Sep 1 2010 1:04pm

The Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Gardens of the Moon, Chapters 16 and 17

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 readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapters 16 and 17 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!


Lorn surprised herself that she broke off the attack on Kruppe’s party. Tool arrives to say he’s found the barrow’s opening and as they begin to release it, expresses doubts as to the wisdom of doing so. Lorn agrees to ambivalence but they continue. Tool says his vows have been snapped by the Jaghut’s power and when he is done, he will leave to seek “an answer.”

SCENE 2 Sorry asks for a Darujhistan name, as she doesn’t know hers; Crokus names her Apsalar: goddess of thieves.

Kruppe and Murillio follow Sorry and Crokus as Kruppe explains Oponn has chosen Crokus and thus his need for protection, as well as his correct suspicions regarding what Lorn was doing at the barrow and Murillio and Rallick’s plan to return Coll to his place in Darujhistan society and avenge him.

Paran is attacked by Rhivi but through miraculous luck is unharmed. He meets Tattersail reborn (not a 5-yr-old, so growing abnormally fast) and she tells him who she is and that they’ll meet again.

Paran continues to Darujhistan, thinking he is now serving himself, not the Empire, and wonders if Sorry/Cotillion is an enemy anymore. He meets Coll and they agree to head into the city together. They share backstories.

Amanda’s reaction to Chapter 16
We heard the name Dessembrae back in Chapter Seven for the first time (my, that seems a while ago now!) and Bill told me to keep a watch on it since Dessembrae will prove to be of importance later on. So, here I am, keeping a watch on the name as it is thrown out in our little piece of poetry for Chapter Sixteen! I’m guessing that Dessembrae is the Lord of Tragedy? [Bill’s reply: Yes, and so much more...]

I am interested in the way that Erikson is making two distinct characters of Lorn and the Adjunct. For years she has only been the Adjunct—cold and unfeeling. Now “emotions seeped into the Adjunct, clouding the world around her.”

I’m also intrigued by the line, “ the immortal power that had seized her for its own use.” Who is controlling Lorn? Is this merely a reference to the fact she is working with Tool? Or is it something more?

Also, I believe that here Lorn is at a crossroads where she decides whether she will be Lorn or the Adjunct, when Tool offers her the chance to leave. I’m taking note of the fact that Tool is going in search of an answer—what is his question?

Lastly, I just want to pull out this exchange because it made me giggle!

“And when we return?” Lorn interrupted. “How much time will have passed?”

“I cannot say, Adjunct.” The Imass paused and turned back to her, his eye sockets glittering with a sourceless light. “I have never done this before.”

It is a rather sweet scene between Crokus and Sorry—now Apsalar. Her confusion and questions are heartbreaking, given what she has been through. You can entirely understand Crokus’s sense of trepidation around her, though! What I don’t quite understand is Crokus’s slightly odd behavior, where he is so quick to anger and then forces her to ride closer to him—is this the influence of Oponn? [Bill: More the influence of his age and hormones, I’d say.]

“He saw things falling into ruins behind her eyes - what were those things?”

I would like to know this alongside Crokus. [Bill: I’m thinking a sense of finding a friend and sense of self.]

Again we see possible implications of a name here—Crokus advises that it may not be wise to take the name of a goddess; possibly it will bring her attention to a mortal?

One thing that is occurring to me now to ask... I know that obviously Kruppe likes Crokus and therefore wants to see him survive the interest of Oponn, but, apart from that, what makes him so determined to protect the Coin Bearer? Just the word of K’rul? How does he know that Oponn has favorable intentions? How does he know who is pushing or pulling? How does he know Oponn is better than the alternative?

The conversation between Kruppe and Murillio showcases more of Kruppe’s quick thinking and his sneaky tactics. He recognizes Otataral immediately (that explains a question I had from a previous commentary!) and therefore knows the woman is from the Malazan Empire. He senses the presence of the Imass and hence realizes that they are searching out the Jaghut Tyrant. What is Kruppe trying to distract Murillio from? Simply going back to aid Coll or something more?

Okay, I have heard it said that Erikson does fill the later books with a great deal of philosophizing. I will confess here that it does little for me—I have never been, nor will ever be, a student of philosophy and sections like the following do absolutely nothing for me. I find them confusing, to tell the truth!

Morality was not relative, they claimed, nor even existing solely in the realm of the human condition. No, they proclaimed morality as an imperative of all life, a natural law that was neither the brutal acts of beasts nor the lofty ambitions of humanity, but something other, something unassailable.

Anyone fancy telling me (by speaking slowly and clearly and using words of one syllable, preferably) what Mr. Erikson is trying to convey here? *grin*

I know a lot has happened to Paran and I should be feeling sorry for him, but his self-pitying introspection does become a little much at times. I am glad he has found some hope in knowing that Tattersail lives though.

Three iron lanceheads sprouted from the blade like leaves, each point split and jammed, the hafts shattered and gone, leaving only white wood jutting out from the sockets.

This is one of those immensely cool moments that Erikson writes so tremendously well. I could see it so exactly and knowing that Chance is having such an effect on events is interesting to note.

“Have you ascended?” Paran asks this question while thinking of Tattersail and it made me wonder whether his knowledge of ascending and Ascendants comes from being associated with Oponn or whether it is common knowledge in the Malazan Empire that ascending happens? So far I don’t think this has ever been made clear and it would be interesting to know.

Again a nice little touch by Erikson, idly dropping in the fact that Caladan Brood’s next target is Pale—I’m sure we’ll hear about that at some point!

“Scholars and mages write endlessly of fell convergences—it seems I am a walking convergence, a lodestone to draw Ascendants. To their peril, it seems.”

I wonder whether Paran will always do this, and what implications it has for the future. Here we have Paran relinquishing himself from any previous ties he had, and choosing no enemies. How long can that last?

And, however, much I get fed up of Paran at times, I did love that last scene between him and Coll—two damaged men sharing war stories. It is filled with humor and pathos and realism. Excellent stuff.

Bill’s reaction to Chapter 16
I don’t want to say much on the poem, as Dessembrae becomes a major point later, save to note the focus as we were just discussing last time, on the theme of vengeance (a word which will have several meanings with regard to Dessembrae).

Lorn opens the chapter with a nice segue from the regret of the poem to her own as she muses on how her emotions are now warring with her cold control as adjunct—a microcosm of humanity as a whole she thinks. Her line “through the gamut of life we struggled for control, for a means to fashion the world around us, an eternal, hopeless hunt for the privilege of being able to predict the shape of our lives” is a great summation of one of the series’ (and life’s) major themes.

I agree, Amanda, that she is at a crossroads, and it’s a few paragraphs later that Lorn loses me as a reader, when she thinks to herself:

 “she shrugged off her doubts. There was no turning back now. Had there ever been such a chance . . . the course had been chosen for her.”  

I think the last few chapters she’s been straddling the knife’s edge and here she takes the cop-out way of avoiding both responsibility and compassion as she heads to free the Jaghut. As she does a little later when she remains willfully ignorant:

“You don’t want to know. Remain ignorant in this.”

We’ll see lots of people having choices, some will choose what we’d consider wisely, some poorly, and others, like Lorn, take perhaps the worst road: pretending they don’t have a choice.

A clear contrast to Lorn comes a few pages later when we get to Paran, who has decided:

His was no longer the Empire’s road . . . What lay before him was the singular effort to save the lives of Whiskeyjack and the squad. If he managed that, he would not begrudge his own death as a consequence. Some things went beyond a single man’s life.

If the reader hasn’t put together the contrast with Lorn earlier, Erikson whacks them with it in a few lines as Paran himself recalls Lorn’s differing attitude, and her line “just another hunt for certainty.”  Along with compassion, armor, betrayal, and a few others, “certainty” is a word that will be popping up a lot in the series. Beware those characters who claim to be “certain.”

The scene with Paran and the Rhivi reunites him briefly with Tattersail, enough for us to see her supernatural growth rate and thus prepare us for the two of them meeting when both are at the same age. Speaking of age, any guesses on that old woman Amanda? [Amanda’s reply: I’m wondering if this is the woman who gave Tattersail new birth?] It also clues us in, as you say, that Caladan Brood is on the march.

The meeting of Paran and Coll is the first time we actually get the details of Coll’s story, almost 500 pages into the book; that’s some delayed explanation. Like you Amanda, I really enjoyed visualizing this scene. I think the idea of choice also arises here as Coll says it wasn’t so much that he was betrayed by Simtal but that he chose to betray himself by not fighting her. So the same question rises for both Coll and Lorn—do they get a chance to make a choice now, a different choice?

I come to Erikson’s (or his characters’) philosophizing differently; they’re actually some of my favorite passages/dialogues in the series, granting it a heft beyond most fantasy. I’m willing to overlook the question of whether these particular people would have these particular thoughts at this particular time just for the enjoyment of the intellectual stimulation. As for the precise passage you picked out, the way I read it is that Paran is beginning to think that justice and morality are inherent within the universe, as is gravity (that doesn’t mean, again, as with gravity, that we “see” justice necessarily).


Rallick meets an Eel’s agent (likely Circle Breaker) at the Phoenix Inn who tells him Orr, in the name of Lady Simtal, has hired the assassin’s guild, specifically Ocelot, to kill Coll.

Rake tells Baruk they won’t be able to avoid a fight and he plans to prevent Laseen from getting Darujhistan, but not at the cost of destroying the city as Baruk fears he’ll do. When questioned by Baruk as to what restrains him, Rake answers what drives him is duty to his people—to return to them “the zest for life.” They discuss the upcoming convergence of powers. Baruk shows Rake Mammot (revealed as a High Priest of D’rek) in a trance, which Rake explains means Mammot is trapped in the barrow.

Circle Breaker signals Meese outside the Phoenix Inn and continues to one last contact for the Eel, expecting he’ll be killed sometime tonight as he’s exposing himself so much.

Meese goes into Mammot’s house.

Crokus and Apsalar are in Mammot’s and Meese warns him D’Arle is looking for him due to the guard Sorry/Apsalar killed. Crokus thinks Challice betrayed him.

Murillio leaves Kruppe at the Phoenix Inn and is given a message from the Eel by Circle Breaker.

Rallick rubs Otataral dusk on his body to make him impervious to magic (though it has unpredictable side effects) then heads to K’rul’s tower to await Ocelot.

Amanda’s reaction to Chapter 17
And we march onto Book Six of Gardens of the Moon... Everyone still with us?

Fisher (again) is first up with the poetry, and this one is definitely intriguing. “ eel had slipped ashore”—is this mention of Kruppe? “Under a jagged moon that might be dead”—Moon’s Spawn? Now, does this poem speak of recent events? I thought so when it spoke of “...a demon’s death cry on the rooftops on a night of blood...” but if so I cannot remember “...a dragon [...] sailing high silver and black in the nightsky”!

In the second poem Silverfox brings us a bleak image of Dragnipur, I think.

I want to know who the man is waiting for Rallick Nom—Bill seems to think this is Circle Breaker, but I wonder if it might not be someone else? What makes you think this, Bill? The chap is very nondescript, and has about him “a kind of assurance that was calming.” What I also want to know is whether he is actually associated with Kruppe, or if he is using the Eel’s name for his own agenda, to achieve his own ends. We hear in this section that Orr’s plan to pass the proclamation has failed, also that the assassins have gone to ground. The person Rallick is talking to knows he is an assassin. I just suspect that this person is way more than who he seems to be—merely a go-between for the Eel.

Also, Rallick says, “Tell Murillio to go ahead if I don’t show, and if other... events occur. And, if that happens, tell him our man’s eyes are open.” This is strangely obtuse. I feel I should know what is being said here, but I am struggling to see what it is about. I do like how Rallick doesn’t want to be wished luck—with Oponn playing around, you can see that people would be concerned about which sort of luck would be brought down on them!

This is an enormously powerful scene between Baruk and Anomander Rake, where Rake speaks of duty, of the people who are able to challenge his power, of the integrity that keeps him from betrayal. He indicates what it must be like to live for many thousands of years, trying to inspire his people to regain a sense of will and urgency. I love Anomander Rake! It is also curious that Baruk mentions the lack of his sword on this visit, and how Rake looks incomplete without it. Have to say, if I owned Dragnipur, I don’t think I’d leave it just lying around! Is it back on Moon’s Spawn, or is Rake able to put it into another reality to keep it safe?

“But we never betray our allies.”

The Tiste Andii are definitely a race you want on your side! This that Rake says makes me unutterably sad:

“And they die in the mud and forests of a land that is not their own, in a war not their own, for a people who are terrified of them.”

Strikes me that Erikson is making a very valid assessment of all wars there—exactly the same could be said of those who fought in Vietnam, or these days in Afghanistan.

What is also interesting is that Rake knows exactly why Laseen is attempting to free the Tyrant—either to kill Rake, or leave him so weakened that he can then be taken down by her own agents.

Ah! Our first actual knowledge that Mammot is much more than what he seems—a High Priest no less. Of D’rek, the Worm of Autumn.

And I do love the humor that pierces all of the moments of great seriousness:

Baruk was surprised that this Tiste Andii had read Mammot’s Histories but, then, why not? A life spanning twenty thousand years necessitated hobbies, he supposed.

I concur with Baruk when he calls Mammot an old fool! Knowing that something as serious as raising a Jaghut Tyrant is going down, I think I’d stay as far away as possible from it! And here a very sinister end to the section:

“A High Priest, is he? The Jaghut would find him very useful. Not to mention the access Mammot provides to D’rek. Do you know, Baruk, if this Tyrant’s capable of enslaving a goddess?”

We actually see Circle Breaker here—guess that is why Bill said it was he in the Phoenix Inn? He signals to Meese and Irilta, and they perform back-up for him—which makes it a little funny that Meese didn’t indicate that she knew Circle Breaker (if it was he) when she told Rallick that there was someone waiting for him?

Sorry/Apsalar (guess we will be sticking on Apsalar from now on, since that is who she now is) is showing hints that she has kept some of the skills granted by the Rope while he possessed her. She noted the fact that they’d seen a stabler when Crokus misses it, and she knows she can take to the rooftops without problem. Considering Crokus is meant to be a half-decent thief, the fact she seems better than him is a good indication she will always be more than just a fishergirl now.

Something occurs to me... I might be way off base here. The man Circle Breaker—is he a Claw? Because with the information he is passing to Rallick and Murillio, he is ensuring that the assassins of Darujhistan are being taken on (since we see Rallick hunting Ocelot). Not sure!

Oh, this is something interesting... The reddish powder given to Rallick by Baruk is clearly Otataral:

“The powder changes some people. There is no predicting such changes, however.”

And then Rallick puts the powder all over his skin! Does that make the last line of the chapter even more telling?

“He began his ascent.”

Bill’s reaction to Chapter 17

Fisher’s poem, I think, is more setting up future events than looking at past ones—so the dragons are yet to come.

That Rake/Baruk scene is one of my favorite Rake scenes (and I have a lot of Rake scenes I enjoy). We’ve discussed how often Erikson plays with point-of-view to leave us thinking one thing and then switches over to reveal we weren’t playing with a full deck, so to speak. But in this case, I immediately bought Rake’s sincerity in describing his sense of duty and eight books later I have yet to question that first impression of sincerity. How can you not respond to the tragedy of:

“Do I raise Moon’s Spawn into the heavens . . . beyond any risk? What, then, will I be preserving . . . The Tiste Andii point of view is one of disinterest, stoicism, and quiet, empty despair. Are these gifts to the world worthy of preservation?”

Or that line you quoted, Amanda.

And just after I noted to be wary of characters espousing their own certainty, here we get Rake doing just the opposite:

“There’s no certainty in this, Baruk. That seems a fact particularly galling to you humans.”

Another reason I take him more reliably as presented than some others.

By the way—that’s an interesting point in this scene where Rake is described as not wearing his sword. For those veteran readers, doesn’t this conflict with a scene we see much later where he divests himself of his sword and we see where he puts it? Based on that scene, I can’t imagine him not wearing it this casually or for this long.

We get some heavy foreshadowing as well with Rake’s fear of Mammot being taken by the Jaghut—sinister indeed.

And then some more perhaps with Rallick and the “changes” Baruk warned him about with regard to having Otataral in contact with his skin. Nice catch on that last line, Amanda. Brings up some questions, eh?

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

Amanda Rutter contributes reviews and a regular World Wide Wednesday post to, as well as reviews for her own site (covering more genres than just speculative), Vector Reviews and Hub magazine.

Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter

Morality was not relative, theyclaimed, nor even existing solely in the realm of the human condition.
No, they proclaimed morality as an imperative of all life, a natural law
that was neither the brutal acts of beasts nor the lofty ambitions of
humanity, but something other, something unassailable.

Anyone fancy telling me (by speaking slowly and clearly and using words
of one syllable, preferably) what Mr. Erikson is trying to convey here?*grin*

Paran is talking about the question of whether there is an absolute morality (Think of the concepts of Platonic ideals -- Is there a sphere) that exists irregardless of the reference point of any one person or are moral values relative to the people to which they are applied. So, for example, do one set of morals apply to gods and another to ordinary people. Should everyone be held to a single moral standard or should everyone be judged according to their own moral standards?
These are questions that we'll be seeing directly and indirectly in the story.
Marc Rikmenspoel
2. Marc Rikmenspoel
It's all coming together, "converging," and this was where the book really hooked me the first time I read it.

I'm still on House of Chains, the fourth volume, so I haven't encountered the heavy philosophizing yet, but I'm not at all bothered by the sort Amanda mentions. I think thoughts like that myself at random times, and at specific moments such as when I'm on a trip and driving through an empty area.

I wonder how many comments this entry will get? Last week must have been close to a record, for this site! Bring it on!
Rob Munnelly
3. RobMRobM
Quick thoughts -

Kruppe - still my favorite character.

I have liked the human aspects of Lorn and was unhappy she turned back to the Dark Side.

Loved the Paran-Coll interations. Two fallen nobles with a lot in common and it shows.

Like the Apsalar-Crokus interactions. Clear that he is attacted to her (and perhaps vice versa) but he still has balcony girl in mind fighting for attention. A bit high school but cool nonetheless.

Rake is tres cool throughout. This is first chapter where I really "got" him, and there is a lot to "get."

Have to confess, having read the book and am most of the way through MoI, I still can't figure out who the heck Circle Breaker is? I must have a mental block.

Steven Halter
4. stevenhalter
The scene in chapter 17 is one of my favorites also. I agree with Bill that Rake is being very candid here and I haven't seen anything to call it into question.
Steven Halter
5. stevenhalter
Just one comment on the poem for Chapter 16--Yes,
Dessembrae is the lord of tragedy and recall that TMBotF is written as a tragedy.
Tai Tastigon
6. Taitastigon
And showing up for the first time, in the conversation between Paran and Coll, SE´s secret love for / playful obsession with...mules. *g*
Steven Halter
7. stevenhalter
I find it interesting that until Tool entered the barrow, he didn't know whose barrow it was. He mentions he has doubts on the wisdom of freeing the tyrant but that he is compelled to do so.
Mieneke van der Salm
9. Mieneke
Tool knelt beside her. ‘I will assist you, Adjunct.’
Surprised, Lorn studied the warrior’s death’s face. But his next words wiped out any thought of the Imass revealing compassion.
‘We have little time, Adjunct. The opening awaits us.’
An expressionless mask settled over her face.

We get just another hint of how hard it is for Lorn to let herself be assimilated by the Adjunct persona. I have such a hard time seeing Lorn as a bad guy, Erikson keeps throwing in bits like the above, that just scream her need for friendship and the humanity which her being the Adjunct denies, that I can’t help but feel for her. Am I the only one to feel that way?

I really liked the scene between Crokus and Sorry, you can sense Crokus trying to figure Sorry out and this just made me giggle: Uh-oh, Crokus thought. Better not press this one. Welcome to dealing with women Crokus lol

The scene with Paran and the Rhivi was so spooky! Pssttt Tek, did you have a good hold on your hat?

Coll and Paran, just a couple of War-mules… *snorts*

The tension between Baruk and Rake is so nervous!! Nice bit of background on Rake and the Andii too.

Did Kruppe arrange for Irilta and Meese to find and protect Crokus and Apsalar by magic message or did he have it arranged beforehand as a failsafe?

Rallick on K’rul’s Temple again. I wonder whether the otataral will have lasting effects! If Amanda's hunch is right and Rallick will ascend will he be linked to K'rul? Or don't ascendants have to be linked to a specific god?
Mieneke van der Salm
10. Mieneke
@7 Shalter: I just read that as Tool being ordered by the Bone Casters to comply with the Empress' wishes.
Steven Halter
11. stevenhalter
@Bill: I know the scene you're mentioning with Rake and Dragnipur later. I'm not sure if this is inconsistent or if maybe there is a similar room in Moon's Spawn. Given what we find out in the later scene, Rake must have been able to take it off every now and then.
Steven Halter
12. stevenhalter
Mieneke@10: Yeah, the Bonecasters or Logrus are the obvious ones to have done the compelling, but then there is the question of why they would want this particular Tyrant freed. As has been mentioned, they are under no compulsion to obey the Empress, so they would have to have their own desire/plan.
Steven Halter
13. stevenhalter
I also like how the entering of the barrow is being spread out over multiple chapters--helps give a building suspense.
Tai Tastigon
14. Taitastigon
shal @8

I must correct myself *g*. The mules are mentioned before. But the mules as mysterious characters, yep - the War Mule !
Steven Halter
15. stevenhalter
Mieneke@9: I feel sorry for Lorn also. But this is tempered by Paran's reflections that Lorn is making these choices. Even though she is pretending (to herself and others) that being the Adjunct is forcing her down the path and she doesn't have her own choice, in effect she is making a series of choices.
Maggie K
16. SneakyVerin
I too, am a first-time reader of these books, and am totally enamoured by them. It seems to me a large theme in MBotF is the concept that no one is good and no one is evil...the Adjunct's harsh side has now been humanized, Rake has been shown to be extremely sincere, thoughtful and a reader! Tool is also shown to be philosophical in his own way. The more I think about this, I could probably state the same for most every character...
Marc Rikmenspoel
17. Osyris
Also, with the... events? surrounding Dragnipur in TTH, this inconsistency could be explained away somewhat, in that the effect Dragnipur has on "where he puts it" is greater later on than it may have been back in GotM because of the conditions in Dragnipur itself? or is that stretching to fit a little too much? :)
Thomas Jeffries
18. thomstel
Dessembrae is important: he's been mentioned more times so far in GotM than you may think. He'll pop in later to make you go "another favorite character?! Cmon Steve!!!".

Rake's “But we never betray our allies.” - The Andii get major-league betrayed (from their view) at least twice. One is when Mother Dark dallied with something outside of Darkness, then other is yet to come (Midnight Tides I think). Good seed planting this early on in their story, and illustrates one of the (many) reasons Rake is just plain Awesome.

Circle Breaker? He's a capable agent for the Eel, but for all the suspicion regarding him, Steve should have named him "The Crimson Trout". ;)

Mammot: DUN DUN DUN. I honestly read this book twice before realizing that this scene with Baruk and Rake occurred, setting up the finale action. Missing things of that sort tends to result in a lot of plot-for-plot's-sake during the Fête, for those who didn't/don't have the benefit of this great re-read community.

BTW, thanks again for doing this folks! I look forward to Wednesdays like crazy now!
Steven Halter
19. stevenhalter
@Amanda: The poem at the open of 17 is entitled 'Silverfox' and written by Outrider Hurlochel of the 6th army. But, yeah, the topic is Dragnipur again.
Steven Halter
20. stevenhalter
We also find, in chapter 17, that Moby eats grapes and that Crokus cares that he has been fed even with everything that is going on.
Chris Hawks
21. SaltManZ
"certainty" is a word that will be popping up a lot in the series. Beware those characters who claim to be "certain."

I was flipping through Night of Knives (I think) last night, and one of the chapters began with this quote: "Only the dead should be certain of anything". Of course, I had to laugh at even that.
Marc Rikmenspoel
22. kramerdude

I always assumed that the T'lan saw this as an opportunity to deal with another Jaghut. While a trapped Jaghut Tyrant is good its still not a dead Jaghut Tyrant. So they just saw this as a welcome opportunity.
Steven Halter
23. stevenhalter
kramerdude@22: That is probably the simplest answer and seems like a decent guess.
Something weighing against this is the question of why they didn't try to destroy this tyrant before? Since their symbols are on the walls, they knew about him some time in the past and so could have waged their own pogrom against him. Possibly they knew they couldn't defeat him, but the possibility of defeat doesn't particularly seem to slow the T'lan down in other cases.
Tricia Irish
24. Tektonica
Emotions seeped into the Adjunct, clouding the world around her. She'd abandoned sorrow long ago, along with regret. Compassion was anathema to the Adjunct. (not Lorn) Yet now all these feelings swept through her in tides pulling her every which way. She found herself clinging to the title of Adjunct., and what it meant, as if it was a lifeline to sanity, to stability and control......
Was this the true nature of emotion? she wondered. The great defier of logic, of control---the whims of being human.

Lorn is suffering from a lot of repressed emotion. We've learned a bit about her past in Pale, and she's worked her way up to Adjunct. She's chosen Power. A very sad and lonely choice. This is where she lost it for me too. She's crossing her personal Rubicon.

Loved the interaction between Paran and Coll...War mule, indeed! LOL.

Apsalar and Crocus...very teenage Luv story....typical confusion enhanced by Apsalar's former personality!

Kruppe continues to be Awesome. Insightful. The puppetmaster, par excellence! As far as Circle Breaker goes...does he reappear? I don't recall anyone fitting his description in the next two books.

This is really where Rake cemented his status for me. I always liked him, but here I felt for him. Even though he is Tiste Andii, he seems to embody the best of Human traits. He is incredibly clear and honorable. He may have his own agenda, but he is straight up with his allies and is a very moral man.

Personally, I love Erikson's philosophizing....but then I was a philosophy major for 2 years in college. (Don't ask me anything specific, it was a long long time ago.) But these big questions do interest me.

Aside: Moby eats grapes? Anyone here old enough to remember Moby Grape...the band?
Tricia Irish
25. Tektonica
On Paran: He mentions that "oversights blessed him". He sites Rake not suspecting he was a Malazan soldier, the assassin in Pale and then he wonders, "Had these mercies of fortune marked pivotal moments - moments that would come back to haunt those who'd spared him?" Dun. Dun. Dun. That would mean, The Rope/Cotillion/Dancer and Rake. I know a few things....since I'm in the middle of MoI, but I don't know if "haunting" is the word I would use to describe them. Thoughts?

I really like Paran, Amanda! He's his own man...or at least trying to be. That gets played out more and more. Here he just wants to save Whiskeyjack and the squad, "and if he managed that, he would not begrudge his own death as a consequence." Pretty admirable for the Captain, I'd say.

More Paran musings, re: Morality:
....maybe justice existed outside the minds of humanity. {}
Morality was not relative, they claimed, nor even existing solely in the realm of the human condition. No, they proclaimed morality as an imperative of all life, a natural law that was neither the brutal acts of beasts nor the lofty ambitions of humanity, but something other, something unassailable. Just another hunt for certainty.

Then Paran ponders the Adjunct Lorn, "Truly had the Adjunct made herself Laseen's extension. But at what cost?"
Indeed. The cost being her Morality? Her Self? Her humanity?

Paran sighed deeply, "Too many regrets. Lost chances - and with each one passing the less human we all became, and the deeper into the nightmare of power we all sank. Was his life irretrievable?" I think this could be another "theme" of these books. What does it mean to be moral and human? What are our obligations to each other? Paran contemplates this throughout.

Note this passage about Paran, for the future: ---it seems I am a walking convergence, a lodestone to draw Ascendants. To their peril, it seems.....the truth is, my cause has become my own.
Marc Rikmenspoel
26. kramerdude
shalter@23 - yea I thought that too. Were those who compelled Tool privy to Lasseen's plans to force Rake to take the Tyrant out? Do they see Rake as stronger than themselves? Not sure but it definitely seems that there is a pretty strong fear factor here about this particular Tyrant. I can't recall on what we learn later whether this is truly deserved or not.

In other commentary I pulled some of the later books out of storage in the past week, and have been paging through some for the first time in years. Whoever said BH reads differently on the re-read was correct. A scene with Cotillion chatting with some trapped dragons is just crazy.
Amir Noam
27. Amir
The ending of chapter 17 is so powerful indeed:
“He began his ascent.”

I've only read the series once, since English is not my main language and it takes me longer to read, so it's been years since I've read GotM. I've started re-reading the series along side this re-read at the same pace. This week was the first time I just couldn't stop at the end of the chapter and just had to go on into chapter 18 :-)
Steven Halter
28. stevenhalter
Amir@27: Yeah, I think that the end of 17 marks the real beginning of action. Lot's of things will start happening and coming together.
Tai Tastigon
29. Taitastigon
Tek @27

Re Circle Breaker - he ist the 3rd-biggest GotM-ism in my book.

Re Moby Grape - trust SE to put a lot of little cultural references/jokes into his work. Another Tarantino-esque aspect of him. *g*
Steven Halter
30. stevenhalter
Tek@24 & Tai@29: lol, I hadn't ever considered that particular connection. I wonder if he meant it.
Tai Tastigon
31. Taitastigon
shal @30

I think he does & knows very well. *gg*.
Do not forget Ublala & his chicken and the explicit nod to the fans re time-line in DoD.
Tai Tastigon
32. Taitastigon
kdude @26

BH is the one volume that kinda puzzles you on first read, but benefits by far the most from a reread, especially if you have advanced to TtH/DoD. It is like *Empire strikes back* or *Two Towers* - no clear beginning or ending, but one huge tie-in of some 20 strands or more that sets up the second half of the cycle. Amazing how many balls SE juggles in that tome.
Chris Hawks
33. SaltManZ
@29: Why would you consider Circle Breaker to be a "GotMism"? Just because we never see him again?
Tai Tastigon
34. Taitastigon
shal @33


Because he walks away into the sunset, set up for life by the Eel, happy as a clam. Now THAT was the ONLY unrestricted happy-ending I have seen in the entire cycle.

Tricia Irish
36. Tektonica
Taitastigon@34: I thought so.

Thanks for getting the Moby Grape reference.....nice to know I'm not imagining the chuckles.
Steven Halter
37. stevenhalter
@Amanda: Yes, it is interesting that Rake seems to know exactly what Laseen's plans seem to be. Another interesting question would be whether he figured it all out or someone informed. I would vote for his having figured it all out.
Julian Augustus
38. Alisonwonderland
Mieneke @9:

I have such a hard time seeing Lorn as a bad guy, Erikson keeps throwing in bits like the above, that just scream her need for friendship and
the humanity which her being the Adjunct denies, that I can’t help but
feel for her. Am I the only one to feel that way?

When we see Paran he is all set to kill Lorn because he believes (mistakenly) that she is seeking to kill Whiskeyjack and his squad. Meanwhile, we see from Lorn's pov that she has nothing but warm feelings for Paran and may in fact be falling in love with him. I found their up-coming meeting most affecting. Lorn is, in my view, one of the more tragic characters in the whole of the Malazan epic.
Julian Augustus
39. Alisonwonderland
Kramerdude @ 26:

Not sure but it definitely seems that there is a pretty strong fear factor here about this particular Tyrant. I can't recall on what we learn later whether this is truly deserved or not.

SpoilerWell, if you've read to the end of this book, you might remember who this Tyrant faced and the kind of fight he was able to mount even with only a fraction of his full power. I suggested in the last chapter that this Tyrant at full power would be at the very front rank of power rankings in the Malazan world. The fear factor was very much deserved. This Tyrant is a very different proposition from the buried Imass we meet later in tTH who thought he could conquer the world.
Marc Rikmenspoel
40. kramerdude

Yeah, I've finished everything once and I'm facing a tough decision whether to just re-read at the pace here or go ahead to get to the juicy parts (BH included). Right now I'm just thumbing through a few sections, but waiting, that may not last long...
Marc Rikmenspoel
41. kramerdude

That's very true, so maybe we are just meant to assume that the T'lan are simply not comfortable dealing with this threat. The only problem as shalter says is that that has not stopped them before. Absent any other evidence I can live with that though.
Tai Tastigon
42. Taitastigon
kd @40

Tough decision indeed. BTW, that scene in BH you mention of Cotillion with the dragons is highly relevant, actually, for something that the dragons mention by accident...
Travis Nelsen
43. Zangred

Something occurs to me... I might be way off base here. The man Circle Breaker—is he a Claw? Because with the information he is passing to Rallick and Murillio, he is ensuring that the assassins of Darujhistan are being taken on (since we see Rallick hunting Ocelot). Not sure!
Circle Breaker is actually nothing more than he seems to be. He is an agent of The Eel (Kruppe), doling out some info to Rallick and Murillio that just happen to be working toward something Kruppe approves of. The fact that Ocelot is being targetted by Rallick as a result is simply a by-product of ensuring Coll's survival.

I think he is actually one of the only characters in the entire MBotF series that truly is just a normal person going about his business and spoiler:

[color=white]walks away from the whole mess with a happy ending, never to be heard from again.
Travis Nelsen
44. Zangred
Gerd K
45. Kah-thurak
@Alisonwonderland 39

When we see Paran he is all set to kill Lorn because he believes (mistakenly) that she is seeking to kill Whiskeyjack and his squad.

Actually Lorn does try to get rid of Whiskeyjack and his squad. She knows that they will be at the "Garden Fete", which is exactly where she lures the Tyrant and she doesnt even warn them about it. She obviously hopes that this particular "Old Guard"-Problem will thereby solve itself.
Robin Lemley
46. Robin55077
@ 12. Shalter (re: Mieneke@10: )

"Yeah, the Bonecasters or Logrus are the obvious ones to have done the compelling...."

I know we have not been told specifically who compelled Tool to help Lorn free the Tyrant. However, it seems to me that the most obvious answer that it was probably Shadowthrone.

Kellanved is the one person that we know had any power to compel the T'lan Imass to do anything. Either through his "Ascendant powers" or through spies we have not be made aware of, we know he is somehow privy to Lasseen's plans. He would know that her only chance to actually free the Tyrant would be with the help of a T'lan Imass.

This freeing of the Tyrant seems to be something that would be right up Shadowthrone's alley. Why wouldn't he help her? He would probably see it as a "win/win" situation for him. If Lasseen's plan works, then Rake is taken out of the picture....if her plan fails, then he has the satisfaction of another failure placed at her feet. I think Shadowthrone would be happy either way.

The way I've always viewed "ST vs. Lasseen" is that he is kind of just messing with her. His satisfaction comes from messing up her plans. Lets face it, if he wanted her dead, she would be dead (Dancer could possess her chambermaid, release a demon in her bedroom at night while she is asleep, etc.). He doesn't want her dead. He wants to mess with her head, make her look incompetent, etc.

So, back to the "win/win" situation. If Lasseen's plan works and Rake is killed, ST would certainly be happy to have Rake out of the picture. If her plan fails, then it is one HUGE screw up to place at her feet.

Am I way off base to have assumed all this time that it was ST that compelled Tool to aid in the release?
Robin Lemley
47. Robin55077
@ Amanda

In response to some of your questions/observations:
“Have you ascended?” Paran asks this question while thinking of Tattersail and it made me wonder whether his knowledge of ascending and Ascendants comes from being associated with Oponn or whether it is common knowledge in the Malazan Empire that ascending happens?
Ascendants are common knowledge, especially so among the Malazan military. Another thought to keep in mind as you learn more about Paran, as we know he is noble born. In the prologue to this book he mentions that one of his tutors was Napan. It is safe for you to assume that Paran is very well educated. Also, after he became attached to Lorn, he was further educated as a Claw. He may not have the brilliant mind of Kruppe, but it is safe to assume that he is very highly educated. He is more highly educated than most of the characters in the series.

“Scholars and mages write endlessly of fell convergences – it seems I am a walking convergence, a lodestone to draw Ascendants. To their peril, it seems. My sword Chance answered those five lances, despite my treatment of one of the Twins. How to explain that? The truth is, my cause has become my own. Not the Adjunct’s, not the Empire’s."
Important words to keep in mind as this series progresses and the character of Paran evolves.


And, I would point out that during Paran’s meeting with Coll we also see a humorous/important military sub-motto:
“Nobody talks about what’s obvious. Something staring you in the eye, you look around it and grumble about the weather. Anything important will come out in its own time. Soldiers have nothing to look forward to, making patience an easy virtue, and sometimes it’s not just a virtue, but a contest of indifference.”

The meeting between Paran and Coll at the end of the chapter was important to me in that it was the first time that I saw Paran making a “friend” (or extending a hand in friendship, if you will). Even with Tattersail and Toc we never really saw a friendship develop between them. We assume that he and Tattersail were friends, but we were not privy to its development and Toc was thrown into the warren before that could develop. This easiness if you will that Paran has found with Coll is a different side that we haven’t really seen before. They were “equals” in a way. They shared common ground as they were both nobles. Something Paran has not been able to share with anyone else.

“A High Priest, is he? The Jaghut would find him very useful. Not to mention the access Mammot provides to D’rek. Do you know, Baruk, if this Tyrant’s capable of enslaving a goddess?”
Remember, Tool recently explained to Lorn that the reason he was chosen for this task was because he was clanless. During that conversation, he explained the power the Jaghut would have and the devastation he could cause if he enslaved a Bonecaster. Is there any reason to believe the devastation would be any less if he enslaved a High Priest? I wouldn’t think so.

“We actually see Circle Breaker here—guess that is why Bill said it was he in the Phoenix Inn? He signals to Meese and Irilta, and they perform back-up for him—which makes it a little funny that Meese didn’t indicate that she knew Circle Breaker (if it was he) when she told Rallick that there was someone waiting for him?”
Two possible reasons for this: 1) as agents for the Eel, they would never break cover and identify another agent; and/or 2) Meese honestly didn’t know who Circle Breaker was. All the covert stuff done on the street very easily could have been accomplished without Meese having a clear sight as to who Circle Breaker was. For example, he saw a spark as she lit her pipe, and she heard his sword scrape along the wall. Both signs easily prearranged by the Eel. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they were close enough to see and/or recognize one another. That’s how I always took it anyway…more of a secret agent/secret code type thing used by the Eel, where the only person who knows who the other players are is the Eel himself.
Robin Lemley
48. Robin55077
Re: My post @ 46
"Kellanved is the one person that we know had any power to compel the T'lan Imass to do anything."

Before anyone yells at me about this post, I do conceed that Bonecasters and/or Logros would probably have the power to compel Tool to help the Empire release the Jaghut Tyrant. I simply meant that Kellanved was the only "human" who had the power to to compel a T'lan Imass to do anything.

I personally cannot think of any reason that either a Bonecaster or Logros would possibly compel the release of the Tyrant. If there were some reason that the T'lan Imass would want him released (say to kill him and thus end any possibility that he might ever get free), then I would think that all of them would be lined up around the barrow to kill him as soon as he exits when he is at his weakest. I can see no circumstance imaginable that the T'lan Imass would compel Tool to release him and walk away and allow him to gain full strength. That goes so completely against my understanding of the relationship between the T'lan Imass and the Jaghut that I cannot even consider that as a possibility. I mean, that would totally blow my mind. :-)
Tricia Irish
49. Tektonica

I don't think I was completely clear in my quotes and text @24...I'm with you 100%. The whole inner dialogue that Lorn has about her ambiviance, her choices, her life is VERY sad. Truly tragic. Her choice is one of lack of action that we've been told before is a true choice and usually a bad one.
The poor woman has been stripped of friends and family and the power she has is slim comfort. She is being discarded, in a way, by Laseen. Just another tool. Very sad.
Gerd K
50. Kah-thurak
I do not think that Shadowthrone would really want to kill Rake. Much less have him defeated by a Jaghut Tyrant, which then might even be able to enslave him. Shadowthrone probably knows too much about Rake and Dragnupir to want to face the consequences of that.

Not that I think that the Tyrant could have won against Rake.
Steven Halter
51. stevenhalter
@Robin5507 & Kah-thurak &Alisonwonderland: All good points. I think these are all reasons as to why who compelled Tool is interesting. As far as I know, it isn't ever stated. Every likely party has some reasons for and some reasons against. Shadowthrone would have enjoyed seeing Laseen's plan fail, but I'm not sure he would want Rake damaged for the reasons Kah-thurak mentioned. It is also a little out of character that we wouldn't see a scene with him, at some point, making some remark to someone on how he had been clever and devious. Also, I can't recall ever seeing him command the T'lan as ST. The T'lan are quite literal about some things and might not feel that ST is really Kellanved anymore.
Logrus and the Bonecasters (hey! another 60's band name, lol) could have done it but as Robin5507 mentions it would be odd for them not to go full force against a Jaghut. Out of the characters (peolples) we have met so far I'm not sure who else would have power over Tool. There is another person we haven't met yet who might have reasons to do it, but I don't think it is ever stated that they did it either: highlight spoiler:

Kilava, Tool's sister could possibly have compelled him. It is mentioned that at the time of the Tellan ritual she could not over come him, but she has had 300,000 years to practice. I;m not sure why she would want to free the tyrant either.
Marc Rikmenspoel
52. ShadowDonkeyThrone
Just want to correct an error in Amanda's comment about Dragnipur: One does not "own" Dragnipur, one bears its weight ;)

In the Malazan world, the barrier between symbolisms and reality is less fixed than in the real world. Both (self)perception has major consequences for both objects and characters.
Gerd K
53. Kah-thurak
I guess the most sensible reason to free the Jaghut Tyrant from the T'lan Imass point of view is the chance to kill it off for good by having Rake slay it with Dragnupir. So Laseen might actually have convinced them to this, and by agreeing they (i.e. Tool) felt compelled to fulfill the bargain.
Tai Tastigon
54. Taitastigon
shal @51

One of the themes/issues covered in BH is why Kellanved could command the Imass, but ST not.
Steven Halter
55. stevenhalter
Tai@54: I thought it was mentioned somewhere but I was too lazy to try to find it, lol. So, ST couldn't directly have compelled Tool.
Tai Tastigon
56. Taitastigon
shal @55

Nope, couldn´t have. And even as Kellanved he was only able to compell the clans that were sufficiently close to the Throne.
Thomas Jeffries
57. thomstel
I always hoped it was Shadowthrone as well that compelled Tool in some fashion.

It fits nicely into one of my pet series-spanning theories:

The Old Guard, including Laseen, are all playing a really long con to force convergences so that the gods/ascendants ranks are sufficiently thinned to allow Malazan (aka human) personalities to assume those mantles. Having a set of powerful beings that can function in similar capacities (aka, the Malazan way) would do wonders for the state of the world. Even loonier theory: Malazans get into the pantheon in a big way, take out the rest of the gods, then just go poof in some way, leaving the races of the Malazan world to their own devices. It's easy to "live quietly" if there's no one to hear you. :)
Marc Rikmenspoel
58. ShadowDonkeyThrone
@57: Holy moly, that actually is all kinds of plausible! I really hope I haven't inadvertantly spoiled myself for CG, by reading your maybe-anticipation of Erikson's plot twists :D
Tai Tastigon
59. Taitastigon
thom @57

Kinda nifty. Lately I have tended to a MOR version of your two theories, at least as the driver for ST & C. But since nothing in this world ever, EVER runs smoothly or goes according to plan, we shall see what happens...*g*
Steven Halter
60. stevenhalter
thom@57: That's a possible direction. There's a lot of pieces to cover before we can get to a non-spoiler filled debate on all that.
Robin Lemley
61. Robin55077
A very sincere "shout-out" of thanks to all of you who pointed out (very politely, I might add) that I was wrong! Way to burst my bubble. LOL But seriously, thank you to Kah-thurak, Shalter, Taitastigon, and thomstel (and anyone else I may have missed) for providing reference points for me to pursue. Just one of the things I love about this particular re-read.... I never get a nasty "no, you are wrong" but instead, everyone politely explains the error in my thought process, and, whenever possible, you even provide me a reference point. A girl couldn't possibly ask for more! So much more enjoyable this way!

Unfortunately, when I did my initial read, I immediately assumed it was ST. Since I didn't see it as a mystery, I didn't recognize any clues to the contrary. Duh....this is Erickson....what was I thinking! Now I can't wait to dig into BH and find out what I missed. :-)

@ 51. Shalter
"There is another person we haven't met yet who might have reasons to do it, but I don't think it is ever stated that they did it either..."

If I recall correctly, when that character and Tool meet in MoI, that was their first meeting since the events that occurred around the time of the Ritual, 300,000 years ago. (How's that for a sentence so cryptic that there is no way a first time reader can find a spoiler, even if they tried!) If that is the case, then that character could not have done the "compelling."

If anyone comes up with any other possibilities, please let me know. I was serious when I posted that I just don't believe there is any way possible that the order came from an Imass. For me to believe that would require that everything I think I know about the Imass and their interactions with the Jaghut is completely wrong. Right now, I'm not willing to be THAT wrong. LOL
Travis Nelsen
62. Zangred
EDIT: And SE has stopped by further down in the comments to quash this as not happening. We appreciate the drive-by Steven, hope you get well soon.

This doesn't really have anything to do with MBotF, but thought I would post it since it does involve SE.

As some (all?) of you probably know, GRRM's ASoIaF is being made into an HBO series. Just saw a post that SE has confimed he will have a cameo appearance in the first seaon of the series.
In other casting news, Steven Erikson, author of the popular Malazan Book of the Fallen series, has revealed at Tricon in the Czech Republic that he will have a cameo appearance in the first season as a horserider.

The post is located at

Just thought it was neat SE is appearing in GRRM's series.

Now back to our regulary scheduled GotM discussion... :)
Travis Nelsen
63. Zangred
Robin @ 61:

Like you, I also just assumed it was ST that compelled Tool to free the Jaghut on my first read. By the time BH rolled around and we find out it couldn't have been him I had completely forgotten about Tool's compulsion in this book since it wasn't an outstanding mystery. At least not until this re-read lol.

I also agree it wasn't the other T'lan Imass, for reasons already stated. If the T'lan Imass had compelled Tool to free the Jaghut they would all have been sitting around outside the barrow waiting for him to be freed and then proceed to jack him up.

I guess it could be possible that since nobody , up until very recently, knew the true identity of ST that Tool was maybe tricked into doing ST's bidding by appearing before Tool as Kelanved (in human form) instead of ST. It's a stretch, I know. It is plausible that ST would want the Jaghut freed, hoping that the end result would indeed be the result we get in the book, since we know of ST's interest in what is produced.

Of course, we could also go with the "compulsion" being nothing more than mere curiosity on Tool's part.
Sydo Zandstra
64. Fiddler

Thanks for the link! I haven't checked GRRM lately, since at some point I get annoyed again that he seems (I said seems) to do anything but writing ASoIaF, and he's not getting any younger.

Re: casting

They were able to confirm for me that Wilko Johnson
has been cast in the role of Ilyn Payne. Johnson is actually a musician and a member of the blues band Dr. Feelgood. As far as I can tell, this is his first acting job.

Winter Is Coming: Is this guy perfect or what? I
guess the lack of acting experience didn’t hurt him here since Ilyn Payne doesn’t have too many lines.

LOL! Some understatement, since the guy had his tongue cut out decades before the story begins...

On Topic:
We're getting to the fun part of GotM.

Tiste Andii Air Wing coming up soon, the reason why Caladan Brood and Anomander Rake are pictured here as somehow opposing each other (highlight slight spoiler below), why Malazan Sappers Rock (the first in a line of many examples in the series), Kalam realizing something that us readers should have seen coming with all the Darujhistan descriptions earlier, and Vorcan...

spoiler: Brood is sending Crimson Guards! /s
Tricia Irish
65. Tektonica
Gredien: Thanks for the shout out about GRRM. Agree, Fiddler....anything but writing ASoIaF. Sigh. I'm not starting that reread until I see a confirmation on his blog that the manuscript is finished. I am looking forward to the HBO series. Hope they do it justice.

Andii Air Wing, chuckle chuckle. It's time to fasten your seat belt.

Gredien, et al: I'm now reading MoI with magnifying glasses on, looking for clues to the "compeller". Thanks for that heads up...I had been vaguely wondering where that order came from, as I learned more and more about the Imass/Jaghut animosity war.
Rob Munnelly
66. RobMRobM
Fiddler - as an avid tracker of GRRM's Not a Blog, I've seen numerous posts where he has noted actively writing and even completing chapters. (For example, he noted cancelling a trip to a Con because it was "Snow-ing heavily" around his home. He also had multiple blogs about completing chapters involving the characters "Fred," "Barney" and "Yogi.") He has already moved nearly a 100 pages of finished chapters into the next book for flow and space purposes. Even with that, DwD will be challenging SoS for longest book in the series. What he hasn't done is to be crystal clear what else is left to be done. So I agree to the usual skepticism about when it will be finished but with the exception of this week (he is at Aussie Con) he's been working hard on Kong.

In a similar vein, I'm very excited about the HBO series. March 2011 is coming!

Steven Halter
67. stevenhalter
Robbin5507@61: Yeah, they said they didn't meet. They could be lying or mistaken (I doubt it) so the unnamed personage seems unlikely.
Another thing to watch for.
Gerd K
68. Kah-thurak
I very much doubt, that you will find hints about this. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced, that we will not find any information about this in the later books. I would consider it as a "GotMism", as in truth none of the parties which - maybe - could compel Tool would do so, while those who might want to should not be able to do it. I guess in GotM it can be seen as remnant of control over the T'lan Imass still held by Laseen. This does not make much sense later on, but well...
Steven Halter
69. stevenhalter
One of the matters touched on in the conversation between Rake and Barruk was:

'So fear holds you in check, Son of Darkness?'Rake scowled. 'That title is held by those fools who think me worthy of worship. I dislike it, Baruk, and would not hear it again from you.'

This is worth commenting on. It tells us a couple of things:1) Some hold Rake worthy of worship (thus a god).
2) Rake has no interest in being considered a god and disdains anyone who holds him as such.
Contrast this as we go with the opinions of others who actively want to be gods. This is further solidifies the
'impression of sincerity' of Rake.
Hugh Arai
70. HArai
shalter@69: Another instance where a good choice for the position is the person who has no interest in holding it.
Gerd K
71. Kah-thurak
@70 HArai
Certain inhabitants of a place called Bluerose might disagree ;-)
Hugh Arai
72. HArai
Kah-thurak@71: You can't please everyone. If you mean a certain chain-spinning pest, anything that upsets him is a good thing :)
Gerd K
73. Kah-thurak
@72 HArai
The rest of them died... though THAT ONE would have deserved it more ;-)
Steven Halter
74. stevenhalter
@72 & @73: Yeah, the chain spinner is annoying.
Hugh Arai
75. HArai
Kah-thurak@73: Oh I see. Well I said he was a good choice, I didn't say it would be easy to get him to fill the position :)
Besides, didn't they end up there by backing the wrong brother in the beginning?
Thomas Jeffries
76. thomstel
Re: Clip

Oh god, forgot we're going to have to deal with him in Reaper's Gale. Please please please let's just skip all those sections. I have zero capacity to deal rationally with anyone in that storyline but Kettle.

Even the Snake storyline doesn't infuriate me the way the moronic in-fighting in that group does. Plus, we won't have to deal with warren-gaining-sentience crap. :)

Pretty please???
Marc Rikmenspoel
77. kramerdude
Kah-thurak@68: You may be correct that we will never solve the exact riddle of who sent Tool. I had a few other thoughts though.

1 - We know that Tool was sent as a representative of the T'lan (at least that is what he claimed). So ST or someone sending Tool individually can probably be ruled out.

2 - We haven't mentioned (including myself here) that the T'lan sent Tool because he was clanless. If they were that concerned about the effect that Raest might have as to send a clanless warrior (so that no others would be indebted to revenge Tool), perhaps they had good reason not to show up when the Jaghut barrow was opened.
Steven Halter
78. stevenhalter
kramerdude@77: Your second point is a decent possibility. Although then there is the question as to why they would want to open the barrow in the first place. There's always the possibility that they want to make sure every Jaghut is destroyed, but on the other hand the dude in the barrow has been pretty quite for a really long time and they were content to leave him alone when they left their marks in the barrow entrance.
So, if the T'lan sent Tool, then what changed to cause them to want to do it?
Tai Tastigon
79. Taitastigon
thom @76

I am sorry to have to burst your least in TtH you will have to suffer thru all this Andii stuff, because the man - for a change - hides all the infodumps EXACTLY among the biggest whiners. Actually, most of the whining IS the infodump...*sigh*
(Yep, I´m currently redoing TtH...).
Steven Erikson
80. StevenErikson
Oh my. Steven Erikson here. I had planned on something more comprehensive here for my first post, but as I down with a cold at the moment I will make this brief, so as to nip a rumour in the bud. At the con in the Czech republic I stated that I would have loved to slip into the making of George's HBo adaptation, as an extra, but that I could not make it over to Ireland at the casting call. And then I mused, 'maybe next time.' So, to put the record straight, I am not in George's series. Whew!

That aside, thank you all for your comments -- I have read everything to date (yes, it took days), and I will respond in detail next time I sign on. Until then, have fun and thank you all.

Marc Rikmenspoel
81. Tarcanus
Thanks for porting, Steve! It's always good to see you're peeking in on the fanbase :)
Rajesh Vaidya
82. Buddhacat
I think SE is a Mockra adept. Welcome and thanks, Steven!
Sydo Zandstra
83. Fiddler
Thanks for the clarification, Steven. :)

In general, don't you just love the internet? This sure beats the book-reading clubs that existed before rereads like this...

EDIT: bad manners from me. Hope you get well soon!
Marc Rikmenspoel
85. Karsa_Urlong_isBadAss
catching up on this thread. a couple of thoughts

1. I haven't seen any mention of the fact that Tool was First Sword of the Imass. this is a major big deal. What does it mean that he is the last surviving member of his clan? Perhaps the person who compells Tool is Tool himself out of the (dis)honor of being the sole survivor. Then the reason that he does it is that he fully expects to "die" by the hand of the Tyrant (or at least wouldn't care that much if it happens)

2. don't forget that ST has plans for Rake! They come to fruition in of course he doesn't want Rake dead. I bring it up because I think it's important to remember that the plot spans the whole series, not just the book and our friend ST thinks far, far in advance and is imv pulling strings to achieve a desired outcome.
Robin Lemley
86. Robin55077
@ SteveErickson

Thanks for taking the time to check in on us even though you were under the weather. Now that's dedication to the fans! And, at the risk of sounding like a gushing fan, I want to thank you very much for sharing the world of the Malazan with us. This series has been, and continues to be, one of my most pleasurable reading experiences to date.
Tai Tastigon
87. Taitastigon

Welcome & thx for checking in ! Hope you get better soon !

OK, everybody, behave - Elvis is in the house ! *gg*
Robin Lemley
88. Robin55077
Re: Who/what compelled Tool to open the barrow?

Okay, just an evil thought here....but isn't it possible that it was ST (or even the Imass, as some have suggested) who did the compelling but as the series progressed and the characters were fleshed out in the later books that became a.....oh, what an evil word....GotMism? Personally, I hate to attribute anything as a "GotMism" (it seems like a cop out for anything we cannot find an answer to) but in this case, I have to consider it as a possibility.

I fear we will never know the answer to this mystery! :-)
Tricia Irish
89. Tektonica
Was that a Steve Erikson sighting? I'm impressed. Thanks for reading our nonsense thoughts. Very impressive books....and this reread is awesome for us newbies. Thanks for checking in, and feel better!

Karsa@85: I had a feeling there would be some sort of mano a mano between Rake and ST. I'm pulling for Rake....I just can't get behind ST's giggling like a little girl. It makes it very hard to take him seriously, but perhaps that is his ploy.
Tai Tastigon
90. Taitastigon
Karsa @85

Re Tool: His background incl. clanlessness are only detailed in MoI. It definitely is very hazy how he was compelled in GotM.
Tai Tastigon
91. Taitastigon
Tek @89

Aw, you gonna get quite a few giggles from ST in times to come. Some of those scenes are pretty hilarious, actually...
Rob Munnelly
92. RobMRobM
@91. Just got a giggle in my initial read of MoI, where a strongwilled female character is repeatedly and wretechedly sick on a boat and a family member suggests (with amusement) that perhaps seasickness is not the issue...and then later notes her "gravid" distress.
Tai Tastigon
93. Taitastigon
Rob @92

Remembering who the distressor was, I am giggling right now.
Steven Halter
94. stevenhalter
Karsa@85: I agree that ST's plans are long range--in fact that's why he's ST and not K.

Tektonica@89: I picture a giggle that is more unsettling than little girlish from ST. Also, Karsa wasn't (I think) implying a mano a mano--just plans.
Sydo Zandstra
96. Fiddler

Tek @89
Aw, you gonna get quite a few giggles from ST in times to come. Some of those scenes are pretty hilarious, actually...

Like the scene in TBH where ST knocks on the door of Obo's tower in Malaz City, which looks like a ruin, but isn't really, and tells him there are trespassers (Oponn) on his roof, and he should do something about it?

I just love the *POOF!*+Oponn cursing in that scene. It reminds me of Wile E Coyote (from Roadrunner) every time I read it... :D

(Since it's Oponn, I probably should say Wile WE Coyote...)

I've started a TBH reread too. I just arrived at Y'ghatan. Wonderful stuff. Can't wait for the crazy Bole Sapper (who in fact saved lives by being that crazy) to show up, and I think you will agree TBH is underrated; this is in fact the book that connects the early books to the later ones, I think....
Thomas Jeffries
97. thomstel
Woo! Steven Erikson! Time to behave ourselves. ;)

Taitastigon@93: His bodily fluids are as potent as the finest liquor, allowing his graciousness and cleverness spread to future generations, whereupon said progeny will curdle the minds of the powerful and meek alike!
Thomas Jeffries
98. thomstel
*killed a double post*
Tai Tastigon
99. Taitastigon
Fid @96

Re BH: In retrospect, the most thankless volume to write, because you can only really appreciate it in full once you read what follows it. It definitely is a *connecting* piece.
And it contains ST´s most hilarious "Idi*ts !" - Exclam yet...
Tai Tastigon
100. Taitastigon
thom @97

...and there goes my appetite, trying to visualize this...*g*
Marc Rikmenspoel
101. MDW
@95 shalter

I completely agree with everything you've written here.

Anything to make a new comment record!
Sydo Zandstra
102. Fiddler

Thankless, but it has some of the funniest stuff in it.

Spoilers (whitened, of course):

That Bole Sapper showing Andii heads from the Silanda to the welcoming Malaz fleet crew made me laugh out loud.

Some of the guys in Fiddler and Gesler's squads holding the dock in Malaz Harbour against Laseen's mob, awaiting the Adjunct and others to return commenting 'Hey, this is our first face to face battle, and it's against our own people. Ain't that funny?' (I'm paraphrasing).
Chris Hawks
103. SaltManZ
I loved TBH the first time I read it, and it still remains my 3rd favorite book--after the masterpieces that are DG and MoI. You think the scope of the series is big enough at first, but then in TBH he reels all (or most) of the previous plotlines together, while somehow simultaneously blowing your mind with a glimpse of the scope of things to come.

It also contains my favorite Shadowthrone quote/scene:
"Tell me, does live?"
"He's in the Deadhouse--isn't that answer enough?"
"Not really."
"I know!" Shadowthrone cackled in glee, then vanished like mist in the wind.

Tricia Irish
104. Tektonica

You guys! My guess is: in white: Kruppe?
Marc Rikmenspoel
105. Karsa_Urlong_isBadAss
@90. Taitastigon (paraphrased "we don't find out that Tool is the First Sword of the Imass until MoI)

first, sorry about the inadvertant spoiler! :)

second, i still think the reasons behind his "compelling" don't have to (and are probably certainly not) based solely on what is in the GoTM

@89 Tektonica

...ST plans for Rake don't necessarily involve a mano-a-mano confrontation with Rake. ST is far too clever to ever get into a battle that he might lose... :P
Julian Augustus
106. Alisonwonderland
Thomstel @76:

Plus, we won't have to deal with warren-gaining-sentience crap

That was the biggest 'WTF!' I've ever had in any book ever. Completely counter to everything we've been told about warrents before or since. And we haven't come across that particular crime again. I think of it as a RGism. I agree with you RG is where the philosophizing that became unbearable for me in DoD started - page after page of nothing but Udinass thinking deep thoughts is not my idea of fun.
Julian Augustus
107. Alisonwonderland
Tek @104:

waaaaaayyyyy off the track. The character in question (@92 and @93) is female. Your answer, though, hits the bullseye if we are thinking of the cause of the 'sea-sickness'.
Thomas Jeffries
108. thomstel
Salt-Man Z@103

Chapter 7 of BH is my 2nd place "moment", and on the glory of that chapter alone the book itself stands out as my 3rd fav as well. Chain of Dogs (pretty much any of it) beats it out. 3rd "moment" would be Itkovian's final embrace and follow-up piling of the trinkets.


Heehee! It's really funny and then gets funnier when the tables turn!


You captured my response much better: it comes out of nowhere, to a character I'm not fond of, in the midst of a bunch of pseudo-philosophy verbal sparring amongst that particular group, and it muddies the waters of "what is a warren, how do they work, etc" EVEN FURTHER.

And I sum it up with "crap". Go me. :p
Tricia Irish
109. Tektonica
Alison@107: I was thinking of the source of the sea sickness! Although I love him, the thought kind of skeeves me out. But who is the lady?
Steven Halter
110. stevenhalter

@90. Taitastigon (paraphrased "we don't find out that Tool is the First Sword of the Imass until MoI)

Actually, its mentioned in this book.
Steven Halter
111. stevenhalter
thomstel@108: I didn't mind the verbal sparring, but if I were in the group, the spinning and un-spinning from Clip would definitely get on my nerves.
Steven Halter
112. stevenhalter
Alisonwonderland@106 & thomstel@108:
I thought the warren voice was revealing rather than confusing, but I guess we can have a thorough discussion when we get there.
Julian Augustus
114. Alisonwonderland
Tek @ 109:
female warrior, fierce, totally uninhibited, very prominent in MoI from the beginning ... rings a bell?
Tricia Irish
115. Tektonica
Alison@114: Oh can't mean: Heton? Lady Envy?
Tricia Irish
117. Tektonica
Alisonwonderland and Taitastigon:

Oh, the mental hurts! *grins*
Marc Rikmenspoel
118. billcap
@Bill: I know the scene you're mentioning with Rake and Dragnipur later. I'm not sure if this is inconsistent or if maybe there is a similar room in Moon's Spawn. Given what we find out in the later scene, Rake must have been able to take it off every now and then.

It just struck me that this was a bit casual for what we’re given later, though Osyris has a good point re what’s going on with the sword itself. I’m going to flag this to return to once we hit that scene (you know, about 2013)

SaltmanZ @21
I was flipping through Night of Knives (I think) last night, and one of the chapters began with this quote: "Only the dead should be certain of anything". Of course, I had to laugh at even that.

And how could you not? And was it you think it was last night or you think it was Night of Knives? :)

On Tool’s compulsion, I’ve always wondered about it but forgot to look closely for anything in this recent reread, though I’ll certainly keep an eye out now, same as it appears lots of you are (though like some of you, I have my doubts on finding anything concrete). The problem is the folks I can come up with also have some pretty good reasons why they probably are not the culprits. I find equally interesting his lines that the power of the Jaghut, combined w/ releasing him, “frees” Tool.
Marc Rikmenspoel
119. billcap
I appreciate you facing down the demons of nasal congestion to drop-in and tamp down the rumor mill early on (now if only that were the only thing we get wrong during this journey).

Feel better and look forward to hearing from you
120. Abalieno
I'm still far behind my re-read, so I just read a few pages:


One thing that is occurring to me now to ask... I know that obviously Kruppe likes Crokus and therefore wants to see him survive the interest of Oponn, but, apart from that, what makes him so determined to protect the Coin Bearer? Just the word of K’rul? How does he know that Oponn has favorable intentions? How does he know who is pushing or pulling? How does he know Oponn is better than the alternative?

Oponn is unaligned. One doesn't need to know its precise intentions to understand that its influence is beneficial for Darujhistan. The city is caught in a war, Baruk and Kruppe know that Rake doesn't have so much consideration for "incidental damage" (as we've seen in Caladan Brood's PoV and then Baruk's), and that the Malazan Empire is determined to conquer the city.

It basically means that Oponn is the only one who may keep things in a balance as long it stays in the game. If Oponn is instead killed there would be ripples of power that would probably have huge consequences on the city. Oponn here represents potential and uncertainty, where every other path leads to destruction or the loss of freedom.

“through the gamut of life we struggled for control, for a means to fashion the world around us, an eternal, hopeless hunt for the privilege of being able to predict the shape of our lives”

Not just a great quote, but also an echo with the latest themes developed through various characters. We have Paran, Adjunct, Crokus and Sorry all dealing with "control" over their life. This is typical of Erikson as he explores the aspects of a theme by using different characters as different approaches. This theme of control and responsibility, in the chapter, is the ideal link between the disparate PoVs. That's the deeper layer that "feeds" the narrative.

@ EriksonHimself

That aside, thank you all for your comments -- I have read everything to date (yes, it took days)

I'm glad. I had hoped that the comments would be read by you.
Marc Rikmenspoel
121. StevenErikson
Hello all,

The great thing about having a cold is the privilege of sitting round for days doing nothing and not feeling guilty about it. Having read through the chapter commentary from the beginning, I'd like to take you all back more than a few pages, and talk about why these novels seem to thrive in the context of re-reads, and why first-time readers are often left feeling bewildered. I think the two are very much related.

It goes back to how I first started writing fiction. I was in a Master's program in archaeology when I came second in a local short story contest in Winnipeg, a tale called 'Wooden Trucks.' On the weight of this one venture into writing I applied to attend a creative writing program at the University of Victoria. I recall being in a sweaty phone box in Belize, on the phone with my mother back in Winnipeg, as she opened the envelope telling me I'd got in. From that moment onward, my entire world changed.

The writing program at Uvic at that time was at its zenith. When I showed up it was as a wide-eyed neophyte with a secret love of genre fiction (one keeps these things secret if one wants to be taken seriously). What I learned, almost from day one, was that I knew nothing about anything; that my writing to that point had only 'worked' because I was instinctively consistent, with emphasis on the word 'instinctively.'

Uvic taught me the craft of writing; it taught me to be mindful. The key though is this: it made me a short-story writer. Short stories are a particular beasts. In them, not a single word is superfluous. Everything carries extra weight, or at least that's how I saw it.

Track forward a few years and scores of short stories later, and I begin writing novels, only to discover that my 'muscle memory' is now absolute -- the obsessive adherence to multifunctional, multilayered writing (line by line, word by word) is not something I can relax -- when novel writing in fact demands just that: an ease with wandering, with transitive passages, with a gentler hand taking hold of the reader, etc. Instead, novel-writing for me is the building of ever more elaborate structures, designed to carry ever more weight.

A long ramble to get to this: on one level details in making a setting carry the more obvious virtues -- placing the characters somewhere, giving them things with which they can interact; in creating an atmosphere and a tone; and in painting a picture for the reader's imagination. But other levels are possible. Setting as 'animated environment' can feed your sense of the characters in it; can foreshadow elements of plot; can reveal theme.

Take some opening scenes in Gardens as examples, and see how they relate to subsequent scenes for those select characters. Whiskeyjack and Fiddler on Mock's Hold: high above a burning city, in a place of power. There's smoke and the smell of carnage -- they are above it but only moments from descending into it. But we don't see that bit. They are on stonework, but it's cracked, and their backs are to the sea. All of these details shapes the reader's sense of them to some extent. When next we see them, they are on the ground, far away from Malaz City, surrounded in destruction and desolation. It's a different place, but their descent began in the prologue, if you see what I mean. And even then, they were only a short time earlier under the ground itself.

If we look to Kruppe, things get a little more complicated. Kruppe and his city are the same things; just as his language and attitude (and mystery) reflect the exotic, byzantine confusion of Darujhistan, so too his half-mocking smile and spark in the eye invite you into the labyrinthine cityscape (and the literally over-the-top assassin/Crokus chase). Kruppe is both flashy but on close examination somewhat scuffed, stained. He has a cherubic face, but plenty hides behind that. And so on. His voice is the city's voice, and it begins in a dream, as all great cities do.

Where is all this going? It goes here. Three storm clouds converging over Lake Azure, into which Whiskeyjack and co. are headed. A reader comments that I'm too smart to now say that there was deliberate portent in the detail of three clouds warring over the lake. Hmm. It's been too many years since that for me to be more specific than this: I could have written 'there was a storm over the lake,' and left it at that. The foreshadow is obvious enough. But, if I'd written that description, I would have immediately seen the foreshadowing element -- it's almost too cinematic and verges on cliche. I could then have changed it to two storm clouds, but then, that wouldn't have made sense; or rather, it would have been suggestive but inaccurately so. There are three forces converging on the city. Two storm clouds would have been lazy and misleading; careless.

Of course there are three storm-clouds. Of course this detail is relevant. It's how short stories work.

Uh oh. This ain't a short story though, is it? And therein lies the problem. I know what I'm up to; I know how I think and how I write. And to make matters worse, everything I put into a narrative is saying (pleading, begging) 'you can trust me, honest.' But I'm not taking the reader by the hand. I've invited them into a place, left them standing, looking round, wandering a bit but not far, not far at all. And every now and then I tap a shoulder, point, nod to over there, or here. And that's it.

Re-readers will nod and smile. First-timers will blink, bewildered -- and will decide to either trust me or not. I really want them to trust me, but I don't know how to manage that... beyond making sure that everything fits, that everything has meaning.

A virtue or a flaw in my writing? Maybe both. You see, I already know that world, but the only details I show you are the important ones. There's no filler. And that's not fair.

And the structure is such a crazed, manic machine, an engineer's nightmare, a spider's acid trip, it's really no wonder that readers will doubt, and on occasion give up on the effort, on the trust I so desperately ask for.

So, to all you new readers on this, I am ever amazed and slightly astonished to find you staying with me. I tell myself that what is happening is a kind of education process: read me this way, it's the only way. Pay attention! You will be tested on all of this, I guarantee it. Stay with me and in turn I will promise you that it will be a blast.

And even better, then you'll have all those re-reads, when things will really get wild.

Cheers for now
122. Abalieno
See? It's why I think it's a good thing you're coming online more frequently with the blog, your site or other posts.

A number of years ago I had to read my books alone, if I was lucky I could share some thoughts with a couple of friends. Nowadays through the internet it's much easier to participate into discussions and it's something I value a lot because they offer me new perspectives and make me notice things I miss. Absorb things more profundly. It can even be a disaster, things only seen on the surface and simplification and generalization being noticeable the most, but then it's up to oneself to filter what can be useful.

Even better if this feedback also comes from the writer, in the case of books. Your words about Gardens of the Moon here are so suggestive and give an idea of what's behind the book, so offering another perspective and interpretation. They help to treasure what's in there and how to approach what you write. An inspiration to reading.

I consider this last comment you wrote here as another huge gift, like that other article I spotted on your site. If you at some point decide you've given us too much and too plainly it would be too late, because I already cut & pasted the thing and saved it for the greater good ;)
Tricia Irish
123. Tektonica
Thank you, Mr. Erikson, for the insights into your history and process!

You create living, breathing scenery, without unnecessary florid description. Your characters are uniquely complex and yet very perceptible. And your over-arching,labyrinthine plot is a complete tangle to this newbie!

Along with our excellent moderators, Bill and Amanda, several long time readers of MBotF on this thread are of great help with hints of important points to note. Even with their help, I'm sure several rereads will be necessary to connect all the dots. How refreshing to find challenging genre fiction, like this, that requires rereads! Some of your sentences are so beautifully crafted I have to stop and read them out loud. That's a rare treat!

Although we learn much about plot and character from observation by fellow characters, I also appreciate the insights and growth we see within the characters' own minds. Their philosophical observations are always pertinent to their character, while no doubt expressing your own views.

Thanks for participating here with us.
Steven Halter
125. stevenhalter
Thanks for those insights. I hadn't thought of the work in terms of short story craft, but that totally makes sense.
I like having to figure out bits and pieces. Nuance is a wonderful thing.
Julian Augustus
126. Alisonwonderland

I can't convey enough how thrilled I am that you are actually here, keeping an eye on us as we journey through arguably the most complex piece of imaginative fiction ever penned. Thank you. Just give us a gentle nudge now and then in the right direction if you find us wandering far off-field, or getting too bogged down.
Sydo Zandstra
127. Fiddler
@Steven Erikson:

Re: Short stories
You have certainly moved on from short stories. Although, I still see a pattern of 'smaller stories' making the whole Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Which I like. One of the things I never liked in Fantasy was the whole destiny-is-in-the-prophecy-thing-and-you-protagonists-better-accept-that thing. The regular grunt being out in the trenches doesn't care about prophecies...

Did you write the Bauchelain&Korbal Broach stories to stay muscled in writing short stories, or did you get ideas after MoI that you wanted to write down?

Whiskeyjack and Fiddler on Mock's Hold: high above a burning city, in a place of power. There's smoke and the smell of carnage -- they are above it but only moments from descending into it. But we don't see that bit. They are on stonework, but it's cracked, and their backs are to the sea. All of these details shapes the reader's sense of them to some extent. When next we see them, they are on the ground, far away from Malaz City, surrounded in destruction and desolation. It's a different place, but their descent began in the prologue, if you see what I mean.

I did get most of that in my first reading, except from them having their backs to the sea. What did you mean by that? Is it related to the 14th army returning in TBH by sea?

You described Darujhistan as Byzantine. I can't see that city as such. I can see how Malaz City is similar to Rome in the later years, but Darujhistan just doesn't seem Byzantine to me. I don't see a God-King in it, which they had in Byzantium. There isn't much political backstabbing there as well. (apart from the whole Coll plot)

Or did you just spoil something for ICE?

I really appreciate how you make the effort of checking in here, btw. I know you have been in contact with the people running the malazan forums and passing stuff there, since I am there in a passive way. This is more direct though. That is a rare thing for a writer to do.

As for first readers, I think the 'vets' are taking care of them well enough in this reread. We all love your stuff, and nobody wants to spoil a first-read experience on some of the stuff you have given us. :)

Please keep checking in here. We all love reading your insights and reasoning in writing the chapters we are discussing!
Amir Noam
128. Amir
@Steven Erikson:

I'll just add my voice to the rest of the gang and thank you for the world(s) that you've created and for sharing them with us. I've always loved the "complexity" of the Malazan books (at least for a first time reader) as it wasn't the writing style which was complex (which can be exhausting to read), but instead it was immediately obvious that the world and characters in it are so rich and 3-dimentional (or more!). It's impossible to grasp the full scope of this world in one reading.

I've never re-read any of the novels myself (though I would have liked to!), simply because English is not my main language and it just takes me such a long time to read so many pages. I also have had no one with whom to discuss the books before, since I couldn't convince anyone I know to read them (due to length and language), yet.

This is where the online re-read project here on really shines. I really appreciate the interesting discussions on this forum, and especially the play between first time readers and veterans - so much that it got me to start re-reading the books (I'm pacing myself to match the weekly posts - though it's hard not to go on and read through!). And the fact that now The Writer himself peeks in, contributes to the discussion and explains some of his work process is truly a unique experience.

Thanks for joining the discussion. (and feel better!)
129. Abalieno
A couple of minor things I noticed and I wasn't able to pinpoint.

The first is again about Laseen and nobility. The culls. I've spotted a small comment of Paran who says:

But in Malaz we'd met our match in the old Emperor. He crushed us at every turn until we cowered like whipped dogs. Cowered for years. But it was only an issue of power, wasn't it?

And much earlier from his first encounter with the Adjunct:

"I see." Lorn fell silent. "The nobles have refrained from seeking military commissions, kept their heads low for a long time, haven't they?"
"Since the first days of the Empire. The Emperor held no love for us. Whereas Empress Laseen's concerns seem to lie elsewhere."

Dunno how exactly to place these. It seems that the Emperor was as hard with nobility as Laseen. The Empress isn't exactly neutral to the nobility. There's probably a really simple explanation that I'm missing here.

The other odd aspect is about Rake refusing the title of "Son of Darkness", but I guess this part is just one developed in the books I've yet to read... "That title is held by those fools who think me worthy of worship."

The scene with Paran and Coll seems rather simple to interpret as we see two disparate men, supposed to be at war, who actually find more similarities than differences. Similarities that are not about heroic achievements, but just wounds of the spirit.

Again two different approaches to a similar condition (in this case the fall from nobility).
Gerd K
130. Kah-thurak
Laseen executes her purges only after the dialogue between Lorn and Paran. Before that, the nobles seem to have been controlled less closely than under Kellanved's rule.
Gerd K
131. Kah-thurak
Matt LaRose
132. TheLegend
I don't know what to add. I sure have missed out in the last week or so.


Thanks for taking the time to comment on the re-read. All of us here, as you can tell, really appreciate your writing and having a chance to participate in this re-read. The fact that you are commenting on our comments is icing on the cake. You taking time out to talk to us is more than any of us could have hoped for.
shirley thistlewood
133. twoodmom
re Who compelled Tool?
Possible spoiler below or ludicrous suggestion

How about CG. It would be consistent with his other attempts to provoke havoc.

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var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_IFRAME_DIV_ID = "leoHighlights_iframe_modal_div_container";






var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_BACKGROUND_STYLE_DEFAULT = "transparent none repeat scroll 0% 0%";
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var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_ROVER_TAG = "711-36858-13496-14";

Tricia Irish
134. Tektonica
Don't know what went wrong above @133, but something did!
Steven Halter
135. stevenhalter
I don't see Tool being influenced by that one.
Slight Spoiler:

Olar Ethil seems like the most likely choice to me at this time. She seems to have 'motivations' outside normal T'lan desires.
ezzkmo .
136. ezzkmo
I'm sorry, but a quick random question:

On his way to meet up with the Bridgeburners, with everything else Paran is in the middle of (finding Lorn, Tattersail, running into Rake, hounds, etc.) is he also looking for Sorry? Does he even know that she killed him, and was possesed while doing it?. It's probably something I read and just forgot.

I'm following along fine but finding it hard impossible to remember what pieces of the story each character knows. I forget that while I know a good bit now as the reader, some characters are still completely clueless on certain events. Heck, half of them still think Paran is dead!
137. Abalieno

Sorry killed Paran because he was sent by the Empress, same reason why Sorry killed every other Claw within her range. Paran's entire mission was basically about Sorry, since that day in Itko Kan when the Adjunct recruited him for that specific purpose. Sorry is supposed to be Paran's foremost priority and it's only Lorn to have two purposes at once (dealing with Sorry and the Jaghut Tyrant). Everything else that Paran did was incidental and mere consequence of what happened.

If Paran was sent on Genabackis to become captain of the Bridgeburners it's because Laseen and Lorn knew that Shadowthrone/Cotillion's pawn was hiding in that company. Even the whole deal with Tayschreen trying to wipe the Bridgeburners was founded on the suspect about Bridgeburners' (and Dujek) betrayal of the Malazan Empire.

@ Amanda

which makes it a little funny that Meese didn’t indicate that she knew Circle Breaker (if it was he) when she told Rallick that there was someone waiting for him?

Everyone plays a different game, or different games at the same time. The Eel has its fingers a bit on every game, but Rallick doesn't need to be better aware of Circle Breaker, or that Meese is directly involved with him and the Eel. Rallick Nom is still part of a different guild. In this case Rallick can be trusted because his relationship with Coll is a personal one, so conflicting with what may be the guild's purpose at large.

Also what @47 wrote (that I read too late)


Did Kruppe arrange for Irilta and Meese to find and protect Crokus and Apsalar by magic message or did he have it arranged beforehand as a failsafe?

This was interesting to track. The last scene in the previous chapter had Murillio and Kruppe, with Kruppe anxious to come back as soon as possible. But when we see them again in this chapter it's Kruppe who's not anymore in a hurry. At the same time lots of things are set in motion as we see Circle Breaker carry on various missions.

It is quite obvious that all this was not a failsafe since too much is going on. In the previous scene we also have:

"Kruppe admits to his own weariness. Indeed, a camp should be found, and Murillio can construct a small fire, perhaps, and so prepare dinner while Kruppe ponders vital thoughts and such."

So they camp. Maybe they got close enough for Kruppe to send a message. After that point Kruppe is much more relaxed.

There was also this nice tidbit about Kruppe that shows again there's more implied in Kruppe's words:

He sighed. "You should've explained all this from the start, Kruppe. Does Rallick know?"
"Of course not," Kruppe replied tartly. "He's too busy, after all, unable to extricate himself from his various responsibilities. Hence, "Kruppe's expression turned crafty, "the assassin's absence on this journey. But why, pray tell, is Kruppe informing Murillio of such things? Clearly, Murillio knows more of Rallick's doings than poor, ignorant Kruppe."
Murillio's look was blank. "What do you mean?"
Kruppe sniggered, then kicked his mule into motion once again.

About the problem of Tool and the Jaghut, I also have a problem explaining it, because we know how T'lann Imass deal with impossible tasks: they do not much care.

If an explaination is to be found, as with everything else, it should be found with what the text gives, and not wild specualtion. In this case the two hints we have is that Tool is "detached" from the rest of T'lan Imass, and that he says he's answering a vow.

Though the Imass spoke often, at her prodding, of many fascinating things, he denied her efforts regarding matters important to the Empire, and to Laseen's continued power. All seemed to return to the vows he had taken at the last Gathering. For the Imass, something was coming to a head. She wondered if it was somehow connected with freeing this Jaghut Tyrant. And that was a disturbing thought.

And now:

Tool nodded. "Within this tomb, and with what we will do, my vows are ended. They will bind me no longer. Such is the residual power of this sleeping Jaghut. And for that, I am thankful."

Tool can only be thankful of ONE thing, as for all T'lan Imass. He looks forward to be freed. There's just this last thing to do.

I don't remember exactly what triggers the Gathering in MoI, but it may be the "delusion" that all Jaghuts are killed. Obviously having it still sleeping indefinitely doesn't remove the threat at all. We know time is relative, ESPECIALLY for T'lan Imass.

I also don't know if the fact that this Jaghut can possess others is indicative of the special way T'lan Imass decide to deal with him. It's written plainly that if bonecasters were present the risks would be huge, so freeing this Jaghut to kill him doesn't seem a possibility for T'lan Imass, and in that case it means that this is some kind of "special" Jaghut since they don't have similar worries for all their other wars.
Robin Lemley
138. Robin55077
@ 136. ezzkmo
"On his way to meet up with the Bridgeburners, with everything else Paran is in the middle of (finding Lorn, Tattersail, running into Rake, hounds, etc.) is he also looking for Sorry? Does he even know that she killed him, and was possesed while doing it?. It's probably something I read and just forgot."

Paran is looking for Sorry. They know that the person they have been searching for is attached to Whiskeyjack's unit. I don't think they even know her name, only that they person they seek is attached to that unit. Paran has been made Captain of the Bridgeburners to "sniff" her out so to speak.

Paran does not know that Sorry is the one who killed him. He has no recollection of that incident at all. If you recall, when he "woke up" laying outside Hood's Gate, the last thing he remembered was being on the boat and a vague recollection of Topper. When his spirit returned to his body in Darujhistan, he only had a very vague memory of what had just happend at Hood's Gate. So no, he had no memory that it was Sorry who had killed him. I don't think anyone knew that it was Sorry, except, of course, Sorry.
Steven Halter
139. stevenhalter

You described Darujhistan as Byzantine. I can't see that city as such. I can see how Malaz City is similar to Rome in the later years, but Darujhistan just doesn't seem Byzantine to me. I don't see a God-King in it, which they had in Byzantium. There isn't much political backstabbing there as well. (apart from the whole Coll plot)

Historical digression:
'Byzantine', in this case, is being used to refer to politics of a particularly intricate and backstabbing sort. As Coll mentions to Paran, this fits his plot (ousted from his title by his wife) and we'll see some more of this to come.
Byzantinecan also be used to refer to particularly intricate title's and bureaucracy, but what we see of Darujhistan doesn't have quite that aspect.
For the particular's, Byzantium is usually used as the short hand name for the Eastern Roman Empire of which the capital Constantinople was founded upon the earlier Greek city of Byzantium. The distinction between "Roman Empire" and "Byzantine Empire" is purely a modern convention. Constantinople was actually the official name of the city until 1930, when it was changed to Istanbul. For the bulk of its (important) history, then Constantinople's ruler was the emperor of the Eastern (and sometimes combined) Roman empire. From 380AD until 1453 when the Ottoman Turks captured the city,the emperor was a christian, so no God-King.
ezzkmo .
140. ezzkmo
@ 37. Abalieno
@ 38. Robin55077

Thanks for clearing up Paran's mission in relation to Sorry. The reason I asked (I'm ahead a very very minor spoiler if you haven't read it), Paran just kinda ignores everything else when he gets to Darujhistan and his first priority is to get Coll healed. I guess he just grew a bond in that short time and cares enough to take care of him first.

Anyways, he then asks one of the Bridgeburners where Sorry is. But this can be left for next week's discussion since I'm jumping ahead.
Steven Halter
141. stevenhalter
In Chapter 16, Paran decides that he's going to ignore his 'Empire' mission and focus on saving Whiskeyjack & co. He does indeed bond with Coll and so saving Coll fits in with his new "let's worry about saving people instead of politics resolve".
Steven Halter
142. stevenhalter
Abalieno@129: We do get more detail on the 'Son of Darkness' in later books, but I think we can expand some in a non-spoiler way already. I think (opinion on) that Rake is not just saying that he finds people who would worship him annoying here, but that people who choose to worship gods in general annoy him. One way to read this is that he feels no need to worship any of the gods inhabiting TMBotF (he can pretty much deal with them in a pretty decisive way with Dragnipur), but also that it relates to how he see's himself. He believes that his duty is towards his people--giving them hope and a goal. He's been working on that for 100's of thousands of years and doesn't think that he has completely delivered. In viewing others who call themselves gods and accept (demand) worship, he sees them coming up short of his own standards for himself. An unrelenting sense of responsibility.
143. Abalieno
Slightly unrelated: I recently started to finally read the Prince of Nothing series and it feels like an ongoing dialogue with Erikson. It shares a lot of core themes and a similar daring approach to them.

Take this last quote, for example, it fits perfectly with the themes in the latest couple of chapters of GotM, and without a context one could actually mistake it as a quote from that book:

Maithanet carried a plague whose primary symptom was certainty. How the God could be equated with the absence of hesitation was something Achamian had never understood. After all, what was the God but the mystery that burdened them all? What was hesitation but a dwelling within this mystery?
Marc Rikmenspoel
144. Blutnocheinmal
@Steven That's why I like these books so much. The beginning is a bit of a chore, like setting up dominoes. But the patterns they make when they tumble makes it all worthwhile.
Mieneke van der Salm
145. Mieneke
Finally caught up reading all the comments! Very interesting discussion re Tool's compellor and re Paran and Lorn.

And, wow an SE sighting too! Thank you for dropping in Mr. Erikson and for giving us such an awesome story and universe to discuss. I hope you feel better by now!
a a-p
146. lostinshadow
Wow I'm way late to the discussion and still have some catching up to do but as there is a small discussion going on about my home town I feel the need to speak up.

Fiddler and I have had this discussion before through our shoutboxes and he argued his position quite well so I am actually quite gratified to have SE himself confirm that Darujhistan is inspired by Byzantium.

I would add that the sense of Darujhistan as Byzantium for me at least was there seem to be other political intrigues going on beside the one pertaining to Coll - particularly with regard to the behind the scenes magicians caball that seems to actually rule the city. but more importantly the architctural descriptions of the city, in particular the winding streets and various temples describe old Istanbul (hey it's a matter of perspective ;p) to a t. These Darujhistan scenes are a big part of what hooked me into this series years ago when I first read it as a homesick student in London.

And Mr. Erikson, thank you very much for dropping in and this amazing story and interrelated worlds you have created for our reading pleasure. (hope you're feeling etter by now)
Andy Rawcliffe
147. ajsr1982
I think now is a good time to take stock of how we perceive Rake, as readers. If we hark back to the start of the book, and how he is painted as a fearsome figure who we are inclined to believe might be evil, as the empire is fighting against him; we have now come to believe that while he is still fearsome, we are rather impressed by his moral compass, and we sympathise with the plight of his people.
Alex P. W.
148. Alex_W
Wow, the author himself followed this discussion and even joined it? How great is that? I assume that's not something very many writers would do. So I acknowledge/appreciate that a whole lot.

About the chapters: I just have to say first, you people here did a really great quality job in thinking everything threw and ask for possible answers to some (assumably?) open questions. I appreciate that a lot too and it helps me to get some things I missed.

Nothing much to add there but to say, my favourite parts in these two chapters were: Discussion between Rake and Baruk (We finally get some insights in what is driving Anomander, if he is sincere, what I too think he is right now) and the whole scene with Paran and Coll. I enjoyed that last one a lot :-).

Now I'm all curious what's going to happen with Rallick next :-)


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