Wed
Dec 22 2010 1:01pm

Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 4 and 5

Deadhouse Gates by Steven EriksonWelcome to the Malazan Re-read of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapter 4 and 5 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 Four

SCENE 1

Setting: Otataral Mine

Felisin, numbed by durhang and her experiences, watches as Beneth’s men futilely try to rescue miners buried in a collapse. Heboric is no longer in the mines but is working a better job thanks to her. She thinks of how she’s going to Beneth more and more, “wanting to be used.” Heboric tells her she does it to feel anything, even pain. Pella comes up and asks if she relayed his message to Heboric; she doesn’t remember him.

SCENE 2

Felisin accompanies Beneth to a meeting with Captain Sawark. Beneth warns Sawark about the Dosii in camp and the rebellion. Sawark dismisses it. Beneth wonders if Sawark has found “the name you sought.” Sawark denies looking for anyone. Beneth offers Felisin to him for knowledge of why Baudin was arrested that morning. Beneth mentions Felisin’s age and arrival date and Sawark goes pale, then asks Beneth if Baudin works for him. Upon exiting the meeting, Beneth beats Felisin, demanding to know who she really is and why Sawark reacted to her as he did. Felisin says she was a foundling left to a Fener Monastery on Malaz Island. Beneth beats her unconscious and leaves her. She awakens in her tent with Heboric ministering to her. She tells him to tell Beneth she’s sorry and wants to go back to him. He says he covered for her so Beneth might take her back.

SCENE 3

Setting: Estara hills coastal road/Ladro Keep

Kalam is driven to seek shelter from a sandstorm at a Malazan guardhouse. Harassed by the company there, he reveals himself as a Clawmaster to the sergeant in charge. Lostara Yil and a fellow Red Blade arrive (in disguise). A merchant’s wife begins to do a Deck “reading” but Kalam calls her out as a fraud. In anger she throws the Deck at him and it forms a pattern around him: Six cards of High House Death surrounding a single card—the Rope, Assassin of Shadow.

SCENE 4

Lostara and her company are the last to leave the keep, after killing the soldiers inside. They continue to tail Kalam.

SCENE 5

Setting: Pust’s temple

Exploring the temple, Icarium and Mappo find a stair leading down to an older structure and a room with paintings of beasts on the walls and a blocked doorway. They free the portal and find a corridor that has the sense of Kurald Galain (Tiste Andii warren), according to Icarium: “the feel of Dark” or an Elder Warren and one he cannot name. The corridor leads to a room filled with sorcery that has been corrupted, it has the feel of D’ivers/Soletaken and they realize they’ve found the Path of Hands, the Gate. Icarium and Mappo both recognize the carvings as familiar, and Icarium says they’re getting closer to comprehension, which worries Mappo. They decide to ask Pust. Pust tells them “nothing is as it seems.” Wonders why the two of them, despite their age, haven’t ascended. He tells a story of his staring contest with a bhok’aral and mentions that one who “does not waver from his cause” is “dull-witted.” When questioned by Mappo Pust says they know nothing of Shadowthrone’s plans and tells them to find his broom. Icarium, to Mappo’s surprise, agrees to.

SCENE 6

Setting: Hissar/desert outside of Hissar

Duiker, Kulp, Bult, and Sormo ride out to an old oasis so Sormo can perform a rite. Duiker is uneasy over it. Sormo says the spirits he wants to contact are pre-Seven-Cities, akin to the Tellann Warren, which only makes Duiker more nervous. He mentions the T’lan Imass have “turned their backs on the Empress” since the Emperor’s assassination and when Sormo asks if he’s never wondered why that was, Duiker thinks he has a theory but it would be treason to voice it. When Sormo performs his rite, they enter the Tellann warren and are immediately attacked by Shapeshifters and Bult goes down, stung by many wasps. A huge black demon comes out of nowhere to aid them against the many D’ivers/Soletaken. Kulp knocks out Sormo with a punch and they return to the oasis. Sormo says there are only 10 crows left, then tells them they walked into a convergence by coincidence; that the Shapeshifters were using the warren assuming no Imass would be in order to get to the Path of Hands or there is some link between Tellann and shapeshifting. Kulp works on healing Bult.

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Four:

At the start of this chapter we have yet more emphasis of the bleakness of the mines—thirty-odd dead slaves and “slaves were collapsing by the score every hour below ground.” The most worrying part of this is Felisin’s expressionless face as she watches the retrieval of the bodies—is she already so hardened to death?

Is it possible for a person to die inside? Poor Felisin is fading and “numb,”, as Heboric tells her. I hate the fact she is seeking out abuse just so that she can feel something.

She sought him out when he was drunk, weaving and generous, when he offered her to his friends, to Bula and to other women.

We are also given warning of how much the drugs are affecting her: she can’t remember much of what is occurring and appears aged in a matter of weeks. I ache for her, I really do. How sad that she responds to any sort of interest by telling them to ask Beneth for her body. There is also a danger hinted that Beneth (her protector of sorts in this vile place) is losing interest in her.

There is an indication of just how disposable these slaves are:

“Saved some? What’s the point?”

I just want to make mention of Erikson’s character descriptions—they feel like the work of a GM, drawing a clear picture of what each character looks like. A good example of this is the description of Sawark:

The man was thin, devoid of fat, the muscles on his bared forearms like twisted cables under pale skin. Against the present fashion, he was bearded, the wiry black ringlets oiled and scented. The hair on his head was cut short. Watery green eyes glittered from a permanent squint above high cheekbones. His wide mouth was bracketed in deep downturned lines.

I mean, that presents a very definite picture of Sawark, right? I don’t know how prominent a character Sawark will end up being—but that lovingly detailed look at him indicates we’ll see a lot more of him. [Bill’s interjection: Or perhaps not.] I am interested to see whether this is deliberate misdirection by Erikson, like when Joss Whedon included Amber Benson’s character in the opening credits for Buffy for the first time in the episode where she died!

More mention of the Whirlwind as Beneth talks to Sawark, linking through to the previous prophecies heard. *shudders* Imagine a rebellion in these mines...

And then an intriguing snippet of conversation:

“You’ve tallied this morning’s dead? Did you find the name you sought?”

“I sought no particular name, Beneth. You think you’ve guessed something, but there’s nothing there. I’m losing patience.”

“There were four mages among the victims—”

“Enough!”

Who was Sawark searching for? Why is Beneth pushing Sawark about it? What relevance are the dead mages? Indicates that Sawark is searching for a mage within the slaves?

Ooh, why does Sawark’s interest sharpen on Felisin once he hears her age and when she came into the mines? Does this tell him who she is?

I read the whole sequence of Beneth beating Felisin with a frown on my face. Her whole tale makes me extraordinarily uncomfortable—this strong man beating a fifteen year old girl, whom he has also raped and made dependent on drugs. Ugh, what a horrible horrible person. I SERIOUSLY want him to get his comeuppance. This is partly why I am glad that Baudin has managed to escape the clutches of the guards, because I sense that he might be able to take Beneth to task...

Every conversation between Heboric and Felisin makes me want to weep with frustration and sadness... Why can’t they just talk to each other honestly and openly? Why does Heboric not have more understanding for this poor little girl who is seeking the only way she knows how to survive?

The sandstorm that comes down on Kalam is termed an “ochre wall”—this keep the red theme going, what with the ochre handprints, the Red Blades and the blood we’ve seen copiously so far. It also makes me think of the Whirlwind to come.

I wonder if Erikson is a horse rider, or has tried it? Often you can tell the difference in writing between those authors who have and those authors who haven’t actually clambered onto a horse as part of research. I firmly believe that all authors who wish to include horses extensively as a mode of transport in their books should try horse riding—once they’ve experienced the muscular pain the following day from one short hour when you’re not used to it, I’m sure they would write more accurately. *grins*

Hmm, chance strikes again... Kalam doesn’t want to stay at Ladro Keep, yet the sandstorm forces him there. Coincidence? Erikson really doesn’t write many of them.

Just another point to make on Erikson’s writing—he is a firm believer of not introducing guns in a chapter unless you are planning to use them; here there is the velvet bag that Kalam notices. A lesser author would just use this as a point of description, whereas you know that with Erikson it will become important pages later—so, here, the velvet bag is involved with the Deck of Dragons.

*grins* It amuses me that this master assassin is able to convince this amateur in a back-water keep that he is not dangerous! I can understand Kalam either keeping or obtaining the mark of a Clawmaster to ease passage across difficult areas where the Malazans are in charge, but why does he still wear it round his neck? Any last loyalty to the Claws? Or simply a way of hiding who he actually is?

Hmm, a rare mistake by Kalam?

Flat eyes surveyed the guards and the other guests, held briefly on each of them before continuing on. Kalam saw no special attention accorded him.

And then he reveals great knowledge about the Deck—for someone who is trying to travel inconspicuously, Kalam is definitely making himself memorable! And then the falling of the Deck into the pattern around him will compound this—revealing him to be an Assassin, to anyone who has knowledge of the Deck, and showing that Hood’s attention is on him.

And here, again, coincidence that isn’t coincidence: because of Kalam revealing that he was a Clawmaster (even though untrue), all the guardsmen of the Keep are now dead. I do not grieve for them—they weren’t nice men—but it seems sad that they would die for such a spurious reason.

Is it to do with their respective species that Icarium and Mappo are able to see so well in the dark?

Before they head down into the crypt they believe that it is governed by the Queen of Dreams, but then “These paintings do not belong to the cult of the Queen...” The dark mythos, the forbidding forest, the four-legged creatures—everything points to shapeshifters instead. Slightly disconcerting that the bhok’arala do not come through the gap in the stonework...

The discussion about the Warren is incredibly interesting—it has the “feel” of Dark, the feel of Kurald Galain, and Icarium believes it to be an Elder Warren. So, here, is it true that the Tiste Andii have once been to Seven Cities? Or is there another Elder Warren with the taste of Dark that Icarium hasn’t encountered before?

Is this a mistake or have I picked something up? I believed it was only Icarium and Mappo who descended the stairs, but it then says: “Without another word the three began walking.” The three?! [Bill’s interjection: Mappo, Icarium, and the reader.]

And, seriously, what is this complete obsession with counting paces?

I think that the images on the floor—intricately carved and then defaced with gouges—are going to be key thanks to the obtuseness with which they are referenced:

“Look upon the undamaged carvings—what do they remind you of?”

Mappo had an answer to that. He scanned the array with growing certainty, but the realisation it offered held no answers, only more questions. “I see the likeness, yet there is an...unlikeness, as well. Even more irritating, I can think of no possible linkage...”

Even more irritating, I can’t think of what they might be linking to!

And how central is this to everything:

“We approach comprehension [...] The Nameless Ones, with their charges and hints and visions, their cowled purposes and shrouded desires. Creatures of fraught antiquity, if the Trellish legends held any glimmer of truth. And Icarium, oh, dear friend, I can tell you nothing. My curse is silence to your every question, and the hand I offer as a brother will lead you only into deceit. In love’s name, I do this, at my own cost... and such a cost.”

This just seems so sad—and the language is simply beautiful. It’s one of the most lovely passages so far, and there have been some great ones.

“A life given for a life taken.” How many times will we hear this? And, how many times will I note it and think to myself that all the re-readers are chortling at me because I simply have no idea what it means when Pust says it. It is interesting to hear that longevity does not automatically equal ascendancy. And reference again to killing spiders! Either that Pust has a real arachnophobia or this is highly relevant! Or maybe neither of these are relevant at all, and the repetition is just being used to make me take note of those sentences and discard everything else Pust says? [Bill’s interjection: Oh no, spiders will play their part.]

*grins* And then the sense of menace and foreboding is entirely punctured by the fact that Iscarium takes it upon himself to find Iskaral Pust a broom!

Duiker gets incredibly grumpy when tired: “For the defence of decency alone, the Empress might be excused the executions,” indeed!

I don’t know if it is just me, but Duiker is the character I feel is most autobiographical for Erikson, especially when he says such things as: “It’s a poor scholar who trusts anyone’s judgement [...] Even and perhaps especially his own.”

 Why have the undead warriors—the T’lan Imass, turned their back on the Empress? Since this is asked so explicitly of Duiker, and since he does have theories, I’m assuming y’all do as well. *grin* I can but think that their alliance with Kellanved was to give them some sort of benefit, that they will no longer receive under the reign of the Empress. Maybe the use of Shadow will keep the Jaghut where they should be, something like that? I’m probably way off...

The only real thing I take from the encounter with the shapeshifters in the Tellann Warren is that there might be a connection between the T’lan Imass and the shapeshifters. Either that, or the T’lan Imass are really stepping aside to let the Empire go to rot and ruin. What am I missing?

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Four:

Yes, Felisin is that fallen. We find her almost completely lost, ready to, as she says, “surrender.” The devastation of the mine collapse evokes only a “faint residue of pity”; she’s falling deeper into a durhang addiction; she barely speaks to Heboric anymore; when Pella speaks to her she thinks of him only as another person she’s to be given to; she slips in and out of conversations, focus, reality; she recoils at light; she thinks of her arrival, only two weeks ago, as “long ago.” Out of all these phrases detailing this young girl’s fall, to me the saddest in this opening was “She’d grown to like calluses.” I take that as the roughness of them means she can still feel something and will take it, even if that something is her rapist’s rough-hewn skin. As Heboric says, she’s numb and her “thirst for feeling grows, until even pain will do.”

The tiny detail when they arrive for the meeting with Sawark of the “long guard” standing outside the entrance, his “pike held loosely in one hand” is a nice way of portraying their lack of preparedness for the imminent rebellion and stands in nice contrast to Beneth’s attempt to warn Sawark.

While we’re on Beneth, as horrible as he is, he’s another example of Erikson refusing to paint even these side characters in stock, simplistic turns: Felisin’s revelation to Pella that Beneth grieves for the dead. And then, of course, a few pages later, he’s beating the hell out of her, scared by Sawark’s sudden panic when he finds out how old she is and when she arrived. I’m curious in that scene what some of you think Beneth’s “new reason” is for continuing to beat her, as it explicitly says it’s no longer to gain the truth. (I have my own reading but I’m curious as to others’ thoughts.)

And then, to drive home just how far Felisin has now gone, she has to barely squeeze out through her cracked ribs and swollen mouth and lips that she wants to apologize to Beneth in hope he’ll take her back.

I have to say, I’m a little surprised at the nonchalance with which Kalam faces Lostara Yil and the other Red Blade in the keep. With what his missions are and the fact he came from a Malazan-controlled city, you’d think he’d be a bit more wary of two armored strangers showing up so shortly after he himself did in the midst of a sandstorm. He and Fiddler were certainly paranoid enough about the messenger they saw before landing; his banter with her and desire to sleep with her, not to mention a seeming lack of curiosity, seems a bit out of character to me. Anybody else? By the way, I’m pretty sure Kalam has that Claw talisman legitimately, from being a Clawmaster.

And yes, what a great moment with the Deck forming a pattern of High House Death around him (and the Holy Book). And a great line to close that section. A tension-breaker line that is quickly turned back by the cold conversation between Lostara Yil and the other Red Blade about killing everyone in the keep, with the “usual” thoroughness.

There are several things I liked in the Mappo/Icarium section:

One of course continues to be their relationship with one another, the ease with which they interact, the affection, the gentle banter. (We’ll see other pairs with not so gentle banter.)

I like the early subtle hint of the paintings of forests with “hulking, four-legged beasts, their eyes glowing.”

I like Mappo’s inability to restrain his own curiosity, despite the burden and fear he carries with regard to the whole idea of answers to mysteries.

It is intriguing that the bhok’arala do not follow them.

The annoyingly vague reference to the warren used: one with the “feel” of Kural Galain, of Dark, of an Elder Warren, though there are possibilities . . .

The understatement of Icarium’s “I do not suggest we enter this chamber.” Remember who is saying this—Icarium! You do not want to mess with something that unnerves Icarium.

Mappo’s fear of three simple words from Icarium: “We approach comprehension.”

And then we’re back to Pust, who tells them so much via so little, beginning with “Nothing is as it seems.” That’s a key line in this book (what the heck, it’s a key line for the whole damn series). And I find his line to Mappo about considering someone who doesn’t waver from his cause “dull-witted” quite resonant. Remember that Mappo is, if nothing else, a man with a cause. As is Icarium.

That little throwaway line on the T’lan Imass walking away from the Empire after Kellanved and Dancer’s assassination—we’ll hear more about this in the future.

As Duiker feels Sormo E’nath’s power, he wonders if Laseen had made a mistake in executing the Wickan warlock’s (or “kinda” executing them)—neither the first nor last time veterans will speculate on Laseen’s errors as Empress.

I too felt that line on scholars wasn’t just talking about Malazan ones.

While I like the concept of the shapeshifter attack, I admit to feeling it was a bit, I’m struggling for a word here, “cheap” is too harsh but “implausible” doesn’t quite do it. I’ll just go with “bothered” I guess. The newly-arrived demon acting as a “lodestone,” luring all the shapeshifters (and there are lots of them, I mean, lots) seems just a bit too easy a way to give us a scene of “amazing” danger and power while letting our characters survive it. I like the idea of the scene, and much of the scene itself, but that just made it feel a bit overly manipulative. Any ideas on where that demon came from and why it warned them?

We’re once again reminded of the Convergence coming at the Path of Hands, but what I found more interesting (simply because we already knew about the convergence) was Sormo’s musings on a possible link between Tellann and shapeshifting.

I like the dung beetle at the end for various reasons. One is the obvious sense of “we’re all tiny insects in a big world” idea, all of them caught up in events they can’t even fathom. But I also like the dung beetle as it’s often associated with rebirth/renewal—an idea that plays a huge role in this book.

Chapter Five

SCENE 1

Setting: City of G’dansiban

Fiddler, Crokus, and Apsalar find G’dansiban surrounded by a rebel army. They are barred by a guard unit but Fiddler’s horse brutally bites the face of one of the guards. A group of passing Arak warriors are amused by this and Fiddler manages to get them invited to the Arak camp. The Araks tell Fiddler the city will be “cleansed,” the Malazan merchants and nobles executed. Crokus and Apsalar worry about their disguise not lasting the night and then Apsalar, channeling Dancer’s instincts, says they need to get out of there. The Araks tell them a Gral clan is coming (which would blow the disguise) so Fiddler concocts a story as to why the Gral will go after him and why they thus have to press on through the city.

SCENE 2

In the city they find death and destruction. They save a young girl from being raped by killing the six men after her. Crokus and Apsalar ride on while Fiddler faces down a Red Blades squad that comes into the square. The come across another scene of a massacre and Crokus asks if the Malazans did the same in conquest. Apsalar (again channeling Dancer’s memories) retorts the Emperor waged war against armies, not civilians, and when Fiddler mentions the massacre at Aren Apsalar angrily says Kellanved didn’t give that order; Surly/Laseen did and that Apsalar/Dancer was sent there to see what happened and argued with Surly/Laseen. Fiddler realizes Kellanved and Dancer ascended at their “assassination” to become Shadowthrone and Cotillion and curses himself for not putting it together with the names and the appearance of a new House (Shadow) right after their deaths. He angrily asks why Dancer didn’t tell anyone, they were his friends, and Apsalar says Dancer trusted only two people (Kellanved and Dassem) and that Cotillion trusts nobody, including Shadowthrone. They ride out of the south gate and are joined by Moby, wounded as if he’s been in a fight, though Fiddler says it’s probably from mating. They look back and see Grals in pursuit.

SCENE 3

Kalam is taken by Sha’ik’s bodyguards: Leoman, Captain of her bodyguards; and an unnamed Toblakai (7 feet tall with a wooden sword). They accept he’s carrying the Holy Book and Sha’ik herself appears and Kalam gives it to her. She offers him a place with her army/rebellion, but when he says he has another destiny she says she senses what his desire is and not only allows him to go but sends an aptorian demon (the one Mappo and Icarium saw earlier) as an escort. Kalam leaves, with the escort, thinking how strange it is that he started the rebellion against the Empire and is now going to kill Laseen to preserve the Empire so it can put down the rebellion and he wonders how many deaths he’s caused.

SCENE 4

At dawn, just as Sha’ik opens the book she is killed by Lostara Yill’s crossbow bolt. The Red Blades attack Leoman and Toblakai, but are driven off. Tene Baralta orders Lostara to keep tailing Kalam.

SCENE 5

Leoman and Toblakai decide to wait with Sha’ik’s body, based on the prophecy that said she would be “renewed.” Toblakai says there’s a storm coming.

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Five:

Is the Baruk mentioned in the extract dealing with bhok’arala the same Baruk that we already met in Darujhistan? I guess he would have had intimate knowledge of when and how Mammot used Moby as a mage familiar! [Bill’s interjection: I’d say that’s a safe assumption.]

Ha, both gross and funny, the scene where Fiddler’s horse bit the face off the guardsman. Have to say, most of these horses in the Malazan world are pretty fiery and bad-tempered...

I know that the Bridgeburners have been around, and they’re talented people—but how, exactly, does Fiddler know the intricacies of Gral and Arak life? Speaking their language, knowing their traditions—this is more than a simple soldier would know, surely? Ah, here is one hint to his past:

The camp’s layout was a familiar one to Fiddler, who had ridden with Wickan scouts over these lands during the Emperor’s campaigns.

What does this signify?

The scrawny, yipping mongrels might prove a problem, he realised, but he hoped that their suspicions would apply to all strangers, Gral included.

Why would dogs be so suspicious of Fiddler? It’s not something daft, like Fiddler being a Soletaken?

I am loving the hints of Cotillion in Apsalar, since he is one of the more intriguing characters of the series. Her sudden air of command, her ability to deceive. All of this makes her more and more ill-suited as a lover for Crokus, who is still so innocent. And what it this? Fiddler starting to feel affection for her?

Don’t fall in love with this woman, Fid, old friend, else you loosen your guard of the lad’s life, and call it an accident of fate...

I also like the burgeoning respect of the Gral horse for Fiddler—it’s such a small matter when you consider the massive events happening around it, but Erikson writes it with as much attention to detail as everything else.

Hmm, I thought that it was common knowledge that Dancer and Kellanved became Cotillion and Shadowthrone—but is this only because I’ve known since the first book. And didn’t I know because it was given to me? Don’t I recall some of you saying that I would miss the impact of this scene of reveal, thanks to knowing the fact earlier? I can quite easily imagine the jaw-dropping immensity of it, the satisfaction if you’d even half-guessed, the wonder of realising that these two of the Shadow Realm are such important Ascendants from the Malazan world. The one point that I find very interesting is Fiddler’s injured reaction to realising that Dancer did not, could not, would not confide in him. I didn’t realise that Fiddler et al were so close to Dancer—mind, even if they thought they were, I guess they were not considered to be close by Dancer!

They shrug off Moby’s injuries—but I’d like to know where he was and what he was doing! I’d like to hazard a guess that this wasn’t a mating kerfuffle...

*grins* It’s every single word, isn’t it?

At the base of three converging gorges...

Was it a mistake of Erikson to attribute so much importance to the words convergence and ascendence? As it is, every single time I see these two words I believe that Erikson has used them intentionally and wonder if it has greater import than I realised. Here he’s talking about the scenery—should he have used “converging” here?

Oho! A small snippet of the forming of the Brideburners:

As the wind and sun did to the sand and stone, Raraku shaped all who had known it. Crossing it had etched the souls of the three companies that would come to be called the Bridgeburners. We could imagine no other name. Raraku burned our pasts away, making all that came before a trail of ashes.

Although I did misread first time round “companions” rather than “companies” and wondered who these three people were! But no, companies!

Do you know? In this section I’ve decided I’m really not that keen on Kalam. I know many of you like him, but I find him arrogant beyond words (thinking that the Toblakai used a sorcerous silence to creep up on him) and too quick to throw away human lives—even though it means getting rid of Laseen, he didn’t actually need to unleash the Apocalypse en route. I think he’s conflicted by other loyalties and feels as though Seven Cities is too much like home. I do believe that Kalam is a bit of a loose cannon without the skill and advice of Quick Ben. I don’t know whether any of that is right at all, but this is my current impression of Kalam.

A dolphin? Erikson really just compared the aptorian to a dolphin? Also, has he spoken about dolphins before? I don’t know why, but this really jarred me out of the read, wondering whether dolphins actually exist in the Malazan world.

How cinematically perfect is the scene where Sha’ik is shot by the crossbow bolt? Exactly like in a film!

“There’s a storm coming...” Yes, I’d say so!

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Five:

We’ve gotten small moments of brutality: the line of prisoners in the prologue, the Otataral mine, and here in Chapter Five Erikson broadens out and intensifies the violence and brutality, beginning with Fiddler’s horse biting half the face off the guard: sudden, vicious, bloody violence. There’s gonna be a lot of this coming up and I like this means of foreshadowing that.

The Arak are another good example of Erikson’s detailed worldbuilding, building I assume on his professional background, along with basic research. They feel like a fully formed, “real” group, not a generic “horse clan” we see in so many fantasy books. Note the small details of their camp: the tipis set so “no shade from a neighbor’s could cast insult,” the reasons given for choosing a hill rather than a valley, the physical layout, the dogs: it’s a small scene but it’s these sort of details in these kinds of small “throw-away” scenes that makes the work feel so fully formed.

I have to say, I love the scene with these fierce Arak warriors, who laughed at the horse biting the guard’s face and wanted to buy the horse and who revel in the “cleansing” of the city, I love these guys terrified (actually “flinching”) by the idea of Apsalar lifting her veil and cursing them.

Their entry into the city also doesn’t sugarcoat what is happening, as we’re immediately given that image of the “scatter of wooden toys lay broken and crushed”—I actually wished Erikson had ended there and not given us the “screams of children dying,” not out of prudishness but because that first image in some ways is even worse. The realistic portrayal continues with the abstract inevitability of rape turned concrete via the young girl they save from the six men. I like how the three of them just automatically do what they do, no discussion, no eye contact; this is just what needs to be done and they all know it (including it appears the horse)—the sole nod to a sign of “this is what is going to happen now” is Apsalar’s “long, slow breath” after the guy tells Fiddler, don’t worry “we’ll share.” You can imagine Fiddler thinking hmmm, wonder if we’ll get out of this without a fight, then the guy has to go and say that and maybe he’s still wondering a little and then he hears Apsalar’s intake and thinks “nope, here we go.”

The square gives more sensual description of violence and its aftermath: we’ve had visual, aural, and now we get the stench of it all.

As you noted Amanda, Apsalar’s connection to Dancer comes sharply into focus in this chapter. First a bit indirectly with her push to get out of the camp: “the one who possessed me. It’s his instincts that are ringing like stone on steel right now.” Then, much more directly, when she intervenes in the discussion between Fiddler and Crokus as to whether the Malazans also did these sort of atrocities, as she fiercely defends Kellanved:

Apsalar spoke with an almost personal vehemence. “The Emperor warred against armies, not civilians—“

And then, when Fiddler reminds her of Aren’s slaughter by the T’lan Imass (something he had just been reminded of by Kimloc’s captain), she is fully in “Dancer” mode:

Not by Kellanved’s command! Who ordered the T’lan Imass into Aren? I shall tell you. Surly, the commander of the Claw, the woman who took upon herself a new name . . . I should have killed her there and then . . .I was sent to Aren, to see the slaughter. To find out what happened. I . . .I argued with Surly. No one else was in the room. Just Surly and . . . and me.

She hasn’t retained simply the physical skills of Dancer, but his memories and instincts as well; that’s some legacy of possession.

And then of course we get Fiddler’s slap-to-the-forehead realization that Dancer and Kellanved are Cotillion/Rope and Shadowthrone (and for any readers confused on this, he gives them a nice concise ABC guide). Yes, it is a bit underwhelming as a “reveal,” but I like the way Erikson adds an emotional and character-driven aspect to this laid out back-story via Fiddler’s sense of betrayal at being left in the dark:

“Then why,” the sapper demanded, “didn’t Cotillion reveal himself to us? To Whiskeyjack, to Kalam? To Dujek? Dammit, Dancer knew us all—and if that bastard understood the notion of friendship at all, then those I’ve just mentioned were his friends—

This revelation (or reminder) carries so much power thanks to Fiddler’s anger and pain at Cotillion’s silence.

And while the knowledge that Cotillion doesn’t fully trust Shadowthrone is interesting, I absolutely love that “wistful smile” when Fiddler calls Dancer a fool, as if the Dancer in her knows it to be somewhat true and wishes things had been different.

On their journey, we get yet another nod to Kellanved’s purposeful brutality, as Fiddler says the Emperor would have put down this rebellion brutally but quickly, and peace would have been the result.

This chapter begins with an excerpt from a treatise on bhok’aral and now we get a real one as Moby shows up out of nowhere unexpectedly. Any speculation on those cuts?

We’ve had several references now to the Bridgeburners being shaped by Raraku, so no surprise Kalam thinks of it as he continues on. It’s a nice use of the desert’s physicality—its wind and sand, their erosive and shaping effects—to place it in a human context.

Ah Toblakai. Toblakai. So much more to come. But here: way big and way strong is all you need know. And an ironwood sword. And young.

Interesting that Sha’ik, in sensing Kalam’s “desire” (the killing of Laseen) gives him the aptorian demon. I like Apt. More to come. And Leoman, in thinking of the demon as “brainless” reveals himself not quite as perceptive/smart as he likes to think.

And I like the language when Kalam hands over the book thinking of the “sea” of blood he’s begun. Key word, that.

Speaking of language, how about the quarrel that kills Sha’ik so abruptly opening “like a deadly flower inside her brain.” What a great contrast of imagery. Writing, good writing, should find a way to startle us now and then. This does it for me.

 A storm coming indeed....


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

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

241 comments
Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter
@Bill:

Any ideas on where that demon came from and why it warned them?

Yes, I have a very good idea--I'm not telling yet, though.
Tai Tastigon
2. Taitastigon
Amanda:

*Hmm, I thought that it was common knowledge that Dancer and Kellanved became Cotillion and Shadowthrone—but is this only because I’ve known since the first book. And didn’t I know because it was given to me?*

Well, it was given away in NoK, in broadest detail, not in GotM...
Steven Halter
3. stevenhalter
@Bill:

Any speculation on those cuts?

Poor little Moby--all alone a frightened, no doubt. Beset by a pack of evil doers no doubt.
Steven Halter
4. stevenhalter
On Laseen:
This section is another very useful piece on Laseen:

"Not by Kellanved’s command!” she retorted. “Who ordered the T’lan Imass into Aren? I shall tell you. Surly, the commander of the Claw, the woman who took upon herself a new name—”“Laseen.” Fiddler eyed the young woman quizzically. “I have never before heard that assertion, Apsalar. There were no written orders—none found, in any case—”
“I should have killed her there and then,” Apsalar muttered.
Astonished, Fiddler glanced at Crokus. The Daru shook his head.
“Apsalar,” the sapper said slowly, “you were but a child when Aren rebelled then fell to the T’lan Imass.”
“I know that,” she replied. “Yet these memories…they are so clear. I was…sent to Aren…to see the slaughter. To find out what happened. I…I argued with Surly. No one else was in the room. Just Surly and…and me.”


We see again Laseen's predilection for ordering a massacre when she gets into a jam. We saw that she ordered the Mouse quarter massacre--and that had nearly disastrous results. We have seen that she either killed or so far alienated many of Kel's inner circle that they left. We see that she orders the brutal culling of the nobility. We have just seen her order all the Wickan worlocks killed. We now see she ordered the massacre of Aren.
In a later book (in a very interesting discussion we won't talk about here) a comment is made about Laseen's panics. I think this is a fairly good description. When she sees things getting out of hand, she panics and her first reaction when panicking is to kill everyone who seems (to her) to be causing that panic. As kramerdude said, she also has severe trust issues.

We only see hints at Laseen's early life. It is mentioned that she was a barmaid at Kellanved's bar Smiley's. How she got there or what she did there we don't know. We do know that at some point she becomes a very proficient assassin with excellent fighting skills. She founds the Claw even though (or because) Dancer has a similar organization in the Talon. I'm guessing that her early life was not an easy one and that contributes to her trust issues.

From the quoted scene, we see further proof that Dancer harbors no liking for Laseen. It seems that the off camera scene in Night of Knives was not (completely) planned out.
Tai Tastigon
5. Taitastigon
And one wonderful little twist so typical for SE: Kill off the character apparently predestined to become the major villain of the book before she even has the chance of becoming that major villain. And the deck gets reshuffled.
Tai Tastigon
6. Taitastigon
shal @4

Laseen = good killer, bad manager. It is funny how we assume that whoever is at the top of an empire must automatically be competent. Pretty often, it is just the opposite.
Steven Halter
7. stevenhalter
I found Icarium's inability to remember another Elder warren that seems like Dark, but not quite to be very telling at this point in the game. Icarium is extremely knowledgeable about such things. His not remembering that particular piece--intriguing.
Steven Halter
8. stevenhalter
@Amanda:

“A life given for a life taken.” How many times will we hear this?

A few. Chortle. (here's an excellent example of why we haven't been willy nilly with spoilers) Second chortle.
Steven Halter
9. stevenhalter
Tai@5: Yeah, I loved that scene. The expectations are set for Sha'ik to play this major role and then--poof she's toast. Very nice set up, SE.
Steven Halter
10. stevenhalter
Crossing it had etched the souls of the three companies that would come to be called the Bridgeburners. We could imagine no other name. Raraku burned our pasts away, making all that came before a trail of ashes.

I thought this was a cool reveal of where the name Bridgeburner came from. On my first read I was always picturing some fight on a bridge and them burning it or something. The allegorical burning their bridges behind then is much more interesting.
Steven Halter
11. stevenhalter
From Sha'ik:
"At dawn I shall open the Book, and the Whirlwind shall rise, and I shall emerge from it…renewed. ‘Blades in hands and unhanded in wisdom,’ such are the wind’s words. Young, yet old. One life whole, another incomplete. I have seen, Leoman!"
She has indeed seen a prophecy. It is just her interpreting that prophecy that is a bit off. Pay attention to those words later on.
Steven Halter
12. stevenhalter
@Amanda:

but I find him arrogant beyond words (thinking that the Toblakai used a sorcerous silence to creep up on him)

Kalam does have a certain arrogance to him. We'll see that he is very capable and someone being able to sneak up on him is a rare thing.It is interesting that Quick Ben sent him off (or at least didn't talk him out of it) on this long mission. One might ask if QB had ulterior motives.
Karen Martin
13. ksh1elds555
Ah, so much to talk about in these 2 chapters. Amanda, I also noticed this time around the line about "the three began walking" when it was just Mappo and Icarium. I still don't know who SE was referring to and I'd be interested to hear theories. Bill's about referring to the reader is interesting but doesn't seem to be SE's style. I was thinking - could it be someone unseen like Moby or a random spider (like Bill said the spiders will make more sense later) or Pust in the form of a bhok'aral? Although I don't think it's been mentioned that Pust could shapeshift, but the bhok'aral treat him like their diety.
Holy cow is that Toblakai who I think it is and how could I have missed that! And I loved how SE set up expectations about this Sha'ik only to have her die within pages of her introduction. That is one way he really defies the reader's expectations, and continually challenges your assumptions of how stories "are supposed to go". OH, and I love Fiddler's horse.
Steven Halter
14. stevenhalter
ksh1elds555: Yes, the Toblakai is who you think it is.
bauchelain
15. bauchelain
I always saw the three as Icarium, Mappo and Pust hidden in shadows. Or perhaps a spider ;)
Dustin George-Miller
16. dustingm
I have to say, the scene where Sha'ik dies was for me one of my favorite "surprise" moments of the series. The first time I read that, my jaw literally dropped open and I said (aloud), "GTFO! That did NOT just happen!" My wife, who was in the room with me, was amused, to say the least.

So many layers within layers in these two chapters. So many little details to obsess over; these little details often will bear fruit five, six books later, even. (There's a big "WTF" moment coming up in a few chapters that gets revisited in a big way later via flashback, and then there's that guy who got bitten by Fiddler's horse...)
Joe Long
17. Karsa
And here, again, coincidence that isn’t coincidence: because of Kalam revealing that he was a Clawmaster (even though untrue), all the guardsmen of the Keep are now dead.

I agree with Bill. Kalam *is* a Clawmaster...he is just not in the chain of command right now (or is he?)..."once a claw, always a claw". also, I think they are all dead because the leader of the red blades ordered "no witnesses", so they were dead the moment Lostara Yil and company entered...they just didn't know it yet.
Joe Long
18. Karsa
Wonders why the two of them, despite their age, haven’t ascended and It is interesting to hear that longevity does not automatically equal ascendancy

Icarium is without a doubt an Ascendant (and is referred to as such)...so this a little misdirection from Pust...interesting that he did it though. My assumption is that SE knew what he was doing...who was this aimed at? Icarium?
Joe Long
19. Karsa
They are barred by a guard unit but Fiddler’s horse brutally bites the face of one of the guards.



One of the things I love about this series is how small things that show up in one book can be small things that show up in many books later. It is never thrown in the reader's face and never explained beyond a leap of intuition (and memory!) on the reader's part. This re-read will hopefully highlight some.


You can never be sure, but I think this guy shows up again -- in book six! Not a major player, his part lasts for less than 1 chapter. But it is nice to see the effect of the bite...
Joe Long
20. Karsa
I love these guys terrified (actually “flinching”) by the idea of Apsalar lifting her veil and cursing them.

I have no evidence, but what if they flinched and were scared because it is TRUE that a bride cursing them will seriously mess them up? we laugh because we know that nothing will really happen. but in this world curses (and vows!) have a way of actually happening. I suspect this hard riding very tough slaughterers of men know what to fear and what not to fear...and getting cursed by somebody in a situation that makes their curse stick is probably near the top of "things not to do"(tm)
Steven Halter
21. stevenhalter
re: “Without another word the three began walking.”
There are a few possibilities here:
1) It's a typo.
2) It's Pust.
3) It's servant.
4) It's a spider.
5) It's an odd bit of allegory.

I think we'll need to ask SE which one it is when we get to the Q&A. (Unless you want to chime in now, Steve?)
Tricia Irish
22. Tektonica
Chapter 4:

Felesin: That she will take any abuse, just to feel something, anything, is so sad. And it is frustrating that she and Heboric don't communicate, but as stated above, she is pretty out of it and therefore not to be trusted with information. I can't help but think that she might have had more hope if she knew that Heboric and Baudin were looking out for her. Sigh.

And why does Beneth keep beating her? Is he afraid for himself, or does he feel the fool, duped by her? I'm surprised she had enough sense of danger to lie so well. And does Sawark get startled because he was looking for her? Was he on alert from Tavore? If so, he seems to be in the dark about Baudin. So sad she doesn't even recognize Pell....who does seem to know something important.

Kalam: Amanda, nice notice of all the "red" references....visual alliteration! I'm just starting to make the connection with Pust making Hands all over with the paint under his telaba, the gate in the basement of the Temple, Sormo's conjuring of Tellan and the D'ivers, Soletaken. What in Hood's name is Pust up to??? Or is it what in ST's name? (And I have a feeling I"m going to learn a lot more in MT.)

And Kalam is a claw...or was....what is his true allegiance? My guess is his allegiance is to QB. What is QB's? Don't really know at this point. *shrug* But I like them both! Loved the hints about the BB's origin...more to come on that! What a good story!
And the cards around Kalam...yikes....death and destruction in spades.

Iskaral Pust: "Look upon him who does not waver from his cause, no matter how insipid and ultimately irrelevant, and you shall find in him the meaning of dull-witted."
So funny!!

"You know nothing of the plans of Shadowthrone, the many secrets of the Gray Keep, the Shrouded House where stands the Throne of Shadow. Yet I do. My god is generous, my god is wise, as cunning as a rat."

Now there's a lot in there. Is the Gray Keep where the Throne of Shadow is? Didn't know it was called the Gray Keep...what does that mean? Then Pust calls his god, which is supposed to be ST, generous and wise and cunning. And we know he says differently later...So....who is Pust really? Although I enjoy his diatribes and unedited stream of consciousness, I don't trust him AT ALL. I think he's a double agent! Thoughts anyone?
Steven Halter
23. stevenhalter
Oddly, I think Pust is actually one of the more trustworthy characters we see. Just ask him:
"I am completely trustworthy. They don't grasp the extent of my plans. Smile--see they are nodding. I have completely fooled them."
Tai Tastigon
24. Taitastigon
Tek @22

*So....who is Pust really? Although I enjoy his diatribes and unedited stream of consciousness, I don't trust him AT ALL. I think he's a double agent! Thoughts anyone?*

Remember that library-directions scene from the previous chapter ? *grins*. That´s him. Pust is truly the High Priest of Shadow - all deceit and misdirections and conniving....and not even his own god trusts him. And in this, transparent as a book. Just perfect !
Steven Halter
25. stevenhalter
Tek@22:

Iskaral Pust: "Look upon him who does not waver from his cause, no matter how insipid and ultimately irrelevant, and you shall find in him the meaning of dull-witted."
So funny!!


And yet it also pierces to the very heart of Icarium and Mappo.
Steven Halter
26. stevenhalter
@Amanda:

Why would dogs be so suspicious of Fiddler? It’s not something daft, like Fiddler being a Soletaken?


I think it is just that Fid is afraid the dogs (like the horse) might be able to tell he isn't really a tribesman. Probably through scent or something. We'll see dogs acting up against strangers a few times.
Amir Noam
27. Amir
Amanda:

Why can’t they just talk to each other honestly and openly? Why does Heboric not have more understanding for this poor little girl who is seeking the only way she knows how to survive?

This is indeed frustrating, but oh, it makes so much sense. I think that Heboric has a lot of understanding and compassion for Felisin's situation, but there's no way he can trust her with any plans he has. She's a addicted to wine, drugs and to Beneth's abusive relationship.


because of Kalam revealing that he was a Clawmaster (even though untrue), all the guardsmen of the Keep are now dead. I do not grieve for them—they weren’t nice men

Actually, if you'll notice, Lostara Yil and her soldier killed everyone in the keep, including all the servants! And mostly this is because the seargant was friendly to Kalam (knowing him to be a Clawmaster), making Lostara convinved that all the soliders were in league with Kalam and enemies of the empire. I don't like murderous fanatic zealots.

When I first read this I formed a very negative view of the Red Blades as a result, but later I found that nothing is simply black or white in Erikson's world, as we'll be meeting up some decent Red Blades later in the series.
Amir Noam
28. Amir
Re the identity of Shadowthrown and Cotillion:
I have to admit that when I first read the series I completely missed the clues in GoTM and so this moment of revelation was a complete shock to me.

During this re-read, the clues in GoTM seem (with 20/20 hindsight vision) screamingly obvious. Since we've been talking on these forums so openly about ST/CT's identities and kinda forgot that at this point in the story none of the characters know about this. When Apsalar start reliving some left-over memories from her possesion, these are Cotillion's memories, but the characters (and many of the first time readers, as was the case for me) have no idea at this point that these are in fact Dancer's.

I love how Erikson slowly builds the scene as more memories come forth and they get more and more personal until, right there together with Fiddler, the reader finally gets is: "Hmmm, interesting memories/knowledge from Cotillion, but, wait a minute, what's this? Those are Dancer's memories! Holy crap!" .
Karen Martin
29. ksh1elds555
It's interesting how each reader can perceive something different. When I first read the book, I already knew from the GotM that Cotillion and Shadowthrone were Dancer and Kellanved. I can't tell you exactly which passages I learned that but I knew it already. But there are many other big things I have missed, and I've been surprised by that even through just 5 chapters. And of course, having read NoK it goes into that aspect quite a bit. The young Toblakai thing for instance.... one must not read while on Ambien...
Dustin George-Miller
30. dustingm
@ksh1elds555:

Wait about 5 books until you figure out who Brokeface is. That'll REALLY blow your mind.
Tricia Irish
31. Tektonica
Tait@24:

I figured he had to be completely hiding his true identity, or as Austin Powers said, " I think I have lost my self-editing mechanism", or something like that. He is hysterical. I just remember a future scene where ST is completely flummoxed by Pust, and it's very funny. How did he become a priest of Shadow...was he one before ST?

shalter@25:

You are right, of course. They both find this out later. ;-(

Sormo's ritual:

Bult: "The horns are warnings..... Holy ground. Once long ago. Memories remain."
Sormo: "It is my intention to open myself to the sacred aspect of this kheror, which is the name Wickans give to holy places open to the skies."
Kulp: "Are you mad? Those spirits are of the Seven!"
Sormo: "They are not. The spirits in this kheror were raised in the time before the Seven. They are the land's own...."

Dun Dun Dun.....new magic, to us...but old magic....the Seven.....argh.
Kent Aron Vabø
32. sotgnomen
As to the pointlessness of the trip to tellann with sormo.. Well, I think we know who the demon is, and why this is important. Hint, he turns out later to be a guardian, and his kind are in several other places in the series.
SPOILER:

As we've seen what one can do, and what Mael's three can do, I wonder what kind of apocalyptic event will reveal the true nature of the little army Pust carries with him..
bauchelain
33. alt146
The man who's face was bitten and the mysterious toblakai have been noted, both characters to file away for now.

I am under the impression that the gate under the temple is Kurald Emurlahn. @7 Shalter - I'm not sure how telling it is that Icarium doesn't recognise it. There's a jump somewhere in the series where suddenly everyone goes from only knowing about Kurald Galain to knowing all the elder warrens and their relationship to the newer warrens.

The scene with Sormo does seem a little clumsy, but it is important in that it 1) reveals a new form of magic 2) tells us that the warrens are infested with D'ivers which becomes important later on in the book.

One thing I do find very interesting that I missed on my previous reads: Dancer trusted two people - Kell and Dassem. Now Cots doesnt trust anyone because ST is loopy and Dassem is dead. Having read NoK it isn't a spoiler to say Dassem is in fact still alive. Would Cotillion still trust Dassem? I think so, which is something to file away for much, much later in the series.

The outright reveal of ST&C's true identities was a huge facepalm moment for me the first time round. The clues from GotM had been niggling at me but not quite fallen into place, so when it was spelt out I felt a bit of an idiot :P

Also, Pust is awesome and not nearly in full swing yet.
M D
34. Abalieno
I'll try again since the spam filter ate the other and there's no way to have it back.

Matt Hilliard continued his review up to book 4. Oddly enough he liked Deadhouse Gates the least but his reviews continue to be must reads for Malazan fans since they dig quite deep and offer a lot to the discussion. He also had to give up the exhaustive approach and went with a more selective one, there's just too much stuff buried in the books to give a complete commentary.

Here's the links, that you have to copy paste, hoping the spam filter tolearates them.

http://matthilliard.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/gardens-of-the-moon-by-steven-erikson/
http://matthilliard.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/deadhouse-gates-by-steven-erikson/
http://matthilliard.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/memories-of-ice-by-steven-erikson/
http://matthilliard.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/house-of-chains-by-steven-erikson/
bauchelain
35. Sciz
I found something odd while reading chapter 4. When Icarium and Mappo are in the crypt, Icarium says that he doesn't know any other elder warrens than Omtose Phellack, Kurald Galain, Starvald Demelain and Tellann. But surely Icarium must also know of Kurald Emurlahn and Kurald Thyrllan?
Steven Halter
36. stevenhalter
Sciz@35: His lack of knowledge of those others does seem odd. Alt146@33 mentions that this may be a series discrepancy. Or, as I mentioned @7, it could be a hint towards Icarium's underlying condition. We'll have to watch and see on this one.
Steven Halter
37. stevenhalter
sotgnomen@32:That's a very interesting observation. 1, 3, (a bunch).
bauchelain
38. StevenErikson
Hello Everyone, glad you're enjoying Deadhouse Gates and I promise I will be back in a few days to repond to your comments (two or three? No idea, give me a page number). In the meantime, I enclose a rant/not-rant (you decide) I wrote an hour or so ago in the local Cafe Nero on the Falmouth highstreet, having made the mistake of perusing Hilliard's strange reviews of the first few of my Malazan novels. So, for those of you who haven't looked at them, best ignore this installment from me. I promise I'll be back, and maybe in a better mood, in a while...

Might be a few spoilerish elements but I think I kept them to a minimum...

The debate in my head was the usual under the circumstances. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, different strokes blah blah, and really, can I be bothered? But I admit, having been directed towards Hilliard’s reviews by a contributor to this re-read, there’s also a part of me that wants to set the record straight, lest someone take on board Hilliard’s commentary as if it was, well, sensical.
I will do my best here to avoid rampant spoilers with respect to Deadhouse Gates, though I cannot help but touch on – as obliquely as possible – the novel’s concluding scenes, in order to reaffirm the points I am making.
There’s no debate here regarding the right of people to voice their opinions, interpretations and whatever with respect to a published work, and as such Hilliard is certainly entitled to read, interpret and extend his personal analysis to my novels. That said, I found his take to be baffling at the very least, and often rather bizarre. It seems to have become something of a fad, this dipping of the toe into Malazan waters (say, the first three or four books) only to then expound at length, and with an air of peculiar authority, on what I am up to in the series. Is it truncated attention spans we’re dealing with here, a sign of the world to come? Who knows (well, I don’t, anyway); and as to Hilliard’s limited take on the series, derived, as I understand, from the first four novels, there isn’t really much for me to say, except that he’s rowing his boat in the wrong sea. No matter: what I will tackle here is his discussion of Deadhouse Gates.
Admittedly, I need to begin by being as honest as possible in stating that I find his primary criticism (the demonization of the rebel side of the uprising), coming from someone who continually cites LotR – with its evil dark hordes and mindless orcs – as … well, perverse. And, as a second rider, I do recognize that there are readers, like Hilliard, who seem to derive their pleasures and entertainment from trying to parse an author’s world-view or life philosophy from the works of fiction that author has produced, and I will even go so far as to acknowledge that sometimes that is in fact possible.
That said, anyone trying to determine my personal world-view on the basis of my fantasy novels (and novellas), is in for a hard and probably hopeless chore. So here once again, I light the signal fires in all the towers, wave the brightest banners, ring the bells and pound the drums, and shout Here! Pay attention! I’ve said it before in countless venues and now I’m saying it all again! Are you listening? Here we go (again): the most powerful structural imperative guiding and shaping the Malazan Book of the Fallen is point of view. In the instance of most of the narratives in this series (with only one, albeit sly, exception), we are locked to a third person limited omniscient point of view. What does this mean? It means that I stay with a single character through a scene, occasionally dipping into that character’s head, recording thoughts, observations and so forth: and in order to do so with any feel of authenticity, I need to know that character; specifically, I need a sense of that character’s world-view. Through the point-of-view, I open a window in that character, into how he or she or it sees things; I walk in that character’s shoes, moccasins, scaled reptilian feet, whatever. Accordingly, each look into and on to the world of Malaz is a limited one, an unreliable one, and one shaped and mitigated by its own agenda (even when that agenda is confused, which, in humans, it usually is).
This structural imperative imposes obvious restrictions on the narrative, but they are ones that I hold to with utmost discipline, and indeed have learned to exploit in countless ways, all to achieve a desired effect. This is why there can be no info-dumps beyond some quoted stuff heading chapters from historians and scholars – though even there I skew the presentation to make it clear that even these takes are suspect. What we have is people living in a place and in a time and trying to get on with things.
Despite what some may see in, say, Gardens of the Moon, I hold to no law of redress or notions of structural balance in the telling of these tales. I only present sides that I find intrinsically interesting, and that serve the structure I am assembling. No, even that’s not quite it. I will, on occasion, keep the balance exclusively in my head, and feel no compulsion to force that down onto the page, or into the story I’m telling. I’m not an even-handed god in this creation. Deadhouse Gates recounts one side of a conflict, and only one side. But that is not to say that I, as author, as creator, am blithely dismissal or unaware of the other side. I am very aware of it (and indeed I come to it, all in good time – in House of Chains; but if I haven’t taught my readers to be patient by this point, I never will and we’ve long since gone our separate ways). Could I have balanced the recount of the uprising? I could have, if I was remotely interested in structurally and thematically balancing things out. I’m not. Never was, never will be (unless I find it interesting and relevant to the story I want to tell) But then, the whole point of this novel (Deadhouse Gates) is about a much broader kind of balance, one that’s almost on a metaphysical scale.
At its most macro level, the Chain of Dogs is about: 1. the all-too-human (but not exclusively) struggle between order and disorder; 2. between the warring forces and impulses in each of us; and, finally, between the human desire for order and nature’s wild, unpredictable truths. It’s called The Whirlwind for a reason: it is uncontrollable, a force of nature, and its brutality is in us as much as it is in the outer, uncaring, indifferent world. In this scheme, I don’t need the other side. It simply has to exist, in order to be struggled against (and do note, that Coltaine’s tactics are always framed as expressions of sharp, clear intelligence, hard reason, cold iron; whilst the enemy ever responds with chaos, with attrition by sheer numbers, with mindless savagery). There is no careless demonization going on here: I know the face of the enemy, through every point of view I make use of in the Chain of Dogs; in, indeed, through the points of view of other characters proceeding on their own trajectories through the novel.
If I had any hair left on my head, I’d tear it out.
You want to parse my personal world-view from these novels? Which point of view will you choose? There are thousands. And guess what, I’m every one of them. And none of them (and with respect to my essay on Jensen’s End Game volumes, that is a direct response to Jensen’s naïve notions on the virtue of hunter-gathering as an alternative to civilization; principally, my assertion is that, even if such a pastoral ideal could be achieved once more, in perfect balance with nature, etc, it would have to be predicated on the sudden and probably violent elimination of 99% of the human species; and that the alternative of a slow decline would prove disastrous to every other living species on this planet . That these observations mark me, in the eyes of some, as a nihilist, is of course ridiculous. They’re just observations: I suppose I could evade the accusation by wandering in the meadow admiring the flowers, but that won’t change anything, will it? Barring the dubious reward of you thinking more kindly of me – dubious in that you would be better served concluding that I’d gone and lost my marbles).
So where does this leave me? Cranky.
Deadhouse Gates is not as unremitting as it may at first seem. The question I asked was: how do you answer the worst in us? And the answer was: with gestures of humanity. Look for them. They’re there, and they’re all we have.
Is that a bleak outlook? I don’t think so. I grew up devouring the original series of Star Trek and to this day I would love to see that as our future; I would love to think that we could get that far. But it seems to be getting farther and farther away, that future. If anything, we seem to be regressing, both in terms of society and in terms of infrastructure. Our focus grows ever narrower, our needs ever more immediate. If I was a nihilist I wouldn’t give a fuck, would I? But I do. Big time. And frankly, it surprises me to read how some of my readers seem to miss the theme of hope running through this series. One can be critical and still hope, can’t one? If we can’t wish for something better, what’s the point? And if we can’t strive to actually make things better, then what are we doing here?

With that thought, season’s greetings to all
SE
Steven Halter
39. stevenhalter
Well said, Steve. I admit to much the same take on the first Hilliard review (I had decided to ignore the rest), albeit from a point of view less immediate.
Tricia Irish
40. Tektonica
SteveErikson:

Thank you! I read the Hilliard review of GotM and DG, and was completely baffled. I think we read different books in an alternate universe. Thank you for clearing the air.

The question I asked was: how do you answer the worst in us? And the answer was: with gestures of humanity.

Even the smallest interactions between characters in your books are the essence of this.

Wishing the Spirit of Christmas to you and yours.
Tai Tastigon
41. Taitastigon
Nice words, Steven !

And Season´s Greetings to all !
Sydo Zandstra
42. Fiddler
Well said, Steven.

I admit I hadn't read any of those reviews yet. Flu and all.

Based on your reply here, I think I will keep it that way. :)
Karen Martin
43. ksh1elds555
Thanks Steven, I think practically everyone on this re-read appreciates your thoughts and what you have to say. If we weren't appreciative of your work, we wouldn't be here. I think the themes that stand out for me in MBofF so far, are compassion and friendship. And it's those themes that have made me a big fan of the series. Anyway, I hope you, your family and all the other readers here have a great holiday weekend.
bauchelain
44. Night Owl
Not only the Malza horses bite and kick, remember Bult's horse crushed Dujack's arm. During Midieval times, destriers were trained battle horses and were taught to bite and kick... and then, some horses are perverse and bite for the hell of it.

SE, I love your humor and it lets me drift off to some of my own takes, for instance...Pust (theater of the absurd) could be a drunk in a bar, talking to anyone and starts of with profound statements then drifts off into gibberish.
I do believe that he knows a lot and it will be delivered in drips and drabs throughout.
I continue to enjoy all the commentary and wish all a very merry and happy holiday season.
Fiddler, de-stress and get over the flu-did you get your shot?
bauchelain
45. Marc Rikmenspoel
About DG, I remember first reading Pust's statements, and wondering, "did he really just say out loud the things people usually say under their breath?" I then decided it was a bit amusing, but now, with experience of it, I find it hilarious!

Meanwhile, about the reviews, I read them around 12 hours ago. I agree with SE that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but Hilliard's left me confused. I read DG a year ago, and was enthralled. Everything about it seemed "right" and appropriate. I felt like the best elements of GotM had been carried forward, making for a much stronger book than the debut, rather than a sophomore slump.

However, on one certain level, I can understand Hilliard. I suspect he has been overthinking things, and that is something I do too, from time to time. To much thinking about something, rather than enjoying it for what it is, can distort one's perception. It then becomes a game of trying to see how profound you can make your observations seem, even if, in reality, they miss the point. But, having said that, I'm sure there's some people reading the reviews abnd thinking, "Right on, I'm not the only one who feels this way!" It takes all kinds ;-)
hazel hunter
46. Hetan
Merry Christmas all.

Haven't read the review - might have to now just to see what the storm was all about although I find this comment amused me -

@ Abalieno : "Matt Hilliard continued his review up to book 4. Oddly enough he liked Deadhouse Gates the least but his reviews continue to be must reads for Malazan fans since they dig quite deep and offer a lot to the discussion. He also had to give up the exhaustive approach and went with a more selective one, there's just too much stuff buried in the books to give a complete commentary."


What amused me is first of all that it should be a "must read" - for me a re-read like this one, with POV's from numerous readers, offers far more than a single person's review, and secondly the fact that he's had to give up his exhaustive approach for a more selective one - now that really did tickle my sense of humour.

Back to the re-read - Icarium's memories are fragmented and he seems to recover more of them with length of time between each beserk attack (for want of a bettter word), but I think he is suprised to find the gate under the temple - there are no Tiste Edur on 7C, and no hints of them having ever been there, but he does know that the Tiste Andii have. However it is at this point that a lot of the gems from these first chapter's begin to point to Shadow's new master being deeply involved, from the Aptorian demon to Pust's manipulations and I absolutely loved connecting all the dots.

As for the three, Mappo, Icarium and ? - that is revealed later, even if it's not directly stated, but that's just Steve's way of writing and it is one of the things I particularly enjoy about the books - what's implicit in the written words.
Brian Daniels
47. HoosierDaddy
Tor, if nothing else, thank you for providng a platform which provides more commentary from SE and ICE on the Malazan Universe. (And/or those who comment on it.)

Happy Holidays!
Tai Tastigon
48. Taitastigon
Shal @21

*re: “Without another word the three began walking.”
There are a few possibilities here:
1) It's a typo.
2) It's Pust.
3) It's servant.
4) It's a spider.
5) It's an odd bit of allegory.*

*annoyed*...I kept missing that one over and over...but now that you give me the options, I would go with 4)...
bauchelain
49. Rotzlucky
Shalter@1
After reading Bills commentary for chapter 4 AND 5 I also had a very good idea who this demon might be. But even considering some revelations coming much later in this book I don't know why it acts like this.
So lets wait and see how much more light is shed on this topic as the Re-read continues.

Merry Christmas to all!
a a-p
50. lostinshadow
Haven't read the Hilliard review and after these comments have no intention of doing so.

And for me at least the most amazing aspect of the Malazan series is exactly those hints/instances/glimmers of humanity interspersed throughout each and every story no matter how grim/critical/depressing the overall arch may be. To me, how well he does this is the very genius of SE and why I keep coming back to this series.
bauchelain
51. Rotzlucky
re: Without another word the three began walking.

I just looked up this passage in my german translation of DG.
The translation has the word "beide" in this scentence, which translates back to "both"
From the german forum I know that the german translator discussed very much with SE.
This could mean, that during any of this discussions they cleaned up this typo, but it could also mean that the translator made a mistake.
M D
52. Abalieno
Ohh, lively things. I've yet to read what SE wrote and only read Hetan comment, so I'll clarify, before I read the rest, the reason WHY I posted the links and why I said it's a "must read".

Usually people read a book review for two reasons:
1- Because one is interested in the book and wants to decide whether to buy/read it or not.
2- One has the book and read it already and wants to read some interesting commentary/different perspectives about specific aspects.

I read those reviews and found them very interesting and so pointed them out to other Malazan fans here. They aren't "must read" because they are indispensable, but I loved reading them, found them insightful and honest, and so wanted to suggest others to also read them.

Also notice that I had already linked the GotM one and people thanked me.

It's not that they offer something "better" than the re-read here. It's not a competition. They simply add *more* material that I thought was interesting. I didn't suggest people to read those and ignore the re-read.

Do what you want, I'm just offering more material. More voices, more thoughts.
M D
53. Abalieno
Ok, now I read the "rant" but I think it's all good. It adds to the debate.

I won't speak for Hilliard but if you notice in the comments I also said that "the other side" will be shown in HoC, and that it wasn't the purpose of the book to go down that path.

But PLEASE consider that Hilliard himself said he's quite WARY of judging stuff and be proven wrong. He knows that his view is partial and that he should have read all the books. See this:

Given the sheer length of the series, though, I’m going to stick to the book-by-book approach. I’m sure when I get to House of Chains I’ll report about whether it makes me reevaluate Deadhouse Gates or not.

He's also "aware".

I thought there was more to it, but Erikson's rant seems circumscribed to a specific aspect of the review. About Hilliard arguing on the decision of not offering a "balanced" view of the conflict.

I agree 100% with Erikson's explanation, actually thank him for writing it. It's definitely out of that purpose of the book and I also think that Hilliard made a mistake there and approached it in the wrong way.

But then, is the review totally worthless because of that aspect? Well, I disagree on a lot of different points on that one, see some of my reactions in the comments (I began with "so we can disagree"). But I would still suggest to read all those reviews because even if Hilliard may approach certain things the wrong way or not interpreet them correctly, he still offers a number of thougths that are interesting.

That said, anyone trying to determine my personal world-view on the basis of my fantasy novels (and novellas), is in for a hard and probably hopeless chore.

I read this with some skepticism. On a general level, I think to Bakker as a good example of his worldview powering his writing, in Disciple of the Dog as much The Prince of Nothing and his web blog. So, no hopes of totalitarian certainty, but worldviews usually transpire through books and writing in general, as they can do in movies etc... Maybe it's a pretentious claim of the reader to get a writer's worldview, but that's exactly the ideal horizon we chase (communication, understanding).

On the specific level:

the most powerful structural imperative guiding and shaping the Malazan Book of the Fallen is point of view.

But all those points of view belong to you. In the same way you say you like equally ALL your characters because they all borrow something (said as much later in the rant).

When you try to write a scene that is powerfully emotional you'll try to draw from your experience and your feelings. Writing, in a more or less hidden way, leads to expose a kind of intimacy.

Then it is obvious for me that you can read this *literally* and think you are as perverse as Bauchelain. It goes without saying.

But then, I really think you (Erikson) also missed the point.

Here's my take:

Hilliard made a mistake not in pretending to understand your "worldview", but in interpreting the novel itself. I see the attempt of trying to understand a writer's worldview (excluding certainty) as part of the natural reading process. He didn't have a correct approach and in the end "decoded" the point of the book in a flawed way.

Which was:
The question I asked was: how do you answer the worst in us? And the answer was: with gestures of humanity. Look for them. They’re there, and they’re all we have.

That's your correct "worldview" and a reader understanding that message could claim of having understood the book (at least that aspect).

I also think that in general your worldview is less crystal clear simply because you don't have the answers nicely laid out and often only come down to conflicting questions. So you grope for meaning and sense in the same way your characters do. Almost blindly and desperately.

I disagree with Hilliard's opinion, in fact I remember quite well (and quoted on the blog) a specific dialogue with Duiker where he literally explains the same ("sleight of hand").

But I still think that, despite that one and more partial approaches, there a lot in those reviews that it is interesting to read.

I don't regret having posted the links and Erikson's rant is quite "useful" in the grerater scheme of things :)

If, like Hilliard in this case, I had interpreted something horribly wrong in my comments here or elsewhere, I'd be very happy to be proven wrong and be pointed in the right way. These books aren't just big but also extremely complex and you can't hope to get everything correctly.
Steven Halter
54. stevenhalter
Abalieno@53:Trying to discern the writer's own worldview from the story at hand is probably one of the most often repeated mistakes in literature. A writer certainly has an intent when writing and wishes to communicate something. That something usually reflects the story at hand much more than the actual worldview of the author.
Sometimes this worldview does peak through, of course, but most of the time (in a well written work) when a character is speaking--it really is the opinion of that character.
Tai Tastigon
55. Taitastigon
Abalieno @52,53 or any of your posts here so far...:

Seems you missed this little snippet from SE´s rant :

*It seems to have become something of a fad, this dipping of the toe into Malazan waters (say, the first three or four books) only to then expound at length, and with an air of peculiar authority, on what I am up to in the series. Is it truncated attention spans we’re dealing with here, a sign of the world to come?*

It says: Read the darn WHOLE thang, THEN judge. Seem like a recurring theme to you re you in this reread ?

In this sense, Merry X-mas !
bauchelain
56. Matt Hilliard
I'm traveling over the holidays and can't write a long response to what Steven Erikson wrote, but maybe that's just as well. I'm sorry he found my comments so dismaying...I'm enjoying the series and plan to read all the way through Crippled God when it comes out.

Insomuch as I've misrepresented his personal worldview, I apologize. I don't mean to put words in his mouth, I just try to interpret what the novels might be saying about issues that interest me. But Erikson does the same to me when he says that just because I cite Lord of the Rings a lot when reviewing fantasy, I somehow endorse every facet of it. Look, just about everyone has read LotR so it's a useful yardstick. Clearly its take on warfare in general and the orcs in particular is far, far behind most modern fantasy, and the Malazan series is better than most modern fantasy.

Regarding point of view, I understand and very much appreciate what he's doing with point of view (particularly Karsa in House of Chains, so far). He's absolutely right there's no rule that says he needs to balance the points of view in each book. I would have preferred that he do that and would have liked Deadhouse Gates more had he done so, but I'm just one guy.

As far as reading the whole series before writing anything about it, well, Crippled God isn't out yet, is it? Should everyone just wait until then? Usually I do read entire series before writing about them, actually, but I made an exception for the Malazan series because (a) it's so long and (b) the early books seemed to stand on their own. Maybe that was a mistake, I don't know, we'll see.

Finally, whatever airs I may be putting on, I have no authority, peculiar or otherwise. Rest assured, the few people who read my reviews disagree with them all the time.

I haven't been following these re-read posts since I'm not done with the series yet and wanted to avoid spoilers (someone emailed me about the response here in the comments), but I've been looking forward to reading them when I do. In the meantime, happy holidays to everyone.
Tai Tastigon
57. Taitastigon
Matt @56

Dear Matt,

basically, just chill and read the whole thing. By the time you finish DoD, Crippled God will have been released and you will get the whole picture.

Unfortunately, most of the fuss here is re one user that keeps pushing his opinion while refusing to read beyond House Of Chains. As I understand, you are moving beyond that contention point, so you should be in the clear. Just keep reading up - we are pretty open re content discussions here and Mr. Erikson regularly chimes in here to give his view of things. Til then, enjoy your holiday trip, don´t get snowed in and have a Merry X-Mas !
M D
58. Abalieno
Well, I want to subscribe what Hilliard said about having no peculiar authority, but I don't think someone should avoid writing comments of any kind till the last page is read, or feel discouraged doing so.

In the end it's another limited PoV like any in the book, and it adds up with the rest.

Maybe today I'll have time to read/comment on the actual reread, and yes, I'm also liable of making plenty of mistakes in my own comments, and interpret things wrongly, but that doesn't discourage me from trying.

Also, I want to specify that I'm still a bit baffled about a single line, and just it, of what Erikson wrote:

having made the mistake of perusing Hilliard's strange reviews of the first few of my Malazan novels.

"Mistake" and "strange", I just don't understand. It's not a mistake reading what a reader thinks about the book, even if I understand how it can be frustrating and depressing for a writer that sees what he wanted to say missed and twisted. I don't think Erikson meant it in a general way ("I made a mistake, so I warn all of you to not repeat it and not read those review"), because I do think it would be... bad.

Nor I understand how the review could be "strange", beside the fact that we are all fallible readers (and that I do believe Hilliard is definitely not, not even close, the worst of the readers/reviewers/blogger out there).
Stefan Sczuka
59. moeb1us
Aba, SE mentioned his mood. I don't know the circumstances, but maybe there was already something going on and Matt was like a catalyst. As MH stated, he is just one guy with one opinion.
Like you, I don't think SE meant the 'mistake' in a general sense.

Greetings from Hanover, Germany. I am so happy to have found this reread in time. It is such a treat to read in this format with all you guys commenting and discussing. And that my man SE sometimes reads along and contributes is just awesome. So long!
Sydo Zandstra
60. Fiddler
Night Owl@44.

Thanks. Feeling a little better now. And I didn't get a flu shot. With the prices they charge (insurance doesn't vover it, unless you're in a 'risk category', I'll take my chances in getting it once in every two years.


Apart from that, Happy Holidays everybody!
a a-p
61. lostinshadow
Merry Xmas and generally happy holidays everyone!

Regarding the reread itself

Toblakai - a great example of how SE adds layers as the story goes on... moved from being one of my least favorite (man he was annoying at first) to one of my absolute favorite characters

Pust - hmmm those who find him annoying and incomprehsible now be forwarned he gets much worse... usually I find him great fun though some of his longer speeches can get a bit tiring

Icarium and Mappo - my second favorite duo (sorry tehol and bug can't be topped)

re: Without another word the three began walking. - if as someone said, the translator spoke with SE and then selected a word that translates back to english as "both" I would say, in my professional opinion as a translator that there is a typo in the English which the translator "corrected" after consulting the author.
bauchelain
62. StevenErikson
Happily mixing metaphors, it does seem that whenever I try to clear the air I end up muddying the waters. Oh well. My 'mistake' was on a personal level, in that reading the reviews and comments left me annoyed and irritated. I know, horrors, but then I'm as human as the next guy. That said, I have no issue with people writing about and commenting on those novels of mine that they have read: if you look closely you will see that I express my frustration when said people then extrapolate opinions spanning the entire series, when, as has been pointed out, barely a handful of people are familiar with the last, as yet unpublished, novel, The Crippled God. A little patience could serve well here, couldn't it?
In any case, and for what it is worth, there can be multiple interpretations on what I've done to date, and no doubt on what is still to come, and I wouldn't have it any other way. In fact, that's the whole point ... so, the more the merrier.
But on occasion, I do reserve the right to fire back when so inclined. And if I sit here thinking that I've provided everyone an instruction manual on building a plane, only to have someone produce a battleship, why, yes, I find that 'strange.'
Anyway, my wife is sitting on the sofa to my right wondering what on earth I'm doing writing this on Christmas Day. She probably has a point. More to come, then, in a few days' time.
cheers to all (including Mr. Hilliard)!
Tai Tastigon
63. Taitastigon
Geez, Steven...re those people that insist on doing it slicewise, I would have just written *read the whole darn thang & then judge*...but then again, that is why you write & I am perfectly happy just reading. Your version is better by universes. To each their talents. ;o)

...even though I believe that Matt Hilliard doesn´t really know what hit him...he was doing his mini-blog-for-15 readers- thing shooting the breeze until somebody (we know who) decided to put him on *national television* (i.e. TOR reread)... w/o telling him...and w/o him even wishing for it ! Now THAT´s gotta be ONE heck of a glorious experience you did not expect on X-Mas eve...

...and now get off that darn PC and enjoy your holidays instead of bothering about obscure stuff like this !! ;0)
M D
64. Abalieno
But on occasion, I do reserve the right to fire back when so inclined.

Oh, fire away :)

I personally enjoy an heated debated at long it stays on the arguments and not personally on the people. This one was even useful and clarifying as you added more "bricks" to work with.

I found some time to read 20 or so pages. I noticed no one commented the short poem at the beginning of chapter 4 and, well, I'm also not sure what to do with it.

I thought maybe an association to the idea of paranoia, "even the dust has eyes" as in eyes everywhere, like greed and envy. But it isn't convincing at all.

Second attempt was about associating "eyes" with the gleam of gold. But I think I'm still missing the point (and not finished reading the chapter, maybe I find something more then).

Anyway, other thoughts about it that make more sense than mine?

The most worrying part of this is Felisin’s expressionless face as she watches the retrieval of the bodies—is she already so hardened to death?

Is it possible for a person to die inside? Poor Felisin is fading and “numb,”, as Heboric tells her.

I think a right word could be "desensitized". It's not that she's hardened or became cynical, it's that the only way to survive the horror is to be completely oblivious about it. As surrendering completely to it and refusing to feel anything at all.

Felisin surrendered herself, and a significant role is of the drug, in the same way she surrendered all that came before. She behaves like hypnotized, lost (surrendered) her control.

As I said before I see Felisin's arc different from just a journey turned wrong, with her trying to wade through all the difficulties thrown at her. She has already shattered at this point, unrecoverable pieces. There are still plenty of fragments of her humanity, but they are already taken apart. The dialogues with Heboric, well they make it. I'm convinced they are (including Baudin in the relationship) the very high point of the whole book (said as much in comments to Hilliard's review).

There's also a bit of painful characterization when Felisin, after being beaten savagely by Beneth, still seeks him, and the missed comprehension with Heboric. It's already painful to see one without hands taking care of Felisin.

I’m curious in that scene what some of you think Beneth’s “new reason” is for continuing to beat her, as it explicitly says it’s no longer to gain the truth. (I have my own reading but I’m curious as to others’ thoughts.)

Because he lost her? He doesn't see qualities of any kind in her anymore, maybe also a trace of guilt that makes him even worse. Another situation of no return, also frustration, a mix of negative feelings in general and sudden sense of powerlessness (because of the previous scene).

And then betrayal since he feels Felisin wasn't sincere with him and only "played" with him for convenience.

Oh, and Lostara! I didn't remember at all she appeared here. That's a character to keep track of and that isn't just transitory.

Also noticed this:
Hmm, I thought that it was common knowledge that Dancer and Kellanved became Cotillion and Shadowthrone—but is this only because I’ve known since the first book. And didn’t I know because it was given to me? Don’t I recall some of you saying that I would miss the impact of this scene of reveal, thanks to knowing the fact earlier? I can quite easily imagine the jaw-dropping immensity of it, the satisfaction if you’d even half-guessed, the wonder of realising that these two of the Shadow Realm are such important Ascendants from the Malazan world.

None of the few readers I spoke with had guessed Shadowthrone/Kellanved association before this point, me included (not even a wild guess). I remember distinctly that this part in DG was a MAJOR WTF moment for me. I dropped the book.

But it's not much the impact of the association, or resulting awe. The point is that many parts of Gardens of the Moon sit completely in the dark if you don't know who's Shadowthrone. It's at this point that there was a sudden major switch and pieces of the puzzles aligned. You get all the bold hints you missed in GotM all at once. The whole storyline about Sorry suddenly had a different meaning. I mean, it's a revelation that changes the whole picture, requires a very major reconsideration. It's staggering for all the implications and repercussions.

And not just that. This is a major revelation, yet I love how it is completely understated. Major revelations about characters usually come just before big showdowns. The big baddie drops the mask just before the last battle. Instead here the revelation simply comes when Fiddler starts thinking and putting pieces together on his own. I say it's just awesome the way this comes and how it contrasts between the major implications and the actual understatement of the scene.

Then it was also a big WTF because at this point of the book suddenly EVERYTHING made sense. And by the time the book was over all the pieces that previously aligned perfectly were completely scrambled again.

So....who is Pust really? Although I enjoy his diatribes and unedited stream of consciousness, I don't trust him AT ALL. I think he's a double agent! Thoughts anyone?

I take Pust as a twist on Kruppe. Kruppe is a facade well done and deliberate so that he can keep his hands free in Darujhstan while he manipulates things in the background. He plays a part so that he will be underestimated by everyone, his quirky way of talking part of the mask to confuse and misdirect.

Pust instead has no control at all. If Kruppe is very deliberate in his actions and attitude, Pust is completely "unaware" and victim of his delusions. He's sure of playing a part when everyone sees straight through him. He's completely "out of control" while absolutely convinced he has it.

But at the same time there's something more devious in the character, and it's why I suspect that Pust often completely loses "control" and it's instead Shadowthrone himself to speak through him. And in this case things get more complicate because Shadowthrone possesses true ambiguity and CAN deceive easily. So is it the relatively harmless Pust speaking, or is it Shadowthrone?
Tai Tastigon
65. Taitastigon
Hello Aba.

Instead of headbanging away on HoC issues: When are you going to tackle MT ? Or if that one is too tough for you to tackle right now (since you have been waffling around the issue for the last 5 (!!) months)...why don´t you do Bonehunters first ? It is a little bit of a heresy to invert orders, but in your case, it may be helpful. BH gives direct sequence to issues you keep pounding on...and the last third of that book will give you enough motivation to pick up MT.

How about it ? Deal ?
Sydo Zandstra
66. Fiddler
Following up on Taitastigon, and putting up a very minor spoiler:


Abalieno@64:

Pust instead has no control at all. If Kruppe is very deliberate in his actions and attitude, Pust is completely "unaware" and victim of his delusions. He's sure of playing a part when everyone sees straight through him. He's completely "out of control" while absolutely convinced he has it.

Iskaral Pust is Magi of High House Shadow. You don't become that by being an incapable numbwit.

As one will read in The Bonehunters. But trust me, chances are extremely high he was that already in this book too...

tBH spoiler whited out below:
It was Pust who stopped Dejim Ne'brahl, from getting a full caravan, thereby keeping it from getting strong enough to become a real power factor. Lovely scene, btw.
Tai Tastigon
67. Taitastigon
Oh, dear Abalieno, one additional thing, and that one is serious !

I very decidedly and personally object (!) to how (!) you (!) are using (and abusing of) a third-party blog to expose your opinions !

No matter what Matt Hilliard opines, it has always been intended for his very small and obscure readership of 15 to 20 people, as he claims. I have never seen any initiative from that guy to expose his opinions on this reread, or ME.com, or any other major genre-related blog. I (& we here) actually only know him because you, Abalieno, specifically, started pushing Matt´s blog...and from what I have read so far, you neither informed Matt about your intention nor did you (obviously) ask for Matt´s previous opinion whether he would be in favor of exposure of his texts on such *amplified* levels and the resulting reverberations/implications. No wonder Matt is reeling right now.

And in your current discussions today, you keep using Matt as an argumentative shield...w/o asking the guy whether he actually agrees with your positioning or your whole tack re his opinions...and how would he respond ? Yesterday he said he is going on a holiday trip, he´ll get back to us later...!!

This is absolute gonzo-opinioning, carried out on the back of thirds...and I cannot say I approve of this !

Now that I have said my piece, I won´t comment on this anymore. We are all going to get *hand-slapped* by Amanda on Monday, anyway, for going medievally off-topic on this talkback....
Tai Tastigon
68. Taitastigon
Fid @66

Nice to read you´re better. Devilish climate up there, I read.

And yep - anybody thinking that Pust does not have control...didn´t read far enough... ;0)
(even if he does not really control most of the things he would like to control...on the other hand...darn, it´s PUST !!)
Steven Halter
69. stevenhalter
@StevenErikson:To answer your question about the question:
Deadhouse Gates, Bantam Edition (Trade Paperback) page 114, first sentence:

Without another word the three began walking.


So, the question is--Is "three" a typo or is there a non obvious person walking along with Icarium or Mappo?

(By the way, I finished "Crack'd Pot Trail". Thanks, and quite interesting).
Dan K
70. kramerdude
Some thoughts on a variety of topics:

Regarding the Kellenved/Dancer as Shadowthrone/Cotillion reveal:

Its interesting that Steven stops by and talks about point of view because we could argue that maybe some of the discussions in GoTM did mean that some characters realized that K/D were S/C but here is where Fiddler for the first time puts all the pieces together and does so in a way that is explicitly clear for the reader as well.

Shalter@4: Yep this is one of those scenes that does cut into any thought that Laseen was in some way in on any plans that were taking place. Although I can again ponder how completely reliable Apsalar's memories as Cotillion actually are.

Regarding the "three began walking": Thats an bit thats bugged me as well. The sentence is kind of odd in the first place that it stands alone in its own paragraph like there might have been something more that was part of it. One other thought in addition to those mentioned would be a bhok'aral. They are mentioned as being present shortly before Mappo and Icarium start walking into the chamber and then being around when they return. Not likely I know, but another one I might put on the list.
bauchelain
71. Alt146
@66

I agree, Pust is in complete control. I think Aba's comment is a case in point of exactly how good at misdirecting people he actually is :P
Tricia Irish
72. Tektonica
OK...I know the Bhok'arala are small monkey like beings, but what are they REALLY? A D'ivers? Do they have special qualities we don't know about yet?
Sydo Zandstra
73. Fiddler
@Tek: No, they are just monkeys living in tribes.

Spoiler:
Except for one who is a Soletaken.
bauchelain
74. billcap
Wow--turn your back for a few days of holiday travel and family fun and look what happens!

Great response this week folks, and that's before Steven chimed in (and thanks again for keeping in the mix Steven, though sincere apologies to your wife).

So much to cover (and so little time to attempt it as my own wife is soon to be looking a bit askance at my mental if not physical absence from the doings out here in Boulder) . . .

On some of the big picture aspects discussed:
Can one get the worldview of an author from their works? Well, first of all, I'd say it pretty obviously depends on the author, some of whom are much more dogmatic or much more autobiographical in their writing (see for example any of a number of first "novels" that are thinly veiled memoirs). In that sense, while recognizing they could be a little self-blind or purposely deceptive, I prefer taking any particular author's statements about their own writing at face value. I also think such a reading is more tenuous the smaller the facet of writing being examined--can you really determine something about an author based on a 12-page short story? A chapter in a novel? A single novel that's part of a much greater whole? Even where one could maybe make some statements about a "worldview" based on a large-scale body of work, I wonder just how illuminating or unique such a worldview would be. I mean, if (and I'm simplifying here) one of Steven's worldviews is "I'd prefer we all treat each other more humanely," with no offense meant to Steven, really, how mind-blowing a concept/view is that? Or how does it really change your reading of this series? And does that mean we'll never catch Steven thinking to himself while he's dealing with some customer service rep "Oh, for four spears and a desert landscape . . . " Not to mention of course, that without seeing the end result of all these characters' struggles, how could we even open up a debate on what he's thinking?

Anyway, it just seems to me it's going down a path that you can never know if it actually is a path (or just some animal trail) and in the end, doesn't get you anywhere anyway. Not to say I'm not happy Steven is here chiming in, but I like the focus on the writing itself

and that whole looking askance thing from my wife? Starting sooner than I'd predicted--see you all again soon

Bill
bauchelain
75. billcap
Shalter,
It appears we're on the same page with that demon

Karsa@20
I absolutely agree with you that there may well be very good reason to fear a curse in this world. It wasn't the idea that the curse was "silly" that cracked me up; it was simply the visuals of it. Bunch of guys watching a horse bloodily chew off a face--laughter. Bunch of guys around a woman with hands to her pastel veil (I just picture as pastel)--faces white with fear.

Shalter again,
I'm with you that Pust is very trustworthy; he very often does exactly what he says he is going to do

Ab,
It's funny how readers can read the exact same words and come up with such differing viewpoints. I think you were right on many of your points on Beneth, but I had the completely opposite view of Pust in terms of control; I actually think he's very rarely "out of control" (though he plays one on TV)
M D
76. Abalieno
I'm with you that Pust is very trustworthy

The way I read it in this book is that he's trustworthy because not in control.

He says sincerely what he thinks because he is unaware that he talks while he's thinking. So there's no barrier between what he deliberately says and what he thinks and he's convinced to keep for himself.

I call that being not in control because he's unaware of this little condition he has. He can't "lie" in a traditional way because he's transparent even if he's convinced of keeping thoughts for himself. So he is somewhat blind to this aspect of himself.

People continue to say I'm wrong, and I may very well be, but I'd like to understand *why* you think I'm wrong in this case.
Tai Tastigon
77. Taitastigon
Aba @76

I call that being not in control because he's unaware of this little condition he has. He can't "lie" in a traditional way because he's transparent even if he's convinced of keeping thoughts for himself. So he is somewhat blind to this aspect of himself.

People continue to say I'm wrong, and I may very well be, but I'd like to understand *why* you think I'm wrong in this case.

Oh boy...I hate riding on that same horse over and over again, but what to do, so here goes...: Pust gets additional extra premium time in Bonehunters and Toll the Hounds. The picture that emerges in these readings is that Mr. Pust may not have control over the babbling per se, but has extreme control over what he puts into his babbling. In this, he seems to be a perfect shadow of Shadowthrone (pun intended) and thus the most adequate High Priest for this particular House...as ST himself helplessly and grudgingly admits. Unfortunately, you have to read Bonehunters and Toll The Hounds to get the complete picture of the character, which brings us back to...uh, well, you know the drill by now, don´t you...?
Robin Lemley
78. Robin55077
Okay folks, I must admit that I am feeling really STUIPD this week. It never entered my mind to try to discern a writer's world view by enterpreting the world view of their characters in their body of work....especially when it comes to fantasy. I guess I always just assumed that different writers drew from whatever source worked for them....for some it may be from their own life, but for others it would not be. Personally, I never cared where a writer pulled from, so long as it is believeable. For example, here in DG's, Erikson writes so beautifully/emotionally from Felisen's POV....I never once thought that Steve was once a 15-year old girl who had experienced the degredation that Felisin does. I assume that he either pulled from some experience in his own life where he felt helpless, or he is just a very, very good writer and has the ability evoke those emotions through his writing, even though he himself may never have experienced them. Personally, it doesn't matter to me which it is, the end result is it works and that is what I care about.

Do people really try to discern a writer's world view based on their writing?
Steven Halter
79. stevenhalter
Yes, it's somewhat less popular now, but in the past one could find entire literature departments deconstructing text in an attempt to ferret out what the author was thinking (consciously or subconsciously) when they wrote a book.
As Bill mentioned, there are cases where the authors viewpoints shine through. Many first novels start take the "write what you know" a little too seriously and are really autobiography with a thin fictional veneer. Then, there are authors (such as Ayn Rand) who are using their novel to show their worldview. Often, in this case, the characters are really just mouthpieces for what the author wants to say.
If you set the previous aside and actually talk to authors or read some of the better works discussing writing (like Stephen King's "On Writing") you will here about being honest with your characters. A well developed character will have their own worldview. It may or may not match the authors views. The characters go where the story (and the character's view) demands that they go.
bauchelain
80. Stormy70
I find Felisin to be one of the most intriguing characters of the series. She resonates with me, mostly due to a beautifully written passage later in DG (which I will point out at the appropriate chapter.)

Pust - I adore him!

The Shadowthrone/Cotillion reveal blew my mind when I first read it! I had no idea, as NofK had not come out yet. From that point on, I read the details a little more closely. So the Toblakai did not get past me, when he popped up again.

Steven - Your books are a joy to read, thank you for providing your thoughts.
Mieneke van der Salm
81. Mieneke
Whew, finally caught up! Before I get to the points/questions (more of the latter really ;)) I have I just have to say this:

Robin55077:
For example, here in DG's, Erikson writes so beautifully/emotionally from Felisen's POV....I never once thought that Steve was once a 15-year old girl who had experienced the degredation that Felisin does.


That just struck my funny bone, made my mind go to a strange visual place ;) Thanks for the laugh, even though I know you were serious!

Felisin just pulls at my heart strings. I feel so sorry for her. Like the following:

Everywhere else is just a shade of good enough.


That is just so sad!

This is probably a stupid question, but could the spiders be a D'ivers?

And I love the silliness of "The Quest for Pust's Broom" even though I'm sure this'll turn out to be super important answering a whole bunch of questions. Or am I barking up the wrong tree?

Sormo's remark about the 10 crows had me confused. Does this mean that the eleven crows didn't completely relinquish their link to his soul and once all eleven are dead, he'll die too? Or does he means he's been stupid? BTW, funny coincidence since Sormo was/is so wise he needed eleven crows, in Holland eleven is also called the fool's number, because twelve is supposedly the number of perfection and since eleven is one less of twelve it denotes imperfection.

Is it just me or does Fiddler's horse remind anyone else of Sparhawk's Faran? Oh and I had completely forgotten about Fid's attraction to Apsalar. And I can't recall what happens there. Which goes to show I've forgotten more than I remembered about the first 4 books.

Off to read the chapters for tomorrow :D Hope you guys can give me some enlightenment!!
Sydo Zandstra
82. Fiddler
@Mieneke:

This is probably a stupid question, but could the spiders be a D'ivers?

I think you may be on to something... ;-)


I've read about more brute horses in fantasy, but Faran certainly come to mind. :D
Tricia Irish
83. Tektonica
Mieneke@81: "The Quest for Pust's Broom"...LOL...kind of like Don Quixote tilting at windmills or Monty Python looking for the Grail!
bauchelain
84. amphibian
Abalieno @76:

This may help - Iskaral Pust babbles the way he does in order to create an effect upon his listeners. For the most part, it's bemused acquiescence that is created by his talking: people hear what he says and on a deeper level than consciousness, they sort of come to the assumption that he's essentially trustworthy and that they would do well to give him what they want.

The exact mechanism of him doing that involves being "open" about what he is thinking; all of the perverse, unhinged, silly stuff is all true, and at the same time, carefully designed to appeal to the listener.

Kruppe is slightly different in that he's more into describing everything in dramatic eloquence, rather than getting things for himself or his god. He's a born narrator. It's my suspicion that Erikson views Iskaral and Kruppe as having that (or a similar) crucial difference in viewpoint and that is why we got a book narrated by Kruppe and will likely never get one narrated by Pust.

I've kind of developed a habit over the years of occasionally talking to people like Iskaral and it really works well. Being genuine and being amusing in Pustian fashion gets you women too. Pust proves this! More than once!
Steven Halter
85. stevenhalter
@Mienke:


Sormo's remark about the 10 crows had me confused.




I think that he was basically using it like cat's have nine lives and in a close call they've used one up--he's saying that he just used up one of his lives/soul portions.
Travis Nelsen
86. Zangred
Mieneke@81: "And I love the silliness of "The Quest for Pust's Broom" even though I'm sure this'll turn out to be super important answering a whole bunch of questions. Or am I barking up the wrong tree?"

The boat they found while searching for the broom is a huge clue-by-four for a certain person's identity. There have been a few rather blunt references so far to this identity in Pust's scenes. Oh man, its so hard to try to talk around this and not to just spill the beans lol.
Tricia Irish
87. Tektonica
There's still not a link to this thread, Ch. 4 & 5, on the main Malazan Reread Page. And we're due for a new post!! Come on guys!

Can we put the link on the Reread Page at the same time the post goes up? Pretty please!
Joe Long
88. Karsa
re Pust's "ramblings"

I have never thought them as rambling...I think his internal dialog is being spoken out loud. We as reader's get to see the character's thoughts and in this twist, the other characters do. I do agree he is in control of *what* he says, but it has always read to me the same way it would read if you changed "Pust said" to "Pust thought"
Sydo Zandstra
89. Fiddler
If I get to see another Dr. Who post pop up before the next Malazan one, I'm going to scream...

(for those who wonder, yes, I never liked Dr. Who, and I'm a bit amazed at the overkill... ;-) )
Tai Tastigon
90. Taitastigon
Fid @89

Ye sure we gonna get anything today ?
hazel hunter
91. Hetan
@89 - I guess there's less content to get through, but more filler ;)
Steven Halter
93. stevenhalter
Apparently, we need to step up the sacrificial calendar.
Travis Nelsen
94. Zangred
Why is there still no link to this page from the main Malazan re-read page?
bauchelain
95. David DeLaney
shalter @79:

And then there are the authors whose fans repeatedly fall into the trap of trying to deduce the author's positions from the positions of the characters in their books, even after it's been pointed out that there's no possible way one person COULD hold all those diverse and sundry positions at once (and it's really unlikely they could move through them in a lifetime, even). The canonical F/SF example for this is Heinlein... though I've also seen it happen with Bradbury or Clarke.

(There's also the authors who DO have their own positions shine through whatever they write. And if the writing's good, you can put UP with that... but if it's not, you can get good short fantasy novelettes wrapped in a thick casing of BDSM and Libertarianism, and garnished with torture, to make NOT-good novels, for example, and that's all that particular author can ever write, it seems. Or one whose fascination with being in the military and being a Superior Person because of it seeps in every time, taking over the plot, and not in a good way...)

--Dave
bauchelain
96. Stormy70
Tick tock, Tor. Tick Tock.

I could care less about Dr. Who, as well.

I have no patience when I am sick, and this re-read and the Nyquil are the only thing keeping me going.
bauchelain
97. King Lear
Wow, I never noticed the "three" bit, and I've read the series several times. I guess that's what makes this reread so useful!
M D
99. Abalieno
Well, I had planned to watch Dr. Who right from the very first episode (and thinking I may end up liking those more) so this reminds me of something to do :)

Maybe I'll have time to read and comment more these two chapters even if it's indeed quite bothersome to have to go hunt the article since there's no index.

For now I'll say that there seems to be some debate about Pust since some read the character the same I do. And I'm trying to remember what this broom quest leads to but I just can't remember.

(and I need to finish The Way of Kings today, since I have 40 pages left...)
Mieneke van der Salm
100. Mieneke
Fid @82: :P Glad I'm not just chasing rainbows then. And yeah there are many bad-tempered fantasy horses, but the way Fiddler talked to it reminded me most of Faran :D

Tek @83: Exactly!!

Shalter @85: That's what I hoped he meant. TY!

Gredien @86: I read the boat-finding scene yesterday and I went OOOHHH really loudly :D
Tai Tastigon
101. Taitastigon
Hello, hello, ye all.

Amanda / Bill - what´s the deal for this week ?

These ominous silences tend to make me nervous...
Thomas Jeffries
102. thomstel
In hopes of priming the pump (so to speak), let's throw out some great Ch.5 & 6 one-liners. I'll start:

"Boat repair."
Steven Halter
104. stevenhalter
"Do not,” the Jhag said slowly, “try my patience.
Tai Tastigon
105. Taitastigon
"We wanted the god´s attention," she said. "Not the god himself."
hazel hunter
107. Hetan
" The boat or the broom?"
Tai Tastigon
108. Taitastigon
"Problem is, he knows I´m here, which makes me bad company to be around - "
Tai Tastigon
109. Taitastigon
"Anyone else need to wash out their leggings ?"
Tai Tastigon
110. Taitastigon
"I´ll grant you a mule in a boat dragging nets through shoals might be interesting enough to garner a god´s curiosity,"
Tricia Irish
111. Tektonica
"Freedom had been won, at the cost of everything."
Tricia Irish
112. Tektonica
"Who are you anyway?"
"Imperial Historian. And who are you, Stormy?"
The man grunted, "Nobody. Nobody at all."
Amir Noam
113. Amir
"You will live, soldier?"
"Seems I'll have to,", the sapper replied, "if only to make some sense of what just happened."
Karen Martin
115. ksh1elds555
I must be having re-read withdrawal... been checking this site like every hour since yesterday! But I am loving the quotes :-)
Tricia Irish
116. Tektonica
We're ALL having reread withdrawal! Thus, the quotes.....
and they are great!

And still, not a peep about what's going on....

And no link to this thread on the Main reread page either..;-(
Tai Tastigon
117. Taitastigon
Lemme give you another one, then:

"Do something, Kulp !"
"Run ! That´s what we´re going to do !"
Tai Tastigon
118. Taitastigon
Come to think of it, amazing how many quotables this man generates:

"I need to rejoin Coltaine. My horse is in the stables-..."
"They´re pinching her flanks right now, I bet. Around here, people ride camels, eat horses. Forget it !"

But ye know what is funny...in the entire 7C-arc, you never again hear about camels...they ALL ride horses all the time ! Deadhousegate-ism ?
Tai Tastigon
119. Taitastigon
"Sergeant, then corporal - you bucking for private now ?"
Amir Noam
120. Amir
"You do the skinning - I won't eat tattooed skin no matter how hungry I am."
Tai Tastigon
121. Taitastigon
"Now back out of my face before I put gills and scales on yours."
Tai Tastigon
123. Taitastigon
"Recall the horrid soup -"
"That was laundry, Mappo."
Tai Tastigon
124. Taitastigon
"We live in a cloud," she replied. "All our lives."
"That´s durhang talking."
Amir Noam
126. Amir
"That's not a column over there," he rasped. "It's a finger."
Travis Nelsen
128. Zangred
It's going to take approximately 5 years to finish this re-read at the current pace. :)
Amir Noam
129. Amir
Gredien:
"We do not see in years, but in centuries"
Maggie K
130. SneakyVerin
"We are being manipulated. I can feel it, smell it."
"I've noted your raised hackles. For myself, I've become numb to such notions-I have felt manipulated all my life."

I am having very paranoid thoughts about our re-read post....But am trying to remind myself I am a patient adult....lol
Sydo Zandstra
131. Fiddler
Come on guys, don't get frustrated or sulky. ;-)

We do not know why the post isn't here yet, and these are holidays. It isn't the end of the world, you know... (and it's not like our favourite hosts actually get paid to do this, or us actually paying for the service)... :p

I suggest you do like I do, and watch a dvd or do some other reading. And read the post when it comes. :)

(It at least will save you from more Dr Who crap ;-) )
Tai Tastigon
132. Taitastigon
"When did you last lie with a woman ?"

"That would be a year and a day, the night I dressed up a a Kanese harlot - had Gesler fooled for hours. Mind you, he was pretty drunk. Mind you, so was I."


I couldn´t resist... *g*
Amir Noam
133. Amir
Fiddler,
Not sulky. Just amusing ourselves until we'll be able to get our next "fix". I'm sure the new post will be here eventually. After all, the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wi... hmm... wrong re-read :-)

And I don't object for a healthy dose of Doctor now and then to help pass the time :-)
Amanda Rutter
134. ALRutter
Sorry, guys, woeful behaviour on our behalf to not produce a post and then not talk to you. Fact is, Tor pretty much closes between Christmas and New Year - all these posts going up each day were loaded prior to 20th Dec as far as I'm aware. Me and Bill weren't ready for the post by 20th Dec, hence there is no one in Tor towers to proof read our work and post it to their schedule this week. Apologies all. We know we're travelling at glacial fashion so far and that we need to start speeding things up. Me and Bill will have a chat and see what needs to be done.

(Truth be told, I thought you'd all be doing what I've been doing this week: eating til I groan, drinking way too much and not doing a lot else! *winks*)
Irene Gallo
135. Irene
Hi Guys,
Chiming in from tor.com home base. We are, in fact, all out of the offices but we'll be back up to speed come Monday. Bill and Amanda are very patient to put up with our schedules. I will let ya'll in on a secret before anyone else -- we have been working hard behind-the-scenes to make a lot of improvements to the site. Come February (I wont swear to a specific date ;-) the indexes will be automated and _always_ up to date. Bear with us for just a little while longer.
Tai Tastigon
136. Taitastigon
Hello Amanda & Irene.

Thx for the info...and...for curiosity´s sake...- at what time are you girls posting this ? Shouldn´t you be sleeping...?

In any case, have a happy New Year´s !
Behave !!
Irene Gallo
137. Irene
Ha. Well, I don't know Amanda's excuse but I'm on US east coast time. Sadly, un-trimming the christmas tree.

Happy New Year to everyone!
Tricia Irish
138. Tektonica
Thanks Amanda! Hope your holiday was joyous, and not too snowy over in the UK.

Thanks Irene too! Sounds like our website will be much improved come February...thank you all at Tor.

And aren't you efficient, taking down your tree already. It always seems so forlorn after the Big Day and the floor is bare underneath. ;-( It's much more fun to put up in anticipation, than remove, usually alone. But the clutter removal is cathartic!

Happy 2011 everyone!
Stefan Sczuka
139. moeb1us
Already thought so much regarding the office times of tor HQ. Many organisations have closed their gates.

In Germany, I think many families leave the tree up till something like the 6th January. I like the sight of it :)

Happy new year y'all!
M D
140. Abalieno
Chiming in to say I'll be leaving the reread. It seems that for most readers my comments are more detrimental than constructive. Really, if we made a poll the side that wants me away would win and it's fine for me to comply with the request.

I'm quite surprised at the reactions I trigger because I don't see my own comments any different from the rest (I spend more time analyzing, but is that a flaw?). Also most people continually ask me to justify some things but then refuse to read my answers (the most basic being why I don't read further, that I've explained already a number of times even giving my "reading schedule").

They even say I ignore what everyone else says, which strikes me as funny as I pay a lot of attention about what everyone writes and I do enjoy engaging with active discussions (like in the Pust case, where I've explained the motivations why I interpret the character a certain way, and asked others to explain their reasons why they interpret him differently, but I didn't get any, if not one case of someone else agreeing with me. See #88). Whether or not Pust can be understood just having read DG, some people are irritated even by the possibility of a discussion.

But in any case, I'll definitely continue to follow and read with interest as usual. I'll just avoid participating directly or just chiming in very sporadically if there's something I want to ask.
Maggie K
141. SneakyVerin
Abi-
Like you, this is my first read thru of these books.

Like you, I enjoy the different puzzles offered, and do try to analyze them, and come up with theories regarding them.

Also like you, I am only so far ahead (HoC) and don't want to get much farther. (So I'm better able to go along with this discussion)
So I totally understand your posts, and see where you are coming from.
The folks in here are mostly a lot farther ahead than we are, and not wanting to spoil our experience, are walking a fine line between explaining things and not spoiling things. Which is wonderful and considerate, I believe!

Although I do not get frustrated with you, as I am in the same spot as you, it's obvious you make it hard for people when you ask why? about something, and when they tell you that happens in the next book, you say Well, Im not going to read that.

Trying to not spoil things is important to everyone here. The wonderful thing about Erikson's books is the Aha! moments where we put pieces of the puzzle together. I can tell the re-readers just love it when we first-timers get that experience, and would not spoil it for the world.

Everyone loves back and forth debate. Everyone loves theorizing. Nobody minds a crazy theory popping out. They will give you hints and clues why a theory might be off, but if you keep asking why, eventually the non-spoiling consience of everyone will say RAFO! \

I do not want you to stop participating, and I enjoy your theories on things. But some things really are a RAFO, and if you overanalyze something and want to talk it out, and haven't read far enough to have the info to do so, it is frustrating for the other people to know how to respond to that.

Just from what I have seen it seems that any rudeness thrown at you is out of frustration because the answer to 90% of your questions would be a spoiler, and they don't want to spoil you experience.

You do have the right to read at the pace you want, but then you have to expect to get a lot of RAFOs.
Sydo Zandstra
142. Fiddler
Well said, SneakyVerin. :)

And to everybody, have a great New Year's Eve, and a fantastic 2011!

(and to those with New Year lottery tickets, may Oponn favour you!)
Tricia Irish
143. Tektonica
Well said, SneakyVerin. I hate to see anyone driven away from a good discussion.

Abalieno, I think all anyone really wants is for you to listen to the Vets when they tell you that you're barking up the wrong tree...that things will become clear later in the series, and you might be interpreting some action or person the wrong way.

I'm now a bit further on that you are, and I must say that the insights I get here from the Veterans helps guide my interpretations of characters and actions, and has helped me get into SE's "gestalt". They have not led me astray yet! There's much good discussion, pretty carefully presented, so as to guide, but not spoil, the experience for us "newbies".

And this is a "Reread" after all.

Happy New Year to all of you! And thank you!
bauchelain
145. billcap
Hi all,
Just off a two-day train trip from Boulder CO back home. Sure, there’s no wi-fi so you feel a bit isolated from the greater world out there, but the delays are much more comfortable w/ a lounge car--as opposed to being stuck on a tarmac--and it gave me some nice time to read Stonewielder (review up on fantasylit in a few days and discussion here on it in what, a year or so?). Thanks everyone for taking the holiday break in stride--greatly appreciated.

Ab--don’t take off on anyone’s account other than your own. I’d say some (not all) people appear to find some (not all) of your comments more frustrating than “detrimental.” If you don’t mind people expressing that frustration (civilly of course), stick around and keep adding to the discussion; while I don’t always agree with your points (and admit to some frustration myself in how to explain some of those disagreements without spoiling things for others who haven’t read ahead), I absolutely appreciate your close focus on the text.

Hope everyone has a great New Year’s Even and a good start to the next year!

Bill
bauchelain
146. Night Owl
Happy New Year Everyone-
I've been peeking in to see if by some chance there was a new chapter being discussed, and panicked when I couldn't see the link. But I stuck with it and found the site (not going to get rid of me THAT easily!).

Thanks, Irene for the Feb. info on the new and improved link.

Hey , Abalieno- don't leave -we need all viewpoints! Makes a healthy dialogue.

For what its worth, heres my "one liner" from Kalam; "No beer in this hold?"
Sydo Zandstra
147. Fiddler
@Night Owl

For what its worth, heres my "one liner" from Kalam; "No beer in this hold?"

You win... :D ;-)

Happy New Year.
Robin Lemley
148. Robin55077
I don’t believe there are any spoilers in this post. I discuss no plot, no specific characters, events, or POV. This is simply an overview of my observation of Erikson’s writing style that I think may be helpful to those who perhaps have not yet read far enough into the series to realize this as part of Erikson’s style, and also to maybe help them understand why the veterans on here keep saying, things like, “take note of this or that” or answering questions with what must certainly seem to some of the “newbies” as an extremely vague (and probably very frustrating) “you will find out later.”

Like Erikson, many writers will write from various characters’ points of view. This often means that as readers we get the opportunity to “revisit” an event as we see it through a second or sometimes even third POV. In addition to the multiple POV’s, Erikson also treats us to multiple events happening simultaneously. For example, currently here in DG we are following the events of Fiddler, Kalem, Icarium/Mappo, Felesin, and Coltaine. As we know, these events are all occurring at the same time, just in various areas on the Seven Cities continent. Some of these groups may interact with the others during the course of the book, some may not. Some may “hear news” about events and happenings of other groups. Some events may be experienced by one group and not even known about to the other groups. Nothing new about any of this as writers do this all the time.

However, Erikson goes way beyond that in the Malazan series. In addition to the alternate POV’s and multiple-party actions taking place simultaneously, Erikson gives us entire books that are taking place simultaneously. We didn’t really encounter this with GotM and NoK, however as we hit chapters here in the next 2 or 3 weeks, this will come into play more and more and continue throughout the rest of the series.

Yes, we are currently reading DG, but (if I recall correctly) pretty much the entire book MOI takes place during the same time the events of DG are happening, with some events of HoC overlapping, while most of HoC and TB overlap and cover some of the same time period as each other, with events in RG overlapping TB, etc. , ect., with certain aspects of all of the remaining books overlapping others, again and again. Thus when, for example, an event may happen here in DG where someone/something comes seemingly out of nowhere and you ask, “what just happened” or “who was that?” or “where did they come from?” and the veterans say something like, “make note of that” or “you will find out later” that most likely means that Erikson explains it (and in a much more enjoyable way than we ever could), but that explanation may perhaps be some books down the road. I promise you that if the answer to your question is a simple “Oh, that was John Smith,” with no real impact on the story or no spoiler information needed to explain an answer to your question, the veterans on here will be more than happy to tell you, “Oh, that was John Smith.” However, these are Erikson books….sometimes, the answer really cannot be a simple “John Smith” answer.

I hope this is helpful. It may sound confusing but it really isn’t and Erikson executes it with such skill as a writer that at times it may leave you sitting there with your jaw dropping. The veterans here definitely do not ever want to take that “jaw drop” away from you.

I've seen many readers compare Erikson to GRR Martin. Personally, this particular aspect of Erikson’s writing places Erikson in an entirely different league from GRRM for me. Erikson’s overlapping of entire books (not to mention a very large number of characters) seems so effortless and the result is absolutely unbelievable. In contrast, GRRM has been attempting for the past 6 years to write a single book that overlaps the time/frame and/or events of one other book (and a relatively small number of characters in comparison) and we still have no idea if and/or when “Dance with Dragons” might one day be released. Although I really enjoyed GRRM’s series to date, compare these two writers????......for me personally, there is no real comparison to be made.

:-)
Tai Tastigon
151. Taitastigon
Robin @ 148

*I've seen many readers compare Erikson to GRR Martin. for me personally, there is no real comparison to be made.*

*bigBIGlol*
...this is very tricky ground - the Westeros crowd tends to be veeery sensitive about Malazanites commenting about their authorgod... ;0)

Personally, I don´t like to compare these two cycles. Except for grittiness, no similarities. Up to aSoS, I thought aSoIaF was the best stuff out there in decades. Unfortunately, that was in 1999. Since then, SE has cranked out MBotF, cranking out a volume per year, come rain, come snow. GRRM has given us aFfC in that period. And there I definitely agree - will he finish it ? I have my doubts.

So in GRRM´s case, I will not pick that *thang* up again until I see the last volume having been handed in to the publisher. Rather a whole partridge in my hands than half a chicken on the roof...

Now let´s bring on SE. I prefer two-letter acronyms... ;0)
Tricia Irish
152. Tektonica
Happy 2011 Everyone!

Thanks Robin for your analysis...excellent.

Taitastigon: Agree. Loved GRRM and plowed right through the books, but now have a wait and see attitude. *shrug* He's just too busy with all his other projects, and he had some gordian knot he couldn't get past....RobM assures us that he's figured it out....but I think he's spread a bit thin, and has either lost focus or motivation. (Just guessing ;-))

Besides, there appears to be a lot more to the SE material, book wise and depth wise. I've found a new addiction. ;-)
Sydo Zandstra
153. Fiddler
I like aSoIaF too.

I have defended GRRM for a long time. Until 'A Feast for Crows' came out. I loved the book, but when a writer says he wants to have a 5 years time frame between his characters at the end of SoS and the next novel, and that one is written 6 years afterwards, I am leaving the building.

GRRM should stop playing with his toy knights and do some finishing.


Might be another interesting project for Brandon Sanderson... ;)
Stefan Sczuka
154. moeb1us
I don't want you to leave the discussion, Aba. I have no idea what was mailed in your direction or posted into your shoutbox, but if the result is a less complex and controversial debate, I am not supporting it.

Alas, don't be petty and overlook the opinions and posts you don't like and rejoin the party. Looking forward to read you, moe
Amanda Rutter
155. ALRutter
Alright :-)

Let's be the biggest and loveliest re-read on the circuit!

For what it's worth: I love being a Malazanite (I might put that on my business cards!) I also love Robert Jordan's WoT work (I haven't yet read Brandon Sanderson's take on same - will be doing the whole series when A Memory of Light comes out). I dearly love ASoIaF as well.

This mighty triumvirate of fantasy is rich in details, fabulous in characterisation and we should be impossibly grateful that we have such a diversity of wonderful fantasy on the bookshelves.

Imagine if we'd been born when JRRT was publishing and he was the only real fantasy option! What if we hadn't liked him? Where would the options have been?

Personally, I feel that this is one of the best ever times to be a fantasy reader, and I can't wait to read EVERYTHING :-D
Tai Tastigon
156. Taitastigon
Abalieno @140

My, oh my. Can we just cut out the drama-queen act ?

For the x-teenth time: Your opinion is simply being questioned because you insist on lengthy speculations about things in MBotF that have been clarified explicitly in tomes coming after HoC - tomes which you explicitly refuse to read, for whatever reason, prefering to simply keep speculating on those events.

If you think that that type of procedure enriches the discussion here and should be confounded with freedom of opinion, well - I guess I cannot help you...- but independent of that: You really wanna make us believe that this whole bruhaha is going to keep you from participating in this highly visible reread, where even The Man himself chimes in ?? C´mon - who yer, of all people, trying to kid ?

RAFO !! and get with it ! The discussion is open here.
Amir Noam
157. Amir
Abalieno:
I wouldn't want you to leave the discussion here, either.
I personally find your posts very well written and insightful.

Though I udnerstand the frustration that others have shown, I respect your reading shcedule (which is a personal decision). It just means that some things which are much clearer to those of us who have read ahead are still a mystery for you, that's all. I think SneakyVerin@141 said it best that people are trying to answer your questions without outright spoiling things for all the first time readers.

I understand if you find it uncomfortable with some of the more personal critisism youv'e received, but personally I'd prefer it if you stayed and continued to contribute to the discussions.
Amir Noam
158. Amir
Fiddler @153:

GRRM should stop playing with his toy knights and do some finishing.

I assume you've read Neil Gaiman's "George R.R. Martin is not your bitch" post. I agree with Neil that GRRM doesn't "owe" us anything, but we also have a right to be frustrated with the incomplete work, especially as it had such high expectations.
I've stopped reading aSoIaF after SoS and decided that I'm not continueing with the series until it is done (haven't read aFfC yet either). I understand that it's possible to get writer's block, and maybe Martin can't find his muse or maybe he just has other stories/projects that he needs to get out before he can work on aSoIaF again. I don't particularly care. As Neil said, he's not my bitch and can work on what he pleases. But I also choose to ignore this series (which held so much promise) until such time that it is done.


Might be another interesting project for Brandon Sanderson... ;)

Hopefully not for the same reasons as for WoT.
Amir Noam
159. Amir
Amanda @155:

Imagine if we'd been born when JRRT was publishing and he was the only real fantasy option! What if we hadn't liked him?

Not like him? How is that even possible? :-)
Hmmm. Imagine having JRRT participating in the re-read threads....
a a-p
160. lostinshadow
Happy new year everyone!

Abalieno, SneakyVerin@141 said it best, make of that what you will.

re the 3 big fantasy series of our time...obviously I am a huge WoT and Malazan fan. Can't find GRRM books here and after having read comments both on the WoT and Malazan rereads I was not particularly tempted to try it out. having spent 20 years and counting waiting for the end of WoT, I really don't want to get into that again. So I pretty much wrote it off.

And then last month, when my best friend (and sf/fantasy book supplier when I can't find stuff here) swears I've actually read the first three books in GRRM - since I used to raid his home library and he tends to bring me (literally) suitcases full of books each time he comes for a visit I have to take him at his word. Now I read a lot - probably an average of a book a day - but I usually remember (if vaguely) what I read. So the fact that I don't remember even picking up the series (apparently my comment was "i don't like this, everybody dies") I don't think I'll bother with a second round at bat.
a a-p
161. lostinshadow
re JRRT, in all honesty, (I realize this may be blasphemy) while I appreciate it's role in the history/development of fantasy literature, I don't really like tLoR all that much. Compared to the fantasy I enjoy reading, it feels much too simplistic.
Amir Noam
163. Amir
lostinshadow @160:

apparently my comment was "i don't like this, everybody dies"

If that was your response to aSoIaF, I'm impressed you managed to hold on to Malazan :-)
Sydo Zandstra
164. Fiddler
NOTE: my original post was automatically flagged because there was a link in it. It could reappear next week. This is the one with the link left out...

@Amir:

I hadn't read that post by Gaiman. Thanks. I agree with it too. However, if there is a real case of writer's block going on there, I'd prefer it if he just said it. But maybe, with the HBO series coming up and him involved with it, he picks it up again. Personally I have the impression, though, that Martin just cannot focus long enough, and gets easily distracted by other projects...

BTW, I am reminded of how Stephen King got to finishing The Dark Tower series. It took an accident that could have killed him to realize that he wanted to finish it in his lifetime. And after that, the last 3 books were written and published rather quick...

Not that I'd wish Martin to have an accident. I visited a lecture by him once, and he is a really decent guy, with interesting views on the SF/Fantasy/Horror genres. It was meant more as an example on how one could get his focus back.


Re: Tolkien.
I remember from highschool how I almost had to beg my English teacher to be allowed to read tLotR for my literature list. And then the next year, my new teacher wanted to disband it again, and have me read another Dickens instead. That was in the '80'ies. Could have been my school only, but in my experience most English teachers here in The Netherlands had a rather snobbish attitude where both SF/Fantasy and American writers are concerned (so Asimov was definitely off ;-) ).

Maybe Mieneke can shed some more light on this. ;-)

As for reading, I still do a reread of LotR every now and then, and I even read the Tom Bombadil parts... :D

On a side note, and the hardcore fans will curse me for that, I found the plotline in the movies more fitting/complete than the one in the books. I know, blasphemy... ;-) The arguments Jackson used to defend that (on the extra dvd's in the special editions) are acceptable enough for me, even if they were meant for the movies alone.

Nonetheless, it will always be a good read in my opinion.

Amanda:
Imagine if we'd been born when JRRT was publishing and he was the only real fantasy option! What if we hadn't liked him?

Now I am reminded of the movie Fanboys, where the hardcore SW fans finally get to see Episode One, and right at the start one of them says something like 'Hey guys, what if the movie sucks? '
a a-p
165. lostinshadow
@Amir - that's the weird thing, love Malazan and don't mind the characters dying but I don't even remember reading GRRM - the quote is hearsay from my best friend and sf/fan dealer - so obviously it's not just the people dying that I had a problem with; honestly I've read plenty of "crap" and remember enough to know I've read it so I can't believe GRRM had such little impact on me that I don't even remember reading 3 whole books.

@Fiddler - hey I wanted to say it but didn't but since you've mentioned it I will echo you - I agree that the movies actually work better than the original (hardcore fans feel free to shoot - just let me get in a final cigarette)

@Amanda & Bill re reading speed: actually I am quite happy with this format - I have no problem if this reread goes on for another 5 years, the series is really in depth and as the plots pick up pace it will be hard to find the time to read your summaries and comments let alone post our own.

And if you feel you must increase the pace, I would say keep the posts at 2 chapters each and maybe add a second post in the week.
a a-p
165. lostinshadow
sorry guys, double post
Mieneke van der Salm
166. Mieneke
RE: Fidd's post on LotR in Dutch Highschools:
When I had to put together my reading list we weren't allowed to put LotR on it either (then again this was 1996, so things may have changed), but and it's a BIG but...

When I was looking at universities, one of the big reasons for me to choose Leiden to study English was that they actually taught an elective class on Speculative Fiction. That and they had a master on Book & Publishing. Of course when I actually got to choose my classes, which was only after my 2nd year, the class wasn't taught any more :( It would have been so cool. It might have been the one class for which I would have done all my required reading *grin*

As for American authors, they were fine when I was making my list and at university they teach special American lit classes. They even let you choose whether you learn a British (RP) accent or an American accent in Linguistics class (at least in my day)!
Maggie K
167. SneakyVerin
Let's call it the first blessing off 2011:

I am SO glad that even without our new post to talk about, we are managing to keep the conversation going. Obviously we all love reading fantasy!

So bless us all in the New Year, even GRRM, may all his writer's blocks disappear!
Tricia Irish
168. Tektonica
OK, for lack of a post this past week, I'll chime in....LotR.....

I had a hard time getting into LotR initially....all those crazy names!....I know, silly complaint in light of Malazan, ;-). I finally made the leap by listening to The Hobbit on tape (yes, tape) while driving cross-country. Then I was hooked. I arrived in the mountains, after a pit stop in Denver to buy all the LotR, and spent the summer in Middle Earth. It reawakened my SciFi/ Fantasy interests, which had been put on hold since college, and will forever hold a place in my heart for that!

I loved he movies too. Although they have truncated the story in certain ways, movies are a different medium, with different requirements. Showing someone thinking doesn't quite work. The attention to detail, acting, and over all quality were superb. I doubt I'll ever read the books again, but I do watch the movies periodically. So alert the firing squad...Movies, yay!

As for literature in high school/college. I don't think I ever saw anything like a "speculative fiction" course offered here in the US...of course, that was back in the Dark Ages. SciFi was really all that was around in college other than LotR. *sigh* This does seem to be a golden age of Fantasy. Long may it continue!
a a-p
169. lostinshadow
Regarding literature in hs/college...it was pretty traditional stuff throughout high school but actually had quite a lot of fun with various courses in college.

There was the "role of religion in fantasy literature" class which of course featured lord of the rings, cs lewis's narnia and some ursula le guinn (so more fantasy classics than contemporary - even for the mid 90s when I was in college) as well as south american authors like gabriel garcia marquez (one hundred years of solitude may not be "fantasy" as we know it but it is certainly fantastical)

I don't quite remember the official title but there was another class generally about the role of "gothic literature" on modern forms of media - so we had to read books like "mysteries of udolfo" and watch buffy (seriously - that was our regular weekly assignment). I'm sure that class (if it is still being taught) would be really interesting now considering the urban fantasy craze that's going around these days.

I actually wrote my independent study (junior thesis a mere 60 pages) in anthropology (my beloved major and possibly why I love Malazan) on how sf/fan are two sides of the same coin, one exploring the more optimistic and possibly even childish aspects of the human psyche while the other focuses more on the pessimistic even destructive aspect. (and to make it more "anthropological" I brought in comparisons from other cultural works such as south american/african/middle eastern literature which often blends those together. In my defense for pitching fantasy as the more optimistic of the two (hard to see in a reread of Malazan with side discussions of GRRM), neither series had been published yet.

so that was totally off topic but let me echo Tek (*waves* psst since we still haven't built a bunker for this place, I'm sneaking some brandy from the WoT bunker if you want to join me) and hope that the golden age of fantasy continue for a long time!
Sydo Zandstra
170. Fiddler
I'm all for not having a bunker here. No need to hide. ;)

Now, please pass the bottle... :D
Thomas Jeffries
171. thomstel
A big happy 2011 to everyone here!

GRRM: Want that series finished, but I'd be hard-pressed to recall specific events from the first three that I read other than the main plotlines. Those are still fresh simply because of the HBO series though... :p

JRRT: It's good to be honest, and it seems safe company, so I'll chime in with a "didn't much care for LotR either". I saw what it was, and how groundbreaking it must have been, and appreciated the depth and history of the world. The writing style/storyline? Eh. It's OK. I'd read it again, but DAMN there are some tough sections to get through.

As for literature in ye olden days, in my high school they put a one-time elective into the English curriculum called "20th century novels" in my junior year, which was amazing and sounded great, and was to be taught by the one English teacher that I actually liked in my HS. While the course covered some "to be expected" sorts of novels (The Sun Also Rises, Grapes of Wrath, The Great Gatsby, etc.), it also dipped into the Speculative Fiction with A Clockwork Orange. Never let it be said that a brave teacher with intelligent students can't put together the best coursework/classroom discussions of a high school lifetime. It was much like a microcosmic version of this re-read to be honest. I liked that class more than study hall, which, being an avid reader, was a tough thing to do.
Tricia Irish
172. Tektonica
HS Lit:

Mine was very classic, but my son's was very very cool! Mixed in with the classics, he got to read 1984, Farenheit 451, A Clockwork Orange, and Vonnegut's Sirens of Titan. They had great discussions and wrote papers and speculative fiction. English Lit has certainly improved since I was in HS!
bauchelain
173. billcap
Lost in Shadow
"if you feel you must increase the pace, I would say keep the posts at 2 chapters each and maybe add a second post in the week."

The sound you just heard was my wife throwing Toll the Hounds (hardcover) at my head and saying "if you even think about it . . . !
bauchelain
174. billcap
Amir @163
"apparently my comment was "i don't like this, everybody dies"

If that was your response to aSoIaF, I'm impressed you managed to hold on to Malazan :-)"

Yeah, but in Malazan, if you just wait around a book or two . . .

Re LoTR movies
I'd say in general Jackson did a great job, though he needed someone who could tell him to step back and save him from his lack of subtlety at times. And I have a hard time w/ his portrayal of Faramir/Denethor

as far as personal take--I can't easily separate my youthful experience from my view, so it's tough to be objective but I think it still holds up as one of the best written, despite issues. And it's rare I come across scenes that affect me as much as those such as the horns of Rohan sweeping down to the field of Pellenor or echoing in Helms Deep or Sam facing down Shelob. But how much of that is in the writing and how much is recapturing the original 11-yr-old response is hard to say (hey, the end of Andre Norton's Star Rangers still does it for me as well)

on Martin
I'm in full agreement w/ Gaiman that Martin doesn't "owe" us anything, but think that only means you can't get personally abusive or indignant; you can however, justifiably express frustration w/ the long wait
bauchelain
175. billcap
lost in Shadow @169
"and watch buffy (seriously - that was our regular weekly assignment)"

what do you mean, "seriously"? I'm about to start my second class of freshman comp and I show them 6 or 7 Buffy episodes!

sounds like an interesting thesis and as we go on, we'll surely be exploring how pessimistic/optimistic this series is (once we see how it all ends, of course)
Sydo Zandstra
176. Fiddler
I wonder which episodes that would be, Bill :D

I am doing an Angel rewatch right now. Season 5. Love the whole Angel-Spike discussions with what I know!
bauchelain
177. billcap
Fiddler:
puppets
Loved the puppets
Tai Tastigon
178. Taitastigon
Bill @174

on Martin
I'm in full agreement w/ Gaiman that Martin doesn't "owe" us anything, but think that only means you can't get personally abusive or indignant; you can however, justifiably express frustration w/ the long wait

Got mee-self a simple one on that, just following the Gaiman lingo: Sure GRRM ain´t anybody´s bitch, and shouldn´t be - but at the same time, that exempts me from having to be his sugardaddy and pumping money into his various endeavours not related to advancing aSoIaF. My miserly opinion alone won´t make much of a difference...but amplify it by 100,000, and it will start to hurt.

In any case, my take is that GRRM is caught in the *Chinese Democracy* trap...(as in Axl Rose and Guns ´n Roses) -> aSoS was a smash, you have to follow it up and good, don´t wanna screw it up, futz around here, futz around there, have some 6 alternatives of how to do it, can´t decide on the best, futz around some more, then release *the b-sides* (uninteresting POV in aFfC) 5 years later to *cough up* something, by that crank up expectations even higher for the *a-sides*...til you get to a point 11 years later where, now matter what he publishes under aDwD, the bar is at a point where, if it doesn´t revolutionize contemporary fantasy, it will be a tremendous letdown....
Not a position I would like to be in...
Amir Noam
179. Amir
re Lord of the Rings:
The mediums are so different that I have no problem seeing both as complemenary but essentially different works.

Disclaimer: I'm a big fan of both the books (I own 4 copies, in 3 different languages, one leather-bound) and the movies (I own all extended edition DVDs and have watched a 10+ hour marathon of all 3 back-to-back in a movie theater once).

There are parts in each that I dislike (e.g. Bombadil in the books, some of Peter Jackson's choices in the movies), but this doesn't reduce my ability to enjoy reading/watching them from time to time.
bauchelain
180. billcap
Amir,
I agree that the mediums are completely different and thus require different choices. Some of the worst adaptations of books are those that are slavishly faithful because the books don't translate well to the different medium. Worse in a different way than those that just wrecked a good book by making terrible changes, which are the ones we tend to remember, especially if they were beloved books. Streamlined plots, composite characters--all of those make supreme sense. Some choices though I never understand--sometimes because they make things worse (I thought for instance Denethor lost a lot of the book's dignity in the film) or sometimes because they just seemed like change for change's sake, neither for good or bad, so why bother?

The best adaptations to me are always of plays--which come prepackaged w/ a tight structure, great dialogue, and strong characters. Sadly, there aren't a lot of fantasy/sci-fi plays :)
(though the Sunday Times has a decent article on sci-fi coming more often to the stage lately)
Robin Lemley
181. Robin55077
Apologies to everyone as I certainly didn’t mean to ruffle any feathers. Since mid-November I have been working 70 hours a week and, although that has unfortunately not left me much time to post, I have been able to keep up with reading everyone’s comments. SneakyVerin’s post got me to thinking about my initial read of these books.

I came to this series cold, meaning that I had never even heard of Steven Erikson or the Malazans. I happened to be in my local B&N a few years ago looking for something to read and I came across GotM. If I recall correctly, this was right around the time TtH was released. I purchased GotM & DG and went home and started reading. I have been hooked ever since. I stumbled my way through my initial read, missing far more of the story than I grasped. I had no one to discuss the book with and, as dumb as it sounds, it never entered my mind to look for other readers online. (I know, really dumb!) However, even though I knew there was a lot of stuff that I was missing and a lot of stuff that I just wasn’t understanding, I loved it…I couldn’t put it down. And, as they say, the rest is history. Only a few chapters into GotM, I knew this series would be a re-read for me. I just didn’t know how many re-reads it would be.

After reading Sneaky’s post I started thinking about my initial read and how confused and/or lost I felt at times. It was probably HoC where I really started figuring things out and that was in large part because it was at that point that I started paying attention to Erikson’s way of writing where the books are overlapping each other. I guess in the back of my mind, I knew they overlapped, however, it was with HoC that I realized that it was okay that I didn’t understanding something in DG because somewhere else (frequently in a totally different book) Erikson was going to “revisit” the scene from someone else’s POV and it would clear things up for me. I had never before read any writer with the skill to overlap entire books they was Erikson does, let alone the fact that he is sometimes overlapping 3 or even more. I must admit that that particular skill kinda blew me away a bit when I thought about it.

Unfortunately, in my comments concerning GRRM my personal frustration with his inability to finish the series not only showed through, but showed through to the degree that it probably overshadowed the point that I was trying to make. The point I was trying to make was simply that Erikson’s skill with this “overlapping” seems to me to be something very special. GRRM is a very good writer (and I truly enjoyed the SoIaF series that has been published to date) but as skilled as he is as a writer, his decision to overlap “Feast for Crows” and “Dream of Dragons” has caused him to struggle in writing DoD. He has stated in various interviews/comments that he is having difficulty with this aspect of DoD and the “overlapping” is part of the reason for the big delay. As a reader, I am frustrated with his delay in finishing the series as I loved the series to date and, like everyone else, was eagerly waiting for the rest of the story. However, this is not the proper forum to have expressed it so I do apologize.
a a-p
182. lostinshadow
Billcap@173, notice that I also said in the sentence before you were quoting that I am happy with the current pace (it was in response to some comments further up that it would take 5 years to finish the reread at this pace and I just wanted to say if you feel you have to increase the reading pace, I would prefer multiple posts over more than 2 chapters at a time)
Amir Noam
183. Amir
Of course, given the relative spoiler-free nature of this re-read, it might be worthwhile, once we've gone through all the books, to do a re-re-read :-)

You know, just to make sure we haven't missed anything.
Shouldn't take us more than 10 years...
bauchelain
184. billcap
lostinshadow182
I did notice that--just having some fun. But you’re right; there’s no way we could do more than two chapters I’m thinking--just way too much stuff in there
hazel hunter
185. Hetan
I say take as long as you need, I am impressed at two chapters a week anyway. As someone who has invested a lot of time and effort into the series I applaud the way Bill and Amanda are tackling a huge undertaking.

I do like the quote game though, that was a lot of fun and we can always keep ourselves busy with that when things are slower :)
bauchelain
186. Toblakai
Hey guys, gals, and non-human races, first time poster here. I have read all of the books except DOD. I am saving it until TCG comes out.

I have been following this amazing re-read and going along re-reading the books myself. It's been said a thousand times, and I know I am not adding anything to the discussion with this, but this is AMAZING. I have learned, remembered things I had forgotten, and had my eyes opened to so many thigs I missed the first time around. These books are so well suited to multiple readings. It actually blows my mind how well thought out and planned every facet is. Again, not a new sentiment here, I know.

That being said, I do have to quibble with how this blog is set up. Namely, IT'S TOO FREAKING HARD TO FIND. I had been going to the main 'contents page' so to speak, at
www . tor . com /blogs/2010/04/malazan-re-read-of-the-fallen, but it hadn't been updated, and I completely missed this post due to that. And even the 'contents page' is nearly impossible to find with google.

Please Bill, Amanda, and/or webadmins, please do something. In this day and age there is absolutely no excuse for it to be this convoluted. I imagine this re-read would have quite a few more consistent readers were it easier to find.

Anyway, other than that, this has been an amzing experience. Bill and amanda are doing a wonderful job, and all of you commenters are simply womderful. Thanks for doing this.
Amir Noam
187. Amir
Welcome, Toblakai!
(now, there's a sentence I never thought I'd say...)

Irene @135 has commented that there's a site update planned for February and hopefully we'll get an updated index page from then on.
Sydo Zandstra
188. Fiddler
What Amir said, Toblakai. Welcome. :)

And Witness... ;-)
bauchelain
189. MDW
A bunker? I demand a series-appropriate sky-keep!
Gerd K
190. Kah-thurak
@billcap 184
I agree. A faster pace seems unreasonable unless you and Amanda plan to do this full time ;-)

@Song of Ice and Fire
I think Martin is so good at the "micro-managing" of the relations and intrigues of his characters and has so much fun writing of it, that he has completely lost his way concerning the overall story he wanted to tell. In the 4 books of ASoIaF the main plot has barely advanced at all. Instead we get brilliantly written character interactions, court intrigue and a succession war from which Rober Jordan could have drawn some inspiration. The books are great reads, wether the series will be completed or not. If this is likely or not, honestly cannot say. I liked the miniatures though. Beautiful sculpts that still looked good after I painted them ;-)

@Lord of the Rings
In a way the founding work of fantasy... Alone by this virtue a great book and somewhat outdated at the same time. I loved it when I was younger (the first major fantasy work I read) and re-read it many times. The movies strangely killed it for me, as I lost interest afterwards (for the record I liked the first movie very much, hated the second and didnt care much about the third).
Amir Noam
191. Amir
MDW @189
I see your sky-keep and will raise you an Azath.

Kah-thurak @190
I liked all 3 movies, but given that what I have now are the extended edition DVDs, I have to say that the 2nd movie is the one I like best (of the extended editions!). It's much better edited and all the extra little bits and pieces that Jackson throws in there for the fans really fit together (unlike in the other movies were some of the extra stuff felt to me as out of place).
Gerd K
192. Kah-thurak
@Amir
To me the whole movie felt out of place. Most things I liked about that part of the books was left out, diminished or distorted, the story was changed in incomprehensible ways just to include more/"cooler" action sequences, and the characters were absolutely off (Slapstick Dwarf and Killer Elf, hasty Ents...). I can see why it works for some as an action movie. But as a LotR adaption it is a failure for me, and I dont really like most action movies. Fantasy is a genre I like much more in books anyways.
Steven Halter
193. stevenhalter
The reread speed seems fine to me--I'm in no hurry.

I've enjoyed ASoFaI to date.
For anyone who hasn't read them, another ongoing fantasy series is Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series. It is at book twelve (of 19) . Excellent stuff and very different in aspect from Malazan or ASoIaF. There is also the Khaavren Romances (5 volumes) in the same world setting-although with quite the different tone.
Sydo Zandstra
194. Fiddler
On reread stuff:

IIRC, chapters do tend to become longer as we move on in this series. So maybe splitting to two posts a week with one chapter in them is an option for the future. Just putting a few spare 2 cents ;-)

Re: Brust.
The only Brust book I ever read was Five Hundred Years After, and I really disliked it; especially the narrative in that book. I've been told in the past that Brust's Taltos books are different and way better, but I never managed to get past my disappointing first date with his works...
Steven Halter
196. stevenhalter
Fiddler@194:It is probably best to start with the Taltos books. They are more accessible than The Phoenix Guards.
The Phoenix Guards was written as an homage to Dumas' Musketeer novels. The style does take some getting used to, but is quite amusing (and chock full of info) when you do.
Sydo Zandstra
197. Fiddler
I'll try, shalter. Thanks for the heads up :)
Karen Martin
198. ksh1elds555
It's amazing we have so much new discussion in a week without a discussion, but wanted to make a couple of points. Abalieno, I hope you don't drop out of the discussion. We are not all going to agree on the relative strengths and weaknesses of these books. I imagine most of the participants are big fans of SE who have read beyond HoC, and I think SE's practically a genius when it comes to weaving a gargatuan story like MBotF. Robin5507's point about the complexity and overaching stories is for me, what makes me love these books and keep coming back for more. I have not read another writer (but I'm open to recommendations) that has created as complex and ambitious a series as this. But I think you do write very well and express your views clearly. And I appreciate what you're trying to do, whether I agree with your point or not. Have you ever done any literary theory or criticism, because that seems right up your alley?

I spent some of my holiday reading DG in preparation for the re-read posts and have to say emphatically how much more I am loving the book the second time. DG was very difficult for me to read the first time. I got bogged down in the middle 200 pages or so. I think Felesin's story and the Chain of Dogs are just so emotionally hard. Felesin is just so dang MEAN at times that I was put-off by her story line. I don't know if anyone else found this book an uncomfortable read or not, but I sure did and had to set it aside for a time. Then I got to the last 150 pages and couldn't put it down. But I am finding so much more enjoyment this time around... Can't wait for our next chapter discussion!

And as for GRRM, his Fire and Ice series is my second favorite in all the contemporary fantasy that I've read. After MBotF. And I really really hope he figures out a way to finish it. I HAVE to know what happens to Danaerys and her dragons! I hope they kick some Lannister butt, except for Tyrion. I'm not going to bother with a re-read though until he can produce another book or two.
Tai Tastigon
199. Taitastigon
Re reread:

Well, two chapters a week is about as feasible as it gets. Beyond that, the quality is going to suffer. This implies..what ?...13 installments per book plus 1 Q&A session & 1 time-out for miscellaneous reasons...gives us an estimated 15 weeks per book.

8 & 3/4 books left in MBtoF, plus 2 published ones from Cam (plus the Darujhistan novel that should be released in the meantime)...adds up to some 170 weeks...ye know, I actually kinda like that, because I am in no hurry either - this is going to become a very nice, tight-knit little community here...*g*
Sydo Zandstra
200. Fiddler
One of the things I like about GRRM's writing is how we see Jaime Lannister tossing out Bran out of the window muttering 'The things I do for love', and then 3 books later on he is on a path of redemption. Not because he wants to be all holy, but because he made some decisions.

And his POV on killing the Targaryen King that got him the name Kingslayer was interesting too...

Let's hope that series gets finished too :)
Tai Tastigon
201. Taitastigon
Fid @200

Definitely one of the greatest half-cycles I´ve ever read... ;0)
Steven Halter
202. stevenhalter
ksh1elds555@198:I can't think of any other fantasy series with the scale and depth of complexity of the Malazan world either. The world detail and multiple simultaneous timelines are, indeed, exceptional.
Tricia Irish
203. Tektonica
ksh1elds555@198:

DG was very hard for me to get into, the first time through. It felt very different from GotM. Had I not been on this reread, I wouldn't have known to expect that, or that 10 years had elapsed between books.

And like you, I found the Felesin story line uncomfortable. I found her reactions understandable, but her treatment of Heboric and Baudin is so mean...as you say.... and these are her only friends and defenders! The book took awhile to hook me, but once into it, whew, it was emotional Oponn! Push and Pull. Great characters and dialogue.

This is my second time through and I am loving it so much more, having read through The Bone Hunters.
So. Much. Depth. SE is amazing indeed.

And I don't care how long this reread takes! The chapters get really huge as the books progress. As long as we stay at it, I'm happy. ;-)
Ben Wert
204. bennyrex
I love how active the discussion is even with no new posts. The gap almost made me decide to do what Tektonika did, and has been suggesting, and try to read ahead and then loop back for the reread... (after a couple ten-seconds of thought) You know what, I will do that. I've read Deadhouse Gates already. I think I will start Memories of Ice, and then continue to follow along with the reread every wednesday, hopping back to wherever we are.



I definitely enjoyed DH more than GotM the first time round. It felt easier to grasp, in one sense... I still had to work hard to understand what was going on, but it also felt like there was more immediate pay-off. The chain, the whirlwind, Mappo and Icarium, Kalam's myriad adventures. I didn't (and still don't) understand everything that happened, but it felt like there was more of a defined story to pull me through towards the ending. Until the ending, anyway. But talk of that can wait till we get there.

I think I've felt hesitant to move on ahead of the reread because of my confusion with the ending of Deadhouse Gates. I want to wait and see what people have to say about it before moving on on my own, but I feel a bit inspired reading of Robin's initial confusion. I don't need to have everything pointed out to me as I go along. I can get that as I double back.

Alright, good bye, 7 cities, I'm off to see what the Pannion Seer's been up to! (And Whiskeyjack, and Dujek, and Anomander, and Tattersail, and...)
Robin Lemley
205. Robin55077
@ 204 Bennyrex
"I think I've felt hesitant to move on ahead of the reread because of my confusion with the ending of Deadhouse Gates...."

Embrace the confusion, hold tight, and enjoy the ride. I'm serious. As dumb as it probably sounds, that "confusion" is what has made this my favorite fantasy series to date. I don't remember ever reading a book that made me pay attention to every word the way Erikson's books do. And, while I can see that this may be frustrating to some readers, it was a challenge to me. Come what may, I WOULD understand it, no matter how long it took! For me, the best reading experience I've ever had. I absolutely love the challenge of these books.

On my initial read of GotM, I probably spent as much time jumping back and forth from the "Dramatis Personae" and the "Glossary" as I did on the actual text of the story. Eventually, I wized up and started taking notes, first by jotting stuff down in the "dramatis" next to characters' names, but eventually, using up the inside covers and ultimately any blank pages I could find in the books. I could never loan my books out because all the notes would drive a new reader to distraction! LOL My copy of DG is in such bad shape that I currently have about 150 pages that are completely loose from the book. I had to download the eBook version to my Nook to do this re-read here because my poor hard-copy would never have made it. LOL

So I say, enjoy the confusion...and know that you are in good company!

:-)
Tricia Irish
206. Tektonica
Bennyrex@204:

I just couldn't resist plowing ahead...it was just too damn good! I hope you agree. It really does enhance the "reread" experience too! I'm really enjoying the DG reread in light of things I've learned in HoC and tBH.
(I loved MoI...a lot...too!) Let me know what you think. It's nice to revisit those "old friends".

And just wait...more confusion to come! I'm just trusting it will all be made clear....eventually.....and I'm going with the flow....
Travis Nelsen
207. Zangred
Robin@205: I had to download the eBook version to my Nook to do this re-read

I too bought all these books on my Nook for the re-read, all but Memories of Ice. Why all the books are available on the Nook EXCEPT Memories of Ice is beyond me. If anyone can explain the idiocy of this logic, please do.
Tai Tastigon
208. Taitastigon
Benny & all of you:

My reco ? Plow ahead as far as possible ! I am with Robin & Tek on this one: Cherish the *confusion* ! On the first read, you will enjoy all the *money shots* (Capustan, Coral, Raraku, Y´gathan, etc.) - the overwhelming truckload of plot subtleties plus overall picture plus hints for the future plus non-apparent dialogue gems plus non-apparent archeological/anthropological gems will be the reward of the reread.

In this sense, Tek´s path gives you the best cost-benefit: After DG, do MoI, then HoC, THEN DO Bonehunters ! The last third of BH *introduces* a bunch of characters from Midnight Tides that may nudge you to have a *Duh ?* reaction, but will make your intro to MT much easier than tackling it straight after HoC (and Steven, yeah, if you read this, this is heresy ! But darn, it helps in kind of a weird fashion. I did the first read in publishing order, my next one inverting 5 & 6...- just a consumer talking... ;0) )
Robin Lemley
209. Robin55077
@ 207. Gredien
"Why all the books are available on the Nook EXCEPT Memories of Ice is beyond me."

That is extremely wierd that all of the books are available for the Nook except for MoI. I don't know why that is? The only one I've downloaded in eBook so far is DG (because I've worn out my hard copy). I will probably eventually download them all as I really love the "annotations" feature when reading them on my laptop. Maybe someday I will transfer all of my handwritten notes to annotations! Whew....what a project!

:-)
Robin Lemley
210. Robin55077
@ 208. Taitastigon
"After DG, do MoI, then HoC, THEN DO Bonehunters !"

On my initial read, I too read each of the books in published order. However, on re-reads I always read BH immediately following HoC. Most of the time, I follow BH with TtH and then pick up with MT, RG and DoD. Just my preferred order for re-reads. I kind of divide it by Empire I guess.
bauchelain
211. Night owl
Robin @ 181: Did you slip into my thoughts? Your statements echo exactly what I thought and felt as i read these books. I'm so glad I'm not alone! I, too wasn't smart enough to think to look for a discussion site to compare notes.

I remember in the '60's there were references to "Frodo " this and that, Frodo??? Then, in a chance reading, I saw that it referred to a series of stories, LotR. Ok, I saw the set in a book store and bought them and for whatever reason never read them. Forty years later, desperate for something to read I saw them on the shelf and said what the h----, why not. Boy, was I hooked and kicked myself for letting them languish. Right afterwards, the announcement came about Jackson taking on making them into the movie. I can live with the changes that were made.
Other authors, I loved the stand alone book by Tad Williams "The War of the Flowers".Very different from his series. I always felt that " Memory, Sorrow and Thorn" was highly influenced by LotR.
I see that Jean Auel finished "The Cave of Paintings", to be released 3/29/11-neat! that's my birthday!!! and yes I am THAT old.
Gerd K
212. Kah-thurak
I for one wouldnt recommend reading the books out of publishing order. In retrospective I even think that reading NoK before Deadhouse Gates didnt make much sense. Midnight Tides after House of Chains is a hard break for a first time reader, but I think things could get even more messed up, if you read Bonehunters before it.
Thomas Jeffries
213. thomstel
Then I got to the last 150 pages and couldn't put it down.


This should be the tagline of EVERY SINGLE EDITION OF EVERY SINGLE MALAZAN BOOK. Properly attributed to kshields555 of course. ;)
Robin Lemley
214. Robin55077
@ 211. Night owl
"I'm so glad I'm not alone!"

I suspect everyone had bouts of confusion and/or missed information on thie initial read. In fact, if anyone told me that they didn't I would suggest that they re-read the series and see if they still belileve they caught everything the first time through. LOL

Thanks for the heads-up re Jean Auel. I didn't know that was coming out in March. Thanks!

:-)
Thomas Jeffries
215. thomstel
Skipping Midnight Tides means delaying exposure to Tehol and Bugg though. I can't recommend that approach, no matter how sensical it sounds.

Hell, I have sections of MT and RG marked just so I can pick them up, flip them open and read some T&B. The section with Ublala and the chickens is basically pulp instead of pages at this point.
Amir Noam
216. Amir
Kah-thurak @212

In retrospective I even think that reading NoK before Deadhouse Gates didnt make much sense.

I thought so as well. When reading just the SE books, there are some things that you have to peice together yourself. Confirming the identities of Shadowthrone and Cotillion is supposed to be a "wow" moment in DG. And even after DG, I liked the whole mystery of not really knowing what the hell happened on the night they ascended. Of course, NoK doesn't show us everything, but it does take away a lot of the mystery.
The same can be said for Dassem Ultor in Y'Ghatan, a story about which we only got very vague clues throughout the series.


thomstel @215:

Skipping Midnight Tides means delaying exposure to Tehol and Bugg though. I can't recommend that approach, no matter how sensical it sounds.

Agree 100%! Bring on more Tehol and Bugg, I say!
Tricia Irish
217. Tektonica
I did tBH before MT (which I'm doing right now). I loved staying within that part of the story arc. I think plunging into something so new, like MT, after HoC would've really made it hard to get back into the 7 Cities. I found that kind of disconnect between DG and MoI.

Now I can see why everyone loves Tehol and Bugg! Some of the best dialogue EVER! Love them. But I admit to serious trouble with the Tiste Edur story line....just not my fave parts. I'll probably eat those words when I get to the last 15o pages...;-)
Thomas Jeffries
218. thomstel
Tek@217:
The Edur storyline(s) are weaker than the other stuff in the series for me as well, so you're not alone there.

I sometimes wonder if that's not mildly intentional though, as they're a race that is humanoid, but doesn't particularly act "human". I've viewed them (in my head) as more of conglomeration of prehistoric man/Native American, with all the feral cultural elements inherent in such a mix. Oh, and with Shadow overtones (which I guess would be undertones if they're Shadow-aspected.) That's pretty far from where I am sitting here as a white guy in America, so parallels with their cultural mindset don't immediately spring to mind easily when reading about them. The slavery aspect doesn't help much either.

To be honest, except when reading about exceptional Andii being exceptional (Rake, Korlat to some extent in her interactions with WJ), I get the same sort of disconnect from the storyline because I find it hard to draw any sort of parallel or achieve any sort of sympathy/empathy with the culture. The Andii are a little easier, as everyone's felt depressed and listless at some points of their life and wanted some sort of focus to...ahem...focus on to help get out of it. Their decision-making though...they consistently think in centuries instead of years, and have unwavering faith in their god-that's-not-a-god leader: both of which I can't connect to how I would approach any of their issues.

So yeah...they're different, which makes them harder to read? On purpose? Likely, as this is SE. Considering his weakest stuff gets better on re-reads and isn't weak at all compared to other fiction, I can take it. :)
Tricia Irish
219. Tektonica
thomstel@218:

Thanks for confirming my feelings there. Yeah, I just don't like them very much. The slavery thing is a problem, their "delusions" about their gods, the primitive isolation of their culture, and their arrogance about it all. Of course they have to deal with the Letherii, *rolls eyes*. It will be very interesting to see how this all meshes together in a future book.

btw, I have an easier time with the Tiste Andii, even though they float around in an large black mountain in the sky (?) This is probably due to the fact we've seen very few of them up to this point, and they have been mostly honorable, Rake and Korlat, as you say, and to some extent Silchas Ruin.

So I'm reading the Tiste Edur parts quickly, so I can get to Tehol and Bugg!
Chris Hawks
220. SaltManZ
I'm one of the rare few (I guess) who preferred the Tiste Edur storyline (which I found fascinating) to the "extreme capitalism is BAD" Lether half. Tehol & Bugg were amusing enough (but overhyped IMHO; I find Kruppe to be much funnier) but so many of the other Letherii characters are so over-the-top (Shurq, Ublala, et al) that it was just ridiculous. Brys and the Ceda were great, though; easily my favorites of the Letherii. (Well, I have a crush on Seren Pedac, too, but she's really part of the Edur storyline.)

Just my two cents, o' course.
Tricia Irish
221. Tektonica
SaltMan Z@220:

There do seem to be many political/economic comments being made in MT ;-) And some of the conclusions made from same are faulty, imho.....but at least it's civilization! So far, I think Shurq is a riot....or at least her situation is. And I have a crush on Brys. You can have Seren ;-) (Not the right sex for me anyway.)

Can you tell we need a new post? We're rambling.....
Gerd K
222. Kah-thurak
I think I remember a comment of SE that the Letheras/Tiste Edur conflict was a analogy to the colonization of North America... but with "indians" who could fight back ;)
Mitch Ziegler
223. mziegler1
First time poster.

I have read all of SE's books. I always recommend reading them in order of publication. MT is rough going only because of the new characters, but that becomes clear quickly enough. There has been much disagreement about MT, but I loved it. At least SE has only two main story arcs, which really helps (as opposed to something like the current ICE book).

I have done rereads. One totally illogical one had me reading books in reverse chronological order -- I think it was HoC then MoI -- and it proved oddly illuminating.

Regarding the current re-read: on first reading the Path of Hands was probably the most confusing story arc in the entire series. Throughout much of it I was wtf? Even picturing it proved difficult to me. It also never felt particularly organic to the story.

Some of the comments here have been excellent in terms of placing the arc within the over all series. I don't think it will ever prove to be one of my favorites, but then there is the Chain of Dogs...
Steven Halter
224. stevenhalter
Welcome, mziegler1. It's good to see a number of first posters showing up.
Thomas Jeffries
225. thomstel
You know you're addicted to Malazan when...

...you talk about merits of cultural values, and their effect on the readability of the story. From three books in the re-read's future.

...you shout "Witness!" after explaining everything you're about to do out loud. "I will pour this cup of coffee, and add cream and suger, in any order I choose! Witness!"

...you realize you've likely started a "You know you're addicted to Malazan when..." sidequest in the comments of a Deadhouse Gates re-read thread.

ANYWAY...we on track for another installment tomorrow?
Tricia Irish
226. Tektonica
thomstel@225:

ROFLOL. Let's hope we get a post or we might get off on a tangent!
;-)
Sydo Zandstra
227. Fiddler
Does naming your cat after a Malazan character count? :p ;-)
Sydo Zandstra
229. Fiddler
@Buddhacat:

LOL!

Stormy. Because he's such a big red lovable brute... ;-)
Tai Tastigon
230. Taitastigon
Fid @227

You didn´t !!!!

Edit: Ah, OK, better...*g*
Ben Wert
231. bennyrex
H'okay, so I don't want to make too many off-topic posts about where I am as opposed to where the reread is, but we're still doing rambling as we wait for the next post, so I figure it's okay for me to say that HOLY CRAP, MEMORIES OF ICE IS AWESOME!!! I'm only in chapter 5, but it just... everything is... with Paran and Silverfox, and the deck, and the unexpected Jaghut... and Kruppe being freaking hilarious even as my mind gets blown repeatedly by new revelations, and every page I'm like no way, did that just happen, and the next page there's something even more amazing... I'm just kind of reeling right now. Definitely glad I've decided to move ahead.
Amanda Rutter
232. ALRutter
Well, Bill and I loaded the post yesterday so... *fingers crossed* :-D
Amir Noam
233. Amir
Buddhacat @228:
LOL! Brilliant!

While waiting for the next post to come online, let us all celebrate our 230+ post discussion :-)

It's a good sign that even without the weekly post this thread remained active with lots of interesting discussions.
Karen Martin
234. ksh1elds555
bennyrex- MoI was my FAVORITE too... until I read The Bonehunters... we have so much goodness in store :-)
hazel hunter
235. Hetan
Naming your cat after a Malazan name is bad, but all our Koi are named after Eleint and Soletaken Eleint - how sad are we? ;-)
Sydo Zandstra
237. Fiddler
Hetan@235:

Naming your cat after a Malazan name is bad, but all our Koi are named after Eleint and Soletaken Eleint - how sad are we? ;-)

:D

On a side note, you can see Stormy, since he's my (BridgeBurner's) avatar on the ME forums. :p

(Speaking of the forums are they down, or is that a local connection problem I'm having?)
Tricia Irish
238. Tektonica
bennyrex@231:

Glad your loving MoI!! I agree...one of my faves...so far.....
I'm looking forward to that reread next too!

Post???
Kurt Criscione
239. Dathar
DeLurking.... I've been along for the reRead since the second week of Gardens of the Moon... and I just wanted to delurk and wish a Happy New Year to everyone. I've been reading through all the comments and enjoying the whole experience... and then someone did out the math of just how long it will take to make it through the books... we're gonna be together for a LONG time... so I figured it was time to start making my presence known.

:)
bauchelain
240. reader x
I am really enjoying your blog and read what you have to write very couple of chapters. Its a great re cap and sometimes you catch things I don't. There is a lot of info to absorb at times!
My ONE objection to your blog is "Bill’s interjections" No matter how small of a spoiler it may seem like I don't want to know things like:
Bill’s interjection: Oh no, spiders will play their part... That's great that they play their part but now I know its coming and its one major downer I see to this blog. Just friendly input. Otherwise I love it :)
Andy Rawcliffe
241. ajsr1982
Just a thought, but if we hark back to the confrontation between Rake and Shadowthrone in GotM, I wonder how much Apsalar's current state is linked to the fact that The Rope was 'forcibly extracted' from her.
bauchelain
242. Looking Glass
It’s long after the reread passed this point, but since I'm reading the series for the first time now, might as well toss this in:

Reading GotM (a week and several books ago- these are hard to put down), the early proliferation of characters named for improper nouns was very noticeable. Sure, there were a few people with names, but for every Tayschrenn there seemed to be half a dozen Tattersails and Hairlocks and Surlys and Fiddlers; I found that all the not-names jumped out at me.

As such, the notion that “Dancer” and “Cotillion” could be the same person was almost inescapable, basically as soon as I learned that there were such characters (and from there to Shadowthrone = The Emperor, a very short hop). I did feel a bit clever for a couple chapters, then a couple of characters (Tattersail and someone?) brought that up in dialogue, and that just felt like an“ok, we’re all on this page now” thing. Then further confirming evidence just piled up in GotM.

As such, by the time we came to this scene in Deadhouse Gates, I don’t think it even occurred to me that it was a reveal (to the reader), except about the depth of Apsalar’s memories of and identification with him.

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