Nov 10 2010 1:02pm
The Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Night of Knives, Chapter 5

Night of Knives by Ian C. EsslemontWelcome to the Malazan Re-read of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapter 5 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 Five


Dancer reveals himself to Artan, and thus reveals Artan to be Tayschrenn. Tayschrenn says he is in Malaz and the Hold out of “concern for the Empire,” a stance he calls “long-term” and which Dancer refers to as “the worn conceit for neutrality” and Tayschreen serving himself rather than the long term. Before leaving, Dancer identifies Kiska as someone of “talent” and then warns Tayschrenn to stay where he is, as anyone upstairs would be considered a “participant.” As they wait, Tayschrenn asks Kiska about herself. Kiska says she began her apprenticeship when Agayla caught her trying to break into Agayla’s shop. Tayschrenn refers to Agayla as a “colleague” whom he knows more by reputation than personally. Tayshrenn wonders aloud about what’s to come, thinking Surly had set the trap but Kellanved had perhaps set it himself long ago for her, which Tayschrenn assumes Surly knows but neither she nor Kellanved can avoid. Oleg’s message seems to indicate suicide for Kellanved and Dancer, Tayschrenn believes, but he can’t imagine either accepting that. Their conversation is interrupted by the sound of Kellanved walking with his cane above them. After a feeling of immense pressure and a long silence, there’s a sudden impact above, a clatter, a “roar of rage,” followed by a women’s scream of “frustration and venom.” Tayschrenn, Hattar, and Kiska head upstairs.


Upstairs they enter a room filled with corpses. Surly sits in a chair while the Claw Possum wraps her wounded hand. The floor is covered with red powder. One corpse is Ash, who wounded Surly with acid. Kellanved’s cane is lying on the ground before the balcony, from which another Claw—Topper—enters, wounded as well. Surly indicates Kellanved and Dancer went over the balcony and tells the wounded Claw to organize a search party for the bodies. Tayschrenn tries to say Surly can’t be sure, but she interrupts that she is certain enough and it is “over and done.” Tayschrenn says he came to Malaz for a different reason than these events, which enrages Surly. She says she will take the throne and a new name. Tayschrenn acknowledges her as Empress, though Kiska says she can’t tell if it is sincere or mocking. Tayschrenn dismisses Hattar and Kiska so he and Surly can discuss matters.


Kiska asks what the red powder was and Hattar tells her it was otataral, which deadened magic use in the room. She asks Hattar what he has against her and he dismisses her, saying he lost three good friends and she has little to do with his mood. The two fall asleep.


Temper meets his two earlier Cultist escorts at the exit. One mocks him, Temper clouts him on the head, and when the Cultist pulls a knife on him, Temper takes it away and stabs the Cultist with it.


Temper is escorted to the Deadhouse where the line between worlds is seemingly blurred. On the grounds of the Deadhouse, the ground is heaving and the tree branches twisting. The Cultist leader, Pralt tells him they are on/in a “bridge” or “midway stage” between their world and Shadow. Pralt says they will make an assault on the House, which will be defended by all those who tried and failed (which he says would be all of them) to do the same. When Temper says they can’t win, Pralt says they’re only a diversion/bait, which is all Temper, the Sword, and Dassem always were. Before Pralt, another Cultist named Jasmine, and Temper can enter through the gate leading to the grounds, Faro Balkat and Trenech tell them to stop. Faro asks Pralt not to do this because they will “weaken the barriers” and then tells Temper if he goes in he won’t come out. Once they enter the grounds, Pralt and Jasmine disappear and Temper is alone while Trenech guards the gate with Faro, then Pralt and Jasmine behind him. The House door opens and out comes a giant.


Obo and Agayla are atop a rocky point and are met by Tayschrenn, whom Obo doesn’t like because he has “the stink of the worm.” But Agalya says Tayschrenn is free of all bindings. Tayschrenn says, pointing to the south and the stormriders, that it was worse than he’d imagined. Agayla says she and Obo are masking most of it from the island and then agrees when Tayschrenn suggests they’re losing. When Tayschrenn asks what had held it back prior, Agayla answers that he (referring to the Fisherman) had been overcome. Tayschrenn finds it hard to believe it could have been one man, unless it were Osserc, but Agayla says there are other ancient powers and implies Fisherman was one, but had been too diminished by Surly’s campaign against magic as he had little talent to draw upon. When Tayschrenn defends Surly, saying she couldn’t have known, Obo scoffs angrily and Tayschrenn admits he had a sense of unease at it but didn’t think it would be so dangerous and thought if he had tried to stop Surly she would have suspected him of conspiring with Kellanved. Agayla wonders when Tayschrenn will learn wisdom and give up politics. Tayschrenn says it’s an odd way to ask for his help and Agayla says they may not want his help, as if they fall then Tayschrenn will have to commit himself. Tayschrenn says he would step aside, despite the loss of life. Agayla (whom Tayschrenn labels a Power, along with Obo as well) meets his gaze and seems to show him the reality of what they’re facing. He sees a curtain of energy and a mass of “otherworldly ice.” Agayla says if Malaz falls, the Stormriders would dominate the seas, but more worrisome is the idea that they are after the House. At that fearful thought, Tayschrenn agrees to fully commit his strength.


Kiska wakes to find Corinn hovering over her, Lubben in the doorway, and Hattar gone. Corinn says Kiska was under a light ward but that Kiska had broken it herself, showing surprising resistance. Kiska tells them Surly won and Ash was dead, that Surly said Kellanved and Dancer fell to their deaths to the cliffs from the balcony. Lubben and Corinn look skeptical and Kiska starts to wonder herself. Corinn says there’s a big disturbance among the warrens and Kiska says it has to do with the Deadhouse probably. Corinn figures the Hold’s events were a diversion and that she and Lubben should go there. Kiska worms her way in by relating what Oleg had told her. Corinn takes Lubben and Kiska into her warren (Thyr, the Path of Light) to travel to the Deadhouse. Kiska sees it as a hall of mirrors, each reflecting a different image of her. Corinn says Kiska is a natural and the images are possibilities. Kiska regrets not learning more of magery from Agayla and when she thinks of her she sees an image of her on the shore. Agayla tells her “not now.” Corinn disappears and Kiska finds herself in Shadow again.


Kiska appears before a crystal outcropping that seemed to draw her in. Edgewalker steps in to save her. Looking away she sees a massive glacier. She asks about the crystal and the glacier and Edgewalker informs her the crystal is Shadow House (the heart of Shadow) and the glacier is alien but rumor says the Jaghut accidentally allowed it into the world when they used their ice-magic. When Kiska asks why he isn’t trying to stop Kellanved (“a madman”) from taking the throne, Edgewalker says the glacier is the more deadly threat and if those resisting it continue to weaken it may break through. He says she must go back and suddenly she’s in fog where she’s attacked by a cultist. Kiska kills the cultist. A Hound is in the mist and Kiska charges it but stumbles out into the area outside the Deadhouse.


Temper faces the Jaghut that just exited the Deadhouse. Temper heads to the gate but Trenech and Faro bar his way while the Cultists spread out the length of the low wall bounding the grounds. Before Temper can try to jump the wall, corpses suddenly tear free from the ground between the path and the walls while branches swing and warren power covers the walls. The Jaghut heads to the gate after knocking Temper aside. Temper starts to crawl toward a wall with hands grabbing him. He sees one cultist get grabbed from out beyond the wall, pulled into the grounds, and dragged underground. Before Temper can jump the wall, he’s knocked back down by a suddenly-appearing Claw (Possum) as a full-battle breaks out as some Cultists and Claws fight each other, Faro and Trenech fight the Jaguhut at the gate, and some Claws and Cultists fight together against the dead trying to escape over the walls. Temper is grabbed by a root and as he tries to struggle free he watches Cultists start to retreat and Claws take over outside the walls. Temper struggles against the tree trying to drag him under.


Kiska comes to her senses with Oleg standing over her. She’s outside the rear wall of the Deadhouse grounds. Oleg is frantic over Kellanved so far escaping the Deadhouse defenses. He asks Kiska if Edgewalker is going to do anything about it and she says no. Oleg jumps over the wall and attacks Kellanved with warren magic. Something emerges from a mound and grabs Kellanved and begins to drag him to the mound as Oleg yells in triumph. Then Dancer appears and tosses Oleg onto Kellanved and his attacker. Dancer pulls Kellanved free and the two make it to the House while Oleg is dragged into the mound by the creature. Dancer enters the House and then Kellanved seems to compel Kiska forward. As she steps onto the wall she is jolted by a spark and falls back as the wall is struck with force and flame. Kellanved enters the House. Kiska runs to the front. She sees Faro and Trenech fighting the Jaghut and watches as a young Cultist is dragged in over the wall by an armored hand. Then the owner of the hand appears (Temper) and falls over the wall on her side, holding a tree branch. She sees Tayschrenn and Hattar coming out of the fog toward the gate, with Tayschrenn appearing exhausted. Tayschrenn tells her the Claw is finishing killing the Cultists and Kiska informs him of Dancer and Kellanved making it into the House. Tayschrenn impresses on her how she must be in error as he and Surly have agreed the two are dead. Tayschrenn says he needs to speak to the Guardian (Faro). As they talk, a Cultist kills Trenech and the Jaghut attacks the gate. Faro and Tayschrenn use their warren magic to hold it off and Hattar runs into the blinding energy and pulls Tayschrenn out hurt. He tells her they have to find the nearest healer and Kiska takes the lead.


Lubben and Corinn find Temper. They want to leave but Temper says they have to stop the Jaghut. Faro suddenly comes out of the warren energy at the gate, seeming a blackened, burnt to the bone corpse. But Faro speaks and tells Temper to step into the gap and “Receive the Guardianship.” Temper agrees. Temper tells Corinn to shied him from the warren energy so he can get into the gate. He and Lubben go through to face the Jaghut. The Jaghut badly wounds Lubben then she and Temper fight for a while. Temper realizes he and the Jaghut were alone and the House had become a pile of “megalithic blocks.” The constellations are strange overhead and he sees a glacier at the horizon. The Jaghut tells him “they’ve failed.” and identifies herself as Jhenna, telling him the Jaghut raised humans up from “the muck,” gave them fire, and shielded them from the K’Chain. She then says name his price to stand aside and she will give him riches, impossibly long-life, power. Temper refuses to be bought. She tells him she has brought them to her warren, Omtose Phellack, and that time does not pass there. Edgewalker appears and tosses a Stormrider wand to the ground, then announces that the riders have been beaten back, the Shadow Cult defeated, and that he himself will bar her way into Shadow if she tries that way. Jhenna tells Temper if he stands aside then Edgewalker must take his place. Edgewalker says that only applies to Shadow; all other paths would be available to her. Jhenna then tries to bribe Temper with news that Dassem lives and she could bring Temper to him. Edgewalker warns Temper of the ice and Temper realizes while Jhenna has been talking he’s been partially encased in ice. Jhenna attacks and Temper holds her off long enough for the House to reclaim her. She is dragged into the earth and Temper appears back at dawn at the regular Deadhouse with Corinn and Lubben there.

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Five

Well, given that this is the penultimate chapter, I can see me rambling on at length this week...

A soft laugh echoed all around the room; it whispered from every shadow.

Dancer seriously gives me the creeps—he is a dangerous individual. In these first couple of pages, we also receive confirmation that the deck of Dragons is connected to use of Warrens, when Kiska thinks about her Aunt.

Tay? Surely not Tay, as in Tayschrenn? Imperial High Mage, greatest of all talents aligned with the Empire!

Okay, this makes me frown. I have no real idea whether this is true, but it occurs to me that Tay might be a relatively common name—certainly doesn’t immediately mean that it is Tayschrenn! I don’t know why Kiska believes immediately that she is with Tayschrenn—has Artan shown many mage-like abilities?

The baiting between Dancer and Tayschrenn seems to follow a familiar path, as though this is something they have partaken in before. Here is the first hints from Tayschrenn of the character we encountered in Gardens of the Moon—stubborn, dutiful and looking out for himself.

He turned and walked away, through the door and around the corner, as if to ascend the stairs.

*chortles* Everytime I see the word “ascend” in this series now, it just jumps out at me—especially when used about Dancer!

WHO on earth said that Tayschrenn was greater in power “than the Emperor himself”? How can that be considering Kellanved’s talents? I never believed Tayschrenn to be all that powerful in GotM—certainly I saw Tattersail as being better than him. Am I just confused here?

Oh, I do love this:

“The Malazan way,” he breathed. “The murderer’s touch. A brush of cloth. A sip of wine. The gleam of a blade as fine as a snake’s tooth. Your name whispered just as you fall into sleep.”

After not really enjoying Tayschrenn in Gardens of the Moon, I’m finding myself disarmed by the charm of the descriptions that Esslemont employs:

He grinned and Kiska suddenly couldn’t be sure of his age. His guarded features bespoke a life-time of watchfulness and calculation. The laugh and smile melted decades from the man.

I don’t know if it was intentional for Esslemont to show a different side to Tayschrenn than Erikson did—or whether Esslemont felt that the character needed a more sympathetic side?

I can see why Tayschrenn is puzzled by what exactly is occurring between Surly, and Kellanved and Dancer! His explanation doesn’t make too much sense, when you consider the way he says that Kellanved picked the time and place long ago. How did he pick it? Why did he pick it? I guess the latter can be answered by the Shadow Moon that is happening this night. It gives further weight to the idea that—although deemed insane by many—Kellanved has had the ambition and power to create these far-reaching plans. Also funny to realise that they have been working a long time to achieve this, but we’ve already seen (in GotM) Dancer discard a plan easily that was no longer to his benefit.

Hmm, this first impact of Kellanved reminds me (for those who have watched it) of the movie Serenity when the Reavers ship passes by close to them, and they have to wait breathlessly to see whether they are noticed at all. I would not want to bring myself to his notice, personally!

Hattar’s behaviour makes me curious as to who/what he is when he refuses Tayschrenn’s commands. I mean, Tayschrenn is supposed to be this hotshot mage with power to spare and yet his bodyguard won’t obey his simplest commands. What is going on here?

She felt as though she’d been inducted into the magus’s bodyguard. And come what may, she suddenly realised, she’d do her best to honour that trust.

So, why has Tayschrenn decided to babysit a young girl as he goes to investigate the results of the fight between Surly, and Kellanved and Dancer? Why does Kiska believe that she has anything more to offer a hugely powerful mage and a hardened bodyguard? Why IS Tayschrenn so different in this novel than in the previous one I read?

Hah, I didn’t realise that Surly was a small woman—is she suffering like Napolean did from being short and trying to make up for it?! *grins* She has such a towering presence in the novels that I didn’t imagine her being short somehow.

Hmm, why is Surly so determined to believe that she has destroyed Kellanved and Dancer? She knows them, knows their skills, and it seems strange that she would be so convinced:

“Absolutely. It is over and done. Finished.”

We briefly discussed the importance of names while re-reading Gardens of the Moon, and here we have another example of the fact that names are deemed to be essential to a person’s place and standing:

“I am Imperial Regent no longer. I will take the Throne, and my new name to rule it by.”

And again an echo of something we’ve become familiar with—the different warring factions within the Malazan leaders. Here we see it from Kiska’s wide-eyed perspective:

There was open dislike here between Tayschrenn and these pet servants of the throne. Kiska wondered how such a meeting would have developed years ago, with Kellanved and Dancer also present. Likely a nest of vipers.

Another example of Kiska’s youth and inexperience here, and one that has me curling my lip. The new pre-eminent person of the Malazan Empire, and one of her top mages, are about to have a conversation and Kiska is dismayed that Tayschrenn doesn’t include her or stop his talk to bid her farewell? I also snicker a little bit at the fact she was so determined to pledge her loyalty to him and he has dismissed her. Yeah, I don’t like Kiska. I also am fed up of her believing that everything is about her when she asks why Hattar is fed up with her.

Ick, yes, I followed what people said about the poor proof reading done on Night of Knives and now I’ve had my own experience of being jarred from the narrative. What is wrong with this sentence?

“You talk to much to worry me, boy.”

I also know this is not the fault of Esslemont, but there are one too many errors in this novel.

And I’m also getting bored at Temper’s fighting style of grabbing people’s necks.

Again I’m appreciative of the way the Esslemont injects an element of horror to his writing—here, the grounds of the Deadhouse are truly terrifying, with the jerking trees and the heaving earth.

I’m intrigued by the information we’re given about the Deadhouse, since it is another Azath (I believe). We find out that it may be a gateway or an entity in its own right, and all those who fail to master it become slaves to its defence. Hmm, that sort of reminds me of Dragnipur as well—all the harvested souls become part of the sword.

Interesting perspective as well on the role performed by Dassem and the Sword:

Called himself the army’s lightning rod.

WHO are Faro and Trenech? What are their roles? And what are the confines that Pralt speaks of? Faro recognises Pralt as connected to shadow, and Pralt clearly knows Faro and Trenech in turn...

Argh, hate that Temper has been betrayed by Dancer! That’ll bring back bad memories of Y’Ghatan for sure. Temper must really quite like Corinn more than I realised to have accepted Dancer’s task in return for her life? He must have suspected that Dancer was going to betray him in some way, or that he would be in extreme danger...

What does “the stink of the Worm” mean, with regards to Tayschrenn?

More hints about both Tayschrenn’s ambitions and the fact that Ascendancy is something many are attaining, in a variety of ways!

“You, above all, should know there are ancient powers, those that see past your and Kellanved’s empire-building as just another pass of season. The paths to Ascendancy are far more varied than you imagine.”

The Tayschrenn talking to Obo and Agayla is definitely more like the Tayschrenn I have already seen! Trying to buck responsibility for the fact that Surly campaigned against magery while he was aware that it might well have far-reaching consequences. He’s definitely a slippery customer!

I think I need to remember that Tayschrenn here is much younger than the man we see in GotM—Agayla’s words about him seem most prophetic:

“Poor Tayschrenn. One day you will wake up and abandon this petty politicking and manoeuvring. It will burn you so many times, and you will scald so many others before you discover wisdom.”

Ah! Now I know why they referred to Tay as the Worm! He was once the plaything of D’rek, the Worm of Autumn... And I guess this is why Agayla mentions the fact that there is no binding on him anymore?

These Stormriders.... All the major powers in this novel are terrified of them, and freaked that Malaz Isle will no longer prove to be an effective barrier to them. And now the suggestion that they could take over Shadow through the Deadhouse... I guess this is why Kiska saw the glacier in the realm of Shadow. It’s strange to see something so powerful and feared in this novel, that was not even touched upon in Gardens of the Moon.

A few heavy-handed mentions of Kiska’s innate mage talents—I confess to preferring it when she was shivering at the touch of a Warren, rather than being told bluntly that she has unusual resistance to sleep wards. I like the subtle.

Ah, some character development from Kiska at last! Here she realises that her youthful pig-headed stubbornness over being taught the arcane was a mistake and resolves to change this with Agayla if she survives the night. I like that sort of development.

The Shadow House, the Heart of Shadow, is very interesting—is this where the Deadhouse emerges on the night of the Shadow Moon? I like the hint of humour from Edgewalker, as well, when he says that it seems to be his job to send Kiska back to her own time and place.

Hmm, I’m having a thought right now—and not sure how correct it is. Now... Edgewalker says that the glacier invading Shadow Realm has the taste of Jaghut to it—only not quite. As I recall, we’ve spoken about some of the Elder races and the Elder magic they use (such as Omtose Phellack) and I’m wondering if the Stormriders are another of these Elder races?

My word! The idea of Kellanved taking the throne of Shadow is the lesser evil compared to the intrusion of ice on Shadow Realm?!

I don’t recall—is the cultist the first person Kiska has killed? Shouldn’t she have some reaction to having killed somebody?

The tree which captures Temper—definitely no friendly Ent, that one! Thanks to Lord of the Rings, I always sort of assume that trees will be on the side of good, don’t you?

Now I do like the sequence of events seen through Kiska’s eyes—the attempt of Oleg to prevent Kellanved and Dancer stealing the throne; Dancer’s rescue of Kellanved; the fact that Kiska brought herself to the notice of Kellanved. And, amusingly, she is present when Temper managed to drag himself over the wall, and she thinks there is another of those creatures around!

So, since Tayschrenn and Surly would rather that Kellanved and Dancer had died, this is what they will insist has happened—even when confronted by the account of an eye witness. I guess this is part of the transfer of power, and demonstrates that Tayschrenn is certainly not neutral—in this case, he has decided to throw his lot in with the new Empress.

“Kiska,” he said carefully, emphatically, “you must be mistaken, because both Surly and I have agreed that those two are dead and gone.”

It seems as though Faro and Trenech were there only to provide Guardianship against the Deadhouse—am I right there? Part of the Malaz Isle Cabal?

I love the titanic struggle between Temper and the Jaghut—it’s written incredibly well with passages such as:

His fighting calm, the inner peace that had carried him through all the chaos of past battles, settled upon him like an affirmation. He allowed himself a fierce, taut grin.

Concerned about this transfer of Guardianship to Temper! It sounds as though he now has a patron—and is not going to be able to slide back into obscurity as he wished.

Another mention of the K’Chain from Jhenna (again, a nice subversion from Esslemont this time in that the huge and powerful Jaghut was actually a woman)—could it be that the Stormriders are the K’Chain?

It was as if the old ogre himself stood before him, promising Moon’s Spawn itself.

Confirmation that the old ogre is Kellanved—and a strange little reference to the floating home of Anomander Rake. What connection is there between Kellanved and Rake?

Do you know that this book is reminding me a little of the story behind the classical music piece Night on a Bare Mountain? The idea of one man (Temper) being sorely tested by demons and sprites on the night of a witches’ Sabbath. There are also hints of Night of the Long Knives from history. The idea of a night of terror, where it seems as though the dead walk. Very, very atmospheric.

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Five:

I think the leap from Tay to Tayschrenn comes from her knowing he was a high-up in Imperial circles and mixed in with Surly/Dancer/Kellanved as based on the night’s events.

Re: Tayschrenn’s power, we’ll see more of it later on and references to it. But remember that Tayschrenn did go toe to toe with Rake (though Rake did hold back) during the siege at Pale and that takes some serious power. And his reaction/response with Dancer also, therefore, tells you something about Dancer.

We do see a different side of Tayschrenn here, as you mention. And we’ll see more of him in other books. Personally, he is one of the characters I have the least handle on in the series. He’s a bit of a cipher in terms of motivation and even actions, as we get several versions of some of what he does (or doesn’t do). It’s possible I’m forgetting getting some clarity in later books, but I mostly think of him in very unsure terms.

I love that line about the Malazan way as well, and the way he says it “as if sad or regretful.” Though to be honest, “quiet” is only one of the Malazan Ways: throwing entire armies around, blowing stuff up with munitions, leveling walls, wiping out opposition with an army of undead—those are a few other, not quite so silent or poetic, methods.

Kellanved’s long-range plans are famous. Or perhaps infamous. And his seeming ability to plan so far in advance makes a lot of folks nervous, including even the gods.

I like how Agayla’s later conversation with Tayschrenn is set up here with Kiska recalling Agayla’s scorn for politics and her reference to the mage cadre as “clerks.”

Love a good Firefly reference! I really like how Esslemont uses the sound of Kellanved’s cane, and then gives it to us “tap-shush” to introduce his appearance—it’s a great choice. The follow-up, that sense of pressure, is also similar to Rake’s appearance in Baruk’s study early in GoTM. In fact, this whole scene I think is some of Esslemont’s best writing. First of all, to present it as overheard rather than witnessed, which leaves the mystery of what happens but also gets rid of the possibility of not living up to expectations with a scene involving Surly/Dancer/Kellanved (not to mention avoiding serving up yet another fight scene). The use of the cane, the drip of blood from Tayschrenn’s nose, the long silence, the dust coming down, the eardrum pop, and then the scream. It’s all nicely dragged out and great use of sound and small detail to convey suspense and larger events.

I’m not so sure Surly is convinced so much as convincing herself as well as having to put up that sense of certainty for her followers. Otherwise she’s undermined from the very start in declaring herself Empress. Not to mention admitting she may have been outwitted.

I think it says something about Surly as well that the Claw is part of the command structure.

I have to laugh Amanda, at your dislike for Kiska. Of course it’s all about her; she’s a teen! “Not even a goodbye?”—a classic adolescent line. The Emperor himself with his famed partner face off against the new Empress, bodies lying all over the place, the most powerful mage in the Empire having tense moments with the Empress, wounded Claws hanging about, and “what, nobody’s saying goodbye to me?” I actually loved that line. The narcissism of youth!

The Deadhouse/Azath will be one of the most intriguing and important aspects of this universe. Pralt’s musings on what they may or may not be are a good lead into what we’ll see in the future.

What I liked about Pralt’s observations on the Sword being used as bait was Temper’s weary resigned “old man’s” acceptance of that fact:

And they’d all known it too . . . But they hadn’t minded at the time because they were young and believed Dassem couldn’t be beaten by anyone. So what did it matter?

There’s something sad and universal about that, and I think something one can apply to Kiska—that youthful sense of immortality.

Esslemont does a nice job of setting up Temper’s betrayal by having him be suspicious that only six Cultists are before the gate and then their use of sign language he can’t read.

I’m a bit confused on Faro and Trenech, I’ve got to admit. Faro is clearly a Guardian (capital G) as he announces in formalistic fashion to Temper to “accept the Guardianship.” But we’ll see Guardians in other Houses and Faro doesn’t seem to fit that mode, as he’s wandering about outside the House. His use of the plural— "our liking”—places him as part of a group, rather than an example of the solitary Guardians we see in other Houses, it appears to me. In that vein, I’d connect him with a group known as the Nameless Ones, who are associated with the Houses as we’ll see in later books. (I don’t think there’s much spoiler impact with regards to this group.) But that’s pretty speculative on my part. There also seems to be a strong earth-based aspect to the power of the Guardian, as the voice when Faro conscripts Temper seems to come from the ground, as does Temper’s new-found strength that allows him to take on the Jaghut (Burn?) Anyone else?

I have to say, I like Pralt throughout this book. He comes across as respectful and I think sincerely regretful about his betrayal of Temper and his forcing Temper to realize the truth of the Sword’s purpose. Too bad we don’t see more of him.

The “Worm” is the god D’rek—The Worm of Autumn, associated with death and decay. Tayschrenn was a priest of D’rek. (I believe Mammot was as well, and we’ll see another in later books.)

I liked a lot in the conversation between Obo, Agayla, and Tayschrenn. One is the little bit of irony in Agayla’s scolding of Tayschrenn when she tells him “You above all should know there are ancient powers, those that see past your and Kellanved’s empire-building as just another pass of season.” The irony of this is I’d say Kellanved also sees his empire-building as a mere stepping stone or phase and not as all-important a goal as Agayla ascribes to him. BTW—I think that “you above all” is referring to Tayschrenn’s past association with an ancient power—D’rek.

I also liked her more serious scolding with regard to Tayschrenn’s involvement in politics (though again, somewhat ironically, he’s accused and pleads trying not to be involved, at least in the short-term politicking, more concerned with the Empire than Emperors). It also gives a sense of Agayla’s power (or, as Tayschrenn thinks in too blunt a statement for my liking, “Power”). I also enjoyed how she contemptuously brushes aside his insincere ”but, the island . . . thousands of souls,” by pointing out his complicity in the deaths of so many more via the Empire’s expansion.

And c’mon, who doesn’t love Obo’s old grumpy man ending to that scene: “Don’t expect me to get all slobbery.”

I’m with you on Kiska’s little flash of grown-up thought when she realizes what she gave up by rejecting Agayla’s offer to educate her in magic. I thought the line where she thinks how her “stubborn pride turned the failure around until she actually boasted of her ignorance,” showed an especially sharp insight into the adolescent mind. You see this all the time at that age.

It’s a small thing, but I wasn’t such a fan of the hall of mirrors/possible paths Kiska views in Corinn’s Warren. It seemed a bit cliched to me and so arbitrary as to stick out as crafted by the author.

I enjoyed Temper’s battle with the grounds—the dead, the roots, the tree—quite a bit (more so admittedly than the fight with the Jaghut). It was a good mix of horror (the hands bursting out, the tree limbs grabbing), suspense, intensity, and a nice slide in of dark humor with the in-and-out appearance of Possum.

The shift to Kiska’s POV was a good timely move, adding to the suspense of what was going on with Temper while also showing us Kellanved and Dancer’s successful entry (though that scene was a bit anti-climactic I felt). My favorite part was getting Temper’s action from her POV as his hand pulls the young Cultist over the wall then he himself slides over while Kiska wonders if she should just stab this thing that so clearly pulled itself from one of the Deadhouse’s graves.

The battle with the Jaghut was okay for me. As mentioned, I’m not a huge fan in general of epic sword fights drawn out over time. I see the need for them, and this one was pretty well-written as they go; they just don’t do much for me. Part of it too is I never really felt on my original read (or this one obviously) there was really any chance that the Jaghut would escape, so I was basically counting sword strokes until the seemingly inevitable happened.

Yep—that use of “ogre” confirms it’s the Emperor. Still not buying it though :)

I did like Jhenna’s use of the ice to encase Temper and the way Esslemont reveals it line by line. Though I’ve got to say Edgewalker withholding his warning to that moment struck me as a bit of false drama.

The defeat of the Stormriders happening offstage was a bit anti-climactic I thought. I wouldn’t have minded seeing that a bit, or at least, some of the conversation among Tayschrenn, Agayla, and Obo afterward.

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.

Marc Rikmenspoel
1. Marc Rikmenspoel
I found this section incredibly confusing when I read NoK over a year ago. Now, having read DG, MoI and HoC, it all makes a lot more sense. But this helps show how there isn't one ideal place for reading NoK, it makes sense to read it around the time of tB, but it also makes sense to read it before DG, as I did. It's really a matter of assembling the pieces of a puzzle, gradually.
Steven Halter
2. stevenhalter
As Amanda and Bill mention, Kiska shows a couple of bits of growth in this chapter. She realizes its not just about her in the conversation with Hattar and that maybe she should have kept up with her mage lessons.
I wonder if her earlier statement that she wasn't a talent springs from her dislike of the mage lessons. Kind of a--'I didn't just master it right away, so I must not have talent.'
Steven Halter
3. stevenhalter
I liked the part where Tay is exhausted after just talking with Dancer. It really highlights how dangerous Dancer must be.
Steven Halter
4. stevenhalter
I really wanted to see the confrontation between Surly, Dancer and Kel, but I agree that the way it was done was very effective. The whole 'unseen monster' being the most frightening aspect.
Surly has two reactions that I found interesting. Her insistance that Kel and Dancer are dead seems to be both for reassuring the troops and also for herself.
Then, her reaction to Tay's statement that he really came to Malaz for another reason is interesting. Immediate rage that Tay would suggest that her focus was not also Tay's focus seems like a small reveal into her character.
Thomas Jeffries
5. thomstel
And so we come to a moment in the series that I feel is the lynchpin to "what's going on with Kel and Dancer". And of course, we don't get to see any of it; we only get hints and after-the-fact evidence.

- So K/D disappear for some time, and there's some prophetic stuff going on that they'll return, hence the Shadow Cult being in town.
- Laseen and her top Claws make a visit to Malaz Island, presumably because K/D are due back. Her intention seems to be to off them both and assume the position of Empress and her new name officially.
- Tay is in town for some other reason, or at least says that to Surly. Throughout the series we'll see Tay stay completely out of sight when major moments are going down, only to step in when the MOST major of moments demand his attention. After the dust settles, he pops back in and says "hey, still loyal to the Empire here; who's in charge now?" (paraphrased ;)

So with those basic assumptions in place, what the heck is going on?

K/D reappear on schedule, with the immediate plan of getting into the Deadhouse for some reason. Since they'd been "exploring the Azath" or something the whole time they were gone, I'm a little confused as to a) where the heck they came from, and b) why getting back to the Deadhouse guarantees any sort of "success". If they were already in the Azath, they most likely CAME from the Deadhouse to visit Malaz Island, but getting back into the Deadhouse guarantees them the Throne of Shadow somehow? Bwah? They were already in there...

Point of K/D coming back to Malaz? No idea.

Set that aside: on to Surly. Confronts K/D in Mock's Hold with all her best Claw on hand. Tosses otatatal around to prevent magery trumping the physical attacks, still ends up with her Claws dead and K/D escaping out the window. Not a very good plan apparently. Consider that she herself is probably better (assassin-skillset-wise) than the other Claws present means that Dancer just had quite the MoA in that room with Kel's magery offline. After it's all over and Tay pops in for a chat, she makes it clear that K/D are done and not to be spoken of again, despite knowing full well that is not the case. Bwah? Everything is the same as before, K/D gone and Surly left to run the Empire.

Point of Laseen trying to off K/D to take the throne, failing, and then doing it anyway? No idea.

Tay never states his reason for coming to Malaz. Maybe he anticipated the Stormrider situation somehow, maybe he's just lying and really did come back to see the Surly/K/D situation unfold. Either way, he follows the powers as they shake out from the confrontation, and thwarts the Stormriders attempt on the island. Yay. But still bwah?

Reason for Tay to get involved? No idea, but it's good that he did.

With so many unknowns, it's hard to paint a picture that makes sense of the events as the reader is shown them. The one that I lean towards is that everything that occurs is part of a larger long con that the entire Old Guard is pulling, with the Empire just being one step in the grand scheme. I'll swing back in later to try and lay it out, but I'll tell you now, it's a hell of a big con ("let's become Gods so that we can work on what we really want"). Also, it's poked full of little holes throughout the series, where characters who should be in on the whole thing act in ways that don't really jive with them being "in the know".

This chapter has one of the biggest: why would Surly use otataral and really try to kill K/D if it was part of a larger Old Guard plan to have them ascend to the Throne of Shadow via the Deadhouse? Why would Dancer (as the Rope) get honestly angry about the mention/memory of otataral in GotM if that part of things was just part of the bigger plan?
Mieneke van der Salm
6. Mieneke
I like ICE’s writing of Kiska’s reaction to finding out Artan is Tayschrenn. She’s just as starstruck as a regular teenage girl would be at meeting Justin Bieber or Zac Efron.

Tayschrenn seems far more likeable than in GotM. How much of that is Kiska’s adoration of him and how much truth?

I agree with Bill, Kiska’s scene with Hattar is typical adolescent behaviour. It made me chuckle, because she has so much growing up to do!
Chris Hawks
7. SaltManZ
I'm with thomstel about how little is actually explained in this book. I mean, really, the book was practically billed as "the night K&D ascended" and we don't even get to see that, we just get to play catch-up through the eyes of characters who have no idea what's going on.

Somone on the forums put together a theory about how during the Shadow Moon, the Deadhouse and Shadow House overlap, allowing someone entering the Deadhouse to take control of Shadow. It's an interesting thought, and seems to explain a lot.

As for Tayschrenn, remember that most of his appearances in GotM were from the POVs of people who thought he was out to get them, namely Tattersail and the BBs.
Steven Halter
8. stevenhalter

Point of K/D coming back to Malaz? No idea.

This part is because of the 'Shadow Moon'. Basically, at this moment the Shadow realm is touching Malaz (and it seems the Deadhouse). This allows K&D access to the Shadow Realm in a fashion that they would not normally get.K&D are said to have been exploring the Azath in some fashion. We know that they were able to enter at some point. It isn't said where they come from on this shadow night. Going in through the Deadhouse on this particular night seems to be what has to be done.
As to why they didn't just arrive on Malaz and go to the Deadhouse instead of confronting Surly at all--I don't know.
Figuring out just what Kel's plans (and who is in on it) is one of the joys of the series. As you say, sometimes just when I think I'm starting to understand, someone will act in a way that seems to contradict the understanding.
It seems from peoples actions (like Cotillions dislike of otataral) that Surly was really trying to stop K&D.
Marc Rikmenspoel
9. MDW
So, since Tayschrenn and Surly would rather that Kellanved and Dancer had died, this is what they will insist has happened—even when confronted by the account of an eye witness.

I don't see this as Tayschrenn not believing Kiska, but rather a warning that the "official truth" will be that K&D are dead and it would be unwise to go around contradicting that. He might also want to keep Surly from knowing exactly what happened. Unless one of the Claws reported it, she only knows that the bodies were never found. Unless Tayschrenn repeated Oleg's warning when they were chatting out of Kiska's hearing, she might not know about the attempt to take the shadow throne at all. That should keep her nervous! Tayschrenn seems political enough to know the benefit of knowing more than the other players.
Steven Halter
10. stevenhalter
MDW@9:Yes, Tay is very carefully telling Kiska that she couldn't have seen what she did as if she saw it, and the wrong people knew, she would rapidly be dead.
As another sign of growth, Kiska catches on that this is what Tay is saying and stops trying to insist that SHE knows the truth.
Steven Halter
11. stevenhalter
We also get a little more information on the Stormriders. They seem to be the left over effect from a massive Jaghut ritual (I think we can guess which one).
It seems (in this case) that they are also trying to use the Shadow Night to get through to the Shadow Realm. Edgewalker seems quite concerned about this.
All the involved's seem to be assuming the worst.
Rajesh Vaidya
12. Buddhacat
The reason for K&D to stage this elaborate scene was foreshadowed in detail by the way Dassem Ascended. Temper stabs him through the heart - and Dassem wakes up all cured and healthy! Well, that's one path to Ascendancy. It appears that K&D followed a similar path. Getting killed and Ascending. But mere Ascension is not enough for these two - they wanted the Throne of Shadow as well. Thus, the timing - the one night when Shadow manifests in the "Real World" and overlaps with the Deadhouse too. Surly was but a tool towards that end.

There may be a clue here regarding the Azath as well - that if they exist in one realm, they exist in all others (or at least in Shadow).
Steven Halter
13. stevenhalter

The tree which captures Temper—definitely no friendly Ent, that one!

Yes, roots eating his heart and such. It was interesting also in that it seemed from Temper's viewpoint it was one particular (smallish) tree with which he has struggling rather than the Deadhouse as a whole.
Steven Halter
14. stevenhalter
Jhenna the Jaghut emerges from the Deadhouse rather than from the grounds of the Deadhouse.
During the fight and conversation with Edgewalker, it is revealed that the Stormriders are acting in concert with her as her allies.
At the end, as she is being pulled into the earth, she remarks to Temper to note how the house rewards the treachery of its servants.
So, it seems that the Guardianship that Temper has accepted is that of the Deadhouse. So, along with Bill I am a bit confused as to the role of Faro/Trenech versus Jhenna. Far/Trenech don't seem to be guarding the house so much as they are guarding the island from things coming out of the house.
Perhaps Faro/Trench and Jehha have a joint guardianship going on and Jehhna abdicates her portion by her attempted escape.
Marc Rikmenspoel
15. Billcap
"Then, her reaction to Tay's statement that he really came to Malaz for another reason is interesting. Immediate rage that Tay would suggest that her focus was not also Tay's focus seems like a small reveal into her character."

I didn't mention it in the recap, but I found her response a bit outsized for his declaration. And odd. Granted, we don't know what history brings it about, but I couldn't quite connect that instant and massive rage (though pulled back quickly) to his seemingly relatively innocuous or mysterious comment.
Rajesh Vaidya
16. Buddhacat
@ 15
I took her rage to be due to her "this is my time, this is the most important night in the Malazan Empire's life, I become Empress today" being irrelevant to Tayschrenn.
Marc Rikmenspoel
17. billcap
As for why K/D tonight . . .
I think the reason they're here tonight is the "convergence" something several characters make much of

As for the "staging," I'm not so sure they were actually "staging" anything. My take is not that they're faking their death, in the sense that they purposely hurled themselves off the balcony and magically disappeared "as if" dead, but that they're really dead. I think that's what Oleg was getting at with his "lose all to gain all." The "losing" can't be the Empire; we already know that isn't "all" to K/D. Oleg also mentions "transubstantiation" which is a change of form, which is another reason I think they are dead. Finally, Oleg's death and subsequent entry into Shadow is what helped give him his insight, leading me to think K/D's deaths are linked to power over Shadow as well.

So this night and dying seem to me to be prerequisites of the plan. Why the specific place (the Hold) and specific method--there you've got me and I wouldn't mind learning that eventually. As for Surly as complicit or not, my view is she was not, that she was really trying to kill them. Her rage and frustration may not be simply their "escape" but recognition of their ascendance.
Rajesh Vaidya
18. Buddhacat
The specific place and method - as I said above, it's not enough for these two to merely Ascend. They wanted the Throne of Shadow. Thus, the timing and place were set to be on the night of the Shadow Moon on Malaz Island through the Azath gateway.
Robin Lemley
19. Robin55077
@ Bill
"It’s a small thing, but I wasn’t such a fan of the hall of mirrors/possible paths Kiska views in Corinn’s Warren. It seemed a bit cliched to me and so arbitrary as to stick out as crafted by the author."

I know what you mean. However, I also saw this a a possible foreshadowing of Kiska's particular "talent." Corinn states that everyone sees something different. Corinn further reveals that the fact that Kiska saw the mirrors was "impressive." From this short reference, we learn that Kiska has a natural "talent" for the Thyr warren and, it seems to me, perhaps a special "talent" toward prophacy. Perhaps Stonewielder will shed more light on this?

"I did like Jhenna’s use of the ice to encase Temper and the way Esslemont reveals it line by line. Though I’ve got to say Edgewalker withholding his warning to that moment struck me as a bit of false drama."

I saw this as very typical Edgewalker. In many of our encounters with Edgewalker, he often outright states that he is there to observe rather than interfere or aid. His off-hand reference to Temper about the ice, only after it has already encased Temper's legs, seemed fitting in light of how I see Edgewalker. It just seemed "typical Edgewalker" to me.

Marc Rikmenspoel
20. billcap
I know why they’re on the island on this day. What I meant by “specific place and method” is why they had to appear in Mock Hold and why they had to face Surly instead of say, drinking themselves to death in the Hanged Man--that’s the part I’d like to eventually get some clarification on down the road
Robin Lemley
21. Robin55077
@ Bill
"I’m a bit confused on Faro and Trenech, I’ve got to admit. Faro is clearly a Guardian (capital G) as he announces in formalistic fashion to Temper to “accept the Guardianship.” But we’ll see Guardians in other Houses and Faro doesn’t seem to fit that mode, as he’s wandering about outside the House. His use of the plural— "our liking”—places him as part of a group, rather than an example of the solitary Guardians we see in other Houses, it appears to me. In that vein, I’d connect him with a group known as the Nameless Ones..."

I see it as two different types of Guardians for the Azath House. There are the Guardians we are most familiar with, like Raest and the new Azath House in Darujhistan. These Guardians are trapped inside the House and are unable to leave. Then we meet Faro, a Guardian outside the gate to the House. I too see Faro as linked to the Nameless Ones. Not necessarily as a Nameless One, but more like Faro is assigned as Guardian of the Deadhouse Gate. Much like Mappo was assigned by the Nameless Ones as "companion" to Icarium.

Perhaps all Houses have a Guardian at the Gate but the only one we specifically see is here at the Deadhouse in Malaz City because, unlike the other Houses, Deadhouse is vulnerable every 50 years or so on the night of the Shadow Moon. Thus, a greater need for a Guardian both inside and outside the house.

My confusion comes more from Jhenna's role than Faro's and Trenech's. I was surpised first of all that a Jaghut walked out the door of the House, as I thought they were bound inside the building. Second, I was more shocked that it was Jhenna,and not the Jaghut that I normally associate with being the Guardian of the Deadhouse in Malaz City. (Trying not to spoil but you will know who I mean.) Thus, I am totally lost as to who Jhenna is and how/why she came from inside the house?
Marc Rikmenspoel
22. billcap
That’s a good reading of the mirror scene w/ prophecy. In that case, I’ll go along. I did figure we were getting the “she’s got Talent” part, but thought we’d gotten that elsewhere enough and that we could have seen it in less trite fashion in the warren. But if it turns out she goes the seer route--I’ll humbly retract my complaint.

I absolutely get what you’re saying re Edgewalker and totally agree--I hear his tone of voice there perfectly. It was just held a little long for me to attain that “dramatic” effect--the surge of power, the breaking the ice, etc. I thought Edgewalker could have been just as dryly humorous prior to Temper becoming a popsicle. More a matter of timing than content (I’m starting to feel like Obo here w/ all these petty complaints)
Marc Rikmenspoel
23. billcap
That was sort of my view re Faro, though I think it’s all a bit muddy. I know exactly what you mean re Jhenna and had the same “huh?” kind of reaction, but didn’t go into it in the recap as I wasn’t sure how to address it without some major spoilage. I know we didn’t promise No Spoilers, but I like to keep them out of the recap at least.
Marc Rikmenspoel
24. billcap
to clarify a bit re Edgewalker and Temper and the ice. My issue was that I felt the author a bit too much there, because the timing seemed purposely manipulative to achieve that moment of “big drama”. Obviously, everything in a book is “manipulative,” I just like to not see the tracing marks so clearly
Steven Halter
25. stevenhalter
Robin & Bill: I like the thought of Faro being from the Nameless side--makes some sense.
I wasn't really surprised that the person emerging from the Deadhouse wasn't the guy you are thinking of. I think he was more visiting than permanently guarding--he gets around ;-) But we'll have lots more to speculate on him eventually.
Steven Halter
26. stevenhalter
When Tay and Agayla are having their talk, Tay swears by the Nameless Ones. This seemed like an odd group for him to swear by.
Robin Lemley
27. Robin55077
@ Bill

I understand what you mean with the Edgewalker/Temper scene with the ice. I hadn't really even thought about that aspect of it, I just saw "typical Edgewalker" and went on to the next line.

Re Kiska in the Thyr warren: I agree 100%. Personally, by the 5 or 6 time her "talent" was mentioned I'm like "okay, I got it already!" But I really did see this as something different. First, I saw this as a link between Kiska and the warren of Thyr (thus, we probably now know at least one warren she uses) and two, I thought it hinted at a possible prophacy/seer angle to her talent. In that light, I was okay with this reference, however, the 6 or 8 prior references to her "talent" were too much for me.

I wonder sometimes if (due to the fact that I have read all of the books numerous times) I don't have the reverse problem that a lot of newbies have. Where newbies frequently miss or overlook clues because they are not yet tuned in to look for them, I think sometimes that I see clues in everything, including often times when they do not exist. In the writers' favor, I think that is one reason why I find so little fault with the writing, I always assume first that it is not the writing, but rather a clue that I missed on my end. :-)

I have a story to tell about one such event, but am waiting until the end of this book so as not to ruin anything for anyone. And boy, does it make me look stupid! LOL

Robin Lemley
28. Robin55077
@ 26. Shalter

I completely missed that! He says, "...I swear upon the Nameless Ones..." Wow! Definitely more than a bit odd. One more thing on my list of "things to look for in this re-read."

Thanks for pointing that out! Cannot believe I missed that!
Robin Lemley
29. Robin55077
Re: Tayschrenn

This hinted "link" to the Nameless Ones just reminds me how little we know of dear old Tay. He is one character that I really wish I knew a lot more about. Surprisinly, for me personally, I'm okay not really knowing a lot about Surly/Laseen but I have always wished I knew more about Tay.

Unlike most readers, I like him. I do see him as being on the side of "good" rather than "bad" and just wish he were not so damn mysterious. I would love to know more about him.
Gerd K
30. Kah-thurak
Tayschrenn's swearing on the Nameless Ones is indeed intersting. As far as I remember Kellanved tried to eliminate that cult.

No, the Stormriders are not the K'Chain. Neither Che'Malle nor Nah'Ruk ;-)
Marc Rikmenspoel
31. Maik H

I know why they’re on the island on this day. What I meant by “specific place and method” is why they had to appear in Mock Hold and why they had to face Surly instead of say, drinking themselves to death in the Hanged Man--that’s the part I’d like to eventually get some clarification on down the road
Could it be because they did not want to telegraph their true ambitions? By confronting Surly in Mock Hold in the old heart of the Empire, they ensured that most of the inevitable rumours would interpret the events of the night as a struggle for the mundane throne of the Malazan Empire.
Just offing themselves in the Hanged Man (in an admittedly more pleasant way) near the Deadhouse during a night of convergence would have made it far easier to connect the dots for the powers opposing them.
Not sure this interpretation is correct, but the fact that the true identity of Shadowthrone and Cotillion remains a secret even several years later seems to substantiate it.
Marc Rikmenspoel
32. alt146
I only got as far Kiska arriving at the deadhouse last night (boy this chapter is long), so a couple of points from memory here.

As SMZ said, there is a great thread on the forums about the events of the night, but I'm too lazy to find it so I will paraphrase. Basically on the night of the shadow moon, the physical location of the Shadow house overlaps that of the deadhouse and for all intents and purposes they become the same place. Which means that entering the deadhouse grants control of the shadow warren. This explains why K&D are there on that specific night - all the times they have previously entered the deadhouse it has only been the deadhouse. It also explains why it is so much more perilous, since all of Shadow house's defenses are also in place. So dangerous in fact that K&D have to allow themselves to be killed in order to sneak in as ghosts.

As for why they decided to meet with Surly rather than just kill themselves, I think it is more a case of killing two birds with one stone - playing out their final role in the empire while acheiving their own goals. Seeing as how the entire Malazan Empire seems to have been nothing more than a stepping stone for them in any case, I can see this as plausible. I think it also helps them if they are officially believed dead from the highest levels downward.

I got the impression that Faro was there to guard malaz against things that might escape the deadhouse (as Jhenna attempts to) rather than as the Raest-type guardians that defend against assaults on the deadhouse. Is Jhenna explicitly mentioned as the Raest style guardian? We see someone else in that role in deadhouse gates and given that person's identity I am not convinced he only took up guardianship in the time period between NoK and DG...

@12 Buddhacat - Dassem had ascended long before Temper attempted to stab him. I'm pretty sure that was just a gamble by Temper to jolt Dassem's ascendent-level kneejerk self-preservation reflexes and get him into the fight.

I don't see why people don't see the term Ogre fitting Kell. In this book we've been told that a single glance from him was enough to make a hardened soldier wet himself and now we've been told that even in a room full of ottoral, his mere presence is enough to give Tay a nosebleed. He may be a small wizened old man when you see him from a distance, but I think anyone who has actually had Kell's attention focused on them would leave the encounter remembering a 10ft monstrosity with horns and flaming eyes.
Steven Halter
33. stevenhalter
Maik H@31 & alt146@32:
Using Surly & the Mock's hold location to fulfill several goals at the same time (official death notice, misdirection, ...) fits with Shadowthrones propensity for complicated planning.
Thomas Jeffries
34. thomstel

Is there evidence in the "Kiska sees Kel and Dancer heading into the Deadhouse" scene that they're really and truly ghosts at that point? Or just inferring it since we know Oleg is dead, but is actually participating in that scene as well?

I never got the impression that Kel and Dancer actually died; they got into the Deadhouse/Shadow House alive (if wounded) and took one of the quick paths to ascension by claiming the Throne. All the "they're dead" nonsense floats around because of Laseen's propaganda concerning the night's events.

Of course, I may have totally missed something that says otherwise. If so, please fill me in. :)
Brian O'Reilly
35. idlefun
I'm pretty sure that K&D were actually killed because Oleg is only able to enter Shadow fully for the first time because he dies on the night of the convergence. I guess the fact that Kiska flits in and out of Shadow needs some explaining. He also mentions that the time of transubstantiation is when K&D are vulnerable - I presume this is the time between when they are killed and claim the Shadow Throne.
I guess the events in Mock's Hold were misdirection, they wanted as many as possible to believe they had been defeated. Presumably the assault by the ex-BBs on Mock's Hold was to show how intent K&D were to take back the Empire's throne - also showing K&D's cynical use of loyal allies. Surly's scream of frustration was due to their bodies falling off the balcony - no bodies means a sliver of doubt. I think she's reasonably sure they're dead. With all that otataral they couldn't have magiced away.
The events around the Deadhouse are unclear. Temper is used to draw the attenton of the house's defenders while K&D slip in the back and the cultists are assisting in that but why did one of the cultists kill Trenech? Surely they had no interest in Jhenna escaping.
Also why were the cultists earlier in the book attacking Tay?
Was it just that the cultists were unsure of Tay's intentions? Why didn't Tay unleash more of his power to save his bodyguards?
Steven Halter
36. stevenhalter
thomstel@34:I've never seen (or at least don't recall) anything saying that they were for certain ghosts or just wounded.
We hear the battle in Mock's Hold and Surly says they fell over the railing. This doesn't mean at all that they were dead at this point--Surly isn't a very trustworthy narrator at that point.
We next see them inside the grounds of the Deadhouse, Kel is crawling towards the DH. At this point we also don't know if they got there alive or not.
Oleg has the little prophecy that they have to 'lose all' before they can claim the throne. But, Tay and others seem to think that Oleg isn't alltogether there.
Marc Rikmenspoel
37. darkul
Kellanved/Dancer on Mock's Hold:
As said several times in NoK, their actions on Mock's Hold are a major "distraction" from K/D's main goal.
And see how poetically perfect this seems? On top of the highest possible point in Malaz, like on a lighthouse, a beacon, so that everyone is attracted to the events happening there, but being blinded by the "light" on that tower so that there are no persons who can exactly say what happened there. Then there's the Deadhouse, lost in "Shadow"s, all misty, and at first no one looks what happens or could happen there. The major players have to take their time to believe and react when K/D have won time to enter the Deadhouse. As ghosts, I think. Just as alt146 pointed out.
They had to be killed. Lost all? Life, Empire, Power, Titles.

What I wonder is, why are persons of such great knowledge as Tay/Surly and of course gods (btw, where are they?) not able to see that the throne of Shadow could be claimed this special night? I cannot believe that this is what K/D were researching in all these years of absence and that no one else knows about that. They had much more to learn and put their schemes into perfection. Usually a high mage should know the relations between Azath and warrens, or not? Where are those who are thousands of years old, who have experienced many such events? Why are they (i mean all possible powerful creatures with knowledge of the Shadow Moon night) not trying to claim that throne for themselves? Sure, their were losers who tried, but they were no gods. Just powerhungry "normal" ones or lightweight ascendants.
What I mean to remember is that the Azath seem to be a relatively young phenomenon. Maybe that could be an explanation for divine ignorance.
Marc Rikmenspoel
38. Alt146
I always got the impression that they were in the same state as Oleg, but I can't remember any definite confirmation. So maybe they were still mortal, but the rest of Oleg's theory on how to enters seems to have been correct seeing as they got it right in the end.

@35 I didnt get the impression that transubstantion was required to enter Shadow itself, just to get past the dead/shadow house's defenses. The defenses were paying much more attention to less powerful but still mortal beings elsewhere so that seems to be the case. A mage of Kellanved's power should have been the biggest threat to the house after the stormriders.
Marc Rikmenspoel
39. Alt146
@37 The stormriders tried, and as Edgewalker states many many times many many others have also tried and failed. K&D succeeded because they delved very deep and found a loophole. Remember Kellanved is quite possibly the most brilliant human to exist in recent millenia and crazy enough to kill himself gambling on a plan that has not been proven to work. I don't see why too many gods would be involved though - they are already gods, they have already found their own paths to ascension.
Marc Rikmenspoel
40. darkul
How high is Mock's Hold? I guess if a mortal being, unable to fly or not being saved be a flying creature, falls down that tower he should be smashed to bloody mud or at least be dead.

Now a brave assumption:
Surly/Tay have their doubts or know more, that's obvious. They want an official version of the events to be told. But why? Maybe K/D were already dead, were already ghosts, or negotiated with Surly/Tay about their plans years ago and all is a big fake, even faking the gods, maybe those plans were always there and Surly more or less is still just one of Kel's clerks?
As I said in an earlier post: while reading I always think that the plans are much bigger than we think. Maybe Surly/Tay never even killed K/D but they all conspire together to reach a much bigger/more important goal? Let's see that in Erikson's TCG and other Esslemont releases (I'm not completely through RotCG, so I could be completely on a wrong path). K/D will still have their fingers in the game for sure until the end (that not exists).
Chris Hawks
41. SaltManZ
darkul @37:
What I mean to remember is that the Azath seem to be a relatively young phenomenon. Maybe that could be an explanation for divine ignorance.

No, the Azath are very old. See the prologue for RotCG if nothing else.

I had never thought before that K&D actually died, but it makes a lot more sense (to me) if that's what happened.
Marc Rikmenspoel
42. darkul
And the last comment for a few hours:

I posted a spoiler regarding Temper's preternatural fighting powers. Therefore I called him OVER-THE-TOP-DEM. Ok, that with DEM is clarified and wrong, so we called him a fitting vehicle for the story. I never meant him to be a DEM.

Temper seems to me really overpowered. I don't mean his fighting skills with/without sword against any other fighter.
I just don't think that any mortal being is able to fight underground and blind against the power of an Azath no matter how distracted, how many fights it has to deal with at the same time. Simply it is impossible to move when you are completely covered in earth/dirt/sand.
Seems to me a bit like "The adventures of Baron Münchhausen". It is physically not possible to free oneself out of a swamp by dragging on one's own hair. And it seems nothing else than a swamp. Many branches and roots grabbing him. Finally he comes up with ONE branch he hacked away. Cannot be enough. Or this whole scene is just not very well written.
What do you think?
Steven Halter
43. stevenhalter
darkul@40:Yes, if these were just ordinary people, falling from Mock's hold would kill them. However, its Kel & Dancer--not ordinary. They could have a number of ways of not really falling.
I'm not saying they weren't killed--just that we don't have a direct confirmation.
As Alt146@38 says, the rest of Oleg's predictions seem to be correct. This lends some weight to them having been killed.
The end result is that they get to the Deadhouse and enter. Whether they were briefly dead or not isn't (I don't think) something we'll be able to prove at this point.
As far as grand plans go, I'm hopeful that TCG will shed some more light. Finishing RotCG will shed a little light for you in this case--I think.
Thomas Jeffries
44. thomstel
OK, I'm getting more convinced that K/D were in fact snuffed in Mock's Hold as the conversation continues. It does fit pretty nicely with the way Oleg (and other ghosties) are able to manifest during the Shadow Moon. This gives them a unique opportunity to visibly "die" and then still have a safety net (ghost form) for accomplishing the rest of their goals with Shadow.

I'm gonna shift gears, though and start looking at the bigger picture again. Let's say that K/D "succeeded", as in, their goals for the night were accomplished. How many bullets did these guys dodge again?
- Laseen: seemed to be honestly intent on killing them completely. Shadow Moon as a safety net for ghost form turned out to be a good idea.
- Stormriders: Not directly involved with K/D, but still in competition, since they could have nabbed Shadow House before K/D.
- Edgewalker: Guardian of Shadow House. Forced to deal with Stormriders, had to let K/D get in as a "lesser of two evils" thing.
- Jhenna: I'm assuming she'd the guardian of Deadhouse (as other Jaghut are later), and is taking advantage of the special night to try and break free of that duty. Busy with the cultists, Faro, Trenech, Edgewalker and Temper. All those folks were also busy with each other, which was handy.
- The Deadhouse Grounds: Being ghost form seems to have helped immensely with K/D getting past this obstacle until Oleg butted in.
- Tay: K/D knew he was there, could play a part, so Dancer just told him to steer clear in Mock's Hold. They know Tay's MO.

So, were they betting on the convergence of powers, or do you figure they orchestrated it to some degree? Clearing out the magery from Malaz Island cleared the way for the Stormriders being tempted to go after Shadow House on the night of the Shadow Moon, knew that the House's guardians would be distracted by that fight...

Also, they brought their cultists into the mix to run interference with basically everyone while they did the necessary stuff, conscripting the BBs and later Temper to continue drawing attention away from themselves and their true goals.

They're pretty much my favorite two characters of the series already, but if they really did work out the whole cast and figure out how to work things that Good stuff.
Brian O'Reilly
45. idlefun
While anything is possible I just can't believe that Surly and K&D conspired together on some long con. It seems much more likely that K&D have used Surly, taking advantage of her petty (to them) ambitions. Or if there was some kind of deal one or both parties tried to betray the other that night. Recall Cotillion's bitter memories of otataral. K&D throughout the series pull the strings they never seem to confide in anyone, just use them.

They might not want the Empire to fall apart for the time being as it's a useful source of power for them to manipulate but they feared that them dissappearing forever might lead to conflict at the top. By allowing Surly to kill them they give her a much more legitimate claim to the throne and respect amongst other players in the Empire to forestall any potential challenge.

Of course the information is so sparse that almost any just-so story can fit the facts. Must be what it's like to be an Archaeologist!
Steven Halter
46. stevenhalter
darkul@42:It also seemed a bit odd to me that Temper was able to pull himself out. I almost wonder if the Deadhouse wasn't 'collaborating' in this some.
Marc Rikmenspoel
47. darkul
They're pretty much my favorite two characters of the series already, but if they really did work out the whole cast and figure out how to work things that Good stuff."

Exactly what I think. And that even on an even bigger pitch. And always able to be flexible if something is not running how they intended.
Steven Halter
48. stevenhalter
thomstel@44:I like the idea of Kel planting the idea in Surly that some of his power springs from the number of mages on Malaz. This causes her to do the mage suppression (her motive there has never been clear). The mage killing leads to the Stormriders getting closer to Malaz. That diverts Edgewalker.
Steven Halter
49. stevenhalter
Another scene that is of interest is why Kel seems to try to lure Kiska onto the Deadhouse grounds.
He summons her and she puts her foot on the wall. The wall seems to repel her (another clue that living beings are repelled?) and she falls to the ground.
There is then an angry curse from inside the grounds (could be from out front?) and something smashes the wall in front of her causing stones and flames to fall over her.
Then there is a mocking laugh that ends 'abruptly as a door slammed shut.'
The mocking laugh would seem to come from Kel as he enters the house.
Was Kiska just meant as a last misdirection or did Kel think she might be worthwhile having either along or burried?
Marc Rikmenspoel
50. Karsa
I'm pretty sure that K&D were actually killed because Oleg is only able to enter Shadow fully for the first time because he dies on the night of the convergence

this says a lot more about Oleg than about K&D or about Shadow. There are many, many non-dead beings throughout the series that can enter shadow w/o being dead
Sydo Zandstra
51. Fiddler

So this night and dying seem to me to be prerequisites of the plan. Why the specific place (the Hold) and specific method--there you've got me and I wouldn't mind learning that eventually.

Could it be because they started the Empire there, possibly by killing Mock right in the same place? Seems like a fitting closure (ending a circle), and maybe necessary for them to ascend and seize Shadow, at that very night...

Reminds me a bit of the Tanno, and how their Spirit magic works in upcoming books...
Fabian Schaller
52. Aldric

So this night and dying seem to me to be prerequisites of the plan. Why the specific place (the Hold) and specific method--there you've got me and I wouldn't mind learning that eventually.

Maybe they wanted the "visibly" cut of their ties to the malazan empire? Some other gods and asecands might see a new god with ties to a large mortal empire and the power to control T'lan Imass as a major threat which should be eliminated sooner than later.
So by having Surly kill them they show the other gods that she isn't just a puppet of them and they don't want to be the patron gods of the malazan empire.
Marc Rikmenspoel
53. AndersN
Kiskas walk through the Thyr warren reminded me of idspispopd which too, incidentally, is a way of taking a shortcut...
Steven Halter
54. stevenhalter
AndersN:I can see that--with some bits of the past and future thrown in as (non) walls.
shirley thistlewood
55. twoodmom
I'm not sure Kellanved and Dancer are dead. There are at least two occasions in which entering an Azath before final death seems to be important. One involves Rallick and Vorcan in GotM. The other is much later in the series and is orchestrated by Shadowthrone for reasons not clear to me.
Marc Rikmenspoel
56. darkul
I see that as a method Esslemont uses to show Kiska changes.

As if Kel wanted to teach Kiska a lesson. No ego is greater than his. Her world around herself is falling apart. She stands for all those he's able to play with. Luring them into a double sided
trap with no escapes but finally doing what he wanted.
But I don't see who curses, who laughs, who destroys the wall to "bury" Kiska. Not clear to me.
Maybe you're right that mortal beings are repelled by the Azath, especially this Azath called the Deadhouse, the DEADhouse, and that this scene is just another hint for that.
Chris Hawks
57. SaltManZ
twoodmom @55: In the cases you mention, those people would have died had they not gotten into the Azath. So of course getting in before "final death" was important. I'm not sure what purpose the Azath serve in those instances other than stasis.

In NoK, the Shadow Moon made it possible to be killed but still ambulatory. I don't see the situations as being at all comparable, really.
Steven Halter
58. stevenhalter
darkul@56:That could be, but it seemed an odd pause for Kel as:
1) He was still in a place where there were things trying to catch him.
2) He had just either been killed or nearly killed.
3) He was just about to become a god.
All these things made it seem odd for him to stop just to teach an unimportant girl a lesson.
Now, of course, many people do say he was insane ...
Steven Halter
59. stevenhalter
Salt-Man Z@57:It seems that not just anyone can get up and walk around on the Shadow Moon night. There are quite a few people who just lay there--plain old dead. I wonder if K&D (and Oleg) had found something out that told them just how to become ambulatory post death on the Shadow Moon night.
Chris Hawks
60. SaltManZ
@shalter: Oh, certainly. But it's possible on that night, which is what's important.

Can we compile a list of all the "walking dead" that showed up in NoK? I can come up with Oleg, one of Ash's henchmen (that drew the Hound to Temper), and possibly K&D. Anyone else?
Robin Lemley
61. Robin55077
@ 30. Kah-thurak
"Tayschrenn's swearing on the Nameless Ones is indeed intersting. As far as I remember Kellanved tried to eliminate that cult."

I don't know about Kellanved per se, but Dancer sent his Talons after the Nameless Ones. That may be what you are thinking of?
Robin Lemley
62. Robin55077
@ 49. Shalter
"Was Kiska just meant as a last misdirection or did Kel think she might be worthwhile having either along or burried?

Or possibly just because Kellanved knew that Kiska "belonged" to Tayschrenn? A way of thumbing his nose at Tay?

Just a thought.
Robin Lemley
63. Robin55077
****Slight Spoilers***

My thoughts re Kellanved and Dancer and entry into the Deadhouse. (As usual, please bear with me as this may sound crazy at first, but hopefully some of you will see where I am coming from.)

First, none of the "diversion" theroies make any sense to me because the way I see it, Kellanved and Dancer certainly didn't need any diversion to get into the Deadhouse. Those of us who have read further into the series know that the Azath Houses are locked to almost everyone, including ascendants, gods, mages, mortals, other races, human and non-human. Most beings can walk right up to the door (as long as you don't step off the path) and turn the knob. However, the door won't open. On a very, very, very, very, very, very, very rare occasion, the door will open and someone can enter the House.

Now, old Kellanved and Dancer, they could have walked up to the door of the Deadhouse in Malaz City the day before the Shadowmoon, the week before, the month before, the year before, etc., and turned that knob and the door would have opened for them. We know that because right here in NoK we are told that they "lived" in the Deadhouse when plotting and planning the Empire. I believe they could have simply walked up the path and entered the House before sundown on the night of the Shadow Moon and been waiting pretty as you please once the Moon rose and Shadow Throne appeared.

So, the way I look at it, all of the events at Mock's Hold, all of the events with Surly, all of the movements of Kellanved and Dancer on this night had nothing to do with gaining them the ability to enter into the Deadhouse, so it had to be for other reason(s).

In 56. darkul states as pertains to Kellanved that, "No ego is greater than his." I see this as perhaps the basis Kellanved's "motives" for messing with Surly's head on this night, as well as his reasons for releasing the Hounds at Itko Kan in the beginning of GotM.

Obviously, Kellanved did not want the Empire, he had much bigger plans than that. However, he was certainly not one who would ever willingly sit back and "ignore" anyone who had the audacity to think that they could take what was his. Not only was Surly trying to take what was his, he would have seen the fact that it was Surly doing these things as a personal betrayal. He raised her from the gutters of being a "bar wench" and this is how she pays him back? Oh no, I cannot see any way that Kellanved, of all people, would ever walk away from that without some "payback."

He didn't want the Empire, but how dare Surly think she could take it away from him? Who the hell did Surly think she was that she could get one up on Kellanved? In what possible dream world did Surly think she could stand toe-to-toe with Kellanved and come out the victor? No, he would show her. He would F**k with her head.

He obviously found a way to defeat the otataral. We know ways exist. Maybe he found a way to use Bloodoil that didn't require long-term exposure? Maybe he had figured out the secret as to how the Elder Gods were immune to otataral? Maybe he figured out a whole new way to deaden the effects of otataral. Without any doubt, Kellanved knew way before he ever entered Mock's Hold that night that Surly would have coated the room with otataral. She would have never attempted to face him without it and you can be sure he knew that. He would never have walked in there unless he was sure he could have defeated it.

So he walks in, kills most of her Claws, takes a header off the balcony (so she can never be sure or not whether she succeeded) and then heads off to enter the Deadhouse. Sure, he hadn't planned on Oleg geting in the way and he was caught off guard by the activity in the "yard" but, it didn't really matter as it wasn't anything he and Dancer couldn't handle. He wasn't afraid of the House or the yard. They were no real obstacles, just a stumble.

The BIG reward of all that happend in Mock's Hold that night was that Surly could never have a moment's peace from that night on. With no bodies, it would always be in the back of her mind, "Where is he and when is he coming for me?"

Now doesn't that sound like the Kellanved we all know? It certainly does to me.

Just food for thought!

Marc Rikmenspoel
64. billcap
I like the idea of the them going to Mock’s Hold as a means of leaving a false trail more than other options. For instance, a “diversion” doesn’t seem necessary. And as mentioned earlier, I don’t think Surly is in on any long con. So this idea seems the most plausible to me. But what nags at me is that it’s a pretty big to-do down at the Deadhouse and with their Cultists involved and the Claws sent there as well. Using Mock’s Hold as the false trail seems to work only if what happens at the Deadhouse is done quietly or doesn’t involve their surrogates. Yes, they “sneak in” via the back, but
a) it seems kinda reliant on nobody checking out the back and
b) just having their folks there would seem to draw attention to them being connected, even if nobody sees them

I can still see some ways it works, but it all still seems a bit muddy (which is OK with me at this point)
Stefan Sczuka
65. moeb1us
Re Temper/guardian/Azath/Faro&Trenech

Temper is powerful. Before standing against Jhenna (I think a Jaghut tyrant) he has a track record for inflicting damage on powerful beings: a patroned Champion, a hound of Shadow, an Azath Tree. Of course, freeing oneself from the influence of an azath is quite a thing, but I think it is explainable due to the distractions and the fact that the azath was sharing its power to its new guardian(s). And then it is stated that the tree was rather small and thin (it certainly is no FA jumping out of a mould).

Brief excoursus to Jhenna: imho she was the regular guardian of the azath before this night. the type of armor is mentioned several times, and I cannot remember a passage that states guardians cannot leave the house. how are they supposed to defend it or help the azath against mighty assailants? Plus she is Jaghut and calls herself servant and speaks of treachery.

So my theory is:
Jhenna used the circumstances to betray the azath and try to break free. Thus the azath is w/o a guardian. Along come Faro&Trenech. Could be they are related to the nameless ones, that makes sense, the phrasing fits and Faro does possess knowledge of the azath and its borders and its weaknesses. Faro and Trenech then take the role as guardians of the azath, since it is desperately in need of one. The azath feeds both with power to stand against the Jaghut (who is trying to escape the azath and must be like a burning lodestone of power).
I don't know why the cultist insta-kills/assassinates Trenech from behind, open field for speculation here. But clearly Faro can only barly hold up and the power is consuming him and rips apart his body. Then Temper accepts the guardianship of the azath and with the azath power from the ground can fend of Jhenna long enough, luckily he isn't the to-be-bribed type, the mentioning of the deal-with-a-jaghut saying surely plays a role too. And he gave his word to fill the gap.
For me, Temper is the new guardian of the Azath.

Spoiler tBH:

Tay+ST have a conversation about ST fearing Temper as he stepped out of Coops. iirc, in this situation, Temper looked in the direction of the deadhouse/azath but then turned round and reenters Coops.

@37 darkrul Re Throne of Shadow
Knowledge of the azath is very rare even among higher mages I think. Maybe the knowledge was there, but see how Jhenna references to ignorance "how far into ignorance you humans have fallen". Sure it's out of context because it relates to him not knowing her name but this theme comes up here and there. humans tend to not learn and forget things in the long term. being shortlived in general, only a minory lives long enough or has the time/power/energy to delve into old knowledge and history. And the history is deeply buried and _long_.
alt already mentioned that countless have tried (the scene with Edgewalker and the creature bound to the stone etc)

Spoiler NoK epilogue

In the epilogue there is an interesting passage in which Edgewalker muses on the "long chain of hopefuls" and why they never learn and that maybe there is a reason why the Throne of Shadow is empty...
Marc Rikmenspoel
66. Alt146
@Robin 63

I disagree with the thought that K&D could have waited in the deadhouse for shadow night to begin in order to claim the shadow throne. I'm pretty sure it's entry of the house on this specific night that is required, not occupation. If occupation was all that was required I think the throne would have been claimed long before. Maybe rather than saying the deadhouse and the shadow house become the same place as I did previously, it is probably more accurate to say they share a door on that night.

I also agree it is unlikely Surly is in on whatever ST and Cots are planning. Look at the animosisty they show to her years later in GotM. Showing the other gods they aren't going to rule both shadow and the empire is a good theory and probably makes the most sense. I'm sure at some point someone mentions how devestating the empire would be if it was ruled by a god - something sure to garner a lot animosity from all round. Later in the series we see someone who tried to be a god-emperor and the results of his ambition.
Steven Halter
67. stevenhalter
Good theory making everyone!
@Robin: I like the idea that the Mock's hold portion is at least partly Kel's thumbing his nose at Surly. This is bourne out by his personality. I also agree that it is quite probable that K&D know some ways of at least countering the otataral--they've explored lots of secrets, it seems likely that is one of them. I think if we combine the nose thumbing with the misdirection from earlier, we are starting to get an understanding of the Mock's Hold appearence.
I'm going to go with Alt146 on the K&D had to enter the Deadhouse on the night of the Shadowmoon. They probably couldn't be waiting inside as Jhenna was already in place and had plans other than theirs--so the need to get her out. K&D knew they would need to get Jhenna out, so they set the Stormrider path in motion by dangling the weakened Malaz before them (speculation on that one).
As Bill mentions, the sneaking in part has some conceptual flaws, but it does seem like things are starting to fit together (of our various theories).
Tricia Irish
68. Tektonica

Well said. Sounds like the Kell I've come to know. (In that we barely see him, just the aftermath of his actions.) It seems correct to assume that his Ego would want to let Surly/Laseen know that she rules because he lets her.
Marc Rikmenspoel
69. MDW
@61 Robin said
I don't know about Kellanved per se, but Dancer sent his Talons after the Nameless Ones. That may be what you are thinking of?

This following is my own speculation, but it seems plausible:

We know that K&D left the empire because they wanted to map, explore, and understand the entirety of the Azath house. We know the Nameless ones are ... protecting? nurturing? manipulating? ... doing something with the Azath and have been for a long time. Whatever the cult is doing they are keeping it secret, so they wouldn't appreciate K&D investigating the Azath, leading to many interesting adventures. (Kellanved & Dancer explore the world! I wonder if Steve and Cal ever ran those games?)

On the other hand, we know the Malazan empire didn't like cults - purges against the cults of Fener and Hood in the army and the Jhistal are mentioned - so it could be the purge of the Nameless Ones was just part of standard policy.
Sydo Zandstra
70. Fiddler

I guess Kellanved had some dealings with the Nameless Ones during these explorations, or found some truths in his researching.

I seem to recall him referring to that cult as 'The Nameless Idiots' (or something similar) somewhere, probably in tBH.

Somehow I never took that as plain simple arrogance, but based on something he found out.

Could be related to their plans with Icarium (which I of course will not explain here ;) ) too, though.
Marc Rikmenspoel
71. Karsa
Brief excoursus to Jhenna: imho she was the regular guardian of the azath before this night. the type of armor is mentioned several times, and I cannot remember a passage that states guardians cannot leave the house. how are they supposed to defend it or help the azath against mighty assailants? Plus she is Jaghut and calls herself servant and speaks of treachery.

I thought this was definitely answered in the text -- she was not the guardian of the Azath, she was one of the people that tried to capture the throne of shadow and failed and was therefore doomed to protect the throne for all time. So the is a Guardian of the Throne, not a Guardian of the Azath.
Stefan Sczuka
72. moeb1us
quote from encyclopedia malazica / dramatis personae / jhenna:
"A female Jaghut once guardian of the Deadhouse in Malaz City. She tried to escape the House on the Night of the Shadow Moon."

And from NoK: "Now you will see how the House rewards the treachery of its servants."

I think the 'house' is most def not the house of shadow but the azath. and where are the countless others that should protect the throne?
Steven Halter
73. stevenhalter
I agree, Jhenna was the guardian of the Deadhouse.
Gerd K
74. Kah-thurak
Shadowthrone's "Nameless Idiots"-rant is one of my favourite MBotF monologues ;-)

By the way: Is your Avatar a "Bad Dice" logo? As in the WHFB podcast?
Sydo Zandstra
75. Fiddler

I have no idea about the podcast you mentioned.

I originally registered at ToR for the WoT reread. Since Mat is my favourite character, I just did a pic search for an avatar using the keywords 'Flaming' and 'Dice'.

My current avatar is what I found. ;)

EDIT: And I fully agree on how funny that rant is. Which is probably why it stuck to my mind :D
Robin Lemley
76. Robin55077
@ Shalter & Alt146

I agree that it seems most likely that K&D had to enter on the night of the Shadow Moon. That makes perfect sense or, like I said, they could have just entered earlier and waited for the sun to set. Although it still seems likely that they could have entered a head of time, exited (as Jhenna did) and re-entered, and not had to go through the yard at all. But, like I said their plans were multifold for that evening and K's setting up Surly was important to him I think.

I agree with everyone saying that Surly was never in on K&D's plans. I never thought she was and I have yet to see anything that would make me change my mind on that.

Another discussion here on the posts has been as to whether or not K&D died that night. I really don't think we are ever told enough to know for sure one way or the other. The best clue I think is Oleg's "lose all to gain all" line, but even that doesn't necessarily mean they had to die, as the loss could be referring simply to the Empire. Remember, everyone thought that K's ambitions surrounded the Empire, while we as readers know that was not the case. Personally, I always saw it that they ascended, but never that they died that night. Sorry, I have nothing in particular to point to as a way of backing this up, just the way it "feels" to me.

Dan K
77. kramerdude
One thing to consider is that Oleg messed up by dying or else he might be sitting on the throne so maybe his conclusions on "losing all to gain all" are not 100% accurate. That said I'm not confident in either saying that K&D were dead or alive on entering the Deadhouse.

I do however think that the Mock's Hold shenanigans were a true sense of misdirection here on K&D's part. I just don't know how far or deep that misdirection goes. Everyone gives their reasons why they are just out for a measure of revenge on Surly/Laseen but I'm just not sure that's it. K&D are playing out something against all the gods (elder and otherwise) - how deep could the "long con" go in order to have the other gods/ascendents look the other way????
Dan K
78. kramerdude
Shalter @67: I don't think K&D had anything to do with specifically sending the Stormriders against the House. Based on Toben, Agayla, and Obo facing down the Stormriders I took it that the Stormriders have assaulted Malaz before (every Shadow Moon?).

And with respect to Jhenna who discusses them as "allies", I think she sensed the weakening of magic on the Isle, knew that the Stormriders were coming from past assaults and was counting on the weakness of the Island magic to finally grant her freedom during this assault.

Now if we really want to get into plans within plans within plans, I could argue that K&D needed Surly to perform the purge of magic users on Malaz to allow the Stormriders to draw closer, to present Jhenna with hopes of freedom to hatch her escape plans and thus pull her out of the House, so they could enter undetected.

But if I started doing that my head might explode...
Marc Rikmenspoel
79. darkul

K&D are playing out something against all the gods (elder and otherwise) - how deep could the "long con" go in order to have the other gods/ascendents look the other way????

That's exactly what I think. Someone said here why other gods should even try to take an empty throne. As I see it, the throne of Shadow is a most wanted "stool". And every god tries to gain advantage over the other. They don't want them to be more powerful. So it could be they keep themselves in a deadlock. A god sitting on the throne of more realms? Why not. But as I said, every god plays out every other god. So that could be why they never tried (?) to intervene or claim the throne for themselves in their divine state.
But on the other hand throughout the books "power draws power", so K&D had to use at least one distraction this night in order to ascend as intended and keep the gods away should they play another game.
That they used plans in plans in plans in plans is a characteristic of K's. And I think that our brains smoulder in view of K/D's ability to scheme shows about which geniouses we are allowed to hear there. A pleasure, isn't it?
The long con starts way ahead of the NoK I guess. But NoK was the starting night of their godhood and ascension.

There can be several technical reasons why they had to enter the Deadhouse this night and as it seems through the gate (on the path).
Let's assume they could've entered without their distraction tactics. How do you think it possible? Alive, opening the gate. Jhenna either comes out or "welcomes" them on the threshold. As soon as that happens the house is not only guarded by herself but also by the trees and and and and ...
IMHO leaving the house and reentering it implies to leave the grounds completely because the whole place of the Deadhouse seems to be another realm this special night. It had to be entered through the gate and on the path from gate to threshold. The house doesn't look as usual. Only if they leave the default realm (the one not this night) they can re-enter it. And to my second point ...

In dead and ghost form.
I think they ascended exactly while entering the Deadhouse in an
almost dead state on this particular night. This night for sure because Deadhouse and Shadowhouse (let's call it like that to make thingseasier) overlap. In my eyes they HAD TO DIE to achieve the possibility to enter the House of Shadow in order to claim the throne. Btw, just think about the muslims, martyr death means ascension to paradise. I guess they had a deal with Hood (long con) so that their suicide means not him harvesting their souls too early while they are in a pre-death state as ghosts. Maybe they offered Hood a few important souls ;)
In order to distract the House with its defense mechanisms, to get Jhenna out, tempted with freedom, to have that Claw/Talons/Cultist fight they had to plan it like that. And what better way than teaching Surly (or the Malazan's in common) a lesson to show who is the true ruler: the distraction on top of Mock's Hold, that beacon I called it. Most gazes were on that Coming-Back of K/D to reclaim their throne. They half-died there, I guess more suicide than anything else. But a controlled suicide. That trap should not kill them IN the room. How else would it've been possible for them to disappear? That is why I'm not completely sure if Surly has really nothing to do with K/D's plans. Seems almost convincing that she tried to kill them with a trap with all those dead Claws up there. But "make it look like a deadly trap" is my guess. Surly had to accept that she has no power over K. That could be the reason for her reaction when the other's entered the "penthouse" in Mock's Hold. Even if it was a real trap and an attempt to kill K/D it is has the same results. K/D must have controlled their pre-death.

The only persons who were not planned to be at the Deadhouse at the Deadhouse were Temper and Kiska, and maybe not namely Faro/Trenech (but at least some unknown Guardians to hold back Jhenna). Or were those to just witnesses? "Witness" is another important part of the books.
The distraction should be enough for keeping Surly/Tay bound a little time in defeat and thoughts (or deliberately giving K/D some time), have the cultists and Claws fighting, Edgewalker, Jhenna distracted, the house busy with everything and of course other's who want to take their benefit out of that night (Obo/Agayla/Stormriders, oh yes kramerdude, long term planning there).

I don't think we have to make it too complicated but also not too easy by the "just wait and walk-out-and-in theory".
Marc Rikmenspoel
80. darkul
Sorry for the typos and missing/double words. Isn't there a possibility to edit?
Sydo Zandstra
81. Fiddler

If you register an account at the website, and are logged in, you can edit the posts you made. You'll show with your name in grey.

It won't help for the last post of course, but you can edit any posts you make after that. :)
82. Abalieno
I see no one has posted it yet.


enjoy some stormrider ass!
Robin Lemley
83. Robin55077
@ 79. darkul
"As I see it, the throne of Shadow is a most wanted "stool". And every god tries to gain advantage over the other. They don't want them to be more powerful."

We just see this a little bit different because I do not see Shadowthrone as being "most wanted" by the other Gods (or really by mosts anyone else). I don't want to be too "spolierific" here so suffice it to say that Kurald Emurlahn (the Shadow Realm) is different than all the other realms, for example, it is not "intact." It is also different in that it has very active "guardians" in the realm itself, such as the Hounds, Edgewalker, etc. We do not hear of this type of defense in any of the other realms. I have a theory as to that, but no way to discuss it at this point without major spoilers.

Now, Shadow Throne has been vacant for a very, very long time. I'm thinking for 100,000's of years. (Maybe less than that but irrelevant, as my point is that it has been vacant for a very long time.) If Shadowthrone were such a big prize, there would never have been this long vacancy period but rather a long line of the Throne being overthrown as everyone vied for their turn in the seat. We don't have that. What we have is that everyone thought Shadow was a daed realm as it had been inactive for as long as anyone knew. In their studies, K&D realized it wasn't dead, just not quite like all the other realms and vacant.

"It had to be entered through the gate and on the path from gate to threshold."

The flaw with this theory is that they didn't enter the House "through the gate and on the path from gate to threshold" so that obviously wasn't a requirement.

"In dead and ghost form."

You may be absolutely correct on this. I simply said that I have not yet seen anything definitive as to the "dead or alive" entry and that to me personally, it feels that they were alive when they entered. I don't have a problem one way or the other on the subject. I just didn't see any evidence that they had died so to me it feels they were alive when they entered. No big deal to me either way. I was just "weighing in" my opinion as the subject had be raised by other posters.

"I guess they had a deal with Hood (long con) so that their suicide means not him harvesting their souls too early while they are in a pre-death state as ghosts. Maybe they offered Hood a few important souls ;)"

Anything is possible. That having been said, I don't see Hood making a deal with K&D for souls as any of the souls he gained this night, the bridgeburners, the claws, the cultists and Talons, and the occasional persons living in the city, were all coming to him anyway and in a very, very miniscule period of time as none of them were even immortal. And one thing about Hood...he is patient. He knows that the souls are coming to him eventually.

"That is why I'm not completely sure if Surly has really nothing to do with K/D's plans."

Obviously, you are not alone in your thinking that Surly was in on K&D's plans for this night. I happen to believe she was not. It could very well be that I am wrong on this, however, I have not yet seen anything that would change my mind on this issue. The way I see things, she was not in on the plans.

"I don't think we have to make it too complicated but also not too easy by the "just wait and walk-out-and-in theory"."

I am sure that almost no one sees it this way but the way I see it, it was basically that "easy" for K&D. Not saying that they could have stepped out onto the porch and stepped back in and that would have met the requirements, but rather that K&D were confident that they would not have any problem crossing the yard and gaining entry. As it turns out, they basically didn't, other than the one stumble, but that was really nothing. Most seem to view it as a very "touch -and-go" situation as to whether or not K&D could make it into the House. For me, it wasn't. Not only do I see it that way, I see it that K&D saw it that way. Them getting into the House was no big deal, thus, they took the time to mess with Surly first. That's just how I see it.

One of the things I really love about these posts is that you get to see not only different interpretations. With these different interpretations, we often get to see the reasoning forming the basis for these interpretations. I absolutely love it!

84. darkul
I appreciate this discussion here too. The last time I got such a great re-read was with Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun. So much insight, theories, riddles solved, others opened. Readers who dedicate their time trying to understand a loved but relatively complicated series.

Really, Robin, usually I doubt my own theories about the things going on in the Malazan tales. I can't remember enough of all 9+2 books to be sure about the connections and secrets, the schemes, the characters. I just want to discuss some other viewpoints and usually without spoiler to get a clearer sight by all you experienced, smart and thorough readers. It's really fun and an honour for me to take part in such a discussion. Thx to you all that you sacrifice precious time for this valuable experience.

Reading is a hobby usually, but TMBotF is a hobby itself.

And also thx to SE and ICE. They have a way to make every reader believe: we are with you, ask us, discuss with us. They want feedback, they want to see how we readers find details they've hidden in small hints throughout the books. They want their style to be criticized, be that positive or negative. They love those discussions too. That is why we like not only their books but also their personalities. I always have the feeling that they would answer any question if they would not know about writing another book where they give some of those answers.
There are so many authors who don't give a shit about their fans or just see $$$-signs in front of their eyes. Not those two. No merchandizing articles, no other "important" outputs, just Malazan. That's what they planned to do and they did it. Great. Miraculous. Formidable.
Robin Lemley
86. Robin55077
@ 85. darkul

Oh, but isn't the journey into grey fun !?! LOL

I love this re-read and the discussions each week for the exact same reasons you listed. I cannot speak for anyone else but as I assume most re-readers on here do, I come into this re-read with my own preconceived ideas and theories on how everything works and/or fits together. Every now and then someone will post something and I'm like "WOW" I cannot believe I never even saw that (special thanks to Shalter as you have already provided a few of these and we are only two books in!).

Sometimes someone posts something that makes me rethink the way I was viewing a particular event and sometimes this results in my changing my view of things, and sometimes after considering the information, I retain my original view. Either way, these posts always make me think and who cannot love that!

Darkul....welcome to the grey side!!!!!

Robin Lemley
87. Robin55077
@ 84. darkul
"I just want to discuss some other viewpoints and usually without spoiler to get a clearer sight by all you experienced, smart and thorough readers."

I'll accept entry into the group of experienced and thorough readers (as in that I have read the books probably more than most).....but as for the "smart," I'm not so sure if I fit in with them or not. :-)
"Really, Robin, usually I doubt my own theories about the things going on in the Malazan tales. I can't remember enough of all 9+2 books to be sure about the connections and secrets, the schemes, the characters."

Don't feel alone in that. I've read most of these books at least five times and STILL doubt many of my own theories! I have done re-reads of the entire series in an attempt to answer a single question. Some of my theories are still based on nothing more substantial than a "feeling" that this is how it is. That's what makes this my favorite series of all time.

Sydo Zandstra
88. Fiddler
@Darkul and Robin:

I've been quiet in this reread session. That's mainly because there isn't much I'd like to discuss here.

Expect much more action when we start on Deadhouse Gates. Not only from me :)
Robin Lemley
89. Robin55077
@ 88. Fiddler

I too cannot wait to get to Deadhouse Gates. Was my only dissappointment with doing NoK now instead of later in the series. LOL
Robin Lemley
90. Robin55077
@ 70. Fiddler
"I seem to recall him referring to that cult as 'The Nameless Idiots' (or something similar) somewhere, probably in tBH. Somehow I never took that as plain simple arrogance, but based on something he found out. Could be related to their plans with Icarium (which I of course will not explain here ;) ) too, though."

I too remember thinking that Kellanved's "Nameless idiots" statement was relative to their handling of Icarium, but don't recall offhand specifically why I thought that.
Steven Halter
91. stevenhalter
Robin@86:Thanks! Hopefully we'll all find lots of WOW before we're done.
Steven Halter
92. stevenhalter
Robin@89&Fid@88: Not long to wait for DG now. I think the discussion here will prove to be a nice prelude to DG--especially towards the end.
Stefan Sczuka
94. moeb1us
re nameless idiots

iirc the comment did circle around the 'release' of dejim nebrahl (dessimbelackis' try to create an elder god / 7-faced/soul entity) by the hand of a bunch of nameless ones (plus sister spite). all NOs get killed in that ritual. I think this sacrificing part is what ST disrespects most. The reason behind the release seems to be indeed the change in the relationship of Icarium/Mappo.
But I somehow think that there were other events/actions that ST deems not clever/iffy.
Dan K
95. kramerdude

Interesting discussion. I find myself wavering between the long con and revenge motives constantly. I think there's enough evidence to consider both and not enough to definitively say one way or the other. I think tCG will be interesting to see if it provides more enlightenment on the topic or if it will remain one of those things to forever be a mystery.

And definitely looking forward to DG as well. I have some newfound appreciation for NoK on this reread, but still think its just an appetizer to the feasts that we get next.
Marc Rikmenspoel
96. echomadman
The tree which captures Temper—definitely no friendly Ent, that one! Thanks to Lord of the Rings, I always sort of assume that trees will be on the side of good, don’t you?

You've clearly forgotten about Old Man Willow.
Robin Lemley
97. Robin55077
@ 95. Kramerdude

Yes, I too am looking forward to TCG with barely controlled anticipation to see which threads are closed and which threads are left hanging.

Unlike some readers, I don't want all the answers by the end of TCG. I want to still have questions and doubts. I want a reason to pick up these books again in the future, still pursuing answers to questions that I have. Even once Erikson has written his last word about the Malazan world, as long as I have questions, the series will never end for me. For that reason, I want some of the threads left hanging! LOL

I want to be drawn back to these books again and again over the years to come!
Robin Lemley
98. Robin55077
@ 95. Kramerdude
"Interesting discussion. I find myself wavering between the long con and revenge motives constantly. I think there's enough evidence to consider both and not enough to definitively say one way or the other."

I agree with this comment 100%. I think the truth probably lies somewhere in the mixture. Isn't it great to see everyone's theories on here?

@ darkul

A special thanks to you darkul for taking the time to post in so much detail. You make some valid points and by posting your reasoning behind it rather than just your theory, it gives me a better understanding of where you are coming from. Thanks!

Dan K
99. kramerdude
Robin@97: I agree that things won't be tied up - as is the nature of any historical narrative, not everything will be known and understood. I fully expect this in regard to the ancient history that we have had dolled out in bits and pieces over the course of the books. But I'm really hoping we see a bit more of K&D's motivations to let us go back and fill in a few of the missing pieces that we are theorizing about here.

Either way should be fun...
Dan K
100. kramerdude
Robin@98: I definitely enjoy seeing all the theories. Its one of the things that has me changing my ideas all the time as I digest all the things that everyone is thinking about.
Ben Wert
101. bennyrex
Fascinating discussion going on here...

Doesn't feel like I have much to add as a new reader, but my impressions on the chapter.

This was a tough one for me, and I'm not sure why exactly... I think part of it is my life outside of the book- I had a very busy, very personally intense (don't worry, in a good way) week, and didn't get to reading the chapter until yesterday and today...

When I read chapter 4, from the first sentence, it felt like I was slipping into a comfortable home. Starting chapter 5, I had to wrestle and struggle and remind myself of what was happening. And except for a short scene here or there, none of it resonated with me the way Malazan usually does, (including earlier in this book, so I know it's not an Erikson vs. Esslemont thing.)

I think part of it also goes back to the expectations that someone brought up earlier... I was looking forward to a lot more of Kellanved and Dancer, and while I enjoyed what I got of Dancer, and really appreciated the scene underneath the action, I'm still left feeling disappointed at how the main action seems to be over, and I got nothing more than hints or winks of what was behind the curtain.

I also felt very confused for most of the action, which is something I'm used to in Malazan, but this time there was disengagement as well, which made for a deadly combination.

I will probably reread the chapter again later in the week (or parts of it at least) to see if this really was just my drained mood, and I also plan on reading the whole book again at a later point in the series. Hm... also having read the 100 posts and commentary on the chapter might help me to get more into it. Yeah, I'll definitely read the chapter again in the coming week.

How did you all react to this chapter the first time you read it? How many others read Night of Knives (which I keep initially spelling Knight of Nives) with only Gardens of the Moon (and maybe Deadhouse Gates) under their belt?
Robin Lemley
102. Robin55077
@ 101. bennyrex
"How did you all react to this chapter the first time you read it? How many others read Night of Knives (which I keep initially spelling Knight of Nives) with only Gardens of the Moon (and maybe Deadhouse Gates) under their belt?"

I did not read NoK for the first time until right before Dust of Dreams. By then, I had already read all of the prior books in Erikson's series several times. On my initial read, I found it a bit "boring," although that may be a bit too strong of a word. Maybe "dull" is a better word. By reading it that late in the series, I already knew a lot of what happened this night, just not the particular details. At that point, I felt that NoK did not really add anything to the series for me. To be honest, I remember that I actually felt a bit stupid because I had paid $15.00 for the trade paperback version of a less than 300 page book that I found "boring."

(Sorry Cam, I am sure that sounds way too harsh, way to critical, (downright mean even) and I don't mean it to be. After all, that was just my first impression on my initial read.)

However, where I absolutely did find real value in NoK, was when I read RotCG. A lot of the back-story provided in NoK provided a depth in some of the relationships in RotCG that I don't believe I would have ever found or grasped without having read NoK first.

(Good job Cam! I just had to learn a little patience. The value was there all along. I was just looking for it in the wrong direction! The error was on me, not you, and I will take full credit for the error of my ways! I can honestly say that I have no regrets at all for placing my $15.00 on the counter at Barnes & Noble and walking out with Night of Knives that day!)

And...after I share my post at the end wrap-up of this book with those of you who care to read it, you will come to understand how and why, in a way, Night of Knives perhaps became the most significant book in the entire series to me on a personal level.

Amir Noam
103. Amir

You've clearly forgotten about Old Man Willow.

Ah, but that was part of the Tom Bombadil section. It's entirely justifiable to pretend that never happend :-)
Steven Halter
104. stevenhalter
re--plots: There are clearly plots all over the place. The trick is figuring out:
1) Which things are really plots and
2) Of the things that are plots, what is the actual goal of the plot (and who is really in on it).
SE and ICE have done a really good job of obscuring those two points.
I'm hoping that TCG brings some clarification, but also don't need everything tied up neatly. For many points, we may find that there is no real final answer, but that's part of the fun!
Steven Halter
105. stevenhalter
bennyrex@101:I read NoK somewhere around the time I read Reaper's Gale. The first time I read Chapter 5 I had a similar reaction to yours. I had been picturing the show down between Surly and Kel for years and had been wanting to see the 'real thing'. Thus, I was a bit disappointed not to see the 'live' action.
Upon reflection, and a reread I liked chapter 5 a lot more. It is probably one of those scenes where the 'reality' could never quite match the imaginings of the myriad readers. This lets everyone picture the scene mostly as they want.
This also applies to the "were they alive or dead" debate. We can each reach an answer that we like, but there is sufficient ambiguity that there isn't a complete answer that is obtainable (at this point).
Chris Hawks
106. SaltManZ
I read NoK before BH during my second read through the series (my first read being only the first six books.) Mostly I was disappointed; I found the action (especially in Chapter 5) and much of the book itself confusing to follow; I had difficulties keeping track of the cultists versus the Claws versus Ash's crew. I had problems just parsing some of the sentences. And besides the Stormriders (who didn't even seem like they really had anything to do with the rest of the book) it didn't seem to add much to the MBotF in general, as most of the "important" stuff occurred offstage.

I appreciate and understand the book a lot more on my second read (especially with the discussion here), but most of my issues still remain.
107. darkul
I've read NoK right after my first re-read of GotM, which I started directly after DoD. Now I'm 100 pages before the end of RotCG.

Somehow I kept distance between me and Cam ;), trying to finish the main series before reading any other Malazan novels. Now I just couldn't wait any longer. I began to think that tCG will be a complete riddle for my shabby brain if I do not have some information found in Cam's outputs and a re-read of the whole series. Eventually I had to start with NoK which was also stimulated by the announcement of this re-read.
And finally I had to see why everyone said RotCG seems a major improvement of Cam's style, so I started that also.

English is not my native language, thus I feel often disoriented, struggling to comprehend anything at all.
Fast paced action scenes overwhelm my abilities to follow along with every character. Even personal pronouns can be a puzzle sometimes (who is meant with "he"? You know what I mean).
Slow philosphical parts or fine dialogues the same. I cannot rush over them. Else I would miss so much needed to enjoy/understand the endings and motivations completely.
The first part of Erikson's books is usually relatively slow, but filled with hidden information and huge detail. I try to keep it that way, reading slow, in order to be prepared for the last third. When that starts, Erikson highly accelerates his pace. I need to slow myself down even if it is written more fluently, easier to read most of the time. You know, those small scenes, shooting at you like a machine gun. But ...break ... and brake ... slow down, dear reading little human else you miss so much being tempted to go the same pace the author dictates.
I need to read really slow, very slow, without distractions. No TV, no phone, no radio, no internet, no visitors, NO GIRLFRIEND in the room ;) I have to read many scenes twice, thrice, sometimes fourfold to grab the information given, to ponder about it, to link connections, to build/sort out theories. And even then I never have the feeling that I understood/combined everything.
There are hundreds of scenes throughout those books where you'll feel a bit or totally overstrained. It seems just too much. So chapter 5 in NoK is not an exception. Read it again and maybe again again ;)

No spoiler here, but I have to say that RotCG gives me no chance to get some fresh air. Could it be that it is extremely action packed from start to end? Poooh (that was my thought yesterday, wondering why I had not sweat on my brow).

I forgot to thank Bill&Amanda. But they will hear that often in the next months to come.
Hugh Arai
108. HArai
darkul@42: Temper is impressive here, no question but I think you're exaggerating his situation a bit. First of all, he doesn't appear to be fighting the full power of the Azath. Remember there's the small matter of a Jaghut and a bunch of skeletal somethings trying to escape the grounds. Check Temper's point of view again: they're not focused on pulling him down they're trying to get over the walls and the Claws and cultists are fighting them. So the Azath's a bit distracted and possibly strengthening Faro. By the time Temper's fighting Jhenna, I suspect he's being strengthened by the Azath, not fighting it.

So while unassisted, Temper is basically up against the one evil tree. You're right that it would be a bit much if he beat it underground and blind, but that doesn't actually happen. It pulls one leg under as far as his thigh, and then the other. Temper himself forces his own arms under to hack at the roots with his knives. At that point he's lying on the surface with his cheek against the ground (there's a point there where he worries a root will grab his neck). That's as far under as we see him go. Then he realizes the main stump is probably within reach, he pulls his arms back out of the ground and lunges for the stump, and... we lose viewpoint. My assumption there is he reached the stump and proceeded to hack it and the roots till he beat it. Now I'm not saying that all sounds easy, but it's not out of the realm of possibility for someone who obviously bases his identity on never giving up and gets described as an "armored colossus" :)
109. darkul
Seems plausible, yes. I really read it as he was completely underground.
Later it is obvious that he is strengthened bei the Azath to defend it in a special way. So his fighting abilities and endurance against living beings on two or four legs is of course explained in any case.
I'm just not convinced with the distraction element. I think about the Azath as ... let's say .. the sun shining on a few people in a small spot. No cloud, no shadow. Usually the sun's power is the same on everyone's head. Becoming more intense the nearer you are. So Temper has to fight the same power on his circle, be it a small tree, thin branches and so on, as everyone else on the same circle. ... and here I start to be with you. Temper seems to be near the outer wall, not far into the grounds of the Azath. With my theory that makes its resistance not that strong ...

... forget it ... ah, I doubt my own theory again- good job. HArai :)

Temper is no overpowered monster in this case. Thx.

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