Dec 16 2010 11:04am

Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2 and 3

Welcome to the Malazan Re-read of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapter 2 and 3 of Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson (DG).

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.

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

Chapter Two

Setting: Hissar on southeast coast of Seven Cities.
Duiker walks the streets of Hissar, noting the pictographs on the walls promising rebellion, signs the Malazan high command seems to have little interest in understanding. He ducks into a trader’s tent, pretending to be a Seven Cities native and opposed to the Malazans. There he witnesses a prophecy that the whirlwind (rebellion) will rise and that

“Two fountains of raging blood! Face to face. The blood is the same, the two are the same and salty waves shall wash the shores of Raraku. the Holy Desert remembers its past. Leaving, Duikers muses on how ancient a land/civilization Seven Cities is, how cities lie beneath cities lie beneath cities and it is an enemy “we can never defeat . . . Perhaps victory is not achieved by overcoming that enemy, but by joining it, becoming one with it.”

Inside the Imperial Hold, Duiker enters the council meeting attended by Coltaine, his lieutenant Bult, the cadre mage Kulp, and Mallick Rel. Coltaine recalls last seeing Duiker on his near-deathbed, after Bult had almost killed him in battle (Bult turned his lance when he saw Duiker unarmed). Bult himself had been wounded by Dujek, who lost his arm to Bult’s horse. Duiker says he had been unarmed as an historian but he now records the battles from a relatively safe distance in armor and with bodyguards.

Coltaine announces they are waiting for his warlock, which shocks the attendees as Laseen had purged the Wickan warlocks in a mass execution. Coltaine tells them that the crows came to the dead warlocks and took their souls back to the people to be reincarnated, including the greatest warlock’s—Sormo E’nath, whose power was so great it took eleven crows to carry it away where it was reincarnated. Coltaine introduces a roughly ten-year-old boy as Sormo. Duiker recalls the Rhivi have similar beliefs. Sormo witnessed the same divination in the trader’s camp as Duiker and both agree it promises rebellion soon. Rel tells Coltaine to treat such warning cautiously and skeptically. Sormo accuses Rel of having “hidden motives.” Rel then conveys High Fist’s Pormqual’s orders that Coltaine march overland to Aran to present the 7th Army, order Coltaine rejects, as it would leave the eastern seaboard empty of a Malazan presence. He tells Rel to tell Pormqual he advises a change of orders and will await a reply. Rel leaves upset at being insulted. Duiker reveals to Coltaine that Pormqual doesn’t really govern, Rel does, and that lots of people in Rel’s way end up dead or disappeared. Bult wonders if perhaps they weren’t murdered by Rel or Laseen, as thought, but chose to disappear themselves, and that perhaps Laseen now feels lonely and abandoned. Duiker replies maybe she should have thought of that before killing Kellanved and Dancer and Bult answers that maybe she did so because she knew that though they were good conquerors, they’d be terrible rulers. Coltaine asks Duiker to spy on Rel for him but reconsiders when Duiker worries he’ll be killed; instead Coltaine takes Duiker onto his staff. When the meeting breaks up, Duiker and Kulp speak alone. Kulp tells Duiker he senses the young Wickan boy really is Sormo. Duiker then asks Kulp to help free Heboric Light-Touch from enslavement on Otataral Island.

Setting: The Holy City of Ehrlitan on northeast coast of Seven Cities.
Fiddler, in disguise as a Gral tribesman, has just witnessed a bloody attack by the Red Swords (a brutal Seven Cities military group loyal to the Empress) on believers of the Apocalypse (Dryjhana), including women and children. He saves two young girls whose adult companion was killed from being raped by a pimp by buying them off of them and returning them to their home. Their grandfather is Kimloc, the greatest Tano Spiritwalker (Spiritwalkers have great magic and use song to express it). In conversation, Kimloc warns Fiddler that the desert they plan on crossing to get a ship in Aran will be dangerous due to the Path of Hands, a warren/gate that will soon open and perhaps allow one of the many D’ivers or Soletaken shapeshifters converging there to Ascend and gain power over his/her kind. He also says he knows of the Bridgeburners’ past, how they were “honed in the heat and scorched rock of the Holy Desert Raraku, in pursuit of a Falah’d company of wizards.” He asks permission to take Fiddler’s history with a simple touch so he might fashion that story into a song of power, hinting at the possibility that such a song might lead the Bridgeburners to ascend. Fiddler says no, fearful of what is in his head that might be dangerous to Kimloc and too revelatory of Fiddler. Kimloc gives Fiddler a conch shell invested with songs of power to protect him in the desert. Departing, Fiddler and Kimloc’s captain discuss the decision by Kimloc to cede the Holy City of Karakarang peacefully to the Empire, though he had claimed he could destroy the Malazan armies. The captain says Kimloc had recognized that the Empire would use up as many lives as needed, and Fiddler says even Kimloc probably couldn’t have stopped the T’lan Imass, who had already killed the people of Aren. When the captain says that was a sign of the Empire’s madness, Fiddler argues it was a mistake and says “no command was ever given to the Logros T’lan Imass.”

Fiddler returns to the others and tells Kalam of the convergence. Kalam agrees, saying he read it amid the signs promising rebellion. Fiddler holds back that he met Kimloc, knowing Kalam would kill Kimloc and his family.

Kalam heads to the old city right next to Ehrlitan. He meets Mebra and forces him to tell Kalam the signs/codes that will let him safely pass through the desert. Mebra seemingly accidentally drops the Holy Book of Dryjhana which must be brought to the Seeress so she can raise the Whirlwind. Kalam say she’ll take it to her as security of his safe passage. After Kalam leaves, it’s revealed that this was a Red Sword set up (though they didn’t know the agent of the rebellion would be Kalam) and that they are going to track the book to the Seeress in the desert. Mebra convinces them to let Kalam live afterward, guessing he is heading to Malaz to kill the Empress—important knowledge for the Empire.

Setting: the border between the Holy Desert and the Pan’poysun Odhan
Icarium and Mappo have bested a D’ivers leopard pack (Icarium narrowly avoiding losing himself in anger) but Mappo is injured. They’ve stopped below a tower up in the cliffs but can see no way of getting there. While stopped, a Soletaken bear appears whom Mappo knows. Messremb sembles into human form and speaks pleasantly to both, saying he was curious at the strange scent accompanying Mappo. Curiosity sated, he’ll head back to seek the Path/gates. Mappo warns him they’d met Ryllandaras earlier. After Messremb leaves, Iskaral Pust, High Priest of Shadow, show sup on a mule, talking to himself and disjointedly, repeating “a live given for a life taken.” He says he’ll take them into the tower, which he took over after the nuns of the Queen of Dreams had abandoned it. He sends the mule into the cave, out of it comes Servant (later Icarium and Mappo discuss that a warren had opened in the cave), who climbs up a rope dropped by a bhok’aral and then the three others are pulled up. Icarium has forgotten their recent fight and Mappo lies, saying he fought a single leopard alone and had just used Icarium’s weapon, which is why it has blood on it.

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Two:
Huh! For the first time we’ve moved away from poetry at the start of a chapter. Instead we have a passage from what looks to be a historical text, detailing the Sha’ik rebellion (now we know this name—this is the person that Icarium and Mappo are so wary of in chapter one!) Strikes me that the quote: “...the Aren High Command was rife with treachery, dissension, rivalry and malice...” could easily be stated about any of the various factions in this war over the Malazan Empire and surrounding areas.

The red ochre handprint—done in blood? Or just paint? Regardless, it introduces a wonderful passage concerning the pictographic language of the Seven Cities—wonderful for the authentic symbolism that Erikson brings into the story, but also because of the writing. This is just lovely:

The many cultures of Seven Cities seethed with symbols, a secret pictographic language of oblique references that carried portentous weight among the natives.

Also, Erikson is bringing in the feeling of ”we aren’t in Kansas now“ without having to beat us over the head.

I also love that Duiker realises that just ignoring the natives and the things they do can make enormous danger for the invaders—especially with an important year approaching for those of the Seven Cities. I think this is valid commentary on any people who invade others, and decide to pretend local culture doesn’t exist. How frustrating it must be for Duiker!

His warnings to the High Command seemed to be falling on deaf ears. There were patterns in these symbols, and it seemed that he alone among all the Malazans had any interest in breaking the code, or even in recognizing the risks of maintaining an outsider’s indifference.

It feels strange to have the dust of Hissar drowned in rain. I wonder whether the fact that Hissar has a ”spiritual back to the sea“ will prove to be important? Hissar has such a remarkably different feel from any of the previous locations presented in the Malazan books—chaotic and noisy and colourful. Very Turkish or Moroccan:

Voices shouting, cursing, laughing on all sides, the air filled with durhang smoke and incense, roasting meats, sour wine and sweet ale...

Duiker’s conversation with the food vendor within the tent is interesting—it shows his innate ease with people, I think, his ability to set them talking. Here he is clearly fishing for information, and we learn about the Mezla (a people we have encountered before?) The vendor is nervous about the possibility of Mezla spies and the fact the words can be twisted, and Duiker asks about the “scarred barbarian” who now commands the Mezla army. “Even the Mezla fear him.” Sinister indeed!

The details come thick and fast here! I’m not sure I can set out everything, even if I pick up on it, otherwise this commentary will turn out longer than the book itself!! For instance, here Duiker touches “his forehead in an outlawed gesture of gratitude to a Falah’d whose bones were rotting in the silty mud of Hissar Bay.” Who is the Falah’d? Someone we know? Is this a champion, as we encountered in the flashback of NoK about Dassem? I am really going to be relying on you experienced readers to tell me all the bits I miss! Ah, I’ve just read something that makes a little more sense of this quote: Duiker is using the actions of the natives in order to blend in.

The Circle of Seasons—anything similar to the Season of Rot spoken about in the Prologue, or something completely different? In both cases, there is intimate involvement of the gods, it seems.

Now this prophecy MUST be key!

“Two fountains of raging blood! Face to face. The blood is the same, the two are the same and salty waves shall wash the shores of Raraku. The Holy Desert remembers its past!”

It strikes me that this might be talking about Felisin and Tavore—their blood is the same. Or maybe Paran? Or any other siblings. Could it be the Twins of Chance? The salty waves could be blood, or tears, or literal waves. But prophecy is always fraught when it comes to trying to interpret it. *grins* I know that much, at least, from my reading in the speculative fiction arena! It must also be important that the spirit of Dryjhna brought these tidings?

Hmm, I don’t know if it’s just me, but Erikson seems to be writing lovingly about Seven Cities—far more so than Darujhistan! I wonder if this is secretly one of his favourite civilisations of the Malazan Empire? Certainly his language has stepped up a gear from Gardens of the Moon in terms of improvement—but I guess that could also be due to ten years more writing experience!

This is an enemy we can never defeat, Duiker believed. Yet history tells the stories of those who would challenge that enemy, again and again. Perhaps victory is not achieved by overcoming that enemy, but by joining it, becoming one with it.

Here we have two factors—the first is that Duiker (a man who seems to have good common sense and an appreciation of Seven Cities’ culture) genuinely believes the Malazan Empire won’t defeat Seven Cities. The second is that Duiker really is a subversive element!

Why isn’t Duiker more suspicious and worried about the bow-legged man who precedes him into the headquarters building? Perhaps I’m just too cynical and can’t see the unknown person as anything but bad news?

Interesting...sounds like Dujek saved Duiker from death in battle. And this led indirectly to the loss of Dujek’s arm from a horse bite! Ha, had we already been told that? I can’t recall it, and it sort of amuses me in a dark way. I assumed that the arm had been lost through some gloriously heroic deed, rather than merely being bitten by a horse and then being removed by surgeons!

Ooh, Coltaine slaps down Mallick Rel very thoroughly when he says: “When I’m ready,” in response to Rel trying to start proceedings. And then Bult also takes a turn:

“Understand that the Empress does not convey power upon people whom she does not know. High Fist Pormqual employed you as his messenger boy and that is how the Fist shall treat you. You command nothing. Not Coltaine, not me, not even a lowly mess cook of the Seventh.”

It occurs to me that this approach might be less than wise with Mallick Rel.

Here we have another example of Laseen’s casual culling and cruelty—the Wickan warlocks were mass executed. Her ignorance is also shown:

“The short-haired woman knows nothing of Wickan ways [...] The crows that carried within them the greatest of the warlock souls returned to our people to await each new birth, and so the power of our elders returned to us.”

“Together we witnessed a vision sent by a spirit of great power, a spirit whose face is one among many. This spirit promised armageddon.”

Okay, this is just an aside and not the reason I pulled that quote: doesn’t armageddon somehow sound like a modern word? Even though it featured in the Bible? I don’t know why—maybe it’s just me... Possibly it’s more recent association with nuclear warfare? Okay, I pulled that quote because the prophecy didn’t sound quite as bad as all that, so clearly I am missing something here!

And then here we have a great example of the suspicion and dissent amongst this council: Rel has “hidden motives”; Kulp sees Coltaine as “an adder in his bedroll”; Coltaine has no desire to play the political games of the Malazan army.

Four names of men who were close to Kellanved and whose bodies were never found—we already knew Toc the Elder. Add to that Ameron, Cartheron Crust and Urko. And, I guess, Dassem. Is there going to be a big reunion of all these people at some point? It is interesting that the Wickan, Bult, here suggests that Laseen might have taken down Kellanved and Dancer because she knew better than anyone how their rule would have gone: “...if there was one person close to the throne capable of seeing what was to come, it was Laseen.”

Just want to pick out another instance where sorcery can be ”smelt“: “I could smell on him the ritual drinking of mare’s blood [...] No need to let Sorno know how sensitive my nose is...”

And finally, in the section dealing with Duiker, he asks the Cadre Mage Kulp to help him free Heboric from the Otataral mines (which, obviously, will tie in with Felisin’s storyline at a later date).

This hill of Jen’rahb, kicking off the next section, is suitably mysterious: with mention of the Throne of the Seven Protectors, believed to be “a ring of seven daises, each sanctified by one of the Ascendants who set out to found Seven Cities.” *chants* Erikson never ever ever mentions anything without good reason—what part will this play before the end of the Malazan sequence?

Aha! Mezla = Malazan! Go me!

Oh no no no.... “Two small girls crouched beside a woman’s body near the dried-up fountain” and then “A hunchbacked pimp gathered up the two girls and hobbled out of sight up an alleyway.” And this is the sort of novel where these poor two girls won’t automatically be saved by the hero of the piece.... But thank God for Fiddler *grins*

Fiddler hesitated, then gave the captain his true name, the name he had been born with, long ago.

Might have known Fiddler would have more than one name! Most do in these books. Wonder how long ago he was born?

On top of the prophecy we now hear the following:

“From Raraku the whirlwind of the Apocalypse will come forth. And more, there will be a convergence.”

And then a few more details—The Prophecy of the Path of Hands, a gate that draws both Soletaken and D’ivers.

“Ascendancy means power. Power means control [...] Should one Shapeshifter attain Ascendancy...”

“Domination of its own kind, yes. Such an event would have...repercussions.”

Did anyone else just shudder, or is that only me?

Oho! The chance of the whole Regiment of Bridgeburners ascending?! That sounds immense! And the transfer of Bridgeburner memories can be achieved by Kimloc merely touching Fiddler? Well, will you look at this:

“Captain Turqa will see you out.” He stepped close and laid a hand on Fiddler’s shoulder. “Kimloc Spiritwalker thanks you.”

“The Malazans were under siege with not a hand yet raised against them.” We’ve seen this siege in the form of symbols all over the city, and the increasing likelihood of rebellion against the Malazan Army.

“Laseen had left the old wounds to fester, and what was coming would silence Hood itself.” I believe this is one of the main problems with Laseen—she plays the political game ALL THE TIME. She is never direct in her language, or her treatment of others. And hence resentments build up, and people are able to find allies against her.

“Yes, I swear by the Seven.” This is said by Mebra in the meeting between he and Kalam—is it coincidence that Quick Ben holds seven warrens within him? And there are supposedly seven Ascendants who created the seven daises? All connected, or just something coincidental?

“The Holy Book of Dryjhna has been freed and must return to Raraku, where the Seeress-”

“Will raise the Whirlwind,” Kalam finished.

Hmm, is Fiddler aware of this part of the plan? [Bill’s interjection: Aware and not so thrilled.] Is Sha’ik the Holy Seer mentioned in GotM? [Bill’s interjection: Kinda sorta.] Is this their way of removing Laseen, by unleashing the Whirlwind Goddess? Or is Mebra correct in that Kalam is perfectly willing to unleash hell on the world just to gain safe passage to Aren, so that he can take ship to where Laseen is?

I am becoming more and more intrigued by the relationship between Icarium and Mappo—the nature of protection that Mappo offers. What would happen if Icarium went too far? What are Mappo’s abilities that he is the one to accompany Icarium?

The Jhag has arrows with warrens carved into the shafts that can bring down dragons! These sound amazing—and supremely powerful...

It sounds as though Icarium is designed to combat shapeshifters:

“And you, sir, must be Icarium, maker of mechanisms and now the bane of D’ivers and Soletaken.”

Hmm, Iskaral is an acquired taste, isn’t he? *winks* Hate to say, but on first sight I’m not a fan—but mostly because his dialogue is so rich and dense with clues and foreshadowing. Makes my head hurt when you add that to the rest of the clues I’m meant to be picking up! Imagine a meeting between Iskaral Pust and Kruppe.... I think my head would explode! [Bill’s interjection: Oh, wait for it, wait for iiiiiittt...]

Although I am finding his exchanges with Servant deeply amusing. “Fortunate for Servant I am such a gentle and patient master.” He swung to check on the man’s climb. “Hurry, you snub-tailed dog!”

Who is Servant? Who was he before? [Bill’s interjection: A very good question—and you’ve already been given some subtle hints.]

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Two:

I also loved the pictographic language and for the same reasons: its sense of difference, its subtle nature,the way it isn’t overplayed, the vividness of its description, and the visualizing of what the city may look like.

The setting, as Amanda says, right away has that sense of difference: the sounds, the scents, the language, And while we’re on Seven Cities’ words, Falah’d is the ruler of one of the Holy Cities. I like how Duiker blends himself in via costume, accent, language, and tone/politics, good trait for a historian who wants to do field research.

I know it isn’t particularly insightful to point out that a foretelling by a character is foreshadowing, but yes, that divination is key. Let’s just all remember: “Face to Face. The blood is the same, the two are the same, and salty waves shall wash the shores of Raraku. The Holy Desert remembers its past.” (As we remember the poem that opened in chapter one telling us the desert was once a sea.) Look for that “face to face” construction later.

Shortly after we get Erikson’s archaeological long-time view as we’re told of cities lying atop of cities lying atop of cities, a common description throughout the series. But here Erikson adds a nice bit of a poetic touch to the concept:

Each city forever wept beneath the streets, forever laughed, shouted, hawked wares and bartered and prayed and drew first breaths that brought life and the last breaths that announced death. Beneath the streets there were dreams, wisdom, foolishness, fears, rage, grief, lust and love and bitter hatred.

I like how he goes beyond the usual stone on top of stone and dirt or ruins on top of ruins here and gives us the living (and dying) remnants of the cities that passed before as well. It reminded me of a Bradbury Martian Chronicles story (“Night Meeting”) where a past and present traveler meet and the past phantom describes the beautiful aliveness of his city which the present traveler sees only as dust and ruin.

The council meeting is so much fun for so many reasons:

The putting of Mallick Rel in his place (Boy, I hate Mallick Rel) for one. Gotta love the way Coltaine treats him as a messenger.

The story we get of how Bult got his scars and how Dujek lost his arm. (A world filled with stories and history and people that cross and recross over time.) And you’re right, Amanda, a horse isn’t exactly the story we all filled in that missing limb with, I’m guessing.

Coltaine and Bult’s wry humor (yet another example of Erikson’s ability to create grand duos).

The quick characterization of Bult and the Wickan’s sense of honor when he mentions how Duiker’s lack of weapons “turned his lance.”

Pormqual’s incompetence, self-importance, and unwillingness to leave Aren. (That last a very important detail.)

The reference you picked up to how many of the Old Guard (Kellanved’s group) disappeared, many of them “drowned.” (And yes, we will see some of those bodies.)

Bult’s casting of a different light on Laseen: her own feelings—“isolated, desperate for able people . . . alone, still feeling the wounds of abandonment”—and her possible motivation for usurping the throne—”The Emperor and Dancer were able conquerors, but were they able rulers? . . . if there was one person close to the throne capable of seeing what was to come, it was Laseen.” We’ll have lots of debate on that one in books to come, I’m thinking.

What may be the most important part of the meeting, though, may be the vivid imagery of Laseen’s mass execution of the Wickan wizards. The story is stirring and revelatory in its own right: how the Wickans brought their children to view the bodies hanging on the wall, giving them “memory scars” so the story will live on; the story of Sormo E’nath’s reincarnation—”Eleven days . . . No single crow could hold all of his soul. Each day there came another, until he was all gone. Eleven days, eleven crows . . . Eleven came to him. Eleven.” But beyond its immediate impact, and its introduction of a new character who will play a major role in the plot, it’s also a big hint of what is to come.

Not much to say about Kulp and Duiker’s conversation save to point out a typical characteristic of the Malazan mages: keeping their heads down and not revealing their full abilities—”No need to let Sormo know how sensitive my nose is . . . If I’m lucky he’ll ignore me.”

What I liked about he history of Ehriltan and Jen’rahb, beyond the accretion of history and civilization, was how Erikson gives us the history, and then a story with the history (Jen-rahb “shrugging” and killing tens of thousands in the collapse), and then (and this is my favorite part), a human story within the story—the young cook’s helper who thought his dropping the beaker had caused it all and stabbed himself in the heart.

And while we’re there, how about the image movement from the helper’s red blood flowing on the paving stones directly into Fiddler watching a troop of Red Swords riding through the crowd. Love that!

And then we get to that pivotal conversation between Kimloc and Fiddler. First we get some further explanation of why the Soletaken/D’ivers are converging in the desert: a prophecy involving a gate of some sort called the Path of Hands, a path that may lead to “Ascendancy—for the victor . . . Domination of its own kind.”

We also get more reference to Treach and Ryllandaras.

And, oh, and then, Kimloc saying he’d like to hear more of the Bridgeburner’s pursuit of Quick Ben (Well, pursuit of a company of wizards which ended up w/ them finding Quick Ben.) and make a Tano song of the tale, a song of power that may lead to Ascendancy for an entire regiment. (As Baruk said in GoTM—“there are many paths to Ascendancy.”) All Kimloc need do is touch Fiddler, but Fiddler refuses for his own reasons. (Oh, but that sneaky Spiritwalker—check out the farewell.) “Immense” doesn’t begin to cover it, Amanda!

Then there’s the shell he gives as protection, and yet another reference to the ancient sea that has become Raraku.

As Fiddler leaves with Kimloc’s captain we pick up some more back history of the Empire, in this case the slaughter in Aren by the T’lan Imass, an atrocity we’ll hear more of.

As Kalam heads toward his meeting, we get more of the conflicted sense of allegiance the Bridgeburners have, as Kalam thinks how “by birth he was among the occupied, but he had by choice fought under the standards of the Empire. He’d fought for Emperor Kellanved . . . but not Laseen. Betrayal cut those bonds long ago.”

We also get further view of Kellanved’s rule:

“The Emperor would have cut the heart out of this rebellion with its first beat. A short but unremitting bloodbath, followed by a long peace.”

We’ll see this theory of Kellanved as well as the Empire several times—how his/its ruthlessness is bloody and violent, but serves “peace” in the long run; it’s sort of the “pull the bandaid off fast” theory.

Tene Baralta—more to come from him.

On the whirlwind and Kalam, it’s yet another way to put pressure on Laseen.

We’ve had hints of Icarium’s power and Mappo’s fearful watchfulness over it, and as we return to them the hints turn more direct during the attack of the leopard D’ivers:

[Mappo] saw four of the beast lying motionless around the half-blood Jaghut. Fear gripped the Trell suddenly as his gaze fell on Icarium. How far? How far has the Jhag gone? Beru bless us, please . . . the Jhag plunged among the remaining leopards . . . Within moments five more bodies lay still on the ground . . . After a moment Icarium’s high-pitched keening fell away . . . Not too far. Safe. Gods below, this path . . . I am a fool to follow. Close, all too close.”

Clearly more than just enemies have reason to fear Icarium and just as clear now is that Mappo is more than mere friend, but also watcher and guardian. And based on his flashbacks, it’s safe to assume this assignment has associations with the Nameless Ones, though we’ll learn more eventually. And yes, warrened arrowed—how cool is that?

The next meeting with a shapeshifter, luckily, goes much more peacefully. The giant bear, Messremb, calls on Mappo as a friend and Mappo responds in kind (remember this later!), not only in tone but by doing Messremb the favor of warning him about Ryllandaras. As he heads off (doing them the courtesy of veering at a distance), Icarium observes that “madness lurked within him,” which draws a strong reaction from Mappo, long-time watcher and caretaker of one with the same malady.

And now, for your amusement, confusion, and pleasure, introducing Iskaral Pust—one of this series’ greatest creations: The Man. The Priest. The Mule owner.

You’ll have to watch his words very carefully Amanda; there is a lot buried deep in what he says. “A life given for a life taken,” for instance. His point that his servant has “salty hands,” and that one arm is “wrinkled, one pink.” And then a few moments later his revelation that his servant was a gift from Ammanas (Shadowthrone).

As they prepare to climb to Pust’s temple, we see Icarium’s affliction arise as he has no memory of how he lost an arrow or why there is blood on his sword, no memory of his battle with the leopards. And we see Mappo’s role as he lies, and then responds to Icarium’s question “you would tell me otherwise?” with the painfully lingering: “why would I not, Icarium?”

Chapter Three

Setting: Skullcap, the Otataral mine pit on Otataral Island, off east coast of Seven Cities.
Felisin has just slept with Beneth (a mine overseer though a slave himself) to ensure a day of rest for Heboric, continuing the pattern that had started on the slave ship of selling her body for favors to make survival more likely. It appears that Captain Sawark, in charge of the mine, has received orders to make sure Heboric dies in the mine. Beneth agrees to give him an easier job. Felisin remembers Heboric’s musings on Otataral theories: how it forms only in limestone, that it doesn’t appear natural but is formed magically, how the island’s Otataral seems to have happened when the whole island “melted” when the magic got out of control. Beneth and Felisin come across a young guard Pella, who is worried about the island’s Malazans being outnumbered by the Dosii, with all the talk of rebellion. Beneth tells him not to worry. Pella quotes Kellanved to him, via Duiker’s history, and tells both that the historian’s works are “worth learning.” As they pass Sinker Lake (one of the boundaries of the pit), Felisin notes how much it has dropped as Heboric had asked, though she thinks it useless—everyone who has ever tried escape has either died in the surrounding desert (nearly all) or been caught and executed. Beneth asks Felisin to move in with him but she rejects it, distracting him instead with an offer of a threesome with her and Bula (innkeep), thinking she just needs to keep alive for the day she can face Tavore and kill her.

Felisin enters the tent she shares with Baudin and Heboric. She and Heboric argue, he angry and bitter and guilt-ridden over what she’s done to protect him, she angry over what she’s been forced to do as well as her feeling excluded from some plan the two of them seem to have and her sense that she’s completely on her own. Heboric is also concerned about her growing use of durhang (a drug) and wine.

Setting: Hissar
Duiker watches as Admiral Nok and the fleet depart, taking Rel with them. Kulp arrives and tells him arrangements have been made with regard to helping Heboric escape. They watch as a transport arrives with Red Blades, who have been sent to pacify a restless population if needed. Instead, they disembark ready to immediately attack the market, though they are delayed by Coltaine’s Wickan who had been in the market in disguise. Kulp intervenes with the two brothers (Mesker and Baria) that lead the Red Blades. The Hissar Guards appear with Wickan archers and the brothers back down. Kulp tells Duiker that Coltaine has completely changed the drills; rather than practice battlefield techniques, he has them practicing urban battles involving refugees. Duiker, recognizing what Coltaine fears is coming, tells Kulp to push the Seventh.

Coltaine, Bult, and Duiker are watching the next drill. The Seventh is doing better and Coltaine leaves to give them Wickan Lancer support. Duiker tells Bult the Seventh has earned a day of rest. When Bult at first seems skeptical, Duiker tells him Coltaine will need them rested for what is to come. Bult agrees.

Setting: Ehrlitan
Fiddler and Kalam have had an argument over Kalam taking the book to Sha’ik—Kalam wanting to wound Laseen as much as possible and Fiddler concerned over the Empire and Laseen’s successor. He tells Crokus how things are allegiances are getting confusion: Kalam to Seven Cities, Malazans to the Empire (as opposed to the Empress), etc. While Kalam finds Sha’ik, Fiddler tells Crokus their group will find another “road to Unta,” one that’s “probably never been used before and may not even work.” Crokus scoffs at Fiddler’s chances if Kalam doesn’t make. Moby (identified by Fiddler as a bhok’aral and native to Seven Cities) appears and Fiddler tells Crokus they’ll find more supporters than he Crokus thinks and nobody should be dismissed as useless. Crokus has figured out that Kalam and Fiddler have thought of Apsalar as a backup and that he won’t allow it. Fiddler says she retains Dancer’s skills though the possession is over and that Crokus doesn’t get to speak for her.

Fiddler, Crokus, and Apsalar prepare to leave, with Fiddler in Gral disguise as guardian and guide to two newlyweds making pilgrimage. A group of Red Blades ask Fiddler if they’ve seen a man on a roan riding out; Fiddler says no. Crokus is worried whomever Kalam met the night before has betrayed him. As they ride out, Crokus tells Fiddler Moby has disappeared. Crokus is confused and upset over why his uncle didn’t do anything with his power.

Setting: Iskaral Pust’s temple
Pust tells Mappo to kill any spiders he sees. Mappo has been healed by Pust/Servant, though he won’t completely accept it until two moon cycles has passed and with them the danger of the lycanthropy that a Soletaken/D’iver’s woundings can cause. Mappo goes to join Icarium in Pust’s library, which he’s populated with books he’s stolen from the “great library of the world.”

Icarium is fascinated by the books he’s found and what seems to be evidence of a rich ancient civilization. Mappo recognizes the writing as that of the Nameless Ones. Mappo, seeking to distract Icarium, argues that the books are a sign of decline in that culture, showing an “indolence characterized by pursuit of knowledge . . . no matter the value of such answers,” and gives Gothos’s Folly as an example, saying Gothos’ awareness “of everything, every permutation, every potential” was “Enough to poison every scan he cast on the world.” Icarium believes the books are evidence of his theory that the ruins in Raraku are of a great civilization, perhaps the first human one. Mappo, worried about this trend of thought, asks what it matters. Icarium talks about his obsession with time and says in the end he was just passing time. Mappo changes the subject to his distrust of Pust and desire to leave. Icarium says he suspects that his goal will be achieved in this place and so he prefers to not leave. Mappo then flashes back to his encounter with the Nameless Ones and their statement that they think “not in years, but in centuries.”

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Three:
The Red Blades are really sinister: the idea that they are turning on their friends and families because of their loyalty to the new Overlords. That sort of fanaticism can get very ugly, very fast.

Ugh, rape. What an ugly start to a chapter. I mean, I know that Felisin is in a bad place, but why is rape or forced penetration always used as a way to represent the ugly side of people? Although is it a good question as to whether this is rape at all? After all, Felisin has chosen to use her body as currency—and yet she does not really have a choice. Or does she? Whichever way you look at it, I don’t like the idea—it makes me deeply uncomfortable.

Heboric’s grief and anger at the price she paid at first had been difficult to ignore, filling her with shame.

This is definitely fatherly, and indicates that Heboric hates Felisin’s loss of innocence. Ack, I don’t know...I can see why Felisin would take that path, but surely there was a chance her virginity could have been of more value intact! I’m not sure that she made the right choice.

Some interesting details on Otataral here:

“Otataral, the bane of magic, was born of magic”


“Whatever sorcery created Otataral proved beyond controlling. I would not want to be responsible for unleashing such an event all over again.”

It seems as though no one really knows what Otataral does, where it came from and why it dulls magic—I think if I decided to use it, I would want to know better than this what the effect is.

Pella is clearly trying to pass a message to Felisin, but what?

Uh, is it just me, or is this start to the Felisin storyline a bit... *whispers* boring? The long descriptions, the establishing of a new location, the various people in power...I’m just finding it dull—and that is the FIRST time I’ve been able to say that about any Erikson.

Hmm, is this a reflection of the prophecy we’ve heard? [Bill’s interjection: Yep.]

“One day you’ll find yourself face to face with your sister, and an ocean of blood pouring from Tavore’s veins won’t be enough...”

Wow, so Felisin is drinking, doing drugs and whoring her body out—and all at the tender age of sixteen. And not showing much remorse about it. Or taking note of the care with which Heboric regards her (calling vengeance out on Tavore, for instance). Yep, starting to realise why you lovely folks on this re-read journey stated your dislike for the [little cow] person...

But then I read something like:

I’d hoped to make you smile, Heboric, and I didn’t want my laughter to sound so... hard. I’m not what you think I am. Am I?

And I feel so much pity for this poor, confused, ravaged young girl who has been torn from everything she knows and put into a situation so bad that I can’t even comprehend where her mind must have to go in order to survive.

Oh, this utterly breaks my heart—it’s the cry of a little girl:

It was, she told herself, simply a matter of will to turn pain into pleasure. Survive each hour.

When Kulp and Duiker talk about Coltraine using sappers to build up the ruined monastery on the hill near Seven Cities, would this be the same ruins created by the earth shaking that Kalam remembers, or am I getting confused with my locations?

You’re busy reading the stones in the sand, Sormo. Aren’t you? While Coltaine hammers the Seventh into shape as guardians to Malazan refugees.

Duiker realises way before Kulp what Coltaine intends with the new exercises he is forcing the Seventh army through. I am being very dense though because I can’t work out which Malazan refugees it would be—from the rebellion that is expected? [Bill’s interjection: See, not so dense!]

How telling is this exchange between Crokus and Fiddler:

Fiddler grimaced. “Confusing times for us all. We’ve been outlawed by Laseen, but does that make us any less soldiers of the Empire? Malaz isn’t the Empress and the Empress isn’t Malaz-”

“A moot distinction, I’d say.”

And Fiddler is accidentally letting details drop about his fellow Bridgeburner:

“Kalam wants to be at the heart of things. It’s always been his way.”

Hmm, Fiddler makes the suggestion that perhaps Crokus has some “talents,” since his uncle’s familiar is still around. I think Fiddler also considers Crokus’ intelligence and swiftness of thought a mark of “power,” rather than Crokus just being quick. After he was the Coinbearer, I guess there might be thoughts that Oponn still has a hold on him. Or is it that Moby is attracted to Fiddler? We already know that Fiddler can read the Deck...

Poor Fiddler—I feel sad for him, and wonder what Kalam’s sharp words mean for the future of the Bridgeburners?

There was pathos in that parting, Fiddler belatedly realised, for it seemed that the duty that once bound him and Kalam together, to a single cause which was as much friendship as anything else, had been sundered.

I really appreciate Fiddler’s irascible nature!

“Show some manners, you ugly bastard, or you’ll live to regret it.” (To a horse!)

I’ve realised Mappo and I share the same opinion of Iskaral!

Each question the Trell voiced was answered with a bizarre rambling monologue that seemed to drain him of will beyond the utterance of yet another question.

OH MY GOD! The kitchen is in the library! But think what the steam would do to those books.... Yes, I am virtually in pain at the idea of books going all soggy and wrinkled from water in the air. What madness is this? [Oh, you haven’t even scratched the surface of the madness that is Iskaral!]

I love Icarium and Mappo. I love the hints bein given to us of Mappo’s charge to stay with Icarium from the Nameless Ones. I love the humour. I am worried what will happen if Icarium knows the truth about himself. “Leave this path of thought, Icarium. Leave it now.”

And who is Servant??

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Three:

If anyone thought Felisin, as the young frightened noble girl faced with such extreme horror in the Prologue was going to find her way to a better life before being directly harmed, that cold first line tells us this is not going to be a happy storyline. And the last line of that paragraph drives it home: “You’ll learn to like it, girl.” (Note the reminder to us she is, in fact, only a girl) But then Erikson takes us even further into despair by showing us Felisin’s new bitter wisdom: “I will” and how this act of rape has become merely business: “Does he get a day of rest?” This is a bitterly icy and dark opening to this plot strand (and fair warning—it doesn’t sunny up).

I do think it qualifies as rape—let’s face it, Beneth (and all the others) are under no illusions that the fact she isn’t fighting them off means she is actually desiring. And while I know what you mean Amanda when you say you're tired of authors ”using“ rape, I don't think Erikson is doing this here, using it as a cheap or lazy shortcut to characterize villains as ”bad." I think he’s merely realistically portraying it—this is what happens to women in societies that view them as little more than commodities at best and nuisances/burdens at worst, whether they be entire societies or microcosms of societies without law or outside pressures (i.e. war zones, prisons, etc.). We needn’t look to fantasy worlds, fiction, or long ago times to see it.

As for her virginity, that’s a one-time sale and chances are, it wasn’t going to be bought. This way she gets multiple favors and can use it as the currency it is for her.

We get an some interesting additions to our knowledge of Otataral here, one of the more mysterious aspects of this world. At first, Erikson shows us the veins running “shallow and long, like rivers of rust between compacted beds filled with fossil plants and shellfish.” Then Heboric’s theory:

“Limestone is just the bones of things once living . . .I’m led to believe that Otataral is not a natural ore . . . Otataral, the bane of magic, was born of magic . . . Those veins we dig [are] like a layer of once melted fat . . . This whole island had to melt to make those veins. Whatever sorcery created Otataral proved beyond controlling. I would not want to be responsible for unleashing such an event all over again.”

There’s going to be a lot of speculation on Otataral coming, and I’m not sure we can do much here without some spoilers, but I did want to point out how early we get some very interesting information on it (and from an appropriate source).

And while we’re on the subject of carefully laid plot and character points:

Note the introduction of the young guard Pella and his knowledge of Duiker’s histories

And as well his anxiety over the Dosii and Sawark’s seemingly willful ignorance of them and talk of rebellion. (Echoes of the same worries Duiker thinks of as he goes into the traders’ tent earlier.)

Then of course follows Felisin’s assessment of the lake water’s level and musings on previous escape attempts—this fairly screams “foreshadow!”

As does, though to a slightly lesser extent, Felisin’s motivation for surviving:

Stay alive, Felisin . . . One day you’ll find yourself face to face with your sister, and an ocean of blood pouring from Tavore’s veins won’t be enough . . . One day, face to face, sister” (recall the divination witnessed by Duiker: “Two fountains of raging blood! Face to face. The blood is the same.”

The foreshadowing done, we return to catalog more of Felisin’s downward plunge: her quick movement to the wine jug upon entering her tent, her use of the drug durhang to dull the pain of her life, her jagged relationship with Heboric (ragged over his own guilt and shame for what she is doing to help him), her sense of exclusion as she hears Baudin and Heboric talk between the two of them. One of the saddest moments in the early stages of this book is Felisin’s thoughts when she mentions Bula’s interest in Heboric (or his stumps to be more precise):

“After a moment her laughter fell away . . . I’d hoped to make you smile, Heboric . . . And I didn’t want my laughter to sound so . . . hard. I’m not what you think I am. Am I?”

Just those first few lines are achingly sad, but the end, the questioning of herself, is heartbreaking.

The scene with the arrival of the Red Blades shows us a lot in terms of that militia as well as Coltaine’s command ability to be one step ahead. But what I like most about this scene is Kulp’s involvement. One is his quick willingness to step in to try to protect the innocent people in the market, even before the hidden Wickans step forward. But even better is his line to the Red Blade commander: “Coltaine’s not your enemy yet, Baria.” Note that “yet”—how telling is that?

Kulp’s insight is followed soon though by some obtuseness on his part, as he describes to Duiker how Coltaine has been running the 7th army ragged with urban warfare drills and refugee escorts, but seemingly doesn’t think twice about why Coltaine has changed the drills. Duiker, on the other hand, has keener eyesight here; he knows what’s coming and what Coltaine is preparing for.

Spiders. What’s Iskaral Pust’s problem with spiders? Hmmm . . .

We see further reminder of Mappo’s connections with the Nameless Ones (more to come) and his fear of Icarium’s delving into past civilizations (more to come), and yet another mention of Gothos and his folly (more to come). Lots of bricks being added to lots of walls here.

And thus . . . More to Come . . . :)

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

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

Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter

The red ochre handprint—done in blood?

Red ochre is a naturally occurring pigment. It's basically an iron oxide clay--thus red.
Steven Halter
2. stevenhalter

But thank God for Fiddler *grins*

Thanks indeed. From this little random act of kindness, many events unfold.
Steven Halter
3. stevenhalter

We’ll see this theory of Kellanved as well as the Empire several times—how his/its ruthlessness is bloody and violent, but serves “peace” in the long run;

This has always struck me as a very Roman aspect of the Empire.
Steven Halter
4. stevenhalter

And now, for your amusement, confusion, and pleasure, introducing Iskaral Pust—one of this series’ greatest creations: The Man. The Priest. The Mule owner.

Yay Mule!Yes, pay close attention to what Pust says. He says everything.
Steven Halter
5. stevenhalter
I found this interesting (Kalam speaking to Mebra):

"If you have betrayed me, Adaephon Ben Delat shall know of it. Tell me, could you escape Quick Ben with his warrens unveiled?"

Here, we see Kalam call QB by both Adaephon Ben Delat and Quick Ben. In ABD, the Ben could be being used in its original "son of" form. So ABD could be read as Adaephon, son of Delat.
Maik H
6. Maik H

If anyone thought Felisin, as the young frightened noble girl faced with such extreme horror in the Prologue was going to find her way to a better life before being directly harmed, that cold first line tells us this is not going to be a happy storyline. And the last line of that paragraph drives it home: “You’ll learn to like it, girl.” (Note the reminder to us she is, in fact, only a girl) But then Erikson takes us even further into despair by showing us Felisin’s new bitter wisdom: “I will” and how this act of rape has become merely business: “Does he get a day of rest?” This is a bitterly icy and dark opening to this plot strand (and fair warning—it doesn’t sunny up).

No, it doesn't, and what happened and will happen to Felisin was, to me, the strongest indication that Erikson strives for a lot more than just entertainment in his work. Given that Deadhouse Gates is entertaining as hell, this was not as immediately clear to me as it might have been for others.
A girl ripped out of her familiar life, thrust into a martialistic group of strangers and soon adopted as a bed toy by the alpha male ... and all our pavlovian reflexes, honed by movies and average fantasy novels, wait for her to overcome the horrors, to become strengthened by the experiences. Erikson confounds our expectations by simply answering this: How could she be anything but broken? How could anyone?

Comparing and contrasting this with how Danaerys Targaryen, who starts out in pretty much the same way as Felisin, shapes up over the course of A Song of Ice and Fire, is illuminating. For me, it illustrates the fact that the Game of Thrones cycle, although I like it quite a lot, is still mired in the tropes of wish-fulfillment, whereas the Malaz books have escaped being mere ... well, escapism.
Tai Tastigon
7. Taitastigon
"Where is the library ?"
"Turn right, proceed thirty-four paces, turn right again, twelve paces, then through door on the right, thirty five paces, through archway on right another eleven paces, turn right one last time, fifteen paces, enter the door on the right."
Mappo stared at Iskaral Pust.
The High Priest shifted nervously.
"Or," the Trell said, eyes narrowed, "turn left, nineteen paces."
"Aye," Iskaral muttered.

Vintage Iskaral Pust ! *ggg*

BTW, has anybody ever calculated whether this sum actually works out ?
Steven Halter
8. stevenhalter
This exchange between Iskaral and Icarium:

“Clever Jhag, but I was warned of that, oh yes. You two are sick as undercooked pigs. Servant has prepared your chambers. And broths of healing herbs, roots, potions and elixirs. White Paralt, emulor, tralb—”“Those are poisons,” Mappo pointed out. “Are they? No wonder the pig died. It’s almost time, shall we prepare to ascend?”“Lead the way,” Icarium invited.“A life given for a life taken. Follow me. None can outwit Iskaral Pust.”

Is a very nice example of talking to Pust. The mention of using poisons to heal a pig (which servent would then undercook). The line, "shall we prepare to ascend" seems fraught with meaning in this particular little company.
Also note that Pust has been told that Mappo and Icarium will be joining him.
And then of course, "A life given for a life taken".
Tai Tastigon
9. Taitastigon
Maik @6

No, it doesn't, and what happened and will happen to Felisin was, to me, the strongest indication that Erikson strives for a lot more than just entertainment in his work. Given that Deadhouse Gates is entertaining as hell, this was not as immediately clear to me as it might have been for others.

I am pretty sure it was not clear to any first readers how this would pan out in the long-run. There is a purpose behind creating Felisin that way, but the full scope of this may only be understandable during the run of BH...
Todd Tyrna
10. Ezramoon
A LOT to chew in these chapters...but much of my notes have been covered by Amanda and Bill.

I thought Fiddler saving two girls who just happen to be the great Tano Spiritwalker's grandchildren was a tad convenient...but hey, nothing in this world is really coincidence. There are too many gods of chance and other things that work in the background I feel.

I did notice the increase of prose and descriptions in this book compared to GOTM. I especially liked the paragraph about cities below cities, weeping, laughing, etc. Really really gives us a sense of time and history in this world. This world was not created and constructed on page 1 with all our heroes being the 1st set of people to play in it. This Malazan world has been around a long, LONG time and our good friend Steven is just playing the role of historian for this particular era and sharing it with us.

In one sense, it doesn't matter what happens to anyone or anything in this series...this world has been around, and will be around for thousands of years...period. The story told here will be in the history books for future generations, no matter what happens. But that doesn't diminish this current story. I know Earth will be around long after I'm gone..but that doesn't make my life feel any less significant (much)... :)
Chris Hawks
11. SaltManZ
I took notes this time! Here's Chapter Two:

• Talk about prophecy! "Two fountains of raging blood! Face to face. The blood is the same, the two are the same and salty waves shall wash the shores of Raraku. The Holy Desert remembers its past!" Wow. Total foreshadowing of the end of House of Chains. The italics are mine, highlighting the words that describe the climactic showdown in HoC, to go into which would intrude upon major spoiler territory. My mind is blown.
• I love the history revealed between Bult, Duiker, and Dujek. And I loved Coltaine consoling Bult about his single wife. I picture him struggling to keep a straight face as he does so.
• Ah, the description of Sormo E'nath's death and reincarnation. More "pay attention" material.
• There seems to be an error in the passage where Mallick Rel gives Pormqual's orders to Coltaine. He refers to Coltaine as "High Fist" throughout, but I'm pretty sure he's only a "Fist" and I don't think he's ever referred to as a High Fist by anyone else.
• More on Laseen's purge of the "Old Guard" along with a bunch of names: Toc the Elder, Ameron, Cartheron Crust, Urko... file those away for later.
• When Fiddler meets with the Tano Spiritwalker, we get another fun hint about the origins of the Bridgeburners, and Kalam's and Quick Ben's history with them. Contrast this with a similar story that was briefly mentioned in GotM.
• Kimloc puts his hand on Fiddler's shoulder when he says goodbye. Such a subtle gesture, and yet the ramifications...
• And again we get another glimpse at the Malazan conquest of Seven Cities, this time with a mention of the T'lan Imass. I'm just constantly wowed by how tight and developed the history is.
• Kalam's line about the bluetongue plague is hilarious!
• Earlier in the book, and even this chapter, they were called the "Red Swords". But as of Kalam's scene with Mebra, they're the "Red Blades" and for the rest of the series will be exclusively referred to as such. I can only assume that's some sort of editorial oversight.
• Only our second scene with Mappo and Icarium, and already we get to see Icarium fly into "rage mode".
• Oh, and a shoutout to Nemil! Wow.

And Chapter Three:

• As Felisin plots revenge against her sister, she thinks One day, face to face, sister. Compare with the prophecy given just last chapter (and quoted in my previous entry). Wow. I am humbled by Erikson's genius.
• It's good to see that it's not just a lot of readers that have a problem with Kalam's plan to deliver the Book of Dryjhna and incite the Seven Cities uprising; in fact, it's a point of falling out between Kalam and Fiddler (and Crokus too, perhaps). It does make sense that Kalam likes the plan, seeing as how he's a 7C native and currently has a hate-on for the Empire/Empress. But it's moving to see how Fid feels betrayed by the move, and it sets up motivation for the role he'll take in HoC and beyond
Steven Halter
12. stevenhalter
Kalam hieing off into the desert to deliver the tome to Sha'ik also smells of prophetic/deitic manipulation.
Kalam's argument with Fiddler seems a little out of character for Kalam. His self rationalization that it will hurt Lassen seems easily countered by Fiddler's that it will damage the Empire as a whole.
When characters aren't acting quite as they might be expected, I look for a manipulator who is giving them just that little extra push.
Chris Hawks
13. SaltManZ
And I gotta say, I love Felisin. I think Tory had said in the previous post that it seemed obvious Erikson was setting her up to be dislikable, but I don't get that at all. Rather, I'm awestruck at her courage and generosity. Here's a teenage girl who's been betrayed by her sister, ripped from her home, gone through horror after horror, and left with nothing but her own body—which she trades away to buy leniency for Heboric. Was that the right choice? I can't say, but I can't fault her motivations or her bravery.
Maik H
14. Toster

not to mention mebra is completely setting him up. did dryjhna or some other being nudge kalam to make the decision to take the book? maybe, maybe not. it's one of those little things you can never be sure of that make this series so engrossing.
Karen Martin
15. ksh1elds555
Among the seemingly thousands of important details in these 2 chapters- so many of these points I totally missed when I first read the book so Amanda, you are doing an amazing job!
Pust, one of my favorites, falls off his mule upon meeting Mappo and Icarium, and he splatters himself in red paint... Hmmm...
And the MULES themselves are so cool. So calm and wise and preternaturally intelligent. Is it a coincidence that 2 very mysterious and powerful characters ride mules? Pust and Kruppe.... I think there's more to those mules than meets the eye. I'm always intrigued when I see a mule-riding character on the scene- as much by the mule as the rider. :-)
Tricia Irish
16. Tektonica
I just finished Bonehunters and have started my reread of Deadhouse Gates, and wow, so many facts and so much foreshadowing!

There's so much meat in these chapters (and this book) that I think I'll bring points up one at a time, since we have a week to discuss. ;-)

Duiker is an amazing character! He has been around for a long time, understands various cultures, is calm and heroic and provides insight throughout the book. Glue, might be the right word for him. He ties all the story lines together.

The meeting with all the head honchos is stuffed with facts and info, but the conversation later between Duiker and Kulp is what really stood out in this scene for me.

Kulp: " I suspect the priest of Mael is even now planning his revenge." Oh yeah.
Duiker: " That she regrets her actions and now feels in full, the solitude of power? .......Coltaine was summoned to an audience with the Empress........They were prepared for Mallick Rel."

This makes me wonder just how long Laseen has been under the influence of Rel? We know Pormqual is a weak and a puppet. Plots within plots......
Todd Tyrna
17. Ezramoon
....within plots within plots....makes me one confused, but satisfied, reader at times. I don't even know what questions to continue asking! I think I'll just read some more :)
Tricia Irish
18. Tektonica

Rather, I'm awestruck at her courage and generosity. Here's a teenage girl who's been betrayed by her sister, ripped from her home, gone through horror after horror, and left with nothing but her own body—which she trades away to buy leniency for Heboric.

The sad part about this is that Heboric and Baudin are plotting good things, and no one communicates with each other!!! She feels left out of their plans, abandoned to her own devices, and they see her going down the drain.
Tony Zbaraschuk
19. tonyz
>There seems to be an error in the passage where Mallick Rel gives
Pormqual's orders to Coltaine. He refers to Coltaine as "High Fist"
throughout, but I'm pretty sure he's only a "Fist" and I don't think
he's ever referred to as a High Fist by anyone else.

It may just be Rel being flattering and trying to be underestimated (i.e., his usual slimy self.)

I do find myself wondering why Coltaine went for refugee drills instead of just crushing the rebellion here. He's got the skill and the ruthlessness. Did he not have enough troops?

Regarding the comparison of Kellanved with the Roman method of doing things: there will be more echoes of that. This rebellion certainly feels like the great Mithridatic rebellion (desert/Middle-eastern type society rebelling against an occupying imperial power, complete with large civilian massacres).

Felisin: it's very well-written. It's very horrible.
Steven Halter
20. stevenhalter
I also really like Duiker. When he mentions that:

If I am to record the events of this Empire, I must be in their midst, sir.

I thought--Now that's a historian! He reminds me of Thucydides, who placed quite a bit of value on first hand accounts.
Steven Halter
21. stevenhalter
kshields555@15:Good point. One might want to ask just what a High Priest of Shadow was doing riding around with red paint in the desert.
The mules are great. They are rivaled at this point, only by the bhok’aral.
Steven Halter
22. stevenhalter

The sad part about this is that Heboric and Baudin are plotting good things, and no one communicates with each other!!!

Exactly. Lack of communication (see Laseen) is a common theme here--it is a tragedy after all.
Nathan Martin
23. lerris
Taitastigon @ 7

No, the numbers don't work.
At least, not if you assume 90 degree turns and straight passageways. I don't actually recall the descriptions, but would be surprised if such assumptions could be made. I would venture that this exchange is intended, among other things, to prove the opposite.
Sydo Zandstra
24. Fiddler
Short first post. More to follow. :)


I do find myself wondering why Coltaine went for refugee drills instead of just crushing the rebellion here. He's got the skill and the ruthlessness. Did he not have enough troops?

The rebellion is about the whole continent of Seven Cities, not just Hissar. Coltaine's army is not big enough to handle all that. Providing safety for Malazan citizens is also one of the main tasks of the Malazan garrisons in Seven Cities...
Steven Halter
25. stevenhalter
Fiddler@24:Yes. As Kulp alludes, the rebellion could have been crushed at an early stage, but at this point in time the momentum is to great to stop from occurring.
Dustin George-Miller
26. dustingm
Chapter 2 of DHG is one of my favorite chapters in the book, and ENORMOUSLY important to the overall direction of the series. I have copious notes in the margins of this chapter (yes, I started noting in the margins upon my 2nd re-read) and found myself coming back to this chapter many times while reading later books in the series.

The scene between Kimloc and Fiddler -- it can't be estimated how crucial this exchange is. The repercussions of this meeting still resonate seven books later.
Todd Tyrna
27. Ezramoon
I am guessing that when Kimloc touched Fiddler's shoulder upon leaving... big uh oh!!!
Sydo Zandstra
28. Fiddler
Like most others, I really love Duiker.

Mostly, I love seeing what's happening in Seven Cities with the whole rebellion about to start from his POV. That is the core of what makes this book so strong.

Duiker's seen and witnessed it all before (or at least enough to recognize the signs). Him urging Kulp to press on with the illusions is a sign of that. Duiker is a Hero (even if he considers himself to be an observer, taking notes).

Re: Felisin.
I do not really dislike her story arc. If you look at it from a distance, every choice she makes is kind of a logical mental step.
(I admit I didn't have that opinion on the first read though ;-) )
Amir Noam
29. Amir

The sad part about this is that Heboric and Baudin are plotting good things, and no one communicates with each other!!!

But in true Erikson style, this lack of communication completely makes sense for these characters in these circumstances. Heboric and Baudin have no reason to include Felisin in their plans (given her drug use and close associations with guards and other prisoners).
It can be frustrating to read, but it's very realistic.
Amir Noam
30. Amir

Pella is clearly trying to pass a message to Felisin, but what?

Notice that Pella quotes from a work by Duiker and then we have:
Felisin stepped past Pella. 'I doubt there's a single scroll in Skullcap,' she said.'Maybe you'll find someone's memory worth dragging a net through, eh?'

Felisin understands that he's trying to give her some message, so it's very frustrating that later when Felisin meets Heboric they have this fight and (probably) due to her drug/wine use she forgot about Pella:
There was something else she wanted to tell him, but her memory failed her.
Sven Hesse
31. DrMcCoy
I for one really like Felisin. The tragedy of her story, at least as far as I have read (HoC), is really great.
Dan K
32. kramerdude
Amanda says:

Why isn’t Duiker more suspicious and worried about the bow-legged man who precedes him into the headquarters building? Perhaps I’m just too cynical and can’t see the unknown person as anything but bad news?

But we do learn who this is and in typical Steven style in such obtuse ways. First Duiker notices an odd fellow at the market:

"Across from him stood a figure shrouded in black hides, a goat's head hood pulled up leaving the face in shadow."

Then on the way back to HQ he notices the bow-legged footprints. And then it just sort of goes away. Or does it?

When Coltaine and Bult introduce Sormo we get this line that tells us who Duiker saw at the market and who he followed back to HQ:

"A tall, bow-legged figure stepped into the room, face hidden in the shadow of a goat's head cowl, which he now pulled back, revealing the smooth visage of a boy..."

So Sormo was at the market as well during the prophecy and Duiker followed him back to HQ although he turned off in a different direction at some point.

It's all there but so often hidden...I didn't catch this the first few times through this section either.
Dan K
33. kramerdude
Who is Servant? Who was he before?

What I love about this is that it's both subtle and right in your face. Iskaral saying:

A life given for a life taken, remember those words, remember them... A caring man with salty hands, one wrinkled, one pink - do you grasp the significance of that? Not yet. Not yet.

Steven toying with his readers a little bit there I suspect.
Dan K
34. kramerdude
Some more comments on Chapter 2 chock full of goodness as dustingm says:

Not much to add on the Fiddler/Kimloc scene other than to add to what everyone else has said about the repercussions of this event echoing out throughout the series.

Introduction of Tene Baralta and mention of Lostara Yil. Never forget about any character. You never know who may pop up a book or three later and play a major role in the story.

Something else about Iskaral Pust that we see here that is a big fat clue by four to something else Amanda asks about (and shalter@2 adds to) in her commentary. Shortly after Iskaral meets Mappo and Icarium and right after the Servant revelation he falls off his mule. Mappo steps forward to help:

"You bear your own wounds, sir!".... Mappo knelt beside him, squinting to see signs of the wound that had spilled so much blood. A smell of iron was pungent in the Trell's nose. After a moment he reached under the man's cloak and withdrew an unstoppered bladder. "Not blood. Paint..."

Now just what could Pust be doing with that paint? And more to the point why?
Karen Martin
35. ksh1elds555
One of the main joys of re-reading... I get to slow down a bit, not focus on "what is going to happen" and focus on the present moment in the book. Now I am finding myself feeling more sympathy for Felisin than I did the first time around. I think it is too ingrained in some people to be judgemental about her trading sex for favors in the prison camp. Or the drinking and smoking scenes, just because we tend to frown on that as a modern society. I don't think anyone could comprehend what she's going through to survive in that hellish place. Saving her virginity? How can you do that when you're powerless to stop anyone from raping you if they want to? I still don't "admire" Felisin. In fact, I think her character is really meant to make the reader uncomfortable, put off, repulsed even. It shows a well-written character in my view. And despite my initial feelings of dislike, I am feeling much more compassion for her now. She is a character straight out of a Greek tragedy. All the missed opportunities for building some trust with Heboric and Baudin just kill me.
Dan K
36. kramerdude
"When Kulp and Duiker talk about Coltraine using sappers to build up the ruined monastery on the hill near Seven Cities, would this be the same ruins created by the earth shaking that Kalam remembers, or am I getting confused with my locations?."

Channeling some inner jazz tunes, Amanda???

And Kalam was in Ehrlitan while Coltaine and company are in the area around Hissar.
37. Abalieno
Whichever way you look at it, I don’t like the idea—it makes me deeply uncomfortable.

I guess it's worth discussing. On your blog you posed the question whether "rape" can be "art". The discussion is broad, but also quite straightforward from my point of view.

What's the purpose of a book? Flatter its reader with edifying stories and encouragements?

Is "art" whatever we enjoy, and non-art whatever we despise and contemn? Is art exclusively self-congratulatory?

The point here is that the book will tell its story. The book has EVERY right and legitimation to tell its story without censorship. It's the reader who decides how to personally weigh what he reads.

So should a book just tell a story that makes its readers comfortable and content? Nope, all stories are legitimate as long there's someone who wants to hear them.

At the same time not feeling comfortable with a story and refuse to read it, is a personal and legitimate choice that should always be respected.

So I really won't support the idea that criticizes Erikson for tackling certain themes that may hurt common sensibilities. Every reader can make there a personal choice whether or not to read it, but one can't attack a writer for writing outside certain expectations.

Writing, as part of culture, MUST break through imposed or perceived barriers and limits.

And I write this not because someone has stated the opposite, but because that idea always lingers in these types of discussions.
38. Abalieno
I think it is too ingrained in some people to be judgemental about her trading sex for favors in the prison camp. Or the drinking and smoking scenes, just because we tend to frown on that as a modern society

You can as well stop that first line at "it is too ingrained in some people to be judgemental". That's enough.

I'm very, very uncomfortable even thinking of JUDGING Felisin personally. I feel it very wrong and perverse.

I think personal choices are always to be respected because the external point of view is so hypocritical and partial. It's too easy to nitpick from the outside about the personal choices someone else makes. It's haughty and arrogant.

Felisin makes choices that are solely about her. She hurts herself in some cases. She never deliberately takes action against someone else (at least up to this point).

So, whatever is her choice, I would always respect it because it's not a restraint on someone else's choice. Maybe not approve it, but respect it.

People shouldn't tread carelessly and be judgemental over pain and trauma of others. It's a delicate topic.

Even posing the question whether one of her choice is "right" or "wrong" is about taking a truth out of it and rationalize what can't be rationalized.
Robin Lemley
39. Robin55077
@ Amanda

I will start off this week with an observation that doesn't even really touch on the specific content of these two chapters. Anyone looking for an indication that the years between writing GotM and DG were put to good use by Erikson? Boy Amanda, just look how much you wrote this week in covering just two chapters! We could almost do a sentence-by-sentence analysis at this point.

Also, I want to commend you for catching Kimloc's subtle touch to Fiddler's shoulder as they parted company. From what I have read on various message boards and heard in discussions with many readers of this series, most readers miss that the first time through. GotM certainly trained you well that you have to pay attention to EVERYTHING when reading these books.

Great job! As wierd as it sounds, I am proud of you for doing such a great job on this re-read. Kind of like a mother's pride in her child....we have raised you well.

Tony Zbaraschuk
40. tonyz
I think one should certainly be very careful when judging others, but that's not the same thing as entirely abdicating judgment and just saying "whatever they choose to do is OK."

Because sometimes it's not.

(Not saying much one way or the other about Felisin in the previous; the situation she's in is very nasty and I understand most of her choices -- an advantage about fiction is that we _can_ sometimes see inside characters and know what they're thinking and why they're doing it. I think Felisin doesn't always make good choices, but at least part of the time she's trying to do that. She's a teenager and sometimes doesn't know enough, or think enough, to make good choices. That's her tragedy. )
Maik H
41. alt146
I was also wondering what Iskaral was doing with that paint, but I think it's refered to again later on. Lots of hands in red paint, some of them maybe not in the correct place? might be misremembering here though.

I love the way Erickson conveys a sense of power without hamming it up. And how often it is misdirection ;) Eleven crows - Eleven!

I also really loved the transistion of the story of Ehrlitan to Fiddler's viewpoint, really smooth. Seeing as how it's been mentioned from book one's commentary already, I would be surprised if anyone missed Kimloc's touch :P. Most people do miss it though, one of the many cases where Erickson drops a pivotal moment in a throw-away line.

Iskaral Pust! It's always a hard choice between him Kruppe and Tehol as the funniest, most info-dropping characters. And he only gets better :)

Mappo's last words to Icarium in Chapter 2 are just heartbreaking on a reread. That is one incredibly well written relationship, one of the many deep and complex friendships we see through the series.

I think what sets Felesin's story apart from all the others is the lack of catharsis, the missed chances at redemption. Erickson treats his characters very badly, but there's often a bigger picture. Not the stereotypical wish fulfilling rising above of circumstances, but still something that makes it OK. From a reader's point at least. As much as modern fantasy prides itself on the inversion of tropes and breaking of cliches, deep down we all still long for a happy ending. It's a very fine line for an author to walk to betray that trust that everything will be alright without alienating the reader.
Steven Halter
42. stevenhalter
Lest we get too caught up in the peregrinations of Felesin & Co., let us not forget this scene between Fiddler and Crokus:

"Where's that bhok'aral of yours?" The young man frowned. "I don't know. I guess he was just a pet after all. Went off last night and never came back." He wiped the back of his hand across his face and Fiddler saw smeared tears on his cheeks. "I sort of felt Mammot was with me, with Moby."

Moby has vanished. (A plot by the Empress?) Crokus is distraught. Memories of Mammot and Moby intermingle. Do we know what love is? Sure we know. A boy loves his flying monkey.
Tai Tastigon
43. Taitastigon
SaltM @11

I love the history revealed between Bult, Duiker, and Dujek. And I loved Coltaine consoling Bult about his single wife. I picture him struggling to keep a straight face as he does so.

The wife that is Bult´s blind sister ? *gggg*.
Y´all, get ready for one of those running jokes: The famous infamous *Wickan humor*...
Ben Wert
44. bennyrex
What struck me the most this week was Fiddler's story in Ehrlitan, specifically the juxtoposition of the cook's assistant and Fiddler. I immediately thought -alright, Fiddler's going to do something in this scene that will have huge, series spanning ramifications. I wonder...
Karen Martin
45. ksh1elds555
I think Fiddler is one of Erikson's best characters and this chapter really shows his depth, his humor, and his compassion. And this is just a taste of what more is to come! Not to beat a dead horse about how great a re-read is for me, but I am really noticing the little details much more than before. The imagery, history, foreshadowing, the character development... all those things I was not focussed on the first time around. I'm thinking DG will move up my "favorite" list by quite a bit.
Maik H
46. MDW
You had me so worried on Wednesday when there was no re-read posted. I love this series, and this book is so good, I can't wait to read everyone's comments. I constantly want to hurry on to next chapter but I don't want to move so fast we don't fully discuss the current chapter!

"The salty waves could be blood, or tears, or literal waves." Or it could be all three, right?

"Who is the Falah’d?" Here's another of Erikson's placing references way ahead of time - the Holy Falah'din were first mentioned back at Hairlock's introduction in GoTM. They were the priest/wizard rulers of the seven cities before the Malazan empire invaded. Sometime the term seems to refer to the seven individual rulers, sometimes it seems to encompass their close retainers and families. And the repetition of the number seven - I don't think Quick Ben's ability to open seven warrens at once is part of that, but 7 cities/7 Falah'din/7 flowers/7 of several other things is.

Duiker is a great character. The old emperor certainly chose the right man to make a historian of. And we'll see he still has the veteran touch in a fight!
Maik H
47. MDW
When Mappo recognizes the writing of the Nameless Ones, it's not because the books are written in a Nameless One language but rather that the Nameless Ones use the First Empire langauge and these books were written in the First Empire. At least, that's what I think.
Maik H
48. Marc Rikmenspoel
SaltMan Z wrote:

And I gotta say, I love Felisin. I think Tory had said in the previous post that it seemed obvious Erikson was setting her up to be dislikable, but I don't get that at all. Rather, I'm awestruck at her courage and generosity. Here's a teenage girl who's been betrayed by her sister, ripped from her home, gone through horror after horror, and left with nothing but her own body—which she trades away to buy leniency for
Heboric. Was that the right choice? I can't say, but I can't fault her motivations or her bravery.

This was very much my impression too, when I read DG just over a year ago. She could have become someone's mistress to advance herself, rather than trading herself to improve the lot of Heboric.

I really like how SE handled her entire story arc, it avoids the usual cliches of this sort of thing.

BTW, there was a new graphic novel retelling of Robert E. Howard's famous Kull story The Shadow Kingdom, recently from Dark Horse. Brule the Spear Slayer is portrayed as a muscular black man, with dreadlocks. He's pretty much exactly as I imagine Coltaine! You can look it up on Dark Horse's site, or around the interwebs, the cover of the book includes an image of Brule that works as well as any.
Maik H
49. ight Owl
Tektonia @16
Duiker as Glue sums it up beautifully.

I wonder where Laseen's advisors were, when she was making all her blunders. I can't believe that the Empire is overseen entirely by Laseen alone.

If Coltaine was prepped by Laseen as to what to expect when meeting Mallick Rel, what makes you feel that laseen is under Rel's influence?

Amanda: Super excellent job! Keep injoying.
Tricia Irish
50. Tektonica
ight Owl@49:

How much of this series have your read? I don't want to spoil anything by what I might say.....and it's only a guess....a theory, at this point.

Go gray and we can discuss spoilers in our shout boxes, if you'd like.

As for Laseen's advisors....Tavore is her Adjunct, her right hand, and she's gone on a military campaign. I don't remember hearing about any other advisors, but then at least through Bonehunters, we haven't been given much info on the Imperial structure. I don't think that was very important to SE....but whoever they are....she needs some better ones!
a a-p
51. lostinshadow
I still can't figure Laseen out - presumably (and as hinted in these chapters), because she was so close to Keveland, she got to observe just how batty he was and she thought she could do a better job running the empire. And there are plenty of indications throughout the series that her judgment as to the unsuitability of Kevelland's rule was correct.

Pust - man - he is a trial to read. Funny at times, yes but generally just confusing.

So, having gone to all that trouble, is she really as stupid and bad a ruler as she appears? She seems to be making mistakes right and left but even her enemies (old guard loyal to empire rather than empress) grant that she had good reasons for wanting to take over.

I will happily admit that I tend to speed through the story the first time round but still - Laseen really confounds me. I keep thinking she must be playing a deeper game here.

Re Felisin: if it were just the story in this book, I would feel profoundly sorry for her... I have no problem with how her story unfolds in this book, it is tragic, believable and really well written. And perhaps, as someone said above, I had hoped that she would somehow overcome this nightmare and grow into a better, stronger, admirable person (and yes that is the idealistic fantasy fan speaking) and am saddened that she remained broken and twisted as the story unfolded to its depressing conclusion.
Gerd K
52. Kah-thurak
Remember that Felisin lost the abillitiy to control the events in House of Chains in any serious manner. Otherwise much might have been different. There are hints at that. But Erikson doesnt always give us the happy ending ;-)

Maybe put your theory concerning Laseen in spoiler tags (or give me a shout if you want)? Because, even though I have read even farer than you I still draw a blank concerning Laseen's motivations... or maybe exactly because of that.
Tricia Irish
53. Tektonica
Laseen is an enigma to me. I don't doubt that she saw Kelenved as pretty looney....all that giggling?!.....but some of her decisions are so confusing and least so far, to me. ( Kel was also absent for years when she was running the show, before she seized the title. Not very responsible ruling on Kelenved's part. )

I don't think she is of main importance to SE's story, however. She makes a few decisions that set the story in motion, and keeps it in motion, but SE's focus is on the common soldiers and their interactions.

I would love her backstory it's been hinted she was a barmaid, who became a claw, head claw, and now Empress....a pretty interesting story arc. Do we get more about her?
Steven Halter
54. stevenhalter
Tek@53:We will see more of Laseen. However, I'm not sure as to how much less of an enigma she will be seen.
Dan K
57. kramerdude
Since we've never seen and likely won't see a scene from Laseen's POV (say that fast five times) she will probably remain an enigma. But as I've said before I still think there was more behind her taking the throne. The only thing I think we can say with any degree of certainty is that she has serious trust issues.
Maggie K
58. SneakyVerin
There is so much to miss in this book!
I totally missed that Kimloc did touch Fiddler's shoulder.

I actually really like Felisin. I work with abuse victims though, so I probably am looking at her in a different light, as I don't have the societal normal reality in this instance. Compared to how most humans would act in this situation, she is retaining quite a bit of control. The only bad decision is probably smoking too much. But, she probably had to in order to keep sane.

I think a lot about Laseen. I am purposely not very far along in this series (MOI), and I keep wondering how mamy of these mistakes are even really mistakes, or just an elaborate ruse for people to underestimate her.
Sydo Zandstra
59. Fiddler
Somebody (Hi Tek!!! :D ) voiced a little frustration to me on not being able to discuss stuff here that is going on in the next books.

That makes a good point, actually...

By now, I am guessing Amanda is the only regular here that hasn't at least read up until tBH.

We are doing our best here to post without giving away plot stuff.

But I am wondering for how long we can do this.
Amir Noam
60. Amir
Fiddler @59:
For as long as we can of course.
Never give up! Never surrender!
Steven Halter
61. stevenhalter
Maybe our friendly hosts could start a "spoilerific" thread--a place for people to ask all those Malazan questions they've been dying to.
This would provide a safety valve place and allow new readers a nice feeling of safety.
Edit:Now that I think about it, this also would be problematic since people are at different stages. One persons discussion is another persons spoiler. If people really can't wait, there is the MalazanEmpire forum.
Todd Tyrna
63. Ezramoon
I don't post very much, maybe once per week. But I am reading this at the re-read pace for the 1st time as well, just like Amanda, and following along with every post and comment. There may be plenty of others who are 1st timers too that do not post at all.

So I would also be in favor of a spoiler thread somewhere else. Spoiler tags and invisible text is fine, but I'm sure it gets annoying for the re-readers who would like to continually discuss earlier plots here with later books...but cannot do so easily due to ruining stuff for us newbies.
Allana Schneidmuller
64. blutnocheinmal
I'm doing some reading challenges (this year and 2011) so I won't be able to re-read the Malazan books before I read Dust of Dreams and The Crippled God. So this re-read *is* my re-read. It's great AND terrible, because I've forgotten/half-remember as much as has stuck with me. So the relatively spoiler-free nature of the entire thing can be frustrating.

On Felisin,
When your brother disappears, your sister lets your parents die and abandons you to a slow death in prison, feeling powerless and maltreated are just the beginning.
To this point, I really can't blame her for making the decisions she's made. For having 'Poor little rich teenager' syndrome, she's remained pretty strong in the face of frankly, horrible and de-moralizing circumstances and a bleak outlook.

I love Duiker, he's such a great character. And Fiddler! And yes to the amazing duos!

'Re-reading' the introduction of Coltaine hit me like a sack of bricks though.
The entire book came flooding back and I just so want to re-read it now. GotM was great, but DG pulled me through the emotional ringer. And then came Memories of Ice and Bonehunters, too. Holy balls.
I look forward to the reactions of first time readers.
pat purdy
66. night owl
Hi Tek @50
I've read all the books and retained little to nothing, (I'm allowed, senior moments and all) except I came away with the feeling of wow and the gist of the total picture. I'm loving the reread because I am picking up all the nuances I missed.
Being new to re-reads, I don't know how to go gray or what a shout box is. I've figured out most of the initials.
I had forgotten how much this book impacts emotions. Heavy and yet uplifting in the fact that you are getting answers to some of the questions.
Amanda Rutter
67. ALRutter
I diligently post this EVERY single time when I prepare the re-read posts each week:

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.

As far as I am concerned, this is a key warning to everyone who is reading.

I have already said I don't mind reading spoilers - seriously, guys, I'm not going to get precious about knowing future events. With the amount of detail in these books and in the comments, I won't retain everything - and, on the rare occasions where you guys HAVE started talking in a spoilerific fashion, I haven't had a clue what you've been going on about *grin*

What is the point of a re-read like this if you guys can't talk in full detail?

I say have at it, and let us first-time readers decide how to handle it. There are far more of you than us!
68. Abalieno
Comment 65 is my own and eaten by spam filter.

Anyway, got some time to read the first 20 pages or so. The most obvious aspect for me was a shift in style. The chapter opens with Duiker's PoV and this seems to affect the way Erikson writes. Erikson's prose isn't usually very descriptive and his writing style is pragmatic and terse, coming quite close to Glen Cook's own. But in Duiker's PoV descriptions are used to carry a lot of info. See for example the part where he enters the Imperial Compound, or the very precise description of Coltaine, which may be a first for the series (usually we're given just a couple of broad traits, like skin color). Descriptive passages dipped in detail are also never casual, even if a good half of their meaning is lost to one who isn't "aware" of further developments. Duiker's thoughts follow some of these descriptions but the feeling is of getting just glimpses of much broader considerations, whose implications are far larger and yet very actual and essential to understand what is going to happen. Or simply put: some insane layering going on that I always love :)

This kind of inferred descriptive approach also sets up something that will be used extensively later, so it's very much deliberate. Erikson goes to a certain extent even to adapt the writing style to the PoV and purpose. I find this quite fascinating.

I think the description of Hissar also goes further than just explaining the mixing of various cultures. It underlines more how this happens without much notice even if under everyone's eyes, it happens in an "unseen" way. A process of transformation that isn't registered. More than describing a specific place, this is a link to something more comprehensive. Old that mixes with new, different cultures that co-exist. Yet, it's the whole to matter, defining a temporary, evanescent transition. People come and go, places stay, get transformed and keep memories (remember the first poem about the desert that wasn't there, then remember the prophecy of "salty waves shall wash the shores of Raraku").

If you take all this as a linked chain of symbols you can arrive at some recurring themes. Places that "remember" what was there before and men that have forgotten what came before. Memories that are gone (Memories of Ice), that fall to dust -> dust that drifts with the winds -> desert -> dust/memories forgotten/ghosts of the past/loss/sense of futility -> dust of dreams.

Beneath the streets there were dreams, wisdom, foolishness, fears, rage, grief, lust and love and bitter hatred.

The link between memories and dreams (and then warrens, as manifestations of symbolic space, think of Kruppe's dreams/warren) is quite strong and sometimes even literal, this especially obvious to someone who's read Memories of Ice. Also quite interesting that the small prophecy we're given goes quite out of the bounds of Deadhouse Gates, if one was thinking it was describing what was going to happen in this book. It's obvious that at this point Erikson had a very precise idea of what was to come much later.

But then, does one need the supernatural prophecy when Duiker is as good as any on his own?

yet rule nothing but the city's thin surface, the skin of the present, and would one day be brought down by the spirits below, until they themselves were but one momentary layer among many. This is an enemy we can never defeat.

Once again, literally. ;)

So many layers in this section! And the best part isn't even that one, since it's the interplay between Duiker, Bult, Coltaine, Kulp, Mallick Rel and Sormo to be the high point. It's suddeny obvious how Malazan people always carry with them lots of ambiguity and deception and how everything is dipped in political games. Duiker itself is aware and part of this (his attitude is quite measured), and it contrasts instead with what we see of the other "side". Coltaine, Bult and Sormo are shown as completely barren of deceiving games and subtle play. Both Coltaine and Bult are utterly unsubtle, direct and uncompromising, yet are never shown as "uncomfortable" or unapt dealing with the antics of the others. They are actually defiant of those antics and oppose them openly, while also being quite aware of the consequences. And in the end it's them having an advantage over the Malazan.

Their secrets aren't kept well hidden as a way to keep an edge in the political game, Sormo's nature is given right away for what it is and Duiker gives it a familiar echo:

"The Rhivi of Genabackis have similar beliefs," Duiker said. "A newborn child can become the vessel of a soul that has not passed through Hood's Gates."


Note to Amanda: you should really use what the book offers you. In this case the glossary at the end. Terms like "Mezla" are pointed out clearly and there's really no need to be confused. If you see a weird word just look it up to see if it's covered.
69. Abalieno
What is the point of a re-read like this if you guys can't talk in full detail?

I still think it's a bad idea. The reason is that almost no one is at the same point in the series so a "spoiler" is a relative thing. One thing is having spoilers in a WoT reread, since it's been a while without new books and MOST readers who would read the reread are readers who have already read all the books a long time ago and wish for a recap now that the story is being closed.

But with Malazan is different and I think only an handful of its readers have read everything. It's a very long series, with HUGE books, and all of them relatively recent. Everyone is at a different point.

A completely spoilery reread is, imho, way too soon to have in this case.
Maggie K
70. SneakyVerin
I am a relatively first-time reader (only through MOI and not going to House of chains for a bit), and I also have said before I don't really mind spoilers

Of course, what is a spoiler is a subjective thing...I would be upset if someone was rude enough to post a "list of major characters who die", but up til then I am okay.
It's funny how people are about these things. I one time wrote about something I noticed and someone sent me a shout it was a spoiler...:| The thing that annoys me is people who post 20 times a day... All that ignoring is more troublesome than a slight spoiler which will help me see an important point!
Steven Halter
71. stevenhalter
I'm actually quite happy with the format we've been following. I see it as spoilers allowed, but mostly for the topic we are discussing. For example, someone who just started GotM and read this thread would see lots of spoilers. But, someone who had read through the posts to this point and had read the material wouldn't see any.
I've read everything published to date (just started Stonewielder). There are, of course, things I would like to talk about later in the series, but I can do that elsewhere now if I really want. If I posted some stuff here about Dust of Dream, that wouldn't seem quite apporpriate. Just like if someone with an ARC were to post things here about The Crippled God, that would seem out of bounds.
So, there are spoilers and then there are SPOILERS. This also seems to be a problem with any spoilerific thread--since people are at lots different stages, it would be very difficult to strike a balance.
Tricia Irish
72. Tektonica
Hi guys. Looks like Fiddler (*Hi Fid*) kicked a bit of an ant hill here. Yes, I admit it, I did mention to him that I was a bit frustrated about not being able to discuss certain "hints" and "plot points" that foreshadow events, and bring up larger story arc questions....

I totally sympathize with the complete I was one when this started....I just don't happen to mind spoilers. I'd rather read for depth than be surprised..shrug. SE's writing, his turn of phrase, his insights into the human condition, and his incredibly complex characters are reason enough to keep reading....imho.

Any major info dumps, like characters dying, could be whited out for newbies, but I would love to see some discussion of our, the readers', theories on plot, motivation, philosophy, etc. that might
shed some light on things where we are reading currently.

Not just pointing them out, ie: "Pay attention to this" But maybe more like, "This made me realize that in Book X, this tied into what happened in Book Y and might portend the events in Book Z which affected ABC characters desicision to do E." Not bring in random info from other books, but points that relate.... insights....light bulb moments! (I see your point Shalter.)

Am I making any sense? I really appreciate everyone being careful and considerate, but you guys know so much! And I long to talk to you about it! I hope I am not just being selfish. Does anyone else feel this way?

Amanda: Thank you for always stating gave me hope that I wouldn't be clubbed by bringing this up. It's a fine line we walk between not dropping too much info and discussing the foreshadowing we are encountering here.

Nightowl@66: Well, it looks like you figured it are gray now! And on that page with your info on it, on the right hand side is your shout box. If you click on anyone's name that is gray, you go to their page and can leave a message in their shout box. Welcome!

Abalieno@68: You point out some wonderful aspects of SE's writing. I do think he's very descriptive of place. Not usually in one spot, but dribbled out over several encounters of a place. In Duiker's quote about the bowels of Hissar, you can really see SE's anthropological interests at work. It informs his whole philosophy of life, I think.
a a-p
73. lostinshadow
As someone pointed out above, compared to the LotR or WoT rereads, there are more, lengthier, more complicated and generally newer books in this series so it is a bit harder to gleefully get into every aspect of the various plot threads out there.

Also, what constitutes a spoiler is hard to pinpoint since other than the simple x dies, y dies but comes back as z, etc. some spoiler events mean absolutely nothing to someone who is on book 2 of the series.

Still, Tek I understand your point about the wish to discuss plot and theories about maybe motivations of certain characters or how things evolve in a particular story line.

I think part of the hesitancy to do that might be that at this point in the reread, we have been exposed to completely disparate plots and they have not started coming together at all. So in discussing themes and theories, perhaps we are hesitating about bringing in comments about developments that may not happen for another 4-5 books.

Perhaps a completely separate full spoiler thread is an interesting idea, and that way those newbies or halfway through the series readers can join in the discussion if, like Tek, they don't care about any spoilers while others can stay out of it.

My guess is, around book 3 we are not going to be able to stop ourselves from the theorizing because that's when some of the story lines start coming more together and in book 5, we will definitely be ruining the remaining books in the series because at that point everything really ties together and it's hard to discuss one without the other if you already know what happened. (not sure that sentence made any sense, been proofing power of attorneys all day so weird sentence structure going on in my head)
Amir Noam
74. Amir
Amanda @67:
I appreciate that you have no problems reading spoliers, but for me, trying to avoid spoliers is purely altruistic but somewhat egoistical: I very much enjoy seeing the "first time reader experience" when encountering certain "light bulb" moments int he series. The Malazan series has so many twists and turns and it's fun to follow others who are making this journey for the first time.

I personally prefer the current format - hint at things, with minor spoilers on occasion, but only as it relates to the chapterss discussed in the specific week's review.

We (the series "veterans") can use our knowledge to highlight things that will become important later int he series which probably would escape the notice of the first time readers (e.g. Whiskeyjack's leg being broken at the end of GoTM, or - in this book - Kimloc touching Fiddler's shoulder).

As we get to later books, it might be more and more difficult to avoid bigger spoilers, but I vote for avoiding that for as long as we can.
Todd Tyrna
75. Ezramoon
The more I think on it...I do like this format how it stands. Any MAJOR spoiler that must be brought up can be invisible-inked, with appropriate tags if necessary. Otherwise, Amanda's right, there is that big old disclaimer every week that at your own risk. I like little nudges in the right direction. Without some of the hints and explanations from the vets, we'd really be lost at times, and not gain as much insight on this read.

Everyone here so far has been very professional in discussing what is relevant, and not giving away too much for us new guys. Due to the complexity of the series, most spoilers will go over our heads anyways.
Todd Tyrna
76. Ezramoon
And while we're discussing "technical" stuff, I have 2 quick things:

-Can we get a link to Cam's interview on the main re-read index? I think every other relevant article is linked there already.

-Will someone explain, or link me to an explanation, of all this Red/Grey username color stuff here at Tor? I couldn't find anything looking around the site. I have no idea what it means to switch colors or why I can click some people's names and not others...thanks!

Ok...I'm done with my off-topic babble.
Steven Halter
77. stevenhalter
Ezramoon@76:Your name on posts becomes gray when you register with This lets you edit your posts (and see some content early). If you haven't registered (or haven't signed in) when you post, the name on the post shows up as red.
Karen Martin
78. ksh1elds555
Just 2 quick comments- I know everyone has a unique mental image they conjure when it comes to characters... I always pictured Coltaine and the Wickan people as almost Native American- a horse plains tribe like the Sioux. Secondly, I'm about halfway through RG and I don't think I would like to know what happens in TtH or DoD until I get to read it myself. So I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise or ruin those "OMG" moments for other readers here. The Malazan Empire forum is a good place for discussing later books. My hubby is on HoC and he gets really upset with me if I give away ANYTHING that happens that he hasn't read yet. But I get all excited to discuss things with him and sometimes something slips. I guess it's just a personal preference though.
Maik H
80. djk1978
Sometimes spoilers are inevitable in the course of a discussion. I think those are ok, but we shouldn't discuss things in terms of spoilers that are out of context to the current re-read. If something comes up because it's related to a section of the book that we are currently on then that should be reader beware. I've read up through tBH so spoilers up till there don't bother me, but I'd still like to avoid them as much as possible where they aren't needed.
Maik H
81. Alt146
I think there is invariably going to be some spoilering in a reread like this. What I like about the way that we are doing things at the moment though is it keeps the discussion focused on the chapters in question. There have already been several references in these chapters to the end of HoC. People that have read that far have noted them, maybe made 'wink, wink, nudge, nudge' reference to them and then carried on talking about specific things in the chapter itself. I think if we went open season on spoilers the discussion would rapidly shift to big picture themes and take away a lot of the focus.
Tricia Irish
82. Tektonica

A good point....perhaps later in the series a deeper discussion will be unavoidable, and might be a better time to bring things up. That said, if anyone wants to discuss theories, observations, etc, Shout at me....we can always do email.

I'm just so excited to be rereading DG now, having pretty much, just read it! The foreshadowing is positively dense. Certain things are coming into focus for me, and yet other questions are still going unanswered.

I know....we can have a reread of the reread when this is all finished! ;-)

Seriously, if there are some of you out there reading at the reread pace, I encourage you to read ahead, so that coming back to the books here will really help clarify things. I started when this reread started, and coming back to it now makes the rereading experience with all of you very rich indeed.
Robin Lemley
83. Robin55077
General Observation

This week, we see Fiddler state that he has been fighting Imperial battles for 15 years. This would place the chase through Raraku and thus the initial formation of the Bridgeburners around 1149 Burn's Sleep. This would have been about 5 years prior to Dassem's fall at Y'Ghatan. This makes sense to me and falls together closely enough that I am happy to now have some general "starting point" for the Bridgeburners.

Before everyone starts yelling at me, I know there there are some (what I call minor) timline problems in the series. The existance of these do not bother me, nor do they detract from the story. I have always just wondered about when the Bridgeburners were formed and this at least provides me with an answer that I am happy to work with in my own mind. I only mention it here because I noticed it and the numbers seem to work. I know that I posed the question back in GotM as to when BB's were formed and no one seemed to know. I post this now simply as a possible answer in case anyone else was wondering about the same thing.

Robin Lemley
84. Robin55077
@ 41. alt146
"Mappo's last words to Icarium in Chapter 2 are just heartbreaking on a reread. That is one incredibly well written relationship, one of the many deep and complex friendships we see through the series."

"Heartbreaking" may even be an understatement. And I agree that the relationship between Icarium and Mappo is so incredibly well written. In every interaction between these two characters Erikson seems able to show the result of not just years together, but the sharing of immortality. I find it inconceivable to comprehend the feelings between two people who basically spend every moment of every day for not a year or two but rather thousands of years together, yet, Erikson gives us that with these two characters and we can "feel" it. When you add to that the tragedy of Icarium's affliction, and you see the deep, unselfish love that Mappo has for him, ahhh, just totally awesome writing!

Steven Halter
85. stevenhalter
This section:

Grease smeared on his face and dripping from his fingers, the historian dropped the leaves to the muddy floor at his feet, then ritually touched his forehead in a now outlawed gesture of gratitude to a Falah'd whose bones were rotting in the silty mud of Hissar Bay. The historian's eyes focused on a ring of old men beyond the gamblers and he walked over to it, wiping his hands on his thighs.

was evocative of a couple of things for me. First, we see Duiker mingling with the Seven Cities locals. We get some more description of Hissar and the dead Fala'd that helps evoke time. We also get a good description of the act of Duiker eating and finishing. The particular way in which this was presented was quite reminiscent of a number of scenes in Tarzan by Egdar Rice Burroughs. For example:

And then Lord Greystoke wiped his greasy fingers upon his naked thighs and took up the trail of ...

The image of Tarzan (and others) wiping their greasy fingers is used by ERB on a number of occasions to denote that we're not in polite company here. I'm guessing that SE is using this in much the same fashion here.
Al Cunningham
86. BygTymeGuy
Well, I guess now is a good a time as any to come forth.
I am a first-tyme reader who felt that I would get much more out of reading this series if I was as "unconfused" as possible. Although, I don't have a lot of time to discuss things in depth, I do follow along religously and appreciate the wealth of knowledge that I find within this re-read.

I am also following along with the WOT re-read, but since I found it a year and a half late, I am so far behind. The reason I mention the WOT re-read is that I have found what a detraction it is from following it when so many of the posters constantly go 4-5 books ahead to discuss themes which aren't even a part of the current chapter's discussion.

One of the things I have enjoyed the most with you posters is that you have respected the first time readers and kept major spoilers out of the posts. I understand that minor spoilers happen during re-reads,(probably why they aren't called "reads") but I would hope that we could continue in the current format. As Shalter has pointed out, there are forums that are available elsewhere for those readers who are chomping at the bit to discuss series-wide themes with other veterans.

I do want to offer my gratitude to Bill and Amanda for the time and effort that they have put into this project and which will be required over the coming months.
Robin Lemley
87. Robin55077
@ 86. Byg Tyme Guy

Welcome! Glad to see that you have decided to pull a chair up to the fire and join us. It is a great group of readers we have on this re-read forum and we are always happy to add new people to the group. Enjoy!

My 2 cents!

I too would be happiest if we go along as we have been as far as spoilers are concerned, i.e., trying to avoid major spoilers. One of the things I probably enjoy most during this re-read is getting to live vicariously through the newbies as they hit the "WTF" scenes. I would hate to loose this aspect of the re-read experience. Whatever the majority decides is fine, but I really would hate to loose that "newbie" point of view as things unfold.

Tai Tastigon
88. Taitastigon
Hello guys,

really great group by now here !

Re spoilers...tough call. I feel like Tek - so many things to discuss.

I would say like that: Major spoilers like who dies when should be avoided. On the other hand, certain future plot intricacies can be discussed, because, as Amanda says - the newbies won´t be able to remember these items anyway, let alone place them in context, considering the avalanche of info contained in the cycle...
Joe Long
89. Karsa
re the red ochre handprint and the red pain under Iskaral's robe...

could this be the source of the red handprints that Duiker saw? Kellaved stirring up the pot? I know they are a far way away, but we've seen (or will see) how fast people can move through a warren...
hazel hunter
90. Hetan
There's more on the handprints later on in the book and Iskaral Pust's role. One thing to remember is this is the Path of Hands we're talking about here and Seven Cities is the home of the Human First Empire with all it's baggage which is very relevant to the whole series.

Regarding Felisin and communication with Heboric et al, it's the one thing that really frustrated me too, but as another has already pointed out - they were unable to trust her at this point due to her relationship with Beneth, the durhang and the wine habits.

Another poster (Saltmanz I think) has commented about the Red Swords and the Red Blades being an editorial error - well I am not so certain on that front. I've seen the way these manuscripts come out and I would say that if it's been written that way, it is probably intentional - there are cultural differences between languages and pronunciation and Swords v Blades could be very close in terms of translation between 7C and Malaz.

Deadhouse Gates is one of the best books of the entire series and I love all the different storylines that thread in and out of each other. It is also one of the most pivotal books in the entire series simply from the amount of information that can be picked up from each chapter - as Amanda is finding out!
Gerd K
91. Kah-thurak
@Spoiler "policy"
I think the way it has been handled so far worked quite well. If the discussion goes too far beyond the section covered in the re-Read it will loose focus anyway. You can clearly see this in the WoT re-Reads, where basically the whole series is discussed at random after every re-Read post. What has been done here may be slower and therefore at some points frustrating, but as a whole it makes more sense, I think.
Tricia Irish
92. Tektonica
Gosh, I hate to be a grump at this time of year, but.....

Why isn't there a link to Ch. 4 & 5 on the main Malazan reread page?
Shouldn't that go up at the same time as the new Post???
I can't get to it now, since I haven't bookmarked anything on it yet.

Help!!! Pretty please.
Maik H
93. alt146
There is a link in the main page blog, just scroll down a little. Else it is here:

I agree though, things not being linked is getting irritating. I don't think it is too much to ask to have whoever puts the post of also edit the main reread page.
Sydo Zandstra
94. Fiddler
Hey guys,

Sorry for my late reply re:spoilers. I've been feeling flu-ish lately, and was really not in the mood to use my brains in commenting.

I have no problems with the current spoiler policy. I may put up some stuff and probably will put it in white text when I do it. But I already did that.

Just wanted to put that issue on the table for discussion. :)
Mieneke van der Salm
95. Mieneke
Hey all! Finally got up to speed reading this post. I'm so behind :( I still need to read last week's chapters (4&5) and this weeks (6&7). And I hadn't even looked at this post yet. I've been ill with a major cold or rather me, hubby and baby have been ill in turns (not fun) and then Christmas happened. But as I'm on Christmas break, I'm determined to catch back up!

I just wanted to add that I loved the way we've been doing these posts so far and I hope we can keep them this way. Right I'm off to read chapters 4 & 5. See you in the next post ;)
Maik H
96. David DeLaney
I realize we're all gone off to the Chapters 4&5 post already, but I just want to respond to one tiny point here:

>is it coincidence that Quick Ben holds seven warrens within him?

Quick Ben does not, in fact, hold seven warrens within him. (This is a spoiler, yet it is not a spoiler. :P )

I've personally finished my reread through Dust of Dreams a few weeks back, and am now just waiting for The Crippled God (and, from the above, should be looking for Stonewielder really soon as well); like many of the rest, watching Amanda read and seeing what she picks up on (or doesn't) is a joy. Thanks for this re-read series, guys!

Maik H
97. Blomgren
I'm a bit distressed that no one has mentioned a phrase that had me laughing out loud; when Crokus calls Fiddler " a glorified ditch-digger " :)
Sanne Jense
98. Cassanne
Fiddler calls Crokus a glorified cut-purse, basically. They're all very grumpy. Also, on this reread, Crokus grates n me way more than Felisin. If anyone is a spoiled child, it's him. Felisin is smart, tough, and she has a conscience. And she only just turned fifteen... She is as much a survivor as the other Parans, and so far she's had it worst. Not that Tavore or Ganoes are exactly having fun lately.

My gbig question after these chapters is: why is Laseen killing all the mages? She started ten years ago, in major fashion. Culling the Mouse, culling the Wickan warlocks, and I bt that wasn't all. Then there's the battle that started the series. The armies are fast running out of mages, and these are not being replaced. No wonder the remaining few keep such a low profile. Is it simple paranoia? Is it because Kellanved was a wizard? Is she trying to create a monopoly? It just seems another highly dangerous thing to do, so she must have damn good reasons.
Alex P. W.
99. Alex_W
Hello again

A lot of informations in these chapters, for once not so much action going on, but that is fine with me :-), everybody needs some rest.

I feel a lot for Felisin. I also like the storyparts with her. I don't see why exactly some other's don't. It's heartbreaking what she goes through. What's happening to her and what she's thinking, I don't find that to be boring at all. While in my opinion it's not exactly rape what she goes through, it's horrible in the same way, that she gives herself to the people in charge to have somewhat a little bit of a better life and to take care of her only two "friends" she has right now. If she would not be dooing that, her friends and she herself would have likely died allready in the ship bringing them to 7C. And now here in Skullcap, her life would be of course a lot more horrible still if she wouldn't give herself to this Slave boss like that. She probably would have been raped and killed allready by other slaves and the hard work in the mines, if she would not sell herself. So I don't really see such a bad choice up untill now she might have made. And drinking and smoking makes everything a lot easier to endure of course. I think she deals quite well so far under those circumstances.

I am really wondering now, why Mappo is so keen on not letting Icarium know of tha past civilizations and about the nameless ones. What's so horrible to know for him there? I'm keen to find out more about that reading on. I love the two characters by the way.

Iskaral Pust, don't like him so far. He speaks in riddles and seems pretty crazy to me, but that will probably change at some point, understanding later on, what he was rambling about all the time :-)

I like Duiker a lot. And Coltaine and his right-hand man. Fiddler of course too and I'm sad Kalam parted ways with them. I liked the 4 together. Where's Moby? Hope he comes back soon :-)

And I sure hope you guys and girls here haven't changed the rules concerning spoilers from here on, since I thought some comments here seemed allready sometimes a little bit to spolier-like to me :-)

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