Wed
Aug 4 2010 12:48pm

The Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Gardens of the Moon, Chapters 8 and 9

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 8 and 9 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 EIGHT

SCENE 1
Whiskeyjack and the others have been deposited and armed w/ munitions by the Moranth, who seem to approve of the Bridgeburners, though they recognize the corruption within the Empire. Whiskeyjack tells the squad they’re dropping the Empress’ plan for conquering the city of Darujhistan since it appeared intended to get the Bridgeburners killed, and that they will be following his own plan instead.

SCENE 2
Quick Ben meets Hairlock within the warren. Hairlock, who is growing more independent, more powerful, and less sane from his use of Chaos, tells him of the Hound’s attack, Tattersail’s injury, and that Paran’s strange ability to wound the Hound implies the meddling of god(s).

SCENE 3
Quick Ben proposes something, which leaves both Whiskeyjack and Kalam “shaken.”

Amanda’s reaction to Chapter Eight:
Boy, am I lucky?! Two poems at the start of Book Three... *grimaces*

Tackling them one by one... The first by Theny Bule, which is not a name I can recall from prior to this. The idea of marionettes being used by masterful hands does bring to mind all of our characters being manipulated by gods. The dancer trying to stay free of the marionettes is being tangled in the schemes regardless.

The second poem is another by Toc the Younger (whose work featured at the start of Chapter Four as well). Okay, I’m not completely sure on who is being written about in the poem, but I’m thinking the two candidates are either Whiskeyjack or Dujek Onearm. The poem talks about the assassination of Kellanved and Dancer by Laseen (“...in her foul cleansing”). Ah, I believe this is almost certainly about Whiskeyjack now: “...and so in stepping down but not away...” Basically he is still in Laseen’s view and so remains a prick against her conscience. I’m not sure about the last few words, “...and damned its reawakening...” but I’m sure it will begin to come clear.

We’re back with the Bridgeburners—yay! They’ve arrived on the far side of the lake to that of Daru, but can see the glow of the city—this is particularly lovely descriptive work. The glow of Daru has been mentioned before, but each time I hear about it I see the most wonderfully vivid picture in my mind of what it must look like—especially on the shore of a misty lake.

I am also discovering myself to be so suspicious of every random line now, especially after missing the wax on the coin and the true nature of Murillio and Rallick’s relationship in the last chapter! So here I read the line, “...the Quorl tossed about in the midst of three warring thunderheads” and wonder if the storm was natural. It amuses me anyway to imagine that the Bridgeburners are caught between three warring factions—the thunderheads therefore being a representation of the situation they find themselves in! Am I reading too much? Almost definitely, at this stage. *grin* [Bill’s interjection: Ahh, now he’s got you!]

We learn that the Green Moranth have delivered on their munitions promise—in fact, provided more than expected for the sappers to use. Whiskeyjack is curious as to why, and it seems as though the Moranth are fine with providing munitions to causes that they agree with. The Moranth are aware that Whiskeyjack and his squad are fighting against the Empress and state that “from the Moranth, assistance will never be scarce.”

I am wondering about two things right now. One, when Whiskeyjack was given his Moranth name Bird That Steals, and two, what that actually means. I am guessing it came about in Nathilog when Whiskeyjack fought by the side of the Moranth warrior with one arm? People with one arm are becoming a little theme! We have this Moranth chap, Dujek Onearm and Sorry’s fisherman dad. I would be thinking one and all of them were connected, were it not for the Moranth being of alien features compared to humans. Mind you, the Moranth wear helmets and armour—maybe they are human behind them... Whiskeyjack does seem incredibly relieved that this former colleague of his survived—I guess we’ll encounter him at some point.

The Moranth judge people by their actions—which is why they’re prepared to help Whiskeyjack’s squad and also why they culled 18,739 people during the fall of Pale (an eye for an eye style of vengeance writ large). Just as an aside, when I see eighteen thousand seven hundred and thirty-nine souls written out like that, I find it much harder to comprehend the sheer scale of deaths caused for vengeance. Writing it as 18,739 brought the scope of it home to me that much faster. Do any of you experience that with numbers?

“There are worms within your empire’s flesh. But such degradation is natural in all bodies. Your people’s infection is not yet fatal. It can be scoured clean. The Moranth are skilled at such efforts.”

I don’t know whether Whiskeyjack is appalled by the suggestion that the Moranth can aid in the scouring that would be involved in cleaning the empire of those corrupting it, or whether he is trying to decide how to include it in his plan. It does mention the “ice tingling along his spine” so I suspect he is not yet so ruthless.

Bah, every little glance seems to represent something. Now that I realise how carefully Erikson chooses words (such as calling Kruppe the slippery one) I am left wondering about everything. Such as when Whiskeyjack explains to his squad that they will not be sticking to the Empress’ plan, and this happens:

“We ain’t going to mine the city gates?” Fiddler asked, glancing at Hedge.

Why does Fiddler glance at Hedge? Why doesn’t he glance at Kalam? What does the glance mean? Maybe it is merely because they are the two sappers and the change in plan will directly affect them, since they are involved in the exploding of whatever needs to be exploded? However, the fact that Erikson put it in there suggests it is weighty with meaning, but I’m not sure what it is!

Again, the fact that Sorry is disliked and suspected by Whiskeyjack and his squad is put across strongly. Whiskeyjack hesitates before putting her with Kalam and Quick Ben, then mutters an oath under his breath when she smiles mockingly at him. She is really creating tension in a situation where tension already exists one-thousand-fold.

The last line of Whiskeyjack’s, “All right, everyone listen and pay attention, or we won’t come out of this alive...” shows that the plan is absolutely fraught with danger, since they are still going into Daru to cause upset, but that the Empress will soon be onto them as well, since the plan has changed. Poor Bridgeburners!

We then join Quick Ben as he performs a ritual that appears to bring the bound Hairlock to him—or him to Hairlock. Erikson writes the ritual slickly and cleanly, so that I am able to imagine exactly how Quick Ben ties the gut around the sticks. This is not the first time I have admired how efficient Erikson’s style is.

The encounter between Hairlock and Quick Ben is heavy with unspoken menace and filled with those lines that I feel I ought to be able to grasp but still can’t quite get the measure of. Hairlock is proceeding ever deeper into the warren of Chaos, and his appearance is becoming ever more disreputable as he becomes corrupted:

“...his wooden body smeared and scorched, the doll’s clothing ripped and frayed.”

I don’t know what relevance the Spar of Andii has, but its similarity to Tiste Andii makes me wonder if there is a connection.

We also learn that Quick Ben has been in the warren of Chaos before! (One of his many warrens, I am beginning to wonder...?) He knows enough to offer Hairlock the threat of “creatures who call this realm home.”

I know that Quick Ben performed the spell that put Hairlock into the puppet’s form, but even so this exchange had more meaning than I completely understood:

“You are my protector,” Hairlock snapped. “I’m bound to you, Wizard! The responsibility is yours, nor will I hide the fact if I am taken.”

“Bound to me, indeed.” Quick Ben lowered himself to his haunches. “Good to hear your memory’s come back.”

Hairlock reveals that Tattersail is recovering from her encounter with the Hound Gear, but that now she (and the Bridgeburners) are under suspicion from Tayschrenn. He is also outraged that Quick Ben must have known that gods had entered the game. His raving to himself while Quick Ben listens is harsh and mad—and warns Quick Ben that Hairlock has the strength to break the strings of control attached to him.

“The wizard knew what he’d have to do—Hairlock had given it to him, in fact. Still, Quick Ben wasn’t looking forward to it.”

The fact he thinks about Gear suggests the Hound is connected to what he has to do—if not, then I have no inkling. Just another of those occasions where I am uncertain if I am meant to still be in the dark or whether I have been handed the various tiny pieces of the puzzle and I have just been unable to piece them together.

It seems as though Whiskeyjack’s plan really is one bred of desperation:

“The expressions arrayed around him were sober, eyes downcast or fixed elsewhere, closed into some personal, private place where swam the heaviest thoughts.”

And hmm...Whiskeyjack thinks of Sorry so clearly, “...wondered who was doing the approving within those eyes,” he suspects she is being ridden, but also doesn’t want to believe that of her.

He is not the only member of the squad starting to express true doubts about Sorry:

Kalam grunted. “Since when does the girl know about fishing?”

The sergeant sighed. “I know. Came out of nowhere, didn’t it?”

“Bloody convenient.”

I also find myself laughing at the exchange since, for once, we, the reader, actually know more than the characters in the book at this point i.e. the fact that Sorry does have some knowledge of fishing!

And this exchange is just loaded with meaning and I am positively aching to find out what is going on:

Quick Ben reached the dome of rock. Both men fell silent at seeing his expression.

“I’m about to propose something you’re going to hate,” the wizard said.

“Let’s hear it,” Whiskeyjack replied, in a voice empty of feeling.

Ten minutes later the three men arrived on the slick pebbled beach, both Whiskeyjack and Kalam looking shaken.

WHAT did Quick Ben propose, that even jaded Bridgeburners look shaken?!

And then after that shocking pronouncement, we have one of those moments of soldier humour, where members of the squad play jokes on each other—even while waiting to begin a mission which could cost them their lives.

Bill’s Comments on Chapter Eight:
That first poem you’ve pretty much covered, though I’ll just add that the gods themselves aren’t free of being manipulated by “masterly hands” and that I also like how it works literally as well, with the focus on Hairlock this chapter. Oh, and the First Sword was Daseem Ultor, of whom we will hear/see more, here and also in Esslemont’s books.

I’m with you, Amanda, that the second poem deals with Whiskeyjack and that he is indeed the prick against Laseen’s conscience, as well as a literal threat to her rule as he’s beloved by an army (never a good thing from an emperor’s point of view). My take on those last few lines is that what he “surrendered” was a sense of human connection. That as leader, he tried to see the soldiers as pieces on a board and not as real men and women with whom he had true human bonds of friendship. That sense of friendship I think is reawakened in him and why he “damns” it is due to the accordant pain that comes from sending those you care about into danger and death.

We will indeed see that one-armed Moranth again, and this is just another example of the careful brick-laying that Erikson does, introducing a character in small asides so the character becomes a thread woven into the tapestry of the story, rather than something just dropped onto the fabric later for emotional effect. We’ll also learn more about the Moranth (and that armor) in later books—that is another aspect I like about this series, that we learn a lot as the characters do.

A few of you have written about the cinematic aspects of GoTM, and that close to the first section with Whiskeyjack gathering them around and saying “All right, everyone listen and pay attention or we won’t come out of this alive . . . “ reminds me of those classic sort of movie scenes where the characters huddle together while one relays the oh-so-important plan and the volume drops so the viewer can’t hear and we zoom out or fade away to let the plan be revealed as it happens later.

I’ll confess to ignorance Amanda, on the Spar of Andii. It does seem that it holds some weight, but I’m not sure what that is. I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been revealed yet in GoTM, however, so don’t feel bad about that. This scene is another of those cinematic ones—the background, the spar, the black flames lighting Hairlock’s eyes, the billowing yellow clouds—all combine for an arresting visual.

That tension you mention between Quick Ben and Hairlock is so strong in this scene—a running theme throughout the series: the tense alliances wherein everyone is working for their own desires within the larger shared goal, not everyone likes everyone, and some would be happy to kill another. Everyone wants to make a tool of someone else but half the time it’s like you’re using a chainsaw as a tool, but that chainsaw is sentient and would be just as happy to slice through your arm as much as through that tree branch you’re trying to use it on. [Amanda’s interjection: Haha, I have a picture of Ash from the Evil Dead movies in my head now!] Or, as Hairlock says, the tool can be grabbed by another and “turned against” its original user—another theme we’ll see played out again and again, including later in this book. I think those lines you quoted about Hairlock being “bound” to Quick Ben is Hairlock threatening Ben, saying if he’s caught he’ll rat Quick Ben with no qualms.

This conversation is also another example of how perspective is an issue: Hairlock says Tayschrenn wants the squad dead, but is his information correct? Do we know if he’s even telling the truth?

As for Quick Ben’s plan, one hint is that face associated with Gear:  what is Gear and who is associated with him? [Amanda’s interjection: Hmm, this could be to do with Ammanas—or maybe Paran, because of that whole snarling like a dog thing you brought up in a previous commentary?]

And yes, from tension and menace and terror into comic relief—thank god for the humor in these books.

CHAPTER NINE

SCENE 1
Toc the Younger is three days out from Pale on the Rhivi Plain looking for Adjunct Lorn. He comes across a group of Malazan Marine elites killed by a group of Barghast (a clans-based people from far away who fought with the Crimson Guard against the Empire). He finds the corpse of the Barghast shaman who had led them (Lorn has a reputation for being tough on magic-users which turns out to be thanks to her sword made of Otataral, a substance that “kills” magic save for “Elder” magic) and then follows the tracks away.

SCENE 2
Lorn and the two remaining marines make their stand on an ancient barrow. The marines are killed but Lorn is rescued by the T’lan Imass Tool and Toc, whose father she knew before he disappeared after the Emperor’s death). As they leave, Tool tells Lorn the barrow “yielded a truth.”

SCENE 3
Tattersail awakes and she and Paran discuss what happened: that a god intervened to bring him back, that Whiskeyjack needs to know his assassin, that the coin has stopped spinning, that Paran is being used, that Hairlock wants both of them dead.

SCENE 4
Toc and Lorn arrive in Pale. Toc tells her that rumor is that the Bridgeburners will be disbanded, which will be trouble. She recognizes the army is on edge of revolt. She and Dujek meet and he informs her Tayschrenn has ordered a more-than-usually-severe culling of the nobles and that he (Dujek) has had several attempts on his life. Lorn wonders why the Empress/Tayschrenn seem to be pushing him into rebellion, especially as their homeland is on the verge of the same. Dujek and Lorn agree the Moranth alliance with the Empire seems tenuous. Lorn tells Tayschrenn to lay off Dujek, that he and a handful are the only exceptions to the general idea that the “old guard” of the Emperor must die. Tayschrenn tells Lorn Oponn is meddling in Darujhistan, that he suspects Whiskeyjack and Tattersail of being in league, and that Paran is likely dead though not passed through Hood’s Gate yet. The section closes with Lorn recalling bad history with Tattersail in Mock City nine years earlier during the cleansing of the Mouse quarter.

SCENE 5
Tattersail muses on several topics:

  • She’s glad she missed the chaos and death in Pale, a scene she’s seen before.
  • That the Empire would soon turn Pale’s past rulers into “demons.”
  • She hopes, to her surprise, that Whiskeyjack and the others find their way free of Empire.
  • The mutual attraction between her and Paran.

She’s invited to a dinner with Dujek, Lorn, Tayschrenn, and Toc and learns from Paran’s reaction that he’s working for Lorn.

SCENE 6
The dinner. Lorn informs Tattersail that when Lorn was eleven, she was in the Mouse Quarter when Tattersail and the other mages purged it and that her mother, father, and brother died afterward. Lorn tells Dujek that Tattersail’s cadre of mages was sent into the Old City to cleanse it of magic-users, but they were “indiscriminate.” Tattersail replies it was their first command and they lost control and that she resigned as an officer the next day, but that if the Adjunct wishes to execute her, she’d accept it as just penalty. Lorn says fine but Dujek says no, especially as the list of far too great of those who’ve committed crimes in the Empire’s name. He then tells them he’d gone down to reign in the mages at Whiskeyjack’s command. Tayschrenn tells Lorn the minute she became Adjunct her personhood as Lorn, as that young girl, ceased to exist. Toc thinks to himself as he saw the Adjunct slow acceptance, that he had witnessed an execution.

Tattersail informs them Oponn and Shadowthrone are in the fray over Darujhistan but lies about why the Hound was in her room. Toc notes the lie but doesn’t rat her out, paying back the times the mage cadre had taken so much for the lives of the 2nd Army.

SCENE 7
Tattersail thinks of how she’s changed since that night in the Mouse Quarter and how she’d been given a second chance. Paran relays a message from Hairlock that Lorn arrived with a T’lan Imass and that Hairlock would track the two of them when they left Pale. Paran confesses to her his mission to find Sorry, though she suspects there is more to the Adjuncts arrival than the hunt for Sorry, that the plan was to kill Whiskeyjack and his squad. She worries Hairlock knows more than he said and decides she needs to warn Whiskeyjack and Quick Ben about him and the Adjunct. She also tells Paran that she will leave what happens to Sorry up to Whiskeyjack. The two of them sleep together.

SCENE 8
Lorn and Tool leave Pale. Tool informs her the T’lan Imass legions left Seven Cities after the conquest to exterminate a group of Jaghut. He alone survived among his clan and thus is “unbound.” He tells her like all the Imass, he knelt before the Emperor before the First Throne, that Dancer had been with the Emperor, and that the Logros Imass gathered minds and performed a binding, part of which entails not being able to disclose where the First Throne is. He also informs her that the Kron T’lan Imass is coming, marking the end of the diaspora, as it’s the Year of the Three Hundredth Millennium.

SCENE 9
Crone flies over the Rhivi Plain toward Brood, noting that change was coming, a convergence on its way.

Amanda’s reaction to Chapter Nine:
Okay, the poem at the start of chapter nine? The Lay of Onos T’oolan? Pretty sure I currently know nothing of a) the T’lan Imass in general and b) this one specifically. All up to Bill and you lovely commentators to shed some light!

Regarding the “He should have met her two days past.” line. I think it is with comments like this that Erikson frustrates me the most. Why not just say who “her” is right then at the start of the passage? I’ve had this before—wondering who is being referred to and then being told a couple of paragraphs later, and it makes me think it would be easier on the reader to just say! At the moment I am wondering who would be both female and a candidate for meeting Toc the Younger—is it someone we’ve already met? Or someone being introduced for the first time? Since he’s an agent of the Claw, it could be Laseen or Lorn; since this woman is delayed meeting him, it could be Tattersail.

This level of analysis in a book is unheard of for me—I am a reader who quite often skims. To sit and have to contemplate who a character might be is forcing me to slow down—and, I have to say, the reading experience is that much more rewarding. I am not having those usual moments in a book where I think “now I know I’ve met this character before—who were they?” Or, I mean I am, but only as a result of Erikson wanting me to think this rather than because I am reading too quickly and skimming over details. Has anyone else had to adjust their reading method while tackling GotM and later Malazan books?

“Chaos seemed a sign of the times.”

*snort* How apt a sentence!

I enjoy the way Erikson is showing us the world of the Malazan Empire one brick at a time. Here we learn a little about the Rhivi—not warlike, but forced into taking sides in a war that doesn’t concern them.

We also learn a little about the clans of the Barghast when Toc stumbles across the bodies of dead marines (Jakatakan - elites) and realises that their foes were the Barghast.

“Somehow they’d stumbled upon a trail and this shaman had recognised it for what it was.”

This makes me wonder about another aspect of warrens. It sounds here as though the warren used to journey over four hundred leagues left a trace (trail) in the air that the shaman was able to access?

“Well, she’s said to be hell on mages.”

I think I know now that Lorn is who Toc was supposed to be meeting, since we’ve already had it pointed out to us that Lorn has a great dislike for magic users.

“But he knew he had no choice...”

Why does Toc have no choice about going to the aid of Lorn and the remaining Jakatakan? No one knows that he has come upon this scene, so why does he go to what he believes will be almost-certain death for Lorn?

Now we meet Lorn as she ponders what is entombed within the hill before which she stands, feeling misgivings. I don’t blame her! Having seen an Elder God brought back to life thanks to blood being spilled on his temple, I dread to think what might be reawakened from a millenia-old tomb!

My, these Jakatakans are hard as nails.... The nameless soldier remaining with Lorn has already taken a lance barb in his shoulder, refuses the protection of the crossbowman, and his only response to receiving a lance through the leg is a “soft gasp”! And he still carries on fighting to protect Lorn as charged.

“That he was able to move at all, much less defend himself, spoke eloquently of Jakatakan discipline and training.”

And certainly the preceding paragraphs show elegantly Erikson’s ability to build a picture for us without ever having to explicitly state what he means: I knew the Jakatakans were skilled and tough, thanks to how Erikson presented this soldier. It almost makes me wonder whether that sentence I have quoted was a little redundant—a little too much pushing the point home.

I love the way that the skeletal hand comes bursting from the earth—thanks to Erikson’s ambiguity we don’t know whether it will hurt or harm Lorn, although it has attacked the Barghast, so could be assumed to be on her side. We also don’t know whether it was meant to be there or whether the blood of the nameless soldier summoned it. Since Erikson spoke about Lorn’s misgivings at being near the tomb, it is an easy step to believe that the dead have been summoned to life. So it overturns our expectations to realise that:

“I was expecting you days ago,” Lorn said, glaring at the figure.

Ah, finally we meet a T’lan Imass—not only that, but the T’lan Imass of the poem at the start of this chapter. Erikson gives us a fabulous description of this creature, including his voice “born of stones and dust”. We also learn that “‘...he’s an integral player in my mission.’” Strikes me that a) Lorn does not have complete control over what the T’lan Imass will do and b) whatever you need a T’lan Imass to achieve cannot be good!

Toc the Elder disappeared during the time of Laseen’s purges—Lorn states that the Empress has regretted his death, but Toc the Younger insists that he is just missing “...his tone tight and his single eye averted...” It sounds as though he doesn’t quite believe that his father is simply missing—knowing Erikson, this exchange wouldn’t have been included unless there was a good reason so I do imagine we’ll be seeing Toc the Elder at some point in the future (even if he doesn’t seem exactly as he did when he disappeared!)

It is interesting to both Lorn and me that Toc the Younger has taken a path so different to that of his father:

“There was nothing pleasant, or proud, in being a Claw.”

There is definitely a story behind him veering so utterly from the path of his father.

After a brief search he found the longsword in the grass, and his eye thinned to a slit upon seeing the weapon’s dusty red blade. He brougt it to her, and said, “An Otataral sword, Adjunct, the ore that kills magic.”

[...]

“Well,” Lorn said, “Otataral is no mystery to you of the Seven Cities, but few here know it, and I would keep it that way.”

So this is the source of Lorn’s ability against mages, and probably helps her reputation as one who is hard on those with magic. Clearly she would want to keep this sort of advantage hidden in the Malazan Empire, where magic is wielded by those who would threaten the Empress.

“The Warrens of the Imass are similar to those of the Jaghut and the Forkrul Assail—Elder—, blood— and earthbound...”

I’ve included this quote merely to outline the fact that the mystery of the warrens constantly thickens, with different layers being added!

We learn a little more about the character of Lorn here—hard as iron [Bill’s interjection: good simile and one we’ll see Erikson’s characters using in very precise terms later on in the series], but with surprising touches of softness (such as when she expresses grief for the loss of her horse). I like the fact that Toc feels such shock at the idea of sharing a saddle with her.

“The barrow has yielded a truth, Adjunct,” Onos T’oolan said.

Toc felt her stiffen. “And that is?”

“We are upon the right path,” the T’lan Imass replied.

Again, we have another of these exchanges that I know moves the plot forward, and I should probably be able to piece together what they’re talking about from hints and clues dropped elsewhere. I know that various people are on the hunt for Sorry—and the god who is riding her. I know that Hairlock is also being searched for. It could be this path that they’re now on. Or it could be something entirely different that I’m not managing to piece together!

Something occurs to me as we move to the viewpoint of Paran and I read “...a nasty puppet whose painted eyes seemed to fix on him with intense hatred.” When Quick Ben and Hairlock were talking, Hairlock realises that the gods are involved, but does he actively realise that Paran is now an instrument of the gods? He clearly doesn’t know which gods are active at the moment, because otherwise I think he would have said. Or does he show hatred towards Paran because there is a mystery to be solved and he doesn’t know why the captain was able to wound a Hound?

It is interesting that Paran has lost his memory of what happened during his brief period of death—does that include the fact that someone close to him will die in his place?

Hairlock is showing himself to be a most unreliable voice—as Bill pointed out from Chapter Eight, can we actually trust anything that Hairlock says now that the madness of Chaos is starting to take him? (And also because he looks to his own interests before that of anyone else?)

“Hairlock had told Paran that she’d somehow hidden him when Tayschrenn arrived...”

Paran quite clearly shouldn’t trust anything that Hairlock says. Also, just as an aside, would you feel comfortable with a rather horrible little puppet when you’d just woken from a rather murky dream about a slavering Hound that you think you might have killed—or not? I can’t even imagine the confusion and fear that Paran must be feeling at that time—even disregarding the fact that he has at least encountered magic prior to this.

“Slowly, a new awareness tickled the edges of his mind...”

Is this merely Paran becoming slowly aware of the fact that Tattersail is awake? Or is that he can now sense the presence of magic, or some similar thing, that leads to this? Add this to the snarling and the fact that he is god-touched and Paran is starting to look like another mystery to be solved. [Bill’s interjection: By you, by the other characters, and by himself.]

“And that made him feel as if he were descending a spiral, with the sorceress in the centre. Descending? Perhaps it was an ascent.”

I am grinning at the moment. The use of the word ascent—considering the presence of ascended people—really must be deliberate, otherwise that really is going to lead the reader astray. Also, I have a hint of a forthcoming romance between these two! Paran finds himself responding to her, despite her physical mundanity... [Bill’s interjection: Both good catches!]

“I’m being used,” Paran stated flatly.

She raised an eyebrow. “That doesn’t bother you?”

Paran shrugged and turned away. “It’s nothing new,” he muttered.

Okay, so, on the one hand I can start feeling sorry for Paran, but on the other he did choose the life of the soldier that led to this point. Swings and roundabouts.

Oh, and what a hint that this powerplay has had its roots many years back:

“Yet I named the weapon the day I bought it.”

“The name?”

Paran’s grin was ghastly. “Chance.”

“The pattern has been long in the weaving,” Tattersail said, closing her eyes and sighing. “Though I suspect even Oponn could not have imagined your blade tasting its first blood on a Hound of Shadow.”

Wow, see, all the events that have passed so far have seemed to happen (well, if you’ll pardon the expression) by chance... The possessing of Sorry seemed to be because she was in the wrong place at a very wrong time. The fact that Paran chose the life of a soldier, to put him at a point where Sorry could kill him and Oponn could use him: completely based on a decision in his youth. The background of the mages, and the Bridgeburners, and Moon’s Spawn—none of it seems to be part of an over-arching plan—but then, I guess, Erikson is not the sort of writer who would reveal that in any case. I think maybe it will only be at the end of book ten and assorted other novels/novellas that I can sit back and say Ah, now I see how it all fits together!

And now Erikson points out himself just how unreliable most of the narrators in his book are:

Tattersail’s smile was drawn. “You think he’d just come right out and tell you how dangerous you really are? [...] Hairlock wants you kept in the dark—about everything. The puppet lied.”

[Bill’s interjection: There’s another brick in that dialogue as well.] And in the same sequence Paran suspects that Tattersail is hiding things from him too. The unreliable narrator/lack of trust is building to become a real theme.

We’re given another bleak picture about the situation within the Malazan forces as Lorn arrives at Pale:

In Pale, ten thousand soldiers crowded the edge of revolt, the spies among them brutally removed, awaiting only High Fist Dujek’s word.

And:

“...now there’s the rumour that the Bridgeburners are going to be retired. [...] People around here don’t like that.”

The Adjunct was eager for her meeting with Tayschrenn and this sorceress Tattersail - the name was familiar, tugging at memories that seemed born in her childhood. And around such evasive hints rustled a cloak of fear.

A ha! This must have meaning for us in the future. I just know that the fact Tattersail and Lorn have encountered each other before will turn out to be important.

Another glimpse of the humour that Erikson does so well:

A small smile came to Lorn’s mouth as the scene emerged in her mind: the High Fist a worn, weary one-armed man, he Empress’ Adjunct, her sword arm in a sling, and Toc the Younger, last representative of the Claw on Genabackis, one-eyed and half his face scarred by fire. Here they were, representatives of three of the four Empire powers on the continent, and they all looked like hell.

This scene is so easy to imagine, and makes me giggle—yet is also bittersweet and speaks of the horrors and vagaries of war.

I like that Dujek is looking out for Toc the Younger and trying to remove him from peril. But I also wonder whether he is attempting to rid himself of a spy and an assassin?

“The nobility are about to be culled,” Dujek said at her side.

“Tayschrenn wants it to be thorough, and public.”

“Empire policy,” Lorn replied stiffly. “You’re well aware of that, High Fist.”

Dujek glared at her. “Nine out of ten nobles to hang, Adjunct? Children included?”

The above exchange begins to make explicit this culling we’ve encountered in the past—showing us that it is regularly encountered, in order to subdue the new city and remove the nobles who are most likely to implement counter-manoeuvres against the Malazan Empire. It does make me wonder whether Laseen ever considers the common people and why they are not included in the culling that takes place? Does she have a blind spot here? Does she not realise that the common people are often those who will act most vigorously for change? Lorn’s reaction to Dujek here is interesting—does she not agree with the practice of culling? And I do adore how we find out later that Dujek has had a hand in ensuring that the census lists were not available for Tayschrenn to administer the culling! I really like Dujek!

Seven Cities recruits were being sent elsewhere these days. The Empress did not wish Dujek’s soldiers to become aware that their homeland was on the brink of open rebellion.

Here is another of those building bricks being put into place for us, I believe. [Bill’s interjection: Yep, for the entire structure of buildings that will be a few books—that “brink” is about to be leapt over.]

She realised that she needed Dujek’s support more than he needed hers.

The delicate shifts and balances of power are being carefully catalogued by Erikson. And again:

She knew he was giving her the opportunity to hear answers that didn’t come from Tayschrenn. Though as to whose version of the truth she would accept was up to her.

We have a sneaky glimpse into Caladan Brood as well:

“I had a hell of a time getting the Gold legions—their elite warriors—to fight Caladan Brood. Seems they consider him too honourable to treat as an enemy.”

“I’ve seen the work of Hounds before, she said, meeting his eyes. In that moment of locked gazes they shared something profound. Then Dujek pulled his eyes away.

WHAT? What have they shared?! Why can’t we be told just one or two things? *grin*

As I said above, I am really starting to appreciate Dujek—and I also love the respect that Lorn is forced to pay him:

“Dammit, Tayschrenn, where’s your sense? You’ve taken on the craftiest bastard the Empire military has ever had the privilege of possessing and he’s eating you alive.”

And again:

“Dujek is not just one man. Right now he’s ten thousand, and in a year’s time he’ll be twenty-five thousand.”

And finally:

“He’s the best of the Empire.”

I just have a horrible feeling that, after setting Dujek up to be so classically good in the sense of a fantasy novel, we are going to lose him. I both hate and like the fact that I do not feel safe that everyone will make it out of this alive. [Bill’s interjection: Welome to the world of Malaz!]

“Mages by nature never commanded loyalty.”

This is an interesting statement—perhaps because by supernatural means they have the ability to kill people. It must breed less respect than going toe to toe with your enemy. Ooh, and we have the little note that the assassinated Emperor was a mage.

Okay, a key passage, I think, which defines the position of the Empress and Lorn:

“The old guard must disappear. All who stood with the Emperor and still cling to his memory will ever work against us, whether consciously or unconsciously. Dujek is an exception, and there is a handful of others like him. Those we must not lose. As for the others, they have to die. The risk lies in alerting them to that fact. If we’re too open we may end up with an insurrection the size of which could destroy the Empire.”

It strikes me that the gods have their hands all over this situation as well, manipulating those they must not lose, starting the insurrection that will destroy the Empire.

I really like this statement:

“How can one plan anything with Oponn in the game?”

And here is a statement that propaganda plays its part when new rulers move in and occupy a citythe victor will write the history to suit them. This is enormously realistic and has happened right from when Richard III of England was given a hunchback to where Hitler issued propaganda to say exactly what he needed.

“No matter how benign the original rulers, no matter how generous the nobility, the word of Empire, weighted by might, twisted the past into a tyranny of demons. A sad comment on humanity, a bitter lesson made foul by her own role in it.”

I made a point in a previous commentary about how fraught Whiskeyjack must be feelingand here we have Tattersail making the same point:

Whiskeyjack, a man pushed to the edge, or, rather, the edge creeping on him on all sides, a crumbling of beliefs, a failing of faiths, leaving as his last claim to humanity his squad, a shrinking handful of the only people that mattered any more. But he held on, and he pushed backpushed back hard.

Hmm, again I am probably thinking it too hard, but Erikson’s choice of words is so often very deliberate, that I am wondering whether the repetition of the word “push” in this paragraph is relevant.

I like the hints about what might be in store for Toc the Younger (Bill, thanks for the nudge to notice the eye thing!):

“In the Seven Cities, supestition held that the loss of an eye was also the birth of inner sight.”

Ha, that dark sense of humour strikes againand also a demonstration of why the troops would be so loyal to Dujek:

The High Fist set his crystal goblet down on the mantel and deliberately scratched the stump of his left arm.

Bet it’s driving you half crazed, the old man said, his grin broadening.

I scratch with both hands, Toc said.

I’m shaken by the scene where Lorn confronts Tattersail over what happened when she was but a child and the cadre of mages lost control, especially when Tayschrenn says:

“The woman named Lorn, the woman who once was a child, who once had a family,” he looked upon the Adjunct with anguish in his eyes, “that woman does not exist. She ceased to exist the day she became the Adjunct.”

Watching Lorn retreat behind the duty and need of being the Adjunct—in service to the Empire—after her fragile show of true character, is desperately sad. I’m also confused by Tayschrenn’s anguish. So far we have taken the side of Dujek and Tattersail against Tayschrenn, but here we see a hint of Tayschrenn’s humanity. Who to side with?

We have the same imagery of sharks circling with the presence of blood in the water when Tattersail says:

“The Twin Jesters’ opening move has created ripples [...] and thus attracted the attention of other gods.”

And then learn that this is not the first time that gods have interfered with the Malazan Empire:

“Oponn is not the first god seeking to manipulate the Malazan Empire [...] Others have failed, come away bloodied.”

Oh, I am loving Toc as well. This is definitely the chapter where the characters have blazed alive for me. Toc’s defiance of all his teachings as a Claw, his throwing his lot in with the 2nd army, his secret defence of Tattersail in thanks for what the mage cadre have done in the past—this is the sort of action that gives you a fist punching moment. I’m so pleased, because Toc the Younger has become more and more intriguing. And hey look! His itching has ceased now that he’s made his decision!

We also see another of Erikson’s themes spoken of by Tattersail:

For Lorn, it had been a pivotal event. But for Tattersail, it had been just one nightmare among many.

Erikson does like to put across the different perspectives of war, the way that a moment of importance to one person is nothing to another. This then creates ripples of cause and effect.

I think it is important to note that the Emperor reawakened the T’lan Imass—you have to ask whose control he was under to do that, where the power and knowledge came from and, seriously, why he suddenly needed a host of undead warriors! Curious...

Once more we’re overloaded with information that will no doubt prove of use as the re-read progresses: the significance of the Kron, the year of the three hundredth millenium approaching, the Diaspora ending. None of this makes any sense at all right now, but I rather think I should be keeping it all in mind!

Lastly, we are given the musings of Crone as she flies to attend a master who isn’t Anomander Rake—which god is in charge of her, I wonder? And we are told that a mystery surrounds Caladan Brood—half human and half...something else. Have I been told that and forgotten?

Okay, so that was a MAMMOTH undertaking, and I sincerely hope I didn’t lose your interest partway through. This chapter is EPIC—we are gradually shifting into higher gear here, the pace of the plot unfolding is definitely speeding up. Now that we’ve met most of the major players and started setting in our minds who we are planning to root for, everything gains greater momentum and import. I really enjoyed Chapter Nine and am itching to move on.

Bill’s Comments on Chapter Nine:
That poem does get a bit more grounding, as you point out a few pages later when we meet Onos T’oolan, and we’ll continue to fill in the gaps about the T’lan Imass in general, what the ritual was that sealed them “beyond death” and why they performed it, why Tool “stands apart,” and why the host of Imass might be termed a “plague” while Onos is described as a “seed unfallen”—a more positive connotation and one involving the idea of potential.

I can see your frustration with the “he should have met her” and I do have to agree that sometimes I think Erikson does this sort of mysterious referencing unnecessarily. Since we don’t really have many choices as to the “her” that make much sense, there really isn’t any suspense built into that lack of precision. And since it’s only two pages later that we get a pretty clear reference to Lorn via the tough on mages description and then a paragraph later her actual name, there doesn’t seem to be much point in not starting with “he should have met the adjunct two days ago.” One could argue that Erikson is just trying to create in the readers’ minds the same sense of dislocation/confusion/ignorance that the characters so often deal with and that isn’t a bad argument. But it doesn’t make it less annoying. *grin*

The subtle world-building continues as you say, with brief asides on the Rhivi and the Barghat, the Crimson Guard, and some little geography.

Now, that scene with Onos arriving is an example of where I think Erikson’s mystery works to great effect, as you pointed out Amanda. Who does this “skeletal hand” belong to? Is it a rescue of Lorn or is it a general attack of the undead? I like that it’s a full two paragraphs before we know for sure, rather than having Lorn immediately respond with relief or in some other way indicate the undead is an ally.

And here we get a bit more on the Imass. Around for 300,000 years (more long-lived Erikson characters!), undead, allies of the Empire but not wholly so (legions of them marching off eight years ago to some goal the Empress knew nothing about), longtime enemies of the Jaghut (a reference to the “sixth Jaghut War), immune to Otataral, wielding unbreakable flint swords. We’ll learn a lot more about them and they rank I think as one of Erikson’s best creations in the series.[Amanda’s interjection: This summary is excellent. *approving* I mean, the Imass are so intriguing, right from the off, but putting all these facts that we can glean about them enforces the fact that they are pretty damn cool!]

You’re right to note that brief conversation on Toc the Elder. There are a lot of the Old Guard who “died” at the same time as the Emperor and Dancer and yet of whom rumors and ambiguity remain. We already have seen that the “deaths” of Dancer and the Emperor weren’t quite what they seemed so it’s not a bad idea to not trust a reported death unless you actually see the body. And then watch it. For days. And days. And then, of course, as Onos shows us, there is death and there is “death”...oh, such fun awaits...

While we’re on Toc the Younger, keep an eye on that eye... [Amanda’s interjection: Actually, I believe that he seemed to be scratching subconsciously when he noticed Lorn’s reaction to Onos’ declaration. Bah, now you’re just giving me these tiny little hints that just frustrate as much as Erikson’s own writing. *grins*]

You’re right to think there’s more to Lorn’s “path” than that leading to Darujhistan or Sorry.

And to note the warren mystery deepens, though as others have pointed out in discussions, GoTM isn’t the best of the books to plumb the depths of what the warrens are, as it does seem to have some inconsistencies (the aforementioned Gotism) in comparison to the others, due to the interval of time in the writing.

Good job on picking up the tension underlying the army. You see it as well on an individual level with Toc when he encounters Dujek:

“Toc the Younger snapped a salute, the energy behind it making Lorn wonder at his loyalty.”

The question of whether Toc is a Claw or a soldier of the Second will soon be asked/answered very directly.

Lorn and Tayschrenn’s conversation also gives you a sense of that same tension underlying the entire empire: old guard vs new guard, who needs to be “disappeared” and who shouldn’t be. And who has already disappeared—as we’ve seen with Toc the Elder that term is a bit vague—will play a role in future books. Or should I say those who “haven’t disappeared” will play a role in future books. *grin*

And then we see that tension play out throughout the rest of the chapter via a host of interactions: some macroscopic and concerned with the Empire and broad strategy and some much more personal, as with Lorn’s history with Tattersail—a history we were set up for in the very start of the novel, with Paran looking over the Mouse Quarter at the very scene Lorn and Tattersail were directly involved in (I’m glad you pointed out those lines with Lorn submerging her identity—those are some of the most chilling lines in the whole book, I think). We see it with Toc’s decision—temporary or permanent?—to side with Tattersail against the Empress and lie for her. We see it in Tattersail and Paran’s conversation where Paran confesses his mission to find Sorry and the two determine that the Adjunct must have much more on her mind to be employing a T’lan Imass.

And we see it as well even between Tool and Lorn, as he divulges that the Imass have more going on than what they are ordered to do by the Empire: their war against the Jaghut is ongoing (Tool was left clanless in the 28th Jaghut War), there’s a whole other clan out there (the Kron T’lan Imass), someone has organized the hiding of the First Throne, which commands the Imass, and this year is somehow going to see the end of the Imass diaspora. Secrets and suspicion are underlying currents throughout the book/series, sometimes blossoming into full-fledged betrayal, another series motif.

If that last line by Tool on the imminent end of the diaspora wasn’t enough to sound the knell of imminent change, Erikson pounds it home (perhaps a tad too much) more directly via Crone:

“...changes were coming to the world.”

A good set-up for movement forward...


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.

94 comments
Taitastigon
1. Taitastigon
Hi Amanda, re Bird That Steals:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_Jay

;0)
Taitastigon
2. Taitastigon
OK, a second quicky: The Moranth are humanoid, but they are completely armored in chitin. SE, for a change, does not mention that...initially. Really weird bunch
Chris Hawks
3. SaltManZ
I have to say I really felt for Tayschrenn in Chapter 9. He's been built up to be this villain for 200+ pages, and it turns out he was just pushed into a role that he was unequipped to handle and got a little overzealous. His relief at being told to ease off is palpable. Not to say he didn't do some horrible things, but he thought he was doing right by his Empress.

"And that made him feel as if he were descending a spiral, with the sorceress in the centre. Descending? Perhaps it was an ascent."

Ahhhhh, that's fantastic. I didn't even notice it.

“I scratch with both hands,” Toc said.

That exchange had me in stitches. :)
Taitastigon
4. Taitastigon
@Amanda

“The woman named Lorn, the woman who once was a child, who once had a family,” he looked upon the Adjunct with anguish in his eyes, “that woman does not exist. She ceased to exist the day she became the Adjunct.”

Keep these lines in mind for coming volumes.
Important to understand the actions resulting from being the Empress´ Adjunct...
Mieneke van der Salm
5. Mieneke
RE: Whiskeyjack & Bird that Steals, like Taitastogin said a Gray Jay, but I thought maybe that this might be relevant also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisakedjak(the world builder part, not the trickster part though), seeing as Erikson has a background inarcheology and anthropology.

‘We could cook a palace,’ Fiddler added, shifting about excitedly.
You gotta love the sappers, they always make me laugh!

The scene between Quick Ben and Hairlock in the woods just made me shiver. Hairlock is just one creepy cookie! I was wondering though, the thing Quick Ben does with the sticks and the string, is that some sort of complicated binding/summoning spell or where they meant to symbolize Hairlock’s marionette strings, which Quick Ben (thinks he) pulls?

“The wizard knew what he’d have to do—Hairlock had given it to him, in fact. Still, Quick Ben wasn’t looking forward to it.”
I so totally couldn't figure out what he'd need to do! I'm glad you have a working theory Amanda. I wonder whether there are some more out there, cause I need enlightenment.

Like you, I thought the boat scene at the end of chapter 8 is priceless. That kind of military humour appeals to me greatly and I love picturing those grins just sliding of Kalam and Ben’s faces.

The T’lan Imass mission for which they all left the Seven Cities campaign, Which Tool refers to as the 28th Jaghut war, is that what is described in Midnight Tides? Cause I vaguely remember hubby saying something of the sort when he was reading it when it first came out, though it might just be that he said it was mainly about the Imass, but again the memory is vague lol

Toc the Elder has “Disappeared since the Emperor’s death.” Okay this is based on nothing, but was Dancer a true name or a Claw code name, if so might Dancer be Toc the Elder?

“And that made him feel as if he were descending a spiral, with the sorceress in the centre. Descending? Perhaps it was an ascent. He wasn’t sure, and the uncertainty made him wary.” So glad you caught that too Amanda, but does it portend something fot Tattersail or for Paran?

“He Scowled. She was at it again.”
Methinks the lad protests too much!

The whole scene between Tattersail and Lorn at the dinner table was just wow. There is just so much revelation on the motives for these two characters in so few pages. What touched me most about it though was Toc’s observation that Lorn had just been executed by the Adjunct. That just made me shiver, because it once again illustrated how ruthless service to the Empress can be.

The joke about the travelling wardrobe was so cool :) Does it make a reappearance somewhere?

Lorn nicknames T’oolan Tool. But is he literally a tool? And if so who’s? And the First Throne and the Diaspora are significant right? But we don't see them again this book correct? I think I've forgotten more about these books than that I've remembered :|
Taitastigon
6. Taitastigon
"This level of analysis in a book is unheard of for me—I am a reader who quite often skims. To sit and have to contemplate who a character might be is forcing me to slow down—and, I have to say, the reading experience is that much more rewarding. I am not having those usual moments in a book where I think “now I know I’ve met this character before—who were they?” Or, I mean I am, but only as a result of Erikson wanting me to think this rather than because I am reading too quickly and skimming over details. Has anyone else had to adjust their reading method while tackling GotM and later Malazan books?"

Welcome to the club ! *biggrin*
I guess that is what turns most of the *easyreaders* off. I would say, relax and enjoy the ride while also paying attention. It is next to impossible to catch everything in the first reading (or the second...or...). That is the fun part of this cycle: Every time I reread it, it is a different book...
Taitastigon
7. Taitastigon
Mienke @5

Re Whiskeyjack, the 3rd Wiki-Explanation: And darn, that could be - a typical SE ambivalence.

Re Quick Ben & knowing what to do with the puppet - better read on & find out what happens between QB and the puppet - that makes it pretty obvious. Or: Just think of who could potentially control who through the strings & that should make QB very, very nervous...
M D
8. Abalieno
Why does Fiddler glance at Hedge? Why doesn’t he glance at Kalam?

That cracked me up ;)

Fiddler and Hedge are a nice duo, especially when Moranth munitions are involved. They work together and there's some true friendship going on. You'll see later on that "sappers" in general are treated like a special category of men whose plans always border the catastrophe. Awe and despair. Delight and sorrow. Sappers are, in fact, the true artists in this series.

After a number of red herrings you caught a good one. ;)

About Tayschrenn being suspicious about the Bridgeburners, it still makes sense up to this point, since they still have Sorry with them and Tay probably knows who she is (being the one who knows Shadowthrone identity). And probably hopes she gets caught in some other god's game so he doesn't have to deal with her directly.

I'll have more to comment later when I'll do my reread and have more time.
a a-p
9. lostinshadow
Hairlock is beyond creepy.

I too generally skim maps, poems, detailed descriptions, especially on a first read because I just want to plow through the plot and see what happens next. but I too have slowed down for the Malazan. Still, since I'm not responsible for the reread, I'm still going pretty through the books pretty fast. trying to figure everything out immediately just makes my head hurt.

It does make me wonder whether Laseen ever considers the common people and why they are not included in the culling that takes place? Does she have a blind spot here? Does she not realise that the common people are often those who will act most vigorously for change?
Hmmm, the way I look at it is that existing nobility have the most to lose when a conquerer comes in because the nobility is the one with all the power. so when the conquerer gets rid of most of the nobility, and hence the ones in power, a power vacuum is created.

And that power vacuum is generally going to be filled from the ranks of the locals. So while commoners might want to rebel against their own nobility in order to change the status quo, it is usually to their benefit to cooperate with the conquerer who has already demolished that status quo.

And as we see further into the series, the Malazan Empire functions by assimiliating the locals (presumably much like the Roman Empire) so the power vacuum is absolutely crucial for them.

Fiddler & Hedge and the sappers in general: some of the best comic relief ever!

will probably have more to say later.
Chris Hawks
10. SaltManZ
@Meineke #5:

The trick that QB does with the strings and sticks does resonate with the whole puppetry thing, but it's not really related, as he uses that trick a few times later in the series under different circumstances. I think it's more a method of binding/tracking from the physical realm someone travelling through the warrens/spiritual realms.

As for the T'lan Imass, you don't really get to see any of the Jaghut Wars, but the Imass themselves feature heavily in Memories of Ice. (I'm not sure there's a single Imass in Midnight Tides.)
Gerd K
11. Kah-thurak
@5 Mieneke
No, Dancer is not Toc the Elder. Toc the Elder has not been known as an assassin but as a cavalry commander. We will learn more about him in "Return of the Crimson Guard".

Concerning Warrens: GotM is really not a good source for information on Warrens. Both the "Warren of Chaos" thing and the extreme effect of Tool's elder Tellan Warren on the other Warrens disapear in the rest of the series.
Robin Lemley
12. Robin55077
@ Amanda

Relative to Chapter 9, you state:

"Why does Toc have no choice about going to the aid of Lorn and the remaining Jakatakan? No one knows that he has come upon this scene, so why does he go to what he believes will be almost-certain death for Lorn?

The easiest answer to this is "duty" (encompassing responsibility and obligation). If you look for example at the U.S. military crede as being Honor, then Duty, the Malizan crede is Duty followed by Honor for some. But it goes beyond that. For most military organizations, thier duty is to country. Here, however, the duty is not to the Emporess, nor even to the Empire for most of the soldiers. Their duty is to each other. To their fellow soldiers. Most importantly, I think, is it is a duty they choose, not a duty they are required to undertake, and as such, it runs so deep and is at the core of their being as a soldier. I get the sense that for a Malazan soldier, nothing is more important than duty. For me, this is really the underlying theme for the whole series. This deep sense of duty will certainly be reflected in far greater detail in later books.

This sense of "duty" is also reflected in Toc's keeping quiet when he realizes that Tattersail has not been completely honest with Lorn. Tattersail was a cadre mage attached to Toc's unit. In a sense, she is his fellow soldier, thus his duty is to her.

Lorn, as Adjunct, is in essense Lasseen, so his duty to her is not as strong. I am not sure if it has yet been clarified exactly that the title "Adjunct" means, but she is the right hand of the Emporess. She is the Emporess in the field. Whatever Lorn says, whatever decision she makes, she makes with the same force and effect as if the Emporess where there in person and speaking.

Knowing this, it now sheds light on why Toc was uncomfortable to be riding on the horse with the Adjunct. He was more than happy to give her his horse and walk back. The fact that she asked him to ride with her was so far beyond protocol as to make him uncomfortable.
Tricia Irish
13. Tektonica
Mieneke@5: Loved the wiki reference! And the gray jay above....I'm sure SE knows this stuff!

I'm not a particularly fast reader,ever. That said, if a book isn't well written or well plotted, I only give it about 150 pages to snare me. If it's meh, it's off to the library. This series is incredible! Not only is the plot exciting, the dialogue is fantastic! The meanings are double and treble entendre, and some of SE's sentences are so beautiful, I have to stop and read them out loud. I'm having so much fun! My paperback is all marked up!

I'm dying to know more about the T'lan Imass. They are very very old, undead and seem very very powerful and full of arcane knowledge. Frankly, they scare the crap out of me. Tool seems benign, but perhaps that's because he's alone. This convergence thing sounds like chaos writ large across the Empire.

I'm not big on romance in my Fantasy works, but I am hoping for a bit of it between Paran and Tattersail. I like their dynamic. (I have finished this book, but am still holding my breath.) I do like the powerful way women are portrayed by SE. No attention is brought to their sex at all in rank or position or power, but let's face it, people wouldn't be human if their weren't some sort of attractions? I don't think we'll see much though...and that is fine.

The Lorn/Tattersail encounter is so tragic. Indeed something is dying in Lorn. And that informs the rest of the book. Interesting to see Tayschrenn care too. I had been led to dislike him, but who knows? More gray areas...not all bad all the time?

Love the soldier humor! It just pops in, right where you need a little relief. The boat scene was hilarious. And everyone thinking Sorry knowing about fishing is odd, when in fact, that is who she was! LOL.

QB doing his warren thing with Hairlock is pretty amazing. Good foreshadowing for later in the book. Hairlock has gone around the perverbial bend. I can't help thinking of "Chuckie" when I picture him....getting dirtier and dirtier and more moth eaten.

In what book do we get to know more about Caladan Brood? When does Rake reappear, book-wise? He must!
Taitastigon
14. Taitastigon
Tek @13

*In what book do we get to know more about Caladan Brood? When does Rake reappear, book-wise? He must!*

Expect a 3-star Michelin 5-course meal in MoI.
;0)
Taitastigon
15. Taitastigon
@ Amanda

*Wow, see, all the events that have passed so far have seemed to happen (well, if you’ll pardon the expression) by chance... The possessing of Sorry seemed to be because she was in the wrong place at a very wrong time. The fact that Paran chose the life of a soldier, to put him at a point where Sorry could kill him and Oponn could use him: completely based on a decision in his youth. The background of the mages, and the Bridgeburners, and Moon’s Spawn—none of it seems to be part of an over-arching plan—but then, I guess, Erikson is not the sort of writer who would reveal that in any case*

This is a recurrent theme throughout MBotF (and contrary to most fantasy fiction, where everything - somehow - seems to be determined by fate): An overwhelming part of events is a result of chance, misplaced ambitions, badly calculated decisions, emotional shortcomings and just plain f*ck-ups (aka human errors). Just like real life...
Steven Halter
16. stevenhalter
@Amanda:

Note the scene where Lorn casually addresses Onos T'oolan as Tool.

The dessicated warrior seemed to consider, then nodded. 'I accept that name. All of my history is dead. Existence begins anew, and with it shall be a new name. It is suitable.


Onos T'oolan was made clanless in the 28th Jaghut war (he tells us. Thus, to some extent he is now different than many Imass. Taking the new name of Tool is not just accepting a nickname.
Taitastigon
17. Taitastigon
Tek @13

*I'm dying to know more about the T'lan Imass. They are very very old, undead and seem very very powerful and full of arcane knowledge. Frankly, they scare the crap out of me. Tool seems benign, but perhaps that's because he's alone. This convergence thing sounds like chaos writ large across the Empire.*

Hang in there, you will get a truckload on the Imass starting MoI & beyond. Theirs is a pretty wild/cool story line, goes way beyond the Empire (which just...well...*borrowed* them...).
Steven Halter
18. stevenhalter
Yeah, we'll be seeing a lot about the T'lan Imass as things progress. For the moment, consider what might bind a people to a relentless path for 300,000 years.

The comparison of Tool's voice as dust and stone is very apt.


Recall that Anomander Rake has been described as looking down on the world for 100,000 years (also note that the description doesn't say that is his age.)
Steven Halter
19. stevenhalter
@Amanda

I remember almost the same thoughts in the scene where the skeletal arms springs forth from the ground. They were standing on a Barrow, so I thought it must be some dead coming to life.

When we meet Tool, we find so much more than just a random skeleton.
Steven Halter
20. stevenhalter
Taitastigon@15:
This is a recurrent theme throughout MBotF (and contrary to most fantasy fiction, where everything - somehow - seems to be determined by fate): An overwhelming part of events is a result of chance, misplaced ambitions, badly calculated decisions, emotional shortcomings and just plain f*ck-ups (aka human errors). Just like real life...

Yeah, this is a Very important theme. Things aren't set in stone. Small choices (and events) can have big consequences and the actions of "ordinary" people can impact the gods.
Stephanie Levasseur
21. Steph L
One of my favourite things about this series are the incredible and unique scenes that SE is able to conjure up with his writing. The image of Quick Ben standing on a spar of rock in the middle of a sea of chaos as he boots an insane marionette over the edge makes me smile every time. He asserts his dominance with a dropkick!

Every time I re-read these books I find they become richer as I make more connections. The scope of this world is so huge that it's immensely satisfying to be able to fill in the gaps in my understanding.

I don't think there's a chance I would have given up on this series once the characters were introduced. The Bridgeburners in particular were a big hook.
Steven Halter
22. stevenhalter
@Amanda:

Ooh, and we have the little note that the assassinated Emperor was a mage.

and

I think it is important to note that the Emperor reawakened the T’lan Imass—you have to ask whose control he was under to do that, where the power and knowledge came from and, seriously, why he suddenly needed a host of undead warriors! Curious...

It's not giving up much at this point to say that not only was the Emperor a mage, but that he was a Bad Ass mage--as in he seems to have had a lot of ability and power.
As to where he gets all this (and the knowledge) from, some of the specifics will get told. The back story here (that gradually comes out) is particularly deep.
The hinted at scene of the Emperor (with Dancer by his side) sitting on the First throne and awakening the undead legions of the T'lan Imass has always struck me as being a really cool and powerful image.
Steven Halter
23. stevenhalter
I think that I would add the "Naming of Tool" into the list of significant events to date. Up to the offering of the new name I don't think he had thought through his new state. After 300,000 years, there is a tendency to get stuck in a rut.
M D
24. Abalieno
On my own first read an aspect that completely went over my head was Oponn influence. For all the book we have this spinning coin and I kept waiting it to come into play.

It's only rereading these parts that I picked the various instances where Oponn DOES weigh in constantly through the book. Paran's sword on the Hound, Rallick Nom killing Lim instead of Lady Simtal. It seems that every time the coin is named there's a corresponding "action" that takes place.

About the first scene with Whiskeyjack and the Moranth: I think the purpose is to introduce a certain theme that will be developed in the other books. The Moranth seem to have their own personal idea of morality and honor and, while not directly involved or interested in the politics of the Malazan Empire, they are ready to support whoever seems to respect their principles. WJ earned on the field the respect of the Moranth and so now the Moranth are willingly to support the Bridgeburners even in the case they split with the empire. Or better: in particular BECAUSE of that possibility. They are eager to contribute. They recognize some kind of virtue in WJ. In the case that WJ retaliate against the Empress this becomes an important element, and another reason for Tayschrenn to be suspicious.

Yet, this uncommon and unexpected loyalty disturbs WJ. And here the real theme is introduced: enmity between groups (like Moranth versus Pale) can linger for a very long time, and originate something much more horrifying. The theme introduced here is the perversion of morality and good intents. We'll see A LOT more of this later.

Mind you, the Moranth wear helmets and armour—maybe they are human behind them...

With this scene we share the perspective of WJ, who still retains humanity, set against the Moranth, who are presented as non-human. Why is WJ horrified in spite of the loyalty being shown? Because he sees in front of him THE EFFECT of what he may become if he goes against the Empire. At this point WJ thinks the Bridgeburners have no choice and that they can't count anymore on the Empress. They have to be paranoid because they don't have anyone on their side (as paranoid as Amanda who thought the storm was an attack on the Bridgeburners, perfectly fitting the intent ;) They are buying time, and are forced to figure out a plan to get out of the heat.

Again the theme is about seeking FOR humanity. Or desperately clinging to some sort of sense or difference that can make WJ still distinguish himself from non-human Moranth. The armor the Moranth wear is there to represent a "superstructure", some kind of perversion and construction that made these people lose their humanity. So, through WJ, we see what's there beyond the chasm. The distance between WJ and the Moranth isn't as big as one would imagine. Humanity CAN be lost.

Would you really seek an alliance with people who lost all their humanity even if you're sure they'll be loyal to you? I guess the answer to this echoes with what happened at Aren (the thing with T'lann Imass).

In the case of the Bridgeburners: they do not have a choice.
Tricia Irish
25. Tektonica
Abalieno@24:

Good point about the Moranth and WJ and his Humanity. He both needs the Moranth support and has obviously bonded somewhat with one of their Clan in a previous battle, and yet, he is rather stunned at the Moranth's pledge of support.
He respects the Moranth and yet is repulsed by him at the same time.

There is a wonderful scene in Darujistan upstairs in the Phoenix Inn with WJ and his crew. It highlights his ambivalence, his armor, if you will, and how desperately he's holding on and protecting himself. It's also a theme that runs throughout the book with Lorn, starting at her dinner with Tattersail and Tayschrenn. Alas.
Steven Halter
26. stevenhalter
Abalieno@24 & Tektonica@25:

Even at this point in the story we are seeing that WhiskeyJack is a complex character. We can sense a lot of conflicting emotions going on in the man and that's from the few scenes we have seen.

He once commanded an army for an Emperor and Empire he was loyal too. He was demoted by the Emperor's usurper but continues to faithfully serve the Empire as a squad sergeant through many harsh conditions (more than we know to this point).
Tony Zbaraschuk
27. tonyz
The thing about the Moranth killing an exact number of Pale's citizens serves to tell us something about them: very eye-for-an-eye, but also not beyond; they have a very strict sense of justice. But it also ties into one of Erikson's other themes: every single individual is important. No one is a faceless nonentity or rounding error.
M D
28. Abalieno
@Amanda

Among all the red herrings you also missed the biggest ;)

I'll lead the other team. The first task is to get into the city unnoticed. Out of uniform.

Or maybe it was so plain you thought it wasn't even worth pointing out?

I'm not big on romance in my Fantasy works, but I am hoping for a bit of it between Paran and Tattersail. I like their dynamic. (I have finished this book, but am still holding my breath.) I do like the powerful way women are portrayed by SE. No attention is brought to their sex at all in rank or position or power, but let's face it, people wouldn't be human if their weren't some sort of attractions? I don't think we'll see much though...and that is fine.

This is instead something I picked on my first read. Paran/Tattersail relationship is one very common criticism about this book because it is not well developed and seems to happen just because Erikson wanted it. So it is considered romance done poorly and as an argument to criticize Erikson's characterization.

My opinion is instead that there was no place to develop the romance at that point of the story. It would have broken the pacing and tone. So what Erikson does is to let it happen in the background, he gives in the story the timeframe for the relationship to develop, but we don't witness it. It happens, but off screen.

In a book so dense I really don't think there was a possibility to experience that relationship developing. All the characters stay on screen only for a very limited time and we never get any relevant "slice of life" or tangential details described.

The story goes in another direction and so I consider the off screen relationship more a choice than a lack of character development. You have to read even here between the lines.

Now I go on with my own reading.
Julian Augustus
29. Alisonwonderland
Abalieno @24:
as paranoid as Amanda who thought the storm was an attack on the Bridgeburners, perfectly fitting the intent ;)

While Amanda was wrong in this specific instance, she was indeed right to be suspicious of the storm. In later books (TtH, for example) we see that storms can be used as weapons.
M D
30. Abalieno
Few more minor things from some other pages I've read:

And hmm...Whiskeyjack thinks of Sorry so clearly, “...wondered who was doing the approving within those eyes,” he suspects she is being ridden, but also doesn’t want to believe that of her.

Once again we know that Kalam and Quick Ben are right and that Sorry is being used by Shadowthrone (or Dancer, to be more precise). What is to notice is that, at this point, Dancer/Sorry do have a reason to approve what WJ is doing. The problem is that WJ doesn't know the nature of that approval and so wonders (again) if he's doing the right thing considering that this spooky girl is approving.

Cracks being still opened into his certainty.

WHAT did Quick Ben propose, that even jaded Bridgeburners look shaken?!

Well, the usual ;)

It's always Quick Ben who has crazy plans and this is just another occasion. WJ and Kalam just learned to trust him no matter what, but his plans are never orthodox or safe...

Why not just say who “her” is right then at the start of the passage? I’ve had this before—wondering who is being referred to and then being told a couple of paragraphs later, and it makes me think it would be easier on the reader to just say!

Well, in this case the reason is already contained in that part. The omission of the name is mostly to let the following scene reveal the identity of who Toc was waiting for. I guess it's a problem if one does a step-by-step commentary, but here everything is consequent. For how many mysteries are buried in the series, very few of them are are deliberately opaque. Even in later books you'll see things being unveiled on the following paragraph. If Erikson puts there something excessively opaque it's because the answer will follow.

Toc the Elder disappeared during the time of Laseen’s purges—Lorn states that the Empress has regretted his death, but Toc the Younger insists that he is just missing “...his tone tight and his single eye averted...” It sounds as though he doesn’t quite believe that his father is simply missing—knowing Erikson, this exchange wouldn’t have been included unless there was a good reason

Toc the Elder was "Old Guard", and all old guards have disappeared or died mysteriously, or killed in the purges. Usually being a commander means that one wouldn't be killed in a purge and so had to be dealt with through a Claw. Considering the fate of all these "old guards" the few who were left decided to simulate their deaths or hide from the empire.

So it comes as a surprise that the son of Toc would become a Claw, since being Claw is antithetic to the role of Old Guard (or even of a commander, since Lorn identifies 'pleasant' and 'proud' as qualities more pertinent to a commander than a Claw), being the Claws under the control of the Empress. Odd choice indeed.

“Well,” Lorn said, “Otataral is no mystery to you of the Seven Cities, but few here know it, and I would keep it that way.”

Very slight spoiler: well, actually Otataral isn't unknown in Genabackis. They only call it differently ;) (this will come out in book 4)

About the Tlann Imass we see: these guys are somewhat jarring and hilarious at the same time. The first time he comes out the ground he stays there, after a while Lorn (or Toc) look back and he's still there, just looking at the mound.

It gives this feeling of time going out of the equation. Tlann Imass are almost eternal and so you don't see them fretting around. Also getting disenchanted with language. They are pragmatic and speak in a terse way. They also seem to have lost ambiguity in general. In fact even if they can be disquieting they are also predictable. So no nasty surprise or betrayals in general.

A lot of this will go to explain how distant they are from humanity.
Steven Halter
31. stevenhalter
@Amanda

“The Warrens of the Imass are similar to those of the Jaghut and the Forkrul Assail—Elder—, blood— and earthbound...”

I’ve included this quote merely to outline the fact that the mystery of the warrens constantly thickens, with different layers being added!


That's actually a good quote for another reason--I think that this is the first mention of another Elder race--the Forkrul Assail. So, now we have:

Jaghut
Tiste Andii
T'lan Imass
Forkrul Assail
Thelomen, Tartheno, Toblakai

As different races that have existed for a long time. We don't know much about the Jaghut except that one was named Gothos and they seem to have fought a number of wars with the T'lan Imass. We have met the Tiste Andii and they seem clearly non-human. We only know the Forkrul Assail by name. Bellurdan Skullcrusher is listed as a Thelomen Toblakai mage.
For the T'lan Imass, we now have a description of one who has been around for 300,000 years. He is described as squat, massive, with a heavy chinless jawbone and a pronounced brow ridge. He has a (unbreakable) flint sword and a helm made from the skull of some horned animal.
As a though experiment, try thinking of who might have been wandering around our world 300,000 years ago who might fit the T'lan Imass description.
Tricia Irish
32. Tektonica
Abalieno@28:

It didn't bother me in the slightest that the Paran/Tattersail relationship was cut short in this book. I liked it in fact. Innuendo and off screen hanky panky is preferred.;-) I'm just hoping there is more to follow in some future book.
These books are really much more about philosophy and history than anything else.

Re: Oponn in the game:
I was listening to a lecture today about Blaise Pascal, 1623-1662, a scientist, mathematician and polemicist. His most famous work, Pensees, is best known for one particular thought fragment, the so-called" Wager":
Either God is or He is not....Reason cannot decide this question....how will you wager?
The modern interpretation of which is:
Nothing to lose, everything to gain.
Place your bets on the option with the highest expected value. Part of his over all argument was that the kind of life we lead, helps us to see the evidence or the right in a given situation. Just thought it was interesting......
Steven Halter
33. stevenhalter
I'm not bothered by the Paran/Tattersail relationship either. There will be more to follow in certain interesting ways.

Pascal's Wager is interesting, although, in the Malazan context, betting everything on any particular god may not be the best decision.
Taitastigon
34. Taitastigon
Tek @32

*These books are really much more about philosophy and history than anything else.*

I had to smile about that one. First: Very true! Second: This is exactly what some people bitch about re this cycle...*biggrin*...just not consumer-friendly enough...
Third: That is just what I like about them.
Tricia Irish
37. Tektonica
Taitastigon@34:

I've just had two responses flagged as spam???? And they were very short and simple. I said, "Me too."
M D
38. Abalieno
Some more comments about the encounter between Lorn and Dujek:

Lorn's arrival to Pale emphasizes how the Empress' control on the army, and this campaign in general, is loosening. That's not what the adjunct expected to find. She is focused on her own mission and Paran's own (which was about tracking Sorry). Instead she arrives to Pale only to find a whole different mess and things much more complex and slipping out of hands.

Through the dialogue with Dujek we see the High Fist slowly gaining Lorn's trust and esteem. Initially she expected to talk directly with Tayschrenn, who's faithful to the Empress, and handle Dujek as a potential problem. But she quickly realizes from the brief encounter with Dujek (including the matter with the cull of nobility) that the situation is reversed. It's Tayschrenn who has lost control of the whole thing and is causing it to escalate toward a disaster.

We also get a glimpse of Tayschrenn own "innocence". His plan isn't deliberate. As soon Lorn takes the matters into her hands, Tay feels relieved. He's really feeling a pressure not unlike Whiskeyjack. He's failing because he's pressed from too many sides and he's not prepared for that role.

This is an important plot point for the way the story develops. Lorn tells/commands Tayschrenn to forget about opposing Dujek and work for him instead.

There's also a pretty huge foreshadowing going on here for a few themes I've seen developed in book 4 about T'lann Imass:

"No. He's a man who cares for those he is responsible for and to. He's the best of the Empire. If he's forced to turn, Tayschrenn, then we're the traitors. Am I getting through?"

Lorn realizes an important truth, and on that realization she turns the course of events for the rest of the book. In book 4 we see what happens in the other case. (traitors being traitors because they are loyal)

I like that Dujek is looking out for Toc the Younger and trying to remove him from peril. But I also wonder whether he is attempting to rid himself of a spy and an assassin?

It's not that. That's just the first hint that destabilizes what Lorn was expecting. The first step into realizing the truth this side of the ocean, far different than the Empress' own idea, far away. Not only Toc is the only Claw to survive, but he survived *because* of his plain identity and respect earned as a soldier. Lorn is slowly realizing that it's Dujek himself who's holding desperately things together. And so, considering that role, she realizes that Dujek is the only one who can actually be considered "loyal" since he's the one who's still holding the pieces of the empire together. If it was for the Claws or Tayschrenn the rebellion would have started already. In fact it's Tayschrenn who's stoking that fire, instead of quenching it as he was supposed to do.

'This Tattersail,' Lorn said, to hide a pang of regret, 'Must be a very capable sorceress.'
'The only cadre mage to have survived Tayschrenn's assault on Moon's Spawn,' Dujek replied.
'Indeed?' To Lorn, that revelation was even more remarkable. She wondered if Dujek suspected anything, but his next words put her at ease.


I wonder if I read too much here and there's a simpler reason. What do you think could be Dujek's suspect?

I don't remember if this is discussed already in this book or later on. My guess is that it's not discussed here, since when it's discussed in later books is considered a 'retcon'. But it seems that here we see the idea already planted in this book. Or not?

My guess is that Dujek may suspect that Tayschrenn had an hidden agenda (as we discover in later books). Tattersail was the only one to survive. That may trigger a suspect accordingly to Lorn. And the suspect is that Tayschrenn had deliberately killed the other mages (in which case Lorn would be already aware of that agenda, with the exclusion of Dujek).

Any better interpretation of this?

Btw, I can also guess that Amanda is reading an UK book instead of the american one? *wink* Such a Tor betrayal! ;) (I also read on the better packaged UK versions)

See this:

A small smile came to Lorn’s mouth as the scene emerged in her mind: the High Fist a worn, weary one-armed man, he Empress’ Adjunct, her sword arm in a sling, and Toc the Younger, last representative of the Claw on Genabackis, one-eyed and half his face scarred by fire. Here they were, representatives of three of the four Empire powers on the continent, and they all looked like hell.

This is a Gotmism that was actually corrected by Erikson himself, but the corrections only exist for the American versions. The Tor MMPB replaces 'hell' with:

Here they were, representatives of three of the four Empire powers on the continent, and they all looked like Hood's Heralds.

Quite more effective and fitting ;)

Another thing: the map in the book is ridden with errors. In this part we see Dujek and Lorn discussing how to place the two new divisions and two towns are named: Apple and Tulip. But on the map they are both shown on the north-eastern coast, while in the text one is on a side, the other on the other.

This is an error corrected in Memories of Ice's map, with Apple being removed entirely.
Taitastigon
39. Karsa_Orlong_Is_Bad_Ass
re the quote “he should have met her” and the subsequent frustration...

I think he's writing on a different level that the other typical fantasy writer (after all, he graduated from the Iowa Writer's Workshop, which if you haven't heard of it is like a doctor graduating from Harvard Medical School)

to me, this is precisely what SE wanted. Think of a Monet painting - he isn't trying to paint what they *look* like -- he's trying to make you feel something.

Here we have poor Toc in the middle of a giant plain. Alone. Hostiles around (‘cuz hostiles are *always* around!).

Think of how frustrated Toc feels. Did SE using “she” instead of “Lorn” or the “Adjuct” give you just a tiny bit of that frustration?

Now imagine the relief Toc must have felt when he finally got a sign of what is going on.

The relief that the reader gets when “she” is resolved...at least just a little bit?

Wow. Pretty damn cool if you ask me.
Taitastigon
40. Taitastigon
Tek @37

Re your erased responses:

???
To the Wannabe-Text-Filterers on this site: A very fingerpointing *DUH*, Homer-Simpson-style...!

And anyway, got your message... ;0)
Mieneke van der Salm
41. Mieneke
Taitastigon @7
Oh I'd never considered the strings running two ways!

Salt-Man Z @10
Okay, so it's more of a general spell than specifically Hairloch-related. Thanks!
And see, I knew it was in one of the books, but couldn't remember which one!

Kah-thurak @11
Thanks, I haven't read any of Esslemont's work, so looking forward to that!

Robin55077 @12
Great analysis of Toc's motivations, shed some light on stuff for me :D

Tektonica @13
RE: Paran and Tattersail, hold on to your hat. I don't remember much, but I do remember that much ;)

Abalieno & Shalter Thanks for all the insights :)
Taitastigon
42. billcap
"Fiddler and Hedge are a nice duo, especially when Moranth munitions are involved. They work together and there's some true friendship going on. You'll see later on that "sappers" in general are treated like a special category of men whose plans always border the catastrophe. Awe and despair. Delight and sorrow. Sappers are, in fact, the true artists in this series”

I like as well that we don’t get the story of how sappers became munitions folks (remember, the Empire didn’t have munitions itself) doesn’t come for thousands of pages later, when we’re already attached to these characters and so the story, rather than reading like an info dump ("Fiddler set the cusser, trying to remember what the Moranth said that first time six years ago when they arrived on their quorls and showed Dujek blah blah blah”--not real history), the story reads like the kind of fond remembrance amongst friends, and, as usual with Erikson once we’re a book or two in, tinged with smiling grief.


"enmity between groups (like Moranth versus Pale) can linger for a very long time”

and they ain’t even close to being in the running for longest running enmity in this series!

"There is a wonderful scene in Darujistan upstairs in the Phoenix Inn with WJ and his crew. It highlights his ambivalence, his armor, if you will, and how desperately he's holding on and protecting himself. It's also a theme that runs throughout the book with Lorn”

“armor” is one of those words where if you start paying attention to it you’ll see is used extremely often in this book, with many of those usages having nothing to do w/ the soldiers’ actual armor. It goes, as you say, with the "the theme is about seeking FOR humanity” (or in armor’s case--cutting oneself off from humanity). Time and again we’ll see characters regaining a sense of “humanity” (and no, not all humans--“humanity” is defined quite broadly) or struggling to retain it and the struggle/gain (and occasional loss again) can be heartbreaking. A big part of it, I think Erikson is saying, is a sense of compassion/empathy, both of which bring accordant pain (thus the need for armor of the metaphorical sort)



"Toc the Elder was "Old Guard", and all old guards have disappeared or died mysteriously, or killed in the purges. “


Drownings. Lots and lots of drownings :)


"As a though experiment, try thinking of who might have been wandering around our world 300,000 years ago who might fit the T'lan Imass description.”


They look like Larry King?

""No. He's a man who cares for those he is responsible for and to. He's the best of the Empire. If he's forced to turn, Tayschrenn, then we're the traitors. Am I getting through?"

Lorn realizes an important truth, and on that realization she turns the course of events for the rest of the book. In book 4 we see what happens in the other case. (traitors being traitors because they are loyal)”


It’s always fascinating when the characters struggle with the question of “loyal to what” rather than “loyal to whom”

re Lorn’s suspicion, I recall Tayschrenn’s agenda, but not who was aware of it. I can think of two possibilities:
One is that she suspects there is much more to Tattersail than is shown, knowing the power of Tayschrenn (either as the only other survivor or as the murderer)
Two is she suspects Tattersail is in league somehow with Tayschrenn
M D
43. Abalieno
Time and again we’ll see characters regaining a sense of “humanity” (and no, not all humans--“humanity” is defined quite broadly) or struggling to retain it and the struggle/gain (and occasional loss again) can be heartbreaking. A big part of it, I think Erikson is saying, is a sense of compassion/empathy, both of which bring accordant pain

Quite appropriate. A quote from Tatterail experience:

'Should you ever outrun the guilt within your past, Sorceress, you will have outrun your soul. When it finds you again it will kill you.'

Tayschrenn hidden agenda has nothing to do with Tattersail. In fact she survives. This "agenda" is only known by the Empress and presumably by the Adjunct.

"Magic" stuff is competence of the High Mage. It's not a case that Lorn has to order Taychrenn to tell Dujek about Oponn. The communication between the two was already non existent, even less about "hidden agendas".

Btw, the suspicion I was referring to belongs to Lorn, but it is about Dujek. It's Dujek who may suspect something going on (that Lorn is already aware of).
Gerd K
44. Kah-thurak
@43 Abalieno
SPOILER:
"Tayschrenn hidden agenda has nothing to do with Tattersail. In fact she survives. This "agenda" is only known by the Empress and presumably by the Adjunct."

There is more to Tayschrenns motives concerning Tattersail. As far as I remember, Tay and the Empress actually tried to push Tattersail into the role that later fell to Paran... but sadly I dont remember which book THAT was revealed in.
Taitastigon
45. Clairificus Rex
Id like to return to the elder races for a minute :D

The Tlan Imass are technically not an elder race...

Yes they have been around a long time but compared to the Jaghut, the Forkrul Assail, all three types of Tiste (and another as yet unmentioned race)they are young.

As the books progress we get this amazing and rich sense of history. And its ALL important! Events from millenia ago do directly effect the world of the Malazan Empire, and you the reader eventually figure most of that out but frequently the charcaters are left to battle through with little idea as to why something has happened as it has. This is one of the coolest things about the series for me.

Also I think the coolest most mysterious ancient race is the Forkrul Assail, but that maybe because we know less about them than most of the others by the 9th book.
Robin Lemley
46. Robin55077
@45. Clairificus Rex

"The Tlan Imass are technically not an elder race..."

In the Glossary for "House of Chains" The T'Lan Imass are listed as "Elder Peoples" along with those you have listed. Also, in all of the Glossaries to date, they are listed as "one of the Four Founding Races" along with the Forkrul Assail, Jaghut, and K'Chain Che'Malle.

At most, we could possibly argue that they may be the youngest of the Four Founding Races, but I am not sure we could say that they are not an "elder race". It seems to me that Erickson has classified them as an elder race.
Steven Halter
47. stevenhalter
To the other elder races, the Imass aren't elder, but to the current humans they are. So, elder is somewhat a matter of perspective.

I've always been intrigued by the Forkrul Assail. As you say we haven't learned a lot about them.
Tricia Irish
48. Tektonica
Abalieno@38;

I assumed that Dujek suspects that the Empress has ordered the systematic killing of her own mages, for some reason. At first, I thought it was just Tayschrenn acting out his own agenda, but then I decided the order came from "on high". I also thought that Tattersail's survival was accidental and ticked off Tayschrenn, who does seem hellbent on killing her. Am I confused here?

After finishing the whole book, I still don't have a handle on Laseen's plan for Tayschrenn? Are they allies or does he have a hidden agenda too? I'm beginning to think everyone does! We really haven't gotten a Tayschreen pov, so I don't feel like I know much of his motivations.

Mieneke@41: My hat is firmly tied on! Thanks for the heads up.
Taitastigon
49. Taitastigon
Tek @48

*After finishing the whole book, I still don't have a handle on Laseen's plan for Tayschrenn?*

It becomes clearer in later books. Tayschrenn´s treatment in this volume is something of a GotM-ism to me (IMHO, SE not being 100% sure where to take this character or, if not, out-ambivalenting himself).
Steven Halter
50. stevenhalter
Abalieno@38:

The other interesting thing that is revealed in Lorn's reactions to Tayschrenn and Dujek is that she didn't really have a clear idea what was going on in the Genabackis campaign prior to her arrival. Since she is the adjunct to the Empress, we can infer that the Empress' knowledge of the campaign is also far less than perfect.
The result of this lack of knowledge translates into poor decisions on the Empress' part. Well see this throughout coming books also.
Taitastigon
51. Taitastigon
Mie @41

*Taitastigon @7
Oh I'd never considered the strings running two ways!*

Initially, it is more the risk of some ascendant/God taking over the puppet and reaching QB through it.
If Hairlock himself could revert the control, I dunno...depends on how much power he potentially might be able to accumulate in Chaos...not clear whether QB was thinking in that direction...
Taitastigon
52. David DeLaney
@22: "It's not giving up much at this point to say that not only was the Emperor a mage, but that he was a Bad Ass mage--as in he seems to have had a lot of ability and power."

We do find out what his warren was by book 4 (I don't recall it being specifically mentioned before then). And yes, that's where I currently am; I'm racing ahead, but will read these as long as y'all keep posting them. Interestingly, it WASN'T a Shadow warren as such (though Dancer's was).

@31: In the appendix to book 4, along with all the other lists, we get a list of Elder Races. ...There's THIRTEEN of them. I've described the books' settings once or twice as "how your normal everyday fantasy setting would have turned out if there really _were_ Elder Races alongside the humans, and not just one of them either".

--Dave

PS: Word-salad verification for this post: 'their extincts'. Heh.
Steven Halter
53. stevenhalter
@52: That's one of the things I really like about the series. In general, things are thought out as to what would actually happen if things like magic and Elder Races and such existed.
Taitastigon
54. kramerdude
Enjoying the comments here. I think this is where MBotF really kicked in for me. With Tool and the T'lan Imass the sense of history that has been hinted at with Rake and the Tiste Andii really kicks into gear.

I don't have much to add to what's been discussed so far but will throw out one tidbit. Am surprised no one has yet mentioned the first offhand reference to Olar Ethil, the T'lan Imass Bonecaster who will show up in some odd and unexpected places over the course of the next few books.
Taitastigon
55. Taitastigon
kd@54

*Am surprised no one has yet mentioned the first offhand reference to Olar Ethil*

Darn. Where is that ?
Steven Halter
56. stevenhalter
It's where Lorn is talking to Tool after she leaves Pale.

Lorn's mind raced. Among the Malazan Empire, the T'lan Imass were also known as the Silent Host. She'd never known an Imass as loquacious as this Tool. Perhaps it had something to do with this 'unbounding'. Within the Imass, only Commander Logros ever spoke to humans on a regular basis. As for the Bone Casters—Imass shamans—they stayed out of sight. The only one that had ever appeared was one named Olar Ethil, who stood alongside the clan chieftain Eitholos Ilm during the battle of Kartool, which had seen an exchange of sorcery that made Moon's Spawn look like a child's cantrip.


Another brief mention of a titanic battle of sorcery. It's also the first mention of bonecasters, so yes, it definitely deserves pointing out.
Steven Halter
57. stevenhalter
Don't worry, though. We'll get to see some pretty awesome sorcery first hand.
Taitastigon
58. WJD
"A small smile came to Lorn’s mouth as the scene emerged in her mind: the High Fist a worn, weary one-armed man, he Empress’ Adjunct, her sword arm in a sling, and Toc the Younger, last representative of the Claw on Genabackis, one-eyed and half his face scarred by fire. Here they were, representatives of three of the four Empire powers on the continent, and they all looked like hell.

This is a Gotmism that was actually corrected by Erikson himself, but the corrections only exist for the American versions. The Tor MMPB replaces 'hell' with:

Here they were, representatives of three of the four Empire powers on the continent, and they all looked like Hood's Heralds."

Lol...to anyone that has read all the way through the series this line is awesome, though with the original error I wonder if SE even realized what he was doing...my guess is he probably did.
M D
59. Abalieno
@48

I assumed that Dujek suspects that the Empress has ordered the systematic killing of her own mages, for some reason. At first, I thought it was just Tayschrenn acting out his own agenda, but then I decided the order came from "on high". I also thought that Tattersail's survival was accidental and ticked off Tayschrenn, who does seem hellbent on killing her. Am I confused here?

Nope, you should be right. With the exception that Tattersail definitely isn't Tay's target. Remember that while being suspicious he still relies on her for lots of things. Obviously if you are at book 2 you aren't aware of the hidden side of the character revealed later ;)

I mentioned this because, if it's correct, that's another well known Gotmism revealed as not being one. I read paying a particular attention to the theories that only come up later to see if they are actually consistent. I was hugely frustrated the first time through because nothing was making sense and all my speculations were constantly proven wrong.

Now I'm trying to backtracking the whole thing and it works much better than I could ever expect.

@50

The other interesting thing that is revealed in Lorn's reactions to Tayschrenn and Dujek is that she didn't really have a clear idea what was going on in the Genabackis campaign prior to her arrival. Since she is the adjunct to the Empress, we can infer that the Empress' knowledge of the campaign is also far less than perfect.
The result of this lack of knowledge translates into poor decisions on the Empress' part. Well see this throughout coming books also.


Yeah, that's how I see it as well. Both Laseen and the Adjunct know all the plans and reasoning behind them, but they don't know how things are in practice. The people involved, the pressures and so on.

There's an undeniable intent of showing here how the power of the empire can be distant from the reality of things. No only things are slipping out of hands for WJ or Tayschrenn, but even for the Empress herself.
Robin Lemley
60. Robin55077
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
Regarding T’Lan Imass as an “Elder Race”


@ 45. Clarification Rex

“The Tlan Imass are technically not an elder race...”

@ 47. shalter

“To the other elder races, the Imass aren't elder, but to the current humans they are. So, elder is somewhat a matter of perspective.”

First, I must apologize for any confusion caused as a result of my earlier post. (Just one of the reasons I could never be a writer…my lack of ability with words. LOL) In my posts, I try not to post any “spoilers” that would ruin the experience for first timers. As a result, I may sometimes come across as looking “dumb” when in reality it is often times a lack of clearly stating out my thought process. (Of course, there is always the possibility (and perhaps even probability) that my thought process is, in truth, “dumb” and therefore totally wrong. :-)) I apologize for any confusion my earlier post may have caused.

In an effort to clarify my thoughts, I add the following:

If by nothing else, the term “Four Founding Races” tells me that the Imass (along with the Forkrul Assail, Jaghut, and K'Chain Che'Malle), were one of the ORIGINAL four races that founded all the native races on the planet. I do not recall that we are ever told about the origin of the Imass, as we are with some of the other races in this series, but it has been a while since my last re-read so I could be wrong on that. I believe that perhaps a lot of confusion comes from the “300,000” years reference that is most frequently associated with the Imass. However, this reference to 300,000 years is a reference to the “Ritual of Tallann” whereby the Imass became immortal (and I use that term loosely). It was 300,000 years ago that the Imass became the “T’lan Imass”, not 300,000 years ago that they came into existence. Thus the term “T’lan Imass”, meaning Imass who have gone through the “Ritual of Tallann”. Prior to the Ritual, they were simply the Imass, with a very long history that we know included subjugation by and many, many wars with the Jaghut. The “Ritual of Tellann” was, in fact, simply a tactic in their war with the Jaghut.

Technically, Clarification Rex is correct when stating that “The Tlan Imass are technically not an elder race...”. However, this is only because the “Ritual of Tallann” was a mere 300,000 years ago. Not because the Imass are that recent on the scene. I think the best case scenario for attempting to claim the Imass as “younger” is that you could possibly make an argument that they MAY possibly be the youngest of the Four Founding Races, but I don’t recall any information in the series that would support that claim, other than the fact that we are told they were not as technically advanced as some of the others were. Perhaps this lack of technology means they were more recent to the scene, perhaps not. To date, I don’t recall that Steven Erickson has ever told us.

I hope this helps clarify my thought process on this question and doesn’t end up making me look “dumber” than my first post on the subject did. :-) Thanks!
Steven Halter
61. stevenhalter
Robin55077@60

Good post, I didn't have any confusion over your original post. You'll note in @47 I just said Imass and not T'lan Imass -- so I agree with your interpretation entirely.
Robin Lemley
62. Robin55077
@61 shalter

Thanks for your post. Nice to know that I didn't look as "dumb" as I feared I had. LOL

Since I try not to post obvious spoilers (although I'm sure I'm not always successful), I usually attempt in my explanations to explain in such a way that the first timers can understand what I am saying but in words that those who have already read the series can "read between the lines" and grasp what I am not specifically saying as well. After I re-read that post, I was afraid I may have made it too "generic" and I was further afraid it might have come across a bit "preachy" and I didn't want to leave it like that. The great thing about reading everyone's posts is that you get to see things from other people's viewpoint, which is never a bad thing. I would never want one of my posts to appear as if finding "fault" with someone else's view, so I felt I had better take the opportunity to explain myself a bit more clearly.

Although I have read many of the books numerous times and the complete series to date twice, I still find something I missed each time I read it. That's one of the reasons it is my favorite series. I absolutely love reading everyone's posts on here. Personally, I have always seen the Imass as so horribaly ancient that I never even considered the possibility that others may see them as "younger" and even consider them not as an "elder" population. It definately made me think about it. There is nothing better than getting the old grey matter working!!! I love it.
Amir Noam
63. Amir
Mieneke @5: Thank you very much for the Wisakedjak reference. I never knew that and have just dismissed the "Bird That Steals" as an unexplained exotic name that WS was given by a tribal people. I love these sort of semi-hidden references to (our) real world mythologies and backgrounds. Neil Gaiman, for example, does this very well in practically all his books.

Abalieno and shalter: Thanks for the lengthy and interesting analysis.

Regarding Lorn acting as the Adjunct to the Empress, something has occurred to me:

Lorn is supposed to be about 20 years old here, right? (9 years after the Mouse Quarter purge, when she was 11). Her character doesn't strike me as 20. She seems more mature than that (more than can be explained by "had to grow up fast the hard way").

What's even more peculiar is why would Laseen, who has to be more than a hundred years old herself, who has helped to carve out a new empire, founded the Claw, etc. etc. take this 20 year old woman to act as her voice and will? It seems like a weird choice. Why not pick a trusted Claw, or a loyal commander? Considering the level of complexity in which all these characters must operate, would you have chosen someone this inexperienced to be (effectively) your second in command?

Any thoughts?
Taitastigon
64. Clairificus Rex
@ 61 and 62 robyn and shalter

Ack ack ack

I should have included smilely faces, i think i was tired when i wrote that post so apologies, i had no intention of making anyone feel bad, im loving the discussion, and the strong sense of comaraderie and discovery on here! :D I think it might be in Reaper's Gale that some of the history is discussed by Silchas Ruin (coz he'd know) and I thought at this point there was some sense of the timescale at which the different reaces entered the picture.

Trouble is Im not sure where and am completely prepared to be wrong :D AND I'll admit it if necessary :D

@63 on the topic of Lorn

Although it is looking ahead and maybe a spoiler, I think it is fair to say that, given that other personnel choices made by Laseen are also young and potentially inexperienced, the decision makes sense. This is due I feel to the fact that Laseen is so afraid to trust the old guard. She seems to be very paranoid about anyone associated with Kelvaned (the old emperor) and Dancer, which is fair enough really, but that leaves her with few options other than to rely on younger people.

I would argue that Lorn isn't a bad choice, despite her youth, of all the bad decisions Laseen makes, I don't think Lorn is one of them.

That idea echoes something mentioned earlier about ignorance and bad decisions, and i would agree that these actions set this series apart from others. Many characters make bad yet realistic decisions in a way that is not often seen in the fantasy genre.

In fact Steven argues that he wrote these books as tragedies set in a fantastical setting, and in tragedy characters frequently make bad decisions that come back to haunt them, Macbeth killing the king and Lear dividing his kingdom are the two best examples I can remember.
Taitastigon
65. WJD
@63, 'why did Lasseen choose someone young as her adjunct?'

There's a part in one of the books where they are talking about the old guard and Kellanved's 'family' that lived in the deadhouse and founded the empire. Its mentioned that each of them was chosen for a reason, and the reason was not that they were all friends, or anything like that, but that they were the right people for the job. I don't think Lasseen has lost her pragmatic side now that she is Empress. I honestly feel that in spite of her age Lorn was the right decision.

But if you don't think that works as an answer, then perhaps because the Adjunct is supposed to be an extension of the Empress' will. Not a commander or leader really, just someone that is able to do Lasseen's bidding from a continent away. So, in a position like that, you don't want to put someone like Possum or Pearl or Topper or Nok, because they might not want to completely surrender their identities like we have already seen Lorn has had to do.
Amir Noam
66. Amir
Clairificus Rex @64, WJD @65:
Of course it makes sense for Laseen not to choose as Adjunct anyone loyal to Kellanved. And I like WJD's comment that a more experienced person (such as Topper) would have his/her own personality in the way and won't be 100% Laseen's extension.

I also don't think that Lorn was a "bad" choice in the sense that she is a bad Adjunct (she's actually quite competent). I just find it less believable that given the complexities of this world (and this empire - fighting several wars at once, facing rebellion, meddling Ascendants, etc.) someone so young can be relied upon to make decisions at this level.
Robin Lemley
67. Robin55077
@63. Amir

"why did Lasseen choose someone young as her adjunct?"

One truth I've learned from reading this series is that when it comes to this world, age is irrelevant. One character may be thousands of years old and another may be 5 years old, but they both have their own particular strenghts and weaknesses. Nothing can ever be assumed based on age. :-)

@65. WJD

"...they were the right people for the job."

and

"But if you don't think that works as an answer, then perhaps because the Adjunct is supposed to be an extension of the Empress' will. Not a commander or leader really, just someone that is able to do Lasseen's bidding from a continent away. So, in a position like that, you don't want to put someone like Possum or Pearl or Topper or Nok, because they might not want to completely surrender their identities like we have already seen Lorn has had to do."

Both excellent suggestions. I never really thought about it in terms that the Adjunct had to surrender their personal identities when they became adjunct, but we have seen with Lorn that she did. Of course, that would be much easier with someone more malliable than someone with a stonger personality. Great point.
Steven Halter
68. stevenhalter
Laseen was a very good assassin. She was a good leader of assassin's. Unfortunately for her (and possibly the empire) those skills don't seem to have translated into being a good Empress.
Matt LaRose
69. TheLegend
shalter @68.

They never do translate very well. I feel that she has been mostly running on momentum at this point and eventually it was going to bite her in the ass.

I guess the same can be said of soldiers and mages. ST didn't really stick around to be Emperor for that long either. I wonder what it would have been like had he stuck around.
Steven Halter
70. stevenhalter
TheLegend@69

That's a good question. This ties into the question of why did the Emperor create the Empire? It's still unclear to me if he had:
1) A plan from the start and everything is unfolding as he wanted. This seems a little unlikely.
2) He started out without a plan other that to get bigger, got successful and just continued without a plan.
3) Like 2, but somewhere along the line he finds out some stuff and gets a plan that is more than just building the Empire and getting bigger.

I would say that 3 is the most likely scenario. What the "stuff" he finds out about is--we'll find some of that as we go along. Also, whether becoming Shadowthrone and getting assassinated were part of the plan is also up for debate.
Matt LaRose
71. TheLegend
Shalter@70.

I agree that it is most likely #3. It still makes me wonder why he created the Empire too.

***Possible Spoiler****

I still wonder why they even came back to fight for the Empire. They spent most of the time in the Azath exploring anyways. Why come back just to head back in right after? They didn't actually die in the assassination and ascend to godhood because of that. They went into the Azath and claimed the Warren of Shadow to ascend to godhood.
Steven Halter
72. stevenhalter
TheLegend@71
***Possible Spoiler****

Yeah the exact events at the "assassination" time are still a little unclear--it could be there won't ever be complete clarity there since it was a confused time, but maybe more will be forthcoming.

The exploration of the Azath for a couple of years preceding that are also interesting--what all were the Emperor and Dancer doing in that time?
Matt LaRose
73. TheLegend
shalter@72.
***Possible Spoiler***

My thoughts exactly. Why even leave Malaz island to form the empire if all you ever are going to do is explore the Azath. I imagine they had other motives than just exploring the Azath that just aren't explained.
Amir Noam
74. Amir
TheLegend and shalter:

***Possible Spoiler***




I think that in Night of Knives one of the characters comments on the expected return of Kellanved and Dancer, and that although many people (like Surly/Laseen) believe that they are back for the empire's throne, in fact this couple was never after power, but after Power.

I see the empire as one step along the way for this duo. I'm not sure they knew where the road might lead them, but once they had the resources of an empire, and with new research and knowledge, they set their sights and ambition higher.

Also, in one of the books it is mentioned that they had come upon some sort of plan which they've realized would take longer than a human lifetime to achieve, hence going on the path of Ascendency.
Taitastigon
75. Taitastigon
@70-74

*spoiler (?)*


All these considerations become evident in later volumes. The way the pair´s motivations are described in GotM seems like a GotM-ism to me, more in the sense that SE may not have wanted to overcomplicate the plot while pitching the book. Just MHO.
Matt LaRose
76. TheLegend
Taitastigon@75.

***Possible Spoilers***

I agree with you especially after finishing the book last night that their motivations are definitely a GotM-ism. Their attitude seems to change a bit in subsequent books and information concerning their plans doesn't conjoin with what their motivations seem to be in GotM.
M D
77. Abalieno
I'd say we should avoid calling Gotmisms for every little detail that one can't directly explain.

Shadowthrone motivations in GotM aren't a Gotmism, they are a plot point. These motivations DO change, but the reasons why they change are a topic of the books. Motivations and interests change because the story develops. While it's not easy to see all the links that lead to the change because the peculiar thing about both Laseen and Sahowthrone is that we don't have their PoV and so can't directly explore what they actually think. But the links that lead to the change are there in the books.

You may say that the reasoning doesn't convince you or could have been better exposed, but it exists and follows a certain direction.
Taitastigon
78. Taitastigon
Aba @77

- You may say that the reasoning doesn't convince you or could have been better exposed, but it exists and follows a certain direction -

Well, one does not necessarily exclude the other. It is just not a smooth development, but abrupt. Considering that DG/MoI follow immeadiately after event in GotM, it seems...off.

But nothing too dramatic - in the run of the rereads, this question will get picked up again.
Steven Halter
79. stevenhalter
I'd go with Abalieno@77 on this one. The motivations of Shadowthrone are many and varied--to say the least.
M D
80. Abalieno
Consider what happens to Sorry. THAT plan is given up within GotM. Shadowthrone doesn't do an U-turn in following books, he does it already in this first book.

One thing I learned reading this series is that one should avoid trying to complete a puzzle without having enough pieces to do it. I tended to do that, build my own pet theories, and then getting seriously disappointed when those theories that made perfect sense to me were revealed as terribly wrong. It's reasonable that we think Shadowthrone motivations don't make sense, but this is because we lack that PoV, and so are led to fill the gaps on our own even if the real problem is the lack of elements to use to fill that gap. So if the pieces of the puzzle don't coincide we call it a mistake, when the point is that we didn't get enough pieces to complete it.

Yet, what happens with Sorry is already a proof that this switching of position was intended already in GotM (which is mirrored by the switching of the whole Dujek/Anomander position). Consider that Cotillion has always been with the Bridgeburners, through Sorry. Not to destroy them as Tattersail implies right in this chapter, but to PROTECT them (which is so obvious if one consider that Sorry has passed so much time with them that it would have been trivial to find an opportunity to kill them all). Also consider that it is Cotillion who can persuade Shadowthrone to modify his plans with the emergence of new elements.

If you see the bigger picture, this makes more sense. In book 2 we see Kalam going through a similar pattern: he starts from the same position of Shadowthrone with Sorry at the beginning of GotM, and ends up doing the exact same U-turn. What happens next (jumping to book 4) is that Kalam starts working directly for Cotillion. The circle is closed.
M D
81. Abalieno
Btw, continuing the previous comment: everyone does an U-turn in this book starting with this chapter.

Lorn does an U-turn as soon she arrives in Pale. She realizes that Tayschrenn has lost control ad that she can rely on Dujek's loyalty, when she expected the exact opposite situation. She orders Tayscrenn to quit opposing Dujek ("Dujek's not the enemy") making him do a U-turn on his previous positions.

All other U-turns that happen later are merely consequences of dominoes that were set in motion here. The only difference with Shadowthrone compared to other characters is that we don't get to see his reactions first-hand. But it is reasonable to expect that he also went through a similar pattern.

From the few remaining pages of my reread. I didn't remember how many sensible informations Tool gives to Lorn in this chapter.

Lorn says:
"You could have explained your decision to the Empress. As it was, she was left without her most powerful army, and no knowledge of when it might return."

But I don't think that Laseen ever acquired control of Tlann Imass. This is probably just a wrong assumption made by Lorn.

And, in fact, Tool explained how the Emperor gained control of them, and how he wanted to keep that knowledge for himself:

I knelt before the Emperor as he sat upon the First Throne.

In any case, she'd already learned more of the Imass from this brief conversation with Tool than was present in the Empire Annals. The Emperor had known more, much more, but making records of such knowledge had never been his style. That he had reawakened the Imass had been a theory argued among scholars for years. And now she knew it to be true

Which is not exactly the throne upon which Laseen is sitting. That Lorn should know since she asks:

"Where is this First Throne, Tool?"

Also, the name she gives "Tool" is filled with ambivalence and one can expect everything implied to spin a number of times ;)
Steven Halter
82. stevenhalter
And not all motivations are made clear. Again, more like reality than is typical in a lot of stories. Even gods aren't fixed points, they find things out and can change as situations warrant.

It's also best not to just assume that Shadowthrone is insane.
Steven Halter
83. stevenhalter
Abalieno@81
Yes, Lorn is mistaken in thinking that Laseen has control of the T'lan Imass.

That's a good observation that there are a number of u-turns in this section.
Taitastigon
84. Taitastigon
Aba/Shalt: Makes sense.

Well, ambigüity is a major differential of this series, so there is rarely ever one exact interpretation. And as the series progresses, we see more and more explicitly that ST and C do not always exactly run in synchronicity in their intentions/actions. Then again, WHAT does in this world ?
Amir Noam
85. Amir
shalter@82:
It's also best not to just assume that Shadowthrone is insane.
Oh, he's insane alright, but not just insane :-).
For me, Cotillion was always the more interesting of the duo. As the series progresses, Shadowthrone becomes less and less "human" (insane), while Cotillion as a contrast seem to be more human (or humane) in his behavior. Or maybe it's just Iskaral Pust rubbing off on Shadowthrone that makes him less sane, the poor bastard :-)


Abalieno@81, shalter@83:
Lorn is mistaken in thinking that Laseen has control of the T'lan Imass.
Indeed, the T'lan Imass have sworn to the Emperor personally. They have no specific loyalty/obligation for the Malazan Empire or for the Empress.
Steven Halter
86. stevenhalter
Amir@85
Cotillion is certainly the more "human" and relateable of the two. My thought is that Shadowthrone is not insane, just not very human in his thinking order any more. As we progress, we will see that he does understand that his actions have consequences and that he does have a plan (or plans).
It would be interesting to know what the Emperor's personality was like prior to ascending. I have a theory:
***Possible Spoilers***


I think that by becoming the ruler of Shadow -- a splintered realm, that Shadowthrone became somewhat splintered himself. He thus somewhat reflects some of the characteristics of his realm.
It seems unlikely that someone with ST's personality would have garnered as much personal loyalty as the Emperor had, so it seems like the quirks are probably post ascension.
I can't point to any particular piece of evidence for this, so feel free to form your own conclusions.
Travis Nelsen
87. Zangred
Amir@85, Shalter@86

***Possible Spoilers***




I seem to recall a certain conversation or scene in Bonehunters (think it was BH anyways) where ST's insanity is being contemplated. It was basically stated he was insane even as the Emporor and proceeded to get worse over time, whereas Cot's stability is what kept ST's insanity in check, and tempered many of his actions. This could have been one of those "from a certain POV" things, however.
Steven Halter
88. stevenhalter
Gredien@87

***Possible Spoilers***

Always possible, of course. I'm not finding such a scene but that doesn't mean its not there.

Lot's of stuff from Pust talking about ST.
Taitastigon
89. billcap
On motivations and shifts, I think we an allow for both interpretations here: that some of these shifting/changing/ambiguous motivations are built-in to the text and long-range plan and some are simply the result of that large gap in time between books It's hard for me to imagine an author over that span of time not tinkering/improving/discovering/expanding etc. new paths within what had been thought of as a "set" text/idea, for lots of reason. One is just the creative process, which doesn't get turned off; one is that the author himself is changing over that span of time; and another is that the author one assumes is improving his craft as he writes and so finds better routes. On the other hand, I think it's clear that these characters are also reacting to events and as they change, their motivations/paths change as needed (though I also think some of those long-range plans may not be as different as we think)

as far as the Emperor, he gets accorded in later books with a lot of insightful lines so it's hard for me to picture him as "insane" in his human role. I also think sometimes characters use that word when when they think of what may seem impulsive or incomprehensible to them when they simply don't have his insight/long-range planning ability. I do think we're given a look at two movements w/ him and Cotillion: more human and less human, though I wouldn't paint with too broad a brush--I think ST shows humanity perhaps more often than we grant him
Amir Noam
90. Amir
shalter@88:
Lot's of stuff from Pust talking about ST.
Now, which one of these two (ST and Pust) is driving the other more insane? :-)
Steven Halter
91. stevenhalter
Amir@90
That's a good question. It gets at part of the root of the what makes someone a god question. If being a god derives in part from having worshipers then the god must get something from the worshipers. If it happens that the primary worshiper is nuts then ...
Stefan Sczuka
92. moeb1us
I just want to thank Robin and especially Abalieno for their comments. To me both have a very deep understanding of the series and are a 'good read' with a lot of insight. Looking forward for more.
David C
93. David_C
On Tayschren's motivations and GoTMisms: it seems to me that Tayschren and perhaps even Laseen are more ICE's characters than SE's. I think that SE is protecting ICE's ability to tell the story, and perhaps that results in some of the unevenness of the handling.

As to ShadowThrone's insanity and Cotillion's humanity, read Stephen Donaldson's "The Mirror of Her Dreams" duology for a potential parallel. For those who have read Donaldson, I have the sense that Shadow Throne is far more in control than his homolog.
Sivaram Konanki
94. metaden
She faced him. 'No. Listen, Tayschrenn. I speak directly from the Empress. She reluctantly approved your commandeering the assault on Moon's Spawn – but if she'd known you so thoroughly lacked subtlety, she would never have permitted it. Do you take everyone else for fools?'
'Dujek is just one man,' Tayschrenn said.
What did Lorn mean by that particular statement when she addressed to high mage? Did she think that mage might be against dujek, and tried to get rid of him during the assault?/ or / Lorn was cooking something up with Tayschrenn?
Alex P. W.
95. Alex_W
Wow

Chapter 9 was one hell of a chapter. Not only long, but with a lot of great texts, dialogues and just great scenes. And reading the comments here ist just great. After finishing the chapters, there were some things that left me thinking. Wondering. And then reading the posts here, your interpretations, it really completes my thoughts in a very wonderful way. This time there was exactly nothing unsaid and uncommented of that left me still thinking. And I have nothing to add and ask, at least nothing comes to my mind, about these just finished chapters. These posts and commentaries, the discussion here (to which I'm sadly obviously 4 years to late, since I would have loved to actively join in the discussions with you people here to some of the topics mentioned) help me to think everything through of what I have read and to take a look at everything from propably every possible angle available. So I won't probably have to reread the whole thing again after I'm done with it :-).

The dining scene was great. One really has to feel for Lorn, if one has even the smallest of a heart. Such young a person still but nevertheless such horrible things allready have been happening in her life and with so much responsibilities on her shoulders. To need to leave your identity, your past behind, just for the reason of duty, duty to her Empress and the whole Empire. I wouldn't want to be in her shoes. As for Paran, well at least I would have loved to be in his shoes for a short while, while bedding with Tattersail :-).

Well, I surely will go on reading, crazy to know what will be happening still and crazy to discover some secrets about the Elder Races, the former Emperor and his compagnion, as to how and why they created the Empire, how and why they ascended and about what was and what is in their minds. And crazy to know about a lot of other stuff still in the hide :-).

Al

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