because I though that might be too spoilerific.
Pnr060
120. ShadowDonkeyThrone
Just wanted to point out that Blind Gallan is also worth taking note of. He's not as much of a Serious Badass as Fisher or Gothos(Holy Moly is Gothos a seriously tough dude). He is however an unbelievably tragic character(that we hear about only briefly in Dust of Dreams).

I think it's worth doing a bit of spoiling on these intro passage writers just so it's easier to not disregard them.

Also as awesome as Quick Ben is, keep in mind that the current High Priest of House Shadow is by far awesomer. In fact he's quite possibly the awesomest character I've ever read in any book ever.
Steven Halter
121. stevenhalter
ShadowDonkeyThrone@120:

Also as awesome as Quick Ben is, keep in mind that the current High Priest of House Shadow is by far awesomer. In fact he's quite possibly
the awesomest character I've ever read in any book ever.


lol, I see that from your ID.
Steven Halter
122. stevenhalter
Alisonwonderland@116:
spoiler:

The assassination of Dassem does seem like another of those "really hard to explain" portions for Laseen. It is almost plausible that she goes after K&D "for the good of the Empire", but Dassem seems like nothing other than a power ploy.
Pnr060
123. Shagga
One thing that has yet to be touched on that I still haven't figured out (on my third read of GotM) is the motivations of Oponn. Do they have a specific vendetta against ST, or is it really as simple as they "enjoy meddling." If so, why do they choose the current time and place to do so, both with Paran and Crokus?

Can Oponn be seen as kind of a GotMism in that they don't appear in any of the other books (I don't think; correct me if I'm wrong)?

P.S. I haven't read TtH or DoD yet so if this is explained in more detail there then I apologize.
Matt LaRose
124. TheLegend
Shagga@123.

I don't think Oponn really needs any motivation. He/She is the god of Chance. Anything he does is random. I wouldn't label it as a GotMism but more of a characteristic of that particular god.
Chris Hawks
125. SaltManZ
@123/124:

Consider how the Errant operates, as well as the link between Errastas and Oponn given in DoD.
Pnr060
126. ShadowDonkeyThrone
Well, the reason Oponn doesn't meddle in the following books is the conclusion of their meddling in this book. They kinda put themselves in a tough spot. Mind you when the Errant talks about getting rid of them, Mael(I think) laughs and bets(heh) that Oponn would kick his ass. That being said the Errant is a bit of a pretentious loser, so that may not say much about the Twins' power.

Being free with the spoilers since there's no way a new reader is gonna remember any of this late book talk by the time they get to those points in the series.

Regarding Imperial politics, this is not spoilerish per se but it includes conclusions drawn after having way more perspectives on the history of Lasseen and Kellanved than currently available: things are ambiguous, all the narrations so far are deeply biased. Just because Lasseen killed ('killed') the Emperor and Dancer doesn't mean she is a bad person. The Emperor/ST is at the very least questionably sane(who am I kidding, he's loonier than Erikson's coin pocket). The Emperor's followers and associates are also not necessarily the nicest people. We know Dujek and WJ, but they're the ones that are still around. You don't build an Empire with nice people. Lasseen killed innocents but that doesn't quite describe the Emperor and his buddies.

Basically what I am saying is that Erikson uses indirect characterization to create negative impressions about characters(Lasseen, Tayschrenn) but has no problems overturning that completely. Never, ever trust character A's negative opinion about character B. Respect, affection, awe, fear seem reliable, but dislikable reputations are a dime a dozen.
ezzkmo .
127. ezzkmo
I just started chapter 14 and had to take a break to say this. This is the first time (that I can think of) that a major infodump takes place...something I've kind of been waiting for to explain what the heck is going on half the time! The info that Tool dumps on Lorn has my head absolutely spinning! Even Tool has to ask Lorn a couple times, "Are you following along here?" I've been waiting for a straight up infodump for over 400 pages now...since we've had to figure things out as we go.

And now that he gave me one, I realize that I don't like it! It actually makes things more confusing, throwing so much at the reader at once. No wonder these books can't be summarized effectively. I rather enjoy the confusion and slow reveals and history given pieces at a time. Anyways...I think I understand half of what Tool was talking about (I'm actually following everything else pretty good). But it will sink in as I read more.
Robin Lemley
128. Robin55077
@ 112. EarthandIce



" No she was not #3, Dassem Ultor was. I am reading Night of Knives, which deals with the time when Kellanvand & Dancer are supposed to ‘return’."

I'm at work and don't have access to my book at the moment. However, if I recall correctly, it states something to the effect that Surly was third in line because the sword (meaning Dassem) had been broken. I understood this to mean that Dassem was already gone. I think this same passage might also refer to Surly as being the "regeant" or "acting regeant" or something like that. If Dassem were available, it stands to reason that he would have been Regeant, not Surly. We also know that the events of this night took place after Dassem was gone because one of the important characters in NoK was with Dassem on the day he fell at Y'Ghatan. Most of the details we find out about the events of Dassem's fall are obtained from the flashback of that character in NoK.

Anyway, the "assassinations" of K&D took place after the events surrounding Dassem in Y'Ghatan, meaning that Surly would have been third in line, behind K & D.
Pnr060
129. Karsa_Orlong_Is_Bad_Ass
@96. "What other possible reason could Laseen have for Rake to fight the Tyrant?"

(spoiler below)



well...one would be to force WJ and Rake to work together to defeat the Tyrant setting up the posibility of an alliance to go after the Panions...worked pretty well didn't it! :)



[color=black]

again, the only point is that these guys are *smart* -- things that look like accidents might not be. it adds depth to the characters. I think it is also incredibly important (and perhaps one of the singular keys to understanding the series) to really get it into your head that SE knew the whole plot when he started. There are things set up in one line in this book that don't pay off until 5 books later. he has the luxury to explain it to us slowly and the courage to trust us to figure it out in the end.
Pnr060
130. Karsa_Orlong_Is_Bad_Ass
@126. ShadowDonkeyThrone

yes. exactly what I've been trying to say! :)
Steven Halter
131. stevenhalter
Robin55077@128:

Spoiler:

Yes at the time of the events of KoN, Surly is third in line. But, events indicate it was Surly who was behind the assasination of Dassem.
Robin Lemley
132. Robin55077
@ 98. Kah-thurak


"I think it is the connection of the Hounds of Shadow to Kurald Emurlan and thats Warrens likeness to Kurald Galain as well as their connection to Paran who may at this point allready be "afflicted" by his later calling, which makes Parans visit possible."

I agree 100%. I just thought it was odd that no one had yet mentioned how totally awsome it was and didn't want any of the first time readers to miss the importance of that event.
Steven Halter
133. stevenhalter
Karsa_Orlong_Is_Bad_Ass@129 & @ ShadowDonkeyThrone@126:
I agree that there's lots of complexity going on and you should never trust any character's opinions as being accurate. I also agree that there are plots that don't become more understandable until several books down the line (I've read them all also). I also agree that many of the major actors are not stupid. I'll also admit that it could all be an extremely elaborate con of which Laseen is a participant.
However, I think the bulk of the evidence indicates otherwise. In addition to characters saying things, there are first hand points of view and internal reactions that indicate otherwise.
As we proceed through the series, this will be a good thread to point out both pro and con--things that seem to be mistakes by Laseen vs otherwise.
Steven Halter
134. stevenhalter
Karsa_Orlong_Is_Bad_Ass@129:
Highlight Spoiler below:
Yes, WJ & Rake working together was a good thing. It seems likely that Rake would have been willing to work towards taking out the Panion Seer if someone had just asked nicely.
Robin Lemley
135. Robin55077
2 114. Alisonwonderland


"The survivor you are mentioning, Korbolo Dom, was not a conqueror."

I know. That is just a popular addage that I thought everyone would be familiar with. (It slipped my mind that we have posters from all over the world on here and some might not get the reference.). It is true, however, and always a good idea to keep in mind in our everyday lives. Most of history is written by the "winners" not the "losers" so in essennce that history is written from a particular POV and not necessarily objective.

What I was trying to point out was simply that he was alive and doing the talking. All the heros were dead. He was the one she had to deal with. Personally, I would have simply killed him and Rel both (and in hindsight, I'm sure she would have also). She made a horrible decision and went another route. It is just my opinion that the reason she took this route (wrong as it turned out to be) was to keep her military intact, focused on their jobs at hand, rather than fracturing over the events of the Chain of Dogs. I was simply trying to state my opinion as to her possible motive, not arguing that I agreed with her actions.

It is all moot at this point anyway. Too early in the series for this discussion really. Just that when I saw everyone leaning toward her being a bad or evil character, I was trying to point out that I didn't think she was either bad or evil, but rather that she was the victim of bad decisions. I always felt, and still do, that her intentions were good. Just many of her decisions were horrible.
Robin Lemley
136. Robin55077
@ 131. Shalter

You are, of course, correct. I purposely did not mention Dassem because I didn't recall that his assassination had yet been menioned in any of threads. I know that most of the first timers will not remember the informatin in these posts by the time they get to them in the books, however, on the off chance they might, I generally try not to spoiler something like a death or a resurrection of a character. It is just something that I personally would remember if it were a character I liked.

On a more personal note, thank you for your time spent posting on here. I love your knowledge of the series and always look forward to your posts. There are several people posting to this area that I can tell love and enjoy these books as much as I do. I love it!
Steven Halter
137. stevenhalter
Robin55077: Thanks for the kind words! I really appreciate it. I'm having a lot of fun here.
Pnr060
138. billcap
wow--go out of town for a few days and the place explodes! A few thoughts on Abalieno’s long post on characterization (and thus a long response) I agree with a lot of what you say, but might take issue, or wish for clarification, with a few points:

“the series represents the far opposite of "accessibility". It's actually a big flaw the series has. It is inimical, too dense and unwieldy”
I found this interesting because I don’t consider the series to be “inaccessible” at all in the usual way I think of the word (we may have different definitions). I find it offputting, but only in its most basic, surface sense:
a) really long books in a culture that considers anything over 100 pages to be a major “tome"
b) the long time between books (reading them all in a row makes them far less difficult)
I don’t think stylistically they’re difficult at all, for the most part, nothing like a Faulkner or Joyce for instance. Sure, there’s some arcane vocab, but I think anybody gets the gist of what is happening. The plot arcs are long-term with reversals of character and what one thought they understood was happening, but I think those reversals are pretty straightforward and become difficult only because you have to dredge up in memory what happened so long ago.
It does need multiple readings (thus this whole thing) to get “everything” and a sense of the craftsmanship, but I’m not sure it requires re-reading to “understand” what’s going on and (mostly) why.
I would say it’s “dense” but I wouldn’t say that density makes it inaccessible, which to me implies a built-in difficulty impossible or near-impossible to overcome (a la Finnegan’s Wake); as you say, it requires more patience and thought than the average reader is willing to give, but I wouldn’t call that inaccessible and I’d label that a flaw in the reader, not the text.
In that same line, I’d disagree the characters take a long time for one to "become real” characters (though this is obviously a very personal response); I found them pretty real and three-dimensional from the start. It takes lots of time and pages to get to know a lot or all (if we ever do) about many, but I don’t think that precludes them from being “real” from the start
Pnr060
139. billcap
long response cont

“The heritage of "modern" fantasy was not in delivering characters that are "gray". But in forcing the reader into their PoV. We often have warring factions, but we zoom into both of them, taking both sides. Any of the recent fantasy with gray characters could be turned into solid black and white by just removing the corresponding PoVs. Without motivations and alternative observation points, every story becomes polarized"


I think I’d say “yes, but . . .” In order to give readers the “other guys’” pov, one has to have the intent of showing those characters as grey. Would pov from Tolkien’s orcs have really made Aragorn into a “grey character”? Or would the orcs, as presented via Tolkien, been still so clearly “black” so as to make us say, “sure, these guys think Aragorn is the bad guy, but why would I think their bad is my bad?” (if that makes sense). In other words, in traditional fantasy (sweeping generalization #202), characters were conceived as all black/all white and so I’m not sure differing povs would really have “greyed” them up any. But in modern fantasy, they’re conceived of as grey, and thus the pov’s reflect that rather than create it.


"Humanity is about the damnation of the deceit of seeing "meaning" where there is none. It's a tragedy, and the Malazan series is written as a tragedy.The Malazan series is not consolatory, it is about compassion and reconciliation"
nicely eloquent and concise and couldn’t agree more
Pnr060
140. Billcap
On the whole Laseen debate,
I’ll hold off on details till we get more of them (and there will be a lot more) and when they’ll be less spoilerish (though I agree that almost all of such will just fly over the heads), but I’ll just toss my hat into the ring as a guy who thinks
a) ST and Cotillion had/have very long-range plans that didn’t include taking back the Empire but required an empire
b) Surly/Laseen was not privy to said plans and the disappointment/dislike between ST/Cotillion and her is real
c) she’s painted in both sympathetic and unsympathetic light and is somewhat a victim but is also one who makes choices and those choices have consequences


Just tossing that into the record to see if after the reread when I revisit this recollected impression whether my mind changes
Pnr060
141. billcap
"am not sure who brought up the ability of the Bridgeburners to ‘get’ what is going on. My thoughts are Whiskey Jack allows more individual thought in his squad"

I think this is true in general of the Malazan army (via K/DU) and will be remarked upon several times by both friends and foes that it is perhaps THE strength of the empire’s army
M D
142. Abalieno
From DG:


Fiddler scowled. "Soldiers are always underestimated," he said. "I've not spent fifteen years fighting Imperial wars with my eyes closed. The Emperor clashed with both Treach and Ryllandaras outside Li Heng. I was there."



Those crossbow cords will stretch, unless they've been soaked in oil and waxed. Of course they have - those soldiers aren't idiots. Plan for any eventuality, even swimming beneath a dusty plain. I once saw a fellow soldier find use for a fishing kit in a desert. What makes a Malazan soldier so dangerous? They're allowed to think.


;)

I think there's also a part in HoC where it is explained that ideas from the soldiers are always welcomed and taken into consideration.
M D
143. Abalieno
I read the first chapter.

@Amanda


Right, I’m figuring this first poem regarding Silverfox is related to Tattersail in her new incarnation—when she was reborn as the shapeshifter the tattoo of the fox left the Rhivi woman who gave her birth.

There's more. From chapter 11:

Then a small cry rose into the still air, and the Rhivi lifted in her arms a child furred in silver.

Silver fur. Silverfox.

I wonder if there's even a mention of the Crippled God here. The knuckle protruded through the earth reminds me of the jade finger in DG. Same for the "stone of stones" that may be a reference to Burn.

@Bill

We get some foreshadowing of something “big” coming for the T’lan Imass, which Lorn links to the Jaghut tomb, but the question for the reader is is she correct?

All seemed to return to the vows he had taken at the last Gathering. For the Imass, something was coming to a head. She wondered if it was somehow connected with freeing this Jaghut Tyrant. And that was a disturbing thought.

I wonder if there's actually a link between this mission and what is coming for T'lan Imass. In the book we have already plenty of hints about the "true" thing ahead:

"Tool," she asked slowly, almost regretting her need to persist in questioning him, "what is the significance of these Kron coming?"
"The Year of the Three Hundredth Millennium approaches," the warrior replied.
"What happens then?"
"Adjunct, the Diaspora ends."

And then obviously the date at the beginning of the chapter:

T'lan Imass reckoning, The Year of Gathering, Tellan Arise

I was starting to speculate if Burn's sleep is related to the rise of men in the world. Without spoilers, could someone say where it is revealed more about the nature/purpose/meaning of this sleep? (I know the third book says something, but it's still rather vague)

In Lorn's following PoV it's also hinted that this Jaghut tyrant has been imprisoned not by T'lan Imass, but by Jaghut, and that this happened well before Imass became immortal and started their war.

Is maybe this Jaghut somewhat special and way more powerful than other Jaghut? Is that maybe the reason why T'lann Imass can't awake and kill him directly and so decided to use Rake as a mean to obliterate the last Jaghut they knew still alive? (and so the incoming Gathering after all Jaghut are dead, leading to "mission accomplished")
M D
144. Abalieno
@Amanda

but I can see now exactly why the T’lan Imass sent an expendable to deal with it, for fear of the Tyrant enslaving a Bonecaster and being able to face down the gods themselves.

I wonder if I read it correctly. It sounds as if Tyrant + Bonecaster can challenge gods. But, with the knowledge from the rest of the series, it's more like the Tyrant being able to seep into Tellan itself through the control of one T'lan, and so perverting and taking control of ALL the T'lan active. Since we know that they are all "linked" together and sharing the same "brain".

At that point it makes a lot more sense to imagine an unstoppable power.
M D
145. Abalieno
@Bill

I think I’d say “yes, but . . .” In order to give readers the “other guys’” pov, one has to have the intent of showing those characters as grey. Would pov from Tolkien’s orcs have really made Aragorn into a “grey character”? Or would the orcs, as presented via Tolkien, been still so clearly “black” so as to make us say, “sure, these guys think Aragorn is the bad guy, but why would I think their bad is my bad?” (if that makes sense). In other words, in traditional fantasy (sweeping generalization #202), characters were conceived as all black/all white and so I’m not sure differing povs would really have “greyed” them up any. But in modern fantasy, they’re conceived of as grey, and thus the pov’s reflect that rather than create it.

That's not exactly what I said. If characters are conceived as "black and white" then adding their PoV wouldn't add ambiguity to them. Even if I actually think that a VERY good writer could achieve something close to that.

In fact, about your orc example read this.

;)

Instead I said the opposite is true. "Grey" stories can be turned in black and white because it's easy to skew a perspective. A war or some sort of conflict already implies a misunderstanding or bias. So a story can easily be put off balance and with the ambiguity removed from it.

That rule can't be as easily reversed, though. Complexity isn't two-ways.
Travis Nelsen
146. Zangred
Shagga@123:

As far as Oponn is concerned it is indeed, or at least appears to be, nothing more than they like meddling with the plans of others. Oponn does indeed appear in other books in the series. In fact, at the end of The Bonehunters what happens to them is pretty funny.
Pnr060
147. ShadowDonkeyThrone
Regarding Lasseen: I definitely think she proved to be incompetent repeatedly, I'm just arguing that Kellanved would have been a worse ruler for the Empire. For one thing having an Ascendant rule over a mortal Empire or any large following of humans is what got the Errant's followers wiped out. For another Kellanved just doesn't care about the Malazan empire. It was a tool for him that facilitated and continues to facilitate greater things.
Steven Halter
148. stevenhalter
Bill@140: That's pretty much my position on Laseen.
Steven Halter
149. stevenhalter
ShadowDonkeyThrone@147: Yes, once Kellanved ascended he could no longer be Emperor--for the reasons you listed.
M D
150. Abalieno
Uhm, could someone recover the 145 comment?

It's mine and was flagged as spam, probably due to a link. But it's just a reply to Bill.
Irene Gallo
151. Irene
Abalieno: Got it! should be there now.
Julian Augustus
152. Alisonwonderland
Abalieno @144:
I happen to think Raest all by himself was pretty near unstoppable. Consider that it took a whole bunch of other Jaghut and a whole bunch of Imass bonecasters to finally put him down, temporarily. When he got out, he didn't have most (maybe three-quarters) of his power, which was in the finnest taken out before he came fully awake. Yet, at only a quarter or so full power, look at the battle he put up! I shudder to think what he could have done if he had the finnest.
Sydo Zandstra
153. Fiddler
On spoilers:

This may sound rich, coming from me. Although I don't think I spoiled much.

Anyway, please don't spoil on plot stuff. Telling stuff on individuals is ok; as noted, new readers forget about that soon enough. Telling stuff about the 7th or 14th army going to do stuff, however, is long term plot related.

I know where that stuff is heading, and so do you. New readers don't, and one of the reasons why I like this rereading is that new readers get to know Erikson.

So please hold back, or use white colouring for spoilers :)
M D
154. Abalieno
....... err... Irene.

That 145 comment. I edited it to fix some formatting and now it was flagged again as spam. Ooops :(

@152

Yeah, my point is that this Tyrant is not a typical Jaghut. I don't think all other Jaghut have that kind of power (well, Icarium).
Steven Halter
155. stevenhalter
Bill@138:


I found this interesting because I don’t consider the series to be “inaccessible” at all in the usual way I think of the word (we may have different definitions). I find it offputting, but only in its most basic, surface sense:
a) really long books in a culture that considers anything over 100 pages to be a major “tome"
b) the long time between books (reading them all in a row makes them far less difficult)
...
I would say it’s “dense” but I wouldn’t say that density makes it inaccessible, which to me implies a built-in difficulty impossible or near-impossible to overcome (a la Finnegan’s Wake);


Point b) has definitely been a problem -- its hard to keep track of all the details across years. That's why this reread is nice (plus the chance to bounce ideas around).
I completely agree that the MBotF is dense but not inaccessible. Finnegan's Wake is a very good example of a really inaccessible book. I've had that book for 29 years and haven't made it through yet.
Steven Halter
156. stevenhalter
Abalieno@154: Don't forget about Gothos. I think many of the Jaghut were fairly powerful. Most of them just don't choose to use it.
Sydo Zandstra
157. Fiddler
To add on the topic, I like GotM, but there isn't much in it I want to discuss, except for when some Crimson Guards show up, and when Malazan Sappers save the day. So I just hang around :p

I will be more active when we start on Deadhouse Gates. :)
Robin Lemley
158. Robin55077
@157. Fiddler

I agree. GotM is rather slow compared to most of the other books!
Pnr060
159. billcap
Shalter@155

"Finnegan's Wake is a very good example of a really inaccessible book. I've had that book for 29 years and haven't made it through yet."

I’m impressed by the “yet” :)

(and yes, it sits on my shelf, unread, as well)
Pnr060
160. Taitastigon
Fiddler @157

Right on the money, dude ! I like GotM, but it´s a chamber piece. I want SYMPHONY - like Ludwig Van...on speed !

Truth is...while DG and MoI are my favorite set pieces, they are not (*gasp* !!) the most complex yet. Re-doing Bonehunters right now is being a frigging experience...f*ck, that piece is *Empire Strikes Back* plus *Two Towers* amped by a factor 10 ! And damn, yes, I still have to find that QB snippet. I just got so damn distracted !

Final comment is a simple request: Anybody writing long accolades to this cycle - please read the cycle to the current end & re-write accolades. Judging it on just the first four volumes is simply misleading...
M D
161. Abalieno
The series can as well seen as two arcs and a central point.

The first arc is book 1-4, that I think is neatly wrapped up. Then there's the fifth book that I heard is a thing on its own. And then books 6-(9+10) that make a second arc.

Having read just the first arc I don't know if this expectation is realized, but from all the comments I read it seems plausible.

(and I still want my 145 comment back, pleeeease)
Amir Noam
162. Amir
Abalieno @154:


Yeah, my point is that this Tyrant is not a typical Jaghut. I don't think all other Jaghut have that kind of power

Also, few Jaghut have his sense of humor :-)
Tai Tastigon
163. Taitastigon
Abalieno @161

- The series can as well seen as two arcs and a central point. The first arc is book 1-4, that I think is neatly wrapped up. Then there's the fifth book that I heard is a thing on its own. And then books 6-(9+10) that make a second arc. -
______________________

Dude, really, PLEASE ! READ UP on the rest of the cycle ! (which means, MT and beyond). SE himself emphasized in interviews that the entire cycle is based on a TRIPOD - Genabackis, Seven Cities and Lether. *The Bonehunters* is the first volume that brings the tripod together...and what a glorious, fascinating mess that iss...and from there it goes...meaning RAFO !!!!!! I won´t spoil more on this. Just: RAFO !!!
Tai Tastigon
164. Taitastigon
Aba @161

The series can as well seen as two arcs and a central pointThe first arc is book 1-4, that I think is neatly wrapped up. Then there's the fifth book that I heard is a thing on its own. And then books 6-(9+10) that make a second arc.
_______________

SE conceived this cycle as a tripod. Genabackis, Seven Cities and Lether. He stated this in his interviews. RAFO beyond HoC is absolutely essential here.
Chris Hawks
165. SaltManZ
Abalieno @161: Then there's the fifth book that I heard is a thing on its own. And then books 6-(9+10) that make a second arc.

Never believe what you hear, I guess? That's an odd way to look at things, considering there's actually three arcs:

GotM -> MoI -> TtH
DG -> HoC -> TBH
MT -> RG -> DoD/TCG

MT stands on its own as much as GotM does, or DG for that matter.

And saying that reading the first four books "wraps everything up" is like reading only GotM and MoI (or DG and HoC) and saying the same. Never mind that if any one book can be considered to wrap up the first four, it's TBH, which effectively ties the first five books together.
M D
166. Abalieno
I personally do think that HoC wrapped up the previous three books, the rest was speculation. But I think that thematically HoC ties and closes a number of ideal arcs.

Plot-wise it's not the same, obviously.
Pnr060
167. kramerdude
All I know is that I'm with Fiddler (@157). Definitely looking forward to DG and the rest. I was already in the process of re-reading GotM when the re-read was first announced way back in the spring. Finished up with that and then switched over to RotCG while waiting for the fun and games here to start.
Steven Halter
168. stevenhalter
Bill@159: Thanks, lol. It's actually sitting on the shelf above my workspace. Sometimes when I get particularly stuck I'll read a couple of pages. It clears your mind.
Pnr060
169. billcap
Shalter@168

"Sometimes when I get particularly stuck I'll read a couple of pages. It clears your mind."

I often read a little to students and offer Joyce as the person who in my mind shows thru his writing to be the most in love with language, words, writing . Then tell them I’ve never met a single person who has actually read it. (in my old cruel AP English days, at our intro meeting for kids interested in taking the class the next year, I’d give them a copy of the first page and tell them it’s an example of the type of reading we’d be doing. Faces to giggle for . . . )
Pnr060
170. David DeLaney
@84, @135, & ff.: Several _books_ later, we do see some of the consequences of having only a few survivors of the Chain of Dogs ... and having EXACTLY the wrong two be the first ones back to the Empire to report on what happened. Remember that one of the subthemes of this series is having incorrect or incomplete information, yet still having to act.

@103: Some effect on Paran? Heh. Read And Find Out...

And yes, I also own _Finnegans Wake_ (look again - there's no ' in it), and got stuck around page 60 or 100, I forget which. A couple decades ago by now. ...Maybe we could advertise this series as "Epic fantasy, for people who've always WANTED to read Finnegans Wake but got bogged down in it!"?

--Dave
Tricia Irish
171. Tektonica
David DeLaney@170:
That was me back at 103....and I was just trying to be, ummm, circumspect....I'm half done with MoI now....heh, heh....

For the record: I do not own Finnegans Wake and will not be purchasing it. I had enough trouble with Ulysses.
Rob Munnelly
172. RobMRobM
Tek - I'm catching up. 1/4 through MoI for me. R
Tricia Irish
173. Tektonica
RobM: You are either a speed demon or have a lot more time on your hands than I do! Is your family still on vacation? My son leaves Tuesday, so I'll have more time again....

The writing is so dense, moving, and often beautiful, I find myself going slower and having to pause to contemplate. And forget reading late at night! No sleeping after the siege of Capustan. Argh. Wail. Gnash.
Steven Halter
174. stevenhalter
Bill@169: That's an evil thing to do to a class, lol. I started (trying) to read it after I read somewhere that Finnigans Wake was where the word quark came from.
David@170: That's about where I got to. Yep, no ' in it. That's a good idea. Actually, it could be epic fantasy. That sounds like a good doctoral thesis for English lit--"Finnegans Wake: A Study of Stream of Consciousness Writing and Epic Fantasy" or something.
For those interested in how this could actually be relevent to the discussion here, see: "Pre Joycean Fellowship"
Rob Munnelly
175. RobMRobM
Tek - The former (I've also been re-reading the Vorkosigan series at the same time in preparation for Cryoburn coming out - read all of them other than Shards of Honor, Brothers in Arms, A Civil Campaign, and some of the collections); and no.

Had a beautiful beach day on Sunday - best of the entire summer. Low 90s, dry and beautiful, and got to read while kids were swimming. (I swam some too.) My daughter is going to Middle School for the first time on Wed and my son goes to his new private school next week.
Pnr060
176. MDW
@170 - There were thousands of civilian survivors from the Chain of Dogs, plus their last escort, the wounded on the Silvanda, and the City Guard who witnessed the end. They would have sent messages and were available to be interviewed by the Adjunct. I'm sure Laseen knew that Dom was lying to her but she had allowed things to get so out of control she didn't think she could do anything. It would be interesting to know how the Jhistal got into Court and gained so much influence.
Tricia Irish
177. Tektonica
MDW@176: Not to mention the reappearance of an Important Imperial Official at the end of DG......was he not interviewed?

Oooooh...I love our new post box.
Gerd K
178. Kah-thurak
I guess we can be quite sure, that Laseen knew exactly what was going on in Seven Cities. Remember that Pearl was in some way ordered to assist Coltaine while he was in the imperial warren. This speaks of a very precise knowledge on what was happening when.
Thomas Jeffries
179. thomstel
Could one of Laseen's possible outcomes for freeing the Tyrant included the re-appearance/re-alliance with the T'lan Imass?

Given the Empire's lack of communication with them, I always did sort of wonder how Tool was pointed in Lorn's direction in the first place. Quick chat over a cup of tea in Malaz City? I could see Laseen potentially being misinformed enough to think "If I send this one T'lan to help Lorn wake up the Jaghut Tyrant, what are the chances that he's joshing me about being totally severed from the others, and we'll get the T'lan active on Genebackis for free with this plan?"

Tool does seem to know a fair bit about the other T'lan (Kron on the way soon, Diaspora ending, etc.) for being a non-Bonecaster...
Steven Halter
180. stevenhalter
Thomstel@179:
Those are good questions. Who exactly sends Tool and how they get him to do it is intriging.
Tool knows more than the 'average' T'lan as he is First Sword.
Robin Lemley
181. Robin55077
If we are getting this much "cryptic" discussion of DG while we are still only half-way through GotM, I cannot wait until we finally start the book. This post thread will be going crazy! What a great way to re-read this series!
M D
183. Abalieno
@bill

My comment is still MIA, so I'll summarize it:

I think I’d say “yes, but . . .” In order to give readers the “other guys’” pov, one has to have the intent of showing those characters as grey. Would pov from Tolkien’s orcs have really made Aragorn into a “grey character”? Or would the orcs, as presented via Tolkien, been still so clearly “black” so as to make us say, “sure, these guys think Aragorn is the bad guy, but why would I think their bad is my bad?” (if that makes sense). In other words, in traditional fantasy (sweeping generalization #202), characters were conceived as all black/all white and so I’m not sure differing povs would really have “greyed” them up any. But in modern fantasy, they’re conceived of as grey, and thus the pov’s reflect that rather than create it.

I was saying that I agree the rule can't be easily reversed. Adding a different PoV doesn't automatically produces grey characters. Yet, if a writer is really good, that possibility should never be excluded.

In particular, about the Tolkien orcs example, read this (and I can't make the link or the comment is flagged as spam, hopefully it works this way):
http://suvudu.com/2009/02/the-real-fantastic-stuff-an-essay-by-richard-k-morgan.html

While I think it's true that you can take a story with grey character and remove that ambivalence by removing the corresponding PoV. It's easy to slant a story and impose a bias if the other perspective is missing. And I think "modern" fantasy is about the more neutral and complex approach to the various facets of a story.

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