Wed
May 4 2011 2:33pm
Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Memories of Ice, Chapters 11, 12 and 13

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 Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapters 11, 12 and 13 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!

Chapter Eleven

SCENE 1

Picker and Antsy’s squad is bored and nervous and acting out among themselves. Picker is worried about Quick Ben being late, Paran being green, Whiskeyjack not around, and the lingering effects of what they consider betrayal at Pale. Blend tells her Dujek isn’t really outlawed and that WJ and Quick Ben probably are in on it. She points out Aranthos’ arrival coming right after the alleged outlawing and suspects he’s a high-ranking claw. Mallet has akin to a very bad sunburn due to the Crippled God’s poison in the warrens.

SCENE 2

Quick Ben emerges from Hood’s warren after some difficulty. He suspects the Pannion Domin is a “feint” by the CG, that perhaps the Pannion Seer doesn’t even know he’s being used, is just a pawn.

SCENE 3

Paran’s group is at the clan gathering of the White Face Barghast. Twist explains the Barghast hostility toward the Moranth is ancient and based on “false” memories. Trotts is making a claim to leadership and is going to face one of Humbrall Taur’s sons in one-on-one challenge. Paran thinks of Twist’s withered arm, ruined by a Rhivi spirit so that it will slowly kill him unless he gets “god’s healing touch.” Twist mentions Paran doesn’t appear well, but Paran dismisses it, then says he needs Twist to do something for him.

SCENE 4

Paran looks at the crowd of Barghast before the challenge, noting Taur’s main rival Maral Eb of the Barahn Clan and the strangely armored Gilk. Corporal Aimless tells Paran some soldiers have some munitions ready in case things go bad and when Paran tells him to “stow it,” Aimless says they may just ignore Paran’s orders. Paran sends him back to the men telling them it’s a stupid idea. Trotts fights using Malazan tactics and weapons and wins, killing Taur’s son, but has his windpipe crushed. A healer, Mulch, performs a trach on Trotts and saves his life for at least a while. Paran has to tell a group of soldiers to stand down (they do) then converses with Humbrall Taur, who tells him he’s not sure what he’s decided yet (the fact that Trotts may still die doesn’t help). Twist arrives with Mallet (the favor Paran had asked earlier).

SCENE 5

Quick Ben is slowly recovering from the effects of Hood’s warren, thanks in part to the presence of the Barghast spirits which resist the Crippled God’s poison. The squad wonders what they’ll find when they arrive, having no news since Twist picked up Mallet. Quick Ben is suddenly pulled into the ground by hands and when Picker tries to grab him he tells her to let him go. Spindle says it was Barghast spirits. Picker decides to wait to see if Quick will re-emerge.

SCENE 6

Quick Ben finds himself in a long-forgotten Barghast warren. The spirits are ancient, a mix of Imass and Toblakai before they became modern Barghast. Talamandas appears and tells Quick Ben Trotts won the challenge but may still die, which means Taur will probably kill the Malazans to get rid of the distraction while he has to deal with probably civil war among the Barghast. He points to the spirits and says while the soldiers are here, the warchiefs, the Founding Spirits are not, though they’ve been found by Hetan in Capustan. Talamandas tried to tell Taur but was driven away by the shouldermen, as they do with all ancient spirits, preferring the weaker, younger spirits who offer “comfort” rather than wisdom. Taur, he says, knows this is a problem, that the young spirits are too weak to resist the Pannion Domin and so the Barghast will be killed or enslaved. Talamandas asks Quick Ben to tell him the Founding Spirits have been found. Quick Ben asks that the spirits help Trotts survive by channeling his power through Mallet.

SCENE 7

Mallet tells Paran he might not be much help due to his warren issues, but he’s willing to try though it will likely kill him. He goes to Trotts and opens his warren, giving up his own life force even as it begins to fade on him, but then he’s pulled by hands (the Barghast spirits) who tell him to “take from us . . . take our power.” And as they say, it is a “costly” path, for Mallet walks on a “carpet of corpses—his path through the poisoned horror of his warren.” He heals Trotts.

SCENE 8

Paran is chewing himself up over ordering Mallet to his probable death: “who are you to balance lives? To gauge worth . . . this is a nightmare. I’m done with it.” Mulch tells him both Trotts and Mallet will live.

SCENE 9

Mulch and Aimless watch Paran straighten himself and head for Taur’s tent and think he’s “cold as a Jaghut winter” and that he “might make it after all.” They spot Picker’s squad on the ridge.

SCENE 10

Paran tells Taur Trotts lives and is making his leadership claim. When Taur replies he “has no tribe,” Paran disagrees and says it’s the 38 Bridgeburners, a point Trotts made when he fought Malazan style. Taur says he understood that and warns that Trotts has never commanded, so Paran will need to watch him. Despite Trotts’ claim, Taur says the Barghast will not march on Capustan, the city that has taken so many Barghast youth: “Each year we lose more . . . their traders come among us with nothing of value . . . and would strip my people naked if they could.” Taur continues by explaining though he knows the Pannion will march on the Barghast, Taur can only hold eight of twenty-seven tribes. He adds the Bridgeburners are still in danger because some of the tribes are claiming they “cheated” basically by using necromancy to bring Trotts back to life and also because of general distrust due to the Malazans’ conquering ways and alliance with the hated Moranth. Paran leaves and Picker tells him Quick Ben hasn’t woken up since he returned from the Barghast warren. Paran tells them to get Mallet and goes to see Quick Ben. Mallet wakes Quick by slapping him. Paran fills Quick Ben in on everything and Quick says he can do something about Taur’s not caring about Capustan.

SCENE 11

Blend and Picker watch the night’s craziness in the camp: sex and fights (some to the death). Picker’s torcs are getting hot, something it appears they’ve done before as she mentions regular dousings in a water barrel. Blend says the night feels strange and reminds her of when they’d stumbled into a “Rhivi Burn Ground” in the Blackdog Forest (or swamp?) and were saved by a wing of Black Moranth. Blend says spirits are loose tonight, ancestor spirits, not the “big ones” which makes her wonder where they are. Blend heads off and Spindle shows up saying it’s a bad night and that Paran and the others (Quick etc.) haven’t come out of Taur’s tent. Picker tells him to go off and have some fun and he says his Mother would be offended. When Picker says his mother is dead, Spindle appears to get whacked on the head by an invisible hand and Picker wonders if all the ancestors are out tonight, leading her to think to herself if “Da” shows up she’ll slit his throat like she did the first time.

SCENE 12

Paran steps from Taur’s tent thinking “the real battle is done” now that the Barghast spirits are awake. Quick Ben asks if Paran can feel the Elder Spirits and says the “Old Ones have joined with their younger spirit kin. The forgotten warren is forgotten no more,” adding this means the tribes will unite to free the gods in Capustan. Paran asks if Quick Ben knew the Moranth and Barghast were related and Quick says “more or less”, noting it doesn’t matter if the Barghast disapprove as the spirits have embraced Twist and the Moranth. When Quick mentions Paran will have to teach Trotts command/responsibility, Paran think he can’t do it himself: “I need only look into Whiskeyjack’s face to understand that no one can—no one who has a heart . . . We learn to achieve but one thing . . . to hide our thoughts . . . to bury our humanity deep in our souls.”

 

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Eleven:

Contributing to that illusion of flexibility was the sheer resiliency of the Malazan military structure, and a foundation bolstered by profound knowledge, and insightful analysis, of disparate and numerous styles of warfare.

Here is a simply wonderful description of the Malazan soldiers, which helps to shed light on what makes them so awesome.

*grins* The Bridgeburners are properly ace, aren’t they? That simply cannot be said enough. Spindle particularly makes me laugh, “Got a mage wearing his dead mother’s hair and every time he opens his warren we get attacked by snarling ground squirrels.”

Got a massive sense of foreshadowing concerning Picker’s torcs and the fact that Trake has ascended to godhood... Erikson specifically mentions that the torcs are bothering Picker, which means I am Paying Attention!

This passage is just a bundle of quotable lines, snarky dialogue and bored soldiers needling each other. I simply love it. Like, “Look, you got Detoran all blushing in between punching Hedge senseless.” Have to say, here I’m reminded of the way Mal and Zoe talk in Firefly. Funny how many parts of Erikson’s work can be compared to Firefly. *winks*

I also love the fact that casual violence and injury is so clearly dismissed—they don’t care much that Hedge has been knocked out cold. When I think about it, I’m not sure why casual violence should be so appealing, in all honesty, but here it seems almost harmless: the rough and tumble of children rather than anything malicious. Compared to the truly horrendous violence and nastiness we’ve seen elsewhere, it definitely seems harmless....

Dash it all, here comes another of my “let’s read way too much into this moments.” Here it is where Picker says, “Rubbed Detoran’s fur the wrong way.” Makes me think about literal fur, and then Soletaken/D’ivers stuff. Guess I’m waaaay wrong on that one, huh? [Bill: Yep.]

Beneath the laughter generated by the antics of the Bridgeburners, Picker’s internal thoughts definitely make the reader pause and consider what is happening here: “Squad’s not gelling too good. Antsy ain’t no Whiskeyjack, Spindle ain’t Quick Ben, and I ain’t no Corporal Kalam neither. If there was a best of the best among the Bridgeburners, it was the Ninth.” Here is both a reminder that squads have been forced together, and that the people Picker dwells on are particularly special individuals.

And now quick grief for the Bridgeburners—betrayed by their own:

“It broke us,” Blend said.

Since it has been mentioned, it does make me wonder about the current effectiveness of the Bridgeburners. What are they going to experience when they next head into battle? I have a real sense of foreboding right now. Haven’t the Bridgeburners suffered enough? [Bill: Oh my, no.]

Here is a quick poke at the idea of power—is it honestly just warren magic that makes Quick Ben the person he is? He appears to think so, but I reckon his reputation precedes him by now.

The last half-day had been spent in a desperate, seemingly endless struggle to extricate himself from Hood’s realm, yet he knew it to be the least poisoned among all the warrens he commonly used. The others would have killed him. The realization left him feeling bereft—a mage stripped of his power, his vast command of his own discipline made meaningless, impotent.

I also have two thoughts based on this quotation—firstly, it seems as though the poison is from the Crippled God is spreading faster than anyone believed. Now...is this because he is growing in strength because of taking on a Herald and starting to build his House? Is it because the Pannion Seer is disrupting everything? [Bill: The two are not disconnected.] Are his chains becoming weaker? The other thought that occurs is concerning Quick Ben—he says the warrens he most commonly uses are stained and poisoned. Is the Crippled God targeting him directly? Does the Crippled God know more about Quick Ben than others do? Are all the warrens as bad, or are they going to end up relying on those warrens that have not been impacted by The Crippled God? I can think of the Barghast and the T’lan Imass as two such sources of magic... Any more?

Erikson certainly seems to be trying to persuade us that the Barghast are animalistic and barbaric, what with the rituals, the bloodletting and the rampant sexual attention. To me, they feel very much like prehistoric men and women seemed to be, as though they haven’t developed as they might have. Is this due to the fact their gods have not been present and leading them for eons?

Hmm, despite the fact that Taur’s son is an esteemed fighter, is it not an insult to Trotts that an untried boy—not yet a man—is being put up against him for the duel? Is this a reflection of how Taur and his followers perceive Trotts?

“And to that time... unless that time is now, and the throne remains, waiting... waiting for a new occupant. Did it seem that way for the Emperor? When he found himself before the Throne of Shadow? Power, domination over the dread Hounds, all but a single step away?”

A little unclear on Paran’s thoughts concerning the vacant throne in the Hold of the Beasts—is he pondering whether it is for him to take the step? Or is he wondering who will sit the throne?

It is interesting to have a quick look at the individual clans that make up the White Face nation. Since this is as much information as Erikson ever gives us straight out like this, I’m assuming it will be key to a later scene or scenes. [Bill: Some of them much, much later.] So I shall remember the Ahkrata, particular enemies of the Moranth from their armour, who are also avowed enemies of the Ilgres who now fight for Brood; the Barahn Clan and Taur’s closest rival Maral Eb; and the strange Gilk.

I am also struck by Humbrall Taur—this Barghast who has managed to bring together all the Clans and tribes, with promises of returning the bones of their Founding Families. How long can the uneasy alliance last? And what will happen if Taur ever falls?

Everything pricks at me and urges me to call it out—like the horde of ancient, unknown money that the Senan garb themselves in.

And those cool little moments that break the tension still make me laugh! This time the witless dog who disturbs all Taur’s build-up.

I really love the fact that Trotts comes out for his duel in the armour of a Malazan soldier—it shows his true loyalty, in my opinion.

Ouch! Surely not the time to tell Paran that the Bridgeburners are not entirely behind him. But the manner in which he is told also sends me into fits—that might just be my odd sense of humour though, “Yes, sir. It’s just that, uh, some—nine, maybe ten—well, they’re muttering about maybe doing whatever they please and to Hood with you... sir.” It’s that “sir” that gets me!

You know something? Paran takes his responsibilities seriously, he wanted to be Captain of the Bridgeburners, he enjoys being a soldier (I think!), so it seems dramatically out of character for him not to get to know the ins and outs of the people under his command (like not knowing that Aimless is so hard ass). Perhaps a sign that he is incredibly shaken by the new role that he refuses to take.

I do like Paran’s analysis of the battle between Trotts and Taur’s son—it adds greater depth and understanding rather than just Erikson’s energetic descriptions. It also allows Erikson to highlight the difference between soldiers of the Malazan Empire and the hordes of barbarian soldiers they fight.

Ack, what a stomach-turning end to the battle as well! Not just intestines tumbling free, but a gush of fluids. *chokes*

The quick tracheotomy performed by Mulch is of interest to me, because it shows that magic is not wholly relied upon (especially now that the warrens are infested), and also that “science” is working its way into the Malazan world.

Ahh, here is the Paran we know and love—his quick thinking to send for Mallet, who will be able to save Trotts.

I’m not keen on the fact that Quick Ben is again dragged into the ground by unknown hands—this repetition could be considered a build of style, but I am just frustrated by it.

Ack, typos in books make me squirm:

“He reached for her, a look a dumb amazement on his face... (sic).”

I’m using the Bantam mass market paperback, issued in the U.K. *grins*

Alright, Antsy might be growing on me. I definitely giggled at the idea of him panicking about having taken the head off Quick Ben with a shovel!

Ugh, the Barghast warren isn’t exactly a pleasant place—I wonder if it will liven up any and improve as it swings into use again? Who harried the Barghast on their trip across the ocean—the Tiste Edur?

Talamandas showcases part of the relationship between a people and their gods—the idea that a people would come to prefer youth and comfort versus age and wisdom.

*weeps* Mallet’s quiet acceptance of whatever fate awaits him makes me truly echo Paran here, “Who—what are these soldiers?”

This scene with the healing of Trotts by Mallet is exceptionally well done—the pain of the poisoned warren of Denul, the horror that Mallet feels as his soul is seemingly being rent in two, the undead offering their power to show Mallet the way back and to heal both he and Trotts. This is one of those scenes that you can easily imagine in a film.

Poor Paran... He finds the knowledge hard that he sent Mallet to possible death, and yet is the new Master of the Deck, which I sense will entail so much worse...

“No more, Paran, you cannot steel yourself to this life, to these choices. Who are you to balance lives? To gauge worth, to measure flesh by the pound? No, this was a nightmare. I’m done with it.”

It probably isn’t done with him, though! And, ironically, it appears that Paran’s cold allowance of Mallet to heal Trotts has started to win the respect of his men and women.

Ah, I didn’t recognise the importance of the fact that Trotts chose to fight as a Malazan, and is therefore now the commander, by dint of his win, of the Bridgeburners... Have I read that right? And Taur asks Paran to keep an eye on Trott, because he isn’t a leader?

Hahaha! After the deep talk about Quick Ben and his survival from the Barghast warren, it is rather funny to see Mallet slap him away! And then Quick Ben’s overwhelming arrogance as Paran asks, “What do you know about it?” and Quick Ben replies, “Only everything.” Surely this should be Quick Ben’s tagline?

Febrile = fevered. Nice to see Erikson using this in the correct manner and context. I have read another author who didn’t understand the word and used it incorrectly!

Ah! I delight in Picker! She is one of my new favourite characters. *grins* Especially when she tells Spindle to go and have some fun, because he won’t be around in nine months! I am concerned about those damned torcs though....

But what a melancholy note to end the chapter on—Paran’s feeling that he has to bury his humanity deep in his soul in order to take command.

 

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Eleven:

The opening scene does a nice job of multi-tasking. It offers us some comic relief (“attacked by snarling ground squirrels” is one of my favorite lines as well, Amanda), a sense of pressure, a quick reminder or intro thumbnail cast list, as well as further reminder of past plot points (Treach’s torcs, the Enfilade of Pale, the fake “outlawing,” the warren’s poisoning by the Crippled God), and showing the pressure the company is feeling. Very concisely efficient.

We see more evidence of Quick Ben’s perception as he suspects the Pannion Seer is merely a pawn, something we’ve had earlier evidence of as well, which is why your questions about the two—the CG and the Seer—are not disconnected Amanda

Paran’s broad view of the Barghast clans sets the crowd scene, but it also introduces us, as you guess due to its level of detail, to some folk/groups/concepts that will be important down the line. And I do mean “down the line.” Talk about some early bricklaying.

Note the tight narrative line drawn between Trott’s claim to lineage of the “First Founders” and Hetan’s actions back in Capustan as well as Kruppe’s delivery to the Mhybe of the First Spirits’ gift.

I also like how Trott’s employs the Malazan tactics, and how it also ties into the opening to this chapter. And the larger point it makes about how Trott’s has been integrated fully into the Malazan Empire, not a bad point of ambassadorship. Not simply showing where his loyalty lies, as you say, but that it doesn’t matter that his loyalty once lay elsewhere, something we’ve seen before, the most prominent perhaps being Coltaine. The military has had (and may still have in the future) its problems with nobles buying in, but it’s also a meritocracy, that doesn’t just reward its recruits from other cultures, but is rewarded by them as well.

I was a fan too of how the trach shows that the healers are flexible, not taking the lazy way out of relying purely on magic but instead employing “low-tech” healing as well. And sharing knowledge as well rather than hoarding it. Another strength of the Malazan Empire.

I enjoyed how running under the obvious excitement of this section, with its fight scene and tense “is it all going to blow up” moments, is the secondary plot line of Paran cementing his place among his soldiers, gaining their respect for instance by as you point out Amanda, how shrewd a move it was to have Twist go find Mallet and bring him as quick as possible.

Yes, it does seem a running issue with Quick Ben and getting dragged under. First we had him pulled under by the servants of Burn to save him (and themselves/Burn) from the Crippled God, and now the Barghast spirits pull him down and into their warren. Spirits we’d been set up for at the start of the scene when Quick Ben told Picker the “Barghast spirits are thick here and getting thicker.” I’d also note, in a sort of slanted way, we get the same imagery when Quick Ben “claws himself” free of Hood’s warren. I can’t say the repetition bothered me much—anybody have the same reaction as Amanda?

While we’re on patterns, Quick Ben quickly places himself in a “long-dead warren, decayed by the loss of human memory. The living Barghast know nothing of this place, yet it is where their dead go—assuming they make it this far.” We’ve had several references in this book to dying/faded/forgotten warrens and spirit places, as well as discussion on where the dead go and what, if anything, awaits them there. Just in the prior scene even, Picker is somewhat depressed by the idea of what awaits the soldiers in Hood’s realm based on what little Quick Ben has to say and how he appears having just come from there (not, by the way, an idle thought on Picker’s part). And we learn from Talamandas that because this place (Talamandas names it the “First Landing”: more “firsts” and founding going on) is forgotten, the Barghast dead go “nowhere and everywhere,” a fact that probably wouldn’t please them so much.

Mallet is another great character and here we see a sign of that as he takes it as a matter of course that an attempt to heal Trotts will most likely kill him. Such grace under pressure impresses even the Master of the Deck: “Look at the bastard. Not a falter in his step. Not a blink at his fate. Who—what are these soldiers?” To use an earlier line from the series, the soldier “stands.” We’ll see this time and time again, book after book, and it will never fail to move me. As does the sacrifice of the Barghast spirits.

Paran in this scene appears to me to be just the kind of leader you want—one who isn’t enamored of power, especially power of life and death. It’s the old line about politicians—the ones you want are the ones who never think of running.

One of the small but recurring themes in this series that adds to its depth and seriousness is the idea of what happens to native peoples. It’s impossible not to hear Taur bemoan the way the “big city” (Capustan) pulls at his people, enticing the young to that way of life and thus wreaking havoc on the Barghast without the obviousness of actual warfare, and not think of how this has played out repeatedly in our own world. We’ll see this on another continent as well later in the series.

I love how Mallet uses his subtle magery by just slapping Quick Ben awake. More “low-tech” effectiveness.

Picker and Blend’s conversation reminds us that as huge as this series is, we’re being dropped into the middle of these people’s lives. They’ve already fought exciting battles, had suspenseful tough-and-go near-death experiences, grieved over dead friends we’ve never met. This is a book to us, a mere chapter to them. More reason this world can feel so rich and these characters so real; we don’t get the sense they sprang like Athena from the head of Zeus fully formed simply to act their parts on the stage of some author’s story. And Picker’s personal memory of killing her father, which takes the reader even further back in time, reminds us that they have stories beyond the “book-worthy” soldiering as well.

Chapter Twelve

SCENE 1

Three weeks after he left Envy’s group and joined the Tenescowri, Toc reaches a mountain fort—Outlook—with the Tenescowri army. He has gotten the attention of the army’s leader, Anaster, and rides with his lieutenants at the army’s head. The army awaits the appearance of the Pannion Seer, who will bless them from a tower’s balcony at dawn. Toc thinks how the Seer must be feeling fear with the destruction Envy’s group is causing as they come closer. Toc is slowly starving to death as he refuses to turn cannibal. He wonders what drew Anaster’s attention and worries he suspects.

SCENE 2

Anaster refuses his touch to all save his mother, whom Toc fears most of all, seeing something “demonic” in her eyes. Having seen them kill and then get the seed of the freshly dead, Toc thinks there is “some poison within the Seer and whatever god spoke through him. A poison that seemed born of familial memories...a child betrayed perhaps. A child led by the hand into terror and pain..." News arrives to Anaster that the siege is nearly complete around Capustan and the Tenescowri may arrive too late to “partake.” The Seer, though, has “gifted” them with the citizens of Coral, across the Ortnal Cut (a body of water). Anaster also says the Seer has demanded to see Toc, whom they call “The Defier”), noting as well that Toc’s eye has changed to a “wolf’s eye that so gleams in the dark.” Toc thinks he is going to his death and is relieved.

SCENE 3

On his way, Toc thinks of rumors he’s heard of Envy’s progress. Three pitched battles involving legions as well as Domin sorcerers haven’t stopped her group and resulted in thousands dead. He thinks he never would have survived.

SCENE 4

Toc meets the Seer. He sees “a corpse, yet a creature dwelt within the husk, animating it . . . Tow beings, the living hiding behind the dead.” The Seer, meanwhile, tells Toc he has “a wolf’s eye in truth . . . More than a wolf’s eye that you see so clearly what no one else has.” The Seer questions how he, a Malazan, got separated from the northern army then asks if Envy’s group are friends of his. The Seer says he has heard Toc does not eat and he offers up meat to him as a test. Toc eats and the Seer tells him it is not human flesh, but venison, something Toc knew due to his wolf’s sense of smell. The Seer heals Toc and tells him that since mortal armies can’t defeat Envy’s group, he will “dismiss the enemy with my own hand.” Toc watches power build around the Seer, and notes it is cold and smells of ice.

SCENE 5

Toc sees through Baaljaag’s eye. Tool is badly damaged. The ay feels the cold sorcery and it raises memories. Envy and Tool recognize the sorcery as well, and consider it “an imaginable alliance” between Jaghut and K’chain Che’Malle. Neither Tool nor Envy can defeat the sorcery. Sleet begins to fall.

SCENE 6

Toc is back inside the tower. He sees the Jaghut inside the Seer’s body more clearly, and from it “grey roots roped down from the body’s legs, chaotic power, plunging down . . . twisting with something like pain or ecstasy.” Toc realizes the Jaghut is drawing on “another sorcery, something older, far more deadly than Omtose Phellack.” The Seer has sensed Toc’s linkage with Baaljagg and says, “the one within you readies for its rebirth . . . alas, the Beast Throne is vacant, neither you nor that beast god can match my strength.” He begins to scream, calling Toc a liar, and in that moment Toc sees him as a child. The Seer breaks his bones with sorcery than throws him someplace dark, where Toc is grabbed “in the yearning hug of giant, reptilian arms.” The Seer’s sorcery allows Toc’s bones to break and his body to tear but then it heals him so it can all happen again. The Seer speaks in Toc’s mind, telling him “You are worthy to take my place in that sweet motherly hug. Oh, she is mad . . . yet the sparks of need reside within her . . . beware or it will devour you as it did me—until I grew so foul she spat me back out. Need, when it overwhelms, becomes poison, Toc the Younger. The great corrupter of love, and so it shall corrupt you.”

 

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Twelve:

The Pannion is a woman, right? [Bill: Hmmm, what leads you toward a woman? I’m curious if I missed something or if we interpreted things differently.] We’ve had a couple of hints as much up until now, and the extract at the start of Chapter Twelve seems to cement that idea... Curled around what grief? Which women do we know so far in the series who have suffered grief? Hmm, better by far to say which ones haven’t and rule them out....

Condors straight away lend a feeling of foreboding to the start of the chapter—huge raptors watching over the Tenescowri, probably in the hopes of easy prey!

Oh Toc... *feels pain* The description of his passage so far, his cynical observations on the fact that the Seer has now experienced fear, his clear starvation because he refuses to feast on the bodies of those that have been killed. It presents a stark and horrifying picture. Toc seems to be losing his humanity [Bill: A running theme, think of what you just said about Paran.] in the seething horde of Tenescowri.

I almost can’t bear reading this section of the novel—it actually sickens me. Especially the idea of those women once being normal human beings, residing in villages and looking after their families. I think this quote is of particular importance, “There was a poison within the Pannion Seer and whatever god spoke through him. A poison that seemed born of familial memories. Memories powerful enough to dismember those most ancient of bonds. A child betrayed, perhaps.”

Oh my word. Lady Envy is kicking ass and taking names, isn’t she? “Three engagements, three broken armies, thousands dead, the rest attempting to flee but always caught by Lady Envy’s relentless wrath.”

Poor, poor Toc—practically dying on his feet as he approaches the Pannion Seer. And those scenes of torture chambers! Just too much. Erikson really is laying on the darkness in this chapter....

What is this Seer? A dead body animated by a living soul? Soul of whom? Is the Crippled God within the Pannion Seer? Or is it some other god? I’m noting once again that Toc’s new eye really allows him to see to the heart of everything that is mysterious and shrouded. [Bill: But is it Toc’s eye?]

Oooh! OOH! “Cold, that sorcery. The smell of ice on the wind—here are memories, ancient memories—whose?” Mention again that the Pannion Seer is connected in some manner to the Jaghut! And this is then reinforced by Toc’s sight of Tool and Lady Envy talking. Which Jaghut is it? Someone we have already met?

Dear god. *draws a breath* What the hell is going on at the end of this chapter? Who is the reptilian captor? I think that the Jaghut has somehow linked up with the Matron who escaped, and that is why the K’Chain Che’Malle are willing to fight for the Pannion Seer—the unprecedented alliance. Right, people? Or wrong? And POOR TOC! He is not having a good day AT ALL.

 

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Twelve:

Outpost being described as the color of “water-thinned blood” is probably not the greatest omen for what’s going to happen in this chapter. The same goes as you say for the Condors wheeling around.

I go back and forth on Toc’s recognition of “the metaphor made real . . . there is no obfuscating the brutal truth. Our rulers devour us. They always have.” On the one hand, I tend to prefer those sort of things not be laid out so bluntly; let the reader figure out the metaphor. On the other hand, this is such a blunt metaphor in its own right, I’m not sure it’s stealing much from the reader to have Toc state it. And it tells us something about Toc. As well as reminding us of all those other soldiers we’ve momentarily left behind, making us wonder how many of them will be devoured, and for what cause, whose will.

We’ve been set up for some time for a change coming to Toc. Here we have Toc himself commenting on it:

“he had been reshaped, twisted almost beyond recognition into something new . . . had left him cold, hardened, and feral.”

I like the wildness nature of this, as he’s obviously for some time now been linked to the wolf. I like too the precision of “feral” versus “wild” as Toc is going from civilized/domesticated to wild, so feral is more accurate than wild. I also like how this is in fact going to be what happens to Toc—he will be “torn,” “twisted,” and “reshaped.” And it is not going to be pretty. Remember how K’rul warned him (and therefore us) of this earlier.

We of course have had lots of clues that the Pannion Seer is a Jaghut. As you try and figure it out Amanda, think of how we get some more precise clues when Toc thinks of the power as “a child betrayed perhaps. A child led by the hand into terror and pain” and then sees the Jaghut inside the Seer later as a “child.” Consider where we’ve seen a Jaghut child in this book, one “led by the hand” and “betrayed”, one who was going to experience “terror and pain.”

Coral—that city is going to be a major setting of events in this series

A few chapters ago there was some discussion about the plausibility of Envy’s group taking on the armies of the Seer (with readers running the spectrum on the plausibility), as well as various other similar scenes. Here Erikson at least makes a nod to trying to show how this is being done. Beginning with Envy’s Elder magic that “rolled in broad waves, stripping the life from all it swept over, devouring rank upon rank, street by street, leaving bodies piled in the hundreds.” With that sort of magical support, one can see how her group presses on. Erikson is also wise to mention that a legion did once get somewhat close to Envy, and that Tool has been badly damaged and the others wounded, so it isn’t as if they’re just strolling through invincible.

Just want to point out the phrasing as Toc climbs: “the ascent of his entire life.”

A bit of foreshadowing as well from the Seer, when he tells Toc of the Beast God within him, and mentions the empty Beast Throne. File both those comments away.

Chapter Thirteen

SCENE 1

The Mhybe is sitting in a wagon and thinking on the march, noting the Malazans “follow one man, and ask nothing of justification, or cause.” She wonders if they’ll follow Brood, “into the Abyss” then notes the Andii will certainly follow Rake into it, as will the Malazans behind Whiskeyjack and Dujek. Whiskyjack speaks with her and tells her they need her counsel, that she should tell him her nightmares. She tells him her enemy is death. When he starts to tell her he and she are too old to fear death, she interrupts and says she isn’t talking about Hood but what hides behind him: “not oblivion . . . a place crowded with fragmented memories—memories of pain, of despair . . . Love drifts like ashes . . . Even identity is gone . . . all that is left of you is doomed to an eternity of pain and terror—a succession of fragments from everyone—every thing that has ever lived . . . It is the true Abyss.” Whiskeyjack tells her perhaps it is her own imagination, that she is punishing herself “for what you perceive as your life’s failure.” It strikes her a bit home.

SCENE 2

Whiskeyjack rides to join Dujek, Korlat, and Kruppe. He tells them the Mhybe is no better and has imagined a death that terrifies her. Korlat says Silverfox feels abandoned and bitter and is withdrawing. Whiskeyjack is feeling worn: his leg hurts, they haven’t heard from Paran and the Bridgeburners, they don’t know what is happening at Capustan, the warrens are impassable, Crone and the ravens are missing, the Trygalle Trade Guild is late with a shipment. Kruppe says the Guild will come through, no matter the cost. Whiskeyjack asks where Silverfox is, snaps at Korlat, then apologizes before heading to find Silverfox.

SCENE 3

Whiskeyjack rides back to the rearguard where Silverfox is. Two marines are shadowing her, telling Whiskeyjack they’re doing so because she is Tattersail—“our cadre mage—and they guard her back as it’s a “fair exchange.” After they list all the ways they can kill/wound (including their teeth), Whiskeyjack surmises they grew up with brothers and shows them the scar from his little sister’s bite, “the first fight I ever lost.” When he joins Silverfox, who has overheard it all, she tells him “they’ll die for you now,” commenting on the way he binds his soldiers when he’s “being human.” She notes the similarity between them, both having ten thousand souls in their hands, and how that kind of pressure can “harden us a little more deep down.” When she says it makes “what was soft smaller, a little weaker,” Whiskeyjack says not weaker but “more concentrated, more selective” and that she feels it at all is a good sign it still exists. They’re interrupted by the appearance of the Trade Guild delivery, bringing a river of blood with them. Silverfox recognizes the blood as Krul’s, though she doesn’t name him, but says the blood belongs to “An Elder God’s. A friend’s.” The Trade Merchant, Haradas, says twenty or so demons tried to hitch a ride to get out of a “nightmare.”

SCENE 4

Kallor scorns the “fools [who] prattle on and on in the command tent” worried about the tainted warrens, thinking “order ever succumbs to chaos . . . The world will do better without mages.” He sits on an ironwood throne breathing in an alchemical candle, a “Century Candle” that keeps him alive, gives him another hundred years. He says to himself that no matter how long a stretch of time goes by where he does nothing, he must wait those moments when he must act decisively, explosively, and compares himself to a predator in his waiting stillness. He recalls the eight wizards that called down the Crippled God in opposition to Kallor, the three gods that opposed him and how he destroyed his own empire, leaving it ashes rather than give them satisfaction, for that “is the privilege of the creator—to give then to take away.” He knows K’rul is now in opposition again, but revels that K’rul has found another enemy (the CG) and it is killing him as Kallor predicted/cursed, just as his curse came true with Nightchill, though she tries to recover from it via Silverfox (something Kallor aims to prevent). His memories are interrupted by the appearance of Gethol, whom Kallor recognizes. Gethol tells Kallor he is now Herald in the House of Chains. Kallor mocks the idea, saying the new House will be obliterated, to which Gethol replies that the House is not only fighting but is winning. Kallor says the strategy makes no sense, poisoning the warrens, destroying the very power the Chained God needs. But Gethol says it isn’t really a poisoning but an “infection,” an attempt to cause an “alteration” so that while impassable to the CG’s enemies, his servants will be able to use them. He then offers Kallor the position of High King in the House. When Kallor says he will not bow to the CG, Gethol says the CG is trapped in his long-dead warren where he is chained, and so cannot influence the House of Chains directly, and so Kallor as King would have complete freedom. As Kallor considers it, Gethol says the CG wants to know where Rake and Moon’s Spawn have gone and Kallor says he requires a “moment of vulnerability” for Silverfox in exchange. Gethol says he’ll convey the message and departs. Kallor considers his ambush.

 

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Thirteen:

Some nice little statistics of Dujek’s army at the start of Chapter Thirteen, and I love, love, love that last line, “How does one measure such an army? By their deeds; and that which awaited them in the Pannion Domin would make of Onearm’s Host a legend carved in stone.”

Pfft, bloody Mhybe. How I dislike her... Although perhaps she has a different name now? “Mhybe? That woman is dead.”

What on earth is she talking about? [Bill: The Mhybe version of hell.] Help please! “Beyond all the legends and stories, it is the true Abyss. And it live unto itself, consumed by rapacious hunger.”

You know something? Apart from the Mhybe’s ravings and the new fact that Silverfox is keeping to herself, this chapter feels like something rare in Erikson’s work—filler. At least, the start of it does. We have more talk about the warrens being virtually impassable; we hear again Kruppe’s amusing little asides. It is all good, but feels just a tiny bit unnecessary right now.

I do like the evidence of why soldiers so adore Whiskeyjack—and the demonstration of worship that might lead to him someday becoming a god.

From tragedy to comedy, as per usual—realising that it is K’rul’s blood flooding the warrens, to the funny image of the demon’s arm attaching itself to the wagon and the merchant’s frustrated remark about how they will possibly remove it. I like the rollercoaster ride!

Why does it not surprise me that Kallor would end up tempted by the siren call of the new House of Chains? Why is he so easily convinced that the Crippled God will have no dominion over him? [Bill: Arrogance?] His quest for power and to reduce Silverfox to nothing is blinding him to the fact that, even though the Crippled God is currently chained, he will not always remain so. That is my take on it, anyway! [Don’t forget, he has taken on gods before. Why think a weakened, foreign one like the CG is going to be a problem?]

Awww. Korlat and Whiskeyjack are so wonderful together—and this is a lovely counterpoint to the animalistic coupling of the Barghast. Rather than picking anyone and dragging them away, Korlat wants only Whiskeyjack and asks him courteously to be her lover. I know which I prefer!

That Undead Dragon—the same that flew through the warren containing the Silanda from Deadhouse Gates? I presume the timeline is concurrent? Bah, I can stand far less of Mhybe. I can see her necessity but she is grating on me very quickly. Hoping for less of her in the next two chapters....

 

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Thirteen:

It’s a nice opening image, the protective coating slathered on the bhedrin as well as the Rhivi and soldiers—the question that arises is what will protect the Mhybe?

And how is that for a metaphor for the characters in this book—“their surcoats dyed grey.” Indeed, we’re awash among grey in this series, though even grey has shades.

Her musings on leadership are interesting. The idea that though Brood came to fight for them, led them in their first victories against the Malazans, and leads them again, he still might not have their, um, “hearts and souls.”

Interesting theme of consumption running through here—Tattersail feeding on the Mhybe, the Tenescowri feeding on their victims, Toc’s observation that leaders feed on their followers/soldiers.

There’s a lot in the Mhybe’s speech that will play out. The Rhivi spiritworld. A place crowded with memories. I’m not saying her description of things is accurate, but there are ideas in there to pay attention to for the future.

It’s an interesting image at the end of her conversation, drawing her hood around herself. Sure, it’s pretty blunt (perhaps too blunt I’d say) as we’re told she’s “cutting herself off from the world,” but what I found interesting was the echo of death’s hood—as if she’s considering herself dead already.

I like as well the echo of Whiskyjack the mason in the line “I am not a stone for your rough hands.” (I could have done with out the chisel line.) As well how it’s combined with his swordthrust of words—Whiskeyjack encompassing both the mason and the soldier.

Whiskeyjack sore leg reference number 121. If you’re counting (which, of course, I’m not. But still....)

Another nice concise reminder to the reader of events going on; I enjoy how Erikson does this throughout, these little moments of “in case you forgot.” And in that mix of old info, something new: where is Crone and the ravens? Hmmmm.

One of the things that make this a quality series are the tiny little points that add nothing to plot or character but show that the author is fully focused and not taking the lazy road: things like Whiskeyjack not simply “riding” but doing so at a “canter.” Keeping us aware that this is an army and Whiskeyjack is a leader by how he assesses the formation and how the two marines don’t salute him. So many authors just tell us an army is an army, call the folks soldiers, and leave it at that until a battle.

I was smiling throughout Whiskeyjack’s scar scene, and so I was right with Silverfox when she said what the effect would be on the two soldiers. Who, by the way, can be added to my list of favorite secondary characters. Or maybe tertiary.

Is that a tease regarding Whiskeyjack’s little sister? Is she going to come back with a king in tow?

I’m not sure I buy that Silverfox’s hundred thousand souls really differentiates her from Whiskeyjack’s ten thousand. I mean, really, once you’re past your first thousand or so, is there really a difference? What I do think differentiates her, though, is that she has the potential for affecting all the T’lan Imass, while Whiskeyjack will not affect all humanity (though he’ll affect a significant portion of it).

Silverfox’s point is something we were introduced to way in GoTM, the way a leader can let him/herself be “hardened.” Remember Whiskeyjack and his acceptance of his men as “friends” (echo as well to connect us with K’rul and give us another reason to like him). A lesson he learned and is now passing on to Silverfox. A lesson Paran is still coming to grips with.

We’ve already seen how “demon” in this world isn’t necessarily a synonym for “monster” or simply “bad guy.” Here we get a reminder of that with the demon arm, whom we would naturally assume came from a demon attack, is just a poor hitchhiker. I love it grabbing the wheel rim.

Not a very uplifting closing image there: “the earth looked like a red matted, tattered blanket, plucked and torn into dissolving disarray.”

I’m also a big fan of the Korlat/Whiskeyjack relationship. I think it carries even more emotional weight on a reread than an original read.

Those hoping for less of the Mhybe are going to be disappointed. I guess all’s I can offer up is it gets a good closing....


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

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

53 comments
Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter
@Amanda:

That Undead Dragon—the same that flew through the warren containing the Silanda from Deadhouse Gates?

Yep--and we'll be seeing it more.
Steven Halter
2. stevenhalter
@Bill:

Is that a tease regarding Whiskeyjack’s little sister? Is she going to come back with a king in tow?

Of course it's a tease. It's a tease that it will be a while before we hear more on it. Also, one might ask just what kinds of Kings we have seen.It is also a cool way for WJ to connect with the soldiers--"see I had a little sister, you can relate to me."
Steven Halter
3. stevenhalter
In both cases, to date, in which Quick Ben has been pulled down, it has been from someone wanting his help. Also, in both cases the "down" part is somewhat metaphorical as it is really ending with him in a different warren. It is an interesting difference that the spirits (or Burn servants) don't open a gate like a mage, but rather adapt the gate to fit the bounds of the physical world.
Chris Hawks
4. SaltManZ
I feel I should point out that the Chapter 13 summary is missing Scene 5 (where the undead dragon appears).

Toc thinks he is going to his death and is relieved.

I thought he was relieved because he would be leaving the Tenescowri and removed from the temptation of cannibalism.

Man, these early books have a lot of epigraphs from historical papers or whatever. I missed that. The last few books are pretty much all poems that increase with length (on average) as the series nears its end.
ksh1elds555
5. ksh1elds555
Woot! Wednesday and 3 chapters! I'm in the middle of DoD right now. For some reason the WhiskeyJack little sister story is ringing some serious bells like I should know who that is.... but can't remember. I do remember another character's little sister showing up in a later book and maybe I'm mixing up the two.
One of the most awesome moments of this book was the reveal at the end of who the Seer really was. Apparently the first time around, I was not swift enough to pick up on all the hints Bill is dropping... Don't obsess too hard too early Amanda on who this is, the reveal is pretty cool if you wait for it.
And this reread with all the info on the Barghast is actually helping me in DoD... I completely forgot all these names and details.
ksh1elds555
6. ksh1elds555
Does anyone know of a link to or a list of the different positions in the Deck of Dragons and who has or held them over the course of the books? There may be something on malazan empire like that but I haven't seen it. There are so many forum topics, I find it hard to locate something specific sometiems. I think it would be interesting to see which ones have been occupied by various mortals or ascendants in the story.
B T
7. amphibian
@ SaltmanZ, 4:


Man, these early books have a lot of epigraphs from historical papers or whatever. I missed that. The last few books are pretty much all poems that increase with length (on average) as the series nears its end.



I absolutely missed that too. I think Erikson got a wee bit too much into setting up the mood via poems directly through his alter-egos, rather than returning to the old scattered historical fragments so skillfully used early on in the series.

I know it's tough to go and invent fake historians who are pretend-working about five layers away from the events within the chapter, as opposed to having a character one or two layers away spill out a poem, but sometimes poems are overkill...
Steven Halter
8. stevenhalter
I generally like the fake histories over the poems, also. Probably because I generally like real historians over poets over here in real life. :-)
Steven Halter
9. stevenhalter
ksh1elds555@5: WJ's little sister does appear again after this and before DoD. I think at least in the Bonehunters. Also, we do meet another characters little sister.
Jozefine Propper
10. Onderduikboot
Actually did my homework last night and speedread these 3 chapters. Hope to keep it up. But RG is tugging as well. And after TtH there's all this new material for me. Can-not-stop-reading!

comment 3. Shalter.
Missed that completely. Still a bit mystified about the way people are dragged into a warren, but I never noticed the difference.

comment 6. kschield555
At the Malazan empire site go to the Ecyclopedia malazica and search for the Deck of Dragons. If you click on the houses and then again on the positions in the houses you get the persons who are thought to fill them. But beware there are spoilers.

I seem to recall there were some questions about Kallor's longevity. Partly answered here with the century candles, but in view of the other revelations hardly noticable.

Toc's plight starting in this chapter was one big horror to me. The first time my heart bled and rereading it still does. Till the very end.

Thanks Fiddler for your welcome and words of advice concerning spoilers. I' ll find my modus operandi after a while, I hope.
Tricia Irish
11. Tektonica
Chapter 11:

This is the section which cemented my respect for Paran's character. I love his insightful observations of others and their motivations, as well as his personal scrutiny and honesty. I don't believe we get quite that intimate a pov from any other character. We get all his internal conflict and his thought processes weighing the necessity of becoming the Master of the Deck, and his true desire NOT to do it, as well as his struggle to grow into the Captain of the BB's. I just love the mental intimacy!

There are so many great personalities in the BB's. Such great repartee.
What a large core group of heros to love in all their grossness, quirkiness, and devotion to each other! Great nicknames too!

Chapter 12:
Need, when it overwhelms, becomes poison, Toc the Younger. The great corrupter of love, and so it shall corrupt you.”
---Well, ain't that the truth in RL!

As much as I really really dislike this Panion Seer/Toc story line....the stuff of nightmares....that is a very profound statement.

I've read way ahead, so I know what's going on here, but I must say that rereading these chapters gives them a whole new meaning. Amanda, I remember being VERY confused at this point my first time through.

Chapter 13:

I so love WJ. His interaction with Silverfox and Korlat are so real....so sincere. He is a real mensch. The Whiskeyjack/Korlat relationship is a life raft in a sea of pain and madness. And the Mhaybe...ug. At first I totally sympathized with her plight and admired her understanding of her sacrifice and gift of life to Silverfox, but she has deteriorated into bitterness and meanness. It's just hard to stomach.

God, I love this book!
Steven Halter
12. stevenhalter
re Toc: Toc must have been a really bad person in some past life. He is certainly getting a world of pain raining down upon himself.
Steven Halter
13. stevenhalter
Tek@11 re WJ:That's a good observation about WJ in general and in this chapter specifically. While cannibals run loose, Toc is crushed, undead Dinosaurs run rampant, the warrens are poisoned and the world is generally going to a bad place, Whiskeyjack and Korlat start a wonderful relationship. We also see WJ's stability and moral compass remain true in the face of everything.
Robin Lemley
14. Robin55077
Yes, Amanda, Antsy grows on you. Think of him as an "acquired" taste. One of my favorite comedic exchanges in the series involves Antsy, though it is still a few books down the road.

For me, Toc the Younger is the single-most tragic character in this entire series and that really begins right here in these chapters. Some of it physical, some of it mental, all of it tragic and so powerfully written by SE.

"Toc thinks there is “some poison within the Seer and whatever god spoke through him. A poison that seemed born of familial memories...a child betrayed perhaps. A child led by the hand into terror and pain...""

This blew me away on my first re-read as I absolutely, totally missed the significance of this on my initial read! It is catching things like this the second time around that make a re-read so enjoyable!

Toc thinke he is going to his death and he is okay with that....oh, poor Toc. Poor, poor Toc.

:-(
Hugh Arai
15. HArai
Regarding the Mhybe: Her POV is hard going but I think people need to cut her some slack. If you think you could be wise, accepting and cheerful for months while your life force is sucked out of you and you turn from a lusty young woman to a cripple, and the child doing the draining won't even talk to you and is possibly trying to kill you in your dreams, well let me just say I suspect you're kidding yourself.

Give her this much credit: She tried as hard as she could. She tried to hide the drain from Silverfox as long as she could. She tried to be philosophical as long as she could. So she couldn't keep it up indefinitely? Hell, in RL there are people that can't even manage child support payments!

And for the people sympathetic to Toc and not the Mhybe: she's being kept alive in a crippled state by people who say they love her. So is Toc at the moment. Do you feel sorry for one and not the other? Why?
Amir Noam
16. Amir
HArai,

Wow, I've never thought of the parallels between the Mhybe and Toc. Now that you mention it, there are several similar elements to their storyline in this book.
Gerd K
17. Kah-thurak
@14 Robin
Yes, these are the things that leave you breathless in the re-reads of this series. It is all spelled out clearly and yet you dont see it, unless you allready know.

And yes again, poor Toc.
Amanda Rutter
18. ALRutter
Heh. From all the hints and tips, and looking back to the Prologue briefly, I suspect the Jaghut child that was used to seal the rent is the one that we're seeing as the Pannion Seer.
ksh1elds555
19. Jordanes
@ 15 & 16

Yep, there are quite a few parallels between Toc and the Mhybe's respective plights. In fact, these parallels are made even clearer later in the book, when the dreams of the two start intertwining...

And Toc is definitely my favourite character in the series. The poor dude's story arcs encapsulate the series as a whole.
Amir Noam
20. Amir
Amanda,

It was several years ago, but I think that when reading this book for the first time, I, too, got the impression that the Pannion Seer is a woman. I think it's probably because the last seer we've met in the series was Sha'ik (who I first believed to be a man until we've actually met her :-) ).
pat purdy
21. night owl
I really enjoyed these chapters, even tho events were in the making, it was a calm before a "major storm". We had a chance to see more layers to the varied personalities we have come to know and love. I wonder why Toc is the one being dumped on, he seemed an innocent from the very start, and was tumbled into situations that went from bad to worse! It's like being bullied on a grand scale of horror. I hope somewhere down the road, he is vindicated. (please???)

The Pannion seer is in pain and mentally disturbed ( I didn't get it the first time around that it was the little boy tossed into the rent) and in turn, he becomes an abuser. Also, wasn't there a little girl??

Love Quick Ben, with all his talent he is still one of the "guys" and is not smothered with "awe" from his peers. He certainly pulls off some great "saves" that will never be known by them.
David Thomson
22. ZetaStriker
This is where I realized who the Pannion Seer was as well, Amanda. I don't think I'm usually perceptive enough to catch these things early, but somehow I managed it here.
Gods, I wish I was keeping up with the re-read right now! I was really looking forward to doing write-ups on these chapters. Especially those involving Toc. Poor Toc. Especially with K'rul's words in mind; Erikson's writing picked out very specific words in that warning of being sent into an "embrace".

That's one of the reasons I love Erikson's writing so much, actually. More than any other author I've ever seen, his word choice is impeccable. Whether it's to plant echoes with earlier scenes, establishing narrative themes, hiding foreshadowing in common description, or attaching double-meanings to the words and actions of his characters, I've not read anyone who does what he does with the English language. I suppose that's why my love for The Wheel of Time and a Song of Ice and Fire seems to have waned since finding this series. Those are great works of fiction, but I feel this has a stronger literary value.

Anyway, I'm rambling. There'll be plenty of time for me to do that when I've actually read the chapter in question, as I will for next week. It'll be nice to be in good health and have the time to invest again. Thanks again to those who wished me well while I was sick and recovering from surgery!
ksh1elds555
23. ksh1elds555
Thanks for the answers folks! I guess I will have to wait til we meet WJ's lil' sis again for it all to come back to me. But it's OK, I am so enjoying this :-) And I agree with Zeta #22's comment about SE's specific talent with word choice and how the right word can make such an impact. I remember when I first read GotM, I thought I have no idea what is going on, but I sure am impressed with this guy's writing ability. I'm gonna keep reading just for that reason alone! And then the story started to really unfold and capture me in DG and I was hooked.
Robin Lemley
24. Robin55077
15. HArai

I too sympanthize with the Mhybe and I don't find her sections near as frustrating to read as some seem to, but for me, Toc is on a whole different level of pain. There are times where SE takes Toc to the breaking point, that I feel a bit of me breaks as well. And I'm not talking just the physical things he goes through but some of the mental anguish he must endure is really tough on me.

This series is a tragedy and it is very painful to read at times, but later in the series when Toc has to deny a friend entry to someplace they want to enter, it just totally breaks my heart, and it doesn't matter if it is my first read or my 5th. For me, that is very powerful writing.
Robin Lemley
25. Robin55077
17. Kah-thurak

True! That's why I love re-reading these books. I have yet to reach a point where I can re-read without finding something that I missed on all my prior reads. Just gotta love it!
Robin Lemley
26. Robin55077
12. shalter

Yes, Toc is living proof that you do NOT want to be used by an elder god.
Gerd K
27. Kah-thurak
@26 Robin
Toc is also the living (Spoiler: also reborn, dead and undead) proof that shit keeps happening to people who dont deserve it.
ksh1elds555
28. Jordanes
I always remember the line, 'My name is Toc. Toc the...Unlucky.' :)

Poor Toc :(
karl oswald
29. Toster
nightowl @ 21 re: vindication.

Oh there's vindication, and it is so very sweet, just, uh, you know, stick around for the next two years :P

SE's ability to weave this tapestry of characters, threads splitting off and joining different weaves, but still spinning threads back toward familiar elements, while still spinning new and revelatory threads is just one of the things that sets him head and shoulders above the rest. and Toc... maybe one of the best examples of this.
ksh1elds555
30. NorseHorse
Amanda/Bill, I'd just like to add a bit of personal thanks and all round appreciation for the whole readthrough, I'm hugely enjoying it and look forward to my weekly installment. I'm currently rereading DoD before I tackle tCG for the first time, your voices have added an extra dimension to my reading it seems, and are keeping the earlier books fresh and connected for me. (BTW I seem to be enjoying the books I didn't more than I did, and vice versa, on reread, anybody else find this?)
I'm constantly staggered by SE's writing and the Malazan world and it's beautiful connectedness, the stuff that happens and six books later you find the links, I sometimes wonder if he's had the whole tale sitting fully formed in his head this whole time... as I say, staggering...
Robin Lemley
31. Robin55077
@ 27. Kah-thurak

Ain't that the truth!
Robin Lemley
32. Robin55077
@ 30. NorseHorse

Absolutely staggering! I am an avid reader, I read every day and have for probably 35 years. I couldn't even begin to place a guess at the number of books I have read (and re-read) over the years, but I have never found a writer that I have found more enjoyable on a re-read than SE. IMHO, as good as these books are on an initial read, the true skill of SE's writing can only really be appreciated on re-reads.

;-)
Bill Capossere
33. Billcap
Hi all--a few things
1) Sorry about losing the end of our summary--got dropped in the cut and paste and I hadn't noticed. We'll toss it into next week's post

2) speaking of next week's post, we'll have an announcement at the top of it, but we're going to be shifting our schedule a bit here, splitting our regular post into two shorter ones: Wednesdays and Fridays beginning next week to better accommodate Tor's needs. So rather than two chapters on Wed, we'll do one on Wed and one on Fri. Now and then we'll pick up the pace a bit depending on chapter lengths and toss in a two-chapter post on one of those days

3) Tek--nice description of Korlat and WJ's relationship--the life raft--which I will get into more when that part of the summary/comments actually shows up next week . . .

4) Night Owl--there indeed was a little girl, still is as a matter of fact, which will play a key role

5) Toster/Norse/Robin--nice description of the structure and style. Malaz really is a "network" of details, connections etc spiraling out and returning which is why it rewards rereading more than most works

6) Norse--glad the reread is adding to your enjoyment!

Bill

5)
Mieneke van der Salm
34. Mieneke
Wow, what a ride these chapters were, from Trotts duel, to Toc's struggles (that word just doesn't do it justice, does it?), to the Mhybe's more quiet, but equally scary fears and Whiskeyjack's scenes.

Has anyone noticed that Toc keeps collecting more and more names? This time he adds Defier to his collection. This has to be significant, but I can't figure out what it means. Are there any other characters who collect names left, right, and center?

Who is talking to the Mhybe at the end of chapter 13? Is it the T'Lan Imass or the Rhivi Spirits, the ones bound to the anklets/armlets Kruppe gave her?
B T
35. amphibian
Hooray for the pace picking up, Bill. It's still a long (but enjoyable) ways to the end.
Maggie K
36. SneakyVerin
Glad to see we've caught back up!

I too did not realize the identity of the Seer at this point. What Toc is going through is too horrific....I can barely stand to read his parts. Too much happens to him!

And Korlat and WJ are about the one nice thing that happens here...a needed distraction, along with the Bridgeburner's banter.
ksh1elds555
37. Jordanes
Mieneke @ 34

It is the Rhivi spirits who are attempting to talk with the Mhybe.

The problem, as I see it, with the whole Mhybe storyline is not the Mhybe herself. As others have pointed out, she is going through a singular torment - not only losing the best years of her life, but having it snatched from her by her own daughter, who, as she sees it, now has either forgotten her or worse. That would be a bummer for anyone.

The problem, then, lies with the absolute obtuseness of everyone involved. Why does Silverfox not share her plan? There doesn't seem to be any good reason for it. Why does the Mhybe not explicitly point out what she's going through, rather than just raving about the injustice? Why does everyone who flits in and out of the dreams only speak with half-explanations and abstract asides?

Because otherwise there would be, ultimately, far less torment and mystery to the Mhybe's plight, and the eventual resolution might have less impact on the reader.

Which is fine, but having to swallow all these characters' simply not talking to each other about it, for no real good reason is a narrative trick which, I am thankful to say, SE doesn't too often fall prey to. Unfortunately, the Mhybe storyline is one such moment.
ksh1elds555
38. ksh1elds555
Re: the Mhybe... the first time around her storyline was a bit annoying for me too. My mind was set on finding out what happens with all the battles and gods and epic duels, etc. It seemed like she was a mere distraction from the real meat of the story. I am finding, the second time reading through this, a lot more patience and feeling for her plight. Maybe this has something to do with having a child? Being pregnant can be miserable and you can feel resentment at feeling like you're having all your energy and life-force drained out of you. Now eventually, you start to feel better and the positive feelings override the negative at some of the pitfalls of the experience. When you watch you child grow, it comes with the knowledge that you as the parent are getting older. They get stronger and eventually we will get weaker. What she is going through is the most EXTREME example of that process, which ought to be gradual and natural, and therefore a parent accepts these eventualities as just a part of life. It is very frustrating for the reader though, to get her POV, and other's POVs, and realize they aren't talking, won't understand each other, and thus are doomed to this downward spiral of depression and isolation.
M D
39. Abalieno
I was reading this earlier on a blog I found:

Looking back on the chapters I’ve read over the past four days, I’m struck by just how much stuff there is in this novel—allusions, puns, symbols, themes that run like thread from one scene to another, pulling things taut. My head is full to bursting with what little I’ve been able to pick up, and I know that I haven’t caught more than a fraction of what’s there. XXXXXXX wouldn’t be many people’s first choice to bring with them to a deserted island, but you could do a lot worse—it’s the kind of book that rewards multiple readings, and that will surprise you every time you pick it up.

That said, a first reading of XXXXXXX is necessarily a smash-and-grab affair: there’s no way you can get everything. The best you can do is to take what you can, and hope that someday you’ll have the time to come back for more.

It would be quite fitting as a description for Malazan, wouldn't it? I share at least some of those feeling. But I "censored" the actual name since the author of that quote was actually speaking about James Joyce's Ulysses ;)

Without drawing parallels I think they share at least a certain pattern...

And I've caught up! Almost! Great scene at the beginning of Chapter 11. It starts with: Spindle's shirt had caught fire. And then comes around with a fantastic understatement: Squad's not gelling too good.

In this book I think Erikson outclassed Glen Cook with the stuff Glen Cook does best (the down to the ground perspective). Which is surprising since he's doing these transitory scenes so well and with so much attention in a book where he had a million of balls to juggle.

About this: this book is certainly peculiar compared to the others. There are a number of elements that I think make it a fan favorite. One is that it is unrelenting, instead of just a big convergence building throughout the book we have already one in the middle and plenty of movement, regardless. Then there's also the fact that it's a book filled with revelations and resolutions.

The point I wanted to discuss a bit. I'm noticing how from a side we have so many characters and PoVs being weaved together. A very complex structure, insanely hard to control. But on the other side there's a certain lack of subtlety compared to other books. A number of ideas are introduced and developed "linearly". Hinted and then shown right away. From one chapter into the other, from one page to the other. So the complexity is handled and balanced by this simpler, linear approach.

The book is also the most "tell" in the series (that I've read). It goes a good/great extent to explain what characters are doing and there's plenty of straight, relatively clear exposition. For example Quick Ben here giving a rather clear frame of the whole situation and how to read it:

And this is a feint - the whole Pannion Domin and its infectious influence.

A conduit, perhaps the Pannion Seer himself entirely unaware that he is being used, that he's no more than a pawn thrown forward in an opening gambit.

It's as if what I'd perceive as a flaw in general, the lack of subtlety and straightforwardness of exposition, here become qualities since one is used to feel lost and clueless in the Malazan world. Erikson relinquishes a bit of that complexity but has also made the book a lot more readable and accessible. Easier to follow, despite the sheer number of ideas and inventions packed it.

For example I followed how the link between the Moranth and Barghast developed in previous chapters. We had some almost unnoticeable hints. Then the revelation was exposed directly. And now we see another follow through, or a new perspective to add:

The enmity is ancient, born of memories, not experience. The memories are false.

And:

"Do you understand the Barghast language?"
"It is related to our own."

...I had to think to a few minutes about a note I made. I had underlined this part in the text: Hold of the Beast - the home of the T'lan Imass, and wrote "related to Lady Envy". Huh? How's that related?

Then I managed to figure out my own note. What I meant is that in a previous chapter Lady Envy mentioned that the T'lan outlived their own gods. That those gods are now ashes. So it makes sense to think that the Beast Throne is unoccupied. It would be a consequence of the ritual. Same for the parallel with the Throne of Shadow made by Paran.

But this doesn't quite fit with the rest I know. Isn't the Beast Throne more related to the "living"? Like the shapeshifters? And wasn't the Throne at least already "controlled"? (don't want to spoiler)

If T'lan can fashion someone to take control like in the case of Silverfox, then it wouldn't make sense to leave it unoccupied and risk it being taken by someone else. So not sure if the ritual caused T'lan to completely emancipate to their gods, as hinted by Lady Envy, or if they are still under that influence. From a side I seem to remember that the Beast Throne is not directly related to them anymore, and from the other I know that they are still under the control of a Throne of some kind.

Trott's duel is as great as I remembered it. In Erikson's hand it doesn't become just an action scene and subplot climax, but one that has a lot of meaning and again brimming with ideas that merge perfectly in the flow. From the tension between the clans and the Malazans, to the style Trotts chooses and what it represents, the way he gets rescued at the end, another hint of personal initiative sharpened by necessity on the field, to the closing words from Paran, sounding truly "heroic" in a classic way: Nobody dies on this mission.

(I also wonder if the mysterious origin of the coins that make Barghast armor is mentioned again)
B T
40. amphibian
(I also wonder if the mysterious origin of the coins that make Barghast armor is mentioned again)


Well... it depends on how far you've read in the series. I can tell you that we learn about the coin armor first by this almost-a-throwaway detail and then later it's presented in a different book in a very different context that doesn't suggest any connectedness at all. Unless you're looking for it - and most people on the first read won't be doing that. Smash and grab affair and alladat.

I hope this is about the best way of putting it without spoiling anything.
a a-p
41. lostinshadow
finally caught back up!!!

Have to put myself on the side of those who aren't great fans of the Myhbe plot. It's not so much that I was more interested in the other plots and saw this one as a distraction. Actually, the first time round I really felt for her, but like someone mentioned above... a lot of the pain in this plot - which is way too drawn out and should have been resolved much quicker or at least less visibly to the reader - is completely avoidable through communication between characters. and erikson (unlike another favorite author) doesn't usually use the trope of uncommunicative characters too often so it really bugged me. and actually bugs me more with every reread.

otherwise, erikson's spectacular command of the english language and intricate plots definitely make this a favorite reread... first 3 times you reread this series it almost feels like you're reading it for the first time.

have to say, as a professional translator, I cannot imagine trying to translate this series... I know some people have mentioned the german or dutch translation as being weak but seriously, the translators have to be commended for their courage in making the attempt.
Steven Halter
42. stevenhalter
A quote for Tuesday:

Emancipor Reese, clutching his mangy cat tight against his chest, stumbled out from the main house.
Amir Noam
43. Amir
If you can, dear friends, do not live through a siege.
Tricia Irish
44. Tektonica
Amphibian@40: And to echo many like sentiments....

The first read is indeed a smash and grab....I did not get the coin/armor connection the first time through or before you pointed it out, and it's so relevant in this chapter, given the discussion of the T'lan Imass/Barghast origins! Thank you!

This is such a tightly woven skein....amazing.
Iris Creemers
45. SamarDev
@ 41 Lost re translations
I've read the first two books in Dutch and those were quite ok (even helpful to get some grasp of the Malazan concept). Because the publisher stopped the translations, I went further in English. It got some time to settle down, but I've never had any regrets reading further :-).

Since 2010 another publisher is doing a second round translation of the complete series. I think they're up to book 4 or 5 now, but the new translator is way ... . It feels like childish language, where the 'original translation' (if that is possible :-)) didn't have that, even after switching back and forward between English and Dutch with the several rereads.
The new books seem quite free translations, for example 'Memories of Ice' became 'Under the spell of the desert'. Don't ask me why... They even changed the main title 'Malazan book of the Fallen' to 'Game of the Gods'!?! Well, I wonder if they would have done so when they had waited till the end of the series... lol

So: I totally agree with your point. It seems a hell of a job to me to translate rich prose like this... but the first two books proof it is possible!
M D
46. Abalieno
I finished to read chapter 11 and I'd say it's one of the best in the book. Themes developed in accord of what happens, feelings coming up in a authentic way, lots of stuff going on that keeps the plot moving and in interesting ways. The only slight flaw, if one even wants to see it like that, is another last minute save in the form of Quick Ben "rescuing" Mallet via Barghast spirits. It has the feel of DEM, but again it was properly introduced. One may or may not criticize this habit of Erikson to use the momentous interference as the climax for a scene. We already discussed about this anyway ;)

It's interesting how these Barghast spirits take again the burden of sacrifice without a "voice". It's an echo about what happens to Quick Ben the first time he's taken down into the ground (or the T'lan who goes to seal the rent in DG), with the giants within Burn. Them also being basically without "voice". Sacrifice that happens in the background but that somewhat heightens the effect when you're made aware of it. It is probably related to the idea of the series, of sacrifice unwitnessed. Of history that is forgotten but that helped shaping what we have.

It even links back to the split pantheon of the Barghast. The loss of memory. Which is only a momentary comfort. Maybe even the idea that there can't be any progress as long one doesn't know his origins or history. History repeats, lessons are unheard and unheeded, but history is also the chance to learn and progress. Talamandas in his encounter with Quick Ben says as much (and is freed because the answers he gives):

I wish for the chance. For all my people.

This idea about refusing the truth of the past is strengthened by the presence of Moranth. Talamandas again said that the Barghast refuse to change. And this idea of lack of development and forced "youth" is reflected in the environment:

Far to the north and east rose the white peaks of the Barghast Range, jagged in their youth and forbidding.

Curious how the "paths" of magic become literal in Mallet's scene:

Find the path, dammit! The mending way, the vein of order - gods! Stay sane, healer. Hold on...

What happens when someone cannot find a path is that he gets lost (the Warren of Chaos). The meaning and sense that define and organize the space is lost as well, so is the magical substance. The Crippled God's attack on the Warrens is literally metaphoric, if you want. He undoes the order that was established on the powers.

Is maybe this the reason why after his house is sanctioned he seems to switch tactics? What I mean is: his ability to attack the warrens through Chaos is directly related to the fact that he's currently "outside" the Deck of Dragons, so not fixed in a form of power? Am I wrong here?
Brian R
47. Mayhem
The Crippled God's attack on the Warrens is literally metaphoric, if you want. He undoes the order that was established on the powers.

Dead on, but one minor correction. Chaos isn't a warren exactly, instead it is what the warrens aren't - the warrens are an imposition of various forms of order upon a Chaotic background, so thats why Chaos is said to be anathema to certain warrens, particularly the heavily structured ones.

"What I mean is: his ability to attack the warrens through Chaos is
directly related to the fact that he's currently "outside" the Deck of
Dragons, so not fixed in a form of power? Am I wrong here?"

This falls under RAFO so I won't go into why yet, but you're on the right track.
M D
48. Abalieno
Incredible, it seems I'm on it ;)

And I agree with Chaos. I always thought magic as a "creation of meaning" process in the most broad way, so Chaos is whatever isn't organized into some sense. I think it was in GotM that it was impled Chaos was the "fabric" between the warrens instead of a warren itself. Also makes sense with what Hairlock was doing.
Emiel R
49. Capetown
Did anyone notice that only the Gilk WF Barghast have the Ninja Turtles armour? And (massive spoiler for later books) they are the only clan that survives the Wastelands to fight against the FA in TCG (against whom the armour was intended).
M D
50. Abalieno
Chapter 12 switches the tone quite a bit but follows the linearity of the exposition. For example the excerpt at the beginning of the chapter is rather confusing, but it's then explained just a few pages later when that scene is shown.

We've said many times that Malazan isn't to be read for comfort and reassurance and that's the whole deal here. Toc himself spells it out with the "metaphor made real" but the idea is explicit through the whole chapter (and I do not think it's heavy handed). Certain words are linked to themes, and we see these themes addressed with more strength.

In a way it feels as if the whole chapter is narrated like a dream sequence. It has a surreal feel and the symbolic meaning is not underscoring the scenes, but leading them (as it happens in dreams). Toc's "ascent" is a journey that becomes a symbol of every journey. In the "small" we see the reflection of the "big", and vice versa. In the personal, the universal (microcosm/macrocosm, that sort of thing). These truths are contained within as they can be seen outside.

The way I perceive it, Toc is made a symbol in order to reflect also another opposite, becoming a symbol as well: the Crippled God. I think it's in this chapter that we get one of the best descriptions of the Crippled God and what it represents. It's an idea and a power. But it's also a part of us. The way the women are described as "once human" is maybe the hint that everyone shares that vulnerability. That the same horror isn't as far from us as we'd expect.

The Crippled God is the greatest example of the way gods work in the series. They are the physical manifestation of an idea, of a power. The CG uses as weapons the pains of the world. But these are not pains he is responsible for, he is just using those wounds that were already there. The way he embodies hate and vengeance isn't total and blind. Those feelings are legitimate, they exist.

It's as if the CG is the side of us that thinks the world doesn't deserve to be saved (and reminds a bit the conversation between Quick Ben and Talamandas about whether survival is a right or privilege), that too much happens that just can't be tolerated or forgiven. It has to be annihilated utterly because it deserves no better. Struggling with the other side that clings on hope and that tries to find those small things that are worth saving, and that believes that there's a sense of progress. At the core is the fact that both these feelings are legitimate.

The CG isn't perverting anything that already wasn't. He's not the kind of "evil" that tempts those who are "good". Instead it's the only god who doesn't closes his eyes. He sees. He goes to search for those who have been cast out, abandoned, imprisoned, broken, crippled. He is the legitimate god of the pain itself. But pain that doesn't originate in him. Pain already there that only needed a voice. And he gives it, a roar of vengeance.

Reminds me the words of Charles Manson, who said in his defence that America was only scared of "its own children". That pain and hate have much deeper origins. Scary ones, but that have to be faced in order to really try to heal them. It's "metaphor made real" in Malazan, but it can be easily found in every day's life.

(I'll probably continue later since I have no time now)

(and sorry if someone feels offended by that last paragraph, it has to be put in context)
Kimani Rogers
51. KiManiak
I’ve been trying to spend as much of the time that I have weekly dedicated towards Malazan for reading the series (and the rereads), so I haven’t commented on these rereads for the last few posts. I’ve gotten all the way up to TTH, and I’m still loving it and would love to use every free second to get through this series as quickly as possible. But I had to respond to one thing posted here by our fearless leaders:

Amanda: “Haven’t the Bridgeburners suffered enough?

Good God.

Just…wow.

::Shakes head::

Not enough indeed...
M D
52. Abalieno
Well, this seems to be a monologue, so there are no risks ;)

As I was saying, I see a mirror, or at least a symbolic opposition, between Toc and the Crippled God. This pattern is "prepared" already here:

The eradication of faith - faith in anything, especially the essential goodness of his kind - had left him cold, hardened and feral.

Bill picked this as a reference to the link between Toc and the god, but I see this as a more abstract idea. That Toc is made "example". He suffers in order to understand and make understand. He becomes basically the receiver of that cry of pain and vengeance coming from the CG.

The next step is about stripping the personal level and reveal it as universal:

Chambers marched by, scenes that swam with grainy uncertainty, as he climbed the seemingly endless stairs. Time was lost to him. The tower, now creaking and groaning on all sides - pitching in the wind - had become the ascent of his entire life, what he had been born to, a mortal's solitary task. Cold metal, stone, faintly lit rooms rising then falling like the passage of weak suns, the traverse of aeons, civilizations born, then dying, and all that lay between was naught but the illusion of glory.

Then follows a contrast between Toc's ascent and him falling deeper into madness and debasement. I don't completely understand the meaning of this step, but the overall idea I get is as if the point of view is violently torn off the character and becoming external. It's not anymore one life, but life in general. I see this as if the CG is dragging Toc down to his level, and making him feel as he feels. The CG "shares" the pain and then makes it universal, becoming a banner (so a cult, a god).

Now I've seen all this as if right in direct control of the CG, but I don't even remember if the Jaghut here is wholly possessed as I'm assuming. In any case even if we limit the awareness to the Jaghut possessing the seer, we see that the Jaghut already represents the same "qualities". Which is the point. The CG doesn't directly transform his instruments, he gives them their own voice:

A child betrayed, perhaps. A child led by the hand... into terror and pain. This is how it feels - all that I see around me.

The child we've seen "delivered" to the rent. Betrayed not even consciously, but this didn't make his condition any better. It's pain that just can't be answered in any way, it just destroys everything. That "wound" was created before the CG, and the CG gives it a voice. The poison that is hate and anger then exists in the Jaghut already before the CG makes use of it:

There was a poison within the Pannion Seer and whatever god spoke through him. A poison that seemed born of familial memories. Memories powerful enough to dismember those most ancient of bonds.

And then that poison becomes the poison of the CG itself, that attacks the warrens as a force of chaos:

Reality itself had surrendered its rules.

Toc at this point becomes the receiver of all that pain, in a way that is equally insufferable. I thought a bit about how to frame this idea, but the only decent example comes from DG, where it was written that the Wickans children were forced to witness the slaughter in order to give them "scar memories". Toc is forcefully made feel that pain, as a force that breaks the "most ancient bonds", or what keeps us rational and human. A step away from chaos. It's pain that "unhinges" the fabric of reality and that breaks all rules. And since the Malazan series has this microcosm/macrocosm pattern going on (what is outside is an observation and projection of what is inside), you see the personal level affecting and transforming the rest of the world out there.

Back to the excerpt at the beginning of the chapter: "he took upon himself her every scars" becomes also a link later to the story of Itkovian.

P.S.
I was wondering if the "foreshadowing" made by K'rul and between Toc and Kilava is related to the fact that Toc may consider Kilava responsible for all this.
M D
53. Abalieno
Done with chapter 13 as well.

This book is amazing, isn't it? Yet I have again something to nitpick here. The Kallor PoV is a bit cliche (though I am aware that the character is flashed out later in the series), and, it being so, obscures a bit the effect of the scene. The problem is also that this seems a rare case of excessive one-way exposition. The whole scene feels strange, but for example Kallor's internal voice explaining the use of the candles and then giving a summary of personal history seemed not well merged with the rest. Another part too unbalanced toward the"tell" instead of "show".

The rest I consider excellent. Amanda calls it "filler" but I really don't see how can one call it so, in this kind of book especially. What is "filler" here is just important detail not being recognized. I continue to say that one of the flaws of this book is being too dense and there's not enough time for important stuff to sink in and have an impact (once again: wasteful of ideas). And I continue to consider the Mhybe an excellent character, especially on a second read. Many of her visions were interesting but confused, while on a second read all details become relevant and meaningful, and can be understood. I have already discussed/analyzed the character from my perspective in previous chapters so I won't do it again.

I did not remember that what she was observing around her increased her pain (the loyalty of the Malazan, for example). And I noticed especially how she describes WJ as a "mason". I doubt the link is casual and what I think is about the same position in High House Death. I think it was in GotM that they were discussing about the "mason" in one of the Deck readings, I wonder if it was WJ even in that case. Most likely it was. But more interesting is the "idea" that he carries with him (the mason who builds the barrows for his friends). I think the association is what leads the following scene with the two marines, leading to the bitter words that Silverfox tells him. That sounded quite spiteful, but I guess it originates from the fact that Silverfox identifies herself in a similar role as well.

The "dressing" of the idea is also quite interesting (as it represents the undercurrent that powers the mythology):

What comes for me in my dreams comes for us all. Oh, perhaps we soften its terrible visage, the darkness of a cowl, a vague human shape, even a skull's grin which only momentarily shocks yet remains, none the less, deeply familiar - almost comforting. And we build temples to blunt the passage into its eternal domain. We fashion gates, raise barrows -

Like Bill I also made a parallel between the Mhybe's words and Toc's scenes and observations in the previous chapter. Her description of the Abyss reminds the description of the heart of the Pannion Domin:

It lives unto itself, consumed by rapacious hunger.

Not only the Tenescowri, but the idea at the center (that I've already described in previous comments). The Abyss seen as a contrary force to order. The "edge" of sanity. The loss of self described by the Mhybe leads directly to Toc's observations about the descent into madness. Both requiring that "unhinging" of rules and loss of identity.

While I think Kruppe is not used to his full potential in this book, his reply to Dujek was great. Seems as if drawing rational circles around what can't be moved. As WJ "defused" the Mhybe, Dujek has done something similar with Kruppe ;)

Pointing out a part I consider relevant from Kallor's scene, and that recalls directly a similar discussion earlier between Rake and Brood:

The world will do better without mages. I for one will not rue the demise of sorcery.

Another small part instead links at the controversy & tangle of plot that is Pale. Here the notion of betrayal resurfaces and strengthens the idea that at some point Tayschrenn started to draw his own conclusions (and that those conclusions were at least based on something):

"Most campaigns get nastier the longer they drag on," Whiskeyjack mused, "but not that one. It got more... civilized. Unspoken protocols..."
"Much of that was undone when you took Pale."
He nodded. "More than you know."

Considering that last scene with the Mhybe am I wrong to guess her dreams are right in Tellan? ...Which is a memory of a warren, and was the "place" were Silverfox was born too. That dreamspace, thanks to Tool, was Tellan as well.

I like a lot how this builds up. Most of her pain is due to perspective, and so well rendered. A lot that scares her does so only because she doesn't know how to answer it, and a shift in perspective would completely change the way she sees it. It's not the pain itself, but the lack of sight.

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