Dec 8 2010 1:05pm

Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Deadhouse Gates, Prologue and Chapter 1

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 readers. In this article, we’ll cover the Prologue and Chapter 1 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!

Setting: Utna during the 9th year of Laseen’s reign as Empress.

A priest of Hood, covered with flies as part of a ritual, heads toward a line of shackled prisoners, most of them nobles culled by Laseen as examples. In the line are Felisin, sister to Paran as well as to the new Adjunct Tavore; Heboric Light Touch, a handless defrocked priest of Fener arrested for his “revised history”; and Baudin, a crude ferocious killer. Hood’s priest tells Fener he has a secret to show him, then the flies disappear and there is no priest under them. Tavore appears with her personal aide T’amber and sees Felisin but makes no sign beyond simple recognition. Felisin thinks how Tavore, to show her loyalty and make up for Paran’s seeming treachery, chose between Felisin and their mother for the slave ships, though their mother died anyway, soon after their father.

The line of prisoners is “escorted” to the ships, but the crowd is allowed to vent their anger on the nobles with little fear of the guards and the march becomes a gruesome killing parade, with fewer than a third of the prisoners surviving. Felisin is kept alive by Heboric holding her up and pushing her forward while Baudin killed or maimed everyone he comes in contact with. At the end, he tosses the crowd the decapitated head of a noblewoman so they may pass. The guards finally intervene and escort the survivors to the ships.

Amanda’s Reaction to the Prologue:
Straight off the bat, we’re told that this is the Year of the Cull—knowing what we already do about the culling Laseen performs, this gives the opening to Deadhouse Gates a real sense of dread. This is only reinforced by our first sight of the servant of Hood; a shambling misshapen mass of flies.

It is incredible to see immediately the difference in prose between Erikson and Esslemont—we’re back to the dense intricate workings of sentences, rather than the more straightforward and direct delivery of the latter. On the one hand, I’m relaxing back into the wonderfully deliberate choice of words that Erikson displays—on the other, I find myself straight away tensing up and wondering if I am picking up everything I should do! Amazing how the work of an author can have such an affect on your mood as you read.

We have a number of insights into Hood in that second paragraph of the prologue—the Thirsting Hour, the ritual of stripping naked and bathing in the blood of executed murderers, “enjoying the mortal dance that marked the Season of Rot’s last day.” I suspect he’s not an easy god to be in the service of...

I’m also curious about the Season of Rot—it is mentioned that this “Season had come an unprecedented three times in the past ten years.” So does this mean that certain gods and their Seasons reach ascendancy, depending on the actions and events of the world? What has caused the Season of Rot to come so often? Since it is the last ten years, this is basically from the time that Laseen conspired for the Malazan throne—is this to show that there is rot in the Malazan Empire?

Ugh, more gross emphasis of rot with the abandoned mule crawling with flies, bloated and still taking its time to die.

And now we meet Felisin, whom we encountered so briefly in Gardens of the Moon—will be interesting to see more of the sister of Paran. [Bill’s interjection: actually, you’ll see lots more of the sisterS of Paran.]

I find great sympathy in the following passage—it showcases great realism:

The last day of the Season and its Thirsting Hour had been a time of remote revulsion for her, irritating and inconvenient but nothing more. Then she’d given little thought to the city’s countless beggars and the stray animals bereft of shelter, or even to the poorer residents who were subsequently press-ganged into clean-up crews for days afterwards. The same city, but a different world.

And this isn’t wartime—this is just the Malazan world that needs to be endured by its inhabitants!

Interesting that Felisin notes the Cull victims were the charges of the Empress now and therefore untouchable by the priest of Hood. How does Laseen have this much power? Or is it that Felisin has little understanding of the way the world works?

I love this priest of Fener on my first encounter with him—a bundle of wry amusement, unusual appearance and dry verbosity. Hope he stays! With all that said, I have no idea what he means when he says this:

“Queen of Dreams, is this self-centred youth I hear from those full, sweet lips? Or just the usual stance of noble blood around which the universe revolves? Answer me, I pray, fickle Queen!”

All I know from this is he is mocking Felisin.

“Felisin had until now been too self-absorbed...” Is this Felisin’s usual state? Am I going to get annoyed by another naive young character? [Bill’s interjection: hmmm, quite possibly...]

It is creepy that the flies vanish, and there is nothing underneath. And surely this doesn’t bode well for the priest of Fener, since Hood’s “servant” has said:

“Yet it seems that while the Boar of Summer has no love for me, he has even less for you.”

Finally—FINALLY—we have a character in the Malazan novels who is asking some of the questions I want to ask! Felisin wonders:

Was that Hood himself? Had the Lord of Death come to walk among mortals? And why stand before a once-priest of Fenerwhat was the message behind the revelation?

Here’s a question from me: does Paran know that his sister is being culled? Okay, timeline.... are the events of DG immediately after those of GotM?

I think I’m beginning to answer my own question in terms of whether Felisin is going to annoy me—although I’m amused more than anything at her reflection on the fact that she thought she would be culled with people of good blood.

There you have it, the very attitude the peasants hungered to tear down, the very same fuel the Empress has touched to flame-

Ye Gods! So Felisin is the sister of the new Adjunct—and yet she is still in chains and ready to be culled. AND is refusing to speak to her sister about it or appeal! We had evidence that Lorn shed (or tried to shed) all of her past life when she became Adjunct—here is very telling evidence that the Adjunct becomes an extension of the Empress. Condemning your own sister! And it is referred to as a “sisterly spat,” which is ghoulishly funny.

Oho, now I like Heboric, the ex-priest, even more: it sounds very much as though he has written something that goes against the Empress—“a philosophic divergence of opinions.” If he really did say that the Empress was a murderer and criticised her of bungling “the job” (no idea what this could mean—unless it meant something to do with Kellanved and Dancer), it is a wonder that Heboric is still alive.

Ah, here we have a little hint about the timelines (apart from the fact that Tavore is now Adjunct, of course!)

“Your brother disappearing on Genabackis took the life out of your father... so I’ve heard.”

So they don’t know what has happened to Paran—but there are rumours of treason.

I’m intrigued about T’amber—we know that Erikson doesn’t choose his words lightly, so when he writes: “Where she’d come from was anyone’s guess” we know that this is likely of great import! [Bill’s interjection: Yep!]

Heboric’s analysis of the process in which the highborn were arrested and tried tells the true story behind why Laseen does the Cull (and why he believes in this case she didn’t put a foot wrong). The poor suddenly adore the Empress; the controlled riots and looting allows them to give voice to their dissatisfaction; and then order is reimposed with the poor feeling as though they have won.

Heboric comes from the same place as Kiska did in Night of Knives—is this relevant?

Oh, sometimes Erikson takes you to places you wish you didn’t have to see:

His right ear had been torn off, taking with it hair, skin and flesh.

[Bill’s interjection: What comes after the ear being “torn off” is where most writers don’t go—leaving it abstract and less effective—not Erikson.]

Wow, and I’m dragged right back into the Malazan world with this Prologue. I found it easy to become immersed than with Night of Knives, because there were peripheral names that I recognised and it didn’t feel completely as though I were starting from scratch. On to Chapter 1!

Bill’s Reaction to the Prologue:
This is a greatly grim opening to this book, beginning with the harsh cold brevity of “Year of the Cull”—how does that not send chills down your spine? Then a litany of horror and darkness via images and language: “shambling,” “misshapen mass of flies,” “seething lumps,” “frenzied clumps,” “staggered,” “blind, deaf and silent,” “blood,” “Season of Rot,” sky “more grey than blue,” “pestilence,” yelped like a thing near death but not near enough (how about that not near enough?),” the abandoned mule that “kicked feebly . . . bloated with gases.” Not exactly E. Nesbit or Edward Eager territory we’re entering here, eh? And let’s just say that grim as this opening is, it is an appropriate tone-setter for what is to come. You’ve been warned!

I really enjoy Felisin’s typically adolescent “the universe revolves around me” attitude, as when watching Hood’s priest she thinks “His eyes were ten thousand eyes, but she was certain there were all fixed on her.” Tell me that’s not how an adolescent thinks (whether fixed for good or bad). And I enjoyed equally Heboric’s wry puncturing of said self-importance. It’s also telling to note the non-verbal reaction of Baudin, who when made aware of the priest’s movement toward them stands and eyes him, prepared to act, though there’s no sense he believes the priest is coming to him.

Another small detail I liked is Felisin’s reaction to the flies from the priest moving to her legs: “she pulled her tunic’s hem close around her, clamping her legs tight,” an image of prudishness/chastity in stark contrast to what is to come from Felisin.

I particularly like several single lines here:

“What could drive a person to such viciousness?”

with regard to Tavore. Not for the viciousness but for the very first time of many, many, many times someone will wonder what is driving Tavore to do the things she is doing.


“The Empress made few mistakes,”

for the opposite reason—one of the few times I’d say someone can make that statement about Laseen.


Some part of Felisin’s mind held on to sanity, held with a brutal grip in the face of a maelstrom

for that last word and one of its synonyms and how it foreshadows what’s to come.

And then, after we get a scene that horrific opening set us up for (and one which also sets us up for larger-scale events in the book): the march through the rabid crowd, Felisin’s literal and metaphoric stripping (of clothes, dignity, purity, past life), Baudin’s decapitation of Lady Gaesen, the manacles holding nothing but forearms (an interesting mirror of Heboric). And then the line that promises so much more: “her lessons had begun.”

Lots of introduction of of people and themes/topics in this prologue: Duiker who defends Heboric, the Boar god Fener, Tavore and her omnipresent aide T’ambor, Red Swords (note how quickly Baudin identifies them and how he’s made uneasy by Heboric commenting on his observation), Baudin’s “effortless” killing and hatred of “making deals with bastards.” We’ll see all of these shortly and Erikson does an efficient job of bringing them into the story quickly as already-existent elements of this world. That, together with the setting of tone and the way scenes here parallel later ones, makes this a great prologue. Nobody can say Erikson hasn’t prepared us.

Chapter One

Setting: Seven Cities continent, the desert of Raraku, roughly one year later.

Mappo Runt and Icarium watch from a distance as an Aptorian demon, sent by Shadowthrone but now controlled by Sha’ik, moves in the desert where somewhere Sha-ik’s army in encamped near a waterhole. They speculate it had been sent as a scout by Shadowthrone due to an oncoming convergence and decide to track it out of curiosity.

Mappo and Icarium rest in some ruins in the Holy Desert Marks on one of the columns informs them that a D’ivers in rat form (Gryllen, Mappo guesses) is “on the trail,” of the convergence, which involves “gates opening” and ascension. They guess many other shapeshifters, both D’ivers and Soletaken, are as well. Mappo asks Icarium what he will do if the gates do open (musing to himself that answers can be a curse) and Icarium says he hopes he’ll learn who he is, why he’s been alive for centuries but has no memories of his life. A Soletaken in wolf form appears (Ryllandaras, brother of Treach, whom Mappo says thinks he killed Ryllandaras when he was in jackal form), but when it realizes it is Mappo and Icarium it is clearly afraid. It goes after the aptorian demon.

Setting: HIssar, City on east coast of Seven Cities

A group of Wickan horsemen is disembarking. Watching are Duiker, Imperial Historian and Mallick Rel, advisor to the High Fist Pormqual and a Jhistal priest of Mael (Elder god of the sea) who has risen to his current position over a lot of conveniently dead bodies. Duiker says he’s interested in the tradition of shipping prisoner mages to mine Otataral on Otataral Island (they usually go mad) and that some mages are in the next shipment of slaves. The 7th squad’s lone surviving cadre mage, Kulp, appears with an unnamed captain. Duiker explains that the new Fist, Coltaine, led a Wickan uprising against the Empire and that Kellanved somehow obtained his loyalty. Laseen dumped him in some backwater but now that Seven Cities seems about to rebel, he’s been named Fist and sent here. When trouble seems ready to erupt between the Wickans and the Hissar guards, Coltaine steps in and stops it cold.

Setting: The Kansu Sea, off Seven Cities coast

Fiddler, Kalam, Crokus, and Apsala (with Moby, Mammot’s familiar) are sailing to the coast, where they plan to cross overland. Their boat is attacked by a Soletaken dhenrabi who says they had the misfortune of witnessing its passage. Fiddler blows it up with a crossbow munition. Crokus asks if it’s true Fiddler’s squad tracked Quick Ben through the desert w/ Kalam as the guide but that Kalam and Quick Ben had actually been setting a trap, though Whiskeyjack had figured it out. Crokus demands to know what they’re doing and Fiddler and Kalam tell Apsalar and Crokus that Kalam is going to try and kill Laseen.

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter One:
I won’t analyze the two poems that kick off Chapter One, except so far as to mention that both set the scene for a desert—dry winds and sand both being mentioned.

We’ve moved on a year from the events in the Prologue, and we have a new measure of time to take note of:

The Sixth in the Seven Years of Dryjhna, the Apocalyptic.

Straight away we’re introduced to Mappo Runt—and I’m thinking he’s supernatural, or immortal or suchlike, thanks to him eating the envenomed cactus. Oooh, ooh! Mappo is with Icarium—now this is a name I recall from GotM—someone that Anomander Rake knew and had argued with, right?

I immediately enjoyed the gentle nature of their jibing, and laughed at the fact that Icarium had tried to disguise himself in a tribe of very short people. These two are aware of Shadowthrone and talk about “the convergence” being months away. Clearly they are knowledgeable and, equally clearly, they have moved into the game for a reason. Gods? Ascendants? Whichever, they are being drawn by power—and, if the same power as demonstrated on the Night of Knives (which was also a time of convergence, am I right?), then it is going to be a wild ride indeed.

The aptorian mentioned sounds like some kind of demon entity, with the wrong number of longs and hairy all over! And reference to Sha’ik... A person who has taken a demon scout from Shadowthrone (if I read it correctly) is someone to be watched!

Oh! More characters who have wandered the Malazan world for many thousands of years:

...and the thousand years that capered like a gleeful goat behind Mappo’s eyes.

I like Mappo—I like the fact he’s referred to as “Runt” even though he is apparently huge; I like the fact he refers to himself in third person; and I like the potential humour of this character.

“Unlikely pair...” indeed! Half-blood Jaghut and full-blooded Trell.

Just want to mention Erikson’s sterling world-building—not a moment passes him by where he is able to emphasise it a little more. In one paragraph here, as night comes to the desert, we have reference to bloodflies, capemoths and batlike rhizan lizards. These are great in terms of adding flavour, and being close enough to our world and the reality of it that Erikson does not need to spend paragraphs describing the creatures he chooses to create.

From the Holy Desert had emerged the legend of Dryjhna the Apocalyptic.

Strikes me that this character is a sort of Nostradamus for the Malazan world.

Interesting that this half-blood Jaghut thinks to himself:

“Not all pasts can be laid at our feet...”

Is this reference to the Jaghut Tyrants who the world, and the fact that the war between the Jaghut and the Imass destroyed much? [Bill’s interjection: This was Mappo’s thought.] [Amanda’s reply: Ha, that was me being too clever for my own good!]

Ha, and I thought I was vaguely following events right up until this particular exchange:

Icarium came over, wiping dust from his hands. “Down near the base, a scattering of tiny clawed handsthe seekers are on the Trail.”

“Rats? More than one set?”

“D’ivers,” Icarium agreed, nodding.

“Now who might that be, I wonder?”

“Probably Gryllen.”

“Mhm, unpleasant.”

It is as though Icarium and Mappo began talking an entirely different language, and it reminds me that I’ve barely touched the surface of what is to come in the Malazan read!

“In seeking your eternal goal, we find ourselves walking into a most disagreeable convergence.”

What is Icarium’s eternal goal? Is he looking to Ascend? It seems he is most in search of answers if this quote is anything to go by:

“I have lived centuries, yet what do I know of my own past? Where are my memories? How can I judge my own life without such knowledge?”

Okay, I have a little insight into D’ivers now—this is a shapeshifter that has moved into many bodies, rather than a Soletaken that just shifts into one body. And there is mention of a spicy scent connected to D’ivers, which I guess I should just note for the future. I’m almost sure I remember someone mentioning the scent of D’ivers during our GotM read.

Ack, and then a tumbling of information during the encounter between Ryllandaras, who takes the form of six wolves, and N’Trell (this is how Ryllandaras refers to Mappo—is it a title? An insult? A description?) Apparently Ryllandaras’ brother, Treach, tried to kill him. Ryll has taken the form of jackals rather than wolves before. Ryll hasn’t spoken for a long while, and is generally uncertain. I don’t know if bright blue eyes is a mark of D’ivers, or just something unique to Ryllandaras. Once again, I am eavesdropping on a conversation taking place between players who know what is going on, and feel no need to tell me. *grin*

The fact that both Mappo and Icarium are cautious of Sha’ik, and believe that soon her (?) name will be known is of interest to me.

Okay, and now a complete change and switch of scene! This time we’re meeting Duiker—someone we had reference to in the Prologue; a person who defended Heboric; the Imperial Historian.

Is it just me, but as soon as you see reference to a man who is fat, scented and oiled, you believe that they are going to be playing a sly role, usually to do with trading or espionage? [Bill’s interjection: No, it’s not just you.] One of those fantasy tropes that sneaks in here and there... Wonder if Erikson will follow the trope, or turn it on its head? Here the smooth, soft-spoken man is a Jhistal priest, so I guess that is an immediate difference.

Politics, politics, politics in this section where Duiker talks to Mallick Rel. I’m not even going to attempt to summarize this. I’m trying to take it all in, but right now all I’m really getting is that Coltaine has arrived in Seven Cities to take command of the seventh. He wouldn’t have been Laseen’s choice normally, because he was a favourite of Kellanved (surprised he’s still alive, to be truthful) but now she needs him because Dujek has buggered off and Tavore is untried as Adjunct. And it sounds like the Seventh aren’t keen on their new commander. Ha, I did manage to summarise to some extent! Sure I missed bits though!

Yes! Finally catching up with old comrades as we come to the storyline involving Fiddler et al. Poor Fiddler! Seasick and missing the squad of Bridgeburners:

Still, the squad was all he’d known for years. He felt bereft out of its shadows. Just Kalam for old company, and he calls that land ahead home. And he smiles before he kills. And what’s he and Quick Ben got planned they ain’t told me about yet?

Oh man, I love this scene with the flying fish and the dhenrabi—and more emphasis here that the spicy scent applies to all shapeshifters, Soletaken as well as D’ivers. And some real comedy value in seeing Fiddler say:

“You picked the wrong fisherman.”

It’s nice to see once again the real relationship between members of the Bridgeburners. Here we have Fiddler and Kalam able to communicate with just a glance. *grins* I also love that Kalam has been drunkenly telling Crokus stories about various escapades of Quick Ben.

When Crokus demands some answers about why they have come to the Seven Cities, he receives the answer that Kalam is going up against Laseen in an effort to kill her. Somehow I anticipate that a) this plan is fraught with trouble and b) we are not hearing the full story....

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter One:
I’ll hit the poems slightly, but before doing so, I just want to point out that “Raraku,” the name of the Holy Desert, brings with it certain associations as it’s also the quarry on Easter Island where the statues’ stone came from, so the name carries with it Easter Island’s sense of mystery, of age, of past civilizations, or ruins, and of gods and myth.

The opening poem introduces a similar sense of age and a buried past with the fact that the desert was once sea, which will also play an important plot role.

The second poem more directly introduces a major plot point: the Path of Hands and the journey by Soletaken and D’ivers to reach it in order to ascend. The poet is someone we’ll meet later on.

Icarium and Mappo are introduced as characters for the first time in the flesh, though you’re right Amanda; we do know them from GotM—from Rake’s conversation with Baruk we learn both have been around for some time and that Icarium builds time devices:

“In the future, I’d suggest you heed Icarium’s gifts—all of them. A thousand years is not so long a time, Alchemist. Not so long a time. Icarium last visited me eight hundred years ago, in the company of the Trell Mappo, and Osricor Osserc, as the local worshippers call him.”

It isn’t important in itself that Icarium is disguised (though badly according to Mappo) as a Tanno Spiritwalker, but as is often the case with Erikson, we’re being introduced to something so when we later hear of it (or in this case meet him) it already feels an embedded part of this world.

On the other hand, that aptorian demon they’re watching is going to be very important.

Icarium’s line “I am driven by curiosity” is much larger than in reference to this single demon, as we’ll find. Curiosity is in fact his whole existence.

I too love the interplay between the two of them; Erikson does these duos quite well I think, and does them in distinctive fashion: Mappo and Icarium, Hedge and Fiddler, Tehol and Bugg, and others. Mappo and Icarium’s (and several others as well) is tinged with tragedy, which makes its gentle nature even more affecting.

You can see Erikson’s archaeology side coming out in the description of the ruins and tells and past civilizations, a concept we see again and again throughout the entire series—this sense of epic historical time and cycles and what’s left behind.

I’m with you Amanda on Erikson’s world-building—there are so many examples of those tiny bits—animal names, food names, etc—that make this a fully-formed world rather than some sort of fantasy short-hand saying “we’re not in Kansas anymore, now on to our story!”

You’ve got the D’ivers/Soletaken distinction down Amanda, and you’re right—that spicy scent is always a good clue—sometimes it appears in unexpected places. :)

Treach and Rhyllandaras will both be important as we continue on in the series. (Back to that filing cabinet!)

If you want a sense of Icarium’s power and reputation, note Rhuyllandaras’ immediate change in attitude upon figuring who these two are:

“I am tempted to match wits with you N’Trell, before killing you . . .

“I am getting bored, Mappo,” Icarium said.

The Six wolves stiffened as one, half flinching . . . “we’ve no quarrel.”

We also, in that scene, get a sense of Mappo’s role, a hint that he isn’t simply Icarium’s friend, as he thinks Rhyllandaras needs to go before “you unleash all that I am sworn to prevent.” And that word “unleash” has the connotation of something wild, uncontrollable at times, held back.

And some dramatic organ music please for Icarium and Mappo’s shared thought when Rhyllandaras says Sha’ik’s name means nothing to him: “It will soon.” Duh Duh Duh!! :)

And now to another plot strand...Mallick Rel. Boy I hate Mallick Rel.

Mael—god of sea reference—file away!

Yes, politics is going to play a big role coming up with this army. Note the captain’s “oh crap” when he let fly his unfiltered view of Coltaine and Mallick Rel (Boy, I hate Mallick Rel.) says “thanks!”

Nice summary of Coltaine’s appointment. My favorite aspect of it is how he rebelled against Kellanved and Kellanved suborned him and nobody knows how. And I love his first appearance: “The tall one with the lone long knife.” Great entrance on stage!

We’ll hear more soon about Duiker’s “research” on the Otataral Island mines and mages, but we should recall this is where those Aran slave ships from the prologue are heading.

It is good to get back to the old gang. The humor does a good job of giving us a break from that bleak prologue and the tension afterward, with the pronouncement that dhenrabi are never seen in shallow water [“Until now.”] and Fiddler’s [“You picked the wrong fisherman.”] I was just waiting for someone to say “we’re gonna need a bigger boat.” :)

Here are a few other quick notes in this very short scene on elements that are barely mentioned but are setting us up:

  • - another reference to Mael, the Elder god of the sea
  • - “religious wars are no fun”
  • - the quick reference to the story of Kalam and Fiddler and Quick Ben et. al in the desert
  • - Kalam’s homeland connection to Seven Cities
  • - Apsalar’s smile

Oh, we never get the “full story”...

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

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

Chris Hawks
1. SaltManZ
An odd bit that I'm convinced was an editorial mistake: the "Red Swords" in the prologue, in all subsequent appearances—including later in this book—are referred to as the "Red Blades". (If I recall, it was confusion over this that led me to register at the Malazan Empire forums in the first place.)
Dustin George-Miller
2. dustingm
And away we go!

This book has always been one of my absolute favorites in the Malazan world (along with The Bonehunters, though many others will disagree). After enjoying GotM on my first read, when I discovered that almost everything changes in the second book -- new continent, new themes, almost all new characters -- I was worried. By the end of the prologue, I wasn't worried.

This book is one of the ones that benefits the most from multiple re-reads -- there's so much in this book that either affects future events, explains future events, or sets the stage for what's to come. It's also a cracking great tale!
Marc Rikmenspoel
3. Marc Rikmenspoel
Welcome back! Yay, we're on to Deadhouse Gates! I love the prolog, it's one of the most striking moments in the whole series for me. Both for what happens, and for all that it sets up.

As you might guess, I'm very excited for this re-read to continue, because for me, Deadhouse Gates was where the Malazan experience really took hold of me. Amanda's already enjoyed it, but I trust it'll sink its claws even deeper into her now.
Alexander Foff
4. Abbumaru
Yay, the Malazan Re-Read is back and it's on to Deadhouse Gates, and oh my, it's gonna be one hell of a ride! You two just made my day!^^

Great catch with the Prologue reflecting (preflecting?^^) later events in the book, I've never thought about it that way. I mean in the sense that it is also a kind of bloody exodus. And once more I feel simply awed by the amount of references, name-dropping, subtle hinting and foreshadowing taking place from the first page onwards.

The first time I read DG I didn't know what to make of Icarium. We know his name from the first book, Rake had him over for a cup of coffee and in a world without advanced technology he's the world's most famous freaking watchmaker. And when we hear him talk here for the first time he seems so profoundly lost. At first I didn't understand whether this was supposed to be an act on his behalf or what the hell was wrong with this dude who I expected to be on the same level of Awesomeness as Anomander. I also found it hard to understand Mappo's sad and heavy thoughts because I got the "ok it's supposed to be tragic" but I was too impatient to find out what exactly was going on. In retrospect I really appreciate the delicately fleshed-out relationship between Mappo and Icarium and the fact that from the very first sentence between them you immediately get a sense of ancient friendship (and so much more).
Steven Halter
5. stevenhalter
Note that Kalam and Fiddler telling Crokus that the plan is for Kalam to go after the Empress and that Quick Ben is their "shaved knuckle" ties together the end of GotM neatly. With QB thinking:

From the beach, Quick Ben watched Mallet supporting his sergeant up the slope. Was it time? he wondered. To stay alive in this business, no one could afford to let up. The best plans work inside other plans, and when it's right to feint, feint big. Keeping the other hand hidden is the hard part.The wizard felt a stab of regret. No, it wasn't time. Give the old man a chance to rest. He forced himself into motion. He wouldn't let himself look back—never a good idea. The scheme was hatched.

While QB has lots of schemes (as he says here), this particular scheme, involving Kalam offing the Empress with QB in support is almost certainly what he is thinking.
Kent Aron Vabø
7. sotgnomen
Two things mainly here..

Ryllandaras: I never quite got the hang of him. He used to be in jackal form, now he is wolf, and in seven cities. Also, he seems very cultivated and clever. Is this or is this not meant to be the same rabid monster we meet in RotC? It doesn't quite match, and I'm confused. Almost I expect a plot twist like "there is a third brother, also called ryllandaras!"

And the second, obviously: Boy, I hate Mallick Rel.
Chris Hawks
8. SaltManZ
Does anybody not hate Mallick Rel? I guess first-time readers, maybe, but they'll be converted in a couple of months.
Marc Rikmenspoel
9. normalphil
Yes, the prologue of Deadhouse Gates really sets the beat. You've got the world's immediate context, the current definition of normal when it comes to events and the people in them, right there.

Icarium and Mappo immediately came across to me as both a Hope/Crosby duo and myths moving through a legend, or legends moving through a story. They're greater than the events around them- with the events being pretty great, and they're these two guys headed where their feet and dreams will take them.

The Malazan Empire is as always chisled out of backstory.
Sydo Zandstra
10. Fiddler
Well done, and welcome back, Amanda and Bill!

First, I'm not usually one to point out errors, but I think this one needs to be, because it can be confusing to first time readers (hope you don't mind about that):

Hood’s priest tells Fener he has a secret to show him
(this should be Heboric, not Fener)

Now, on to the comments. :)

“Your brother disappearing on Genabackis took the life out of your father... so I’ve heard.”

IIRC, Paran's father dying was the price to be paid for him being released at Hood's gate, back in GotM, after Sorry had stabbed him. Of course we didn't know this back then...

Is it just me, but as soon as you see reference to a man who is fat, scented and oiled, you believe that they are going to be playing a sly role, usually to do with trading or espionage?

Thank you. Now I am picturing Tim Curry as Mallick Rel in any future possible movie adaptation... ;)
Chris Hawks
11. SaltManZ
@7: The accepted theory (unless it's explicitly stated somewhere, I forget) is that Ryllandaras managed to split off one of his jackal bodies, leaving it (and the D'ivers madness that he is said to have overcome) behind on Quon Tali.
Chris Hawks
12. SaltManZ
@Fiddler: the question of who died in Ganoes's place makes for some good debate, but I agree that the elder Paran is the likeliest answer.
Dustin George-Miller
13. dustingm
On Ryllandaras, it is interesting that Mappo implies that D'ivers (and by extension, Soletaken?) can choose their shifted animal form, and can even change which animal(s) they shift into. I hadn't caught that until this re-read. I had always thought that once a shapeshifter veers or is able to veer that they're stuck with that animal for the rest of their lives. It never occurred to me that they could decided that, hey, today I wanna veer into wolves instead of a jackals. One wonders if that ability is only granted to a select few of the (more powerful) Soletaken/D'ivers, or if there's something else that goes into it.
Alexander Foff
14. Abbumaru
Re: Mallick Rel

I absolutely loathed the guy the first time through in DG and IRRC tBH and I was appaled when I saw him again in RotCG, but on second read I developed a growing respect for his cunning and competency, solely based on his actions in RotCG. He's still a bastard but he's no fool, and that's something that definitely cannot be said about Korbolo Dom (who I hated even more than Mallick on first read).
Anyway, I'm only halfway through RotCG and my memory is fuzzy as to the outcome of the book so perhaps I will take back this statement in a few days.^^
Sydo Zandstra
16. Fiddler
I can't remember if this was the case the first time I read this book (it could be, since I was pointed to SE after 2 excellent reviews by John Novak, back in the old RJ newsgroup on usenet).

But every time I read the Hissar part in chapter one, it's like I see the world there pausing to breath. So many seeds there for awesome stuff to happen because what is happening here...
Steven Halter
17. stevenhalter
@Bill: I loved Rhyllandaras' reaction when he learned he was dealing with Icarium and Mappo.
Karen Martin
18. ksh1elds555
Fiddler, I like the Tim Curry reference! Yes I think he is slimey and unlikeable, but also comes off as devious and clever, instead of just a pompous buffoon. (unlike someone we see much later)
Anyway, I always thought Mappo was an ascendant because he lived so long and seems to be extraordinarily powerful so he can handle his obligations to Icarium. Don't want to talk about things that are to come, but I'm wondering if he was made an ascendant by the ones who gave him the task of watching Icarium. Or do Trells just live a long time and are exceptionally powerful?
I just have to say, this is my 2nd time reading DG and the first time I read it, I had no clue what was going on. Just reading the prologue and chapter 1 has been very enlightening! Now things are starting to make sense! I didn't even remember some of the characters from the Dramatis personnae and I just read it about 8 months ago. Very excited to keep reading this.
Mieneke van der Salm
19. Mieneke
Hurray! You're back :D I've been looking forward to getting started on DG :D

So Tavore is Lorn’s successor!! Wonder what Paran will think of that! We’re definitely back with SE though. The whole situation with Felisin and Tavore is just unnatural and the scene with Baudin and Lady Gaesen is brutal!

Mappo and Icarium! I’m completely confused as to what they are doing, but I like them. As others have mentioned they're a wonderful duo. Erikson does camaraderie so well.

Gah, Mallick Rel is worse than Kruppe was, speechwise. Hopefully, I’ll get used to him too, like I did with Kruppe. But from all of your reactions, I'm thinking not?

Nice little show by Coltaine, when he arrives at Hissar! Because he set that whole situation on the docks up right?

At last we learned QB and Kalam’s much vaunted plan. And OMG is it ambitious! This book just got off to a roaring start didn't it?
Chris Hawks
20. SaltManZ
You know, Mallick Rel's odd speech pattern caught me completely off guard, and this is my third time through the series. It might be because he's usually a shadowy background figure who doesn't speak much. Or perhaps just because the other books he features in are ones I've only read once. Either way, it's certainly not something that sticks with you like Kruppe's speech, or Pust's.
Steven Halter
21. stevenhalter
I was struck by the line: the blood of executed murderers, blood that was stored in giant amphorae lining the walls of the temple’s nave

in the opening of the prologue. They must catch lots of murderers in Unta. An average adult has about 5 liters of blood. A standard wine amphorae holds about 39 liters (~8 murderers), so a giant one would hold quite a lot more than that.
Steven Halter
22. stevenhalter
In this section:
Heboric’s wiry brows rose in mock alarm. “Gods forbid! A philosophic divergence of opinions, nothing more! Duiker’s own words at the trial—in my defense, Fener bless him."
"But the Empress wasn’t listening,” Baudin said, grinning. “After all, you called her a murderer, and then had the gall to say she bungled the job!”
“Found an illicit copy, did you?”
Baudin blinked.
there are a couple of things to note. First, notice that Duiker (who we meet in Chapter One) testifies for Heboric.
Then, notice that Baudin seems quite knowledgeable for a common street thug.
And finally, note that yes, Heboric's history must deal with the events we just saw in NoK. We see here why Tay corrected Kiska when she said that she saw Kel and Dancer enter the Deadhouse--such statements are not tolerated.
Thomas Jeffries
23. thomstel
First thing that I don't think anyone's mentioned: Likelyhood that the priest of Fener that spoke to Kiska in NoK was Heboric? I'm thinking it's likely, although I forget the specifics of the NoK description of him...

Second up, the prologue is such a good thing here. The action, the depravity, the ruthlessness and the tragedy all resonate so well with the main Chain of Dogs tale that's to come, and clues are layered as thick as a couple of generations of potsherds. Basically EVERYTHING in this scene will need to be reexamined, which is why, when the last page of DH is done, you should immediately open the book back up to the Prologue and read it again. Yes, even though it's about Felisin. :p

Speaking of which, she does lose that naive streak pretty quickly, but doesn't replace it with wisdom, just a purposeful short-sightedness and self-centeredness. Which makes her sections really jarring as compared to the other storylines where everyone's behaving much more like capable adults. It's a challenge, but one that's worth the investment.

As for Ryllandaras, I'm in the camp that believes it was a purposeful distancing of the many from the crazy one back on Unta. Was the decision/result of said "division" the reason that his form shifted from jackal to wolves? I think it likely.

And, yes, I too hate Mallick Rel. As for envisioning him, I go with more of a "Freddie Jones as Thufir Hawat, but owns a comb".
Marcus W
24. toryx
I was born in the desert and thusly spent my first decade in it. As a result, the scenes that are represented in this book are familiar ones to me, reminding me of harsh light, heat's hammer, and a hot wind that offers no relief.

Which, honestly, represents the book as a whole for me. For someone who reads reasonably quickly, it took me three months to finish DG and the experience left me feeling thoroughly parched and dry, desperate for a drink of water (or another book).

I may read another Erikson book sometime in the future, but not for quite a while to come.
Steven Halter
25. stevenhalter
@Amanda (& other first readers):
As you encounter Icarium & Mappo, pay attention to Mappo's reactions to converstation. For example:

Icarium grimaced. “How long have we known each other, friend?"
Mappo’s glance was sharp, then he shrugged. “Long. Why do you ask?"

Note the sharp glance. As we procede, think about why it is there in response to so casual a question.
Sven Hesse
26. DrMcCoy
Amanda, since you loved Temper's veterany battle-weariness, I bet Duiker will be right up your ally.
He's actually my favourite character in DG (and not the popular choice Coltaine). :P

And yeah, Mallick Rel is an arse.
Steven Halter
27. stevenhalter
In this passage we see more that Apsalar is not the simple fishergirl anymore:

The Daru boy’s expression was blank, but Fiddler saw Apsalar’s eyes widen, her face losing its color. She sat back suddenly, then half-smiled—and Fiddler went cold upon seeing it.

I think this is especially effective given that Fiddler just blew up a Soletaken Dhenrabi without batting an eye--but Apsalr's half smile gives him shivers. Very nicely done.
Amir Noam
28. Amir
Nice catch on the maelstrom reference. I completely missed that. Knowing Erikson, there's no way that word is there by chance.
Amir Noam
29. Amir

If he really did say that the Empress was a murderer and criticised her of bungling “the job” (no idea what this could mean—unless it meant something to do with Kellanved and Dancer), it is a wonder that Heboric is still alive.

I also think this probably refers to K & D, though it can easily also be about any other murder/disappearance of someone because of Laseen, and God knows there were a few of those.
We (the readers) can see the "bungling the job" as true given that she didn't really manage to kill K & D (or if she did, they then "became more powerful then she could possibly imagine").

But even assuming that they are dead (as is the case for the Malazan characters) I can see how Heboric would claim she bungled the job. After all, the whole afair was very sloppy and there are no bodies to show, so there must always be some doubt, at least among the Old Guard.
Rajesh Vaidya
30. Buddhacat
I also took the bungled job to mean the death of K&D. She killed them but not exactly. I think there's some throwaway reference in this or some later book about it. Another possibility is Dassem, whom she also killed, but again not exactly.
Marc Rikmenspoel
31. Night owl
Hi everyone, I'm a semi nubie and have been scrambling to catch up as I found this re-read late. I've read all nine and came away thinking, boy I have to re-read to really understand what all was happening. I am a skimmer sort of reader and this re-read has shown me that it is not THAT kind of story.

I missed so much, I overlooked that it was Coltaine's warhorse that bit off Dujek's arm.

The prologue's imagery left me smelling it!

SE notes that his characters are colorful, blues, olive and black!

I keep wondering why QB didn't just take Fiddler and companions and drop them off from a warren, instead of making them take this arduous trip trip by land & sea.....OH then we would miss out the side stories and another slew of hints!
I am enjoying this read and all the comments, none of my reading friends share my taste in fantasy. Good to share, thanks
Tai Tastigon
32. Taitastigon
Helllooo, y´all !! Finally we´re cooking !

A general observation: What a start ! Stev-o Eee in da houze, is what I think - a man with a 10-book deal under his belt, taking a deep, deeeeep breath, releasing & saying: NOW is time to kick some major, major booty ! Prolo & chap 1: 4 different scenarios of blood, guts, chaos, menace, badass characters and promise of arcs piling on arcs. If GotM was very interesting and got me interested in the cycle, this beginning got me hooked...!

*A priest of Hood, covered with flies ...... then the flies disappear and there is no under them.*

Ye know, I had this flash today, reading this particular scene: Is it just me, or did SE purposely have this incredible nerve of putting the whole, entire point of the entire 7C-arc right smack in our face...?
Marc Rikmenspoel
33. Toster
oh was I ever jonesing for this!

so excited to see all the first-timers reactions to DG. this books finale consistently causes me to tear up everytime I read it. just an absolute classic of fantasy literature.

and the prologue! as fate would have it, I actually read DG before GotM the first time around. like the look of it's cover in the library and just picked it up and started reading. that prologue told me right away that I was in for something special.

can't wait for next week!
Tony Zbaraschuk
34. tonyz
DG is still one of the most intense books in the series, and the Prologue is a large chunk of that.

I rather like Coltaine' s arrival; you could make a movie out of the Chain of Dogs.
Dan K
35. kramerdude
Mallick Rel - agree with the crowd. Also found his speech jarring but it seems to me that its only this initial chapter in DG that struck me as off sounding. Past this it changes back to a more normal pattern in both SE and ICE's books.

I love on the reread catching the T'amber call out. Another one of those casual references to a character who will play a big role later on down the line.

Another odd bit on the reread. For as much as Steven likes to give history's to his characters I found it odd that the "unnamed" Captain gives the bit of commentary when Duiker, Kulp, and Rel are watching the Wickans arrive. Am I missing something here or is this really just a non-fleshed out character?

Welcome to the ride all the first timers and looking forward to digging into the meat of DG with everyone.
Dan K
36. kramerdude
Yeah, Heboric's bungled job story is assuredly about Kellenved and Dancer. This is corroborated when we get to the point where Baudin gives his history later in the book.
Tricia Irish
37. Tektonica
Amanda and nice to see you again! And with this incredible book too! Oh boy, Oh boy, Oh boy.....

Once again, I am eavesdropping on a conversation taking place between players who know what is going on, and feel no need to tell me. *grin*

Well, isn't that the truth! I hadn't really thought about it that way, but it's almost like overhearing someone reminding a good friend of story they both already know. We can just fill in the blanks as we figure things out.

I'm reading tBH now, and coming back here is really interesting, as now I'm having a reread, instead of being a newbie. So much foreshadowing is packed in here!

On first read I was nearly overwhelmed by all the new characters, setting, and plot expansion. But Erikson makes these people so real immediately! It's hard for me now to separate what I've come to know of these characters vs. what I thought at first.

I was revolted by the prologue...flies, blood, slaughter. The young innocent girl thrust into dire circumstances by her sister!
(That whole story line is not one of my favorites. When there is somewhat of a reappearance of urm, this thread, in tBH, I groaned out loud.)

Mallick Rel = Scum Bag. (Ditto Korbalo Dom.)
Coltaine, ah, wow. Powerful.

After reading several more of these books, I've come to think that Gardens of the Moon could really be considered a prologue to the series. Things really take off here.
Tai Tastigon
38. Taitastigon
Hi Tek.

After reading several more of these books, I've come to think that Gardens of the Moon could really be considered a prologue to the series. Things really take off here.

Yep. GotM is of a chamber piece to me, a pilot trying to sell a series.

@Amanda: T´Amber. Aaah, T´Amber. Be intrigued, be veeery intrigued. Nice pick-up, BTW !
Tai Tastigon
39. Taitastigon

Very interesting observation

I’m also curious about the Season of Rot—it is mentioned that this “Season had come an unprecedented three times in the past ten years.” So does this mean that certain gods and their Seasons reach ascendancy, depending on the actions and events of the world?

I would say, yep - without the tie-in of a specific Season.

What has caused the Season of Rot to come so often?
Since it is the last ten years, this is basically from the time that Laseen conspired for the Malazan throne—is this to show that there is rot in the Malazan Empire?

Now that is really a very interesting angle. SE doesn´t really answer it, leaves everybody to speculate. Could well be your suspicion, especially considering the difficulties that have been piling up in 7C. Could also be a foreboding of the state of that world in general...and as the series progresses, the underlying threat to all, which will slowly unravel over time.

Ugh, more gross emphasis of rot with the abandoned mule crawling with flies, bloated and still taking its time to die.

Oh, Amanda, in terms of ghastly images, you will be in for a *treat* with this book, I can tell you...*ggg*
Tai Tastigon
40. Taitastigon
Marc @3

Amanda's already enjoyed it, but I trust it'll sink its claws even deeper into her now.

*biiiig g*...actually, Bill did. Amanda get the first-time enjoyment that we can´t no more...
Tai Tastigon
41. Taitastigon

Just want to mention Erikson’s sterling world-building—not a moment passes him by where he is able to emphasise it a little more. In one paragraph here, as night comes to the desert, we have reference to bloodflies, capemoths and batlike rhizan lizards. These are great in terms of adding flavour.

One of the things I have come to love best about this cycle - the anthropological/archeological/biological details of this world are amazing. There was pretty little of that in GotM - DG turns into the first feast of many in that respect. Keep watching out for them !
Eric Carlson
42. Tennerock
Hoping I find the time to actually participate in the discussion...this would be my third read of the book. I really enjoyed GotM, but DG was the one that really drew me into this world and remains probably the most intense read of the series for me (with the possible exception of certain scenes that will remain undescribed for now).

I do agree, Amanda, that I think you'll really like Duiker, based on what you said re: Temper.

Fiddler (user, up above) refers to John Novak's review on
rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan; he's the one responsible for getting me hooked on this series as well.
Rob Munnelly
43. RobMRobM
Few thoughts
- never picked up before that Tavore had to choose between mother and sister.
- never before heard theory that Paran pere died in place of son following near death in GotM.
- never before thought of culling line in Unta as foreshadowing Chain of Dogs later. Hmmn.
- I still can't figure out why any competent Empress would use Pormquist as High Fist. Is her real plan that she wants Coltaine and Seven Cities troops to wipe each other out, and then pick up pieces with Tavore armies (i.e., a competent High Fist would save Coltaine and she made sure that would not happen).
- Having a lot of trouble equating Rel with the Mael who makes his presence known in later books. Has he completely abandoned his putative god?

Rob Munnelly
44. RobMRobM
Another note - I like the reference to Icarium as only half-Jaghut without identifying what is his other half. (The answer comes very late in the series and is actually interesting and important to plot.)

Also, complete this analogy: If Nameless Ones protect Azath and Nameless Ones also have been responsible for placing protectors around Icarium for centuries, then ....?
Marc Rikmenspoel
45. Marc Rikmenspoel

LOL, I know the difference between Amanda and Bill. Sorry if I was unclear. My point was that Amanda enjoyed Gardens of the Moon a lot, and Night of Knives somewhat. She considers herself a Malazan fan already, but we're only now getting to the really good stuff! She ain't seen nothing yet, and thus I really look forward to her thoughts on Deadhouse Gates in the weeks ahead.
Filip Belic
47. fbelic
I actually read Deadhouse Gates before Gardens of the Moon... Imagine my confusion :-)
Gerd K
48. Kah-thurak
@RobMRobM 44
... the Namless Ones are idiots? ;-)

@Deadhouse Gates
This is probably my favorite Malazan Book. Not so much the Felisin/Heboric Storyline but the Chain of Dogs, Fiddler/Kalam/Apsalar and Icarium/Mappo.

The introduction of Mappo and Icarium is really great ("I'm getting bored, Mappo."), as well as Coltaines first appearance.

And yes, I hate Mallik Rel. But then, who doesnt?
Amir Noam
49. Amir
Fiddler @16:
Tennerock @42:
Yeah, I too remember Novak's review on rasfwr-j back in the days :-)

I was already into the Malazan series at the time, but his review helped me see more layers to the story (most hidden layers tend to just fly over my head when I read)
Thomas Jeffries
50. thomstel
Having a lot of trouble equating Rel with the Mael who makes his presence known in later books. Has he completely abandoned his putative god?

Mael's old after all, and likely hard of hearing.

On purpose.

Wouldn't you be too if you had priests like Rel running around trying to invoke your power?
Steven Halter
51. stevenhalter
RobMRobM@43: We'll find out more about Rel and Mael. For the moment, though the key word is Jhistal.
Tricia Irish
52. Tektonica
Shalter@51: And what exactly does Jhistal mean?
Dustin George-Miller
53. dustingm
Hey, I just noticed that there's not a link to this discussion on the main MRRotF page ( I had to hunt through old RSS feeds to find it again. Can someone add that link?
Gerd K
54. Kah-thurak
@52 Tektonica
The point is not the meaning... it is just a word to keep in mind when reading Deadhouse Gates. It might get mentioned at some point from someone ;)

But nethertheless: The Jhistal were, as far as I remember a cult of priests that worshipped Elder Gods with blood sacrifices. Nearly extinguished by Kellanved. Somebody correct me if I messed up ;-)
Chris Hawks
55. SaltManZ
The glossary in TB refers to Jhistal as the Elder equivalent of Destriant. It was also a Gedorian Falari cult.
Tai Tastigon
57. Taitastigon
Before I forget: Yes, Mallick Rel DOES suck !

(Kinda funny - I remember SE mentioning in an interview that Rel was one of his favorite RPG-playing characters. That man really has a very peculiar sense of humor...)
Steven Halter
58. stevenhalter
Tek@52: as Kah-thurak says, its more a term to watch and see what gets revealed. As a couple mention, it is a title and a people/cult. Kel did not think kindly of them.

Tai@57: I can see how Rel would be a hoot to role play. To paraphrase, sometimes it's very fun to be very bad.
Marc Rikmenspoel
59. Sciz
I hate Mallick Rel so much.
a a-p
60. lostinshadow
finally caught back up - just in time for DG! and I've actually finished DoD as well (seriously downer cliffhanger that).

The first time I read DG, it really pulled me in and to me at least flowed much better than GoM. Now, looking back and various rereads later, I have to say the Felisin storyline kinda ruins this for me.

Erikson has a way of writing tragic stories in a really engaging way but the whole Felisin thing just really turns me off more and more every time I reread it. Actually I dislike her even more than I dislike Mallick Rel. grrr (still it's great writing)

toryx@24 - Erikson books can be draining to read, but I would definitely give the series another chance, really shouldn't miss out especially on books 5-8, which are just some of the best writing and story building I've ever read - in any genre.
Marcus W
61. toryx
lostinshadow @ 60:
Yeah, Felisin was a real trial of a character. It's rare for me to discover a character I feel such distaste and outright contempt for. She's just...arrgh. I wouldn't say that I dislike her more than Rel but she's certainly more present than Rel, which adds up.

I intend to read the next one eventually, but I figure I need half a year or so to rest in between. I've still got piles of sand stuck in my gums. :)
Amir Noam
62. Amir
Ah, yes. The Jhistal thing.

This word drove me *crazy* when I had finished Deadhouse Gates. It was obvious to me that I've missed a few places it was mentioned throughout the book but for the life of me I couldn't track down the right places despite deparate Google searches.

Catching the Jhistal references is one of my goals for this re-read.
Tricia Irish
63. Tektonica that is good info....I've heard the word tossed around in the 4 or 5 books that I've read and like most of SE, I just kind of wait until the meaning becomes clear....that word hadn't yet, for me. So thanks all!

Knowing that his priesthood may involve blood sacrifices and Elder gods, makes me dislike Rel even more, if that is possible. And knowing that Kelleved didn't like it, makes me think more highly of him.

Hi Lost! Nice to see you back here. I'm with you on the Felesin story I dislike her more in this book, because, as you say, she's more present in the book. Way too present. So angry and bitter. Petulant. I'd like to slap her upside the head. Her story arc is certainly interesting, but it's a story I'd like to avoid.
Tai Tastigon
64. Taitastigon
lost/toryx @60/61

Felisin is jarring & definitely a non-enjoyable read, but in retrospect, I have come to the conclusion that SE had to *screw her up* as much as possible to make her arc fit into the general context of the cycle. Being more specific would be spoileration. But as the series progresses and players/stakes/motifs become clearer, it seems kind of natural to lead Felisin onto that path.
She is still a b*tch, in any case.
Tricia Irish
65. Tektonica

No sand in Memories of Ice.....back to the Bridgeburners, Rake, Paran, Kruppe and the old cast of characters....I think you'll like it much better.
Rob Munnelly
67. RobMRobM
I don't like the Felisin storyline either but imagine the circumstances - a 15 year old, well loved daughter, getting thrown into horrible deprivation and likely death by the hand of her older sister. The betrayal factor is off the charts. I can understand why she turned angry and bitter as a defense mechanism once she was hurt that badly.
Gerd K
68. Kah-thurak
"Knowing that his priesthood may involve blood sacrifices and Elder gods, makes me dislike Rel even more, if that is possible."

You'll like his god though... most people do ;-)
a a-p
69. lostinshadow
@64 - I agree with you, the story flows naturally and like I said it's great writing - but knowing now how that story unfolds makes me like her even less in this arc. Still the dislike I can feel for her is in and of itself proof of just how well SE wrote the story.
Tricia Irish
70. Tektonica

I have trouble equating Rel with Mael....haven't seem much of him yet in my reading, but he seems "benign" enough....not near the snake that Rel is, anyway. I know Mael has rejected his priests, so I guess Rel is just a renegade run amok.
Steven Halter
71. stevenhalter
In RotCG, the Mael/Rel problem is clarified. I'm not saying in what way.
shirley thistlewood
72. twoodmom
Hi! Has anyone else wondered if it was Paran's Frank comments to Lorn at the beginning of GotM, along with Lorn's followup with the non-Hi! Has anyone else wondered if it was Paran's Frank comments to Lorn at the beginning of GotM, along with Lorn's followup with the non-noble Captain, that helped to precipitate the Cull of nobles at that particular time? Lorn presumably reported what she heard to Laseen.
Steven Halter
73. stevenhalter
twoodmom@72: I think those events certainly helped propel Laseen towards the cull.
Karen Martin
74. ksh1elds555
RobMRobM- your thoughts on the Laseen-Coltaine issue. Just when re-reading the prologue and chapter 1, I read where Coltaine was an ally of the old emperor, which completely escaped me the first time. We don't know what exactly transpired to make that so. But we know Laseen doesn't especially care for the old guard... ie Dassem, Temper, Dujek. I think she will use them for her advantage up to a point, such as to put down a rebellion or whatnot, but if they become too powerful or popular, then bye bye. The politics in this series are just BRUTAL. Sad but brutal.
On a lighter note, my hubby is reading House of Chains for the first time, (yes this is supposed to be lighter) and now whenever he does something nice like make dinner, fix the toilet, I get the "Witness, woman, I fixed the toilet. Witness!". I can't help but laugh! So much to look forward to!
Chris Hawks
75. SaltManZ
@ksh1elds: That's hilarious. :D (Your husband, I mean.)
Steven Halter
76. stevenhalter
kramerdude@35 & twoodmom@72: Also, note that the unnamed captain who talks to Lorn in GotM tell's Lorn that his last engagement was Wickan Plains. The unnamed captain here mentions that he served against Coltaine (on the Wickan Plains).

... :-)
Sydo Zandstra
77. Fiddler

On a lighter note, my hubby is reading House of Chains for the first time, (yes this is supposed to be lighter) and now whenever he does something nice like make dinner, fix the toilet, I get the "Witness, woman, I fixed the toilet. Witness!". I can't help but laugh! So much to look forward to!

By the time he is reading tBH, you'll probably be able to hear him saying that all over the house, regardless if you are close or not... ;)

About Coltaine being employed (or deployed?) by Laseen. Wasn't it said somewhere above this post that Laseen started running low on capable battle commanders?

She certainly needs one here at Seven Cities...
Marc Rikmenspoel
78. djk1978
I've assumed that although the captain's name isn't given it is one of the captains that we see later. Perhaps Lull. Nothing definite to conclude that, but why not?
Julian Augustus
79. Alisonwonderland
I have a lot more sympathy for Felisin than many of you seem to have. Here's the pampered youngest daughter of a mighty noble house, adores and is adored by her older brother, and ignored by her older sister. Then, said older sister becomes the adjunct of the empress and sends youger sister her to the mines, where she expects to be brutalized beyond belief, for life (note, she wasn't made aware of the sly arrangements Tavore had made on her behalf). So she falls completely apart. I hope those of you who are so judgemental against her would consider how you would react if you were in her situation. I agree she made some pretty bad choices, but I put most of those down to despair and her giving up.
Thomas Jeffries
80. thomstel

For me, the tale of Felisin (in this novel) is difficult because her behavior is so pathetic in comparison with the other tales being told. The contrast is what makes reading her sections tough.

I'm with you 100% on the likeliness that someone of her age, background and upbringing would head down the path she does. My beef is that the other tales are full of very powerful moments and characters (emotionally-speaking), while Felisin's story relies on the bitter dynamics of Heboric, Baudin and herself (along with the other sideline characters). The bad vibe is just really concentrated in her arc, and there's not a lot of relief from that pressure (humor, nobility, etc.) to counterbalance that within the arc itself.

It's more a case of turning the page and seeing a Felisin section and saying "crap, wish it was more Chain of Dogs or Icarium & Mappo". It's definitely not a case of "I hate this storyline, the characters in it, and the way SE wrote it." That why I used the word "challenging" in an earlier post. It's still very very poignant and tragic, and remains so, even into the other novels.
Thomas Jeffries
81. thomstel

I now have the capacity to drive my wife crazy on our vacation to Disney. To grab another easy phrase from fiction that can be slipped into real life (without anywhere near the same level of silliness): thankee-sai.
Julian Augustus
82. Alisonwonderland
Her first really serious commitment was to (in her mind) sacrifice herself for her only friends, chiefly Heboric. It was a bad choice, but made with what she considered noble intentions. To me, she only goes off the deep end when her "friends" throw her "noble sacrifice" in her face. Then, and only then, does she become bitter and twisted and unhinged. Like I said earlier, I have a lot of sympathy for Felisin, because I think she was treated abominably, and I can understand her going off the deep end from that experience. I certainly have a lot more sympathy for Felisin than for Tavore, whose actions started out as inexplicable and have become more and more mysterirous as the series has progressed.

Incidentally, I think Felisin is the sacrifice Hood took in exchange for Paran's life.
Sydo Zandstra
83. Fiddler

Dark Tower reference? Me likes, if so.


I agree with thomstel. It's not so much of hating Felisin. Just wanting to read past her stuff. On rereads, that is. I find her plotline fascinating, and well worked out; there is a logical progression in it.

There is also a lot of interesting info coming from that plotline.

Maybe you should compare it to the Perrin stuff in the WoT-reread. People bitch about him there too, but they still read it. ;-)
Sydo Zandstra
84. Fiddler

Incidentally, I think Felisin is the sacrifice Hood took in exchange for Paran's life.

I disagree. :) If Hood exchanges a life for a life, he does it right at the spot... Meaning a death right at the spot, instead of a life filled in suffering.

But let's not expand on that too much now. We only started this book, and this is getting towards plot spoiling for first time readers. :) Feel free to do a shout towards me though. :)
Marc Rikmenspoel
85. MDW
@35, 72, 76 : This is what is so cool about these rereads. I spotted the old captain when he made a cameo in HoC but didn't notice him here until you pointed it out.

Re : Felisin - I can not like her and still have sympathy for her. I think it is a realistic response to the sudden destruction of her world but I don't have any positive feelings for the resulting personality.

Mallick Rel I hate without sympathy of course.
Julian Augustus
87. Alisonwonderland
My post was in direct response to earlier posters who expressed their hatred for Felisin the character, not hatred of the story arc. I was pleading for a little more understanding of how tragic her story really is; I hope she will be more pitied than hated. On the other hand, I can completely understand the hatred expressed towards Malick Rel who is, in my view, one of the most evil characters ever put to paper. Padan Fain at least has the excuse of being mad and being motivated by revenge, but Malick Rel is all ambition, incites the slaughter of hundreds of thousands to further his own ambition, has absolutely no redeeming qualities and is just evil through and through. To see a poster put Felisin in more or less the same bracket as Malick in terms of dislike of the character gave me a shock.
Tricia Irish
88. Tektonica
ksh1elds555@74: That's hilarious! I can't ever let my husband read these now!

Alisonwonderland: You may be referring to my dissing of Felesin above. I obviously wasn't clear that it's her story line that I so dislike reading. Believe me, I have plenty of sympathy for her plight....what a huge about face in her life in one day! And to be totally betrayed by your sister? Who in essence destroyed your whole family! Mind numbing to me .....and yet, not surprising given her history with her.

I did find her story line very painful emotionally....and not just her bitterness and limited interpretations of her "friends" actions. She is young and has been very sheltered after all.

Heboric becomes bitter and pretty crazy. Baudin is brutal, and we don't know why. People aren't there's an original theme. ;-) Perhaps what makes me cringe so, is that, as a woman, it's a rather universal fear.....what she goes through in the mines.....what she does to cope. Indeed, what would any of us do in that circumstance?

As Thomstel@80 says, there aren't too many "uplifting" moments or "noble" people in her story line. It's exhausting.

Yeah....fear and emotional exhaustion....give me the Chain of Dogs any day.
Marc Rikmenspoel
89. Marc Rikmenspoel
I actually really like the character of Felisin, and her storyline. I agree with the sympathetic comments above. In fact, it is probably because she is so easy to sympathize with, that I can forgive her actions. It did seem realistic to me in portraying what a 15-16 year old girl would do in those circumstances.
90. Abalieno
Only have time to comment one aspect:

I won’t analyze the two poems that kick off Chapter One, except so far as to mention that both set the scene for a desert—dry winds and sand both being mentioned.

Why not? It's actually quite straightforward.

I think some readers have a wrong reaction to these poems at the beginning of the characters. They seem to be considered like smug riddles only useful for those who do re-reads and are able to decypher them. But it's not like that.

The poems should be simply read for what they are at the first approach. The one here doesn't have any kind of irritating opaqueness.


Someone sees another guy who's trying to swim in the middle of a desert. So he asks why he's doing this weird act.

The answer is: I see shells around, so I must swim in the sea that was here long ago.

The other asks if he'll reach his destination anytime soon, and the swimmer replies he doesn't know and will likely drown sooner.

The poem is imporrtant because we have back already some core themes of the series. The memory of the past, and a diffused sense of futilty mixed with loss. The past is lost like the memories of men that lead to recurring mistakes. Honoring the past means being aware of what was there before and opposing, in vain, the loss associated to it.

The strength of these poems is that they need to be interpreted for what they are. The less you know, the better, so they can work without suspicion and misdirection. The message is plain and accessible. What happens next, instead, is personal. Erikson gave you some suggestions, you then carry those suggestions with you and use them to interpret themes as the book delves in. The connections will come naturally.

What I particularly admire of Erikson is how, through the book, he actively refuses "elitism" like some other writers who deliberately speak to the small group who can understand them. You aren't required to have access to specific knowledge to understand something, and never at the expense of complexity. This series only demands patience and then rewards it. Like stories, they demand you to listen and pay attention till the end.

The same for poems. They aren't tests for one's wit or intelligence, or series' experts who can track the smallest details. They only demand to be read, pay attention to each word. The meaning will come out naturally and they'll help to actually understand better the book.

In that poem there are a number of layers that will connect with the whole story in the book, but you aren't required to know everything in order to understand it.

I'm also surprised that the second part of the prologue was mostly ignored. But, well, the point is that this books is amazing and one could fill pages, and pages, and pages, just to delve into what's in the prologue and 1st chapter. It's incredibly rich and deep, but also dealt in a way that is not overwhelming. It's up to the reader to decide how deep he wants to go.

And I welcome Heboric, who's my favorite character so far.
91. Abalieno
Also forgot that T'amber was introduced in DG. I was absolutely convinced she only appeared in HoC...
a a-p
92. lostinshadow
It's interesting that the chain of dogs storyline and the Felisin storyline start off together in this book, mainly because of the contrast of how the two stories evolve.

I should clarify that my dislike of Felisin is really largely due to what she becomes later in the series and the fact that I can't seem to separate her from her arc in general, which is just as someone mentioned above depressing, with nothing alleviating the darkness. And it's not just Felisin, everyone in that arc just devolves as the story goes on so I find it very hard to read.

In contrast the chain of dogs, which is in fact a thoroughly depressing story, is also actually very uplifting so even knowing all the pain and horrible things they go through, it's great rereading that story over and over again.

Though seriously what is up with Tavore? Hope that gets explained by the end of the series.
Chris Hawks
93. SaltManZ
Gotta agree with Abalieno that Heboric might just be my favorite character of the series. He's a more peripheral player than most, but the evolution (so to speak) of his character is beyond intriguing.
Todd Tyrna
94. Ezramoon
Finally caught up on posts from the past few days...most of what I wanted to ask or add to the discussion has been covered. So a few thoughts I have, keeping in mind this is my 1st read:

A lot of hate for Rel...he came across as shady to me, a Kruppe sort of figure, but man, you all must know something I don't because the hate for Rel seems unanimous.

And Felisin reminds me of Kiska, a young, clueless girl thrown into a bad situation. Again, people don't really like her or her story as it unfolds in DG, but after reading the past 10 posts explaining why without spoilers, I'm understanding everyone's opinion, so I'm done wondering about her for now...moving on!

And correct me if I'm wrong (although there are 1000's of pages of shades of grey and plot twists to come), but right now, Coltaine is working for Empress Laseen to conquer the 7 cities (are they not under Laseen's control...still loyal to the old emperor?), which involves him marching Wickans (who are they?) in an event called the Chain of Dogs. Am I close at all?

Anyways, I am loving it so far and can't wait to get to the meat of the story, where I'm sure along the way, every question that gets answered will spawn 3 more unanswered :)

P.S. - I thought Fiddler's observation of the sea monster being 80 paces long...if it was cut in half!...was rather hilarious. That with the giant head and centipede-like, you would not catch me swimming on ANY beach in this world!
Karen Martin
95. ksh1elds555
Abalieno- I didn't remember T'amber either, I only remember her from tBH! There are quite a few of the dramatis personnae that I forgot from this book.

As for Felisin, I do remember being really turned off by her attitude towards Heboric and Baudin. I remember thinking, why doesn't she show any gratitude or concern for them, when even here at the beginning, they are trying to help her. I always found Heboric really interesting and a very sympathetic character. The scenes between them remind me of a father trying to reach out to a wounded teenage daughter but being spurned by her every time.

I do think one of Erikson's really strong points is how his characters seem to change and my perceptions of them evolve over the course of a book or several books. Some of the characters from GotM who I thought were the "bad" guys, have become my favorites. My feelings about Felisin have evolved between the events of DG and HoC. While I sympathise with her plight and the horrible situation she's in, I don't like her personality in this book. But in the later book, I thought she really tried to redeem herself and I felt more sympathy; she became tragic rather than irritating. Something I've sensed over and over again in this series, is a theme that the world is brutal and the only things that give it any meaning are compassion, mercy, and friendship. Felisin is brutalized and in return becomes her own worst enemy by rejecting the only things that can save her.
96. Abalieno
Having read only up to HoC I don't know where Heboric goes, but he was my favorite from the start and not because of a particular arc.

There's the fact of the heretic historian, which is placed perfectly after book 1, when the readers are desperately looking for answers about Malazan history and Heboric is right there, knowing the stuff and being punished for it. Knowledge as both the most valuable and condemning thing.

And then he's both a mirror and fatherly figure for Felisin. The relationship that develops there is just a pure masterpiece and an high point for the same reasons why some readers dislike it. Erikson doesn't go to places to comfort the reader, it's not that kind of book. The way that story closes is perfect, it doesn't need anything else.

Just witness.
Steven Halter
97. stevenhalter
Ezramoon@94: Here at the start of DG, 7 cities are under Malazan rule and hence Laseen's rule. She appears to be sending in Coltaine to help quell what appears to be an upcoming rebellion.
Coltaine is the leader of a group called the Wickans and had led them against the old Emperor until Kel turned him around in some fashion.
98. Abalieno
As for Felisin, I do remember being really turned off by her attitude towards Heboric and Baudin. I remember thinking, why doesn't she show any gratitude or concern for them, when even here at the beginning, they are trying to help her. I always found Heboric really interesting and a very sympathetic character. The scenes between them remind me of a father trying to reach out to a wounded teenage daughter but being spurned by her every time.

Yes, the same reasons why I was awed right from the start. The relationship between the three is the high point, and it comes so real because how it is so brutal and unfair. People work that way, far from the romanticised version that we usually get in literature.

Scott Bakker commented something like this in a recent, brilliant article:

the vast bulk of the stories we tell are bent on strategic distortion

They tell us whom to lionize and, of course, whom to condemn.

Few things are quite so slippery as the “moral of the story.”

We assume that "tragedy" happens when one faces the world and suffers injustice, but we often have also responsibility on that tragedy. Felisin is equally both. Responsibility and absolute absolution. Pure. And it links back with the theme of "memory", that is not merely about geography changing like the sea that becomes desert, but also the sense of personal loss and everything that one irrimediably loses (even on the surface like beauty, as we see).

And the best part is that Erikson just shows this story for its truth, and it's entirely up to the reader to decide what to do with it or whatever meaning it has.

It's the excellence of anti-preaching, because it's filled with painful questions, and no answers at all.
99. Abalieno
And correct me if I'm wrong (although there are 1000's of pages of shades of grey and plot twists to come), but right now, Coltaine is working for Empress Laseen to conquer the 7 cities (are they not under Laseen's control...still loyal to the old emperor?), which involves him marching Wickans (who are they?) in an event called the Chain of Dogs. Am I close at all?

It's the recurring theme of the Malazan army being mostly made of the people that they fight and then move on their side. See Kalam or Quick Ben who originally were fighting the Empire and now work for it.

Coltaine is another. He was the commander that unified 7 Cities to fight the Malazan empire, and now he's used by Laseen to try to quench the 7 Cities rebellion.

And once again the scene of Coltaine and Wickans arrival is gorgeous, and it works so well because instead of having that POV directly we see it from the interplay of that odd assemble made by Duiker, Kulp and Mallick Rel. Each observing and commenting, with a sense of tension between the three (so a whole new layer).
Tai Tastigon
100. Taitastigon
Aba @96

Having read only up to HoC I don't know where Heboric goes, but he was my favorite from the start and not because of a particular arc.

Well, he goes kinda...very weird...
He seems not quite finished yet, we´ll know with tCG...
Todd Tyrna
101. Ezramoon
Thank you shalter and Abalieno for clearing it up. Basically 7C is under Laseen's rule, but she's sending in Coltaine for an upcoming rebellion. Got it. Time for me to read on!
Sydo Zandstra
102. Fiddler
And the best part is that Erikson just shows this story for its truth, and it's entirely up to the reader to decide what to do with it or whatever meaning it has.

Exactly. :)

For example, Mallick Rel: Scumbag extraordinaire.

But, looking at him in a more neutral way, I must admit I admire his political savvyness... Here is a guy one should not underestimate. And he does have his own motivations, which are influenced by not caring about the Seven Cities rebellion at all (because that isn't his cause; him hating the Malazan Empire is, though), and he's going from there.

This is one of the things why I love this series so much. Political realism, without Good and Bad set in stone.

(@Abalieno: there is a follow up on Rel in tBH, RotCG and SW; Just a FYI so you know you haven't seen the last of him yet. :) Rel is a crafty one, he is... )
Rajesh Vaidya
103. Buddhacat
@99 Abalieno:

I don't think it was Coltaine who conquered or unified the Seven Cities. K&D, Dassem, Whiskeyjack et al were involved in those campaigns. Coltaine unified the Wickans to fight the Emperor, and then was somehow co-opted to accept Malazan rule and became a military commander in the Malazan army.
Steven Halter
104. stevenhalter
Buddhacat: Right Coltaine was unconnected with 7 cities prior to this.
Tricia Irish
105. Tektonica

And the best part is that Erikson just shows this story for its truth, and it's entirely up to the reader to decide what to do with it or whatever meaning it has.
It's the excellence of anti-preaching, because it's filled with painful questions, and no answers at all.

Perfectly stated. It makes SE endlessly fascinating. Every time you read him, you pick up a nuance or two. It's the personal questioning, which no doubt differs for each of us, that is the most rewarding part.
Amanda Rutter
106. ALRutter
I feel SO stupid.... It's taken me til now, straining my brain, to work out what 7C meant....

Are y'all sure you want me leading this little readalong? ;-)
Sydo Zandstra
107. Fiddler
Re: Coltaine and Seven Cities.

From the whole DG storyline with Coltaine's Wickans I initially gathered that the Wickans were another Seven Cities tribal clan, that just were incorporated by Kellanved. I held onto that thought even until the end of tBH.

That could be sloppy reading be me, and me too easily going over it in my rereads.

In case I am not an exception, let me state that the Wickans live in the country north of where Unta (Malazan capitol) is situated. They are not from Seven Cities.

It wouldn't be the same without you. I love your insights as a first time reader. :)
108. Abalieno
Yeah, just reread that part.

It's particularly brilliant how it's Duiker to explain Mallick Rel and Kulp who Coltaine is and then it's a captain to point Coltaine to Duiker since he never actually met him.
Marc Rikmenspoel
109. Karsa
A lot of hate for Rel...he came across as shady to me, a Kruppe sort of figure, but man, you all must know something I don't because the hate for Rel seems unanimous.

People who don't HATE HATE HATE Rel have probably read Stonewielder...

Marc Rikmenspoel
110. Karsa
In case I am not an exception, let me state that the Wickans live in the country north of where Unta (Malazan capitol) is situated. They are not from Seven Cities.

Yes -- this becomes very important in RotCG when the Untan army is off doing something... :)
Tai Tastigon
111. Taitastigon
Amanda @106

I feel SO stupid.... It's taken me til now, straining my brain, to work out what 7C meant....

Are y'all sure you want me leading this little readalong?

Amanda, sweets, you´ll always be our MBotF newbie cub ! We want you leading this all the way to the end ! You can get those first impressions that we can no more...

But I still do want you to respond coming Wednesday:

Did Fiddler touch anybody or not ?

Robin Lemley
112. Robin55077
@ Amanda
"It is incredible to see immediately the difference in prose between Erikson and Esslemont—we’re back to the dense intricate workings of sentences, rather than the more straightforward and direct delivery of the latter."

For me, it is not just the "denseness" that is a huge difference between the two writing styles, but the "depth" as well. I found myself smiling only a few paragraphs into the prologue as I thought to myself, "I'm happy to be back." This is not a negative comment against Cam as I do enjoy his books and cannot wait for Stonewielder to release here in the US, but rather a statement of exactly how much I love the depth of Erikson's writing. For some reason, I never really thought about this difference in my prior reads. However, working through this re-read, it hit me like a brick when I started through the prologue of DG. It felt like coming home.
Robin Lemley
113. Robin55077
A few general observations:

Most things have already been covered, as I am late to the posts this week. Great to see so many people here and posting!

I am sometimes amazed by what catches my attention on a re-read. Often it is an "ah-ha" moment where some piece of information will suddenly fall into place when I read something that I may have eiher missed, or simply not understood the significance of in a prior read. But on occasion, it is something small and/or so insignificant that it may mean absolutely nothing to anyone but me. This time, it was on page two of Chapter 1....Icarium smiled. I know it has no significance to the story, not related to any arc, probably not even noticed by anyone else, but when I read that I actually paused and thought about whehter or not I could recall if Icarium had ever smiled anywhere else throughout the series. For some reason, on this night of this re-read, the fact that Icarium smiled had significance for me. As the saying goes, it stopped me in my tracks.

Go figure. :-)
Robin Lemley
114. Robin55077
@ Amanda
"It is creepy that the flies vanish, and there is nothing underneath. And surely this doesn’t bode well for the priest of Fener, since Hood’s “servant” has said:

“Yet it seems that while the Boar of Summer has no love for me, he has even less for you.”"

Actually, I believe it is Heboric who says that line to Hood's "servant" rather than the other way around. This whole scene, with the flies scattering and there being nothing there, is yet another great example of how "visual" Erikson's writing is.
Robin Lemley
115. Robin55077
Regarding some of the characters we love to hate...or hate to love! & other miscellaneous observations.

With regard to Felisin, I agree with Alisonwonderland in that the brutality of the events surrounding the cull probably made her what she is, but that still doesn't change the fact that what she is (and ends up being) is a person I don't really care for. (Tavore, on the other hand, I really like for some unknown reason. I always have the feeling that Tavore always strives to do the best she can, she would never settle for less and I guess I respect that about her.)

Mallick Rel I see as being far more ambitious and far more intelligent than most people could ever dream of being. If he had turned that mind of his toward doing good for the world around him, what amazing good could have been accomplished? However, he chose another, more selfish route in life. Unlike most of the posts I have seen, I do not "hate" him. I just don't like the route he chose and therefore don't really like him. I look at him more as a "selfish" waste of all that potential.

The person I probably most hate in DG is Korbolo Dom. We have not yet met him through Chapter 1 but as others have already mentioned him I will go ahead and throw it out here. Dom I hate, with Kamist Reloe standing solid right behind him in second place.

Relative to the Wickins ... I picture the Wickins as being similar to the Sioux warriors. One of the Plains Tribes had to be the inspiration behind the Wickins...excellent horse warriors, long braided hair with feathers and fetishes, etc....yep! No doubt in my mind. And ohhhh, what irony....this time the warriors are fighting WITH the 7th rather thay wiping them out!

Robin Lemley
116. Robin55077
Someone earlier mentioned that Felisin was 15 at the time of the cull. I actually always thought of her as younger, around 13 maybe. However, I just realized that she is actually 17 as it is referenced a few times throughout the series that she was born in 1146.
Robin Lemley
117. Robin55077
@ Amanda
"...and N’Trell (this is how Ryllandaras refers to Mappo—is it a title? An insult? A description?)"

I read it as simply a description. An elder name for the Trell, if you will.
Dan K
118. kramerdude
Did Fiddler touch anybody or not ?
Come on, we all know Fiddler's not that type of guy :)
Steven Halter
119. stevenhalter
Robin@115:That's fun, I'd never made the connection with the 7th calvary (here) and the 7th army there.
Marc Rikmenspoel
120. Karsa
Did Fiddler touch anybody or not ?

ah...the real question is "Did anybody touch Fiddler?"

(chuckle...just you wait)
Sydo Zandstra
121. Fiddler

I got respect for Rel's craftiness after having read RotCG (although I guess I even did at the end of tBH). I'm reading Stonewielder, but I only arrived at the point (spoiler in the white texting to follow)
where the Malazan Empire is sending out an army to Korel to set the 6th army that defected and set up an own shop there straight.

But I do find Stonewielder an interesting read.

BTW, stop touching me y'all. :P
Tai Tastigon
122. Taitastigon
Karsa @120

Darn, Karsa, I´m trying to be devious here...!!!

Marc Rikmenspoel
123. alt146
Looks like I am pretty late to the party.

Couple of thoughts - I don't see how people can read these two chapters and say that Erikson doesn't do characters well. Baudin, Heboric, Felesin, Icarium and Mappo are already so true to what we learn about them as the story progresses. I think once again it is a case of people not paying enough attention. We already have clues that Baudin knows a lot more than a street thug should. I had completely forgotten that there are already hints that Mappo is hiding something from Icarium the very first time we see them interact. I only picked up on this aspect of their relationship when it was pretty much spelt out.

I think this is the reason so many fantasy characters start out young and without history; or if they have history they tend to conform to comfortable stereotypes. Mappo and Icarium are both very unique characters with well over a thousand years of history together. On a reread this jumps out at you, on my initial read all I caught was that they are friends and powerful enough to give a D'ivers pause. Then again I raced through the books the first time round.

I think Felesin and Apsalar are two very good (and very different) subversions of the blank character crutch. In Apsalar we meet a young fishergirl who knows very little of the world. Are we going to travel with her and learn as she learns? No - within the first scene she's possessed by a God and becomes a character as mysterious as all the rest. In Felesin we meet a sheltered young noble girl. Are we going to experience life lessons with her and watch as she becomes a hero (TM) and better person (TM)? Not to spoiler anything, but I think the discussion above is enough to tell new readers the answer to that is also no.

Talking about Felesin, I agree I also found her arc hard going, especially on my last reread - probably because you already know that it's one long spiral downwards.

And the wickans are from the main continent (I always forget what it is called) and inhabit the plains north of Unta. So no previous relation to seven cities. In Gardens of the Moon, when Dujek and Lorn talk about the strategies for the campaign, there is mention of Wickan reinforcements. With Dujek being outlawed and seven cities about to rise up in revolt, they were directed here instead.
Sydo Zandstra
124. Fiddler

In Gardens of the Moon, when Dujek and Lorn talk about the strategies for the campaign, there is mention of Wickan reinforcements. With Dujek being outlawed and seven cities about to rise up in revolt, they were directed here instead.

Really? I have missed that fact in all my rereads. Talk about blind spots in reading...

Thanks for pointing that out :)
Marc Rikmenspoel
125. alt146
Maybe I should not have stated that like a known fact - it's never explicitly stated, but there isn't mention of Wickans being deployed on Genebackis (or anywhere else for that matter) after Deadhouse Gates, so I think it is likely they are talking about the Wickans that are sent to seven cities. I only picked up on it because I noted mention of Wickan Cavalry during the GotM reread :P Probably not the most important point in the bigger scheme of things, but it is nice to point out some of the subtle things that SE gets right.
Marc Rikmenspoel
126. billcap
nice description of Icarium and Mappo

thanks for catching the Fener/Heboric mixup!

Do I want to know why you know how many liters of blood are in an average adult :)

Thomstel@23 and Alt@146
" does lose that naive streak pretty quickly, but doesn't replace it with wisdom"

good description both of one of her problems and of Erikson's characterization that breaks the mold of the all-too-familiar.

re "the maelstrom" used so earl with Felesin: you just have to love an author who pays that much attention to single words in a book/series with so, so many words. And it's that sort of craftsmanship that rewards this kind of re-read (course, for all we know Erikson is sitting back going "yeah--maelstrom, that's exactly what I meant to do. No really . . . ")
Steven Halter
127. stevenhalter
@Bill:Bwahahaha, evil laugh as I descend into the laboratory.

(No, actually I just googled the average number.)
a a-p
128. lostinshadow
on the note of attention to words...

this series has given me a serious dislike for and fear of the word "convergence". I seem to be developing a pavlovian response of "oh no, now what" every time I hear/see the word.
Karen Martin
129. ksh1elds555
@128lostinshadow... To me, convergence usually means bad news for characters, but incredible "holy sh#t did that just happen" moments for the reader :-)
Marc Rikmenspoel
130. nixon66
RE: The Rallick Mel being a priest of Mael vs. our knowledge of Mael in later books.

I think an easy way to reconcile the two is the fact that Erikson makes clear through the books that Gods have very little control over their worshipers and priests. The actions of their followers may even disgust the God, but they can't control what is done in their name many times. Don't forget what happens to the followers of D'rek though, when he decided he didn't like what they were doing in his name....
Ben Wert
131. bennyrex
Late to the party, so just a couple observations...

Robin @112 - I felt a very similar feeling - just sinking back into the world. It felt nice.

I also felt gobsmacked by the foreshadowing in the prologue. What an amazing prelude to the Chain of Dogs that march was!

It's interesting comparing what I catch and don't catch with what others do. I definitely noticed right from the first chapter with Icarium and Mappo that some sort of hiding was going on, and that it'd be BAD NEWS if Icarium remembered stuff. On the other hand, there are other bits (nothing's coming to mind at the moment, but I know they're there) that Amanda will notice in a book I'm rereading, and it hits me like a 2x4 to the face.

I know everyone says it pretty consistently, but I don't think I have yet. Thanks so much, Bill and Amanda for doing this. The Malazan books are treats enough on their own, but it's a real delight to be reading them with a community like this.
Steven Halter
132. stevenhalter

And this isn’t wartime—this is just the Malazan world that needs to be endured by its inhabitants!

Not romanticizing the Malazan world is something SE does consistently well. This is a good example.
Steven Halter
133. stevenhalter
Oh yes, and note that Moby likes Fiddler. Also note that Moby has sharp fangs.
134. Abalieno
I still wanted to write more comments because there's more to scratch, but time's out.

Just another aspect. I started to read the prologue of DG right after finishing the last page of GotM, I was well aware of who Felisin was and also of the fact she was going to be a major character in the next book.

The prologue starts with a very cinematic scene. You can see the camera panning while following the Hood Priest. The Priest is the initial focus of the scene and the PoV follows it as it walks toward its mysterious destination. Only after this initial set-up Felisin comes into play and we discover that it's her PoV. We see the Priest approaching right toward Felisin, who's merely an observer of something that seemed to have gone "wrong". Lots of bad hints, the slaughter, the season of Rot, the mule, but still no mention of how this will be related to the plot (or to Felisin, she's still out of the scene, out of perceived threat).

So up to this point Felisin is an external/passive observer. It came to me as a total shock that she was chained with the others. You have this Priest walking toward someone or something. Felisin wonders if it's really her to be the target. But for the reader this is about discovering that it's her the victim. There's no way out. We have been shown a Felisin chained right from the start, without any hope to get free. The fate is sealed.

Usually we see a character who faces danger and struggles to find a way though. We read anxiously how the story develops. It builds tension. Here we are thrown in a situation where "possibility" is crushed. The chains locked before the first line but the reader's realization comes with delay, and in the text is completely understated, almost tangential. The scene is then followed by an escalation of brutality that shows clearly that there's no way to turn back. It's a path carved deeply into hell and the more you go down the worse it is. Even if you find a way through and up again the price you've paid would be already way too much to find any sort of absolution or justification. The threshold has been already passed and the reader somewhat forbidden to experience any sense of hopeful possibility.

What's worth saving is already irremediably lost.

I'm still awed by the prologue and how it works spectacularly on its own. In two pages the reader goes through the experience of having chains locked by having Felisin only entering the scene last. It's her PoV right from the start but Erikson structures the scene so that the perceived PoV is completely overturned as one reads. From a side we have a cinematic scene, from the other we have an effect that is basically impossible with a camera, since the PoV would be already "bound" to the character.

Erikson uses cleverly everything that is unique to the writing medium. Even a small scene like this is brilliant not just because of what happens, but in how it is carefully structured and narrated word by word. Defiant of expectations, and ambitious.
135. Abalieno
I want to clarify that the aspect I'm underlining is how the reader goes through the kind of experience where one thinks: "what I see is awful, but at least it's not happening to *me*."

And in a second moment the reader, being Felisin own PoV and so the PoV of the reader too, realizes that it's happening to *her*. That she's not merely observing something happening to someone else.
Marc Rikmenspoel
136. Pynchon82
Abalieno - I am new to this reread but I have been reading past comments, including yours. You are very introspective I have enjoyed reading about your thoughts on here and your blog. But I was just wondering why did you stop at HoC? I would really like to here what you think of the later books. Anyway thanks and i am eager next time to get involved with the discussion. Bed time for now.
137. Abalieno
Because I don't stick to a series till I'm done. I jump between books and writers and come back later to move on.

I hope to start Midnight Tides right on New Year's Eve. Right now I have 250 pages left on The Way of Kings and hope to finish Bakker's first too before I close Midnight Tides.

I read slowly so it takes time. Looking at my site I finished GotM in March 2008, DG in July 2008, first 3 novellas October 2008, MoI February 2009, 4th novella March 2010, HoC June 2010, NoK June 2010.

It actually looks quite constant and the biggest gap was in 2009 because I read A Game of Thrones and, in particular, that juggernaut masterpiece that is Infinite Jest.

If you think I read slowly think of those who had to read Malazan across the 10+ years it was published...
Antoni Ivanov
138. tonka
Hi! I am fan of Malazan's World! A new found friend (like a month or so old when I began reading those books). And that would be the second reread I follow on this site. I should have a sticker or something as loyal fan of Tor! Oh yes I should, shoudn't I? I am reading Toll The Hounds now. And these books are quite complex, thrilling and interesting and most importantly different from any other fantasy I've read which is very good as far as I am concerned. Though I kinda skipped Midnight Tides. I just was not ready for new characters as I wanted to know what happens to my old favourites! I am going to read it of course though I know what happens (which is kinda pity, no suspense). Still it would be interesting!

Btw Toll The Hounds spoiler- Question:

Hehe! Am I the only one or the narrator of the story is speaking like Kruppe!
Sydo Zandstra
139. Fiddler
Good catch, tonka. It's told by Kruppe; he's sort of the narrator there.

And welcome :)
Chris Hawks
140. SaltManZ
Soooo... no reread entry again on account of the ICE interview? One of these weeks I'll get to discuss a DG chapter with the text still fresh in my mind, right?
Amanda Rutter
141. ALRutter
Bill and I submitted chapter 2 and 3 commentaries early this morning, so I'm guessing that was bumped in favour of Cam's interview replies (which is just as cool, IMO!)
Antoni Ivanov
142. tonka
Thank, Fid. Now I know where your name comes from btw. I never knew before (a month or s0).
Marc Rikmenspoel
143. billcap
Hey all,
In the spirit of that "trying to be better communicators" (and I notice that Amanda already jumped in), I just wanted to say that the post hadbeen submitted but there was a question of editing with regard to a small but possibly sensitive part of my reply (the TOR folks looking out for me). Emails have been sent, received, sent and it's taken care of, but that was the delay. It might be up later today but if not, definitely tomorrow (at least we've got Cam to tide you over for a day)

Sydo Zandstra
144. Fiddler
Hey tonka,

I know what you mean. But you'd better edit that spoiler stuff. We do have a few first time readers, including Amanda, who haven't read MoI yet, and are as far as DG, ch 2-3. Amanda is going on first time read speed, and we do love her insights coming from there.

Just make the colouring of the text white, like the background. One would have to make an effort to read it.

Or remove them. :)
Stefan Sczuka
145. moeb1us
I heartly second that.
What is the point of posting this kind of spoiler regarding TtH in the discussion of the prologue/chap1 of DG? Because you feel the need to? Please change the color.
Even if I only skimmed the text, one is nevertheless able to get info / recognize patterns easily. Which is kind of bad with this type of information. Grmbl.
Marcus W
146. toryx
Man, I accidentally just read that spoiler Tonka posted myself. How aggravating! I actually thought all the space between the spoiler warning and the actual spoiler was space where the text had been turned white to hide the spoiler. Oops.

I got a message that seemed to suggest I was spoilerrific somehow myself, so just in case....

Spoilerized: /edit

....Huh. It turns out that changing the text color on an edit doesn't seem to work. To hell with it. Not worth the bother.

Deleted the remainder of the post. Thanks for your feedback, Abalieno @ 154! You gave me a lot of food for thought and I think it'd make for an interesting debate, but I get the impression this isn't the place for it.

My apologies to anyone I upset for not being tactful or careful enough with the spoiler potentials.
Tricia Irish
147. Tektonica
Hi tonka! Welcome to Malazan. I'm about where you are in my read of these books...just finished Bonelhunters last night, but now need to read MT.;-) I too chose to stay with my fave characters.

Like Fid said, just white out the spoilers, then we can highlight them to read, if we're so inclined. Or shout box us!

Thanks for the communication Amanda and Bill. I do hope they post Ch. 2 & 3 tomorrow! It's more discussable than Cams excellent repsonses to questions.
Marc Rikmenspoel
148. Karsa
I keep seeing a reference to the ICE interview, but I for one can't find the link. Why isn't there a link on the main page? can somebody post the link?

as much as I love this reread I'm continually driven crazy by this format. Why oh Why can't Tor just put this in a BBS like everybody else does so we can have threaded messages, posts that people can find, and every other feature that was designed to do the exact things that are so hard here?
Marc Rikmenspoel
149. Karsa

wow. just wow.

First of all, people die all the time. fact of life. in some sense, that is the point.

as far as the spoilers go, its been 4 hours since your post. I find it amazing that you'd leave it up there that long...people that stumble into it are going to hate you forever. please edit that post! if anybody is an admin (again no forum rights...grrr) can they fix the post? lots of people think of that as one of the most powerful momements in the whole series and getting is spoiled here is a true crime.
Sydo Zandstra
150. Fiddler

I guess this way it's easier to moderate. ;)

FWIW, I'm getting the new post messages through Facebook. But OTOH, you get in a lot of messages on your wall if you activate that...
Sydo Zandstra
151. Fiddler
On a more general note...

Relax a little on expressing on the spoiler thing, please. There is no need at all for bashing. Or rubbing stuff in.
Todd Tyrna
152. Ezramoon
If the main re-read index is updated with links when new pages are put up, that would be helpful. That's what I have bookmarked, and sometimes it takes days for the links to be added.

Otherwise, I think the read is going great so far! I'm reading for the 1st time at the re-read pace like Amanda, and I'm enjoying all the articles, interviews, comments, etc... Such a great group!
Robin Lemley
153. Robin55077
@ 142. tonka

Welcome to the Malazan re-read! Great to have another person posting on here. I love to read everyone's posts! One of the things I really enjoy in the posts is the ability to live vicariously as a "newbie" through the posts of all of the true first-time readers as they experience the events of this series their first time through. We really do try to avoid posting any spoilers that would ruin the experience and/or "surprise" for the first-time readers.

Ahhh, the nice thing about being registered on this site (as I can see that you are) is that you can easily eidt your posts. This makes it easy to make corrections when you accidentally post spoilers. (I'm speaking from experience, as many of us have on occasion posted something that we ended up going back in and editing afterward.) If you would be so kind as to go back in and "white out" the spoiler section of your post, it would greatly reduce the chance of a "newbie" reading it by accident.

Thanks, and once again, WELCOME! I'm so glad you decided to join us!

154. Abalieno
Tyrion or Jaime or Sansa in GRRM's series where there's more transition that leads to personality changes and development.

Oh, I so disagree. Martin in those cases and more, just expertly pulls at heart strings. Whatever he does with a character is VERY deliberate and very precise.

If even one reader develops antipathy for a character like Tyrion, then it means the book failed. There's nothing truly open to interpretation if not the illusion of it. Martin always chases an effect as is typical of Hollywood/western writing. Nothing is accidental or uncertain. Which is why he writes and rewrites incessantly till the experience isn't absolutely perfect and works the way he wants for everyone. The book is built to be successful when EVERY reader has the exact same response to it.

Tyrion is one of those characters whose negative traits are cleverly exploited to ADD to his sympathy. It's anti-hero done in a trivial way (written and excecuted well).

With Felisin instead Erikson creates a character that can trigger a different response depending on how you approach her, and there's no "right" or "wrong" way to get the character. I'm not more "right" than you saying that I loved Felisin. Erikson doesn't shove the reader in a specific direction that "feels" natural but that is instead carefully defined. It's not on rails. Whatever you draw from that story is up to you, a subjective emotional response and all the "truth" about it, you keep it to yourself and no one can say you're wrong. The character arc has nothing of the typical uplifting destination, and a lot of true ambiguity.

People always tell say they love gray characters when what they love is to read heroes who are "gray" only in a slight, but pleasing, nonconformity that feels very "hip" and "modern".

Martin is a great executor and a very good writer. But it's all pre-chewed material.

I also kind of chuckle when I see that "maturity" is taken as synonym of wisdom and moderation. But it very rarely is. Maturity only defines someone more broken than another. It's just a collection of the number of pieces you've shattered into and how deluded you are about them.

Nope, you'll rarely get to put the pieces back together. And that's is valid both for Felisin and everyone else in the real world. Well, besides fantasy stories. In fantasy stories you can.
Marc Rikmenspoel
155. billcap
post update:

We just heard, things were a bit hectic today here at TOR and combined with the need to edit my post, they decided to post tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.

We'll be here, will you?
Todd Tyrna
156. Ezramoon
I'll be here!
(hurries off to read ch.3...yes I'm behind...)
Marc Rikmenspoel
157. Alt146

I always like to describe characters like Jaime and Tyrion as 'prefectly flawed'.

I'd also like to echo the request for just a tiny bit more organisation. I also have the main page bookmarked and it's a bit irritating to have to search through comments to find out a chapter has been up for a day or two already.

If I go grey is there a way to be alerted to new posts without using facebook? A 'go to last unread' button would be awesome. And is there way to make the content of the page use more than a fifth of my screen?
Antoni Ivanov
158. tonka
Re:Me being stupidly spoiling people:
I thought spoilers were okay. I mean in the begining of the post it warns off against Major Spoilers for the Whole series.(Why put a warning that is obviously not true? Really?) And coming from the Wheel of Time rereads where spoilers for the whole series were rife from the beginning I could not guess that rules are different. And I am sorry Toryx and if anyone else was spoiled by me. I know how annoying could be. I actually thought I was considerate by leaving the warning and I had no idea I can white out a text.I was actually wondering why it does not have spoiler tags.
Sydo Zandstra
159. Fiddler
No problem, tonka. The text box options aren't really up to par with a regular forum. But you know that.

And it's good to have you here. So, on to ch2 and 3! :D
Steven Halter
160. stevenhalter
Thanks for joining us (and thanks for the edit.)
I guess the unofficial spoiler usage pattern we have evolved here is to not reveal large spoilers prior to our arriving at them. Hints to text that might point to spoilers are ok, but in general we try to restrain ourselves. Once we get to the actual text, discussion is fair game. If you have a real burning question, the shoutboxes can also be used to ask specific people questions.
For little spoilers, the spacing method is ok. For big spoilers, the white out is prefered. It would be nice if there were some more edit box tools to work with.
Marc Rikmenspoel
161. DrHoo
Re: the Seasons of Rot...given SE's anthropology background, I assumed this was derived from the unpredictability of the Nile in ancient Egypt and the impact too high a flood season had (washes away the crops and villages) or too low (famine). Several seasons in a row without a medium level (or 3 out of 10 bad seasons, perhaps), often meant revolution and dynasty change. I saw it here as foreshadowing of the Apocalypse and Shaik's rebellion.

As an aside, I ordered CE's StoneWielder from the website Monday (I live in the US where it is not yet available), selected standard shipping, and, remarkably, it arrived yesterday. Unbelievable!
Alex P. W.
163. Alex_W
Back in the Game, after a couple of days pause. Now Deadhouse Gates it is.

What a great and at the same time horrible Prologue. I don't quite remember reading a more horrible scene in the past in any other book. This was grim and brutal as grim and brutal probably can get. What is riding Baudin in that scene? I certainly don't like this character even so he kind of protected Felisin. But doing such a thing can just not make me like him. Impossible. And then the description of only forearms hanging in the chains. Holy Shit. I'm certainly glad I wasn't even present at this gruesome walk to the ships. Not even only to watch it from a distance.

Then the arrival of the Wickans with their chieftain Coltaine. Suspecting now, that we will accompany them on their here more than once mentioned Chain of dogs. I suspect that will be a great, adventurous trail, even so probably grim at times too.

And then the remeeting with my admired Kalam :-), and our friends Fiddler, Apsalar and Crokus. Nice to meet them again. Their journey in this book will probably be also a hell of a ride to go. Knowing what their plan is now. Allready a great scene with that seamonster/Soultaken. Looking forward to more. Nice to see how easily Fid kills that enourmous monster. Without even blinking. Yeah, send me more from where that came from.

And Mappo and Icarium are interessting, mystirious people. It seems Icarium is a very powerful beeing, once unleashed, not stoppable any more. Even Mappo seems to be afraid of that. And it's nice to see how that potentially also very powerful Ryllandaras doesn't want to know anyithing anymore about wanting to kill them two, as he was so fondly anticipating doing before, as soon as he knew who those to guys were. :-). Yeah now I want to see Icarium getting more and more bored in the future pages to read.

Give me more!!! :-)

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