Apr 13 2011 1:00pm

Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Memories of Ice, Chapters 6 and 7

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

Note: The summary of events will be free of major spoilers and we’re going to try keeping the reader comments the same. A forum thread has been set up for outright Malazan spoiler discussion.

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

Message from Amanda: Bill and I would like to thank the followers of this re-read for their patience and humour in the face of such a long-drawn-out process and numerous unscheduled gaps. We appreciate that late notice on not posting is frustrating, and can only beg understanding. THANK YOU to everyone :o)


Chapter Six


Gruntle, Stonny, and Harllo escort Keruli’s carriage into Saltoan. There they meet some thugs who are to escort Keruli to a meeting of the underworld.


Keruli address the underworld gathering about the priests of the Pannion Domin entering into Saltoan “sowing discord.” He talks as well of the Children of the Dead Seed, birthed when their mothers had sex with “corpses not yet cold,” and of the savagery of the Tenescowri. When someone suggests simply killing the priests, Keruli says they must fight back with words—”crafted rumours and counter-intelligence.” Gruntle overhears Harllo talking about how Saltoan has seen unexplained murders for several nights now and Gruntle thinks to himself Buke has found proof of his suspicions regarding Korbald and Bauchelain. Keruli tells Gruntle the stop in Saltoan was a detour and they’ll continue on to Capustan.


Gruntle exits the city after Keruli’s carriage has already left with Stonny and Harllo. He comes across what looks like a failed bandit attack on Korbald and Bauchelain’s carriage. He catches up to the group and at Keruli’s insistence they join with three White Face Barghast siblings that are also traveling to Capustan: Hetan and her two brothers Cafal and Netok. They have been sent by their tribe to look into the presence of demons on the wildlands.


The Barghast say the demons have been described as “fast on two legs. Talons like an eagle’s, only much larger, at the ends of those legs. Their arms are blades,” as seen in the Barghast’s shouldermen’s dream-visions. Hetan tells them her father (the warchief) will not lead the clans south to Capustan, but that the shouldermen have seen that the Pannion War will come to them.


As they continue, Hetan explains the Barghast bury trees upside down to hold souls from wandering and that traps are also placed around the souls, though some still escape. Those who return to the clans are destroyed, others (called sticksnares) send dreams to the shouldermen. The group comes across Bauchelain’s carriage, wrecked after a fight. Behind it an upside-down tree/burial mound opens up. Inside the carriage they discover a mass of organs formed together in a human-shape (though only knee-high) and Gruntle realizes that’s why Korbal had been killing people. Korbal, Bauchelain, Buke, and Emancipor show up. Bauchelain said they freed the spirit to learn of the Barghast and only learned the Barghast were one “far more numerous [and] accomplished seafarers.” When asked what they did with the spirit, he says nothing (though they control it) it had already “fallen prey” to one of the traps—a bundle of sticks. They were then attacked and he admits they barely held off the three “demons”. When Gruntle reports to Keruli, Keruli tells him there are lots more of these demons and are in fact behind them as well as in front of them and so he thinks they need to ally with the necromancers until Capustan. Gruntle advises Buke to take the money and run when they get to Capustan. Buke says they’ll never make it; the necromancers threw everything they had at the demons and barely made it.


The next day, Gruntle continues to advise Buke to let Korbal go, and tries to guilt him into it with the fact that Stonny cares for him, but Buke doesn’t care. They argue then move on. Buke again says they won’t live through the night. They prepare for attack at night and Gruntle asks Keruli what they can expect from his god and Keruli says he doesn’t know; it’s a newly awakened Elder god. Keruli then cuts his palm for blood. Six demons attack: reptiles about twice the height of a man with swords fused to their wrists. Keruli identifies them as K’Chain Che’Malle Hunters (undead). After some fighting on everyone’s part, a badly wounded Gruntle blacks out.


Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Six:

“Where they tread, blood follows...” Heh, that really could describe most of the major players in the Book of the Fallen!

Again we see Erikson’s deep and innate understanding of how civilizations work—how cities have come and gone, thanks to the vagaries of nature. Here we see a river changing course and hence destroying the fortunes of a whole city, despite their best efforts. This depth of detail and world building just adds to the trust of a reader—that Erikson knows and believes in his own world.

Saltoan isn’t exactly put forward as a warm and healthy place to be! Raw sewer down the outside of the city walls, and the dregs of society manning the battlements; dark and cramped streets and inhabitants who aren’t above scavenging trapped wagons. This sort of build up to a place gives a forewarning to the reader that experiences within aren’t going to be much better—will be interesting to see whether Erikson actually overturns this initial impression, or whether he deliberately built this up in the reader’s mind to set the scene.

I’m amused by the small things! The image of Harllo waving cheerfully and that wave wilting under Stonny’s complaints made me giggle.

I confess to wondering about the nature of Keruli, and the way that Gruntle et al deal with him. Gruntle is a sceptical and questioning individual—with that being the case, why isn’t he needling away at who Keruli is, why they’ve been hired and what it will involve. I just don’t buy that a character like Gruntle would be so passive—especially about someone who isn’t taking his hard won advice. And here we have Keruli having arranged a meeting with the true rulers of Saltoan, which Gruntle takes mostly in his stride.

I also like here Erikson’s presentation of gay characters. There is no fanfare, no proud pointing out that Erikson is being all-inclusive in his writing—just a realism and honesty that shows it how it is. Having said that, the scene where Nektara plays with Stonny’s crotch in public seems a little out of character for Erikson considering the lack of previous overt sexual activities.

Keruli = K’rul? Have we speculated about that? There is the similarity in the name, the oddness of his behaviour and then this: “A strange, close-fitting cap covered his hairless pate, its style reminiscent of that worn by figures found among Darujhistan’s oldest sculptures and in equally ancient tapestries.” [Bill: Good pick-ups.]

Hmm, the Pannion Seer and the priests seem to be the equivalent of something like communism or fascism:

...offer to the common people tales of laws applied impartially to all citizens, of rights and enscripted privileges, of the welcome imposition of order in defiance of local traditions and manners.

Ugh, now this is a truly nasty concept: *chokes a little*

“That women should descend onto battlefields and soldiers whose corpses are not yet cold...”

Sensing I won’t like the Tenescowri AT ALL!

And here a hint that Keruli might be a priest of Treach, the Tiger of Summer. This is someone we heard about when Picker and the torcs came into contact, so we do know that Treach is already on the move. Now a mention that Keruli is aware that a war is being waged with more than one battlefield—he is definitely an intriguing chap!

I like the nod here again to Gruntle’s experience, in that he sits outside the city gates to check for bandits following the carriage. How often in fantasy novels do we see the hero’s band being attacked by ill-anticipated bandits? Finally here we have a caravan guard who knows what he is about!

I reckon Erikson is a dog person: we have Hounds, cattledogs, lapdogs—but no cats. *grins*

Bauchelain and Korbal Broach are really starting to sound horribly sinister, what with killing highwaymen without visible wounds and leaving a trail of wounded behind them....

A link here: we have three White Face Barghast on the move, and there was talk of Trotts going to make the Malazan army case before them. Hey! Hetan! The name taken by the Malazan Empire forums’ illustrious leader. *smiles* Now I get to find out why that name was one of attraction!

Heh, love the way Stonny calls this hulking female Barghast—overloaded with weapons and with a skull-like visage—“lass”! Especially when Hetan then says, “I enjoy killing and riding men and little else.” Sounds to me like Hetan needs to take up a hobby. [Bill: I believe those ARE her hobbies.]

These demons sound truly ominous:

“Ah, they smell of death, then. Their arms are What in Hood’s name does that mean? Blood-iron—that’s iron quenched in snow-chilled blood...a Barghast practice when shamans invest weapons. Thus, the wielder and the weapon are linked. Merged...”

Hmm, are the Barghast just another type of human? Or are they a different race of beings altogether? If the latter, it surprises me that Gruntle would be so quick to respond to her “seduction”... Is there no prejudice about mixed-race couplings? If not, this is indeed very refreshing!

Hetan’s explanation of the sticksnares and the shouldermen is taken on board by Gruntle in such a natural way that it demonstrates the way in which magic of all types is rife in the world of the Malazans. There is no scoffing or scepticism, just a curiosity about how it all works.

Ugh—the description of the chest of organs is truly disgusting! And now we know for sure what exactly Bauchelain and Korbal Broach are involved in, and why murders seem to follow them. “Necromancy, but not the demonic kind. These are the arts of those who delve into mortality, into resurrection and undeath. Those organs... they come from living people.”

Hmm, this sounds like something to be aware of! When Bauchelain sees the Barghast, he says, “Extraordinary, isn’t it, that such people can be found on other continents as well, calling themselves by the same name and practising, it seems, virtually identical customs.” Does this mean that Bauchelain is from a whole other place?

I like the conversation between Buke and Gruntle—it is painful and honest, and helps to build the backgrounds of both characters without resorting to a detailed little CV.

Methinks Stonny might be a little jealous of Hetan and the way she takes Harllo! The lady doth protest too much at the fact that Harllo is too ugly to rut with. *grins* These little interludes are priceless and very enjoyable.

Heh, this quote I love, with regards to why Reese joined the two necromancers:

“Long story,” he muttered, sipping at his wine. “Too long to tell, really. My wife, you see... Well, the posting offered travel...”

“Are you suggesting you chose the lesser of two evils?”

“Heavens forfend, sir.”

“Ah, you’ve regrets now, then.”

“I didn’t say that, neither.”

Hmm, this could be more proof that Keruli is either belonging to or is K’rul:

“My—uh—god’s powers are newly awakened from thousands of years of sleep. My god is Elder.”

And our first sight of the K’Chain Che’Malle.... Aren’t they sinister?!

Awesome battle scene, horribly painful last few paragraphs:

“Could it not have been sudden? Instant? Why this lingering, bemused draining away? Gods, even the pain is gone—why not awareness itself? Why torture me with the knowing of what I am about to surrender?”


Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Six:

“Blood follows,” as Amanda notes, could be said about nearly everybody in this series. It’s also the title of one of the Bauchelain and Korbal novellas (telling of how Emancipator ended up with them).

There’s just no avoiding history in this series and Erikson keeps us steeped in it throughout, as with the description of Saltoan’s canal.

I like how he sets us up for an expectation of an attack on Keruli’s carriage: the seedy nature of the city itself, Twisface Passage as a prime spot for ambush, the urchins disappearing, etc. It’s all classic ambush set-up and then it’s flipped by the pre-arranged escort/meeting.

Your points regardinng Gruntle and Keruli are interesting, Amanda. I never saw Gruntle as “passive,” just business-like. I see him as not questioning Keruli outright (he certainly does in his own mind) because that’s not his job. He takes the job, he does his job, he gets paid for the job, he takes the next job—that’s sort of how I see his attitude.

Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to stop listening to someone when they start talking about “imposition of order.”

I’ve got to say, Children of the Dead Seed was a new one for me. Anybody know of anything similar in other works? It’s so rare to come across a wholly original concept. ‘Course, the graphic nature of the idea does preclude probably it appearing in much earlier fantasies—hard to see it showing up in LOTR for instance.

The Tenescowri is obviously meant to repulse us. But it’s easy to let our repulsion get in the way of seeing how it also says something about human nature. Consider how Keruli presents its motivation: “Non-citizens . . .are the objects of every cruelty conceivable . . . The Tenescowri offers their only escape, the chance to match the inhumanity inflicted on them.” This is how we respond to cruelty inflicted upon us by those stronger than us: find something weaker and inflict our own cruelties upon them.

Amanda’s already pointed out two clues to Keruli’s god: the obvious similarity to K’rul and the fact that his cap is ancient. Gruntle offers us another with the idea that he is a priest of a “new temple” in Darujhistan. We readers have been witness to an ancient god newly awakened in Darujhistan.

By the way, Gruntle’s line in these musings, “why anyone would be interested in worshipping the Tiger of Summer is beyond me,” should be filed away. You can file it under T for Treach/Trake or I for irony.

The departure of Gruntle from Saltoan works well as Amanda says because it’s a way of characterizing his experience as well as presenting us seemingly one of the very few competent caravan guards in all of fantasydom. I like it for the number of tiny details that add to the sense of a character fully existent in a fully existent world: the flea bites from the room the night before, the gradual movement of the horse from the trot to the canter, the slum on the outskirts, the half-wild dogs, the ant-nests, etc. I think all this accretion of detail has a cumulative effect on the reader.

Are Bauchelain and Broach “horribly sinister”? Oh yes, but strangely, winningly so. Or at least, Bauchelain is. This scene of course shows us their “sinister” nature, but it also does a nice job of setting us up for the later attack on their carriage so we can see the contrast—this one handled so easily that Gruntle thinks “I doubt Buke had to even so much as draw his blade” and the other, not so much with the no drawing of blades at all.

Yes, that description of those demons is pretty ominous indeed. And probably doesn’t do them justice.

Sometimes those details we get are just background details to fill in the worldbuilding, and sometimes they’re important background to set up future plot events. Such is the case with the information on the Barghast sacred sites and spirits and sticksnares. File.

So here we are with the attack on Bauchelain and Korbal’s carriage and so we can imagine how powerful the attackers must have been since we saw already how easily they handled being outnumbered by ambushing bandits. And here they fought but three “demons.”

We also find out just what (or at least, some of what) Korbal is doing with those people he’s killing; he’s harvesting their organs to create a homunculus sort of creature.

As Amanda points out, it seems an odd little non-sequitur kind of comment from Bauchelain when first meeting the Barghast: “Extraordinary, isn’t it, that such people can be found on other continents as well . . . an ancient people . . . accomplished seafarers . . . an eternal stagnation.” But we don’t usually get non-sequiturs so yes, file. And think to yourself, how will their seafaring past raise its head? Their stagnation?

And here we go: K’Chain Che’Malle. We’ve heard them mentioned ever since the first book and now we finally get to see them in action. Or at least, a particular kind of them: the K’ell Hunters. Gruntle gets cut off mid-question, but it’s an excellent question—how is the human Pannion Seer commanding undead, long-extinct K’Chain Hunters? The earlier mentions of them, and the near-overrunning of two full scary mages, and then finally the physical description we get here certainly is intimidating, but even so, it’s a bit disheartening to see how Gruntle’s defenses last for one parry basically—that parry snapping his left wrists and sending his cutlasses flying. Then Harllo’s sword shattering. Even more depressing is that Gruntle’s best, most effective blow against the K’Chain comes when the creature kicks him and the force of the kick drives Gruntle’s head into the K’Chain jaw—hardly a heroic strike. It’s a slow death Gruntle sees coming and I like being in his head when he sees it and hears another’s—his desperation for a final look at the world (even if what he looks upon is a vision of blood and horror and nightmare), the “confused sadness,” the anger and bitterness of being self-aware of one’s own death, the way we shout our defiance of our mortality. I could have personally done without the “pale” in that closing line, though I like the connection between a slowing heart and a horse’s hoofbeats fading in the distance. The “pale” I think we would have gotten. Nice cliffhanger of a chapter ending.

Chapter Seven


The setting is inside Capustan. Karanadas (Destriant of the Grey Swords) looks out at the palace of Prince Jelarkan, where Brukhalian (the Mortal Sword) was meeting with the prince and members of the Mask Council, negotiations which have been going on (ineffectively) for weeks. He is angry at/disgusted with Fener’s priest on the Mask Council who seems more concerned with his own political power and desire to be Destriant (Rath’Fener doesn’t know Karnadas already is and Brukhalian has forbidden Karnadas from revealing it). Itkovian (Shield Anvil) enters to tell him Brukhalian has returned. Brukhalian says Rath’Trake senses demons on the plains. Karnadas is upset that Trake is rising (another God of War). They discuss the anonymous “invitation” they’ve received and decide to reply. Quick Ben appears and at first dismisses the Grey Swords as “mere” mercenaries but he likes much of what he hears. Brukhalian tells Quick the city doesn’t believe in women warriors and so the Grey Swords are recruiting among the female population in Capustan. When Quick says he wants to contact the “leaders,” Brukhalian describes how the city is split into factions: the Mask Council (itself split) and Prince Jelarkan, whom the Grew Swords serve. Quick stuns them with his knowledge that Karnadas, as Destriant, outranks Rath’Fener. Quick tells them Brood is leading an army to Capustan and they set up another time to meet before Quick exits. Both Karnadas and Burkhalian recognize they will lose the war. Karnadas says his earlier sensation that Quick Ben had multiple souls must have been wrong.


Back with Quick Ben, Whiskeyjack says he thinks Brukhalian looked tough. Quick says he thinks the titles (Mortal Sword, Destriant) are for show, as they are so ancient and have been vacant for so long. He says that before the Deck of Dragon’s recognized Knights of Houses, Fener’s cult had its own. Whiskeyjack isn’t so sure the titles are for show. Quick doesn’t think much of the Grey Swords; WJ is not so sure of that as well.


Riding through the Capustan streets, Itkovian muses on the past history of its residents, once nomadic, and how the city is still set up in “Camps” (districts). The old keep (where the Grey Swords are) is older and the Prince’s palace older still, with unknown architecture. He takes out a company, including a new female recruit. They find the trail of some K’Chain (they don’t know what they are) and fight one, killing it but at great cost. Four more appear, but before the Grey Swords can do anything, a T’lan Imass appears and tells them they are “relieved,” and Itkovian watches as an army of T’lan destroy the undead K’Chain, at the cost of roughly 60 T’lan Imass. The first T’lan introduces hiimself as Pran Chole of the Kron and says they had come for the Gathering but seem to have found a war.


Itkovian will ride as bait on the plains while the Imass trail them to try and kill more K’Chain. He wants to send the recruit back to make report, thinking she’s probably broken, but she doesn’t want to go and he agrees. He tells her seeing the K’Chain get destroyed won’t make her feel better and she seems to recognize that. Pran tells them about the K’Chain Hunters, that whatever is controlling them is somewhere to the south, that they were released from a barrow at Morn, possibly by the Matron who appears to have escaped her own prison barrow. When Itkovian says they are in a war with the Pannion Seer, the entire T’lan army reacts and Pran says Pannion is a Jaghut name.


Toc thinks on all the “coincidences” that have put him on the path he’s on. He jokingly asks Baaljagg (the Ay) where its family is and he gets a vision in his lost eye of Ay and oxen trapped in mud (this is the scene from the prologue) and Baaljagg running away. Then a vision of an Elder god telling Baaljagg it is the last Ay and there “will be need for you” and giving a promise to the Ay that the god will bring a “lost spirit . . . suitable.” Baaljagg sleeps in a dreamworld then “the torn soul [was] delivered to her own, where they merged, eventually became one . . . the best now sought something like redress.” Toc realizes it was Tool the Ay waited for. Toc asks Tool what the Ay wants of him and Tool says “an end to her loneliness” but also that he “can do nothing for her.” Tool mentions how “someone has drawn on [his] life-force almost to exhaustion.” He wonders if Toc has bonded souls with the Ay somehow. He asks Toc how he lost his eye and Toc says a falling piece of Moon’s Spawn at the enfilade at Pale. Tool makes a connection to Obelisk (Menhir in the Deck of Holds before the Deck of Dragons) and he gives Toc a new name: Aral Fayle (touched by stone). Toc asks what Tool’s name means and he answers “Onos is “clanless man. T is broken. Ool is veined while lan is flint and in combination T’oolan is flawed flint.” He adds how Logros had been chosen to command the clans native to the First Empire and though Tool’s sister would serve him but instead she defied the ritual and so weakened the Logros T’lan Imass and the First Empire fell. Toll’s brothers went north and never returned. Tool was chosen First Sword but “abandoned” Logros T’lan Imass and now travels alone, “thus committing the greatest crime known among my people.” Toc says but now Tool is returning to his people for the Second Gathering.


Toc suddenly sees through a different beast’s eyes from Baaljag. The creature—which names itself Treach/Trake/Tiger of Summer thinks how it “[found] itself, now at the very end. and memories awakened.” It recalls the madness among the Soletaken, the birthing of the D’ivers, the Empire disintegrating, and how it was one of the few survivors after the T’lan Imass. It remembers tearing “a warren to pieces . . .turned the eastlands into molten stone that cooled and became something that defied sorcery” and how “we fled, a handful . . . Ryllandaras . . . we fell out, clashed, then clashed again on another continent. He had gone teh farthest, found a way to control the gifts—Soletaken and D’iver both. White Jackal . . . And my other companion, Messremb . . . a kind soul . . . Ascending . . . The First Heroes. Dark. Savage.” It remembers losing lost himself in the beast, sending The White Jackal off a ledge, and a memory of a single-eyed wolf and thinks “this vision of the wolf [awakened] all within me.” He was tracking K’Chain and was now dying, left by them. He hears battle and crawls forward. A woman with the fur of a panther meets him and tells him she killed the K’Chain. She says she was around when the Imass dealt with the First Empire, but it was others who repaired the shattered warren. She says the Imass only killed Treach’s kind; it is their “singular skill.” She asks who the other presence in him is that she senses, that has returned Treach to himself and says when he dies he won’t appear at Hood’s gate but “elsewhere.” An Elder God is active again, she adds, perhaps the “most ancient one of all,” and thinks it is answering some grave threat, a new war in which Treach will be needed.


Senu slaps Toc awak. Toc tells Tool he saw Treach die not far north of where they are. A black panther arrives and changes into a flesh and blook Imas—Tool’s sister Kilava. She says she saw Toc looking out through Treach’s eye and asks what the Elder God has planned. Toc says he has no idea. Kilava asks Tool who he is and when Tool says “Aral Fayle” she notes he has given him weapons of stone. Tool says it was unintended but Kilava says they’re all being manipulated. When Tool says he travels to the Second Gathering she says she refuses to and is here for other reason which Toc realizes is “redress.” Then an Elder God’s voice tells him she wants to “right an old wrong, heal an old scar” and that the two of them (Toc and Kilava) will meet again, but the final meeting concerns the god. The god goes on to say the children of the Pannion Seer are suffering and Toc must “release them” and so the god is sending Toc “into the Seer’s embrace,” though he thinks Toc will not forgive him. When Toc asks why the children must be released, the god answers “compassion . . . a man who dreams has shown me this.” Toc speaks the “compassion” out loud and when Tool says his sister knows nothing of it she says all things change. Took and Kilava make some small rapprochement and she says the meeting gives her “hope” before leaving. Toc tells Tools the blood-ties Tool had said were severed between him and Kilava still hold. Tool says he has known only two mortal humans and both “underestimated themselves” and promises to tell Toc (whom he now calls friend) of Adjunct Lorn.


Envy meanwhile had gone to the city of Callows and found it filled with blood and death, maybe 30,000 killed roughly 10 days ago. She senses even Hood is uneasy. She finds an old temple and speaks to K’rul. K’rul tells her Callows death “came from the sea. A warren-twisted fleet. Cold-eyed, unhuman killers. Seeking, ever seeking . . . a worthy challenge.” He also warns the Crippled God is “never so obvious. his game displays a master’s sleight of hand. Ntohing is as he would have us believe and his use of unwitting servants is as brutal as his treatment of enemies. Consider after all the Pannion Seer.” Envy says she doesn’t mourn the passing of the Elder Gods, including her father Draconus. She tells him she’s barely holding onto the Seguleh (if at all) and warns Mok will challenge and defeat Tool. K’rul says he hopes not until they fight their way to the Pannion Seer, though he thinks if they do fight Mok’s restraint might surprise her, though he admits he hadn’t expected such a high-ranking Seguleh to lead the punitive army in his plans to open a second front for the Seer’s armies. He also mentions the Second is missing. He tells Envy she chose to reject helping when they needed her (the Chaining) but now even chained the CG “will not rest. He exists in endless, tormenting pain . . . and has turned that into a fuel for his rage, his hunger for vengeance.” When Envy says those that pulled him down are all dead already and the CG’s “vengeance” is really a cover for lust of power. K’rul isn’t quite sure, but says in any case he won’t allow her indifference yet again. When she bridles, he shows her a vision: “chaos . . . a universe devoide of sense . . .of meaning. Entities flung through the maelstrom. Lost, terrified by the birth of light. A sudden sharpening—pain as of wrist opened, the heat spilling forth—a savage imposition of order, the heart from which blood flowed . . . twin chambers—Kurald Galain, the Warren of Mother Dark—and Starvald Demelain, the Warren of Dragons. And the blood—the power—now seeping in current through veins . . . . the warrens.” K’rul says her power feeds on the blood of his soul and so she will obey and help. She asks who knows the truth and he answers Rake, Draconus, Osric, and a “handful of others.” He confesses he is frightened by the CG and says their “foolishness” has cost them allies, such as Dassem Ultor, who was “broken by Hood’s taking of his daughter at the Time of the Chaining.” She wonders if Hood would have done so had she answered the summons and K’rul says who can say. He continues to say she needed to know the scale of the problem and she agrees to go into the heart of the Domin. K’rul says to take care of Toc, that while K’rul himself will try to keep Toc’s soul from the CG, there is something “wild” in Toc that has yet to awaken. He also warns her his blood is poisoned near the Domin so she won’t be able to access her warren (she could defeat the poison but Toc could not).


Itkovian’s group comes across Gruntle’s battle scene from the night before. He finds along with the T’lan Imass there hundred of undead Ay (T’lan Ay). Pran grieves for them as they had no choice in the Telann Ritual. Itkovian meets Bauchelain and Korbal. Itkovian’s men will heal the injured but one Barghast is dead and one human.


Pran Chole tells Itkovian that Korbal is a eunuch, and insane, but Bauchelain is the more dangerous one. Both are necromancers: Korbal “plies the chaos on the edge of Hood’s realm” and Bauchelain is a “summoner of formidable power.” Pran also says the injured mortals (now healed) are all dreaming and being protected. They plan to head back to Capustan, and Itkovian asks that the T’lan Imass and most of the Ay (but not all) remain hidden.


The Prince and Brukhalian are upset that the Mask Council will not give up some outlying towers that will certainly be overrun. The Prince leaves and Brukhalian asks Karnadas if Itkovian’s men continue to draw on his healing power. The Destriant says no but he is nearly fully drained. A messenger from Itkovian arrives and tells of the battle with the K’Chaine and the arrival of the T’lan Imass, who rise up beside him. They tell Brukhalian of what is going on with Itkovian’s group. They also say that while they will fight the K’Chain and have suspicions about the Pannion, the Second Gathering will take priority and afterward the T’lan Imass may be “of less value upon completion of hte Gathering.” Karnadas says he’s seen the Pannion and he is only an old human but the Imass ask “who stands in his shadow” and clearly maintain suspicion. The Grey Swords are please to learn of the Ay and Itkovian’s decision to keep some of the visible upon entering the city.


Brukhalian thinks back on the meeting just completed with Quick Ben and Brood and how it was clear there were secrets and that relieving Capustan was not their true or primary goal. Suddenly a warren opens and a Jaghut appears, declaring himself Gethol, Hood’s Herald. He says Hood wants to offer “an invitation” to Fener’s soldiers and when Brukhalian says Gethol should talk to Fener Gethol says he cannot, that Fener has been drawn “to the very edge of his realm [and] is in great peril,” facing the loss of his power. Gethol says Capustan is doomed and Hood can spirit the Grey Swords out, since the Pannion is merely part of a greater war. Brukhalian says Hood is trying to steal Fener’s soldiers and Gethol responds that Fener will be the first “casualty in the war with the Crippled God” and that Brukhalian should be honored by Hood’s offer. Brukhalian strikes Gethol with his sword at the insult and when Gethol appears ready to fight, three T’lan Imass bonecasters appear and he disappears. The bonecasters tell Brukhalian they’ve been hunting that Jaghut for some time and he “talent for escaping” continues.


Gruntle awakens in Capustan. Stonny tells him Harllo is dead and Netok. Gruntle remembers Harllo throwing himself in between Gruntle and the K’Chain.


Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Seven:

In the extract from The Road Before You we have yet more commentary on memories, helping to cement this particular theme in our minds. Here we have an old man reflecting on the fact that his sorrows and regrets outweigh his joys—which sounds like scene setting for this next book Hearthstone.

The poem (ugh, back to the poetry) deals with Fener, but I’m not sure what the Iron Forest means. [Bill: I’m thinking a forest of spears/swords etc.] Also, is it coincidence that we have both a Boar of Summer and a Tiger of Summer? [Bill: Nope.]

Heh, I read this beginning and was taken straight to the Wheel of Time:

Born on a sea dark as spiced wine, the wind moaned its way across the seaside killing ground, over and around the East Watch on its low, brick-strewn hill, where faint torchlight glimmered from the fortress’s battened shutters.

In fact, this is the nearest I think that Erikson comes to the traditional fantasy weather report method of starting novels!

I think Erikson deliberately uses this as a way to start a whole new section, because here we are visiting the inside of Capustan and getting to know the final (I believe) cast of characters that will flesh out Memories of Ice. As with always, I anticipate a little confusion and a little adjusting to new characters and motives, before I willingly embrace the storyline. At it stands, right now I’m rather resenting not being able to spend more time with Quick Ben, or discover more about Burn’s sickness, or see what happened to poor Gruntle.

In Karnadas’ introspection atop the walls, we can grasp straight away that there is a conflict of power within Capustan. It seems we’re looking at at least two different parties: the Mask Council and the Grey Swords.

There is also more mention of Fener and discussion of what he stands for: the voice of war. Is it truly any surprise that we saw him materialise in Deadhouse Gates, that he seems to have more and more followers at the moment? After all, we now know that the whole of the world is entangled in an overarching war for power. “And forgive us all, the voice grows to a roar. It is not the time to hide behind temple wars.”

Secrets within secrets: we discover that Karnadas holds great power, since he holds the title of Destriant.

I like the little mention of Rath’Trake—this being Treach, the Tiger of Summer. We know that he has reached Ascendancy, because of the fact that Quick Ben could smell it on Picker once she took the blessing of Treach. It is interesting that Karnadas does not believe the First Hero has reached godhood, and also that he might be jealous of the fact that Fener is no longer the only god of war and battle. “The Season of Summer is home to more than one voice of war, or would you now challenge the fierce spirits of the Barghast and the Rhivi as well?”

Quick Ben truly is unique, isn’t he? “Sir, there are souls within this. Not two or three—a dozen, maybe more—yet they are bound within one. I have not seen its like before.” WHO IS QUICK BEN?! [Bill: I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.]

This is a fantastic line, and greatly appreciated from the perspective of a female reader:

“Women are forbidden from the art of war. The Boar of Summer, however, acknowledges no such arbitrary exclusions...”

HOW DOES QUICK BEN KNOW SO DAMN MUCH?! I fret at the puzzle of Quick Ben every single page of this book. “I am impressed by your knowledge of Fener’s priesthood. No, more than impressed. I am stunned.” Hmm, I wonder whether Quick Ben absorbs and reflects knowledge? After all, he said of the magic he had done to make contact that it would reflect whoever stumbled onto it. Perhaps this is Quick Ben’s true power, and why he always ends up the equal of who he faces?

I think I might be missing the significance of there being a Destriant for the first time in a thousand years. Even Quick Ben seems impressed, which is rare enough to command respect.

The Camps in Capustan remind me of nomad’s tent areas, which rings true with the fact that the Capan were not long ago a tribal people. It’s nice that Erikson continues to build little facts and details about a people without just telling you. Instead he plays on prior knowledge you might have in a particular area to help enrich the reading process.

Hmm, which people built the palace now taken over by Jelarkan, and will they make a later appearance? Maybe the K’Chain Che’Malle?

The K’Chain Che’Malle remind me a little bit of the velociraptors from Jurassic Park—they are certainly giving me the same chills...

Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! Erikson never shies away, does he?

Without comprehension, he watched the rump—legs kicking spasmodically—twist round, revealing that the front half of the horse was gone. Severed spine, curved rows of rib stubs, intestines tumbling out, blood spraying from red flesh. demon managed to take down twenty men and horses on the attack... *eyes wide* And four of them destroy at least sixty T’lan Imass! Although...can T’lan Imass be destroyed, if they are undead? [Bill: Yes, and we’ll see what gets done with those that are “killed” later.]

I can sort of appreciate the reasons behind taking the recruit out to experience active duty—but I definitely appreciate Erikson’s treatment of the recruit afterwards, and the discussion of what this might mean to her future:

The Shield Anvil’s underestimation of the enemy had made of this young woman’s future a world of ashes. Two blindingly sudden deaths would haunt her for the rest of her days.

I do also think Itkovian is being a tad harsh on himself as well—the K’Chain Che’Malle have been absent from this world for so long that even the T’lan Imass are unprepared for them and their ferocity. How could Itkovian possibly know what would happen?

Now this is the sort of writing that means Erikson stands head and shoulders above most other AUTHORS, let alone just fantasy authors:

“Soldiers are issued armour for their flesh and bones, but they must fashion their own for their souls.”

OOOH! “Pannion,” the Bonecaster said. “A Jaghut word. A Jaghut name.”

Heh. Toc’s inner monologue reminds me of just how much I was getting to enjoy his character in Gardens of the Moon before he was ripped from the pages! “ I am, in the middle of nowhere, and the only truly sane creature in my company is an extinct wolf.”

So Baaljagg carries the soul of someone—a lost spirit, torn from its flesh. We’ve seen a few of them... An Elder God manipulated Baaljagg—we only know K’rul, Draconus and Sister of Cold Nights as elder gods, right? [Bill: Don’t forget we’ve also met one for whom those “Elder” gods are relatively young.] And hmm, this wolf is female: perhaps also linked to Fanderay, the she-wolf of winter. Strikes me if the beasts of Summer—Fener and Trake—are on the move, then those of the Winter would also be moving; and we’ve seen Togg, besides. Tampering with Toc... [Bill: All good lines of thought.]

Tool says, “Someone has drawn on my life-force, almost to exhaustion. Ask me no questions regarding this.” Who has been drawing from Tool? Also Silverfox?

And now Toc has a new name, along with Paran! Heh, were there not enough characters in this mammoth series to satisfy Erikson, that he felt the need to give his characters secondary names as well?! Here we find out that Toc can also be refered to as Aral Fayle.

The power of names, and the meaning behind them, is definitely a theme within these novels. Tool describes his own name as meaning “Flawed flint” and then says, “In pure flint all the sands are aligned. All face in the same direction. There is unity of purpose.” Tool went his own way, as did his sister and his two brothers.

Eeep, I’m not sure where to start with the section about Treach, and the information that we’re given. All I know is that nothing springs instantly to mind, although little memories from other parts of this novel and those that came before are tugging at me. The Imass wearing the skin of a panther is definitely Kilava, that being Tool’s sister—I remember mention of that in her description from the prologue. And we will need to look out for Treach in another form, it seems: “When your life fades from this world, Treach, I suspect you will find yourself, not before Hood’s gates. but... elsewhere.”

Haha, that serves me right for stopping to make comment and not reading on—yes, the panther person was definitely Kilava, because here she is!

An Elder God is manipulating Toc and talking directly to him, but which one? I think it is K’rul, based on this: “I speak of compassion. There are gifts unimagined in such efforts. A man who dreams has shown me this...” A man who dreams could be Kruppe, who has been directly involved with K’rul already.

I really really like the combination of Tool, Toc and the Seguleh—I like them all the better when Lady Envy isn’t around, to be honest. I’m not overly fond of her, whom I see as a manipulative bitch!

But then we move almost immediately to Lady Envy and the death of Callows. *sigh* And here is evidence that K’rul is awake and tampering with the modern world. Here is some information drip-fed into the story that I’m sure will be important in a book or three’s time, if not in this one!

“No, for Callows, death came from the sea. A warren-twisted fleet. Cold-eyed, unhuman killers. Seeking, ever seeking, they now ply the world’s oceans.”

Wow, what an INCREDIBLE scene where K’rul shows Lady Envy the making of the warrens, the fact “that, in striding through the warrens, we travel through your very flesh. That, when we draw upon the power of the warrens, we draw your very blood.” K’rul has UNIMAGINABLE power, surely? But he chooses not to be a tyrant, to be passive instead, and not to shape the world as he shaped the warrens. It must take incredible restraint to see the paths of some and not prevent it.

Eep, Dassem Ultor, the First Sword reborn... There is definitely more information here than we knew before.

“Consider: from Dassem’s fall, a mortal empire now totters on the edge of chaos. From Dassem’s fall, the Shadow Throne found a new occupant.”

So Dassem was god, rather than man? Or an Ascendant? *confused* [Bill: I’d say Dassem is one of the most confusing characters—hold off on this confusion though as we’ll get much much more re him later.]

Hmm... “The scarred and the flawed are what the Crippled God seeks in his servants.” Whiskeyjack is currently scarred and flawed, non? [Bill: The question might be, who isn’t?]

T’lan Ay? Seems like the Ay followed the Imass into the Ritual....

I am rather pleased that Pran Chole back-hands Korbal Broach—I dread to think what his questions might have involved... And this amuses me:

“Tell me, Shield Anvil, do these undead warriors hold grudges?”

Itkovian allowed himself a private smile. “You can ask that of the next Jaghut we happen across.”

I have a grim foreboding about the stupidity of the Mask Council, and the fact they seem to be dooming thousands to death.

Gosh, the end of this chapter has event after event, doesn’t it? The alliance and the different factions in Capustan are hotting up, and then we have the appearance of Hood’s Herald, one Gethol... *sighs* The name is bloody familiar; someone please ease my annoyance at wondering where I last heard that?

And gods are already seeking to steal followers from others, through fair means or foul, it seems.

I am SO glad Gruntle is still alive. But, oh, I mourn Harllo and that daft grin. *sad*


Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Seven:

If you’ve had any doubt about the epic nature of these books, Erikson certainly gives you a nudge with that opening sentence of Chapter Seven: “a sea dark as spiced wine”—a phrase nearly impossible to read without thinking of Homer’s “wine-dark sea” from the Iliad and the Odyssey (war and what happens after war).

It’s a great image, Karnadas standing alone against the storm, and one which sets his character and his situation nicely for us.

How cynical is that definition of peace? “The time of waiting for war.” Doesn’t say much about us as a species, eh? Nor does the idea that the Boar of Summer (Fener), as “the voice of war. Dark and grisly” is as “ancient as humanity itself.” In other words, it took us pretty much no time at all to start killing each other. And I would love to argue against that image, really I would, but ummm, I’ve got nothing.

Lots of titles being thrown around: Mortal Sword, Destriant, Shield Anvil. They will get explained. And yes, the roles will be important. Very, very much so.

Maybe it’s because I’ve reread the Narnia books with my son within the past year, but hearing “the Boar of Summer is not a civilized god” reminds me so much of “but he’s not a tame lion” with regard to Aslan.

Brukhalian is nicely, concisely characterized in contrast to Karnadas I think—his upbraiding of Karnadas for his petty jealousy over gods of war, his tolerance of other voices of war, his dry way of pointing out the fact that the other priests’ lack of support for Trake as a new god is hardly strong evidence against that idea, his tweaking of Karnadas’ self-important “there is a message intended in such knowing.” Note his own lack of self-importance when, after speaking proudly of his Grey Swords, he also acknowledges that yes, they are also “sword-hackers.”

Quick Ben. You just gotta love Quick Ben. As Amanda says, where does he get all that knowledge from? It’s interesting that after Karnadas says he is “stunned” by QB’s knowledge of Fener’s roles, Quick “flinches.” Any guesses on why? My own thought is he feels perhaps he’s revealed too much of his own self/knowledge. Anyone else? Also interesting that little bit of seeming suspicion from Brukhalian toward Karnadas when Karnadas says he must have been wrong about QB having more than one soul, almost as if Brukhalian thought Karnadas might be holding back from him. At least, that’s how I saw that—anybody read that differently?

I like how after we’re all so “whoa, look how much Quick Ben knows!”, Erikson, via Whiskeyjack, takes him down several pegs and shows us he’s not as smart as he likes to think he is all the time: “You’re sharp tonight” (and that it takes several moments for Quick to get the sarcasm).

More history (of Capustan this time) as we’ve come to expect whenever (or close to whenever) we’re introduced to a new setting. And while it does as usual enhance the rich and realistic nature of this world, it will also play an important role.

Knowing that the demons Itkovian might run into out on the plains—large reptilians with huge talons and fierce strength—did anyone else smile at the Grey Swords riding out in “raptor” formation? Anyone?

As we saw with Gruntle, these K’Chain undead are more than just a little humbling. Sure, the Grey Swords kill one, but it cost them 20 soldiers to do so—not the kind of ratio you’re looking for. Then, to impress further, four of them take down sixty T’lan Imass.

And you have to love the reaction to the T’lan Imass rising up: “What a day.” I think that single line tells us a lot about Itkovian.

As does his concern about the recruit. First, his dismay over how the encounter may have broken her. Then his concern that she has a naive notion that seeing the K’Chain destroyed by the T’lan Imass will “silence the cries within you,” followed by his use of the concept of “armor” as we’ve seen running throughout these first few books via the Malazans.

And what a great close to this section. After we get the dots connected for us with regard to the barrows, Morn, the Matron, the K’Chain undead, etc. we get that fantastic image after Itkovian mentions “Pannion”: “He drew breath to say more, then fell silent, realizing that over ten thousand withered, undead faces were turned towards him.” Talk about a pregnant moment. Then the closing shot: “A Jaghut word. A Jaghut name.”

And since we’ve now got the prologue scene fresh in our memory, let’s use it by switching over to Toc’s POV and see that prologue yet again from the mind of the Ay that had wandered away from those creatures stuck in the mire, the one whose tracks Pran Chole had noted—Baaljagg. And when wee Baaljagg runs into the Elder God, we can see the time scale some of these beings work on, setting in motion events or preserving those that will be “needed” for millennia. We’re given a puzzle here as well—who or what is the “lost spirit torn form its flesh” that has merged with Baaljagg, bringing “yet another layer of loss and pain”? And what is it that Baaljagg seeks, what sort of “redress”? (A word that will have some serious repercussion in this book, by the way.) What does it have to do with Toc, Tool and Garath? This question gets at least partially answered by Tool, who when asked says Baaljagg wants “an end to her loneliness.” I will say we have most of the pieces to this puzzle already—that “loss and pain” and “loneliness,” the form of the creature the lost spirit is merged, and the vehicle through which Toc “sees” Baaljagg’s past are all important to keep in mind. Amanda, you did a great job following down some trains of thought. And keep in mind that “dreamworld” as well.

We find out how Toc lost his eye—a piece of Moon’s Spawn—the divulging of which leads Tool to give Toc a new name: Touched by Stone (Aral Fayle), referring to Obelisk (or Menhir in the older Deck of Holds). Tool then reveals the meaning of his own name: “Flawed Flint.” Once again, I love the dry humor:

“There are layers of meaning.”

“So I’d guessed.”

Then more backstory on Tool and Kilava is interrupted by yet another vision by Toc, who sees “through a beast’s eyes, but not the Ay.” I like the how Toc’s sense of self being “swallowed, his identity swept away before the storm of another’s creature’s thoughts” is reverse mirrored by that creature’s return to self-awareness: “so long since life found shape with words, with awareness . . . To find oneself now, at the very end.” Then we get some memories that place us clearly at the Soletaken ritual of the First Empire, a scene that has been referenced multiple times so that by now it should come quickly to mind. And finally we’re given a name—one we’ve been set up for with the torcs and a few other references—”Treach . . . Trake, the Tiger of Summer.” (Which begs the question, what just tore apart a god of war?)

Remember we’d been told earlier, when the torcs are discussed, that he lost himself in his beast form centuries ago. His memories fill in that First Empire scene a bit more—in typical Erikson fashion events are repeated and returned to and refracted through different eyes so they slowly come more fully into view. We know the T’lan came in and slaughtered nearly everyone (a “merciful” slaughter the older, wiser Treach now knows), but we get more:

“we tore a warren to pieces . . . Turned the eastlands into molten stone that cooled and became something that defied sorcery [Otataral].”

We learn he fled with friends whom we’ve met earlier: Ryllandaras (the wolves from DG) and Messremb (the bear from DG). And that mention of Messremb’s “kind soul” and loyalty makes his death in DG sting all over again. Mappo had mentioned that he thought Treach had killed Ryllandaras, and here we learn Treach had knocked him (in jackal form) off a ledge. We’ll hear/see more about this later in this reread. Treach also recalls how Ryllandaras had gone further in the art of shapeshifting than any, seeming able to be both Soletaken and D’ivers and multiple forms (Jackal, wolf, Ay’tog, Agkor). He also has memories of a one-eyed wolf, whom we’ve obviously met. And finally we found out who killed (nearly) Treach—four K’Chain.

Kilava then appears and kills the K’Chain. And that is something to pause and think about. After all, we’ve seen roughly the same number of K’Chain stretch Bauchelain and Broach to their utmost limit (wading through a mess of Bauchelain’s demons); take on the small alliance of three ensorcelled Barghast, a set of caravan guards, Bauchelain and Broach, and a priest of K’rul; kill 20 Grey Swords in a flash, and destroy 60 T’lan Imass. Not to mention kill the Tiger God of War. So think about that for a moment as you ponder Kilava’s abilities. By the way, I know we don’t get her name yet, but Amanda has already pointed out the clue: her panther form/fur. And note she is “smooth-skinned” (didn’t partake of the Ritual). Not to mention her bitterness toward her own kind: “It [killing] is our singular skill.”

So where will Treach end up once he dies? What presence is riding Toc that has returned Treach to himself when he was so lost in his beast form (“beast” is a good clue). And Treach, it appears, will end up somewhere besides Hood’s gates because, in a nice echo of the scene we just saw with Baaljagg, he is seen by an Elder God as being “needed.”

Speaking of echoes, we get another when Toc, via an Elder God’s voice in his head, realizes Kilava “seeks redress.” We also get in that “conversation” that things are going to take a turn for the worse for poor Toc—”I must send you into the Seer’s embrace [file “embrace” by the way]. I do not think you will forgive me.” And mention of what I’ve said repeatedly is one of the major themes/topics of this series: compassion. And we get a brief aside with regard to Kruppe’s influence on events as it is Kruppe seemingly who has awakened this Elder God (Which, yes Amanda, I think with the Kruppe reference we can safely assume here is K’rul) to “the gifts unimagined” in compassion.

We get another running theme in the touching farewell between Kilava and Tool: “our past ever dogs our trail.” And I love that image after the farewell, Tool on his knees and Toc’s hand upon his shoulder. And then the subtle recognition of what has occurred via Senu speaking to Toc.

I think it’s probably never a good sign when the God of Death (Hood) is “troubled,” so I’m with Lady Envy on that it “bodes ill.”

So we’re wandering through Callows thinking more work of the Pannion Seer, and instead we find out its doom came via a whole other enemy (though one linked, as the Pannion is, to the Crippled God). A “warren-twisted fleet. Cold-eyed, unhuman killers. Seeking . . . a worthy challenge.” But as K’rul says, “one enemy at a time.” (So, yes Amanda, we will come back to this fleet).

For all the planning K’rul has put into this, all the pieces move along the board, we get a reminder that the damn humans (and others) don’t always do what is expected. In this case, K’rul hadn’t thought the Seguleh would send the Third to deal with the Pannion and had expected a few hundred initiates instead.

The conversation between K’rul and Envy also, typically, gives us a tiny bit more info on a much-referenced event, in this case the chaining of the CG. It appears Envy chose not to involve herself and without her power, the chainers incurred a greater cost. Including the loss of Dassem Ultor as an ally when he was “broken by Hood’s taking of his daughter.” When Envy tells K’rul “you’re not the boss of me” (in so many words), he floods her with the knowledge that the warrens she chooses to use are his personal sacrifice and we get more on that sacrifice and the warren’s formations:

“Darkness. Then chaos . . . a universe devoid . . . of meaning . . . Entities flung through the maelstrom . . . the birth of light. A sudden sharpening—pain as of wrists opened . . . a savage imposition of order, the heard from which blood flowed . . . Twin chambers to that heart—Kurald Galain, the Warren of Mother Dark—and Starvald Demelain—the Warren of Dragons.”

K’rul doesn’t get on the high horse very often, but I kinda like this moment where he does. And note how quickly he asks for forgiveness once his anger cools a bit. So now we get a big picture strategy: K’rul is opening up a two-front war on the Pannion. The more traditional army a la the Malazans, etc. on one front, and a much smaller though no less fearsome “army” made up of Envy’s group. But it isn’t simply a war to the death, perhaps. File away K’rul’s willingness to let others decide what to do once the Pannion is reached, and that one option is to “free all that has been bound for three hundred thousand years.” Another important piece of info is K’rul’s “there is something else to that man, something wild. We shall have to await its wakening.” And it will wake.

Finally, not a bad idea to note how K’rul speaks of the CG. He is “frightened” of him for sure, and he speaks of his desire/hunger for vengeance. Yet he also recognizes that the CG “exists in endless, tormenting pain, shattered, broken within and without” and when Envy dismisses the CG as “driven by ambition [and] lust for power,” K’rul replies “perhaps, perhaps not. Time will tell as the mortals say.” So maybe K’rul is learning something from the mortals with regard to the CG. And let’s not forget what Kruppe has awakened (or reawakened possibly) him to.

Speaking of compassion, it’s hard not to feel it for Pran Chole as he looks on the T’lan Ay and thinks of what a cruel disservice the Imass did to them by selfishly wrapping them up in their ritual.

Back at the scene of the attack on Gruntle, Erikson continues to tease us with slowly dragging out just what happened, just who is dead, on the verge of death and so on. And more dry humor: “do these undead warriors hold grudges?” Too, too funny that one.

Speaking of the T’lan Imass, note how Bendal Home replies to Brukhalian when they discuss possible alliance: “it may well be that we become . . . of less value to you . . . upon completion of the Gathering [ellipses Erikson’s].” Think about how they might be of “less value.”

And more, ahem, “dry” humor when the T’lan end their discussion by dissolving into dust:

“I take it we need not offer our guests accommodations.”

And from T’lan Imass to Jaghut, as Hood sends his herald to Brukhalian. As readers, of course, we’ve already seen Fener pulled down. Here we get a bit more on the repercussions of this as Gethol tells Brukhalian that “the loss of your patron’s power is imminent” and then later, after Brukhalian seems ready to refuse, “Fener shall be the first casualty in the war with the Crippled God. The Boar shall fall—and none can save him.” Now, all that may be true, but one should perhaps be a mite more tactful when speaking of a God to one of his most pious (and powerful) adherents. It would have been interesting to see the clash between Brukhalian and Gethol, but it’s alas, interrupted by a much-older argument. I love the understated: “We greet you, Jaghut.” And I’ve got to say, did Gethol really think the Imass wouldn’t take him on there? So Hood’s offer appears to be withdrawn for the moment, but don’t forget about this attempt to poach away another god’s followers.

And now, finally, pages and pages later, we learn the cost of that K’Chain attack on Gruntle’s party: Harllo and Netok. And a hint of the impact on both Stonny and Gruntle. Not a very uplifting chapter close.

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

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

tatiana deCarillion
1. decarillion
Comments about this series have prompted me to begin it. First, I need to buy the books, of course, but I'm looking forward to a great reading experience, from everything I've seen, so far!
2. ksh1elds555
Re: Amanda's comment about wanting to get back to the Quick Ben storyline... I know how you feel. It happens to me in almost every book that I want to spend more time with my favorites. And rest assured, some of your questions about Quick Ben will be answered later in the book.

But as this book went on, I loved the Itkovian/Brukhalian storyline more and more and finally, that became what I wanted to get back to. Give those 2 a chance and you won't be disappointed!!!

There's so much info in these 2 ch's it makes my head hurt ;-)
3. amphibian
Re: the cats

Just wait until you meet Tufty...
David Thomson
4. ZetaStriker
Well, this extra week has been a godsend; as I mentioned previously, there's no way I'd have read up to this point otherwise, since I had surgery the Thursday before last and both my laptop and book were left out of reach of my bedside. Still, you were missed, Bill and Amanda! Wednesdays aren't the same without the Malazan Re-Read.

Anyway, on to the chapters. We start with an abbreviated quote, “Where they tread, blood follows . . .
“. Another reference to the Elder Gods, and again, curiously placed. But more on that later, when the time comes.

For now, we're in Saltoan, and I have to say that although I remembered the name, Gruntle's brief stay in the city skipped my mind completely. And boy does he make it sound like a terrible place. Wastes discarded off the city walls, locals intent on taking at swordpoint anything that isn't nailed down, and the pervasive stink of the slums all make it sound like the sort of place I'd have been more than happy to skirt around, if possible.

Of course Keruli has other ideas, and the mystery of him begins to get the faintest speckling of clues. A priest from Darujhistan, possibly tied to a new temple. Interested in the Pannion Domin, and stopping its advance.

It's more the points he raises that draw my attention, however. The Tenescowri had already been built up as a pretty vile organization, but the true lengths of their deprivation really comes to light here. My first time through, the idea of the Children of the Dead Seed easily eclipsed any other horror that army had to visit upon the cities they conquered. Cannibalism and the rest were bad enough, but putting myself in the situation of a dying soldier, wounded on the field of battle and bleeding from mortal wounds, to suddenly have your last, pained and confused image of the world be that of the madness dancing behind some frenzied woman's eyes . . . I find it startling, to the point that I have trouble thinking about it. I'll leave out a full discussion on the topic until later though; it's still early yet.

Bauchelain and Korbal . . . again, I just don't see the humor. What humor they do have only helps to make them more fearsome, in the same way a singing songs from hit musicals made certain scenes of “A Clockwork Orange” even more jarring and disturbing than they already were. Add into that the point of view of Buke's imminent danger, and the repeated murders . . . well, I can't share the fascination that some others have with them. It's probably the main reason I still haven't tracked down and read the novellas yet; I'm not sure if those are characters I want to read more about.

. . . and then there's Stonny. I admit, I like her character, but displays like the one with Nektara always catch me off guard and instill a sense of mild disgust. While this may not necessarily be the proper place for it, I consider a person's sexuality to be a very private affair, and find open displays of it like hers occasionally rather off-putting. Normally I don't balk at something like this in a work of fiction, and indeed the casual sexuality of other characters in this very series fails to make much of an impression beyond possibly wry amusement, but for some reason this moment really jars me out of the moment. It has nothing to do with the fact that they're both women, or anything else of the sort, it's just that it goes so far beyond what I would normally be comfortable with from someone of any gender that I find it as abrasive as steel wool. Then again, the fact that it's Gruntle seeing it may have something to do with that as well. And as for Harllo . . . poor guy, how awkward. I mean, he's sitting right next to her. Although from later reports he apparently enjoyed the show.

Speaking of which, enter Hetan and co. You've got to love her introduction.

“I enjoy killing and riding men and little else,” Hetan growled, crossing her muscled arms.

Harllo quickly dismounted from the carriage and approached her with a broad smile. “I am Harllo and I am delighted to make your acquaintance, Hetan!”

“You can kill him any time you like,” Stonny drawled.

This is what I love about Stonny, and this whole group, in fact. Gruntle's pragmatic sarcasm, Harllo's simple teasing, and Stonny's bitter wit. Hetan's forward nature and literal interpretations make an interesting addition to the group in the meanwhile, even if her brothers stay entirely silent.

Catching up to Bauchelain and Korbal proves interesting as well, and they ask a very good question of the Barghast.

“Extraordinary, isn't it, that such people can be found on other continents as well, calling themselves by the same name and practicing, it seems, virtually identical customs. What vast history lies buried and now lost in their ignorance, I wonder?”

Good question! And while we're speaking of the Barghast, how about those burial practices, huh? I mean, talk about creepy. It's basically like saying that your afterlife is spending an eternity buried underground; you might as well just jump into an Azath at that point! Now that, if nothing else, would make me truly terrified of death.

And then we close the book with the lead-in and final clash with the “demons”, which we soon learn as actually K'ell Hunters. That is, in itself, another little mystery to ponder; how do the K'Chain Che'Malle we saw escape their tombs in Morn factor into the Pannion armies? And just as importantly, how does Keruli know what something that is even obscure among the Elder Gods? At the very least, it shouldn't be hard to conclude at this point which one of them he's likely affiliated with; who else had a temple sanctified recently in Darujhistan? Think back to the first few Darujhistan chapters in Gardens of the Moon, and it should come to you. Also explains a lot of these Elder God references that always serve as a preface to Gruntle's chapters as well.

As for the fight itself, I find the buildup and climax very well constructed. Bauchelain and Korbal pay for their inclusion a dozen times over here, having been built up as very formidable mages. The fact that they are outmatched by the threat immediately creates a very real sense of danger for everyone involved, and then it comes and is over with such startling immediacy . . . in moments both Gruntle and Harllo are down, and as we now from the end of next chapter, the latter does not survive his injuries. I wonder at how fully the losses were broadcast though; both Netok and Harllo were those ready to have sex before the attack, and were also both clearly the most innocent of their number. Still, a great shame, no doubt. Harllo always made a very strong impression on me despite the brevity of his appearance, and his absence is always very keenly felt.

On to the next chapter, the preface for Book Two is certainly setting us up for tragedy here; a resident of Capustan is talking about dead comrades. Talk about Does Not Bode Well. The chapters opening is a reminder of Fener and the approaching inevitability of war facing Capustan, both of which will quite obviously be very important shortly. Thanks again, Heboric, for making every last damned mention of Fener make me lean over the edge of my seat to see if this timeline has caught up to his epic magic trick. He made a god disappear! That's pretty tricky.

Anyway, we're finally introduced to our cast of players in Capustan, namely the Gray Swords. Some important information in all of this; remember those titles, because they are important. Destriant. Mortal Sword. Shield Anvil. You will see those terms again, and soon enough we'll start to learn more about what they really mean. For now we have the rather humorous initial contact between Quick Ben and Karnadas. Humorous in the fact that they both sorely underestimate each other and come away convinced their side is going to be doing all the work in the battle to come. I liked Whiskeyjack's comment at the end of it. “You're sharp tonight.” Gotta love that sarcasm. Speaking of Quick, there's yet another soul comment in so many chapters.

As an aside, I have to comment briefly on the practice of disowning third daughters in Capustan. Talk about rough, and even starting to imagine the kinds of lives these women must be leaving to join the Gray Swords sends shivers down my side. Prostitution and worse is all that comes to my mind, and I can only imagine an entire disgusting industry must have sprouted up around this local “resource”.

Itkovian already makes a much stronger impression on me than Karnadas, and his insights into the oddity of construction within the prince's palace stirs a mystery I don't properly remember the conclusion to from my previous trip through these pages. His brush with the K'ell Hunters, however, was quite familiar, and I still smile at the conclusion. Pulling the thing apart with wires pulled by horses was a brilliant move by his men, and really helps to show that these aren't the simple mercenaries that Quick was so, er, quick to label them as. The arrival of the T'Lan Imass, and Pran Chole in particular, is of course a great big “finally!” moment as well. We're one step closer to the gathering, and yet another character from our prologue has emerged onto the scene.

There's another reference to a theme we spoke of in the last book. “Soldiers are issued armor for their flesh and bones, but they must fashion their own for their souls. Piece by piece.”

Also, we now have reason to believe the Matron is pulling the undead marionette's strings . . . and Pannion. “A Jaghut word. A Jaghut name.” Obviously, there is more happening here than we're aware, although you may be able to at least come up with the correct theory by now. 10 points to anyone to does!

Toc! I love Toc. Really, easily my favorite character in this entire novel, and there's a lot of good choices. He's just so damn likeable, it's hard not to be happy every time we hear from him. And remember that scene from the prologue I said would be important? BAM! There it is again, from Baaljagg's mind to an empty eye socket near you. The delivery of the “torn soul” is by far the more important fact there though, and if you think hard about it, you might, just might, be able to find out who it is. In the meantime, what I can't figure out is who that Elder God might be. The use of dreams obviously brings K'rul to mind, but I don't remember him being described like that. And I certainly can't think of many other Elder gods that possess such kindness. It doesn't exactly seem Draconus' style, for instance. Also, important quote/theme here, although it wont fully pay off for quite a while:

The beast now sought . . . something. Something like . . . redress . . .
What do you ask of me, wolf? No, not of me – you ask not of me, do you? You ask of my companion, the undead warrior. Onos T'oolan..

All in all, by the end of the section I felt a kinship with the wolf. It went from being an mystery trapped in the guise of an ancient animal to a strong character, in the same way Apt had done in Deadhouse Gates. The ay's sorrow at the loss of its family, the wonder and happiness of the dream world, and now its search for something more . . . although as was said of Fener not long before, the mind of a beast is ever unknown to men, we're given enough to draw a sense of empathy with Baaljagg.

Huh. I just thought of something as Tool mention Obelisk to Toc. The reading of the deck; maybe it can apply to this war as well. Obelisk being Toc, Tool is the Soldier of Death. Quick Ben could be the Magi of Shadow, and his grand deception could be his game against the Crippled God. The Captain of Light could be any one of several figures in or around Capustan, from Itkovian to Gruntle, while the representative of House Death could represent the leader of the Tenescowri or other Pannion armies. Just a quick thought.

Either way the moment between Tool and Toc is very touching. The giving of the name, the pain in Tool's voice when mentioning his inability to help Baaljagg, and how he hides it. The admission of Tool's crime and sin, and Toc's inability to find his friend at fault for it. It's a beautiful scene.

And oh my God the cut to Treach. So many things to mention in this one short section. For one, the parallel to another scene we've recently read through, although I don't want to hint too strongly on that connection. But a myriad of other details creep through here. For instance.

Gods, we tore a warren to pieces on that distant continent. Turned the eastlands into molten stone that cooled and became something that defied sorcery.

Both sentences are vitally important, and both for different reasons. The first I'd actually forgotten; there is a fragmented warren we'll hear a lot more about over time, and this is a hint at how it became what it is today. The second sentence though brings but one thing to mind; otaral. For what else can defy sorcery? And if it could be made, how? How did their ritual actually create otaral, which the Empire sees as a natural resource? All things to consider, although it'll be a long while before a real answer comes.

Then there care his companions, Ryllandaras and Messremb. Messremb's mention in partiular seems almost cruelly crafted by Erikson, intentionally written in a somber, trailing tone to remind us of the bear's grim fate. As for Ryllandaras, this information is most important. Soletaken and Divers both. And with many forms; White Jackal, ay'tog and agkor. Although we met him in Deadhouse Gates, we only met part of him . . . and that's all I'll say on it for now.

And I admit, seeing how Treach died really startles me still. Soletaken and Ascendant, already worshipped as a god, and Treach was killed by four K'ell Hunters without being able to take even one of them apart. And then the contrast to Kilava, who storms in and destroys all four without even seeming to expend effort. For a living Imass that's quite a feat; never underestimate a chick who's been alive for the past 300,000 or so years.

And then there's the sadness of the entire scene. Treach, shocked to find the mind and memories of a man again only now, on his deathbed, after years of having lost himself in the madness of his Soletaken form. His mother Kilava, arriving too late to save her boy, and without recognition from her dying son.

Finally, there's the talk of an Elder God's influence, who we now have reason to believe could be K'rul. Bound in Darujhistan, this is a new thought that comes to me now; Keruli came from there before leaving, and I have to wonder if Gruntle wasn't entirely wrong to equate Keruli to that new church. After all, if K'rul is setting this game and selecting mortals, and if he is preparing godhood for Treach, would he not have also worked to establish his first temples?

And of course, this also leads the question of who else is K'rul choosing. Toc, for certain, but what of Gruntle and co.? What of those among Brood and the Malazan's joint forces? More than likely Kruppe, given past association, but who else is playing the Elder God's game?

The following meeting between Tool and Kilava is less than heartwarming, given the length of time that must have passed since they'd last met. Likely not since she killed their clan, shortly before the ritual. She has come to redress a wrong, and given the rampant K'Chain Che'Malle in the area, it's not hard to guess which one. Meanwhile, he walks to the Second Gathering like a man condemned. Brother and sister both have interesting journeys ahead of themselves . . .

As for the words in Toc's head, well, very interesting stuff.

You shall cross paths again. It is, however, of little consequence. It is the final meeting that concerns me, and that will be years away in all likelihood.

I'll avoid going into details on this one . . . but wow. Other Malazan vets should know what I mean. Anyway, K'rul continues.

Mortal, the children of the Pannion Seer are suffering. You must find a way to release them. It is difficult – a risk beyond imagining – but I must send you into the Seer's embrace. I do not think you will forgive me.

Talk about foreboding, not to mention foreshadowing. Bad things await, he says. Well, let's hope for the best! There's also some good hints about that ten-point mystery surrounding the Pannion Seer here as well. C'mon, make a guess! I double dog dare you. And finally . . .

I speak of compassion. There are gifts unimagined in such efforts. A man who dreams has shown me this, and indeed, you shall soon see for yourself. Such gifts . . .

Thanks Kruppe, for being so awesome that you make Elder Gods turn over a new leaf. *high five* Anyway, again, these are all hints at our end game, so theorize away! Really, go crazy with it. Please. Crazy theories are the funnest ones.

I love the end of the scene as well. Toc's interruption reminds them both of exactly the word he shouted, and their parting is hopeful for the future, the ties of family not a firmly severed as they'd both though. Senu and Thurule's reaction was priceless as well, coming to Tool's aid when they perceived an insult, and then offering Toc respect when they found the compassionate truth of his words. Senu actually talked to him! I find it funny that Toc finds that the strangest event though, given all his visions and strange visitations.

Then we finally get a point of view from Envy, and you've got to love her familiarity with the world. We're used to “Hood's balls!” and “Hood's hoary breath”, but this is most certainly the first time we've gotten “You are troubled, dear Hood”! Anyway, she quickly uncovers K'rul's altar, and once again our friendly neighborhood Elder God is throwing out important quotes. I'm beginning to wonder if I should just quote everything K'rul says.

Nothing is as he would have us believe, and his use of unwitting servants is as brutal as his treatment of enemies. Consider, after all, the Pannion Seer.

Dun dun DUN! Does this plot ever stop thickening?

No, for Callows, death came from the sea. A warren-twisted fleet. Cold-eyed, unhuman killers. Seeking, ever seeking, they ply the world's oceans.

'Seeking what, dare I ask?'

A worthy challenge, no less.

It will be a while before we get full payoff of these hints, but this is a definite filing cabinet moment. A fleet traveling the warrens, manned by a race other than human, and seeking a “worthy challenge”. We have had hint of it before as well, but the actual answer to this riddle has yet to reveal itself. As K'rul says, “You must cultivate patience.”

Their words on the others are key as well; Envy has been gathering K'rul's chosen. Toc, Tool, the Seguleh and Baaljagg. Envy being worried about her control over them, and the quick insight into Seguleh politics is quite interesting; namely the fact that the First sent Mok, the Third, in part because he feared being challenged. And of course, the missing Second will be of import at some point down the road as well, although I still can't remember if it is who I think it is. Can another Veteran remind me if we see the Second at any point down the line in the novels? Because if so, that'll already give me my answer.

The fact that Kurald Galain and Starvald Demelain is the heart of the warrens is another throwaway comment that really sets some stuff up later. Nothing huge or spoilery, mind you, there's no great secret here, it's just one of those bits of foreshadowing that jump out and attacks you after you've finished the series. Not to mention the confirmation of K'rul's relation to the warrens.

I also like that brief moment of guilt Envy has, when she realizes her inaction may have indirectly caused Dassem and Hood's falling out, and all the devastation that followed.

Indeed, you may well choose to cut the knot that is at the heart of the Domin. Or, you may find a way to loosen it, to free all that has been bound for three hundred thousand years.

More important stuff! I'll just let it speak for itself.

The desire to protect Toc from the Crippled One's grasp is a good one, and I find Envy's continued fascination with him amusing; at the very least, she'd protect him from that, if only to fulfill her own desires. And as for the poison in the warrens around the Pannion Domin . . . yeah, I'm sure you can imagine that might be a problem. One our friends in the Bridgeburners haven't even caught wind of yet . . .

Then the relieved discovery of Gruntle's caravan. Bauchelain's greeting is somewhat admirable . . . I like that he checks on the safety of both Reese and Buke, the latter of which he has no need to feel any loyalty towards. Unless I'm misreading my descriptions, of course. Really, as creepy as the pair are, most of my problem with them comes from Korbal, and Bauchelain's willingness to allow him his “dalliances”. Bauchelain himself doesn't really seem that bad, even if he's not exactly a paragon of virtue. Yeah, I know this is way different from what I said when commenting on Chapter Six. So, er, yeah.

And protected by dreams, eh? Where have we seen that one before? K'rul has kept very busy this chapter.

You really have to feel for the prince, don't you? Straddled with the Mask Council, a bunch of know-it-all priests whose every decree seems aimed at causing the city to fall to the Pannions. You've got to love Itkovian for being clever enough to give him his leverage though, don't you? In the meantime, we have our long awaited meeting between the Gray Swords and T'lan Imass, which carries some interesting messages.

“Furthermore, it may well be that we become of . . . less value to you . . . upon completion of the Gathering.”

Again, this gathering of the T'Lan Imass carries a strange meaning not yet fully disclosed, and this is a hint of one of the outcomes it may yet take.

Brukhalian . . . man, talk about unflinching. T'lan Imass, Jaghut heralds of other gods . . . it's all the same to him. Stoic, laconic, whatever you call it, he's it. Bet he doesn't cry or use the word “cute” either. The Mortal Sword of Fener seems well chosen indeed, and his stand-off with Gethol was amusing at least. On one hand, it gives us how close we are to Heboric's calling of Fener, and on the other, it shows how the other gods are reacting to this shift in power.

As for the finale, as I said before, Gruntle does pull through . . . but Harllo's loss is sorely felt. The mere fact that Stonny isn't hiding her emotion, that she's letting it slip as she speaks with Gruntle, speaks volumes. This is the woman with the iron flower for a heart, nearly breaking down telling Gruntle about the death of a friend. But as always, more to come!
David Thomson
5. ZetaStriker
@decarillion: Welcome to the fold! Although you may be in danger of serious spoilers if you tag along with the re-read before catching up.

@Amanda: Quick Ben and the others may be missed, but keep in mind some of the favorites from this novel are already involved in Capustan; Gruntle and co., in particular. Besides, as ksh1elds555 said, Itkovian and Brukhalian will undoubtedly grow on you. And the Prince, for that matter, although I can't remember if he ever gets a POV.
Steven Halter
6. stevenhalter

I fret at the puzzle of Quick Ben every single page of this book.

Welcome to the "who is Quick Ben" club!
Steven Halter
7. stevenhalter

A fleet traveling the warrens, manned by a race other than human, and seeking a “worthy challenge”. We have had hint of it before as well, but the actual answer to this riddle has yet to reveal itself. As K'rul says, “You must cultivate patience.”

Yeah, talk about long term foreshadowing! I had forgotten that reference was there until this reread.
Iris Creemers
8. SamarDev
I wonder about the relationship between K'rul and the Seguleh. How did K'rul know about (or expected) the punitive army of the Seguleh? It's almost as if he instructed the First to send such a army.
(and ZetaStriker: yes, we'll see the Second)
Iris Creemers
9. SamarDev
re the fleet in Callows. I remembered just the visit, not that they were - this early in the series - already looking for a worthy challange...
10. ksh1elds555
Had a couple of thoughts since posting...

Before the undead Kell hunters attack Gruntle, Keruli, and B&KB, Keruli prepares by slicing his hand and letting some of his blood fall on the ground. I'm wondering if this is what is "protecting" and causing the survivors to dream. As has been noted before, blood is a key component to the worship of elder gods. Blood is mentioned in Lady Envy's trip to Krul's temple and what helps awaken him, as it does in GotM. So this theme keeps popping up throughout the series- blood = magic in many differents aspects.

Also loved SE's line... "The beauty of Capustan lies in it people, not it buildings..." This is such a contrast to the image we get of Saltoan, which seemed like such a cesspool of humanity- literally! So here is a positive view of humanity being presented, as opposed to the negatives- war, cruelty, rape, cannibalism- in this book. And the theme of compassion as a path to redemption, comes up again in regards to Toc.

Also, on first reading the episode of the destruction of the city of Callows was a complete mystery. If I'm thinking correctly, this would be related to events in Reaper's Gale? And no one would have any idea of what this would mean until reading that book. SE must have had his storyline plotted out YEARS in advance. That's impressive!
11. amphibian
I'm a bit sorry to say this, but I completely skipped over ZetaStriker's first post here. My thought process was something like "Couldn't he post this in a blog elsewhere and give us the points where he thought he differed from Rutter and Capossere's recaps or points of emphasis? This is too much to digest after getting through that entire recap right above. At least break it up in segments, please, dude."

Let me be clear: I do not mean to drive you away or deter you from posting. All I'm asking is that it be less of a giant bloc of text with a good chunk of it being redundant at times." Cheers.
Amir Noam
12. Amir
Some random thoughts on these chapters:


This is how we respond to cruelty inflicted upon us by those stronger than us: find something weaker and inflict our own cruelties upon them.

What this section on the Tenescowry reminded me of was the reavers from Firefly. People who witnessed the reavers's cruelty had no choice but to act as the reavers do or they would go insane.


Heh, I read this beginning and was taken straight to the Wheel of Time:

Heh. I was thinking of the Wheel of Time as well :-)

So, OK, it's been a long time since I've read the books and I have forgotten a lot. But I was really surprised when rereading this chapter by the fact that Lady Envy's refusal to participate in the Chaining (which was about 1200 years ago, right?) had the repercussion of Hood "using" Dassem's daughter which caused Dassem to break his ties with Hood. I've assumed that Dasseem's daughter had died shortly before Laseen taking the throne. After all, Dassem was known in the Empire to be sworn to Hood, and when he fell in Y'Ghatan people have heard that he has betrayed his god (mentioned in the prologe o GotM). Also, in DG we saw that Apsalar (with Dancer's memories) recognizes Dassem's daugher's body, which she knows that Dassem took into Tremorlor after Hood took her.

So, can any of the other veterans help me fill the gaps here? (obviously, don't spell out anything spoilery - that's what we have a spoiler forum for :-) )
Amir Noam
13. Amir
I completely agree with you that the scene which shows us the origins of the warrens and their relation to K'rul is amazing. Remember that back in GotM, K'rul was listed in the Dramatis Personae as "Maker of the Paths". Only now we're shown the true meaning of that title.
14. amphibian
@ Amir, 12,

There were multiple Chainings. The most recent of those occurred while Kellanved was still Emperor.
David Thomson
15. ZetaStriker
@amhpibian: I'm mainly doing it to keep active; it's a fun project to do each week, re-reading through the novel and writing down my thoughts as I go along. I can try to trim it down and post only key sections if people would like, but having a wider opinion than just yours would be helpful. Anyone else want me to edit myself a little more firmly?
16. havenophear
@Bill Capossere
"(Which begs the question, what just tore apart a god of war?)"

For shame Bill!

/languagenazi :)
17. amphibian
Whoa, Nelly, what I'm suggesting is that you create your own blog or site and write everything you can possibly churn out onto it. Then take the "best of" and put it on here. That way you get your own spot to go in depth as you like, while participating excellently over here too.

And who knows, it might even be a great re-read guide in its own right too. With the Malazan forums, this re-read and your own, we'd have all the books pretty dang well covered from a ton of different angles.
18. amphibian
Double post.

What do you call a woman with one leg shorter than the other? Ilene.
Tricia Irish
19. Tektonica

I love your comments...very cogent and enlightening, but I think breaking them up into several posts might be helpful. Sprinkle them around a bit, maybe? After Bill and Amanda's great comments, I was eyesore! Thanks for all the effort!

That said, these chapters were particularly meaty. I'm just amazed at how much foreshadowing there is here, relevant to several books down the line. Amazing.
karl oswald
20. Toster
Z-striker: just for myself, i actually don't mind the length of the comments at all. having a third re-reader's perspective shining another light on some things helps.

i can see how people might get overwhelmed by it all though. it's a lot of reading.
Chris Hawks
21. SaltManZ
Gotta say I have no problem with Zeta's posting as-is. I admit I first saw the wall-o-text and skipped it, but then later when I felt up to the task I went back to give it a read, and enjoyed it. I figure at the very least that approach should work for other folks as well.

As for the chapters, I always dreaded switching to Capustan, because I remember the Grey Swords standing around talking to each other to be rather dull. This time around, I'm find that's not the case. I love the mutual respect they all have for one another, with each Grey Sword addressing another (whether male or female, commander or recruit) as "sir". It's got a very professional, very solemn flavor to it that I find oddly moving.

And yes, that revelation of the Maker of Paths is amazing.
Chuck Holt
22. conspiracytheorywackadoodle
Somewhere in these two chapters, my inner 5-year-old squealed, "DINOSAURS!"

Immediately after that, my inner sensible adult grabbed my inner 5-year-old before he could stray into the path of those aforementioned dinosaurs and ran away with the child, screaming, "Get in the car! EVERYBODY GET IN THE CAR!"

As my inner sensible adult -- now panic-stricken -- stuffed my inner 5-year-old and all my other inner personalities into the car, a fur-clad figure walked up and offered, "Do you want me to drive?"

To which my inner sensible (panicked) adult snapped, "Get away from me, you freak," before hopping in the car and peeling out.

And as the car full of my inner personalities sped away, the fur-clad figure watched for a while, mulled over the situation in silence, then whispered, "But there's no safe place you can go."

Anyway, as a first-time reader to this series, I'm beginning to consider the possibility that I may have to ditch the rest of you and read ahead.:-)
Amir Noam
23. Amir
amphibian @14:
Thanks for the clarification. I remembered that there were multiple chaining but I was sure that the last one was about 1200 years before the current time in the story.
Amir Noam
24. Amir
I personally very much appreciate your reviews of the chapters. I find them very well written and interesting. You do a very good job of going through the chapters one bit at a time as things are revealed to the reader.

I agree that it is a bit much to read/digest immediately after reading the very long posts by Bill and Amanda (at this point my eyes are usually a bit tired and I'm not looking forward to reading more walls of text). What I usually do is skim your post and come back to it later (in about a day or two) for a fuller read.
hazel hunter
25. Hetan
I think for me, the thing about these few chapters we've read so far gives us almost the complete infill on what was contained in the prologue - we can tie up all those bits and pieces now and enjoy the ride for the rest of the book.

The Tenescowri - Children of the Dead Seed - for me that was a real strange one - really didn't expect it and I must admit made me feel a bit sick too.

I loved the Grey Swords - so dignified and far more than Quick Ben's first impression of "sword hackers" . Brukhalian and Itkovian are huge favourites of mine. Regarding Karnadas and the Destriant title - there's so much more on this to come - and I love a good payback :)
We discussed the Destriant title briefly in the DG re-read whilst talking about Mallick Rell. He's not in this book of course but it's interesting to note the differences between his relationship with his god and that of Karnadas with his.
The Dassem and his daughter is an important part and has repurcussions right through this series and it's one of my favourite sub-plots - mysteries and theories are meat and drink to me.

The information we got from Treach about "tearing a warren to pieces" and is a good one to bear in mind for when we get to HoC.

Yeah - Hetan - her introduction made me laugh out loud when I first read it. I also liked the depth to her character - more of which becomes apparent later in the book :)

I also am in the Quick Ben Club - apart from Cotillion he's prolly my favourite character in the entire series - always relish his mystery.

@10 - yep you've got that right - Keruli cannot do much, and this was the only way he could protect them - poor Harlo .

Finally Toc - Aral Fayle - touched by stone - I think this is what him the perfect tool for K'rul whose aspect once was the Obelisk.
Marcel Steffen
26. Rotzlucky
Hello everybody.

Does anybody else always gets confused about the two first empires in this series? I know the destinction between both of them. But the fact that the Imass had their own and interrferred during the destruction of the human one, often leaves me wondering which one is meant until after a few sentences or pages a distinct name or event helps me to identify.

Also, if K'rul is the maker of the paths shouldn't he be older than Togg?

I'm currently 3/4 in RG and in the last 100 pages of RotCG. Before anyone asks. I forgot RG at a friends some 30 miles away from where I live and I knew it would take me at least a few days to find the time to retrieve it, so I startet RotCG.

Does at anytime after those two books this whole creation myth about Chaos, MD and FL and what follows get any clearer. At this time I just can't imagine how this all worked out to the world we are reading about.

And this distinction between founding and invading races confuses me too. Shouldn't the Andii be called a founding race too, despite the fact that they are from a different world? And why are the Jaghut a founding race? Or the K'chain? When I read the Glossary of GotM the first time I imagined something a bit like in Stargate, with the Nox, Fulringers, Asgard, Ancients stuff. But the founding races in MbotF never actually worked together. So why are the grouped.

Do we get to know which dwarf with which forge created Wu or did I miss something :D

If my questions are to spoilery, pls just say so. If the answer would be spoiler just RAFO me.

Robin Lemley
27. Robin55077
There are so many important items in these chapters but I will point out a couple that may be overlooked but should, of course, be rememebered:

1. Pran Chole in speaking to Itkovian says, “Pannion, a Jaghut word. A Jaghut name.” Just take my word on it.

2. Tool in talking to Toc, “Also, there are the effects of the Tellann warren which surrounds me—though that is much weakened at the moment. Someone has drawn on my life-force, almost to exhaustion. Ask me no questions regarding this. Creatures are given to avoidance when able.“ Perhaps our first "explanation" that the Imass use of the Tellan warren is a bit different than say QB's use of a warren. After the ritual, each individual of the Imass seems to "carry" a bit of this warren with them.

3. Toc, remembering through Treach, “Gods, we tore a warren to pieces on that distant continent. Turned the eastlands into molten stone that cooled and became something that defied sorcery. The T’lan Imass sacrificed thousands to cut away the cancer we had become. It was the end, the end of all that promise, all that bright glory, the end of the First Empire. Hubris, to have claimed a name that rightly belong to the T’lan Imass…” Think about this with respect to some of the things we learned in DG and some of the questions raised during that book can be answered.

There are more, but I have to get to work.

Steven Halter
28. stevenhalter
Rotzlucky @26: We find out more about the creation/origin stories. Everyone has their own take on things and I'm not sure if things are mutually exclusive even when they might at first appear to be. So, we do get more info, but I'm not sure if clearer is quite the right word.
K'rul is the maker of the paths of the current set of human accessible warrens. Recall that there are Elder warrens, also. How old a god is with respect to another, especially the Elder gods is also a bit tricky.
Paul Boyd
29. GoodOldSatan
I have to admit - yet again - that the sheer volume of minutiae in this series leaaves me and my lack of photographic memory floundering. I now, upon reread, remember the destruction of Callows. But, if you had asked me 2 weeks ago, I'd have recalled nothing and certainly not that the destroyers came fom the sea seeking a worthy challenge . This reference, and other, er, nascent, hints at another story line were relegated to the dustbin of my mind. I'm thinking of blaming it on the length of time between the availablity of the books in the US, but ....

In any event, now that it is recalled, it brings up an issue that will remain with us throughout ... timelines. The destruction of Callows gives us (comparatively) specific date to consider against events we'll learn about further on. While I know that SE has warned against being too concerned with timelines, events that we'll read about in the future must have occurred in the not too distant past.

I've got to say, MOI has phenomenal cast of some of my favorite characters: WJ, QB, Gruntle, Toc & Tool, and Itkovian. I love them all.

I'm a little confused about this killing the undead stuff - more so with regards to the beasts whose name we hate to type than the T'lan. While "dead dead" may be a relative concept on Wu, are the K’Chain Che’Malle slain in these chapters reanimatable?

Oh well, that's all for now.


Marcel Steffen
30. Rotzlucky
shalter @28: Yes, elder warrens like in the chapter summary above, reffering to the conversation between K'rul and Envy

When she bridles, he shows her a vision: “chaos . . . a universe devoide of sense . . .of meaning. Entities flung through the maelstrom. Lost, terrified by the birth of light. A sudden sharpening—pain as of wrist opened, the heat spilling forth—a savage imposition of order, the heart from which blood flowed . . . twin chambers—Kurald Galain, the Warren of Mother Dark—and Starvald Demelain, the Warren of Dragons.

So is this blood not the same blood that runs through K'ruls veins? Because if it is, doesn't that imply K'rul was even before MD. And what about the holds and the wandering. Can't we event trust K'rul in his narrative? I really like to know who or what came first!
Brian R
31. Mayhem
"Also, if K'rul is the maker of the paths shouldn't he be older than Togg?"

Not necessarily. Togg & Fandaray are the original owners of the hold of beasts, and appear to incorporate the idea of gods of the hunt, the essence of predators and short sharp lives. They predate more sophisticated imagery and quite possibly predate the rise of mmm ... thinking life? The world of Wu has many many origin stories, from the Tiste races arriving from somewhere else, through the Four Founding Races, to the corruption and evolution of the Founders into younger races like Humans or Trell. There are also hints of others that may have died out or simply been forgotten, and there are hints that while some gods arose from worship, others embody ... elemental forces ... and predate the whole shooting match.

In conclusion ... it is hard to say. Togg may predate K'rul as a god that is worshipped, but not as an elemental force. Or they may both be elemental forces, the embodiment of a concept.

As shalter says, the more you learn, the less clear some things become.
Marcel Steffen
32. Rotzlucky
Mayhem @31: I understand your point and generally agree with that.

But when we go back to when everything was chaos and darkness, light, hunt, blood and everything were nothing but elemental forces then I would think that time is not a concept that you can apply to them.
I believe for an entity like Togg to think about time he has to be in an environment where you can measure time, where you can experience time. And this has to be a living world ike Wu or another sphere or warren or...
And for an elemental force representing "hunt" to manifest on such a world wouldn't that request at least a sign of thinking life on this world.

The same I would say for K'rul. I think that he would have been an elemental force too. So there should be no way for Togg to know if he is older than K'rul or not.

I know that this will not lead to an satisfying explanation, these are just some random thoughts going through my head that I like to discuss.
David Thomson
33. ZetaStriker
Thanks for the feedback. It sounds like the best thing for me to do is to pick maybe a handful of key comments, throw those up on here, and then put the whole thing up on my blog and link it after a couple days. Seems like that's the general consensus on it, at least. Sorry if I made someone's eyes bleed by throwing another massive column of text after Bill and Amanda's!

@29: It's always seemed to me that there is a certain threshold of damage with undead that, once crossed, leaves the body inoperable. We'll see more of this from the T'Lan Imass later, but for now I can say that complete removal of the skull, or the breaking of the spine, seem to be clear breaking points.
Steven Halter
34. stevenhalter
Rotzlucky @30: In the heart image, the blood is the power flowing from the warrens of Kurald Galain and Starvald Demelain. So, I think in a sense, it is the blood flowing through K'ruls veins. So, then there is the question of wether K'rul is saying that not only is the blood (the path/power) his, but the heart is his also. In other words, he contains Kurald Galain and Starvald Demelain.
This brings up a set of interesting questions, like: Does this mean that K'rul is the universe and everything is contained within him? Or, is it a metaphor? Or both? Or, is he not entirely telling the truth? Is he a wave or a particle?
We can't necessarily answer those to a high degree of certainty.
Maggie K
35. SneakyVerin
On this question of whether the heart containing Starvald Demelain and Kurald Galain was actually K'rul's heart, I also was very confused. But, s in 90% of Erikson's writing, I decided to just go with flow, figuring it would make sense

These two chapters contain so much incredible information, it's hard to swallow it all at once.

I too forgot about the reference of the fleet which destroyed Callows. As someone else mentioned, the planning out of this series was intricate!
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
36. tnh
ZetaStriker, listen to your audience. They don't want you to post it all elsewhere; they just want you to break it into shorter chunks.

One trick you and others might try: don't style your blockquoted sections until you've previewed your comment, made your last-minute changes, and are ready to hit "post." I don't know if it works this way for every user and every browser, but I get an additional line space added above and below my blockquotes every time I hit "preview."
Steven Halter
37. stevenhalter
tnh--yeah, I get the additional lines also for every preview.
Amir Noam
39. Amir
shalter @34:

This brings up a set of interesting questions, like: Does this mean that K'rul is the universe and everything is contained within him?

A relevant quote is from the prologue, when K'rul and co. deal with Kallor:

It must be done. I will fashion a... a place for this. Within myself.
A warren to hold all this? Draconus asked in horror. My brother--
No, it must be done. Join with me now, this shaping will not be easy--
It will break you, K'rul, his sister said.

They merged their power to draw chains around a continent of slaughter, then pulled it into a warren created for that sole purpose, leaving the land itself bared. To heal.
The effort left K'rul broken, bearing wounds he knew he would carry all his existence.

Steven Halter
40. stevenhalter
Amir@39:Yes, that's a good quote. What exactly 'within myself' means is a fine question in itself. We can go with literal, metaphysical, referential, metaphorical, transubstantive, ...

The implications are very interesting.
41. amphibian
Mitochondria arose before human/plant cells, which came later, yet the cells engulfed and incorporated these tiny organic batteries to produce a better mutualistic result.

I think it's possible for K'rul to absorb pre-existing warrens or places within him like those early cells did. What was old can be incorporated into the new without breaking either.
Tricia Irish
42. Tektonica
Zetastriker: Don't go elsewhere! Your comments are great....just broken into smaller chunks for easier digestion, maybe?

This discussion about K'rul is mind boggling. Love it! Wave or particle, indeed.
Marcel Steffen
43. Rotzlucky
@39, 40, 41: Great comments. But it's true as long as we don't get a specific answer there's no way to know what really is the deal with K'rul.

Regarding my initial question about the age of K'rul and Togg, for me the conclusion is now, that Togg doesn't know what he is talking about.

But another slightly related question. Was there ever a hold of darkness? Or just that wandering thing in Dragnipur and the warren Kurald Galain? Hmm..actually they should be the same...arrggh confusing stuff!
Brian R
44. Mayhem
Mmm. A lot of this comes under RAFO, as later works bring up the idea of Houses and Holds in more detail, but as I understand things...

What K'rul did in the creation of the warrens was the imposition of a form of order on already existing forces. Think river vs canal. What he did was make things much more structured and sophisticated.
I think we need to separate the idea of Warren and God at this point though, because it becomes clear later that Gods may use multiple warrens, they are associated with certain ones, but not definitively. The actual power source of the warrens I won't say here but alert readers may have picked it up in DG.

So what we have is a world with animals and lower forms of life, spinning through the ether. It has a range of elemental forces operating on it, but not codified by anything. Forces like heat/cold/dark/light/death/life and so on. Some of these forces are given shape either by or through their actions upon the world. Togg & Fanderay for example as beasts. Then the Founding Races evolve over time. As they develop intelligence, they evoke their more primitive beliefs into shape, the Holds of Beasts, Life, Death, Fire, Ice and so on. There are many of them, and the Elder Gods truly manifest around this time, as particular gods of the Founding Races.

Going back to the idea of ages, I think some of it comes from when the forces were corporated into actual beings that could interact, as opposed to elemental forces that act upon the world without volition. Togg implies he is older as he incorporated from the beliefs of the beasts, rather than the beliefs of the Founding Races.

Anyway, now things start getting confusing. K'rul, embodied as the shaper of paths, creates the warrens, but he only creates the newer warrens from scratch, the Elder ones he merely provides additional structures to.
At around the same time, the Tiste races appear from elsewhere, and begin to contend with the Founding Races. Keep in mind the origins of the Tiste are *different* to those of Wu, they are not based off native species. Mother Dark and Father Light may have been elemental forces originally, but their creations were done offscreen.

Anyway, back to K'rul. It is shown that all worship of Elder beings involves blood in some way, and he imposed the structure with his own blood, the blood of a *god*. That has to result in the revelation of vast amounts of power, the fact he is generally passive doesn't mean he has relinquished control, as he shows to Envy.
Steven Halter
45. stevenhalter
Mayhem@44:That's a pretty good summary of the 'mainline' account of how things are put together at this point in the story.
As always, note that we'll get interesting takes on this story--details will be filled in, details will be disputed. And, some things will be left with ambiguity.
David Thomson
46. ZetaStriker
I know that when I read through the novel, I always interpreted K'rul's creation of the warrens to literally be of his body, rather than some form of blood magic. Taking the example of another goddess, Burn, I always assumed that the warrens literally had become his flesh and blood, just as much as the personification or avatar we've seen thus far. Similar to Burn, who simultaneously exists as both the land of Wu and the goddess herself. Thus his interest in this war serves as one of self-preservation; just as the Crippled God's poison has driven Burn into a fevered sleep, that same infection spreading rampant through the warrens would wound him just as surely.

Hmm. That brings to mind an interesting thought . . . but it's about a later book, so I'll leave it alone for now. Even with spoiler text, I know I've accidentally highlighted things I didn't want to see before, and I doubt anyone wants me to spoil any later events.
Marcel Steffen
47. Rotzlucky
Mayhem @44: Great explanation. That works for me. Thanks!
Robin Lemley
48. Robin55077
@ 1. decarillion

You won't regret owning these books! I think they are even better on re-reads than they are on the initial read!

Welcome to the club!

Iris Creemers
49. SamarDev
re 22 conspiracytheorywackadoodle:
I think reading ahead might be a good idea. Now you have grasped kind of the 'essence' of the concept of the series (for as far as possible), reading ahead gives you the opportunity to puzzle and find out some things for yourself, while at the same time looking back with the rest of us in reread-tempo gives you the 'what, SE mentioned this already here?!?' experience.

I wonder where your multiple inner personalities bring you on the way, they're in for a wild ride ;-)
Emiel R
50. Capetown
This piece of advice from Bauchelain:

"Tactically, attempt to hamstring these hunters, and stay low when you close - they prefer horizontal cuts."

foreshadows the actions of certain heavies in a later book. Very cool.
Tricia Irish
51. Tektonica

Welcome! My inner 5 year old is with you!

I started as a newbie when this reread began and I'm now nearly finished....penultimate book for me, Dust of Dreams. I highly recommend reading ahead so you can really enjoy the Light-bulb moments on your own and then reflect on SE's genius here on the reread, as Samar Dev said.
karl oswald
52. Toster
Capetown @ 50: wow, amazing foreshadowing. i've never made that connection before, even after multiple rereads. SE is the master. every time you think you've got it all nailed down, something new pops out at you.

so many things from the beginning of this series resonate massively at the end. it perfectly mirrors his style of writing chapters, passages and books. that elliptical style that brings you back to the beginning in a powerful way. its a long time coming, but i can't wait till it all comes back around again on this reread
Al Cunningham
53. BygTymeGuy

I enjoy your posts as they are. As a first time reader I like experiencing the initial thoughts that people have as they go through the book. It gives me something on which to gauge my own interpretations, reading speed, etc. I am so appreciative of the time you have taken to do this.

Amazing to me that someone has even asked you to revise the way you do this. C'mon peeps, what freakin difference does it make how long a post is? Is there some rule in here that, if you read one post, you have to read them all? You don't like the length, skip it. If you still want to read it, then read it in more than one sitting. Tolerance, baby, tolerance!
Emiel R
54. Capetown
Agree, Zetastriker, don't abridge your comments for my sake.
Steven Halter
55. stevenhalter
Hey, it's Tuesday!:

'Vanity', 'he mumbled through scabbed lips, is not my curse.'
'I imagine', he finally said, studying the wine in his goblet, 'Quick Ben has you curious.'

'One thing, sir. I got a bad feeling…about…about all of this.'

Chris Hawks
56. SaltManZ
Lady Envy: "Can no value be found in good intentions?"

And later: "Intentions are unimportant, my dear." :)
Iris Creemers
57. SamarDev
'Commander, your soldiers...'
'What of them?'
'They are more ... and less. No longer what they once were. Raraku, sir, has burned the bridges of their pasts, one and all - it's all gone.' He met Whiskeyjack's eyes in wonder. 'And they are yours. Heart and soul. They are yours.'
Amir Noam
58. Amir
'I'm going to talk with Tool - his moods don't swing!'
No, they just hang there, twisting in the wind.
Amir Noam
59. Amir
'And I got a real complicated meal in mind. Hare stuffed with figs--'
Picker sat up, eyes wide. 'You're not gonna make us eat Spindle's hairshirt? With figs?'
Amir Noam
60. Amir
'Simplicity is Kruppe's mistress - in joyful conspiracy with his dear wife, Truth, of course. Long and loyal in allegiance, this happy threesome--'

And later:
'Kruppe sees beyond the wrinkled veil, my dear. In all things. Thus his midnight mistress in Faith - a loyal aide whose loving touch Kruppe deeply appreciated.'

And later:
'Oh, Kruppe further informs that Faith has a twin, equally sweet, and that is Dreams.'
Amir Noam
61. Amir
'My companion is named Toc the Younger; my bodyguards Senu, Thurule, and the one presently sleeping is Mok. Do you wish the names of my pets as well?'
You just gave them, didn't you?
Amir Noam
62. Amir
'Walk with me, dearest. There, isn't this nice? The brushing of our hips, the sudden familiarity that sends the heart racing. The dampness of the rain, matching--'
'Yes, yes, Lady! Please no more details, else my walking prove most awkward.'
Stefan Sczuka
63. moeb1us
'Look at him. Greasy, slimy, slick like one giant hairy ball of buttered eel. (!) ...'

'and when Dassem's sword clipped it, it went flying, sir. Right into my arms.'

'There were eleven others in your company, wizard.'

'Mortal, who are you?'
'In the eyes of the gods, Talamandas? Just a lowly salt-worm. (...)'

'You don't wake up well at all, do you, young man? Surely we can discuss all this later?'

'Oh!' She stamped her foot. 'You're just like Rake!'
64. Abalieno
I'm late as usual but not much to comment on the first chapter. It is straightforward and it's one of the rare occasions where there's no PoV switch. It's all Gruntle and his group, and the scene at the end comes and closes without cliffhangers of any kind. Plot moves fast and there are a number of key info dropped in without too heavy exposition.

Bauchelain says a lot of things and, even if it comes from a likely unlikeable character, he seems sincere or without other purposes. He explains that the Barghast also have been around for a long time, maybe not as much as Imass and Jaghut but at least at the beginning of the "current" generation that is not considered "elder". I think it's important to notice that the reason given for their "stagnation" is directly linked to their belief system. Maybe something happened that has caused them to not progress, or maybe it's the structure of the society itself to be the main consequence of what happened.

In a certain way I'm reminded of Jaghut, those who isolated themselves in order to avoid certain disasters that are consequence of living together. This is a similar refusal of society, but achieved through an immutable system of belief. It seems still an effect of restraint and self-imposed limit.

Even more important: we see the system of belief still consequence of society. It comes from men and is created. So it's those men who impose a certain structure on the higher powers. From within toward the outside. In a way that maintains a centrality of humanity. These are always interpretative planes, but there's always humanity at the center, looking outside. I'm not sure how much Erikson want to strengthen this model or break it.

Bauchelain & KB also offer a point of view on the theme of life. They break "rules", so are above mortality and being necromancers they play with it. From their dialogue I got the impression that KB creates his "monsters" not because he's cruel, but simply because he's completely amoral and considers those things like interesting toys. He plays with them, but from a perspective that is completely detached, and so without any empathy. When they talk about the sticksnares he says that flesh would suit much better.

Again in this chapter there is mention of midges and moths. I think these insects always remind that the world is hostile. It's a constant that is at the root of everything. The moment you are in this world the environment tries to kill you. It's a constant assault. At the same time, and as I've commented before, it also reminds of how all these "systems" co-exist. How each has huge repercussions on the other while still being "emergent". Like a stratification of layers of life or perception.

Also wondering where Keruli is coming from. The temple of K'rul has been abandoned, so I'd imagine there's no cult at all left or K'rul wouldn't have disappeared in the first place. Then what's Keruli's origin? I'd imagine he's an "avatar", but K'rul says he has not that kind of power on the mortal realm and we even see Keruli spilling blood in order to perform his rite. So how can a priest of a vanished cult suddenly appear? Did he just show up in someone's dream and make him his priest?

I didn't like much Gruntle's introspection at the end. Yes, one can imagine of meeting that moment with shock or its opposite: as an unnatural calm. But those thoughts are way too heavy in exposition and ornament to be plausible (or appropriate) in that scene. Felt a bit stilted.
65. Abalieno
Read the first half of chapter seven.

I like a lot Capustan and its description. The political situation was already explained during the council and summarized succinctly again in this chapter. It's another wonderful example of how much info Erikson can pack in an handful of pages without making it a chore to read, or seem forced. There's setup for intrigue about the true origin of the city. History, again, is not superfluous "worldbuilding". It is not "flavor". History is what comes before that determines what happens in the present. And whether the current characters are aware if it or not. The past has never been so alive and active as in the Malazan series.

There's a description of Capustan's origins as it happened for other places in this book. An old palace that was there even before the city itself and that "was not raised by human hands". We do not know if the first humans to come here knew the function of that palace, in any case that knowledge is now forgotten and the place is being occupied and used "pragmatically". Metabolized, I'd say (even if it seemed to refuse the process, to an extent). Capustan's founding tribes were nomadic and clustered to form the city in a kind of disorganized way, which gave the irregular, convoluted structure. A hint that may or may not mean something (I can't remember) is "sea-fearing peoples", so we should at least wonder why these tribes feared sea even if living close to it (sea is usually see as a resource). In a second moment came the Daru, which imposed a more structured layout to the city. So there's again an idea of mystery buried within, a forgotten origin that must hide some relevant secret. As always, this exists like an hidden layer since all these info come from the observation of what is there, still visible. You only need that particular eye to "reveal" the language of the environment.

You can soak in it, being unaware of what happens around you, go with the flow. Or you can "see", recognize the patterns and understand their meaning. A silent language of memory that lingers in the place (and the "metaphor made real" of the spirits).

About Quick Ben, I'm aware of recent questions about who he truly is, but I think that all the hints at a mystery in this book are set-up specifically for what will be revealed later. I have no idea if there's a deeper mystery about the character, but at this point it's not an idea present in the books. So I think that what is hinted will also be completely revealed. And if there's a further mystery, it is probably due to expansion (so no hints to be found at this point).

Quick Ben here is even shown as naive since he's surpassed twice by Whiskeyjack, (once for sarcasm and once for superficial assumption) making him appear at least fallible. The mythology is again confused, we do not know how positions in the pantheon are taken, but in the earlier PoV it's implied that Karnadas knows to be Destriant, and this knowledge seems characterized by being sure and provable to others. But is there a distinction between "mortal" hierarchy and the Deck of Dragons' one? QB mentions that the "Mortal Sword" has become "Knight" in the new structure, but we recognize a Knight as an "ascendant", so not a specific mortal hierarchy. All of this is also happening before the events of Deadhouse Gates, so Fener is supposed to be active on the same level of the other gods. Then why no real Destriant for a long time? And, more importantly, why in the current Deck of Dragons gods like Fener are not present and presumed "inactive"? Is this related to the beast throne being unoccupied?

More confusion about Treach. No idea who it is, or what it has done to become the "First Hero". Nor what would make it different from a proper "god". Nothing again in the first two books that explains this change in the pantheon. "First Heroes are not gods". Ok, we'll have to believe this, but logically we aren't given anything to understand that statement or to figure out what is going on behind the scenes. (and after I wrote all this I've figured out what the link is... oh well, it will be discussed later anyway)

All the rest is simply awesome. The action scene here is described perfectly and I'd consider it one of the best I've ever read. It's so well paced and perfectly balanced. I've complained about the previous one (Vs Gruntle & company) that it had an unnatural and verbose exposition of introspection. While the scene here has nothing of that weight beside what is necessary, and makes a better impact as well. The tension is well maintained even if we have another "last minute save". It's so well executed that it did not bother me. Then, instead of fading out, the scene closes reaching a new height when ten thousands heads turn to stare at Itkovian. It would feel artificial if it was only done for the awe, but it works because it carries all the weight of the revelation: "Pannion", a Jaghut name.

Simply brilliant how this revelation comes at the apex, and last line, of that scene.

Sad how aSoIaF has now monopolized all attention because of the TV series. Even if I think the TV series is really well done and deserves success. What is sad is to see again how the mass of people only ever go downhill.
66. Abalieno
Wowow. What an extraordinary chapter.

I'm not one who rereads books, I read rather slowly and pay a lot of attention on my first go, yet rereading Malazan sometimes feels like I'm going through something totally new. When I read Toc's visions the first time I only tried to store them in memory hoping that their meaning would be understood later, but now I'm seeing that the key for interpretation has to be found before. Parts of the mythology that I didn't understand in DG is playing a role here, the puzzle is much more readable now that I can narrow down the place of certain pieces. Joy of reading mixed with satisfaction for being able to see better through it and understand.

Reading Bill's comments I could pinpoint even better certain details but there are other aspects that still require some figuring out. Baaljagg is a female ay, the last of the whole species, one of those from the beginning of the Prologue. That was some 300,000 years before current events. She was then saved by K'rul (and one wonders what is that those leather straps are hiding). But how has she survived? The "dreamworld" is a kind of time freeze, like a photograph of a certain world that never changes, evolves or fades, but she's not simply gone there since it's mentioned that she also had a solitary waking life in the real world. Immortality may be gained after the binding with the other soul delivered by K'rul, but that seems to happen MUCH later. Maybe it's simply K'rul's touch that granted both, the dreams and immortality to Baaljagg?

Then Treach. This is the First Hero. Earlier in this chapter it was said that "First Heroes aren't gods". Now we are given the story and an at least vague timeframe. This brings back directly to the story that Heboric & friends discovered in their journey through that city within a mountain (or canyon), where they discovered bodies half human and half beast turned to stone. The First Empire that came after the rightful "First Empire" of Imass. Treach is then one of those "humans" who survived the ritual to turn into Soletaken. There's mention of a possible difference between Soletaken and D'ivers: "Madness splintered, broke one into many, birthing the D'ivers". We know they couldn't control the ritual and that it made them mad. Then the T'lan Imass came to kill everyone after things were already out of control. They also had done other terrible things even before the ritual: destroyed a warren "on that distant continent". Is this connected to the following line or they refers to two different events? "Turned the eastlands into molten stone". Yay, Otataral. So is Otataral the result of that warren being destroyed?

Between those who survived: Treach, Ryllandaras and Messremb. All ascended and all First Heroes (maybe first humans to ascend? If the Queen of Dreams wasn't human, or ascended later).

Then, the more time Treach passed in beast/Soletaken form, the more he lost his humanity and became a beast. Till he was killed by Che'Malle. Huh? I'm implying that his First Empire is a relatively recent thing and the Che'Malle haven't been around for a long time, only reappearing in the current time, as undead, and after the rise of the Pannion domin. When and where is this scene taking place? Toc says the vision is from this moment. Then why Treach has recently took an active role in the pantheon if this does not correspond to Treach making a conscious action?

Also wondering: the power that Kilava has seems to resemble Darkness more than Tellan (black water). In fact I almost mistook her for Lady Envy. And why is she still alive if not undead like other T'lan Imass? (but she's Soletaken! Yet not part of T'lan Gathering nor the other one that involved Treach...)

More confusion about Kilava's words. She brings up again the torn warren: "Others were involved in the task of repairing the shattered warren". But here it is directly linked to T'lan Imass intervention, which was after the Soletaken ritual and on Seven Cities continent, not on that big island where Otataral is found, nor further away.

So are these two events truly unrelated? And if the continent is "distant" then it can only be Genabackis itself? But if it's "distant" then it also can't be the scene that Heboric saw, so what other warren have they destroyed? So these are THREE different events? (1) The torn warren in the distant continent, (2) the molten stone that created Otataral, and then (3) the ritual for shapeshifting/ascendancy on Seven Cities. And how has Treach traveled to Genabackis now?

It's not all, Kilava senses another presence that has reawakened Treach as a conscious, somewhat human mind. We could guess it's Toc's presence, but why is it happening? It's not Treach that took possession of Toc, so why this link now? It seems that it's K'rul's hand, but even in his case where's the link between Treach and Toc? How could he make it?

In this chapter it seems not Quick Ben to be part of the "bigger game". It's K'rul. At the beginning of this section Toc was rising some interesting questions about the happenstance of events, hinting at an hidden hand that moved the lines behind the scenes. Then we're made aware it's K'rul's hand. I'm wondering: is K'rul really all that involved in the big plan even in the last book of the series?

Too many questions! Curious, since I've already read this book (and it's a book of revelations more than mysteries) and I'm certain I even have MORE questions now. A lot of things at that time just went over my head. A single question mark at the time now spawned ten different ones!

I'm basking at the irony and insanity of it. A work of ten books is already mind-boggling and to write-off already on the premise. But it's ten FAT books, often more than a thousand pages each. I mean, you can try but a project like this is born already like a failure. Then not only it's ten fat books that exist for real and are complete (it's done!), but that even demand of being read TWICE (and that are FUN to read! and that have depth aplenty!). It's truly some kind of insane human achievement that keeps me incredulous ;)
karl oswald
67. Toster
baaljagg survived for so long for a reason yet to be revealed, though it's no mistake that her and toc have shared a few things.

re: distant continent. this refers to seven cities. treach is actually on genebackis right now, in the present of the story. i think it likely that he travelled to genebackis before he lost his humanity. also, treach doesn't need to act consciously for the structure of power in the world to begin shifting toward him. fener is waning, something waxes to take his place, and i think it isn't that far of a stretch to imagine that k'rul influenced this to happen. in fact, k'ruls touch is all over these issues. gruntle and keruli in capustan? also, k'rul is involved right up until the end of the series, and he plays a very intimate role in it's ultimate resolution.

toc viewing the scene of treach's death - i think this is a very nice foreshadow to the role he goes on to play in the series, RAFO for that, but the how of it is likely due to his missing eye, which is the one he is using to see out of treach's face with. the significance of his lost eye and who it belongs to echoes throughout the series. touched by stone, now he has visions. ch-ch-ch-ch-changes! somehow i doubt bowie ever imagined anything like this.

the shattering of the warren is something that has some relation to the otataral and the ritual, but the connection is never made clear. maybe they used the warrens power to fuel the ritual. also, it's important to keep in mind that once a warren is shattered, it's pieces can be shattered again. how otataral is created is a RAFO.

as for kilava, her power has nothing to do with darkness, and the descriptions of her in those terms merely refer her colour when veered. obviously in a series where darkness has such a formal and central role its easy to see every reference to it as referring to the same thing, but here it's just a descriptor. she still lives despite rejecting the ritual because she's an ascendant, which is probably why she tore up those k'ell.
68. Abalieno
baaljagg survived for so long for a reason yet to be revealed, though it's no mistake that her and toc have shared a few things.

Ok, then the question was legitimate and the answer is for later. Good.

re: distant continent. this refers to seven cities. treach is actually on genebackis right now, in the present of the story

Damn it! I knew there was some way to make sense of the apparent contradiction. So he means his homeland.

Still need to pinpoint the three events, though. The shattering of the warren (I'd guess Shadow, if it was them being responsible, but then Drift Avalii is a recent thing?) shouldn't be directly related to Otataral, and both shouldn't be related to the creation of Soletaken.

One contradiction is still there: even if the "distant continent" is Seven Cities, this shattering of the warren in their discussion is closely related to the ritual that made them Soletaken.

she still lives despite rejecting the ritual because she's an ascendant, which is probably why she tore up those k'ell.

Ascendant and Soletaken. Again the question of how she acquired this power is legitimate if not readily available. The Imass surely weren't immortal before the ritual.

I also have another question to add, during Treach vision he also remembers another wolf with one eye. But it can't be the one that takes possession of Toc, since that one was in the Chaos warren for a too long time and only returned with Toc himself. So how could it be around earlier?
Sydo Zandstra
69. Fiddler

Then, the more time Treach passed in beast/Soletaken form, the more he lost his humanity and became a beast. Till he was killed by Che'Malle. Huh? I'm implying that his First Empire is a relatively recent thing and the Che'Malle haven't been around for a long time, only reappearing in the current time, as undead, and after the rise of the Pannion domin. When and where is this scene taking place? Toc says the vision is from this moment. Then why Treach has recently took an active role in the pantheon if this does not correspond to Treach making a conscious action?

As I read this, Treach dying made him ascend to 'the next level'. That experience could have given him a clearer mind. It also (conveniently) happened around the same time that Fener was cast down by Heboric's acts at the Jade statue. So there was a job opening in the Pantheon, so to speak, since the God of War position became vacant.
He probably spent a lot of time being a 'mindless beast'.

Also, don't accept the K'Chain Che'Malle (and their cousins the K'Chain Nah Ruk) being extinct from this world, just because everybody says so. This is Erikson, after all.

Also wondering: the power that Kilava has seems to resemble Darkness more than Tellan (black water). In fact I almost mistook her for Lady Envy. And why is she still alive if not undead like other T'lan Imass? (but she's Soletaken! Yet not part of T'lan Gathering nor the other one that involved Treach...)

You answered your own question there. :) Remember Onrack's story in House of Chains? Kilava didn't take part of the Ritual. And it was the Ritual that made all the Imass undead, and able to travel barriers (like walls of Ice, set up by Jaghut ;) ). Her slaughtering part of her tribe caused Tool to be expendable too...

It's not all, Kilava senses another presence that has reawakened Treach as a conscious, somewhat human mind. We could guess it's Toc's presence, but why is it happening? It's not Treach that took possession of Toc, so why this link now? It seems that it's K'rul's hand, but even in his case where's the link between Treach and Toc? How could he make it?

I think Toc was mainly being used as a POV here, to let the reader know about Treach. My guess is that the presence is K'rul, since he created/ is linked to the Warrens so much. And K'rull does seem to be very active in this book...

In this chapter it seems not Quick Ben to be part of the "bigger game". It's K'rul. At the beginning of this section Toc was rising some interesting questions about the happenstance of events, hinting at an hidden hand that moved the lines behind the scenes. Then we're made aware it's K'rul's hand. I'm wondering: is K'rul really all that involved in the big plan even in the last book of the series?

Yes, K'rul is very much involved, although we won't be seeing him as much in later books. K'rul and Mael are shown as players in the last book, although still more on the background.

As for QB, he isn't part of the bigger game. YET. This book is where he steps into the game, and decides to become a player for real.

I'll give you one spoiler considering Kilava and Treach, which has no relation to the plot really. I'll white it out anyway. ( Kilava is Treach's mother. )
70. Abalieno
Also this:

fener is waning, something waxes to take his place, and i think it isn't
that far of a stretch to imagine that k'rul influenced this to happen.

Is Fener waning? The only event we witness directly is about Heboric. And that particular point I think has yet to happen in the timeline of MoI.

If K'rul doesn't travel time he can't foresee certain events that happen out of his control, but if Fener is involved of something behind the scenes then it would explain Hood's attention toward Heboric/Fener already in the Prologue of book 2.

Otherwise Fener is not waning, yet. And certainly K'rul is moving pieces far before the scene where Heboric touches the jade finger. Think about the cult of Treach becoming more important, the torcs and so on. At the very least all these scenes take place long before Heboric did something to his god.
71. amphibian
Fener is waning and has been so for a very long time.

We see four people thus far who worship Fener - Heboric, Gesler, Stormy and Truth. The cult has been culled from the army and the god himself accidentally torn down from the pantheon in a weakened state. Fener doesn't have the power he once did.

There's a bit of overthinking in your posts, in that you're trying so hard to make connections between historical shards and facts scattered throughout the books that you're forgetting sometimes that not every shard or fact is for the same event or artifact. The detritus of history gets mixed up, especially with the insanely mobile tribes, mortal and immortal.

People move on Wu - they move all around the world all the time.

Also, Messremb had not ascended. He was a Soletaken and naught else. Treach did not ascend until he died. Ryllandaras, we haven't seen much of yet, so that's still a mystery.
72. Abalieno
Yes, but it's the connection that is missing.

Fener is brought down after Heboric's actions. But if it was already weakened before it was pulled down, why was it so? I mean what's the source of this weakened status? In the books this isn't shown, nor seems consequence of events we see happen, that condition seems preexistent and unmotivated.

I don't think I'm overthinking since I'm not trying to guess stuff that is not in the books, and only trying to put the pieces I have in their right place as much as possible.

For example this discussion of the torn warren linked to the Soletaken ritual is weird, because I can't see how Shadow's warren could be linked to the Soletaken. The link is missing, and if anything I could have imagined some connection with the Beast throne. But with Shadow?

And I think it's not all that plausible that this First Empire is responsible of so many major events: the shattering of Shadow, the Otataral, the Soletaken ritual. Maybe they are linked, maybe not.

I thought that the Shadow warren was torn apart long before. Maybe even after the event of the Prologue of Midnight Tides.

So couldn't be that this torn warren they mention here is something completely unrelated to original Shadow? Or maybe it's just a smaller piece that they broke more (but then you have to explain me why a small fragment of Shadow can be used for Soletaken ritual since there's no point of contact thematically)?

I guess the next step will be on the Malazan forums :) I need to disperse at least some obfuscation.
karl oswald
73. Toster
Fener was weakened by many things i think. heboric is more meaningful to fener than we know at this point and the way he was cast out of the cult hurt the god, because it was in service of secular ambition. the malazan army has expunged his cult from its ranks save a few old guard, and now, the three mortals fener did choose to represent him have got themselves and their seven thousand followers besieged by a hundred thousand cannibals. the signs are all there.

this next section alludes to a lot of things that come after MoI, fair warning.

the human first empire is still a very loosely understood thing at this point in the series, but i can assure you that otataral, the (further) shattering of a fragment of emurlahn, and the soletaken ritual, were all things that the first empire was involved in. the creation of otataral could have been the result of the ritual, which could easily have been done with a fragment of shattered emurlahn, as it seems that whoever rules over a fragment, can shape it as they wish. and in this instance, dessimbelackis was shaping it and he and kallor were the founding members of the club of baddasses. these premises will make sense if you RAFO.

here's a great RAFO quote about kurald emurlahn. "Such distinctions are meaningless. the sundering continues to this day."
Brian R
74. Mayhem
@Aba 70
Fener was weakened in two ways. Once was by the loss of many of his worshippers, partly as a result of the changing beliefs of the Malazans - he is a martial god, so his primary worship is on the altar of War. Make the soldiers worship something else, and you reduce his power.
The second and more important weakening was his betrayal by his own priesthood - they sought secular power rather than his own goals. Heboric is the prime example of this, he was "a candidate for Destriant who suffered the singular punishment of Fener's Reve" but wasn't guilty of the accusations (more details of betrayal are RAFO, especially later in Capustan).

Heboric's hands in DG were the final straw in the chain of events that lead to the fall of the God. Note, he is still an extremely powerful being, just one no longer able to take an active part in events as he is now manifest on the mortal plane, a state that greatly limits his God abilities (like answering prayers) and makes him distinctly vulnerable.
Brian R
75. Mayhem
@aba 68.
Kilava Onass is the last living Imass Bonecaster from the elder days, she is Soletaken, but I suspect that the Bonecasters are .. different .. to the soletaken we are familiar with from the Path of Hands as they seem to have much more control over things, and are less susceptible to madness. I don't think she's immortal as such, I suspect she kind of sidesteps the issue. She is, however, appallingly powerful. Remember, the Imass were one of the Four Elder races, who evolved into most of the human races, but she is still original Imass stock, untainted by the Ritual.

The Shattering of the Warren almost certainly refers to that of Kurald Emurhlan, but the first blows of that event were done by the Tiste Edur back in pre-history. I suspect what the Soletaken fought over was a very very large fragment that got torn into smaller and smaller shreds scattered across Seven Cities. The ultimate unleashing of power by all those involved created the Otataral Isle, not the shattering of the warren itself, kind of like how we create antimatter today.

There are also at least two known First Empires, the original one of the Imass, and that of Dessimbelackis, which descended from it much later. The Soletaken Ritual came about towards the end of Dessimbelackis's empire, and the T'lan Imass felt themselves responsible for the actions of their descendants so stepped in to sort things out. I suspect one part of the madness induced was what appears to have been a mass change to being soletaken, rather than some kind of selection process. Also, severely damaging a warren can be hazardous to your mind (see Icarium).

The First Heros are a bit of an oddity. They seem to be particularly powerful soletaken who were worshipped by various cults. That act of worship was enough to tip them over into becoming gods, but they themselves don't actually take up their positions unless (1) they transcend mortality via death or another route and (2) they are still actively being worshipped at the time that (1) happens. This seems to be why Treach/Trake ascends to God, but Messremb doesn't. Better examples fall under RAFO.
76. Abalieno

the creation of otataral could have been the result of the ritual, which could easily have been done with a fragment of shattered emurlahn

Yes, but beside the plausibility of it there's the fact that the Otaratal is over *there* and the ritual was over *here*. The stone city found by Heboric is this side of the sea and on the Seven Cities continent. They found no Otataral here.

I actually thought that whatever created Otataral in that other place had something to do with the Jade statue, maybe as a mean to draw or block power from it.

So, at least geographically these are separate events.


Once was by the loss of many of his worshippers, partly as a result of the changing beliefs of the Malazans - he is a martial god, so his primary worship is on the altar of War. Make the soldiers worship something else, and you reduce his power.

Then in this case there should be the hand of Kellanved. Maybe there's some hidden story about this switch of cult.

Most of @75 brings in stuff not directly mentioned here, so I'll keep it on the sidelines.

But I'm mostly satisfied. It seems then that stuff like Drift Avalii was indeed created long ago, so it makes sense for me. While whatever the First/Second Empire did was more recent and about smaller fragments.

What about the timeline?

We put the T'lan ritual some 300.000 years ago.
CG fall is 120.000 something.
Burn's sleep is 2.000 or so.

When is this First Empire of humans? If Treach is a mortal son of Kilava then it means he was also born at the time of the ritual. I thought the human race was a relatively recent thing in the timeline but if this is true then they are 300.000 years old. I had a tendency to think humanity arrived more or less at the same time of Burn's sleep.
Steven Halter
77. stevenhalter
@76:The quote from Treach in chapter 7 is:

Gods, we tore a warren to pieces on that distant continent. Turned the eastlands into molten stone that cooled and became something that defied sorcery.
So, the Seven Cities continent works as it is the distant continent to which Treach is referring.
78. amphibian
It's not timeline-mandated that Treach was born at the time of the ritual. Kilava is alive before and after it.

But yes, the Dessimbelactoseintolerant empire came well before Burn slept. It's possible that Kallor's empire rose after it, as well.
karl oswald
79. Toster

yes, the jade statue is also involved, but that is a can of worms that doesn't really need to be opened at this point
80. Abalieno

Yes, but Kilava needs someone else to make babies with... And I vaguely recall from HoC she was pregnant in the days of the ritual?
81. Abalieno
Finished reading the chapter... And have yet to start the new ones that will be over tomorrow :(

There were some cards uncovered here. K'rul speaks directly to Toc anticipates a few possible future developments (You shall cross paths again. meaning Toc and Kilava and also implying not an happy meeting, years in the future). Toc's doubts about the whole thing being maneuvered behind the scenes is also directly confirmed by Lady Envy (I have gathered your own unwitting servants, as you asked).

I've read in the comments an interpretation of K'rul vision as K'rul only creating the paths available to humans, but the scene is not described like that. It's implied that the "imposition of order" happened at the origin when there was only Darkness and Dragons. Warrens and Elder Warrens both belong to K'rul.

The idea I get from this is like a mirror image of what we get with Burn. In both cases we have a metaphorical body that houses a world. And in both cases they are a neutral entity (you are free to do as you choose, as is every other creature who swims my immortal blood). In fact for a moment I thought they were two different manifestations of the same thing. Or K'rul being a projection of Burn while sleeping (but it can't be, since K'rul was around before Burn's sleep).

In any case: weren't the Tiste Andii "alien"? This idea would already break the K'rul/Burn dichotomy. K'rul represents a set that contains Darkness warren. So he comes "before" the Tiste Andii (to use Bakker's language). And so the Tiste Andii can't be "alien" to his dimension.

Yet isn't K'rul worshiped by Burn's people? And isn't his power dependent on that? Yet Burn can only be "after" K'rul, if we accept that there isn't just one world.

This thing is confusing.

Back to Treach I was also wondering that if Treach was born shortly after the ritual, then he was also mortal at the time. Meaning that the whole deal with the First Empire had to be created and be over in the span of a single life (giving Treach the possibility to achieve immortality through ritual). This makes absolutely no sense though...

Hood is also very explicit about the Fener deal: "your lord has been drawn, with great reluctance, to the very edge of his realm". This isn't about waning power, nor is as definite as the scene with Heboric. So I really have no idea what is going on here.

Questions aside, I loved how Tool decided to tell Toc the story of the adjunct. From a side it shows that Tool maintains a certain hope of redemption, similar to how Kilava said that the meeting gave her some "hope", from the other it may resonate with the fact that Toc has been defined (by Tool) heart of memory.
Brian R
82. Mayhem
In any case: weren't the Tiste Andii "alien"? This idea would already
break the K'rul/Burn dichotomy. K'rul represents a set that contains
Darkness warren. So he comes "before" the Tiste Andii (to use Bakker's language). And so the Tiste Andii can't be "alien" to his dimension.

Not exactly. The Tiste races were the creation of MD and FL, both standalone and together. None were created on Wu, in the case of the Andii, they immigrated to Wu from Kurald Galain in four or five separate waves. K'rul is an Elder god of Wu, but exactly what he comes from is never well explained. He seems to be more or less a god of Magic itself, while Burn is a sort of Mother Gaia figure. I don't think either needs worship to survive per se, as elemental forces, they would exist regardless of whether anyone believes in them. Rather I think that without worship, they are no longer embodied, unable to have a conscious influence on the world.

As I understand it, K'rul didn't so much create the warren of Darkness as impose a structure on it which made it accessible from outside. All the elder warrens predate his work, only the newer (human aspected?) ones like Rashan or Thyr were created by him directly.
There is also a difference between the magic of Priests and Mages, or power gifted by the gods, and power drawn directly from a warren. I don't think K'rul can compel priests directly, I think he would have to go through the god.

The First Empire of humans dates back to somewhere between 120,000 & 250,000 years ago, because evidence is found on all the continents, and as Kallor is of Human stock as far as we know, most likely his empire descended from the First Empire, same as the Letherii. It is definitely post T'lan Imass Ritual as that was done to chase the Jaghut while vast glaciers were being thrown around, so we need to allocate time for the ice to settle down and melt and humanity to arise from the scattered Imass survivors.

As for Kilava, she's been alive for more than 300,000 years, plenty of time to have a whole range of offspring. As pure Imass, she can interbreed with pretty much any of the named races as far as I know, certainly the TTT, Tiste, and Jaghut races are all mentioned as being capable of interbreeding and the Barghast and Humans are descended from Imass so no issues there.
83. Jordanes

You do indeed remember correctly that Kilava was described as having recently given birth in the MoI prologue, but the offspring on that particular instance was not Treach. But we will meet that child of Kilava, though not for a few books yet...
84. Alt146
Busy catching up on the reread and this post is pretty old, but I figure maybe some future rereader will stumble upon it.

In conjunction with @77, the Ottotoral Island is to the east of Seven Cities, and therefore of the city that Heboric and co find. It would make sense that burning up a warren would probably be done a fair way away and that the island would have been part of the First (Human) Empire. The 'distant continent' is therefore seven cities, the warren they used was part of the one shattered by Icarium and the ottotoral they create is now being mined by the Malazans.
Alex P. W.
87. Alex_W
Holy S..., I must admit those two chapters made me all enthusiastic again about what's to come yet. Huge things going on. Hints and hints and hints of what happened in the past, paralell things happening and great foreshadowing of future things to come. A lot of questions to be answered. And great action scenes as well as powerful word exchanges between powerful beeings. Yes indeed, I'm with Steven Erikson again :-)

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