Welcome to the Malazan Re-read of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 of Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson (MoI).
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!
Picker’s squad stops Munug, an artisan/trader at a checkpoint. Picker buys a trio of ivory torcs that according to the artisan had received a blessing from Treach, the Tiger of Summer. Picker says Treach was a First Hero (a demigod, Soletaken ascendant) not a god, but the trader says a new temple has been sanctified in his name. The ivory comes from a “furred, tusked monster” that was Treach’s favorite prey—it was found in frozen mud. When she puts them on, they click.
Munug thinks how he has tumors between his legs and that the Crippled God has chosen him for those “flaws” along with his skills. He enters a warren gate and comes out on a plain with a smoky tent. Munug hands the CG in the tent a deck of cards, each with a flaw. As “payment,” the CG heals the tumors but Munug’s legs are dead as the price of the cure, as “perfection is anathema” to the CG.
Picker and Blend discuss how they put a magical “beacon” on Munug so Quick Ben can track him, as he was clearly carrying something.
Quick Ben arrives via Black Moranth flight. He immediately notes the torcs and tells Picker she’s “acquired the blessing of an ascendant.” Upon learning they belong to Treach, he tells them Treach lost himself in his Soletaken form hundreds of years ago. He says he’ll take a look at where his tracker went and Picker mournfully thinks how they’re off to another war, this one against the Pannion Domin.
Quick makes it clear via internal monologue that he knows Dujek’s host isn’t actually outlawed. He follows his beacon to the Crippled God’s tent. He learns that the CG is poisoning Burn and that the CG wants Quick to do something in payment for the CG returning his beacon, that the CG believes the gods and their world must suffer as he has. Before he can continue, Quick unleashes his power, grabs his beacon, and runs. He starts getting pulled back by the CG’s power, but a huge hand reaches up from the earth and pulls Ben down into a huge cavern where stand several such giants, arms holding up the cavern’s ceiling and what appears to be giant ribs in it. Quick realizes he is “within Burn, the Sleeping Goddess. A living warren.” One of the giants asks Quick for help, tells him that Burn is dying. Quick asks how long and the giant says “tens of years.” Quick leaves his beacon there so he can find his way back and vows to return with help, though it’s too late for that giant.
Picker tells Quick it’s time to go. The look he gives her scares her so much, she says, that she’s “ready to piss ice-cubes.” The last line tells us Quick remembered those words.
Paran has been sick at his stomach, had nightmares and visions, is in lots of pain, imagines some of it at least is a child’s, some of it the Hound’s blood in him. He wonders why Dujek and Whiskeyjack feel the need to take on the Pannion Domin. He tells himself not to think about the Empire, better to trust in Tavore.
Hedge tells Trotts Dujek wants the Bridgeburners back in Pale. They’re having a parley with Brood soon.
Mallet (the healer) tells Whiskeyjack that leg of his needs “serious attention” but WJ puts him off. Paran is given command of the 38 remaining Bridgeburners. He thinks of how he heard Tattersail’s voice meaning she was somehow alive. His internal monologue mentions his pain and “a child screaming in darkness, a Hound howling lost in sorrow, a soul nailed to the heart of a wound.”
Mallet tells Whiskeyjack that Paran is in worse shape than WJ and that Mallet’s Denul (healing) warren “recoiled.” He says Paran has sorcery running through him and Paran is fighting it and that’s what’s killing him. He and WJ agree to have Quick Ben take a look at him. Mallet tries again to get WJ to let him heal his leg but WJ says later.
Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Two:
Outrider Hurlochel is writing about Silverfox—but the extract refers to Dujek Onearm and his Host, which suggests they should be meeting up at some point. I do hope that means Paran and Silverfox will encounter one another. (Sort of again. *grin*) Also, the last part of the extract: “...those to its soul were the gravest...” When we hear that and when we see events like Coltaine’s Fall, we realise the the Malazans are being beaten to a bloody pulp really, yet still raising their heads in defiance.
Why are they so determined to be the ruling Empire? What gives them the right? Why should we root for them and not for those of the Seven Cities? Hell, if these books were written from another POV, we’d probably be rooting for the Crippled God and wondering when he is going to beat those Malazan bastards back and show them what he’s made of!
Oho, now this I love... Who immediately assumed, on seeing the name Corporal Picker, that this was a male soldier? I confess I did—and then had that turned on its head and ended up feeling a little ashamed of the fact my assumption was about a male soldier! Erikson does this brilliantly. I cannot think of very many female characters in his novels who are characterised by the fact that they ARE female. Felisin probably comes the closest, and even with her it is more about the ills that are carried out against her because she is female. Her being female is crucial to her storyline, but the point never over-laboured.
Okay, and here again is a point I might have mentioned in my interminable ramblings before—Erikson does happen to fall prey now and then to the usual fantasy trope of nasty appearance = bad guy (or, at least, guy with shady intentions). Here I present Munug:
His sunburned forehead was broad over a narrow set of features, vanishing into an almost chinless jaw. His snaggled, crooked teeth jutted out in all directions, making his smile an argumentative parody.
Not a pretty chap, by any means.
And definitely shady—evasive with answers, over-effusive with apologies, self-effacing regarding his skill as an artisan. Everything flags up someone who isn’t quite right... Which means that I look askance at those torcs he sells to Picker. Two things spring out at me from the scene—the fact that he mentions jade in the list of materials he works in (and the links to jade we’ve had already), and the fact that both Picker and Munug repeat the word “damned” so often in relation to the torcs. Methinks they are going to end up being a big plot point....
Also want to briefly pick out Treach, the Tiger of Summer—a Soletaken ascendant according to Picker, but has had “a new temple sanctified in his name”. Which apparently makes him a god. Is it purely the worship of people and the formalization and sanctity of worshipping that makes a god from an ascendant?
I ended up casually wondering why Munug is referred to as a poor bastard by Picker when she hears his name—it did end up emphasising the fact that I didn’t believe Munug was a very likeable soul. And then we find out that he is driven, at least in part, by a terminal illness, by the sounds of it. It doesn’t make me like him anymore, but it sort of lends understanding to his plight and gives me a little sympathy for him—desperate people are willing to take desperate action.
And Munug has decided to link himself to a fallen god...dun dun DUN! I do fear for Picker, wearing the mark of a man who deals with the Crippled God....
What are the cards that Munug makes for the God? Are they a Deck? [Bill: Yes.] Deliberately flawed? [Bill: And yes again.] Certainly the Crippled God has decided to enter the game. “Cherish this moment, dear Munug! By your hand, the new game is begun. By your hand, the world shall tremble!” Did anyone totally hear a maniacal cackling in their head after that very dramatic pronouncement? Just me? Oh.
And isn’t it just awesome to have the Bridgeburners back on screen? *sighs happily* Hey, is that Togg they keep swearing by the one-eyed wolf who interfered with Toc? It’s great to see the innate sneakiness and cynical aspect of the way the Bridgeburners work—marking Munug so that Quick Ben could trace him, feeding him specific lines that they want passed out around Pale. This is a whole different side to warfare than the very blatant hack and slash in Deadhouse Gates—lots of subterfuge.
It is interesting to see that Munug was telling the truth about having the torcs blessed by the ascendant Treach—and it is cool how this enables Erikson to reinforce the idea with us that Soletaken can lose themselves in their beast forms. Little dribbles of information, all the time. Please tell me no one remembers all of these little tidbits, right? I don’t retain half of them without checking back to previous things I’ve written about the series!
Uh oh...anyone else getting worried at the fact that Quick Ben is off to find the pebble with Munug? I have jitters he’ll come face to face with the Crippled God.
And this line, “Fener’s hoof, who or what is the Pannion Domin, anyway?” is, I think, something we’re all going to learn together over the next few weeks.
Hmm, we see immediately that Quick Ben isn’t party to the inner discussions of Whiskeyjack and Dujek, since he says:
“Outlaws, are we? Indeed, and Hood dreams of sheep gamboling in green pastures, too.”
Suggests that he doesn’t know quite what is going on, but it definitely not being taken in by any of it.
Even Erikson can’t make admin sound interesting:
“The wizard had been busy weaving a network of communications through Pale and its outlying approaches. Tithes and tariffs, in answer to the army’s financial needs, and the imposition of control, easing the transition from occupation to possession.”
Ah, Quick Ben—ever the mystery—“Quick Ben accessed his warrens—he could only manage seven at any one time though he possessed more.”
Oh my word...the Chained God is destroying Burn, the sleeping Goddess, the very land on which all the puny struggles between mortal armies are taking place. Talk about putting it all into perspective...“She cannot awaken, whilst I burgeon in her flesh.” Burn has been referenced a few times in the series to date, such as the dates showing X year of Burn’s sleep. Here she becomes an entity to join those we already care for:
He clawed at the ground, stared at the furrows his fingers gouged in the earth, saw the dark blood welling from them. “Oh, Burn, forgive me.”
Also, Quick Ben was being totally DESTROYED by the Crippled God before his rescue. By a God who has been chained. By one who doesn’t have access to all his powers. Oh dear. That bodes ill for those needing to go up against him....
Bill and I seem to talk about particularly cinematic scenes all the time, but the Malazan novels are chock full of them—here is another. Quick Ben being torn into tatters, screaming with pain, scrabbling to escape from a hooded god and—just before he is finally delivered into pain and death—he is rescued by a massive hand reaching up and dragging him down through the very earth. Awesome. That would certainly leave me breathless if I watched it on a film! But what I am saying? My imagination probably does it tons more justice—although I wouldn’t mind at all if Hans Zimmer decided to write a score to accompany scenes like that. *grins*
And now we reach the quieter scene after the breathless escape scene. This one is incredibly poignant—the childlike creatures warning of Burn’s death and begging Quick Ben’s help. And his response, “All right, then, it’s my war, now.” Again we see a creature fall and die that we’ve barely met, and we feel sorrow at their passing. Nameless, practically faceless, and yet I’m all choked up. Truly the Book of the Fallen, and it feels like we mark them all.
It’s nice that we’re stopping at most of the major players from Gardens of the Moon here—reminding us of how we left them at the end of the novel. Paran’s segment is particularly well written, in my opinion. He was the driven soldier, the man with ambitions, then became touched by a Hound of Shadow—and now is...what? A Soletaken? We know that the blood of dragons can turn people into Soletaken, from the Tiam/Anomander Rake connection. Is Paran destined to become a Hound? We’ve seen him snarling and baring his teeth.
“Bestial blood...it whispers of freedom. Whispers of a way out—but not from darkness. No. Into that darkness, where the Hounds went, deep into the heart of Anomander Rake’s cursed sword—the secret heart of Dragnipur.”
Paran definitely doesn’t have his mind on the day job, does he? This mention of Dragnipur—and knowing the previous owner of the sword—makes me wonder how Lady Envy and Paran will react to one another when they inevitably meet.
When someone like Trott starts spouting prophetic-sounding nonsense like that, why does Paran just dismiss it as “the sun withering his brains”? I would be finding out what on earth had caused the loquaciousness and getting to the bottom of it—but then I have the advantage of knowing that in Erikson’s series it probably means something momentous. *grins*
“Trust in Tavore, Ganoes Paran—your sister will salvage the house.”
But no mention of his other sister?
Hahaha, caught out! Trott is just faking it. *giggles* I love when Erikson catches me unawares like that!
Oh, I love the banter—I have missed it:
Trotts rose. “One day I may cook and eat you, sapper.”
“And choke to death on my lucky bone.”
The Baghest frowned. “My offer was true, Hedge. To honour you, my friend.”
The sapper squinted up at Trotts, then grinned. “Bastard! You almost had me there!”
Sniffing, Trotts turned away. “’Almost’, he said. Hah hah.”
Straight away we hear mention of Whiskeyjack’s leg—and, since everyone was so quick to point out I should remember this at the end of Gardens of the Moon, well, here I am remembering it! And a quick recap of our situation concerning Paran’s command of the Bridgeburners and Whiskeyjack’s elevation to second-in-command. But it’s all done so naturally that you never feel at all as though Erikson is talking down to you or doing a “Previously on Malazan Book of the Fallen...” recap. You’re just reading about characters, with subtleties thrown into relationships and ongoing enmities and friendships brought to the fore.
“Thirty-eight bitter, resentful veterans, already twice betrayed. I wasn’t part of the treachery at the siege of Pale, and Laseen’s proclamation of outlawry embraced me as much as it did them. Neither event can be laid at my feet, yet they’re doing it anyway.”
Heh. I like the fact that Whiskeyjack’s reaction to Paran possibly being ensorcelled by a god is one of strict pragmatism:
“If gods are plucking Paran’s strings again, I want to know who, and then we can mull on why.”
No wailing, no sound of fear from him at gods being involved—just a “we’ll sort it” statement.
It’s good to be back with the gang again. *grins*
Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Two:
Yes indeed, Amanda, those torcs of Treach will become hugely important in this series—keep an eye on them.
As will Treach’s development from First Hero to god. You’re pretty on with the musing regarding gods vs. ascendants—we will get a bit of a lecture on this from a character coming up. Note as well with regard to the torcs that we’ve got the ivory coming from a “frozen in mud” creature—so there’s an echo of our prologue with the creatures Pran Chole sees frozen in the ice. And it’s from a “furred, tusked” beast—something else to keep in mind. Finally, the ivory came from “Elingarth” and it will turn out we’ll later learn of a mercenary group from there who will play a large role in the plot. I like how Erikson slips in these small little throwaways so when we later hear a word/phrase/name in a different, often more significant context, it sounds familiar and natural. We see this as well with gods he wants to keep in our minds or that will play a role whenever we get their names put in front of us via a curse of some sort: “Fener’s tusk,” etc.
“Entering the game” is an interesting way to put it with regard to the CG. It will turn out that “entering the game” will take some official recognition or “sanctioning.” The question is who will that official be?
Well, we’ve said this is a “big” series and it’s tough to get bigger than the death of the world. “Poison” will be another of those words/themes/image pattern (chains, armor, audacity, compassion) we’ll see throughout. And speaking of audacity, I love that Quick Ben realizes it’s a war among gods and says “all right, I’m in.”
Glad you remembered the leg—two mentions of Mallet not healing Whiskyjack’s leg in a relatively short chapter. Hmm, think that’s going to be important at some point?
Your question on why we root for the Malazans is a good one. Certainly point of view is a huge part. We do get some interesting hints that the Empire has performed some good acts, has in some ways “improved” the lot of the areas its conquered: outlawing of slavery, bringing an end to tribal conflicts, etc. It’ll be interesting to see if these continue and if we get some harsher views of what is lost in the conquering. We will also have chance to get a contrasting look at another empire soon.
File cabinet: piss ice cubes. No, really.
File cabinet: “a child screaming,” “a Hound howling lost in sorrow,” and “a soul nailed to the heart of a wound.” By the way—we’ve seen that word multiple times in the prologue so you have something concrete to connect it to.
And really file cabinet “trust in Tavore.” Like, the firesafe kind of file cabinet.
The Mhybe (Silverfox’s mother) is old and feeling the energy Silverfox (looking about 10-11) is drawing from her, aging the Mhybe unnaturally, though she believes Silverfox does not know this. Korlat arrives and she and the Mhybe discuss how Kallor continues to argue against Silverfox, though Korlat says Brood remains steadfast. The Mhybe worries that this is only because he needs the Rhivi and will end once he allies with the Malazans. Korlat says they hope the Malazans will know more of Silverfox’s origin, but the Mhybe says though she has the souls of two Malazans and the body of a Rhivi, she is in truth a Bonecaster Soletaken, born in Tellann warren wove by an Imass bonecaster. She wonders why the T’lan Imass need a flesh and blood Bonecaster. When Korlat points out the T’lan marched under the banners of the Malazan Empire, the Mhybe answer they no longer do and wonders why and what hidden motives the Malazans may have. Korlat says Brood is probably aware of such questions and invites the Mhybe to the parley. The Mhybe thinks of how the Malazans and Moranth bombed the Rhivi land, killed the sacred herds, and yet now they are asked to ally with them, and not even in the name of peace but for yet another war. She looks and sees the Malazans moving their way. Silverfox joins the Mhybe and Korlat and says she is sad because she can sense that the “sacred trust” between the land and the Rhivi spirits has been broken and the Rhivi spirits are “naught but untethered vessels of loss and pain.” The Mhybe asks if anything can be done and Silverfox says it no longer is necessary.
Silverfox tells the Mhybe that while her memories keep her fighting against the Malazans as the enemy, memories should tell her something else and that Korlat can explain. Korlat says the experiences are the same “across the breadth of time. Among all who possess memories, whether an individual or a people, life’s lessons are ever the same lessons.” Silverfox says to think on forgiveness through what’s to come, but know that “it must not always be freely given . . . Sometimes forgiveness must be denied.” The Malazans join them: Dujek, Whiskeyjack, Artanthos the standard bearer, and Twist the Black Moranth. When the Mhybe asks who the man next to Dujek is, Korlat guesses Whiskeyjack and says he “cuts quite a figure.” Silverfox says she thinks he’d be a good uncle; she trusts him. Twist she says always laughs inside—a laugh of “sorrow”—while she is and “always has been” “uncertain” of Artanthos. Caladan Brood and Kallor join the parley. The Mhybe thinks that Kallor hates Silverfox and seems to know something about her nobody else does, something that makes him fear her. She wonders at his claims to have lived for millennia and destroyed his own empire, and muses he can’t be an ascendant as his face and body show the ravages of time—at least a century. He looks with contempt at the Malazans. When Dujek introduces Artanthos, Silverfox thinks he hasn’t used that name for some time and also that he isn’t “as he appears.” Dujek asks Brood where the Crimson Guard is and Brood says they are attending to “internal matters” and will not be involved in the Pannion war. Dujek and Brood appear to take an instant liking to each other. Korlat marvels at the ease they put away prior to battle and the Mhybe says “pragmatic soldiers are the most frightening.”
As she passes by some Tiste Andii, the Mhybe thinks of their inherent strangeness: “a people plagued by indifference . . . secret tragedies in [their] long tortured past. Wounds that would never heal. Even suffering . . . was capable of becoming a way of life. To then extend such an existence from decades into centuries, then into millennia, still brought home . . . a dull shock of horror.” She thinks of them as ghosts, always waiting. As she sees Crone, she wonders at the relationship between Brood and Rake and of Crone as the “bridge between the two.” Silverfox greets Crone and says she had not “before realized that your kind were born in the rotting flesh of a—” and is quickly interrupted by Crone who says it is a secret. Crone tells Silverfox to be careful of what she reveals of herself, that she and the Mhybe will need protection. Inside the parley tent, Whiskeyjack laughs to see the large map table, which had been made by Fiddler and Hedge for a card game using a Deck of Dragons and then stolen by the Mott Irregulars. Silverfox examines the table then asks if Fiddler and Hedge cheated. Whiskeyjack says he doesn’t know, but the coins did flow one way only. The way he looks at her shows he senses something familiar about her but doesn’t know what it is.
Brood says the Pannnion’s forces are preparing to lay siege to Capustan, which is ruled by two warring factions: Prince Jelarkan and the Mask Council—a group of High Priests. The prince has hired the Grey Swords from Elingarth as a mercenary company to help protect the city while the priests have each temple’s private company of soldiers. Brood informs them that the peasant army of the Pannion—the Tenescowri—is not supplied by the Pannion Seer and so they eat the enemy. As Dujek talks strategy Crone and Mhybe laugh at how much he sounds like Brood. Whiskeyjack says they need to make contact with the Prince. Silverfox says he and Dujek have already set up to do so as they plan on liberating Capustan. Brood agrees and says that on the surface, the majority of their forces must be seen marching overland at a pace as a feint to throw off the Seer’s plans. The two groups agree that beyond Capustan, they must strike at the heart of the Domin—Coral. Brood says yes—they’ll liberate the cities of Setta, Les, and Maurik then attack Coral. Whiskeyjack says the armies will march overland—no boats—so as not to make the Pannion commander, Kulpath, hurry his forces. He then asks about Rake and Brood says Moon’s Spawn is moving toward the Domin and will “disappear” so as to be an unpredictable asset. When he says the Andii have “formidable sorceries” Silverfox says it won’t be enough. Kallor interrupts to say Silverfox shouldn’t be trusted, that “betrayal is her oldest friend.” He points out she is killing the Mhybe and should be killed herself. Silverfox is horrified by the revelation. The Mhybe says it is what it is, and that there is an “urgency” inside Silverfox, a “force ancient and undeniable.” At which point Kallor interrupts again and says “you don’t know the half of it,” then grabs Silverfox and yells “you’re in there, aren’t you? . . . Come out, bitch.” Brood orders Kallor to let her go and says if he touches her again he will beat her. Whiskeyjack says if Kallor does it he will “rip your heart out.” When Kallor answers “I shake with fear,” Whiskeyjack backhands him. Kallor starts to draw his sword but Brood grabs him and says he “earned” it and if Brood needs to he’ll use his hammer (Burn’s hammer) on Kallor. Kallor agrees and Brood lets him go. Whiskeyjack asks who Silverfox is. She answers that she is Tattersail and Nightchill and that Tattersail’s death happened inside a Tellann warren (at which point Artanthos flinches) and that a Bonecaster from the distant past and an Elder God and a mortal helped her be born in the Tellann warren and in the Rhivi plain and she “belongs to the T’lan Imass.” Kallor snorts at the the name Nightchill as a “lack of imagination” and wonders if K’rul even knew. Silverfox goes on to say the T’lan Imass are gathering and will be needed against the Pannion Seer. They are gathering due to her birth—a summoning every T’lan Imass on the world has heard and will try to answer.
Whiskeyjack recalls Pale, “a plague of suspicions, a maelstrom of desperate schemes. A’Karonys. Bellurdan. Nightchill. Tattersail. The list of mages whose deaths could be laid at High Mage Tayschrenn’s sandaled feet was written in the blood of senseless paranoia.” He’s glad Tayschrenn left them but suspects he didn’t go far. Whiskeyjack understands that Silverfox knows the outlawing of the Malazans is a sham. Looking at her, he sees Tattersail. He recalls what he had heard of Nightchill: a wielder of High Rashan, one of the Emperor’s chosen, mate to Bellurdan, hard-edged—and he worries about Nightchill’s influence within Silverfox. He then remembers that Paran was Tattersail’s love and wonders what this will mean and do to Paran. He grieves for the Mhybe and thinks despite Kallor’s advice he will not stand for a child being harmed, though he wonders if she is really a “child.” He makes eye contact with Korlat and after noting her beauty realizes she’s trying to tell him that Silverfox is indeed a child, a blank slate, one that might be influenced by those close to her.
Crone is terrified by what has been revealed: that Silverfox controls the T’lan Imass, that K’rul—who knows the Raven’s secret—is involved, at Silverfox’s carelessness in all she reveals. Crone worries Rake might learn that the Ravens were born as maggots from the Crippled God’s flesh at his Fall. She notes they were also at the chaining and have been “honorable guardians of the Crippled God’s magic,” magic they can unleash as well. Crone thinks it was lucky for Brood that the T’lan Imass alliance with the Malazan Empire ended with the death of the Emperor, but then thinks that Brood also never “truly unleashed the Andii . . . let loose Anomander Rake . . has ever shown his own true power . . . Tennes—the power of the land itself . . . the power to shatter mountains.” Crone thinks too that what lies at the heart of the Pannion Domin is a mystery but Silverfox knows, and knows the T’lan Imass will be needed. She wonders both what that secret is as well as what it is that Kallor knows about Silverfox.
The Myhbe recognizes that Silverfox is seeking allies, that Tattersail/Nightchill are reaching out to the Malazans. She sees the alliance is fragile and wonders what Dujek will do. Dujek asks why the Malazan Empire knew nothing of other T’lan Imass beyond the armies of Logros. Silverfox says the First Gathering bound the Imass to each and every one, making them immortal in the cause of war. Kallor interrupts to say that the Jaghut were pacifists save a few Tyrants. Silverfox counters Kallor is hardly the one to talk about injustice and says the Nightchill part of her knows what Kallor did—that he “laid waste an entire realm . . . left nothing but ash and charred bones” and identifies it as the Imperial Warren. Silverfox continues to instruct Dujek by saying Logros and the clans under him were tasked with defending the First Throne while the rest went to fight Jaghut, which proved “costly” and many armies were decimated. Others, she says, may still be fighting. Dujek says when the Logros left, they went into the Jhag Odhan and came back “much diminished.” Silverfox says she is unsure if the Logros have answered her call, though she says she senses one army nearby. The Mhybe sees Silverfox is not telling all. Dujek asks Brood if they should continue discussing strategy. As they do so, the Mhybe, Silverfox, Korlat, and Whiskeyjack exit. Whiskeyjack tells Silverfox he sees much of Tattersail in her and she says she recalls faces and feelings. She names some and says her thoughts of Tayschrenn confuse her, no “sense of loyalty, no sense of trust.” She says she does recall Paran and has in fact met him already, when he had Oponn’s sword and caught all the lances on it. She tells WJ he knows she’s alive and he can send word to Paran. He says they’re all coming anyway. Silverfox knows he wants to have Quick Ben and Mallet examine her and says she’s curious herself what they will discover. Korlat and Whiskeyjack leave together.
Whiskeyjack says Silverfox revealed too much. Korlat agrees and muses on all the T’lan Imass have “witnessed” and remember: the Fall, the arrival of the Tiste Andii, the “last flight of the Dragons into Starvald Demelain.” When WJ mentions how flustered Crone got, Korlat reveals the great “secret” and says the Andii all know. In fact, Rake finds the power in Crone (the First Born) “appalling” and so keeps her and her kin close. Korlat says she’s looking forward to meeting Quick Ben, whom she recalls from their clash in Darujhistan. She tells him Silverfox trusts him and she does as well. When he recounts for her what he knows of the events of Tattersail’s death, Korlat wonders: they know she has Nightchill and Tattersail in her, but where is Bellurdan? Whiskeyjack thinks he has no idea.
Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Three:
Two things from the extract—who on earth is Artanthos? Not sure we’ve yet heard about this chap or chapess? I’m definitely taking more note of those names that crop up as authors of extracts and poems, having encountered many of them through the pages of the books (like Gothos and Duiker). Second point is on the rather ominous final line:
Neither Dujek nor Brood, nor anyone else among their legendary company, could have anticipated the ensuing clash—not of swords, but of worlds...
On my first glance, I thought it said words, and felt it was rather prosaic. Worlds is something altogether greater!
Another nice little indication of the sheer time scales we’re dealing with:
Since memories began the hills had been sacred to the Rhivi.
Especially ironic considering we’re about to enter a meeting with some who existed before memories began....
We meet the Mhybe—the “mother” to the child Silverfox. Her inner monologue is bittersweet. It shows no hatred of Silverfox [Bill: Wait for it.], despite the fact that the unique soul is stealing her life force bit by bit, but does rue the lost opportunity of marriage and sees herself as an object to be discarded once its usefulness has run its course.
Here is one little hint about Nightchill actually being Sister of Cold Nights:
“...the other held back from death through ancient sorceries...”
We also have a reminder that, although Silverfox has been created from the souls of women/goddesses grown, she is but a child:
“Look at her now, playing the games a child would play; she smiles all unknowing of the price her existence, her growth demands of me.”
Silverfox looks to become one of the most intriguing characters yet—is it mere coincidence that she is now present and in existence when the Crippled God joins the game?
“This child belongs to the T’lan Imass. She may well be clothed in the flesh of a Rhivi, and she may well contain the souls of two Malazan mages, but she is now a Soletaken, and more—a Bonecaster. And even these truths but brush the edges of what she will become.”
How difficult must it be to try and forget the war and pain that has passed between the Malazan/Moranth and the Rhivi? This is such a terribly fragile and tenuous connection—and the presence of someone like Kallor must make it doubly so.
This description here feels a little as though it shows some of the complexity of the entire series—the worldbuilding, the scale, the life cycles, the different races. Plus, I just like it and wanted to quote it!
“Here we three stand, for all to see—a child of ten or eleven years, a woman of youthful visage with unhuman eyes, and a bent old woman—and it is, in every detail, an illusion, for what lies within us is reversed. I am the child. The Tiste Andii has known thousands of years of life, and the girl... hundreds of thousands.”
Then there is a discussion of memories, experiences and forgiveness—I must admit that some of this went over my head in terms of depth and philosophical musings, but I sense that all of these will be strong themes through Memories of Ice. (The title is indeed a clue!) One aspect I think I did understand is that among whichever people “life’s lessons are always the same lessons.”
Isn’t it fantastic to see characters we’ve known for a while from the point of view of new characters? I particularly love the way that the Mhybe and Korlat eye up Whiskeyjack a little bit. *grins*
If there is Barghast blood in Caladan Brood, does that mean that he has something to do with the ship Silanda?
Meeting Kallor here properly, and Nightchill in the body of Silverfox—and having seen the long-diminished K’rul in Gardens of the Moon and knowing that Draconus was defeated by Anomander—well, we’ve now seen all the results of those most terrible curses issued in the Prologue of Memories of Ice. And, I have to say, Kallor’s does seem the most terrible—someone who is desperate for power to never achieve ascendancy, never rise to godhood, but will live to see others reach that goal. Lesser others, in his opinion as well. Yes, for Kallor, that is a very proper curse.
Ooh, there is that name Artanthos again! And Silverfox says: “He’s not used that name in a long time. Nor is he as he appears.” Even more intriguing... Silverfox also calls him “a chimera”—something to remember, I’m guessing.
This first meeting between Brood and Dujek is excellent—two skilled veterans who have fought against each other many times finally coming face to face and taking each other’s measure. The exchange is quiet, dignified but with an element of sparring that amuses me.
The Tiste Andii are just SO EMO, aren’t they? I can’t help but picture them forlornly sighing about how life is difficult, and then writing bad poetry. The Tiste Andii are definitely the type to have Livejournal sites that detail the minutiae of living for millennia. *grins*
“A people plagued by indifference, an apathy that made even the efforts of civil discourse too much to contemplate. There were secret tragedies in the long, tortured past of the Tiste Andii. Wounds that would never heal.”
Ooh, this is one unique factor that I’ve not seen before in long-lived races...the fact that the Tiste Andii do not mourn their dead. Usually with these immortal types (such as elves in other books), they will extensively mourn the passing of any of the souls they’ve survived with for so long. Mind, the Tiste Andii seem to have few concerns or cares—internal misery and self-absorption is the order of the day.
The Mhybe’s reflection on Brood and Rake’s uneasy alliance makes me think about WHY they teamed up so long ago. What hold do they have on one another? Why do they fight for the same cause so often?
It’s awesome to see Crone again. *grins* And I’m touched by the way she refers to the Mhybe. I do think that Silverfox could perhaps take a little more notice of Crone’s long experience with hiding complete truths....
That table is too cool—if Fiddler and Hedge used it for the Deck of Dragons, might that have imbued it with latent energies? Given Fiddler’s sensitivity? This is also the second mention of the Mott Irregulars—thieves and scoundrels, by the sound of it! I’m keen to see them centre stage.
We have a quick crash course in the situation that Dujek and Brood are facing, concerning the Pannion taking over various cities and the political situations therein. I’m sure all will become clearer—this feels as close to an info-dump as Erikson ever gets. Once again, a nice little comment on the burgeoning respect and relationship between Brook and Dujek, and the “poetry in their mutual war.”
If I was having a rather cagey discussion with new allies, I don’t think I’d want Silverfox there, with the amount of information she spills! The child just can’t keep secrets!
Kallor isn’t exactly endearing himself to readers here, is he? Threatening SIlverfox, revealing the fact that child is destroying mother, trying to call out the goddess whom he cursed into this position. Not a nice guy at all.
Silverfox really does tell too much—revealing that she exists to command them. What would people do to gain power over the entire T’lan Imass race? More than Silverfox can bear while she’s still childlike and not grown into her full powers, I’m sure.
I think Erikson is also presenting an observation on the nature of motherhood. We’ve seen the Jaghut mother sacrificing her children, and here we can see the sacrifice of the Mhybe to bring Silverfox to life—is Erikson suggesting that motherhood always involves some sort of sacrifice?
Interesting...Brood’s power as an ascendant is that of Tennes, the power of the land itself. The power of Burn. Burn, who is fading and dying under the ravages of the Crippled God. That is going to have repercussions, non?
Whiskeyjack shows tact that I had forgotten he possessed in talking to Silverfox of Paran, and hinting at their previous relationship. Imagine having to broach that sort of issue with someone who looks, at best, eleven years old—but having to do so, in order that his captain does not suffer extreme pain if coming upon her all unawares. I love Whiskeyjack.
I have to confess to grinning widely when seeing that Crone’s great secret that she panics so about is already known to Rake—and is a reason he keeps her so close.
Okay, seems to me that all the recapping is done—and it is time to enter the real meat of the tale. See you next week!
Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Three:
The tragedy of the Mhybe will run through much of this book: a young Rhivi maiden turned unnaturally into a bent old woman and continuing to age at a greatly accelerated rate. Which in turn breeds an unnatural mother-daughter relationship—the daughter feeding off the mother’s life and in so doing killing her and the mother resenting/hating the child for doing so. However, I do think Amanda you’re right that Erikson is pointing out that motherhood, and I’d broaden that to parenthood, always involves sacrifice. Does it not? Here the sacrifice is made literal. And does a child’s growth not every day remind us of how old we are getting, how much closer to death, as we watch them grow? “It all goes so fast” is a common parental complaint, after all.
We’re also introduced quickly to the inherent mistrust between these allies early in the alliance, the questioning of motives. This will rear up later as well, so it’s good we’re set up for that, no matter the seeming good natured acceptance we see in this meeting.
The Mhybe’s question—why do the Imass need a flesh and blood Bonecaster is a good one, and will indeed be answered
We can see in the Mhybe’s thoughts on working with the enemy how smart a move it was—this deception with regard to Dujek and the Empress:
“Think not of mistrust, think not of the horrors visited upon us . . . Dujek Onearm and his Host have been outlawed by the hated Empress.”
We’ve got some hints to Silverfox’s long-range plans (at least, one of her plans) with regard to the Rhivi spirits that are untethered: she will “answer them” and be a “bridge” between “ancient memories and recent memories.”
And in her words on memories, we have again that theme of tolerance, of empathy “across the breadth of time, Among all who possess memories,” no matter the people, the tribe, the species, whether they have stars on the bellies or not, “life’s lessons are ever the same.”
It’s a harsh turn from that to sometimes “forgiveness must be denied,” begging the question of course as to what is Silverfox planning to not forgive? And whom?
[Warning—I’m going to be talking about hints regarding Artantho’s identity. Though I won’t be naming him myself, the hints—all of which we have been given—may lead you to who it is. Some (you know who you are) may wish to skip this paragraph.]
Okay, we’re told outright that Arthanthos is not who he appears to be, that Silverfox knows/knew him, that she was never sure of him, and that he’s used that name before but not for some time. Since he’s with the Malazans, it’s probably a good bet that it’s the Malazan aspect of her that knew him: Tattersail. Thus we can guess it is someone Tattersail never fully trusted. At this point, I’ll simply say we’ve seen him before (in his true self) and that we’ve seen his name or a variant of it as well. [Amanda’s interjection: *lightbulb moment* I know who it is!]
Back to our scheduled commentary.
By the way, we’ll see a bit of what is going on with the “internal matters” of the Crimson Guard and why they aren’t here in Esslemont’s Return of the, um, Crimson Guard.
That “tragic history” of the Andii will slowly get revealed in bits and pieces (and no, not completely) and will as one may imagine, play a role in events. After all, Erikson is a firm believer in this series in Faulkner’s timeless words, “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
And we’ve seen this idea of the long-lived Andii, the despair such long life could possibly entail, before. As well as the question of why they fight “for causes not their own.” Is it ennui? To stave off despair? Is it a belief in “freedom,” however the Andii may define it? Is it desire to feel like that are integral player in world events?
I also enjoy Crone’s secret being not so much a secret.
Love the table. And we haven’t seen the last of it by a long shot... And is anybody shocked that Fiddler and Hedge rigged the games?
There’s that mercenary company I mentioned earlier—the Gray Swords—from Elingarth.
Cannibalism. Yum. Consumption made literal?
Back to how this alliance, while coming nicely together, isn’t exactly one hundred percent transparent. We’ve got Dujek and WJ already planning how to contact the Grey Swords and Brood’s side already positioning Moon’s Spawn.
It’s a little line, Silverfox’s “not enough” when Brood references the “formidable sorceries” of the Tiste Andii, which of course means one has to ask: what does she know of the Pannion Seer and what could its power be that even Moon’s Spawn, Rake, and the Andii will not suffice and that makes her so sure the T’lan Imass—thousands of them—will be needed?
What a horribly wrenching scene, Silverfox’s learning of what she is doing to her mother. By the way—stop for a moment and just visualize that scene—Kallor, worn by life, mailed, grabbing a little girl and pulling her face to his and calling her “bitch.” Yes, hard to like Kallor much in this book. As Whiskeyjack clearly does not. File that little confrontation away for later.
Note Whiskeyjack’s suspicion that Tayschrenn is closer than is meant to be thought.
Whiskeyjack and Korlat. It’s not all death and war. Let’s see where this goes.
File cabinet: Crone telling us the Ravens “have been honorable guardians of the Crippled God’s magic.” Then later Korlat telling WJ the ravens “carry with them fragments of the CG’s power.”
Interesting complexity that as much as one can’t stand Kallor in this book so far, his is the voice that defends the Jaghut against genocide. So yes, now suddenly we’re nodding our head in agreement with someone who just tried to beat up a ten-year-old girl and called her “bitch.” Wait. How did that happen?
Hmmm, what’s going on with those missing T’lan Imass?
Yes, a bit awkward the whole Paran/Tattersail/ten-year-old girl/lovers thing, eh?
Wait, the “last flight of the Dragons into Starvald Demelain.” Where did that come from? And do we get to see it? What made it the last flight? What a tease!
Speaking of a tease line:
“Where then is this Thelomen, Bellurdan?”
Hmmm...cue organ music: Da Da Duh!
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.