Jan 19 2011 1:00pm
Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Deadhouse Gates, Chapters 10 and 11

Deadhouse Gates by Steven EriksonWelcome to the Malazan Re-read of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapter 10 and 11 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 Ten


Duiker is still following Coltaine’s army, unable to catch up, continually impressed by what Coltaine has done so far but still certain it will end in annihilation. Realizing that Coltaine’s vanguard will cross the Sekala River that night, he decides it will be his last chance to catch him. Making a dash between two rebel camps, he manages to reach Coltaine’s defenses. We get a quick time check from Captain Lull—it’s been three months that Duiker has been chasing Coltaine after his exit from Hissar. Duiker is escorted to a briefing with Coltaine, Bult, Captain Chenned (the captain from the wall in Hissar as they watched Coltaine’s arrival), Captain Lull, Captain Sulmar, Sormo and other young warlocks, and others. Coltaine sets plans for the crossing of the river and Sulmar tries to get the nobles’ priority treatment to cross first. Two nobles, Nethpara and Tumlit, interrupt and Nethpara presents a list of grievances, a request to cross earlier, and a complaint that the soldiers are getting more food rations. Tumlit wants to know why there are so many more wagons being used for wounded and why the sappers/engineers are crawling all over the wagons. Bult, at Coltaine’s command, throws them out. Others are dismissed. Coltaine asks Duiker about Kulp because Sormo can no longer sense him. Sormo says the warrens have become “difficult” due to Soletaken and D’ivers “infest[ing]” every warren and that he has been forced to turn to older ways, including enlisting the land’s spirits. Luckily, Reloe has no Elder knowledge and so can’t use magic against them. Coltaine tells Duiker they head for Ubaryd, a two-month journey. Duiker then tells them his story (leaving out his rescue attempt of Heboric) before heading to bed.


Duiker is woken by Corporal List and warns Baria Setral (the Red Blade Commander from earlier) that he’d heard the Semk tribe (with sorcerers) have joined Reloe’s army and will be making that flank tough on whomever is defending. As the crossing continues and skirmishes then the battle begins, Duiker and List make their way to a wall on the oxbow island in the river to observe. On their way, they meet Nether, a young girl (reincarnated warlock) of about nine or ten. She helps them make their way then goes on to face the Semk sorcerers. As Duiker and List head for the bridge, another young warlock, Nil, raises ancient zombie soldiers from prior battles on the land. The undead soldiers are followed by women and children, the women killing the children yet again as they had ages ago when they faced an inevitable loss. Nil alone sees both sides, sees that it was a clan war—kin killing kin over the “Antlered Chair.” Nil tells Duiker the Wickans had done the same until united by Kellanved’s contempt for their infighting and feuds and it was that which gave him their loyalty. The battle rages more fiercely as the Malazans are driven back to the river. Duiker is sure there has been mass drownings and they’ll all be killed due to the river holding them up, but the sappers have built a road across the river using the wagons and so the Malazans are able to cross swiftly and easily. One of the engineers, Cuttle, then blows the road with the peasant army vanguard still on it, leaving a trench and trapping Keloe’s army on that side of the river, leaving one army left to fight on the other, the Semk, who eventually retreats.


The Malazans fortify their camp while Coltaine holds another meeting which recounts many losses (including the Setral brothers and the Red Blades). Sormo says they were lucky that the Semk god was such a cruel Ascendant as it uses its wizards to channel its power and rage, unconcerned with killing them as it does so. He adds that the god will simply choose more and “more extreme measures” will be needed to deal with it. Lull informs them that Ubaryd has fallen and the Malazan fleet left it, with tens of thousands more refugees fleeing toward Coltaine’s army. Bult says they have no choice now but to aim for Aren, 270 leagues away, and that they shouldn’t count on Fist Pormqual marching out of Aren to help them.


Nether wakes Duiker in the middle of the night and he follows her to where Sormo and Nil wait. Sormo shows him a cliff of ice with bodies in it, tells him it is Jaghut sorcery and that the Semk god is within it. The warlocks have called the land’s spirits and offered them pieces of the Semk Ascendant’s flesh and thus of its power. Sormo says it is actually mercy of a kind for the Semk Ascendant as all its undying anger will dissipate, though it will hurt the Semk wizards. Sormo allows the Ascendant to escape the ice and it is torn apart by the spirits.


As they return to camp, Nethpara and Tumlit arrive with another noble, Lenestro. They are angry because Coltaine conscripted their servants, Tumlit because he is concerned about them, the other two because they have no servants. The chapter ends with the camp’s dogs all howling and Duiker, covered in blood, walking under a blood-red sky.

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Ten:

I like the extract from the start of Chapter Ten attributed to Duiker, and concerning Dassem Ultor. It makes me think we can start to identify others able to lead by examples with ten thousand at their back: Whiskeyjack, Coltaine, and Dujek. We see others able to lead half a dozen, of whom Kalam is probably the best example. It’s a decent comment on integrity and ability and respect.

Alright, Duiker is one guy—albeit with a tiring horse—and he is being offered aid from the Tithansi. How is Coltaine keep his straggling refugee army, his “stumbling city” ahead of pursuit? This is truly a feat of superhuman proportions—and vaguely unrealistic! I magic involved? Or is Coltaine just THAT good? The fact that even Duiker—an historian—is astonished suggests that this is a real achievement by Coltaine.

Every now and then I find myself once again marvelling at the quality of the prose—Erikson is able to easily draw a scene with a few well-placed sentences:

The dying day spread shadows across the land. The brightest of the night’s stars glittered in the sky’s deepening blue. Wings of capemoths rose with the heat that fled the parched ground, like black flakes of ash.

I like the differences highlighted between the Tithansi encampment, and the shanty town of the peasant army. I also find the fact that they’re mere wagon-widths apart and not fighting yet a little odd—why would the Tithansi not have got straight down to the killing, after having chased them for months?

Duiker is a bit of a hard bastard as well, isn’t he? Following the refugee army for three months, with only the merest assistance from others? For a historian, that’s fairly impressive! And imagine being so out of touch for that time, not knowing who might be alive or dead.

Straight away we’re introduced to the fact there are politics in this makeshift army:

“Forget the captain,” Lull said. “He ain’t bothered showing for one of these yet.”

Mind you, this is a sapper captain—and it strikes me that many regular soldiers don’t really comprehend sappers and their work. Here we have a brief mention of the fact the sappers are fussing with the wagons—which turns out to be an important plot point during the forthcoming battle. There goes Erikson with his bricks again. *grins*

A black feather cape? Is there meaning behind that? Crows? Because, seriously, if Coltaine isn’t wearing that for some symbolic reason, I can’t believe it offers more protection that a good old leather cloak? Feathers?

I hate to say, but even if I were the sapper captain and brave to the point of madness, I would not make a point of crossing Coltaine...

I also really like here that the war council sounds realistic—why I’m surprised that Erikson has achieved this, I don’t know. *grin* Here we have an extensive description of a ford, something I can’t believe many other fantasy authors would bother to do, even though the specifications of a crucial ford would be of paramount importance:

“The crossing’s about four hundred and twenty paces, not counting the shallows on both sides, which add another twenty or so. Average depth is one and a half arm-spans. Width is between four and five most of the way, a few places narrower, a few wider. The bottom’s about two fingers of muck over a solid spine of rock.”

Honestly, have you ever read anything else of this nature described so thoroughly?

Here we have a concrete example of Coltaine’s leading by example, which links into Duiker’s extract from the start of the chapter: he has the integrity to make sure the wounded cross before the able-bodied. The slimy unctiousness of Nethpara is in stark contrast, and ensures we immediately fall on the side of Coltaine in this exchange.

There is possibly some comment to be passed at how much Malazan armies—and their opponents—rely on magic. While the warrens are infested with D’ivers and Soletaken, they seem unusable, and suddenly the armies have to rely on the skills, cunning and knowledge of their mundane commanders.

Now this is a comment I absolutely adore—and it rings 100% true in real life:

“Ah, Fist, it’s the curse of history that those who should read them, never do.”

I love the continuity that we catch up with List, who amused us previously as the one who kept dying in the mock engagements.

What did Duiker forget to tell Coltaine? What is in the drink? Who made the drink? Which old woman? Even the simplest part of the novel—where I figure that I will receive the answers within the next page or two—offers up plentiful questions!

See—immediately, we’re told that Duiker forgot to tell Coltaine about the Semk on the Guran side of the river. I actually don’t like this... I know Duiker was tired and all the previous night, but I do think that he would have remembered something as important as this! Especially if this tribe has magic users, since it was a fact they discussed the night before...

I become more and more impressed at Coltaine—the fact he started buying herds for food on the first day of his arrival shows remarkable foresight.

Do you know something? When I hear serpents in fantasy novels, it equates to dragons:

As if we stride the spine of an enormous serpent...the land awakened, the land eager to show its power.

Haha, I love this *grins*:

The young man looked dour. “I kept dying in the war games. Gave me lots of time to stand around and eavesdrop.”

I agree with List—that Duiker is too quick to see doom, especially since he has since the results of previous engagements where Coltaine bloodied the enemy good and proper.

The child mages creep me out a little—these children with the dark ages behind their eyes and the ability to raise the dead.

The undead warriors that passed near him bellowed and shook their weapons in salute—or gratitude. Like them, the boy was laughing.

Oh, and how is this for foreshadowing?

“Hear that laughter—that song—do you hear the language? These warriors have had their souls awakened. Those souls must have remained, held by the spirit, never released to Hood. We’ll pay for this, Corporal. Every one of us.”

This is so painful *cries*:

Half-formed expectations, held by desperate need, had insisted that the killers were...Jaghut, Forkrul Assail, K’Chain Che’Malle...someone...someone other.

No, Duiker, sometimes it’s brother versus brother in warfare...

“There is little good in people. Little good.”

All sappers are wonderful characters!

“Clear out, you flyblown piles of gizzards! We got work to do!”

This is some of the best writing I’ve seen so far—at the same time as punching the air in triumph, you’re sickened by the scale of human destruction:

The peasants on the river simply vanished. Then reappeared a heart-beat later—even as the concussion struck everyone on shore with a wind like a god’s fist—in blossoms of red and pink and yellow, fragments of flesh and bone, limbs, hair, tufts of cloth, all lifting higher and higher as the water exploded up and out in a muddy, ghastly mist.

Heh. Ghoulish humour from the sapper:

“Hood’s toes, we’re back to digging with shovels.”

It’s interesting that the Red Blades fought so hard for Coltaine, considering the situation under which we first met them.

I hate the idea of how despairing everyone must feel at managing to survive another skirmish with Kamist Reloe—barely—when they find out that their destination is now in enemy hands. The knowledge as well that they are unlikely to receive aid must gnaw at them—it seems like an exercise in futility to try and stay alive!

Ice, ice and more ice—and I’m programmed to think Jaghut at this point! It sounds as though the Jaghut raised an actual ice age against their enemies. [Bill’s interjection: Yep.]

I find Duiker’s last observation very dark:

Warding gestures were being made as he passed. Duiker feared he had inadvertently become a harbinger, and the fate he promised was as chilling as the soulless howls of the camp dogs.


Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Ten:

Of all the commentary on war, I think one of the most subtle, and one of the saddest, is this observation from Duiker:

Birds filled the torchlit air . . . it seemed they had acquired a taste for blood.

Subtle for its depiction via such a small detail of the near-total ecological effect of war—the way it affects/corrupts everything. And sad for its use of birds—so often the image of spring, renewal, new life, good cheer, etc.

Still in that vein is Duiker’s observation later about List:

An image of List as a boy . . . flashed into Duiker’s mind. Flipping rocks. A world to explore, the cocoon of peace.

Another image of innocence to contrast with the horror of war. Though I also think it’s as well a nod to the inevitable loss of innocence, war or no war. How we lose that sense of wonder and exploration, as well as that sense of safety; how the world changes from one filled with strange unexpected beauty to one filled with peril.

Since we’re on the subject of List, and you mentioned him as well Amanda, I’ll say here that this is one of the aspects I like about such long series. That one gets to actually know, care about, bond with, etc. characters beyond the handful of main characters and List is a great example of that. It’s yet another way Malaz feels like a more full and more real world—this sense of people who feel like actual people coming in and out of stories, as opposed to the narrow focus we tend to get on 3-5 characters with little time spent on others outside that circle save as plot points.

Always a good idea to pay close attention when people give longer speeches than usual filled with details you’re not quite sure of the need for. Such as Sulmar’s lines about the wagons, Chenned’s exhaustive description of the river crossing, and Tumlit’s observations about the wagons and the wounded. As you say, more “bricks.”

We’ve clearly seen Coltaine’s foresight with the training back in the city but like you, Amanda, I like how it’s trumped by the information that he started buying herds etc. the day of their arrival.

I love (while being horrified) that scene with the raised dead. What a great way to concretely show the abstract theme that’s been alluded to again and again—that history is replete with the horrors of war, that history is never paid attention to by those that should pay attention. Here is history come “alive” in all its horror and atrocity. And how typical is that kneejerk need by Duiker to view the atrocity as the action of the “other,” the desperate need to believe “we” couldn’t do such things.

We get more information on how Kellanved got the allegiance of Coltaine, and who would have guessed it was neither bribery or intimidation, not even negotiation. It was “contempt.” Shame. Mockery. It was holding up a mirror to how petty and small they were in what they viewed as their “grand” battles.

Another favorite scene in this chapter for me is Duiker’s riding to the hill with the standard and then pulls out the trite soldiers who “died defending the flag” we’ve all seen and read a million times. And then we get the soldier blinking his eyes and looking at the standard as if he didn’t even know what it was or that it was there, saying

“Hood’s breath, think we’d fight to save a piece of cloth on a pole? . . . Nordo took two arrows. We held off a squad of Semk so he could die in his own time.”

Then, when Duiker gives the soldier the chance to, as Congress would say, “amend his remarks,” the soldiers tells him to write it “just like that.” We like to romanticize soldiers as fighting for all these abstractions and ideals, and Erikson shows us here they have more concrete and personal reasons for doing what they do in battle.

As a quick aside, how do you think Laseen would react to hearing, “We ain’t just a Malazan army any more. We’re Coltaine’s.” Hmmmm.

Another quick aside, that description by the soldier of Coltaine as “cold”—that’ll be a recurring term throughout with regard to leaders. Just something to keep an eye on, who is referred to as “cold” and who is not.

The battle debriefing shows us yet another example of Erikson refusing to let us be comfortable with our simplistic views of characters and/or refusing to offer up characters that allow for simplistic views. We’ve seen the Red Blades, and particularly the Setral brothers in such a way as to make them potentially easy villains. And yet here they are, fighting “with demonic ferocity, holding the front ranks, purchasing with their lives . . . The Red Blades had shown valor.” How much easier it would be on us all if we could just dismiss those guys as repugnant, with no good qualities? Couldn’t they have cut and run or something? It reminded me of Sawark in Skullcap riding off to his certain death because duty required it of him. People in Erikson’s world are actual people, not types. They come with ugly and beautiful intertwined for the most part, and can switch at any moment from one to the other, as just about everybody we know can.

And so at the meeting we get what has seemed almost inevitable—the march to Aren. The long retreat, 270 leagues, through hostile territory, guarding refugees, completely on their own (well, for the most part). This is the stuff of legend, we’re being set up for here.

Erikson does a nice job of evoking the sounds of the war camp beyond the obvious cries of the wounded which so many authors would leap to and then leave it there:

Thousands of voices made the dreadful gelid sound. Wound troubling exhausted sleep, the soft cries of soldiers beyond the arts of the healers and cutters, the lowing of livestock, shifting hooves underscoring the chorus in a restless, rumbling beat. Somewhere out on the plain north of them rose faint wailing, wives and mothers grieving the dead.

And with these sounds as the backdrop, we get Duiker’s musings on death’s aftermath, those left behind to grieve:

The dead were gone through Hood’s Gate. The living were left with the pain of their passage. Duiker had seen many peoples . . . yet among them not one in his recollection did not possess a ritual of grief. For all our personal gods, Hood alone embraces us all, in a thousand guises. When the breath from his gates brushes close, we ever give voice to drive back that eternal silence. Tonight, we hear the Semk. And the Tithsani. Uncluttered rituals. Who needs temples and priests to chain and guide the expression of loss and dismay—when all is sacred.

First, what a nice unexpected touch to have the enemy be the ones they hear grieving. Second, note the characterization of Hood here—much more positive than we usually get with him via the word “embraces.” I know some out there don’t care for Erikson’s books due to the bouts of philosophy in them, but for me it’s what makes them stand out, these moments where events slow down and characters think bigger thoughts.

Things in ice. Lots of things in ice.

We’ve obviously had references to the Jaghut use of ice earlier, and here we get a bit more detail, how they used it to cover whole continents in an attempt to “stem the tides of invading humans, obliterating races we have yet to see but which will play central roles to come: K’Chain Che’Malle (mentioned in GoTM if you recall) and Forkrul Assail. And we get a look ahead (far ahead):

"The highest of Omtose Phellack, these rituals never die, Historian . . . Even now, one is born anew on a distant land, and those rivers of ice fill my dreams, for they are destined to create vast upheaval, and death in numbers unimaginable.”

While it’s a true pleasure to hate the nobles, I’m glad Erikson gives us Tumlit to counter the usual spoiled noble characters such as Lenestro and Nethpara.

Chapter Eleven


Aboard Silanda, Kulp enters his warren to try and find a way to shift them out of the flooded Elder warren and into the real world. His warren has felt the passage of intruders, though luckily they are gone when he enters. As he tries to figure out if he can use Meanas to “trick reality” into letting them through, he feels a massively powerful presence nearing. He exits for a moment to tell Heboric to get everyone ready, then returns as the warren itself or someone in it (perhaps Shadowthrone, perhaps the Hounds) seems to react with “outrage” at whatever is nonchalantly passing through, one which seems to Kulp to have the power of Rake or Osric, though the former is on Genabackis and the latter rumored to have gone to a far southern continent a century ago. A massive dragon appears, though one unlike Rake or Osric’s draconian forms, and one which, Kulp realizes, is undead. As it passes, he uses Meanas to put Silanda into its wake, though the portal opens much wider than he’d planned, “wounding” his warren and flooding it with the water from the Elder warren. Shadows come to try and heal the wound and stem the water, but it appears futile. Calling on Shadowthrone and all other Ascendants, Kulp tries to “fool” reality into healing the rent. As he thinks he’s dying of the unsuccessful attempt, the dragon adds its power to his and the wound begins to seal. The dragon leaves him when other Ascendants join their power in as well (though only as if it were a “game”), and then, the wound sealed, they drop Kulp like he was nothing. After some rest, Kulp readies himself to try and move them out of the dragon’s wake into the real world.


Felisin, having watched and felt all this, now watches as they continue in the dragon’s wake, thinking how small they all were in relation to all that power, and how little in control of their lives. The dragon opens a portal and leads them into a realm of fire (to “sear the fleas from its hide” Felisin thinks). Baudin wraps Felisin in his arms to protect her and jumps overboard onto sand in a narrow gorge, though not before she sees Heboric fall overboard. The fire disappears as they land and Felisin realizes they’re back in the real world (thanks to the buzz of flies). Baudin looks “gilded. Tempered.” In Felisin’s eyes, it looks like he “feels” again. Baudin says he’s heavier and that something has changed. They make their way out to a range of hills over a valley and find Heboric and an unconscious Kulp beside him. Heboric tells them they’re on the mainland of Seven Cities. Kulp comes to and speculates the warren of fire (or fire between warrens) may have been chaos. He also notes that Felisin’s scars are fading. Felisin says the marines must be dead as they went below decks and the ship was on fire. When Felisin tells Baudin to go away, Heboric slips and says he would if he could, which lets Kulp figure out Baudin is her bodyguard. It all comes out:

Felisin is Tavore’s (the adjunct’s) sister.

Baudin is a Talon.

The Talons were formed as covert external military by Dancer.

The Claws were formed as secret internal police by Surly and when she became regent she sent the Claws after the Talons.

After they fought it out the Claws won, though some Talons went underground.

Tavore sent Baudin to protect Felisin and then get her out of the prison.

Baudin didn’t because she “didn’t want to go.”

Baudin’s father witnessed Dancer and Kellanved’s ascension in Malaz City.

Felisin tells Baudin to go away and he does, angering both Kulp and Heboric (as well as causing a strange “twist” in Felisin’s heart). Kulp gives Heboric the choice of sticking with her or not and he says yes, he owes her his life. When a sudden sandstorm of sorcery strikes, Kulp realizes they’re in Raraku. The storm covers them.


Mappo tells Fiddler Sha’ik was killed, assassinated by Red Blades according to Pust’s Deck reading. When Fiddler (who knows Deck readings) says he didn’t think Decks could be that precise, Mappo agrees. Fiddler is frustrated by Pust constantly delaying their departure, and thinks how Pust reminds him of Quick Ben—plans within plans. He tells Mappo he feels old and used up (recall Pust’s reading re the “weary sapper”) and that he knows Pust is up to something but can’t figure it out. Mappo thinks it has to do with Apsalar and Fiddler agrees. Mappo suspects Pust wants to force Apsalar into being the vessel for Sha’ik’s reincarnation and points out she’s has a lot of Dancer’s abilities and memories and recovering more memories of her possession time. Mappo suddenly realizes that Pust has been laying a false trail to the Path of Hands to divert the Soletaken and D’ivers from the real one in the temple (he also gives a mini-lecture on the shapeshifters to Fiddler). He also thinks Pust knows about him and Icarium, and plans to use them. Fiddler guesses as the last line of defense in case the shapeshifters discover the true gate. When he says they could just leave, Mappo says Icarium has his own quest so they’ll stay, and Fiddler tells him Pust is using their sense of honor and duty, knowing they’ll try and prevent the shapeshifters. Mappo suggests Pust will do the same with Fiddler’s group. They go to join the others, agreeing not to tell them of their suppositions.


On their way out, Fiddler confirms that Icarium is obsessed with time, that he builds constructs to measure it all over the world (remember GoTM), that he is nearing his goal and that Mappo’s vow is to keep him ignorant of his past. When Fiddler says without one’s past, without history, there is “no growth,” Mappo agrees. Fiddler wonders how Icarium remains friends with Mappo, and so generous in general, without memories. They find Crokus assaulting Pust in front of Apsalar while Shadows gather (to protect Pust). Fiddler separates them and Crokus says Pust wants Apsalar to become Sha’ik. Fiddler says it’s up to her and when Apsalar says she won’t be used by an Ascendant again, Pust says she won’t be a tool but would command. She says no, Pust notes she’s still linked to Dancer, and then the two of them exit. Icarium enters and Mappo tells Crokus and Fiddler they think Servant is Apsalar’s father. They realize Shadowthrone took him as leverage and that Servant has gone after Sha’ik’s body. Mappo asks if Fiddler will go with him after Servant and Fiddler agrees.


Mappo collects an odd weapon formed of the large long-bone of a massive skeleton dug up by his clans centuries ago, a bone that had its own sorcerous power that was then enhanced by Trell witches. He also has a sack that is its own private warren (into which he has sometimes stuffed entire people). Icarium tells him Apsalar has gone after her father. Mappo, and then Icarium, theorize that perhaps Sha’ik planned this from the start and/or also that Shadowthrone and Dancer had never planned on a possessed Apsalar going after Laseen, but a once-possessed one now having his skills but without him (detectably) in her taking the role of Sha’ik, defeating the Malazans, thus forcing Laseen to come and then killing her, putting Apsalar on the throne with Dancer and Kellanved as patron gods. Icarium says he feels he’ll find answers at Tremorlor and asks Mappo how it will change him, if Mappo will reveal his memories. Mappo tells him Icarium is not dependent on Mappo’s memories and shouldn’t aim to become his “version” of Icarium. Icarium says he thinks Mappo is part of his hidden truth and Mappo fears this statement because it is further than Icarium has ever taken this line. They agree that Icarium may have a decision to make at Tremorlor.


Fiddler is waiting outside. He senses tension between Mappo and Icarium and thinks changes are coming to them all. He’d caught Crokus practicing knifework earlier, showing improvement and a colder air. They head out.


Kalam is observing Korbolo Dom’s camp, circled by rows of crucified prisoners. He hates the feeling of helplessness, of having no effect. He thinks of how the Empire’s threat was always “we deliver your destruction back on you tenfold,” and hopes that if he kills Laseen a better will take her place and he and Quick Ben have someone in mind. He returns to the others (Keneb is worse) and tells them they can’t go through or around. He pulls out a rock from Quick Ben, a “shaved knuckle.” He breaks it and they end up in the Imperial Warren which extends far further than the rumors he had heard. He decides to use it to head toward Aren (rather than Unta).


Lostar Yil, following Kalam, faces the portal as Pearl exits. He alludes to “primitive” presences using it and that this portal in this place shouldn’t exist. The two of them enter the warren.


Seven hours later, the portal is still open. Dom’s camp is up in arms as 1300 Malazan children that had been crucified had disappeared. Shadows are all over the place. Apt appears holding a young boy, his face chewed and pecked, lacking eyes and a nose. Shadowthrone appears with the Hounds and after saying he was surprised as he’d thought to have lost Apt to Sha’ik, he asks what he’s supposed to do with all these kids, growing angry as he presses her. Apt appears to answer that Kalam wanted to save them and Shadowthrone says of course he did but knew it was impossible, that only vengeance was possible, but now Shadowthrone has to exhaust himself to heal them all. Apt seems to suggest servants. Shadowthrone scoffs at first but then seems to get an idea, something about the “ambivalence in their scarred, malleable souls.” He agrees to take them but Apt says she wants to keep the one boy. He wonders how Apt will resolve possible conflict between the boy and protecting Kalam and she has an answer of some “nerve.” Shadowthrone agrees but says while he can heal the body, the mind will retain scars and the boy will be “unpredictable.” He heals the boy but gives him a single, Aptorian eye rather than human ones at Apt’s request. Shadowthrone worries aloud about Pust’s ability to pull off the deception with regard to the shapeshifters and the Path of Hands. Apt and the boy enter the warren to keep after Kalam.

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Eleven:

And so we begin the Chain of Dogs...

The strangers, intruders that Kulp has felt within Meanas—I’m guessing these were also D’ivers and Soletaken, considering what we’ve heard about all warrens being affected. Hmm, there are two ways to enter warrens then; either they can enter completely, as the Silanda currently is stuck in the warren of the mad mage, or they can just put their mind within the warren, as Kulp does to seek a solution. And I think we’ve seen instances where mages remain entirely in the here and now, and merely pull through power from their warren? Yep, this isn’t exactly the easiest magic system in the world to figure out! “The Will and the Word” from David Eddings feels a long way away right now. *chortles*

From the fact that Kulp curses the fact he is not a practitioner of another warren, I’m also going to assume that the mage does not pick the warren—rather, they will have affinity with a certain warren. Ha, must be quite galling to realise you are a magic user and then get stuck with one of the “lesser” warrens!

We also have it mentioned that there are massively different degrees in strength and ability with using the warrens:

Kulp had heard of High Mages who—it was rumoured—had found ways to cheat those illimitable laws, and perhaps the gods and other Ascendants possessed such knowledge as well. But they were as beyond a lowly cadre mage as the tools of an ogre’s smithy to a cowering rat.

Oh boy. OH BOY! Did anyone else get breathless with the arrival of the FREAKING UNDEAD DRAGON?! And that information about Rake—yep, just a little mention and my crush comes back to full force:

Oh Hood, Soletaken or D’ivers...but such power! Who in the Abyss has such power? He could think of but two: Anomander Rake, the Son of Darkness, and Osric. Both Soletaken, both supremely arrogant.

Ha, poor Kulp! Yes, he’s so got this under control, right?

I may have just destroyed my own warren. If reality can’t be fooled. Of course it can be fooled—I do it all the time!

And that scene where Geslar waves at the dragon as it looks at them with “dead, black eye sockets”—*falls over laughing*

Oh hell—calling on all the Ascendants and Shadowthrone to help? Not Kulp’s most sensible thought, surely? I love the comparison between the dragon’s indifference and the Ascendants malice.

Ascendants, grasping Kulp’s outrageous intent, swept in to join the game with dark glee. Always a game. Damn you bastards one and all! I take back my prayers! Hear me? Hood take you all!

Trust Felisin to bring me back to earth with a thump:

Look at us. A handful of destinies. We command nothing, not even our next step in this mad, fraught journey. The mage has his sorcery, the old soldier his stone sword and the other two their faith in the Tusked God. Heboric...Heboric has nothing. And as for me, I have pocks and scars.

Baudin saves Felisin—burning, “tempering” himself in the process—and she cannot raise a single word of thanks. She just refers to him as the thug. I felt a flicker of amusement at their exchange about whether they can smell Otataral—the thought they might have gone through the nightmare just to end up stranded back on the island.

“Something’s changed.” How has Baudin been affected by his journey through the bronzed flames of the undead dragon?

Surely Geslar, Stormy and Truth are not dead? Surely not?

Aha! I mean, I’d had hints from the commenters, but Baudin has been charged with watching over Felisin. Well, that explains why anyone would want to stay with such a caustic and nasty little individual. (Yep, that’s right, I’m erring on the side of dislike towards Felisin right now!) It still doesn’t explain why he went through the act of sex with her... *frowns* I think that’s the part of this story I’ve been the most disturbed by so far still.

And how can Baudin get it so wrong:

“Can’t pull out a person who don’t want to go.”

I imagine that Felisin would have done anything to leave Skullcap.

Oooh! Who is Baudin’s father? From Night of Knives, we do know there were a number of Talons in Malaz City—I wonder if Esslemont named Baudin’s father or gave us any clues?

I am glad to see a hint of remorse from Felisin as Baudin walks away from her—a “twisting in her heart.”

Fiddler and Mappo together are awesome for conversations that move the plot forward—both of them have been involved with power plays and Ascendants; both of them know plenty from the history of the land—and yet none of it feels like information forced on the reader. It feels like two knowledgeable individuals talking and sharing that knowledge, incredibly natural and readable.

For instance, we have here talk about Apsalar being reborn as Sha’ik. Both are now familiar with the fact that Cotillion had once taken over Apsalar, so they know that Shadow was involved with the girl—and now Shadow might be pushing her to a new role.

The lass was finding her memories, it was true. And they weren’t shocking her as much as Fiddler would have expected—or hoped.

From what I remember about Whiskeyjack’s musings on Sorry and her behaviour, I also would have hoped Apsalar would be finding it difficult to cope with the knowledge of what she did while under Cotillion’s influence!

And then we have a whole HEAP of information about shapeshifters—the fact that they were old even in Elder times.

“No one species can claim propriety, and that includes the four Founding Races: Jaghut, Forkrul Assail, Imass and K’Chain Che’Malle.”

The thought of an Empire of shapeshifters rising up and creating a ferocious Empire is pretty scary!

Another wonderful little throwaway sentence from Erikson:

“Whatever evil you let ride becomes commonplace, eventually. Problem is, it’s easier to get used to it than carve it out.”

Fiddler sees the same dichotomy as me between the Icarium of the stories and the Icarium we’ve seen:

A Jaghut-blood wanderer around whom swirled, like the blackest wake, rumours of devastation, appalling murders, genocide. The sapper mentally shook his head. The Icarium he was coming to know made those rumours seem ludicrous. The Jhag was generous, compassionate.

“We’re in the dark, Trell.” Alright, how did they not notice this? Or is it more a commentary on their state of mind and Pust’s plans for them?

I love the idea of the bhok’arala worshipping Pust, and treasuring the rocks that he throws at them!

And Fiddler’s thoughts on the delicate relationship between Mappo and Icarium are both sad and poignant. His reflections on how Icarium remains so generous resonate particularly. And the part where Mappo says, sadly: “Some burdens are willingly embraced” makes me almost tear up. Mappo and Icarium are just BRILLIANT.

I had my first real laugh out loud moment at Pust’s attempts to convince Apsalar to take on the mantle of Sha’ik:

“She wavers, she leans—see it in her eyes!”

“I do not,” Apsalar said coolly.

“She does! Such percipience in the lass as to sense my every thought—as if she could hear them aloud! The Rope’s shadow remains within her, a linkage not to be denied! Gods, I am brilliant!”

Ooh! Mappo has a Mary Poppins bag! I would kill for one of them—I could finally fit as many books in there as I wished to carry with me (currently I carry around three books at all times, and my poor tote is feeling the strain!) And I’m amused at the idea that he’s stuffed people who annoyed him into the warren behind the bag—would also be interested to know which warren this is!

It may be that the Rulers of Shadow simply saw an opportunity here, a means to take advantage of the convergence—the dagger is honed, then slipped in amidst the tumult.

Yes, or Shadow could have planned this all along. Cotillion and Shadowthrone aren’t exactly working hand in hand right now—this could have been Shadowthrone’s plan rather than Cotillion’s?

“I had a sudden vision of Emperor Iskaral Pust...” *faints* What an idea!


They studied each other, their eyes searching the altered reflection before them, one set plagued with innocent questing, the other disguising devastating knowledge. And between us, hanging in the balance, a friendship neither understands.

This is all about change right now, isn’t it? The change of Servant, the potential change of Apsalar, the change wrought in the friendship between Mappo and Icarium, the change to Icarium’s attitude in his quest for the truth, the change of Crokus into something just a little more deadly...

Oh...the image of that poor Malazan boy, eaten but still living.... *retches* And poor Kalam, with the knowledge of his helplessness weighing heavy on him.

To whisper lies—your death won’t be forgotten, the truth of your precious life which you still refuse to surrender because it’s all you have. You are not alone, child—lies.

Who do Quick Ben and Kalam think should hold the throne of the Empire??

Is it just me who is amused by Quick Ben’s audacious use of the Imperial Warren—a use that was intended to allow Kalam into the throne room to kill Laseen? Also, is it just a typo or is the Imperial Warren the only one capitalised? Is the Imperial Warren just one that was appropriated—and empty Warren if you will? I just can’t work out how it fits into the general warren system...

Pearl? Is this someone we’ve met before? Possibly someone who was snatched away in a previous book? I wonder if this might be Toc the Younger returning to the game?

I didn’t realise Apt was female. *smiles* And I am enjoying this act of mercy on behalf of the demon—also, she has done something that she realised Kalam wished he could do. Did she do it for him?


Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Eleven:

Nothing to say about the opening poem at this point, save to not forget it.

As for the actual opening of the chapter, let’s just say, intended or not, it may be the best example of dark humor (and I mean dark) in the entire series, or perhaps it the darkest best humor.

I like how we’re privy to Kulp’s thought process. Too often in books or film we get characters simply doing. Or characters facing a decision and simply deciding. We rarely get the actual process. But much as we got in more physical terms with the choreography of Kalam’s attack on the eight men he killed, here we get the choreography of Kulp’s thinking: his initial frustration over how “his” warren just can’t provide what others (Denul or D’riss, say) could, then his almost scholarly mulling over what warrens are, the rules that seem to work within them (“the primordial elements asserted an intractable consistency across all warrens”), the knowledge that more powerful practitioners can supercede those laws, the desire for “elegance” which leads him to Fisher’s line about poetry and sorcery, the slow stumbling toward the possibility of tricking reality, and then the solution itself as the massive presence of the dragon (Olar Ethil) makes itself felt. This slowing down the pace and taking us into not just the mind of the character ala “He was hungry” but along for the mind’s ride brings them more richly and fully to life. It reminds me somewhat of one of my favorite aspects of the first Iron Man movie—the way we saw Tony Stark actually working on designing the suit: throwing away designs, thinking through problems, etc., rather than just have him do it or “show” it via a 30 second musical montage. I like seeing smart people think. And this analogy Kulp makes use of with the pressure and wake of the dragon’s power being akin to water and thus a means of escape is smart. Let us revel in his mind.

I especially in this section like the line, “what’s real versus what isn’t is the synergy within a mortal’s mind” quite a bit. It sums up the human state quite well, I’d say.

A bit later we get more speculation about the cognizance of warrens as Kulp can’t figure out if the “outrage” he senses at the dragon’s presence is from Shadowthrone, the Hounds, or “perhaps warrens truly are alive.”

While the comparison of the dragon’s power to Osric doesn’t mean anything to us, having read GoTM, we certainly should gasp a bit when Kulp compares the dragon to Rake. Recall, for instance, Rake’s entrance into Baruk’s: lights dimming, walls cracking, lancing pain in Baruk’s head.

Speaking of Osric—yet another throwaway line for the future:

Osric was reputed to have journeyed to a continent far to the south a century or so back

And you’ve got to love how a lowly cadre mage talks about these legendary beings.

The fact that it is an “undead” dragon of “primordial antiquity” is a piece of knowledge to file away as well.

Talk about playing with matches. Remember that Kulp thinks of himself as a “lowly cadre mage” and yet he’s now done “damage on a cosmic scale.” Things can scale up quickly in this world.

And c’mon, who didn’t laugh at Gesler waving to the dragon when it “twisted to cast its dead, black eye sockets in their direction”? I love replaying that moment again and again in my head.

And, continuing a thread we’ll refer to again and again—this surprisingly equal battle (not always literally) between gods and mortals, who just sometimes stubbornly refuse to worship them with the respect one might expect (just as some gods refuse their worshippers).

And just when we’re enthralled with the wonder of undead giant dragons, blown away by the idea of “cosmic damage,” swept up in Kulp’s heroic effort to close the portal, joined by said dragon as well as gods and Ascendants, just when we’re riding this high, here comes, yes, Felisin:

Like fleas on its hide, that’s all we were to it [the dragon] . . . Look at us. A handful of destinies. We control nothing, not even our next step in this mad, frought journey.

Ah, Felisin, can always be counted to throw a little light and joy our way....

Of course, the world sometimes has its own way of correcting Felisin. And so, just as she mocks Baudin, he enfolds her in his arms and carries her through fire to save her life, all as he himself burns so that Felisin can “smell him burning, the leather shirt, the skin of his back, his hair.” Though, as we’ve been set up for in the past few chapters, saving may not be what Felisin wants, a mindset that continues as she “almost welcomed the bites of fire.”

Nice use of space on the page to create some further tension when they go overboard. The single sentence with Baudin carrying them over the rail, then a pause with the phrase “They fell,” which forces the reader to wait a moment to find out what happened to them.

And there’s those flies again.

I mentioned back a ways that I though Erikson had employed some well-known transformation imagery when the trio of Baudin, Felisin, and Heboric had escaped (the water, the tunnel, the emergence from underground) and we’re seeing these transformations come about. Heboric has his hands and his warring warrens, and now Baudin’s experience with the fire has left him “tempered” and “heavier” and with the feeling that “something’s changed.” Two down, one to go....

By theway, note Felisin’s reaction to his announcement: fear.

With all the somewhat tiring belittling that Felisin does, I have to admit I found her response to Kulp’s “I’m no Ascendant after all”—”I’ll say”—quite funny. Cracks me up every time.

And finally we get the big reveal about Baudin as Heboric lets slip how Baudin would leave if he could. Then things happen pretty quickly. Kulp learning who Felisin is, leaping to Baudin being a Claw and being corrected, Duiker’s mini history lecture on the birth of the Claws/Talons and how they differed (Talon external special ops, Claw internal secret police), the war between the two ending with the Claw victorious and the Talons greatly reduced and driven underground, then back to present-time revelations such as how Felisin was supposed to be rescued soon after arriving at Skullcap, how Dancer and Kellanved ascended (news to characters if not readers). Then, in even more abruptly quick fashion, Felisin ordering Baudin to leave and him doing so (and echo of her fear at his changing, note her reaction to his just leaving without objection: “the twisting in her heart.”) And if you thought the revelation that Tavore never meant for Felisin to be long in the prison would soften Felisin’s view toward her sister, well, the whole “I will find you in my river of blood” thing might make you think twice.

I love the slowly burgeoning relationship between Mappo and Fiddler. I am hard-pressed to come up with any other author who does pair-bondings (in all their forms) as well as Erikson. And I don’t limit that to genre authors. There’s an ease and naturalness to his characterization of such pairs that I just respond to.

Fiddler’s note that Pust reminds him of Quick Ben makes ones wonder if Shadow draws out that sort of thinking/personality or are those sorts of personalities drawn to Shadow. (I’m going with the latter, myself.)

The revelations come pretty quickly in this chapter, as well. Fiddler’s sense that Pust is planning on using them as pawns. Mappo’s theory that Push wants Apsalar to become Sha’ik and lead the Whirlwind. Apsalar’s recovery of Dancer’s memories as well as her time of being possessed by him. The idea that the Deck of Dragons and its houses are predated by Holds. (Another word to file away—you may want to give it its own drawer.) Mappo’s realization that Pust is leading the Soletaken on a false trail, his (akin to Duiker earlier) mini-history lecture on Soletaken history and desire for dominance and Empire, his further realization that Pust knows about him and Icarium (though to be honest I can’t say this seems all that surprising to me), the announcement that Servant is Apsalar’s father.

I like the little detour into human nature and systems theory as well, when Mappo says an Empire of Soletaken would be “ferocity unlike anything that has been seen before,” and Fiddler takes issue with the idea that it would be uniquely so, arguing that “nastiness grows like a cancer in any and every organization—human or otherwise . . . nastiness gets nastier. Whatever evil you let ride becomes commonplace . . . easier to get used to then carve it out.” (A particularly timely observation nowadays perhaps.) This is an idea that will echo throughout the series I think—the confronting of evil and carving it out versus “getting used to it.”

Fiddler thinks of how the Icarium he’s met can’t be the Icarium of genocide rumors, or at the least, those acts were “ancient” as “youth was the time of excess . . . This Icarium was too wise, too scarred, to tumble into power’s river of blood (heh heh: ‘river of blood’)” But of course, Icarium has been prevented from scarring or the wisdom of age/experience because he has no memories. As well as by keeping him purposely ignorant of his past, which perhaps calls a bit into question that particular line of thought as to how to deal with him, something Fiddler himself implies later in the chapter: “That notion frightens me Mappo. Without history there’s no growth.”

I want Mappo’s bag o’ plenty!

And who do you think he’s stuffed in there?

Lots of theorizing about schemes within schemes with regard to Shadowthrone and Dancer and Apsalar, perhaps even ending with Apsalar on the throne (or, in a nightmare moment—Iskaral Pust). Let discussions ensue....

Once more, we enter the fraught emotional relationship of Icarium and Mappo, Mappo’s pain and fear underlying all of his words, the conversation ending with some pretty heavy foreshadowing: “When the time comes, you shall face a decision.” Yes, he will.

I mentioned earlier the transformations of the trio of Baudin, Heboric, and Felisin, but they are hardly alone in this as Fiddler notes: “Changes are coming to us all, it seems.” (Which, by the way, can be written both big and small in regards to this series.) Crokus is honing his inside knife work and turning colder; Apsalar is integrating her possession memories as well as Dancer’s and becoming someone wholly herself; Mappo and Icarium have a changed relationship.

Korbolo Dom. Nice with the crucifixion.

Votes for whom Quick Ben and Kalam had in mind to take over the empire if Kalam manages to kill Laseen? (I have my own idea.)

I like Kalam on the anthill: “I lie with the weight of a god on their world and these ants don’t like it. We’re so much more alike than most would think,” but part of me wished Erikson had let us get that analogy, though part of me also likes seeing that Kalam thinks in that fashion as well. By the way, I also like that Erikson doesn’t do what far too many authors do, come up with a scene for a “cool” metaphor and then drop it once the metaphor part is done. But these ants aren’t pure metaphor as Kalam has to spend a few minutes back at camp plucking them off. Nice touch.

More of Erikson’s realistic portrayal of war on the soldier class as Kalam muses on the difficulty of re-integration when there is no more war, the problem inherent in having built up armor that no longer is needed for protection but now becomes more of a hindrance: “Gods, I don’t think my sanity would survive peace.”

Speaking of realism, I liked Kalam’s little aside about the silliness of the fantasy trope involving ensorcelled gems etc, a point I admit always bugged me.

Quick Ben’s little rocks and acorns. I want those too.

Here’s another mental realignment for the reader regarding the place of magic in wider society and “regular folks’” knowledge of it. Even Kalam was unaware of the extent of the Imperial Warren; in fact, he wasn’t even close to approaching the truth regarding it. Of course, as we’ll learn eventually, there’s a lot more to the Imperial Warren than those who travel it and allegedly “know” it think, too. And then we get Minala’s viewpoint, clearly not an unintelligent woman: “I’d always believed all those tales of other realms were nothing but elaborate inventions . . . “

Nice irony: “Quick Ben, there could be a Claw riding your shoulder right now . . . “

Gotta love Apt. And how we were set up for her being the type to save the crucified children by the earlier sense of her wanting to go after Minala and the other survivors of the bandit attack. As so often happens, small or incomplete scenes blossom more fully later on.

And I’m pretty much a fan of any scene with Shadowthrone:

“Is Cotillion a kindly uncle?” Hmm, good question, let’s see shall we?

“Have you gone entirely insane?” Speaking of irony.

And how fast is that for Shadowthrone to go from flying off the handle at the situation Apt presents him with to figuing out “long-term benefits” from it. Did I mention I like smart?

And c’mon: “Can anyone find reliable, competent help these days?” Truly one of the classic single lines in a series filled with them.

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

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

Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter

It sounds as though the Jaghut raised an actual ice age against their enemies.

Yes. Now think about the Imass response to that.
Amanda Rutter
2. ALRutter
Oooh, was that when the Imass became the T'lan Imass??
Sydo Zandstra
3. Fiddler
Chapter 10:
Half-formed expectations, held by desperate need, had insisted that the killers were...Jaghut, Forkrul Assail, K’Chain Che’Malle...someone...someone other.

Note the quote says someone. Clever hint on things to come. :)

Another quick aside, that description by the soldier of Coltaine as “cold”—that’ll be a recurring term throughout with regard to leaders. Just something to keep an eye on, who is referred to as “cold” and who is not.

I always loved the 'cold steel' versus 'hot steel' when describing battle commanders. It's a good comparison.

And so at the meeting we get what has seemed almost inevitable—the march to Aren. The long retreat, 270 leagues, through hostile territory, guarding refugees, completely on their own (well, for the most part). This is the stuff of legend, we’re being set up for here.

Take note. I seem to recall you asking in an earlier post what 'the chain of dogs' is? Well, here you have it. ;-)

Edit: Seeing your comment in chapter 11, I see you did ;)

@Amanda, re: post 2:

Yes, but more importantly it was (at least part of) why the Imass became the T'lan Imass. They needed to be able to cross those barriers.
Thomas Jeffries
4. thomstel
An image of List as a boy . . . flashed into Duiker’s mind. Flipping rocks. A world to explore, the cocoon of peace.

As the series continues, we'll see that flipping rocks over is a prime way to unleash all sorts of shenanigans.

This reference with List flipping rocks? The echo happens later this novel, so be ready for it.
Julian Augustus
5. Alisonwonderland
Bill on Chapter 10:
I know some out there don’t care for Erikson’s books due to the bouts of philosophy in them, but for me it’s what makes them stand out, these moments where events slow down and characters think bigger thoughts.

Sometimes there's too much of a good thing. The philosophizing is memorable when it is judiciously interspersed within the action and plot, as it is in this book. However, when a whole book comprises every single character spending most of the book just thinking deep thoughts (which is what DoD seemed to me), I'm not happy.
Julian Augustus
6. Alisonwonderland
Without going into too much spoilery detail, I was really taken aback and felt somewhat cheated by the ending of HoC ... two armies all set up to face each other, then ???? Yet, re-reading Chapter 10 of DG made me realize that what will happen in HoC has happened before on a much smaller scale. Even though I didn't see it coming in HoC, now I realize it wasn't as out-of-the-blue as I had thought earlier.
Steven Halter
7. stevenhalter

Who do Quick Ben and Kalam think should hold the throne of the Empire??

An excellent question. We'll get to the answer eventually.
Chris Hawks
8. SaltManZ
My own notes from Chapters 10 and 11:

In Chapter Ten we get to see how magic in the Malazan world is far more than just Warrens. Unlike most fantasy worlds where there's one, maybe two, magic systems, the Malazan world is just crawling with them. As we'll find, the human-accessible Warrens are merely the newest system.

And hey, is that the same Cuttle we get to know in later books?

In Chapter Eleven, Kulp remarks that Osric was rumoured to have "journeyed to a continent far to the south a century or so back." Which totally jives with Return of the Crimson Guard. Neat.

When I first read Night of Knives, I figured the "Shadow Moon" was just something Esslemont made up for that book. But here it is mentioned in DG four years before NoK saw publication. (And according to Google Books, this is the only place Erikson ever mentions it.)

Hm. Are the "unwelcome intruders" in the Imperial Warren who I think they are? (Who we first get a glimpse of The Bonehunters?)
Steven Halter
9. stevenhalter
re: Korbolo Dom & the crucifixions:
I thought these scenes were great for a variety of reasons. First, it gives us another reason not to like Korbolo Dom. Second, we get to see more of Kalam's human side as he wants to save the children but knows that he cannot.
Third, we get the save of the children, but not by a "person", but rather by Apt--a demon. Thus, showing that demons are not just persons, but perhaps better than most of the humans.
Fourth, we get a great scene with Shadowthrone. Note that it seems there is a whole Aptorian civilization in Shadow. Also, note that ST isn't just a mad god, but that he knows how to make use of things.
Karen Martin
10. ksh1elds555
So re: Baudin's father having seen the ST&C ascension in Night of Knives, could this be Temper? That would be an amazing connection between novels if so.

I absolutely love Apt in this story... talk about turning the trope on its head... the description of the demon with needle- like fangs who actually wants to save a human child and ad0pt it... albeit with a disturbing change of face. Apt and Greyfrog(from a later book) are really wonderful characters and so unique.

One thing that unnerves me in these books is that there is a lot of violence against children. It does make me a bit uncomfortable at times, trying to balance my own personal feelings of horror at the thought, and the knowledge that it DOES happen in war and in real-life all the time so why shouldn't it be discussed. Maybe I am supposed to feel this way and be made to think about it.
Steven Halter
11. stevenhalter

with the feeling that “something’s changed.” Two down, one to go....

Also, note Felisin's response--"I haven't changed."I thought that nicely summed up her character to this point in the story. And also reflects Baudin's comment on her at the end of chapter 9.
Steven Halter
12. stevenhalter
Amanda@2:That rise of the glaciers and how to deal with them is certainly a major contribution to the Imass becoming T'lan Imass. Now, a question to ask is, "Was it worth it?" Think of Tool's favorite word.
Steven Halter
13. stevenhalter

This is all about change right now, isn’t it? The change of Servant, the potential change of Apsalar, the change wrought in the friendship between Mappo and Icarium, the change to Icarium’s attitude in his quest for the truth, the change of Crokus into something just a little more deadly...

Change. Lack of change. Tragedy.
I agree that the Mappo/Icarium relationship is fantastic.
Iris Creemers
14. SamarDev
I liked the throw away comment about the three months that Duiker has been following Coltains army. You know he is traveling day after day, gets known (en fed) by the rebels, gets tired, but three months?!
In one scentence the respect for Coltaine - and Duiker - grows. But: more to come! :-)

*edited to add my respect for Duiker as well*
Iris Creemers
15. SamarDev
@ Amanda re Pearl.
Pearl is... well.. Pearl. You have just met another amusing duo.
Julian Augustus
16. Alisonwonderland
Shalter @7:

I thought the answer was pretty obvious ... but maybe it is just my knowledge from later books.
Steven Halter
17. stevenhalter
Alisonwonderland@16:I retrospect, it is. At this point, there are a couple of candidates. As Bill remarked, I'd be interested in seeing first timer's thoughts on this one.
Chris Hawks
18. SaltManZ
Re: Pearl. Amanda probably remembers the name "Pearl" from GotM; the demon QB sent after the Tiste Andii. No relation between the two other than the name they share.
David Thomson
19. ZetaStriker
Although the reference isn't direct, you may also want to think about where you've heard the name Pearl before. Although it doesn't mean what you think it does.

And Bill, careful with the name-dropping again! You do so well being vague about it afterward, but finding out the connection between the name and the dragon in a later book was, while not vitally important, a satisfying moment in a later book.
Julian Augustus
20. Alisonwonderland
On Felisin not thanking Baudin for saving her life. We have to remember that at this point the primary emotion Felisin is feeling is self-loathing at what has been done to her and what she's become. She'll gladly welcome death. So Baudin saving her life doesn't mean that much to her. The hard shell she has built around her heart cracks a tiny bit when Baudin leaves at her command ... just like a recalcitrant child who, in the midst of a tantrum, yells at her parent to go away, and then is shocked when the parent actually does leave. Later in this book we'll find the hard shell completely shatters and dissolves.
Julian Augustus
21. Alisonwonderland
Kulp is one of the best secondary characters in the series. His loyaly (placing his own life in extreme danger to go pick up Heboric and co only because he had promised Duiker he would, even though Duiker himself had long since left the scene), his sharpness (note how quickly he sensed the relationships between the refugees as soon as he stepped onto the island), his resourcefullness (distracting the mad high mage for two whole days using mostly illusion, employing the power of the undead dragon to get the Silanda out of the flooded warren, etc.), his very dry sense of humor (examples galore) ... I really liked him.
Sydo Zandstra
22. Fiddler
Re: the Sapper Captain never showing up at staff meetings

I really loved that part, especially since I always had the idea that even if the other staff officers had no clue about his whereabouts, Coltaine knew exactly who to approach, as we will find later on in this book.

Actually, we saw it in these chapters already, since those sappers weren't building that river crossing road out on a whim.

There's a funny scene going to come up soon. Typical for Malazan sappers, and typical for Coltaine's leadership. :D

Also, the 'we're back to digging with shovels' line is a nice prelude line on what is to come. :)
pat purdy
23. night owl
Well, my question has been answered, Baudin was a bodyguard by design & Herbroic learned about it later from him.Wow, that lack of communication might have altered Filisin, but SE didn't go down that road.
These chapters tie up some loose threads and of course let loose with more to be interwoven later.
I always feel as if I am sitting next to the characters, whether mental musings or verbal. They feel so real. Always an emotional roller coaster.
The description of the death and destruction is brutal, as all wars are, but despite it all, there is hope. Duiker's hope is not for self but that he can get the word out and perhaps this history account will be read and all will learn from it.

In the visions of ice, I think Tool in GoTM, explained the binding and the diaspora that made them the T'Imas, and that they don't "think" as individuals. We do see him dissolve into dust and this is how they got over the barriers. Did I get that right?

Gotta love the humor interspliced throughout, otherwise would be dark, dark, dark!
Julian Augustus
24. Alisonwonderland
I wonder if Kulp knows that both Rake and Osric are soletaken dragons (how would he?) which is why he thought the undead dragon might be one of those two? Yet, he was thinking only of the uber power the dragon was exuding and could think of only of those two as potential candidates. But that is a strange mixture of knowledge and ignorance, isn't it? Back in GotM, the name Rake was so unknown that even Baruk, high mage and very learned scholar, could only find the name in the most ancient of dusty tomes. Yet, we now find Kulp, a lowly squad mage, who not only knows of the power of Rake and Ossric, but even that Ossric had gone to ground a century or so ealier? And if he knew all that, how come he's ignorant of Icarium, the baddest mofo (powerwise) in the whole series?
Philip Thomann
25. normalphil

Or that demons are just plain human.

I imagined Apt as, oh, a fantastic-chinese emperor's courtesan (one of thousands, beautiful and graceful, popular and ascendant, but barren and childless, forlorn because of it), called by the celestial powers that her emperor derives his mandate from into a mission on a strange sphere inhabited by spider demons. She is pressed into service by one of the evil powers native there, eventually escapes, and is assigned to aid a local hero during a time of upheval. The hero pauses to overlook the slow execution of thousands of his people's children, and while she can tell he wants to intervene, he doesn't have the power, so he grieves and escapes via magical paths. She also wants to save the children, and spirits them away, but then has to beg, cajole, and intice a mad god to heal them. One she keeps as her own child, having the mad god give him a human face.

In Malazan, demons are just more people. And warrens are just worlds. (And somebody flooded one. Dwell on that.)


I concluded that there was no sapper captain, and the sappers kept up a charade that they didn't even bother try to make look plausible in order to avoid having an officer set on their NCO's paradise. That way they could keep doing the impossible feats of awesome constantly required of them without wasting time on trivialities.
26. amphibian
@ Alisonwonderland, 20

"The hard shell she has built around her heart cracks a tiny bit when Baudin leaves at her command ... just like a recalcitrant child who, in the midst of a tantrum, yells at her parent to go away, and then is shocked when the parent actually does leave. Later in this book we'll find the hard shell completely shatters and dissolves."

The "angry child shattered by a departure" metaphor works for other characters, as well as Felisin. A certain goddess in later books, who enjoys a strong connection to Felisin, is very well described by that metaphor.

It goes to show how characters can be more than retreads of the same themes and ideas, if the author has the patience and trust in the audience to see that (plus a contract to write ten stonkin' books too). The newer characters can deepen or add to the poignancy of the older ones as well.
27. amphibian
@Alisonwonderland, 24

"But that is a strange mixture of knowledge and ignorance, isn't it? Back in GotM, the name Rake was so unknown that even Baruk, high mage and very learned scholar, could only find the name in the most ancient of dusty tomes. Yet, we now find Kulp, a lowly squad mage, who not only knows of the power of Rake and Ossric, but even that Ossric had gone to ground a century or so ealier? And if he knew all that, how come he's ignorant of Icarium, the baddest mofo (powerwise) in the whole series?"

It's partly a GotM'ism and partly a hint as to information inequalities all around us.

The Malazans spent years fighting the Crimson Guard and the Rake/Brood alliance. Kulp may have fought directly in one of the campaigns, been a resident of the battleground lands or have been educated through word of mouth/self-study on the details of Rake and other draconean ascendants.

Despite Darujhistan's rather self-absorbed outlook upon the world, it's really kind of a GotM'ism in that it was a nice way to emphasis Rake's mysterious history and get a certain feeling across to the reader. Baruk, in particular, should have known better. He's been around the block enough times to have known who Brood, Rake and the other ascendants were by heart.

As for the lack of Icarium-related knowledge, the Malazans haven't had the fortune to run in Icarium yet. He's been wandering around other places for a long time.

And Baudin came from Baudin.
Sydo Zandstra
28. Fiddler
I was typing an explanation on how Kulp could know of Rake and Osric, but it was getting too long with too many 'if's' , so I'll give the short version.

Rake is known to the ME. They already met him in Genebackis, and knew enough to send full mage power against him at Pale.

Osric's name is probably entwined with Rake's in old stories, with them having had undecided clashes in the past. A mage could know about that, being longer lived and studying and all.

As for Icarium, his having been badass was a lot longer ago than the adventures of Rake and the Andii. Also, Icarium and Kulp aren't crossing paths, and Icarium isn't really known to be aspected to a Warren as far as Kulp knows, so why should Kulp think about him specifically? ;)

On a last note, I don't think Kulp is a 'lowly squad mage'. He is the last Mage the Seventh had left, but very skillful with his own Warren.

Maybe Kulp shares some character traits with QB. :D
Karen Martin
29. ksh1elds555
"OH BOY! Did anyone else get breathless with the arrival of the FREAKING UNDEAD DRAGON?!"

I was ooohing and ahhhing and giggling in delight when I read that part, even the 2nd time!!
Steven Halter
30. stevenhalter
normalphil@25:Yes, Apt is "just a nice person". I think that is the nice trope overturn here. In fantasyland we are used to demons being bad or supernatural.
Steven Halter
31. stevenhalter
Fiddler@28:Yeah, people often underestimate "lowly squad mages".
Steven Halter
32. stevenhalter
Yeah, that scene was another way up on the way cool cinematic scale.
And yeah, Gessler waving just ices the cake.
Sydo Zandstra
33. Fiddler

Just wait.

In comparison, some Bridgeburners we know have moved up and down the ranks some, and actually pride themselves on it. they just don't care about the status of ranks, but do what's necessary.

Without spoiling too much, the same goes for Sergeant Gesler and Corporal Stormy later on, when somebody asks if they happen to be the same people with the same names that held higher ranks before. Stormy actually admits that he was doing better than Gesler, since he made it back to corporal while Gesler was a sergeant. :D

So basically, I am sure there was a Sapper Captain, but he was focusing on the job he was told to do in private instead of attending staff meetings.

And that situation pays off really well :D
34. amphibian
How many of you wish you could pull a sapper captain and never attend another staff meeting again?
Amir Noam
36. Amir
I like the differences highlighted between the Tithansi encampment, and the shanty town of the peasant army. I also find the fact that they’re mere wagon-widths apart and not fighting yet a little odd—why would the Tithansi not have got straight down to the killing, after having chased them for months?
As you've probably noticed later on throughout this chapter, the peasant army is part of the Seven Cities rebellion, not part of Coltaine's train. Remember that the entire continent rose against the Malazans - the Tithansi are just one particular tribe.
37. osyris
shalter@17: I think I clearly remember thinking of that same person when I read those lines :? Unless I've missed something completely that clarifies this comment later on? Is it not obvious?
Steven Halter
38. stevenhalter
osyris@37:In MOI we get the explicit answer. Just leaving room for guesses here. :-)
Steven Halter
39. stevenhalter
This post has an interesting description of a medieval battlefield (or the remains thereof) that may be of interest to readers here.
Maggie K
40. SneakyVerin
I do remember that on my first read through of ch 10 that i was very confused by the 'raising' of the spirits who proceeded to kill their children before being killed by their kin. Somehow I put it all down to a story and not something they were seeing fight their enemies. When I later read over it again--the horror!
Dan K
41. kramerdude
SaltManZ@8: I've had the wait a minute that character was introduced here moment a few times so far. First T'amber in the prologue and now Cuttle (I'm pretty sure its the same guy) and a few others.

In fact one thing that is cool to me doing this reread is how far into the book we get before the "Chain of Dogs" storyline really starts. Thinking back its the part of the story that resonates the most, but up until now its played only a "relatively" minor part of the story.
Chris Hawks
42. SaltManZ
@kramer: Cuttle jumped out me because even though it's my third time through the series, I still only think of him as ever being a Bonehunter.
Dan K
43. kramerdude
On that undead dragon bit...

As someone who read the books as they were published (and would go back to review sections of the books as necessary) by the time I reached the point where I learned of the particular character in question I had forgotten the details of this particular scene. So there was no smack my head moment to say "Oh that's who that was back in DG".

Yet immediately recognizable in the scope of a full reread which is, I guess, why I'm here.
Dan K
44. kramerdude
SaltMan: I'll admit that one jumped out at me more than others too. All I will add to that is, "So few, so few..."
45. Toster
the way different characters pop-up in different ways is one of my favourite things about the MBotF.

case in point, these two chapters. we get: cuttle, rake and osric, and a gigantic undead dragon. they come into the story, then step away, then step back in. sometimes they aren't very focal, at other times (Rake, TtH) an entire book is dependent upon them and their actions. just great stuff
Adam Bodestyne
46. thanners
“We’re in the dark, Trell.” Alright, how did they not notice this? Or is it more a commentary on their state of mind and Pust’s plans for them?

Hmm, well apart from it possibly being a commentary on their state of mind (which I hadn't thought about when I read it), I'd just assumed that Trell have better vision in darkness than humans do. They'd been talking for long enough that it went dark (were they indoors? torches went out, or whatever), and when Mappo was about to just casually walk away, Fiddler had to remind him that it was darker than Fiddler could see.
47. alt146
Coltaine's road is a cool scene in a book rife with cool scenes, I love reading about the seventh :D What do turtles do in winter anyone? :P

I don't know about anyone else, but the three times I have read this book, I have always given up on Felesin in Chapter 11. Up to that point I feel a fair amount of sympathy and pity, but after she chases Baudin away I care way less about her. Her response of "I haven't changed" as they recover from falling off the ship resounds much more deeply than just her physical conditon.

Not something to discuss since it involves a lot of HoC spoilers, but keep in mind the river of blood has been appearing to Felesin since they were on the island. Given what we know about that from later, how accountable can Felesin really be for her actions at this point?
Tai Tastigon
48. Taitastigon
OK, ye all I´m late to the proceedings.

Gesler waving to the undead dragon...*g*

At some point, as we proceed, I will have to do a *Top Ten Moments of Gesler & Stormy Hilariously Brainless Irreverence*.

I am anxiously waiting for the moment where Gesler starts yanking crackthongs...*ggg*
Gerd K
49. Kah-thurak
I think until this point, Felisin is as responsible for her action as any teenager would be in her circumstances. At least I see no indication for ascendants pushing or pulling her. Unless you want to blame Olar Ethil, which seems a little far fetched to me.
Tricia Irish
50. Tektonica

I'm with you. My last moments of hope died when she reacted as she did to the news that Tavore had sent Baudin to protect her.

No glimmer of "OK Tavore, it was a shitty thing to do, but thanks for trying to get me out of it." She seems to understand the political exigencies.....that Tavore had to do it to gain her job, because of Ganoes marching with the outlaw Dujek, and the noble purge.( Although, Tavore could've possibly made other career choices.) No thanks to Baudin for excepting a brutal assignment from Tavore, and nearly dying many times in her defense.

All she has is snark, cruel words, and banishment. Her last vestige of humanity may have died with that little twist in her heart. The price she paid for Tavore's rise in power is astronomical. I hope Tavore finds out about this story at some point. She needs to know the cost of her rise to power. It might break her, but she wouldn't be the only one who gets broken.
Steven Halter
51. stevenhalter
re: Duiker's three month trip:

In some ways, he had become their icon, his journey symbolic, burdened with unasked-for significance.

I thought this was nicely done. We are following Duiker on his journey of discovery. We gradually see the effects of Coltaine's march rather than just plunging in amidst the troops. A nice slow reveal. We are also privy to the secret that while the whirlwind troops have adopted Duiker as the icon of their struggle he is in fact Malazan. The whirlwind troops are not aware that their perception is twisted and reality does not at all bear resemblence to their expectations. This is also echoed by their repeated defeats by Coltaine who they would have initially thought an easy enemy and then imagine he must have demonic powers to so oppose them. Their expectations turn upon them--one might say that in serving the whirlwind they are themselves caught .
52. Toster
@49 Kah-Thurak

well, recurring dreams about a river of blood, dreams that happen every night, are not typical of a teenage girl imo. taken in light of future revelations about a certain goddess (not olar ethil), one could reasonably come to the conclusion that felisin, while certainly not exonerated for being a ungrateful witch, had a connection to the aforementioned goddess. i don't think her behaviour was influenced by the deity, but her thinking might have been.
Julian Augustus
53. Alisonwonderland
@52 Toster:

Later in this same book the goddess you refer to, speaking through Felisin, tells Heboric that all his trials and tribulations to that point was not because his god had abandoned him, but because he was being prepared to assume a certain role. It is not outside the realm of possibility that the goddess herself might have been doing the same thing with Felisin.
Julian Augustus
54. Alisonwonderland
Tek @50:
Her last vestige of humanity may have died with that little twist in her heart.

You know, I think it is the other way round. It was her humanity, buried deep, that twitched with that little twist in her heart when Baudin left.
55. Alt146

I don't mean in terms of being actively controlled, I just wonder if maybe Felesin might have been slightly more forgiving if she hadn't been giving visions of destruction in which vengeance upon Tavore is a strong feature. I never realised before how early on Felesin starts to have the dreams and I think there impact at this point is still decidely understated. This makes sense considering that other than one subtle hint, we don't know their origin and true meaning yet.

Given who that hint was from, I have a feeling most of what we have seen from him in this chapter is pure misdirection. But that is a discussion for nearer to the end of the book.

Also, the link on the main page of the reread has gotten broken somehow, there's an extra blogs/2010/04/ in the URL
Tricia Irish
56. Tektonica

Then I wish she'd listen to those little twitches! She actually has thoughts about how nasty she's being, but is nasty anyway. That is a choice. The only thing you can control are your thoughts and reactions.

As a mother of a daughter, recently returned from becoming someone else for about 4 years in her late teens ;-), I should probably cut Felesin more slack for all her trauma, her age, etc., but my god, I find her very very hard to like, just like I found my own hard to "like" at times. I'd like to smack some sense and gratefulness into her!

I think Felesin's character pushes several of my real life buttons. Good work SE. :-)

Maybe at this point Felesin is being subtly manipulated by the dreams she's having. Certainly the group's positioning seems fortuitous. I hadn't picked up on that the first time through.
Steven Halter
57. stevenhalter
In the first chapter, we met an unnamed captain as Duiker sttod watching the Wickans unload. Now, we learn his name:

One of the Seventh's officers turned and Duiker recognized him as the soldier who'd stood at his side when Coltaine and his Wickans first landed in Hissar....
The liberators of Guran, the captain known to Duiker said. Can't recall if we were ever introduced. I'm Chenned. That's Captain Sulmar.

In the first chapter reread, I theorized that the unnamed captain was the same unnamed captain that we had seen in Gardens of the Moon. Now that we have a name, I'm not so sure. The back story still seems to fit, but I think that we also see the unnamed captain in a later book. Any thoughts on if this was the same one or just a momentary synching?
Steven Halter
58. stevenhalter
Nil to Dukier:

You once wondered how the Emperor won our hearts. Now you know.

In this passage, Nil describes how the Emperor shows the Wickans what their small fueds are doing to them. I liked this passage as it again shows that Kel wasn't just a crazy old mage. He knew what he was doing and was very effective.
Joe Long
59. Karsa
@50 (and others)

I've never been a fan of Felisin...but at this point her story isn't done and she has plenty of opportunity to redeem herselft


tried to set text to white and the *$(& forums stripped it. sigh. no spoiler for you! :)

*end spoilier*
60. MDW
@57 We seem to meet the unnamed captain from the beginning of GoTM in HoC, althoug the identity is only supposition; I can't recall if Chenned survives the current book.
Dan K
61. kramerdude
shalter@57: Pretty sure I was the one who asked that question. I definitely lean in the direction of Chenned not being in GotM, but not 100% sure.
Steven Halter
62. stevenhalter
60:Yeah, I think there is an appearance in HoC.
60&61:That seems to be the downside. Although, I've been searching and the answer seems ambiguous (or at least non-explicit)--more when we get there.
63. David DeLaney
The link to this reread post from the collected-rereads page is broken again; it's got an extra "/blogs/2010/04" in the middle. Could someone fix that please? Thx.

64. David DeLaney
Amanda: "Surely Geslar, Stormy and Truth are not dead? Surely not?"

Oh, surely not! {sfx: back of hand to forehead, swoons onto carefully placed sofa}

You'll be slowly realizing, through these first few books, that you have to - at LEAST - see the body (in the age-old comics convention) for someone to be dead, here. Also, it'll gradually become apparent that there are a few things involved in the process of death & dying in this setting that have been broken, or gone wrong once in a while, for Quite Some Time Now, even in cases where you DO see the body, the death, the blood (so much blood!), and the burial. More I will not say at present. (Open a file, as Bill says. It all eventually connects. Mua ha ha.)

Amanda & Bill: {express avarice towards Mappo's bag of warren of holding & stuffing}

Gee, maybe once you're between books again I could direct you two to a certain Harry Potter fanfiction...

65. Toblakai
David @ 63 - Yeah, looks broken again. Seriously Tor, I love you all, I love your books, and I am sure you all work very, very hard....but this is probably one of the worst set-up sites I visit. The design is atrocious. Very unintuitive and non-user-friendly.

But again, I LOVE YOU ALL, so I hope that takes some of the sting out. And it won't keep me from visiting. ;)

FINALLY, I am all caught up with the re-read, and with the posts, so I can join the discussion properly!

My first question is a small one: Do any of you have any ideas about Erikson's scales in these books? I would love to know what a "league" corresponds to. Is it comparable to a mile, or something larger (as is tradionally known)? Various internet searches give me lengths ranging from 8 miles to 20 or more, so I was wondering if this had been addressed before.
Mieneke van der Salm
66. Mieneke
kshield @10: DG starts only 10 years after NoK and Temper didn't have any kids (that we know of) then, so I don't think it's possible for Baudin to be Temper's son. Unless he was begotten before the start of NoK, but Temper didn't seem the kind of man to get a girl pregnant and then leave her and the baby.

As for my own observations and questions:

You know, I love how SE takes care of his horses. They're not just sort of organic transportation which you get on or get off as needed, but they become characters even though they remain nameless (at least so far). I love that Duiker was sad at the bad condition his mare was in when he got to Coltaine's encampment and how glad he is that the horsewives made her better.

Victory tastes sweetest in the absence of haunting memories, Bult. Savour it.

Another stark reminder of the cost of war. I love that line by Duiker.

Also the line "We're in the dark, Trell." is pure genius! Not just because it seems so deadpan, but also because it's another one of those lines that could apply to (first-time) readers as well *grin*

One thing I was wondering though, especially after David's remarks @64, the child-warlocks that were lost during the battle, are they truly gone now or did they get snatched for another body transfer? Or is that something that needs lots of preparation and can't be done on the fly? Do we ever find out or is this the last we see of them?
Tricia Irish
67. Tektonica
I don't think Baudin has to be Temper's son...the way SE worded it, Baudin's daddy was a Talon, so it could've been any one of those guys in the bar. Vague, but still a connection.
Steven Halter
68. stevenhalter
Silanda burned.

In addition to horses and sappers (grin) in the scene where they enter the fiery warren, we start to get a sense of the Silanda as a character.
We also, get one a wonderful couple of paragraphs where it seems like everything is lost. Everything is fire. And then...
We are in a desert, sitting on old water washed stones. The world is calm and after effects need to be examined.
Very nice.
Iris Creemers
69. SamarDev
@ toblakai 65 re league: I wondered that by myself often, but 'decided' lazily without research or visualizing distances I would see it like 1 league = 1 km. Finally triggered by your question I found several distances as well. I liked this definiton most (based on gutfeeling, no reason):

"The league most frequently refers to the distance a person or a horse can walk in an hour, however, the league has multiple values."

Doing some ‘math’: when 1 league = 3 miles (which you can walk in 1 hour), 270 leagues left to Aren makes 810 miles (or 1296 km as I’m used to). This is from Amsterdam (Netherlands) through Belgium and France to the border with Spain. Quite a walk with a train of refugees through rough terrain!

But of course this formula isn’t the formula. For example, I read the first two books in Dutch (and even then comprehended less than half of it, which came later ;-)). There the distance to Aren is translated to “600, closer to 700 miles”, so the translator was using another formula.

Anyway, for me ‘hours of traveling’ fit the series better than an exact amount of miles or kilometres.
Joris Meijer
70. jtmeijer
Mieneke @66, children grow up awfully fast at times in this world, much to the chargrin of many. But that should only start to show up later in the series.
Steven Halter
71. stevenhalter
Mieneke @66: I'd go with a Talon as Baudin's father (sorry Robin). Baudin doesn't seem quite old enough to have been recruited by Dancer, but he does seem about the right age to have had a father in the Talons who then "led" his son into their society.
Chris Hawks
72. SaltManZ
I want to say that Baudin's father was also named "Baudin" but I can't remember (or find) where that was stated. (I also assume that's what amphibian was getting at in @27.)
Steven Halter
73. stevenhalter
Something to note about Apsalar's father is that Apsalar's possession took place in about 1161 (Burn's Sleep). DG is taking place in about 1164. It seems likely that ST took papa when the possession occurred. So, he's been hanging out with Pust for 2 or 3 years (neglecting time compression through Shadow).
I think this implies some foresight on the part of ST as he anticipated that the straightforward plan with the possession might need--augmentation.
Steven Halter
74. stevenhalter

A black feather cape? Is there meaning behind that? Crows? Because, seriously, if Coltaine isn’t wearing that for some symbolic reason, I can’t believe it offers more protection that a good old leather cloak? Feathers?

He is Coltaine of the Crow clan. So the feather cape is something of a mark of his leadership. I don't think that the cape has magical properties per se, but it does provide a nice look and also some foreshadowing ...
75. Toblakai

This is also how I see it. I thinks it's just another little "colouring" detail that Erikson works so well, not a plot point or reveal moment per se. At least not yet, anyway.
76. Toblakai

I like the "Distance you can walkin an hour" scale. That seems to fit much better, and also keeps it more fantastical, if you will, by excluding such normal "earthly" measurements like miles and kilometers and so on.
Melissa Goodrum
77. Daydreamer
SaltMan Z @ 72:
I thought I remembered that about Baudin's father, too. I think maybe it's mentioned in HoC? I can't really think of anywhere else where it would have come up.
Sydo Zandstra
78. Fiddler
@Daydreamer and SaltMan Z:

I remember that too.

I thought that would be revealed in this book though. If not, definitely HoC...
Melissa Goodrum
79. Daydreamer
For once I actually managed to find something I was looking for in this series! I don't know if it's mentioned before but early in HoC (Chapter 5 page 287 in my book) is this exchange:
"He was assassinated in Quon-"
"The father was. Not the son."
He's then referred to as Baudin Elder.
Steven Halter
80. stevenhalter
Daydreamer@79:Good catch. That pretty much resolves that.
Robin Lemley
81. Robin55077
@ 71 Shalter
"I'd go with a Talon as Baudin's father (sorry Robin)."

I hadn't even said anything yet! You must be remembering my comments back in NoK. (Where I shared how stupid I was that for a time, I thought Temper's "real name" may have been Baudin Sr.)

I feel almost like an "expert" on this (next to Steve and Cam, of course) as I devoted two entire rereads of the series in an attempt to find Temper's real name, and trying to link Temper to being Baudin Sr. I can tell you all (with 99.999999% certainty), that the link is not there. For those speculating, we are told specifically that Baudin's father's name is also Baudin. He was specifically referred to as "Baudin Sr." but I cannot remember where that specific reference is made. Baudin Sr. was definitely a Talan and, according to Baudin's comments here in this chapter, his father "trained" him and/or passed this on to him. As far as I could discern, we are never told which of the Talons in NoK was Baudin Sr. The only information that I "drew" relative to Baudin Sr. from what I read was that Baudin Sr. survived the Night of Knives as he was able at some point to tell his son that he had been there and saw Kel & Dancer ascend. As far as I can recall, to date, we have no other information relative to Baudin Sr.'s existence past the Night of Knives.
Steven Halter
82. stevenhalter
Robin: That's true. The existence of a Baudin Sr. doesn't preclude Temper's actual name being Baudin. Temper just never seemed very "coverty" to me so he didn't really seem like a talon sort. :-)
Robin Lemley
83. Robin55077
Also, we are told through his POV in NoK, when he is in Mock's Hold and sees Dancer coming down the stairs, that he was never a Talon. At that point, he speculates about some rumors he had heard about a secret organization of Dancer's (the Talon) but he doesn't really know much about them other than that they existed. Thus, Temper was not a Talon.
Steven Halter
84. stevenhalter
Yep. Now, I do think there are quite a few unanswered questions about Baudin. Both at this point in the read and in the future.
Robin Lemley
85. Robin55077
A couple of weeks ago DayDreamer wrote:
"We're told that Obelisk has been inactive in 7 Cities but are we ever told why and what changed that?"
I responded at that time that we would begin to get the answers to these questions this week. Please bear with me as I am running on memory alone here since I don't have my book with me for reference. I apologize now for not being able to provide exact quotes from the text as I prefer to do. unaligned card in the Deck of Dragons. The Deck is one of the things in this series that I definitely feel I still do not have a good grasp on, despite multiple reads. But I think it is safe to say that some cards/positions are held more "permanent" by an ascendant (for example, King of High House Death is always Hood) and some cards/positions are held temporarily as we will learn as we progress through the series.

Obelisk is one of the more "permanent" positions and held by the ascendant Burn. (This is not a spoiler as it clearly states in the Glossary of the books that Obelisk is Burn.) Obelisk is "past, present, future" and Burn is the godess of earth and land. So, the way I see it the reference to Obelisk being "inactive" in 7C does not mean that time (past/present/future) is inactive, but rather that Burn is inactive in 7C...the spirts of earth and land have been inactive in 7C.

Now, to DayDreamer's questions. The easy one first..."What has changed?" The answer to that is simple....Sormo E'nath. After Duiker rejoins Coltaine, he is told (I think by List but it may have been Lull) that Sormo awakened the spirits of the earth/land that had been inactive for many, many years.

It is not quite as easy to explain the "what happened" but here goes my theory. In this week's chapters we see Sormo and Duiker (and others) standing at the foot of a mountain of ice and Sormo provides a very informative explantion of the Jaghut warren of Omtose Phallack (I'm sure I spelled that wrong!). At some point in that explanation, Sormo states something to the effect that the Jaghut sometimes raised their "ice barriers" slowly and sometimes quickly but we do know that spirits, including gods and goddesses, that were unfortnate enough to get trapped in the ice when it was formed, were trapped until such time as the ice melted to release them. We know this because the Semk god was one such trapped soul. So, it stands to reason (at least to me) that those spirits who had time or were able "fled" the area so as not to get caught in the Jaghut magic. In particular, it makes sense to me that this is the "what happened" to cause the earth/land spirits to be "inactive" in 7C.

Later in DG we are more specifically told why the earth/land spirits fled Jaghut land in the area of 7C south of the Vather river, but I will leave that exlanation for when we get there.

Well, that's my theory anyway.

Joe Long
86. Karsa

I think it is safe to say that some cards/positions are held more "permanent" by an ascendant (for example, King of High House Death is always Hood)

actually, I personally don't think it works this way. the card represents who is currently in that position. the powerful ones are hard to dislodge, and therefore seem "permanent", but there is nothing special about them in the sense that if something bigger or badder came along and decided to kill them and take their spot...and won, then there would be a new face on the card.

we learn a lot about what is going on with Obelist/Burn in MoI...
Robin Lemley
87. Robin55077
@ 86. Karsa

Sorry I wasn't more clear. That's basically what I meant when I put it in quotes the way I did. I was trying to emphasize the difference between cards for example "King of High House Death" meaning Hood as opposed to say Tattersail's reading in GotM where she refers to "Virgin of Death" meaning Sorry. Hood more "permanently" fills the King of Death card where Sorry was far more "temporary" as the Virgin of Death.

The point I was trying to make (and obviously did not do well) is that Obelisk is Burn. For the timeframe covered in these books, at least up to The Crippled God, Burn holds the Obelisk position. Some other entity may have held it before her, but as it pertains to the events occurring in these books, Obelisk means Burn.

Sorry I wasn't clear in my earlier post.
Robin Lemley
88. Robin55077
@ Bill
“Hood’s breath, think we’d fight to save a piece of cloth on a pole? . . . Nordo took two arrows. We held off a squad of Semk so he could die in his own time.”

This is one of the things that I absolutely love about these books. MOST writers would have given us the "defending the flag" scene and we would have read it and gone on and not thought much about it because that is what we are used to getting. The "honor" of the men defending the standard at risk to their own lives, blah, blah, blah.

However, Erikson gives us something different. A different kind of honor, more personal, but just as strong. Nordo, fatally wounded, lay there slowly dying, and as he did they held off a whole squad of Semk (what's in a squad about a dozen or so men?), at great risk to their own lives so Nordo could "die in his own time." What other writer have we ever read who would put that much time and thought into a couple of sentences in the middle of a book with characters never mentioned before or after this?

It is the way that Erikson does scenes like this over and over again throughout this series, that keeps brining me back over and over again to his books.

Robin Lemley
89. Robin55077
@ Amanda
"How is Coltaine keep his straggling refugee army, his “stumbling city” ahead of pursuit? This is truly a feat of superhuman proportions—and vaguely unrealistic! I magic involved? Or is Coltaine just THAT good? The fact that even Duiker—an historian—is astonished suggests that this is a real achievement by Coltaine."

The way I see it, there are numerous reasons why Coltaine has thus far been successful in keeping his "Chain of Dogs" in front of the 7C Army. I will list/explain some that I feel are most important.

First and foremost, Coltaine is, and always was, a great military leader. He is a tactician. He understands fighting, and battle plans, and playing the numbers, whether they be superior or inferior. Simply put, Coltaine is an exceptional military mind. On the 7C side, Kamist Reloe is none of those things. Reloe is a Mage. I think he is referred to as Korbolo Dom's High Mage but even as a High Mage, he is not a Tayschrenn or a Quick Ben. He is a Mage, not a military leader, not a military mind. He has never, (in my opinion because he doesn't know how) "unified" his "army."

Second, the 7C Army is basically a large number of "individuals," each acting on their own rather than in a combined, concerted effort, while Coltaine's Army is a true army, a single unit acting in unison. Coltaine's Army consists of the Wikans, what remains of the 7th, and the remnants of the Hissar Guard that remained loyal to the Malazans on the night of the uprising. Every one of them "military" personnel, with military training, with military minds of their own. They know how to fight, but probably more importantly, they know how to act as a unit and follow the orders of their leader. The 7C Army is made up of a hodge-podge of local 7C tribes (most of which were enemies of each other and would not have a clue on how to work together as a unit), the peasants (non-military persons and many who probably picked up weapons for the first time in their lives on the night of the rebellion to kill "Mezla"), and those soldiers from Dom's Army that happend to be with Kamist Reloe in Hisser the night it all began....all led by Kamist Reloe, a Mage.

Third, and not to beat a dead horse but, Kamist Reloe is a Mage. He knows how to fight with magic, but does not have a clue how to unify and lead an Army. Kamist Reloe is a High Mage....without access to his Warren(s). Which means that right now, the 7C Army in pursuit of Coltaine is a very large group of individuals lead by a man with no real military mind, no real leadership abilities, and his one true weapon is inaccessible to him. Reloe cannot use his magic. Without access to his warren, what is he, other than a cruel, brutal, sadistic individual, with probably at minimum 350,000 men at his disposal and no idea what to do with them. He is chasing Coltaine and his Army (which, as best I can figure is well below 50,000 men) and Coltaine saddled with up to 50,000 refugees. If Korbolo Dom had been leading the 7C Army when they marched out of Hissar, it would all have been over way before now....but Korbolo Dom was not there. Luckily for Coltaine and his Army, they have High Mage Kamist Reloe in charge of their pursuit.

Fourth, Sormo E'nath and the Wikan warlocks. There is no access to warrens, but Coltaine's Wickans have accessed an older type of magic, not related to the warrens but related to the land itself. A magic beyond memory of anyone in 7C. A magic they don't know and don't know how to combat. The 7C Army has nothing with which to answer Sormo E'nath and his group of warlocks.

Fifth, the people of 7C are a very, very superstitious group of people. The fact that Coltaine's Wickans were able to stop the Tithansi press that first night and the rumors started that Coltaine was a demon, etc., combined with the magic being used by Sormo and his group, and the fact that Reloe cannot access his magic, must be eating into and feeding the fear of every member of Reloe's army. Every little success that Coltaine is able to squeeze from an engagement is multipled in the minds of the superstitious 7C Army, and Kamist Reloe is incapable of stopping that or countering it in any way.

Make no mistake, Coltaine's Army should have been wiped out that first night. Further, having escaped the city of Hissar, Reloe and his 7C Army should have wiped them out during that first engagement. However, the fact that they didn't, gives a bigger advantage to Coltaine every single time they clash and Coltaine is able to regather his refugees and move on. Every step that Coltaine and his Army are able to take on the Chain of Dogs reinforces the weaknesses of Kamist Reloe and the 7C Army, reveals more of Reloe's inability to lead, reinforces the superstitions of the 7C natives. Every step that Coltaine takes away from Hissar is a victory for Coltaine and a defeat for Reloe and his 7C Army, whether they even engaged in battle or not.

So, although on the surface it seems to be so "unbelievable" and "unrealistic" that Coltaine can still be on the move with his refugees, hopefully, when you look at it deeper, you can see that it is not quite as "unrealistic" as it first appears, but rather an amazing feat by Coltaine's tiny Army against far, far greater numbers.

Sydo Zandstra
90. Fiddler
Slightly off topic. I am in book 3 of RG right now, and just read the part about the Drum again.

That chapter is full of worthwhile quotes from multiple Malazan soldiers in any case. By the time we get there, the quoting game is probably going to make the TOR servers go smoking...

The Sapper porn around Strings setting up the Drum as viewed by Cuttle is funny and satisfying though.

And Stormy's thought about being happy that the Malazan Marines are set out again finally to do what they were actually trained for as intended by Kellanved (go out and inflict damage in a covert op way) did really fit too. :D

Note: I am just making a comment on a future book here, and I left out spoiling details like names of people and places where plots are concerned.

If you reply, cloud your details, please . If I can do it, so can you. ;-)

I would really love to be able to discuss this openly, since this is a reread after all. Not a first time read, except for Amanda, who already said she doesn't mind spoilers.
Bill Capossere
91. Billcap
I can absolutely see how people can think the philosophy sometimes gets too much of a good thing--it's certainly one of those very subjective responses. I tend to prefer more rather than less. I don't think I've ever thought it crossed the line, though it'll be interesting to find out on the re-read.

the variety of magic in the world is one of my favorite aspects as well. Outside of the fact that it just makes more sense to me--that there are different ways to access power or that different cultures would find different ways to access the same power--it just makes for a richer, less monotone reading experience. A rich stew of magic rather than the same potato again and again.

Yeah--I hemmed and hawed a bit on that one a bit
Bill Capossere
92. Billcap
Yeah, I actually had something about Felisin's "I haven't changed" line in my original notes and it didn't get in for some reason. As you said, it does do a nice job of summing up her character

that upcoming Fiddler scene cracks me up every time I think of it

on Shadowthrone's "foresight"--I agree and think his ability to think on vastly different time scales than most in his planning ahead allows him to match wits with even those Ascendants and Gods who do so as well thanks to their personal longevity.
Bill Capossere
93. Billcap

Great entries and I agree with everything you said in all three (and thanks for the clarification Karsa and Robin for taking the building on that clarification with no defensiveness)
Melissa Goodrum
94. Daydreamer
Fiddler @90

I'm reading RG for the first time at the moment. Just started book 2. Sounds like there's lots of great bits coming up! I'm finding it quite hard to get into though and I don't really know why. Quite a few of my favourite characters, one character I used to hate but who I'm starting to change my mind about and plenty of interesting stuff going on to try to make sense of. Hopefully it will pick up for me soon.
Sydo Zandstra
95. Fiddler

The last lines of book 2 will make you go 'Oh God WTF! YES!!!'

And then Book 3 will deliver. :)
Steven Halter
96. stevenhalter
Robin@85:I think the wickan magic has something to do with the Obelisk reactivation, as you mention. There is also the first time Sormo reawakened the spirits of the earth--when they were attacked by the wasps.
Steven Halter
98. stevenhalter

and we’re seeing these transformations come about. Heboric has his hands and his warring warrens, and now Baudin’s experience with the fire has left him “tempered” and “heavier” and with the feeling that “something’s changed.”

For Baudin, it seems like a fine application of "that which does not destroy me makes me stronger"--more on that later.
Al Cunningham
99. BygTymeGuy
Fiddler @90
As I have posted before, please don't forget those of us newbies who are just trying to get our head around these books. I am sure I am not the only one who doesn't feel comfortable enough to even be able to ask coherent questions. As time goes on, I probably will be able to comment, but for now, I appreciate the way this is going.

Be assured there will be more opportunity for discussions about topics series-wide, but hopefully they will be referring to things that foretold the event we are talking about presently, rather than in the future.

We need only look at the WOT re-read to see how that has turned into almost a forum-type discussion as so many discussions are about items that are books ahead and don't relate at all to the current chapters.

And to the rest of the community, I really not only appreciate the restraint you show in trying not to spoil it for newbies and tweeners, but also the depth of your insight as you take us through these books. I find the vast majority of you to be intelligent and well-spoken. Thanks!!
Amir Noam
100. Amir
This seems as good a chapter to raise this as any:

One thing that struck me as strange in this book is the all consuming animal/bestial nature of the Soletaken/D'ivers. In Deadhouse Gates all the Soletaken we meet are driven by animal instincts/ferocisy etc. We are told that they cannot abide each other's presence and have been competing for dominance for ever. (They are all instinctively driven to the 7C continent by the Path of Hands)

My problem is that that we've already met Soletakens that don't fit the above bestial description - namely Rake and his 4-5 other Tiste Andii Soletaken (and later in the series we'll meet other draconian Soletaken as well).

When I first read DG, I kept wondering if somewhere nearby Rake himself was driven by animal instinct to fight with all the other Soletaken/D'ivers along the Path of Hands, and that would be just Wrong.

I'd be willing to think of Rake as a special case (his draconian form is because of his blood, and later in DG we'll learn more about the origins of the other Soletaken). But Rake specifically refes to himself as "Soletaken" in GoTM, and I don't think the blood explanation would fit the other Tiste Andii dragons from GoTM.

It just seems to me that DG's treatment of Soletaken/D'ivers is different than elsewhere in the series. Personally, I separate Soletaken to draconian/not-draconian in order for this to make sense to me, but it seems an arbitrary separation based on what we learn in this book.
Gerd K
101. Kah-thurak
The madness affecting espeacially D'ivers (Soletaken not so much as far as I remember) is often mentioned in the books (even how Ryllanderas evaded it) so if you look at it more closely the creatures we see acting bestial on the Path of Hands are mostly D'ivers. Also staying too long in the Soletaken form seems to have a negative effect (see Treach in MoI). So I guess it is just so, that Soletaken and more so D'ivers are in danger of going mad, but some more powerfull or clever "specimen" were able to evade this curse.

Concerning Rake: Take into account what Silchas Ruin says about him beeing able to resist his draconean blood better than most others (I think in Reapers Gale?).
102. osyris

**perhaps slightly SPOILERISH**

To add to what Kah-thurak said, I also believe that it has to do with the path they took to achieve their Soletaken/D'ivers forms. It seems that most, if not all, of the beasts we encounter in DG have a commonality that explains this phenomenon. In contrast, Rake (and ther other draconian) obtained his Soletaken form via very different, more bloody means :)
Amir Noam
104. Amir
Kah-thurak @102:You're right that in DG we mostly encounter bestial D'ivers. I'll certainly look for more clues as we progress in the series (it's been so long since I've read the books - especially the first ones - and I'm (re)learning a lot along the way).

osyris @102:
I'm aware of what you've implied and have also implied the same in my post (and I don't believe that the other Andii draconian Soletaken we see in GoTM have Rake's bloody explanation).

But if Rake's style of Soletaken is really that different than the ones we encounter in DG, I would have prefered to have separate words/terminology for them - Silly example: we would have learned that the Path of Hands attracks Type-I-Soletaken, while Rake in GoTM would think to himself that he was a Type-II-Soletaken, etc.
Gerd K
105. Kah-thurak
You also have to consider why the Soletaken/D'ivers follow the Path of Hands... they seek Ascension (MoI Spoiler: Maybe even the vacant Beast Throne). This is nothing Rake needs to be looking for ;-)
Robin Lemley
106. Robin55077
Removed as a double post. Now at @ 108. Sorry!
Gerd K
107. Kah-thurak
Is there truly an "all consuming need" to follow the Path of Hands? I think the motivation stated in the book is the desire for ascension, to become dominant among the shapeshifters, maybe their god. I do not think that there is actually some sort of compulsion involved.
Robin Lemley
108. Robin55077
@ 100. Amir

Good thought! I may be way off base here but I saw this "all-consuming" need to follow the Path of Hands as an afflicition specific to those Soletaken/D'ivers that were the descendants of the First Empire/First Human Empire. If that is too narrow a group, then perhaps an afflicition specific to the "natives" or the descendants of the Four Founding Races (although I cannot really recall any reference to a Jughut, K'Chain, or Forkural Assail Soletaken/D'ivers off the top of my head).

Perhaps that is the distinction that you are looking for?

Just a thought.

Steven Halter
109. stevenhalter
Kah-thurak:The "all consuming need" comes from the discussion between Mappo and Fiddler. Mappo tells Fiddler of the Soletaken's need for dominance.
As you mentioned, Silchas Ruin states that Rake has his Draconian blood under control--we'll meet some characters who don't seem to have it under quite the control of Rake.
I think it is also (as Robin@108 says) the path to becoming Soletaken that has greater or lesser effects on this aspect.
In the next chapter we'll see some of the effects of this.
Tony Zbaraschuk
110. tonyz
And another classical reference: the women killing their children in the defeat is memorialized in the famous statues of the dying Gauls at Pergamon (IIRC).
Gerd K
111. Kah-thurak
"I think it is also (as Robin@108 says) the path to becoming Soletaken that has greater or lesser effects on this aspect.
In the next chapter we'll see some of the effects of this."

Yes, though I doubt, that a major number of D'ivers or Soletaken could have survived from that time. Gryllen, Mesremb, Ryllanderas, Treach, but that should be pretty much it... Where the others come from is an interesting question. How many ways of becoming Soletaken/D'ivers are we shown?
(spoiler, white text)
1. Rake's Way (Tiam's Blood, can be inherited)
2. Burke's Way (K'rul's "Potion", possible from the 1st Empire)
3. Ganoes Way (Blood of a Hound of Shadow, though questionable whether he is a true Soletaken, even if Soliel takes him for one)
4.1st Empire Ritual
5. The Jheck tribe (a true race of Soletaken?)
An intersting point is, that we do not see the creation of a D'ivers in the series.
Steven Halter
112. stevenhalter
Kah-thurak@111:There do seem to be lots of them. One possible addition to the list:
spoiler (white):
6.QB is a possible for of D'ivers with his 'soul eating'.
hazel hunter
113. Hetan
@111 - I'm not sure why you don't think the Soletaken and D'ivers could have survived this long, after all we know Rake et all are hundreds of thousands of years old and they're Soletaken.
We also meet another Soletaken in MoI who has lived since before the Ritual of Tellann. I think they have a large enough territory and if it weren't for the Path of Hands they would probably keep clear of each other - it's just the seduction of power that's calling to them now.
@117 - it's also said they DO have a need for dominance -
"There are exceptions...Yet, within them all, there is a hunger as deep in the bone as the bestial fever itself. The lure to dominance. To command all other shapeshifters, to fashion an army of such creatures - all slaved to your desire."

I don't think Rake et al would be affected by this as they seem to have a higher degree of control over themselves than the Soletaken on the Path of Hands - they are the exception.

Regarding how many ways to become Soletaken - there's also Kulp's comment that they are borne that way - spoiler (white) the Imass Bonecasters for example and the Eres who were all Bonecasters and from whom the Imass descended.
Basically it all boils down to blood in one form or another. I don't worry about the eleint because we learn that they (most of them at least) have found some measure of control over the fever in later books
Regarding the Jheck - aren't they Human First Empire also? I'm pretty sure they are.
As for Mappo's sack - yes we do learn which warren it is ;)
The other reference that Amanda picked up on nicely is that of Baudin's being "annealed" in the fire - when this is word is resurrected in later books, it's another one of those awesome foreshadowing things that make you go WTF? that's wicked!.
hazel hunter
114. Hetan
I appear to be having difficulties with the spoiler (white text) comments. My apologies to all - I've tried to block this out several times and it's not working.
115. bauchelain
@Kah-turak 111

You 5th option actually it's the same as the 4th, them being colons of the First Empire
Steven Halter
116. stevenhalter
Hetan--it took me two tries before my spoiler white out took effect. It seems like the post process strips it sometimes but not others.
Karen Martin
117. ksh1elds555
I really like having to learn some new vocabulary words as a result of reading these books... some that I've encountered and had to look up... "sussuration", "epicanthic", and now "annealed" . I will be paying attention to when I see that word used again- thanks to Hetan@113. I believe it could apply to a scene near the end of Reaper's Gale if that is what you're referring to? or possibly a major event in tBH? Well, at least I already know what "detritus" is ;-) And "potsherds".
Amir Noam
118. Amir
ksh1elds555 @117:
How about the meaning of words such as "Cotillion", "Temper", "Ferrule" or "Quillon" just to throw a few...
Karen Martin
119. ksh1elds555
Amir- I grew up in the southern US so I knew what a cotillion was. Actually, I think I made an unconscious mental connection with Dancer and Cotillion before the big reveal happened in DG because when Fiddler discussed it, I felt like I already knew it but was not sure how exactly. Ferrule and Quillon were new to me though. I'm sure there are a lot of words like that, I just threw out a couple that stood out in my mind. I'm probably picking up some new archeological terms with every book. I have a huge unabridged dictionary stuck under the bed so when I come across something like that in my reading, I can look it up before I forget. Maybe I'm weird in this, but I like being challenged with new words! Probably the frustrated English major in me. :-)
Amir Noam
120. Amir
Oh, it's definitely fun to encounter new words, and the Malazan books have these aplenty!

As a non-native English speaker, I, of course, would encounter more such words which would be new to me.

And regarding Cotillion, I don't know why it never occured to me before to search for this on YouTube. I don't think I'll ever be able to think of Dancer in quite the same way before :-)
Steven Halter
121. stevenhalter
Amir:Yes, a cotillion is quite the fancy affair, lol. Amusing since Dancer always seems somewhat nondescript.
I always took the name to be a comment on the ascension. From Dancer (a paticipant in the dance) to Cotillion (the entirety of the dance).
The dance in this case is (I think) the grand scheme, whatever it is.
Tricia Irish
122. Tektonica
I really got a kick out of Dancer becoming Cotillion! I love it when SE puts his tongue firmly in his cheek.


Don't forget when you're in a hurry....very handy for new words, and for me, spelling. ;-)
Karen Martin
123. ksh1elds555
Amir, I have to say "Bravo" on reading this series in a non-native language! that is pretty impressive. Excellent point @122 about Dancer-Cotillion, I never thought of that. Oh the layers within layers of meaning! I love it!
Amir Noam
124. Amir
Hmm. So I've decided to go check out 'Ammanas' and found:
'ammana': n. large twisted turban that Muslims wear
Amir Noam
125. Amir
Thanks. I always prefer to read a book in the language in which it was written so I do tend to read a lot of English books (especially fantasy). Relatively speaking, of course.

My real foreign language reading challenge is trying to read Lord of the Rings in Spanish, which has been in progress for about 4 years :-) (I read several pages every few months). My Spanish is very very basic, but I know the original so well that I can get by with turning to a Spanish/English dictionary only every 2-3 sentences. Hence the slow pace :-)
Robin Lemley
126. Robin55077
As Hetan said, Kulp specifically states that some Soletaken/D'ivers are born that way. Personally, I saw this as a trait passed down through the generations since the First Empire days....every now and then someone would be born with the old Soletaken/D'ivers gene. :-)

Also, I think that many of the ones that we actually meet are possibly/probably from the First Empire days. I don't think all of them are (I don't think a certain D'ivers wife that we meet is that old) but I do believe that many of them are.

Gerd K
127. Kah-thurak
"@111 - I'm not sure why you don't think the Soletaken and D'ivers couldhave survived this long, after all we know Rake et all are hundreds ofthousands of years old and they're Soletaken."

I dont think that they could not have survived this long. I just think that it is rather unlikely. They are obiously beeings of great power and with the way the malazan world works, this in itself is quite dangerous if one isnt careful and has some restraint, which most of these seem to lack.

Thanks for the bit on the origins of the Jheck, I forgot about that.

Whether the Bonecasters are born soletaken or become soletaken at some point is not revealed as far as I remember. Or am I wrong?
hazel hunter
128. Hetan
Well as has been pointed out previously a number of the Soletaken are from the time of the First Empire - and that's a good long time ago, those such as Treach, Ryllandaras, Gryllen, Messremb.

I don't disagree with you - that it seems strange that so many could have survived given the fact that they can't abide each other but I put that down to them being careful when near each other - we've seen they can be cautious. The whole Path of Hands thing is not a constant state that they live in - the drive for conquest I mean.
Bonecasters born or not? - Silverfox was born and she's soletaken.
a a-p
129. lostinshadow
@64 - don't know about that, I've always been more of a fan of Nakor's bag with the small rift to a merchant's warehouse in another world.

though speaking of 'arry potter, maybe the thing with D'ivers is similar to Voldemort and his horocruxes. Meaning that splitting oneself into multiple beings and then reforming into a single one might make a person a bit unhinged. I mean what happens when you diverge into 1000 rats but someone kills about 10 of them. When you reassemble, what are you missing, or are you missing anything?

Soletaken on the other hand are more about shape shifting but at least one person becomes one animal. So maybe less loss of "self".
a a-p
130. lostinshadow

Silverfox was born, yes, but it is not exactly your average birth. One could say she was engineered in the womb so I'm not sure she is a useful example for proving that bonecasters are born soletaken.
Gerd K
131. Kah-thurak
"Well as has been pointed out previously a number of the Soletaken arefrom the time of the First Empire - and that's a good long time ago, those such as Treach, Ryllandaras, Gryllen, Messremb."

To me this points in the opposite direction. A powerful Soletaken/D'ivers from the time of the First Empire should be famous/notorious if it is still alive and active, shouldnt it?

Anyway, we dont really know either way and can agree on insufficient data ;-)

Concerning the Boncasters: Wasnt Onrack supposed to become a Bonecaster at some point, but didnt? I am not sure about this, but if I remember correctly, this would indicate that Boncasters are not born Soletaken.
132. jelko
I realy like how filosofy is interwoven in these books and how they reflect on the history of our world to day.

Sometimes it's methamporical like in DG.
How long forgotten history still plays it's roll in everyday live, the way we think and act, like a subconsience, a hidden motive. It conflicts with the idea of the free individual - we are mere products of our past - and the disires of our greatgreatgrandfa's and ma's still lingers in our DNA.

Then there are some paralels to our real world in a more sarcastic or ironically way, - that's the way I read and understood it. The whole story of Tehol and Bug, is realy a very good parodie on American politics. (just my opion! - compare it to Belgian politics and we realy have a laugh!)

Yes, sometimes the parody is critical, but never cynical!
(and always diliverd with a lot of fantasystuff going on :-)
Starting the series with TtH (i am not bragging - it was confusing - and it felt and read like a completely insane book) I loved the way SE made the Bridgeburners muse and mul over their pasts and history. I found that a briliant intake on fantasy. Very original, wit a deep feeling of melancholy and with a scary sense for dark humour.

Since a read the series I understand some fans had problems with this. But for me at that time I LOVED IT. No discriptions of great battle scenes, just some renegade soldiers getting drunk and bitter, talking about the past. Like acts they've done when they were young and naive.
(If you see it loose from other books it realy is briliant!)

Then this musing, these deep toughts continue in DoD. I liked it, because the end is coming near and we know we have to say goodbey to some very special friends , with whom we chared a lot of time (10.000 pages! think on how SE must have felt writing DoD)

Can't wait for the Crippled God!
133. osyris

I may be completely wrong but I'm sure it was alluded somewhere that bonecasters were selected/came into their powers at the time of, or perhaps even as a part of, the ritual? Kilava is either an exception or disproves this?
Gerd K
134. Kah-thurak
I am pretty sure that this is wrong.
Thomas Jeffries
135. thomstel
I'm very far out on my "bonecaster" details, but isn't that just the generic Imass term for someone who can use sorcery and/or practices the shamanistic arts? Similar to "shouldermen/shoulderwomen"?

In the case of the Imass, since they're pretty closely tied to nature as a culture, it would makes sense that their sorcery is "flavored" in such as way as to tend towards animal shapeshifting, but in a relatively normal way (see Kilava). The Empire of Dessimbalackis somehow generated many more Divers and Soletaken, but in an unnatural way that resulted in a lot of wacky, unbalanced psychos.

So can Bonecasters be born? Sure can, and those ability persists beyond the Ritual, including the Soletaken aspect of things (see Olar Ethil). I think that's why Silverfox is such a big deal: the first flesh and blood Bonecaster in a long time, which *should be* more powerful than her undead counterparts, aside from any of the prophetic trappings.

Is she Soletaken by default because she's a Bonecaster? I don't recall any hints in that direction to date...anyone else recall?
Steven Halter
136. stevenhalter
thomstel@135:I don't recall anything explicitly saying that a Bonecaster has to have a Soletaken aspect. But, there are many little details I don't recal anymore. Probably something to watch for as we go (unless someone happens to know).
Melissa Goodrum
137. Daydreamer
Fiddler @ 95: Finished book 2 of RG today and that was indeed my reaction to the end. :D And I'm starting to enjoy it as much as all the others to date. Thanks for the encouragement. :)

RE the Bonecaster Soletaken discussion: I can't remember meeting a Bonecaster who wasn't Soletaken thus far. But what that means, if anything, I couldn't say. I do seem to remember mention of a special relationship between the Imass and the Soletaken. But that could just be me misremebering or misinterpreting something. I feel like I've forgotten so much I should be remembering. :p
Steven Halter
138. stevenhalter
Daydreamer@137:You remember correctly. There is a special relationship between the Imass and Soletaken--we'll here about it in the next chapter.
I don't recall a non-Soletaken Bonecaster either, offhand. But I don't recall and explicit link either.
139. Toster
did somebody say tuesday?

yeah, that was me. i'll start with the obvious:

"That's a succinct summary of humankind, I'd say. Who needs tomes and volumes of history? Children are dying. The injustices of the world hide in those three words. Quote me, Duiker, and your work's done."

Then to lighten it up, a great Kellanved line:

"Do as I say or I'll have you spiked on the city wall."
Stefan Sczuka
140. moeb1us
Quick addition re bonecasters:

Might be interpreted as spoiler. But since Bill himself did already mention OE...

'Bonecasters of the Imass and T'lan Imass are all Soletaken. Other than Olar Ethil, their other forms are all beasts or birds. Olar Ethil was the first Bonecaster and Matron to all Soletaken.'

This is quoted from the encyclopedia malazica, but there is no further reference of the origins of that statement. That is atypical, but normally most of the content there is well based on excerpts from SE's books, interviews etc
Steven Halter
141. stevenhalter
The Malazan professional soldier is the deadliest weapon I know.
They're allowed to think
Steven Halter
142. stevenhalter
Some times you just have to grin and spit in Hood's face.
Amir Noam
143. Amir
"I'm here to inform you that you've volunteered."
"Hood take you, bastard!"
"Aye, soon enough."
Amir Noam
144. Amir
And one of my favorites:

"Lead on, blind man."
Tricia Irish
145. Tektonica
....." he would survive. Long enough to set the details down on parchment in the frail belief that truth is a worthwhile cause."
Tricia Irish
146. Tektonica
"T'lan Imass. Your immortal custodians."

"Time makes of us believers. Timelessness makes of us unbelievers."

"Assassins don't bother honing their powers to persuade. Why bother?"
Gerd K
147. Kah-thurak
"The Empire honors its debts."

"You should have brought brooms, friends."
148. Toster
"Maybe if I go deaf you'll disappear."

"Save me a patch of grass when you go down gentlemen."

"Guess what turtles do in the winter?"

"What disguise? This is my lucky shirt!"
149. alt146
"The lesson of history is that no-one learns"

"Rare? I assumed it was raw."
Amir Noam
150. Amir
"Can't breathe blood, Sarge--"
"I shared a tent with you, lad - I've breathed worse."
Amir Noam
151. Amir
Name none of the fallen, for they stood in our place, and stand there still in each moment of our lives. Let my death hold no glory, and let me die forgotten and unknown. Let it not be said that I was one among the dead to accuse the living.
Amir Noam
152. Amir

"Save me a patch of grass when you go down gentlemen."

For some reason this particular quote really moved me.
And as a general comment, I'd like to say that I like this weekly quoting tradition very much. Each week as I'm reading the next chapters I find myself marking certain phrases and sentences as quotable material :-)
Thomas Jeffries
153. thomstel
Toster and Amir:

The scene where that line is uttered just flares to life in my minds eye everytime I read that section: it resonates with me as well, as the darkest of the dark humor is invoked to ward off the despair that those men must be feeling.

And Amir, "name none of the fallen"...poignant. And again, so unbelievably Malazan it almost hurts. Kudos.
Steven Halter
154. stevenhalter
That's odd. Chapter 12 and 13 were up and now they are gone.
Chris Lough
155. TorChris
@154. Indeed! I'm pulling it together now and just hit the wrong button. Should be ready within the hour, though.
Chris Hawks
157. SaltManZ
Amir @151: I had to blink back tears at the part, as well as the preceding passage:
I'll never return to the List of the Fallen, because I see now that the unnamed soldier is a gift. The named soldier—dead, melted wax—demands a response among the living...a response no one can make. Names are no comfort, they're a call to answer the unanswerable. Why did she die, not him? Why do the survivors remain anonymous—as if cursed—while the dead are revered? Why do we cling to what we lose while we ignore what we still hold?

Iris Creemers
158. SamarDev
Amir @ 152: I like the quoting game as well. I'm looking forward to MoI because from there on I've the books in English in stead of Dutch. Unless you want to improve your languages, I won't quote anything till we arrive there :-)
159. Abalieno
I skimmed the comments and it seems no one commented this small detail. Quoting Amanda:

I also find the fact that they’re mere wagon-widths apart and not fighting yet a little odd—why would the Tithansi not have got straight down to the killing, after having chased them for months?

I also had some problems understanding the description even if Erikson is actually quite good giving a visual representation. It's a bit hard to pinpoint where things are when something is left, something else is right of the other and so on (same as with the first battle in Bakker's first book, that I had to read at least three times to figure out what was going on because of the confusion of what was 'east' or 'west').

In this case I think Amanda misunderstood the description. There's not a "wagons-width" space between the two armies. That gap is between two encampments of the same rebel army. Duiker passes in that corridor so that he can cross the rebel encampment and reach the Malazans. The two armies are indeed close, but not THAT close, nor bow-range close.

That section with Duiker was quite long and filled with awesome. Yet I'm used to endless arguing on the forums and so on a reread my attention is drawn to the use of magic in the battle. The old suspicion of the deus ex machina.

I'll explain. Through Duiker we see a lot (too much, for some readers) emphasis on how desperate is the situation and how awesome Coltaine is. So this narrative is all sustained by an impossible struggle, driven through Duiker's doubts and realism/pessimism. It means that all the tension is carried by every vulnerability described, and how it's pulled out of the predictable disaster.

In this context the use and presence of magic is problematic. I'm saying on a general level. Magic in the Malazan world is especially unpredictable and unknown. Meaning that it can come out at every moment, unexpectedly. So even if all this is perfectly coherent with the context of this world, it is still problematic in its use in this specific context of the sheer realism of the struggle of this army.

Magic being unpredictable meaning it's out of hands, and can enter the scene at any point, with devastating impact. Meaning that it can blow up whatever logic tension was built up till that point. So all the detailed descriptions of Duiker, and lucid awareness about the situation, can potentially clash with the sudden intrusion of magic that is game-changing and unexpected (or, to nail the problem: arbitrary).

In the specific case I think Erikson handled things quite well and dodged this risk for the most part, even if the risk exists. The undead army that is raised does not save the day and it's not a pivot of the battle (and so it's not detrimental to the overall effect), it's simply used to buy up some time. On the other side I think that the spirits that protect the battlefield on a side do weaken a bit the effect.

There's a point when Duiker says something quite poignant:

"And so it shatters."

That line alone carries a lot of weight, but from my point of view the effect is partly diminished by the fact that some spirits show up to defend that front. For the army of undead Erikson spared some further ideas so that it doesn't feel like an impromptu trick, but the other situation loses something from the use of magic.

This simply to analyze how the presence of magic can still be problematic to handle when you deal with dramatic tension, and it triggers different reactions from the readers. I guess Erikson is well aware of this, but it's also understandable that some readers are "allergic" to magic and prefer even in the fantasy genre a setting where magic is subdued, or where it's closely defined and regulated (but then I also embrace the approach to magic that Erikson described earlier in this reread, just different perspectives).

About this:

'Like when you flip a big rock over. The scent that comes up. Cool, musty.' He shrugged. 'Like that.'
An image of List as a boy – only a few years younger than he was now – flashed into Duiker's mind. Flipping rocks. A world to explore, the cocoon of peace. He smiled.

I wonder if I understand this correctly.

What is Dukier thinking? Who's the boy that Dukier remembers? I guess Duiker is remembering himself as a boy and identifying himself with List. My interest is about the other line: "the cocoon of peace". Maybe it's related to the innocence of a boy, but I think that the specific words used related more to the power of knowledge. Meaning that the interest in knowledge and wonder for the world could be an effective antidote for wars. "The cocoon of peace", or the premise for peace, is the active mind that searches without prejudices, tries to understand.

And so linked to the other line:

“Ah, Fist, it’s the curse of history that those who should read them, never do.”

Which is about "reading" in general, maybe. Learning, understanding. The purpose of writing. The endless struggle that represents the real tension within the Malazan series.

Described perfectly at the very end of HoC, that I'm quoting again:

To grieve is a gift best shared. As a song is shared.
Deep in the caves, the drums beat. Glorious echo to the herds whose thundering hoofs celebrate what it is to be alive, to run as one, to roll in life's rhythm. This is how, in the cadence of our voice, we serve nature's greatest need.
Facing nature, we are the balance.
Ever the balance to chaos.

Even after the awe of the battle, the image that stays with Duiker is not gold-coated:

"We were," Duiker said, "Victory tastes sweetest in the absence of hanting memories, Bult. Savor it."

In contrast with Duiker's need to "witness" and remember exactly what happened.
David Thomson
160. ZetaStriker
Duiker's image of List as a boy never struck me as a memory of better days in Duiker's POV; the word choice places no connection to Duiker's past or present, and reads to my mind as a conjured image of what life must have been like for that hapless soldier, barely into adulthood, just a few short years ago. List's youth is being used as a tool by Erikson in this section to deepen the unease and sense of loss within the situation, showing us that some of these soldiers who are barely old enough to be called men are the only things standing between tens of thousands of refugees and the gathered hordes that wish to tear them apart.

Further, his use of the word "cocoon" actually seems contrary to any supposition over peace and knowledge as panacea for war and violence. A cocoon implies a temporary haven, a shelter in which one can grow happily, naive of the horrors that lie outside its sheltering walls. Self contained, isolated and ignorant. It shows us that Duiker, after years of chronicling the Empire's never-ending wars of conquest, now sees peace as an illusion rather than a goal.
161. Abalieno
A "cocoon" for me means something in incubation, meaning the potential of something. I see "education" in a similar way.

In the same way a life, or a story, is only the potential for change and for a better world.

Now I'll quote again Glen Cook:

"Life starts as a blank tablet," he said. "Character is created and written each day. Meaning that there will always be more good people coming up."

Erikson used "peace", so pointing directly to the idea of "war". But then I'm not persuaded at all that what I see is true and you may be as well right.

Why a "world to explore" is a "cocoon for peace"? And if it was all about the idea of "loss" (of childhood, to face war), then why the idea makes him smile instead of saddening him. I take it was a positive value he got.
David Thomson
162. ZetaStriker
I completely agree with your explanations of the usage of the words cocoon and peace, but it seems the difference in our interpretations actually stems from the placement of that comma; is the cocoon of peace a world to explore, or are both statements separate, staggered descriptions of List's childlike view of the world? You're absolutely right that either interpretation can be drawn from the same sentence, but I'm still backing my horse, so to speak. My view of the character makes it seem almost out of place for dour Duiker to begin thinking about peace now. This is the same man who, as Amanda said, still doubts Coltaine at every turn, after all!
163. Abalieno
I also lean more for your explanation since it's straightforward, while mine requires quite a leap to get the association, and it's an idea a bit too complex to deal with just a line. But it's the very first thing I thought, I'm being influenced by other stuff i read ;)

For some reason I also read it wrong like a "cocoon FOR peace", while it's "of". "For" gave me an idea of something to achieve, but I was fooled because it's "of" in the text.

In this other interpretation it's "peace" to make the cocoon.
164. Abalieno
This evening I read more of Midnight Tides instead of the reread, but I keep chasing my train of thoughts.

" Only, then, what you chose to."

Seren's shrug was weary. "Oh, Hull, that is the way of us all."

So here's a quote that expands the one I took from Glen Cook. I'm used to make these sort of parallels:

‘We are not born innocent, simply unmeasured.’
‘And, presumably, immeasurable as well.’
‘For a few years at least. Until the outside is inflicted upon the inside, then the brutal war begins.’

The following quote is then directly linked directly with the one here above, and back to the "cocoon of peace" of this discussion:

"I think I was a child myself in those days. All inside, no outside."

A cocoon (of peace), whose world is all internal,
"until the outside is inflicted upon the inside", and then the war (opposite of peace).
Stefan Sczuka
165. moeb1us
In my opinion, the interpretation that the scene includes memories of Duiker is too far fetched. SE wrote 'an image of List as a boy' - why would I build a reading of the scene on the assumption that it was a flashback sort of thing?

I am with Zeta, he imagined the used up human being that is a quite young List as a child, unaware of such things as war and peace and violence and rape etc. A child in a game of exploring undersides of rocks maybe picturing itself in a faraway country. Oblivious. Peace. Cocoon. Makes sense to me.
166. Abalieno
A few more things to comment.

In chapter eleven I see again the only real complaint I have about the series. Some signs of this already happen in chapter ten. In an handful of pages we have a rather significant scene with Duiker "witnessing" the death of a god. It's very well written, but dispatched in those few pages and pushed aside. This makes for a rather sustained pace, but it also seems to counter the feeling of naturalness in the narrative. So many powerful things happen in quick succession at the expense of their impact and significance. The effect is diminished because things move too quickly and trivialize what happened, the narrative already moved to another new "awe", the previous already forgotten. The link between these scenes comes out weaker, not flowing smoothly. The dramatic tension doesn't work as it could because it doesn't have time to build, it's already moved onto something else.

In chapter eleven the sequence is more evident. My complaint here is about the strict sequence of fortuitous/convenient events. It starts when Heboric touched the Jade statue. This makes him acquire a certain power (till here, all ok). This power creates a hole in the otataral barrier and this fact allows Kulp and his companions to land right where Heboric is, and so meet him. Finding Heboric could have been a rather hard task without that "perk". Then they move off again and for a reason not so clear they end up in the Nascent. Here they find the Silanda (that has always been there, so ok), but as they board ship a new "scene" triggers about the arrival of the T'lan Imass and the sealing of the tear in the warren, that is used to show how certain things work. A special sword is delivered as consequence and then the T'lan leave again.

Chapter eleven starts with Kulp trying to find a way out. In that moment, while he surveys his warren, an undead dragon passes creating the occasion. They put some kind of leash on the dragon and use it to come out right in Raraku, the passage through fire giving Baudin and a few others a new "perk".

It's this close sequence to give me the unease in the narrative. Every scene is so charged and then quickly followed by another. All of this also comes out of the left field. It's like a bombardment of the most disparate scenes. My problem is about the quick cadence that makes it not so easily plausible. And it's also the point where even the characterization comes loose. Despite all that happened the characters are should as mildly shaken, Felisin still focused about being nasty to Heboric and Baudin. I understand how she's trapped within herself, but it seems as if all these events slipped through and left no trace on the characters beside the fortuitous acquisition of magical powers.

...Which leads back to the Chain of Dogs and how the dramatic intensity is built. If everything can happen at any time, then the natural tension of the narrative parts comes out broken. Baudin just plunged in a tunnel of fire and came out with new magic skills. Where's danger? Where's conflict?

A conflict only works narratively if the reader knows the causes and see it develop (same reason why I said the flashbacks in NoK didn't work, since a war is described without knowing causes and consequences). Here we see quick cuts of scenes so different between each other, like a constant buffeting of sudden surprises. So I understand how certain readers end up "not caring about what happens to these characters". They seem slapped from a scene to the other like grains of sand in the wind (and there's a certain deliberate intention in this). They come out as disconnected flashes, so hard to "care" for because the tension is out of the experience of the reader. Stuff "happens", without any control, or real consequence. And for all that happened the characters come out as almost unaffected. Feels "arbitrary", and so doesn't make the transition from the writer to the reader. The characters don't belong to the readers.

All this makes a contrast with how chapter eleven actually starts. We have Kulp and a rather precise description of the situation and his thoughts about it. I underline it because it shows again the nature of my complaint. In these fist few pages the narrative tension starts to build quite nicely, Kulp's feeling are described very well and make the scene comes to life a feel authentic. All his doubts and questions about his warren and so on. Then again this momentum shatters when it's the fortuitous event that moves the narrative and makes it move through sudden and unexplained transitions. An undead dragon appears.

There are two levels to this. One is about making the narrative "work", as in the "effect" it has on the reader. How narrative tension and dramatic intensity is built and used. The other level is about the basic plausibility and "suspension of disbelief".

How likely is that the T'lan Imass appeared on the Silanda right when Heboric and friends boarded it, only to make their scene, gift the sword, and leave again? And how likely that the undead dragon passed over Kulp right at that moment? And how fortuitous and convenient was that Heboric's new powers made him punch a hole in the Otataral barrier and so let Kulp find them easily? This comes out as a convenient sequence of events more than a natural and plausible flow.

I point this out because it's something that one can notice even in other books. It seems that, in spite of a HUGE world, it's always the same names that criss cross all over the place, acquire new powers, become powerplayers. Absurd how it may sound, Erikson packs too many ideas together within the same book. Too much density even if the book is 1000+ pages. I say that Erikson is "wasteful" because he does not play many of his ideas to their full potential. Stuff happens so quickly that one can't taste it. It already passed, simply leaving some new fancy powers to the characters.

Felisin story is so strong because all that happens to her, up to the meeting with Kulp, SHAPES her as a character. She lives those events and is part of them. Then all sort of (impersonal) stuff happens and Felisin seems to come out untouched and unimpressed. "Events" take the scene, the characters lose their solidity. Stuff happens and they are merely there. Not "feeling" or "being".

I wonder how Erikson feels, today, about this. If he recognize what I'm saying or if he completely disagree with my point and has a different approach. Or if he feels that he got better with the time.
167. Abalieno

None of what I said actually impairs in a relevant way my appreciation for the books. But it's because I've learned to adjust myself to Erikson's style.

This, though, is a problem that comes up quite frequently from what I'm observing. Writing (and reading) "Fantasy" comes with certain prejudices and expectations. Many readers demand "immersion". Especially those who read books mainly for characters, and especially for the Fantasy genre.

Fantasy is still largely "escapism" as a mould. It directly evocates a world. So escape to that world. So the demand for immersion. So characters as a vehicle for that immersion. The fantasy world is required to be as vivid as the real one.

I'm pointing out how Erikson's style is problematic toward the vast public. You have from the side a world so unpredictable and unknown where everything happens and where rules are unclear. And on another level you have characters that stay always mysterious. Inferred and partial characterization filled with shadows and things left unsaid.

It's quite normal if this style doesn't lend itself so well to the "immersion" (and so see and feel as if you are right "there", in the head of the character), which also requires a certain grasp and control from the part of the reader.
Steven Halter
168. stevenhalter
Abalieno@166:I don't feel that the rapidness of events breaks my immersion at all--it's rather the opposite for me. I would say that is a matter of taste.
Also, remember that we are looking at the "interesting" things that are going on in the world. At the same time as the events you mentioned, there are countless events going on in the world that aren't interesting. We don't look at all the ditches being dug because, well why would we. Not everybody is engaged in momentous events. For those who are engaged in momentous events, we do get a taste that a lot of the time (of the average soldier for example) is spent doing monotonous tasks. Seems like a good balance to me.
169. Abalieno
A few last things so I can move on the next.

From Amanda:

And that scene where Geslar waves at the dragon as it looks at them with “dead, black eye sockets”—*falls over laughing*

It is somewhat mirrored by the scene with the bhokarala waving at the departing party some pages later (Fiddler, Icarium and rest). Or at least I find the similarity quite amusing.

“Something’s changed.” How has Baudin been affected by his journey through the bronzed flames of the undead dragon?

Are the flames even related to the undead dragon? From the text that link doesn't seem to appear.

'Something's opening ahead – there's a change in the sky. See it?'
She did. The unrelieved grey pall had acquired a stain ahead, a smudge of brass that deepened, grew larger.

It seems that a new rent is opened within the warren, similar to the one Kulp opened and closed. Shadowthrone is not happy (again):

From somewhere far behind them came a howl of curdled outrage. Shadows sped across their path, tumbled to the sides as Silanda's prow clove through them. The dragon crooked its wings, vanishing into a blazing inferno of bronze fire.

So the dragon opened a rent from this warren (Meanas) to another (bronze fire, maybe Light, maybe Chaos, maybe Tellan), shadows race toward it to try to close it, as they did with Kulp's one, and the dragon then plunges in the rent it just opened. And, being in the dragon's wake, the Silanda chases after it.

There's also a little passage that may hint at the reason why Heboric is considered as an "heretic" historian:

'Dancer's not dead. He ascended, alongside Kellanved – my father was there to see it, in Malaz City, the night of the Shadow Moon.'
Kulp snorted but Heboric was slowly nodding.
'I got close in my suppositions,' the ex-priest said. 'Too close for Laseen, as it turned out.'

This has been hinted already a number of times, including the Prologue. Which confirms certain theories I have about Itko Kan's massacre at the beginning of GotM (since Laseen already knows well the old emperor is around, and since it seems she wants to keep this fact as hidden as possible for more than one reason). It's another slight confirmation of the enmity between the Empress and Shadowthrone (that is important to confirm at this point of the book, because how the games change at the end).

This kind of "flux" is also reflected in transitional stances, and their catastrophic outcomes:

'It was too bitter to contemplate from the very start,' Heboric was saying. 'Throwing her younger sister into shackles like any other common victim. An example proclaiming her loyalty to the Empress—'
'Not just hers,' Felisin said. 'House Paran. Our brother's a renegade with Onearm on Genabackis. It made us ... vulnerable.'

It's a big knot of plot, still. Too many misunderstandings that have lots of consequences.

In Fiddler's PoV we have a nice misdirection and re-direction in the same line. Fidder's argument about why Apsalar won't take on Sha'ik role is:

'No. She wouldn't do it. This land's not hers, the goddess of the Whirlwind means nothing to her.'

If you know how the story goes you can see how this is at the same time wrong and right.

I also wonder what's the deal with shapeshifters and if this part of the mythology is resumed later in the series and clarified. It's said they are older even than Elder times. I know how this novel goes, and so Tremorlor's role in it. Probably there are more hints in that part where Mappo and Icarium where exploring the tower. I just wonder if the Path of Hands is related to Shadow (and so the location), or if the two are unrelated and it's just that Shadowthrone took the Path of Hands under his protection, without sharing a similarity or affinity with it.

It can work both ways: Shadowthrone not wanting to lose control of his warren (if shapeshifters are related), or not wanting a powerful ascendant entering the scene (if shapeshifters would take on their own, distinct power).

At the point where I am, I still have no idea about the shapeshifters' place in the mythology.

The reread is also helping solidifying some theories. This quick passage is quite obvious and a godsend for such theories:

The Empire would exact revenge – if it was able – and the numbers would grow. The Imperial threat was ever thus: The destruction you wreak upon us and our kind, we deliver back to you tenfold. If Kalam succeeded in killing Laseen, then perhaps he would also succeed in guiding to the throne someone with spine enough to avoid ruling from a position of crisis. The assassin and Quick Ben had someone in mind for that. If all goes as planned.

I've ranted so much that the Epilogue of GotM had no consequence in DG. Quick Ben had a plan, but nothing of that seemed to surface in DG. What's the plan? Why it was never brought up again?

Well, those few lines are a factual proof of the existence of that plan, and also of what it implied. The idea is not to just take out Laseen, but to replace her. With who, we should be able to guess, even if it's not brought up clearly.

But it seems a fact that this is exactly what Kalam is up to. Why he returned, and why he separated from Fiddler. It's not for a personal grudge about Laseen, but it is to take control of the Empire and set it on a new direction.

Obviously, as written in GotM Epilogue, Quick Ben isn't ready to tell a battered Wiskeyjack about his plan:

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

So the plan.

'End?' Icarium's brows rose. 'More likely a new Emperor or Empress with Shadow the patron gods ...'
Mappo grunted. 'A worrying thought.'

And one has to consider that Kalam is cooperating with Apt, a creature of Shadow. Who's basically surveying what Kalam is doing.

The chapter ends with some kind of authoritative PoV on Shadowthrone. It's strictly a third person omniscient PoV, but I guess Erikson could always counter this by saying it could just be an approximate reconstruction done by whoever Fisher wrote the Malazan books. ;)

Though, it confirms ST enmity to Laseen again, and that he counted on the Bridgeburners' loyalty (again my theory about Sorry in GotM).

So, at this point, both ST and Kalam wants the demise of Laseen.

Completely unrelated, I so love this line by Pust:

Incapable of appreciating the intricate plaits I devised.

Related to the fact he made hats for chickens, only that "plaits" is not far from "plans", which is what Pust would say at any time, since Crokus is "incapable of appreciating" the above mentioned. The image of "intricate plaits" also quite fitting the brooding nature of Pust.

Or the intricate structure of the series, which Erikson himself lately described, like Pust making hats:

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.
Steven Halter
170. stevenhalter

I've ranted so much that the Epilogue of GotM had no consequence in DG. Quick Ben had a plan, but nothing of that seemed to surface in DG. What's the plan? Why it was never brought up again?

Well, those few lines are a factual proof of the existence of that plan, and also of what it implied.

The plan has already been brought up a number of times in the text (Chapter 1 for example). This has been pointed out in the reread.

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