Wed
Sep 22 2010 1:06pm

The Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Gardens of the Moon, Chapters 22 and 23

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 22 and 23 of Gardens of the Moon (GotM). Other chapters are here.

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

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

Chapter Twenty-Two

SCENE 1
Raest enters Kruppe’s dreamworld and faces Kruppe, Tool, and K’rul. He disappears into “another body.”

SCENE 2
Kalam and Paran find Apsalar in the garden glade. Apsalar vaguely recalls killing Paran and that Kalam is an “old friend.” All three recognize there is something strange about what they’d taken as a stone bench but turns out to be a wooden block that is growing where Lorn planted the Finnest. Whiskeyjack orders Fiddler and Hedge “loose.”

SCENE 3
Rallick runs into Kruppe, who tells him his “destiny awaits him” and also that the world is “well-prepared” for Raest, which makes no sense to Rallick. Rallick then meets Vorcan, who is surprised that Rallick could overcome Orr’s “protective magic,” then decides that Rallick’s “skills are required.”

SCENE 4
Crokus learns Challice didn’t betray him, that he doesn’t really love her. He goes to find Apsalar.

SCENE 5
Mallet can’t enter the glade because the wooden oddity (now the size of a table) “hungers” for him. Mallet confirms Apsalar is no longer possessed and that she has “somebody else inside” who has been there “all along” protecting her. The other presence is trying to erase/cover the memories of Apsalar’s actions as Sorry but needs help as it is dying. Paran orders Mallet to help (Mallet’s preference as well). Vorcan and Rallick enter the glade.

SCENE 6
The wooden structure (later identified as an Azath) has no effect on Rollick (he actually slows its growth) due to the Otataral dust. Kalam offers the Empire’s proposal to Vorcan to have her and the guild kill the T’orrud Cabal of mages that rule Darujhistan. Vorcan informs them of her assumption that Baruk and the Cabal have allied with Rake and that Moon’s Spawn has been involved fighting Raest. Kalam tells her the Malazans are just as happy to let Rake take Raest on, and that she needn’t try to kill him. Vorcan personally accepts the proposal (outing herself as a High Mage) and then orders Rallick to stay near the Azath to slow its growth. Crokus, who has overheard, comes out when Rallick is alone (the Azath now looks like a small house). Rallick tells Crokus to warn Baruk and Mammot about Vorcan.

SCENE 7
In the carriage, Rake tells Baruk Raest is weakened and while he’ll keep an eye on the situation, he thinks the mages can handle it. He then warns Baruk to clear the streets and asks for a point of high vantage. Baruk sends him to K’rul’s tower.

SCENE 8
Mammot is revealed as Raest-possessed. Quick Ben stops him from incinerating a female mage (Derudan) who then momentarily stuns Mammot and tells Quick Ben it’s up to him as that was all she had. In the attack, Whiskeyjack’s leg is broken, Paran’s sword absorbs a “lance of energy” and Paran disappears, and many partygoers are killed.

SCENE 9
Paran finds himself in a strange place (Warren, I assume?) and is witness to a large house rising out of a lake. He looks on as Tool and the Finnest (an oak-fleshed Jaghut figure) fight. Tool asks Paran to defend the Azath (the house) which is meant to imprison the Finnest. Paran tries to block the Finnest’s power with Chance, but the sword has no effect. Instead, the Omtose Phellack Warren magic awakens the Hound’s blood in Paran and Paran leaps onto the Finnest and tears it apart. Tool pulls Paran back and the Azath takes the Finnest via roots rising from the earth to pull it down into the ground.

SCENE 10
Paran reappears at the party. Quick Ben uses seven Warrens and strikes at Mammot. Hedge uses munitions on the weakened Mammot.

SCENE 11
Crone circles over where Raest had vanished into Kruppe’s dreamworld. She hears Silanah cry out and Crone sees what Silanah does and her response is joy and surprise.

SCENE 12
Looking into the crater formed by Hedge’s munitions, Quick Ben and the others see a “man-shaped form coalescing” at the bottom of the pit. Roots from the Azath in the glade pull the form (Raest) into the garden. Derudan leaves. Kalam realizes the problem with planting munitions in Darujhistan.

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty-Two:
“Ravens” by Collitt is our chapter opener, and it is one of those poems that I enjoy, being fairly simplistic on the face of things (dealing with Great Ravens, such as Crone), but can lend itself to deeper meanings. I will take the simplistic option and leave the rest of you to let me know if I missed anything crucial. *grin* I did love the line:

Your damning cawls deride histories sweeping beneath your blackened wings.

This conveys everything about the Ravens staying distant from conflicts, watching the world unfold beneath them and the passage of days and years. We already know that Crone has seen thousands of years, and this line emphasises that point.

The continued scene between Raest and the dragons is still as epic—the dragons breathing magic like fire from their jaws, and Raest tossing around raw power. We also see Raest’s continual desire to destroy, as he callously destroys a guardhouse full of soldiers. As someone in the notes pointed out, we also see the destruction of Orr’s messenger—did Erikson just resolve a plot point? I think he did!

He’d met another man, similarly clad and riding a horse. He killed both man and beast, irritated at their intrusion.

Once again we enter Kruppe’s dreamworld, signified again by the fact that the sky takes a different shade—here a “sourceless mercurial glow.” When Raest discovers Silanah’s Warren gone, I wonder if this is because he has now entered Kruppe’s dream and, since Kruppe doesn’t have that particular Warren, it can’t be present? Also, since we are in Kruppe’s dream, we know that K’rul is likely to be using him again to face off against Raest. I do love how Kruppe points out that Raest is:

“...felled by indifference, made insignificant in your mighty struggles by lowly Kruppe into whose dream you have ignobly stumbled.”

I’m not sure why Raest believes there to be Imass inside Kruppe—unless this is to do with K’rul? Or maybe it is the flavour of Kruppe’s Warren?

Ah, no it isn’t either of those things! Here is Tool again! And it seems as though he is definitely involved against his will:

“Onos T’oolan, Sword of the First Empire, is once more called upon by the blood that once warmed his limbs, his heart, his life of so very long ago.”

This signifies to me the time when Tool was an Imass and still alive—were all the Imass so bound such?

“You remind me of Hood. Is the Death Wanderer still alive?”

Here we have again another example of a god who has expired for whatever reason. (Or who had expired when Raest was truly alive before—he might well be alive again now! Didn’t we see him when Paran was taken by the Twins? [Bill’s interjection: Not actually Hood himself but his Herald])

Oooh! Rake is Silanah’s master! What gives him that power and right over her?

Everything is in a time of great flux during the telling of the Book of the Fallen. K’rul states:

“It is now we gods who are the slaves, and the mortals our masters—though they know it not.”

And what will happen when mortals do realise they are the master? It strikes me that the gods will suffer...

Hey, K’rul is the Maker of Paths *grin*

When given the sensible choices, Raest chooses to pursue the course of power. Although, having said that, I don’t think the choice of death or dwelling in chaos, is particularly appealing!

Paran thinks:

...there was something very wrong with this garden.

Now this could either be because Paran is feeling the approach of the Tyrant since he now seems more sensitive to magic and Warrens. But in an earlier chapter Whiskeyjack has already been told:

“Your backs will be to the garden, which has, ah, run wild of late.”

I know from hard-won experience that Erikson rarely plants (Ha! Inadvertent pun!) something without intending it to carry meaning at a later date, and therefore I am suspicious that the arrival of the Finnest in the garden has created additional problems. Again:

Here, the captain felt as if he was within a primordial presence, breathing slowly and heavily on all sides.

Do we have a hint here as to who would be better between Kalam and Cotillion? As good as Kalam is, he is taken down easily by Apsalar (under the influence of the Rope’s memories). I both adore and ache at the comment by Apsalar that Kalam is an old friend.

When Whiskeyjack says, “We let Fiddler and Hedge loose” it makes me think of two dogs straining on a tight leash!

When Rallick sees Kruppe, and he talks with his voice sounding strange, are these words from K’rul? And another broad hint that Rallick has taken on the qualities of Otataral:

“Councilman Turban Orr possessed protective magic, yet it availed him naught.”

With Rallick (as we saw with Murillio in the previous chapter) we learn that revenge isn’t all that—both of these men have pursued their goal for so long that now neither knows quite what to do and feels lost. Rallick especially, because he suspects that Coll will never regain his wits and so it would all have been for nothing, essentially. There should also be comment made on the fact that Orr wasn’t an innately bad man—he was an adulterer and cared a little too much about his own skin and power, but did he deserve to die simply to remove the power from Lady Simtal?

The scene between Challice and Crokus is a sweet and crucial (in my opinion) scene. Crokus gains his first taste of rejection, but also learns that obsession doesn’t equal love and realises that he is far more worldly than this girl who suddenly becomes far less interesting. I’m amused at the idea of them tripping each other and Crokus’ bungled attempt to woo her. Also interesting is her mention of a servant of the Rope—again we see that “regular” folk in the world of the Malazan Empire and Darujhistan have contact with gods and ascendants.

As Mallet steps into the garden we have another hint that this is the Finnest at work, since whatever lies there senses Mallet’s Talent with hunger.

The earth around it looked soaked in blood.

I wonder if this is thanks to all those people that Raest is killing.

Rigga will preserve her indeed—here we learn that the Seer has been protecting Apsalar from madness, but is dying. I like that Paran says Apsalar should be saved, despite what she did while under the Rope’s influence. Also, it strikes me that Mallet would have seen much of sadness during this time of war and so for him to say that Rigga’s presence is the saddest thing he’s ever felt—well, that must be sad indeed.

Gosh, we are certainly reaching the business end of the tale now! Finally we see that the Malazans have identified the T’orrud Cabal as the true power in Darujhistan, and the contact with the Assassins’ Guild always involved making a contract for their lives. This is terrible! I love the Bridgeburners, but I really enjoy reading about members of the T’orrud Cabal as well! Having affections on both sides of a conflict makes me torn. Interesting that Kalam had not realised that the Cabal were in cahoots with the Lord of Moon’s Spawn; and also that Vorcan is a High Mage (I can’t recall if we were told that explicitly before?)

At this point Crokus’ innocence is shattering down around his ears, isn’t it? Now he is forced to make a decision between Apsalar and his uncle, and also realise that his uncle might well die at the hands of an assassin High Mage. Tough times for poor Crokus!

Hmm, the clearing of the streets to prevent loss of life from the Tyrant will also help to prevent loss of life from the Bridgeburner’s Sappers and their plans—deliberate? There is both humour and horror in the idea of Rake unsheathing that sword to clear the street!

Thank goodness Quick Ben does access his Warren at that point and realise Mammot is much more than an old man! Things happen so suddenly here! Paran vanishes, Whiskeyjack breaks his leg, Derudan burns through her power—it seems as if everything is going wrong...

Alright, followed everything fairly well up to the point where Paran appears in this strange place—is it Raest’s Warren? The magic struck Chance and hence dragged Paran into the Warren? Now we have more information about the strange wooden “house”—it being an Azath that will trap the Finnest, represented in the Warren (?) by a Jaghut figure. I guess the T’lann Imass is Tool, without being given any further hints about his name.

“You are a long way from home, mortal”

Says the T’lann Imass to Paran—he’s come a long way as well, since we watch him rip a magical construct to pieces with his teeth. The blood of the Hound infects him still, and gives him the power to resist slavery by the Jaghut Tyrant. This was the boy who dreamt longingly of becoming a soldier, way back in the Prologue. I have to say, my feelings towards Paran are so much warmer, with every interesting and dignified thing he does.

SEVEN Warrens?! Quick Ben holds the power of seven Warrens within him?! “Awaken the Seven within me”—hmm, that could mean the seven Warrens, but I have my suspicions that Quick Ben might be suffering a form of possession of his own. Well, not possession, but has the abilities of seven people within him...

Help, did the Jaghut jump to Hedge? Is that the manic glare that Quick Ben recognised? Or does Hedge simply have a manic glare when he is about to do something reckless, such as blow up the place? [Bill’s interjection: The latter.]

“Crone shrieked in joy and anticipation—and surprise. ‘And now it comes! It comes!’ Is this Anomander Rake? [Bill’s interjection: Pretty sure it’s the demon lord.]

EEEEK! The end to the chapter totally deserves capitalization! I’m going to have to re-read this a few times just to grasp the events, and what is properly going on... Now we see that Moranth munitions are anathemic to mages who have their Warrens opened, which was why Quick Ben got so freaked about Hedge—who was definitely not possessed—except maybe by madness. *grin* The Jaghut Tyrant, though, is only truly destroyed when the Azath reaches for him. Speaking of which, Quick Ben and Derudan are so scared about this thing—I feel sure we’ll see MUCH more about this! Can this be anything to do with the Pannion Seer? And finally the hints about the Greyfaces and the gas—which have been planted ever since we first reached Darujhistan—are revealed. I do think Whiskeyjack’s panicked response to the idea of the whole city going up means that the Bridgeburners have some morality.

CAN’T. STOP. READING.

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty-Two:
I too liked Kruppe’s line on how Raest is felled by “indifference.” It’s a line that I think will echo down through the series as many of the ancient gods and ascendants indignantly find humans care little for their concerns or squabbles.

As for the Imass in Kruppe, Amanda, I think Raest is just seeing the kinship between the elder Imass and the younger humans: a biological fact rather than any magical one. Thus his reference as well to the similarity in language/vocalization.

I like K’rul’s sense of age and sorrow and realism in his conversation with Raest, his recognition that they “are both of the past,” and that their “time has passed.” My memory of K’rul is a quiet, weary resigned sort of dignity so I’ll be curious to see if that holds up through the reread, but this sort of scene is exactly what I was thinking of. I also like the humor of the operatic sort of “final” choices K’rul lays out and the way Raest just sort of says “heck with it” and disappears.

As for what happens when humans start to realize their power, Amanda? Oh, just you wait. Just you wait.

Speaking of humor, I love Apsalar memory of Kalam as “an old friend.” That’s a spit take. Another point there as well. I know there was a bit of discussion last week on the ethics or morality of the Bridgeburners, and while this doesn’t wipe the slate clean, I think the way Kalam stops Paran from killing Apasalar and then Paran’s defense of her to Whiskeyjack gives us yet another prism to see them through.

As for a fight between Cotillion and Kalam, Cotililon himself I believe has a future line about he’d think twice before taking on Kalam (I’d still go with the Rope myself though I’d pay dearly for a ringside seat), but you’ll see both in pretty impressive action so you’ll have a better sense.

I hadn’t thought of Kruppe’s strange voice as the voice of K’rul, merely that he was half-in, half-out of his dreamworld and distracted.

On Orr’s death, I think one can make the argument that there were lots of reasons that was a good thing beyond simply removing power from Lady Simtal, but I’m also not sure those other reasons would have figured much for these guys—they’re hard men in a hard world, though I think the repercussions of their acts, and the surprising lack of satisfaction is certainly part of Erikson’s commentary on such ways of living. And we’ll certainly see lots more on the corrosive effects of vengeance as a lifestyle choice.

I like too, while we’re on Rallick and Coll, Rallick’s view of himself as acting only in the role that Coll should have assumed. Rightly or wrongly, I think part of this is also meant to show not just the ripple effects of action, but also the ripple effects of inaction. Nature abhors a vacuum and all that.

I also enjoyed the scene between Crokus and Challice for its humor and coming-of-age aspect. I also appreciated the craft in having Challice’s father learn it wasn’t Crokus who killed the guard via a seer. We obviously have the seer we met earlier and who is protecting Apsalar from the memories of Sorry, but by having this little throwaway line, that seer becomes not an artificial creation to fill the singular plot point of someone who can see Sorry’s future and help her but instead she becomes just a common thread in the tapestry of this world and so we accept her presence so much more. It’s a little thing but it’s often the cumulative effects of such “little things” that separate mediocre writing from the good stuff.

And just as the earlier scene with Kalam, Paran, and Apsalar showed the “softer side” of the Bridgeburners, so does the one with Mallet, Paran, and Apsalar/Rigga (no coincidence, either, I think, that Paran is involved in both). And you’re absolutely right Amanda, how sad must this be if the squad’s healer call it the “saddest thing I’ve ever known”? I like how Mallet is fighting against the “logical” reason—that the presence is there so “it could now jump in and take over.” Much of what he’s seen of the world has to drive him to that conclusion, and yet, because of what’s in him and I’d guess what he’s seen in his squadmates and the mage cadre, he fights that “obvious” belief and puts his faith in a better view of the world and the people in it—I find this scene quite moving.

I’m thinking that the clearing of the streets has all to do with Rake facing off against the demon lord whom he senses rather than any knowledge of the street mining.

Raest is taken by the Azath but that doesn’t mean he’s destroyed, Amanda. (Tough to be totally destroyed in these books!)

And for all the amazing occurrences—Quick Ben’s unveiling of 7 (7!) Warrens, Mammot’s possession, Hedge’s manic glee with the munitions—one of the most important events in that garden scene is one of the most mundane, but it will have major repercussions. (Oh, what the heck—it’s Whiskeyjack’s broken leg.)

As for the Azath, note that both Quick Ben and Derudan know of them meaning there’s more than one. And you’re right—we will hear lots, lots more of them.

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

SCENE 1
Paran finds himself suddenly in Shadow Warren, attacked by the Hound Rood, who is “confused” by some “kinship” between Paran and Rood, according to Cotillion. The Rope distinguishes between his use of Sorry (“she knew it not”) and the less “merciful” use of Paran by the Twins. He admits, though, that his original plan was “flawed” and he plans to start a new one. Paran gives him the sword Chance. Cotillion tells Paran “try not to be noticed.” Paran returns to the garden and tells Mallet he’s going after Lorn.

SCENE 2
Crokus, mourning Mammot’s death, runs to Baruk’s place. Above him, barely above the rooftops, hangs Moon’s Spawn.

SCENE 3
Lorn has sensed the “death” of Raest and bemoans the fact that Whiskeyjack probably still lives, though she thinks they (she, Laseen, Tayschrenn) can deal with that once they control Darujhistan. Before she heads after Crokus (the Coin Bearer) to kill him, she deploys “Tayschrenn’s gambit”: a demon Lord of the Galayn which she orders to attack Rake.

SCENE 4
Baruk mourns the death of Mammot, though celebrates that Rake didn’t use his sword on him and that he sensed Mammot’s last thought was “relief.” Derudan arrives at Baruk’s and tells him of the Azath, Mammot’s death via Hedge’s munitions, and Quick Ben’s seven Warrens. Both feel the release of the demon lord (Baruk realizing this was the danger Rake had anticipated) and then the deaths of two of the cabal, which Baruk informs Derudan comes at the hands of Vorcan.

SCENE 5
Rake, atop Krul’s tower, feels the demon lord’s release and sends Silanah back to Moon’s Spawn. K’rul appears and both share a feeling of being lost “in this world, in this time.” K’rul says he cannot help as he can only manifest at the temple and in Kruppe’s dreams. Rake promises to try and save the temple. The demon lord “veers” into dragon shape and Rake does the same. As he heads toward battle, he feels Vorcan’s attacks on the mages but mistakes them as the mage from the Crimson Guard (Cowl).

SCENE 6
Kalam stops Fiddler and Hedge in time. They see the demon lord approaching and recognize it as Tayschrenn’s. They run.

SCENE 7
Lorn tries to attack Crocus, but is prevented by one of his Crimson Guard watchers (Blues). Another (Fingers) escorts Crokus to Baruk’s and tells him the coin is Oponn’s and warns him to dump the coin if his luck turns.

SCENE 8
Lorn runs from Blues and is killed by Meese and Irilta.

SCENE 9
Paran finds Lorn, takes her Otataral sword. The Twins appear and wonder why Shadowthrone, the Rope, and the Hounds spared Paran. Paran faces them down and they leave; he carries Lorn away.

SCENE 10
Rake attacks the demon lord.

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty-Three:
Felisin is our author for this chapter, speaking of “she” who “turned the blade on herself to steal the magic of life.” *shrugs* We’re not given a great deal, really. Except the poem is a continuation of that right back at the very start of the book, which told the tale of Kellanved and Dancer—this “she” could be Laseen? I could speculate further on who “she” is but I think I’ll wait—or have someone cleverer give me the big reveal!

Hmm, methinks Erikson gives a clue when he tells us that Paran’s world shifts with the words:

He ducked beneath a tree into shadow...

Shadow Warren, where the Hounds dwell? This connection between Paran and the Hounds—was it the blood of a Hound that created it? There have been pointers towards it since Paran bared his teeth at that first Hound, which is the first one he met, right? What has given him the kinship with them? Is it the fact they are all being used?

Good question from Cotillion—is it better to be ignorant of being used, or be in full knowledge of it? Is Apsalar in a better position, with holes in her memories, lost in a strange place, and with people who hate her though she doesn’t know why? Or is Paran, as he watches all those close to him perish?

“Now what?”
“Now?” Cotillion seemed surprised. “Now I start again.”
“Another girl like her?”
“No, the plan was flawed.”

Here we have evidence of Cotillion changing tack, realising that his plan so far has not worked and hence starting out anew.

Oh man, when Crokus realises that Moon’s Spawn hangs just a few feet above the top of the buildings—what an awesome moment that would be on film! And it seems here that Crokus’ severance from his childhood is now complete with the death of his uncle, the only member of his family still with him. Alright, so there is Rallick, Murillio and Kruppe—but Crokus now knows that they have been intimately involved in the plots surrounding Darujhistan and the Malazan Empire, so I doubt he feels much trust in them anymore.

Lots to say about the segment with Lorn.

She was the arm of the Empress. The woman called Lorn was dead, had been dead for years, and would remain forever dead.

The choice Lorn made is now complete and she is ruthlessly suppressing any hint of the woman she used to be. From here on in, we might as well called her the Adjunct rather than Lorn. She also unleashes a demon on the city of Darujhistan—despite her brief qualms about the lives of all those who live there. And she is super fast; is this another facet of the Otataral qualities?

Through the eyes of Baruk, we are given even further reason to trust and admire Anomander Rake, since he shows compassion in not trying to tell Baruk of Mammot’s possession. Baruk is another who finds himself at a crossroads. Three of his closest friends and part of his power base have now died, and the battle over Darujhistan is coming to a head—this is not a time that I envy him at all. I was never sure of Baruk when I first saw him conversing with Crone, but he is now a stern backbone of the tale.

And back to Anomander Rake himself—again, the cinematic quality of Erikson’s writing shows itself as we see Rake standing atop the tower, black eyes watchful and silver hair and grey cloak billowing in the wind. Rake’s quiet and resigned conversation with K’rul—his admission that he is rarely rewarded in spirit for interfering in the world—is heartbreaking. Knowing that Rake is prepared to face off against a Demon Lord for little benefit to himself creates further respect. There is also another little pointer about the identity of those protecting Crokus:

He considered the message delivered by Serrat, courtesy of a foul mage he’d thought a thousand leagues away. Was the sorcery the work of these unwelcome intruders?

And FINALLY! DRAGON! All the little hints and slips about his pupils and ever-changing eyes, the Soletaken part of this tale, the force of nature that is Rake himself and his quiet confidence in the face of a Jaghut Tyrant feared by all—now, he is DRAGON! *punches air*

Ha, and the Demon Lord has also shifted in a dragon—this is about to become titanic! I just love Kalam’s understatement:

“Now things are going to get messy.”

Now we meet those protectors of Crokus, and they are indeed of the Crimson Guard—I shall diligently file away the names Fingers, Corporal Blues and Cowl because I’m pretty sure I shall be meeting them again (and Cowl appears to be the foul mage mentioned by Rake).

So, I have another situation where I think: has Lorn actually been killed? Sure, Paran watches the life leave her—but the life left him as well before he was brought back to the land of the living! If Lorn is dead, then I do appreciate the ignobility of being slain by two thugs. And there we have the reason for Meese and Irilta being introduced into the story, I’d guess—so that we know who it is and their station in life as we watch them take down a woman who, until now, has been so much more powerful than them.

“No...glorious end...for the Adjunct. If you’d come...a few minutes sooner...”

Lorn doesn’t know! And Paran doesn’t tell her—that he intended to be the one to bring her death. Compassion on his part?

I feel fiercely proud of Paran for standing up to the Twins—and even threatening them. After all he’s been through—and after all they have done with their meddling—they deserve to fear Shadowthrone and Cotillion!

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty-Three:
I think you’re right that it is the Hound’s blood that gives Paran that connection.

And you’re right that Moon’s Spawn over Crokus (Was that already a movie title? With Richard Dreyfuss?) is a great cinematic scene, but what I especially love is that it’s not introduced visually, but rather in sensory stages: the sound of hundreds of birds then the reek of their nests, and only then the sight of Moon’s Spawn nearly touching the rooftops.

On Lorn, as I’ve said before, she lost me a while ago, all the while recognizing she has some sympathetic qualities. But each time she is faced with a choice she chooses the wrong (in my view) one and so after a few of these it’s hard to keep feeling sympathy. I think Erikson pushes us in this direction in particular here by having her bemoan the fact that Whiskeyjack lives and looking forward to now dealing with him publicly before giving us her qualms, so the reader is already set to not buy her newest, “I could be a better person . . . ”

I have to confess her speed is one of those “power” moments I have trouble with in the series that I’ve mentioned once or twice before. So Lorn moves faster that the demon could follow, yet the demon lord gives Rake at least some trouble. In fact, even Rake realizes he may fail, as he tells Silanah she may avenge him if the demon lord kills him. My math says if A = B and B= C then A should = C, so if the demon would have trouble with Lorn (being unable to see her) and Rake has trouble with the demon, then...no, I just cannot at all picture Rake working up a sweat facing Lorn. Is this my fault?

I too love that quiet scene between Rake and K’rul. (And it is quiet: “Rake whispered,” Rake murmured,” K’rul “sighed,” K’rul “sighed,” “Rake said quietly.”) Two ancient beyond belief beings full of quiet dignity and weariness, each staving off despair born out of longevity and experience of a world that so rarely rewards the good, and one helpless to aid the other in one of his greatest tests, a helplessness accepted and then (quietly) rewarded anyway:

“I will do my best, then, to avoid damaging your temple.”

What a great scene.

Tucking in his wings, Anomander Rake, The Son of Darkness and Lord of Moon’s Spawn, plummeted.

To quote a line from my childhood: “Nuff said.”

Yes, we’ll see the Crimson Guard in the future, including, surprise, in “Return of the Crimson Guard” (go figure). They’re good, eh?

Despite my dislike of Lorn, even I felt a twinge of sadness at her passing (but only a twinge). My favorite part of that scene though is the face-off between Paran and the Twins. A few lines that particularly resonate for me throughout the series:

  • “Shadowthrone never plays fair.” (No, no he doesn’t.)
  • “You and Cotillion both used mortals and paid for it.” (The mortals are coming into their own. And the gods themselves shall tremble!!)
  • “Her armor removed, she proved light in his arms” (This is the saddest line associated with Lorn I think and there’s that word again—“armor.”)

And here again, we see Paran facing down ascendants, gods, “powers”—we’re being nicely set up for the future Paran Ganoes, who has come a long way from the boy we saw at the beginning. And who has a ways yet to go.


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.

135 comments
Chris Hawks
1. SaltManZ
@Amanda: The Felisin fragment is, I think, about Lorn, who carried an Otataral (magic-draining) sword:
It was said
she turned the blade on herself then
to steal the magic
of life.

And though she didn't commit suicide, well...the Adjunct pretty much killed Lorn, no?


I loved this passage! What a way to end a chapter:
Rake opened his mouth, head snapping back as he bit into a wall of air. This sound brought the dun dragon's gaze upward, but it was already too late.

And through three reads, this is the first time I noticed the (coincidental?) similarity between "Galayn" and "Galain", partly because I'm reading the book club edition for the first time and the words are laid out one directly above the other, but also partly because I always parsed it as "Galyan" in my head.
CAN'T. STOP. READING.

No joke! I do my Malazan reading Tuesday night before bed, but I hadn't realized these two chapters totalled 60 pages between them. It was quarter to midnight before I started (had to watch the Twins clinch the AL Central!) but I just couldn't put it down once I started. I wonder how many newbies went on and just finished the book this week? :)


One last note: "Awaken the Seven within me!" rounds out (IMHO) the Top Three GotMisms along with the Imass/Tlan confusion and the bone-phone. Not only is QB's line here terribly corny, but it makes little sense in context of what we learn in MoI. You thought QB was cool here, just wait.
Marc Rikmenspoel
2. Marc Rikmenspoel
Wow, only 21 pages left in my Tor massmarket paperback, so next week will be the end of GotM, and then it's on to Night of Knives!

I thought it appropriate that Lorn met her end as she did, it symbolized that she'd become essentially irrelevant to the events going on.

Felesin knows a thing or three about Adjuncts, so her poem can be taken on a deeper level to represent the fate of whomever takes on the role. We learn, in a later book, just when she was writing her poems, and I can almost picture her doing so (trying not to offer any spoiler here). I like Felesin, and it will be fun to eventually get to Deadhouse Gates and see her introduced to the storyline (fun for us, not for her her, as I indicated, she knows about Adjuncts, and that's a hint, not a spoiler!).
Julian Augustus
3. Alisonwonderland
I'm pressed for time right now, so I'll make only a few observations for now.

Quick Ben's scream, “Awaken the Seven within me!” is, without a doubt, by a mile, the corniest line in the series.

And so enters the biggest DEM of a series that, in my view, abounds in DEM: the Azath shows up.

I still find the death of Lorn, the person, tragic. At the end, she finds some comfort in the fact that Paran is caring for her (she thinks) and is only sad that he came too late to save her. How ironic. This scene makes me think that Erikson is showing us the Paran-Lorn interaction on two levels. We know Lorn has very warm feelings for Paran. In his absence, every time Lorn is confronted by a choice between being Lorn or being the Adjunct, she chooses to submerge her human feelings and decides on being the Adjunct. Would she have made different choices if Paran were around to remind her of her humanity through her love for him? When in the end she wished he had come sooner to save her, did she mean figuratively as well as literally?
Marc Rikmenspoel
4. crkinne
re: Kalam and Cotillion, I just finished House of Chains, and towards the end of the book there is a scene where the two fight together. I recall that Kalam was rather impressed (and surprised).

I remember that when I was reading this book I thought that it was a little odd that none of the Bridgeburners realized sooner what would happen if they set off all of their munitions under Darujhistan.

I am wondering when I will see more of Rallick, and his destiny.
Dustin George-Miller
5. dustingm
Maybe this was a question asked earlier in the read-through (and I confess I haven't read through every single comment in all of the previous sections), but I did have a question about K'rul and Kruppe. The scene between K'rul and Rake in the tower reminded me of this.

So, we're to understand that K'rul had been dormant for hundreds of years (at least) until the happenstance of blood dripping onto his altar. We're also told that he can manifest himself only in the temple itself and in Kruppe's dreams. If he was pretty much non-existent up until his altar was re-sanctified, how was he able to connect with Kruppe? And why Kruppe?

Four re-reads of this and I still haven't figured this out. Maybe one of you all can help.
Mieneke van der Salm
6. Mieneke
Was I the only one who went ‘Wuh?’ when Raest walked into Kruppe’s dream?

K’rul identifies himself as the/a former Obelisk in his exchange with Raest. How does this fit in with the poem at the start of book five? In the glossary the Obelisk is denoted as Burn, which would fit the poem, but of course K’rul had a pretty big part in Tattersail’s/Silverfox’s rebirth. Is this connected or should we for once read it as it stands and is this a case of shifted aspects like we discussed last week?

Where did Paran go? Was that another part of Kruppe’s dreamscape?

‘Awaken the Seven within me!’ Seven what? Does he mean the warrens or is this a direct reference to the souls within him that have been mentioned on here?

‘I wonder, will I run from it … or with it?’ *Scooby Doo tune* I wonder whether we’ll see this soon or in several books from now. Any of the veterans care to comment on that? With the handing over of Chance to Cotillion and the final breaking of Oponn’s hold on him, Paran truly is a free agent again, isn’t he?

Do Corporal Blues and Fingers show up in Night of Knives?

Speaking of which, guess what dropped into my mailbox today? *grin*

@4 ckrinne: I hope we see more of Rallick too!

@5 dustingm: That's a really good question! I can't think of anything. I can't find a prior link.
Nathan Martin
7. lerris
Salt-Man Z @1 : "I wonder how many newbies went on and just finished the book this week? :)"

Last week actually.
Cleansed the palate with some fast-paced scifi and then dove right back into Night of Knives.
Dan K
8. kramerdude
Lots of little things this week...

"Awaken the seven within me" does get the props as corniest line. Every time I read it I think of this line "By the powers of Greyskull". Corny no?

This was the first time I actually made note that Paran disappeared in the section before he shows up to battle the Azath. Can't read to fast. By the way, like Mieneke @6 where does everyone think that Paran went when he and Tool were battling the Finnest. Is this Kruppe's dream warren (but I think he's awake at this time)? Is it an Azath warren itself? Never came up with an answer that I was satisfied with myself.

Meineke@6: No Crimson Guard in NoK.

As for DeM I agree that in GotM, the Azath seems to be a big one. But the Azath play a vital role in the Malazan world and are further developed and explained in the context of the whole series. So in that sense it doesn't really qualify.

And we'll have lots more Azath in NoK so I'm sure we'll have some interesting discussion.
Chris Hawks
9. SaltManZ
Yeah, for those waiting to see more of the Crimson Guard: don't hold your breath. They'll be back, but it won't be for (quite) a while.
Marc Rikmenspoel
10. PJBrs
CAN'T. STOP. READING.


Indeed! I read the final chapter of GotM during my holidays, and they make me feel feverish, as I need to read faster.
And also--the Azath, the biggest DEM-moment in the series, as far as I've read it, at least. The sudden appearance of the Azath did "spoil" the book to some extent for me, rendering it "only awesome" ;-) But yes, it doesn't sit right with me.

Still, I'm waiting / hoping to find out more about the Azath, especially just having read the Bonehunters, which gives some more (albeit very sparse) hints about what they are and their power. Then, with hindsight, the ending of GotM might be all the more understandable.

And Lorn... I do feel sorry for her. To me, hers is a very human tragedy, of making the wrong choices out of uncertainty. At every junction, she chooses as the Adjunct should. Still, at every junction we also see what Lorn would have wanted. Quite depressing, actually.

And so many questions! E.g., how does Raest end up in Kruppe's dream? How come Paran ends up with the finnest in yet another place? Or is is another part of Kruppe's dream? And if so, how is it that K'rul manages to "lure" Raest into Kruppe's dream? The way I read the closing chapters of GotM made me feel more of a spectator and less of a "participant" (for lack of a better word) in the story, as the way it unfolds goes so much more beyond what I can explain than the rest of the book.

Still, great ending, necessarily a read at break-neck velocity!
Marc Rikmenspoel
11. PJBrs
@ 8. kramerdude, re Azath

Okay, I really need to buy Night of Knives fast now!
Hugh Arai
12. HArai
I have to disagree that the Azath is a DeM. It's not shown "on-screen" till the end of the first book, but this is an entire world with a long history full of interesting things. I don't see how everything can be introduced early in the first book of a ten book series. Just because the reader doesn't know about them doesn't mean they were suddenly spliced in to fix the plot and save the day. Mallet and Derudan know what they are and are wary of them, even though they aren't really on the level the Azath worry about. Those that are on that level, like Rake and Raest are unsurprised to see one there. One of the many drawbacks of convergences is that some forces don't like to see them happen.
Rajesh Vaidya
13. Buddhacat
I think it's interesting to see Lorn as the tragic figure who made her choices (wrong as we see them, right as the Empire sees them) and succeeded to an extent (as seen by the Empire) or failed (as we readers see it), when you think of the next Adjunct, who also had choices, but chose not to be the Adjunct anymore, and failed (as far as citizens of the Malazan Empire were concerned) or succeeded (in the eyes of the readers).
Drew Holton
14. Dholton
These climactic chapters are an example of how Erikson loves to cheat our expectations. He builds up the potential confrontation between Raest and Rake (alliteration!) for half the book, and then out of the blue, something we've never heard of called an Azath comes along and snatches Raest without a howdy doo.


Frankly, the inner fanboy in me who loves a knock down drag out fight was very frustrated by this. So much so, that it wasn't until this reread that I realized that we'd just witnessed such a fight between Raest and the dragons, and then after with Rake and the Demon Lord. But at the time, I thought these were just warm ups (or downs).


It seems like Erikson always does this, continually foreshadowing monumental face offs that then don't happen or subvert our expectations. And frankly, I'm getting tired of having to tell my inner fan boy to grow up!
Julian Augustus
15. Alisonwonderland
Marc @2:
It is very unlikely that the Felisin who wrote the poems is Felisin I (Paran, who we meet in DG). I think it is most likely Felisin II (The Younger, who we meet in HoC).
Marc Rikmenspoel
16. Pnr060
Alison @ 15:
I had always assumed it was Felisin I based on her conversation with a future character in HOC. She wanted to indulge her desire to create, he suggested having a baby, and she mentioned that she had started writing poetry, like her mother.
Hugh Arai
17. HArai
Dholton@14: I think part of what is throwing you off is you're forgetting that the vast majority of Erikson's major players are going to insist on a reason for a full scale throwdown, and "because it would be cool to read" doesn't cut it :)

Like Rake and Raest - why would Rake insist on going one on one with Raest when he had Silanah and the Tiste Andii Soletaken to help him and he knew the Malazans wanted him weakened?
Thomas Jeffries
18. thomstel
I think the Azath's capabilities can be rationalized later in the series once we learn more about them. At that point, everyone can get over the initial "what the..." sense you get from the one that pops into the story here.

One of my biggest remaining peeves concerning the Azath here though, is "Why did it pop into existence?". The answer is apparently "the Finnnest was so dangerous that it forced one to come into being", as there wasn't any other information regarding Simtal's estate, characters' actions, etc. that might explain how the Azath knew to appear there. Only the Finnest as the "cause" to the Azath's "effect" is provided to the reader.

And that just plain confuses me. Why wasn't there an Azath in Omtose Phellack when it was just sitting on a rock? Why wasn't there a trail of half-grown Azath from the Gadrobi Hills to the gate of Daruj?

We get other Azath interactions later in the series, including at least one other Azath that comes into being (RG), and I don't think any of them corroborate the behavior of the one here in GotM. Anyone else got any insight?
Brian O'Reilly
19. idlefun
Alisonwonderland @15
In HoC (Chap. 7) Felisin Younger mentions she is reading poetry which her Mother is writing called 'Call to Shadow'.
Chris Hawks
20. SaltManZ
thomstel @18: My thought is since the Finnest was an acorn, that perhaps the Azath had been somehow "planted" in the Finnest ahead of time. When the Finnest was finally freed (by proximity to Raest's warren, perhaps?) the Azath appeared.

As for the Azath come into being in RG, that Azath was also intentionally released from a Finnest, if I recall. Perhaps the one in GotM was merely on a time-delay, or perhaps held in stasis by Omtose Phellack.
Brian O'Reilly
21. idlefun
Salt-Man Z @20
In RG the Azath grew from the seed the old Azath created. The finnest was the power needed for its growth or the seed recognised the finnest's power and grew to contain it. Either way there needed to be a seed. Can a source of immense and dangerous power alone bring an Azath into existence? If that is true then Raest was always doomed to be captured.
Steven Halter
22. stevenhalter
@Many: Only have a second here, but I'll go on record as saying the Azath appearance is not a DEM. I'll post more later, but for now, see my foreshadowing notes in earlier chapters.
Tricia Irish
23. Tektonica
Sorry I don't have time to read all the comments....I'm vacating with the husband and we have a "schedule", cough. Thank you Amanda and Bill for a great recap and thoughts...
A few quick thoughts/questions.....

“You remind me of Hood. Is the Death Wanderer still alive?”
Could this be Edgewalker in NoK?

Rake promises to try and save the temple.
Does he have anything to do with the setting at the end of DG?

Paran and Lorn: Good points Bill. She might have made different decisions if Paran had been around. My take on her death was that I was glad that Paran didn't have to kill her and suffer the pangs of "revenge emptiness." That was powerfully shown by Rallick, and I'm glad Paran didn't have to kill Lorn and get that emptiness of purpose too.

Amanda...I'm glad you're liking Paran more and more.

SaltmanZ@1: The newbies did NOT stop reading...through DG and MoI and mostly NoK....this darn vacation's slowing me down! LOL. More later....
shirley thistlewood
24. twoodmom
Maybe the Jaghut who chose an acorn for Raest's finnest knew more about the Azaths than they told their successors. As long as the finnest was in the barrow there was no need for an Azath but once outside the barrow that form encouraged an Azath to grow.
Tony Zbaraschuk
25. tonyz
Having affections on both sides of a conflict makes me torn.

Oh, my, you are so going to keep running into this throughout the series.
M D
26. Abalieno
I particularly love the quote:

"Such are the nuances of this new age that you are felled by indifference."

And one related:

It is now we gods who are the slaves, and the mortals our masters - though they know it not."

This ties with a particular dialogue in House of Chains.

Btw, the bridge!

A single jerk of his head had shattered a stone bridge spanning a wide, shallow river.

This bridge will reappear in Memories of Ice with the consequences of its breaking :)

Kruppe's dreams. They seem more and more to have a connection with memories. This happens in MoI too, and happens again in House of Chains, even if in this last case we see a memory/warren that is not connected to Kruppe in any way.

@Amanda

I’m not sure why Raest believes there to be Imass inside Kruppe

Ah, no it isn’t either of those things!

Actually you were right. Raest notices an Imass presence in Kruppe and it is as Bill explained. If you remember Tool called the Adjunct "my child", and it's implied many times that the human race in the Malazan world descends from mortal Imass.

Anyone wondering about gods?

We have a more direct mention of Burn, the goddess that opened the majority of the chapters: 11xx year of Burn's Sleep. From the glossary we know that Burn is unaligned in the Deck of Dragons and represented by Obilisk. In this chapter Krul states that Obilisk was the position he previously held.

Raest describes Burn as "young". Which makes sense if one considers her "sleep". A thousand years are nothing compared to most other events. Yet the goddess is described as some kind of spirit of the earth. If you notice the magma is directly compared to the goddess blood. Heartquakes are Burn stirring, volcanos her wounds. Considering this, it's automatic to consider Burn as old as earth itself. At some point in MoI the "human life" was described as Burn's own dream. The moment that Burn awakes all life is sweeped away and a new cycle begins.

But how you explain all this with Burn recent sleep and Raest calling her "young"? Who's Krul? The Maker of Paths. The very substance of warrens. Yet Starvald Demelain is the warren of Dragons and First warren. Dragons symbolize chaos. Burn probably took Krul's place in the Deck of Dragons but this requires the goddess to be also transitory in what she represents. How can a "spirit of the earth" be transitory?

This is Elder vision, a vision before even the Jaghut.

Kruppe's dream is based on something else. We just noticed Silanah's warren disappear. The dreamscape in this case is "elder", and Silanah is the elder. So it probably means that Kruppe "derived" the dreamscape from the presence of Silanah. As a way to trap Raest in a dimension where his destruction would have no consequences.

Krul not only is the one who makes the warrens, Raest says he passed into the Realm of Chaos, which is also Krul's place of birth. So he returned there. Tiam warren = dragons = chaos. So Krul is generated from that process that itself was generated by eleint, the dragons. All warrens come out of chaos, which makes sense if we consider that Hairlock pierced through the known ways/warrens and was moving right through Chaos. Chaos being the unstructured fabric between the structured warrens.

We had the opener a couple of chapters ago. T'matha's children. The children of chaos. The children of Tiam. The children of dragons. From this perspective pretty much every being is a children of chaos since chaos was the origin of everything. But then Tiste Andii are not even of this world, and there's otataral too to consider.

Also, please, please not spoiler about this. I've only read up to House of Chains so don't want to know what's revealed later on. There's enough material already to speculate all sort of stuff.
Marc Rikmenspoel
27. Stormy70
I am delurking to say thank you to Tor for hosting this reread! It has become the highlight of the week. I sit down on Saturday mornings and read the entire thread while sipping my coffee. My husband seems to read at a glacial speed, so he is struggling with Gardens of the Moon, but this reread is helping him through.
It is not often one reads an epic story with you name in it! ;)
Also, thank you to the thread regulars who flesh it all out.
I blew through this series as quickly as I could, so I missed some stuff.
Robin Lemley
28. Robin55077
Okay, Bill made a mention to it but I have to ellaborate......just can't help myself. :-)
"He felt the snap of bone, then the meaty tearing of flesh and skin as his weight bore him down."
One little sentence in a 650+ page book. Twenty simple words placed in a row. This sentence, more so than any other in the Gardens of the Moon, could possibly be the most far-reaching, consequential sentence, in the entire book. I don't think there is any way anyone on a first read would think anything about that sentence. But oh....just wait and see.
:-)
Robin Lemley
29. Robin55077
@ Amanda
"Also, it strikes me that Mallet would have seen much of sadness during this time of war and so for him to say that Rigga’s presence is the saddest thing he’s ever felt—well, that must be sad indeed."
Nice observation. Had Crokus said this same line, it would not have meant much because really, how much sadness do you think Crokus has seen. However, the fact that Mallet of the Bridgeburners said it, very powerful indeed. I think that Erickson does dialogue better than probably anyone I have ever read and one of the reasons I feel that way is because of lines like this.

I can envision other writers perhaps attributing a line like this to Crokus in an attempt to further show his budding feelings for Apsalar, but that would have just come off as "cute." The fact that Erickson gave the line to Mallet gave it weight. Lines like that make me pay even more attention to not only "what is being said" but "who is saying it" and when. Erickson does this over and over again throughout the series.
:-)
Tricia Irish
30. Tektonica
Robin@28: I totally agree. :-((

"He felt the snap of bone, then the meaty tearing of flesh and skin as his weight bore him down."
Robin Lemley
31. Robin55077
@ 6. Mieneke
"Was I the only one who went ‘Wuh?’ when Raest walked into Kruppe’s dream?"

We are told just a short time later why K'rul pulled him into the dream. During the talk between K'rul and Rake, K'rul states, "I am manifest in this sanctified place, and manifest in a lone mortal's dreams, but nowhere else." Thus, for K'rul to use his Eldering power to trap Raest, he would have to do it in one of those two places. It would have been too dangerous to lure him to the temple because that would mean that Raest was in the city itself. So, the obvious choice was Kruppe's dream. It was a great plan. However, unbeknownst to K'rul, Raest had already had contact with Mammot in the burrow. If not for that prior contact, Raest would not have been able to transfer to Mammot's body and thus escape Kruppe's dream. Alas, the best laid plans don't always work.
:-)
Tai Tastigon
32. Taitastigon
Tek @30

Combine THAT with Fiddler´s innocent *touch* in DG...ooops, spoiler, for HoC, I am sorry...! ;0)
Tai Tastigon
33. Taitastigon
Re how the Azath are created: Lads & Ladies, please read TtH !!! And forget everything else ! Great description how these little wooden houses come to be...!
Mieneke van der Salm
34. Mieneke
Kramerdude @8 & Salt-Man Z @9: I had a peek at NoK last night and read the blurb and dramatis personae and noticed that. Oh well, glad to know we'll run into them at some point!

Robin @31: Ain't that the truth! Though the explanation (by Erikson via K'rul to Rake) did make everything clear at the moment itself, I was pretty surprised, but that might also be because I was all geared up for a final showdown between Raest and Silanah. Like Dholton @14 I have this inner fangirl (in my case) that needs to grow up lol
Marc Rikmenspoel
35. Marc Rikmenspoel
I always thought it was Felesin Paran that was the poetry writer. But I suppose she could have told Felesin the Younger stories about Lorn and Lorn's successor.

Still, there's this to consider, the poems by "Felesin" mention her as having been born in 1146 of Burn's Sleep. The "present" of most of Gardens of the Moon and Deadhouse Gates is supposed to be 1164, which would make Felesin Paran 18, yet I thought she was described as being more closer to 15-16? I checked Deadhouse Gates, and prologue is set in 1163, when Felesin Paran would be turning 17. Felesin the Younger is, of course, several years younger than Felesin Paran.

Am I missing something here, or is the chronology slightly mixed up?
Matthew Fisher
36. iguanaaa
Marc @35

try typing this into google --> site:malazanempire.com "the timeline is not important"

The dates given at the beginning of chapters are especially notorious...
Marc Rikmenspoel
37. Alt146
@35 - The chronolgy is a little messed up throughout the whole series - The mantra of "the timeline is not important" is uttered quite often on the malazanempire forums and SE even paid a little homage to it in DoD :P As others have said though, it is indicated it was Felesin Paran who is the Felesin in question.

I see someone else also spotted the bridge being broken, it's amazing the number of little things like that that Erikson manages to slip into his writing. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who gets angry when that Hood-damned pillar falls over. And he would drop them in at the point in the book is at its most feverish :P

@Abalieno - You should definitely get around to reading the next couple of books, there are a few questions that you have raised so far that are answered later on in the series. A little more light is shed on the formation of the warrens, as well as on the nature of Burn and the position of the Obelisk. Also, book five has the two funniest characters in the series :D

There was some discussion as to who was compelling Tool to help the Adjunct and why a couple of chapters ago - I had the feeling that the conversation when Raest is in Kruppe's warren is supposed to reveal this, I'm not quite catching it. Or is it only explaining how Tool came to be in Kruppe's dream?

@23 - I am pretty sure Raest is referring to Hood, as in the God of Death, not sure why you are making a connection to Edgewalker. Given what what we learn of Hood later in the series it is very likely Raest would have known (of) Hood.

When Rallick sees Kruppe, and he talks with his voice sounding strange, are these words from K’rul?

I thought Kruppe's voice was strange because Raest escaping from his dream had actually managed to take him off guard - a position that none of his friends would have seen in before. It's possible this is Kruppe's actual voice and he's never been shaken up enough to drop his facade before. Then again, the reference to "this new world" could mean that it is K'rul after all.

I also agree with the feeling that the fact that the finnest was planted was the reason the azath came into being. On my first read through I thought that the Azath was the finnest, or at least the plant to the finnest's seed.

Lots of other cool stuff these two chapters, most of which has been remarked upon. Although I will throw in that the fight between Blues and the Adjunct is awesome, SE manages to portray fights really well without going into huge amounts of detail.
Marc Rikmenspoel
38. MDW
I always thought that the Azath grew out of the Finnest because when the entombers of Raest needed an object to act as Finnest they chose an Azath seed - probably as a backup in case Raest ever got out. Considering what we later learn about Raest's father this makes even more sense - he would have an Azath seed available if anyone did. I think the Azath did not trigger immediately because Raest was still asleep. Tool said that the Tyrant would not become active immediately after the wards were broken and I think Lorn "planted" the Finnest before he broke out of the barrow. Then when he did break out the Azath started growing.
Steven Halter
39. stevenhalter
Re: The Azath & Raest
So, many people are surprised by the appearence of the Azath and its taking of the Finnest and Raeth. Some call this a Deus Ex Machina (DEM) and some are just confused. People being confused is a fact (they either are or aren't). However, confusion can be cured :-) I contend that the Azath, in this instance, is not a DEM. For definitions sake, a DEM is, in modern terms, a plot device in which something powerful appears out of nowhere and resolves a sticky plot point that really can't be fixed. In original terms (Greek theatre) it was literally a diety lowered onto the stage that fixed a plot point without any other warning. The no warning is a key aspect of a DEM. The other key aspect is that it fixes an essentially broken plot point.
First, at the end of Chapter 18 we see the Adjunct find the Finnest in the form of an Acorn. Tool has told her that the Finnest is perhaps best described as a self-contained Omtose Phellack warren.
Then, at the beginning of chapter 21 we see the Adjunct plant the Finnest/acorn in the garden of Lady Simtal's estate.
When Raest emerges from the barraow, we see scenes with him torturing the earth and find out that he has done this in the past, but the world could not respond as it was unfocused.
In chapter 22, we see Kalam and Paran in the garden. Paran senses that there is "something very wrong in the garden." They investigate and see Apsalar standing before a a block in a glade's center. Paran, Apsalar and Kalam see that the block is not stone, but made of wood and that it is growing and has roots. It is also growing in phases, shimmering.
At this point (to me) it seemed pretty clear that the Adjuncts act of planting the Acorn/Finnest was causing something to be growing in the garden. At this point, it is unclear if it is the Finnest that is growing or something else.
Next, we see Mallot recoil upon entering the glade. He states that whatever is living there senses he is a mage and senses him with hunger. Vorcan and Rallick join them and Vorcan also notes the hunger and describes it as something "ill". Rallicknotes that it doesn't affect him and when he approaches the objects growth seems to stop. The Otataral seems to affect the object. Vorcan's instincts are to stop the growth of the object and she has Rallick sit on it. Crokus approaches when everyone but Rallick leaves. He does not sense any hunger, but rather urgency and frustration from the object. It seems that only mages are sensing hunger from the object. Crokus also notes that the object looks like a small house.
Rallick gets off the object while talking with Crokus and when Mammot attacks the rest of the people, the object responds with a burst of yellow fire and starts growing.
So, at this point in the story we know that there is something growing in the garden that has a hunger for mages and mages don't seem to like it. Non-mages doen't seem to feel anything wrong with it. We also know that the Finnest is a Omtose Phellack warren. When Raest uses Omtose, his power is described in shades of gray--appropriate for an ice warren. The object in the glade is described as responding with yellow fire--not very ice like. Raest is also described as hungering to dominate everything, while the object only hungers for mages. So, at this point in the story I was starting to think that the object might be something other than just the Finnest, growing. In either case, we've gotten a whole bunch of foreshadowing that something is going on here.
Next, we see Paran's blade (Chance) get struck by a thread of power from Raest. Paran vanishes to everyone else in the fight and when we see him next, he is somewhere else. The abrupt locale shift for Paran is a little jarring and I think this shift is a source of some of the confusion people feel in this scene.
We get some description from Paran on his location--there is a lake and the air is cool and sweet with decay. He sees a T'lan Imass battling another creature. The other creature seems to also be battling against roots that are catching at it.
Paran then sees a structure rising from the lake. It has two levels. The first level is stone and the second level seems incomplete, but is wooden.
Paran turns back to the fight and sees the creature more clearly. It appears to have wooden flesh and two tusks. Facially, its description seems similar to the Jaghut descriptions we have seen. The T'lan Imass is hurled to Paran's feet and tells him that the Azath is not ready to take the Finnest yet and needs help. We then see that the Finnest is the wooden tusked creature. Since the Finnest is the creature, the house in the lake seems like a good candidate to be the Azath that the T'lan is referring to. When Paran disables the Finnest, it is pulled into the ground by roots and tendrils.
So, at this point it seemed to me that the object in the glade must relate to the house in the place where Paran was. They are both houses with roots. The house is called an Azath and it just captured the Finnest.
In the final scene of this action, we see roots emerge from the garden and attach to Raest. He calls it an Azath and it captures him. So we have confirmation that the garden object and the house where Paran was are the same thing. Quick Ben is disturbed by the idea of an Azath being there.
Ok, so is the appearence of the Azath a DEM? Well, as we have seen the appearence is foreshadowed for several chapters and a fairly large scene is spent remarking on the growth of the object and describing it before it does anything. So, it doesn't just appear out of nowhere. So it doesn't fit that aspect of being a DEM.
The other aspect is whether it fixes a broken plot point. At the point where Raest is taken he has been beaten down and blown up. He hasn't gone away, but it seems likely that Barruk or Rake could have dealt with him if needed or Hedge could have kept chucking explosives at him. So Raest could have been dealt with.
We have also just seen the Azath taking the Finnest.
So, the Azath taking Raest was foreshadowed and there was not a broken plot at this point. Thus, the Azath taking Raest is not a DEM.
How about the Azath taking the Finnest? Again, the appearence of the Azath is foreshadowed. We (the readers) don't know that Azaths can take powerful thing, but Tool tells us (Paran) this. Until this point we also hadn't known that the Finnest could manifest in a creature-like form. So there wasn't really a plot point to take care of. So the Azath taking the Finnest isn't a DEM.
Now, is the scen series confusing? Well, since it confuses people it is confusing to them. Paran's arrival in a different realm to fight the Finnest is somewhat complex and confusing. We had already seen him do this sort of thing when he went inside of Dragnipur, so it isn't unprecedented. We had also seen Raest transported into Kruppe's dream/warren realm. So, we know that this realm transporting does happen, but it is surprising.
So, my take on this whole issue is that the Azath appearence can be confusing, but it is not a DEM.
Finally, as a matter of story crafting, we will often see something occur in TMBotF that we have not seen before that is then explained more fully fairly soon thereafter. While I'm not going to talk about it, since it is in chapter 24, to see this happen in this case, take a look at the poem at the beginning of chapter 24.
Steven Halter
40. stevenhalter
@Amanda:

Oooh! Rake is Silanah’s master! What gives him that power and right over her?

The relationship between Rake & Silanah is quite interesting. It seems to be quite different than most dragon/person relationships. I think it is better described as a friendship, but I don't think that quite captures it completely either. We'll see some more on this in this series. I'm hoping it gets more completely answered in the (eventually) forthcoming Kharkanas trilogy.
Steven Halter
41. stevenhalter
@Amanda:

Or does Hedge simply have a manic glare?

We'll see many examples of sappers not quite being sane throught the series--some of my favorite parts.
Elena Vaccaro
42. EarthandIce
Wow. I have fallen behind a bit in my reading of the re-read. (I am also shaking up my family tree, which you can loose soooo many hours, but can be soooo much fun)

What we have to remember is even in fiction, people will do what they think is best for them. Lorn has given her life to be the
Adjunct of the Empire and as such an extension of the Empress, and all of the Bridgeburners have given their lives to the Empire.

I was not really shocked at her decisions, even if they were not in the best interest of the people in general.

It was the betrayal by the Empire of One Arm's Army that the Bridge Burners feel. The way the Empire has taken over other realms worked, so why reinvent the wheel if you have a system that works, the contract to remove the city leaders.

All of the characters are being true to themselves whether we get attached to them or not and they, like real people do not think they are bad. Regret some decisions, but not bad.

And yes that line of the breaking of bone and tearing of flesh echoes far and wide. That is the reason I posed a question about Kallor and his appearance after MoI. It is also my belief that Healers no matter where they work have to believe in the best outcome.

And sappers are sort of like drummers, they are a different breed entirely. You really, really have to like loud noises to be either one. Seriously, just watch a drummer and you will see what I mean.
Steven Halter
43. stevenhalter
EarthandIce: "sappers are like drummers"--I like that, lol, especially if you think about what happens to drummers in Spinal Tap.
Marc Rikmenspoel
44. WJD
@23 Tektonica:
“You remind me of Hood. Is the Death Wanderer still alive?”
Could this be Edgewalker in NoK?

No, Hood is Hood. Edgewalker is someone else entirely.
Dan K
45. kramerdude
shalter@39:

Great description. Any feeling on your end for where Paran/Tool/the Finnest were battling? As I stated earlier, its one thing that was never particularly clear to me.
Chris Hawks
46. SaltManZ
sappers are like drummers

Heh. In RG, we get to see a sapper trick called "the drum".
Chris Hawks
47. SaltManZ
kramer @45:

I always interpreted the Paran/Tool/Finnest battle as taking place on some sort of astral/physical plane; not necessarily a warren or a dream. (That sort of thing happened all the time in old X-Men comics, which may be why it never fazed me.) Thus I don't personally think the Finnest was necessarily a literal big, wooden Jaghut, just that that was a kind of astral or metaphorical form. If that makes sense.
Julian Augustus
48. Alisonwonderland
Taitastigon @33:
Re how the Azath are created: Lads & Ladies, please read TtH !!! And forget everything else ! Great description how these little wooden houses come to be...!

Which doesn't jive with what we think happened in GotM or RG. I have struggled with the implications of the revelation in TtH and the only way it makes sense (i.e, squares with the formation of the Azath house in GotM) is if Gothos has the ability to monitor application of power everywhere in the Malaz world and then get one of the Azaths from the builder at the exact moment when it is most needed to capture some powerful mage. For the Azath in RG, Gothos would have had to anticipate Silchas's actions and have a house taken from the builder and ready to go when Silchas made his move. I'm not sure I buy it. Or maybe I don't really understand what happened in TtH?
Steven Halter
49. stevenhalter
kramerdude@39:
That's a little unclear to me also. It seems like there are a few candidates:
1) It has a little bit of the feel to Kruppe's world to it except that Paran notices a storm above and usually Kruppes world has a kind of sourceless sky. On the other hand it could reflect Kruppe's troubled mental state and the garden conflict. We saw Tool in Kruppe's world earlier, so it could explain why he is there (summoned by Pran Chole as he mentions).
2) The Finnest is a warren so it could be that we are seeing into the Finnest warren and the figure is a manifistation of the Raest influence there while the Azath is also manifesting.
3) It is the Omtose Phellack warren itself and everyone's manifesting there.
4) ... ?
I guess I lean towards #1 as Tool was already there and we had seen Raest moved there earlier, so the Finnest creature could have been moved there in a similar fashion.
Steven Halter
50. stevenhalter
Taitastigon @33:
One interesting aspect to note here is how the Azath house in the lake is described by Paran. Its first floor is stone (which detail fits with TtH) and its second floor is unfinished wood. I take this description is because Rallick was preventing the Azath from finishing its final form/shape. Thus, the TtH portion may just be the start of Azath construction.
Dan K
51. kramerdude
Salt-Man Z@47: It's an interesting thought but since it's one we haven't seen before and every other time we've seen Paran or someone transported it has been to another Warren (into Dragnipur, Shadow, Kruppe's dream warren). So I don't quite buy it but can see how one might.

shalter@49:
Here are my thoughts.

1) My first thought was Kruppe's dream warren as well, but I don't think it can be that. Every other time we've been in Kruppe's dream he's implicitly or explicitly been asleep. In fact right before we encounter Raest and Kruppe in the dream warren we see Circle Breaker notice Kruppe asleep in a chair (very end of Ch 21). Then after the scene in Kruppe's warren we see Kruppe awake and talking to Rallick before the gathering in the garden where all hell breaks loose. Unless he falls asleep again at some point, I'm not buying it.
2) I could buy that except for one thought. The Finnest is of Omtose Phellack would not it's warren be...
3) ...Omtose Phellack. I didn't sense any description of ice from the passage when Paran was there so I discounted that one.
4) Could there be an Azath warren? I'm a bit fuzzy on my RG and TtH details on the Azath so not sure if this one is possible or probable.

Thanks for the thoughts though.
Steven Halter
52. stevenhalter
kramerdude@51: The exact relationship of the Azath and the Warrens is probably best left for later in the series, but yeah it could be that this was occuring within an Azath associated space or world.
That's an interesting point on Kruppe being asleep when we see his warren. We see him talking to Rallick after Raest leaves his dream-world. Then we don't see him again (that I can find) until he is ready to steal some food from the kitchen. He could have napped in between, but we don't see it. He does seem happier in the kitchen.
Marc Rikmenspoel
53. Toster
Alisonwonderland @48

Could be that Gothos stores the houses somewhere before they are needed. though that conjures images a big azath warehouse somewhere in the abyss, and i'm not sure how likely that is.

another possibility is that the built houses cannot manifest until they have a power source in the form of a finnest.

then there's DoD which totally OMGWTFBBQ's any Azath theory. the person who knows the most about the Azath is Gothos, and he ain't talking. typical.

Shalter @49

i'm inclined to go with option number two for this one. it makes the appearance of each player make sense. paran is there because raest blasted him with OP and the finnest is a OP warren. the finnest is there cuz, well it's the finnest. unfortunately for the finnest, it's power is being used to grow the azath, which is manifesting within the finnest warren in order to devour the finnest's power which will help it grow in the 'real' world. finally, tool is there because tellann has been making inroads into OP for millennia, and, being the first sword of the t'lan imass, he can bust his way into the finnest's warren as he likes.
Marc Rikmenspoel
54. Toster
a comment that snuck in before i finished writing made me want to add this addendum to my theory about the finnest.

there's no ice now, but the azath is in a lake. wonder where that came from? i suspect that the combined efforts of Tool and his Tellann power and the growing azath shattered the ice and re-aspected the warren to the azath.
Amir Noam
55. Amir
Wow, finally read through all the comments.

So I guess we've reached the point in the book to really discuss DEMs (Deus Ex Machinas).

Many people seem to feel that the MBotF have some DEMs in them, and the prime example is usually the Azath in GotM. So here are my own thoughts on the subject:

I agree with shalter @39 that the Azath does not fit the "classical" definition of a DEM. There is some forshadowing and it's not fixing an unsolvable plot point. After all, it's not as if we have a scene with Raest about to destory all the other characters only to have an Azath pop-up from the ground and capture it.

Despite that, I still always felt the Azath in GotM is DEM-ish at the very least. While there is foreshadowing that *something* is going on in the garden etc., the Azath as a concept is not something that was mentioned or even hinted. Most of the book is buliding up to a confrontation with Raest and all the characters seem to consider this Tyrant as super powerful and they have no idea if any can oppose it, except maybe Rake. And then, suddently we have some entity that was never mentioned pop up (OK, grow up over the course of a chapter or two) and dispatch him with little difficulty.

The Azath are explained further in the later books and they are actually a very interesting concept that is a core part of the Malazan world in general. However, this particular appearance at the end of GotM feels wholly unexpected and unexaplained for this particular book and therefore seem DEM-ish to me.
Sydo Zandstra
56. Fiddler
Salt-Man Z@46:

Heh. In RG, we get to see a sapper trick called "the drum".

Invented by Fiddler and Hedge, the Gruesome Twosome of Moranth Ammunitions Application... :D

On timelines, as others said, don't pay too much attention. There are some inconsistancies. But who cares? It's a brilliant epic. :)
Steven Halter
57. stevenhalter
Amir@55:

the Azath as a concept is not something that was mentioned or even hinted.


I'm curious, if the poem at the beginning of chapter 24 had been placed in an earlier chapter, would that have been enough?
Or, would a scene with say, Rake and Barruk talking about how it was nice that Darujhistan was free of those mage eating Azath houses been desirable?
The question then becomes, is it necessary to introduce a major world aspect through dialog or in action? In this case the Azath is introduced in a very active way.
Is it that the active Azath intro is towards the end of this volume and does finish one of the story lines to this point.
As an example, consider the siege of Pale at the start of the book. We hadn't heard about Rake before then, but he suddenly appears and "resolves" a couple of thousand soldiers. If we had been reading a book relating to the lives of some of those soldiers it could have seemed sudden also.
Hugh Arai
58. HArai
Amir@55 and others: Given you want to introduce the Azath into the series, how would you ensure that the reader would have a full explanation of the Azath and expect to see one the first time they're introduced? I'm curious what series you have read that meet this sort of expectation or do you always find yourself saying "that's a DeM" in all the series you read?
Steven Halter
59. stevenhalter
In chapter 23 we get our first long conversation with Cotillion. I have always been left with an impression of reasonableness from that conversation--not at all a wild eyed killer.
Steven Halter
60. stevenhalter
@Bill:
I also really liked the way SE shows us Moon's Spawn through Crokus' senses slowly becoming aware of it. It adds to the sense of a vast silent citadel slowly moving through the space.
Nathan Martin
61. lerris
The Azath felt nothing like a DEM to me.

Recalling K'Rul's statement as quoted above,
“It is now we gods who are the slaves, and the mortals our masters—though they know it not.”

I was left wondering what K'rul knew that Raest didn't. The Azath ( in part ) answered that question for me. In part because after seeing it, I have many more questions.
Amir Noam
62. Amir
shalter @57 and HArai @58:
First, let me clarify that just because I feel that the introduction of the Azath is domewhat "DEM-ish" this does not mean I think the book is badly written. Far from it - I really appreciate SE's writing and have quite enjoyed the book when I first read it (and immediately moved on to reading the rest :-)).

To answer your direct question: yes, if there was a mention earlier in the book of such a thing as a mage-capturing house then it would indeed seem less DEM-ish to me later on when such an entity appeared. However, this does not mean that I think this would have been a better way to introduce the Azath!

I am not a writer and so I really can't claim that I have a perfect formula that SE has simply overlooked. In the greater scheme of the series, the Azath have their place and must be introduced at some point. However, generally, such important concepts are introduced at the beginning (or middle) of a book, not at the very end. This is why Rake's introduction is not "DEM-ish" for me since it's just a way to introduce (very early on!) a new character relevant for the book's plot. The Azath are not relevant for the GotM plot, except to quickly and unexpectedly dispatch of a threat that had been building for half a book.

So, I'm afraid I don't have a good answer as to how I would have introduced the Azath. But since the book is so well written and I enjoyed reading it (including the Azath part) then this "DEM-ish" vibe that I got did not bother me.
M D
63. Abalieno
@37

@Abalieno - You should definitely get around to reading the next couple of books, there are a few questions that you have raised so far that are answered later on in the series. A little more light is shed on the formation of the warrens, as well as on the nature of Burn and the position of the Obelisk.

Yeah, I only want to know/discuss if things stay coherent with what's written here or if I interpreted things incorrectly. Is the framework of what I gathered correct?

About the Azath, I'm seriously AMAZED by the explanation you guys derived because it's another of those things that went over my head.

If I understand it correctly:

The Azath house doesn't grow out of nothing as we may think, but it grows out of a *seed*. The "finnest" was actually an acorn. The Jaghut who imprisoned the tyrant are those who chose to use, curiously, an "acorn" instead of another random object. Why? Not on a odd whim, as one may think, but for a concrete reason, as this series teaches you that all details are meaningful. The acorn is not a plain acorn, but an Azath seed. This means that those Jaghut imagined that the tyrant could be eventually freed, and so prepared a "safety plan" in the case they weren't anymore around to prevent the worse. A plan that has been there for thousands years. Thinking about cause-effect and wise millenarian beings ;) The curious choice of the finnest as an "acorn" has been highlighted in the text in a number of occasions if someone paid attention. A little bit of foreshadowing.

It also makes sense because the Azath doesn't suddenly appear, but starts to grow, in a precise location, before Raest arrives there and before it is known that he will be there. In any case, the Azath is triggered by the finnest, and Erikson spent some attention underlining how particular was the choice of the object when the Adjunct was deep in the tomb.

It's an acorn, and that choice is obviously deliberate.

Which is yet another reason to disprove the presumed DEM.

Can we consider this canon, then? Is this what Erikson originally intended? HEY STEVE, could you confirm if you really outsmarted all of us or it's us who outsmarted you by fabricating a so solid explanation for your whimsy DEM?

IF it's true it's AWESOME. Yet another proof that Erikson himself (you hear me) should really, really play out better his ideas. That whole explanation is too cool to happen entirely out of the text through readers speculations (especially the association of an acorn with something that can spawn a magic house trap, not exactly staightforward), it would have been much better if it was more explicit and that all readers were better exposed to it in the end and hit with that kind of "epiphany" of revelation.

It's a core idea of one of the main plots of that book. It should be featured a little more on the foreground before one turns the last page. Tool could have expressed some doubts, and maybe Quick Ben too could have been the vehicle of this information to the reader (that the Jaghut who imprisoned the tyrant picked an Azath seed for the finnest).
Steven Halter
64. stevenhalter
Amir@62:
One thing to consider is that the books are collectively called The Malazan Book of the Fallen. Each book is a tale from that larger tapestry. Thus, the Azath is introduced relatively early in the total work to which we are exposed.
If we were to see early pieces (like NoK coming up) we would see more of the Azath. If we saw the Emperor's early start we would have pages just chock full of Azath references.
Tai Tastigon
65. Taitastigon
Aba @63

Aba, my man...could you please, PLEASE read the other, already published 5 volumes (plus tCG once published) before speculating on SE´s intentions re this cycle...? Because most of the issues you raise here would not exist if you had done so...you would be raising WAY different issues having the whole picture...

The way SE designed this, you have to read the ENTIRE work, then REREAD it, to get a basic grasp of what is going on. Done that, you can pick him apart...he himself freely admits there are quite a few inconsistencies...so please do your homework.

No hard feelings, but it had to be said.
Steven Halter
66. stevenhalter
Abalieno@63: The choice of the acorn is very useful as a foreshadowing and seems to be useful in determining the particular form of the Finnest House.
slight spoiler:








It is the power of the object, not so much the form, that triggers the Azath generation in a specific location.
M D
67. Abalieno
That would debunk the whole theory then.

If the Azath generates spontaneously then the Jaghut would have picked an acorn "at random" (I don't think Jaghut first worry is to "foreshadow" when they trap a tyrant), and there's still no reason why an Azath wouldn't come up to imprison basically everyone. From Rake, to the Pannion Seer, to Bauchelain etc...
Robin Lemley
68. Robin55077
@ 39. Shalter
"For definitions sake, a DEM is, in modern terms, a plot device in which something powerful appears out of nowhere and resolves a sticky plot point that really can't be fixed."
Thanks for posting the definition. I think that many times people say something is a DEM without thinking about the exact definition of what a DEM is. The most important word in the definition is the word AND .....meaning it must do both, appear suddenly out of nowhere AND resolve a plot point that cannot be solved any other way. A DEM is used when a writer has written himself into a corner and there is no way to get out. I don't think this situation met either one of the requirements, let alone both, so it is definitely not a DEM to me. My reasons are the same as those you have already listed so I'm not going to repeat them here.


@ 57. Shalter
"The question then becomes, is it necessary to introduce a major world aspect through dialog or in action? In this case the Azath is introduced in a very active way."
I think this is adding to the confusion for some people because most writers introduce through dialogue or background rather than through action, and it is being confused as DEM because of it. I believe that being able to introduce through action is a talent that many writers do not have and it is one of the things that I personally find so awesome with Erickson.

I remember way back when Tool was first introduced in the book and it was suggested at that time that Tool's hand rising from the dirt was also a DEM. At the time, I stated that I didn't think there was a better way possible to introduce a T'lan Imass (that's what they do...they fall to dust in one place and reappear from the ground someplace totally different). Throughout the entire series, most of the time when an Imass appears, it is exactly like that...rising from the dirt. Dang, every time I see mention of dust stirring on the ground, I look for an Imass!

For me, the same principals arise here with the Azath. I cannot personally think of a better way to introduce an Azath, and, the way it appears in GotM is consistent with everything else I have read in the series, so how can that possibly be a DEM?
:-)
M D
69. Abalieno
Nope, DEM aren't a tool used when a situation is "impossible" to solve. The negative connotation in "modern" literature is because the writer using a DEM is considered "lazy". Things can always be sorted out by a good writer, the presence of a DEM indicates a writer who didn't solve a plot point in a consistent, believable way. Who didn't work hard enough to find a more convincing denouement.

If "Azaths" are things that spontaneously appear to trap too powerful characters, then they would be "contextualized DEM devices". Every time things get too unbalanced, an Azath appears to restore that balance. This may be coherent with a setting and theme (nature that strives for balance), but it will still perceived as sloppy by a reader.

Especially because there are 100000 other situations and big conflicts where an Azath does not appear. I mean, if the Azath is so powerful to save the day no matter what, why do we care? Why the big fuss?

The Crippled God is dangerous? You wait for the magical appearance of the Azath. Problem solved.

This is why we kind of need a reason to explain why an Azath appeared right there and not elsewhere. The theory that an acorn was actually an Azath seed is surprisingly brilliant and elegant.

If things later on the series debunk this theory, I'd like to hear them even if they are spoilers. That theory was just too nice to be tossed away.
Marc Rikmenspoel
70. Alt146
The appearance of the Azath isn't the most elegant thing SE has done, and it's understandable that some readers are uncomfortable with its appearance. The majority of the foreshadowing of its arrival is done in the chapter or two before it arrives. So I agree it's slightly unwieldy, but I don't think it counts as a full blown Deus-ex-Machina, as none of the criteria are properly fulfilled. The most important of which was there was a solution to the Raest problem - Rake. I think it would have been slightly cliche though if the book had ended with Rake fighting Raest. Personally I think the book works better this way, and it obviously fits better into a lot of things that happen later on in the series. I think it is telling that Rake had left the party knowing that Mammot was under Raest's influence.

@Abalieno - save yourself a lot of internet arguing and just read the rest of the series. Toll has a lot of information regarding the Azath. I'm way too lazy to reread the whole thing to put together a proper explanation of how they work and don't want to say something incorrect by trying to explain from memory. I did find this on a quick skim though and it shows that the theory isn't complete bunk:

The house the Malazans called an Azath. Born of the tyrant's Finnest

There is significantly more to it, but I will say that Azath don't show up at every major convergence because that's not how they work. The way I understand it (and please correct me if I've gotten this wrong), is that the azath need some initial power source in a form that they can access. In this case it was the finnest, being power which had been separated from its owner (something that doesnt happen often).
M D
71. Abalieno
That the Azath is born of the finnest is obvious. It develops on top of it, and before Raest arrives.

The point of the idea is to prove if the Jaghut who imprisoned the tyrant had already planned that outcome. The odd peculiarity of separating the power is already a decent hint (and Tool is aware of what an Azath is and what it does). But it is the choice of the acorn in particular to need a motivation and establish a better link with the creation of the Azath.

And btw, the purpose of this thing is discussing. So I want a discussion.
Brian O'Reilly
72. idlefun
@Abalieno
We can guess that there is an Azath seed in the acorn (makes most sense to me) but can't be sure. Like you I would have liked a little hint, e.g. QB on seeing the Azath marvelling at the foresight of the Jaghut who imprisoned Raest.
It could also be that a finnest, which are created by Jaghut but can hold other's power, are in and of themselves Azath seeds. If, e.g. Rake's power was captured in a finnest then it too would prompt the growth of an Azath. Though that doesn't fit too well with what happens in Reaper's Gale.
Maybe there'll be a nice little info-dump in tCG to explain all:-)
Steven Halter
73. stevenhalter
@Abalieno:
It is not powerful people who trigger the creation of an Azath (otherwise they would be popping up all over when Rake walks around). It is powerful objects in certain situations. We'll see more on the situations later.
There certainly are Jaghut who understand the process of Azath creation. Whether they meant for this Finnest to trigger one is something we don't know for certain--its an interesting theory and the foresight necessary is not beyond the ones who created the barrow and imprisoned Raest.
Steven Halter
74. stevenhalter
re Discussion:
Discussion is great. Sometimes, though, questions get asked that are answered in later books and providing a specific answer is a spoiler--sometimes a big spoiler.
For example, the DEM discussion we're having now couldn't really have been had earlier than this. There are, though, aspects of the Azath that get covered later that have to be skirted around right now.
Tricia Irish
75. Tektonica
I thought the Azath houses popped up where there was great need....where catastrophic destruction was inevitable.

I assumed after this book that I'd figure out the how and why of it all later..... and there is certainly more in DG! I"m enjoying this discussion a lot!
Amir Noam
76. Amir
shalter @64:
I totally agree that in the greater scale of the MBotF series, the Azath are an integral part and so, introducing them in the first book can be considered early. However, taking just the GotM into consideration, the Azath unexpected appearance in practically the last chapter to get rid of a menace that has been building for half the book raises a brow (at least mine).

I cannot compare this to Tool's unexpected introduction (as mentioned by Robin55077 @68), precisely because Tool appeared early in the book. If the T'lan Imass were introduced (via Tool) in the last chapter of the book by rising from the dirt and saving a major character, then I would feel that this too would be "DEM-ish".

Now, I have no doubt that the Azath was planned ahead by Erikson and that the Finnest being an acorn is no coinsidence. However, for the reader (at least for this reader) it came too much out of left field.

As a side note, I want to second shalter@74. I really appreicate people holding off on certain discussion until the right time in the re-read. It's always fun to drop hints for the first time readers, but I like it that people show restraint and don't spoil for others their first read experience.
Steven Halter
77. stevenhalter
Tektonica@75:
I think there are a number of criteria for an Azath creation (it doesn't happen every day).
There seems to be a need for a triggering object of some power--kind of like a seed crystal.
There seems to be a need for a certain situation, as you say--catastrophic circumstances.
I think there may be at least one more criteria that:
Spoiler in white (From Toll the Hounds and later):
Gothos or some directing hand may need to directly intervene. This part is unclear in its actual implementation.
Rajesh Vaidya
78. Buddhacat
Although the Azath does appear too suddenly without any explanation, I don't think it's a DEM. The only and really most annoying DEM I found in this series is in the Bonehunters (book 6):

SPOILER:





With no way to solve Icarium's rage, Eresal shows up and deals with him. Then disappears completely. For a character that has limitless powers of time travel and magic, and who was so central to advancing the plot in tBH (reuniting with the Y'ghatan survivors, saving Malazans from the Edur mages, moving the Malazans quickly through the seas (forcing Mael to help), helping Tamber fight, saving QB from Icarium), Ican find NO reason that I can yet see for doing what she does. And she is remarkably absent thereafter. Boinking Bottle (is that a band name) is just not enough reason for all of her actions.

Anyway, despite being mysterious, Azath are OK.
M D
82. Abalieno
Re-reading this part I continue to think it's the "worst" written that I've read of Erikson. But whereas on a first read I thought the last 100 pages were a bit too rushed and confused, on a second read I think the problem can be narrowed to 20 pages.

The problem isn't just the Azath that could have used a bit better exposition (now that we know its rationalization is possible and could also have been an exceptional plot point, if revealed), but that the action and prose is just way too confused. I've had other examples of readers who didn't even got the facts straight from this part.

The moment the Jaghut power hits Paran's sword we see him disappear, reappear in what can be supposed as an Azath warren, seeing the Azath fighting something like a Jaghut, finding there Tool as well without a reason, then Paran fighting the finnest while under the influence of a Hound. Then Paran is ported out again, other see him, but then he vanishes again, to meet Cotillion in the Shadow warren, and then he is returned AGAIN. All the while with the reader buffeted with scenes that are at the same time quick, fragmented, and very much implausible/hard to piece together.

I appreciate the convergence, but this part could have been better executed. I also always thought that the apparition of the demon (next chapter), more than icing on the cake, was pushing the suspension of disbelief WAY too far even for the Malazan series. That was a DEM. The intruduction of another OMG powerful being that lasts like 5 pages, in the last 10 pages of the book.

The end of this book is, I think, way too over the top, and it always gave me the impression that the writer was trying too hard just to impress and throwing all he had, more than a proper a solid wrapping up of what the novel was about.
Steven Halter
83. stevenhalter
Abalieno@82:

seeing the Azath fighting something like a Jaghut, finding there Tool as well without a reason

Tool tells Paran he has been following the Jaghut's power.
That was a DEM. The intruduction of another OMG powerful being that lasts like 5 pages

Sorry--no. The introduction, alone, of a powerful being is not a DEM.
Hugh Arai
84. HArai
Amir & Abalieno: If you insist on judging the first book of a 10-book epic fantasy series in isolation from the rest of the series, then yes, you'll find things that aren't neatly wrapped up and tied off in that book. I'm uncertain why this is so important to you. Yes these events happen at the end of book 1 but that's only 10% of the way into the story being told. Give it time.

Abalieno@71: Discussion is good. Formulating an overarching theory about something woven through the entire series without taking advantage of 5 of the available books seems like insisting on an odd handicap.

Abalieno@82: How is the demon a DEM?

1)We already know Tayschrenn can summon and bind demons. We've seen him deal with some heavy hitters in that manner. We've even seen one used by Quick Ben, and we're told he stole it from Tayschrenn.
2) We know a major point of Laseen's plan is to severely weaken Rake. So... free Raest. Now, Laseen is expecting one of two outcomes: defeated Raest, weakened Rake or defeated Rake, weakened Raest. Either way you need something to bat cleanup. Even weakened, that's going to take something like... a powerful bound demon. Wonder where we can get one of those?

The ground work is all there. Unless you're going to define a DEM as anything important that happens at the end of a book I don't see your argument.
Chris Hawks
85. SaltManZ
I can't help but chuckle. GotM's end-book convergence is nuthin' compared to anything from the series' second half . :)
Steven Halter
86. stevenhalter
Abalieno@69:


Nope, DEM aren't a tool used when a situation is "impossible" to solve.





Here's the definition I offered earlier:


For definitions sake, a DEM is, in modern terms, a plot device in which something powerful appears out of nowhere and resolves a sticky plot point that really can't be fixed.




Note that I said sticky, not "impossible". For the sake of the discussion, would you present your definition of a DEM? If we are using differing definitions, the discussion becomes more difficult.
M D
87. Abalieno
@85

"Bigger" convergences aren't directly negative if they are coherent and consistent. What, imho, "plagues" this one is the high number of unrelated/incidental elements from completely different directions.

I think the whole scene of Paran disappearing and reappearing in the Azath warren to hold back the finnest for 10 seconds so that the Azath could grow enough, this scene is unnecessary. It also stacks with "suspension of disbelief" as this scene seems there basically for two reasons, both feeling quite artificial/too convenient/too incidental:

1- To show that the Azath power was fighting the Finnest. But the exposition here quite fails because the scene is utterly confusing for a reader, to the point it's not even clear that it's the Azath warren.

2- To show the influence of Hounds on Paran. Like a plot trick that existed for the SOLE reason to have Paran being able to face the Finnest for this "gratuitous" scene.

To not even consider that the transition, with Paran "ported" to the Azath warren when his sword is hit by Jaghut power, is also quite unconvincing and hard to swallow.

Basically, this whole part of the book follows "rules" that are completely out of the control of the reader, and completely out of everything the novel built already. The effect is "estrangement" and excess of spectacularization, that, bundled together, breach the suspence of disbelief and make this whole scene feel quite sloppy and excessive.

Too much incidental stuff, too fortuitous/convenient, too many transitions that are unclear, Paran who doesn't even seem shaken for all the things he's going through.

On a first read I saw the introduction of the demon at the end as an artificial way to finish the book with a "bang" and simply "show off" how cool is Rake. In another jargon I'd say that it's just too much fanservice that arrives when the suspension of disbelief was already stretched too thin.

I think it basically kills whatever dramatic intensity was still there and achieves the direct opposite.
Steven Halter
88. stevenhalter
Abalieno@87:


I think the whole scene of Paran disappearing and reappearing in the Azath warren


We don't know that it is the Azath warren or one of the other several choices I mentioned.



because the scene is utterly confusing for a reader



There are confusing elements. It is not "utterly" confusing. Several readers (myself included) have said they weren't very confused.

To show the influence of Hounds on Paran. Like a plot trick that existed for the SOLE reason to have Paran being able to face the Finnest for this "gratuitous" scene.


The influence of the Hounds on Paran is quite important. Having Paran throw off the influence of the Finnest/Raest is an important piece of information we will be needing.

On a first read I saw the introduction of the demon at the end as an artificial way to finish the book with a "bang" and simply "show off" how cool is Rake. In another jargon I'd say that it's just too much fanservice that arrives when the suspension of disbelief was already stretched too thin.


As HArai mentions, we have seen the Malazans employ demons on a number of occasions already. We'll see it a lot more as the story progresses. Before this point in the story, Rake has mentioned that he does not think he will be needed to fight Raest and that he is basically holding himself in reserve. THe demon lord is what he has been anticipating. He knows the tricks of the Malazans well.
I had exactly the opposite reaction and thought the fight with the demon lord was quite intense.








M D
89. Abalieno
The scene in the Azath is confusing/too weird because of how Paran arrives there. Incidentally. His sword is hit by Jaghut power. This transition isn't so well explained or plausible, or immediately comprehensible.

The point is: WHY Paran goes there?

Because his god-powered sword is "fortuitously" hit. Is this even Oponn doing? The scene is "cheap" because it only serves to have Paran appear "right in time" to fight the Finnest and reveal his newly acquired Hound powers. Everything here seems to happen because it's plot-convenient, instead of making sense and feeling necessary.

The discussion here is about the whole deal of these 50 pages, not the detail itself. I became a big Malazan fan, I'd say, in spite of flashy magic and fanservice. I consider "magic" in Malazan like a dressing, what matters is what's below. And I do enjoy Malazan magic because it's a "mean/instrument" with a much greater import than simply "look cool" and wow the kid in me. Some things in these last pages of this book seem to not be rooted into something authentic. Like that demon that's incoming. It's gratuitous because I can't feel anything of value in that scene beside looking cool. Which is tolearable if one considers it a concession to the pointless spectacle at 10 pages from the end of the book. But as I said it arrives in a moment that escalated too much toward breaking the suspension of disbelief.

The influence of the Hounds on Paran is quite important.

In the economy of this book, the influence of Hounds has the sole purpose of having Paran playing the hero in that scene and saving the day. He acquires those powers earlier in the book solely to use them in that ultimate showdown. It's a scene way too artificial and convenient. What if the Jaghut power didn't incidentally hit Paran's sword? That's a good DEM as any. With the demon AND the tyrant unleashed not even Rake could have solved the situation.

Btw, it has to be said: I HATE THESE EDIT BOXES. They can't be disabled, they shut off Firefox spell checking, they mess basic activities like cutting/paste text. PLEASE give me back just a damned standard text box like we were used to. Or at least let me disable this useless thing.
Steven Halter
90. stevenhalter
Abalieno@89:

Paran arrives there. Incidentally. His sword is hit by Jaghut power.
...

What if the Jaghut power didn't incidentally hit Paran's sword?


Luck is the nature of the sword--both good and bad. So, in this case it was good luck that sent Paran to fight the Finnest. He was really the only one who could have done this. Nothing incidental about it.
Steven Halter
91. stevenhalter
Abalieno@89:
I'm not quite sure what you're trying to say with the "fanservice" comments. Remember that when Gardens of the Moon came out there weren't any fans to service as it was the first book.
M D
92. Abalieno
I guess I have more to say.

What I'm underlining is something universal. You have a big, intricate plot coming to a resolution, ending it with fortuitous/convenient events will be always considered cheesy.

Take A Game of Thrones: it's the King's death at the end to trigger a whole lot of mess. That death is an "incident". But it's not like the King is tripping and dying. That would be a HUGE sloppy DEM. But instead we know that the incident is organized, the King was nudged in that direction, we know well the motivations of those who organize that incident and we see it develop toward its "fatality". It's all strongly motivated and you see all the logical steps that lead to it. It's the opposite of "fortuitous", it's basically unavoidable. It's an unassailable conspiration. As a reader you feel the full dramatic intensity, and feel powerless, because everything is so tightly interlocked that there's no way to steer it toward an "happy end", or blame a character for acting supid and deserving it all.

The problem of Erikson here is that the plot escalates and climaxes in a fortuitous, convenient coincidence.

Take the whole Murillio/Rallick/Coll plot. That was splendidly executed and resolved.

What happens next, instead, is an arbitrary, alienating magic showdown. You know Propp Functions? It seems every character has to show his magical tool at the end. Quick Ben and his seven warrens, Hedge and his munitions, Paran has two, the sword and Hound powers. And the way Paran saves the day is entirely fortuitous.

Same could be said for the Chain of Dogs being saved by magical caravan. Or Tool arriving just in time to save the Adjunct earlier in this book. They are all plots that are met skeptically by a reader, since they are too convenient/incidental/last minute save. You see more the hand of a writer steering things, than a world that lives with its own rules and cause/effect.
Chris Hawks
93. SaltManZ
@87: I didn't say anything about later convergences being "bigger". And if you dislike "fortuitous", "convenient", and coincidental convergences so, maybe it's a good thing you haven't read the last 5 books.
Marc Rikmenspoel
94. Lizra
@Abalieno: Do I understand you correctly that you are saying that the end looks too much constructed?

Well maybe it's that case one the first view, but when you look deeper it makes perfectly sense.

The showing up of the demon was properly explained before, so I will not bother with that.

To the whole Paran thing: Luck is something very essential in the series, like it is in real life. How often do good thing happen just in the right moment? And we will see further in the series enough moments, when someone is just a bit to late. Like in real life.
The Jaghut magery hits the sword instead of him and the clash of powers weakens his hold on reality so that he slips in the strongest warren present - that of the Azath. All by luck, BUT his sword is all about luck.
He is fighting the Finnest in Houndshape. We see for the first time the consequences of Paran freeing the Hounds. In the same time it is another essential step to what he will become. And we haven't seen the last of those transformations. We will see more of it in MoI or BH, not sure wether.
Spoiler MoI:
Even on the card of the Master of the Deck he has a Houndhead coming out of his chest.


It seems every character has to show his magical tool at the end. Quick Ben and his seven warrens, Hedge and his munitions



We will see more of Quick in the series and see that he has much more about him.We were allready introduced to the sappers and the munitions, even if all they were doing so far was planting them. But do you really think, that someone with munition will not use it if there is the thread of an mad, undead Jaghut anywhere near?


Btw, it seems to me that you do not want to discuss - exchange arguments and think about them - but just insist on your opinion.
Brian Daniels
95. HoosierDaddy
Abalieno: Come to the Empire. We know you obsess on the most minor of details and have a massive problem with some things. Please don't annoy the people here by harping on something YOU don't understand to the detriment of the rest of the conversation. You want massive discussion of minutiae, that you don't care to actually enhance your knowledge of by reading further on in the series, we'll have at it there. Monopolizing conversation here is just annoying.
Marc Rikmenspoel
96. billcap
Wow, lots going on here!

The whole Azath-Dem back and forth I find quite interesting because to me, it’s all in how you view each individual book. If you see them through the prism of stand-alone novels, then perhaps one could make the DEM argument (though I might still quibble). But if you view them through the prism of a single story, I think the DEM complaint falls apart as the Azath:
a) isn’t getting introduced at the “end” of anything
b) needn’t be explained fully as like much of what happens in the series the subject will unfold over time
c) doesn’t in actuality “resolve” anything (in the big picture). In the small picture of dealing with Raest, it was pretty clear Rake was prepared to “handle” him (though not easily or with certainty, admittedly), so the Azath wasn’t actually “necessary.” In other words, the plot point could have been resolved elsewise, which also weakens the DEM argument.
As for setting it up ahead of time, I’m thinking that’s a matter of personal preference. I found the acorn oddity drew enough attention to itself to give enough of a sense of there’s-something-weird-about-this-thing, whereas some inf0-dump on the Azath via dialogue (or worse--a journal: “Dear Diary, I’m so like looking forward to Convergence Day. I hope, I hope, I hope that Billy’s right and I’ll get to see an Azath today . . . ‘Till tomorrow--Quick”) would have felt too much, no matter how subtly it was handled.
As for more precise discussion of Azaths, I’ll hold off on that for future books as we’ll get so much more info on them that it seems it would be best revisiting this with that knowledge in hand.

On the Demon Lord, as others have said, this was certainly telegraphed well in advance so it can’t be a DEM (and again it resolves nothing). As for it being “unnecessary,” that is true in that it doesn’t move plot forward, but it’s also a logical development based on what we’ve seen and what we know of Laseen’s motives (the difference here is we have a human action and thus need some motivation whereas the Azath is inhuman and therefore can remain mysterious, at least for now) and while it doesn’t move plot forward it does give a reason for Rake not to be dealing with Raest.

Paran, on the other hand, I think is a bit dicier. I can accept rationally the fact that with a sword named “Chance,” events will occur dependent upon, um, chance. And we’ve seen the sword’s abilities when he wounded the Hound and caught the lances on the blade, and we’ve seen Paran suddenly transport to a warren before as well, so it’s all set up for us. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m not wholly comfortable with it.

As for where he ends up, I have no actual argument to make but my gut feeling reading it was he was in the Finnest “self-contained warren” as Tool earlier called it and that the lack of ice was due to Tool’s presence, perhaps the added wards of his people he’d mentioned earlier. But that’s just a gut feeling. Abalieno--I can see your complaint about it being confusing because it certainly isn’t clear (I wouldn’t call the whole scene utterly confusing though), but I just skated over it as a reader, so one’s suspension of disbelief is always relative :)
Marc Rikmenspoel
97. billcap
Just thought I’d clarify, I’m not bothered that Raest’s power struck Paran’s sword. I actually think that’s a mischaracterization as I think the sword drew the power as it did the lances earlier.

You’d know what I’d rather? I’d rather that energy “snaking” toward Paran was the yellow fire burst from the Azath where Rallick is and it was the Azath that pulled Paran into the Finnest/Azath warren, thus also explaining why Chance was “hot” while the OP magic is ice-cold. That’s what I’d rather . . .
M D
98. Abalieno
The reason why I obsess trying to explain the Azath *now* is because, if we can do it, we can wrap up the narrative of this book in a more satisfying way. If we prove that the Azath was a safety plan the Jaghut thought in the case the tyrant was freed, the whole thing could stand on its own. Partial in the scope of the whole series, but wrapped up in the scope of this book and this specific event. It doesn't matter if the Azath idea is then further developed in the series. It would make GotM itself more satisfying and entice the reader to read on.

We know it was a safety plan thought by Jaghut, we don't need to know the details of how it works, that's material for the rest of the story. But at least we know the reason that lead to that event.

The other reason why I make a big fuss is because I see in this part the same pattern that I see in other moments of the series and that I consider a "flaw": this tendency of fortuitous/casual events that build up major plot points.

Luck is something very essential in the series, like it is in real life. How often do good thing happen just in the right moment?

Almost never?

The fact that Oponn is contextualized doesn't solve the problem. I'm not saying these events are entirely unplausible or impossible, I'm saying that these kinds of resolutions and major plot points that are based on fortuitous events feel cheesy and not convincing. They are frustrating. A narrative that works like that, is universally unsatisfying. No matter what book/writer.

It happens in a number of occasions and it's why I bring it up: I think they are all those rather rare cases that things could have been handled better.

In fact the figure of Oponn works better when it works against its idea. It's not "random", it's Oponn manipulating events for its own purposes. In that "chance" becomes personalized, and so subject to cause/effect/motivations.

George Martin in that GoT trailer said explicitly he wanted a world with very little magic so that the stories of men would be the true protagonist. So having a narrative that, despite fantasy elements, is strongly rooted in human behaviors and rules. So a story that feels real, characters that feel real. Directly familiar and understandable to the reader.

The other day I was reading a very interesting interview by another great writer that you should really read, if you haven't: KJ Parker. Here's a quote:

If you want to write real people, you’ve got to have them doing real things. That’s one of the reasons I don’t do magic in my books. Inevitably it’s hard to be convincing with magic because it can’t ever be real.

Is this the only way? Obviously not. Both Bakker and Erikson are targeting the same similar intents. Their "magic" isn't estranged from our concrete world, but it's actually deeply rooted in it. The magic is merely a device used for some seriously ambitious stuff, not just for something "showy" and pretty.

But in order to do that, they have to work much harder. They are hugely ambitious, far more than KJ Parker or Martin, but being ambitious means also having bigger risks.

The same for the matter of "trust" in the reader. Erikson in this re-read asked again for that trust. As it was pointed out in a discussion elsewhere, it's also the part where he risks the most. From a side he claims and demonstrates that every word has a big import and should be weighted carefully, from the other, if one looks very carefully, a number of things don't come up together. Events not fully consistent, characters' motivations that are sometime pushed too far or contradictory, errors in the timeline that have been admitted. You are encouraged to study the details and piece things together, but then you are also discouraged when one says "the timeline is not important", or that there's a GotMism, or other things that don't make completely sense.

This is a contradictory message that can be quite frustrating for a reader: do I pay attention to this element or I'm just chasing a red herring due to a mistake of a writer? I am the one who isn't working hard enough to figure out something, or it's just that Erikson made a mistake? Am I wasting time or there IS something I missed? When do I stop trying?

Which, I think, defines Erikson work quite well. When he succeeds (and he succeds in the great majority of the cases) he does it spectacularly, reaching unfathomable heights. But he walks constantly on that sharp edge between success and failure as the direct result of the ambition. Always one dangerously next to the other.

Indeed, I prefer much more someone who tries to push hard and sometimes fails than someone who plays safe, who treads known land and succeeds. Which is why in the end I'm a huge fan and enjoy his books more than those of the two writers I mentioned here. But at the same time it's LEGIT to ask more from Erikson, because it's him who taught me to pretend more. He taught me to be a demanding reader and not one easily contented.
M D
99. Abalieno
P.S.
This is the interesting interview I quoted, if someone wanted to read further:
http://subterraneanpress.com/index.php/magazine/summer-2010/interview-with-k-j-parker-by-tom-holt/
Marc Rikmenspoel
100. billcap
"In fact the figure of Oponn works better when it works against its idea. It's not "random", it's Oponn manipulating events for its own purposes. In that "chance" becomes personalized, and so subject to cause/effect/motivations."

But Oponn’s motivation is in fact “randomness” or, as the Twins put it in their first scene with Paran, they revel in “uncertainty” and “meaninglessness.” To assign them a straight line caue adn effect motivation akin to humans (or even other ascendants) so they they do A to ensure B-C-D is to fundamentally misconstrue their aspect. They’re somewhat problematic as constructs due to this (perhaps risky is a better word); for instance, we could just as easily say Crokus should have been killed early on since what saves him is chance (until the Crimson Guard show up) and that would lead us to complain about Baruk and Derudan surviving (since Crokus saves them) or the group that fought Lorn (since Crokus convinces her to leave them be) and the ripples continue, thanks no less to “chance” than what happens with Paran and the Finnest.

Which may make a case for not constructing such a being(s), but I guess my point is once they make their appearance at the start, it’s tough to complain about chance events afterward I think--chance/disorder/uncertainty has entered the world and cause and effect may no longer be a simple straight line (or it may--thus the uncertainty). As to whether they’re “convincing”--I guess it’s subjective. I find almost all of them “convincing” in the world Erikson has presented me; I wouldn’t elsewhere. The reason I have a harder time with Crokus knocking out Vorcan is because that didn’t seem a matter of chance or luck to me as presented, certainly not as his other chance escapades had been shown to us.

As far as being “discouraged”--that may be so; you certainly see it all over reading forums everywhere. But I don’t see much use in that. Trying to work one’s way through to a better understanding via discussion is one thing; if it ends with somebody simply disagreeing with you in thinking something is a flaw or a highlight I don’t see much use in “encouraging” or “discouraging” opinion at that point. It is, after all, opinion. :)
Chris
101. MatCauthonReborn
We seem to be having some rather heated discussion on the topic of DEM, aren't we?

My small point that I would like to make hasn't really been touched on. I believe that Erikson wrote his novels with several themes - futility and the human spirit, convergence of power and the evils of empire and capitalism amongst others. One that doesn't get much attention yet is reflected in every conversation about his work is Confusion.

I think Erikson wants the reader to be confused. How realistic is it that we should be able to work out everything that is going on? We only see some of the actions and some of the thoughts of only a few of the players in the story. There are a lot of motives, plans, actions, abilities etc that remain hidden.

If you consider real life, there are numerous encounters that we have with other people in any given day. Depending on how astute we are and how much time we spend analysing these interactions we will have an idea of what happened and why. However, that is simply 'our' interpretation of what happened. Other people might have interpeted things in a completely different manner. My point is that nobody can know everything even if we are the ones to experience it.

So, how does this apply to our predicament with the end of this book? The Jhagut may have planted an Azath seed. There may have been some unexpected reaction between Elder warrens (Omtose Phellack) and the new gods (Chance) that affected the Finnest. Until we get the viewpoint from of one of those ancient Jaghut or the thoughts of a warren expert in the books we simply cannot say. The best we can do is rationalise things with the information we have. Soemtimes we'll understand, sometimes we think we'll understand but don't and some times we'll simply be confused. Just like real life.
Amir Noam
102. Amir
HArai @84:


If you insist on judging the first book of a 10-book epic fantasy series in isolation from the rest of the series, then yes, you'll find things that aren't neatly wrapped up and tied off in that book

I never said that I judge the series based on any one scene from a single book. It seems to me that people get a bit emotional on this subject and take it personally.

Now, I very much like the MBotF series and have said so before (also on this thread). I also like the GotM as a book. I think that Erikson is an incredibly talented writer and has created intruiging world, characters and plot(s).

However, as a reader, I'm entitled to like certain parts of this saga more than others and also to think that some parts are weaker than others. (no one is perfect, and as noted, there is general consensus that, for example, the timelines in the series have some inconsistencies)

Specifically here, I think the end of GotM is weaker than other sections of the book/series. I do not think this makes the book or series "bad", not does it make me think less of Erikson as a writer.

Of course the first book in a 10-book saga will introduce some things only to be explored later. (Just to name a few - the Pannion Seer, the Seven Cities rebellion, the Crippled God, Elder races and their relations, etc. etc.). All of these and more *are* hinted in GotM and it's OK since it's indeed the first book in a long series.

However, all of these things are hinted and left unresolved in this book precisely because they hint at events of future books. The Azath that appears at the end of GotM is not just a curious introduction of another aspect of the Malazan world to be explored later -- it appears and helps to resolve a plot point that is part of the *GotM plot*. There's a reason each book is its own entity in this series (they aren't randomally split). Each book has its own plot that needs to be resolved *to some degree* in that particular book. Using a new powerful unexpected element in the last chapter to help resolve this book's plot is what feels to some readers as "DEM-ish". (And I agree this doesn't fit the technical definition of a DEM, but that's the vibe I still got from it when I first finished the book).

I'm definitely not trying to preach here to anybody that they are wrong and that I am right, because, frankly, this whole discussion is about the *subjective* experience of different readers to the same book. I enjoy reading others' opinions and to explain my own take on things. Really - I have no intention of convincing anyone to change their own point of view on this or on any other topic. Just dropping in my 2 cents.

I appreciate everyone's contribution to the discussion!
Steven Halter
103. stevenhalter
Something to consider is the effects of magic in the world of TMBotF. SE is not writing a world where there just happens to be some magic. Magic is very deeply a part of the world--not an incidental attachment.
Consider Oponn. Oponn are the dual gods of Chance. This isn't just a title--they occupy a position that effects the probability of events.
The rules in TMBotF world are not the rules we are used to in our world.
Hugh Arai
104. HArai
Abalieno@98:


The reason why I obsess trying to explain the Azath *now* is because, if we can do it, we can wrap up the narrative of this book in a more satisfying way. If we prove that the Azath was a safety plan the Jaghut thought in the case the tyrant was freed, the whole thing could stand on its own. Partial in the scope of the whole series, but wrapped up in the scope of this book and this specific event. It doesn't matter if the Azath idea is then further developed in the series. It would make GotM itself more satisfying and entice the reader to read on.




Like every other reader, you're entitled to your opinion. I'll just point out that for some readers a story of this scope where everything is wrapped up neatly at the end of each novel is not more satisfying but less. It does not strike everyone as more realistic when everything neatly fits together, it strikes many as being forced and often cliched. Some readers do not insist on knowing all the reasons all the time. If you actually want the discussion you say you do, you should be aware that claims like



A narrative that works like that, is universally unsatisfying. No matter what book/writer.




are not facts and are simply your opinion. Treating opinions as facts is unlikely to get people to engage, in my own experience.
Also, if luck (good or bad) has almost never played a part in your life, be aware others have had and are having different experiences.

Amir@102: Well said. I don't dispute your right to thinking it had a "DEM-ish vibe", because obviously you know how you felt about it. I didn't feel the same way, but that doesn't make either of us "the right one". And since you don't want to argue over the definition of a DEM, we can move past that as well :)
Steven Halter
105. stevenhalter
Lizra@94:

The Jaghut magery hits the sword instead of him and the clash of powers weakens his hold on reality so that he slips in the strongest warren present


I like that as an explanation of Paran's transportation. It also nicely echo's QB's talk about Moranth munitions being drawn to warrens.
Steven Halter
106. stevenhalter
Amir@102: I totally agree that every reader has a different experience. Its really been interesting as we go through this reread to see various peoples reactions to the different sections. Some people's reactions are very different than mine and some are very similar and that's a good thing.
Steven Halter
107. stevenhalter
When we first see Rake, he is high above the city of Pale in Moon's Spawn. Throughout most of the rest of the book we see him either on the ground or in Baruk's study.
In chapter 23 we see him move from street level (literally) to the befry of K'rul's temple and then ascend to a dizzying height in his dragon form.
Then, at the end of 23 he plummets to meet the demon lord.
I like the movements back and forth from high to low. They emphasize his various roles at the moment. We saw SE use this same sort of technique (in fact he commented on it) in moving from first seeing Whiskeyjack atop Mock's hold to next seeing him down low on the plain by Pale. An interesting an effective (to me anyway) technique.
Steven Halter
108. stevenhalter
Lorn, meanwhile, provides another interesting technique. We start with the Adjunct, calm and in control of the difficult situation on the road to Itko Kan. We then gradually descend (in her internal terms) to the final death by the blades of a couple of barmaids. As Lorn proceeds through the story, her character becomes (again to me) less palatable. The choices she makes seem to be the wrong ones for the wrong reasons.
ezzkmo .
109. ezzkmo
Forgive me if this is explained by someone in the comments or I missed it in the book somehow. I'm still a little confused on why Paran was allowed to live (by Shadowthrone and Cotillion). Also on how/why he gave up his sword Chance. Did they trade Paran's life for the sword or something?

Secondly, beating this topic to death, I also found it strange that the Jaghut Tyrant is talked up for 600 pages as this ultimate showdown that will happen, only to have him taken out by "not Rake" and now we have some demon dragon to take care of. Where did that come from and should I be scared of this thing? Is it more powerful than the Jaghut Tyrant? Took me by surprise. Rake hinted at this I think by kind of not worrying too much about JT, knowing he had a larger battle coming up.
Marc Rikmenspoel
110. Lizra
ezzkmo@109: I think they let Paran live, because Rood let him go and they see the chance to get his sword. Paran is happy to get rid of the sword and Oponns possibility to manipulate him, because he thinks his luck has turned.
Travis Nelsen
112. Zangred
@ezzkmo:
Secondly, beating this topic to death, I also found it strange that the Jaghut Tyrant is talked up for 600 pages as this ultimate showdown that will happen, only to have him taken out by "not Rake" and now we have some demon dragon to take care of. Where did that come from and should I be scared of this thing? Is it more powerful than the Jaghut Tyrant? Took me by surprise. Rake hinted at this I think by kind of not worrying too much about JT, knowing he had a larger battle coming up.



You will find throughout the series some ancient uber-powerful being is released from imprisonment or woken up or whatever and is then disposed of rather easily, and often in a completely unexpected way for the reader. From that being's POV they are unstoppable, but almost always dismiss the fact that time has moved on and things have changed. The same is also true from other POV's. Through myth, legend, whatever, some characters overreact to a threat because of what they know of how powerful it was in the past (i.e. Captain Paran dealing with a certain threat in BH). So, the Azath coming into play here and stopping Raest, instead of a devastating fight with Rake that would likely have leveled the city, is really not surprising in the greater context of the series.

As far as the Demon Lord being released, earlier in the book when QB released a demon in much the same fashion, it was stated that it had the power to level the city if left unchecked. That was just a regular demon, the Adjunct released a Demon Lord which is presumably much more powerful. So yeah, it certainly could be a powerful threat. These demons are not some ancient being that little is known about them, they have been used by the Empire before, so the threat they pose is known and concrete.
Travis Nelsen
113. Zangred
Double Post.

This Comment Box we have now is fucking horrible and needs to go.
Marc Rikmenspoel
114. StevenErikson
Well now, things are heating up nicely. Meanwhile, was doing weights last night and something pinged in my neck and now I need to spend the day in bed to keep the vertigo at bay. That said, it's given me time to read through all the comments here.

Where to start? I think I'll talk about the whole magic thing, referencing Parker's observations in the SubPress interview. While I'm a great admirer of Parker's works, I have to disagree here with the notion that magic is difficult to write; and as for Martin's comments on the same subject, well, we are writing very different things, with different intentions, so comparisons are not very useful, even from a techincal standpoint. It's all very well to compare what one of us does versus what the other does, but really, it only seems to obtain when the one doing the arguing has an agenda that needs supporting, at which point the intention itself becomes suspect.

No matter. Back to Parker's observation (and it's worth noting that magic is not a subject Parker will continue to avoid, if you read the last bit of the interview). Here's how I approach the subject: I speak often of points-of-view and the notion of walking in someone else's shoes. That applies well to this topic. I'm hoping you will recall a photo a few months ago that made the rounds; it was shot from a helicopter, looking down on a bow-and-arrow wielding Amazonian Indian, and the accompanying article related to non-contact policies regarding remote indigenous peoples. The photo made clear to me a number of things: the first being, that is abrave man down there. The second being, in his shoes (bare feet) he is witness to something inexplicable and terrifying. Now, if you care to, think about similar isolated peoples in the jungles of Cambodia in the 70's -- for them the napalm and cluster-bombs raining down from the sky were likely even more terrible; all the worse for that the B2's were flying so high as to be invisible. Stand in their shoes for a while. Then make the switch to the pilot high overhead; he can probably explain the mechanical process whereby the bombs drop when he flips a toggle and then presses a button, and he probably thinks nothing of it, mechanically. One thing he is very aware of, however, is the awesome power at his fingertips. Two very distinct points-of-view, and both perfectly useable when it comes to thinking about magic, efficacious magic, frightening magic. Now, is that just my background in anthropology that gives me that stuff which I can then use? I doubt it. It's all down to being willing to wear someone else's skin.

One of my mentors in the writing program at UVic once addressed the class with respect to writing believably about something the writer has never experienced (as in, say, war); and he said what's needed is the process of taking an imaginative leap between, say, past experience in a car accident -- and those excruciating instances of recognition and helplessness -- and transferring them to whatever you then write about; or, by way of another example, if you want a sense of what it's like to be shot at, recall the baseball racing for your head on a line-drive back when you were a kid.

While most writers of action-filled fiction are not likely to have lived the life of James Bond, there are aspects of daily life experience that can be called upon, because all we're really doing is reaching for certain emotions, and those emotions are universal. Fiction writing is about faking it.

That said, getting shot at is far more confusing as far as feelings go than watching a line-drive try to dent your forehead. (And yes, I do think about confusion a lot, and take that comment however you care to.) But you get the picture, I hope.

Magic-wielding characters? I don't see a problem. In fact, I don't see them as being any different from non-magic-wielding characters. Picture that pilot shot down, bailed out, landing in the jungle. Dazed, confused, frightened. Checks the pistol at his belt, turns at a sound, and takes a poisoned arrow through the eye.

There's all kinds of ways of looking at power.

Now, I'm sorta warmed up. Before I get to the matter of DEM's and all that ... now that the series is done, and now that I've already said elsewhere that Toll the Hounds provides the cipher for understanding the series, it probably does no harm to reveal what was going on in my mind during the writing of Gardens of the Moon, and how my reality (and sense of it) shaped what I wrote, and gave me the reasons for writing it the way I did.

As any beginning writer well knows, the future is filled with soaring hope and crushing despair. Yes, there are bestselling writers out there making a decent living (or even filthy rich), all happily writing full-time. But they are a minority; and most even published writers need to supplement their habit with 'real work.' So, you hope and you fear. You want but you also need to be realistic. And in the bookshops you pick up titles and read a little bit and wonder how in hell did this ever get published? Or you think, ah, here I am in good hands.

And you daydream. A lot. These days they call it visualisation. So, there we were, living on Saltspring Island, unemployed and on welfare (starving in paraidse, we still call that phase of our lives). A baby about to arrive and scant prospects on the horizon.

But I kept looking at those books in the stores, trying to work out why some ever made it into print; trying to figure out the rhyme or reason of publishing. It looked like the biggest crapshoot imaginable. Seemed to me that luck played as big a role as talent. Who you knew, that kind of thing.

Luck. I sat down to write this fantasy novel, thinking about chance and mischance. Thinking about a life in anonymity and a life that wasn't (refer if you will to Circle Breaker in the epilogue and the novel's last line). Thinking about writing a tale filled with magic, high adventure and a wild, if not insane, climax. And dreaming of getting it published and actually making a living as a writer.

Lots of dreams went into Gardens of the Moon (hence the title, too, and the invented mythos surrounding it), along with ambition. And the writing thereof became on one level a dialogue with myself (as is the entire series). I wasn't there to write a war-of-the-roses kind of fantasy novel; I wasn't there to slide elves and demons and vampires into the alleys of our city streets: I was there to write high fantasy, even as I actively dragged it down to ground level.

George and I share one thing when we get together: with all the comparisons we both want to scream.

Finish the draft, package and send it off blind to a publisher. And then wait, and wait. And wait. You see, I knew I was taking huge risks (that's why the novel is about chance! Who spun the first coin? Me); but I had one thing going for me at the time -- the sheer enthusiasm of having had a blast writing the novel. And the last few chapers, well, this wasn't just watching dominos fall, it was lighting firecrackers under them. For what it's worth, I was mentally grinning throughout the finale of the novel. I was having fun.

So, I dreamed of an end to anonymity. Who doesn't? For eight years the laugh was on me. Nobody wanted it, and to be honest, I'd pretty much put it away by the time I landed my first novel sale, in the UK, as a writer of contemporary fiction. But even for that sale, the advance was nothing to live on, and I was beginning to think it was time to look elsewhere in terms of a career.

And then luck stepped in. Seems that coin had been spinning for so long I stopped even hearing it.

The Azath was never a DEM. Amazingly, even back then I knew what DEM's were. No plot issues jammed up or needed spur-of-the-moment fixes or inventions. Take away the Azath and nothing actually changes: the cusser could have done in Raest. And yes, it's an acorn, not a stone or marble or jeweled ring; and from tiny acorns mighty trees do grow. And the sword's intercession on Paran's behalf was set up earlier.

And yes, 'release the seven...' is simply awful as far as lines go. The old shit-detctor was on stand-by last revision, with that one. Sincerest apologies to all. Mea culpa.

Anyway, this is what happens being propped up in bed all day. I go on and on. I'm happy to discuss themes and literary aspects; and to answer questions and all that, and I promise I will come to the site next week for the wrap-up, etc. In the meantime, I hope I have not ruined any of the romance or mystery regarding Gardens of the Moon. It's still an adventure tale, and I had plenty of fun writing it, and it's crammed with set-up details, and while I understand why for some readers the Azath arrived out of the blue; alas, for me and Cam, well, we were old hands with the Azath, there was nothing new to it at all; we understood its function and we'd made use of it countless times in our gaming. It never even occurred to me that it would pose a problem: just one more detail, one more invention, like Hounds and Decks and risky swords and Moranth munitions: the world was there; we used what was in it.

Cheers for now
(seeing if I can make it down to the garden -- sun's out, hoo rah)

SE
Sydo Zandstra
116. Fiddler
Seems like you guys haven't been idle lately. :p

@Abalieno:

Please don't take this the wrong way. But I have to agree with others, when they say you'd better save yourself the discussion energy/time and read on past House of Chains first.

Not because this is a veteran reader party only. Far from that: I think first time readers don't get spoiled too often here, and that is a good thing.

You say that this is the best time to start discussing about Azath houses being DEM or not. Yet, there are currently more books available in this series that you haven't read, as opposed to the number of books you have read. And there is enough interesting information on Azath houses in those books. Those who read the books cannot (or will not) bring that into discussion here, because telling would be spoilerific, in one case even spoiling over multiple books.

So I do not think we should be discussing Azath houses here and now in such a detailed way. Just accept that they exist in the Malazan world, and remember this is only the first book. Remember that the whole warren thing got clearer in Memories of Ice.

Also, do not base conclusions on who is bad and who isn't on the first 4 books. You haven't seen the start of it yet.

Again, please don't take this as a 'read the books first and come back later' kind of post. Just be careful with analyzing/interpreting/theorizing.

So get to it. You have a lot of awesome reading moments waiting ahead. :)
Sydo Zandstra
117. Fiddler
@Steven:

Thank you very much for sharing that! Get well :)
Steven Halter
118. stevenhalter
@Steven:
I'm glad you had fun writing the ending. I certainly had fun reading it--a headlong plunge into action.
Julian Augustus
119. Alisonwonderland
Steven @114:

I hope you'll want to answer this question, to which I alluded in a post earlier in this thread. Your explanation above, viz,

And yes, it's an acorn, not a stone or marble or jeweled ring; and from tiny acorns mighty trees do grow.

clarifies the issue as far as the Azath growing from Raest's finnest, and also conforms with the Azath Silchas planted in Reaper's Gale. But I can't square the Azaths growing in GotM and RG with your explanation of how Azaths are created in the first place in Toll the Hounds. Specifically, how does Gothos taking away a fully formed Azath house from the Builder result in an Azath growing from a planted seed? I suppose one could put it down to magic, but that seems very unsatisfying, and it doesn't explain how Gothos manages to get the house into position (through the planted seeds) exactly when needed in GotM and RG.
What I mean is, you've left too big a gap between the Azaths being formed in TtH and the Azaths appearing in GotM and RG. If you haven't already closed this gap in The Crippled God, perhaps you can clarify a bit?

Thank you very much for helping us to the right interpretation of your work.
Julian Augustus
120. Alisonwonderland
Drat, hitting page refresh causes a double post!
Dan K
121. kramerdude
Wow, leave for a weekend and all sorts of stuff happens.

As I was reading through the thread I kept thinking about a general post regarding actions happening in the Malazan world and how we should not expect them to occur according to the way things happen in our own. And wondering how we can be having discussions of DEM in a world where multiple gods and ascendants and other characters with 300,000+ years of knowledge in this world can and are acting.

Then I get to the end of the thread and find that Mr. Erikson himself has expressed those opinions way more eloquently than I ever could.
M D
122. Abalieno
THANKS to Erikson because I thrive on these external aids to the text. It's a flaw, I know.

I wanted to address a few things that I guess were more aimed at me.

Where to start? I think I'll talk about the whole magic thing, referencing Parker's observations in the SubPress interview. While I'm a great admirer of Parker's works, I have to disagree here with the notion that magic is difficult to write; and as for Martin's comments on the same subject, well, we are writing very different things, with different intentions, so comparisons are not very useful, even from a techincal standpoint. It's all very well to compare what one of us does versus what the other does, but really, it only seems to obtain when the one doing the arguing has an agenda that needs supporting, at which point the intention itself becomes suspect.

It would be silly if I was comparing different writers with different intentions when on the internet I was always between those constantly criticizing this practice, especially in book reviews. Even worse when the comparison has the purpose of defining "who's better" with the presumption of objectivity.

But then I did it, and for a reason. That comparison between Erikson's "climax" and what instead Martin did with the king in GoT was done just as an explanatory example of an idea I was expressing. The analogy hadn't the intent to *compare*, but just a way to explose that technical thing I was pointing out. Just an example that is common enough for other readers.

The "rule" was: if you end up a big plot with an incidental/fortuitous/lucky resolution, the thing will be perceived as sloppy and quite frustrating.

It's an abstract rule and in fact someone pointed out that rules can't be that absolute. It's true. I believe in what Wittgenstein said. First you learn all the hard rules, then you toss them away. Or: rules are meant to be broken. But also: rules have a purpose. You break them when you have a good reason to do so.

So a rule, like the one I expressed, is meant to be broken, but requiring a particular attention in doing it. Because I still that rule is "true", even if not absolute. It exists because I formulated it as the result of observation of my own reactions, and reactions of other readers.

That's definitely my "agenda that needs supporting". I'm voicing a reaction I had. On my first read it was the very end of GotM that frustrated me and the only part of the book that I haven't fully enjoyed. Often it's said that the problem of the book is the beginning and all that is going on, but my problem was mostly the too "showy" end, and suspension of disbelief related to the culmination of events that I was seeing as too "convenient". You don't have to agree with me, you just have to walk in my shoes.

I can only appreciate Erikson's clever and enlighting answer. Also because he didn't accept the flattery associated with my claim that high fantasy is harder to write ;)

That part will also be quite handy whenever the broad discussion about "magic" in "fantasy" will pop up again. (soon enough, as usual)

It's still an adventure tale, and I had plenty of fun writing it, and it's crammed with set-up details, and while I understand why for some readers the Azath arrived out of the blue; alas, for me and Cam, well, we were old hands with the Azath, there was nothing new to it at all; we understood its function and we'd made use of it countless times in our gaming.

Can I dare say that maybe the problem is there? That's why advance readers exist. Cam is way more than an advance reader, he is a co-creator.

Take away the Azath and nothing actually changes: the cusser could have done in Raest. And yes, it's an acorn, not a stone or marble or jeweled ring; and from tiny acorns mighty trees do grow.

The metaphorical meaning of the acorn is another of those things that i completely missed on a first read. I mean, these small elements seem quite straightforward to figure out and interpret when you isolate them, but when you read you are BOMBARDED by lots and lots of layers. You get sidetracked all the time about major elements of the plot and most of the small nuances go over your head.

But even now I'm left to wonder. I understand the association and meaning of the acorn, but was it exclusively authorial? I mean, it's "Erikson" picking it, or it was the Jaghut who trapped the tyrant?

Because we are still on that surface level. Whether the association was ideal/metaphorical, or if it was plot-related. If it was plot-related it means that the Jaghut "foresaw" that from the acorn could grow an Azath. And if this is true I continue to say that this really needed a better exposition since you're actually requiring the reader to make a huge double-jump. First think the acorn metaphorically, and then think about why the Jaghut would pick it. Speculation that is enirely external to the text.

OR maybe "tiny acorn = mighty tree" is simply analogy of power. "tiny acorn = mighty tree ; tiny finnest = holding mighty power". The mighty power represented is the finnest or the Azath? Did the Jaghut who improsoned the tyrant think of an Azath when they picked the acorn? Actually on my first read what I fancied is that the acorn choice was more about a life symbol (a seed), controversially used to represent destruction. Something like a "good wish". A way to use a fetish with the hope that the implied good nature of the fetish would have a positive influence. Like an offer to a deity. Or like the fetishes/lucky charms people put in their cars hoping they won't crash somewhere.

I go on and on. I'm happy to discuss themes and literary aspects; and to answer questions and all that, and I promise I will come to the site next week for the wrap-up, etc. In the meantime, I hope I have not ruined any of the romance or mystery regarding Gardens of the Moon.

I'll never understand this (see my first line). I absolutely love hearing a writer talking of his work, either directly or indirectly. If anything these discussion greatly enhance my appreciation for the books (and who's behind them).

Hey Steve, we hear The Crippled God has been delayed one month for editing (or so they told us). Can I ask how the thing is proceeding and whether or not you are discussing the possibility of having a "world map" in the book? There was a discussion on Malazan forums about the relative position of Lether according to an old map of yours given to us by Malaclypse, with it "moved" south of the landmass Seven Cities is attached to. Which produced various discussions about the possible contradictions, or why it wasn't discovered sooner by the Malazan empire, since it looks closer than how it was initially projected.

Also, we read you're co-writing a book with Cam about Mott Irregulars. And there are those two trilogies planned you spoke about. I'd just like to hear more about your projects and whether or not there have been any changes in your future endeavours :)

"Singular intent, poor sergeant, is the most cleansing of endeavours. Witness here before you amiable myself and, at my side, himself. We two are most singular."
a a-p
123. lostinshadow
Hmmm a lot of discussion here. I will just add to say that I don't understand this need some readers appear to have everything tied up neatly at the end of each book.

To me at least, the beauty of this series is the intricate plot that unfolds throughout the series. The complexity and foreshadowing of this series is mind boggling and really, for me at least a huge plus. So I see no need to find a satisfactory explanation for everything within the plot of each book. These are not stand alone novels here.

Also, a lot of apparently obvious explanations turn out to be wrong (mild spoiler mainly book 3: for example I doubt many first time readers figured out the story behind the "betrayal" of Dujek's Host by the Empress until it was actually revealed in later books. On the contrary this so called betrayal is a huge reason behind why Laseen got on the black book of most readers) in any case.

A lot of the fun in this series is having your expectations turned on their head, learning to like characters as the plot unfolds and a lot of "ohhhh" moments.

And for those of you who don't like incidental convergences and find the end of this book credulity streching I have to echo Salt-Man-Z@93 "if you dislike "fortuitous", "convenient", and coincidental convergences" some of the later books in the series may be a bit of a problem to swallow.

I haven't finished reading all the available books yet but for myself, it was in books 5-7 (especially 6) that the disparate elements of the plot (of the whole series) started to sink in and start becoming cohesive.

Of course now that I've read Mr. Erikson's comment above that "...now that I've already said elsewhere that Toll the Hounds provides the cipher for understanding the series..." when about 200 pages into my first read of Toll the Hounds, I am very nervous - gahh what if I miss crucial elements of the cipher? *grins* guess I'll just have to do a reread!

anyways, back to Toll the Hounds for me.

hope you feel better soon Mr. Erikson!
Steven Halter
124. stevenhalter
@StevenErikson:
By the way, do you have a preference to be addressed as Steven or Steve? I go by either myself.
M D
125. Abalieno
Well, Steve is not a diminutive but his real name. I guess he's probably used to both by now.
Steven Halter
127. stevenhalter
For people who might be interested, here is a linkage to the interview SE was alluding to where he mentions "Toll the Hounds" provides the cipher to the series. It has some info that first time readers might not want to see, but most of that probably wouldn't be too spoilerish. I put some spaces in to avoid the spam filter:

forum.malazanempire.com/ index.php? showtopic=17131
Steven Halter
128. stevenhalter
@StevenErikson:
In looking for the appropriate "cipher" interview, I noticed in another interview you mentioned that you are a fencer. This is something I had always suspected. I've been fencing since 1982 and had noticed that your fight scenes have a realism to them as regards tempo and positioning.
Sydo Zandstra
129. Fiddler
@shalter (and others):

Not sure if you spotted it already, but I didn't see a post from you in there yet.

Bill posted a new thread where you can ask questions to SE.

HTH
M D
130. Abalieno
About the "meaning" of the title of the book I spotted a rather great comment of a reader on the Malazan forums that discusses at depth the deeper meaning. It's interesting because it's completely coherent with what Erikson has revealed.

Here:
--
I'm going to nod my head to the genius of the title, "Gardens of the Moon", for as perverse as it seems to name a book after a seemingly obscure reference in a single conversation, that reference encompasses a theme of enormous importance in the book and the series.

1. The story of the 'gardens of the moon', as told by Apsalar, offers the hope of future bliss. More broadly, you can read redemption or salvation for bliss.

To all those struggling in their day to day lives with the seemingly eternal problems of societies (war, injustice, tyranny[1]) and personal existence (heartbreak, illness, hunger), any hope of future salvation and bliss is obviously of enormous appeal. Readers of later books will recognise where this idea goes. The Chained God's apparent doctrine to mortals (regardless of his actual intentions) is the story of the gardens of the moon; an offer of future bliss and release from their present sufferings.

2. Apsalar's telling of the story of the 'gardens of the moon' frames it as a kind of fairy story or children's tale or fantasy.

In other words, it requires a certain naivety or wilful self-delusion to buy into it wholly, so there's actually two opposed themes derived from it:
( a ) subservience to - or faith in - a wilful self-deception or illusion offering the hope of future bliss,
-- versus --
( b ) clearer-eyed experience (or cynicism) teaching a truer but harder reality that hope is often transient (unless you struggle to hang on to it) and bliss elusive (unless you lower your expectations of it).

And that opposition is the crux of the drama in the entire series. Most (almost all?) of the major characters in the series embody the struggle between these notions in some way, and their experiences and personal evolution are an examination of these two competing ideas. (Consider Paran's path in GotM[2].) That's what makes the choice of title of the first book so brilliant.

Of course, the longer someone has been around, the closer to the second category they generally fall. In terms of groups, rather than individuals, the embracing of the second ideal isn't often the result of revelation, but entropy and experience, and although groups don't encompass the free-will aspect of this idea (see note [1]), the important factor is that they are (largely) without the hope of reward or bliss. Think of the ennui that permeates the Tiste Andii and what led them to that (much of which only comes out in later books, admittedly), or more amusingly, Tool's often quoted ruminations about the T'lan Imass:

"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."

--------------------------

[1] One of the more amazing notions that appears in the series is that all forms of society, even the smallest community - is a form of tyranny. From anyone else, this'd sound like pure cynicism, but from an anthropologist (as Erickson is), it is - at least in the context of the Malazan series -something to bear in mind. Now I think this idea is first spelled out, albeit in passing, in MoI (in reference to the Jaghut's self-imposed personal isolationism), although it utterly dominates some later books. What's of interest (to me, at least) is the way in which this notion of tyranny as a social force appears reflected in the two opposed themes of the 'gardens of the moon' story: a personal subservience versus a rejection of the consolations of companionship.

[2] Paran has given over control of his life to an ideal of service to the Adjunct (early on in GotM) - in part a wilful self-delusion; that by following rather than making his own choices he can be absolved of the myriad challenges of free will. But new friendships undermine his isolation, casting him adrift as a pawn of other powers who test him sorely, and only by finally seeking to break his subservience to them does he begin to leave behind his illusion of hope granted by unthinking service; and now has to face the nasty idea that redemption (of any kind) will not come from any self-deception, and that new forms of more freely given service to others (and other ideals) - while being more ethically true to his heart - are without (illusory) guarantees of redemption. It's the hard road - no more gardens of the moon for him... apparently.

Many other characters touch upon this idea in different ways. Compare Lorn's path with Paran's: after being tested, and tempted to leave her illusions behind, she appears to return to the path of the gardens of the moon - in action at least, but what about her heart?

Or consider Whiskeyjack, Toc the Younger, and Rallick Nom (what do they really trust in? and how have their outlooks evolved with their allegiences/friendships and experiences?).
Steven Halter
131. stevenhalter
Fiddler@129:Thanks for the heads up--I hadn't seen that yet.
Amir Noam
133. Amir
Indeed, thanks Fiddler@129 for the pointer. Would never have seen that thread otherwise

It's here, btw, if others are looking for it.
Amir Noam
134. Amir
@StevenErikson: As others have mentioned, I also very much appreciate any contribution you make to these discussions. It's been very insightful so far. And feel better!


Regarding the whole DEM thing, I was always sure that the Azath was intended as an integral part of the Malazan world and not something that Erikson made up on the spot. It's just that its so sudden introduction at the end of the book gave me that "DEM-ish" vibe. But I have to admit that on a second read, it felt less "DEM-ish" to me.

As Erikson himself just wrote, if we would take the Azath out of the picture Raest was still pretty much contained at that point by Hedge's cusser.

As a tangent, this reminded me very much of the episode Innocence from the 2nd season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In that episode, among other things, the heros learn that the Bad Guys are trying to resurrect an ancient and powerful demon called "The Judge" who was summoned a long time ago to kill all of humanity. The only thing they learn from their research was that this Judge was super powerful, that "no weapon forged" can kill him and that it "took an army" to bring him down. When they finaly face him down and the Judge repeats the line of "no weapon forged can kill me", Buffy tells him: "That was then. This is now" and pulls out a rocket launcher. The Judge only manages to ask: "What does that do?" before being blown to bits.

I appreciate the theme of ancient beings (gods, ascendants, etc.) not finding a place for themselves in a new world. As K'rul puts it, humans are the masters of gods, even if they don't know it. Later on in the series, though, it started to really bother me that we'd continually get huge build-ups of terrible threats, only for the threat to be resolved easily by something completely unexpected (by neither the reader nor the characters) and also to be simultaneously replaced by an equally menacing and unforeseen threat (again by neither reader nor characters).

It's not as glaring in GotM, so I'll postpone discussing those until we reach the later books (and who knows, maybe by reading it again I'll feel differently :-)).
Amir Noam
135. Amir
Another thing I noticed here (as we're closing to wrapping up GotM), is that I still have problems with the character of Lorn.

As I mentioned in the review of one of the earlier chapters, I find Lorn's age to be a bit unbelievable given her skills and world knowledge. I think that at this point she is 21 (making her 19 when Paran first met her)! Her skills with a sword alone, though technically possible, still took a bit to swallow. (It's not as if she started practicing swordplay at age 5)

However, in these last episodes I felt the same problems again with her super powers. We never get an explanation of Lorn's abilities, and (without spoliers) I don't remember a future Adjunct displaying such capabilities. I doubt it's something magical (by the empress or others) because (a) Lorn carries an Otataral sword, and (b) Lorn claims that magic has not worked on her for a very long time (though, granted, I've learnt not to trust too much in what characters in MBotF say :-)).

First, we learn that she heals fast. This can easily be attributred to her exposure to Otataral and it seems to have the same effect later on Rallick, so so far so good. Then we know that she can track certain people - Paran, Sorry, the Coin Bearer, the Bridgeburners. This is harder to explain. I believe we're told that Lorn can track Paran because she spent much time with him. And maybe she has a weird ability to track Sorry and Crokus by sensing the relevant gods' power. But how does she track the bridgeburners? (knows where to find them in Darujhistan).

Then in this last chapter, Lorn suddenly moves so fast that the Demon Lord can't even track her? This moment completely broke my suspension of disbelief.

We can always wave our hand and say "Otataral has strange and unforseen effects on people" but if Lorn has suddenly sprouted wings I think many would think that this would be stretching it, no?

I think that Lorn is an interesting character who goes through very intriguing dilemmas (ethical, philosophical, practical). It's just her age and super abilities that are making it hard for me to accept the character as believable.
Rob Munnelly
136. RobMRobM
@135 - in the question to SE thread, that was precisely the question I'd like Bill to ask Steve - what are the attributes and powers of the Adjunct beyond carrying around a cool sword.

Note: If she is not magically enhanced somehow, note that an Adjunct could have the so-called Mat Cauthon medallion problem from Wheel of Time - specifically, even if magic doesn't work on such person, someone theoretically could use magic to dump a boulder (or a Tisti Andii floating island) on her from a distance (or flick small rocks or manure at her to tick her off, as was the case with Mat).
M D
137. Abalieno
Unrelated but worth mentioning.

I spotted on malazan forums a discussion that explains why ST is pissed when he discovers Quick Ben. Saying:

"It is you! Delat! You shape-shifting bastard!"

It seems this is related to a previous episode between the two. This sub plot is related to House of Chains (Bidithal).

Just to say that line is actually referring to something specific and that can be tracked. Not a GotMism :)
Tai Tastigon
138. Taitastigon
Aba @137

Hmm...maybe, just MAYBE, you might wanna read on tomes 5 thru 9 to understand the complete implications of THAT statement...hmm...I correct myself, we may have to await tCG to really get the definite answer. So much for that, I guess...
Tricia Irish
139. Tektonica
OMG. Take a vacation at the climax of a book and look what happens! I'm soooooo behind. I'm up to date on the comments, but in such a disjointed fashion, I'm completely muddled. Good discussions!

I think I'll spend this morning rereading the ending of GotM to get up to speed for the post. (It's nice to be home!)

Thank you Steven Erikson! It's wonderful to have you checking in with us. I so appreciate you insights.
Maiane Bakroeva
142. Isilel
Who would have thought it? I actually caught up with the re-read!

Speaking for the last time of Lorn - IMHO her deathwas very poignant and a fitting ending for her arc. Nor do I have problems with her powers, as we certainly see Paran quickly and haphazardly acquiring some massive powers too. I have to say that Lorn, who rejected her doubts in the name of her belief in the Empire and Empress is more palatable to me than the Bridgeburners, who have massive doubts, yet easily unleash slaughter when it suits them (I have big problems with certain BG's actions in DG too).
I guess that I see the whole situation through the prism of Stalinism, which Empire strongly ressembles and survivalist zynics who are ready to sacrifice thousands to survive stick in my craw the way a young zealot who gladly dies to escape the conflict between her perceived duty and her humanity, does not. And yes, BGs are often compassionate to individuals, but it makes their wanton destruction of faceless masses even more difficult for me to accept.
BTW, they would have gone up with Darujistan if they exploded the mines and destroying the city didn't serve their interests anyway. It was not mercy that stopped them.
Also, Lorn was one of the few female bad-asses and apparently one of the few characters to die permanently, so I'll miss her for that too.

Another thing - I have to wonder how are the Adjuncts selected? I have to admit that the next person in that office makes little sense to me - but I didn't yet finish DG, so maybe all will be revealed in the other books.

IMHO the idea that Finnest was booby-trapped has a lot of merit - personally, I hate the sloppy imprisoning of villains that always lets them escape eventually and become a nuisance again. But then - why was it in the Barrow? And why wasn't it planted already? Another slight peeve - why did the Barrow even have an entrance/ exit if the idea was to seal Raest for all time? Still, I really like that theory.
Alex P. W.
143. Alex_W
Oh my, oh my, what a heated discussion here was at the time. I regret not having been there then and so not beeing able to join in at an appropriate time.

And here we had Mr. Erikson again. That's really nice, that he has been joining again with his view of the things. Very interesting indeed. I'm wondering if he is one of the mentioned writers now able to make a decent living out of his writing or even one of the very few "filthy rich" ones by now :-).

Now almost finished with the book. Wow, there ist certainly going on something now. But I would not be completely honest, if I wasn't a little bit confused myself with some things happening in these two chapters. First of all, the sudden disappearences and reappearences of Paran in the real world and these different warrens. Very strange and surprising thing happening there. And then this Azath, "what the hell" I thought? Strange thing showing up out of nowhere? (Yes I know, it was foreshadowed, but for the unknowing reader, a surprising strange happening anyway indeed). And then the most confusing thing, after setting up this overly bad, bad and mighty powerful Jagut tyrant for so long he is taken out that easily by the before mentioned Azath-thing and all of a sudden there is a new superduper-mighty powerful beeing called "Lord of the Galayn"? "What the hell" again. I can only agree with a pre-commentator here, is this thing really so dangerous as the tyrant was? Do we need to be afraid? What powers does it have? So since I know obviously nothing about that thing, the excitement and anticipation about the obviously now upcoming big fight with Rake isn't as big as it might could have been.

But still, it was hard to stop reading then, even so I was already very tired and the hour late.

Now I am personally really sad about that dead of Lorn. As mentioned by me before, I had sympathies for her and I can not imagine Paran still beeing so angry at her after seeing her dying in his arms like that. I'm sad for her and sad she won't obviously not be coming back again. Well such are the ways of life, would Kruppe probably say about that, so do I now.

Bill C.: if you are still reading this, I have not so much a problem about this "power-issue" of yours in this case you have here mentioned. Only because Lorn can move so fast, it doesent mean she would have any chance in a fight against that demon or Rage in a real, fair duell. Probably the only chance she would have is running away so fast, that they couln't get her. But as an actual opponent facing either of them I'm pretty much sure both of them would finish her quit quick without any further problems. Fast speed yes or no. So that's why I don't have such a big problem with that right here as you seem to have.

So hopefully tonight I have time to finish reading this tale, since there are not so many pages anymore to go. I'm certainly looking forward to it.

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