Nov 3 2010 3:28pm

The Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Night of Knives, Chapter 4

Night of Knives by Ian Cameron 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 readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapter 4 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 Four

Toben (Fisherman) is killed by the Rheni’s Dream—the ship from the prologue—which, encased in ice, smashes his skiff. The Stormriders head toward Malaz.

Agayla goes to Toben’s hut where she finds Toben’s wife frozen dead.

Agayla meets Obo overlooking the shore and tells him Toben was overcome. Obo blames Surly for outlawing the magic which had kept the Stormriders away. Agayla says Surly didn’t know, nobody knew. When he threatens to return to his tower Agayla says because he’s “anchored” himself to his tower, he has no choice but to commit to stopping the Stormriders. He says the two of them aren’t enough and she replies she’s asked another to help. At first he thinks it’s “that raving maniac” but Agayla says that one has chosen another path.

Temper flashes back to the assault on Y’Ghatan before Dassem’s death. Temper tells his friend Point that Dassem has sworn this is his last battle. Point scoffs then mentions how Dassem has a close connection to Hood. Dassem exits his battle tent with A’Karonys, Bedurian, Nightchill, and Hairlock, while Surly stays in the tent. The battle commences with Dassem at one point handing off control to his sub-commanders, including Whiskeyjack. Temper asks him if it’s truly his last and when Dassems replies in the affirmative Temper wonders how he can “just walk away.” Dassem answers Hood has more than enough people to do his work and that Hood “made a mistake,” that all that ever mattered to Dassem had been taken.

In the final push, the Y’Ghatan patroned champion Surgen fights with Dassem then Temper sees a “flash” and Dassem reacts as if wounded while Surgen is also startled by whatever it was. Dassem wounded, his guards fight to protect him with Temper taking on Surgen long enough for their squad to be rescued.

Temper awakes to find the cultist leader standing above him holding Temper’s helmet. The cultist says his people had watched Temper’s fight with Rood the Hound and had “intervened” then healed Temper. The cultist refuses to tell Temper who he is but says the two of them have the Claws as a common enemy. While the cultist converses with another, Temper starts to make connections to the Shadow Cult and the Talons and Kellanved and Dancer. The cultist leader shows Temper the Deadhouse and calls it a door, telling him he who passes through will command the Shadow Warren. He asks Temper to help the cultist help someone who will try to enter before dawn. Temper refuses and is allowed to leave.

Temper is escorted to Mock’s Hold by two cultists. He realizes the group has gathered for the Return of Kellanved, though Temper believes it’s to gain the Empire’s throne back, not some Warren. The cultists leave him at the Hold, telling him he’ll only find death there. Temper enters, thinking back to how Dassem always spoke warily of the Emperor and then he remembers the times he himself saw him, and the Emperor’s power. He flashes back again to Y’Ghatan.

In the flashback, Temper awakens wounded in an infirmary tent. Ferrule is there and tells him via sign that the Claws and Surly have made their move and Dassem is in danger. The two of them kill the Claws in the tent, then go to where Dassem is kept. Inside that tent they find Dassem near death and Surly and more Claws, including Possum. Surly tells them Choss has been promoted to HIgh Fist and that Dassem is no longer needed, that Y’Ghatan is about to fall. Surly and Temper clearly know each other’s outward courtesy is false and when Surly exits the tent, leaving her Claws behind, a fight ensues in which Dassem seemingly kills Possum. The three of them escape and Dassem then separates to “travel” west. Later, the official story is put out that all three died at Y’Ghatan.

Kiska goes to Lubben’s room. He tells her there’s a take-no-prisoners “war” going on above them in the Hold. He offers her refuge but she refuses, so he gives her a dagger. As she climbs higher, she comes across lots of dead: Ash’s mercenaries, Artan’s guards, Claws and one dying mercenary who tells her Surly is above. As she starts to head down she sees Temper fight two Claws, one of whom turns out to be Possum. Temper kills one Claw then Possum disappears. Kiska runs upstairs and into a room, where she finds Artan and Hattar. The three of them watch as Temper comes up then meets a cultist who converses with him. The cultist waves a hand and Corinn appears on the floor, barely conscious. Temper picks her up and leaves. When the cultist turns to face their direction, Artan recognizes him.

We go slightly back in time to Temper’s point of view. He climbs the Hold, passing the same bodies Kiska did just before him. He kills one Claw, then comes across Possum and another Claw. He kills the strange Claw and taunts Possum, who disappears. Dancer appears (the cultist Kiska and the other two had watched Temper converse with) and tells Temper they are on the same side and that he doesn’t want Temper to ruin the carefully scripted night. Temper asks about Corinn and Dancer agrees to give her to him in return for Temper returning to Pralt, the Cult leader, and doing what Pralt says, which will involve a fight of some sort. Temper agrees and Corinn appears. Temper picks her up and before leaving asks if Dancer and Kellanved are back for the Empire’s throne. Dancer answers the Empire was merely a short-term tool to achieve “greater things.” Temper brings Corinn to Lubben and heads out.

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Four:
Alright, the opening scene is very dynamic and all, but what on earth has the Fisherman achieved? All I can tell is that he went out in the sea, sang a bit and was then killed. I will want to see a great deal more from him in the future to make his sections even slightly worthwhile. Right now they just feel like filler—or an attempt to make the book more mystical and mysterious.

I do prefer Obo on this encounter—he and Agayla “fit” together, since it is clearly a meeting of equals.The Stormriders really intrigue me—clearly they have been assaulting the island for many, many years and just as clearly talent has been generated on the island for helping to rebuff them. So Surly’s purge of all the talents on the island—whether deliberate or not—has helped to open the path to the Stormriders.

Hmm, who has Agayla asked? I am thinking that the person she has not asked is Kellanved. Now I confess that I have taken a look at the list of characters from the front and I’m thinking we’re going to see Tayschrenn help out with the Stormriders.

I had an odd moment of not being able to make clear the following quote—anyone fancy helping?

Across the lines mixed Gral, Debrahl and Tregyn of the Y’Ghatan guard rode back and forth...

[Bill’s interjection: Gral, Debrahi, and Tregyn are the enemy groups/tribes/clans.]

Why was Dassem saying that that would be his last effort? The hints about Lanesh (the Bloorgian priest) suggest that Dassem might have heard something that made him chary of any more conflicts.

Hmm, I don’t know whether it is because we suspect that Surly ordered Dassem’s death, but straight away I feel as though he is to be trusted and is one of the good guys. Will be interesting to see if I maintain this view as I see a little more of him. Also, I got all excited about the cameos from Nightchill and Hairlock and the others who we encountered in Gardens of the Moon.

Point murmured, “I wish the old ogre was still around. He always kept that bitch in check.”

So Surly is hated by those following her! And who on earth is the ogre? I can’t think of anyone from GotM who would really fit that description...

Okay, I’m disappointed at the first major battle scene of the book. I’ve enjoyed the one on one fights, where Esslemont seems to have more control over the eventsbut I’m a little...bored by the large battle involving the Sword.

What I am loving is all the little name drops of those we’ve already encounteredhere Whiskeyjack is a sub-commander of the third army!

I’m interested to hear more about Dassem’s connection with Hood, which has been whispered more than once, including:

Temper thought of all he had heard whispered from so many sourcesof Pacts and Vows sworn to the Hooded One himself.

Also, who made a mistake? And what has been taken from Dassem? And why does he have nothing left to lose? All very, very mysterious....

Nice to hear some compassion from Temper in the event of war:

Although they were the enemy, Temper found himself pitying the soldiers ranged against them.

This shows the power and relative confidence of the Third Army as well.

Can I just mention as well how cute and clever the names are of those who protect Dassem the Sword? Temper, Point, Ferrule, Quillion, Hilt, and Edge. I do feel a little daft that I had to see them all together to make the connection though!

Then Hood’s Own Paths cracked open upon them.

What is it that flashes and strikes down Dassem? Is this something we’ll discover soon? What has given their opponents the backbone to stand against the Malazan professionals? And why are the Malazan regulars not managing to push through and join them in battle?

Is a patroned champion someone who the gods are protecting?

Having decried Esslemont’s lack of skill in the larger battle scenes, he really comes into his own in the epic fight between Surgen and Temper. I really felt myself warming to the grizzled Temper, and respected the loyalty he showed to Dassem in his attempt to battle the patroned champion.

I knew I liked these skinny guys in the ash-pale robes. *grin* And what healing power do they have that they are able to bring Temper back from the very brink of death after his duel with Rood?

“Yes. This night is ours. We control the island two or three nights every century.”

Just in the event of a Shadow Moon? Where do they come from? So far this chapter is definitely throwing up a number of questions! And the following passage only hints at some of the answers:

...the healing, the undeniable fact that they must’ve done something to yank him free of the hound, and the man’s claim that they ruled this night, put Temper in mind of what he’d heard of the cult that worshipped Shadow.

A ha! A little bit of a reveal concerning religion as well:

The rest of that dusty theology just made his head numb: Old versus New; the rise and fall of Houses of influence; the eternal hunt for Ascension.

Interesting to see that some common soldiers, such as Temper, see it as nothing more than hokumespecially considering the fact that in most cases the “normal” people accept the presence of Warrens and gods.

*shudders* I don’t like the mention of Kellanved’s monstrous actions:

Never seen Kellanved murder thousands when he brought down a city wall, or his pet T’lan Imass warriors slaughtering entire towns. Good riddance to that wither-legged Dal Honese elder and spook of a partner, Dancer!

Wow, what a way to end a section and make you want to read on:

...and he remembered that other night. The night close to a year ago when he and Dassem died.

Entertaining scene with the fight between the Claws and Temper and Ferrule, although distinctly grim when Ferrule virtually loses his ear! Tough guys, these guards of the Sword!

I really enjoyed finally seeing Surly for an extended period - isn’t she a nasty piece of work? She knowingly offers what she won’t ever give; and signals the death of the Sword. The conversation betweem Surly and Temper shows a little of the politics and machinations that went on during Surly’s rise to power.

Why did Dassem reject Hood? I think that this is central to the whole mystery of the First Sword. And what? Dassem doesn’t actually die? We’re going to meet him again? I do sincerely hope soin a lot of ways, in the little I’ve seen of him, he’s sort of a Druss type character. Where is it that Dassem has headed? To Hood?

Hmm, and back to Kiskashame that, after the exciting stream of flashbacks from Temper, I sort of sighed at the idea of spending more time with the younger character. She is just very naive, and less interesting than the veteran.

Ugh, I do hate how all corpses seem to have the “stink of voided bowels”I know it’s realistic and all, but it does sound horrible! I’m just being a sensitive girl. *grin*

Ha, I can’t resist saying thisbut Lubben is just showing THE most sense of the whole lot right now by insisting on staying hidden. I do like that he gives Kiska his dagger. Does anyone else play “guess the corpse!” when reading novels? At the moment Lubben has “eventual corpse” written all over himI hope I’m wrong!

Hood’s breath! At this rate no one would be left alive.

Hmm, sort of worried that this could be used as the tagline for the entire Malazan series...

Oh, how I love seeing Temper from Kiska’s perspectivehe must look an absolute sight in that armour, all gouged from his duel with Rood. I also love the fact that we see the sequence from first Kiska’s eyes and then Temper’s. The balance of inexperience and jaded veteran is a really nice touch. And I enjoyed the comedy of Temper hearing Kiska scurrying up the stairs but believing it to be Possum.

“By the Autumn Worm. It is he.” The wonder in this statement means that the cultist must be someone that Artan really didn’t expect to seeDancer or Kellanved? Ahh, seeing the scene from Temper’s perspective reveals it is Dancer. Now this is interesting: finally coming face to face with one of the most mysterious and charismatic characters of the series so far.

And here we have the blatant reason why most of us readers are more scared and fascinated by Kellanved and Dancer than by Surly:

To his mind most people, like Surly, viewed controlpolitical or personalas the highest ambition. But men like Kellanved and Dancer were after Power, the ineffable quality itself.


Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Four:
I liked the scene with Fisherman, though I agree it doesn’t do much to advance plot. It does, however, set a great tone at the start of this section. And I love the image of the ship encased in ice crushing the skiff. Followed by the equally sharp if more domestic image of his wife frozen and the knitting shattering.

Obo is just all-around a great character here—who doesn’t like a grumpy old man? And I like how we get such a relatively unique view on the Emperor, “that raving lunatic”—not just from Obo but others as well. It’s a fresh approach to the usual image of emperors we get in fantasy—either regal types of strong bearing or wise political manipulators. We rarely get just “freaking insane.”

As to what’s going on with Dassem, we’ll get more of his backstory in Erikson’s books and I don’t want to spoil too much here. Those references to Hood are important, though, as is his comment that “He made a mistake” and a later that Dassem’s had everything taken from him. The “He” is Hood and the “everything”—well, he still has his swordsmanship, his title, his army, so you can deduce it’s something more personal.

I confess that one of my least favorite repeated aspects of these novels (both Esslemont’s and Erikson’s) are the sword duels where both fighters are moving at superhuman speed, ignoring near-mortal wounds, etc. They just never do very much for me, to be honest. More specific to this scene, I felt it a bit anticlimactic, felt the retreat could have been played more powerfully. And the scene with Temper’s grip on Surgen would have had stronger effect I think had it not been so fully telegraphed with his scene with the barrack bully earlier. [Amanda’s interjection: Wow, I didn’t even make that connection with the barrack bully!] Just a prior sense of his strength would have been better than such a one-to-one correspondence.

I also liked Temper’s indifference toward the religions, especially as we see so much of the other side of things in the Erikson books. And I like as well the nuance that he doesn’t think all of it is bullshit, just that it all gets too complicated. He’ll stick to his two soldiers’ gods thank you very much and someone else can pay attention to all that ascending/descending stuff. BTW, Amanda, we haven’t done as much filing away in this book as GoTM, but both Togg and Fener will play major roles in later books, so set those names aside for the future.

It does the reader good service to remind us now and then that Kellanved isn’t some kindly old crazy uncle who comes out at major holidays. We see that with the slaughter by the Hounds in the early scene in GoTM and now, as you mentioned, we get more reference to it. Empires, after all, aren’t created via exchanging pleasantries. One specific slaughter of a town by the T’lan Imass will also get mentioned throughout the Erikson books, along with some question as to just how that got ordered.

It’s a small thing, but while I like the flashbacks, I much prefer when we just get them, with the white space providing us with the transtions. All the “and then he remembered” feels a bit clumsy to me.

The fight scenes between Temper/Ferrule and the Claws I found more enjoyable than the earlier fight/battle scenes. There’s a strong sense of tension and Temper’s wounds actually had an effect on his fighting. I hate those movie fights where the character takes ridiculous amounts of punishment (broken ribs, broken nose, gouged eye, etc.) and yet fights on as if all that blood was fake. Oh wait....

While I like the interplay between Surly and Temper itself, I don’t care for how that situation ends. Along with the “taking-too-much-punishment” pet peeve, I also hate the “bad-guy-dumbly-underestimates-his-opponent” play. It just beggars belief that Surly, if she truly is trying to settle things, wouldn’t ensure Temper and Ferrule (let alone Dassem) are put down. Taking one of her best Claws with her, let alone not seeing it to herself, just wasn’t plausible to me. If she’s playing this as some scam, seems there were better ways to do so, though that possibility gets far too complicated to go into at this early stage.

Will we see Dassem again? Let’s just say that when asked what he’ll do, you’re given a big, big hint.

The double pov of Temper’s scene is my favorite part of this section, for those reasons you mentioned. Taking us out of Temper’s pov is important because that intimacy we get via the pov, together with his world-weary, self-deprecating view runs the risk of us not quite getting just how formidable a person he is. Even the flashbacks when he’s fighting are at a remove. But seeing it through present-day Kiska’s eyes opens the eyes of the reader as well. Kiska’s musing on just what he might be made me flashback to the LOTR scene with Samwise Gamgee heading up the tower stairs in the last book when an orc was coming down, and the orc, rather than seeing a little hobbit, sees some grandly terrifying figure out of myth and legend. Tolkien geek moment.

Along with Kiska’s pov, I like how we’re privy to Artan’s surprise at first Temper—”a ghost out of the past indeed”—and then shock—“By the Autumn Worm. It is he.”—at Dancer’s appearance.

Speaking of formidable, look how supremely dismissive Dancer is of Temper, this guy who regularly takes on Claws with some success. And how Temper is fully accepting of that dismissal.

I found Temper’s reaction to Dancer’s line: “One last service from the last shard of the shattered Sword” to be perhaps the most moving point of the whole book:

The Last? Something stabbed at Temper’s chest. Truly the last? . . . Ferrule—even Dassem—dead?

The crushing weight of that realization, the way it makes him lower his weapons (unheard for a professional soldier of his caliber) in a sign of true surrender—not to Dancer but to the burden of being the last—really moved me. It’s flashes like these that make me eager to continue watching Esslemont’s development as a writer.

Oh, those “greater things” Dancer says he and Kellanved are after. Boy will we have talk about that in novels to come....

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.

Chris Hawks
1. SaltManZ
That sentence with the Gral, Debrahl, and Tregyn still doesn't make any sense; I read it probably five times, and just couldn't get it to parse.
Across the lines mixed Gral, Debrahl and Tregyn of the Y'Ghatan guard rode back and forth.

Though now that I type it out, it looks like maybe "mixed" is being used as an adjective? And yet your first instinct is to read it as a verb, and there's nothing to indicate otherwise until it's far too late. Simply a comma after "Across the lines" would clarify, but Esslemont seems to eschew the clarifying comma, probably the most frustrating thing about his prose to me.
Chris Hawks
2. SaltManZ
The "giant Bedurian" in the mage cadre has got to refer to Bellurdan. The others are all there (A'Karonys, Nightchill, and Hairlock) and "giant" pretty much seals it. You never see the name Bedurian again, so it's probably an error/typo.

Esslemont does this with other names as well, though usually it's just a minor spelling issue: Amaron/Ameron, Cartharon/Cartheron, cussor/cusser (ICE/SE spellings, respectively.)
Sydo Zandstra
4. Fiddler

Alright, the opening scene is very dynamic and all, but what on earth has the Fisherman achieved?

He kept the Stormriders at bay for a while. Else they would have gone unopposed and would have swept over Malaz Island.

He probably knew it to be a losing battle on his part, but he got Agayla, Obo (and yes, Tayschrenn) enough time to set up a last line of defense.

I loved how it said that Malazan Island was vulnerable after the culling of mages by Surly (I use 'mages' in a loose way, because I think Agayla's, Obo's and the Fisherman's magic is more connected to the land, in a Shaman/Warlock way; not like Warren magic wielders).

I also loved how Toben's wife clearly was his anchor/connecting line from Malaz Island, while he was out fighting the Stormriders on their own turf.

Re: Dassem and Hood.

Let's keep it at stating that Dassem had a position in Hood's High House of Death, and that Hood did something that really pissed Dassem off.

Saying any more would be spoilerific a lot more for upcoming books/plot themes than we're used to give. ;) I won't go further than this in public anyway. :)
Steven Halter
5. stevenhalter
This chapter has a large amount of info in it. We get to see that Dassem isn't actually killed in Y'Ghatan (how do people pronounce that one?). This is an important piece of info that we wouldn't find for awhile in the SE book line.
I also found it odd/interesting that Surly left the tent with Dassem, Temper and Ferrulewhen she did. It certainly seems that she means for Dassem to die at this point. For this to be the case, she must have thought Dassem to injured to awaken.
Temper's method of awakening Dassem is also interesting. This sequence certainly seems to be another black mark against Surly.
On the other hand, if she knew that Dassem was capable of being woken up, it seems like a fairly convoluted way of letting the three escape.
Steven Halter
6. stevenhalter
I also really enjoyed the technique of showing Temper's fight in the hold from both Kiska's and Temper's viewpoints. We get Kiska's view of the (to her) awesomeness of Temper. Then from Temper we get what he is thinking and then the reveal of Dancer.
It is interesting that Dancer seem's to have some shadow (or other magical) ability here--the 'vanishing' into the shadows from Temper's point of view.
Also we see that Dancer is controlling the Shadow cultists and the Bridgeburner crew. His line

'Yes. Her and Ash. They remained loyal and came to serve.'

is very interesting. Dancer is separating out the loyal vs. the disloyal.
Steven Halter
7. stevenhalter

Point murmured, “I wish the old ogre was still around. He always kept that bitch in check.”
It was my take that Point was referring to Kellanved here. As we see, Kel isn't a nice person, but he did get loyalty from the troops.
The topic of loyalty is something we see a number of times in the flashbacks. Temper recalls how Dassem leads from the front and is adored by the troops. Surly lurks in the background and is feared, but certainly not adored. For all his flaws, the troops even prefer Kellanved over Surly.
When Dassem is mentioned with his horsehair helm, does anyone else have flashbacks to the Iliad and Achilles? That's the image that came to me, anyway.
Steven Halter
8. stevenhalter
Kiska's actions in this chapter start straining my credibilty somewhat. I can accept the wanting to go out on the Shadow moon night as general teenage recklessness. Here in the hold, though, she's coming on the signs of a major battle. Bodies here, bodies there. It seems like turning back would be a really good idea.
I know that if she just turned around and went back and had a drink with Lubben, the rest of the nights story wouldn't be that interesting for her, but it seems like almost suicidal disregard for her actions that keep her going.
Sydo Zandstra
9. Fiddler

I'm with you on the ogre part being about Kellanved.

I've read the Iliad a few times, but I didn't have that particular flashback. Dassem got a backstab ordered by his own Empire's leader. (And maybe I've seen/read too many of those helmets. ;) )
Steven Halter
10. stevenhalter
@Fiddler: It was the helmet and the emergence from the tent, followed by the mowing down of enemies that just triggered an "Achilles, cool" image to me.
The backstab is interesting in that here we see the flash but not the hand.
Ben Wert
11. bennyrex
I really enjoyed the end of Fisher. I thought it was an awesome scene, I wasn't expecting it to go the way it did, and I enjoyed seeing the ship again. It's left me very curious about how all the threads of the night will intertwine in the end.

Could the raving maniac Agayla refers to be Oleg? That was what I assumed on first read.

I got VERY excited seeing familiar faces from GotM. Before seeing that Bellurdan was Thelomen, I'd read Bedurian as an adjective describing Bellurdan. "He was a giant bedurian." Looking at the sentence again, it definitely seems like a typo. I had forgotten A'Koronys's name, but his death has certainly stuck with me; (ethereal wings of ice enfolding.)

@Shalter and Fiddler: I read the ogre as referring to Kellanved as well.

I also really enjoyed Kiska reflecting on the rooms in Mock's Hold, especially the dining room "Where long ago pirate admirals once drank with important hostages dragged out of the dungeons below."
12. billcap
I certainly believe Kell. would keep Surly in check, but I have a hard time w/ use of the word "ogre" to refer to him--it goes against every description we get of him and so it's nearly impossible for me to imagine anyone, let alone a burly veteran, using that word for him. But then, I have a hard time coming up w / someone else who could keep her in check. Who was the really, really strong guy--anybody recall? (I know, I know, I should recall)

Shalter, I don't have my book w/ me, but I seem to recall Kiska actually deciding to go w/ the better part of valor and head back down, but that's when Temper shows up and she's like, "crap!"--am I misremembering that?

I always hear Y'Ghatan as "Yah-Gah-Tahn" in my head.
Sydo Zandstra
13. Fiddler

I think you are getting too literal on the Ogre thing, as in you take it as a description. I always read it as some kind of affectionate thing people in the military have when talking about highers in command.

When I was in the army (as a conscript) we used to call our drill sergeant something like 'the old bastard'. Not that we doubted his parentage being legal on both sides...

I always read Y'Ghatan as "EEH-gah-taahn" ... (double a on purpose in 'taahn')
Tai Tastigon
14. Taitastigon
Bill @12

*I always hear Y'Ghatan as "Yah-Gah-Tahn" in my head.*

From a poem in BH, the archaic version: "Yareth Ghanatan".
Whether THAT is going to help you with the correct pronunciation is anybody´s guess *gg*
Tai Tastigon
15. Taitastigon
Fid @13

*I always read Y'Ghatan as "EEH-gah-taahn" ... (double a on purpose in 'taahn')*

Been my interpretation, too...
17. DRickard
Assuming shifting spelling etc between ICE and SE: could "bedurian" be a variation on/misspelling of "bhederin"--the bison-like (I've always assumed) herd animal seen throughout the Malazan world?
Steven Halter
18. stevenhalter
@Bill, yeah, Kiska does start to go back and stops when she sees the 'demonic' armored figure.
But, even getting to the point where she stopped seemed a bit of a stretch. On the other hand, it does go along with her being an exaggeration of the 'fearless wide-eyed' trope as ICE mentioned he was going for in her.
Steven Halter
19. stevenhalter
I go with Yeh Gah Tan. I think most anything works with this one.
Steven Halter
20. stevenhalter
Fid@13: That was my take on the 'ogre'--almost a term of rough affection.
Shorter than 'that wildly scary uber powerful mage' too. ;-)
21. Dreamwolf
12 Billcap
There are one other general of the "old guard" that we will hear more about much later, "Greymane" and as I recall he is described as a hulking man of formiddable strenght. He could be the imposing man refered to as a "Ogre".

Two other men from the old guard is describes as huge men but one is a sargent and the other a admiral and as such probably mostly at sea.

At this time Greymane is leading the malazan legions in Corellri but we will se more of him in CAM's next book.
Fabian Schaller
22. Aldric
Bill @12

Urko Crust. He is close to Surly and ogre seems to fit more to him than to the cane wielding emperor.

And I read Y'Ghatan Jah Gah Tan.
22. Toster
i don't think that Bedurian is a mistake at all. it could be ICE's version of his name but i don't buy that either. we'll see again and again that names, especially among non-human characters, have a habit of changing slightly. Anomander Rakes full name is Anomandaris Ipurake and there's others I could mention but would be spoilerific. Bedurian and Bellurdan are way to different for it to be a typo, but similar enough that it could just be he goes by several names or there are several different ways of spelling his name.
23. billcap
I don't mean they're simply physically describing him w/ Ogre, but usually there's a kernel there to build on. For instance, Dancer (ignoring Shadow Dances) doesn't need to actually dance but the kernel is the fluid movement of the assassin. Kel. doesn't have to be a giant if he has an "ogrish" personality, but he should be at least a little big or at a minimum normal-sized. But this is completely opposed to the visual. No matter his personality, it's hard to imagine the "gnome" being called "ogre". For instance, can you imagine a grizzled vet calling an 18-yr-old recruit "old bastard" no matter what a bastard he was? That said, I also have a hard time w/ Kel. as having an "ogreish" personality too. Ogre is brutish, dim-witted force and crudity--again, pretty much the opposite of what we see of Kel. It could be a "cute", let's call him the opposite of what he is, but then, I have a hard time w/ "cute" in this context too

wow--that's a lot of words for such a tiny complaint :)
Dan K
24. kramerdude
shalter@5: I tend to think that Surly didn't know the nature of Dassem's beef with Hood nor the fact that he could be awakened in the manner that Temper woke him. I think Dassem woke because he was explicitly being faced with being killed by Temper. In fact I take that awakening method as a pretty significant hint about the nature of Dassem's relationship (or lack thereof) with Hood at this point.
Dan K
25. kramerdude
bennyrex@11: if its not clear I'm pretty sure Amanda was correct that the "raving maniac" is Kellanved.

And speaking of Kellanved I'm curious about something.


Is Kellenved always spoken of as being "crazy" or "mad", or "insane"? Or was there a point in the past where he was noted as being more or less sane? I've been speculating that it requires someone to have a shattered mind to control the shattered fragments of Shadow...and hence Kellenved deliberately drove himself mad in furtherance of his agenda.

Yay or nay from the long term readers? Shoutbox me if you think discussion is to spoilerific.
Tai Tastigon
26. Taitastigon
kd @25

From what I remember, good ole Kell seems to have been *regular gaga* right from the beginning, no *diet gaga* anytime...
Steven Halter
27. stevenhalter
Bill@23:It could be someone other than Kel being referred to, but no one else really seems to fit at all. There were other commanders, but I've never seen any sign of them having any effect on Surly.
Thinking about it, I think my impression of it being Kel comes from it describing some of his actions (destroying cities and such) and his capabilities than his appearance.
As you say though, lol, its quite a bit of thinking for one word from a minor character.
Steven Halter
28. stevenhalter
kramerdude@24:That's pretty much my take on that also.
Robin Lemley
29. Robin55077
@ 25. Kramerdude
"Is Kellenved always spoken of as being "crazy" or "mad", or "insane"? Or was there a point in the past where he was noted as being more or less sane?"

As others have already posted, Kellanved was always pretty much referred to as a bit "insane." However, it is possibly more than simply a comment on Kellanved's personal mental status.

Although most mages draw on the warrens for their magic, they don't always do so in the same way. In addition, some peoples/tribes also draw magic from certain spirits (say of the earth, for example, but different from Burn). Some draw from different Gods/Goddesses or perhaps even Ascendants who may not be associated with a specific warren, etc.

Kellanved was from Dal Hon. A full-blood mage from Dal Hon. Later on in Erikson's books, you will meet some other full-blood Dal Hon mages. Like Kellanved, they too are not quite right in the head. I always thought this touch of "insanity" might be a result of how and or through whom the Dal Hon mages are drawing and/or channeling their magic.

I am as sure as I can be that there is reference made in one of Erikson's books (I'm sorry but I cannot remember which one) to the fact that "insanity" is a trait of Dal Hon but I cannot remember if it was Dal Honeese in general or if it were specificaly tied to their magic users. For example, Dassem is half Dal Hon and there is no hint of insanity linked to him, so I think it may be linked to the magic users.
Robin Lemley
30. Robin55077
I always pronounced it "yoo-gah-TAN" as in "Yucatan," Mexico, but with a "g" instead of a "c."
Robin Lemley
31. Robin55077
Re: Temper *** Please bear with me as this question will take a little bit of set up.

First, let me start off by saying that I absolutely love Temper. I love him not only for the character that he is, but also for the side of Dassem that we get to see through him. I believe a lot of my feelings towards Dassem are directly as a result of Temper’s love and respect for him. Because of that, the two are forever joined in my mind.

From my POV, I think it is safe to say that Dassem was probably the single-most recognized figure by those in the military. Kellanved and Dancer were, for the most part, probably not even recognizable by most of the soldiers. Even Temper, whom we are told (somewhere) was a member of Dassem’s Sword for at least 10 years, tells us at one point that he never met Kellanved and had met Dancer “rarely.” Every soldier in battle knew exactly who Dassem was and what he looked like. He was the Champion of the Empire, but more than that…he was their Champion. They respected him and they loved him.

One would have to assume that Dassem’s Sword (his six bodyguards), who remained at his side unless they were killed, would have been just about as well recognized as Dassem himself. One would think that these six were known to the multitude of soldiers, not just because they were always “hanging out” with Dassem, but I would assume also because these six were the “best of the best” and as such were chosen to fight at Dassem’s side and thus the best at being able to protect him while he fought the big nasties that were being thrown at them. In other words, I would suspect that pretty much every soldier there recognized Temper on sight.

We know that Temper has a rather large death sentence hanging over him from Surly and the Claw. Surly has already announced the death of Temper, Dassem, and Ferrule. All of her plans to take over rule of the Empire hinge on Dassem being dead (as he was next in line ahead of her, if he were alive). Surly cannot risk Temper showing up alive and talking!

So…FINALLY…I get to my points/questions. Earlier in this book we learn from Temper that he “presented himself with false papers to the local garrison in order to return to the only life he’d ever felt was his own.”

1. Why, if Temper was attempting to elude the Claw (and Surly) would he have chosen to hide out in Malaz City? A lot of military personnel travel in and out of Malaz City so that doesn’t seem like a very smart place to hide to me. However, I can kind of overlook this to some degree and chalk it up to “that’s where Cam needed him to be” so that’s where Cam put him. I can live with the fact that Cam wanted Temper to be a “resident” of Malaz City, rather than just a stranger passing through on this night of all nights. Perhaps we are supposed to believe Temper decided to hide someplace Surly would think he would never be dumb enough to be…like Malaz City. The old ‘hide in plain sight” trick. Any way you look at it, it seems overly sloppy to me. I can live with it…but it does not seem like a decision that someone of Temper’s experience would have made.

2. My second point/question is even more troubling and not as easy for me to overlook. Here you have Temper…a member of Dassem’s Sword for at minimum 10 years. Temper, who in my opinion would almost definitely be easily recognized by most soldiers who fought in the campaigns with Dassem during that time. Temper, who is hiding from the Claw and Surly, all of whom will kill him on sight if they find him. Temper, who filed “false” papers to get the job at the garrison in Malaz City. TEMPER, WHO DID NOT EVEN BOTHER TO CHANGE HIS NAME?????

Did this not bother anyone else?
Hugh Arai
32. HArai
Robin55077@31: My take is that Surly and the Claw simply have a lot of bigger fish to fry. There were a lot of the Old Guard that split with Surly, and Temper seems to be considered a non-priority by both sides. So long as he kept his head down and stayed in a backwater like Malaz City, they were probably willing to let him be. I don't think he strikes any of them as a rebel activist or schemer. He seems to be considered a known quantity: loyal to Dassem but otherwise willing to let all the politics and intrigue slide by.

As for recognition, it seems evident veterans of those campaigns don't recognize him that easily, since the Bridgeburners he runs into (Corinn for example) don't seem to put it together even on repeated meetings. His helmet seems to be distinctive, but he himself is not. It seems like only people really in the know like Possum and Dancer can recognize him right off.

RE Kellanved as "ogre": Ogre can be a term for a legendary monster or person of particular cruelty or brutality, which Kellanved certainly fits.
Robin Lemley
33. Robin55077
@ 32. HArai
"As for recognition, it seems evident veterans of those campaigns don't recognize him that easily, since the Bridgeburners he runs into (Corinn for example) don't seem to put it together even on repeated meetings."
Thanks. However, here is how I see it.

Earlier, in Chapter 2, after Temper realizes the "patrons" in the bar are BB's and heads to his room to avoid them, you may recall that Corinn talks briefly to Temper right before Ash appears and Temper is taken back downstairs to be held as a "prisoner."

Corinn says to Temper at that time, "I want you to do as I say because I know who you are. I recognized you. I was at Y'Ghatan. I saw the Sword broken. I know." (Note that this was prior to Temper gathering his helmet from Seal's house, so she certainly didn't recognize him because of that.) To me, this seems to emphasize the point I was trying to make....Temper certainly would not have any reason to know and/or recognize most of the soldiers who were there at the time he was fighting at Dassem's side, but those soldiers would have reason to remember/recognize him.

If, for some reason,Temper was unrecognizable prior to Dassem's final battle that day with Surgen, (I don't see how that is realistically possible, but even if I grant that concession) I don't see any conceivable way that he would not be recognized after his one-on-one stand/fight against Surgen. In fact, after Temper and Ferrule kill the Claw in thier tent and as they are getting ready to head out to find Dassem, Ferrule says to Temper that "everyone's talking" about Temper's stand. As a means to get to Dassem's tent, Ferrule suggests, "You come out of this tent looking like the ugly block of granite you usually do and everyone'll back off."

As for Ash not knowing, there is no reason to believe that Ash was one of the BB's that was with Whiskeyjack at Y'Ghatan. Ash may have been stationed on the contenent of Genabakis, or even stationed in Unta. He may have been out sailing the seas with Admiral Nok. For all we know, Ash and his band may have been busy on some personal mission on behalf of the Emporor. The only information we know about Ash is that he was a BB and that he was loyal to Kellanved and Dancer. Beyond that, we don't know. For all we know, Ash may have never once even set foot on the continent of Seven Cities.

Tai Tastigon
34. Taitastigon
Robin @31

Re Temper´s overlookability: Now that you mention it, it is odd. Especially in view of the physical description he is given by SE in BHunters...
Robin Lemley
35. Robin55077
We frequently make mention of the "war" the Empire is engaged in and we all know that comes with a certain "loss of life." However, in this week's chapter we have an indication of what this means.

The sentence reads, "Scaling a siege ramp, Temper calculated that every footstep taken up the dusty rotten slope cost a thousand men." We are told earlier in that same paragraph that it was a terraced approach. This sentence made me wonder, how many ramps were there, how long were they, how many steps to walk each many thousands of lives lost?
Robin Lemley
36. Robin55077
@ Amanda
"I knew I liked these skinny guys in the ash-pale robes. *grin* And what healing power do they have that they are able to bring Temper back from the very brink of death after his duel with Rood?"

That would be the magic of "High Denul." The Denul warren is the Path of Healing and you will meet many who have some ability with this warren and thus the ability for healing in one form or another. However, on occasion you will meet someone who is able to perform High Denul.

I have often wondered if Mallet (you will recall he is the healer in Wiskeyjack's unit) is capable of High Danul? I don't recall that we are ever told that he was. However, Coll was just a breath or two from death by the time Mallet arrived to heal him and Mallet did heal him. Although, Coll did take at least a few days to recover and I seem to recall that High Danul generally works fairly rapidly.

Then again, if Mallet is capable of High Danul, it would provide even deeper meaning to his sorrow over an event that happens later in the series. Hummm???

Help anyone?
Steven Halter
37. stevenhalter
re Temper:
I think we see that a number of veterans do recognize him. Lubben and the medical officer know who he is. The recruits and people who had only been to Genabackis don't know him off hand.
I think that's a good question, Robin, as to why he went back to Malaz. Its also a good question as to why he didn't even change his name.
On the name issue, I'm wondering if he actually did use his name. I was just looking through chapter 1 and don't see that anyone actually calls him Temper other than himself. The Lieutenant just calls him Old Man and I don't see anyone else calling him anything. So, can anyone find a spot where Temper is called Temper other than by himself or someone who knows him (like Corrin)? I haven't searched exhaustively, but don't recall it offhand.
As to why Malaz, I don't have any suggestions other than the hide in plain sight one. It does seem to be pretty risky, but there don''t really seem to be any non-risky places in the Malazan empire. Some line like 'I'm going to Malaz because I really like the beer at the Hanged Man.' or something would be useful.
Robin Lemley
38. Robin55077
@ Amanda

Relative to the relationship between Dassem & Hood. As everyone else has indicated, you will have to just wait and see. I don't think there is anything more that could be said about it right now that would not be extremely "spoilerific!" This is one of the items that, had NoK been read later in the series, you would understand but it is probably better that you avoid the spoilers at this point in time.

You will thank us later!

Steven Halter
39. stevenhalter
Robin@35: I think that's one of the problems Lassen starts to run into--too many of the Malazan regulars are dying and not being adequately replaced.
Steven Halter
40. stevenhalter
Robin@36:I think that Mallet can do at least some High Denul.
Maggie K
41. SneakyVerin
I really LOVED the action in this chapter. I am generally NOT a big fan of battle scenes, but I liked this one...I think because it stayed so single POV with Temper and what was going on with him personally.

BennyRex- I had a big surprise at the reappearence of Rheni's Dream. I agree that somehow the Fisher's song was holding the Stormrider's back, and really liked the mechanism that they figured out how to use their magic against him.

I also thought that the 'raving lunatic' Agayla referred to was Oleg...I never even thought of Kellanved.
Steven Halter
42. stevenhalter
BennyRex & SneakyVerin: My first thought in this case was also Oleg instead of Kellanved. Since Kel hasn't been around for some time, it seems a little odd for Obo's first thought to be that Agayla would ask him.
Of course, people do usually refer to Kel as insane in one fashion or another.
On another note, I was quite amused when you referred to the fisherman as Fisher. I did a mental doubletake on the news of "Fisher's' demise. There's another character named Fisher whose demise would be really surprising at this point, lol.
Robin Lemley
43. Robin55077
@ 37. Shalter
"So, can anyone find a spot where Temper is called Temper other than by himself or someone who knows him (like Corrin)? I haven't searched exhaustively, but don't recall it offhand."

Believe it or not, I searched for this a while back.

Early in Chapter 1, when Temper first arrives at the bar and realizes that his normal seat is taken, Coop says, "Sorry about that, Temp." Now, I can see the others knowing, Corinn (although Temper didn't know she knew), Seal and Lubben. They are all 3 military and as such you would think none of them would ever reveal it to anyone else....either out of respect for Temper himself, or out of respect for Dassem, or both. However, although Temper considers Coop a friend, he has obviously been in town less than a year and I cannot see him sharing a secret of that magnitude with Coop. If, by some quirk he did share that with Coop, would Coop use that name in addressing Temper when the room is full of BB's? Even if he didn't specifically know that they were BB's, I would assume that Coop would recognize them as military. If not, Coop at least knew he had a room full of strangers. No, I can't see Coop calling him Temper at that point, unless Temper were the name he was going by.

Also, in Chapter 5, Pralt calls him by name, "Temper" and even references the "Sword." Obviously, one could argue that Dancer told Pralt all about Temper and who he was. Although, with everything going on at the time, I find that a bit of a stretch, but the argument could be made.

Perhaps the question is not so much "does anyone call him Temper," but rather "does anyone call him Temper within hearing of others" ??? There is no indication that Coop leaned over real close and whispered it in his ear, so I would assume it was just in a normal conversational tone. Likewise, at the Deadhouse, Pralt, Lubben, and Jhenna all call him Temper within hearing of any and all present. At one point, it is indicated that Lubben rather yells, "Dammit Temper!"
Steven Halter
44. stevenhalter
Robin@42:The Coop comments seem to be a good indication he isn't using an alias. Its possible the bartender would have known him from before, but I don't think that is mentioned anywhere.
The other odd thing about his going by Temper on Malaz is that Temper isn't his actual name. It would seem easy enough to introduce himself as Fred or something.
I guess one possibility is that he is using it as a kind of subconscious challenge. I'm hiding but I'm not changing who I have earned the right to be.
Robin Lemley
45. Robin55077
General Question:

Does anyone have any reference, thoughts, theories, etc. as to Dancer's race?

It is another little "project" of mine that I try to figure out where the characters fit into the world. I haven't a clue on Dancer, other than that I have not yet noticed anything that would help me place him.

Robin Lemley
46. Robin55077
@ 44. Shalter

True. And in a way, that is what started me down this path. :-)

I wanted to figure out his real name!
Steven Halter
47. stevenhalter
Robin@45:That's a good question. I don't recall ever seeing anything specific about this. He is generally described as kind of even featured. Being non-descript is a good trait in an assassin.
He appears to be fully human and is never described as having tattoos or tribal scars. Since he isn't blueish, we can rule out Nappan.
I don't think his actual name is ever mentioned either--so no clues there.
Gerd K
48. Kah-thurak
I am not sure, but maybe you can find something about Dancers origins in House of Chains when Nok tells the story how Kellanved and his "family" conquered Malaz to Tavore.

As to Temper hiding in Malaz City: I guess Malaz is fairly remote now that the imperial capital is Unta... I mean the imperial warships arriving at the beginning of NoK are big news... so visits from imperial officials seem pretty rare.
Steven Halter
49. stevenhalter
Malaz also used to be (pre Empire) exactly the kind of place where a person would go to get lost. It was basically a backwater pirate hangout. So, it could be that Temper was thinking it had wholly returned to that.
Steven Halter
50. stevenhalter
For some reason, the description of Temper's weapons in the hold as twin curved longswords really caught my eye. ICE is usually pretty careful about his wording, so I'm taking this as what is meant here.
A curved longsword would seem to be describing a double edged blade of a meter or more in length. A longsword is almost always straight, but there are some examples where the blade curves. The blade curve, if there at all, is usually very slight.
The blade curve could be a curve in the edge or in the blade. In this case, I think he would be indicating a curve in the blade or else it wouldn't be called into attention.
If ICE had meant a single edged weapon like a sabre or scimitar, then I would think he would have used one of those names.
Gerd K
51. Kah-thurak
A katana is sometimes called a japanese longsword... so a weapon of this type might be described as "curved longsword".
Steven Halter
52. stevenhalter
I thought about a katana and it could be what is being described. Although, then, mentioning that they were single edged would be nice somewhere. I guess ICE could be unwilling to use the term katana since it is a non-european sword term. But, then the question would come about as to where Temper had gotten a pair of katanas from.
Also, since ICE and SE haven't been reluctant to use specific weapon terminology from europe and the mideast, it is a little odd not just to use the term katana if that is what is really meant.
It could be the reluctance comes from katana being a japanese term and being somewhat jarring from that standpoint.
Ben Wert
53. bennyrex
@41, 42.

Oops, my bad. Rumors of Fishers demise have been highly exaggerated. Now, at this point I remember the actual 'Fisher' as the writer of 'Rumor Born'. Should I remember the name from anything else as far as we are? It feels like the name is poking at my memory for a greater reason than the poetry...

I'm happy to see I wasn't the only one that thought of Oleg at first. He didn't stike me as particularily sane either, after Kiska's encounter with him.

Also, did anyone else NOT catch that that was Temper during Kiska's POV? I suspected, but I was thinking that it might be Edgewalker, or some actual supernatural thing. It wasn't until the POV showed us the events from Tempers perspective that I was sure, and even then the backtracking threw me off.
Steven Halter
54. stevenhalter
I thought it was interesting that for our second visible siege (Pale was first in GotM) we also are seeing events at the tale end of the siege.
In this case we are seeing what probably would have been the breaking point for Y'Ghatanif Dassem hadn't been betrayed. The siege ramps have been deployed and the defenders are down to plugging holes in their walls with misc. bits and pieces.
We see A'Karonys lashing the walls with flame but being pushed back by the Holy Falah'd.
Then, we see the Sword deployed. I was fascinated that the sword was Dassem and his six 'guards'. Before this point I had pictured the sword as being a larger unit with Dassem leading.
Steven Halter
55. stevenhalter
During his siege flashback, Temper makes the observation:

Besides, what did he know of pacts made in his grandfather's time?

It is useful to remember that Dassem is also older than he appears here.
Hugh Arai
56. HArai
Robin55077@33: Ah, that's what I get for not checking the book before I post. Guess the memory is a little more fallible than I thought. I guess my only explanation then is to fall back on the argument that since Temper is attempting (however poorly) to keep his head down, no one really bothers about him unless he's directly involved in events. Consider - he actually kills some "minor" Claws and goes a couple rounds with Possum during the night, and still reports for guard duty and it's like nothing happened. Surly and her Claws just left. It seems to be personal between Temper and Possum so presumably Surly called Possum off. I guess she looks at the long game: Temper gets to play simple soldier, which seems to be sufficent for him, and the Empire retains the ability to call on his full abilities if need arises.
Dan K
57. kramerdude
Taitastigon, Robin55077: Thanks for the thoughts on Kellanved's sanity through the years. I remember many of his appearances but its been a while since I've read through all the books.

I still think that some trait of Kellanved's madness in ascendent form is allowing him to maintain his grip on the fragments of shadow that he controls as opposed to being entombed by Shadow like Edgewalker, Jhe'del, or others have been. Just supposition though.
Steven Halter
58. stevenhalter
I was thinking some more on Surly's actions. We see her abandon Dassem, Temper and Ferule to her claw. The claw's certainly act as though they are meant to finish the job. Then after Dassem and the others leave, Surly has to know that they have escaped, but there is no evidence of a manhunt. She seems quite willing to live by 'out of sight, out of mind.'
I'm wondering if this is a personality flaw on her part. She imagines people are threats when she sees them acting too well--even when they are acting for the empire. Once those people are not acting in her immediate perception she puts them out of her mind.
This seems to be a very dangerous policy for a ruler to follow. She is creating her own pool of very capable enemies.
Steven Halter
59. stevenhalter

Can I just mention as well how cute and clever the names are of those who protect Dassem the Sword? Temper, Point, Ferrule, Quillion, Hilt, and Edge. I do feel a little daft that I had to see them all together to make the connection though!

Also notice that each member acts somewhat as they are named. For example, tempering keeps the steel from becoming brittle and breaking.
Robin Lemley
60. Robin55077
@ 56. HArai

Don't feel bad. That's why I end up eventually posting a question like this....because I've exhausted my own search efforts and/or I just cannot remember something that I feel like I should be remembering. Then I cheat and post it on here for someone else to answer for me. :-)
"Consider - he actually kills some "minor" Claws and goes a couple rounds with Possum during the night, and still reports for guard duty and it's like nothing happened."

Great point! I failed to think about this during my "tracking and/or researching" of this question. I didn't think much about the Claws that he killed, since even if they recognized him, they were no longer talking to anyone. However, Possum definitely had to have recognized him.

Certainly gives me something to think about! I will have to consider this. I still cannot buy that Surly would be relatively unconcerned that Temper is alive and walking around Malaz City. Her whole reason for being there is to take over the throne of the Empire (by getting rid of Kellanved and Dancer). The throne only comes to her because Dassem is dead. If Dassem is alive, he was next in line of succession. Not only that, Dassem was very well respected. The troops loved him. We could assume that Surly had the support of the Claw, but that would be all. She would never even come close to finding enough support to take the throne from Dassem. Remember, even years later in GotM the military is still talking about the possibility of placing someone (Whiskeyjack or Dujek) on the throne rather than Surly and neither one of those are even in the line of succession. I cannot think of any reason or any scenario that would allow Surly to be nonchalant that Temper is alive.

Thanks for providing the Possum angle for me to gnaw on !!!

Hugh Arai
61. HArai
Robin55077@60: Temper is only an issue if Dassem is there and contesting Surly's claim though. He's obviously enough of a realist that he's not going to raise waves on his own and he's got no real loyalty to any candidate other than Dassem. The rest of the military can't put Dassem forward in absentia. That's why Whiskeyjack or Dujek start being considered: they have the powerful recommendation of actually being present after all :)
Robin Lemley
62. Robin55077
@ 61. HArai
"He's obviously enough of a realist that he's not going to raise waves on his own and he's got no real loyalty to any candidate other than Dassem."

Ahh...but why would Surly assume that they had split up or that Temper did not know exactly where Dassem was? For all she knows, Dassem could be in Malaz City at the moment, or on his way there? I just cannot see her, after all she went through to position herself to take the throne, not careing at this point. Just doesn't make sense to me.

Gerd K
63. Kah-thurak
Surly probably knows that Dassem has a "personal issue" to resolve. An issue from which he will not return in any likelyhood. She also wouldnt want to hunt him, because that would bring the risk of actually catching him. And then what? It seems unlikely that she and/or her Claws could defeat Dassem.
I am not even sure she believed they would be able to kill him in that tent. She sure enough wasnt taking the risk to commit herself to it.

So why go after Temper? Alone he is no risk to her and if connected to Dassem he is to dangerous for her to attack. Best leave him where he is and maybe even use him if the need arises.
Steven Halter
64. stevenhalter
Those are good points. Chasing Dassem is a sort of fruitless pursuit. But, then the question arises of why she even tried to kill him. As you say, there a plenty of indications that the killing attempt wasn't going to succeed, so she is really just risking pissing him off. Having Dassem mad at you would seem to be a bad thing.
Leaving Temper alone afterwards does seem to fit her profile.
Gerd K
65. Kah-thurak
I guess Surly wanted the Claws to kill just Temper and Ferrule, so she could let Dassem disapear afterwards. She may not have anticipated Temper beeing clever enough to "awaken" Dassem...
Steven Halter
66. stevenhalter
That could be. This actually makes sense if we think about what could have been going on in the tent before Temper and Ferrule came in.
Before they entered, Surly, Topper, Possum and the other claw (wearing a red shirt no doubt) were all standing alone with Dassem lying there unconscious.
I am now picturing a dialogue like:
'OK, Possum now you kill Dassem,' said Surly.
'Uhm, no that'll make him wake up and then he'll be mad and kill us all.'
'Hmm, I don't like the part were we all die. That'll make it hard for me to be Empress.'
Then they all stand there for a while.
Chris Hawks
67. SaltManZ
I'm of the mind that Surly was going to have Dassem killed anyway--they had to lay off him for a time to at least pretend they were giving him a chance--but Temper and Ferrule broke in before she could make her move. I don't see Surly or her cohorts anticipating Dassem's reaction to Hood's presence; the Claws had already tried their best to kill him, after all: shooting him in the chest with a crossbow bolt in the middle of fighting the Seven Cities Champion. It was only Temper's resilience that kept him alive after that. Temper later had his flash of insight on how to awaken Dassem only because he was so familiar with the man and his personal demons.
Steven Halter
68. stevenhalter
Salt-Man Z: That could be. I like the waiting around for him to either die or to give him enough time to die so it looks plausible when they kill him.
This explains what they are doing in the tent.
Anyone see any motive for Surly doing the killing other than the obvious raw power grab?
Hugh Arai
69. HArai
Well consider exactly who Dassem's "personal issues" are with. Maybe Surly didn't want the Empire caught up in that convergence? In that case, so long as Dassem is "somewhere else" and not on the throne, she wins. She doesn't actually have to kill him or Temper to get what she wants.
Steven Halter
70. stevenhalter
That's possible. It seems like another case of 'if she had just asked' things could have gone better. Recall that Dassem had told Temper this was going to be his last engagement. I think that indicates he was planning on leaving to take care of his 'personal business'.
It seems like being an assassin colors Surly's world too much. She seems to leap to the 'I've got to kill him card' a little too quickly.
Chris Hawks
71. SaltManZ
shalter @70: Surly/Laseen seems to have two cards: the aforementioned "I've got to kill him" card, and the "out of sight, out of mind" card.
73. littlekuke
Saltman @71: That makes sense though in a way. Surly is an accomplished assassin herself. A thought process of not worrying about someone unless they get to close and if that happens kill them kind of suits her. I've never got the impress she was supposed to come across as an smart ruler. Surly deals in the immediate.
Hugh Arai
74. HArai
Robin55077@62: Well, Temper isn't great at hiding himself, so it's unlikely he could hide a link to Dassem. Actually it occurs to me Surly and the Claw may be watching Temper for exactly that. All it would likely take is someone subtle, Temper seems able to outlast pretty much anything in direct battle, but plots and subterfuge are not his thing. He likely wouldn't notice.
75. billcap
Shalter, love the imagined conversation

Doesn’t Temper’s mere existence cause potential trouble for Surly as his being alive breaks the cover story on how they were killed by the enemy? His appearance would therefore have to cause questions about either
a) if Dassem too is out there and able to show up, thus undermining her or
b) her lying about Dassem’s death, leading to suspicion she had something to do w/ his death, thus undermining her

In any case, even if she didn’t want Temper dead now, it’d seem he’d have to be approached about a new story or taking ship elsewhere, etc.
Steven Halter
76. stevenhalter
@Bill: Thanks.
Yes, since they invented their cover story with everyone being dead, it would be kind of awkward.
I guess Dassem was in to big a hurry to start traveling, but if he had wanted, just emerging from the tent with Temper and Ferrule and telling the army (that is supposed to adore him) that Surly (who they don't like and is below him in succession) just tried to kill him would have had really bad consequences for Surly.
Of course, then Dassem would have had to hang around and organize things--which he really didn't want to do.
Rajesh Vaidya
77. Buddhacat
In this Chapeter we get the first hint towards why Laseen might want to eliminate the Bridgeburners. They sided with Kellanved and Dancer against her. So once she became Empress, she was suspicious of them (especially Whiskeyjack) leading to the events at Pale, and then Darujhistan. It is claimed later (in MOI)that she (or Tayschrenn) were not targeting them for elimination, but there was certainly mistrust. Seems like mistrust was all she had for everyone, and everyone had it for her as well.
Hugh Arai
78. HArai
billcap@75: I don't know. It seems like Temper has already found somewhere where "Temper of the Sword" doesn't ring a bell, unless you're already in the know. Some major players were there for the Shadow Moon, but it seems pretty backwater day to day. Larkin and Lieutenant Chase don't seem the sort to pester someone that can stand up to patroned champions, so the "cover" seems to be working.

It seems like Surly is willing to brazen things out, proof or not, as long as no one actually challenges her on it. She's willing to claim "Kellanved and Dancer are dead" without bodies to prove it. RotCG comes strongly to mind here although I don't want to give more spoiler than that.
79. kjtherock
Temper might have been a popular name used by military personel for there own kids because of his position. So finding another Temper might not be surprising. Malaz city is a backwater so no one wants a posting there. The ones that are ther probably want off as soon as possible. Most veterans would probably go else where so it would make a good hide out. After all the only important thing it did was give its name to the empire.
Stefan Sczuka
80. moeb1us
...and providing a constellation where there was a sort of gate/merging with the shadow warren, thus offering the possibility to claim it.
Additionally, a meeting point for the bunch of people that started to build an empire (not really a group of ordinary guys&girls)...

@surly and her claim (78)
yes i second that. just her power/influence as being the empress seems to be sufficient for this hearsay to hold up. the majority buys it. let some talk and spread rumors etc, they come from those that would conspire against her anyway? Makes it easier for her to simply ignore it. unless it becomes really obvious she can 'sit it out' - and there is no mass media etc, information travels kind of slow.

@temper scenes
love temper. enjoyed the fighting scenes of the sword. to me, they were the opposite of boredom, i digged them, read slow and thorough. boy I hoped to get more of dassem, too. the theme of the sword and dassem, the cult, his struggles, the comradeship: great stuff. imho this chapter of the book was truly strong.
Robin Lemley
81. Robin55077

Thank you so much to everyone trying to help me see the light. I keep logging back on here hoping that someone has posted that brilliant answer. Honestly, I am not trying to be dense, but I am still waiting for my “aha” moment where this becomes clear, or at least less murky, to me.

Let me post this in an attempt to look at things from a different angle:

Most readers appear to be very quick to jump to (and hang onto) the belief that at the siege of Pale, Lasseen wiped out 1400 Bridgeburners in an effort to kill Whiskeyjack. The reason was not because Whiskeyjack was a horrible human being or a horrible military commander that she needed to get rid of to save the Empire. No, the reason generally given for this was because he was too popular, he was too well liked. His name had been mentioned as a possible person that soldiers would like to hold the throne, rather than her. It is believed that she saw him as a “possible” threat so she tried to take him out, and in the process took out over 1400 of his strongest supporters. It is very widely believed that she saw him as a threat regardless of the fact that Whiskeyjack did not want to be Emperor, nor, in my opinion was he likely to have ever accepted the position if it had become available. Also worth noting is that at the time of the events at Pale, she had been basically on the throne for some 11 or 12 years at least (9 years as Empress and a couple of years as Reagent while K&D were absent). Her position was not near as precarious at the time of Pale as it would have been at the time of Night of Knives.

Now Dassem….he was not a perceived threat.…he was not a possible threat….he was a very real threat. I also disagree that Dassem was only a threat if he were there in person. If Temper spoke to any number of people, say Whiskeyjack for example, and said “Hey, Whiskeyjack, she tried to kill Dassem so she would be next in line for the throne, but she failed in her attempt to kill him and we escaped. Dassem is alive! He went to settle his pact with Hood, but he is alive.” Would Whiskeyjack say, “Oh, it’s a shame he is not standing here beside you right now, because if he was standing here right now, I would want to do something about that. However, since he is not standing here right now, well, I don’t really care that she tried to kill him. That’s really not a problem for me, as he is not standing here right now.”

Absolutely, the physical body of Dassem is a threat to Lasseen’s hold on the throne. However, in my opinion, Dassem’s name is just as big a threat.

Why would readers just accept the fact that Lasseen would so easily kill over 1400 Bridgeburners in an effort to kill Whiskeyjack whom she perceived as a “possible” threat, yet turn around and accept that she seems so “blasé” about Temper (and through him Dassem, either in body or name, as I don’t think it really matters) being in Malaz City on the very night she decides to kill Kellanved and Dancer and make her move for the throne.

Hugh Arai
82. HArai
Robin55077@81: How many of the books (SE and ICE) have you read? The reason I ask is while I think that's a good summation of what the reader is working with after reading Gardens of the Moon and Night of Knives, other books (especially Return of the Crimson Guard) have other data that I think influence the way a reader would look at these events and the people in them. And I'd hate to spoil the first time the books have a chance to mess with your head. :)
Robin Lemley
83. Robin55077
@82. HArai

Thanks for asking. A very valid question. I have read every book in the main series at least 5 times with the exception of DoD (only 3 so far). This is my 4th time through NoK and I have read RotCG 2 times.

I believe I know the information to which you are referring and, yes, it may place some things in a different perspective for some readers. However, it seems to me that the greater majority of readers still see the events at Pale in the same light as I mentioned above. After all, the information in the later books is not really "new" information, but rather usually just the same information being shown to us from a different POV.
Robin Lemley
84. Robin55077
@82. HArai

P.S. You will note in my post @ 81 that I never once said that I believed that scenario to be fact, only that I believed the majority does. :-)

I tried to be very careful in my wording on that issue. lol

Mieneke van der Salm
85. Mieneke
I like the juxtaposition of the icy, stormy, freezing beach where Agayla and Obo are to the hot, arid Y’Ghatan plain of Temper's flashback.

Point, Edge, Temper, Hilt, Ferrule and Quillion. All parts of a sword? I googled stuff and tempering is done to a sword, but how does Ferrule fit in here? Anybody know? It got me thinking though, they were all given these names when they joined Dassem's guard presumably as Temper mentions they renamed Ferulle. What does this say about the empire subsuming one’s identity? Like Lorn ending up the Adjunct. Or is it more of a brotherhood thing?

How did the Shadow priest know Temper’s name? Just from the helmet’s design, or is his name engraved in it, much like we’d mark a child’s coat, so it won’t get lost. After reading Robin's points on Temper's (in)visibility, it doesn't seem as surprising he might know him, but still...

If Dassem fled Y’Ghatan alive, is Dancer now lying about Ferrule and Dassem to get Temper to do as he wants? Or are they really gone? I take it from the various comments that Dassem will be back in the story at least if not alive, but how about Ferrule?
Gerd K
86. Kah-thurak
SPOILER (white text)
Ferrule and Dassem will be back, both alive.

I think the ferrule is part of the hilt.
Hugh Arai
87. HArai
Mieneke@85: I'm definitely not an expert but I believe a ferrule is also a part of a sword or knife: a collar, ring, or cap put towards the ends of the grip to strengthen it, prevent splitting and wearing.

I think it's a brotherhood thing. They seem to be matching the purpose of the sword part/crafting process to the style/strengths of the Sword member to find a name. Tempering is what lets a blade endure combat without breaking. Very fitting for what we see from Temper's actions and fighting style.

Dancer is telling the truth from a certain point of view, but not the way Temper takes it.
Steven Halter
88. stevenhalter
Hrai@87: Yes, that's what a ferrule does for a blade.
89. darkul
Hey Robin@81:
Is it just an assumption you and many readers made that Laseen tried to wipe out the BBs in order to kill Whiskeyjack at Pale?
Or do you take this as a proven fact? I'm still noit sure what really happened at Pale. I read it again and again and still I do not know from where came what.

I've read every book one time, except GotM 2 times now, so I clearly do not have the same insight and usually thus I stay calm, pondering/wondering about these great discussions here.

But as long as Tayschrenn or some interfering god/ascendant/maybe even Rake is not telling the truth we still just collect clues and traces in order to finally find out what exactly happened in Pale. Maybe we pursue a false trace?

Laseen seems to know more than we all think. Maybe she was aware of Dassem's private (?) open bill with Hood and clearly has some interest that he resigns from his job as First Sword. Dead or alive. If Temper and Dassem are separated the Sword (the band) is done. Is it not like this: if Dassem dies on the field or by assassination he is still not really dead because Hood can't take him?
Isn't it possible that Laseen did know that and she just wanted to be sure Dassem is out of the game in the "real" world in his position as a successor of the emperor?
If she thinks this way clearly Temper is of no value/worth and no threat for her anywhere in the world. Maybe she could have been a little bit more thorough. And in this case this novel is not different from others: why those so almighty killers and mean Claws are not trying to murder Temper. If they want to do it, they would succeed, sooner or later. In this case I am with Robin that Temper is recognized by almost everyone and therefore an easy target for assassination. It seems somehow forced to have a better convergence that Temper is still alive. Temper himself seems to be an over the top DEM in my eyes. Though still I like him very much and I have no problem at all with NoK.
Robin Lemley
90. Robin55077
@ 89. Darkul
"Is it just an assumption you and many readers made that Laseen tried to wipe out the BBs in order to kill Whiskeyjack at Pale?"

I don't know if assumption is exactly the correct word here (but it probably is). However, it is not "assumption" in a bad way. I think Erikson purposely lead the reader to make that assumption in GotM. That's what Erikson wanted all of us to "assume" at that point. I seriously doubt you will find a single person who, upon reading GotM without prior knowledge of any of the other books, would have assumed anything different.

Trying not to be too "spoilerific" here, but I will say that in later books we may pick up an occasional different point of view. Just as in real life, when you have two eyewitnesses stating their sides of the same story, their stories sometimes differ. When this happens, some parties will believe one side, some may believe the other. I was simply stating that, in my experience, the majority seem to see the events surrounding the cave-ins at Pale more in line with the way they are set forth in GotM rather than anything we might learn from an an alternate pov later. In other words, it seems to me that the majority "hang on" to the GotM version.

Since all of the Malazan books are told to the reader by pov of various characters, we, as readers, are always pursuing clues. That's a HUGE part of what makes the re-reads so great! One of the things I love about these books!

For example, here in NoK, we see a single episode in Mocks Hold provided to the reader from the pov of both Kiska and Temper. However, when Kiska sees Temper and describes him to Artan she says he is an Imass. We know that it was Temper she saw and that Temper is not an Imass but if all we had to go by was Kiska's pov, the reader would have assumed that an Imass had appeared. Likewise, after Temper speaks to Possum and Possum says that he will meet Temper at the top and disappears. From Kiska's pov, she saw Possum disappear. However, Temper believes he hears Possum quietly running up the steps. As readers, we know that in actuality, he hears Kiska running up the steps. However, if we only had Temper's pov, some of us would have probably been confused and wondering why Possum would be physically running up the steps rather than using magic, as he would normally.

A character's pov is not neccessarily truth, but rather what the character believes to be the truth. The two are not always the same thing. As readers of these books, we sometimes have to choose whose pov we believe most.

Robin Lemley
91. Robin55077
@ 85. Mieneke

If you do a search on Bing for "sword + ferrule" you find this:
"Ferrule -- A metal band at either end of the grip used to secure the leather or wire wraps. Also used as a decoration."

92. Abalieno
Alright, the opening scene is very dynamic and all, but what on earth has the Fisherman achieved? All I can tell is that he went out in the sea, sang a bit and was then killed. I will want to see a great deal more from him in the future to make his sections even slightly worthwhile.

Has anyone parsed this? It indeed produces an odd effect in the reader since everything that happens seems rather "passive". The fisherman is humanized in the first few scenes, but here the death is muted and impersonal. It just happens, we don't see the fisherman expressing fear or even trying to save his own life.

My interpretation, considering also the death of his wife, is that the scene seems to represent "nature", as the magic here is more of a natural kind. The type of death is alike to a falling tree, it doesn't protest, it has no voice. This corresponds also to the natural use of magic to protect the isle from Stormriders. So it's less "magic" used deliberately by a conscious mind and conscious actions, used for a purpose, and more like some natural phenomenon that developed as a natural counter, and when it fails it simply goes.

Why was Dassem saying that that would be his last effort? The hints about Lanesh (the Bloorgian priest) suggest that Dassem might have heard something that made him chary of any more conflicts.

It's the other problem I have with the book. We have these flashbacks that let us see what happened, but in the end we know nothing more than what we already knew: Dassem had an alliance with Hood and at some point he was betrayed (and not really dead). These flashbacks surely could have offered at least some suspicions.

It's not much that mysteries stay too mysterious, it's that without a context and purpose all those scene fail to really engage the reader. Stuff happens but the reader never knows why, so it's like reading a fact list that simply confirms what was known. It doesn't open nor closes scenarios.

We see a war described, but it's a war that lacks "conflict". Why are they fighting? What's at stake? Why Dassem was betrayed? How? There's a betrayal, but it exists merely because it's stated as so, the reader is completely unaware of context and motivation. So it keeps detached and lacking a deep meaning.

Instead about Temper sloppy "disguise" I think it's all about his sense of duty. He didn't really try to hide and went back to the one place where things may eventaully find him. He's not done with his past and so he doesn't hide very well because he actually doesn't want to. It's mostly an "excuse" he says to himself.

Staying there in plain sight could also be a kind of challenge to Surly. Showing that he doesn't fear her (nor he intends to go against her if he's left alone).


She seems quite willing to live by 'out of sight, out of mind.'

Though one trait of Surly is that she's paranoid and suspicious, often exaggerating the threat and making horrible choices because of it. So it doesn't really fits all that well.

Maybe Esslemont can tell us more, or maybe it was just overlooked.

Ideally the book should have given some hints that Temper had been spied for a long time and that Surly kept an eye on him.

Still, an assassin should have had plenty of easy opportunities to kill even someone like Temper.
Mieneke van der Salm
93. Mieneke
@ Kah-turak, HArai & Robin: Thanks guys :)

@92 Abalieno:

It's the other problem I have with the book. We have these flashbacks who let us see what happened, but in the end we know nothing more than what we already knew: Dassem had an alliance with Hood and at some point he was betrayed (and not really dead).
Actually, not having read past HoC previously and only reading NoK for the first time (and I read along with the reread, I haven't read ahead), the fact that Dassem was still alive was new to me and very much a surprise. So I don't agree that we know nothing more, rereaders might know nothing more, but semi-newbies will.
94. Abalieno
I am semi-newbie in regards to Dassem, but in GotM when Paran asks if Dassem is dead the answer is that they are still looking for the body and that's a rather obvious way to say he's alive.

Especially if one notices how his name resembles closely the one of an ascendant. It's not exactly a secret ;)

In fact I'd say that the real problem of the book is that everything plays exactly as one expects. It's a book that sheds light on a mysterious event, yet what happens doesn't seem to hold any surprise.
Sydo Zandstra
95. Fiddler

You have met Dassem, in HoC. He's been Traveling a lot...

@Abalieno, regarding Amanda's comment about the Fisherman:

I commented about that early on. And I think we agree here, but I'm open for discussion :)
Robin Lemley
96. Robin55077
@ Amanda & all others re: The Fisherman
"Alright, the opening scene is very dynamic and all, but what on earth has the Fisherman achieved? All I can tell is that he went out in the sea, sang a bit and was then killed. I will want to see a great deal more from him in the future to make his sections even slightly worthwhile."

I see this group of mages in Malaz City (Fisherman and his wife, Agayla, Obo) as the equvilent of the T'orrud Cabal in Darujhistan (Baruk, Mammot, Derudan, etc.).

There is a simple sentence in one of the books where someone is talking to Crokus and tells him that the T'orrud Cabal are the protectors of Darujhistan, that they have protected Darujhistan for thousands of years, and that although their names occasionally change, they are always a variant of Baruk, Mammot, Derudan, etc. I never saw this to mean that when a mage in the Cabal died a new mage took their place and took a name similar to the mage they were replacing, but rather I saw it as that group of mages led immortally long lives as the protectors of Darujhistan, perhaps as Ascendants, and would occasionally change their names.

Similarly, I have always seen the mage "protectors" of Malaz Island in the battle against the stormriders in that same light. I assumed that the Fisherman, Agayla, Obo, the fisherman's wife, along with others who are now gone, have protected the island from the stormriders for a very, very long time. On that night, the Fisherman did what he had done thousands of times before, however, because of Surly's cull of magic earlier in the year, he did not have the "reserve" power to draw from as he had in the past, and this time, it cost him his life.

As I view it, he knew night was different than all the others when he walked away from his wife that night to take the boat out. I see it that he knew that without the "reserve" magic to aid him, he was most likely going to fail that night. However, he also knew that he would die trying to do what he could to protect the island from the stormriders, and that is what he did. As it turns out, he did not die in vain. As Fiddler already stated, the Fisherman bought enough time for Agayla to procure the aid of an additional mage and through that help they were able to repell the stormriders. So, although the Fisherman died, he did accomplish his mission, and Malaz Island was once more saved from the stormriders.
Steven Halter
98. stevenhalter
Robin@96:I like that--seems to cover many of the bases for Fisherman's sacrifice.
Robin Lemley
99. Robin55077
@ 98. Shalter.

Thanks! I hate when I post something like "there is a line in one of the books" but for the life of me I cannot remember where it is, or who said it. I do know it is there! Just cannot remember where. LOL

Perhaps this is one of the drawbacks from reading the books so many times, or from sometimes reading them out of order. Or perhaps it is simply old age as I am only a couple of years from the big 50? Either way, it bothers me when I cannot provide a reference point to a comment but in this instance, I couldn't help it. I don't remember who told Crokus this, when they told him, or any of the events surrounding said telling. I only remember that someone told him. Ahhh, it sucks when the memory starts going!
Robin Lemley
100. Robin55077
@ 99

For some reason, I get a little hint of a thought that it may have been Spite who made mention of the Cabal to Crokus but that seems like way to late in the series to me so I don't think that is correct.
Steven Halter
101. stevenhalter
Robin@100: We'll have to watch for it as we go (unless someone happens to remember). I don't recall a location for it myself.
Steven Halter
102. stevenhalter
Darkul@89:Temper is certainly not a DEM. I also don't see him as overpowered. He has been a member of Dassem's Sword for some time. I would expect him to be quite skilled. Also, given the events of the night, he is one of the lesser 'powers' present.
Hugh Arai
104. HArai
shalter@102: It seems some people feel that "anything introduced I didn't predict" = DEM. It's puzzling, but it seems to come up over and over in this re-read. I find it bizarre considering the re-read has only covered SE's first book and ICE's first book, but there it is.
Robin Lemley
105. Robin55077
@ 104. HArai

I think perhaps sometimes people find what they "expect" to find. A lot of writers make frequent use of DEM's and I think when readers first come to Erikson's books they expect more of the same. If a reader is speeding through one of these books, events may first appear a bit DEMish, however, upon careful reading and seeing the subtlety that Erikson uses in setting up some of the scenes, that's not the case. Until the reader gets used to Erikson's writing style though, and gets used to looking for all the ohhh so subtle clues, these events will appear as DEMs.

Also, since this re-read covers not just the current book but "series-wide themes" it is probably not all that unusual that the subject of DEM pops up from time to time.

Robin Lemley
106. Robin55077
@ Amanda
"I had an odd moment of not being able to make clear the following quote—anyone fancy helping?

Across the lines mixed Gral, Debrahl and Tregyn of the Y’Ghatan guard rode back and forth... "

I would add to Bill's post that not only were the Gral, Debrahi, and Tregyn three tribes inhabiting Seven Cities, they were also generally known to be enimies of each other. For example, everyone in Seven Cities pretty much hated/feared the Gral. For me, the significant part of that line was that these three tribes were fighting together as part of the Y'Ghatan guard.

When I read it, I felt that that was the point Temper was making when he told us this. That Temper was pointing out that these three long-time enemy tribes had "mixed" together as a unit. That the enemy tribes had set aside their differences to fight a common enemy, the Malazans.
Mieneke van der Salm
107. Mieneke
Thanks. Most of the memories of the books being GotM are really hazy as it's been years, so I'd forgotten that!
108. darkul
@102-105 shalter+rest:
My statement had nothing to do with the usual explaination what a DEM is. Temper is a character who was needed to recapitulate the events of that single night, being an antipole to Kiska and to show much more of Dassem's history. That is just a usual way to tell a story. The man, right time, right place you could say, with the right history, maybe coincidence, maybe higher scheming by whoever, maybe just the author who had no other way to do it and of course the experienced antipole to naive Kiska. I don't know if there is another term to explain Temper. This is why I called him OVER-THE-TOP-DEM. Not DEM. Missing the right term there. Some of you specialists should know what I mean.

Btw, I have the feeling that most of us think of the scheming of those protagonists, be they gods or mundane beings, in a far too restricted way. Quick Ben for example. It is obvious that he is almost able to scheme over more than two or three big events. Yeah, sure, the insight and experience of x characters in him. I think that Rake knows almost exactly what happens in the future. Maybe that is due to his thousands of years of experience but I doubt it. The gods for sure are playing multilayer chess, have much overview, though they seem always not capable of see so far. Aren't they able to observe important players, find out who of those mundane ones/old "heroes" (f.e. Silchas) could intervene? Why always dealing if there is the other way: kill them all once and for all?
I don't have the Chainings in my mind in this case when I talk of the grand scheme of the books.

Overpowered? If a human being, even if he is part of the Sword, is able to escape the grip of an Azath I have to assume that he is very very very strong or ascendant or has help from a more powerful "thing"/person or that a vow made him inhumanly godlike. Pulled under the earth, hitting blindly on those thousand branches and roots and what not, hm. Ever tried to move yourself if there is sand all around you? That seems harder to manage than to kill Anomander Rake. Either the other happenings around the Deadhouse this evening distracted or weakened it extremely or Temper is not only human, hm, or the Azath did just let him go to fulfil his purpose?
Temper is ... too strong. Seems to be a Hulk without becoming green. Temper ;)

Don't misunderstand me. I just want to provoke a little bit. I love those books. Best in fantasy I've ever read. Without doubt.
109. darkul
And I'm almost sure: there are no important DEMs in TMBotF and addon stories.
Steven Halter
110. stevenhalter
darkul@108:Please put a spoiler warning before your second to last paragraph--we haven't gotten there yet.
Steven Halter
111. stevenhalter
darkul@108:From a charaterization point of view, Temper is serving as a flashback vehicle to describe the events at the siege of Y'Ghatan. Since the particular events there are not well known, the character describing them pretty much has to have been one who was directly involved. For a flashback to be integrated into the story, it is generally most effective if it comes from the point of view of a main character. So, that's where that portion of the story comes from with regard to Temper. I'm not sure if there's a particular phrase for that more specific than flashback.
We can talk more about the other things that happen to Temper as we get to them (only two more chapters, so we'll get there pretty quickly :-)).
112. darkul
Ah sorry, forgot my head this morning!
113. darkul
flashback vehicle sounds good. As you say we have much to discuss about Temper in the next chapters.
Sorry for the spoiler again. Little accident. Deep in thoughts and so, you know :)
Could be thatI repeat the questions/doubts in a few days.
Thomas Jeffries
114. thomstel
Been out of the loop for a week, sorry for jumping in cold, but:


re: Dassem; how much of a threat to Laseen is he?
Keep in mind that even only this far in the series, it's pretty clear that the citizens and powers within the Empire are all distinctly aware that Kell is very much a mad genius, with the drive and ability to expand the Empire, but lacking in the soft skills when dealing with others. This doesn't get any better, and even when the Old Guard interact with him/mention him, it's with a level of distaste that really makes you wonder how they ever were "family" enough to start the whole Empire to begin with sometimes.

Dassem, on the other hand, we've not had as many references to so far. But when we do get them, you'll note that much of the Malazan military strategy revolves around empowering the individual soldier to a degree that adaptability and free-thinking are praise-worthy. Dassem is the prime reason for that. Even the glimpse of Temper's thought processes during the flashbacks indicate strongly that Dassem himself is "loved", despite Laseen's hardcore Claws, Dancer's Talons and mad old Kellanved.

A threat to Laseen's stability as Empress? Sure was. Probably the #1 threat at the time of the Y'Ghatan siege.

re: Temper "anonymity"
For his longevity (aka, why doesn't Laseen snuff him with the Claws if she knows where he is), think about it like this: If you have a groundhog that is digging into the side of your house, you call the exterminator. If you have a groundhog that lives in the field out back, 100 yards from your house, you keep an eye on it and make sure it's not doing any harm, but otherwise you leave it be.

I see Laseen's apathetic stance on Temper to be similar. She knows he's on Malaz Island, knows he signed up to be a normal guardsman, and knows that he knows that Dassem and Ferrule survived her attempt on them at Y'Ghatan. He's not causing a stir, so she lets it be.
115. MDW
@101 Shalter, 103 Robin

We'll be waiting a long time because that scene is in the middle of Bonehunters. The lost & lonely are checking out an abandoned temple when the Soldier of Death drops in just long enough to make several cryptic comments.
There's sure to be a lot of discussion about it since it is full of interesting hints about the history of Darujhistan and the Seguleh.
Steven Halter
116. stevenhalter
@MDW: Thanks for the novel -- Robin its around page 132 of the Bonehunters.
An interesting passage as MDW says. I'd forgotten the context.
Steven Halter
117. stevenhalter
re Temper, Dassem, Surly and info in general:
It is fairly amazing how many different pieces of information there are scattered about in all of these books. No particular piece of information is crucial to have before you get to it, but once you come upon it, sometimes they click in place and sometimes they dislodge things you thought were already in place.
And, of course, there are several key books that (almost) none of us have seen yet. It will be interesting where our theories end up.
Even when we have all of the books in hand, I suspect there will be aspects of ambiguity so we can have a jolly discussion at the end. ;-)
Robin Lemley
118. Robin55077
@ 115. MDW

Thanks for the reference! You are the BEST. I knew it was definitely there somewhere but couldn't for the life of me remember where. favorite book in the series to date....I somehow feel a little disloyal for not remembering that it was in Bonehunters. :-)

@ 116. Shalter

Thanks for the page reference. Provided a starting point for me to look it up. If anyone else is looking for it, it is on page 192 in the US Tor MMPB.

Thanks so much to both of you for helping me out on this! I knew I wasn't crazy. LOL
Hugh Arai
119. HArai
darkul@108: I think I understand what you mean, and yes there does seem to be a lot to Temper. The biggest feat we've seen in the chapters so far is probably stonewalling Surgen, something that apparently surprised Temper and awed most of the people at Y'Ghatan. I'm not claiming he's just some average grunt. He's apparently able to endure things people just aren't supposed to be able to endure. I simply object to calling him a DEM because he isn't "a plot device whereby a seemingly inextricable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new character, ability, or object. " Introducing Temper abruptly solved exactly 0 inextricable problems. I'd object to calling him a newt for much the same reason.
Robin Lemley
120. Robin55077
@ Everyone who posted/helped out on my Surly/Temper/Dassem question.

A great big THANK YOU to all of you!!!

I assumed when I posted the question that there was something that I was obviously missing. I realize now that there was no one big blazing thing that I missed but probably several very minute ones that, when added together, resulted in my misunderstanding of Surly's motivations and how I expected her to react to certain situations.

When I made my initial post, I suspected that maybe Erikson's and Cam's views of Surly were perhaps not the same. I could not help but believe that if Erikson had been writing NoK, Surly would have been much more "involved" in the fact that Temper was there that night of all nights. I saw Surly as emotional, rather than logical; reactive, rather than proactive. Based on that, I could not understand her indifference to Temper being in Malaz City on the Night of Knives.

I now believe that it was probably my personal view of Surly and her motivations that was skewed. I misunderstood the character and, having done so, had no chance of finding the reaction I was expecting from the character in this situation.

Once again, thanks to everyone for your time and help on this. It wasn't a waste of time...we are up to 120 posts for this week and no one was mean or ugly in a single one of them!

Steven Halter
121. stevenhalter
@Robin: Sadly (for Surly) I think she does think she is acting logically and in the best interests of the empire. As SE said, 'she's only human and makes mistakes with the best of them.'

--And yes, this week's discussion has gone quite well :-)
Robin Lemley
122. Robin55077
@ 121. Shalter

Yes. I never see her as some power-hungry tyrant. I think she does want what is best for the empire. However, because as I see her she usually reacts to a situation from the gut, rather than from the brain, those spur-of-the-moment decisions tend to be the worst possible decisions which create more problems than they resolve in the long run. She tends to rush into the "quick fix" when she would be much better off taking a bit of time to think things through,or even consulting with an advisor or two, to find a better solution.

The lack of direct pov's from Surly, or even the fact that there are very few pov's even about her from other characters, makes her probably the most difficult character in the series for me to understand. That is one of my goals with this re-read, to try to come away with a better understanding of Surly/Laseen.
Gerd K
123. Kah-thurak
Relativly to her importance to the series, I think the character we know and understand the least is Tavore, not Laseen.

But it is true that we do not know much about her and the results of her actions dont speak in her favour. At the end of RotCG it seems hard to imagine a greater desaster for her or the empire.
Steven Halter
124. stevenhalter
Robin@122:Understanding Laseen is one of my goals also. As you say, we never get her point of view and seldom directly see her.
Thomas Jeffries
125. thomstel
Re: Laseen

The biggest issue I have with understanding Laseen is that whenever she's shown on-screen, she projects confidence and competence. However, often when some other character cites her as the reason/catalyst for a particular plan (releasing the Jaghut, hunting Sorry, killing Old Guard, etc.), as a reader I'm left wondering what her master plan really is, and how she can be so direct and clear with her direct reports/enemies in person, but so absolutely abysmal in long-term planning.

Although, I suppose I know some people in real life that are fine in person, but do really stupid things thinking they're infallible.

I'll be curious to see how much additional info we get from Tavore in tCG. I'm really hoping there's enough pieces to put together that will allow us a glimpse into the original Laseen/Tavore relationship, how the "night of the Claw" on Malaz Island turned that relationship (if it did), and how Tavore set out on the path that she then took with the Bonehunters.

I think if we get some information on that (finally), we'll be able to see more of Laseen's strategy regarding more recent events.
Steven Halter
127. stevenhalter
thomstel@125:I wonder if Laseen suffers from:

http:// wiki/ Dunning-Kruger_effect

with respect to managing the empire.
It will be interesting to see how (if) TCG ties these things together.
Robin Lemley
128. Robin55077

Sounds like Surly's picture could be right there beside that definition!
Tricia Irish
129. Tektonica

I have much less of a sense of Surly/Laseen....through HoC anyway. While we get no direct pov from Tavore, she is on screen more, and we get to see her "in action", which gives hints as to her personality, if not an overall imperial plan. YMMV.

I'm hoping that, somewhere along the line, I'll get to know more about Kell, Dancer, Daseem, Surly, etc. pre-GotM. ???

I've really enjoyed reading the thread this week...good discussion! Sorry I've been distracted with the new WoT release. I miss Malazan. ;-( I'm looking forward to getting back in this game.
Robin Lemley
130. Robin55077
@ Tek

Although I'm not reading WoT, I can imagine. I know I won't be logging on here the day TCD is released. LOL

Hugh Arai
131. HArai
Tektonica@129: Just do both like me. Sleep and food are overrated :)
Gerd K
132. Kah-thurak
Hm... for House of Chains that may be true, but later in the series Tavore does a lot of important things for which we do not get to know the reasons.

Background informations on Kellanved and his "friends" are pretty rare. Some "resurface" later in the books, but they do not reveal very much of their past.

As for Towers of Midnight: I read that book in ~12-15 hours spread over 3 days ;-)
133. Noahlaskjnflasn
Just for information. This drove me crazy. In the first US edition, chapter 4 (chapter four) is labeled chapter five.
Alex P. W.
134. Alex_W
Chapter 4

As opposed to Amanda, I liked the final fisherman scene. A great image it is. Even so, I found it sad at the same time.

And as opposed to Bill I enjoyed every single battlescene in this Chapter. In my opinion, Mr. Esslemont did quite a good job there.

I love this Temper-fellow more and more. Even though I still have some problems with his motivations here and, as Robin here, don't understand really, why he is hiding so poorly. Uses his name he used as a Sword, running about with this helmet of his. Well only explanation might be, it's not really a real hiding. May be somehow unconciously he wants to be back in the fray again, back to his roots as a sword. Other than that, I can not come up with an explanation. But boy, i found it great knowing, that as a member of the sword, he was and probably still ist one of the most skilled swordsman the Empire ould come up with. Great stuff.

It was nice to see this Daseem in action. Probably unmatched as a swordsman he is. It would be interesting to see a one on one fight between him and Dancer. Now there I would like to be a spectator :-)

Only thing that seemed a little strange to me, was the Awakening of Dassem in such a strange way. Well, that remains a mistery to me. But maybe I can figure that one out, when I have read more books into this series? I don't know.

For me the best chapter of this book so far. I acually like the book too. Don't think it's a lot worse then GotM, like some people state. And beeing a first timer, it still provides enough misteries for me :-).

Good night.

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