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!
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.
Kruppe, Crokus, Coll, and Murillio head toward the hills on their spy mission for Baruk.
Sorry follows Kruppe’s group, planning on killing Crokus as the Coin Bearer, though she has a bad feeling about where they’re heading.
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.
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 himself—thus opening the way for Malazan sorceries in turn to kill the Son of Darkness—now 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.
Quick Ben, guarded by Trotts since Kalam is still injured, spies on Hairlock and wonders what he’s doing waiting on the Rhivi Plain.
Hairlock ambushes Paran and Toc, throwing Toc through a warren and closing it off. The sound of Shadow Hounds is heard.
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.
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.
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.
Hairlock, afraid of the approaching Shadow Hounds, tells Paran he’ll kill him later and opens a warren to flee through.
Quick Ben cuts the strings to Hairlock.
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.