Wed
Sep 8 2010 3:00pm
The Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Gardens of the Moon, Chapters 18 and 19

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 18 and 19 of Gardens of the Moon (GotM). Other chapters are here.

Before we get into this week’s summary and commentary, two quick announcements:

One: Amanda is currently on holiday and so is joining us for the first chapter only. (Though I’m sure she’s thinking of all of us, not to mention the impending doom, death, and destruction, while sitting on a beach somewhere. No really, I’m sure she is...)

Two: For those who may have missed it in our last discussion thread, Steven Erikson has graciously made an appearance—despite feeling under the weather—and had a lot to say regarding his writing process. It’s, as one would expect, well worth the read and goes a long way toward explaining why these books are so ripe for re-reading and in-depth discussion. We’ll pause a few moments while you head back to last week’s and peek behind the curtain of Steven’s story-crafting...

Thanks Steven!

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

SCENE 1
Whiskeyjack’s squad is discussing plans for Kalam to try and contact the Assassin’s Guild again. Quick Ben tells them he can’t “find” Sorry, which probably means she’s dead. The squad confronts Whiskeyjack with his attempts to stay sane by cutting himself off, taking away his soldiers’ humanity (from his perspective) so he doesn’t think of them as hurtful losses, and that such a method will drive him crazy eventually. Whiskeyjack sees this as an offer of friendship and he acknowledges he is “finally, and after all these years, among friends.”

SCENE 2
Coll and Paran arrive at an entry gate, Coll barely alive. He tells Paran to get him to the Phoenix Inn.

SCENE 3
Rallick continues to climb toward Ocelot in the belfry.

SCENE 4
Coll is unconscious. A guard recognizes him and agrees to help Paran get him to the Inn. Paran’s attention is caught by K’rul’s tower and he sees movement on it.

SCENE 5
Rallick and Ocelot fight. Rallick kills Ocelot but not before taking a blade deep into his chest.

SCENE 6
Paran turns away from the tower, seeing no more movement. The guard gets a wagon for Coll.

SCENE 7
The Tiste Andii Serrat awakens from having been blindsided while she was preparing to attack the woman outside Mammot’s house. She disappears into her warren.

SCENE 8
Meese and Irilta discuss the arrival of Paran and Coll at the Phoenix Inn and that the Eel has told them to keep Crokus and Sorry/Apsalar at the Inn.

SCENE 9
Paran, at the Phoenix Inn bar, considers what to do with his sword. He recalls a tutor telling him once that the gods get you by separating you from others (your human contact) then offering to end the isolation they helped create.

SCENE 10
Kalam arrives in the bar and Paran orders him to get Mallet (the squad healer).

SCENE 11
Mallet and Whiskeyjack arrive. Mallet heals Coll. Paran tells Whiskeyjack he and Tattersail figured out the squad had been set up to be killed and that Tattersail had been killed (“Tayschrenn got to her”). He also tells him he (Paran) is no longer Oponn’s tool though the sword is and that the adjunct has a T’lan Imass with her.

Whiskeyjack uses a magical artifact to contact Dujek. Dujek tells Whiskeyjack that Tayschrenn was “last happy” when Bellurdan and Tattersail killed each other (two more Old Guard down) and is wondering what is going on with Oponn, Rake, Shadowthrone, and some soul-shifted puppet. He also says Laseen is planning on dismantling Dujek’s army and setting him in command over in Seven Cities to deal with an impending rebellion. He informs Whiskeyjack that Lorn and Tool have reached the barrow and that if they release the Jaghut the squad is meant to be among the casualties. Finally, he says the Black Moranth are leaving Pale and Dujek is “ready to move” once Tayschrenn triggers events by disbanding the Bridgeburners.

Paran tells Dujek Toc was tossed into a warren and that Tayschrenn killed Tattersail. He wonders what Dujek and Whiskeyjack intend because he wants vengeance for Tattersail and for the adjunct betrayal of him. Dujek tells Paran the Empire loses Genabackis: the Crimson Guard will repel whatever army Laseen tries to send and the Moranth will no longer be her allies. He also says they’re going to take on a new player—the Pannion Seer—who is “damn nasty.”  Finally, he tells Paran to leave vengeance on Tayschrenn to someone else but feel free to deal with Lorn if he wants.

They break communication and Kalam expresses shock at all the secrets. Whiskeyjack tells him that plans changed when Lorn told Dujek of the reinforcements coming, which proved to Dujek that the Empire wanted the Bridgeburners dead. Whiskeyjack tells Paran Lorn must live to lure the Tyrant into the city, then afterward perhaps she can die.

SCENE 12
In the Jaghut Tyrant’s tomb, Tool tells Lorn they’re looking for a “finnest” as “within it is stored the Jaghut Tyrant’s powers.” When he awakens he will hunt it down. Lorn’s sword will deaden its aura for a while, enough to get it into the city for the Tyrant to get lured into Darujhistan. They leave as the Jaghut begins to awaken.

Amanda’s reaction to Chapter 18:
Oh, Blind Gallan—how you confuse me! He’s talking about Darujhistan, the beautiful blue city, and the spider reference is clearly about a person who is keeping control with a web over the city, knowing everything that is happening. Not sure who this Paralt is, though, or the reference to Power’s gentle balance. Help!

Gosh, the scene with Whiskeyjack and his squad made me want to tear up! There is some wonderful interplay there between the characters, and their faith in their captain really shines through. The fact that they—despite all they’ve been through and faced—want to believe the best in human beings is extremely touching. I love this line:

He saw the caring in their eyes, the open offer to the friendship he’d spent years suppressing. All that time pushing them away, pushing everyone away, and the stubborn bastards just kept on coming back.

It gives a sense a hope, and shows how highly Whiskeyjack is thought of—and also indicates how lonely his existence has been, trying to remain aloof and not make friends, so that he doesn’t have to order them to die.

Crokus treated Coll—does that mean Oponn was trying to take Coll out of the game?

Bill’s reaction to Chapter 18:
I do have some views as to what Blind Gallan (whom we will see later in the flesh, similar to most—all?—of our poets) is referring to, but why jump in front of people eager to respond to your plea for help? So I’ll see you all in the comments thread on this one!

The discussion between the squad and Whiskeyjack continues WJ’s earlier struggle in how to protect his men and himself while keeping his humanity; this battle to retain humanity will play out amongst a host of characters. This could have been cloyingly sentimental, but Erikson manages to avoid it being such while still making it painfully moving. Part of its success I think is in realizing just how long Whiskeyjack has fought this battle; he is clearly not a young man and so this realization, finally, that he is “among friends” evokes happiness for him but also comes with an attendant sense of sadness over its lateness. It also comes with an edge:

He’d seen too much in his life. There’d be no sudden faith in his view of human history, no burgeoning optimism to chase away all the demonic memories of the horrors he’d lived through.

Without those things, this would be a typical sappy Hollywood change of heart, but Erikson is too good to give us that.

Erikson employs one of his usual suspense techniques here, shifting between POVs and scenes quickly so the reader is constantly left wondering. Is Coll going to make it? Is Rallick? Will Paran break the sword? Will Rallick get Mallet in time? Will Mallet be able to heal Coll? Erikson shows some good decision-making as well in breaking up the whirlwind of tension with some humor as Mallet examines the wound and discovers “someone’s stuffed this with herbs!”

We’re also witness to Paran’s continued growth—note how sharply he takes control with Kalam (so much command in his voice that Kalam nearly salutes) and then his command to the innkeep and the warning to the crowd:

“Nobody touch that sword,” he ordered, swinging a glare across everyone in the room. Nobody seemed inclined to challenge him. With a sharp, satisfied nod, the captain ascended the stairs.

This is a far cry from the earlier Paran and a good precursor to what we’ll see from him in the future.

How cool is that K’Chain Che-Malle artifact? (By the way, hoo boy will the K’Chain play a huge role in this series, is this our first mention?) Am I remembering correctly that we never see this again? Anyone? I’m wondering if being able to be in instant contact just ruins too many plot points (much as horror movie folks now have to deal with why nobody just uses a cell phone to call for help).

We get another mention, this one much more substantive in terms of plot if not detail, of the Pannion Seer, as Dujek tells Paran that the army is “readying ourselves” to take the Seer on, which will drive a huge amount of the story coming up.

To the file cabinet, Amanda! This time with the word “finnest”—these will play a major role in the series.

We close on a good “da da duh!” line with “Even now the Jaghut Tyrant stirs,” but I prefer the tragedy of the lines above:

“Tool, they [The Jaghut] weren’t very warlike, were they?  I mean, before your kind sought to destroy them.”

The Imass was slow to reply. “Even then,” he said at last. “The key lay in making them angry . . . “

CHAPTER NINETEEN

SCENE 1
Crokus is getting restless and senses big things are happening. He and Apsalar sneak out from the Inn. Crokus plans on talking to Challice.

SCENE 2
Serrat, waiting on the roof above the Inn, attacks Crokus as he climbs up. A mysterious force drives her away and over the roof’s edge, though she retains her invisibility/flight spells.

SCENE 3
Crokus says he thought he felt/saw something, then shrugs and he and Apsalar continue.

SCENE 4
Rallick gets to Murillio, who’s been waiting for him so they can put their plan into action to kill Turban Orr. Rallick tells him he killed Ocelot but was badly wounded. When they take off his armor, the wound has closed and the Otataral powder has disappeared from his skin. Murillio tells him to still rest due to lost blood while he heads off to confront the Eel, whom he now suspects might be Kruppe

SCENE 5
Kruppe and Baruk are meeting. Baruk tells Kruppe he’s considering finding out who Circle Breaker is because he needs to find the Eel to see if they can work together to save Darujhistan. Kruppe tells Baruk he’ll get the message to him to forestall Circle Breaker being found out.

SCENE 6
Paran tells Whiskeyjack he thinks he’s figured out what Whiskeyjack and Dujek haven’t told him—that they plan on conquering Darujhistan themselves to use its wealth to fight whatever Laseen sends after them in reprisal. Whiskeyjack tells Paran they don’t care what Laseen does as they have bigger and worse fish to fry—the Pannion Seer.

SCENE 7
Lorn leaves Tool to head into the city. She tells him her wound from Murillio is already nearly healed, thanks to her Otataral sword. She plans on seeking Sorry and then the Coin Bearer once she places the finnest in the city. She bemoans the loss of Paran, thinking of her attraction to him. She no longer has second thoughts.

SCENE 8
Crokus and Apsalar entry K’rul’s belfry as a hiding place and discover Ocelot’s body. Crokus sees give winged shapes leaving Moon’s Spawn. Apsalar tells him about the oceans on the real moon and the underwater gardens on it and how one day the chosen will be taken there and there will be no wars or empires or swords.

Bill’s reaction to Chapter 19:
This poem will be pretty clear as to its subject as the “Maker of Paths” is named as such. (So look again if you missed it.)

Is it just me, or is everyone else seriously laughing along with Serrat’s continuing problems?

We had some hints that the Otataral powder would have some strange effects on Rallick and now we learn that it’s had the same quick-healing impact of Lorn’s sword. Even more interesting is that it seems to have “disappeared” from his skin: used up in healing or absorbed internally? Hmmmm...

I like Murillio’s insight into Kruppe being the Eel, but does anyone else get a sense that Baruk has figured it out as well by his conversation with Kruppe? I thought his gaze that “dropped calmly to Kruppe” after Kruppe said he could get a message to the Eel pointed in that direction.

I admit to being a little confused by Whiskeyjack’s conversation with Paran. Since Dujek just told Paran last chapter that the army was getting ready to take on the Pannion Seer, I don’t quite get why Paran doesn’t figure that into his otherwise keen insight into Dujek and Whiskeyjack’s plans and why he asks, “what’s to the south?” Can anyone explain that absence? Did I miss something here?

We also get yet another reference to the impending rebellion in Seven Cities. (Cue book two in three, two, one...)

And I’m just thinking out loud here, but does anyone else think a character saying out loud to him/herself, “Well, dying’s never in anybody’s plan,” is just asking for the irony police to show up down the road?

In the discussion of our last post, several of us mentioned the Malazan soldier’s gift of free thought (at least under Kal/Dassem). Here, with Lorn, we get perhaps a glimpse of why Laseen/Surly fails at Empress. (I’m in the camp of those who do think she fails.) Look at Lorn’s description of a good soldier: 

She realized that the doubts that had plagued her, borne on those dark wings of knowledge, now lay quiescent . . . she knew how to control all that was within her. Years of training, discipline, loyalty, and duty. The virtues of a soldier . . . the weight on her shoulders vanished.

She subsumes her own thought (expressed as doubt) into what appears to me to be mindless loyalty and discipline to a single person ("The Empress’s pleasure . . . would be immense”). And look how she characterizes knowledge, the precursor to thought as “dark wings.” I can’t feel much sympathy for a character who views knowledge as sinister and finds refuge in thoughtlessness. My sense of loss at this Lorn is compounded thanks to Erikson giving us her musing on how she might have had something with Paran, which humanizes her and makes the fall deeper and more poignant.

We’re seeing with Apsalar that despite Cotillion’s eviction, his former presence has left gifts behind: ability to see in darkness, ability to climb, grace, etc. She’ll clearly remain a formidable force, despite the god’s absence.

We close with a focus on the moon, which I liked for a few reasons:

One, we get a link to the title, obviously, though I’m pretty sure much later in the series we’ll get another Gardens of the Moon reference.

Two, I loved the poetic and hopeful bent of Apsalar, after all the poor girl has gone through.

Three, I liked the contrast between that poetic idealism looking at one moon and the imagery of Moon’s spawn: reddish glow, the five dragons coming out to do battle. (And how about that “worm” of fear coming just before we see the dragons?)

Four, an echo for the future when “look at the moon” will mean something wholly different.


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.

176 comments
Tai Tastigon
1. Taitastigon
Bill:

- How cool is that K’Chain Che-Malle artifact? (By the way, hoo boy will the K’Chain play a huge role in this series, is this our first mention?) Am I remembering correctly that we never see this again? Anyone? -

Welcome to the 2nd biggest GotM-ism I know. Those thingies seem to have vanished quicker that I could say *Deadhouse Gates*. ;o)
Steven Halter
2. stevenhalter
Bill:
The artifacts don't appear again as far as I recall but
Tai:
I don't think of them as a GotM-ism as Whiskeyjack says:

'Be surprised if you had,' Whiskeyjack said. 'Back in the days of the Emperor, the inner ring of military commanders each possessed one of these"...

So, its not a surprise we don't see them again. Yet another problem caused by Laseen's destruction of the Emperor's inner circle (Note that she was not a military commander).
Steven Halter
3. stevenhalter
@Amanda:
One kind of Paralt is a spider. Hence, in the poem, 8 legged paralt refers to the venom of the spider that is being used as a poison.
Steven Halter
4. stevenhalter
@Bill:

Is it just me, or is everyone else seriously laughing along with Serrat’s continuing problems?

nope, it's not just you. These are quite funny. It is also another good use of turning a trope on the head by SE. The ancient deadly unstoppable assasin who in this case just can't do the simplest thing right--lol.
Steven Halter
5. stevenhalter
Scene 12, chapter 18:
Take note that it is an acorn that is the finnest.
Steven Halter
6. stevenhalter
@Bill:
Yeah, Lorn's musings are revealing in a number of ways. As you mentioned, you have the rigid duty for the Empress mindset as opposed to the individual creativeness for the Emperor mindset. Also, the contrast between Lorn thinking she could have fallen for Paran while at pretty much the same time, Paran is telling everyone he'd like to kill Lorn for the wrong's she has caused.
Tai Tastigon
7. Taitastigon
shal @2

I dunno, I dunno...- Dujek and WJ have one each. Admiral Nok therefore should have one, since he was part of the inner ring. Fair enough to say that Dujek and WJ are together afterwards in MoI, so they wouldn´t need them between themselves. But considering some of the arcs of MoI in view of the situation of the warrens, it makes no sense whatsoever not to use them, because they would be the only riskfree mean of communication (i.e. hand one over to Paran for the Barghast arc - between camps, nobody knew what was going on there).

I dunno...
Steven Halter
8. stevenhalter
@Bill:
It is interesting how we get (at the close of 18) another glimpse of the Jaghut through Tool. So far we haven't had any direct contact with a Jaghut and it would have been easy enough for Tool to have painted them as absolute monsters, but he (and of course SE) doesn't do this. He's been quite honest with Lorn.
Steven Halter
9. stevenhalter
Tai@7:
Since we don't know how they work exactly, its possible that the later warren situations could cause them not to work--although a little scene where they fail would have been nice.
Nok might have one, but there aren't many people left to talk to. Or, his could have been aboard the Imperial flagship when it sank.
Of course, as Bill mentions, cutting people from communication also develops more tension than if they were all freely chattering away to each other.
Steven Halter
10. stevenhalter
@Amanda:
Welcome back from vacation. Just in time to start seeing the dragons (at the end of chapter 19).
Chris Hawks
11. SaltManZ
The "bone phone" is, indeed, never seen again. (Though, as ever, attempts can be made to explain their absence.) The K'Chain Che'Malle got name-dropped earlier in the book, though.

Re the Maker of Paths: If you want to give yourself a good headstart on one of the big developing "mysteries" of the series, flip to the front of the book and search the Dramatis Personae for the "Maker of Paths" title; then head to the Appendix in the back of the book and read carefully the section on Warrens...

Re Blind Gallan's poem: Given the paralt reference (a type of poison cultivated from a spider by the same name) I intepreted it to be about the assassins' guild, which is used to control the city.

I'm sad that I don't get to read Amanda's reaction to the end of Chapter 19, where we get the explanation for the book's title...and dragons!

One, we get a link to the title, obviously, though I’m pretty sure much later in the series we’ll get another Gardens of the Moon reference.


The only thing I can think of is in The Bonehunters, which is really a reference to this scene. And actually, remembering the scene from TBH makes me choke up a little every time I get to this part of GotM.
Thomas Jeffries
13. thomstel
Re: Making Jaghut angry
- Yeah, the T'lan Imass are pretty great to read about, pretty cool as a concept, and our intimate exposure to them thusfar (Tool) is coalescing into something akin to "I like them", with some trepidation off to the side somewhere. Tool's comment here though, as well as some firsthand exposure to the T'lan methodology in MoI (I think...) will spin that sentiment around a few times. They're not really millenia-old undead skeletons with hearts of gold. Really.

Re: Artifacts in Daruj
- Cellphones are great, yeah, and the clear-the-air conversation between Dujek and Whiskeyjack here sure does make you feel all warm and fuzzy and like we're on the downhill stretch, doesn't it?
But wait, this is SE! People are still lying to one another (even if by omission). Savor the feeling of "clear communication" now, as it just gets more complicated again later when you realize who was lying about what...

Re: Baruk aware that Kruppe is the Eel?
- Sure thing he knows here. At the party later he flat out tells Rake, and there's no major giveaways between then and now. He's just playing it cool here.

Re: THE MOON
- First-timers may read Apsalar's description of the "shining" moon and Crokus's reaction and go "hmm, Malaz fairy-tale that the backwater fishergirl thinks is true, how cute." I wonder if this is the red herring it still seems to be, many books later, or if there's more to it than that...
- Oh, and remember, THE MOON! Big plotpoint #2438 later in the series, getting attention here!
Amanda Rutter
14. ALRutter
Hey all! Back all refreshed from vacation! I tried to get these comments to Tor in time, but obviously I missed the boat :-)

Here are my full reactions to Chapter 18:

Oh, Blind Gallan - how you confuse me! He’s talking about Darujhistan, the beautiful blue city, and the spider reference is clearly about a person who is keeping control with a web over the city, knowing everything that is happening. Not sure who this Paralt is, though, or the reference to Power’s gentle balance. Help!

Gosh, the scene with Whiskeyjack and his squad made me want to tear up! There is some wonderful interplay there between the characters, and their faith in their captain really shines through. The fact that they - despite all they’ve been through and faced - want to believe the best in human beings is extremely touching. I love this line:

“He saw the caring in their eyes, the open offer to the friendship he’d spent years suppressing. All that time pushing them away, pushing everyone away, and the stubborn bastards just kept on coming back.”

It gives a sense of hope, and shows how highly Whiskeyjack is thought of - and also indicates how lonely his existence has been, trying to remain aloof and not make friends, so that he doesn’t have to order them to die.

I also love the slight comedy moment, when Fiddler is about to give his big speech and Hedge pokes him in the ribs as he is about to begin. Being a squaddie brat (the child of a guy in the British Army), I’ve seen this sort of messing around so often, and it reads so true to life.

Urgh, the description of Coll’s wound is just nasty. A little reminder that war is not a game, and these people are at risk all the time. In other fantasy novels, we might suspect that Coll would definitely get better, but in GotM we just don’t know whether this wound might prove fatal. This is especially true when you consider Paran’s musings that all those he makes a connection with end up dying! First Tattersail, then Toc (alright, they might not be dead - but if not dead, then changed!) Coll really might be in danger here!

This particular quote shows up the desolation that Paran is starting to feel - and his fears for Coll’s life:

“Those whom the gods choose, ‘tis said, they first separate from other mortals - by treachery, by stripping from you your spirit’s lifeblood. The gods will take all your loved ones, one by one, to their death. And, as you harden, as you become what they seek, the gods smile and nod. Each company you shun brings you closer to them. ‘Tis the shaping of a tool, son, the prod and pull, and the final succour they offer you is to end your loneliness - the very isolation they helped you create.”

Paran’s animosity towards Oponn is growing, thanks to this as well: “Oponn,” he whispered, “you’ve a lot to answer for, and answer for it you shall.”

I am desperately intrigued by who has managed to sneak up on Serrat and give her the blow to the head. As far as I am concerned, we have no hints about this - last we saw of Serrat she was awake and alert, ready to kill the last of those protecting the Coin Bearer: “She’d been blind-sided, and whoever had done it was good, good enough to sneak up
on a Tiste Andii assassin-mage.” I’m wracking my brain trying to come up with who would be able to do this currently based in Darujhistan - anyone want to offer me some guidance? Is this Circle Breaker again?

Two further points about Coll - the guard on the gate knew who he was and wants to help him i.e. no matter what the nobles might say, Coll has supporters among the common men (this is further backed up by Sulty’s reaction to seeing his wound - unable to remain in the room, and weeping
over him); and Crokus treated Coll’s wound initially - but Mallet thinks that the herbs used were the problem: “Those damn herbs have poisoned his marrow. Who the hell treated this?” he asked, looking accusingly at Paran. Was Crokus being used by Oponn here? Trying to take Coll out of the game?

More blood being spilt on K’rul’s temple! If you’ve already awoken an Elder God, will this have any effect? Rallick finds himself wounded - seemingly fatally. What’s the betting this isn’t actually the case - especially with the heavy use of Otataral already mentioned? It occurs to me that perhaps Rallick will find himself tied to K’rul, but I might be barking up the wrong tree here.

I am liking the heavy foreshadowing throughout this chapter of the eyes - a few characters feel as though someone is watching them (Irilta and Kalam), Rallick sees beady eyes looking at him as he waits for death. I
don’t know what or who these eyes belong to. I originally thought it might be the Tiste Andii mages, but then we see Serrat as she recovers from injury...

I’m amused by the fact that Kalam says to Paran: “Your god-given luck’s holding, Captain” since I’m not sure that Kalam knew Paran was chosen by Oponn. . I like that fact that Paran has such a snap of command about him that Kalam almost salutes when commanded to bring Mallet to Coll.

Now here is something I am confused by. I know that Paran and Whiskeyjack met many years ago, and there would have been tremendous changes to Paran’s appearance as he grew into manhood, but why does Paran not recognise Whiskeyjack? When he sees him, he demands: “Are you Mallet?” Is he just so distracted thanks to Coll’s injury? Or is it something more?

“Back in the days of the Emperor, the inner ring of military commanders each possessed one of these, the booty of a looted K’Chain Che’Malle tomb.”

So here we know that Whiskeyjack and Dujek were both part of the inner circle. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I wouldn’t be wanting to use a magical device looted from a tomb! Have we heard about the K’Chain Che’Malle before? Strikes me we haven’t, but my memory might be failing
me...

It also strikes me that Tayschrenn’s questions easily fit those of a new reader to GotM *grin*: “What game is Oponn playing? Was there truly a clash between the Knight of Darkness and Shadowthrone? Did a soul-shifted puppet kidnap, torture then murder a Claw officer in Nathilog and what truths were revealed by the poor man?” We saw the
encounter between Anomander Rake and Shadowthrone, but the other two questions are those I would love answered as well!

This quote is interesting: “Mallet joined them and met Kalam’s stunned gaze. Clearly, even they’d had no idea that their sergeant was so well informed. Suspicion dawned in the assassin’s eyes, and Paran nodded to himself. It was happening, after all.” What was happening? The rebellion
of Whiskeyjack and Dujek against the Empress?

The conversation between Dujek and Whiskeyjack shows the shorthand of two friends who know each other well and have been plotting together - we (new readers) find ourselves stumbling to keep up, with sentences such
as: “Tayschrenn himself will trigger events when he announces the disbanding of the Bridgeburners - the blind idiot.”

We also see another key mention of Toc’s father and how important he seems to be to those who knew him. With the respect that everyone from Lorn to Dujek shows him, I would rather like to have met this Toc the Elder.

“The Crimson Guard won’t even let them disembark.” Does Dujek have an alliance with Caladan Brood, or is he just relying on the fact that Brood won’t let the Malazans reinforce their forces?

“He is called the Pannion Seer, who even now prepares his armies for a holy war.” Woah, this is right out of leftfield. Dujek isn’t even worried about Laseen? The events of this book really mean nothing to those fighting against the Empress? Dujek knows that Shadowthrone is playing in this game and yet he considers the Pannion Seer someone who is “damn nasty”? I seriously hope that we see a little more about this before the end of Gardens of the Moon!

I’m really glad that Paran wants Whiskeyjack to remain in charge - even if it does keep the pressure on him to send his friends into possible death. I respect Paran for it - he’s seen the way that the men respond to Whiskeyjack, and it seems as though he knows that the older man will be able to do a far better job and command more loyalty. It is also
Paran truly throwing off the shackles of the original plan in which he was involved, where he was meant to be taking over the Bridgeburners. A nice moment, that one.

Interesting that Paran chooses not to reveal what he knows about Sorry, and the fact that she is no longer under the dominion of the Rope. Why not simply mention it? After all, Kalam and Quick Ben might kill Sorry if they have no knowledge of her losing her rider - it seems a big risk.
But then why would Paran look kindly on Sorry - even if she was performing the orders of Shadowthrone, she did kill the captain!

In the last section of chapter eighteen, we gain another hint as to the properties of Otataral - Lorn is able to sense the Finnest. I am saddened by the fact that the Finnest is something as healthy and non-war-like as an acorn. I am joining the hordes of re-readers joining us on this read through who mention that they rather despise Lorn. Here,
again, she is given knowledge that the Jaghut were antagonised by the Imass:

“Tool, they weren’t very war-like, were they? I mean, before your kind sought to destroy them.”

The Imass was slow to reply. “Even then,” he said at last. “The key lay in making them angry, for then they destroyed indiscriminately, including their own.”

It makes me so angry with Lorn that she still then goes ahead with the plan.

And here are my reactions to Chapter 19:

The poem by Sivyn Stor mentions the “Maker of Paths” - I’ve seen that Warrens are also called Paths, so can I assume that this poem is about that first person or being who created the Warrens? Or is that too much of a jump?

Apsalar (yes, I am now moving to this name - she can’t be called Sorry anymore) shows again that she is a sharp girl - we didn’t see enough of her before her possession to know whether she is naturally this sharp or if she is still sharing some of the attributes of the Rope.

I like it that Crokus doesn’t tell Apsalar that she actually killed the guard; I think it is nice that he is trying to protect her from her old persona and the crimes she committed. Is it me or does Crokus seem desperately young, with the way that he is “sick of everybody telling me what to do”? Also, if people are trying very hard to protect you, would you decide to go wandering off when told explicitly not to? I get
frustrated at occurrences like this in books, since it always moves the plot along but makes you think less of the character that decided not to do the sensible thing. I equate it to groups of teenagers heading into dark woodlands alone because it seems like fun, or to take a short-cut, or some other spurious reason that has them falling victim to a
psychotic axe murderer!

Who on earth has protected Crokus with the kind of power that can send an invisible Serrat flying backwards and unable to touch him? Was it Kruppe? He’s not been near the boy for ages. Is this Meese or Irilta? Or is it something about Apsalar causing the protection - residual effect from Cotillion? I do love that Apsalar’s ”aura was harmless,
astonishingly innocent.”

Hah, it amuses me the way that Murillio refers to Kruppe now that he suspects him of being the Eel: “Was it possible? That little round runt of a man?” Poor Kruppe - following Murillio’s determination to find Kruppe and get to the bottom of events, now Baruk wants to talk to the Eel and tells Kruppe so. The net is closing around him.

Paran is also pretty sharp - someone mentioned in the comments from last week that Paran, as a noble, would be extremely well educated and then received further training as a Claw. Despite the fact that Kalam and Mallet know Whiskeyjack inside and out, they had no concept of his plans regarding Darujhistan - the fact that Dujek would be using Daru as a base against the Pannion Seer. So the Malazan Empire - or one part of it, at least - are seeking to cause devastation in Daru, so that Dujek can come in and restore peace. “So the city gets conquered after all.”

We receive a clue as to why Rallick, who was so near death, has survived with merely a scar to show for his battle with Ocelot - Lorn says: “Mostly healed Otataral has that effect on me” when asked about her wound. This is another aspect of Otataral - powerful stuff, non?

It is interesting how different Lorn and Paran regard each other at this point in time - she is rather wistful about his death and feels attraction to him, while he wants to kill her because of her role in Tattersail’s death. This will no doubt cause nasty scenes in the future. However, I feel no empathy or compassion for this cold woman as she is
now beyond all doubts at her course of action.

Two matters to take from the scene between Apsalar and Crokus at the end: one is that Apsalar is able to see in pitch black - is this again Cotillion’s influence? The second is that Apsalar talks about Gardens of the Moon, which could be why this novel is named as it is?

And dragons, dragons, dragons!!!
Tricia Irish
15. Tektonica
Thanks Bill and Amanda, et al.....

You guys covered most of the questions/anomalies that I found in these chapters....A few questions and observations:

At the begininng of Ch.18 WJ says, "Each hour that passed brought their many hunters that much closer. Of those it was the Tiste Andii he feared the most." I love that in light of developments in MoI.

I do hope we find out how QB cheated Shadowthrone the first time.

Amanda: I also loved the part where the BBs were offering their friendship to WJ, and Fiddler was pointing out how WJ tries to hide his feelings. Very touching, yet not sappy. The bonds that have been forged in the various crucibles they have all been through together has got to be nearly unbreakable....as Paran acknowledges, "a bond had formed between them, comfortable and unfettered by pretenses."

Question: Who is it knocking Serrat out and then later off the roof? Oponn? Kruppe? Rake? Baruk? Some god? It is funny, but I kept wondering what i'd missed.

One of the things I really like about Parans character is his introspection....a wonderful way for Erikson to perhaps showcase his own philosophies, like this:

Thoughts from his old tutor, "Those whom the gods choose, 'tis said, they first seperate from other mortals - by treachery, by stripping from you your spirit's lifeblood. The gods will take all your loved ones, one by one, to their death. And, as you harden, as you become what they seek, the gods smile and nod. Each company you shun brings you closer to them. 'Tis the shaping of a tool, the prod and pull, and the final succour they offer you is to end your loneliness - the very isolation they helped you create. Never get noticed, boy."
Then Paran asks himself, " Had the shaping begun?"

And I have to admit, I've read this book twice now, Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice, and I'm still confused as to what WJ and Dujek are up to? What Laseen has planned with/for them? For Genebackis? WJ and Dujek don't seem to be totally forthcoming with the BBs or Paran here. And I'm totally confused STILL about Tayschrenn. Help!!!

Someone, please do a spoiler in white type or give me a shout in my shoutbox. I seem to have two completely opposite opinions on the events in these 3 books. Thank you!

Shalter@5: Does the fact that it's an acorn have to do with what happens at the Garden party?

Saltman-Z@11: There's no mention of The Maker of the Paths in my glossary, but I do get that the warrens are the Path of this or the Path of that. I'm guessing that it's K'rul, since we get some mention in later books of what the warrens are.....unless that was a metaphor. Hint?
Steven Halter
16. stevenhalter
@Amanda:


I’m wracking my brain trying to come up with who would be able to do this currently based in Darujhistan - anyone want to offer me some guidance? Is this Circle Breaker again?

This one, we do get a clue on earlier. Re-read the conversation between Caladan Brood and Crone.
Steven Halter
17. stevenhalter
Tek@15:

Shalter@5: Does the fact that it's an acorn have to do with what happens at the Garden party?

Yes, it does indeed. (First foreshadow of this).
Steven Halter
18. stevenhalter
Tek@15:
What the motives of Tayschrenn are get shown from multiple points of view. They are complex and still not entirely clear.
Steven Halter
19. stevenhalter
@Amanda: I think Crokus' wandering off after being told to stay put is quite purposeful on SE's part. He's emphasizing Crokus' inexperience and youth and his being sick of "just doing as he is told."
Chris Hawks
20. SaltManZ
shalter @5:

I had never even thought of the significance of that before. LOL.

thomstel @13:
Oh, and remember, THE MOON! Big plotpoint #2438 later in the series, getting attention here!


Heh. Who still remembers the "Year of the Shattered Moon" line from one of Felisin's poems near the beginning of this book?

Tek @15:

My apologies. I meant the Dramatis Personae, not the Glossary (which is, in fact, in the back.) But it looks like you found what I was pointing toward anyway. As for how QB "cheated" ST the first time: recall that Ben Adaephon Delat, a former priest of Shadow, was listed among those killed in the Malazan invasion of Seven Cities. And if you've read MoI, you know how that really went down.
Tricia Irish
21. Tektonica
Hi Amanda! Hope you had a great vacation and welcome back. Very timely!

I agree with you about Crokus being a sweetie and protecting Apsalar from her heinous past. A nice, young guy. He does seem really young and naive, certainly in matters of the heart.

On Otataral: OK, Rallick has been miraculously healed by the Otataral dust. Lorn is healing quickly because of her sword. There is more mention of this phenomenon in DG and yet, I don't have a sense of it in MoI.

Spoiler below:
By MoI, much has happened to Paran...he has Lorn's Otataral sword, and yet it doesn't seem to fend off magic too well or create a "dead zone" around itself as it does in GotM. He doesn't seem to heal incredibly fast either. Thoughts?

I find Lorn a very tragic character. We've learned of her tragic family history in the firestorm in Malaz City (when she was in Pale), and she was advised then to remember who she is, The Adjunct. She goes back to that role, then questions it, and finds out much information from Tool. But I think out of fear of being rootless, cut loose, undefinable, she retreats to the safety of her known definition of herself, the family she adopted (the Empress), and she forfeits herself.
Chris Hawks
22. SaltManZ
Tek @21

Re Paran/Otataral in MoI: Remember, Rallick said that Otataral affects each person differently. So even if it granted Rallick and Lorn some healing abilities, that doesn't necessarily mean it works for someone else. As for the sword, I believe Erikson actually confessed that he had completely forgotten about it by the time he wrote MoI. It will make a fairly important reappearance later in the series, just don't hold your breath. ;)
Thomas Jeffries
23. thomstel
Tek@15


And I have to admit, I've read this book twice now, Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice, and I'm still confused as to what WJ and Dujek are up to? What Laseen has planned with/for them? For Genebackis? WJ and Dujek don't seem to be totally forthcoming with the BBs or Paran here. And I'm totally confused STILL about Tayschrenn. Help!!!



HUGE Spoilers:

Duj and WJ are getting assigned to take over Genebackis a different way: find a common enemy somewhere that allows you to negotiate an alliance with the dudes that have been kicking your ass for quite a few years. By the end of MoI, Rake's settling the Andii in at Coral, Brood disbands his army, the Barghast go a-sailing, and the Crimson Guard are on their way to their own novels ;). Sounds like a Malazan victory to me. As for being honest about it with the BB, they are not being forthcoming at this point, but the BB's figure it out anyway without too much fuss later. And as for Tays, he's part watchdog for Duj and WJ, part ace-in-the-hole in case anything goes wrong.
Tricia Irish
24. Tektonica
Thomsel@23:

Thank you! That's pretty much what I got at the end of MoI. My confusion is in GotM really....I don't understand their dialogue here! Very cryptic.

Huge Spoilers:

I still don't understand Tayschrenn in MoI. He's there the whole time in disguise. I assume Dujek and WJ know this. But why aren't they totally pissed at the guy after what he did to all the mages at Pale, the BBs in Pale and to Tattersail and Bellurdan. Does that ever ever get fully explained? I've heard mention of it being a "misunderstanding" of his orders from Laseen or something, but I call "BS" on that. I don't trust him. Besides in MoI he jumps into the fray waaaaay too late....even if the warrens are under assault. ???
Tai Tastigon
25. Taitastigon
Tek @24:

Bit by bit you will get more explanations on this - but bit by bit.
A tiny little you get in HoC, but quite a chunk in Bonehunters (come to think of it, BH is an incredible info dumper, on reread)
Hugh Arai
26. HArai
Tektonica@24: You get more and more as the series continues, as well as in Night of Knives and Return of the Crimson Guard. Tayschrenn is complicated even for TMBotF.
ezzkmo .
27. ezzkmo
I also wondered at Paran not recognizing WJ. Didn't he just see him recently too when he first got to Pale? I guess like Amanda said, he was "not all there" and just worrying about Coll. His mother could have walked in and he wouldn't have recognized her at first...all that was on his mind was his new bff.

And by re-reading the quote, “Tayschrenn himself will trigger events when he announces the disbanding of the Bridgeburners - the blind idiot.” I'm going to take a big guess here, but it could mean that if the Bridgeburners get wiped out and the Empire and Tayschrenn are all like "yaayy"...the Pannion Seer will get word of this and start it's attack, knowing the Bridgeburners are out of the way. Then everyone is in some real trouble. I may be way off base here. I don't even know what the Panion Seer is! But it's fun guessing!

Lastly, I musta been some kinda tired when I read the last lines of Ch.19, but I didn't connect the gardens of the moon with the title lol. And I also had NO CLUE those were dragons coming out. I figured it was 5 more Tiste Andi soaring down with capes. Didn't Coll make mention of 5 dragons descending earlier in the book?
Amir Noam
28. Amir
Re Baruk knowing who the Eel is:
It seems obivous to me that Baruk either knows or suspects at this point that Kruppe is the Eel. In fact, his converstaion with Kruppe is a clever way of telling Kruppe that Baruk knows.

Baruk, almost casually, mentions that a certain Circle Breaker is an agent of the Eel, and the Baruk is considering finding his real identity because he needs to talk with the Eel about an alliance. This is obviously bait for Kruppe - since Kruppe doesn't want Circle Breaker's identity to be revealed, he is forced to admit that Baruk can get to the Eel directly via Kruppe. After this admission, Baruk just calmly thanks Kruppe (showing no surprise).
Amir Noam
29. Amir
ezzkmo @27:


And by re-reading the quote, “Tayschrenn himself will trigger events when he announces the disbanding of the Bridgeburners - the blind idiot.”

I read this as Dujek expecting that disbanding the Brideburners will cause the entire army to go into open revolt - thus willing to follow Dujek anywhere against orders from the empress (or from Tay)
kramerdude
31. kramerdude
ezzkmo@27:

I figured it was 5 more Tiste Andi soaring down with capes.


You're correct...Well 4 out of 5 at least.
Steven Halter
32. stevenhalter
Continuing me@16:
Here's the part of Brood and Crone's conversation that applies to Serrat (not a spoiler since we read it already):



...
'Quiet, bird,' Brood said. 'The Coin Bearer needs protection, now that Rake's recalled his mages.'
'But who is there to match the Tiste Andii?' Crone asked. 'Surely you don't intend to leave your campaign here?'
Brood bared his filed teeth in a nasty grin. 'Ha, caught you out, I think. Good. You need taking down a notch or two, Crone.You don't know everything. How does it feel?'
'I'll permit such torture from you, Brood,' Crone squawked, 'only because I respect your temper. Just don't push me too far. Tell me, who around here can match Rake's mages? This is something I must know. You and your secrets. How can I be a true servant to my master's wishes when he withholds vital information?'
'What do you know of the Crimson Guard?' Brood asked.
'Scant,' Crone replied. 'A company of mercenaries held in high regard among such kind, what of them?'
'Ask Rake's Tiste Andii for their assessment, crow.'



Tai Tastigon
33. Taitastigon
Amanda @18

- “He is called the Pannion Seer, who even now prepares his armies for a holy war.” Woah, this is right out of leftfield. Dujek isn’t even worried about Laseen? The events of this book really mean nothing to those fighting against the Empress? Dujek knows that Shadowthrone is playing in this game and yet he considers the Pannion Seer someone who is “damn nasty”? I seriously hope that we see a little more about this before the end of Gardens of the Moon! -

Welcome to our World ! ;0)
You will get to know everything about the Domin in MoI.
Which, for a change, is only the part of a way larger picture...which may be part of an even larger picture (tbd in tCG). The way this is presented is the way SE presents it. It is not designed to be understood at 1st read...but a guarantee for a highly rewarding reread, rereread, rererere...well, you get the picture...
Steven Halter
34. stevenhalter
@Amanda:

Was Crokus being used by Oponn here? Trying to take Coll out of the game?


I don't think so. I think Crokus just isn't very good with herbs.
M D
35. Abalieno
Take this comment with a grain of salt:

It seems that The Crippled God, the book, not the character, will unveil a few things about Tool and his special skills.

Yeah, we'll just have to wait 10.000 pages just to see if it's true or not ;)
Robin Lemley
36. Robin55077
@ 14. Amanda
"Is it me or does Crokus seem desperately young, with the way that he is “sick of everybody telling me what to do”? Also, if people are trying very hard to protect you, would you decide to go wandering off when told explicitly not to? I get
frustrated at occurrences like this in books, since it always moves the plot along but makes you think less of the character that decided not to do the sensible thing. "


Crokus is young, in that he is only 17 years old. But, way beyond mere age, what we know about him so far is as follows:

1. He is only 17
2. He has never stepped foot outside Darujhistan (except recent trip to hills with Kruppe, etc.)
3. He has been raised by his absent-minded uncle (I don't see much, if any real structure there)
4. Kruppe, Rellick, & Murillio all "secretly" look out for him

It seems to me that at this point Crokus doesn't stand a chance of being anything other than a naive, socially awkward 17 year old male. It seems that the only people he ever really spent any time with was Kruppe, Rellick, Murillio, and Mammot). I don't recall a single mention (ever) of having a friend his own age, or even any interaction with anyone his own age.

It seems to me that his "protectors" have purposely kept him "young and naive". Now, with the events happening in Darujhistan and the world, Crokus has a lot of growing up to do and he is way behind everyone else. Keep in mind that other than probably Challice, every other character that you have met thus far that is anywhere close to Crokus' age, has been in the Malazan military a number of years, already faced life and death situations, already been forced to make life and death choices, or, in the case of Sorry, possessed by a god. I don't believe Crokus has any clue that people are "desperately trying to protect" him. The reason they gave him was the death of the guard and he has no real fear of that because, as he said, the guild would take care of that for him. So for him, there is no real reason for him to be "imprisoned" in the attic room.
Tai Tastigon
37. Taitastigon
Aba @36

* It seems that The Crippled God, the book, not the character, will unveil a few things about Tool and his special skills.

Yeah, we'll just have to wait 10.000 pages just to see if it's true or not ;) *

For curiosity´s sake, what are you refering to ? Tool in GoTM or Tool in the other volumes ?
M D
38. Abalieno
There's just one Tool as far as I know.

The last book may explain something about his special skills or special status or special role as First Sword. Or whoever has that position later on.

It was commented about the contrast in power between Tool in this book and T'lan Imass in the following books. It seems something major may happen with them in that last book.
Thomas Jeffries
39. thomstel
Tek@24

My take on Tays MO is that he's trying his darnedest to be like Rake, but just not doing it nearly as well as someone with hundreds of millenia of experience.
- Prefers to remain distant from the day-to-day activity (physically on occasion, and sometimes be being disguised/with an alias)
- Gathers information to be as well-informed as possible, without having to get his hands dirty himself.
- When it's time to act, he prefers to do it indirectly (relying on others/demons/allies), but can and will pull out all the stops if needed.

To be honest, after GotM and his skeevy disguise and late-game-save in MoI, I was not at all surprised when he holed himself up later in the series to avoid getting caught up in anything. His NoK storyline though upended my expectations of him to a fair degree, to the point that his GotM conversation with Lorn (regarding how badly he's fouled up with Laseen's orders to get involved and take over the campaign) and his subsequent relief at being let off that hook, I've come down firmly in the middle of the road regarding his true intentions.
Steven Halter
40. stevenhalter
Robin55077@36: Good synopsis of Crokus to date.
kramerdude
41. billcap
second the good synopsis of Crokus; he's just basically young in a world that has, up to now, allowed him that luxury. Boy is that changing! Because, in fact, he comes to us so young, his is one of the characters we actually get to see develop and change over time. The others come to us with more fully-formed persona, Crokus more of an unfinished one.

Re Tay,
We'll get a good discussion of him in our next book as we'll be, based on the advice of our two authors (and really, who would you rather listen to?), reading Night of Knives next (so get ready as it'll be here sooner than you think!)
Steven Halter
42. stevenhalter
Bill@41:
Doing NoK next will be quite helpful for some background material. I remember when I read it last year thinking that I wished I had some of the details years before.
kramerdude
43. kramerdude
Bill@41:
Oohh, interesting. Of course that means I need to go get NoK out of storage in the next few weeks. That might take some digging.
Tricia Irish
44. Tektonica
Oh Shoot! I've just blasted through Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice, but I should've read Night of Knives! Why, oh why didn't I look at your book list! Damn.

Well...on to Night of Knives before House of Chains. Maybe some of my questions will be answered? ;-)
Steven Halter
45. stevenhalter
Tek@44:
Night of Knives answers some things (and raises others). The style is different (different author after all) but it meshes well. Should be fun.
Sydo Zandstra
46. Fiddler
Shalter@45:

Yes. It certainly has a Malazan feeling about it...

It will be my first reread of NoK, btw. Could be interesting to reread NoK before I get back to Malazan City in my tBH reread. :)
kramerdude
47. kramerdude
Tek@44:

I've just blasted through Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice , but I should've read Night of Knives! Why, oh why didn't I look at your book list! Damn.


Don't feel too bad, I think Bill probably had it changed very recently. I'm pretty sure it was still DG listed next earlier in the week.
kramerdude
48. billcap
44. tek

Kramer is right--we just got word from the authors regarding their preferred order for this reread this week (actually after this last post or we would have put it in the announcements part). We'd originally planned to slot Night of Knives in later, before we knew Ian and Steven would indulge us with their presence. We decided, though, to go with what they think best (go figure). I also like that we'll get Ian involved earlier.
Gerd K
49. Kah-thurak
@Tektonica
Night of Knives is rather short and easier to
read than Erikson's books. It is good though. And we learn more aboutLaseen and Kellanved and Dancer and Dassem Ultor and his First Sword and the Claw and Tayschrenn and...
Tricia Irish
50. Tektonica
LOL....no problem guys! I thoroughly loved DG and MoI!! I was just chagrined at my ignorance for not looking at the book list since the start, and I thought I had it wrong.
I do feel better knowing it was just changed. ;-))

Anything to get the authors on board! Absolutely!

I'll be happy to get the background on those reprobates! ;-))

Edit to clarify: I didn't mean the authors were reprobates, I meant the characters in Night of Knives. That came across really weirdly when I reread this.
Chris Hawks
51. SaltManZ
@Bill
I also like that we'll get Ian involved earlier.
Agreed 100%. Potentially getting SE and ICE in active discussion at the same time? This could reach unprecedented levels of awesome.
kramerdude
52. billcap
Salt-Man@51
"Potentially getting SE and ICE in active discussion at the same time? This could reach unprecedented levels of awesome."

Talk about a convergence :)
Chris Hawks
53. SaltManZ
Ah, and I see that the index has been updated with Stonewielder and The Crippled God (two I was going to ask about) and that RotCG has been moved up before RG. Interesting.

@Bill: This is only tangentally on-topic, but do you know where the covers used for the index page came from? I ask because I'm putting together cover galleries for the wiki, and I can't find those exact versions of GotM/DG/TtH anywhere. I assume they're new/upcoming MMPB editions, because I found similar editions for MT and TBH on Tor-Forge's website. But the rest still show the original covers.
M D
54. Abalieno
I disagree on reading Night of Knives after GotM. Too filled with spoilers and it makes some potential contradictions much worse without having the context. But considered that this re-read has been so filled with spoilers as well I guess a "proper" order isn't necessary.

That said, I'd never suggest a new reader to read NoK after GotM. Imho, the best order is to put the three novellas before MoI, and NoK right after House of Chains.

I also wonder if we can have a discussion with Tor about the new MMPB editions. I'd definitely get again the whole series if I can have it in a consistent format and better covers (the UK versions have their own issues and switched to an horrible format with TTH).
Chris Hawks
55. SaltManZ
Curious...the new covers I mentioned have now reverted to the old ones. Time to get my tinfoil hat on? :D

As for the NoK-after-GotM discussion, I don't see a big issue. The only real spoiler I can think of is the identities of ST & Cotillion, which are (IIRC) revealed early on in DG, though they're implied pretty heavily in GotM. Having the reveal come at the end of NoK instead strikes me as a reasonable move. As for potential contradictions, all that comes to mind is the detail of when exactly Surly changes her name to Laseen; in the beginning of GotM, she's already taken it, even though the emperor is still missing; in NoK, she doesn't take it until after they've been assassinated.

Oh, and seeing Dassem Ultor in action right away is probably a plus, too.
Steven Halter
56. stevenhalter
@55: Those are the only real spoilers I can recall offhand, also. Everything else seems more in the category of clarifying or adding than spoiler. Also, as Salt-Man Z mentioned, getting both authors involved early is a tremendous plan.
@Bill, A convergence indeed--power draws power, lol.
M D
57. Abalieno
There are a number of issues in NoK, but I wanted to keep those for another longer comment I was planinng to write now that Erikson may read it. About some criticism. But in general there are some character issues that may creak even more without seeing the development that goes in between. Like Tayschreen appearing the opposite of how he is in GotM.

The spoliers are more nuanced, as I think that all the elements are better introduced in the main series than in NoK. I'm not a fan of NoK and only considered it decent with some good parts, but I actually think it makes a lot of potential good parts flatter, so it takes back some fun to be having by sticking to the main series. A lot of things, including the introduction of the Deadhouse itself.

Since I don't think NoK is a good introduction to what makes the Malazan series worth reading, I think it's best read later on when one is already comfortable with all its aspects.

Putting it after GotM may only exacerbate some perceived flaws of that book.
Barry T
58. blindillusion
Tek. Seems I should have looked over the list too. Oops.

Enjoying this re-read. Hopefully around the time it gets to Deadhouse Gates, I'll have some time to join in.

Edit: Hmm. First post here and I get a 13. MOA.
Steven Halter
59. stevenhalter
Abalieno@57: Well, I'd say that part of the purpose of the reread is to make everyone comfortable with all of the aspects of the series. So far, I think we're doing pretty well towards that aspect while keeping a lid on future aspects that really should come as surprises.
Seeing the Deadhouse will, I think, actually help in discussing and putting to rest at least one of the frequent criticisms of GotM.
Steven Halter
60. stevenhalter
So, by the end of chapter 19 we have five massive winged shapes descending from Moon's spawn. The Jaghut Tyrant is awakening in the barrow. Lorn has the finnest. Tool is free of vows. Whiskeyjack and company are all in place. Apsalar is. Lot's of pieces in place.
Oh, and OneArm is ready and a new threat has been identified--the Panion Seer.
M D
61. Abalieno
I wanted to comment a few things in this reread since I went through most of the first chapter.

@Amanda

I am desperately intrigued by who has managed to sneak up on Serrat and give her the blow to the head. As far as I am concerned, we have no hints about this

But we've had hints, and very good ones ;) The joy of having already read the book once.

Especially interesting because we had not just hints, but specific ones. For example we know that whoever attacked Serrat didn't want to kill her, and only send a message. This PoV is great ;)

Have we heard about the K’Chain Che’Malle before? Strikes me we haven’t, but my memory might be failing
me...

Already mentioned, I think, when Tool was giving the Adjunct some backstory, a few chapters back. I think it was said that they were exterminated by Jaghut.

I have no idea instead of what Hairlock was doing on Nathilog. Any clues? Was it related to Gothos' Folly? Because if it was then Tayschrenn should know since he was leading that part and we only knew about it through Bellurdan.

Hairlock mission has always been quite muddy to me so I really don't know what he was trying to do. Maybe simply trying to get some informations on the Jaghut tomb.

“The Crimson Guard won’t even let them disembark.” Does Dujek have an alliance with Caladan Brood, or is he just relying on the fact that Brood won’t let the Malazans reinforce their forces?

They are talking rebellion. So it's obvious that any reinforcements would be sent AGAINST Dujek. And in this case Dujek would simply let the Crimson Guard deal with them instead of risking his troops.

When I first read the book I loved this discussion between Dujek and the Bridgeburners because it put things back into context and had characters finally asking those questions that were on my mind. It finally puts things in perspective and set the direction where things were heading.

I love this part even more on a reread because of how everything is just a LIE ;)
Wonderful misdirection. There's basically nothing true in what Dujek and everyone else is saying.

It's when one is already wrestling desperately with the plot that things escalate in complexity, and all the misdirection of that part is necessary to set up the two following books. I mean, it's STILL hard even for me to wrap my head around the whole thing and I remember how baffled I was when all my theories systematically collapsed.

But besides some minor concerns it seems to make sense overall, and all the lies within somewhat justified.

It's particularly important that Dujek DOES NOT answer Paran's question, maybe the most important and relevant one asked. Without an answer the whole plan appears as a huge failure, yet it's that answer that reveals the truth behind the whole thing, and the reason why Dujek isn't an idiot.
Tricia Irish
62. Tektonica
Blind@58:
Welcome! Glad you found your way over here. Incredibly knowledgable group of gurus on this thread, taking good care of us newbies. I think you'll find it, ummm, stimulating.
Steven Halter
63. stevenhalter
Abalieno@61: I think the reference to "Hairlock on Nathilog" was about Hairlock "killing" Toc. Toc would have been the claw. It show's Tay's confusion in that he gets the location wrong.
M D
64. Abalieno
Now I'll raise some criticism. We've discussed in previous chapter the reason why Malazan isn't as popular as other epic fantasy series and how it depends for the most part on the density of the writing style and the accessibility barrier. Erikson himself weighed in to explain the reason why GotM was written that way and how everything builds what comes later.

So we all agree on all those aspects. This series is grandiose but not as easily recommended to everyone. New readers may hit a barrier that is either about the learning curve or because they can't get through and appreciate the complexities under the veil. More than simply being read, this series needs to be interpreted and requires an active role from the reader. It's one of those things that find and select their reader. Not something really tailored to become mass entertainment.

It pretends a lot from the reader and, eventually, delivers much more.

A while ago there was an heated debate on some other forum, from which I took a lenghty commentary that I wrote and pasted over here a couple of articles ago. I was examining characters in the Malazan series, the common criticism about them and the consolatory function of literature in general. Those are things I believe but there was another aspect in those critics about Erikson that I think had some truth and was important to consider.

The discussion is again about character development and it ties directly with the accessibility problems. How readers get to love a character in a book? This usually happens through character development of a certain type. For example I often pointed out that the Malazan series is so dense that we never really have a "slice of life" scene, whose sole purpose is about having the reader develop a "familiarity" with a character. So start to build a bond. Instead every page of this series is a plot point. Things move, and all "slice of life" scenes are cut or happen between the lines.

This is especially true with the character of Felisin. It's hard to perceive her story arc because we have no "before" scene that builds up the contrast with what happens later. So Felisin starts as a bitch and stays a bitch. For many readers this represents already a wall since the little that is shown is not enough to understand fully the character and find the true motives for the way she behaves. In other fantasy series, and for a reason, we always have a "beginning" in some isolated corner of the world. This because this simplified approach eases the reader into the story. Often the discovery of a world happens for the reader directly through a character that was till that point completely unaware of what lay beyond his village. There are two things going on in parallel, one is the slow discovery of an unfamiliar setting, the other is the "slice of lives" that develop familiarity with a character, get to know its story, its desires, its normal life before something major happens to kickstart the actual story. But by that point the bond between character and reader is already set. A reader has a full grasp of who that character is, what he loves, what he wishes. There are hardly hidden aspects that aren't hidden to the character itself.

It is the same for The Wheel of Time, as it is for A Song of Ice and Fire. Before the plot starts we have scenes whose purpose is get to know the characters and witness scenes of ordinary life. First we get the mundane, then, slowly, things move toward a plot. The plot is emergent from the mundane.

That's a first point that explains why Malazan characters are often criticized as not "real characters". They are developed more slowly and we only get to see aspects of them that are pertinent to that scene and themes. The introspection isn't "full-on", but we get to see particular moments and specific aspects. We know very little even for main characters, we don't have their personal story detailed, nor what happens to them when they are not "on screen". Instead of plot being emergent from the characters, we get characters that slowly emerge from the plot. This requires a deep re-wiring of the reader mind who's used to a more traditional type of narrative. While in traditional literature characters are used to control a complexity (through a narrower PoV), in the Malazan series the characters build that same complexity and make it worse.

The other aspect is the one where I agreed with the criticism. In order to develop familiarity and affection with a character we usually need to understand how he behaves. Motivations. It's when we understand why a character is doing something that we develop an emotional bond and truly understand it as a character, and "care" for him. Motivations are essential for the reader's perception of that character as a well developed one. And the motivations are the aspect that I agree could have been dealt better in this series.

The consequences are rather obvious even in this reread (and this will lead to another point). We argue a lot why that character did that thing. For example recently we tried to figure out the reason why Tool is helping to free the Jaghut, since it seems to contrast with what we learn later about T'lan Imass, and because the reason is never openly explained in the book. But there's a long list of characters whose motivations are rather obscure or contradictory. Tayschrenn and his apparent enimity toward both Dujek and the Bridgeburners, Laseen making a number of very questionable choices, Hairlock. We have very little infos about what Mammot is actually doing in Darujhistan. We see right in this chapter Sorry, possessed by Cotillion, described by Kalam as the "true face of evil". Everyone rejoices since she's not really human, and so there's still a distiction. But then we know that Cotillion is actually a fine guy. It takes some leap of faith to actually justify what Sorry did, especially since it seems the mission was about using the Bridgeburners against Laseen, and so it was much more productive get their support instead of spooking and alienating them.

The same for various events whose true motivation stay rather uncertain. The reason for the slaughter in Itko Kan, or a recent pet peeve of mine: the reason why Laseen banishes magic in Malaz, causing the events of the prologue (and the small convergence and cascade effect with Lorn/Tattersail/Bridgeburners) and the raid of the Stormriders in NoK. What was her purpose? The event is a very small one, yet it trigger a huge number of pivotal events.

I said this brings to another point. The reason is that a number of times I thought the plot was inconsistent and there was a mistake when instead the mistake was my own. It happened MANY times. Another reader comes up and points me in the right direction, and it was all obvious in the text.

THIS aspect is one of the most brilliant of the series. How it really pays back to pay attention and discover stuff. It's a story full of mystery and hidden layers, full of clever misdirection and huge reversals/reveals that make you reconsider everything from the start, burn to ash all your theories and start from scratch.

YET, there's also an unavoidable weakness. If you want a story filled with mystery and misdirection then it HAS TO have a PERFECT execution. The risk is what happens in these rereads and losing the trust in the writer. Once a crack opens the whole thing is going to be undermined with suspects and frustration. Take again Tool's example, we spent time speculating on a possible reason or entity who "compelled" Tool to free the Jaghut. We look for hints in the text, make correspondences, but at some point we also have to wonder whether or not it's a "GotMism" or not. Or if it's because we didn't work hard enough. Is there a reason or we simply stumbled on a small inconsistency?

These issues are true for the whole series, but especially for GotM. It's a book whose density stacks with plot being particularly opaque and characters behaving in a way much different compared with the rest of the books. Tayschrenn goes to villain to good guy. Sadowthrone and Cotillion go from being evil itself to much more nuanced characters. Laseen stays a mystery with a number of baffling/unexplained decisions. Hairlock was never explained. In basically all these examples it's possible to work out an ideal development that explains why these characters changed, but it remains the impression that Erikson pushed them too much to the extreme and that in some cases the explanations weren't completely satisfying.

If you stack these things you get another good idea why the Malazan series has a problem reaching a larger public. Lack of slice of life scenes that develop familiarity and emotional bonds between reader and characters, motivations that often stay opaque or not at all explained/plausible. Along with the density of the writing style and amount of details required to be absorbed very quickly.

That's the deal, and I tried to write it down because I'm aware Erikson may read it and I think it's important to deal with criticism that is motivated and has a point. Most of the times in debates the critics are harsh and undeserved, in this case, even if I'm a huge fan, I thought there was some truth in those critics about characters' motivations, and it's one of those aspects that could have been better handled without losing anything of the complexity and depth the series has.

And sorry for the wall of text.
M D
65. Abalieno
@63

Makes little sense. There was no one present that could report to Tayschrenn.

Tayschrenn confusion is due to his knowledge only coming from the Deck of Dragons, which is even more problematic with Tattersail gone. The Deck probably revealed the encounter between Shadowthrone and Rake, while probably he received some actual report from Nathilog about Hairlock. That place is also mentioned a number of times with obscure hints about what was going on there, so it is plausible that Hairlock was acquiring some infos.

He was still chasing the Adjunct when he was destroyed, after all. So his purpose laid there.
Hugh Arai
66. HArai
Abalieno@64: I've tried to think of another way to put this, but at the risk of being rude: I find it hard to believe everyone you've had an emotional bond with in your life has been so utterly dull that all their motivations are always crystal clear and fully explained. Surely the people you know still surprise you and occasionally go against your expectations without explaining their choices to you before hand? Do you lose all connection and trust when this occurs? Do you decide their behavior is inexplicable and arbitrary or do you just accept you're never going to perfectly understand what goes on in someone else's head and they probably have reasons they do what they do? I'm betting you've made friends with people without having them explained to you. It may be rare for an author to expect you to make the same effort with characters in a story but I don't think it's unreasonable.
Robin Lemley
67. Robin55077
@ 40 Shalter & @ 41 billcap
"Good synopsis of Crokus to date. "

Thank you both for the kind words.


Crokus was the one character throughout the series that I was occasionally tempted to skip over some of his reflections. Thankfully, I never did, but I was occassionally tempted. :-) It helped once I realized that Crokus was profoundly different from all the other characters BECAUSE of his innocence and his naiveté.

Nearly every other character in the series can be classified as martial or god/ascendant (basically martial as well). We are never introduced to the "common citizen on the street" so to speak. What is the average citizen of Darujhistan (or any other city) like as they go about their day-to-day lives? We don't know because that is never shared with us.

For me, Crokus became that "common citizen" and I grew to love him for it.
Robin Lemley
69. Robin55077
@ 48. billcap
"...we just got word from the authors regarding their preferred order for this reread this week (actually after this last post or we would have put it in the announcements part). We'd originally planned to slot Night of Knives in later, before we knew Ian and Steven would indulge us with their presence. We decided, though, to go with what they think best (go figure). I also like that we'll get Ian involved earlier. "

I agree with the majority who have posted so far that this seems like a very good idea. I think the "spoilers" are minimal, especially when compared with the information and understanding to be gleaned by placing this book next in our re-read. For what my opinion is worth, I think it is a very good call. :-)
Amanda Rutter
70. ALRutter
I approve of having NoK next, if it will help to embed some of the events of GotM and clear up some of the mysteries. The only problem for me is that I've had to put in an urgent order with my bookstore to get hold of it because I thought we were moving onto DG (which I already have)! *grins* Hopefully I'll get it in time :-)
Brian O'Reilly
71. idlefun
I have to agree with Robin55077. It's the opacity of the characters and the complexity of the plot that makes this the best fantasy series I've ever read. With the likes of the Wheel of Time we know and understand most characters soon after we meet them and the enjoyment is in seeing how the story plays out. There are good characters and evil characters, we know what the ultimate goal of both good and evil is and after many trials and tribulations the good will triumph to some extent.

As has been noted before it is hard to characterise characters in tMBotF as good or evil. We just see their actions, motivations (sometimes) and consequences and try to make our own decisions. Even the K'Chain Che'Malle are seen in a more nuanced way late in the series. (the Forkrul Assail seem to have no redeeming qualities. I'm sure they'd approve of such moral certainty!).

I love the fact that after 9 books plus 2 by ICE I have no idea how the series will end and who will be left standing/justified/redeemed/etc. Bring on 'The Crippled God'.
kramerdude
72. Alt146
Hello everyone

Hopefully some of you will recognize me from the malazan empire forums. I intended to do the reread with you all from the beginning, but unfortunately I kinda missed the start and only have only just gotten caught up. Please excuse what is likely to be a long post.

First off, thanks to Bill and Amanda for heading this up. I've spent a fair amount of time discussing the series elsewhere, but a chapter by chapter analysis makes for a nice structure and provides a focussed discussion.

First off, I was a little disappointed that noone made mention of what is probably my favourite piece of dialogue in GoTM, found at the close of book three.

'Tell me, Tool, what dominates your thoughts?'
The Imass shrugged before replying. I think of futility, Adjunct.'
'Do all Imass think about futility?'
'No. Few think at all.'
'Why is that?'
The Imass leaned his head to one side and regarded her. 'Because Adjunct, it is futile.'

I think this gives a lot of insight into the T'lan Imass, as well as to what makes Tool stand out among them. As we get to see through his appearances later on in the series, he is a unique and interesting character.

With regards to ST&C and their actions towards the end of their reign, I have always gotten the impression that they have had one, very, very long term plan from the first days sitting in a dive on Malaz Isle. I think founding an empire was just a means to an end, even claiming the throne of an abandoned warren is likely not their eventual goal. The overarching plot of the novels seems to be culminating a little differently, but I would not be surprised if everything we've seen in the series so far is the result of their plotting.

The Deck of Dragons I've always thought is best viewed as a sort of sorcerous weather report. It doesn't necessarily predict absolutes, but rather indicates what factions are in play, and more importantly - their intentions and relations to each other. Something that I think muddles a lot readers is the fact that while the deck represents the pantheon, it does not necessarily refer to the sanctioned position but rather to whatever force is in play that represents the aspect of that position. This tends to get muddied a lot, since the actual gods do get involved so often ;) As has been mentioned before, the state of the pantheon is always in flux and many of the positions are often unoccupied or uninvolved with the current situation.

I think there were one or two other things I wanted to throw into the discussion, but I seem to have forgotten now. I would like to close with this little gem all the way back from Chapter Nine that relates quite nicely to WJ and Dujek's conversation in this chapter. Dujek and Lorn are discussing tactics after Dujeck proposes the reinforments reverse their planned landing on Genebackis.

'Does the Empress want this war won in her lifetime or not?' He pushed himself away from the table
and paced. 'Mind you,' he said, as if struck by sudden doubts, 'it may all be academic. If I were Brood
I'd…'

Dujek knows that there is no way the Empire can win the continent on military force alone. Says a lot about Brood (and Kallor's) military prowess, as well as helps explain some of the sneakyness from here on out. Our first mention of Wickans also occurs slightly before that, and there's a bit of foreshadowing at how badass they can be there too that made me smile.

Oh, and @Amanda

I also had no idea who was protecting Crokus from the Andii, it is a very subtle hint much earlier in the book. A lot of people complain about DEM when it is revealed who it is for having missed the clue.
Tricia Irish
73. Tektonica
Abalieno@64:

Instead of plot being emergent from the characters, we get characters that slowly emerge from the plot. This requires a deep re-wiring of the reader mind


While I agree with your explication of the challenges of reading Erikson, and agree it's more difficult than your normal fantasy getting to know you process, his character development is very clear to me. You get bits and pieces of back story, but character is evident from actions and the inner dialogues we are given by the various actors. It's much more subtle, requires more attention from the reader and is much more rewarding in the end, for me. I appreciate his trust in the reader.

Take your example of Felesin for instance....All we really get about her background are Paran's recollections on his brief visit to his home in the early chapters of GotM, and his brief conversation there with Tavore. That was plenty for me! I didn't need anymore of a slice of life background. Felesin was the pretty, kind, fun sister, and Tavore was cold and distant. Why? I don't know and don't really care, because those observations were enough to understand their actions later, in the meat of the books. Felesin has a tragic about face when the illusions of her protected childhood are shattered, and yes she is a bitch, one of my least favorite characters, but I also think she's a victim and tragic. There is pathos there, too. Tavore is a victim as well, but since I haven't read House of Chains yet, I can't really comment on her.

motivations that often stay opaque or not at all explained/plausible.

I am a bit frustrated here..... Tayschrenn, Laseen, Shadowthrone, Cotillion....all a mystery to me. So far, three books in, I have little clue about what Laseen's mission is, except a mad power grab. Why did she have the need to overthrow Kelenved and Dancer? Tayschrenn works for Laseen, has betrayed people for her, who then do nothing about it. Why not? Shadowthrone and Cotillion, thus far are blanks for me. I have been trusting that these things will become evident as I wander the Mystery of Malazan. I hope you're not saying they remain a big question mark for the whole of the series! That would disappoint!

I love having to read between the lines! I love the mystery. And I agree with Robin@68.....you don't need to call your thoughts criticism, they are great observations. They are much appreciated. I love all the thoughtful analysis almost as much as reading Erikson.

Robin@68: I'm a WoT junkie too, but I agree with your analysis of it. It was one of my first introductions to Fantasy after Tolkein, and it holds a special place in my heart for that. There are some memorable characters, and I have to see how Jordan/Sanderson wraps it all up! (I also agree that the middle books are a real snoozefest.) That said, after reading Erikson in particular, it's hard to go back! Erikson is much more demanding of his reader, and I appreciate the challenge. He really makes me rethink many of my own assumptions, observations and philosophies on people, life and meaning, and for that I am very thankful.

(Hobb's Assassin and Fools trilogies are in on favorite shelf too. Love the Fitz.)
kramerdude
74. Alt146
Heh, remembered one of the things I wanted to say.

A lot of people complain about the lack of characterisation (and abundance of characters) in the series. I've remarked before that the character building in Malazan is very much like real life. Think of how many people you know in life and how well you know them.

Reading the series is like moving away from everyone you know in real life and starting a new job somewhere. There's tons of history and backstory and previous relationships that you know absolutely nothing about. People don't immediately come up to you and t ell you everything you need to know about them to be able to understand their motivations and desires. You learn these things through spending time with them, observing them and their interactions with others. It's a little bewildering at first, but after a while you start to understand them and form genuine bonds with them. There are people that you maybe don't know much about, but trust and admire nevertheless; people you understand and respect, and a whole bunch more who flit in and out of your life without them making much of an impact (although this can get annoying when their are characters who seem really interesting then just disappearing :() In any case, the way you get to know the characters in the series is a lot more real than in many, many other books. I can count on one hand the number of authors who have managed to inspire the measure of empathy in me that Erikson has on multiple occasions.
Steven Halter
75. stevenhalter
@lots: Wow, look at the forum an hour later than usual and lot of good discussion, lol.
I guess I'll just say for now--another good post from Robin that I pretty much agree with (I stopped on WoT after book 5 also).
Welcome Alt146--I didn't quote the text, but that's one of my favorite lines also. I've mentioned that futility is one of the T'lan themes.
kramerdude
76. grogromalz
I think it's all a matter of taste and expectations.
For example, I think that if you read mostly series/novels with a high amount of introspection, as "A Song of Ice and Fire" or Hobb's Assasins-trilogy, the possibility that you won't like the "Book of the Fallen" is higher than if it was your first fantasy series. In fact, I do find it a bit amusing, when people say that Eriksons books are nothing for genre-newbies, because they were my first contact with fantasy and I never had such problems with the characters and their motivations. I just read the stuff and really liked it.

Btw, I followed this discussion you mentioned, Abalieno (although discussion is probably the wrong word, but that's no surprise in that forum), and I really appreciate your statements(there and on this re-read), but then there's always this voice in my head saying: "the guy has only read the first four books" and I guess that fact doesn't help you alot, when you're defending Erikson.

And, this might be slightly off-topic, but I also don't understand this, as it seems to me, omnipresent need of readers to have characters or at least one character, with whom they can identifie themselves, in order to enjoy a novel.

If this was important to me, I'd never enjoyed a novel, because for me, really, there doesn't exist such a character.
The Assasins-trilogy is a good example:
I don't like Fitz, and you could almost say that I hate Nighteyes, but I do like the series. (Though I have to admit, that Assassins Apprentice is my favorite of them, because there's no Nighteyes.)
So, I don't need this, and perhabs that's also a reason why I hadn't such problems with Malazan characters.

But as Robin55077 already said, it's all subjective.
Chris Hawks
77. SaltManZ
Alt @74: That's a great description of how Erikson does his characters. And everything else in general, really. He drops you in the middle of everything, and by watching the characters interact with each other and their environment, you follow along and piece together what you can. It's so simple in theory, but it's hard to pull off, and it's a credit to Erikson's talents that he's able to do so.

In that way, Erikson reminds me a lot of Gene Wolfe more than anyone. SE doesn't take things to quite the same level (and of course their prose is really nothing alike) but the way they both make you work, and then reward you for it, is very much the same. (Though if Wolfe wrote the MBotF, you can bet he'd condense it down to 1,000 pages with a "slingshot" ending that left you questioning everything you'd just read. :)
Thomas Jeffries
78. thomstel
From my read-throughs over the years, I've become aware of the Erikson's plays on having innocent characters with which the reader can learn and grow as they move through the world. While I understand the role of such characters in literature, especially speculative fiction, I have found that SE has, as usual, used it in completely different fashions:

Apsalar - accelerated due to possession-induced skillset bonus
Crokus - played mostly straight throughout
Felisin - played really dark, really really
Karsa - less a "powerup" journey as it is a stripping away of ignorance
Felisin Younger - more dark dark stuff
Kiska - played mostly straight, but character development only in NoK
Udinaas - starts out identifiable, but degenerates into cynical bastard instead of powering up

Most of the other characters tend to have a history to them that predates their inclusion in the tales, and so we don't get to "see" their beginning as a "normal" person in the world and how they progress from there. Anyone think of any others? I haven't read RotCG yet, but from the sample chapter the new recruit sounds like he may fit the bill as well in that novel...
Chris Hawks
79. SaltManZ
thomstel @78: I think of all of the characters in the Malazan universe, Kyle from RotCG is the closest to being a stereotypical reader-identification innocent fantasy character. Actually, that pretty accurately sums him up as a character. A lot of people hate Kyle for that reason, but I honestly found him kind of refreshing.
Steven Halter
80. stevenhalter
thomstel@78: Yes, Kyle (the new recruit) somewhat fills the role of the developing character.
Steven Halter
81. stevenhalter
People like different things for different reasons. In Jo Walton's "Do you skim?" thread I was amused by some people saying they skimmed through parts of books that I actually found really interesting, while I would skim through parts that others are engrossed by.
So, one thing to keep in mind is that there is probably no single answer as to why some people like one set of books and other people like another. For me, in TMBotF I find the world as a whole intriguing--discovering the mysteries is part of the charm. I really enjoy the descriptions of battles and sorcery and sorcerous battles. I also like the characters. For me, the way SE does the characterization with brush strokes and over time works really well. While I don't necessarily enjoy a favorite character being killed, it doesn't put me off. If you read much history, then you know that becoming attached to the survival of a single individual doesn't work out. For example, Julius Caeser is fascinating, but he gets "written out" at a crucial junction.
Steven Halter
82. stevenhalter
Tektonica@73:

I am a bit frustrated here..... Tayschrenn, Laseen, Shadowthrone, Cotillion....all a mystery to me. So far, three books in, I have little clue about what Laseen's mission is, except a mad power grab. Why did she have the need to overthrow Kelenved and Dancer? Tayschrenn works for Laseen, has betrayed people for her, who then do nothing about it. Why not? Shadowthrone and Cotillion, thus far are blanks for me. I have been trusting that these things will become evident as I wander the Mystery of Malazan. I hope you're not saying they remain a big question mark for the whole of the series! That would disappoint!


I'll just say that we do keep getting pieces of the story. We definitely get more insight into Cotillion. We find out more about the others, but since the story isn't done yet I can't say we will find their "true" motivations. But, don't despair--motivations abound!


ezzkmo .
83. ezzkmo
Did SE or ICE have any input on when to read the Bauchelain and Korbal Broach collection? Or anyone else have a say? Didn't see it in the index and just wondered, since I still need to pick it up.

In a way I'm almost relieved to see NoK next. It'll be a good little change to see what ICE has to add to the series. Looking much forward to this!
Steven Halter
84. stevenhalter
ezzkmo: The events in the the Bauchelain and Korbal Broach collection happen before those in Memories of Ice, so if you want a chronological view, reading them before that would work. It probably doesn't matter a whole lot -- I got around to reading them after everything else. I found them a quick and fun read.
ezzkmo .
85. ezzkmo
Thanks shalter! Figured since they're short stories that (probably) don't matter much in the grand picture it didn't matter. I think there's a 4th short story too if I remember that I'll have to hunt down.
Hugh Arai
86. HArai
ezzkmo@83: I like the way K&B are introduced in MoI so I recommend new readers read the shorts after that. I haven't read Crack'd Pot Trail but the other three don't have a lot of hard and fast links to the main series that I recall, so you could read them pretty much whenever you wanted. Shalter's right though, if you want to maintain chronological order, the shorts come first.
Sydo Zandstra
87. Fiddler
I wouldn't advise chronological order in this reread. I did a reread doing that once though, between Bonehunters and Reaper's Gale. You could read them in this order, if you stick to Erikson only:

House of Chains, first half (the Karsa Orlong part)
Midnight Tides
Gardens of the Moon
Deadhouse Gates
Memories of Ice
House of Chains, second half (Tavore and the 14th army)
The Bonehunters
Rest in order of publishing.

You could probably switch DG and MoI, to get both storylines grouped closer. MoI being closer to MT would also make you spot a connection between the books easier (the dead Tiste Edur on the beach); it would explain something about a certain sea god and a priest in his cult in Seven Cities too.

But all that is nice in a reread. I agree with everybody above saying for first time readers we are on a good order of reading right now... :)


@Alt146:
Welcome. I am also on those forums, although only in the book related ones. Not a very active poster though, but I do check in regularly. (waiting to see if there'll be a prologue coming up soon ;) )
Rob Munnelly
88. RobMRobM
Fid @87. I just started Midnight Tides and said to myself "What?" when I saw it looks to include backstory on a significant minor character from House of Chains (who by the way doesn't fit neatly into your first half/second half breakdown). His plot line confused me then and including backstory in the next book confuses me now. Rob
Robin Lemley
89. Robin55077
@ 72. Alt146

First of all, welcome to the site and thank you for your post.

I wanted to commend your insight and thoughtful sharing of your explanation of the Deck of Dragons. Pretty much hand-in-hand with my own ideas, but I would have probably never been able to explain it as well, or as succinctly. :-)

Thanks.
Sydo Zandstra
90. Fiddler
@RobM:

Give me a shout on who you mean. Either I'm missing something or you are wrong. ;)
Robin Lemley
91. Robin55077
@ 78. thomstel
"Karsa - less a "powerup" journey as it is a stripping away of ignorance"

What an accurate way to describe Karsa - "a stripping away of ignorance," that is perfect! And Erickson does a great job stripping him, sometimes subtly, sometimes brutally, but stripping none the less. Great observation.
Steven Halter
92. stevenhalter
Fiddler@87: Yeah, lol, to do a real chronological order you would have to cut the books apart and repaste them down to page levels in some cases.
Rob Munnelly
93. RobMRobM
Fid - I'm thinking of TS, who is all alone and exiled in HoC and in the midst of family and culture in MT.
kramerdude
94. Marc Rikmenspoel
Now we are starting to get into the dreaded "comparison of Malazan with other series..." discussions! The make or break point for many fantasy readers does seem to be the "empathize with a character" issue that others have identified. Glen Cook, one of Erikson's (and Esslemont's) influences, presents the same problem for some readers. These readers want to get into the head of a character and learn all about them, rather than see them as mere actors on a stage.

I think this stems in part from youthful naivity. Younger readers without much life experience, or experience in reading non-fantasy material, can be put-off by material that has to be read without safety nets. However, another of Erikson's influences in Vietnam War fiction and memoirs. FWIW, Cook was in the US Navy in Vietnam-era, and knew many combat soldiers personally, and heard their stories first hand. My own reading life has been shaped by reading hundreds of memoirs and campaign histories from World War 2.

I'm a historian, and the author of several books about the war. I can easily equate what I have absorbed about the WW2-era with what Erikson has absorbed about Vietnam, and what both of us have learned about war and armies in general. Erikson and Cook are, on some level, writing fictional military history, and this appeals to those, such as myself, who enjoy military history. But the results can be jarring to those who are not familiar with military history and memoirs, or who find the subject distasteful. Military history isn't pretty, or fun, but it has a compelling quality, and large doses of black humor are often needed as a balance to the grim qualities. People who have read soldiers' memoirs will find many familiar qualities in the Malazan world.

On a different note, I have read Night of Knives (a book whose title recalls the real-world Night of the Long Knives in Nazi Germany), and very much enjoyed it. I'd welcome seeing it discussed here early on the reread-cycle. But I'm also okay with Deadhouse Gates being next. Either way, we're plunging into a different milieu!
Hugh Arai
95. HArai
One thing people tend to forget is that in real life and in realistic stories people's plans, goals and motivations change. Most of the players in TMBotF operate on a level where they would have to be constantly revising strategies and priorities in response to what is actually occurring. That's likely to result in surface contradictions even if the deeper motivations remain consistent.

Edit to remove spoiler because I can't seem to get the text to stay white when I post.
Sydo Zandstra
96. Fiddler
@RobM:
Ah, Trull.

You will see he is not that minor in MT, and in tBH. ;)


@shalter:
Oh so true... :D
M D
97. Abalieno
LOL. I had one of those moments of sudden revelation when I read the second chapter today.

Something I completely missed.

Murillio made no reply to that. He peeled back the leather padding to expose the wound. "What's with all this blood on you?" he demanded. "There's nothing here but a week-old scar."

And then the Adjunct:

"Mostly healed," she replied. "Otataral has that effect on me."

The revelation wasn't to put those two together (but I completely forgot about it), but to link this 3000 pages later to Karsa Orlong. I always thought that his Wolverine-like healing ability was something coming out of him being a Teblor, along all the other perks, like being more than three meters high, having four lungs and so on.

But you know, Otataral. That's the link.
Steven Halter
98. stevenhalter
Abalieno@97:
Yep, that's it.That and the bloodwine and its "effects".
Steven Halter
99. stevenhalter
Marc Rikmenspoel@94: Exactly what I was trying to say on the military/historical similarities.
M D
100. Abalieno
About the discussion on characters/motivations/slice of life. I DO enjoy Erikson's style. I'm still the same one who posted that long commentary on characterization in the last article (won't link as Tor has tendency to see all links as spam).

What I was trying to do here is develop that argument about why the Malazan series isn't enormously successful. Characters are a factor, for the reasons I've explained.

In fact I used the WoT and ASoIaF not because I like those series more than Malazan (I don't, at all), but because those are simply more popular for the larger public. There are reasons why it is so and it's where I tried to delve a bit more since we were already discussing those aspects.

BUT I love that style and approach to characterization. You see me praising it in that other commentary. So you don't have to explain Erikson's style to me. Or convince me of the value of a different approach to characterization.

At the same time, specifically about "motivations", I think it's an aspect that could have been dealt better because too many pivotal events and major character moves stay unclear or not fully plausible, even in the longer term.

I love the mystery and misdirection. I love how we have to solve the thing ourselves and find the hints. But certain elements of the plot and characters don't work as smoothly as they should. It's not about taking complexity out of the series or changing a style, it's only about clearing some opaqueness that has no reason to be there.

And a bit too often the fact that we can't understand fully a character is used as an excuse to say that there CAN'T be mistakes.

About Felisin I particularly loved the fact that House of Chains had a couple of flashback scenes that helped A LOT to flesh out her and Tavore's characters. Without those two small scenes their stories would have been much less effective.

Also:
Felisin and Heboric, especially the latter, are my favorite characters in the whole series. So I didn't use Felisin as an example of "bad" characterization. Just one that is hard to appreciate due to various reasons.
Robin Lemley
101. Robin55077
@ 94. Marc Rikmenspoel

Nice comments about the "fantasy military history" quality of MBotF. I am not a historian (although most certainly a closet historian wannabe!) but that is certainly one of the prominant reasons I enjoy this series so much. Thanks!
Steven Halter
102. stevenhalter
Marc Rikmenspoel@94 & Robin55077@101:
I had a minor in history and enjoy history quite a lot. I wonder if that is a fairly common trait among Malazan readers? Show of hands out there?
Sydo Zandstra
103. Fiddler
@shalter:

Although I work in IT, I studied History. Close to a major, but no official degree. Doesn't make much difference for the mindset though.

Oh, I've been in the army too, for a year, back when young men still had to serve in NL. :p
Chris Hawks
104. SaltManZ
@102: History and English were my least favorite subjects in school. How's that? :)
Steven Halter
105. stevenhalter
@104: lol--we'll let you play with us anyway :-)
kramerdude
106. Marc Rikmenspoel
@104 Salt-Man Z, and really, at everyone, there's history and then there's History. The latter, the academic field, especially in the grade school version, tends to be lists of names and dates to memorize. That turns off most people exposed to it. But the study of history can be so much more. I see it as storytelling, the telling of events in the past in a narrative form.

The field is big enough for a variety of styles, but it I believe that oral history, (a collection of accounts by participants) and similar works that include many personal accounts, is the easiest way to draw in those who have an aversion to the study of history. I could tell you about Custer's movements in late June 1876, culminating in a decisive battle on the 25th. But it is far more interesting, for most, to read what various Indians recalled later about those days, and what US Army men and newspaper reporters wrote at the time. Or it could be Parisians during the French Revolution, or Marco Polo visiting Kublai Khan, or any of countless other experiences. For some reason, this approach is not widely taught, and even looked down upon. It's to the detriment of History, in my not-so-humble opinion. The real world has the equivalent of Otataral swords and Tiste Andii and so on, but tends to emphasize the mundane over the fantastic, and thus is a turn off to too many. History should engage the imagination, not put it to sleep!
Steven Halter
107. stevenhalter
Marc Rikmenspoel@106:
Again, exactly! History isn't just lists of dates. One of my favorite accounts (I tend towards ancient history) is Xenophon's Anabasis. First hand accounts of things really bring subjects to life. The Malazan Book of the Fallen has many of those same attributes. First hand accounts are often gritty and interesting and not always entirely accurate.
Sydo Zandstra
108. Fiddler
Although I studied history in college, exact dates never interested me most of the time (I passed Medieval History by making a giant timeline so I would remember).

Instead I was interested in the what, and consequences leading to other whats. I loved doing research and writing essays about stuff like that.

But Historians aren't just dull essay-writers; not all of them anyway ;) . They are part of a society's conscience. When I read DG for the first time, and saw Heboric (a Historian) being in chains during a culling by Laseen, I knew that the Malazan Empire was going to be in trouble. What I learned from the story of Duiker (another Historian) later in the same book confirmed it for me.

In order to understand people's actions in situations, you have to be able to step outside and take some distance, and consider the views and actions of all parties involved, even if their views aren't yours. This should be easy in Fantasy, but I find that even in discussing stuff about Fantasy stories, some people still debate from their own mindset and do not try to see a character's motivations at all.

Ok, I'm about to do a rant. ;) I'll stop now. :D
Steven Halter
109. stevenhalter
Fiddler@108:
Duiker is one of my favorites. That was another big clue for me also--the Emperor told him to write it as it happened. Laseen had him purged.
Hugh Arai
110. HArai
Abalieno@100:
But certain elements of the plot and characters don't work as smoothly as they should. It's not about taking complexity out of the series or changing a style, it's only about clearing some opaqueness that has no reason to be there.



Thanks for the clarification. I have to ask though: what are you basing these statements on? Unless you know exactly what SE or ICE intended to convey to the reader and you know exactly how that differs from what the reader is getting, what you keep referring to as mistakes are simply your own opinions are they not? Your opinions are valuable of course, but you seem (in my own opinion) to want to discuss them as objective facts.
Tricia Irish
111. Tektonica
grogromalz@76:

For example, I think that if you read mostly series/novels with a high amount of introspection, as "A Song of Ice and Fire" or Hobb's Assasins-trilogy, the possibility that you won't like the "Book of the Fallen" is higher than if it was your first fantasy series.

Does this mean that you don't think Erikson has a large amount of introspection? I think it is heavy with introspection! There's much internal dialogue in several characters, Paran for one....he reflects on his predicaments, the changes he's been through, his family, his choices. It's one of my favorite things about him. Korlat in MoI....much reflection on her new found relationship and how it's changed her. Duiker, the Historian in DG....mostly introspection.

I appreciate how we are shown the characters through action primarily...it's very honest and more like Real Life. But there is much philosophizing and introspection by certain characters too.

At any rate, these books have caused much more personal introspection than either WoT or SoIaF did, for me.

Shalter@82: Thank you. You have renewed my hope for understanding....someday....all I need is a carrot.

@102: Art, minor in philosophy. I love history though....Can I still play? :-/

Edit: For spelling of Duiker's name. Apologies.
Sydo Zandstra
112. Fiddler
@Tek:

With a minor in philosophy you are ahead of us... ;)
Tricia Irish
113. Tektonica
MarkR@106:

I want to take YOUR class! I had my first wonderful History teacher in high school. She said, "We will not be learning places and dates, we will be learning WHY things happened." She was brilliant, and turned on the light bulb.
M D
114. Abalieno
@111

I appreciate how we are shown the characters through action primarily...it's very honest and more like Real Life. But there is much philosophizing and introspection by certain characters too.

At any rate, these books have caused much more personal introspection than either WoT or SoIaF did, for me.

It's not a matter of the amount of lines of text used for introspection, the difference is that the Malazan style is always partial, whereas introspection in other series is "full-on" and the reader has the complete grasp of a certain character. The character is completely open to the reader.

We get introspection from Paran, but it always strictly specific to the function of that part of the story. Of Paran himself we know very little. Basically nothing of his past, of his daily life and whatever hasn't been strictly plot. In a more traditional type of narrative we have characters that are fully developed even before the plot starts.

I'm reading now Scott Bakker and this aspect is quite evident. Bakker deals with themes close to the Malazan series, yet the style of writing is more traditional and much closer to Martin. In about 100 pages only an handful of characters are introduced and Achamian, the main one till this point, has received a full development, including a brief summary of his life and a very precise idea of where he stands, what he thinks and everything about his personality. Now he's introducing Esmenet and framing her in a similar way, through introspection, "slice of life" representative scenes from the past, and dialogue.

Non-traditional characters written in a traditional way. Erikson requires a much deeper "re-wiring" to be appreciated.
Tricia Irish
115. Tektonica
Abalieno@114:

Oh, I agree, getting to know Erikson's characters is not done in a Traditional way....a re-wiring indeed. I find SE much more interesting and personal....open to interpretation, depending on your level of "intuition" perhaps.

I don't ever think I've read this slowly. SE makes me stop and ponder people's words and actions for hints and clues....it really is a mystery, in a way!
M D
116. Abalieno
By the way, generalizing a lot, the pattern seems rather obvious.

Characters in Malazan come alive as consequence of plot. The plot is authoritative. The charcters are often victims of what happens.

That means that some readers will see the story as plot-driven and characters not completely developed all-around, so like cardboard cutouts, flat-like. Created to fit into a role and nothing else. Characterization is also role-specific.

A series like ASoIaF instead is widely appreciated because the characters lead the plot. Plot is mere consequence of what the reader knows about the characters themselves. Motivations are very clear, you always know why a character is doing something or why he reacts a certain way. So readers will say that characterization is very good, consistent, and the plot flows well because it's always well motivated and so understandable and 100% lead by human behaviors.
Tricia Irish
117. Tektonica
Abalieno@116:

It seems to me that certain characters create the plot, Laseen, ST and Cotillion, The CG, the various players in the Deck, while others are manipulated by them and their plotting, the BBs, Sorry, Paran, Duiker, Coltaine, etc.

The mystery is finding out who's really creating what? Who are the puppetmasters and who are the puppets?

I think Erikson is less clear on whether it's character or plot driven than almost anyone! And its the mysteriousness of SE that frustrates many people. I do have my moments of frustration too, of course, but I assume that I'll figure it out eventually. I think I do trust this author.

Besides, someone here will set me straight! Thank goodness for the reread!
Robin Lemley
118. Robin55077
Re: History

I said in an earlier post that for the most part history is written by the victors and is therefore rarely truly objective.

Unfortunately, I never formally studied history in college but it has been a huge passion of mine since I was a child. My childhood dream was to become a historian for the Smithsonian when I grew up. :-) Instead, I am a paralegal who studies history on my own every chance I get. :-(

For the past 30+ years, I have been an avid, self-taught, student of history. I read anything and everything I can get my hands on if it even remotely links to a specific period or historical event that I am interested in. And if I ever have to choose between an official accounting of any event or a soldier's letters home, I'll take the soldier's letters every time.

MBotF is written as a history of the Malazan Empire. I never thought about it in these terms before, but I bet that many of the people who really enjoy this series share a special interest in history. Also, with the constantly changing POV's between not only the power players and officers but many of the common soldiers, Erickson is providing us with both, the official view and the soldiers' letters home.

Does that make sense to anyone but me?
Robin Lemley
119. Robin55077
@ 116. Abalieno

Forgive me for being dense here, but in reading over a few of your recent posts it just dawned on me that I may have totally misunderstood what you were saying. (I know, no surprise there if I misunderstood something!)

Are you simply approaching Erickson's character development from the point of view that his desire in writing the series was to sell the highest number of books possible and that, if that was his goal, then your "criticism" is that you think he should have stuck with the more traditional style?
Robin Lemley
120. Robin55077
@ 76. grogromalz

I must admit that I am one of those readers who must be emotionally attached to characters. This does not require that I respect the character, or that I even like them, but there must be some emotional attachment for me. It does not really matter how well written the story or plot may be, if the writer cannot draw me in emotionally to a character, the story will fall flat and I will lose interest. Once that happens, the writer’s lost me.

Take Hobb’s character Fitz, for example. At various times throughout that series, I felt he was the most self-absorbed, least likable hero I had ever come across. At times, his self-pity grated on my nerves to the point that I found myself wishing I could reach into the book, grab him by the throat and tell him to “buck up and grow a pair.” However, there was always, always, an emotional link to him, whether it was joy, happiness, aggravation, sadness, disdain, or even on occasion, loathing, the emotions were always there. I will take great characters and a so/so story line over a great story line and so/so characters any day of the week. Luckily with Erickson, I have both and don’t have to worry about it.

When Nighteyes died, I cried like a baby, tears streaming down my face so bad that I had to put the book down because I couldn’t see the words on the page. It took me several attempts at picking the book back up and trying to read through that before I was able to proceed with the rest of the book.

Just goes to show how two people can read the same book with totally different expectations and still enjoy the work for totally different reasons. I have always believed that a writer should write from the heart, write the story that he/she wants to share, then it is my job to find it. Honestly, I would never want a writer to write a book tailored specifically to me. If that were the case, I think then I would already have that story and who wants to be told what they already know. I get too much enjoyment out of being surprised, outraged, angry, sad, bitter, aggravated, etc., even when (perhaps especially when) they make me cry.

:-)
Robin Lemley
121. Robin55077
@ 73. Tektonica

For a large part of my life, my dabbling in Fantasy consisted of Tolkien, Homer (the Iliad & the Odyssey being the only true leather-bound volumes on my shelves), Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Beowulf, Walter Scott’s The Lady in the Lake, etc. I don’t know where it came from but I have a very deep love for the epic poems. By the age of 12 I had read and reread all of Shakespeare.

I never checked out the modern fantasy section at the book store. I don’t know why. As dumb as it sounds, most book stores back then combined a very small section under the heading “Sci-Fi/Fantasy” and I knew I wasn’t interested in Sci-Fi so I never went to that section and instead spent my time in the literature and history sections.

Then, one day I was looking for something to read and for some unknown reason I found myself in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section. I figured what the hey, I just wanted something for a “surface read” so might as well look around. A book caught my eye, entitled Wizard’s First Rule and I thought, well, it’s obviously about wizardry and magic and most important at the time, for a surface read it was over 800 pages and the first in a series. As dumb as it sounds, I do frequently choose my books based on size. Some people base their choice on cover, some on the teaser on the back, not me. I want a thick book. There is nothing I hate worse than getting engrossed in a book that is only 300 or 400 pages and within a few hours you’re through the entire book.

Wizard's First Rule...my first ever dabble into modern fantasy work …. and I fell in love. So, just as Wheel of Time is associated with your intro into Fantasy, Sword of Truth is mine. I loved the first 6 books in that series and from that moment on, I have been hooked on Fantasy. I will probably always link Goodkind to my love of modern fantasy because of that and, for that reason, can never abandon him as one of the writers I really enjoy.

On occasion, I feel that a new writer who finds success with their early works falls into that trap of “quantity over quality” and I am sad to admit that I felt that perhaps he had fallen prey to that and the later books in the series suffered for it. Regardless, Goodkind will always be special to me for introducing me to modern fantasy work.

:-)
kramerdude
122. David DeLaney
Doing an end-run around most of the thread, back to Amanda's initial comment, just a couple notes:

@14 - "With the respect that everyone from Lorn to Dujek shows him, I would rather like to have met this Toc the Elder." / "Dujek knows that Shadowthrone is playing in this game and yet he considers the Pannion Seer someone who is “damn nasty”? I seriously hope that we see a little more about this before the end of Gardens of the Moon!"

... Read And Find Out - there's a reason this is a ten-plus book series. Tuck these away in your filing cabinet...

--Dave "it is a true but highly misleading spoiler, at this point, to note that the entire series is about the same war" DeLaney
Rob Munnelly
123. RobMRobM
@122 - yes indeed. Amanda will be meeting up with the Pannion Seer and friends well before the end of the series.

@120 - Like Tek and you, I am another Fitz junkie. I like the character more than you do (I tended not to feel the need to grab his throat) but he certainly had flaws and there is a fair amount of groundwork laid of alternative paths that Fitz could have taken which would have avoided much heartbreak. But such a human character.

Rob
Maiane Bakroeva
124. Isilel
Several years ago I picked up GOTM and DG due to fervent recommendations on another fantasy site I frequent. I finished GOTM and liked it... but somehow never made the transition to DG. I kept telling myself that I'd pick it up again when the series gets finished. Granted, that was at the height of my general desillusionment with lenghty fantasy epics without an end in sight... cough.
Anyway, like with WoT, this re-read gave me the push to return to the series.
I finished GOTM, but didn't yet manage to finish all the comments and am unlikely to have the time to do so in the near future, so I'll just spill my general thoughts:

Surprisingly, I still quite like the arc of Adjunct Lorn. However, her age makes no sense. When she first met Paran, she was already experienced and had quite a reputation - being 18 (!) just doesn't fit that, particularly since I saw no sign that Laseen was possessing her. She also tends to ruminate how "it has been many years" since this or that, which appears frankly ridiculous when her age is disclosed. Oh, and doesn't Claw training take 10-15 years? Anyway, it would make much more sense if she was in her mid-twenties at their first meeting, as was my initial impression.

And speaking of Claws - how is it that everybody talks to Toc the Younger about his father and notes his unusual choice of career? Aren't Claws selected as children, without their own input, and aren't they supposed to abjure their families?

Generally, 8 years since the "assassination" of the Emperor feels like too short a span for all the changes, for people to become Shadowthrone's High Priests and defect and then become integral part of the Bridgeburners, etc. Particulary given all the long-lived personages and the fact that Emperor's conquests continued for the whole previous century.

Laseen's purges of the Old Guard, while certainly not without historical precedent, seem both stupid and harmful to her cause. But for Pale's mages defecting, her conquest of Genabackis would have ended then and there, entirely due to instructions that she gave Tayschrenn.

Also, given what we have seen of Malazan military, I have to wonder how is it that Quick Ben is (was?) not in the cadre. Or Mallet. Are there other mages in the ranks? Are the cadre just the most powerful?

Given all the talk about Dujek's genius, forming mundane troops on the plain before a huge sorcerous fight to which they couldn't contribute seems less than inspired. Was he forced to that by Laseen's orders? Is the woman really that much of an idiot or is her real goal to actually lose the war on Genabackis?

I have to admit my general dislike of immensely powerful super-people, who get imprisoned and then burst forth again (for this reason I also couldn't get into most super-hero comics), and also of the profusion of the not quite final deaths.
However, this time around, it didn't detract from my enjoyment as much as on the first reading and I am eager to proceed. I guess, that I got more tolerant towards this trope with time. Nor do I have any issue with DEMs. There don't seem to be more than in competition.
kramerdude
125. kramerdude
RobMRobM@88:

I just started Midnight Tides and said to myself "What?" when I saw it looks to include backstory on a significant minor character from House of Chains (who by the way doesn't fit neatly into your first half/second half breakdown). His plot line confused me then and including backstory in the next book confuses me now.


This is probably because the 1st half/2nd half breakdown is probably not the best way to describe the story. Someone else called it (and I think it actually originates with SE) that the story has three sides - The Genebackan Campaign (GotM/MoI), Seven Cities (DG/HoC), and finally Letheras (MT).

You have seen some hints and clues to the third side of this triangle in the first 4 books and now you are getting the meat of that storyline. BH starts to tie all the threads together and by RG its full speed ahead.

MT takes some getting into but once you do its actually a really good read.
kramerdude
126. kramerdude
shalter@63:

Re: Hairlock at Nathilog. I always assumed it was just Hairlock chasing threads. We didn't necessarily see all of them he was following.

That or you know, he was just insane.
Tricia Irish
127. Tektonica
Isilel@124:

Nice to see you over here! This should really up the ante on discussion. You made some very valid points about time lines, ages, and stupidity, but I'm just going with the flow and figuring out as best I can.

Do try to catch up on the reread thread, when you can. There's some really valuable info in here, and some very knowledgeable Malazan gurus.

It's a good time on the WoT thread to do something, mmm, more exciting, over here as well.
kramerdude
128. kramerdude
Tektonica@73 (carrying on from shalter@82):


I am a bit frustrated here..... Tayschrenn, Laseen, Shadowthrone, Cotillion....all a mystery to me. So far, three books in, I have little clue about what Laseen's mission is, except a mad power grab. Why did she have the need to overthrow Kelenved and Dancer? Tayschrenn works for Laseen, has betrayed people for her, who then do nothing about it. Why not? Shadowthrone and Cotillion, thus far are blanks for me. I have been trusting that these things will become evident as I wander the Mystery of Malazan. I hope you're not saying they remain a big question mark for the whole of the series! That would disappoint!




shalter was correct that we will keep getting pieces of this puzzle, but I wouldn't expect all the answers to those questions. In fact by the time you read HoC/MT I think you will change your mind on what the "true" (at least in my view) mysteries of MBotF are.
Sydo Zandstra
129. Fiddler
@Isilel: Welcome!

Also, given what we have seen of Malazan military, I have to wonder howis it that Quick Ben is (was?) not in the cadre. Or Mallet. Are thereother mages in the ranks? Are the cadre just the most powerful?

That's how I read it. What I think is going on here is like this:
The Malazan army used to consist of two branches: a fighting branche, and a magic branche. In battle, soldiers fought soldiers and mages fought mages, with both branches protecting each others' backs (soldiers guarding mages from regular attacks, and mages protecting soldiers from magic attacks). Remember the phrase 'Always an even trade' that one of the soldiers says to Tattersail early in the book, and Tattersail pondering on that.

I am making an educated guess that only the stronger mages made it into the mage cadre. At one time there were even squads with Healers. In one of the later books Paran encounters a healer who was in the healing cadre attached to Greymane's army on Korelri. The lower ranked mages were spread out through the fighting squads, where their magic was still useful in melee fighting.

But the campaigns have taken a huge toll where mages are concerned. Soldiers are easy to replace, but mages (especially of mage cadre calibre) are not. Mallet is a healer, and doesn't have defensive or offensive magic, so he's better suited where he is now. Besides, he's a Bridgeburner.

Quick Ben has been in the High Mage ranks before. In MoI there is a dialogue where Tayschrenn says he should be a High Mage, and QB asks him if he remembers a certain High Mage who died earlier (forgot the name, but it isn't important). Tayschrenn remembers that certain mage disappeared with a stolen demon bottle. This is the demon that QB pits against Anomander Rake in this book, BTW. So basically QB was just lying low, which is common behaviour for him.

With the mage cadre shrinking to a few single mages, the magic coming from the lower ranked mages (who are also younger) situated within the squads will become more important.
Tricia Irish
130. Tektonica
Thanks Fiddler! I appreciated that little tutorial on the Army setup.
kramerdude
131. ShadowDonkeyThrone
@124: You don't actually know what Lasseen's orders to Tayschrenn were and you don't actually know her relationship with Dujek. Moreover you don't know the actual causes of the disaster at Pale, what proof do you have that Tayschrenn intended the battle to be so rough on the grunts? You don't know the motivation behind the Bridgeburners being underground. You don't know what Dujek expected to happen at Pale and why his expectations were not met.

Basically the vast majority of IMPRESSIONS characters have so far mentioned about the events of GotM are wrong. Or at least twisted in such a way that the motivations of characters we have not encountered are completely misconstrued.


Minor spoiler regarding Lasseen's motivations about the Old Guard and their current conditions.

Finally as to the purge of the Old Guard, it's a vastly overstated matter. She might have gone after 1-2 of the Old Guard but most of them just ran off or faked their deaths because they didn't want to obey Lasseen, didn't trust her, feared her whatever. It was never her plan to kill off all of the Empire's greatest leaders.

Anyway, most of the blanks in the reader's knowledge get filled up over the next few books and attitudes towards some of the more distant characters get turned on their heads pretty much. Erikson writes extremely, extremely few unsympathetic characters.
Julian Augustus
132. Alisonwonderland
Tek @ 73:

I am a bit frustrated here..... Tayschrenn, Laseen, Shadowthrone, Cotillion....all a mystery to me. So far, three books in, I have little clue about what Laseen's mission is, except a mad power grab. Why did she have the need to overthrow Kelenved and Dancer? Tayschrenn works for Laseen, has betrayed people for her, who then do nothing about it. Why not? Shadowthrone and Cotillion, thus far are blanks for me. I have been trusting that these things will become evident as I wander the Mystery of Malazan. I hope you're not saying they remain a big question mark for the whole of the series! That would disappoint!


Well, don't feel too bad. I've read all of Ericson's nine Malazan books plus the two by ICE, and the characters' motivations are still as much a mystery to me as they are to you.

And this leads me to Abalieno's point and something I've stated earlier in this re-read. I admire the Malazan world constructed by SE and ICE on an intellectual level. The complexity, the plot, the characters are all brilliantly constructed, but the story doesn't engage me on an emotional level the way WoT does, because I have absolutely no identification with any of the Malazan characters. And this was Abalieno's point, I think. I feel it intensely when Rand is being tortured by Semirhage, and I jump out of my seat with joy when he finds a means to escape and blasts the f*&% out of Sem. I live the story. That emotional involvement is what I don't have with Malazan, even though I enjoy the story and take pleasure in putting the pieces together... it is primarily an intellectual exercise for me, much as one enjoys solving an intricate cross-word puzzle. Am I making much sense here? As Robin55 mentioned, everybody brings his or her own tastes into the books he/she reads. That is why Jordan has his fans and Erikson his. Abalieno has a point, as does Robin.
Tricia Irish
133. Tektonica
Alison@133:

Well stated. It is funny how we each view the very same words so differently. ;-) You make plenty of sense, and you've helped me understand what Abalieno was saying.

Of course I feel empathy with the WoT characters, having lived with them for many years. Jordan certainly creates fully fleshed out characters. But it's funny....I feel I know many of the Malazan characters intimately too, with much less information. They are very complete characters, to me, and I find the deep identification I have with them makes the abject tragedy that befalls them absolutely horrifying! It's because I like them so much, that it effects me so deeply.

We are led to know them by their actions and internal dialogues, not so much by their pretty slim backstories. Two totally different takes on the same material....that's why we have blogs about this stuff!
Steven Halter
134. stevenhalter
Alisonwonderland@132: Your reaction to TMBotF as opposed to WoT is interesting to me as mine is basically opposite. I do find myself caught up in the characters in TMBotF and there are a number of intensely emotional moments ahead. On the other hand, I found the WoT characters wooden, repetitive and non-engaging (just my opinion--no flame war meant).
Now, I can certainly understand and appreciate that people have different reactions for different reasons--otherwise there wouldn't be any reason to have more than one story. So, lol, I agree that everyone has points on this part of the topic--kind of the meaning of subjective.
Steven Halter
135. stevenhalter
Fiddler@129: Yeah, that's how I read it also. The imperial armies are fairly strained when we join the story--especially in the matter of mages.
QB has many reasons for keeping his head down, lol.
Steven Halter
137. stevenhalter
Robin55077@118: I agree that TMBotF is a history. And, it's not just a history of the dead--but a history of all of the aspects of the Fallen.
Also, the history angle is made even more interesting here with the addition of immortals and spirits--more eye witness accounts than are generally available here.
Nathan Martin
139. lerris
Having started the book for the first time nearly two weeks ago, I am now caught up with the reread.

Now off to the coffee shop to likely finish the book.
Steven Halter
140. stevenhalter
kramerdude@126:
The Hairlock/Nathilog/Claw thread is another interesting little piece. It could have been just as stated. Hairlock was bopping about here and there and killed a Claw in Nathilog. It could have been that Tay got wrong info from either observers or the Deck of Dragons and Hairlock killed a Claw at somewhere else or didn't do it at all. Or ...
The Fog of Battle operates on the characters and we readers as well.
M D
141. Abalieno
Re: this discussion on characters, motivations and all the rest.

First I want to say that I use "criticism" maybe in a wrong way because I don't mean it in a straight negative way, but as "critical thinking", so observing something in not an uncritical way.

Which was my purpose, I was simply analyzing the reason why the Malazan series isn't that hugely successful. It's a fact, and I was finding more motivations for that fact.

As I said I love Erikson's brush stroke characterization and mystery. But I also said that for this to work, one really needs a very good execution or it all falls apart.

Erikson is so much smarter than I am, tricked me so many times, proved me wrong. But in certain instances I think there are actual problems in the books in respect to coherence/smoothness of plot. Continuing to justify this with "the character has hidden motives, you can't know", or "the character was lying" or when everything else fails "the character is insane" just isn't convincing at all and strengthens the impression that one just want to hide some problem.

Going in the specific: Shadowthrone, Laseen and all others mysterious characters NEED TO have clear motivations in Erikson's mind. What they do needs to be excused. I don't need those motivations all spelled clearly to me. Don't want that mystery revealed plainly, but at the same time there are major events that trigger a cascade effect. Those at least need to be motivated and make some sense, sooner or later.

The impression that certain things happen too random should be cleared a bit. While all other reasons that made the Malazan series a valuable "niche" are reasons that I approve and that build the worth of the series, there's this aspect about characters' motivation that could have benefitted from a bit more clarity. Without changing the style one bit, but at least give us a few more revelatory moments. At least about major events/plot points (Laseen banishing magic in Malaz, Itko Kan massacre, Sorry being so utterly EVIL, Tayschrenn being excessively hostile, armies sitting outside Pale waiting to be slaughtered if the battle was to be entirely long-range, Tool's motivation for freeing the Jaghut).

Another pet peeve of mine is the very last page of GotM. Quick Ben mentions a big plan he has, it makes a nice cliffhanger. Then this plan is never mentioned again in the whole series.

We can actually speculate what kind of plan it was, but the decision to never deal up front with that piece of plot was a bad one, imho. Why tease the reader so openly and then leave the thing completely unaddressed?

There are a bunch of loose ends that don't really detract from the true value of the series, but all together they can be quite annoying. They are part of the challenge and compromise of writing a so ambitious thing, but still nagging. Especially because, as reader, you never know when you just missed something or that something was simply overlooked and a factual mistake.

And sometimes the inconsistencies can be about unexplained major plot movements and character motivations, and they get even more annoying and discouraging.

Then, 99% of the times everything makes sense and you wonder at Erikson's inhumanity for being able to handle something so impossibly huge and intricate. "Lost" had lots of problem keeping things almost coherent and plausible, and it had a squad under the hood to do all this work on the details. Erikson's Malazan series matches and surpassed Lost complexity and is basically done by 1 guy, Esslemont helping sometimes, but IT IS impressive.

The real deal here is: Erikson set the bar so fucking high that now we pretend he matches our expectations with everything ;)

Caught this earlier. Chapter 2, just before the battle:

"He was left hanging - the Emperor had just been assassinated. Everything was chaotic. The T'lan Imass refused to acknowledge the new Empress, marched themselves off into the Jhag Odhan."

So that part is consistent here. The Empress has no control of T'lan Imass as we learn later on. Meaning that Tool's reasons are probably not related to a favor to Laseen. One may speculate that in GotM Laseen still has control over T'lan Imass, and that what we know later is a contradiction because this is a GotMism, but it is not. At least this one.

You know, about a year ago I asked Pat of Fantasy Hotlist website to ask Erikson if he could be available for a Q&A about all these minor details once the series was basically wrapped up. Things that obviously are too detached from the main plot that there's no hope that we'll get any answers from the very last book or even the sequels.

It would be nice to know what happened behind the scenes, especially if Erikson was willingly to explain how he initially planned certain things and how they changed with the writing. So admitting inconsistencies in the case they exist and tell us how things were intended in the first place. I have a veeery long list of questions HAUNTING me and in too many cases insight from other readers didn't help.

But for how much I'd DEEPLY LOVE this kind of insight Erikson probably doesn't intend or want to lift the veil and prefers to just leave the readers despair/thrive over it ;)
Chris Hawks
142. SaltManZ
shalter @140: But Toc claim to be the only Claw left on the continent, doesn't he? Sorry had garrotted the other one, IIRC.
Travis Nelsen
144. Zangred
I believe Toc is stated to be the only Claw left in Pale, not the entire continent.
Travis Nelsen
145. Zangred
Alisonwonderland @ 132:

Much like shalter@134, I find my reaction to TMBotF compared to WoT as pretty much the opposite of yours. I find myself deeply connected to the characters in Malazan, to the point of feeling like I am right there with them while I’m reading. I feel real emotion when things happen in the story, whether it is rage at someone being wronged, hate for a particularly vile character, or profound sadness at the loss of someone I have grown to admire. The range of emotion I feel when reading Malazan is intense. I am there, taking part in the story along with them. When I read WoT, it is a completely different experience. I am on the outside looking in, watching a story unfold and I don’t really feel any connection to the characters. They are just there, part of the story and interesting to read about. I can pick up WoT, read a few pages and put it back down; with TMBotF I have a hard time doing the same. I like WoT, I just don’t feel the intense connection to it that I get when reading TMBotF. It’s funny how people can have such opposite reactions to the same set of books.
Robin Lemley
146. Robin55077
@ 142. Salt-Man Z & @ 144 Gredien

You are correct Salt-Man Z, in that Toc said that he was the last Claw on Genabackis. If I recall correctly, Lorn says the same thing when she tells Toc that he is now the Claw represnetative prior to the dinner with Tattersal, etc.

I always just assumed that this "mystery Claw" was killed by Hairlock in the interim period between his being soul-shifted into the puppet and when Toc makes the statement that he is the sole remaining Claw on Genabackis. Just some random Claw that he came across in his wandering of the warrens, or perhaps a Claw that the human mage Hairlock had an issue with and he decided to take care of it when the opportunity presented itself to him in his puppet form.
Robin Lemley
147. Robin55077
@ 145. Gredien
"I find myself deeply connected to the characters in Malazan, to the point of feeling like I am right there with them while I’m reading. I feel real emotion when things happen in the story, whether it is rage at someone being wronged, hate for a particularly vile character, or profound sadness at the loss of someone I have grown to admire. The range of emotion I feel when reading Malazan is intense. I am there, taking part in the story along with them."

I'm right there with you Gredien. Surprisingly, I feel the connection to not just a few of the characters, but rather to pretty much ALL of the characters. With some, the connection is very, very strong (Fiddler & Duiker) and with others not as stong but defintely still a good connection (Whiskeyjack & Rake).

Shoot, the only character that I can think of that I didn't have any type of a connection with was probably Mebra.
Tricia Irish
148. Tektonica
Grendien& Robin:

Put me in the very connected camp. SE even writes his minor characters with care, humanizing them. I've never read battle scenes that move me with something besides horror, but here, because I care so much about some of these characters, I have fear, and deep sorrow, as well.
Yeah, very connected. :-)

Abalieno: I understand what you mean about the loose ends. I'll start my own list! Some may get answered as I move through the books, but it would be great to have that discussion with SE after all the books are done......Tie up some loose ends, discover back story, understand his take on plot and motivations! That is a fantasy!

(It would be nice to know if something was addressed and I just missed the subtle reference, or if it never was mentioned again.)

As for QB's last line in GotM about having a plan....I assume that's the kick off for Deadhouse Gates' plot with Kalam. That is an assumption, I know, but it fits. Thoughts?
john massey
149. subwoofer
Don't know two things about these books, just here to talk about gun control...

Kidding!!!!

Woof™:P
Amir Noam
150. Amir
Tektonica @148:


SE even writes his minor characters with care, humanizing them.

Indeed. Remember the demon Pearl? It would have been very natural to have a one-dimentional demon throw-away character in that scene - after all, its only purpose was to allow QB and Kalam time to escpae while showing how much of a badass Rake is. But not only does Pearl get a name, we come to care for him a little with his "you are sending me to my death" and "do you pity me?" lines as he is going against Rake and Dragnipur.
daisy dirro
151. daisy447
looks very interesting book will read it next!!
Amir Noam
152. Amir
Regarding the next book for the re-read:
I'll of course defer to the wizdom of the authors and anything that can bring Steven Erikson and Ian Esslemont to participate in this forum is a Good Thing(tm) in my opinion (convergence, indeed).

However, I would definitely not recommend Night of Knives as the right book to follow GoTM for a first time reader. Sure, it helps to explain a bit more on some aspects of the story hinted at in GoTM. But as others have already pointed out in the comments, part of what makes the MBoTF series work is exactly that partial infromation that makes the reader actively try to piece things together as more information is revealed. These pieces of information must come at just the right pace and I feel that NoK reveals too much too soon (not that it reveals everything, of course).

For example, I quite liked it that book after book I only got vague hints as to what happened in Y'Ghatan during the first Seven Cities rebellion (and even vaguer hints as to the character of Dassem Ultor). It made me build a mental image of these events with a mythical ... "feel" to them. Reading about these events straight up in NoK definitely answered some nagging questions, but also took away some of the mystery.

The same also goes for the real fate of Kellanved and Dancer, which is only spelled out, I believe, in Deadhouse Gates and is a major "wow" moment for a new reader (although this is hinted heavily in GoTM, but I've only noticed this during this re-read).
Hugh Arai
153. HArai
Abalieno@141: I wonder if the issue is simply that your expectations don't match what SE set out to fulfill. I'm not saying your expectations aren't valid - everyone has their own- I just think yours and his might not match. Correct me if I'm misreading you, but it seems like you're treating this like a mystery novel where it's a given unless the reader is exposed to everything needed to deduce the explanation the story is flawed. I don't think SE feels the need to hold himself to that standard. At times he asks the reader to trust him that "not clearly explained in the text" is not the same thing as "has no reasonable motivation". It's framed more like a history than a procedural.

Subwoofer@149: You owe me a new keyboard you scruffy mutt!
Mieneke van der Salm
154. Mieneke
Woohoo!! I finally caught up :) Some super interesting discussions going on and some new faces too. Hi and I hope you'll have as much fun with this re-read as I've been having :D

Most of what I'd come up with has already been discussed so I don't actually have that many points. I do wanted to say, you can count me in on the closet history geeks. If I read non-fiction it's almost always history-related. I read English Language and Culture at university. Never finished my thesis, so I ended up with a BA, but history was my second choice and my MA was Book and Publishing focusing on the history of the book, so I do have some historical background lol

Fiddler @103: well that dates you for me or at least antedates you ;) Since guys my age were the first generation not to go in for conscription.

Robin @118: That actually makes perfect sense!

And lastly a general question (which probably is a dumb one lol) what are DEM's?
Maiane Bakroeva
155. Isilel
Fiddler @129:

Thanks, that was very enlightening. It seems that Quick Ben was an even busier man in the last 8 years than I imagined, if he managed to desert from the cadre, as well as to rise so high in Shadowthrone's service and desert him too!
And I guess that Whiskeyjack got to have a Healer in his squad because of his legend status.
But where do new mages come from? Why isn't the Empire looking for and training the young'uns?

Shadow Donkey Throne @130:

Erikson writes extremely, extremely few unsympathetic characters.

This ties into frequent assertion that few of his characters are really evil... with which I can't agree.

While WJ's squad are all very interesting people and not ireedemable, I found what they did in Darujistan to be pretty evil. I mean, they intended to murder the actual government and thousands of random people and for what? As a contingency, because Dujek might need a base.
They didn't even try to come to agreement with them first or anything, nor do they regret the as it turned out needless damage that they have inflicted.

Frankly, Lorn with her faltering, but still present faith in the Empire and the Empress was more sympathetic to me.

And Cotillion, Shadowthrone, Laseen? All thoroughly evil, IMHO and not only in that they are ready to do anything in pursuit of selfish goals, but also because they actively enjoy inflicting pain.
Not that they aren't intriguing characters - they are. And I always enjoy reading about a good, multi-faceted villain. But that's what they are, IMHO. I am not sure why so many fans consider them to be something else...
Amir Noam
156. Amir
Mieneke @154:
DEM = Deus Ex Machina
Something that pops up every now and then in the Malazan books :-)
Amir Noam
157. Amir
Isilel @155:


It seems that Quick Ben was an even busier man in the last 8 years than I imagined, if he managed to desert from the cadre, as well as to rise so high in Shadowthrone's service and desert him too!

I believe that QB was a High Priest of Shadow before Shadowthrone's time (I could be mistaken, as it's been several years since I've read the books). The Bridgeburners were formed (and we learn later how) during the time of the old emperor.



And Cotillion, Shadowthrone, Laseen? All thoroughly evil

I disagree with you there. They have complex motives, some selfish, some not. Sure, they all *do* evil deeds, but I don't think it's shown that they actively enjoy inflicting pain. Cotillion, at least, later through the series is shown to have great compassion for other humans. And Shadowthrone is, well, kinda insane. He doesn't strike me as someone who likes to cause pain so much as doesn't care about inflicted pain if he's pursuing his goals.
So, none of them are Mother Theresa, but I wouldn't classify them as pure evil.

EDIT: fixing stupid typo. Thanks, ALRutter :-)
Amanda Rutter
158. ALRutter
@157 The Brideburners? Holy hell, that's a whole different kind of story! *grins*
Sydo Zandstra
159. Fiddler
@Mieneke: I entered Army Service in '92 (at the age of 22, do the math by yourselves... :p ).

As Amir said, DEM=Deus Ex Machina. In case you didn't study Latin (I know I didn't), it's about Divine Intervention: all goes bad and all of a sudden something unannounced shows up and kills the baddies).

Isilel@155:
But where do new mages come from? Why isn't the Empire looking for and training the young'uns?

When I said that mages are harder to replace, I was thinking about the time it takes to train a full mage too. Some of the squad mages have the potential to become High Mage material, or cadre mage stuff in time. Unfortunately events aren't giving them the time to do so at this point in the story. It takes hundreds of years for them to bloom...

There are exceptions. When you read House of Chains you will meet a girl called Sinn, who grows into a big major magic power house in the later books up until book 9.

But she is also crazy, and highly traumatized.

(I have a theory that the extremely strong human mages are low in the sanity department. So we'd better hope QB doesn't go crazy; no worries, as of book 9 it hasn't happened yet)

For vet readers, I know. Beak. But talking about that is too far away in the reread and too spoiling. :)
Sydo Zandstra
160. Fiddler
@Amanda:

Still disappointed in the reply numbers? ;-)
Chris Hawks
161. SaltManZ
Amanda @158: The Bridgeburners, indeed! After 9 books, I've identified what I feel are the two "main" arcs of the entire MBotF series (faaaaar to spoilerific to even put in spoiler-text here) and one of them revolves heavily around the BBs.
Steven Halter
162. stevenhalter
Amir@156:

DEM = Deus Ex Machina


Something that pops up every now and then in the Malazan books :-)


Or, something that people claim happens now and then in the Malazan books. :-)
Dustin George-Miller
163. dustingm
@Salt-Man Z:

Post the theory anyway! I have a similar hypothesis, I think, but I'd be interested in hearing what others believe.
Amir Noam
164. Amir
shalter @162:
How about we say that DEM is something that pops up every now and then in Malazan re-read comments? :-)
Steven Halter
165. stevenhalter
Amir@164: Certainly can't argue with that, lol.
Robin Lemley
166. Robin55077
Re: Mages

As we progress through the series, you will meet many mages. Some of them very stong (but perhaps limited to a specific skill or area of magic), and some of them powerful enough to be a Cadre Mage (or even High Mage). Later in the series you will be introduced to a lowly squad mage attached to Fiddler's squad who could be a High Mage if he so desired. However, he prefers that no one even realize that he is a mage and, once it is realized, he constantly stives to downplay his abilities. It seems to me that a trait of all mages is that they never want the extent of their power known to others. However, even beyond that, many do not want it advertised that they are even mages.

We are never specifically told why this is but I do, of course, of a couple of theories. :-)

First, Power attracts Power. This is mentioned time and again throughout the series. Perhaps mages try so hard to stay under the radar to avoid notice, because once they are noticed they then risk being noticed by other Powers. They would conceivably try to avoid this for many reasons, such as anything from a loss of annonimity and freedom to loss of their very lives.

My second theory....... If powerful mages, then once word of their power/ability reached Lasseen, they would be forced into a Cadre Mage (or even High Mage) position for the Empire. They would lose any life of their own and be forced into a life of the Empire so to speak. It makes sense to me that mages would not want to give up their personal freedom to be shackled to the Empire in such a way.

If you will recall, the prologue to this book (and thus the series) opens with Surly/Lasseen culling Malaz City of all magic users. I don't recall her reason behind this cull, but perhaps this has some bearing on why the mages are staying low rather than being more open about who/what they are? It does seem as if they may be more hidden now that she is Empress than when Kellanved was Emporer. However, even when Kellanved was Emporor, mages chose to stay hidden. We know that because Quick Ben stayed with the Bridgeburners, not as a Cadre or High Mage, and he certainly had the ability to be a High Mage. Quick Ben flew under both Kellanved's and Lasseen's rader. With his power we have to believe that he did that on purpose, that he was not simply "overlooked" by them.

Just food for thought!?!
Amanda Rutter
168. ALRutter
@160 Fiddler - Not even a bit disappointed with the reply numbers at this point. Rather, quite overwhelmed by the sheer variety of opinions, the erudite conversation, the lack of bitching at each other, and the knowledgeable re-readers that are taking the time to comment :-D
Mieneke van der Salm
169. Mieneke
Amir @156 & Fiddler @159 Thanks! I thought that was it, but didn't want to assume and get everything interpreted wrong lol

And lol at doing the maths Fidd :D
M D
170. Abalieno
Steven Erikson posted a new article on the "life as a human" site. I don't dare post the link because the comment risks to get lost forever in the spam pit, but you should be able to find it. If not, look on my twitter.

Anyway, it is pertinent because he dicusses characters and dialogue and uses a section of chapter seven of this book. Tangentially addressed a few things we were discussing here about "spoon-feeding" readers and the "certain amount of information necessary to maintain a sense of cohesion".

Nothing to argue there, since I definitely agree that "dialogue" is something where he excels :)

Then reading what he says, and strongly agreeing with everything, I still think that what he wants to do requires perfect control and execution of the smallest details. Because if even the smallest thing goes wrong then the reader is sidetracked and the process fails, leading to just frustration. You teach the reader to weigh every word, then these words can never be misplaced.

If you want every single word to matter then that single world can't misdirect outside the internal consistence.

On the specific scene he analyzes I'm once again in total awe about the depth of the approach. I actually got the gist of the scene and its implications and noticed the power-play, but no matter how carefully I read, I still only take a fraction of what's in the text... And it's definitely not because I'm not trying hard enough, because I am. Reading is a rite, I only read in silence, alone, concentrated, sitting comfortably. I wonder what about those who have to read while commuting, or speed-read, or skim.

Another thing I had noticed is how you can take a scene of an handful of pages in the book and write about it almost endlessly, 10 times its original length. It gives the idea that the pages of the book are like window opening on something HUGE. That particular visceral feeling I only got from Erikson and David Foster Wallace, the latter even at the risk of sanity.

About "the characters stayed tightly bound, transferring the anguish to the reader", I think it's a great description of what happens in a movie like "In the Mood for Love". The scene at the temple. There are no words, the character doesn't show directly emotions, and all the pain is transferred to the spectator.

/applauds and is grateful again for the insight offered
Steven Halter
171. stevenhalter
Here's the link:
http://lifeasahuman.com/2010/arts-culture/creativity/steven-eriksons-notes-on-a-crisis-back-to-the-craft-of-writing/

Really worth reading.
Steven Halter
172. stevenhalter
I thought of a couple of points about the background world of TMBotF that can be considered:
I think some of what seems to be oddness is actually that the world of TMBotF is different than our normal world and many of these differences are integrated more deeply into the story than people are used to. Consider, for example the following items:
A world in which magic and curses really work.
A world in which luck actually operates--people really are lucky or unlucky.
There really are immortal (as regards lifespan) people.
There really are people/creatures that wield power.
These are things that change the relationship of how people interact with the world.
Amir Noam
173. Amir
Abalieno @170:
Definitely an interesting read! Thanks for the pointer.

It's quite impressive to see how such a relativley short exchange by two minor characters (Lady Simtal and Turban Orr) is molded with so much attention to detail and great care to the consistency of the characters.

Erikson's writing worshop exercise is quite intriguing. Definitley got me thinking on how to go about implementing it.
M D
174. Abalieno
I was thinking about pointing out how in the end Sorry is looking at the real moon, and Crokus at Moon's Spawn and so her comments about the seas are not about the latter, but it seems no one was fooled as I was on a first read. THERE ARE NO SEAS WITHIN MOON'S SPAWN. GOTMISM! ;)

Anyway, about that first poem.

We know who the Maker of Paths is. Especially if one notices where the last scene of the chapter takes place, or the place of the last few deaths. But I'm confused about its meaning.

It seems like a suspect on the identity. WHO drinks of this now? Because the Maker of Paths wasn't so thirsty.

Is there someone else who took that place? Or was there a change?
Chris Hawks
175. SaltManZ
The Maker of Paths wasn't thirsty before precisely because he was still being worshipped. But he's gone centuries/millenia/whatever without a drink, and when he's woken, he's thirsty.
Amir Noam
176. Amir
I was suprised to find that the Maker of Paths was actually spelled out in the Dramatis Personae section (thanks, Salt-Man Z!).
Lots of interesting hints in that section (and in the glossary)...
Steven Halter
177. stevenhalter
Amir@176: The Dramatis Personae changes from book to book, so be sure to keep checking.
Amir Noam
178. Amir
shalter @177:

The Dramatis Personae changes from book to book, so be sure to keep checking.

Oh, I know (I've read all the books except DoD and RofCG).So does the glossary.

I quite like the Dramatis Personae lists at the beginnings of the books. Before starting a new book I would go over this list and try to guess which of the listed characters will be significant to the story. In true Erikson style, the list includes both major and trivially minor characters side by side.
Kate Smith
179. Rukaiya
@Various
I can't resist commenting on the question of emotional reaction--or lack thereof--to MBotF. I'm one of those who has a very strong reaction, not only to individual characters, but to larger events and themes throughout the series. I think MBotF is the only series I've ever read that has left me sobbing, laughing out loud, and pondering philosophy, sometimes all in the same sequence (this is a good thing). I also love the way SE sketches in his characters. Not only do I love the hunt for hints about them, I really react to them. I also like that he is able to elicit not only very positive reactions but also very negative reactions. I'm looking at you, Felisin Paran and Mallick Rel.

Robin@166:
I'd never really thought it all out like that, but that makes so much sense. If I were a mage in the Malazan army (or even just in general), I definitely wouldn't want to draw attention to myself, since being noticed generally seems to bring Bad Things.
Stefan Sczuka
181. moeb1us
Just wanted to add pone point regarding the mages in the malazan military.
Imho there is another reason why they are often not in cadres etc:

Kellanved had introduced two important concepts, the thinking soldier and the shock troops. To the first there are many references in the books, and the second I think is mentioned in a poem or so. In shock troops, healers and mages are necessary and they simly balance the infantry, heavy infantry, sapper and recon unit, thus providing the flexibility and fighting power they became known and feared for.

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