Wed
Oct 20 2010 5:39pm
The Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Night of Knives, Chapter 2 and part of Chapter 3

Night of Knives by Ian C. EsslemontWelcome to the Malazan Re-read of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 up to the section beginning “Temper shouldered...” of Night of Knives by Ian C. Esslemont (NoK).

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

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

Chapter Two

SCENE 1

The fisherman tells his wife he needs to go out because things are “all out of balance.” His wife fears for him. He lights a brazier and heads out, asking her to sing for him.

SCENE 2

Fisherman reaches his skiff and sets the brazier in an iron stand on the boat. When he realizes the boat is covered in ice, he lays a hand on it and melts the ice, then takes the rowboat out to sea into the hail and waves and wind, none of which appear to touch him or his boat. He faces north into the storm and sings.

SCENE 3

Kiska loses sight of the graycloak that had seemingly popped out of a warren and is tailing the mysterious person who had arrived on the imperial message cruiser. She follows him to a meeting in a manor courtyard, which she spies on. She sees her target sitting with an old man.They talk for a while then her target leaves to walk to the front of the estate. She turns away for a moment then turns back to see the mage she’d lost track of rising from the old man’s body then disappear. She goes to the body, stabbed twice in the back and obviously dead, and is rifling it when it grabs her.

SCENE 4

Corinn calls Temper into her room and tells him what she’s about to do is meant to save his life. She reveals she’s a Bridgeburner and that she recognized him from Y’Ghatan and the Sword’s fall. Before they can really talk, Ash (a comrade of Corinn) appears and announces Temper is his prisoner.

SCENE 5

Temper is sat in the common room with Coop (barkeep), Trenech (dimwitted giant), and Faro Balkat (old man), who appears to be asleep with his eye open. Ash and his mixed band of veterans and thugs—about 30—are seemingly waiting for something. Temper flashes back to Dassem Ultor thrust through at Y’Ghatan. A hound’s massive cry echoes through and discomfits everyone. Faro Balkat announces “The Shadow Moon is Risen.”

SCENE 6

Kiska suddenly finds herself in a canyon, where she speaks with the “dead” old man. He tells her they’re in the Shadow Realm and also on Malaz—the two realms are overlapping in a Convergence. He tells her his name is Oleg and he was a scholar who shared his knowledge with Kellanved (a master of Warren manipulation, Oleg says), who then betrayed him and left him for dead. He informs her the Emperor is returning with Dancer to the island tonight to enter the Deadhouse to claim Shadow, though Laseen and the Claws think he’s returning to reclaim the Empire’s throne. He tells her to tell the man he was speaking with in the courtyard that Dancer and Kellanved must be stopped, that Kellanved plans to “lose all to gain everything” and his “victory will be sealed by his defeat.” Also that “transubstiantion” is the time to strike and “entomb” the Emperor. Kiska returns to the courtyard. The grey cloak assassin reappears and tries to strangle her—to “send her to [his] master.” Oleg’s shade casts a spell at the assassin and drives him off. She decides to head to Agayla’s. As she decides, she hears a hound baying and screams.

SCENE 7

Ash and most of his men depart, leaving a few behind to guard the prisoners. The guards get jittery and a fight appears about to ensue when the hound’s baying and the seeming disappearance of the outdoor guards pulls the inside guards together.Faro appears to be casting magic. When one of the guards threatens to kill Faro, Trenech kills the guards. Faro tells Temper and Coop to leave and that “Shadow—and Others—come.” Coop faints and Temper begins to carry him away.

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Two:

We start here with the Fisherman—name given as Toben, but I have my suspicions that this is not always his name. The Fisherman’s wife is blind—am I digging too far when I wonder if she is the Seer we met at the start of Gardens of the Moon who protected Sorry from the ravages of Cotillion?

For a moment he stopped to listen; he thought he heard the hint of a hound’s bay caught on the wind.

Yes, the realm of Shadow is close this night.

I love all the descriptive work by Esslemont during the Fisherman’s section—the melting of the ice on the boat, the fact that the weather and waves are not touching him. Very curious and intrigued about this character and what he is trying to achieve—is it protection? Or is it summoning?

Kiska “smelled the Warrens” and knew the names for two of them—now I’m not going to suggest she has some special talent, clearly this is just a reference to her being suspicious that Warrens are involved. But it brings it up again my thought that magic really is completely immersed in Malazan society. Everyone knows about mages and Warrens, and seems to understand most of the consequences around Warrens. This is curious to me—how did they find out about it? Why is the knowledge so far-flung? (Hmm, probably not the right word to use there, but hopefully you grasp what I mean!)

I’ve had my first moment of feeling a twinge of empathy for Kiska—her fierce attempts to rise up from a poor upbringing no doubt partly inspires her desire to be part of the Army and make something of herself.

We really get a lot of hints that Mock’s Hold is a backwater in these times, what with the mage’s purge and the grim Mouse. Also:

Now they served merely as provincial retreats for the aristocratic families that had transferred their interests north, across the Strait of Winds, to the Imperial court at Unta.

Next:

Kiska paused in the shadow of an ancient pillar, a plinth for the marble statue of a Nacht, the fanged and winged creature once said to have inhabited the island.

Now, going by usual rules of writing (as in, don’t put a gun on the mantelpiece in Chapter 1 unless said gun will be used) I am hoping we either see the statue come to life or Nachts appear over the course of this night!

Hmm, now not warming to Kiska—she’s heard all manner of lurid stories about nights involving Shadow Moons and yet she simply thinks that this one is the first in her lifetime and so why shouldn’t she be out and about? Someone with that disregard for stories (in a world where people wield magic freely and nightmares walk) really should suffer for it! Although, again, I do sympathise with her when she thinks:

her home’s backwater superstitions shamed Kiska.

This reinforces the view we’ve already been given of Mock’s Hold being a small place, living in the past—if you throw in the fact that Kiska’s mother prays to a local sea cult (Chem) as well.

Yep, I really am enjoying Esslemont’s use of language and I can see what people meant when they said he seriously considers words as he writes:

Kiska tightened her cloak, tried to shake off her dread like the rain from its oiled weave.

It is much easier enjoying the novel when you relax into the fact this is just a shared world and not an Erikson-like book!

So, who are the two people meeting in the garden? [Bill’s interjection: Now, that would be telling!] Clearly the older of the two had told the man from the message cutter that a Shadow Moon was coming, hence his vindicated tone. I laughed at the fact that Kiska hears what she assumes is just a dog baying at the moon, and thinks that people in Mock’s Hold will be worried it’s a shadow hound—while the reader has a pretty firm suspicion that she is listening to a shadow hound!

What was the old saying? Claws only travelled on business.

What a great way to create terror whenever Claws appear! Just a mention of Claws—we’ve seen little hints about them and their training and abilities, and I have to say how much I like them as a part of the novels. These trained killers and spies are incredibly cool!

Kiska is such a child!

Time passed and eventually, though with an odd reluctance, Kiska had to admit that she wasn’t about to be murdered.

Here I imagine this reluctance was due to Kiska wanting to test and prove herself, and be the centre of attention to a certain extent. This are all recognisable traits in young people (and certainly not limited to them!) so I do think Esslemont is doing a fine job with her characterisation going by the little dribs and drabs of information we’re being given.

Ye Gods! The ending to that section with Kiska, with the man saying:

“But I am dead, you see [...] and the Shadow Moon is risen”

is so creepy and vivid. Truly the stuff of nightmares!

Hmm. Corinn says:

“The barracks! You’re supposed to have stayed.”

Did she try to engineer him staying within the barracks?

“I saw the Sword broken”—this must be a reference to Dassem and his assassination? [Bill’s interjection: Yep.]

The old man appeared asleep, sagging against the wall, eyes staring sightlessly. A drop of saliva hung from purple-stained lips.

The man seems dead! Or certainly not “present.” Wonder if he relates to the old man that Kiska has been following?

*giggles* Okay, you can sometimes be jarred from a book for the oddest of reasons. I read the part about the veterans in the pub smoking their clay pipes and straight away thought that the smoking ban had clearly not hit the Malazan Empire yet! Anyone else been jarred out of books for silly reasons like that?

I’m enjoying all the little details about the different races of the Empire—their skin hues, and the types of clothes they wear and swords they carry. It all adds into the flavour and I think that Esslemont is putting this into the story with skill.

Gosh, the little flashback scenes relating to Dassem are brought to life magnificently. Because we already know of Dassem and what happened to him through mentions in GotM, it really adds weight to the scenes where we catch glimpses of it. I am so keen to know more—what betrayal it was and who managed to get through the guard of Dassem.

Eek, we have another completely creepy end to the section—in fact, so far NoK is ticking all of my boxes in terms of chilling horror! I am actually quite nervous of reading further. My tolerance for horror is not that high, and so far I can exactly imagine the events Esslemont has portrayed like a movie—right down to the music that would be used to ramp up the tension!

Interesting little tidbit:

“You’re still on your wretched little isle. And at the same time, you are here. Two realms overlapping. Two places at once. What is called a Convergence.”

Oh, and count me as one of those who does not enjoy realistic swearing in books—as Cam does here. I think we had this discussion during GotM, in fact! It really doesn’t read well, especially when a more flavourful curse can be produced. In fact, it makes me think a little less of an author—with all the vocabulary at their disposal and with the delicious detail of their world, and the best they can come up with is “shit”?

Hmm, if Oleg wants to be the master of the path of Shadow, he really should learn to be less afraid of those hounds. Again we find an example of hearing events from one source. Sure, we hear that Kellanved stole Oleg’s work, but I’m sure this isn’t the whole of the story. Having said that, Kellanved is shaping up to be a pretty distasteful individual, so Oleg might be entirely right!

When I read a book and meet a character for the first time, I like to either align myself with them or decide to dislike them. Both Erikson and Esslemont make this extremely hard. After all, I’m supposed to feel liking towards Kiska, I’m assuming, which means Oleg should be “the enemy.” However, his experiences with Kellanved make me feel sympathy! Hard to know where to stand.

A little hint that time in the Deadhouse moves differently than without it. Kellanved has made:

strange discoveries that have taken him a hundred years to understand

while within the Deadhouse.

“Tell him Kellanved plans to lose all in order to gain everything.”

Apart from his life, what can Kellanved lose that means all? After all, we’ve seen that death doesn’t need to be a hindrance...

Oh, and I think we meet Dancer here! The person garrotting Kiska? He is using shadows to fade in and out, and has skill with assassination and plans to send Kiska to his master.

I’m enjoying Temper’s viewpoint. He has enough military background that his musings are intelligent and can convey much to the reader without it coming across as merely info-dumping. The part where he analyses what the Bridgeburners are present for helps the reader along.

I’m really starting to get a little suspicious of Trenech and Faro—these chaps are clearly much more than what they seem! Both of them dozing during time of great terror. There’s no chance they are Kellanved and Dancer, no? I know they don’t have the same appearance—actually, I don’t, because I’ve never read descriptions of the former Emperor and his bodyguard. I’m only assuming they can’t be Kellanved and Dancer because no one has yet remarked on the similarity between these two and those two. *wink*

Having said that, the appearance of sorcery and Faro’s odd words—his warning to Temper—do lend weight to the idea that this might be who they are. Let’s hope we find out soon. Heaven help me, I can find myself being drawn in and gripped by another Malazan novel. *grins*

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Two:

I think the image of Fisherman out there alone in his skiff facing the storm and glaciers and hail and stormriders is a great visual—one well worth lingering over and picturing in one’s mind.

On the statue of the Nacht, we will indeed see the Nachts later. But one of the great aspects of this novel is that unlike Checkov’s rule, we will see things that are mentioned but never witnessed again, but that serve as background detail to give this world depth and dimensionality.

Funny, Amanda, but I’m totally with Kiska on the whole wanting to be out on this night of all nights. She a teen who grew up in a tiny section (“the filthiest, lowest, and most disease-infested locale“) in a tiny city on a tiny island with (seemingly) a somewhat stifling mother and all around her she hears news of great events unfolding: war and magic and emperors and stormriders, imperial cities, foreign lands with exotic cultures,etc. And she’s barred from it, perhaps for life. And tonight—some of that mystery comes to her. Even better, it might even bring with it a chance for escape. For, in her mind, “life.” It makes perfect sense to me that she’d be out and about. Plus, I like how she sees some of those stories through her own prism. Those stories of people who have disappeared don’t conjure images in her head of murder or death or slaughter but instead of people doing what she wants to do—take advantage of the night to escape. She isn’t totally disconnected: she feels “dread” and “fear” and “anxiety,” but I can absolutely see where she’s coming from.

I love that line as well about the Claws: that they “only travel on business.” Some of that great dark humor that makes this such a fun world to spend time in. I also like, in both books, how the two authors have more than one such group of assassins. I always found it a bit odd those fantasy worlds where there was a single assassins group, as if no leader or leader wannabe would think that perhaps having his/her own such weapon might be useful. So we’ve got the Claws and the Talons and the Cultists (“assassins all”) and the local assassin guild in Daru, etc. There’s a lot of young boys and girls doing some “wax on wax off” out in the world...

Kiska’s acts in the garden are wonderful depictions of that mix of adolescent hubris and childishness: the wish to match herself in battle with a killer and the scream of terror. While I’m sure that scream is nearly all the result of a corpse grabbing her by the hand, I’d not be surprised that a tiny part is the result of realizing that sometimes, the adults are actually right. How scary is that?

I thought the descriptive passage of the motley band in the inn was a skillful way to introduce the mix of races and conquered groups and thus do a bit of world-building. Skillful because it made perfect sense in the context of scene: Temper would of course be carefully scrutinizing everyone in the group, looking for points of weakness or danger, places to poke and prod, possible allies, etc. So to settle on individuals or small groups for a time and catalog who they were, what they were like, feels natural, rather than an artificial moment of authorial intrusion.

I love the echo between the corpse’s word and Faro Balkat’s words: ”The Shadow Moon is risen.“

One of my favorite aspects of NoK is the Convergence—the way the settings bleed from one to the other as the realms/worlds overlap.

Seriously now, who doesn’t want to read the book dealing with Kellanved and Oleg working together and then, well, not? Or Kellanved and Dancer in the Deadhouse? That whole scene with Oleg is just such a tease. Esslemont shows a good sense of balance here, I’d say, with giving us enough of that backstory and foreshadowing as to what Kellanved and Dancer are up to without it turning into a massive info dump. Enough to get the necessary info out, enough to tease, but not overdoing it. Finally, before leaving Oleg, I just wanted to say I love the line “his extravagant madness.” And sorry Amanda, but I’ll need to see a bit more from him before the sympathy comes. (Maybe it’s the whole “it’s my throne, mine, mine I say!” aspect of him that throws me a bit.)

Good reading on Trenech and Faro being more than they appear. (Never turn your back on sleeping old men or drooling man-idiots, it appears.) We’ll see just how much more by the end. As for some of your other surmises... [Amanda’s interjection: I just got a big old RAFO, hmm? *winks*] [Bill replies: Oh yeah!]

Temper’s veteran, insightful point of view makes for a nice contrast for Kiska’s inexperienced adolescent one, both stylistically and emotionally; making such two contrasting characters the narrative linchpins was a good decision by Esslemont.

Part of Chapter Three

SCENE 1

Out on the sea, Fisherman fights glaciers and stormriders and stormrider mages. He is succeeding but appears overmatched.

SCENE 2

On her way to Agayla’s, Kiska is overrun again by shadows and Convergence and finds herself back in the Shadow realm, where she sees a glacier. Edgewalker appears and says he “walks the borders of Kurald Emurlahn [shadow].” He says he will send her back but before he does she tells him of Oleg and his belief someone would try and take Shadow’s throne tonight. Edgewalker says many have tried and all failed, ”even those who succeeded for a time. Myself included...“ A Hound bays and Edgewalker says it has her scent and she needs to run. When she asks about entombment, he tells her it is the “price of failure. Eternal enslavement to Shadow House.” He sends her to Obo’s tower back in Malaz as protection against the Hound, though when she arrives the tower is no longer ruins and the land no longer has a city on it. Obo, an old man, tells her the hound is gone and to basically “get off my lawn” and goes into his tower. She realizes a nearby stone tomb is on the same spot as the Deadhouse would stand in Malaz City. She steps over a low wall around the tower’s grounds and is back in modern Malaz. She runs to Agayla’s home (whose door appears to have magical protections) and Agayla lets her in.

SCENE 3

Kiska tells Agayla everything save her meeting with Edgewalker and Obo. Agayla tells her she knew Oleg and then tells her a tale of the Empire’s VIPs: that with Dassem’s death at Y’Ghatan (which some suspect Surly and the Claws had a hand in), Surly is next in line for succession; that Dancer and Kellanved haven’t been seen for years working on magic research and that some think them dead; that the two have been prophecied to return; and that in that belief many “parties and interests have gathered.” She tells Kiska her grey-cloaked assassin isn’t a Claw but a Shadow Cultist.
Kiska flashes back to the riot scenes when Surly outlawed magic, when Agayla had faced down a mob that came to arrest her for being a witch and then tells Agayla she won’t be locked away again as she had been that night. Agayla, distracted by ice forming over a basin of water near the fire and resigned to Kiska going out and trying to deliver Oleg’s message to the man she had tailed, gives her another message to deliver to him and tells her to do what he says after he’s read it. She tells Kiska to wait while she prepares some things.

Amanda’s Reaction to Part of Chapter Three:

Remember we’re just heading through to the new section that starts “Temper shouldered...” The rest of Chapter 3 will be completed in next week’s post!

And back to the Fisherman. Again my confusion about who to root for—I instinctively feel as though the Fisherman is a decent chap, I have no idea why, and so the fact that the Stormriders are attacking him makes them bad. Right? I guess we’ll see. Another very cinematic scene anyway, with the walls of ice rising and cresting through the waves and then slipping underneath them, and the mages casting cyan lightning at the skiff. Tremendous stuff. And what about the rather homely rhyme the fisherman is chanting? Any relevance?

Huh, ”gelid“ means cold or icy... It doesn’t look like it should mean that, if you see what I mean.

Interesting that there is a glacier in the realm of Shadow when Kiska returns to it—could there be a link between the Stormriders and Shadow? I don’t like the way that Kiska is currently in and out of the Warren—I can see why she had to go back to Malaz (so that Dancer could be shown to be present) but it all feels a little jumpy at the moment.

Also, she has just mysteriously jumped back into the Warren of Shadow, and her only real response is to reflect on how the world is so big and how much she still needs to experience—it’s all about her, her, her! At least she feels cold horror at the sight of Edgewalker.

We finally have a name for the Shadow Warren: Kurald Emurlahn. The fact is has Kurald appended to it makes me think it is one of the first Warrens. And news that the glacier does not belong in the Shadow Warren as well!

And another couple of gems dropped into the conversation between Edgewalker and Kiska. (Who just seems a little too calm about the whole affair—maybe she’s in shock?) Entombment means “eternal enslavement to Shadow House.” And Kiska has been told to head to Obo’s tower, which is currently an empty ruin with Obo being a myth—in GotM we saw another ancient being and location come back to life, remember?

Hmm, having said that, Obo is a little bit of an anti-climax, isn’t he? A doddering old man. I mean, appearances are often deceiving, but... And where has Kiska gone this time? She’s a regular little globe-trotter in this section!

At least we hear from Kiska that she now feels entirely outclassed. This is character growth from our first meeting with her.

I do love the homeliness of Agayla’s house, and the description of the herblore. It is warm and safe and a mile away from the trials that Kiska has been suffering. Having said that, the fact that Agayla once knew Oleg is something that would certainly disconcert me, if I were in Kiska’s shoes. Mind, if I were in Kiska’s shoes, I would be a gibbering mess by now, rather than irritated at the fact that her aunt has suggested she’s sticking her nose into business that doesn’t concern her!

Oops, maybe that assassin Kiska met wasn’t Dancer *shamefaced* #stillnotquitegettingeverything

And Agayla is not actually a blood relative of Kiska? Who might she be...? Also, was that a cameo of Whiskeyjack, in Agayla’s flashback to the night of the riots? The action is certainly ramping up now—doesn’t it feel horrible breaking in the middle of a chapter? We’ll try not to do this again!

Bill’s Reaction to Part of Chapter Three:

It appears you’ve been well-trained in not leaping to conclusions by this world, as most would just automatically take Fisherman’s side against the Stormriders [must not leap ahead...must resist...]

Funny how you have such a different reaction to the jumps between Malaz and Shadow.

I love those little droplets of oddness we get in these books. Edgewalker’s slow nod at hearing the name Malaz Island: ”An island now is it?" It serves the reader well to always be reminded of the scale of time within which many of these beings move. Edgewalker is old; he isn’t Grandpa.

I have to chuckle as well at Edgewalker’s studied understatement: “I suggest you stay indoors.” Like she might get a bad sunburn or something.

And then the, perhaps a bit pompous and self-knowing, mysterious pronouncement re: those who have tried to take the throne of Shadow: Countless have tried. All have failed. Even those who succeeded for a time. Myself included.

Lots to chew over in that single line of the book, for this book and others.

And again, c’mon. Who hasn’t experienced in their childhood the old guy throwing up a window to yell at you damn little kids to get off his damned lawn? What a great introduction to Obo, the famed mage of myth. It’s moments like these, that leaven the dead seriousness of the other, that can make a book sing along.

The scene with Agayla is well done in several ways. One, as you point out Amanda, is its sense of warmth and coziness. In both style and pace and tone and language it’s a welcome break from the pellmell chaos we’ve been experiencing as readers. Good authors know how to vary the speed of a story and while I’ve got some issues with Esslemont’s writing overall in NoK, this week’s section I think he’s shown a deft hand through all these scenes. The same is true with Agayla’s exposition, which is relatively brief, gives only what really needs to be known, and is once again inserted naturally into the context of the plot. Kiska, the boldly impetuous and impudent adolescent, is finally feeling overmatched and so needs some help and explanation. And thus we get it as well as readers. As opposed to those conversations I can’t stand where character A explains to character B something that the reader is well aware character B already knows. Boy, I hate that!

BTW—no shame in thinking a skilled assassin roaming the streets tonight wiping out an opponent of Kellanved’s might be Dancer. And no, that wasn’t Whiskeyjack; he’s named by his soldier. [Amanda’s interjection: Oops, completely missed that!] Though we will see that Seven Cities veteran again...

Finally, just as Trenech and Faro are more than they appear, we get hints of the same holding true for Agayla—who seems to know a lot about a lot, knows a lot of odd people, and feels comfortable in sending a message to an Imperial higher-up. Mysteries inside mysteries...


Bill Capossere writes short stories and essays, plays ultimate frisbee, teaches as an adjunct English instructor at several local colleges, and writes SF/F reviews for fantasyliterature.com.

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

61 comments
Dreamwolf
1. Dreamwolf
Thank you for doing this!
I love your enthusiasm for a series I have loved for years!
Dan K
2. kramerdude
@Amanda: Regarding the fisherman's wife - you will have your answer before the end of the book...
Dan K
3. kramerdude
A few other thoughts:

I loved the scenes with the Toben (the fisherman) and how they basically start each chapter of this book. Just small snippets of the storyline but they bookend the rest of the action. And the descriptions within are some of the best of the book.

Oleg and Kellenved, how much mystery is in there. I agree with you Bill that knowing all that went on in those intervening years would make a great story but probably one that we will have to fill in on our own.

On that giant glacier in Shadow, recall the words Jhedel had for Edgewalker back in the prologue. And just how out of place would that look on its own.

Back for more later...
Dreamwolf
4. WJD
God the Fisherman and Edgewalker are awesome characters, I really wish we could get any backstory on either of them.

Also I'll mention it again when we get further on in the re-read but the Bridgeburners are pretty awesome too, I love a reaction to them Temper has later in the book.

@amanda, don't get disturbed or annoyed at Kiska somehow hopping back and forth from Malaz Isle to Shadow, they are in essence the same place tonight.
Tricia Irish
5. Tektonica
Whew...I was afraid we wouldn't get a post today! Thanks to you, Amanda and Bill.

Bill, I love your sympathy for Kiska. Having grown up in a small mid-western town, I was hellbent at 18 to get outta there! I get her totally! Plus she is very young, and as I seem to remember from waaaay back then, I thought I was pretty much immortal. She takes crazy risks this night of nights, but she just thinks it's a great adventure....although she is beginning to see the vastness of the convergence and it's evils.

Agayla is a wonderful mystery and combination of nurture and power. A good mentor for Kiska.

Temper is a complete 180 from Kiska and a good counterpoint...the old grizzled veteran. I like how we get his backstory in dribs and drabs. He is much more than he seems too, I think.

As for the Stormriders and the Fisherman....I have come to like that these weird apparitions and cultures in this world, are not "bad" or "good"...they each have their own histories and ethics and gods and reasons for what they are and do. So, I'm not convinced either are "bad".

All in all, I enjoy Esslemonts' characterizations and his descriptions of place. He completely immerses me in his world. It is interesting to revisit Malaz City many years after the night at the opening of GotM, too. And I am really enjoying getting the background story of Daseem Ultor through Temper's memories.
Tricia Irish
6. Tektonica
Also: Loved the blending of Shadow and Malaz City during the convergence! The flopping back and forth almost accidentally. Very spooky...much like a dream in real life....

And I liked the scenes with dead Oleg being able to talk and act...more horror....and Edgewalker's intriguing dialogues. I'm not usually much of a horror fan either, Amanda, but I somehow trust this author not to freak me out too badly.
Steven Halter
7. stevenhalter
In this chapter, things really start rolling (we've only got a night here after all). I enjoyed the contrast in Temper and company being taken prisoner and then Trenech just wiping out the remaining guards without raising a sweat. In the Malazan world its never safe to assume prisoners are just that.
I find Kiska fairly interesting and full of little contrasts. She obviously has some training in a number of areas and has some knowledge about things. But, she is also inexperienced and naive. I think its a pretty credible take on a character who has been raised in a world filled with nasties and magic. Like Crokus, she has some street smarts, but has also been somewhat sheltered.
The conversations with Edgewalker are--intriguing.
Ben Wert
8. bennyrex
Whew. I've caught up.

Hello everybody! Mostly newbie guy here. I've read GotM twice, and Deadhouse Gates, and the first 100 pages of Memories of Ice. Over the past couple weeks, I've been trying to catch up to all of you with the reread.

At first I was going to read only Bill and Amanda's commentary, and then actually start reading the books themselves once we hit MoI, but something drew me into the comments section, and I was blown away by the discussion going on, so I started over, reading the actual book again, alternating the chapters and the comments as I went.

Going through GotM with you guys had to have been one of the most awesome reading experiences I've ever had. All of your insights and ideas had me combing through the words with much closer attention than usual. My reading style has changed, and I find myself picking up clues in other books a great deal more than I used to. (I figured out a surprise twist killer in a mystery book in the prologue the other day. Not something I 'm usually able to do)

Up till now though, reading the reread and its comments was like reading another companion novel, getting to know a different set of characters through snippets of conversation, watching many of you working together, and a couple clashes brew. It almost felt like a dramatic arc, culminating in Eriksons Q & A.

I'm excited to now be taking a seat by the fire myself, to join the conversation, though feeling a bit of trepidation towards being surrounded by such well-learned Malazan scholars - though I'm pretty sure no one bites.

Anyway, on to some thoughts about the chapters.

@Amanda
Through previous chapters, here and in GotM, I've often stopped on a sentence and thought 'Wow, that's cool,' only to see you quote it in your commentary. It's become a little game for me now to see if I can guess what quotes you'll pick to demonstrate some atmosphere or quality writing. 'Shaking off the dread' stood out to me too.

In regards to atmosphere and city building, usually I have to try very hard to get the geography of a city into my head. With Darujistan, I sat down with the map, and slowly read through all the descriptions of where streets and neighbourhoods were in relation to each other to get an accurate picture of the city in my head. Maybe it's because I've been trained by Erikson already, but I've had a much easier time of it with Malaz. The city has grown in my head with almost no effort. I can close my eyes, and picture the city and find Mock's Hold, the rivers, the deadhouse and other important environs, and I didn't try to study the map or pay close attention to passages giving geographical information. Over the course of almost three chapters, it's just naturally happened. Kudos to the city builders and storyteller for that.

Stormriders and the Fisherman
Okay, not gonna lie. I definitely assumed the Fisherman was good and the Stormriders were bad. The opening prologue sufficiently freaked me out to think of them as bad dudes through and through. I love the feel of these passages, and am looking forward to finding out more about both of these parties.

It's interesting... I like to think of myself as a guy who sees things in shades of grey, especially in motivations of people in the real world, and that greyness is part of what draws me to the Malazan books, but I still find myself wanting very much to slot characters into good/bad positions. Whiskeyjack is the good guy. Laseen is the bad guy. Rake is the good guy. Tayschrenn is the bad guy. Fisherman is good, Stormriders are bad. I know my expectations will be overturned, and I look forward to that happening, but I can't seem to stop myself from holding onto those categories until they're ripped, bloody and still beating from my hands. (My ethical mind is still trying to work its way around the end of Deadhouse Gates. I'm really looking forward to doing that with the reread crew)
Tricia Irish
9. Tektonica
Bennyrex@8:

Welcome! Wow, you read everything up to this point! Impressive. Agreed, there are some amazing Malazan gurus on this thread.... not me! But, I'm learning so much. I liked what you said about becoming a better reader. SE has definitely taught me to read more carefully, and ponder between the lines, so to speak.

I started out as a newbie when the reread began, but was so enamored of SE's world, I've been soldiering ahead....now in the middle of House of Chains. What a huge cast of interesting characters! And the plot just keeps growing! Yikes! What a great trip we're all on.

I know what you mean about good guys and bad guys. I probably still judge a character "on first sight," and I think you can generally trust that instinct. But I find that as I get more information, I can muster some sympathy for even the most despicable characters, and I can empathize with the smallest ones too. Such is SE's depth of expression. Such a joy to read.

I enjoyed the NoK's as well....different, but good background and again, beautifully painted landscapes and interesting people.

Welcome!
Rob Munnelly
10. RobMRobM
Hello all - couple of quick thoughts.
- Temper is very nicely drawn and is a cool character. Becomes even more so when backstory gets revealed later.
- Kiska aggravates the heck out of me through this story. I don't know what else to say. Nice to have her newbie perspective on the events later in the story but she survives only through authorial blessing. I'm not a fan.
- I still can't figure out what's up with the stormriders in this book. Looking forward to Bill, Amanda or someone shedding light. I'm lost.
- I also don't understand Edgewalker, either here or in the principal books. I'm lost.
- Writing is very different from SE and not in a particularly good way. I should note that I'm in the middle of Return of the Crimson Guard and I'm enjoying that very much. Far stronger outing for ICE than this one.
- Having now read all the principal books, there is a big need for this type of gap filling novels re Malaz and Quon Tali, which do not receive as attention as might be expected. So this is a worthwhile effort, and glad SE and ICE combined to make it happen.


Rob
Steven Halter
11. stevenhalter
@Amanda:

But it brings it up again my thought that magic really is completely immersed in Malazan society. Everyone knows about mages and Warrens, and seems to understand most of the consequences around Warrens.
This is curious to me—how did they find out about it? Why is the knowledge so far-flung? (Hmm, probably not the right word to use there, but hopefully you grasp what I mean!)


I think that this is one of the aspects of the world that both SE and ICE have integrated very well. Magic IS a part of the world and its existence has effects upon the societies in that world. This is in fairly sharp contrast to other worlds where magic is either very seldom encountered or is used, but doesn't have much of an effect upon the societies within the world.I think computers are a reasonable analog in our own world. Computers exist and most people have at least heard of them (but may have very wrong ideas about how they work). Many people make some use of them, but have no idea how they really work. A few people actually understand them.
In the Malazan world we see that lots of people who have at least heard of magic. Sometimes this is just through tales, but often through seeing it. A number of people have made simple use of it--love potions, deck readings, etc. A number of people use it often--minor mages, but don't understand its inner workings. A few people pretty much know whats going on.
Steven Halter
12. stevenhalter
@Amanda: re swearing and jarring:
I don't mind the use of "shit" as a swear word in these instances. That's a pretty common minor swear word across languages, so it makes sense that it would be used here. If they were using hell instead of "By Hood's gate" then I would find that jarring. I think both ICE and SE do a pretty good job of using context appropriate cursing vernacular.
Steven Halter
13. stevenhalter
re: Kiska:
I've got a number of nieces who have acted in fashions congruent to Kiska's. They don't carry crossbows and knives of course, but they have snuck out at night and performed other authority rejecting actions within our cultural context.
So, yes, I have no problem envisioning Kiska wanting to defy her aunt and going out into a dangerous situation. It seems more odd to us (we don't usually encounter magic and death) but to Kiska, it seems exciting and her "chance".
Chris Hawks
14. SaltManZ
For those folks who've already (whether willingly or not) identified the Stormriders as "bad" guys, the last page of NoK will blow you away.

@Tek: I love how you think the series' scope is so huge at HoC. The next book will leave you reeling, I think. :)

As I'm reading NoK again, I'm realizing just how little of it I remember. I'm pretty sure I remember who Kiska's tailing, and remember Temper's flashbacks (that we haven't gotten to yet) but that's about it. And how the main plot ends, of course, but even first-timers can probably guess that one already. I forget why Agayla, Obo, et al are important. I forget whether Fisherman lives or dies. Or even what he's trying to do.

It's fun coming to a Malazan book mostly fresh again.
Steven Halter
15. stevenhalter
Salt-Man Z@14:
Finding the details again has been one of the really cool things in this reread. As we've been going along, I've been noticing things that I hadn't before and re-noticing things that I had forgotten.
Steven Halter
16. stevenhalter
In case anyone missed it, over in the Q&A thread SE mentioned that he and ICE wrote the first drafts of GotM and Return of the Crimson Guard at roughly the same time. There seemed to be an implication that NoK's was written at a later time, so its kind of interesting that several people have mentioned that RotCG seems to them to be the more solid of the two.
As we haven't gotten to RotCG yet, I'm not going to say anything specific, but I think its worth thinking about wether it is writing craft differences in NoK or that NoK is a different sort of tale from RotCG and the other books in TMBotF.
What I mean by this is that NoK is focused on the events of a single night. These events overlap in time and space(s). This (somewhat) causes (I think) a different mode of story telling than we might be used to.
Maggie K
17. SneakyVerin
Welcome BennyRex!
I am finding ICE's writing to be completely vivid...I don't mind the stylistic differences a bit.
I too am on the fisherman's side, and stubbornly want to stay there for some reason!
Although I do find Kiska annoying, I really "get" her desire to not miss out on this most rare of occasions. Sure she has a lot of undeserved arrogance, but well...her age. Who doesn't when they are that age?
I probably find Temper most intirguing. It seems clear he is in "retreat" from his old life, and I find myself hoping he will come "back to life" so to speak

and then Edgewalker...I am finding him very intriguing! I hope his story is filled out a little more.
Steven Halter
18. stevenhalter
I am also enjoying the mood being set here. As Amanda mentions, it has an aspect of horror to it. Not the current version of Hollywood horror full of severed limbs and things, but more traditional moody horror.
The title of the book is Night of Knives, but as we see here, one of the main themes is that it is a Night of Shadows and it is from the shadows that knives are emerging.
Steven Halter
19. stevenhalter
One of the very interesting pieces of information we get in this section is when Agayla tells Kiska that the assassin in the garden wasn't a claw but rather:

'No, dear. That was a cultist. A worshipper of the Warren of Shadow. Assassins all. They are here as well, gathered for their worship and blood rites under the Shadow Moon.'

At this point in the story there is no one sitting on the throne of shadow so, by implication, we see that worshippers don't necessarily have to have a particular god figure to worship--the warren will do. Also recall from GotM and Shadowthrone and Quick Ben's chat, that Quick Ben was a high priest of Shadow. This helps answer that discussion about how was Ben a high priest without a god (although it doesn't necessarily mean he was a high priest for this particular Shadow cult).
Karen Martin
20. ksh1elds555
I admit while reading about Kiska I did find her a bit annoying. I mean, how can she not see how dangerous it is outside and why anyone in their right minds would want to venture out? And then....I started to remember back in my high school days. I grew up in a town without much excitement and I liked NOTHING better than to sneak out of my parent's house at night and ramble around the neighborhood, throwing rocks at my friends windows, getting them to come out and go exploring. And if that's not enough, I grew up on the east coast where every fall we are threatened with hurricanes. Whenever school was out for a hurricane warning, we would have hurricane parties! The energy and danger of being outside in a storm was a thrill like no other. Not incredibly wise, but then who is 16? So now, putting that in perspective, I realize I am judging Kiska like a 30-something year old would instead of how I actually was at that age. So I'm cutting her some slack ;-)
Dreamwolf
21. Karsa_Orlong_Is_Bad_Ass
Amanda said

Oh, and I think we meet Dancer here! The person garrotting Kiska? He is using shadows to fade in and out, and has skill with assassination and plans to send Kiska to his master

...and later corrected herself.

the one thing I'll say is that there are a fair number (ok, a *lot*) of characters in this series that are...uh..."disproportionately powerful". Dancer is certainly one of these, and if isn't at the top (especially at night, especially when he has the drop on you) then he is very nearly near the top...point being, if he wants you dead, you are dead. That is worth keeping in mind as you read this series.

I also don't think it a spoiler to point out how Kell. uses magic (or doesn't as the case may be) but he's pointed out as a "master of warrens"...its a bit odd that in the whole series there isn't a single instance I can remember where he takes *direct* involvement as apposed to pulling somebody else's strings. I personally would love to read more about him and understand better his power.
Elena Vaccaro
22. EarthandIce
Funny I never really thought about the horror aspect of this. Now that I do, yes I can see the correlation between this and the ‘classic’ horror that I like (the Original Mummy, Frankenstein, the 1920’s Nosferatu and others) as opposed to the blood and guts of say Texas Chain Saw Massacre which is definitely not my thing. As we get farther into the book, yes there is even a haunted castle!

I took to Edgewalker early, I met him in another book we will read, and he is very interesting and we get quite a bit of knowledge from him. I did not read the books in the order of the re-read, oh well.

I think I know when we see Kiska in the other books, but am not sure. And yes Temper is going to be interesting. When I finish all of the books the first time, I am going to go back and re-read because I know I have not remembered everything.

If there are any other series comparable to the Malazan or Wheel of Time, I would appreciate it if someone would give me the names. I have been very spoiled with these series.
Dreamwolf
23. Karsa_Orlong_Is_Bad_Ass
@22

for me it's hard to say 'cuz WoT and MBotF are so different. but I think if you like "serious" SF or Fantasy, check out the Gap series by Stephen R. Donaldson (like Malazan, you got to get past book one...). Glenn Cook's 'Bad Company' series is often pointed to as very influential. I thing I've found works pretty well is to go to Amazon and look up a book I like (say "Garden's of the Moon". Then look down at the "people also bought" list. I look for books that have a lot of reviews (say > 100) and are reviewed well (say 4 stars)...I've had 100% success finding books I like this way. "The Lies of Locke Lamora" was the last one, and it was fun. (more WoW-ish than MBotF)
Tricia Irish
24. Tektonica
Earth and Ice@22:

Would you please tell me where we find Kiska and Temper again? I'm in HoC and unless they've changed names....which happens, I know....I haven't found them yet.

(At first I thought that Kiska became Lorn, but I know that she doesn't, as her parents aren't dead.....and I thought I was so smart.)
Chris Hawks
25. SaltManZ
@Tek

We won't meet Kiska or Edgewalker or Temper again until The Bonehunters. Remember that NoK was published in between MT and TB; so ICE introduced these characters first, and then SE cameoed them in his next book.
Steven Halter
26. stevenhalter
EarthAndIce@22:
Glen Cook's Black Company series has a similar feel to TMBotF. I also really enjoyed his Dread Empire series although it is yet quite finished. Stephen Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series is different, but highly original.
Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos books are another great set, again different from the others.
The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander are wonderful. There are lots of others of course.
M D
27. Abalieno
@22

My suggestion is for The Prince of Nothing series by Scott Bakker. It's even more ruthless on certain aspects and tackles some similar themes. The writing style is different but I think there's a certain similarity in how they approach the genre.

The Wheel of Time can't really be compared to Malazan in any way, so it's hard to give advices. If one wanted something less convoluted than The Prince of Nothing or Malazan I'd suggest Joe Abercrombie.
Mieneke van der Salm
28. Mieneke
I really like that we're going to see more of the Nacht creatures. They got me all excited because Nacht is the Dutch (and German for that matter) word for night. I know, silly, but I like finding Dutch words in my books :D

Do different Warrens have different effects? We know they have different flavours and I think colours, but does someone using Rashan to disappear do so differently than someone using Thyr? And how would Kiska have learned of this?

What struck me as really funny about the sequence at Obo's tower is that whenever anyone meets those they only know from legend and myth, they're never how they were painted. I mean here is this great, feared sorceror and he's just a grumpy old man.

And for those who said Kiska doesn't grow during this night, this at least shows that the seeds of growth have been planted:

But now ... now she didn't know what to think.

I'm curious to see what else we'll learn about Toben. I kept thinking he was the Hight Priest of Chem or something.
And I love the spookiness of the writing. Very appropriate for the time of year!
Brian Daniels
29. HoosierDaddy
Kiska and Temper are, for the most part, Esslemont characters thus you will tend to see them in his works.

@16: Odds are Return was subjected to vast re-writes in the amount of time between it's original writing and eventual publishing.

@22:

Prince of Nothing - Scott Bakker; hits and misses Malaz fans.
The Black Company - Glen Cook; nearly universally enjoyed
The First Law trilogy - Joe Abercrombie; hits and misses.
ASoIaF - Martin; Probably didn't need to list it, but might as well.
Codex Alera and the Dresden Files - Jim Butcher; nearly universal.
Tricia Irish
30. Tektonica
Salt-Man Z@25:

Thanks for that tip! I look forward to seeing their development later. I still think it would've been cool if Kiska had been Lorn ;-(

Looks like I'm going to have to start with Glen Cook when I'm finished with Malazan....in a year or so.....he keeps being universally recommended!

I'm so frustrated that we have to go into the little banners on the right to find this thread. And.....I have to go into my own bookmarks to find the Questions thread. Why can't they be listed somewhere on the main page, so they are easy to find. I think it would attract readers and posters. Just my two cents. Crab crab crab.....Ok, I'm grateful they are here at all!
Tai Tastigon
31. Taitastigon
Tek @30

Hi Tek,

SE mentioned Glen Cook´s *Black Company* as an influential, divergent highlight in 80´s D&D fantasy *pap*...and darn, I have that entire cycle, in its original publication & covers (kinda tacky, those), and I must say, I am kinda shocked how much SE/ICE lifted from it...but what shocks me more is how darn well they improved on the writing of that cycle...SE, at least, IMHO.

*Black Company* is one of the most kickbutt concepts in fantasy of the last 30 years, but unfortunately in the hands of an author that - in terms of writing - was not 100% up to the quality of the idea...i.e. the idea was too big for his skills...just IMHO.

But Croaker and Lady definitely resonate Whiskeyjack and Korlat...and One-Eye and Goblin definitely channel Fiddler and Hedge...or vice-versa...
Robin Lemley
32. Robin55077
@22. EarthandIce

I don't know if you have ever read L. E. Modesitt, Jr.'s Saga of Recluse series or not, but for me, I thought it was very similar to WoT. If I recall correctly, they even came out about the same time. Also, like WoT, there are a lot of books, I think like 15 or 16 in the Recluse series.

Unfortunately, I have not read anyone that I would compare with Erikson's series. However, if you are looking for something well written, not your typical magic systems, and the ability to surprise you on occassion, I could recommend Fiona McIntosh's Vilisar Trilogy, and Robin Hobb's Farseer, Tawny Man, and Liveship series. Finally, I loved Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy series. However, this may depend greatly on whether or not you are female as I see this series as probably enjoyed much more by females than males because of the love story threaded throughout the books. Of course, I could be wrong on that, but just my guess.

I'm with Tek @ 30 in that I am going to have to check out Glen Cook's books. Almost every Malazan fan has recommended them so that's where I'll be heading once I get through everything I have currently.
Brian Daniels
33. HoosierDaddy
@31: That is something I hear about Cook often, that I don't necessarily agree with, but can understand. He does a lot of experimenting in his narratives, and they always paid off for me, more or less. However, there is no setting aside what his squad-level based PoV's did for fantasy.

@32: As someone who has read both Hobb and Carey, though neither of those series (Soldier Son and Kushiel's Scion, respectively) as well as every single Recluce book published, I must say that it's a broad "x" you've drawn across the epic-fantasy spectrum there. :)

Recluce, to me, are periodic novels set in the same universe, that while they continue to build upon one another (with the extent varying greatly by novel) don't quite reach WoT or any saga-type epic charactirization because of their periodic nature. It is a wonderful universe, though.

Carey seems much more "adult" than WoT (as in graphic sex and nature of relationships), while Soldier Son (by Hobb) was unique, but depressing for all the wrong reasons, imo.
Steven Halter
34. stevenhalter
Tai@31:I'll have to disagree with the assertion of Glen Cook not being up to the quality of the idea. No need for a big discussion, as you say, just IMHO.
A reread of the Black Company would be a cool thing though.
Tricia Irish
35. Tektonica
Thanks Tataistigon@31 and Robin@32:
I'll pick up Glen Cook next.

Btw, I loved the Farseer and Tawny Man series from Hobb. In fact, The Fitz could be my all time fave Fantasy character. (So far...there are so many to choose from in SE!) I could not get into the Soldier Son trilogy at all. Depressing, yes Hoosierdaddy (great name!)....I found SSon preachy and obvious. YMMV.
Steven Halter
36. stevenhalter
The presence of some Bridgeburners here in this chapter. In the prologue, the date is given as the 96th year of Malazan Empire and the 1154th of Burn's Sleep. This is the same year as the date at the start of GotM where Whiskeyjack and Surly are watching the events of the Mouse Quarter unfold. As Kiska and her Aunt discuss those events as having happened earlier, the story here must be starting somewhat later in that year. When we pick up in GotM at the Siege of Pale we are at the 1163rd year of Burn's Sleep--about 9 years later.
So, some interesting things to watch for as the book progresses are whether there are hints as to how these Bridgeburners relate to the ones we know from GotM and the events with WJ, Onearm and Laseen.
Note that I'm mentioning this as it relates to this particular book and GotM as those are the ones we've gone over here. There are more relations in later books, but we'll get to those.
Tai Tastigon
37. Taitastigon
shal @34

Re *tBC*: Yep, just IMHO. Which still makes it a daaarn good read; the whole concept behind it was just tremendous & blew me away at the time. May really have been the style Cook chose to write the thing - it sacrificed a lot of *plasticity*. It p*ssed me off some at the time.

Would definitely merit a reread. Been a while. (...and that Glittering Plain does the darndest channeling of a warren combined with the time-stasis of an Azath...or is that just me ?).
Dreamwolf
38. Marc Rikmenspoel
SE and ICE have discussed the influence that Vietnam War memoirs and experience-based fiction have had on them. I've read some of that material, and a lot more from the Second World War. These are a lot different than most Fantasy fiction, at least that of the Sword of Shannara type, which presents a "safe" world of middle class values and suburban life moved into an imaginary setting.

Glen Cook was in the US Navy in the Vietnam era, serving alongside Marines who told him orally of their experiences in ways similar to the memoirs written by other veterans. He knew what combat was really like, and what soldiers really experience. He decided to write a Fantasy series from the point of view of "real" soldiers, and this became the original Black Company novels. So the books, especially the first one, read like the memoir of a participant in a Fantasy war.

This is jarring to readers who expect something different out of "Fantasy," but resonates with those who have been at war, or who (as with me and the Malazan authors) are familiar with war literature. We recognize the truth in the Black Company books, and take this honesty as an influence. SE and ICE have, of course, done much more with that influence, but I have stories in my head which benefit from it.

Glen Cook writes in many styles, and many voices. I'm always amused when someone suggests (as I see sometimes in Amazon reviews), that he is a poor writer. He is actually so skilled a writer that when he takes on the voice of a war-weary veteran with little formal education, some readers think the author himself is barely literate! Anyone reading the Black Company books for the first time, especially the earliest ones, should keep all this in mind.
Julian Augustus
40. Alisonwonderland
Tek @30:

Looks like I'm going to have to start with Glen Cook when I'm finished with Malazan....in a year or so.....he keeps being universally recommended!

You probably won't need to wait a year. The Black Company books are pretty small and easily digestible in bite-sized chunks. The first six books (up to the Glittering Plain) together will be like one Erikson book.
Tai Tastigon
41. Taitastigon
Marc @38

He is actually so skilled a writer that when he takes on the voice of a war-weary veteran with little formal education, some readers think the author himself is barely literate! Anyone reading the Black Company books for the first time, especially the earliest ones, should keep all this in mind.

Would have liked to have been aware of that at the time when I read them. Good observation, can live with that.
Chris Hawks
42. SaltManZ
I loved it when, while reading the Black Company series, I could tell the difference between narrators just by their voice. That impressed me, but then I read the Tower of Fear, and discovered that Glen Cook can write so much more than the first-person sarcastic soldier. He's the caliber of writer whose style adapts to suit the story he's telling, where lesser writers will adapt their story to fit their style. That's when Glen Cook landed squarely in my "buy and read everything this guy's ever written" list. I'm currently reading his Garrett, P.I. mysteries, and those are (again) a completely different beast. They're also fantastic.
Dreamwolf
43. Alt146
@16

As Hoosier mentioned, RotCG probably underwent a LOT of revision before it was actually published. Given the events dealt with in the novel, I can't see how it would be expected to have been published concurrently with Gardens of the Moon.

Re book recommendations - I will second the Prince of Nothing, which I thought was excellent, but with the caveat that it is very much hit of miss and can be slightly heavy reading. I really enjoyed the first couple of The Black Company, but felt the series dropped off a little after the third book; I'm not sure I ever finished the entire arc. I think Cook did well with his characters and the feel of the novels, but they lack the impact that Erickson's worldbuilding and careful wording add.

Rereading these chapters reminded me of a couple of small things that Esselmont does that jar me a little - the repetition of images being one of them. Maybe it didnt stick out for anyone else, but the number of times the way ice has formed on something is described or the way loose hanging frozen items clatter together. It adds thematic imagery, but the third or fourth time it pulls me out of the narrative a bit. For a specific example the second time it is mentioned that some of the bridgeburners crew are wearing rivetted leather armour I paused and thought 'but wasnt that just described?'. Nitpicky, but like others I very much preferred RotCG's writing style.

@Amanda, if you think this is horrific you should be wary of the novellas. Lots of fun, but Lee of Laughter End would be one of the most awesome horror movies ever if it ended up translated onto screen :D
Steven Halter
44. stevenhalter
Alt146@43:The nice thing here is we don't need to guess on the amount of rewrite--we can ask ICE on Thursday or Friday.
Robin Lemley
45. Robin55077
@ 33. HoosierDaddy

Sorry my post was confusing. I did relate WoT to the Saga of Recluse because for me personally, I found the reading experience very similar. I began both series about the same time, enjoyed them both up to about book 5 for WoT and maybe 6 or 7 for Recluse, and lost interest in both series about the same time, neither writer really drew me in to their characters and the plots were way too predictible for me . I was not stating that Modesitt was another Jordan or that the two wrote the same, only that for me personally, they were similar from my POV as a reader. Unfortunately, I have always related those two series in my mind, perhaps because I am not a big fan of either one, perhaps simply because I read them at the same time....I don't know...but in mind, I have always thought of the two as similar. If they are not, then I apologize.

As for the Malazan series, I was simply trying to say that I had not read any other series that was comparable. Personally, I get so drawn into his characters that I laugh when they laugh and cry when they cry. He has written some of the best dialogue that I have ever had the pleasure to read. Rarely is anything what it seems or the result the one you saw comming 300 pages ahead of time. I have not read Cook, or Donaldson, or others that people do compare to Erikson. I have no comparison in my reading past to the Malazan books.

Relative to McIntosh, Hobb, and Carey, I was not comparing them to either WoT or Malazan. I was simply offering them as possibilities as fantasy writers that I thought produced books that were well written, a little different, and not totally predictable.
Tricia Irish
46. Tektonica
The WoT lost interest for me in the middle books as well. They became very bloated and slow, imho. The last 2 or 3 books have picked back up, and the new author, Brandon Sanderson, is setting a blistering pace! Yay. At least we get an ending. The reread here on Tor is what brought me back to the books. I have discovered nuance and ideas I'd missed completely. Thank you Tor, for that, and for introducing me to Malazan....and a world of other Fantasy readers, and experts!

I'm almost done with HoC now, and I have to say, never before have I read a fantasy author who can stop me cold with a beautiful sentence, or an incredibly profound philosophical insight. And it's not pontificating in any way. A character just tosses out a line, as an aside, and Wham! I'm dumbfounded. And the characters are so vivid.
Lovin' it.
Tai Tastigon
47. Taitastigon
Tek @46

And contrary to what another, very verbose gentleman here affirms - please read HoC as the transition and beginning to the actual story that SE wants to tell, not a closure. The bits that are being *closed* are either secondary to the overall arc or simply gigantic red herrings...

;0)
Robin Lemley
48. Robin55077
@ 46. Tek
"A character just tosses out a line, as an aside, and Wham! I'm dumbfounded."
Exactly! Those lines grab me every time, whether it is my first read or my fifth! Gotta love them. There are some lines that strike me as so profound, or so emotional, or so funny, or so whatever....that I have to make a note of them.
Perhaps my favorite of all in this series is surprising not contained in dialogue but rather simple text. It is in Deadhouse Gates and reads as follows:
"And over it all, the butterflies swarmed, like a million yellow-petalled flowers dancing on swirling winds."
I will save discussion for when we get to this chapter in the re-read. But for some reason, that is probably the single most poignant, emotional, line of writing in the entire series for me to date. I even thought it was excellently written as a paragraph...nothing else, just that one line...as a paragraph, to reinforce that the reader pay attention to it. Oh, I love it.
:-)
M D
49. Abalieno
@8

(My ethical mind is still trying to work its way around the end of Deadhouse Gates. I'm really looking forward to doing that with the reread crew)

There will be lots of reflections already in the books since House of Chains deals directly with all that went on in DG. The book and events actually acquire more depth. Just to say that those events will make an impact and won't just be left behind as a plot that got its conclusion.

I like a lot when books "return" to previous events and deal with them more than books that move on and never look back. Revisting places, revisting characters. This is something that Erikson does a lot.

@14

For those folks who've already (whether willingly or not) identified the Stormriders as "bad" guys, the last page of NoK will blow you away.

I had to go look, I completely forgot about that scene. That's definitely a nice one. Almost Malazan-canon, but well realized.

I recognize also some Lovercraftian influences as well.

Since we were talking about Glen Cook I'd say that the atmosphere in NoK is really similar to the one in the second book of the Black Company (Shadows Linger). I'd also say that his (Cook's) writing style is one of the main reason why I liked the books. Very terse and pragmatic, reflecting perfectly the spirit of the company. It gives those books a very recognizeable trait and makes both events and characters stand out without requiring thousands of pages. I also recognize the authenticity Marc was speaking about. It gives a very down to the ground feel despite one of the most absurd magic systems ever (but those scenes are great).
Robin Lemley
50. Robin55077
@ 49. Ablieno
"I like a lot when books "return" to previous events and deal with them more than books that move on and never look back. Revisting places, revisting characters. This is something that Erikson does a lot."
I agree, I also love this aspect in these books. Erikson does this a lot and I think he also does it very well. This 'revisiting" of events also fits in perfectly with the fact that it is basically a history of the Malazan world and as such, a history should revisit past events so I find it adds to the "historical" feel of the books.

I think it is probably safe to say that nearly every major event (and many events that may seem extremely minor upon a first read) are revisited, sometimes over and over again, throughout the entire series. For example, there are a whole lot of things from Deadhouse Gates that are revisited in the House of Chains and in Bonehunters, and in Cam's Return of the Crimson Guard. I wouldn't be a bit surprised (and possibly a bit disappointed) if there is not some bit of a revisit to the events of Deadhouse Gates in The Crippled God.

Thank you for your post on this topic. I had never thought about it in terms of Erikson's revisiting these events, I only knew that I loved the fact that he did. :-) It was only upon reading your post that the gears clicked in my brain and I realized that was what I loved about it. Anyway, thanks for putting it into words for me.

:-)
Robin Lemley
51. Robin55077
@ 8. Bennyrex

Welcome to the group and I am glad to have you sitting here near the fire with the rest of us.

Now just some general observations/statements:

@ Shalter -- you mentioned in an earlier post (I'm too lazy to look for it) something about NoK being different than what we are used to possibly being a result of the fact that it all takes place in one night and so you have all of these overlapping events. I definitely agree with you on that. I would add that in addition to simply the overlapping events, we have the overlapping realms as a result of the convergence. When added together, I think all of these would make it a very, very difficult book to write and in light of that, I think he did a very good job.

With respect to characters....I absolutely love Temper. Through his flashbacks, we get the depth needed to see him as a real character and form opinions and beliefs about him. I do have a couple of questions/problems with him but I think it is still a bit too early to ask them so I will wait until later in the book. With Kiska, I like her but I do not yet have any depth to form a strong connection to her. She definitely interests me. I want to see her again. I want to see how she has grown. She appears in RotCG, but briefly. From what I have read, she has considerably more face time in Stonewielder. I can't wait!

:-)
Tricia Irish
52. Tektonica
One of the greatest pleasures, among many, of HoC has been the revisiting of events from DG. It's "illuminating" to see them from a different perspective, see different interpretations of events...see the actual event when we've only seen the extrapolations before. It does feel like history, which of course looks different through different eyes....gray areas, fwiw.

I'm glad Kiska and Temper reappear in RotCG! Temper has some real depth and history here. He is a great vehicle for shedding light on K & D's history and the 1st Sword, who was a bit of a cipher to me before this. I trust that Kiska will earn her chops with age and experience.
Gerd K
53. Kah-thurak
@Tek
Kiska has no major role to play in RotCG. In a movie you might call it a "cameo". Temper is pretty important though. He also meets some old friends ;-)
Steven Halter
54. stevenhalter
The revisiting is an interesting topic as it applies to the current (NoK) reread. I think I am enjoying the reread more than I did my first read as I no longer have what I'll call "revisit anticipation" getting in the way.
I remember the first time I read NoK I kept thinking something like "Yeah, this is fun, but when is X going to appear?"
Now, I know that X is going to (or not going to) appear and I can relax into the story more.
I'm wondering if anyone else felt like that (or feel that for first timers)? Or, does the waiting add a sense of anticipation that heightens your enjoyment? Or had it not occured to you and now I've gone and made you all edgey (lol)?
I also recall this in some of the other volumes of TMBotF.
Gerd K
55. Kah-thurak
@shalter
For me this is definitely true. For example in House of Chains I was really impatient with Karsa Orlongs introduction, because I wanted to get back to story told in the previous book. On later re-Reads I enjoyed this part of the book very much. Midnight Tides is probably the book that suffers most from this "syndrome" ;-)
Tricia Irish
56. Tektonica
Shalter@54:

All the "hints" and "watch for this and that" that I've gotten on the thread, and from a few private conversations, have really helped me slow down and enjoy the ride. Then again, I'm one of those who doesn't mind spoilers, and will even read the ending of a book first, so I can relax and enjoy the writing, rather than barrel through to find out what happens in the plot.

I've obviously read a few books ahead of the reread, so I'm enjoying the reread threads as "rereads", rather than as a complete newbie....I do know I have quite a few books to go yet, and I certainly intend to read them all, asap!

Taitastigon@47: Thanks for that tip....I do hope that some of the threads come back around to finish up the series. I'm quite attached to the Bridgeburners and they seem to me to be the most important cast of characters in a vast interesting world of them.

Robin@48: Yeah...the butterflies....especially as a contrast to where they are. There are so many good lines! My book is full of underlines. I offer this one up:

Being resists unbeing. Order wars against the chaos of dissolution, of disorder, the greatest of all truths.....Order against Chaos, structure against dissolution, light against dark, life against death....but they all mean the same thing."

Could this be what the whole series is about from a macro viewpoint? It sure is fun to read about it from a micro/character pov!

Question: Does Temper appear in any of SE books too, or is he strictly a ICE character?
Tai Tastigon
57. Taitastigon
Tek @56

Temper will make a cameo in Book IV of Bonehunters.
And yeah, HoC actually kickstarts quite a few interesting things/characters that may have seemed secondary initially.
Bonehunters will be extremely important to really understand what actually happened in DG/HoC.
Midnight Tides will come as something of a shock/rupture, but a necessary one, for the overall plot...



*Being resists unbeing. Order wars against the chaos of dissolution, of disorder, the greatest of all truths.....Order against Chaos, structure against dissolution, light against dark, life against death....but they all mean the same thing."
Could this be what the whole series is about from a macro viewpoint? It sure is fun to read about it from a micro/character pov!*


It certainly is one of the major themes of the cycle...


Ben Wert
58. bennyrex
Thanks for the warm welcome, everyone!

@54 I *am* reading at the reread pace. Before I started NoK, I was eagerly awaiting a bunch of Kallanved and Dancer POVs. As I started it and met Kiska and Temper, I was a little disappointed to see where the focus would be, but that disappointment has passed, and I'm enjoying the ride I'm getting.

@various posts in regards to DH

Your posts have made me quite eager (and giggly, ask my roommate) to read HoC and beyond. You all have a wonderful way of evoking the idea of crazy awesomeness to come without divulging specifics. Thanks!
Robin Lemley
59. Robin55077
@ 54. Shalter

Relative to the character "revisit anticipation" you wrote:
"I'm wondering if anyone else felt like that (or feel that for first timers)?"

I felt this strongest in NoK when the Bridgeburners came into play. I recall that on my initial read, I found myself disecting every BB name, every description, looking for someone from Whiskyjack's squad in the Erikson books. I couldn't help myself.

Since I was relative late to reading NoK (I don't think I read it until just prior to reading DoD), I was already used to occassionally suffering from character "withdrawals." When I added in the fact that it was a different writer, the short time period covered in the novel, and the fact that the events took place some 9 years or so before GotM, I don't think I really expected many of my favorite characters from Erikson's main series. However, the Bridgeburners had me looking....and looking hard!

:-)
Dreamwolf
60. Some_Random_Schmuck
So far reading NoK remindes me of being out on Halloween night looking to get into mischief - - - toilet papering houses, egg'ing cars, soaping windows, leaving a flaming bag of poo in someone's doorsteps. Except this night - - -"Shadow Moon" - - - all of the creeps, ghosties, goblins and baddies are real
Dreamwolf
61. Tabby
I know I'm coming late (reaaally late) to the discussion, but Amanda's question (practically an appeal) here just begs my response:

"*giggles* Okay, you can sometimes be jarred from a book for the oddest of reasons. I read the part about the veterans in the pub smoking their clay pipes and straight away thought that the smoking ban had clearly not hit the Malazan Empire yet! Anyone else been jarred out of books for silly reasons like that?"

Well, Amanda, I was reading I-forget-which SE book when I got to a line about one of the hounds of shadow that said something like "...his head lolled to the side..." and I immediately thought, "his head laughed out loud?"

And then I thought, "wow, I am so glad nobody else knows I just thought that."

And now here I am telling everyone. Oh well.

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