Wed
Jan 5 2011 2:17pm

Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 6 and 7

Deadhouse Gates by Steven EriksonWelcome to the Malazan Re-read of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapter 6 and 7 of Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson (DG).

A fair warning before we get started: We’ll be discussing both novel and whole-series themes, narrative arcs that run across the entire series, and foreshadowing, so while the summary of events may be free of spoilers, the commentary and reader comments most definitely will not be. To put it another way: Major Spoilers.

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

Chapter Six

SCENE 1
Setting: Otataral mine
Baudin has been missing for six days now while Sawark searches for him. Felisin is back with Beneth, mostly because he doesn’t trust her anymore due to her connection with Baudin and Sawark’s reaction to her. Heboric has warned her Beneth knows more now from Sawark about her and he wants to destroy her. Beneth questions her as to if it’s his fault what she’s become (“you could have said no”) and she says no, “the faults are all mine.” As they walk outside, Beneth is attacked by a group of Dosii, thus beginning the rebellion in the mining area. Felisin flees and is found by Pella, who takes her back to her tent where Heboric and Baudin are preparing an escape, though he’s unsure if they still want her. Heboric asks if Pella wants to come but he says he has to rejoin his squad. They tell Felisin they’ll swim to the caves under Sinker Lake and she refuses to go without Beneth, saying they owe her and him. Baudin agrees to get him.

SCENE 2
As Heboric and Felisin wait in marshes near the lake, Heboric tells her the escape has been planned by Duiker, that they’ll cross the desert to get picked up by boat. They are attacked by bloodflies, though Fener’s gift keeps Heboric untouched. Felisin, though, has been bitten and the bites leave egg sacs which will hatch larvae that will eat her from the inside out, killing her. Heboric has a salve to drive them out, but Felisin is left disfigured/pockmarked. Sawark finds them and leaves them, telling Heboric it isn’t for him but for Felisin’s sake. Baudin arrives and tells them Beneth is dead; Felisin doesn’t believe he even looked for him. They escape via the lake and caves. Baudin returns from scouting and tells them the nearby city is the site of a fierce mage battle and that Seven Cities has risen in rebellion.

SCENE 3
Setting: A coastal city
Duiker and Kulp are trying to purchase a boat or hire someone to take them to the rendezvous with the escapees. In the local inn, they meet a Malazan guard troop, led by Corporal Gesler and including Stormy, and Truth. The inn comes under attack and the two groups join together to try and reach a ship the guardsmen have outfitted at the dock. They get separated by the attack; Kulp goes after the enemy High Mage, Duiker ends up with Stormy. They see flames over Hissar and Duiker decides to skip the ship and get to his horse so he can ride to rejoin Coltaine. The others make the ship and Kulp sneaks them away while the enemy mage seeks them out. Kulp pulls rank and tries to order Gesler’s group to the rendezvous and when they ask why they don’t just throw him overboard, he tells them he needs to pick up a High Priest of Fener and tossing him overboard might anger the god. Laughing, the men reveal they are part of an outlawed cult of Fener and they head for the rendezvous.

SCENE 4
Setting: Hissar
Duiker takes on the same Dosii disguise we saw him use in the trader camp earlier. He passes Malazans on “sliding beds”—slow killing devices. He rides to Hissar and finds the city attacked, the compound empty, but evidence implies the Seventh had held up and, though unable to save an attack on the Malazan city area, had ambushed the attackers and taken a host of refugees out of the city. He rides with a group of attackers aiming to catch up to the rebel commanders. Kamist Reloe (though killed by Sha’ik in a fight over who would lead the Apocalypse), who plans on harassing Coltaine and his 10,000 refugees, about to be 20,000 as they move toward Sialk, another city conquered by the rebels. Reloe plans on a final battle in three days. Duiker thinks Reloe might be overconfident.

SCENE 5
Setting: Pust’s temple
Exploring further (looking for Pust’s broom), Mappo and Icarium find a fishing boat in one of the temple rooms and deduce it must belong to Servant (him and his boat swept up by Shadow and brought here for some purpose). They decide to ask Pust about it.

SCENE 6
Mappo and Icarium confront Pust as he’s reading the Deck and he calls them ignorant. He pulls lots of cards, reads “renewal, a resurrection without passage through Hood’s gate,” and tells them they need to go on another journey. Icarium loses patience with Pust and begins to choke him. Pust tells them they must go to Raraku because Sha’ik is dead.

SCENE 7
Icarium suggests the resurrection Pust spoke of might be Sha’ik, based on the prophecies. Mappo doesn’t want to get involved, happy the “witch is dead,” especially if it stops the rebellion. He says he doesn’t want to be a tool of the gods or their servant, as most of them, “especially those most eager to meddle in mortal affairs,” feed off of “blood and chaos.” Icarium agrees, but wishes to see the resurrection, wondering how it will bypass Hood who always seems to “ensure he wins in [any] exchange.” Mappo tells Icarium he worries of what is waking in Raraku (and thinks to himself he fears it then awakening Icarium). Icarium say he will go anyway and asks if Mappo will come; Mappo says yes.

SCENE 8
Setting: The desert
Fiddler, Crokus, and Apsalar are pursed by the Grals into the whirlwind. The wind has uncovered an ancient road and bones. Fiddler thinks it may lead to Tremorlor, the “legendary gate” and the Azath House Quick Ben told them is there. The Gral catch up and Fiddler kills them with a cusser. As they continue in the Whirlwind, Fiddler thinks the goddess behind it is mad and wonders who can stop her.

SCENE 9
Setting: Another part of the desert
Kalam travels with the aptorian demon, which he’s tried to lose unsuccessfully due to mistrusting it. They’re attacked by a wolf D’ivers (one the demon fought before). They fight it off, though the demon is wounded.

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Six:
In the extract from Duiker’s writings, it is made more than clear that within the Malazan army there were many, many different factions and “cults.” Duiker also hints at the fact that some of these cults were under the influence of gods, such as Dassem and Hood.

In the very first paragraph of Chapter Six there is a key mention of bloodfly larvae and what they are capable of—in this case, it is metaphorical but later in the chapter...all the time Erikson is setting those hints into his story!

It says something that the memory of Hood’s acolyte, covered with flies and yet not there, is the one thing that stirs Felisin from her daze these days. Horrible the way that Beneth is determined to keep her realising the truth about anything—feeding her drugs as soon as she starts to come back to herself.

I am glad to see that Heboric still shows a care for Felisin, despite what she’s become and what he believes of her:

“Be careful, lass. Beneth is taking you back, but only to personally oversee your destruction. What was haphazard before is now precise, deliberate. He’s been giving guidelines.”

I guess that quote also shows that Sawark guesses at least in some part who Felisin is, and is determined to remove her.

Does Beneth really feel remorse?

“Was it me, lass? Was it so much of a surrender becoming mine? I wanted you, Felisin. You were beautiful. Sharp—I could see that in your eyes. Am I to blame for you, now?”

How sad is it that Felisin takes all the blame for the position that she’s in—she says that she could have said no, but, if she had, life would have been so much worse for her. She was given no choice at all.

“The She’gai’s begun—the hot wind—all your suffering until now has just been a prelude, lass.”

I sincerely hope that this is not foreshadowing, because it seems to me as though Felisin might have been through enough for now...

Seems as though loyalty bought with Felisin’s body is no loyalty at all, going by the behaviour of Beneth’s militia. Every man for himself in the mines!

Heboric and Baudin really don’t trust Felisin at all—Baudin hiding from her in Heboric’s house and saying nothing to her; Heboric refusing to tell her any details of the escape. The poor girl must have felt totally isolated in the mines with that sort of behaviour. And to realise that Heboric had no intention of taking her along in the escape attempt without Pella’s intervention! She has a lot to thank him for....

This quote pretty much sums up Felisin’s and Heboric’s entire relationship:

“I’m not much in your eyes any more, am I, Heboric? Was I ever?” Felisin, House of Paran, whose sister was Adjunct Tavore, whose brother rode with Adjunct Lorn. Nobleborn, a spoiled little girl. A whore.

Gods still protect their own, even when lapsed.... It seems as though Heboric is immensely lucky to escape the onslaught of the blood flies. That sounded absolutely nightmarish. What was I saying about Felisin catching a break?

Curious that Heboric’s tattoos are providing some illumination—any import to this? And I think I am as curious as Felisin in what grave offense drove Heboric from his god!

I also think that Baudin probably didn’t search too long and hard for Beneth, but it’s interesting Felisin immediately thinks that Baudin is lying about whether Beneth is alive or not. Her trust is anyone is pretty non-existent at this point.

Oh, here is a personal hate, from movies and books: the whole being under the water for a long length of time. I always end up holding my breath while they are underwater and seeing stars! I think I have a fear of drowning.... Ugh:

Already her lungs screamed for air. She felt herself blacking out...

Yep, I’m holding my breath right along with her!

For every moment that I pity Felisin, I have flickers of frustration at her behaviour—here an experienced traveler tells her that they should keep the towels dry, but she knows best and disregards the advice. I mean, this isn’t just Felisin being abused and downtrodden; this is her being self-absorbed and selfish.

Hee, I do enjoy Kulp’s dialogue, as he asks Duiker what he paid for the...boat and then announces that his warren is boat repair. It’s deadpan and makes me grin. And that great scene as he faces up against the Malazan corporal, once sergeant.

“Corporal, you’ve just come face to face with the Seventh’s entire Mage Cadre. Now back out of my face before I put gills and scales on yours.”

Some of the names just seem a little odd to me at times—Truth and Stormy, for instance. It’s odd that, on first encountering them, they stand out and make me pause in my reading—but once I get to know the characters I simply cannot imagine them having any other names. Anyone else have the same thought?

I also grinned at the exchange between the barman and Geslar, where they establish the former’s life is coincidentally the same as the latter and his squad have drunk. I’m pleased to see these familiar flashes of humour after the very, very dark parts of the book relating to Felisin.

Where is Kulp? After the sorcerous attack destroys the inn? *gulps* I don’t want yet another character to worm their way into my consciousness and then vanish.... Ah, but he’s back! Thank goodness for that! I do find myself sometimes trying to create deliberate distance between myself and the characters I like best, just in case they end up dying, or changing, or not even featuring in the next couple of books.

Duiker is a very brave man—or stupid?! From what we’ve seen of him so far: defending Heboric against Laseen; standing up to Coltaine; and willing to ride into Dryjhna itself—he strikes me as being extremely courageous.

“Who are you anyway?”

“Imperial Historian. And who are you, Stormy?”

The man grunted. “Nobody. Nobody at all.”

Hmm, so who exactly is Stormy? And Truth? And, linked to this I suspect, is the question of why there is a High Mage is this backwater fishing village?

Here we have some extremely graphic pictures of the effects of sorcery:

He lay unmoving, one cheek pressed against the cool, dusty ground, his body twitching in the aftermath. He’d soiled himself. He’d pissed himself. His sweat was a bitter stink

and

All his joints were bleeding inside, swelling the flesh with blood.

Ha, coincidence that Kulp finds the only remaining Boar cultists left after Laseen disbanded them? Or has Fener a hand in the proceedings, making sure that his High Priest would stay safe? We already saw Heboric manage to avoid the nightmare of the bloodflies, after all.

Oh man, what a horrible, horrible tortured death:

...a hapless squad of Malazan soldiers writhed on what were locally called Sliding Beds—four tall spears each set upright, the victim set atop the jagged points, at the shoulders and upper thighs. Depending on their weight and their strength of will in staying motionless, the impaling and the slow slide down to the ground could take hours.

The desert capemoths certainly provide grim imagery as they flutter towards Hissar, in search of carrion. “The world’s harbingers of death are many and varied” only emphasises this imagery.

How telling is this?:

“Freedom had been won, at the cost of everything.”

It strikes me that Duiker is a very useful person for a point of view, especially when handed the mystery of what has occurred in Hissar. He has a finely honed military mind, and a lot of experience in terms of historical occurrences—so we, as the reader, gain a lot of insight into events.

Oh no, no, no.... *upset* These are some fearsome descriptions. I know these sort of atrocities really do happen, but few authors take you right to the heart of warfare and show its very dark side:

Men had been gutted, their entrails pulled out, wrapped around women—wives and mothers and aunts and sisters—who had been raped before being strangled with the intestinal ropes. The historian saw children with their skulls crushed, babies spitted on tapu skewers.

I like the fact that Duiker is able to push aside his horror about the massacre, and record it objectively for historical posterity—but I like more the fact he knows he will suffer from it later, with nightmares, and symptoms of shock..

So, hmm, Servant came by boat—to what purpose? From where?

The Deck again: giving us mystery and foreshadowing all wrapped up in nice cryptic clues!

“Renewal, a resurrection without the passage through Hood’s Gates.”

Now I’m wondering whether this resurrection mentioned links to the fact that Sha’ik died and didn’t resurrect—so we’re expecting something to happen where this is concerned. I’m also noting which part of Oponn is currently ascendant.

I count it three times you can call Icarium fool before he snaps!

What secrets is Mappo keeping from Icarium that leaves him so heavy-hearted? Here we see Icarium’s curiosity again as he states that he wants to see the resurrection.

I think this might end up being an important line:

“Do not awaken this place, friend, lest it awaken you.”

Awaken Icarium from his chains? His inability to remember? His dual personalities?

Moby has gone again! Is he a D’iver? I guess if it’s just him on his own he would be a Soletaken instead...

Raraku has awakened—why do I feel this is more literal than metaphorical? Especially after Apsalar mentions wanting to know more of the desert’s power. The storm is stripping away the centuries of sand covering the desert—will it reveal things that have and should stay hidden?

Ahh....the road. All roads lead to Tremorlor, or something like that! A House of the Azath as well...

“Should I now tell them that the plan to find Tremorlor rests entirely on the faith that the fabled place actually exists? And that Quick Ben’s suppositions are accurate, despite his unwillingness to explain the source of his certainty?”

Ooh, that sounds a little sinister—where did Quick Ben find out about the Azath?

Hmm, if the Whirlwind—Dryjhna the goddess—has been unleashed, but Sha’ik is dead, then who is the Whirlwind currently riding?

And we leave Apt and Kalam with the latter wondering if there is something odd about the former. Must be bad when you think there is something odd about a demon!

 

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Six:
The excerpt from Duiker is interesting in that it leads us to think of a cult of Dassem or of Hood, but it will turn out to be a completely different cult that’s important in this section.

We see a typical Erikson move in that first paragraph—the use of a line or image that echoes another, either from before or in the future. In this case, the simile of Beneth’s uncertainties that “plagued his life, like bloodfly larvae they crawled beneath his skin” which will come back in literal form later with the bloodflies and Felisin. As difficult as these books can be at times, it’s amazing how often the roadmap is put right in front of you.

The larvae, of course, are just one example (and we get one soon after with the rim of Beneth’s glass) we get of of a running echo throughout the entire book; flies abound in this book, from start to middle to finish—they’re everywhere.

I’m not so sure about Beneth’s spinning dagger; it seemed a bit too on the nose for me, bit too obvious. (Of course, I’m working on the assumption Baudin kills him.)

I think his desire to not be blamed for what’s happened to her continues Erikson’s portrayal of him as not wholly evil. Though falling back on the “orders are orders” excuse (even with a “wry smile”) doesn’t gain him any points, I do think, to answer your question Amanda, he has some remorse, some sorrow over what has happened to her (sorrow beyond losing a prime catch for himself).

And yes, how scary is that line about “all your suffering until now has just been a prelude,” even though it seems literally he means only her dealing with the heat.

Sawark is clearly not the only Malazan soldier here oblivious to what was coming, as Reborid wonders why the Malazan garrison hasn’t come to help and then thinks the Dosii must be insane as Sawark will kill them all within 50 leagues for this little “mutiny.” A nice small throwaway line that prevents Sawark’s blindness from being simply an arbitrary authorial convenience.

Baudin’s abilities are coming more into focus now I’d say. The prologue showed us his brute killing force, and the fact that he killed three of Sawark’s men speaks perhaps to the same (though we don’t know how he killed them). But his ability to stay hidden and now to memorize a route across the desert hints at more than simple thuggishness.

I may be over-reading here, but I was struck by the bloodflies scene and some parallels with Felisin’s life. First was “Bloodlfies shot down into the water like darts. Pain lanced through her thighs,” which reminded me of the line in the prologue when she closed her thighs against the flies around Hood’s priest. The same with her slapping mud on her “blood-smeared thighs,” which also has associations with rape imagery. Then they are bitter in her mouth, akin to her bitterness (justified) toward Tavore and her life. They “burn like acid,” which I can see as similar to her remorse and self-loathing. Next, they blind her (durhang, wine) and then she fills her ears with mud, leaving her isolated, cut off, unable (or unwilling) to hear or listen to anyone. Heboric’s hands go on her, as they were the whole time during the prisoner march to the Aren ships. She is numbed by the poison in the bites, as she’s been numbed by her trauma, the durhang, the wine. She is being “deadened” (as we’ve seen metaphorically happening to her) and she’ll be eaten “from the inside out”—as perhaps her bitterness, her desire for revenge might do (or something else). And finally, after she’s survived the attack, she’s scarred for life (barring a High Denul mage). The whole scene just seemed like it could be read as a microcosm of what has gone before for her. [Care to comment Steve?—this is the danger of letting us know you’re out there, hovering.]

Afterward, as with Beneth and so many others, we yet again see Erikson refusing to let characters be cardboard cutouts, as Sawark, a man easy to dislike and pigeonhole as an oblivious villain, rides off to pretty certain death because his job requires him to do so.

As mentioned before, I’m assuming Baudin killed Beneth—anyone think otherwise?

And while Sinker Lake is a good plot point just as plot points go, I’ll admit to being a sucker for the “water passage/tunnels/cave as life passage” imagery/symbol, and it isn’t giving much away to read this as a new beginning, as implying the lives of these three folks are going to be drastically transformed into something new. And I mean drastically.

I’ve mentioned “echoes” several times already, and here’s yet another from Felisin:

Let Tavore see all the scars she’s given me, the day we come [wait for it] face to face.

After such tense scenes, it’s good to get a little humor mixed in here, and Duiker and Kulp provide it nicely with Duiker’s boat purchase. Or should I say “boat”?

Interestingly, in the midst of a nationalistic/religious uprising, we get Duiker musing on the Empire’s effect on such thinking as he looks at the coastal guardsmen, “whose appearance betrayed nothing of their origins. For them, the old national allegiances no longer held any relevance.” And while one imagines much is lost with this aspect of empire, one can also see how much, especially peace, might be gained.

Corporal Gesler, Stormy, and Truth. And a boat. More to come. So much more to come. Though we see their mettle here. And the brutally efficient pragmatism that is the Malazan soldier as Stormy wounds his enemies rather than kills them so they’re a burden to the rest and when one of them “clamped down over the dying soldier’s mouth until the man’s moaning ceased.” Not to mention Gesler’s calm suggestion that they just feed Kulp to the dhenrabi.

And here’s the cult we were set up for from the opening excerpt of Duiker’s work: an outlawed Boar/Fener cult.

We see the careful way this series has been crafted yet again as Duiker rides in that same Dosii disguise we’ve seen already. Nicely set up.

Duiker has been portrayed as sharp, but here we see some of his true soldier’s spirit as well: first the decision to ride to Hissar, then to act as a spy and learn what he can of the enemy as he does so.

More echoes as he watches the capemoths (great concept) flying and thinks of a line he believes probably came from “one of the countless dirges to Hood, sung by the priests during the Season of Rot in Unta.”

I’ve got to admit I wonder if folks would really take the time to strangle people with someone else’s entrails. I mean, they’re wet and slippery and squishy, still attached. Just saying.

Anybody honestly buy the mutineer’s argument that the “wounded beast” that was Coltaine’s army “shall fall” in three days, just as planned? Even without Duiker’s boar analogy? Didn’t think so (we’ve got hundreds of pages left, after all).

I love how Icarium and Mappo’s discussion of the boat possibly belonging to the mule.

And really, how many times do you want to call Icarium—Icarium for god’s sake—an idiot?

And poor Mappo, not wishing to be a tool of the gods or their servants, yet serving as a tool even as he speaks. Just a great character. Absolutely great.

Interesting that Apsalar wants to know more of “this desert, its power.” Or is it Apsalar that wants to know? Hmmmmm...

At last we find out what Fiddler is aiming at. Tremorlor—an Azath House. Fiddler and it turns out, lots and lots of others as well. But how will they find it? If only there were some kind of marked path, some system of blazes....

I like how disturbed Crokus is by the horrible power of the Malazan munitions. And how Fiddler doesn’t argue the point.

Fiddler is a sensitive guy, file away what he says about the goddess of the Whirlwind.

Our demon now has a name: Apt. It’ll be hard to consider it inhuman after that.

I admit to not knowing what was “odd about the demon . . . Something” that Kalam was getting looking at it. Anyone? Buehler?

It doesn’t happen a lot in these books, but Kalam looking down at the broken knife in his hand and calling it “a mirror to his twin loyalties” is something I wish Erikson had let us get on our own.

Chapter Seven

SCENE 1
Duiker, with a rebel sergeant, looks on the aftermath of a Kamist Reloe’s attack on Coltaine, which Roe lost. Pretending he’s going to search for his “nephew’s” body among the corpses, he rids himself of the sergeant and the squad. As he rides on, he thinks of Coltaine’s narrowed options, as well as his own small chances of surviving his attempt to catch up with and join Coltaine.

SCENE 2
Felisin and Baudin wait for Heboric to rejoin them after he’s gone to look at hundreds of thousands of beetles that emerged from the desert floor at dusk. She thinks how Heboric might be a liability with his lack of focus. She is less swollen due to the bloodfly poison, but feels it has “laid a stain on her soul.” Every night now she dreams of a river of blood and she begins to look forward to the promise of the dream. Heboric returns to say the beetles will pose no obstacle as they heading west to the sea. They have enough food to reach their rendezvous but the margin is small and they aren’t going as fast as planned. At the end of a day’s march, they come across an impossibly tall finger sticking out of the sand, impossibly tall not only in itself but in what it promises lies beneath the sand. Heboric touches the jade carved finger with one of his stumps.

SCENE 3
Felisin notes that Heboric is favoring the stump he touched the statue with last night. An Otataral storm arises and they enter their tents for cover, though Felisin sees no need to. Baudin hints he may have killed Beneth but Felisin doesn’t believe him. When Felisin lies down she calls up the river, feeling it is protective and offers her a purpose and destiny, that she will become more than she is.

SCENE 4
The next morning, in bad moods, they fight and Felisin asks why Heboric lost his hands. He refuses to answer. They see his stump is swollen and infected-looking, the tattoos at his wrist have turned solid dark. He says it hurts a lot and he wonders how the statue’s magic survives in Otataral sand, or if the Otataral gave birth to its magic. When they camp that night Heboric is way behind. Baudin goes after him and Felisin, suspicious he is hoarding water due to his seemingly impossible fitness, rifles his stuff. She discovers assassin’s tools and a talon. Baudin returns with Heboric and gives him water over Felisin’s objections. She holds her sacrifice over his head and Baudin says most of their favors came from what he did for the guards in the mining prison, not her sacrifices, and that Beneth used to laugh at her “noble cause.” Felisin thinks he’s just trying to poison her thoughts of Beneth as well as escape his own guilt over what she did to keep them safe. She tells them of her dream and says she’ll be the only survivor.

SCENE 5
The next oasis is fouled by capemoth larvae. Desperate as they now stand no chance, Baudin tries to wake Heboric’s god Fener (Heboric is unconscious). Felisin tells Baudin there was a tattoo on Heboric’s right hand that held to the sacred mark on his chest would do it and w/out his hands he can no longer call on his god. Baudin touches his stump to the mark and the air “screams,” Heboric’s tattoos “blossom out” onto the stone, and an immense hoof hits the ground then rises up again as Fener is called down. Heboric wakes and says “he’s here . . . in the mortal realm.” Felisin says “don’t mess with mortals.” Heboric is rejuvenated and the head out to the next water-hole.

SCENE 6
Setting: Mappo and Icarium in the desert having left Pust’s temple
Mappo flashes back 200 years ago, when he was already several centuries old, to when he returned to his home town and found it destroyed a month past, its 15,000 inhabitants slain. He had returned after the diviners in his adopted clan had “seen” the destruction, destruction that had been predicted by the Nameless Ones months earlier. The Nameless Ones told them to forsake vengeance and choose one to take on the task of ensuring such a disaster would never happen again. The Nameless One he spoke to told him, “One day he [Icarium] shall return to his home . . . until that time you must attend.” Mappo is plucked out of his memory by Icarium’s voice mentioning how strange a “land untraveled can look so familiar” and then he mentions how he is fascinated by Mappo’s memories (as Icarium has none), though Mappo rarely shares them. The two watch the sandstorm and note it has both grown and traveled nearer and wonder if Sha’ik has Ascended. Mappo once again bridles at being manipulated by Pust and Icarium says he’s used to it. When Mappo asks who is manipulating him, Icarium shrugs and says he stopped asking that a long time ago. As Icarium turns his back to prepare food, Mappo goes back to thinking about “sweet vengeance.”

SCENE 7
Setting: The desert road with Fidder et. al. nearby where Mappo and Icarium were
As they travel down the road, Fiddler and the others can hear a running battled nearby, hidden in the sandstorm. The battle sounds are not human but bestial and demon: bears, cat, reptiles, etc. Crokus’ horse goes down and they stop. They can start to see some of the combatants now—Soletaken and D’ivers. A trio of Gral hunters appear down the road behind them but are attacked by a massive bear, which kills one while Apsalar kills the other two, then a fourth Fiddler hadn’t seen. Fiddler is unseated (gaining broken ribs in the process) by a huge tail. Something attacks him and is attacked in response by his horse. The battle ends. Crokus and Apsalar are okay, the bear remains, feeding on a Gral horse for a moment, then flees. Thousands of D’ivers rats appear and Fiddler tells Apasalar to get the last cusser for suicide. Just as she does though, a voice (Icarium) calls out the name of the D’ivers (Gryllen—Tide of Madness, “flushed out of Y’ghatan in the fire”) and tells it to leave. Fiddler is shocked Gryllen actually hesitates. Mappo steps out next to Icarium and Fiddler knows he should know these two—a Jhag and a Trell, but the pain is muddying his thinking. Icarium tells Gryllen the trio is under his protection and Gryllen retreats. Fiddler blacks out.

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Seven:
First we saw the carnage left by the revolutionaries—at the beginning of chapter seven we see the reverse: the piled bodies from where the “wounded beast” (the Malazan Army) shows that it still has teeth. “Even children had been flung into the fighting.”

Oh, sometimes Erikson just writes wonderful prose!

Capemoths fluttered like silent madness over the scene.

It makes me curious whether a sentence like that is just tossed out automatically or whether Erikson has to think long and hard about how to compose it.

Hell, this is so harsh and real—I can imagine soldiers in Afghanistan having to do the same:

The game the mind must play to unleash destruction. He’d stood amidst the ranks more than once, sensing the soldiers alongside him seeking and finding that place in the mind, cold and silent, the place where husbands, fathers, wives and mothers became killers.

I also like the way women are included in that quote—as usual, Erikson does a nice line in equality.

It seems that Erikson has turned Coltaine’s situation entirely on its head:

He knows, because he once rode as a renegade chieftain, once harried a retreating Imperial army across the Wickan plains.

This is just another example of us seeing people who have once had one station in life falling into another—our first was when we saw the switched stations of Dujek and Whiskeyjack in Gardens of the Moon.

How very creepy is the idea that the capemoths form the face of Hood as they come towards the Malazan army and refugees? As Duiker observes, how symbolic!

I like the way that appearances can be deceiving in Erikson’s world. For instance:

Heboric, my boar-tattooed ogre. Baudin, red-scarred where one ear used to be, the hair growing tangled and bestial from the puckered skin. A pair to strike terror, these two.

And yet they’re both thoughtful and compassionate. At times anyway.

Hmm, sometimes I think that it is more Felisin’s attitude that rubs people up the wrong way. She snorts, and scoffs, and in general is scathing and impatient. The attitude of teens the world over, I think—they know best and have no fear expressing so *winks*:

“Give it up,” Felisin sighed. “A mule comes out of a sulk eventually, but it’s nothing you can force.”

“So,” Heboric said, “while the swelling’s left your tongue, the poison still remains.”

Mind, I don’t think the Heboric’s snide retorts are helping their relationship!

There is a definite spider theme to DG, isn’t there? Here reference to a “spider-bitten dancer.” In fact, bugs of all kinds are making a big showing—do you suppose this is to echo the theme of disease and rotting that has taken over the Malazan Empire?

Oh, what is it with these huge buried statues in fantasy novels! I’ve seen them in the Shannara novels, in Gemmell’s novels, obviously in the Wheel of Time: so often they prove to be a remnant of a bygone age. I wonder if Erikson has followed the same path here.... Obviously the statue will prove to be of import—or is that the manner in which Erikson will overturn the trope? By inserting a statue that is only part of the scenery and never takes a prominent role?

Here we have mention of Heboric’s tattoos growing stronger and deeper—as he falls back under the influence of Fener, maybe?

Interesting questions these:

“Can magic thrive buried in Otataral sand? Can Otataral give birth to magic?”

We’ve seen an element of magic in Otataral with the speedy healing demonstrated by Lorn in Gardens of the Moon, so perhaps Otataral does give birth to some forms of magic?

Felisin is SO selfish:

"Honour’s for fools. Honour’s a fatal flaw. I’m not going to die on a point of honour, Baudin. Heboric’s probably dying anyway. It’d be wasted on him.”

When we see so many characters—flawed characters, dark characters—in the Malazan books show that they would die on a point of honour, it is a painful jar to learn that Felisin wouldn’t.

I’m concerned about the river of blood dreams that Felisin is having—I can sense they won’t end well.

You do NOT call forth a god’s attention, I know that much!

It’s interesting that Felisin makes a connection between Hood’s priest of flies and this event with the capemoths in the water:

“Capemoths, the harbingers, the eaters of rotting flesh. It’s the nectar of decay for them, the rose bloating under the sun. Hood delivered us a promise in the Round at Unta, and it’s just been fulfilled.”

Two-toed, a fur-snarled hoof, too large for her to fully grasp, rising up, pulled skyward into a midnight gloom.

See? Told you that you don’t call a god’s attention! This is a pretty frightening scene—with the bleeding from the ears and such. You know what this scene reminds me of a little? That scene in Legend (the fantasy film featuring a *very* young Tom Cruise) where Tim Curry—as the Lord of Darkness—steps through the mirror for the first time. Huge and menacing and very scary to a seven year old girl. (Which I was when I watched it the first time!)

Ouch—how harsh is this? “The god you no longer worship took your hands. So now you pulled him down. Don’t mess with mortals.”

“To the coast, and when we get there, Felisin, you will find that nothing has changed. Nothing at all. Do you grasp my meaning?”

Sounds like neither Felisin or I understand Heboric’s meaning here!

It’s really interesting seeing how Mappo came to his role as Icarium’s protector—to ensure he doesn’t slaughter thousands again.

“You will be an unpainted hide, Mappo. The future will offer its own script, writing and shaping your history anew. What was done to the town of our kin must never happen again. You will ensure that.”

I hesitate even mentioning this, but how on earth did Icarium kill fifteen thousand? Umm, I’m not really sure I want to know the answer.

The Nameless Ones—here’s a hint about their attitudes:

“We do not see in years,”she hissed.

“But in centuries,” Mappo replied.

“The possibilities multiplied each time they discussed Sha’ik, the Whirlwind and the prophecies. Together, he and Icarium were sowing their own confusion.” Boy, do I know how that feels. The more I work on these books, the less comprehension I feel I have!

Oh boy, I can see that I am going to start flinching right along with Mappo whenever there is a hint that Icarium remembers anything about his past:

“For myself, I’ve become numb to such notions—I have felt manipulated all my life.”

This whole scene is just FANTASTIC—with the fight between the Soletaken bear and the D’ivers. And my heart wrenched right alongside Fiddler’s when the horse stepped between him and the new threat. Oh, and how BRILLIANT is Apsalar’s stunning fighting skills. Oh, and Crokus not even having unsheathed his sword when the fight is pretty much over. Oh, and the horror of something appearing that scares the bear Soletaken! Oh, and the hint that Fiddler has encountered the Tide of Madness before “Oh, it comes around, don’t it just!” Oh, and! Oh, and! You should just see how these pages are turning right now. *grins*

Wow, and Icarium’s words:

“Do not,” the Jhag said slowly, “try my patience.”

I must, must, must read on!

 

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Seven:
Nice bit of a curve to open with, giving us the battle aftermath before telling us, unexpectedly to most I’d guess, that the victims were the attackers, the rebellion army.

I like Duiker’s veteran musings on how the soldier needs to dehumanize his foe, and how it becomes easier over time and the more one does it.

Anybody here think the Malazan fleet will be relieving Coltaine anytime soon? Anyone? Knock, Knock. Who’s there? Not. Not who? Not Nok. Who’s there. Not. Not who? Not Nok. Who’s.... (Sorry, it’s late.)

Gotta love the way Death in the manifestation of Hood is spoken of so concretely: “...the Lord of Death was reputed to be, if anything, ironically modest.” Not a “melodramatic god.” Something to remember when we eventually meet him. Yes Amanda, there is a Death. (Wasn’t that a famous editorial?)

The beetles are a great image. As well as calling up the dung beetle Duiker was watching earlier, it reminds me of these desert beetles in Namibia (I think) that greet the morning sun by standing atop dunes and doing a head stand so as to catch condensing dew on their carapaces for liquid.

They seem to be doing fine on this journey, but we’re certainly being set up for things worsening: Heboric weakening nightly, none of them going as far day to day, slim margin for error with food.

Felisin’s feelings and how they’re expressed might be useful to keep in mind:

...they were but grains of sand in a storm vaster than anything they could comprehend. The thought pleased her.

I like how the finger is slowly revealed in size and scale—first the sighting of it as a “pillar” only 50 or so paces away, then Felisin’s reworked sense of scale—500 paces away—and the awed intakes/whispers as they realize its size. Then some actual height: roughly 60-70 feet tall. And then the killer line: “it’s a finger.” At the end of a hand. At the end of an arm. At the end of a body.

A jade statue. File cabinet.

Heboric favoring the arm that touched it. File cabinet.

Fener’s tattoos on Heboric being sharper. File cabinet.

Heboric’s “ghost hands.” File cabinet.

Now the hints re: Baudin as being more than a common street thug are answered—he’s an assassin, a Talon.

Every now and then in this series, you get these incredibly huge scenes. These “did I really just read that” kinds of scenes. And Fener’s appearance is certainly one of them for me. Where else do you see a god torn down to slum with us mere humans? And Felisin’s line is, as we’ve mentioned in earlier discussion, a major theme of this series: “don’t mess with mortals.” But what an appearance—blood from the ears, earthquake, that huge hoof striking the earth before rising again. Just wow.

More backstory on Mappo and his ages-long task, in this case its origin: Icarium destroying his home town of fifteen thousand and Mappo and his companions veered off from attempting vengeance via choosing one among them to shadow Icarium and prevent it from happening ever again. As usual, important stories drip out bit by bit and one should never assume one has the complete story, or from the most knowledgeable or trustworthy source. All is not what it seems. I believe I’ve heard that somewhere.

Now this is a Soletaken/D’ivers attack I can get into! It has great movement: A good opening twist (again) with Fiddler sprayed with blood as his horse screams and skews sideways, making us think that it was his horse attacked. Then relief that it wasn’t. Then Corkus’s horse goes down. Then relief it was just a collapse and not an attack. Then a moment’s pause as they stop. Then tension as vague shapes (“massive” or “hulking”) “loom” then vanish. Then another pause to set us up with what the characters are doing (and some comic relief with Crokus looking for his sword.) Then the Gral surprise. Then a pause for time to slow down. Then a massive bear out of nowhere and some graphic detail. Then a rush of action from Apsalar followed by the shock of Fiddler swept out of the saddle breaking his ribs then getting clawed at and his ankle crushed. Then the horse gets into the action. Finally another pause to set up our character tableaux again. Then suspense as the huge bear runs away. (what makes something that big flee?) Then some emotion (with a horse for god’s sake). Then the nightmare—rats. And the desperate resignation of suicide by cusser with even Apsalar agreeing. And finally the nick of time heroic lone gunman. I mean, lone archer. And just as we saw before, you don’t mess with Icarium. The massive bear flees before Gryllen and Gryllen, to Fiddler’s shock, hesitates and then, when Icarium says don’t push me, flees himself. You can see why some might believe him capable of killing fifteen thousand Trell.


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

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

176 comments
Chris Hawks
1. SaltManZ
Obviously the statue will prove to be of import—or is that the manner in which Erikson will overturn the trope? By inserting a statue that is only part of the scenery and never takes a prominent role?

Ah yes, the jade statues: more mysterious than even the Azath; I think you can count on one hand the number of appearances they make in the series pre-TCG. And yet, they're wildly important. We just don't yet know why. But the scene where Heboric touches the jade finger has crazy consequences that ripple through the entire series.

And speaking of Heboric Light Touch, does anyone else find his full name as hilarious as I do? I mean, c'mon, "light touch" for a pickpocket, okay, but who could have a "lighter touch" than a guy with no hands? (Or, as we'll see later...)
Chris Hawks
2. SaltManZ
Oh, and here we see another effect of reading NoK before DG: we know all about the Talons due to ICE's book, so the talon found in Baudin's pack is a clear signal that he's one of them. But at this point in SE's sequence, the reader isn't even aware that such an organization exists. (In fact, when I first read DG, I thought the talon identified Baudin as being a Claw!)
Steven Halter
3. stevenhalter
@Amanda:

I hesitate even mentioning this, but how on earth did Icarium kill fifteen thousand? Umm, I’m not really sure I want to know the answer.

How indeed? As Bill says, things are more complex than they seem and not all witnesses are very reliable.Deeper into the Mappo/Icarium relationship...
Steven Halter
4. stevenhalter
SaltMan Z @2: I remember thinking the first time, also, that "ah ha! baudin is a Claw of some sort."
Steven Halter
5. stevenhalter
@Amanda:

Hmm, so who exactly is Stormy? And Truth?

Good question. Definitely tag these as people to remember.
Thomas Jeffries
6. thomstel
In rough-ish order:

Re: Names, especially Malazan ones:
We get to have more fun with this as the series progresses. Amanda's reaction to the names is a good one to have. We also get to meet the "maker" of the Malazan handles later.

Re: Bloodfly attack
Bill, that's some sharp analysis right there. I'd read that section before and didn't connect any of those dots. Kudos for pointing the echoes out.

Re: Strange thing about Apt
While being a potential spoilery bit, it's about something relatively minor, so I'll do it: I think Apt starts to have "feelings" for Kalam at his attempted kindness, and the weirdness is Kalam somehow sensing that regard. There's more hints of this later in Apt's dealings with...another shadowy fellow.

Re: Jade statues
FYI, still waiting on the actual answer to the jade statues question, even though they do get more screentime. There's some vague theories floating around, but I don't think much definitive from the text about their origin/purpose... Anyone else recall if there's actual specifics?

Re: How potent is Icarium?
That's a really good question. Keep asking it. ;)

Re: Gryllen
Having partaken of the Dassem at Y'ghatan flashback in NoK (which as a first-time reader I didn't have), it's much easier to connect some dots here. Dassem and the Malazans fought at Y'ghatan, one of the Holy Cities of 7C, and there was a massive fire during the contest at some point. Apparenlty, Fiddler was there, as was Whiskeyjack, Dujek, Temper and Dassem. At some point, Gryllen made his presence known, and the Malazans dealt with/got out of the way of/defeated him, likely with horrific consequences. Fiddler remembers the fight, muses on the irony of it, and is saved, noting that Icarium and Mappo are badass #1 in this particular showdown. Without having our Y'Ghatan flashback, you'd normally have to wait 3-4 books to get the full picture and pick up those dots on a re-read, so YAY at doing NoK first!
Steven Halter
7. stevenhalter
@Amanda:

So, hmm, Servant came by boat—to what purpose? From where?

What we have seen so far: So, Servant had a boat-- a salt water boat. It's in the desert in a temple of Shadow. Servant has a pink hand. Pust reiterates a number of times "A life given for a life taken."I think that my first time through I started to catch on about here.
Steven Halter
8. stevenhalter
@Amanda:

Ooh, that sounds a little sinister—where did Quick Ben find out about the Azath?

Another good question. Where does QB get all his info?
Steven Halter
9. stevenhalter
@Bill:
I also loved the Mule on the boat discussion--pure gold!
Chris Hawks
10. SaltManZ
thomstel @6: re the jade statues, the closest we get to a possible explanation is, I think, in HoC, though the reliability of the passage in question is suspect (google the words heboric maw army). Off the top of my head, I can come up with only four jade statue appearances between SE's and ICE's books, including DG (though I've yet to read SW or, obviously, TCG).
Steven Halter
11. stevenhalter
@Bill:

I admit to not knowing what was “odd about the demon . . . Something” that Kalam was getting looking at it. Anyone? Buehler?

I'm far from certain, but I think it has to do with what Apt might be smelling on the wind. I'm trying to picture how far apart our various little parties are at the moment.
Todd Tyrna
12. Ezramoon
He glanced up, raised his eyebrows. "Until tonight, it seemed you'd made Skullcap your paradise. I didn't think you'd be interested in leaving."
"Paradise?" For some reason the word shook her. She sat down on the cot.
Eyeing her, he shrugged. "Beneth provided."
She held his gaze until, after a long moment, he finally pulled away, hefting the pack as he rose with a grunt. "We should get going," he said gruffly.
I found this particular line interesting in two ways. It's one of the first times Felisin is "shook" back to reality, a glimpse of what others see when they look at her. And it's not good. Maybe this will be the start of many "wake up stupid!" moments to herself, to pull out of this deep, dark place she's in.

Also, and this may be unintentional and I'm reading way too much into this, but the fact that Heboric and Felisin have a moment of staring at each other. Remember the whole Pust explanation about staring contests? Not that these two were having a staring contest, but Pust's story stuck with me, and I related this back to what he said.

"Look upon him who does not waver from his cause, no matter how insipid and ultimately irrelevant, and you shall find in him the meaning of dull-witted."
Well, Felisin lost...Heboric looks away first. She is quite unwavering in her one and only cause of revenge on her sister, and her complacently of this messed up way of life here with Beneth. Heboric found his distraction elsewhere, on getting the Hood out of here!

Just what I thought while reading this passage, though minor it is.
Steven Halter
13. stevenhalter
@Amanda:

Wow, and Icarium’s words: “Do not,” the Jhag said slowly, “try my patience.”


This passage quite literally sent quivers down my spine. First we have the idea of a nightmare tide of rats. Then the further unveiling of the potential power of Icarium.As Bill analyzed, the layering of attacks in this passage does so much to create tension. The sand serves to shadow the unglimpsed terrors and is then pulled away to expose--terror.
Steven Halter
14. stevenhalter
Another interesting thing to note about the Soletaken fight at the end: Much of it takes place out of view and it is between the things in the sandstorm, rather than between the things and Fiddler's group--until the end.
Another clever clue to file for a bit.
Todd Tyrna
15. Ezramoon
Off-topic: Where can I buy a good file cabinet? Preferably large.
:)
Chris Hawks
16. SaltManZ
I ran across some old posts at the OF blog today, and found an interesting quote by SE:
For each book, there's a movie in my head, or, rather, a short clip. A scene, an effect, an atmosphere, and that scene appears first, before anything else. Anything. It takes shape and demands that it be the dominant moment of the novel. Not necessarily the most dramatic or bloody or violent. Often not, in fact. That scene has certain requirements before I give it the stamp of approval. The entire story has to exist in it, via some form of resonating symbol. It has to manifest, in a single image, the heart of the theme. Most of the time, that scene is what I am writing towards, meaning it shows up near the end. The only exception was Gardens. Quiz time. Find it.

ofblog.blogspot.com/2003/04/steven-erikson-q.html

Anybody have any ideas? And on-topic for DG (but still quite a ways in the future, though spoiler-free) he says:
In Deadhouse Gates, there was an arrow....
Man oh man.
Toster
17. Toster
Ah, me. These chapters are just the tip of the iceberg of awesome that is DG. very soon things will be rushing through moment after moment of crazy shite.

stormy, gesler and truth - some of my favourite marines of all time. and favourite storylines. their escapades in this novel have repercussions throughout the entire series!

and oh, the jade giants! i won't get into their scenes in Hoc and RotCG, but suffice it to say they are nothing like any other statue in fantasy. File Cabinet!

i'm so far removed from my first time reading this book, but the foreboding and unknown potential of icarium is just amazing. even until DoD we really had no idea of his potential. but enough of that!

finally, a short comment on duiker, and the first battle of the Chain of Dogs. i think the cloud of capemoths, rising in their milions, is great foreshadowing for the rest of the march. sheer numbers-wise. also like the little throw away about hood being suprisingly humble. aint he jest ;)
Thomas Jeffries
18. thomstel
Hood sure does get a bad rep in the first couple books, don't he? I think the line about him being modest or humble is the first glimmer into what sort of a being he is in the series, besides a handy Boogieman or the source of some effective Malazan cursing.

One thing to watch throughout the series first-timers, watch how SE takes the reader through an evolution in their opinions of the lord of Death. It's much like a series-wide alternative to the first book of HoC with Karsa. ;)
Karen Martin
19. ksh1elds555
So happy to be back on the re-read! I think these chapters, especially 7, contain some of the most significant events in the series. So now to throw out some questions I had when reading in the hopes that I might get some enlightenment from some of you all. In Ch. 6 when Kulp encounters the high mage attacking them in the village- there is a description of the after effects of the magic attack and the smell of the sea- (and I know they're next to the ocean)- but wondering if that means this high mage might be of Mael? I don't know if we ever find out who this person is attacking them unless I should be thinking of the incident in the next 2 chapters? Mallick Rel is a jhistal preist of Mael IIRC, but I thought he had gone on the ship to Aren so would not be there attacking that village. If this is a RAFO question, just let me know. Another question that has come up for me... even this the second reading, I am so unclear on how Heboric touching the stump to his chest actually brought Fener down from his realm. I understand it happened but now why or how. It's a great scene but if anyone has a theory... please enlighten me!
Amanda Rutter
20. ALRutter
shalter @7 - Oh, I am being impossibly dense, aren't I? I still have no inkling who Servant might be :-( The only thing that occurs to me is that he might be connected to the fact that Paran was given life in exchange for a life?
Thomas Jeffries
21. thomstel
Heboric is quite special, in that despite his expulsion from Fener's followers and removal of his hands, he retains some manner of the god's favor, as evidenced by the tattoos early on in the tale.

Once he touches the jade giant finger, some additional hocus pocus started happening as well, changing him further. Not knowing the nature of the giants, or the fact that he touched them while infused with Otataral, means that "hocus pocus" is about as definite as we can be.

As for the point where Baudin "closed the circuit", I think it was described that his tattoos had covered the end of the stumps at that point, so when it was done, instead of a normal "are you there Fener, it's me Heboric" moment, all the pent-up mojo that he had going on to that point was expelled and the result was the healing/balancing of the forces affecting him AND the physical yank of a god into the mortal realm. Where he was before? Some warren or another most likely, but apparently it was a one-way ticket.

One way tickets from one realm to another...are actually not all that common in Malazan, especially for ascendants. Pretty much every warren has ways in and out, even the guarded ones. The only other being I can think of that's "stuck" is the Crippled God. Hmm...

Anyway, how did it happen? Mechanically, who knows? We'll see Fener (much) later though, and get some more clues.
Thomas Jeffries
22. thomstel
ALRutter@20

Not dense at all, you've just not spotted the breadcrumbs in the fading evening light yet.

A nudge: what's a common reason to own a boat? What other point in the books so far have we heard of anyone using a boat for that purpose?
Rajesh Vaidya
23. Buddhacat
Amanda,

No you're not dense. Few figured out Servant on the first read. For me, it took the actual reveal itself to figure out who he was.
Amir Noam
24. Amir
SaltMan Z @2:
I agree. At this point in the books' publication order, the reader has no idea that anything like the Talons has ever existed. The talon that Felisin finds in Baudin's pack is just a semi-random item at this point until brought up later in the book and given meaning.

Amanda @20:
You're not dense at all. I too wasn't even close to figuring this out the first time I've read the book. On a second read, though, some clues seem obvious.
Amanda Rutter
25. ALRutter
thomstel @22 : Well, I'd say a Fisherman... AHHHHHHH *lightbulb moment* Might we have met him in NoK? ;-)
Karen Martin
26. ksh1elds555
thomstel- thanks for the reply. I think that it's pretty reasonable and logical how you have explained it. And I guess the "hocus pocus" part we are not totally meant to understand at least at this time. I was just wondering if there was some sort of more precise explanation that I was missing in my reading.

Oh how I love Icarium! Whatever you do, do NOT try his patience :-) Even a god knows better than that.

And to billcap, that analysis of the blood fly attack and its parallels to Felisin's own degradation was really spot on. This is what I'm loving about the reread- I doubt I would have picked up on that without someone else's input. It really adds to the reading experience. Thank you for sharing that.
Sydo Zandstra
28. Fiddler
@Amanda:

The only thing that occurs to me is that he might be connected to the fact that Paran was given life in exchange for a life?

That was Paran's Father dying offstage (at least in my opinion). It was mentioned earlier in this book, and it set a lot of Tavore - Felisin dynamics going into escalation.

As for Servant, pinky arm, a fisher boat planted into the cellar of a tower where a Priest of ST lives (who is in cahoots with Cotillion) with that priest muttering 'A Life given for a Life taken' all the time, I can say just this: there is an earlier book... ;-)


Sorry I am a bit distracted atm. I am watching the last 3 episodes of Angel, season five, which are brilliant (especially the one set in Rome)...
Steven Halter
29. stevenhalter
Amanda@25:You're starting to get the right track, but, wrong book.
Steven Halter
30. stevenhalter
@Amanda:No, you're not being dense--the clues are pretty subtle.
Steven Halter
31. stevenhalter
Fiddler@28:Paran's father seems like a pretty good bet. I don't think it's ever explicitly spelled out, but I'd go along with it.
Amanda Rutter
32. ALRutter
*sighs* I really thought I had it then...

Okay, characters from GotM..... Hmm, Apsalar has fishing links, but I don't think that is it. I think I'll have to wait for more hints!
Sydo Zandstra
33. Fiddler
Getting hot, Amanda...

Come on, think it through from there ;-) A life given for a life taken :p
Steven Halter
34. stevenhalter
Amanda--the pink hand is really the key identifying piece.
Amanda Rutter
35. ALRutter
Oh eeeek.... What if Apsalar's father wasn't killed along with everyone else? What if father and daughter were both taken by Shadow??

I am remembering right, right? Apsalar's dad only had one arm?

*excited*
Todd Tyrna
36. Ezramoon
Amanda @32

I thought the same thing too (Fisherman from Nok), after that hint. I have no idea now. Sorry's Dad maybe? Dunno what that has to do with a pink hand though.

*edit*
seems you made the same guess right before me, explaining your reasons much better! Wow, if true, I don't care if it's a shocker moment in the book to find out, it's a pleasant shocker now!
Sydo Zandstra
37. Fiddler
On the Hissar stuation:

I really liked seeing from Duiker's POV how Coltaine's drilling paid off here in getting refugees off safe after the rebellion started. Remember how he urged Kulp a few chapters ago to press the refugees illusions even more on the soldiers of the Seventh.


Minor nitpick at the summary: Sorry, Bill, Amanda, but proofreading/reviewing is part of my work, so I just can't help noticing stuff like this. Please don't hate me... :)

Kamist Reloe (though killed by Sha’ik in a fight over who would lead the Apocalypse), who plans on harassing Coltaine and his 10,000 refugees,

Since Reloe is pretty much alive, I think that should be "thought killed by Sha'ik"; I can't recall any resurrection.
Sydo Zandstra
38. Fiddler
Amanda:

Oh eeeek.... What if Apsalar's father wasn't killed along with everyone else? What if father and daughter were both taken by Shadow??
I am remembering right, right? Apsalar's dad only had one arm?
*excited*

You may be on to something... ;-)
(It isn't a huge spoiler :) )
Thomas Jeffries
39. thomstel
'You're the fisherman's daughter,' the old woman Rigga said....'Seen you and your dad at the market. Missing an arm, ain't he?' - GotM


Who lives out in Itko Kan, next to the sea...Sorry's papa!
Who's one-armed and burly and never been seen...Sorry's papa!
Who's nautical prowess availed him not...Sorry's papa!
When thrown in a tower, all the way at the top...Sorry's papa!
Sorry's papa...Sorry's papa...Sorry's papa, Sorry's...papaaaa!
Todd Tyrna
40. Ezramoon
I have a minor question. If a High Mage was looking for Kulp, Gesler, Stormy, etc., how did he not just "see" them or sense a boat floating away? I realize it's dark, and there's a few people scattering/dying. But how hard is it for anyone, especially a High Mage, to notice a boat floating away? Especially after they had all been running toward it and defending it moments earlier.
Sydo Zandstra
41. Fiddler
@Ezramoon:

Probably because that mage's focus was on the business at hand, which was mainly focused on serving the rebellion, and therefore the stuff happening on land was more important...

Once Kulp and the rest had drifted away, to that mage they were no longer a problem, at least not big enough to quest after...


Edit: shalter and Taitastigon pointed out Kulps efforts. Which I had in mind but was too implicit about :)
Steven Halter
43. stevenhalter
Ezramoon@40:Also note that Kulp was doing his best with small illusions to disguise them.
Tai Tastigon
44. Taitastigon
Ezra/Fiddler @40/41: Did Kulp not use small amounts of his warren to deflect attention (dang, was it Mockra...?) ?
Todd Tyrna
45. Ezramoon
Oh yeah, forgot about the illusions. Information overload has me forgetting about a lot of things. Which is exactly why I'm following along in this re-read :)
Tai Tastigon
46. Taitastigon
Ouh, before I forget: Brilliant way of introducing the Chain of Dogs ! By having Duiker chase its trail of destruction ! We haven´t scene a single blink of the moment of the 7th since the uprising...and we already know they are kick-ass !

Really love this technical writing detail !
Toster
47. Dr Hoo
Off topic thread-jack (sorry!), but in light of the lenghthy discussion in the last Malazan post on reading GRRM now vs. waiting in case it is ever finished - I am in the camp of not reading it yet (waiting 6 years for Glen Cook' s next Black Company novel after Dreams of Steel, and having recurrent dreams about Lady's baby being stolen made me swear never to start a long fantasy epic before it was done again) - I wanted advice / thoughts on the new HBO TV show. Do I now have to go read the books so the show won't spoil them? Should I hold off on watching the show for a few years as well (I am behind in my Netflix queue anyway)? Or will the thing never be finished so I should just give up and read what is there?

Of ourse I guess I broke that with reading and re-reading this whole ME thing, but in my defense when I got GotM I had no idea it was a series.... :)
Tai Tastigon
48. Taitastigon
Fid @41

I just wonder what Kulp did about the leggings, though ?
Did they drift upwind to avoid attention...?
*gg* ;0)
Sydo Zandstra
49. Fiddler
@Dr Hoo:

If you get a chance to watch it on HBO, do it; I know I want to watch it where I live, but I cannot. It's supposed to be about the first book in the first season anyway. So read it. It's a good book :)
Tai Tastigon
50. Taitastigon
Hoo @47

Well, you watch the show, you spoil the book.
That is an unavoidable fact.
Guess I can´t really help you there. I´ll be watching it & to hell with the rest.

Re ME - The Crippled God will be released next month, concluding MBtoF. So you can go ahead at ease - no years of wait !
Tai Tastigon
51. Taitastigon
Fid @49: There is a cynical view that says that HBO might pull a *Rome* on this one, so it might never go beyond Book 3 because the series is too expensive to produce...so no pressure to finish the cycle...*ggg*

OK, I am getting back on-topic, folks...
Tai Tastigon
52. Taitastigon
And yes, these were the two chapters that irrevocably sold me on this cycle, with Fener´s *hard landing* the first GTFO (of many) moment.
Steven Halter
53. stevenhalter
Amanda@35:
My yay! post at 42 got eaten somehow, so here it is again--yay!
Steven Halter
54. stevenhalter
Tai@48:There were probably lots of bad smells drifting around the battle area.
Tai Tastigon
55. Taitastigon
shal @54: That is definitely a point I had missed...though unappetizing to consider in wildly imaginative detail...
Dan K
56. kramerdude
Another yay to Amanda and her deductive skills!!

I continue to find it amazing the layers that are built here in DH that will continue to resonate throughout the Cycle. From Kimloc and his song; to Heboric, Fener, and the jade statue in this section; to a certain boat trip that is soon to take place for the first time. As has been said multiple times things that on first read were possibly taken for granted, carry so much wait later in the series.

And since a large portion of these chapters focus on Felisin and her compatriots I'm going to finally chime on a few thoughts on this arc. Yes Felisin as a character seems pretty reprehensible especially and I've read people discuss her arc with a mixture of pity and disgust at her choices and/or lack thereof. But to me what's evident is that SE has her on a journey. I've noticed several quotes that are part of Felisin's thoughts that for the re-readers who know where she is going to end up should hold some meaning. Here's

"For all their self-importance, they were but grains of sand in a storm vaster than anything they could comprehend. "

"There's a sweet promise to giving up, but realizing that demands a journey. One of spirit."


Felisin's concept of living a day at a time or of being embraced by the river of blood in her dreams. All points to her surrendering to the larger forces around her shaping for her to ......... well, let's not spoil it. Needless to say its enlightening to look back and read this with foresight.

It's also compelling to look at this in the light of most of the Malazans in general. Who refuse to surrender to those same larger forces despite any ridiculous odds or sense of hopelessness that may prevail.
Robin Lemley
57. Robin55077
@ 19. ksh1elds555
"I don't know if we ever find out who this person is attacking them..."

If I recall correctly, the only information we get about this mage is that it is female. It seems to me that Kulp tells Gesler that it was a female anway, unless I am thinking about something else.
"I am so unclear on how Heboric touching the stump to his chest actually brought Fener down from his realm."

Sorry but I have not yet re-read this week's chapters. However, I believe we are told at some point that Heboric was not simply a priest of Fenner but that he was something special. A "chosen one" or some such. I always saw this as a combination of Heboric's special relationship with Fenner combined with the "hocus pocus" explained by thomstel, and the fact that Fenner was hovering/hiding at the edge between the worlds that actually pulled Fenner into the mortal world.

Don't know if any of that makes anything clearer or not. LOL

:-)
Robin Lemley
58. Robin55077
@ Amanda
“To the coast, and when we get there, Felisin, you will find that nothing has changed. Nothing at all. Do you grasp my meaning?”
"Sounds like neither Felisin or I understand Heboric’s meaning here! "

I simply took it that Heboric was telling Felisin that once they got to the coast, no one need know that she had traded her body to anyone and everyone. He was telling her that no one ever need know that. That he would not tell anyone. What happend up to that point would be between the three of them and no one elses' business. It would/could be as if it had never happened.
Joe Long
59. Karsa
Heboric is quite special, in that despite his expulsion from Fener's followers and removal of his hands, he retains some manner of the god's favor, as evidenced by the tattoos early on in the tale.


Oh, I don't think he has the god's favor at all - in fact just the opposite. but the god might be obligated for some reason (we'll know later)
Joe Long
60. Karsa
re Icarium and the 15,000 dead Trell...

there are many, many levels to these books as we've all been discussing. At a surface level, it is about some bad-ass dudes. Karsa (who, I of course, am overly fond of) is a Bad-Ass(tm). Rake is a Bad-Ass. We meet other Bad-Asses along the way.

NOBODY is a big Bad-Ass as Icarium. Bar none. (pun intended)

So all these threads you see on the 'net about "if so and so fought so and so, what would happen"...if one of them is Icarium, the answer should be clear. Bad-Ass-dom.

man, i love that character!
Tai Tastigon
61. Taitastigon
@57 + 19


"I am so unclear on how Heboric touching the stump to his chest actually brought Fener down from his realm."


Hi Robin & ksh,

it´s actually explained in the same chapter, a conversation between Fel and Baudin, shortly before the *act* itself (p. 288, Bantam PB):

Fener´s own mark, the one that´s sacred... There was a key, you see. The High Priest´s warren to his god. Tatooed on the palm of his right hand. Held to the sacred mark - hand to chest, basically - as simple as a salute.

(1) Heboric = ex-High Priest of Fener
(2) Lose the hand, lose the key to Fener.

Now here is the kicker, because this is info laid out in a rapid sequence of throwaway lines:

We read about Heboric touching the statue, but not with which stump (p. 274, Bantam PB). On p. 275, we read that something is wrong with the stump that touched the statue (Heboric holds it in pain). On p. 280, we read the stump is swollen and red. On p. 285 : Whatever infection had seized the stump on his right hand...-> so he touched the statue with his right stump.

Baudin takes the right stump...and pushes it against the mark.
Voilá...a God broiled in Otataral Sauce, with a big Jade hush puppy...;0)

Or: Somehow, the statue has *reactivated* the key that was originally lost by Heboric losing his hands....TBD in the future.

Gotta love this !
hazel hunter
62. Hetan
@Amanda who said
"Curious that Heboric’s tattoos are providing some illumination—any import to this? And I think I am as curious as Felisin in what grave offense drove Heboric from his god!"

Here are some more dots for you to connect :-)

From the prologue : ‘You wrote that revised history,’ Felisin said. ‘Committed treason—’
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 defence, 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!’


From Chapter Seven : ‘How do you think he lost his hands?’ Felisin asked innocently.
‘He was a thief, once.’
‘He was. But it was the excommunication that took them. ....‘You can never go back,’ she said. ‘The priesthood made sure of that.
He isn’t what he was, and that’s that.’
Robin Lemley
63. Robin55077
Some observations as I re-read chapter 6:

“Hood’s just paid the barman’s tab, eh?”


I love these little one-line humor inputs by Erikson, but would also point out that his use of them is consistent always with the character. Although this is the first time seeing Stormy for the newbies, we old timers recognize that line as absolutely something Stormy would say.

Pust’s fielding of the Deck of Dragons: Erikson rarely has a character read the Deck so when he does, it always has some import. Some aspects of this one really confuse me and I am hoping that someone with a better understanding can help me out. Obelisk, Rope, Oponn, all pretty straight forward. Then the next two “Scepter” and “Throne”…..I only remember these two cards being shown one other time and that is a long, long way off. If I recall correctly, “Scepter” may be aligned with judgment so I guess maybe that makes sense. What about “Throne…Queen of High House Life (T’ris?)…Spinner of High House Death…Soldier of High House Light (reference to L’oric perhaps?)…Knight of Life, Mason of Dark…” I have never encountered a “reading” where I felt so completely lost. Any thoughts?
hazel hunter
64. Hetan
@ 61, 57 & 19

Heboric was excommunicated but not for a crime against Fener, and therefore his god is still with him. The hand cutting off thing is supposed to stop that happening but in this case, as it was an illegal excommunication it didn't. There's more on this kind of thing later in the series. So when Baudin touched the 'infected' stump to the sacred mark on Heboric's chest the 'infection' passed directly into Fener's realm, grabbed hold of him and pulled or pushed him into this realm.
Toster
65. billcap
Shalter and Saltman, I was with both of you on assuming Baudin was a claw on my first read.

Fiddler--thanks for catching the typo. Absolutely point those out, especially when the lack of a letter completely changes the meaning

Taitastigon@51
Rome. Still angry about that one

robin@63
good finer point on how the humor we all enjoy from Erikson is grounded in character, rather than some arbitrary use where it feels forced or artificial
Tai Tastigon
66. Taitastigon
Hetan @64

OK,thx for the info!
This whole *jade touch* thing and the latter ramifications for Heboric is one of those things I never could clearly get a grip on, even though it´s a cool concept. Hope the reread will help in that...(I know that there are some issues that should only show up in tCG - *jade* goes a long way in this cycle).
Toster
67. alt146
Fener being pulled down is confusing and hints about the exact nature of the statues are few and subtle. Hetan has it on the head in that instead of putting Fener's key in the lock and gently opening the door, Baudin put one made of jade.

I really loved the description of the cracks in the ground extending miles deep after Fener passes. It feels so perilous, about to crumble and fall at any moment. Nice feeling to add to that particlar scene.
Gerd K
68. Kah-thurak
@Amanda
"Some of the names just seem a little odd to me at times—Truth and Stormy, for instance. It’s odd that, on first encountering them, they stand out and make me pause in my reading—but once I get to know the characters I simply cannot imagine them having any other names. Anyone else have the same thought?"

I allways wondered how these sort of names would sound to a native english speaker. If translated in german I find such"speaking" names allways a little "bumpy" to read. There are also big discussions in german forums wether these names should be translated or not in the german editions. Strangely, when I read in english they sound perfectly natural to me.
Toster
69. jitsukerr
IMO, re Fener and Heboric's interaction, we get a fairly major clue to the mechanism behind it in the next book. Without spoiling anything, the closeness of the relationship between a god and his titled priests is made much more clear. So that if we assume Heboric hasn't lost his connection to Fener, trying to make that connection work despite him having gone through the ritual hand-severing would have the effect of forcing Fener to honour the attachment.
Steven Halter
70. stevenhalter
Robin@63:
Pust’s fielding of the Deck of Dragons
This is an interesting reading for a couple of reasons. It goes:
Obelisk, Rope, Oponn, Scepter, Throne, Queen of High House Life, Spinner of Death, Soldier (Light), Knight (Life), Mason (dark), .., a dozen more
First, it goes on for 34 cards. I think this is quite a bit further than most of the readings we see.
Second, it starts with Obelisk. Kalam's reading earlier also started with Obelisk. He mentioned then that Obelisk was inactive in 7 cities. This seems to confirm that it isn't any more. Here, it seems to be representing it attributes and seems to be foreshadowing foretelling.
Then, we see Rope. Assassination seems like the obvious reading there. Followed by ill luck.
Scepter and Throne are odd as Robin says. The Queen of life is associated with divination, so that goes along with the reading aspect. Then we get a bunch more rapidly.
At the end of the reading, Pust seems to know the answer. Interestingly, he says, "As clear as my Lord of Shadow could make it!" Is he saying that Shadowthrone lead him in the reading? Or that it's as complex as the usual from ST?
Then he rants a bit and gets a shaking from Icarium. He then states the very specific answer that Sha'ik is dead.
From Pust's reactions, it seems that he gets the answer from the reading and further that resurrection occurs.
I think as we go ahead a little further some of the pieces of this will fit nicely into place. I have an idea that some of the pieces are somewhat further ahead than are immediately apparant.
Also, note that the reading is the catalyst to get Icarium and Mappo moving. One might say just in time to get to Apsalar & co.
Gerd K
71. Kah-thurak
@70 Shalter
I am wondering if the events in MoI, which runs parallel to DG, influenced this reading. Obelisk usually stands for Burn... and the Throne could have a connection to Kallor. Just guessing though...
Steven Halter
72. stevenhalter
Kah-thurak@71:That's an interesting notion. I hadn't been thinking of MOI, but it's possible. Pust (and ST) do weave a shadowed web.
That's actually a good thing to watch for in this reread--are there echos of what is going on in MOI that would never get caught on a first read?
Maggie K
73. SneakyVerin
SHalter-oooh MOI convergences...how appropriate!

I still feel bad for Felisin-the remarks about 'Paradise' were jarring...Her anger must be really deep-seeded, and I can see why she is both putting up a guard against feelings for Heboric and spitting out bile to both companions. Ezramoon's comments about the staring contest are a good catch!

Yay Amanda about servant! I suspected it here when I first read it, but thought it was a long shot, so was still fairly surprised when the reveal happened.

Both the sole-taken fight and the Jade Statues were confusing to me..I remember thinking that this book was getting way too complex as I read these chapters.

The thing with Fener! OMG! I agree with Bill here...wow-did that just happen?

When I was reading the part where they stop to fight the soletaken, I was confused about the horses. It refers to both a mare and a gelding, but it seems like they're talking about the same horse...and is this the Gral horse of Fiddler's?

Then meeting Gesler, Stormy and truth. I agree, you know right away exactly what these guys are about, and know theyre going to be seen again.

This book is so much better once you have some of this info....it's really packed with stories
Karen Martin
74. ksh1elds555
@73- I agree - this book is much better for me once you have read several books later in the series. The little hints and subtle things really stand out. Thanks all who commented on the Fener-Heboric theme. I think I'm starting to feel better about it now, instead of just confused. The Otataral "taint" or whatever that infuses Heboric's stump when he touches the jade statue must be playing a big role in this whole god-ripped-from-realm situation. I do remember reading in tBH two distinct incidents with gods' powers being cancelled out...or they were unable to use their powers... when too close to something with otataral.

Also, I find it ironic in a very cool way, that Pust and ST are very adept at High Denul. My first impression of ST in GotM was insane killer, not diety who can or would do massive amounts of healing at one time. Love how SE is always throwing in something to reset your first impression or expectation of a character. I imagine Pust gets the healing powers because he's high priest of ST, and ST is seen in a later book doing a mass heal on a small army. Of course some beings are able to use multiple warrens so it's not a shocker, just not what I would have expected.
Steven Halter
75. stevenhalter
SneakyVerin@73:Fiddler's horse is the gelding. The bear is eating one of the Gral horses. When Fiddler is on the ground he see's "the four trembling legs of his gelding."
Then , there is "The trembling of the mare's legs increased, ...". This seems to be referring to Fiddler's horse. If it is, then it is a typo. It could be one of the other horses, but the context argues for it being Fiddler's and so it should have been the gelding.
Karen Martin
76. ksh1elds555
Re: my comment 74- I realized I read 2 chs. ahead of this week's post but I forgot where we were! Not to cause confusion, the comment about the healing should have been saved for next week. Sorry about that!
Tricia Irish
77. Tektonica
Hi all. I was out all day yesterday and we got this wonderful post! Gahhhh.

First off, why is it that we get a link to the LAST post in the reread index now, but not this one? WTF???

Amanda: I love the way you don't disappear, but follow the comments to get questions answered! I would've been so lost at this point, without a little help from my friends...you know who you are, and thank you! ;-)) I know, that's what I get for reading ahead. But how can you not?

To the story..... Wall -o-text Alert:

"There's light in your eyes again, lass," Beneth said, "Tells me you're realizing what you've become. And ugly light." He pushed a small leather pouch across the table until it said directly before her. "Kill it."
Or is he afraid she sees what He is?

And then a bit later, Felesin absolves him of guilt:
"Ah, not my fault then?"
"No, the faults are all mine, Beneth."
Argh. Yes, ultimately we can only control our own decisions, but this is for survival in her eyes, and what Beneth sees and wants isn't any form of love or caring. (I always assumed that Baudin did kill Beneth, if he didn't find him already dead somewhere.)

I'm very happy to leave the mines and Beneth behind. I know he has his own survivalist reasons for what he does, and the mines/slaves have their own societal rules, but it is damned ugly. We run across several civilizations in this series that have fairly unredeemable societies, and they present a good contrast to the soldiers, the BB's, and several others, who still have consciences, and make hard, sometimes ugly, decisions but for upstanding reasons.

"Dusk had fallen, and apart from a pack of three scrawny dogs taking turns rolling on the carcass of a fish, there was no one about." Talk about evocation of place! I love these details!

Love Gesler, Stormy and Truth's introductions. Gesler was not about to back down from Kulp!
"Now, start explaining yourselves, before I cut those big ears off your head and add 'em to my belt. Sir."
LOL. NO BS, Gesler!

Duiker:
As Duiker rides to meet up with Coltaine, he muses on the Apocalypse having had years to organize this revolt and the fact that a "capable High Fist could have crushed this."
Spoiler question below in white:

After reading tBH, I wonder if Pormqual isn't already under sorcerous influence of Rel? Possible?

One small thing, typical of SE throw aways....Duiker is musing on taking info back to Coltaine from the enemy, "where his knowledge could be put to lethal use. In other words, a spy. So much for objectivity, Duiker."

It made me reflect on Heboric's observation about Duiker earlier:

"To save an old man who more than once denounced his written histories as deliberate lies......I think I owe him an apology."

There may be no connection between those two statements, and it is not that important, but I think it's a cool link for SE to have made. *shrug*

The horror Duiker sees was just the beginning. Brace yourself, Amanda. But be rest assured, the humanity trumps all. "Freedom had been won, at the cost of everything."

Reloe.....grrrrrrrr.

Totally lost in the Deck reading. Thank you shalter@70 for those insights. I also think that it references events in MoI as well.

There is some great imagery in the section with Fid, etc. in Raraku....a few I loved:

....a thousand abrasive fingers clawing paths across their skin.
....the sand now sang in the air, and with it were stripped away the patient, all-covering centuries.
....what had been a featureless desert now showed its bones.
....Sites of battle held on to a madness, as if the blood that had soaked into the soil remembered pain and terror and held locked within it the echoes of screams and death cries.

Apt: certainly is introduced in a menacing way, is grotesque in description, and odd in action. I do like the growing relationship between Apt and Kalam, after the battle. I've got my theories about Apt....lalalalala......Kalam is a bad-ass too!

Loved this: "Duiker's imaginings were the product of fear, the all too human need to conjure symbolic meaning from meaningless events."

About Felesin:
"There was a poison lodged within her."
Uh, yeah. She's talking about bloodfly larvae, but it is most certainly metaphorical. First read through, I didn't pay all that much attention to her dreams, but we should!

"For all their self-importance, they were but grains of sand in a storm vaster than anything they could comprehend."
Oh, how true, how true.

The whole Felesin character is developing in such a callous, selfish, isolated way. Even though I understand her bitterness, I can not like her choices. She says something very insightful;
"I hate myself, but he hates everyone else. Which of us has lost the most?" (talking about Heboric)

Thanks to Hetan and others above for explaining more on the jade and the calling down of Fener...that was quite a scene!

Mappo and Icarium:
I don't remember if I picked up first read through that it was Mappo's village that Icarium had destroyed centuries before! And that was when Mappo was chosen to "befriend" him! What a complex relationship. I did wonder about a number of "revenge" mentions here? Doesn't quite add up to me?

Oh, I'm just rambling now. The writing in this book is exquisite; the imagery, the exposition of character, the philosophical insights, the questions, the foreshadowing!
Robin Lemley
78. Robin55077
@ 9. Shalter
"I also loved the Mule on the boat discussion--pure gold!"

Hmmm, perhaps Erikson will gift us, several books down the road, of course, with a mule on a boat?

:-)
Chris Hawks
79. SaltManZ
Robin @78: I hadn't even considered that! LOL.
Steven Halter
80. stevenhalter
Robin@78:Maybe, lol. Of course, in the next chapters we get to meet a very special boat.
Tai Tastigon
81. Taitastigon
shal @80

A veeery trippy boat in a veery trippy place inhabited by veeery trippy people...*g*
Steven Halter
82. stevenhalter
Tai@81:Yep--of course we wouldn't want to get too far ahead of ourselves. ;-)
Melissa Goodrum
83. Daydreamer
Hi, new person here. I've been greatly enjoying reading these discussions since I found them but today the Deck of Dragons discussion suddenly sparked a question. We're told that Obelisk has been inactive in 7 Cities but are we ever told why and what changed that? Probably utterly unimportant (although I'm not prepared to bet on anything being unimportant in the long run) but I find the Deck fascinating so I'm interested. I've only read up to HoC so no spoilers for anything after that please. Thank you. :)
Steven Halter
84. stevenhalter
Welcome Daydreamer. I don't recall that we are given a precise reason for Obelisk being inactive (doesn't mean there isn't one somewhere).
Robin Lemley
85. Robin55077
Re: Felisin
I understand the sympathy with her character, I understand the fact that she has lived through some horrendous events for a pampered noble daughter to live through (although when you think about it, the life she has led since the cull in Unta is really no different from the life many people lived every day), however, I found it increasingly difficult to maintain sympathy for her after her behavior/comments in Chapter 7.
"He's dead?" Felisin asked. "You do the skinning-I won't eat tattooed skin no matter how hungry I am."
And Baudin's response a couple of paragraphs later:
"How far you fall, girl, matters nothing to me. Just keep your thoughts to yourself."
Apparently there is absolutely nothing that is too nasty or too vile for her to sling at Baudin and Heboric. I guess it was right about Chapter 7 here that she crossed some line with me and I became more disgusted by her than I was sympathetic for her. But, that is probably just me.
Robin Lemley
87. Robin55077
@ 83. Daydreamer
"We're told that Obelisk has been inactive in 7 Cities but are we ever told why and what changed that?"


I believe the answer to both of these questions will probably be provided in the the posts week after next. I would rather not post my theories on info a few chapters away here on the main page. However, if you don't want to wait a couple of weeks to discuss it, feel free to drop me a note in my ShoutBox and I will respond to you directly if you want. Of course, no guarantee I'm right! But I do, of course, have a theory!

:-)
Robin Lemley
88. Robin55077
Removed.
Robin Lemley
89. Robin55077
Removed unimportant parts.

I find with Felisin, I like her less and less with each re-read.I wonder if anyone else has the same experience with her on multiple re-reads?

In my opinion, Erikson has shown such excellent skill in writing her character to draw such conflicting emotions from his readers.
Steven Halter
90. stevenhalter
Robin@89:That's a good observation. Felisin does seem to almost embrace the dislikeable choices.
Robin Lemley
91. Robin55077
Removed by Robin. Sorry everyone!
Tricia Irish
92. Tektonica
Robin55077@ 85 and 89:

I'm with you on Felesin. This is only my second read through, but she crossed the line for me about the same place she did for you. Her thoughts about Heboric, should he be dead, and her venomous words with him and Baudin really turned me off. Of course the first time through, I had hope of redemption on my side. Now I'm content to just watch SE turn us.
Maggie K
93. SneakyVerin
dang it Robin! :( lol

With Felisin, it isn't so much I like the way she acts (I don't-if I were Baudin Id seriously be fantasizing ways to kill her) It's that I UNDERSTAND them as the wall she is putting up because of her experiences. In her mind, she is hurt that the guys dont feel grateful that some of her degradation was to HELP Baudin and Heboric. Really its a kind of looking for sympathy thing, which is annoying, but not getting it turns her brittle.
YEs she could have made thousands of better choices. :(
Gerd K
94. Kah-thurak
@Tektonica
"Mappo and Icarium:
I don't remember if I picked up first read through that it was Mappo's village that Icarium had destroyed centuries before! And that was when Mappo was chosen to "befriend" him! What a complex relationship. I did wonder about a number of "revenge" mentions here? Doesn't quite add up to me?"

I am not sure what to make of the revenge thoughts either. They seem somewhat out of place. Concerning the village: At least the Nameless Ones told Mappo that Icarium destroyed it...
Toster
95. alt146
@91

lol, Hetan co-owns the malazanempire forums. She's more than just a rereader, she's an advance reader too :P
Sydo Zandstra
96. Fiddler
Kah-thurak@94:

Concerning the village: At least the Nameless Ones told Mappo that Icarium destroyed it...

I always read that as being a setup by the NO...

(Namelesss Idiots... :D )
Toster
97. billcap
SneakyVerin@93
"she could have made thousands of better choices"

You know though, thinking out loud while typing, I’m not sure she could have, at least for many of them. We’ve seen (and will see) how rape, or simple death, is a matter of course for women lacking power in a society (macro or micro) with few or no laws or in the midst of chaos. Rather than submit to rape as victim, Felisin chooses to submit to rape as barter. It is a choice, yes, but we’re certainly not given as far as I can see a lot of better options for her. The problem then is that so many of her choices afterward are driven by that singular choice (along w/ her abandonment, arrest, march of chained slaves, etc). Why does she drink and use drugs? To deaden herself to the choice she made to become what she’s become. Why does she cling to Beneth? Because once she’s bartered herself to him, losing him means forcing herself to begin again with that horrible choice. Why does she react so to Baudin and Heboric? At least partly because that first choice was driven as much by them (her caring for them, her “paying them back” for keeping her alive, her need for them with her) and the need to keep them alive as by her own survival needs. Why else does she resent them? Because they exclude her because they can’t trust her because of her drink/drug/Beneth connection all deriving from her barter choice.

Could an older, stronger woman have made that first choice and then not been cornered into some of the other ones? I think yes (though certainly far from all), but given Felisin’s age and background, I kind of wonder if she really had so many choices as we want to think she does (that’s not in relation to what’s to come, just up to this point)
Gerd K
98. Kah-thurak
@96 Fiddler
I think this is clarified later on... Bonehunters or so.
Steven Halter
99. stevenhalter
One thing (I think) SE's doing with the Felisin story is showing us a counterpoint to the Apsalar story.
Notice that we have two young girls torn from their homes. One is torn away by a god and her mind suppressed (surely a form of rape in and of itself). The other is torn from her sheltered home and exposed to pysical and emotional cruelty.
Cotillion is treats Apsalar more kindly in that he shields her mind somewhat, but its still got to be a traumatic experience for the fisher girl underneath.
To this point, we haven't seen much reaction from Apsalar other than that she is now skilled at killing people--although that in and of itself is kind of telling of the trauma that has happened to the fishergirl.
I think it's useful to keep these two character lines in mind as we go along.
Sydo Zandstra
100. Fiddler
@Kah-thurak:

Wasn't that the part about Mappo remembering that big battle with the old Trell General showing brilliant tactics?

I don't recall that had something to do with the supposed nuking of Mappo's home village by Icarium.

I could be forgetting something, though. But I don't think I am. :)
Rajesh Vaidya
101. Buddhacat
One way I can keep Felisin as still a "human" being, despite her degradation and unrelenting barb-shooting, is to think of another such person - Stonny Menackis. She is raped, and is almost destroyed by that one act. Only interventions by Krull and Gruntle,and the BB mage healing her (forget his name), brought her back to something like her old self (a process that was only comleted (so to speak) after *ahem* 6 years, until she finally accepts Harllo.)
shirley thistlewood
102. twoodmom
As to Mappo brooding on vengeance, I think Mappo's account of his life before Icarium, when he returned to the tribes holding to the old ways, was that they mainly lived by raiding each other, then bing raided in revenge and so on (ala Hatfields & McCoys only mjore so). Vengeance would be his normal behaviour if the Nameless Ones had not imposed a different task on him, presumably because no one can overcome Icarium in full berserker mode. We have seen already that Mappo is preparing to act before Icarium gets that worked up.
Robin Lemley
103. Robin55077
Removed.
Robin Lemley
104. Robin55077
@ 99. Shalter
"One thing (I think) SE's doing with the Felisin story is showing us a counterpoint to the Apsalar story."

OMG! The same thoughts, same comparisons kept running through my head today at work. Felisin/Sorry... Apsalar/Felisin... Apsalar/..... So, I guess the question is...are great minds thinking alike? Or did my random, bouncing thoughts just bounce your way today?

:-)
Robin Lemley
105. Robin55077
Removed.
Dan K
106. kramerdude
Robin55077:

I share that feeling on Felisin. She is reprehensible but I too felt that there was some fashion to her being molded for her future role.
Robin Lemley
107. Robin55077
Removed.
Tricia Irish
108. Tektonica
Robin@105, etc.:

I'm with you too. I totally understand why Felesin feels the way she does, and I sympathize with her plight. I don't judge the choices she made in a hideous situation.

That said.....everyone is born with a particular personality, and how they react in any situation will be different. And, I just don't like Felesin. I think that's OK....we don't have to like every character....they just need to be well drawn and believable, and that she is.

You are NOT and ogre! You are very thoughtful and well spoken!
Chris Hawks
109. SaltManZ
What do folks think the odds are that the Chapter 6/7 link goes up before the Chapter 8/9 post?
Maggie K
110. SneakyVerin
NO NO NO Robin!
The dang you was for the spoiler re Hetan's death! I literally went NOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooo!

The Felisin issue I totally agree with you on... I work with abused people and think her behavior is totally normal given what she's been through just recently.
Toster
111. karsa
@110...and the Harlo spoiler, as pivotal to ThH as Hetan in DoD...
Steven Halter
112. stevenhalter
Robin@104:Synchronicity. (Or great minds, lol).
Toster
113. Stormy70
I had to keep reminding myself through my read of DH, that Fesilin is a traumatized child. I felt her lashing out at Heboric and Baudin was all her pent up hurt and self hatred finding the only outlet it could, through her words. Her character seems true to an abused girl, one who has to create a hard shield around herself to survive.

@Robin - "Young Miss" magazine! I loved that magazine!!

I thought Baudin was a claw too, I had no idea what Talons were at that time.

OK, I never get the Deck readings, but they are cool! So this re-read will be helpful, especially if the commenters will explain them.

Jade anything in this series makes me drool with anticipation of TCG.
Robin Lemley
114. Robin55077
@ 110. SneakyVerin

I am so so very sorry!

When I post, I tend to place the posters on here into two categories: the "old timers" (those who have read the series already) and the "newbies" (those who are reading for the first time along with this re-read). I didn’t even stop to think about the “tweenies” (those who are perhaps some books ahead of the re-read but have not yet read everything).

My thought process when I posted that comment was two-fold. (Yes, believe it or not, I did think about it!) First, this is Erikson we are reading so “death” could mean dead…or …not! My second consideration was that the “old timers” would know exactly what I was talking about, but the comment would really mean absolutely nothing to the “newbies” as (1) we are still a ways off before we are even introduced to that character, and (2) as I was referencing an event so far distant, there was no way they would remember my comment by the time we get to that in the re-read. I didn’t even think about the “tweenies” when I posted that.

I think you all know me well enough from my posts to know that I am one of the last people on here who would ever want to spoil anything for a first-time reader. I really do live the “wide-eyed” newness of this series through the newbies and it is one of the things I really love about the re-read. What makes it even worse is that I considered it a “throw-away” comment, if you will, when I made it. It was not important, had no bearing on plot or arcs or characters or theories, etc. Simply a comment on someone’s screen name that I didn’t even need to make!

My sincerest apologies to all the “tweenies” as I truly didn’t mean to spoil anything for anyone.

The reminder that there are a lot of “tweenies” on here is a good thing! WOW, adding a three-pronged review to comments before I post them rather than a two-pronged one, is really going to make me think about what I can/cannot even post so I don’t ruin anything for anyone in the future. Maybe I should just stick to answering direct questions for a while, as a form of punishment for my bad behavior?

:-)
pat purdy
115. night owl
I just spent 30 min. and my comments disappeared into the ether!
Start again.

Once again lots of insight and lots of questions. I learned a lot.
A question in my mind is, Helboric and Baudin were chained on either side of Felisin at the beginning, was this by design or coincidence?
What made them her "protectors" as much as they could in the circumstances?
Another, what makes "Raraku" holy? as well as other places?
Was this because there were temples of various cults in years past? Elder gods??
Food for thought.

Can't wait to read the book, the mule stood at the helm, checking the catch in the net.... :-)
pat purdy
116. night owl
SaltmanZ , I found the link to 6/7 through you on the "Hot Bookmark" column! Thanks, otherwise I would be with that mule on the boat!
Robin Lemley
117. Robin55077
@ 116. night owl

Never, ever under-estimate the abilities of a mule! Ever! A mule can amaze you.
Robin Lemley
118. Robin55077
Removed.
Sydo Zandstra
119. Fiddler
Irene said that this stuff will be automated in the next forum upgrade (in February?).

In the mean time, Amanda is registered on TOR (Bill unfortunately not), so just put her on your 'following' list, and you can hop to the threads through her profile.

Or post much ;-)
Toster
120. StevenErikson
Hi all, wrote a piece yesterday and trying to paste it in. Trying again...

Hello again. One of the real treats (for me) with TOR’s Re-read, and why I’m so grateful they’re hosting this (thanks Irene, Bill, Amanda), has been my own return to these novels. Generally, once I sign off on the final edit of a novel I cease to think about it, except in terms of those elements
relevant to the new project I launch; and once the book tour’s done my ‘reading’ of that novel effectively ends.
Sure, I may drag a copy around with me when writing the new book, for when I need specific details (or even copies of books from earlier on in the series – generally, when I know I need to do some research on a particular subject, I always know in which novel I will find what I need, which tells me
that somewhere in my brain there’s a file box containing crib notes and comprehensive summaries). So, the sense of knowing the story over the ten novels of the series goes both forwards and backwards. It ain’t perfect, as you readers
often discover, but all in all, it’s not too bad. Is it?

In the previous installment of this re-read, Bill posted an extensive analysis of the bloodfly attack on Felisin outside Skullcup, paralleling it with her inverted hero’s journey, and suggesting that the physical details of that attack each refer to her own life experiences in an allegorical or metaphorical sense.

My desire to address that post may seem self-serving, but in fact what I want to do is remove some of the ‘ooh-ah’ mystery to how something like that is done in fiction. Having said that, I admit that I have no idea if other writers work the way I do in these matters; I mean, I often see similar things in novels and stories I read (though, to be honest, not so often in fantasy fiction, alas), where I get this sense that nothing is accidental, and that the connections one makes through the subtext is not simply the product of my own (as a reader) imagination. Thinking on it, Robin Hobb immediately comes to mind: she knows precisely what she is doing.

Anyway. There may be a kind of reverse process going on in how I write: if you think of a story in your head (you as a writer) as beginning as a hopelessly tangled ball of string, thread or wool (or fishing line if you want to the creation route, in writer-as-god fashion), a mass of idea snarled with vague emotions, sensations, feelings. It fills your head, leaving you with the daunting task of carefully loosening the knots and prising (why does my American dictionary always underline that word? It’s a real word, dammit) loose the mess until, in the process of writing, you draw it out into a single line, with a beginning and an ending; and maybe it’s a tapestry of some sort, or a woven cloth, or even a perfectly arranged spider’s web. This, you then say, is the process of
writing, of putting that idea onto the page.

For me it’s the other way round. I start out holding one end of a string, and then I start gathering up handfuls and pushing my end of the string in, over, under, through, around. Every time I come up looking at that damned string end again, I scowl and push it back into the mess. I fold
it in over and over again, until my skein is packed solid. And that’s the finished novel.

But here’s the thing: the more times you send the thread back in, the more contact it makes with other threads (well, not other threads as such, just parts of the same thread … you know what I mean). It is inevitable, in fact. Now, if it was all madness, then those contact points wouldn’t make sense, and there’d be little chance of creating any sort of resonance beyond white noise. That’s where character comes in. Every character is just a scaled down version
of that folding-in process with the thread – for you science types, each character is a discrete gene base-sequence, ATCCAT etc. It’s part of the DNA but remains always
recognizable as a distinct sequence. And each time you return to that character, your thread ends up becoming
intertwined with what’s already there, with multiple contact points.

Now, hold on those thoughts (come on, you’ve had practice with this, yes?). The basic aspects of story are setting and
character, the external and the internal, and the plot is the recounting of that relationship, which in itself defines the human condition. We both shape and are shaped by the external, the former through our ability to perceive and the latter by those elements of the environment that affect our development and our present condition. These are not passive forces, nor are they mutually exclusive: the dialogue is constant and protean (if certain physicists are right), and from that dialogue all of life’s tension is born.

In fiction, the ability to faithfully record that dialogue, with a clear eye and as honestly as possible, lies at the heart of … well, everything. I had a film teacher once tell me that I see
the world like a Russian novel. I asked him what he meant and he said that I see subtext in all of reality, that for me
environment was symbolic. (What amuses me now is that all this was long before post-quantum thinking became popular
enough for anyone to read up on the theories being thrown around, and then thinking about them) Accordingly, I was
viewed as being eccentrically anthropomorphic, not with respect to animals thinking like us, but with respect to attaching human meaning to natural objects, including forces of nature. It was like taking being one with the land a little too far.

Granted, that delusion can kill you (but then, even that death would have symbolic meaning, wouldn’t it? cf. Herzog’s Grizzly Man). Accordingly, to remain safe and functioning more or less reasonably in modern society, I pushed all those notions straight into my writing. The environment is animate in my fiction: not only is it animate, it manifests to serve the characters who perceive it. Not ‘serve’ in any hierarchical sense, but serve as if partnering with the characters, and thereby mitigating their reality (to extend this notion, it is the clash of irreconcilable realities that creates conflict, from which drama is born).

Let’s go back to that word ‘mitigate’ for a moment. One
could conceivably describe all life as ongoing mitigation between the self and the environment, between internal and external, alternately described as the struggle to survive. In its raw form, the argument ends with death, with the surrender of the internal to the external, the subliming of a now-non-functioning (internal) organization to a still-functioning (external) one (as in rotting six feet under the ground).

Where does all that get us? Why, to Felisin and the bloodfly scene (I was going to write ‘Felisin and the Attack of the Bloodflies, but for all I know I’d be violating copyright on some obscure Hammer film). All the threads keep folding in, right? Resonance is inevitable. But that thread is made up
of finer threads, internal and external, character and environment, entwined in an ongoing conversation. So, when the world acts upon, in this instance, Felisin, it does so physically, yet brings with it symbolic meaning – there’s no
escaping it, if you see what I mean. Even that physicality is symbolic, and by running through a host of senses and visual details (all consistent with what would actually happen when swarmed by flesh-eating botflies), each and every one of them touches on her history, her life experience up to this point.

Am I some kind of diabolical genius? Don’t think so. How much was I conscious of in the subtextual elements of that bloodfly attack? Well, the flies themselves, of course, echoing the novel’s opening scene (and as readers have noted, that knot shows up again and again on the thread): in these two instances announcing a new stage to Felisin’s journey, with the first instance being somewhat disinterested (the message from the flies was not for her) and this second one being more visceral, tactile (yet at the same time she could be anybody, thus countering the ego-bound idea that the insects seek only her). So, the sequence is flies at a remove, and then flies trying to burrow under her skin. Can’t get much more immediate than that, but oddly enough, the bloodflies deliver life (well, eggs), and this scene marks Felisin’s long return journey from the emotionally dead to the living, and like any birth, it’s painful and unpleasant to witness. Touch of the flies on her thighs? Sure, all Bill said, especially regards the blood (and this is a microcosm scene, scaling down the stuff I described a few
sentences ago). As for the rest: no, I doubt I was hyperaware to that extent. Sure, I get insanely mindful when writing, but there are mortal limits, and the only thing I can claim to is that I was at the time and so remain quite confident that if someone chooses to look and deconstruct a scene, any scene (of significance), they will find consistent subtext. But not because I have a brain the size of the planet Mercury packed into my tiny skull. No, it’s because of the folded threads: the fact that ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ are, in novels, complete lies. There is no ‘outside’ in a novel. It may look
like there is, but all those echoes are stolen, to reinforce the illusion of reality. It’s all inside.

Man, debunking is hard, if it actually is debunking; more like
clarifying. I should have just floated past from on high, languidly waving a white-gloved hand, nodding knowingly,
with the occasional wink sent downward like honeyed drops of mana. But anyway, it’s all your fault. You made me go to the shelf and take down that old tangled skein of (a) yarn. And as Iskaral Pust might say, “I am blameless and I’m proving it to you with my innocent expression and bland
smile, and it’s working!”

One last note: to Abelieno (sorry, not online while writing this so the spelling might be off: it looks off to me). For what it is worth, I have always read with interest your analysis,
and though on occasion I do express my frustration at misapprehensions born of incomplete information, I do not mean to berate you: in fact, I hope to encourage you to read on (and yes, you say you will, which is great). Without question in my mind, you are a valuable contributor to this re-read, and you have shown remarkable patience and phlegmatic imperturbability when faced with sometimes vitriolic commentary directed at your posts. It’s an
admirably even-keel you have there.

I read your posts, from start to finish, as I do all posts on this re-read (unless someone’s talking about GRRM, whereupon I roll my eyes and moan in an empathy I suspect
only other writers would understand); more to the point, I read your posts carefully, fascinated by your analysis.

So, you are missed. I, for one, would like to see you return to commenting on this re-read. That said, I do understand your reasons for backing off. Nobody likes being boxed about the ears day after day, and in one sense you are absolutely correct: a reader has only what is presented in a book, and speculation is welcome (even if RAFO is the
answering chant); furthermore, impressions by those readers not advanced in the series have their own validity, for they remind veterans of the things they might have thought earlier in their reading history, but no longer think.

Lastly, I appreciate your literary take on things, and if you felt I did some of that boxing about the ears myself, I do apologise. Even if you decide to refrain from posting comments, I do hope you stay as a silent observer.

Cheers all
SE
Tricia Irish
121. Tektonica
SE@ 120:

I am humbled by the complexity of your thought process and ability to express it both symbolically and personally, creating incredible emotion, empathy, and insight.

Thank you!
Toster
122. amphibian
I believe Americans tend to say "prying" rather than "prising".

There may be something to the "attaching human meanings to non-human things, forces and creatures" mentioned in SE's 120. Humans tend to construct narratives, and are willing to bodge things into one, even when no true story arc exists. I love how Duiker is aware of his own tendency to do that - even if it is imposed upon him by virtue of his position (Imperial Historian) - and reviles it, while engaging in it.

A couple of questions for SE or anyone willing to speculate on it:

1) Why are children in the Malazan world so precocious? Grub is perhaps the finest example, but Felisin fits into that and later in the series, we see the children of the Snake and Tool's son, Absin (not sure of name). Why are they consistently able to take what happens to them, adjust and keep on going? Is this an intentional statement as to how hardy children can be in spirit and mind?

2) The choice of immortalizing the truer version of the Chain of Dogs that Duiker and Fisher choose to use - why is it more useful or valuable to couch the story in that form? Easier to consume by the masses? Easier to convey the enormous amount of emotions and pathos that the story of the Chain of Dogs needs to be told? Does it better fit the story than a history? Are histories incapable of expressing those stories?
Joe Long
123. Karsa
@122

1. i've always thought that we only read about the "interesting" ones because...well, they're interesting. I suspect for every 1 Grub there are 10 million (100 million?) plain ol' normal people. But it wouldn't be all that fun to read about the normal-ness. Its like "why is the lone ranger always where the crime is?"...because if he wasn't, there wouldn't be much of a story!
Steven Halter
124. stevenhalter
SE@120:Thank's for the insights--keep 'em coming!
Todd Tyrna
125. Ezramoon
SE@120

I don't really have anything to add other than it's always a pleasure to hear from you!

Growing up in Michigan I never heard the word prise...it was pry. But when I moved south these southern folks say prise. But they don't know what a 'doorwall' is either. That blew my mind...must be a Yankee thang they tell me... :)
Toster
126. billcap
Steven,
Thanks—it’s truly a pleasure to get these thoughtful, in-depth looks at a particular writer’s process and I think it’s safe to say we all greatly appreciate the respect offered to your readers here by your willingness to go beyond simply floating by languidly, or dropping in with a cheery word or two of encouragement akin to the standard “have a great summer, don’t ever change” of yearbook-signing fame.

Much of what you said is what I would have guessed (though far less eloquently) in terms of a mix of authorial crafting and, if I follow you, an inevitable resonance of text and subtext in a closed constructed world (maybe adding that such a world opens up in a reader’s mind and as humans we tend to find patterns instinctively--if not defensively?). That said, I confess that though I took this scene as a new start for Felisin (albeit for the wrong reasons--sometimes a water tunnel is just a water tunnel :), I never would have read the bloodfly larvae as a nod to that concept. My clear blind spot against the eating-us-from-the-inside-out-kind-of-life I guess :) Clearly I need a more evolved view of life. Sigh.

I think one of the reasons these books have evoked such a strong response in our reading community here (and elsewhere obviously) and can bear the kind of reread we’re attempting is that richness of layered subtext, a richness that for whatever reasons, stands out in the genre (though I’d agree with your nod to Robin Hobb as another excellent example). So thanks again for giving us the inside view of how at least some of that appears. I’m glad you’re finding the reread a positive experience from your side and hope that continues.

Bill
Bill Capossere
127. Billcap
Fiddler @199 re Bill’s registration (or lack thereof)

Hmm, I thought I was. I’ll check into that.
Bill Capossere
128. Billcap
Fiddler @119 (as opposed to 199)

I see now--I’ve just neglected to always log in when doing the comments. Whoops . . .

so you should be able to add me to the follow list, though we’ll work on getting that link up automatically. And of course, by “we” I mean the people who actually do actually blogging stuff more than simply reading and typing, which as you might have guessed by now by the above whoops, isn’t me :)
Ben Wert
129. bennyrex
I love that I'm a part of this reread. So awesome getting the writer'sinput like this, as I'm discovering the world. So very, very awesome. Thank's Steve.


That being said, I'm going to bow out for a while. I have officially entered 'tweenie' territory, and Robin, as much as I appreciate your willingness to triple analyse your posts, I can't expect everyone to do that, and as Amanda has pointed out, there's giant glaring spoiler warnings everywhere in the reread.

I shall return! And if you're ever wondering how I'd be reacting to some sort of major story shock or revelation, I think 'HOLY CRAP, THAT WAS AWESOME!!! I CAN'T BELIEVE *blank* JUST HAPPENED' is a pretty good blanket statement of how I've reacted to most things so far. That feeling was sustained for pretty much the entirety of the Capustan siege.

See y'all again soon! (Though I might post questions about reading order or other little things in some of your shout boxes)
Robin Lemley
130. Robin55077
@ 120. Steven Erikson
"But here’s the thing: the more times you send the thread back in, the more contact it makes with other threads ..."

Great explanation! It is exactly all of the multiple, layered "contacts" that make these book not only perfect for re-read but absolutely necessary for re-read. I frequently re-read series that I like. However, I usually have to allow a couple of years (and a lot of other books) in between the reads. However, your books are very different. I can honestly say from the viewpoint of someone who has already done multiple re-reads that on my 5th or 6th time through these books, I am still finding "contacts" that I missed on all my prior reads.

Your attempt to dispell the "‘ooh-ah’ mystery" about HOW you do it is very much appreciated. However, the "ooh-ah" admiration that you CAN and DO do it, remains! I cannot help it....I am a huge fan!

:-)
Robin Lemley
131. Robin55077
Removed.
Thomas Jeffries
132. thomstel
Buddhacat@101
If there's a dial on your spoiler-fu, please back it down a tad. Yikes man, that's at least a couple books worth of heavy spoilerage. ;)

Steven@120
There are days when I wonder if I could sit my butt down and punch out anything resembling the writing that I enjoy reading, of which your own is leading the pack these days. Hearing directly from you on your approach is both invaluable, and quite humbling, as my thought processes are not even remotely in synch with what you've described when I sit down to write. Nonetheless, many thanks for sharing even more of your views on the matter: every nudge will help, both in my own efforts and within the scope of the re-read.
Steven Halter
133. stevenhalter
SaltMan Z@16:

ofblog.blogspot.com/2003/04/steven-erikson-q.htmlAnybody have any ideas? And on-topic for DG (but still quite a ways in the future, though spoiler-free) he says:
In Deadhouse Gates, there was an arrow....Man oh man.


That arrow is a cool image.Since he says that the scene for Gardens does not occur towards the end, I guess I would say the most cinematic portion would be the siege of Pale and the sorcerous battle at the end. So, that's my nomination. If that isn't it, then the entrance of Tool from the barrow or the first scene with Whiskeyjack at Mock's Hold are also candidates.
Ben Wert
134. bennyrex
Robin @131-

Whoa, whoa whoa, let's hang on a second here. It was NOT your post that chased me off, I just referenced you 'cause I liked the tweenie bit, it felt a very appropriate description, and I liked the idea that I'd graduated to a new level of Malazan-ness. In point of fact, I haven't been chased off at all. Rather, I love this community. I love the different personalities and perspectives, I love that that Steven and Ian have become a part of it, I even enjoy the fact that there are tensions and misunderstandings and friction sometimes, because it underlines the fact that we're a real community of real people who've gathered around these books that are important to us. And we're only on the second Erikson book, and first Esslemont book! It's just that I've realized I know enough that I can get spoiled, rather than just thinking 'I have no idea who that character or what that concept is.' when someone says something. And really, I'll probably be back before you guys have finished Deadhouse Gates. I'm expecting I'll be done MoI tonight, maybe even in the next 2-3 hours (if I ever finish this long post that is...)

As much as I love the community though, I feel like I'd been using the reread as a bit of a crutch. Every step of the way, I could get a bit more understanding from those that had come before, rather than just diving into the glorious mess and making of it what I could. I think part of the reason why Memories of Ice has become easily my favourite book of the series so far is because I've stopped fighting my confusion. Like you (and I think Tek and Tai) were suggesting, I embraced it. I think there also may be less things to confuse me in this one, but either way, I haven't looked for any 'help' with MoI outside of the book itself. And I am rabidly devouring and adoring it, and feeling proud of myself for making connections and discoveries before they're explicitly revealed. This is from the guy who was going to wait to move on from Deadhouse Gates until he could get a better explanation of the ending through the reread process.
I'm not running away, I'm just deciding to read the Malazan books a bit differently than I was, and already getting even more enjoyment out of them for doing so. Don't you worry, as soon as I've caught up (again, probably before you all have finished Deadhouse Gates, or if I'm being too ambitious, definitely while you're in the midst of Memories) I'm going to loop back around, reading every single one of the posts and comments that I've missed, and dive back in with the rest of you.

Robin, please don't blame yourself for anything. For one thing, you weren't any sort of trigger (well, except for telling me to embrace the confusion, maybe) and for the other, I don't see how there can be any blame. Nothing bad happened. I just realized all these names that had meant nothing to me were now starting to mean something. I realized I was too impatient to read along at the reread pace, and I realized I wanted to discover how pieces fit together on my own terms. I think these are all good things, therefore there can be no blame whatsoever. I'm not grumbling to myself thinking 'Those rotten blokes spoiling things.' I'm thinking 'Sweet! I'm finally really diving into these books!'

I've seriously considered, and I want to devour the rest of these books with no more preconceptions than what I've got. From the GotM reread, and the NoK reread, I now feel like I've got all the tools I need to forge ahead. (Who knows, maybe I'll be back here in a week with my tail between my legs saying 'I'm too confused by Midnight Tides!' Hopefully not.)

Finally, Robin, if you want to follow along with my wide-eyed newbie wonder, I'd be more than happy to post my reactions to books as I read them onto your shoutbox. Robin, whenever I see there's a post with your name on it next, I smile to myself, thinking 'Here comes something definitely insightful, probably clever with a touch of sweetness that will help me see something in a new light.' and I haven't been proved wrong yet. I think especially of the way you described the Bridgeburners back when we were reading NoK. That has stuck with me.
M D
135. Abalieno
That said, I do understand your reasons for backing off. Nobody likes being boxed about the ears day after day,

I'll clarify then.

The reason why I decided to stop commenting in the reread was not due to something that happened in the reread, like some polemics about my view of Pust or the links I posted about Hilliard's reviews. I can deal with that. The actual reason is that I spotted this thread on the Malazan forums:
http://forum.malazanempire.com/index.php?showtopic=19112&st=20

I DO believe that Erikson has some responsibility, because he has the kind of power to polarize opinions. So even if he didn't intend to, he still directed some hate toward me (I don't blame him at all, though, so no need to apologize or anything). In the Malazan thread the hate triggered from one post of Hetan, who also has some of that polarizing power, and so people jumped in. The feast for crows.

But even that isn't the reason. Reading that thread I was simply *surprised* to find so many people that couldn't tolerate anymore my comments. Some people speculate that I do this to win some kind of attention but I do not. If I wrote my comments and some of them are long and convoluted, it's solely because I thought I was contributing and doing something that people would APPRECIATE.

So, when I found out that most people didn't appreciate my comments, and that these comments were actually detrimental to the development of the reread, I just decided to do what was natural: leave. Not because I got angry, or even so that people would then ask me to come back and so that I would get again the internet spotlight on the personal drama. I simply decided to leave because if people prefer I don't write my comments, then my only reason to write them is gone.

And it's even OK for me because while I enjoy a lot engaging in discussions and participating actively in the forums, I also like to read the book in isolation and keep my thoughts to myself. Reading a book is a solitary, personal activity and I like that aspect as well.

But I can't participate with that kind of schizophrenia in front of me. Lots of people pushed me to continue reading the books, but one even said he hoped I'd never follow the advice so that my comments wouldn't litter the reread even past House of Chains. If my comments aren't useful than I won't write them. I don't feel offended, I just prefer to stay out.

The same for various people who instead encouraged me to continue: for me it's all rethoric. I don't suffer rethoric at all. I care zero for apologies or whatever. Rethoric, formality, social posturing... for me they all amount to communication noise, including flattery, appreciation and whatnot.

So in the end I don't care at all if some people think they've been too rude. That's beside the point. If I continue to participate here I need to be comfortable writing my comments. To do that I need to know if people sincerely prefer I'm here or that I leave. I can't worry that I'm writing a too long comment and so it may annoy some people. And so, to an extent, I trust so much more the sincerity of the "rude" comments on the Malazan forum than the encouragements I read here.

On the matter of reading the books: I have my own schedule and people have no power over it. So telling me to read this and that has absolutely no practical effect. And having a list of books to read in the order I decide doesn't mean that I "stopped" reading the Malazan series and that I thought that 4 books were enough to figure out what it was all about so that all the remaning books are superfluous. Four books are solely the point I was when this reread started. On new year's eve, exactly as I previously planned, I started Midnight Tides and I'm about 100 pages in (while also reading Bakker and Glen Cook's The Tyranny of the Night, that's like the difficulty of GotM multiplied for 20).

On Pust, I continue to have my opinion and am baffled that some consider this opinion not tolerable or irritating. Take the "spiders". At this point of the book a reader could just speculate what these spiders are about, maybe just a running joke of some kind. Some kind of symbolic prank. But who reads the whole book knows that those spiders represent another layer to the Pust character that will be fully unveiled only at the end (like an onion, you peel layers off).

But why a partial and different interpretation of what those spiders represent would be so outrageous? Even better when the truth comes out and gives that sudden realization that makes perspectives overturn.

So I said that, within this book, I haven't noticed any odd behaviour of Pust that would contradict my interpretation. So I stick to what I think about the character till I see something concrete that makes me reconsider him. If this happens in The Bonehunters or whatever book, fine. When I'm there I'll figure out. But up to that point my comments are all just personal interpretations (and delusions probably), and not "lectures" on this or that aspect of the book.

And in particular: in my view it's not Pust that manipulates people (and so obtains exactly what he wants), but it's Shadowthrone who uses Pust knowingly and manipulates both Pust and others. In this book I interpreted Pust as an handy tool of ST. So if Pust does something truly crafty it's because I imagined ST's hand behind it, more than Pust own. I see Pust personal successes as Pust's delusions, because behind him he has the guiding hand of ST.

Is this completely wrong? Maybe. It's where I stand now and there are reasons why I believe all that.

You find this "pontificating"? I'm "really destroying the whole re-read experience with extravagantly long posts of just pure fucking waffle. Their contribution is zero and is a tasteless distraction." ?

If I am, and at the very least I know that comment IS sincere, then I WANT to stay out. And it has absolutely NOTHING to do with with being boxed around the ears. It's just about figuring out once again if my comments are useful or detrimental, because it's also certain that I have only this way of writing them and I won't change it.
Toster
136. StevenErikson
Abaleino. All right, I hear you. My reason for invitnig you back is that I have also read the thread on the Malazan site, and decided that enough was enough. So you tell us you trust the hate but not the like; so be it. There's really nothing more that I can say, then, is there?

Cheers and good luck
SE
Tricia Irish
137. Tektonica
Abalieno@135:

Personally, I find parts of your comments have very interesting insights. And we do need diverse points of view to have a conversation about these books. They are not pure waffle. (I know I'm running the risk of a kind, superfluous comment here.)

But, I do have a question. Do you read the other comments? No one is asking you to change your style of writing, but I'd like to sugget that, occasionally you might get a viewpoint or insight from someone here on the thread that might actually alter your opinion of a character or a scene, because they have a valid insight. I think it is your unwillingness to take others opinions/insights/knowledge into consideration that is the frustration point.

Not acknowledging others' opinions does not a conversation make, if you see what I mean.
hazel hunter
138. Hetan
@115

I'm not sure if we ever get to find out definitively what makes Raraku holy as such. A bunch of theories for you - it was previously an inland sea - I would think that would make it important in and of itself .
There's also the 7 Holy Cities and 7 Holy Protectors - ascendants of whom we don't know a lot about at this point - it could be the whole 'holy' theme just carried on.
Then there's Tremorlor - referred to as the heart of Raraku by Quick Ben - an Azath House might make it seem holy to a more primitive and superstitious people, worthy of worship perhaps.

It's the speculating that makes for such interesting reading, don't it just? ;)
Steven Halter
139. stevenhalter
Hetan@138:Yes, if everything was just spelled out then we wouldn't have nearly so much fun.
Tricia Irish
140. Tektonica
Hetan@138:

Holy Raraku:

It could perhaps have something to do with all the bones there. The ancient civilizations/lives that have gone before? And their attendant mojo ;-)

Or all of the above! Loves the layers of SE.
Travis Nelsen
141. Zangred
You find this "pontificating"? I'm "really destroying the whole re-read experience with extravagantly long posts of just pure fucking waffle. Their contribution is zero and is a tasteless distraction." ?

Yes, and your latest post just proves the point.
Steven Halter
142. stevenhalter
Tektonica@140&Hetan@138: I don't recall a definitive explanation either. It's probably a combination of the things you mentioned and some other things we havn't quite gotten to yet. Pretty soon though.
Amir Noam
143. Amir
Abalieno@135:
Personally, I appreciate your persepective on the books. Each is entitled to his/her own opinions, and I've always felt that you know how to represent yours very articulately. It's obvious that you put a lot of thought into your posts, even if often they are based on very partial knowledge (of the books, characters, etc.).

I don't see how someone expressing his personal honest opinion/theories can possibly ruin the re-read experience for anyone. After all, people can always choose not to read certain posts if they dislike their style. And thankfully, tor.com does have moderators for those cases when someone really tries to disrupt a discussion (very rare here thankfully).

I respect your decision either way.
Chris
144. MatCauthonReborn
@135

'Let's kill him,' Crokus muttered, 'if only to put himout of our misery.'

'And sacrifice such entertainment?' Fiddler growled. He resumed his place at point. 'Time to go.'

'The blathering of secrets,' the High Priest of Shadow uttered in a wholly different voice, 'so they judge me ineffectual.'

The others spun to face him.

Iskaral Pust offered a beatific smile. (Chapter 19 Deadhouse Gates)

This is the paragraph where I started to suspect that Pust was a man who is so used to speaking his mind as a way of deceiving others that it is rare his 'actual' personal thoughts are said out loud. I realise this could also be evidence that ordinarily he is a vessel for his god and that at this one instance he was actually in control...

Spoiler
IIRC there is a scene in later books where Pust actually meets ST and they end up confusing each other which to me indicates he is not simply a mouthpiece




Tai Tastigon
146. Taitastigon
Helloo TOR-M-heads ! This week went fast, discussion is in a lull and I almost forgot, before it is too late: It is time (more than time) for our weekly installment of *best quotes and one-liners from next week´s reading*. So here goes:

*You´ve answered us eloquently,* Mappo said to the High Priest.
*I have ? This is unwell. ...*
Steven Halter
147. stevenhalter
Kulp:
"Thank the gods! We need your help."
and
There was no time to wonder-being appalled demanded all his attention.
Steven Halter
149. stevenhalter
“Hood’s breath,” Stormy said, “we’re sinking in goat’s milk.”
Steven Halter
150. stevenhalter
Gesler shrugged.
“What you'd expect,” he said, “if you was completely insane, that is.”

(These chapters are full of great quotes.)
Tai Tastigon
151. Taitastigon
"That spear is Barghast, by the way."
"It´s too damned big."
"I know, but that´s what it looks like too me."
"It´s too big."
Tai Tastigon
152. Taitastigon
"Wouldn´t the old Emperor have loved this old lady, Kulp, eh ?"
"Your excitement´s nauseating, Corporal."
Amanda Rutter
153. ALRutter
Just a couple of things :-)

Me and Bill delivered chapters 8 and 9 yesterday so, all being well, they'll be up tomorrow!

I've just heard that for those readers who are in the UK - Steven Erikson is signing at the Forbidden Planet in Shaftesbury Avenue, London, on Saturday 26th February - copies of The Crippled God :-D I think I might be toddling along to that one!
Tai Tastigon
154. Taitastigon
"Iskaral Pust."
"Pust ?"
"Even so."
"You mock my name ?"
"Not I, High Priest."
Steven Halter
156. stevenhalter
Baudin to Felisin:
“You ever think that maybe what you are is what's trapping you inside whatever it is you're trapped inside?”
Tai Tastigon
157. Taitastigon
Dang, shal, that one was on the tip of my tongue...if it hadn´t broken my tongue... ;0)
Sydo Zandstra
159. Fiddler
MatCauthonReborn@145:

Did I manage to white the spoiler out?


No, you didn't ;-)

You can whiten the text by selecting it, and use the text colour above the comment box. Just select the colour white.

HTH :)
Karen Martin
160. ksh1elds555
@134 Bennyrex- Are you done with MoI yet? I cried. I even would cry just thinking about it. This went on for weeks, I bet my family thought I had lost it. Now I only get teary if I talk about it. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did the first time, and I'm looking forward to reading it again in a couple months!
Tai Tastigon
161. Taitastigon
"Yeah. You know, if we hide that drum-beater, I could send Stormy down here to beat the time."
"You´ve a wicked sense of humor, Gesler."
Amir Noam
163. Amir
"Pay him no heed, right?"
The Trell swung around, his heavy brows lifting. "Hood, no, pay that man every heed, Fiddler."

(And well done Taitastigon for reminding us about the quote game!)
Amir Noam
164. Amir
"I awoke when he was sweeping my head."
"Not surprising."
Amir Noam
165. Amir
"Do you know the Chain of Dogs?"
Chris Hawks
166. SaltManZ
"Cultured conversation has been rediscovered and used with guile and grace. Look upon them, Iskaral Pust, they are won over one and all."
Tai Tastigon
167. Taitastigon
"When did you last lie with a woman ?"

"That would be a year and a day, the night I dressed up a a Kanese harlot - had Gesler fooled for hours. Mind you, he was pretty drunk. Mind you, so was I."
M D
168. Abalieno
I had an idea that I don't know if I'll follow or not, but it was about letting a week pass so that I wouldn't disrupt anyone's discussion, and then post my comments when everyone had already moved on to the next installment. I'll see.

Anyway, I wanted to go off for a bit on a tangent to see if maybe someone else got curious like I was. I find fascinating what Erikson says about the way he deals with symbolic subtext because that kind of subtext and complexity is one of those aspects I enjoy the most in this series, and overall in general.

Erikson (not really) demanded if his way of writing is an odd personal quirk. I haven't read Robin Hobb yet, but Gene Wolfe surely writes in a way where everything is openly symbolic. For me even too much because I consider Wolfe too cryptic and so most of the subtext is lost without having a bottomless knowledge to draw from. Too often to truly understand his book you have to have with you knowledge that isn't offered within the novel. It's esoteric writing, meaning that one truly understands it only if one has the "code" to interpret it, and so belongs to the group of those "enlightened".

From my point of view Erikson satisfies a vaguely similar demand, in the way symbolic meaning and subtext are often quite important, but doing it in a way so that everyone has access to it, as long one pays attention and has patience. It wants to be accessible, and it is a similar quality that I find in David Foster Wallace, whose "Infinite Jest" is, if I can say, even more complex and intricate than the Malazan series, and also exceeding in subtext and symbolic meaning. Yet it is completely accessible, as long one has the patience to go through a 1000+ pages book with that kind of complexity.

These days I was reading about the Kabbalah, just for pure curiosity. The Kabbalah is all based on the fact that its holy books can't be read for what is literally written in them. So you read about things that are normally part of the world, but all those things are actually "symbols" for something that belongs to the world of spirituality. So these books are in truth only "codes", and to understand them you need a Kabbalist that slowly teaches you how to attain this world of spirituality.

Now, anthropologically this is quite easy to debunk. The moment an idea can't be experessed in words, that idea acquires magic power. It can't be scientifically known. It's the old trick of the "magic healing bones", that if you aren't one of the shamans in the tribe can't see or touch, because you'd then recognize that they are "just bones".

Magic is meaning by absence. Magic is language. Or: magic is the absence of language. Magic defines the perimeter of something unknown and untouched. "Holy". Forbidden. Removed.

The magic quality is in the premise of "faith". Acceptance of blindness.

So it seems to me that the Kabbalah works on similar premises. The knowledge is somewhat elitarian, because the world of spirituality is essentially esoteric, can't be put directly into words.

Now I even accept that because I think writing corresponds to omnipotence (how's that for a writer's ego?). And it's not an abstract idea. It is easily explained.

Writing is not one of the many human activities. Writing simply INCLUDES everything that a human being can experience. What we are is contained within the perimeter of language. People sometimes think that a "thought" precedes language. But if one makes some simple linguistic studies it's easily learned that "thinking" is always a linguistic act. There's no separation between thought and language.

So we are fictional beings. All of us. There's absolutely no difference between a character in a book and us real beings. Or, the only difference is in the complexity (speed) of perception. Meaning that an instant of our life would require millions of pages to be expressed in its entirety. (this Total Awareness is a theme in Infinite Jest)

It's then consequent that magic, the supernatural, spirituality (so the Kabbalah), need to stay outside language. Outside the human perception.

But then it seems that language is only a surface. Psychological studies done by Freud and similar demonstrates how much moves behind the scenes, and below conscious thought. People think of acting logically, but are instead moved by way stronger undercurrents that they rarely understand (or are consciously aware of). So we learn of how fucked we can be if a trauma can have devastating consequences on our daily life.

And then there's more, which is the point where I wanted to arrive. After Freud there's a deeper level that is usually represented by Jung. And then there's another, even deeper, who's represented by a guy named James Hillman (and btw, all I know comes by just look up the wikipedia and having read some parts of his most known book "The Dream and the Underworld", so if you're curious you can just look up the wikipedia and there's already enough to deal with). Whose ideas may sound as crazy as those of Freud to someone who never heard about these kinds of psychological studies.

What he thinks is that our dreams not only are dense in symbolic meaning, but that this symbolic meaning is rooted far below: in myths. So he analyzes dreams through things like greek mythology. And even if this sounds completely absurd, it's still as grounded and concrete as every other psychological study and has obtained attention from those who study that kind of stuff.

Erikson's pantheon and magic system have more than one thing or two in common with Hillman's archetypal pscychology. I'm reading now Midnight Tides where dreams again have a significant role and divinities are dealt with in a "literal" way. But all I've written before wants to hint that there's more than a fictional dress. More than entertainment. And even Hillman's principle seems to adapt well to describe Erikson's work: “dreams tell us where we are, not what to do."

And so back to what Erikson said about his symbolic writing and especially: "I had a film teacher once tell me that I see the world like a Russian novel. I asked him what he meant and he said that I see subtext in all of reality, that for me environment was symbolic."

That in the end goes back at finding something authentic to write about. I'm simply saying that this process of looking for symbols isn't an autorial quirk and actually carries with it in potential a huge power. It is universal. And, in the hunt for meaning, if the building blocks are authentic then the outcame will be too. Whether completely conscious or not. The truth that builds the foundation is inherited by the rest.

So, NOW I've given you some extravagant, distracting waffle. Hope you enjoyed ;)

Next time, whenever it will be, I'll write something grounded in the book at hand.
Robin Lemley
169. Robin55077
A meaningful quote for me from Chapter 8 is from Felisin to Baudin:
"-sworn to some sex-hating Ascendant? Who would that be? Hood? Wouldn't that be a surprise!"

And another between Fiddler and Icarium, the following:

Fiddler: "Can there be magic in mere words?"

Icarium: "Magic powerful enough to drive gods to their knees, soldier."
Amir Noam
170. Amir
Abalieno @168:

From my point of view Erikson satisfies a vaguely similar demand, in the way symbolic meaning and subtext are often quite important, but doing it in a way so that everyone has access to it, as long one pays attention and has patience.
In general I agree, but notice that any meaningful written work relies on cultural symbols to some extent. I think I've read once a comment by Neil Gaiman about this, where he said that he doesn't need to explain in a book what a vampire is since the concept is such a part of popular culture that it's a given all readers know about the related properties of crosses, garlic, sunlight, coffins, etc. (I think Gaiman's comment was that everyone has this information already tattooed on the inside of their eyelids or something).

Or, similarly, to quote from the movie Sliding Doors:
'Everybody's born knowing all the Beatles lyrics instinctively. They're passed into the fetus subconsciously along with all the amniotic stuff. Fact, they should be called "The Fetals".'

But I agree that a lot of the symbolism in Erikson's books is accessbile if you just pay attention. However, in this re-read alone I've been shown at least a couple of external symbolism in the books that I never would have figured on my own:
- One is the Moranth name for Whiskyjack ("Bird Which Steals") which I never understood or gave to it much thought until someone here pointed to Wisakedjak and Gray Jay.
- The other is that, not being a native English speaker, it never occured to me to find if "Cotillion" is a meaningful word and not just a name :-)
Steven Halter
172. stevenhalter
amphibian@171:Yes, followers shaping their gods and gods their followers and both being shaped by the external events. The gods who stop responding to shaping end up in the dumpster of history.

aside:That thread of DoD was very well done. It took me a while to even understand what was going on. In a couple of years we can talk about it here, lol.
Tricia Irish
173. Tektonica
Have you seen the Best Books of the Decade poll numbers on Tor's main page?

JK Rowling and B. Sanderson are beating Steve Erikson.
I am appalled. I mean, they're good enough, but better than SE? No.

I know this is a meaningless poll, and we know who's great, but this is embarrassing. Vote, you Malazaners! (I think DG is leading the pack in the Erikson pantheon. )
Mieneke van der Salm
174. Mieneke
Fidd @49 Aren't you bummed too!! I'm hoping Veronica or RTL8 might pick it up, otherwise it might be a long wait till the DVDs are released!!

I'm hopelessly behind again :/ Busy weekend. But I was thrilled to see more posts by SE! And you guys got all my notes and questions taken care of, even my confusion with Fiddler's horse. You guys rock :D Now I'm going to try and catch up for next week and keep up hopefully!!
Sydo Zandstra
175. Fiddler
@Mieneke:

I doubt they will. :( Too costly, and they have little patience with good US series... remember what happened to Babylon 5, The Sopranos, The West Wing and Battlestar Galactica... :(
Sydo Zandstra
176. Fiddler
Sowwy. Double post...
Mieneke van der Salm
177. Mieneke
@Fidd:
Yeah that is true, but they're showing Boardwalk Empire on BNN and they did show Band of Brothers and the Pacific on Veronica, but I guess it'll be DVD's for us!
Toster
178. MattyK
Attention Tor.com web wranglers: your link for this post on the reread index page is non-functional, as it is missing the "www.tor.com" at the beginning of the HREF string.

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