Wed
Feb 9 2011 1:06pm

Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Deadhouse Gates, Chapters 16 and 17

Deadhouse Gates by Steven EriksonWelcome to the Malazan Re-read of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapters 16 and 17 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 Sixteen

SCENE 1

The Chain nears the Vathar River. List tells Duiker that the head of Korbolo Dom’s army has been spotted trying to beat them to the river (Reloe’s army is behind the Chain) and that Duiker is to ride ahead of the Chain with the Foolish Dog clan. At a meeting, Coltaine asks Duiker if he’s seen the sapper captain and says he’s beginning to wonder if they even have one. Bult tries to spear a lapdog that’s been tormenting him. Nether joins Duiker to ride ahead.

SCENE 2

On the ride, Duiker thinks he sees the cattledog Bent carrying the little lapdog in its mouth. The forest is filled with swarms of migrating butterflies which Duiker hopes might slow Dom’s army, but Nether tells him a mage is clearing their path by opening a warren and letting the butterflies vanish into it, meaning the enemy army is no longer hindered by the shapeshifters in the warrens. They reach the river crossing and see a burned ship riding there (Silanda). Duiker recognizes Gesler and Stormy from when he and Kulp were in the village, but notes they and Truth have a strange bronze coloring to their skin.

SCENE 3

Dom’s advance arrives but rather than attacking sets up a camp nearby and starts cutting down trees. Duiker tries to convince Stormy and Gesler they’re back in the army now. Stormy and Gesler tell them about the Silanda, the headless Tiste Andii and undead rowers, and how they had but then lost Heboric and the others. They decide to scout Dom’s group using the Silanda’s dory.

SCENE 4

They see Dom sending archers and soldiers across the river via ropes spanning the cliffs.

SCENE 5

The rest of Dom’s forces arrive and fell more trees and set up on both sides of the river crossing. Duiker wonders why he hasn’t attacked and Nether guesses he’s waiting for Coltaine to show. Nether says the Silanda will take as many wounded as it can to Aren. She says Coltaine asks if Duiker wants to go with them and when Duiker immediately says no she tells him Coltaine had said that would be the response and wonders how Coltaine knows people so well, adding he’s a mystery as much to the Wickans as to the Malazans.

SCENE 6

Coltaine arrives. He, Lull, Bult, and others meet with Stormy and Gesler. Lull says he knows of Gesler being demoted from captain to sergeant and now corporal and recalls that Stormy was once Cartheron Crust’s Adjutant. Gesler threatens to punch Lull if he even thinks about promoting Gesler, then Bult, and Coltaine. Coltaine punches Gesler and breaks his hand bloodying Gesler ‘s nose. Nil senses from Gesler’s blood that Gesler has nearly Ascended (and yet Coltaine bloodied him). A messenger arrives from Dom and offers to allow the refugees to cross the river unhindered. The nobles agree, making Duiker suspicious they had already been in communication with Dom’s army. Coltaine rejects the offer. Stormy tells Gesler things don’t seem right.

SCENE 7

Felisin tells Leoman she will not dance to Sha’ik’s music. Toblakai returns having killed a giant white bear. Leoman pressures Felisin to perform the ritual. Felisin intones: The Toblakai “is pure faith yet shall one day lose it all,” Heboric will rediscover faith, Leoman is a “master deceiver” but searches always for hope despite his cynicism, and Felisin is as a crucible newly emptied. She tells Leoman to open the Book and he sees nothing in it but when Toblakai looks he weeps. Heboric refuses to look or touch it. Toblakai wants to kill him and when Felisin says “do it” (knowing he won’t be able to), Heboric’s hands flare visible and catch Toblakai’s wrists and send the sword flying, then Heboric throws Toblakai as well. Felisin tells Heboric he was never forsaken, he “was being prepared.”

SCENE 8

Fiddler’s group crosses the threshold into a forest. They see a huge boulder with red hand/paw prints on it. Mappo accuses Pust of it being more of his deception, but Icarium says the markings are real, but are Tellann (associated with the T’lan Imass), though the boulder is usually found on a hilltop. Pust wonders if Mappo’s sack is another piece of the warren. As they move forward Mappo wonders at how the number of roots seems too many for the number of trees. They come to a plain at the end of the forest, the plain covered in roots (despite the lack of trees): Tremorlor. Icarium senses the Azath is under siege by the warren trying to pull free and the Shapeshifters. They decide to rest a bit before continuing on.

SCENE 9

Mappo asks Rellock why he agreed to take Apsalar into such danger. Rellock says she needs reasons and learning, that simply being granted, “knowing” by the god’s possession isn’t enough. He says like fishing, you “learn no place safe.”

SCENE 10

Mappo hears Icarium and Apsalar talking. Apsalar says they’re both alike, both with protectors who can’t really protect them, especially from themselves. Icarium says it’s different with him and Mappo. Apsalar asks him what he’ll do with his memories when he finds them and he asks what does she do with hers. Apsalar says most of them aren’t actually hers: she has a handful of her own, some from a wax witch who protected her and then Cotillion’s. She says Cotillion killed to “fix things” and saw himself as honorable, as well as actually felt some sympathy for Laseen along with desire for vengeance. She then tells Icarium that though he thinks his memories will bring knowledge and understanding, in reality they tell us nothing about where we’re going and are a weight we can’t get rid of. When Icarium replies he’d accept that burden, she tells him not to say that to Mappo unless he wants to break Mappo’s heart. Icarium says he doesn’t understand but would never do that to Mappo. He repeats he doesn’t understand and when Apsalar says, “Yet you wish to,” he weeps.

SCENE 11

As they prepare to continue, Mappo asks Icarium if he really wants to risk imprisonment by the Azath. Icarium says Mappo too will need to be wary, but that they need trust the Azath recognizes them as non-threats. He adds he can sense the Azath suffering and means to help it fight because its cause is just. Mappo thinks the Nameless Ones, his tribal Elders, and even his younger self would have given Icarium up to the Azath due to the risk he offers the world but he is unsure he can. Icarium senses Mappo at war with himself and tells Mappo he would give up his life for him. Mappo reveals the truth of the First Empire city to Icarium, that Icarium has destroyed entire cities and peoples and that Mappo’s job has been to prevent him from doing so again. Icarium says the Azath knows this and so must take him prisoner and that such would be suitable punishment. He asks Mappo to let Icarium be taken without resistance.

SCENE 12

The others clearly know what just happened between Icarium and Mappo and Fiddler tells him it was inevitable. Icarium tells them all to make no effort to save him should the House try and imprison him. Pust says the House need take him first to have his strength to fight off the shapeshifters. Icarium asks if he can fight without going crazy and Mappo says he does have a line to cross. Fiddler tells Icarium to hold himself back until the others have done all they can do. When Pust objects Crokus asks him what happens if Icarium kills the Azath (the idea of which stuns Icarium) and Shadowthrone sends the five Hounds of Shadow (two were killed by Rake in GoTM). Fiddler and Mappo make eye contact, sharing a distrust of the Hounds/Shadowthrone. Icarium says he welcomes them. They enter the House’s maze.

SCENE 13

Gesler and his group say goodbye and tell them they’ll try to convince Pormqual to help them. Sormo asks Duiker about List’s visions, says the warlocks sense nothing of the land. Duiker tells them there were a war fought there and that List’s visions of it come from a Jaghut ghost. Tumlit arrives and tells them another messenger from Dom arrived secretly and the nobles/refugees are going to cross. Coltaine tells his leaders to not contest the crossing and tells Duiker to send the sappers into the refugee group. Duiker and his nameless female marine join the refugees. Dom’s army has made a floating bridges packed with pikemen and archers. The rebels start slaughtering the refugees as they’re blocked at the ford, while the army is fighting in the rearguard. The arrows eventually taper off as the rebels run out or as the sappers push back on one side (Dom hadn’t planned on soldiers coming through with the refugees and the archers are only lightly armed). The desperate refugees attack the floating bridge when it nears them and the bridge sinks. Sormo uses sorcery to kill the rebels but then is killed himself. Butterflies in the hundreds of thousands converge on him. The refugees swarm Dom’s soldiers where Duiker is. Duiker comes across Nethpara and starts to strangle him but is prevented by someone who knocks him out.

 

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Sixteen:

Interesting wording by the Nameless Ones in the extract from Patterns in the Azath: they say Tremorlor “is said to lie within Raraku.” This seems to be evidence that even the Nameless Ones know little about the Azath or their locations.

Butterflies just don’t seem as grim as moths or flies, so the start of this chapter feels vaguely hopeful - I’m not sure that will last though... Erikson has used insects throughout this novel in order to emphasise matters beyond simple creatures, and I like the motif.

The Chain of Dogs was stretched, exhaustion straining its links.

We’re now seeing explicit mention of the Chain, a mantle and description accepted by the tired men and women under Coltaine’s command.

Okay, so here is a fine example of where Erikson drops something casually into the writing that is very likely to become important at a later stage:

Large, angular boulders had been placed in roughly concentric rings: the summit’s crown. He had seen such formations before, but could not recall where.

I love and hate List’s condition, and the fact he firmly disregards it as he tries to keep up with the Chain:

“Corporal, you’re a fool.”

“Yes, sir.”

It’s wonderful that Duiker tries hard to protect him, by ensuring that Coltaine orders List not to ride with the Foolish Dogs.

Constant reminders of the pain and suffering of the Chain, told in stark yet sympathetic ways:

Two notches up on her girth straps, the bones of her shoulders hard against my knees, yet fitter than most.

Huh! Do butterflies migrate like birds in reality? Or is this something Erikson dreamt up? *smiles*

[Bill’s interjection: A few years ago I drove through a butterfly migration—literally. The sight was stunningly beautiful, the sound of their bodies being struck and killed by the hundreds by the car horrific.]

*grins* Such dark humour!

“Do you ride in the same fashion, Corporal? Tug one way, tug the other.”

And after that first mention of the stones on the hillside we now have List starting as he sees then and muttering “Hood’s breath.”

I really love the way that certain tiny elements of the story are followed through, such as the lapdog who is now surviving feral amongst the cattle-dogs, and treating them as though he is in charge. We also see Bent carrying the tiny lapdog in his mouth. For me, the little details like this are massively rewarding.

It’s entertaining that the sappers are working as hard as possible to go without a captain—if, in fact, it is true they don’t have one! We’ve not really heard from their point of view, after all. [Bill’s interjection: They get even more entertaining.]

I just want to pick up on the environmental point that Bill made last time out—Erikson does accurately portray a land in turmoil, including in environmental matters:

To either side the bracken and dead trees gave way to stands of young cedars, too few on this side of the river to be called a forest. Of mature trees only stumps remained.

I like the fact that the Chain of Dogs also has these canine characters along for the ride—tireless and impatient. They sort of represent the Wickan character, even if the actual Wickans are too exhausted to present the same.

Interesting news: the warrens are not contested, and have not been for three days. This is going to affect the fact that, up until now, Coltaine at least had magic on his side.

Oh welcome back Gesler, Stormy and Truth! I’m so glad they were not victims of the fire! And I adore this quote:

“Let’s just say I’ve had my fill of imperious little girls.”

Felisin would hate to be dismissed so thoroughly!

Another update on the refugee numbers as well—up to forty-five thousand.

It breaks my heart that none of them know Kulp’s fate yet, as they talk about him in a rough fashion. I am impressed both by Gesler’s willingness to stand up to a character like Duiker, and the historian’s insistence that the three are back in the Imperial Army. Does it feel to anyone else as though Duiker suddenly is less impartial and objective? He seems utterly loyal to Coltaine at this point.

Because we travelled alongside the Silanda and the people aboard her, I feel it’s made us blase about what really happened! Duiker’s response provides the best reaction:

A part of the historian wanted to throttle both men, cursing the soldiers’ glorious and excruciating love of understatement. The other part, the rocking shock of what he was hearing, dropped him with a jarring thud to the muddy, butterfly-carpeted ground.

We have already seen Baudin with the strange new bronzed hue of skin—here we are told:

That the warren of fire they had survived had changed the three men was obvious, and went beyond the strange hue of their skin. Stormy and Truth were tireless at the oars, and pulled with a strength to match twice their number.

Whatever changes apply to Gesler, Stormy and Truth must also have applied to Baudin.

I am no tactician! I have no idea at what Korbolo Dom’s plan is concerning getting rid of all the trees... [Bill’s interjection: Cornering the toothpick market? New cruciforms for when he finds “those damn kids”? Lots and lots of fifes for the army? A shrubbery?]

Coltaine knows here that his face-off against Korbolo Dom might well be the end of him, since he makes it clear that the wounded soldiers are to be carried free of the conflict and Duiker is offered the same. Mark Duiker’s continuing loyalty—without even thinking about it, he refuses to leave with the wounded.

It is awesome that Coltaine is as much a mystery to the Wickans as he is to the Malazans:

“And no less a cipher to us, Historian. The clans do as he commands and say nothing. It is not shared certainty or mutual understanding that breeds our silence. It is awe.”

Ooh, Gesler and Stormy were once very high in the ranks—and part of the Emperor’s Old Guard! How did they escape the cull and the vanishing of all the rest?

Oh HELL! Gesler has almost ascended?! What does this mean? And OH HELL!!! Coltaine knocked him down... *breathless* Now wait... Dancer and Kellanved ascended by first dying... didn’t they? So, if Baudin has almost ascended as well—because he went through the same flames—and then died, would he have actually ascended? How do you ascend anyway? And what benefits does almost ascending give you? I guess that would be the greater strength shown by Stormy and Truth while pulling the oars. [Bill’s interjection: Cue discussion on what Ascension means in 3, 2, 1....]

Hmm, hands up, who else doesn’t trust the offer of Korbolo Dom? Or is this just me being all cynical? My cynicism and dislike of the nobles is certainly increasing word by word, that’s for sure! After all Coltaine’s efforts, why do they dishonour him so by communicating with the renegade Fist—someone they wouldn’t spend even the smallest amount of time with usually?

Apt was Sha’ik’s third guardian, right? I wonder why she allowed the demon to depart?

Okay, something else tickling here although I might be reading WAY too much into it. When Leoman talks about Dryjhna and Raraku, he says:

“We are born from darkness and to darkness we return.”

Is this ANYTHING at all to do with High House Dark and someone taking up their position? Is the broken and torn warren within Raraku Tiste Andii or Tiste Edur related?

Hmm, it seems that even without the ritual Felisin is already being claimed by the Goddess, with prophecies issuing from her and a command for her companions to also open the book. Would be interesting to know what they all saw!

Oh my word....

“Let me kill him, Sha’ik Reborn. Let his blood seal this ritual.”

“Do it.”

Is this just Sha’ik now? Or is there a remnant of Felisin remaining who it quite willing to see harm done to Heboric? [Bill’s interjection: Who is Sha’ik and who is Felisin will make for some interesting parsing.]

So... I believe that Heboric belongs to two people/ascendants/gods now—one is Fener (with that bestial and furred hand of his). The other provides him with the hand that is the hue of dried blood—who though? The Crippled God? The Nameless Ones? Raruka/Dryjhna? The latter seems quite likely being as Felisin has already seen visions of blood while Dryjhna prepared her.

Oh, I adore Pust! This is just so funny:

“Words are too precious to be wasted, hence my coy silence while they hesitate in a fit of immobile ignorance.”

I’m going to put it out there and say right now that I think Pust is guiding every step the companions take. He is as manipulative as a spider [Bill’s interjection: Irony alert!], urging them to do what he least wants them to do, because he realises they will therefore do the reverse. He is sneaky and impossibly clever, in my mind.

I really enjoy the way that warrens are scented differently, have different colours associated with them and appear different when people enter them:

The Trell stood with the others in a forest of towering trees, a mix of spruce, cedar and redwood all thickly braided in moss. Blue-tinged sunlight filtered down. The air smelled of decaying vegetation and insects buzzed.

Details like this give me, as a first time reader, a real feeling of trust in Erikson—if he has thought right the way down to these tiny details, then I believe he knows his world inside out. It makes it ever more believable despite being a made-up secondary world. I wonder how much of the role-playing build of the world contributed to all these details being mapped out—that fact that Erikson and Esslemont would have wanted to know every small thing they were playing within?

Despite his planning, Pust does not know everything—he does not know which warren Mappo’s sack is part of.

“I have never seen an Azath manifest itself in this way,” Mappo said. “No, not an Azath, but I have seen staves of wood...”

Mappo must be thinking here about the Nameless Ones who set him on his path with Icarium, surely?

I like the way that Rellock understands Apsalar needs to find her own motivations, likes and dislikes—the way any child does as they grow to adulthood. So far Apsalar has been guided by those of Cotillion and now it is time for her to discover who she really is.

And once again Erikson leaves me marveling—this time the passage where Apsalar describes the three sets of memories warring within her. Those gentle, stark images of life as a fishergirl; the fiercely protective aura of an old seer woman; and this new presentation of Dancer—of a man who performs assassinations not for coin, but in order to fix matters; a man who has a strange sort of sympathy for Laseen, since he understands she is merely trying to fix matters. And then the picture of Mappo weeping in the dark, as Icarium also cries for what he wishes to know. Just brilliant.

Umm, I think I have something in my eye: *brushes away a secret tear*

Should Tremorlor take you, the world is freed of a vast threat, but I lose a friend. No, I betray you to eternal imprisonment. The Elders and the Nameless Ones who set upon me this task would command me with certainty. They would care nothing of love. Nor would the young Trell warrior who so freely made his vow hesitate - for he did not know the man he was to follow.

And, okay, yes, I’m actually crying properly at this scene between Icarium and Mappo. Through most of the novel I have wanted Icarium to be whole, but now with his pain and Mappo’s anguish I wish Mappo hadn’t told him what he truly is:

“No. I cannot walk free with this knowledgeyou must see that, Mappo. I cannot

“If Tremorlor takes you, you will not die, Icarium. Your imprisonment is eternal, yet you shall be... aware.”

“Aye, a worthy punishment for my crimes.”

The Trell cried out at that.

Oho! Some massive development with Crokus here as well—we should not forget that he was also a plaything of the gods as well. Here he demands that Shadowthrone enters the fray, because he realises that all is lost if Icarium destroys the Azath.

Heh—do we have an indication here that Pust was playing a little bit without the complete knowledge of his god? Certainly Pust seems remarkably discomposed at the idea of everything escaping the Azath if Icarium does destroy it—and then Baran the Hound knocks him down. Reprimand or truly a gambolling puppy?

Here we do have an indication that the return of the warrens has made life much more difficult for Coltaine’s army:

Sorcerous wards prevented the Wickan warlords from discovering the nature of that activity.

It should be mentioned—probably not for the first time—that Erikson’s dialogue, particularly between his soldiers, is brilliantly written. Realistic, dark humour and bantering back and forth. I’ve lived in a military environment for some of my life, and the self-deprecation and deliberate understatement are perfectly pitched.

Here we are— the cutting down of the trees has been revealed as floating bridges—all the better with which to attack the helpless refugees, of course. Thanks to Duiker’s unique viewpoint, we are really thrown into the chaotic nightmare of the milling refugees waiting for a horrible death:

Arrows ripped through the clouds of whirling butterflies, descended on the mass of refugees. There was nowhere to hide, nowhere to go.

This is a beautifully contrasting picture of life and death, grace and gruesome fate.

Erikson is not letting up in this chapter AT ALL, is he? *cries some more* The pictures of death unending is harrowing—refugees and soldiers who have been through hell already only to die because some nobles believed they knew best. I am so bloody angry right now. So bitterly angry and upset.

“Hood’s breath, they’ve [butterflies] come for him. For his soul. Not crows, not as it should be. Gods below!”

I wonder what implications this will have for Sormo’s future reincarnation. Butterflies are so damn fragile, after all....

And godammit, who stopped Duiker from killing Nethpara? Alright, I can’t abide the thought of Duiker suffering afterwards from pangs of conscience, but I would cheer to the rafters at all these nobles suffering the same death they have dealt on those who protected them.

Phew, I feel like I’ve gone through the mill good and proper with this chapter. I simply cannot believe the scale of these achievements.

 

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Sixteen:

We’re now firmly into running bit territory with the two dogs (Bent and the lapdog) and the mysterious sapper captain. Look for more to come.

One has to wonder if we’ll ever see those butterflies again, as they aren’t necessarily being killed but are vanishing into a warren.

Erikson once again shows a good balance of movement as we shift from the humor of the dogs and sappers to the tragedy of Nether’s black hands and loss of innocence, then between beauty and tension via the ride through the forest, then back to humor with Stormy and Gesler, especially Gesler’s “certain dryness” when he tells them their ship’s crew is “dead,” as well as their “recounting” of what happened on their journey. (Imagine the entire Book of the Fallen told via these two!)

It’s interesting to come so far here under the assumption that Coltaine’s apparent aloofness and sense of mystery is simply the Wickan nature only to find he’s as much an enigma to them as to the Malazans.

While we knew Stormy and Gesler had worked their way down the ranks, we get a sense of from just how high a height as we learn Stormy was Cartheron Crust’s Adjutant. That’s a name we heard before, very early, as the High Fist prior to Pormqual. Akin to a surprising number of Old Guard, Cartheron Crust drowned “just like his brother Urko”. Wink wink. Remember the name....

“I’ll give the Fist’s crack-thong a yank too if you ask sweetly.”

I’ve got nothing to say about the line; I just like saying it.

Lots of info comes about via an unusual method, as Coltaine punches Gesler and from the blood pouring from his nose Nil and Nether realize Gesler has “almost ascended.” Which of course, makes one wonder what that means for the man who knocked him down and bloodied him (though it shattered his hand to do so). And if Gesler has nearly ascended, Duiker makes the clear leap to that meaning Stormy and Truth have as well. Keep that in mind.

From all that we’ve heard and seen of Korbolo Dom (go ahead and check the summaries; I’ll wait...), does anyone really buy the “Korbolo Dom wishes only peace,” opening line from his messenger? Didn’t think so. The council’s quick acceptance, hinting at underground communication between the nobles and Dom doesn’t do much for his credibility either.

One has to wonder what a man is capable of who believes so firmly, as Leoman says, that “we are born from darkness and to darkness we return.”

Rule number 817 of fantasy—always pay attention to the prophecies:

Toblakai is “pure faith, yet he shall one day lose it all . . . “

Heboric “shall one day discover it [faith] anew”

Leoman, “the master deceiver . . . is ever searching the darkness for hope.”

We’re gradually seeing Heboric’s hands’ power. Earlier we saw him use them to fling Kulp into the air and climb down the cliff. Now he uses them to stop Toblakai’s sword mid-swing and then toss Toblakai like a rag doll. Remember, this is the guy who just killed a giant white bear twice the size of the usual ones he hunts. And this is even more impressive when we later see what Toblakai is capable of.

If Felisin is correct, and Heboric is being “prepared” the question of course that arises is “for what”? Followed by what does that mean for Fener being dragged down to the mortal realm?

More references to the shattered warren, and then even a theory by Pust that Mappo’s Wonderful Magical Traveling Sack might even be yet another fragment of the warren.

Based on what we saw at the close of GoTM, we should be familiar with the root imagery associated with the Azath. Note too that Mappo is familiar with it as well via the wooden staves carried by the Nameless Ones, yet another link between them and the Azath. As well as yet another reference to the Azath as possible entity.

I like Rellock’s conversation with Mappo—some true wisdom in some of his lines. Such as “Knowing ain’t enough” and “You learn no place safe.” He’s been a bit of a mystery obviously, but here we see what he’s doing is parenting. It’s also a bit of a thread to Mappo and Icarium, for after all, isn’t Mappo’s job to keep Icarium in a place of safety? An island of ignorance? An echo that obviously continues with Apsalar and Icarium’s conversation. They make an interesting pair: the millennia-old Icarium who is, thanks to lack of memory, really a child. And the young girl who thanks to piles of memories is really a much older person. And we get some of that aged wisdom in her advice to Icarium, her insight that in some ways he’s chasing a pipe dream if he hopes discovery of his memories will lead automatically to understanding and knowledge of what is to come. They’re not all glitter and gold memories; they can be a heavy burden. That conversation, with its attendant listener, is just so tragic at the close, with Icarium weeping and Mappo struggling to hold back his own tears. One just wants these two to head off into the sunset side by side and one just fears so much that in this world that may be an impossibility.

I like the revelations we get of Dancer, who is a character that slowly, gradually, is revealed to the reader across multiple books and who remains one of my favorites. We’ve known him as the efficient killer but here that efficiency is tied to the idea of “fixing” things, which leads to the question—since we’ve been led to believe he and Shadowthrone are up to something, what is Dancer trying to fix? I also really like how the simplistic emotion and motivation of vengeance on Laseen is made more rich and his character thus more complex by his accompanying sense of empathy. I’ve said before that I think compassion is a key driving force behind this series and I think empathy goes hand in hand with it. It’s something to think of—a recently mortal Ascendant who experiences empathy (think of Heboric’s earlier words re the long-lived Ascendants)—what might such an empathic force aim at?

Empathy rides as well with Icarium, who feels Tremorlor’s suffering and wishes to help it, despite the risk incumbent in doing so. Face to face with what drives his love for his friend, is it any wonder Mappo tries to turn him back, despite his vows? I have to say, on my first read, I did not see Mappo’s revelation of Icarium’s past coming here. I visualize Icarium’s face as Mappo’s words must strike him like swordblows: “you have destroyed cities, entire peoples. Once you begin killing you cannot stop...” This scene is utterly heartbreaking as Mappo tries to goad himself into knocking Icarium out, taking him away and just going on with their lives as always. Again, just visualize Mappo curled on the ground, and Icarium lifting him to his feet so his friend can escort him to eternal imprisonment. Maybe even most heartbreaking is Icarium’s naiveté and innocence as he worries what the others will think, wholly unaware that they know exactly what is going on.

And once again, a stunning indication of Icarium’s power: “what if Icarium kills the Azath?” I love Pust’s response: “Such is the vastness of his [ST] genius that he can even outwit himself.” Great line. And then, release the Hounds!

I like Fiddler and Mappo’s non-verbal communication—this is how close these two have come in such short time.

Chapter Seventeen

SCENE 1

Two privateers are following Kalam’s ship. Kalam can’t get to the bottom of the captain; he feels he’s trying to tell Kalam something. Kalam thinks of a warren he’s heard of that can lay a glamour on one’s mind. Time seems to be moving strangely aboard ship. Elan accuses the treasurer of being and helping a thief, and points out the crates below have the High Fist’s seal on them, not the empire’s. Elan tries to engage Kalam in conversation but Kalam refuses. He goes up top to find the crew preparing for a storm as well as using the storm to turn on the pirates. The captain tells Kalam it’ll be a night for knife work. Kalam seeks out the marine captain and asks if they’re loyal to the captain or the treasurer. At first she wants nothing to do with him, but when he tells her he’s a Bridgeburner she and Kalam come to an agreement whereby she implies they’ll support the captain. Kalam tells her to leave the treasurer’s bodyguards to him. One of the marines says he never believed the outlawing of Dujek and Kalam thinks the soldiers may be right. Ragstopper rams a pirate and battle ensues. Kalam finds the First Mate with his throat cut and the captain wounded (the captain killed one of the bodyguards) Elan helps Kalam with the captain the two agree that the treasurer is in league with the pirate ships (one of which is now destroyed) and the two agree to work together to protect the captain and stop the treasurer.

SCENE 2

The treasurer takes command and plans to surrender. Kalam gets the marines and crew ready. Elan kills the other bodyguard and they lure the raider in with a knife to the back of the treasurer. Battle starts as the pirate board and an enkar’al appears on board via a pirate mage and starts killing marines. Kalam severely wounds the enkar’al so the marines can kill it while Elan deals with the mage. Kalam and Elan and the marines win the battle.

SCENE 3

They load the treasurer with sacks of coin and toss him overboard.

SCENE 4

Felisin puts on Sha’ik’s clothing. Leoman still doesn’t fully trust she is Sha’ik and continues to press the ritual, though he accepts she has come into some power Felisin puts him off. He warns her the High Mages will be trouble and she says she knows.

SCENE 5

The captain seems overly affected by his wound, having a hard time getting words out. Kalam again gets the sense the captain is trying to tell him something. More marines have died despite having a ship’s healer. They appear to be moving due to tradewinds but the captain tells Kalam there aren’t any in this area. Kalam again thinks of the glamour warrant.

SCENE 6

They spot Tavore’s fleet heading to Seven Cities. Elan asks Kalam if he wishes to be with the soldiers, if he’s caught between two desires. Elan tells Kalam the two should work together and mentions Kalam’s previous partners. When Kalam replies, “What makes you think I am alone now,” Elan gets nervous.

 

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Seventeen:

Hmm, is Seglora one of the D’ivers or Soletaken?

One who was many on the blood trail...

You know how in films there is often a nice quiet scene after a climax of high drama so that the audience can get their breath back? I think we’ve just reached that as we join Kalam onboard ship. Of course, it doesn’t make me feel any more friendly towards Kalam’s storyline, since the pace careered from breathless to virtually stationary!

We are given some mystery surrounding the drunken captain, although I think we should bear in mind the suspicious nature of the person who regards him. In fact, Kalam observes:

“Ah, now I’m veering into the absurd. Paranoia’s the assassin’s bedmate, and no rest comes in that clamouring serpent’s nest.”

Heh, I feel that this adequately describes my attitude as well—sometimes I almost know I’m believing something utterly crazy, but I just can’t help myself. I’m paranoid about trying to capture every single clue within these books, and, in some cases, am simply creating more confusion for myself!

The whole discussion about how much time has passed also speaks to me directly. I now have no idea how much time has passed in this novel—the timelines are far from clear. [Bill’s interjection: Anybody have anything to say to Amanda regarding timelines?] People stay in warrens for weeks; the Chain of Dogs crawls along for months. Curious that Kalam—a person who should really be ultra aware of his surroundings—has a completely different idea of how much time might have passed.

Elan isn’t exactly making friends with the treasurer, is he? Even despite the truce that seems to exist between them. Snipes towards the treasurer concerning thievery obviously strike a little too close to home.

Kalam is distinctly unfriendly, non?

“You wrong me, Kalam. I am not your enemy. Indeed, we two are much alike.”

The assassin paused in the portalway. “If you’re seeking friendship between us, Salk Elan, you’ve just taken a long step back with that observation.”

[Bill’s interjection: Also says a lot about how he views himself, non?]

Hmm, not quite sure what this plot point is all about:

A sea battle in a raging storm, and the captain expects the marines to board the enemy craft, to stand on a pitching, wave-whipped deck and take the fight to the pirates. This is beyond audacious.

Sounds like madness to me....

Who is the grizzled veteran? Let’s start guessing! I’m going to suggest... Temper!

Is it intentional that Erikson now uses animal analogies to describe the ships facing off against each other? I’m just wondering, considering this novel is so strongly about shapeshifters.

Hmm, so the treasurer planned this little mutiny—taking out the captain and senior officers so that he can take control of the ship. I think this might be the moment where Kalam and Elan realise that they are both pulling in the same direction. Heh:

“Meaning we’d better work together.”

“Aye, for now. Just don’t expect me to kiss you good night, Elan.”

“Not even once?”

And here is sounds as though the treasurer is not just acting against the captain, but also double-crossing Pormqual! So who is he working for...?

Eep—a quick reminder of just how ruthless Kalam can be:

“Stick to the rules, Lieutenant. Leave murder to those whose souls are already stained.”

For me, this also indicates a degree of self-loathing in Kalam—a reference to the fact that he thinks he is damned for what he has done.

And now the double-crossers are feeling a taste of justice! *cheers* Elan is pretty damn ruthless as well, isn’t he? It does seem as though he and Kalam are two sides of the same coin—Kalam dark and self-loathing and gruff; while Elan is light and humorous and enjoys his work.

It does seem as though they underestimated the raiders a little though, what with this appearance of an enkar’al. I don’t—really really don’t—like the use of erroneous apostrophes. Not even Erikson is safe from my wrath on this matter. Honestly, why use it? It just makes it feel like cheap fantasy. [Bill’s interjection: And it really slows down my typing in these summaries/commentaries!]

Wow, and here we suddenly see evidence of Kalam’s supreme abilities as a killer. What is more surprising— since we’ve seen Kalam in action before—is the talent of Elan. Truly, Kalam might be well-matched here! Not only did Elan take down a mage—Otataral or magely abilities himself?—but he also pitched in to take down pirate after pirate in unison with Kalam. Who is this chap? And how is Kalam—who came from the area, after all—not aware of someone this capable?

I love Erikson’s vocabulary—I glory in words like “refulgent”; it makes me feel constantly challenged.

So... I’m confused—how often have you heard that? Did Felisin open the book? Is she actually reborn as Sha’ik? Or is she just going to pretend to be such? This quote made me wonder:

“It were best you matched the attire. Precisely.”

She smiled. “To aid in the deceit, Leoman?”

What has afflicted the captain of the ship? What is his name?

Elan asks an interesting question of Kalam when he talks about his conflicted loyalty—we’ve already seen that Kalam is torn between his homeland and the requirements of the Malazan Empire. Is there any part of Kalam that wishes to be back under the umbrella of the Imperial Army?

And, lastly, an intriguing little snippet about Kalam’s past of partnerships. How I giggled at Kalam’s little pretence at not being alone on the ship.

Despite the big old sea battle this still felt very much like the calm before the storm—especially with the arrival of Tavore in Seven Cities... [Bill’s interjection: Oh, you’ve got a while before you get to that particular storm.]

 

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Seventeen:

This is a relatively short chapter that mostly moves a plot line along, so not a lot of commentary on this one.

I like how the back and forth meandering conversation in the opening of this chapter really mirrors the confusion inherent on board ship.

It’s an interesting exchange between Kalam and an unnamed marine, a “grizzled veteran” who puts together who Kalam is and then when asked who he is answers “nobody sir, and been that way a long time.”

Speaking of the marines, yet again we see an example of the strength of the Malazan Marines—the ability to think for themelves. Here’s a case where it clashes with actual orders and chain of command. Let’s just say it won’t be the last time.

More than just a few references in this chapter to Elan and Kalam being alike, including Elan saying it himself at one point and the captain telling Kalam “you and that poncy skulker . . . two of a kind.”

Kalam’s justice for the treasurer is a good reminder that although we root for these characters, we shouldn’t forget that they can be at times cold and hard killers, not just in battle, but in cool, calculated intent.

I love the way Kalam plays Elan at the end with the threat of Quick Ben being on board: “What makes you think I’m alone now, Salk Elan?”

I can see why you say you don’t find Kalam’s storyline as compelling, Amanda, as the Chain of Dogs. It does lack a lot of the Chain’s built-in wallops: the non-stop threat of disaster, big battle scenes, emotional ceremonies, sapper humor, etc. But if you’re fidgeting a bit during Acts I and II, it’s got a great finale.


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

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

106 comments
Chris Hawks
1. SaltManZ
Erikson is not letting up in this chapter AT ALL, is he? *cries some more* The pictures of death unending is harrowing—refugees and soldiers who have been through hell already only to die because some nobles believed they knew best. I am so bloody angry right now. So bitterly angry and upset.

Amanda, I expect you'll be typing a variant of this paragraph (or maybe just copy-and-pasting it) in a scant two weeks. Welcome to the Malazan Book of the Fallen.
Travis Nelsen
2. Zangred
@Amanda: Interesting news: the warrens are not contested, and have not been for three days.

Yet another subtle reminder that there are many things going on in the Malazan world outside what we are seeing in this book.

And, prepare yourself for more crying through the end of this book.
Travis Nelsen
3. Zangred
@Bill: “I’ll give the Fist’s crack-thong a yank too if you ask sweetly.”
I’ve got nothing to say about the line; I just like saying it.

Just wanted to say thank you for this, laughing uncontrollably in front of my coworkers is always so much fun!
Karen Martin
4. ksh1elds555
OMG- this is getting so good... from now til the end what a ride!

I really like the parallels SE is making with the Chain of Dogs and the actual dogs in that storyline. The large cattledog and the small lapdog forging a bond that helps them survive- hence the large dog carrying the small dog in his mouth. The small dog vying for leadership with the larger dogs. I'm sure everyone has picked up on the metaphor by this point but I did want to mention it because I had not noticed it in the blog yet.

And speaking of dogs.... Baran the Hound is not a gambolling puppy IMO. I don't have GotM with me but one of my fave descriptions of the Hounds was something along the lines of "ancient" and "competence". It left me in awe of the Hounds and I like them more with every book. And it doesn't hurt that the cover art shows them looking very much like Rottweilers.

The butterflies coming for Sormo's soul was an emotional moment for me, as well as the woman and baby dying in Duiker's arms. The horror... the horror...
Toster
5. Toster
@Amanda, in regards to 'erroneous' apostrophes. i'm putting erroneous in quotes cuz i'm not sure how you're using it in this instance, but the apostrophe isn't standing in for letters. it denotes a glottal stop and most apostrophes that fall in the middle of words function this way in tMBotF.

i pronounce enkar'al as enkar-uh-al, likewise, k'chain che'malle is kuh-chain chuh-malle. i'm sure that others have their own pronounciations, but thats how i've always read them and i've never had a problem with their use. i wonder how does everyone else feel about the proliferation of apostrophes in names? throughout the series they can get pretty convoluted and maddening to try and sound out.
Tricia Irish
6. Tektonica
Chapter 16 with the Butterflies is one of the most heart wrenching, moving, beautiful scenes I've ever read. The contrast! The brutality and carnage with the delicate, joyous beauty of yellow butterflies is just freaking brilliant. Gasp Gasp. Reading it again is as moving as the first time....maybe more, knowing what I know now.

Loved Bent and the lapdog too. They are great running characters.

I don't understand why you don't like Kalam, Amanda? I felt an instant affinity to him...probably because of who he is great friends with...Fiddler, WJ, the BB's. Yes, he's a ruthless killer....it's his job....but perhaps like Dancer, he kills to make things right. There is a real nobility about him too. Just my 2¢.
Towers Rice
7. Ciceronian
Uuugh, when Duiker is prevented from finishing off Nethpara then and there, it's one of the more subtle of the many scenes in the book that make you want to scream in frustration.

On another note, these (as well as pretty much every other segment in which he's featured in the latter portions of the book) are such crucial and enjoyable glimpses of Leoman. I remember on my first read-thru getting to book 6 and feeling a little jarred by Leoman's actions in Y'Ghatan, in the sense that I felt like they marked an abrupt and unrealistic character shift. Rereading scenes like these makes you realize that these characteristics were always there, Leoman just never acted on them so overtly until book 6.

Completely unrelated, but does anyone know if Tor has sent the notification e-mails to the 5 winners of the tCG giveaway contest? Just curious.
Steven Halter
8. stevenhalter
@Amanda:
The whole discussion about how much time has passed also speaks to me directly. I now have no idea how much time has passed in this novel—the
timelines are far from clear.
In this particular case, pay attention to what the Captain is saying. Note:
“It’s been four days since we left Aren Bay,” the assassin growled.
“Has it now?” the captain asked. “Are you certain?”
“What do you mean?”
“Someone keeps knocking over the hisser, you see.”
And:
“We left harbor with the first night of a quarter moon.”
...and now
End of a three-quarter moon. But that’s impossible.
So, more time seems to have passed than Kalam realized. The Captain is trying to tell him this. Why, you may ask yourself, doesn't he just tell him that.
So, yes in this section time appears to be behaving strangely.

As far as the general timelines of the stories--ah, that's a trickier question. We have already seen that time may not flow quite the same in warrens as in the non-warren world. That's a complication.
People use different dating systems. That's a complication.
Different story lines are proceeding at slightly different time scales. That's a complication.
The result--timelines are a complicated thing. The answer--don't worry about general timelines too much. It usually isn't much of an issue.
Except, in this case--do worry about why time is happening oddly on the ship.
Chris Hawks
9. SaltManZ
@Toster: I agree that the apostrophes are a glottal stop, but I'm also with Amanda in that they scream "fantasy cliche!"

@Tek: The Vathar crossing battle resonates powerfully knowing what's to come in just a few chapters. Also, I don't think Amanda dislikes Kalam so much as she dislikes his side story; personally, I think it's the dullest part of the book so far, though it just picked up with the battle aboard the Ragstopper.

@Ciceronian: Agreed about Leoman. At the events in BH I was all "he did WHAT?" but it's apparent now that from the beginning SE was building him up to be a dude who's number one priority is looking out for Leoman.
Steven Halter
10. stevenhalter
Tektonica@6:I agree with you. I loved the way the butterflies provided a contrast in Chapter 16. They made everything very cinematic to me. I could picture slow motion scenes of churning carnage amid lovely floats of butterflies.
The death of Sormo was another tearage scene for me. Upon reading it you really do feel that maybe butterflies are not meant to be the bearers of souls in the way that crows are.
Very powerful.
Steven Halter
11. stevenhalter
@Amanda:


Umm, I think I have something in my eye: *brushes away a secret tear*

Yes, the Mappo/Icarium story has real depth and power. I always tear up here also. That's a good catch (Bill) on the Icarium/Apsalar contrast. Ancient/young, Memoried/forgetting.
I think that the Icarium story is one of the great threads of tragedy in the books. Just wait, Amanda, there's more to come.
Tricia Irish
12. Tektonica
Oh, the conversation between Icarium and Apsalar..... There are several long running threads throughout these books, and this is one of the best. Icarium is such a conundrum.....so kind, wise, empathetic, loyal, a great friend to Mappo and such a powerful, mindless force. Such a curse on him! His conversation with Apsalar is very moving and well described by you, Bill. I'm finding her sadder and sadder too.
Sanctume Spiritstone
13. Sanctume
When I first read these chapters, with the dogs, and Gesler & company's near ascendancy--I wondered if dogs can ascend also.
Steven Halter
14. stevenhalter
re Ascendancy:
As Baruk states in GotM:


“There are many paths to Ascendancy, some more subtle than others.”

It would seem that Stormy, Gessler and Truth may have found an interesting quick boost along the way. As for Baudin, we will have to see.
Toster
15. DRickard
@Amanda: if you think this book is heartbreaking (and you haven't gotten to the end yet), just wait till the end of Memories of Ice.
David Thomson
16. ZetaStriker
Remember that description of Heboric's other hand. All I'll say is that boars usually have hooves, so you should remember that fur and shape. . .
Chris Hawks
17. SaltManZ
Zeta @16: Heh. I wondered about that myself. Makes sense. :)
Melissa Goodrum
18. Daydreamer
Oh, such good chapters! Well, ok, I guess I'm with those who didn't find the Kalam storyline that enthralling here. I don't know, it just seemed a bit...random to me. Plus, as much as I like Kalam, with the other storylines just getting more and more interesting, reading about a guy on a boat wasn't really doing it for me.

SE has this rather unique ability to make me cry. Normally a rather hard thing to do. Vathar and Mappo/Icarium both had me sniffling. Not for the last time in this book. Or the series, for that matter.

re the Hounds of Shadow: while I might have the habit of referring to my huge 8 year old dog as my 'puppy' I really don't think it would be a realistic way to refer to the Hounds. Not that it isn't giving me some great mental images right now. :D

re apostrophes: I hadn't really paid attention to them until they were mentioned here. I can't say as they bother me, perhaps because I don't remember seeing them used in much else I've read (Pern, perhaps? It's been a long time). Trying to actually pronounce some of SE's names might prove...interesting.

Slightly OT but I finally got an error-free copy of DoD today, just in time to start reading. And pre-ordered tCG and there's a local book signing. Happy day all round!
Cody
19. Tarcanus
In regards to the glottal stop apostrophe:

I don't really have a problem with it when it's used as SE does here and elsewhere within his narrative. He uses it as a cultural indication of the people who named the creature/use the apostrophe.

When it becomes a problem is when an author uses the random apostrophes to try to make their world seem more complicated or exotic. So when a city is named T'telir, say, and all of the locals are named LLarimar, Jewels, etc.(names without that cultural indicator), the apostrophe fails. Just imo, though.
Catherine w
20. korlat
Everytime I read this series this is the spot where I remember why I like them so much. The faithlessness of the nobles, the tragedy of Sormo, the beauty of those dang butterflies, and the last line of the chapter.

"Then dark's descent was done."

It gives me the chills everytime.
Steven Halter
21. stevenhalter
@Amanda:


Huh! Do butterflies migrate like birds in reality? Or is this something Erikson dreamt up? *smiles*

For your viewing pleasure:This one is how I picture the woods the Chain is in (except yellow):


And here is the ground as they march:
Amir Noam
22. Amir
It's been several years since I've read the book, and all I really remembered from the Vathar crossing was the death of Sormo and the countless butterflies that come for his soul.

But in this re-read, it struck me that the butterflies are there on the very first sentence of the chapter! This reminds me of the bloodfly larvae being referenced in the first pragrapth of the chapter where the eventually attack Felisin.

The more I re-read the more I am impressed with Erikson's writing.
Karen Martin
23. ksh1elds555
Love the pictures! I know that monarch butterflies migrate south to a specific area of Mexico every year, but not sure about other species. I've heard it's an amazing site, with millions of brightly colored butterflies covering the scenery.
Amir Noam
24. Amir
@Amanda:

Elan asks an interesting question of Kalam when he talks about his conflicted loyalty—we’ve already seen that Kalam is torn between his homeland and the requirements of the Malazan Empire. Is there any part of Kalam that wishes to be back under the umbrella of the Imperial Army?

We saw Kalam give away his real identitiy twice now to Malazan soldiers - first to Keneb and now to the marines on the Ragstopper. He didn't have to do that. Earlier in the book, when he travelled to Raraku, he has sworn a Malazan seargant to silence simply by flashing his Clawmaster badge. He could easily have done the same here, by claiming to be a Claw on official business. The marines would have obeyed him.
However, I think that following the Seven Cities uprising Kalam is feeling increasingly guilty and a part of him wants to be recognized as a Malazan soldier. Don't forget that Kalam is directly responsible for countless horrible deaths (of both soldiers and civilians). Sure, the Apocalypse would have started without him, but he volunteered to be the one to light the fuse of this particular bomb (or Moranth munitions).
Steven Halter
25. stevenhalter
@Bill:

It’s also a bit of a thread to Mappo and Icarium, for after all, isn’t Mappo’s job to keep Icarium in a place of safety? An island of ignorance?

That's a good catch on problem with Mappo's job. By keeping Icarium ignorant, there can never really be any progression or cure. Note that Icarium's reaction when mappo tells him that he is a destroyer is not rage, but a desire for rectification in one way or another.The Nameless One's pissed me off, even at this point in the story for this very reason. It seemed that a little discussion with Icarium could go a long way. One wonders at their motives.
Amir Noam
26. Amir
re: the converstaion between Apsalar and Icarium:

We have here another indication of Icarium's naivety: Apsalar says that each of them has a protector/companioin that is helpless to protect them. Icarium automatically assumes she refers to her father. I've always assumed that she means Crokus (who certainly follows her around for half the world without being able to actually help her).
Maggie K
27. SneakyVerin
re: Baran the 'gamboling pup'--lmao. After reading NOK I dont see thinking anything of the sort!

Korlat : Hi there! and yeah-this spot is where I became really invested in the chain of dogs story...up to this point, I found it kinda boring except when we saw Coltaine himself...but this scene changed that. The matter-of-fact decription of Sormo's death, the actions of the nobles, ..it's just an intense scene. And as SHalter said--the butterflies make it cinematic.

@Bill: “I’ll give the Fist’s crack-thong a yank too if you ask sweetly.”
I’ve got nothing to say about the line; I just like saying it.

Too hilarious-that has to be my favorite line this time around as well.
Thomas Jeffries
28. thomstel
From here to the end...nothing but awesome.

Yanking crack-thongs: somehow I nearly forget this line every time I've reread the book, and each time it elicits an honest to God laugh from me every time. There's a lot of grins and even a snort or two as I read this series, but that one rates a full laugh. I think it's the "if you ask sweetly" that does it.

At the same time, here's a quandry: I can "see" a lot of the characters in my head after reading about them so much. However, Gesler is one that I can't see very clearly. Bronze skin from the warren, sure, but other than that and likely a beard, I can't even think of anyone in reality to stand in for him in my mind's eye. Stormy's big red beard brings Viking faces up in my brain, but Gesler is just Gesler. Anybody recall some other details that lets them "see" him better?

(btw, that was posed in an effort to better visualize the crack-thong exchange ;)

As for being angry, how boss is it that within the space of a chapter or two you go from Gesler to the Vathar crossing situation. It's not a white-hot fury (Duiker gets to step in and do some throttling for me) but goddamn those fucking ignorant asshat nobles. I can understand "every man for himself", and I can understand taking a big risk (in trusting Dom) when balanced against such a big reward (escort to Aren?! yes please). What I cannot understand is how they ever rationalize putting the lives of thousands in jeopardy for their own interests. How could marching with these people for months, watching the ones that couldn't make it fade into the dust of your passage, NOT instill some sense of humanity and humility in a person?

Are they clueless? Do they make effort to remain distanced so that their ignorance can be maintained? Or are they practicing some terrible form of evil: a quiet, shameless disregard for another human being's welfare?

This scene just echoes. Later in the book, and in your head long after the book is done. For me, the emotional impact of the crossing (from Duiker's PoV in the water and of the fighting, Sormo's death, and the refugees' insane reaction against the rebels) can only be topped by the ... well, the end. Don't want to say much more than that. It gets better, and worse. It gets bigger.

Man I envy you first-timers.
Philip Thomann
29. normalphil
One thing this section did was put me there, being dragged along remorselessly by a rope chain, surging through and among a paniced floundering mob, trying to keep your feet, trying to keep from being trampled, trying keep above the water, trying to keep your head out of the water, trying to keep from breathing in the water, sheets of arrows crashing down indiscriminantly, and... butterflies. Butterflies everywhere. Like another river in the air. (And then it gets quieter, deadlier, but also for the first time comprehensible in the shallows at the bank, by the wagon redoubt.)

It must have been beautiful and terrifying in its own context. Frankly, first time around by the time I got to Sormo, I wept.


The other thing it did was give me a moment sympathy for the perpetrators of the Asiatic Vespers, a spontaneous mass uprising against Roman colonists in the hellenistic world back in the day. Nethpara...
Travis Nelsen
30. Zangred
The sheer range of emotion these chapters elicit is quite profound. Everything from laugh out loud moments with the crack-thong conversation to sadness and horror and then pure rage against the nobles, to the point where I would guess most readers wanted Duiker to commit murder. What I find so amazing about this is that we haven't even hit the emotional climax of this book yet. To say the rest of the chapters in DG are just pure awesome is probably an understatement. As thomstel said above, I envy all the first-timers here.
Joe Long
31. Karsa
@15...yeah. To me the single most emotional part of the series. Tears, but for a slightly different reason. Of all the chapters in the series, that is the one that I look forward to in the re-read the most.
Joe Long
32. Karsa
@15...yeah. To me the single most emotional part of the series. Tears, but for a slightly different reason. Of all the chapters in the series, that is the one that I look forward to in the re-read the most.
Tricia Irish
33. Tektonica
thomsel and gredian:

I'm not sure I do envy the first timers. I'm putting my armor on.
Philip Thomann
34. normalphil
@Amanda



Phew, I feel like I’ve gone through the mill good and proper with this chapter. I simply cannot believe the scale of these achievements.



Yes, this is one thing that the Chain of Dogs sequence gets across- a (horrifying, increasingly demoralizing) sense of successive accomplishment. Each challenge looms, and it is overcome by the application of reason and courage by a desperate but unified few (getting fewer). In this specific case... they forced a contested river crossing. With barely anything. They saw how Dom was lining up the refugees and they used that; getting a force of sappers, marines, and as large a group of Wickans that could be spared (about twelve) across with the mob. They lost Sormo, the sappers have shot their bolt, but...
Cavalry pursuit: destroyed
Setala Crossing: neutralized
Peasant Army: destroyed
Semk demigod: neutralized
Kalmist Reloe's Host: destroyed

Vathar: crossed.

Next?
pat purdy
35. night owl
These chapters are certainly packed with visual horrors . Beautiful moments as well...and downright times of laugh out loud funny!
An amazing talent to work all of this so seamlessly.

I wonder about the huge white bear that Toblakai killed, could it have been Messremb?

Help! I figured out most of the abreviations, but am stumped by IMO- IMAO & WTB
Amir Noam
36. Amir
@night owl:

IMO = In My Opinion
IMHO = In My Humble Opinion
IMAO = In My Arrogant Opinion

And you'll sometimes see variants, such as IMNSHO (In My Not So Humble Opinion) and similar.

http://catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/I/IMHO.html

No idea about WTB. Where did you see it used?
Joe Long
37. Karsa
@35

Wtb=want to buy

Messreb shows up later, so it wasn't him.
Toster
38. alt146
@ Amanda

Oh Hell indeed. Gesler talking to Coltaine is one of my favourite scenes (amongst my many favourites). The wry humour that Erikson does so well, Coltaines innate understanding of exactly how to deal with Gesler and the sudden burgeoning power that fairly crackles off the page as it is revealed how close Gesler is to ascendancy (and how close Coltaine probably is by extension). One of Erikson's greatest strengths is the way he shows instead of tells, and this scene is a great example.

As for queueing ascendancy discussion in 3..2..1.. Ascendancy is still something that isn't completely explained. The general effect is a sort of quazi immortality, a stepping away from the normal mortal limitations. You don't necessarily have to die to ascend, but it seems to help. Especially if your death has meaning. It should be noted that there are a variety of ways in which to ascend. Being a powerful magic wielder, being worshipped, the effects of powerful magic/places/symbolism and sometimes sheer force of will can do it too. Worship tends to also make someone a god, but the lines between godhood and ascendancy are just as blurry and another discussion altogether. Although I must say I'm surprised that there is no cult of Coltaine - given all the man has acheived and the sense of awe the soldiers feel for him it would seem logical that something similar to the cult of Dassem would have appeared. Imagine how much more Coltaine would be at this point if it had.

Pust is just awesome and you start to realise exactly how sneaky he is. Doling out information and manipulating everyone under his breath and denying it at every turn. Honestly, how would you deal with someone like that? Do what he says, do the opposite? Try and ignore the incredibly pertinent things he says? Definitely someone to keep a close eye on whenever he appears on screen.
Amir Noam
39. Amir
alt146 @38:

Honestly, how would you deal with someone like that? Do what he says, do the opposite? Try and ignore the incredibly pertinent things he says?

Dealing with Pust is indeed a challenge. Remember this exchange between Fiddler and Mappo from a few chpaters back:
"Pay him no heed, right?"
The Trell swung around, his heavy brows lifting. "Hood, no, pay that man every heed, Fiddler."
Thomas Jeffries
40. thomstel
Tek@33

I gotta re-phrase that Tek, you're right.

I do not envy the first-timers in terms of "what" they're about to experience.

I do envy them in that in a couple weeks they will be holding the book in their hands, teeth gritted, brows drawn down, tears on their cheeks. And then when they look up and realize that WORDS ON A PAGE did that to them.

As others have mentioned, the other books have those sorts of moments as well (damn it Itkovian!), but this one really cements a reader into the series. Or at least it did for me...
Paul Boyd
41. GoodOldSatan
It is interesting for me to reflect on my first reading of this book and to see what holds over now that I’m reading it again. Given my initial (and continued) love of the BBs from GotM, their absence from DG was a disappointment for me. Consequently, any reference to them (i.e., the Kalam story line) was, and is, cherished. So I easily forgive the distraction of his scenes.

I can’t remember where we get the back story on Leoman (surely before BH), but I remember being very sympathetic to him here (as well as thinking that the Toblakai was a soon-to-be-butchered, throw-away character). Oops! This story takes on a richer meaning with what we learn later (a la Mobius).

Amanda, you’ve been done a slight injustice here, for now you are anticipating “crying.” On my first read through DG I was, at this point, anticipating another emotion.
Steven Halter
42. stevenhalter
Chapter 17: There's a lot going on in this deceptively short chapter. It is quieter than the flashiness of the Chain of Dogs--but its still there.
Right away, we see that the captain is out of synch. He isn't swaying with the ship. Kalam notes a couple of times that he thinks that the captain is trying to tell him something but can't come right out and say it. Kalam muses that there are warren effects that can cause this blockage.
The captain notes the strangeness of the passing of time.
Salk Elan siddles up to Kalam several times. Kalam has a somewhat instictive disklike of Salk.
They defeat the raiders. Salk shows that he is good with a knife as well as handling a mage. We see more of Kalam's skill--with the blade and with troops.
The captain seems even more bleary after the fight. They make the journey much quicker than they should have been able to.
Tricia Irish
43. Tektonica
Satan@41: I don't think Amanda has been done an injustice. SE writes tragedy! He also writes humor, great dialogue, cinematic beauty, rather intense philosophy, but most of all, Tragedy.
Count on it.

I'm with you on the first read of DG too....I was so bummed none of the beloved BB's were here, so I loved the Kalam part too, just to kind of be "near" the BB's. But by this point in the book, Coltaine and Duiker, Sormo and Nether had won my heart.

Shalter@42: You're right. I quite liked this chapter...many small details, and it was a relief after the previous one.
Sydo Zandstra
44. Fiddler
Karsa@37:

Messreb shows up later, so it wasn't him.

He does? I was pretty sure this was Messremb. He was in the area, trying to save Felisin, Heboric and Kulp when Ryllandaras the multi rat man had this barrier around them. Trying to get through.

Also slight spoiler:

When Toblakai meets up with Icarium, I seem to recall the latter saying something about Toblakai wearing the skin of a good friend of his.
Paul Boyd
45. GoodOldSatan
Tektonica@43: All I'm sayin' is, ... at this point in the initial read of DG, I didn't know how much tragedy to expect (since there are healthy doses of the other stuff as well). The (slow) revelation of its extent was one of the aspects of this book that makes it my favorite in the series.

I think this conversation will be richer/less constrained if we take it up in couple of weeks.

Thanks.
Melissa Goodrum
46. Daydreamer
Fiddler @ 44:
I've lent my book out so I can't check but I'm sure Karsa's right and we see Messremb again soon. Argh, ok, how do you white out spoilers? Just selecting the text doesn't seem to work for me, it reappears when I preview it. I'll post it in your shoutbox for now.
Karen Martin
47. ksh1elds555
Fiddler, I am drawing a blank maybe you can help fill in. Why was Messremb trying to help Felisin and Co? I seem to recall reading about him somewhere as a more positive character but can't remember. In RotCG Ryllandaras appears a single large entity but not as a multi-rat man... So can these Soletaken/D'ivers take different forms? Ryllandaras may be a special case since he is related to Trake though?
Julian Augustus
48. Alisonwonderland
Bill @Reaction:
More than just a few references in this chapter to Elan and Kalam being alike, including Elan saying it himself at one point and the captain telling Kalam “you and that poncy skulker . . . two of a kind.”

And it wasn't just the captain who thought as much; remember the sailor on the first day (in reference to Salk Elan and Kalam) talking about two "perfumed elects" aboard ship?
Chris Hawks
49. SaltManZ
Fid @44: On my first read, I too thought Karsa had killed Messremb, but Messremb was a brown bear, and Karsa's new duds are white.

kshield @47: You're confusing Ryllandaras (the wolves/white jackal) with Gryllen (the rats). But you're right in that Ryllandaras is a special case, as we will see eveeeeentually. And Ryll wasn't helping Heboric and Felisin so much as he was attacking Gryllen, 'cause that's just what those crazy D'ivers/Soletaken do.
Bill Capossere
50. Billcap
We do see Messremb again--that's why I pointed out how his attempt to attack Gryllen gave us another reason to like him and also keeps his presence in the back of our heads

as for positive feelings: we meet him quite early in an interaction with Icarium and Mappo and these are a few lines:
"his small eyes . . . shone within wrinkled nests of humor that drew his mouth into a grin"
"the hapless creature. Pity the pieces of his soul"
"Old Friend. Now I shall spare you the taste of my veering by putting some distance between us. Do you wish me well Mappo?"
"I do Messremb . . . Be careful"

In his physical description, urbane language, sense of empathy, and manners, he's shown in a positive light. And if Mappo likes him, as he clearly appears to, then we're set up as readers to like him due to our attachment to Mappo
David Thomson
51. ZetaStriker
@38 Alt146: I was under the impression that such worship had already begun, and served as the explanation for Coltaine's quasi-ascendancy.

@41 Good Old Satan: Dropping that certain name and complaining about other people spoiling her is kind of contradictory, isn't it? Part of the fun was figuring out how that character connected to those we'd already met when he shows up later.

As for myself, I was already firmly expecting a tragic end. Coltaine kept winning. . . but every victory cost him, and by this point he has almost nothing left with which to defend the refugees. Especially since Nil and Nether are almost useless now, and the only warlocks they have left. Magic is entirely on Korbolo Dom's side, and although they're getting closer to Aren, winning these constant battles is becoming harder and harder.
Julian Augustus
52. Alisonwonderland
Fiddler:

Yes, we see Messremb again. Spoiler below.

When Fid and the party are trying to enter the Deadhouse they get attacked by one of the shapeshifters (don't want to give too many details) and Messremb comes to their rescue only for the Azath to take both Messremb and the shapeshifter
Julian Augustus
53. Alisonwonderland
Daydreamer @ 46:
Argh, ok, how do you white out spoilers?

put (replace equals with =) before the spoiler and after it.
Karen Martin
54. ksh1elds555
Yes you're right, I was getting Gryllen and Ryllanderas confused there. Thanks! I'm right in that part of RotCG where we get a lot of action w/Ryllanderas. That's the danger of trying to read two of these books at the same time!! But it's so good...
Sydo Zandstra
55. Fiddler
My memory is failing me, I see. ;-) I too was confusing them. That's what you get from not rereading along.

Sorry about. Totally focusing on my DoD-reread atm :)


@Daydreamer:

You can white out text by selecting it with your cursor, and then select a colour in the colour palette icon above the box. White is there. :)
Steven Halter
56. stevenhalter
@Daydreamer: There does seem to be an occasional problem where the white out doesn't take effect. If you white it out and it shows up in the post as not white, then just edit it and do the same thing. I've never had to try more than twice.
Bill Capossere
57. Billcap
ksh1elds555 @ 54
I can empathize with the multiple-book confusion. At one point last week I was reading/rereading at the same time: MoI, DG, and CG, along with Brief History of the Dead for work. I picked up a review book because I was feeling guilty about the backlog, read the first two chapters, and decided that was insane. I can really see the upside to that whole D'ivers thing--imagine the reading I could get done!
Steven Halter
58. stevenhalter
@Bill:I wonder if that was the spur to D'vers. Remember all those musty texts from the First Empire that Mappo found at Pust's temple. I can picture some ancient scholar thinking: "If there were just more of me I could read so much more about Irrigation Planning in the Fifth Millenium of Ararkal."
...
Paul Boyd
59. GoodOldSatan
ZetaStriker @51: Right you are, to my embarrassment. I'd made a poor assumption that the individual had been named. The post has been edited.
Sydo Zandstra
60. Fiddler
@shalter/Daydreamer, re: whiting not working.

Interesting. I never had that problem, it always works the first time.

Maybe it's browser sensitive? I am using Firefox on W7.
Dustin George-Miller
61. dustingm
The whole discussion about how much time has passed also speaks to me directly. I now have no idea how much time has passed in this novel—the timelines are far from clear



All together now:

"THE TIMELINE IS NOT IMPORTANT!"
Melissa Goodrum
62. Daydreamer
Thanks everyone for the spoiler instructions. I'm using IE, which usually seems to be a good explanation for anything not working properly!

dustingm @ 61: hehe, that was one of the pieces of advice I gave my friend along with GotM, DG and MoI. :D
Dustin George-Miller
63. dustingm
It's one of the repeated mantras from the malazanempire.com forums. That scary, awesome crew found so many inconsistancies between events in the book and the stated years at the beginnings in the chapters that, I believe, Steve eventually just threw up his hands and stopped using them. :D
Illuyankas
64. Illuyankas
My personal excuse theory is that it's the fault of the Eres for dicking with time. Good enough of a reason for me!
Tai Tastigon
65. Taitastigon
OK, anybody ever mention that the timeline should not be considered important ? Might be helpful at this point...
Toster
66. David DeLaney
>such as the lapdog who is now surviving feral amongst
>the cattle-dogs, and treating them as though he is in
>charge.

ObSpoilerForThisThread: "She, sir."

>When Leoman talks about Dryjhna and Raraku, he says:

> "We are born from darkness and to darkness we return."

>Is this ANYTHING at all to do with High House Dark and
>someone taking up their position? Is the broken and torn
>warren within Raraku Tiste Andii or Tiste Edur related?

Read, and find out! Oh wait, wrong book-reread thread. FILE CABINET!

Oh, and the apostrophes? Bear in mind the sheer length of time of the backstories involved here (though we haven't yet seen anywhere near as much of that as we will); one use for apostrophes is simply as a placeholder to indicate where part of a word has fallen out, or been glossed over, or just has become no longer pronounced, over the years. Then think about T'lan Imass... As others have noted, he doesn't salt-and-pepper them everywhere, and he's taking some care with his linguistics as well as all the other archaeology-related stuff.

thomstel@28:
>Are they clueless? Do they make effort to remain
>distanced so that their ignorance can be maintained?
>Or are they practicing some terrible form of evil: a
>quiet, shameless disregard for another human being's
>welfare?

I would say, for many of them, the latter... people who aren't nobles don't COUNT, you see. Servants don't count, so you can whip them. The military doesn't count, even though it's all that's keeping you alive, so you can send imperious demands to it and get really huffy and worked up about your own suggestions not being taken or even noticed. Refugees don't count, so why bother to think about whether your plans would put them in danger? "Evil" isn't the usual word applied to this attitude, I think, but it's appropriate...

Ascendancy ... it's not clear at present. (And doesn't really become clearer later on.) I like to think of it, partly, as becoming iconically identified with SOMETHING, some concept - much like gaining a sphere of influence in The Primal Order, or the percentage-identification with one of the limited number of Archetypes in Unknown Armies - enough so that you start being metaphysically part of it, and it of you. Might give powers; might give psychic flashes; might produce a mystery cult devoted to you that does things you weren't wanting; but it's not exactly "ascending to godhood"...

--Dave
Toster
67. David DeLaney
...I hope I didn't kill the thread ...

--Dave
Toster
68. Mayhem
Side note, I saw a passing reference to ICE answering his questions, does anyone have a link to the page?
Its not linked on the main re-read index and I couldn't find it on a search.
Gerd K
69. Kah-thurak
@Mayhem
I think you mean this one:
http://www.tor.com/blogs/2010/12/open-call-for-questions-for-ian-cameron-esslemontanswered
Steven Halter
70. stevenhalter
David DeLaney@66:Interestingly, many of the attributes you mention fit right into the classic definitions of a fairly severe sociopath.
Mieneke van der Salm
71. Mieneke
@Amanda:

Butterflies just don’t seem as grim as moths or flies, so the start of this chapter feels vaguely hopeful - I’m not sure that will last though...


When I read that first scene with the butterflies, I thought 'Oh, how pretty!' followed by 'Wait, that has to be wrong!' How's that for authorial distrust? *grins*

Apart from the fact that these two chapters are just full of awesome, what particularly struck me this week, was how cinematic Erikson's writing can be. The butterflies are an example and the whole battle scene at the Vathar, but the scene with Toblakai trying to kill Heboric just played out in my mind including the special effects. It really adds to the immersive quality of these books.

Do we know how Duiker's marine did after the battle? I know we don't even know her name, but I've still become invested in her, maybe because Duiker so clearly is and is trying not to be.

Shalter @21 Thanks for the awesome pictures! Those are really cool :D

Oh and thanks for the heads up on the need for tissues, I now need to lay in a stock before I commence on reading next weeks chapters ;-)
Julian Augustus
72. Alisonwonderland
Mieneke @71,
Do we know how Duiker's marine did after the battle? I know we don't even know her name, but I've still become invested in her, maybe because Duiker so clearly is and is trying not to be.


We know she survived the Battle of Vathar Crossing because we meet her again when she gives Duiker a message to read later. Another of those very understated highly poignant moments.
Steven Halter
73. stevenhalter
In each of the storylines we have a journey. In the Chain of Dogs, we have the journey of the armies and the refugees. This is the biggest journey in the sense of distance and numbers. We also see Duiker's journey firsthand. First on his own and then with the Chain.
With Fiddler and company we have the journey towards Tremorlor. There are also a couple of personal journeys going on. Icarium and Mappo have their age long journey, fraught with danger. Apsalar journeys to find herself. Fiddler stabilizes and Crokus is finding things out about himself and Apsalar.
With Felisin and Heboric we journey from the chain of prisoners to the renewal of Sha'ik.
With Kalam, we have his personal journey in pursuit of the goal he and Quick Ben had established.
Along the way, each of these overall journeys is engaging in subtasks and revelations--each toward the journey's end.
Maggie K
74. SneakyVerin
When I read this, I did not catch the references to the warren in Mappo's bag. Now I am stuck on that...is it too a piecce of shattered warren?

and the "grizzled vet"...Would Tempre be on a boat? Hmmm, I don't see it, but I am not all the way through the series either. Does this get answered eventually?
Julian Augustus
75. Alisonwonderland
Sneaky Verin:
We don't know if Mappo's bag is a piece of the shattered warren, but I don't think we can rule it out. There are many many warrens in the Malazan world, so it could be anything.

No, the grizzled veteran is not Temper. Where Temper went next from NoK is told in RotCG.
Toster
76. Christohopper
Something I noticed in my most recent read of DHG (I think it was earlier on, but I can't recall exactly where) was Mappo swearing by Dessembrae. I'm curious whether anyone else noticed it.
It jarred with me considering Mappo's approximate lifespan thus far, and apparent isolation from the Malazan Empire specifically and other beings generally as he travels with Icarium.
Chris Hawks
77. SaltManZ
Although if anyone should should take part in the cult of Dessembrae, it's Mappo.
Iris Creemers
78. SamarDev
Yeah! I've got IT in my hands. The final tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen...

Quite unexpected (didn't expect the bookstore to call before at least one week) so now I feel mentally kind of unprepared. Strange that when you are looking forward for so long, it still takes a deep breath before opening the book. It is - after all - the beginning of the end...

So: bye bye world, see you again in a couple of days/weeks (depends on annoying necessities as sleep, food and work. Sigh...)
Steven Halter
79. stevenhalter
Christohopper@76:
In Chapter 4, Icarium says to Mappo:

“Possibly. Yet the stench from those claw marks differs from what rises from the flagstones themselves. Is it familiar to you? By Dessembrae’s mortal tears it should be, Mappo.”

Mappo mentions Dessembrae when talking to Fiddler in chapter 11:

“Something on your mind, soldier?” Mappo Runt quietly asked. “I’ve been watching such a progression of expressions on your face as to fill a wall in Dessembrae’s temple.”Dessembrae. The Cult of Dassem


Those look like the only mentions of Dessembrae in DG. That does bring up the interesting question of how cults get going and propogate in the Malazan world.
Toster
80. Christohopper
@Shalter
Ah I remembered incorrectly, thanks for looking up the references. Yes it is interesting. I wonder how SE and ICE view the matter. The Deck contains some information about the gods and ascendants who form the houses, though specific details would still seem to require word of mouth. Y'Ghatan wasn't all that long ago in terms of Mappo's lifespan, let alone Icarium's(!) (based on mortal Malazans referring to the event).
Joe Long
81. Karsa
searching is easy on a kindle! especially kindle for PC...if you ever want something looked up in a particular book, post the question and I'll do it as soon as I notice (I have 'em all except for the last, which comes 3/1)
Chris Hawks
82. SaltManZ
You can also search the texts by using Google Books.
Chris A
83. Christohopper
@SaltMan Z
Really? How do you go about searching with Google Books? I was of the understanding that only a demo page or several pages is available for works still in print.
hazel hunter
84. Hetan
Icarium talks about the shattered warren :
The Trell swung his gaze to Apsalar. ‘What warren is this?’
‘I don’t know. It has indeed been torn apart. There is little hope of determining its nature given the state it’s now in. And my memories tell me nothing of such a warren so destroyed.’


Pust identifies the nature of the warren of Mappo's sack :
'But no, I must stuff my outrage into a bag, a bag such as the curious sack the Trell carries – such a curious sack, that! Is there another fragment trapped within it? The possibility is . . . possible. A likely likelihood, indeed, a certain certainty!'
Mappo : . Do I in truth
carry a fragment of this warren within this tattered ruck?.
So from this and all the hints in the previous chapter as well as Pust's involvement in the Path of Hands, we can ascertain what warren it is ... er.. most likely! ;)
hazel hunter
85. Hetan
@79 - Shalter

I think the thing about that first quote is it raises the question when you first read it - Dessembrae's mortal tears - mortal? It was one of those huh? - ok- filing cabinet - moments for me.
M D
86. Abalieno
This time I start to comment early because I'm done catching up and have finished a book I was reading.

I don't have any lengthy commentary about the first 20 pages anyway. Continues what I always considered the high point of this book. In this chapter the only detail that nags me (I continue on the same train of thoughts I followed in my previous comments) is that Gresler & friends are a bit too deadpan about their own changes. I think that ascendancy would cause more ripples in their reactions and stances. But then all the scenes are so great and full with personality so I can completely ignore a slight lapse in believability (also Duiker falling to his knees after hearing news sounded a bit fake and contrived).

The dogs somehow make a counterpart to those transformations. I used to say that the story of the lapdog is the most epic in this book. The lapdog "starts" as a parallel with those nobles refugees. Then it goes through a transformation like a Mowgli adopted by wolves. These dogs become their own microcosm that is shaped the same way of the outside. So the refugees recognize themselves in the dogs (The Chain of Dogs), and the dogs themselves reflect what is outside, becoming one. The lapdog becomes hardened and unyielding, as if consciously imitating qualities it perceives outside. It's an "imprinting". And we also get human qualities and significance reflected within.

In this chapter there's also the other scene I liked the most in the whole book (the first was when Kulp was flung up by Heboric while Felisin was climbing the pillar). When in complete darkness Felisin sinks in the Goddess role. Those words are just great.

We are naught but three disembodies voices in futile counterpoint.

'Four voices,' she whispered. 'No bone, no flesh, just these feeble noises that claim their selves. Four points of view.'

I think the key to understand if Felisin has surrendered control to the goddess or not, is here:

"Becoming Sha'ik shall not shatter your delusions of independence," Leoman said, "unless, of course, you will it."

My idea about this in this book is quite precise. The only problem is that I know where this is going and it seems to contradict my interpretation. But it still seems to me that, outside of cases like direct possession like in the case of Sorry, the gods only choose through "affinity". They do not take control.

I'd say that what happens here to Felisin is no different (a bit nuanced) than what happens with Apsalar now. They aren't directly moved and manipulated against their will. The gods just ease in a context that "was prepared". Something similar Felisin says to Heboric:

You were never forsaken, Heboric, no matter what the priests may have believed when they did what they did. You were simply being prepared.

And another similar case is Gruntle in MoI. Ascendancy changes nothing of the character. It only happens after the conditions are set and affinity has developed.

Yet, as I said, all this doesn't fit well because we'll see Felisin will be actively shut off. I still believe she is in control at this point, though. And that the transition to the goddess is only about unveiling her certain knowledge and understanding. Not unlike Heboric and his visions. The god talks to you, uses your strengths and weaknesses, but it doesn't seem to subvert control.

As I commented elsewhere, ascendancy is a kind of wicked reward when one develops some "kinship" with the god. The Crippled God seems to do this quite often.

Or even this poignant quote from elsewhere:

The proportions had begun wrong. From the very start. Leading her to suspect that the proclivity for madness had already existed, dark flaws marring the soul that would one day claw its way into ascendancy.

Now this could be read both ways. On the surface it says that the potential for madness was there before ascendancy, but I think that that madness was also one trait that lead to ascendancy, instead of marring it.
Tai Tastigon
87. Taitastigon
Aaah, lotsa a people in a pre-tCG daze...let´s start this week´s instalment, then:

Beauty sleep, sir.

Never had so much fun in his life, I´d bet. You can tell, when they get even uglier.
Steven Halter
88. stevenhalter
Hetan@85:

Dessembrae's mortal tears

Good point. That is definitely a phrase to file away for later.
Steven Halter
89. stevenhalter
Abalieno@86:

... is that Gresler & friends are a bit too deadpan about their own changes. I think that ascendancy would cause more ripples ...

I think Gesler & co.'s reaction is exactly right for their personalities. They aren't wide eyed innocents (except for Truth who mirrors the others ). They've "been there and done that." Their reaction to uncommon events is a mirror for the reaction of the Malazan military. When something unexpected happens--adapt.
Steven Halter
90. stevenhalter
“She must have been…special.”

and
“The Wickans! The Wickans! The Wickans!”
Karen Martin
91. ksh1elds555
@shalter 90- That quote

“The Wickans! The Wickans! The Wickans!”

gives me goosebumps every time I read it. I find myself rereading those pages and feeling so much emotion over that scene. Even the first time reading the book, that was a holy (fillintheblank) moment for me. I was gonna save my comment on it for Wednesday though;-) But I guess we're all a little excited to talk about the next chapters by the time Tuesday rolls around.
Chris Hawks
92. SaltManZ
Christohopper @83: Google Books will let you preview as much as the publisher will allow, which in the case of the Malazan books is almost everything. But even when you can't preview the occasional page, they'll still come up in the results for text searches.

For the best results, do your search at Google Books, then click into the book. Once "inside", there will be a search box on the left. Use that to find all results within a book.
hazel hunter
93. Hetan
‘Shadowthrone . . . uh . . . my worthy Lord of Shadow . . . is thinking. Yes! Thinking furiously! Such is the vastness of his genius that he can outwit even himself!’
Amir Noam
94. Amir
"I am blind, yet I see. Cut out my tongue and oh, how I shall speak!"
Amir Noam
95. Amir
"Damned sappers! Who invented them? Madness!"
Amir Noam
96. Amir
"Knowledge had beaten him down - as it does us all, when delivered in too great a measure. Yet I hunger still."
Tai Tastigon
97. Taitastigon
"...and there ain´t a damned thing he can´t hit"
"Wrong," Mincer growled. "That lapdog..."
Steven Halter
98. stevenhalter
“I believe the time has come,” Coltaine said, “for a promotion. You are now a sergeant, soldier.”
Chris A
99. Christohopper
SaltMan Z@92
Maybe its restricted to the US or certain regions, from Australia I have no preview access at all to any of the novels. Oh well, good old print shall suffice until I find an ebook reader I can put up with!

@Shalter
The Coltaine/sapper scene is definitely my favourite in DG. Can't stop chuckling each time I get to it.
Sydo Zandstra
100. Fiddler
Love that one, shalter!

On a more general note, there is something that popped up in my mind, and I'd like to put it up for Bill and Amanda. Feel free to share thoughts.

GotM and DG are pretty straightforward books. But starting with MoI we are getting longer prologues who cover the whole book's themes in what happens, and it seems to fit near the ends of the books.

So maybe after finishing MoI, together with the whole 'my thoughts on this book' thing, maybe revisit the prologue as well?

Starting with MoI, I recall from almost every first reread of a book that when reading the prologue again, a lot of things I forgot during the first read fell in place...

Thoughts?
Chris Hawks
101. SaltManZ
@99: Gah, you're probably right that it's region-sensitive. Ah, well.
M D
102. Abalieno
Just a passing comment about the mysterious captain.

When I read the book I couldn't figure out. But later we are given at least the initial of the captain's name.

The moment I figured out is quite weird so I wonder if someone else gut it the same way: there's a passage in MoI, in Toc's PoV, where a story is briefly mentioned. I had a sudden idea, went to check DG if the initial of the name was correct... and it was. That was the moment I figured out who he was, and once again amazed at the number of hints that Erikson left behind :)
M D
103. Abalieno
Finished reading it all.

Contrary to Amanda I enjoy the parts with Kalam and I don't think they are slower. They certainly frame the plot of the Chain of Dogs but one should notice that those sections never end with cliffhangers and so one can only read satisfying chunks of history and a well balanced alternation of PoVs. In this case Kalam's storyline is central and as much important as the rest, and it helps to put the other stories in the context of what is going on the outside (like Tavore's fleet finally moving).

I also enjoy quite a bit how Kalam and Salk Elan circle each other. Elan tells Kalam he knows exactly what he's going to do with Laseen. And I think this also has a link to the previous chapter, specifically the part where Dancer is depicted as a conflicted man, especially the new found ambivalence toward Laseen. This speaks volumes about what is going to happen to Kalam in this book and beyond. Then Kalam has his turn with Elan by hinting that maybe he's not alone. Which is even better because it's not entirely a bluff ;)

Then I enjoy in particular the odd atmosphere that builds up abroad a ship. Maybe because it reminds me of The Lee's of Laughter's End. There's always this air of superstition and uncertainty. The way the captain is characterized helps that. A pragmatic but haunted man. One never knows what to expect, it's like out in the ocean all rules become arbitrary and men become truly vulnerable and at the mercy of weather and the sea. I guess that even if Kalam has a lot of experience at being out there, it's still not a place where he likes to be (meaning the issues of control and helplessness brought up a few chapters back, before Apt rescued all the captive children).

In chapter 17 is Felisin PoV that slows down, but it is short and moves the characters quite a bit. There's a returning theme from the previous chapter that echoes in both meaning and language.

In Chapter 16 we had:

With a sigh, Rellock resumed, 'She needs reasons. Reasons for everything. It's my feeling, anyway. I'm her father, and I say she's got more learning to do. It's no different from being out on the water – you learn no place safe. Not real learning. No place safe, Trell.'

And this in Chapter 17:

'You're still in that rush of power, Felisin, and it's deluded you into thinking it's delivered wisdom as well. There are gifts, and then there is that which must be earned.'

The parallel is stronger than how it appears. In Chapter 16 Rellock also says that Apsalar "knows things", yet she's still a child. In Chapter 17 Felisin is in the exact same situation, with the difference that Apsalar has been released from control, while Felisin is approaching it. And so Heboric goes to assume a similar position to the one of Mappo, to Icarium, and Rellock, to Apsalar.

One last thing. Take this quote from chapter 16:

'We are not simple creatures. You dream that with memories will come knowledge, and from knowledge, understanding. But for every answer you find, a thousand new questions arise. All that we were has led us to where we are, but tells us little of where we're going. Memories are a weight you can never shrug off.'

Which is surprisingly similar even in wording to Hillman's archetypal psychology:

Because Hillman's archetypal psychology is concerned with fantasy, myth, and image, it is not surprising that dreams are considered to be significant in relation to soul and soul-making. Hillman does not believe that dreams are simply random residue or flotsam from waking life (as advanced by physiologists), but neither does he believe that dreams are compensatory for the struggles of waking life, or are invested with “secret” meanings of how one should live (à la Jung). Rather, “dreams tell us where we are, not what to do” (1979).
M D
104. Abalieno
A few passing thoughts.

From Bill:

I like Rellock’s conversation with Mappo—some true wisdom in some of his lines. Such as “Knowing ain’t enough” and “You learn no place safe.”

I think that what Rellock implies with "knowing ain't enough" is that being told something doesn't equal real knowledge (and there's a thematic link to the purpose of history and repeating mistakes). On a general level, as a father one can't truly shield a daughter from everything: he would just prevent her from having real experience and so real learning. In Apsalar's specific case it means that even if she has the memories of a god, that still doesn't amount to having lived her life to the point of having a comprehension of what she remembers, and understanding of what to do with that knowledge. So the necessity to live her life, being exposed to risk.

"You learn no place safe" is not what Apsalar needs to understand. I don't think it's the piece of knowledge she misses. That's more like the expression of worry of a conflicted father whose thought always returns to that point, no matter how determined he is to let Apsalar free. From a side he knows that his daughter needs to walk on her own, and from the other he knows the risks that this comprises.

I have the idea of this implant of memories like the forced healing that we've seen. The body takes a toll. There are no shortcuts. Same with memories. They do not equal real awareness or comprehension, nor safety or an alternative to real living and conflict.

One way or another, pain is a constant and can't be avoided. It's wrought in and inescapable.

And it reminds me then the horrifying scene that Duiker sees with the woman and her child being killed by the same arrow. "Parenting" is like a shield that knows it will be pierced. Like Kalam's "helplessness". It's like being aware of one's incapacity to fulfill his role.
M D
105. Abalieno
Another thing: weren't apostrophes used in names for a purpose? Like they marked a distinction in status so that for example T'lan define them after the ritual. Or a race believed extinct. The same way the apostrophe "breaks" the word, its meaning refers to a "breaking", or transformation, of the meaning that word originally had.

So, if this is truly applied consistently, I'd say that apostrophes are there for a motivation and not just to make names appear exotic and "fantasy". That said, there are plenty of languages on our own earth that are filled with weird accents. It's not like we complain to them that they are being eccentric.
Toster
106. D. Masked Theorist
I don't know that anyone is still following this thread (I only recently discovered it myself), but I can't help geek-ing out about the "errant apostrophe" issue.

As used by SE/ICE, these should not be considered apostrophes, but rather as diacritics (essentially marks to represent sounds for which no symbol otherwise exists). They are especially common when words are transliterated from one language to another...for example 'ayatollah (an Arabic term meaning literally "sign of God," in which the ' represents the Arabic letter alif), or 'alleluia (itself a transliteration of a transliteration...the original, in Hebrew, would be pronounced halleluyah, but the Greeks had no h sound, so they represented it with a '). Given the variety of languages, ancient and otherwise, in the Malazn world, the use of these diacritics adds a degree of linguistic verisimilitude.

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