Fri
Jun 10 2011 1:02pm

Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Memories of Ice, Chapter 23 (part 1)

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 Chapter 23 (part 1) 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.

Remember we’re splitting Chapter 23! This first post will cover scenes 1-6, ending with Kruppe’s, “Hear naught until meaning itself disperses . . . ” The second post (next Wednesday) will pick up at scene 7, with Picker staring out, “on the black waters of Ortnal’s Cut.”

Chapter 23 (Part 1):

SCENE 1

Paran and Picker await the return of a scouting group into Setta. Quick Ben joins them and tells Paran Twist’s infection is worsening and he’ll probably only live a few weeks. Antsy reports Setta is empty save for big piles of human bones from feasts and huge condor’s nests on the towers. Paran says they’re bypassing Maurik (which had been the plan) and heading for Coral. Antsy says the sappers are worried about being undersupplied with munitions, especially since Quick Ben sent a bunch to Fiddler. Picker says if what they have isn’t enough, more won’t make much difference. Paran dismisses the group to prepare. Twist arrives and asks Paran if he blessed the Barghast gods. Paran says not yet, but he “acknowledges their place in the pantheon.” When asked why he wants to know, Twist says he wants to know what will happen to his soul. Paran asks what caused the split between Barghast and Moranth, and Twist says the Moranth do not fear or resist change and the Barghast must come to accept that change and growth are necessary for life. He says they have to learn what the Moranth did long ago when rather than fight the Tiste Edur they spoke to them, and learned they were as lost, as tired of war, as ready for peace as the Moranth. Paran asks who the Edur are and Twist explains the “Children of the Shattered Warren. A fragment had been discovered in the vast forest of the Moranth that would become our new homeland. Kurald Emurlahn, the true face of Shadow . . . The last of them are gone now from Moranth Wood, long gone, but their legacy is what has made us as we are . . . We did not slay the Tiste Edur. In Barghast eyes, that is our greatest crime.” When Moranth wonders if the Elder spirits—the newly become gods—feel the same way, Paran says they’ve had a lot of time to think: “Sometimes that’s all that’s needed. The heart of wisdom is tolerance, I think.” Twist replies that Paran, then, must be proud. He adds that he thinks the Malazan Empire is “wise” and he wishes it and Paran well. As he watches Twist leave, Paran thinks to himself: “Tolerant. Maybe. Keep that word in mind, Ganoes—there’s a whisper that it will prove the fulcrum in what’s to come.”

SCENE 2

Kruppe rides (or is carried by his mule) into the Barghast tent. Hetan asks if he’s noticed something odd about the Malazan numbers, that they seem to be pretending there are more soldiers in the camps than there really are. She also tells Kruppe that she plans on bedding him soon, and then gives him some advice on his mule: “Settle in that saddle as if it were a horse, for it believes itself to be so . . . Its eyes never rest—have you not noticed? This is the most alert beast this world has ever seen, and don’t ask me why.”

SCENE 3

The two marines who had been watching Silverfox ask to rejoin their company and Whiskeyjack says no. When they leave, Artanthos remarks that Dassem’s command style—letting soldiers think, question, argue—sometimes comes back to bite you. Whiskeyjack answers it is why the Malazan armies are the best. Looking at the army, Whiskeyjack realizes they are tired from too many forced quick marches and he’ll have to pace them for Coral. He reports to Dujek the army is tired. The two discuss how the army is dividing—by tonight they’ll each command (separately) roughly half the army. When Whiskeyjack says he’s the one who should fly out tonight due to the risk involved, Dujek says Whiskeyjack is and has always been more important to the army. He tells Whiskeyjack that Seven Cities is in full rebellion and that the Adjunct is going with an army but it will be too late for the Malazans already there. Laseen, he adds, has only two commanders who know anything about Seven Cities and one veteran army—so she knows Dujek is the one to risk in the Pannion war. Whiskeyjack is shocked Laseen might send the Host to Seven Cities and Dujek replies that if the Adjunct falls, what choice does she have? He adds Laseen wants Whiskeyjack to command it while she either thinks Dujek won’t survive the Pannion war or perhaps she’ll send him to the campaign in Korel, which isn’t going well. Whiskeyjack reiterates his intention to retire and when Dujek fondly mocks Whiskeyjack’s vision of domestic bliss and asks if Korlat would settle for that, Whiskeyjack says it’s her idea. Dujek says fine, he’ll take the army to Seven Cities. He asks if Whiskeyjack will share “one last meal” with him and when both realize how that sounds, explains he meant, “One last meal before I leave, I meant.”

SCENE 4

Paran flies over the approach to Coral, thinking on their task to figure out the Seer’s preparations and deal with them, “and once that’s done, it’ll be time for me and Quick Ben . . . “ His thought is interrupted by the discovery of some dead creature on the river bank. Paran at first takes the corpse as a Tiste Andii, but upon examination Quick Ben says he doesn’t thinks so as his skin is too pale. He says the death looks like something caused by a spell of Serc that uses huge pressure to burst the body from the inside out. The Moranth captain identifies the corpse as a Tiste Edur. The captain and Quick Ben agree on several points: the Edur he didn’t die in this spot, didn’t drown and wasn’t killed by sorcery. The Moranth says the Blue Moranth are seafolk and sometimes bring up fish from deep trenches that arrive dead already from the change in pressure. He says the Edur died from the opposite—killed by suddenly appearing in a place of great pressure. Quick Ben agrees and says there is a nearby deep trench in the middle of the river. Paran says that means the Edur opened a warren and stepped into the trench, which seems a complicated way to commit suicide. Quick Ben points out Paran is assuming the Edur intended to appear in the trench or was the one who opened the warren, saying one way to kill someone is to shove them through a portal into a bad place—he thinks the Edur was murdered that way, most likely by a High Mage of Ruse—the Path of the Sea. He calls it the hardest warren to master and says there isn’t a true Ruse High Mage in all the empire. The Moranth says they have none either. Paran interrupts that he just got a hunch that the Edur was killed by another Edur. The three discuss the warren of Shadow. The Moranth says it was broken and “lost to mortals” to which Quick Ben, says “never found you mean.” They agree where Shadowthrone and Cotillion are—Meanas—is “naught but a gateway”, prompting Paran to say, “If a shadow could cast a shadow, that shadow would be Meanas . . . Shadowthrone rules the guardhouse?” Paran says that’s a “disturbing” idea, and thinks, “The Hounds of Shadow—they are the guardians of the gate . . . But the warren is also shattered. Meaning that gate might not lead anywhere. Or maybe it belongs to the largest fragment. Does Shadowthrone know the truth?” Quick Ben says he understands why Paran finds it disturbing: “The Tiste Edur are active once more . . . returning to the mortal-world—perhaps they’ve reawakened the true Throne of Shadow and maybe they’re about to pay their new gatekeeper a visit. Paran wonders if it means “another war in the pantheon.” He moves off and puts himself back in the Azath map room. He decides he wants not the Deck of Dragons but the “Elder Deck, the Deck of Holds.” He transports to the Throne of Shadow and is surprised to find it is in his own world: “A small, tattered fragment of Kurald Galain and the Tiste Edur have come to find it. They’re searching, crossing the seas, seeking this place.” Shadows tell him “The wandering isle. Wanders not. Flees. Yes! The Children are corrupted, the souls of the Edur are poisoned! Storms of madness we elude! Protect us!” Paran realizes he is on Drift Avalii and says he thought there were Tiste Andii there. The Shadows say they’ve left: “Sworn to defend! Spawn of Anomander Rake—gone! Leaving a blood trail, leading the Edur away with the spilling out of their own lives—oh, where is Anomander Rake? They call for him, they call and call! They beg his help! . . . The Edur have sworn to destroy Mother Dark. You must warn him! Poisoned souls, led by the one who has been slain a hundred times, oh, ware this new Emperor of the Edur, this Tyrant of Pain, this Deliverer of Midnight Tides!” Paran pulls himself out, back to the map chamber, then into Dragnipur. He calls out for Draconus who joins him. Paran says he meant to find Rake and Draconus says Paran found Rake’s sword instead. When Paran says he talked to Nightchill but doesn’t have time to discuss it—he has to talk to Rake—Draconus agrees and says Paran needs to explain the truth to Rake—that Rake is “too merciful to wield Dragnipur. The situation is growing desperate.” Paran asks what he means and Draconus says: “Dragnipur needs to feed.” Too many that pull the wagon are failing and being thrown into the wagon, which makes the burden heavier and slower: “Tell Rake—he must take souls. Powerful ones, preferably. And he must do so soon.” He tells Paran to use his Master’s vision to see what pursues the wagon. Paran sees “Chaos . . . a storm such as he had never seen before. Rapacious hunger poured from it . . . Lost memories. Power born from rendered souls. Malice, and desire, a presence almost self-aware, with hundreds of thousands of eyes fixed on the wagon . . . so eager to feed.” Draconus tells him: “Darkness has ever warred against Chaos . . . ever retreated. And each time that Mother Dark relented—to the Coming of Light, to the Birth of Shadow—her power has diminished, the imbalance growing more profound. Such was the state . . . in those early times . . . Chaos approached the very gate to Kurald Galian itself. A defense needed to be fashioned. Souls were required . . . Chaos hungers for the power in those souls—for what Dragnipur has claimed . . . such power will make it stronger . . . sufficient to breach the Gate. Look to your mortal realm . . . civilization-destroying wars, civil wars, pogrom, wounded and dying gods— . . . your kind progress . . . on the path forged by Chaos. Blinded by rage, lusting for vengeance, those darkest of desires . . . Memories—of humanity, of all that is humane—are lost.” Paran says how can Draconus want Paran to shatter the sword. Draconus answers he has realized over time he spent in the sword that he had made a “grave error.” He says he believed “only in Darkness could the power that is order be manifested. I sought to help Mother Dark—for it seemed she was incapable of helping herself. She would not answer, she would not even acknowledge her children . . . we could not find her . . . Before the Houses, there were Holds. Before Holds, there was wondering . . . but not wandering but migration. A seasonal round—predictable, cyclical. What seemed aimless, random, was in truth fixed, bound to its own laws. A truth—a power—I failed to recognize.” He tells Paran breaking the sword will return the Gate to its migration, to “what gave it strength to resist Chaos.” The sword forced the Gate of Darkness to flight for eternal, but if the souls in the sword weaken/diminish, it cannot flee. He says Rake needs to send more souls to bide time to shatter Dragnipur. He says he’s learned something else as well since he forged the sword: “Just as Chaos possess the capacity to act in its own defense, to indeed alter its own nature to its own advantage in its eternal war, so too can Order. It is not solely bound to Darkness.” Paran guess he’s referring to the Azath Houses and the Deck an Draconus says “The Houses take souls and bind them in place. Beyond the grasp of Chaos.” When Paran says what’s it matter then if Darkness falls, Draconus replies: “Losses and gains accumulate, shift the tide, but not always in ways that redress the balance. We are in an imbalance that approaches a threshold. This war . . . may come to an end. What awaits us all, shout that happen . . . well, mortal, you have felt its breath, there in our wake.” He says Paran must tell Rake this, assuming he is still carrying the sword, which makes Paran wonder what is implied by that idea. Paran goes back to the Azath and tries to find Rake but cannot. He falls unconscious.

SCENE 5

He awakes to find Mallet taking care of him. Quick Ben tells Paran they’ve seen several Condors searching, Paran says they aren’t looking for the Malazans; they’re searching for Moon’s Spawn. When Quick asks how you hide something the size of Moon’s Spawn, Paran tells him he sought Rake through the deck and couldn’t find him; he thinks they’ve lost the Andii, that Rake is gone.

SCENE 6

The other half of the Malazan army passes through Setta. Hetan makes it clear she has been bedding Kruppe for several days. Kruppe says he can’t take much more.

 

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter 23 (Part 1):

Twist of the Black Moranth—certainly a mysterious, shadowy character whom we have encountered a few times now in the periphery of other events where we’re more concerned with the major players. And now we’re reminded that his story is far from ordinary and worth more than a few legends! Now, is Erikson laying the groundwork and raising our attention in Twist for further revelations later? Or is he merely reminding us that every character in the series has a story worth knowing, whether we’re told it or not?

And straight away in this chapter the Malazans are demonstrating that the Seer has entirely underestimated them, what with the fact they’re aware of what might be keeping watch for them!

Now, I’ve been getting more and more curious about this: does Blend have magic? Or is she just clever about staying unobtrusive. Sometimes I think the ability is mage-bred and she’s using warrens, but the fact that Erikson hasn’t mentioned a specific warren where she’s concerned suggests not. I do like the way she analyses each of the soldiers by the sounds they make as they creep through the wood—unless she is just faking that knowledge to get one up over Paran?

Paran grunted. “She almost had me there.”

Picker glanced over. “She thinks she’s done just that.”

It is lovely to see that certain parts of the Bridgeburners are now accepting Paran, despite all the strangeness associated with him. “Damn, I think you’re our captain now. Finally, we found a good one.” This also implies that only the captains approved by the Bridgeburners will stay in charge (which, to be fair, we have already seen earlier in this book and in Gardens of the Moon).

Nice signpost from Erikson that Twist’s infection is going to become an issue at some point soon. If this has been mentioned before, then it must have been a really minor point, because I can’t recall Twist’s infection being a big plot point before.

There is a small moment in the debrief as well where Quick Ben interestingly defers to Paran—just for show in public or genuine?

Picker saw Paran glance at Quick Ben.

The wizard scowled. “I forgot to have a word with Hedge. Sorry. I’ll get right on it.”

Cairns? Another tiny hint to something that might be important later?

In the conversation between Twist and Paran the Moranth says that the Barghast need to grow—but we have seen a suggestion already that, now that the Barghast gods have been accepted as part of the pantheon, their people will be forced to adjust and change to their presence. In the same chat we see two of the recurring themes from the series: perspective and tolerance.

And more information about the Tiste Edur... Children of the Shattered Warren, hmm? I thought they were children of the Mother Dark, related to the Tiste Andii? It sounds like they are entirely separate here. “Kurald Emurlahn, the true face of Shadow”? Do they have any connection then to Shadowthrone and Cotillion? Are they able to command the Tiste Edur?

FABULOUS scene between Hetan and Kruppe. *grins* She is more than a match for him in terms of eloquence, isn’t she? Even though she professes to want to stop his mouth! I note that they mention the distinct lack of Malazans still around—they are aware that some of the Malazans are somewhere else. The bit I like the most from this sequence and read a couple of times over was this:

“Now, stop clenching that mule with your knees—the beast hates it. Settle in that saddle as if it was a horse, for it believes itself to be so. It notes how everyone else rides, notes how the horses carry their charges. Its eyes never rest—have you not noticed? This is the most alert beast this world has ever seen. And don’t ask me why.”

I am SO curious about what the Malazans are intending—and whether their temporary allies know the whole of the plan. I’m sure some of the cleverer first time readers among you will be smug in the knowledge that you’ve guessed what will happen, but I’m terrible at piecing clues together... Hmm, maybe this wasn’t the series for me to do a public read of. *grins*

“You ain’t been paying attention,” Dujek said. “We’ve been peeling off without a hitch every night since the divide. Do the roll call, Whiskeyjack, you’re six thousand short.”

Another hint of danger and tragedy ahead: “So, share one last meal with me?” Does it seem to you that Whiskeyjack had been involved in more than his fair share of these exchanges? I don’t want Whiskeyjack to die! *wails* We can even play here the “spot the corpse” game... You know? When you watch a war movie, hear a man pilot talk about how this is his last mission and he’ll be shipping back to his sweetheart once he’s done? And that’s the fella who bites the big one...? Anyone else seeing a resemblance with Whiskeyjack describing the sweet little mountain fastness with black picket fence he’ll be sharing with Korlat once he resigns from the war?

“It’ll be time for me and Quick Ben...” to do what? *curious*

Really nice circling of the points by Quick Ben, the Moranth and Paran when they find the body of the Tiste Edur, trying to realise how it came to be there. Sounds like we have some serious intelligence and logical thinking amongst those standing there. And certainly we’re seeing again Quick Ben deferring to Paran and recognising his new abilities.

I can’t help but laugh at the idea of Shadowthrone being a glorified gatekeeper, and that the real realm of Shadow and Throne of Shadow has not been found by mortal! Looks like I realised the connection, but got it entirely the wrong way around....

Ouch! Lots of information flooded to us by the shadows who greet Paran—and not a lot that will end up being fun, I’m sure. The souls of the Tiste Edur have been poisoned; the Tiste Andii guarding them have tried to lead them astray by sacrificing their lives, and cry out for Anomander Rake to help them, but he finds himself invested in the events on Genabackis; the Tiste Edur are being “led by the one who has been slain a hundred times, oh, ‘ware this new Emperor of the Edur, this Tyrant of Pain, this Deliverer of Midnight Tides!”

Uh, I’ll have more to say on the Draconus/Paran chat, but I just wanted to pull out this self-mocking reference which made me giggle: “If we were living in one of those bad fables with some dimwitted farmboy stumbling on a magical sword...”

You know, when I said I had more to comment on with regards to their chat, I... uh... don’t... It harks back to those earlier conversations in previous novels where I read it and only managed to understand a few words. Hmm, the only bit I think I’m really grasping is that either Anomander Rake has to kill more souls for the sword or the sword has to be shattered—is that about right?

And then the most hideous news of all! *gasps* People, Anomander Rake has been lost! I’m distraught!

 

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter 23 (Part 1):

The scene with Paran, Blend, and Picker, besides opening the chapter with some light humor, is a good way to show how Paran has become one of the gang. It’s a direct echo of the earlier scene between Hedge and Trotts—if you recall when Hedge told Trotts “almost had me” when Trotts told him he’d eat him as a means of honoring him.

Twist. That poem is such a tease as well as evincing a truth in the Malazan series—we only see a tiny bit of all the stories taking place in this universe and Twist is a great example of just that. As was Circle Breaker, and Bauchelain and Broach (though at least Erikson did give us some of their own story).

The big condors nesting up top. Remember that.

Change is a running theme in this series—this idea that change is necessary to life, that status quo leads to stagnation leads to death, or at least a kind of life-in-death. The Barghast, as Twist tells Paran, are a blunt example of this, something we heard earlier from Talamandas—how they could not grow without the wisdom of their ancestors/gods. But we see it in other ways as well. Think of Icarium—a microcosmic, individual example of what the Barghast exemplify as an entire people. Someone who does not remember his past and so is doomed to never learn from it, never grow. Then look at the Malazan Empire and its seeming acceptance of new peoples, new ways of thinking, the way they adapt and assimiliate. Consider how the ages-old pantheon is being shaken up—the fall of Fener, the rise of Treach, the rise of the House of Chains. This isn’t to say all change is good—we’ll see some direct examples of that—but in general, change = life appears to be a major concept. Something to think of when one considers attitudes toward the Chained God. Or toward Chaos.

The Empire’s method of accepting diversity gets praised directly by Twist—after Paran tells him “the heart of wisdom is tolerance, I think.” It’s a good rule of thumb for someone with the power of Paran, and a good means of figuring out which way he might turn when certain decisions arise. Tolerance, empathy, willingness to accept change—these are indeed the “fulcrum” of much of what will ensue.

The Edur have been mentioned before by Cafal, and now we get a bit more on them—Children of the Shattered Warren—Kurald Emurlahn, the “true” face of shadow—that one word will get elaborated upon soon. As for relation to Mother Dark—well, you can’t have shadow without darknes, right? And what else would one need? There’s probably a reason the Edur are starting to pop up in conversation.

Twist’s injury, by the way, Amanda, was mentioned earlier by Paran, who looked at him and thought, “in a year this man will be dead—he’d need a god’s healing touch to save him and how likely is that?”

That damned mule.

Yeah, Amanda, those ominous overtones are really piling up around Whiskeyjack. And I’d say we’re not only being led by the nose to what may eventually happen with him, but we’ve been given some decent clues as to how it may happen. Any guesses? ‘Course, this could also be setting us up for a twist. Or perhaps a Twist.

Yes, just what is it that Quick Ben and Paran are up to?

Well, I mentioned earlier there’s probably a reason the Tiste Edur are popping up in conversation, and now we have one popping up literally. Which makes it even more likely there’s a reason. Hmm, progression is: mention Edur, explain who Edur are, show a dead Edur... what might come next? Hmmmmm.

And it turns out he was probably murdered. By being tossed into a deep water. By another Edur. Who are corrupted, poisoned. And chasing after the throne. File.

Ruse, by the way, will play a role in an Esslemont book eventually.

So earlier, Amanda, you asked if Shadowthrone could command the Edur, now we get an explanation—that Shadowthrone’s “shadow realm” is actually Meanas—a shadow of true shadow—that seems to belie that possibility.

Drift Avilii. File.

Tiste Andii dying to protect the throne. File.

Kin of Anomander Rake. File.

An Edur Emperor who has been slain a hundred times. File.

Midnight Tides. Hmm, book title—think one should file?

A few pieces to maybe put together. The Edur are “poisoned”—that’s a word we usually see associated with a particular personage in these early books. The Edur are on the sea. Paran thinks, “They’re searching, crossing the seas.” They are inhuman. We’ve seen these words used earlier in the book.

We’ve come across this sort of sideways glance off another story before—remember the Imass chasing the rebels on the Silanda. Here’s another one of those intersections. or is it the same one? Hmmm.

Okay, lots of info in this Paran-Draconus conversation. A few things:

One: I like the growth we’re seeing in Paran. Notice how quickly and confidently he speaks to Draconus—an Elder God after all—when he tells him “Yes, I’ve spoken with Nightchill . . . don’t press me . . .” The almost off-the-cuff I can barely bother to mention it to you is a far cry from the Paran earlier.

Two: It’s interesting that shortly after we see Rake’s “mercy” evidenced by his using Dragnipur to kill the sorcerous Women of the Dead Seed, Draconus says Rake is “too” merciful and needs to use Dragnipur more. More precisely, he wants Rake to use the sword on “powerful” souls. File that. And when you’re filing that—remember he used that sword on a powerful Imperial demon. What/who would be more powerful than that?

Three: So this soul-sucking sword, which seems like such an evil artifact, turns out to have been forged as a defensive tool. Draconus had felt the universe was becoming unbalanced, with Mother Dark being weakened by the “Coming of Light,” the “Birth of Shadow” (must resist bad sexual pun must resist). And so he forges Dragnipur, traps the Gate of Darkness in it and uses the souls he kills to pull the Gate/Wagon so it always stays ahead of Chaos that pursues it. But Chaos is catching up. And this is mirrored in the outer world in the form of war, murder, etc.

Four: Gods are fallible in Erickson’s world, and it turns out Draconus screwed up. And he’s had a long time to realize it. I kind of like this idea on several levels. One, just that gods can screw up. Two, that it was an error of arrogance and narrow-mindedness—thinking that only Darkness could manifest/protect order. Three—that the screw-up is the screw-up of an adolescent—thinking that one knows better than the parent, that the parent’s inaction is evidence of weakness or timidity (more of the child-parent theme, by the way, that runs repeatedly throughout this book). Four—that one could also call it the arrogance of modernity, or at least, technological modernity—this idea that we either look down on or are oblivious to the workings of nature and think we can “improve” on them or “fix” them. Draconus didn’t see that the natural, cyclical migration was in itself a power. Instead, he had to “make” something. That seems to me to be a mistake we often make in our own world

Five: Killing powerful souls is only a stopgap.

Six: Order has protectors beyond Darkness: The Houses of Azath and the Deck. An imposition of order. A sealing away of souls from Chaos’ reach.

Seven: That big tease... “if” Rake is still carrying the sword. Huh?

Eight: The same line you pointed out Amanda—the “dimwitted farmboy stumbling on a magic sword” Or you can fill in sword with anything—ring, amulet, tome, etc. There’s a shot at a big chunk of epic fantasy, eh?

Hmm, maybe I’ll start referring to it as “the old thrash and oof” :)


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.

45 comments
Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter
Here's another thought: Draconus has been pulling that wagon for a very long time. Notice how powerful demons and such are ground down and exhausted by the task. Draconus has used it as a learning experience and has strength to have a nice chat with Paran. Think about what this says about Draconus' strength. Now, reflect that Rake took away Draconus' sword and killed him with it.
Also, note the universal systems as embodiments theme. Paran senses the 'rapacious hunger' of Chaos and that it is almost self-aware.
Order, reacts to balance this hunger of Chaos and the Azath and Deck of Dragons emerge. Rather like an immune system.
Jordanes
2. Jordanes
"killed by another Edur." Wrong, Paran, you absolute novice! :D

"a High Mage of Ruse." Mmm, yeah, pretty damn high High Mage :D

Okay, that entire section with the dead Edur always makes me grin, knowing who it is and how he gets there. One of my favourite bits of SE showing us something that's happened and then books later revealing how it happened.
Jordanes
3. djk1978
One doesn't realize on first read just how much of a setup Memories of Ice is for the whole series, much more so than Gardens of the Moon or Deadhouse Gates. There are so many items that turn up later in the series as bigger plot points then the passing mention they receive here. This half chapter reveals several of them.

The Barghast are very free aren't they, in terms of sexual activity. Seen it more than once so far, and will do so again in the future. Funny that Kruppe is caught up in it though.

So Rake is gone, but we've also had it hinted that he's not really gone. Does anyone really believe that he's just dropped out of the story with no explanation whatsoever? When I read this all I think is I wonder when he's going to show up again. If SE is really selling this, I for one was not buying it at this point.

I missed that shot at other fantasy. It's a good one, but then really isn't Paran just a common noble who stumbled into his own ability? It's a lot slicker than most but it's a bit of pot vs kettle no?

That said, I do like how Paran grows into his role. Even so, he still has much to learn, but the Picker's assessment shows how much he has grown.

Jordanes @ 2: I agree, it's a method that SE uses on more than one occasion and it's always rewarding to get to that "so that's what happened" moment.
Edward Morland
4. random_gerbil
The conversation with Draconus reminds me as with much of this book about one of the things I like most about Erikson's writing, he manages to imbue Mu with a real sence of age which a lot of fantasy worlds lack. Putting all the hints, myths and legends into a coherent picture and seeing their effects till rippling though the present gives it all a nice weight.
Chris Hawks
5. SaltManZ
Holy crap, just this half a chapter by itself sets us up for no less than four future books (4-6 and 8)!

@Bill "this idea that change is necessary to life, that status quo leads to stagnation leads to death, or at least a kind of life-in-death." Makes me think of the They Might Be Giants' chorus: "Now it's over / I'm dead and I haven't / Done anything that I want / Or I'm still alive / And there's nothing I want to do".

Anyone else catch how Kruppe's lament at the end of this section hearkens back to the exposition from Draconus just pages before? "Kruppe prays, oh how he prays, that darkness never falls! ... Hold back, merciful darkness!" Very cool.

And yes, the phrase "thrash and oof" is a glorious one.
Amir Noam
6. Amir
Has anyone noticed that Picker is referred to as Corporal at the very beginning of the chpater (instead of Lieutenant)?
Chris Hawks
7. SaltManZ
@6: Yeah, I noticed that last night, and did a double-take. I can only assume it's a typo?
Tai Tastigon
8. Taitastigon
Salt @7

Darn, I would say typo, but considering how they all (BBs) have been busted down, it would almost count as a typo with a sidewink...
Chris Hawks
9. SaltManZ
I wondered if maybe it was to reflect Picker not wanting the lieutenacy, but she's addressed as "Lieutenant" later this chapter as well as in the previous, so my money's on mistake.
Tai Tastigon
10. Taitastigon
@9

Yep.

Occam´s Razor -> simplest explanation generally is the most probable.
So: Typo.
Chris Hawks
11. SaltManZ
Also (and sorry this isn't germane to this chapters's discussion) but on the topic of why these reread threads aren't seeing as much life lately, last week's great discussion aside: Does it bother anyone else that the Friday ASoIaF reread post always pops up within 2 hours of MBotF's? I know it's nothing intentional, and the only effect is probably just in my own head, but every Friday I feel like the front page is saying, "And now it's time to discuss Steven Erikson's Malazan Boo—hey, let's talk some more about GRRM!!"

Also also @10: I'm not sure that Occam's Razor applies to the Malazan world! :)
Jordanes
12. djk1978
SaltmanZ @ 11: Only a problem if you are participating in more than one re-read. :)

And @5: Nice catch on Kruppe's line. Something I didn't notice myself.
Tai Tastigon
13. Taitastigon
@11

Not to this world, but to this typo.

And yes - definitely TOO MUCH aSoIaF going on...! Heck, we´re not even sure that series will ever be finished.
Philip Thomann
14. normalphil
All the Malazan questions I want to ask but expect no answers about deal with the Moranth. Are the Barghast gods the Moranth gods? Is Kellanved? Are the Moranth Imass/Titse Edur hybrids? Did they ally with the Malazan empire for any religious reasons?
Steven Halter
15. stevenhalter
The Barghast and Moranth are related, so the Moranth could possibly have access to the Barghast gods. They seem to have their own modes of worship however.
After the Moranth/Barghast split it is unclear what genetics mixed in with the Moranth.
I'm not sure if the alliance could be said to be religious or more ethics based.
Mieneke van der Salm
16. Mieneke
Awesome summation Bill! I only have two things I still don't get (well I have more, but those aren't till next week ;-)):

1) Is Twist's arm somehow an echo of Whiskeyjack's leg?

and

2) So are the Edur warring amongst themselves, or is that some clever misdirection on SE's part?
Jordanes
17. Jordanes
The Moranth, under all that armour, are Barghast. Think of them almost as a nation of the Barghast, like the White Face and Ilgres. But they are the one part of the Barghast that has moved on from the relative barbarity of the rest of the Barghast.

There is some description in this book, and much more in a much later book, of the stagnation which is afflicting the Barghast people. They haven't changed their ways in millennia.

The Moranth are hated by the other Barghast because they are perceived to have turned their backs on the old ways. One way they did so was to make peace with the ancient enemy, the Tiste Edur, rather than fight them.

The Edur and Moranth lived together in Cloud Forest, although it is unclear if they ever interbred. They may well have done. Now if only we could get one out of its armour to check ;)

BTW, Twist was mentioned back in GotM, after the bridgeburners are dropped off outside Darujhistan by the Moranth, Whiskeyjack asks if a certain Moranth with one good arm still lives :)
Iris Creemers
18. SamarDev
So much foreSHADOWing in this chapter... Incredible. On my first reading(s) especially the part about Drift Avalii was difficult to grasp (and easily slipped past), and when it pops up later I kept thinking 'where have I heard about it before?'. So file indeed.

Re aSoIaF: my lag in this reread was partly caused by starting to read that series for the first time. Just Feast for crows left now :-). But even althouth I like that series and I wanted to plough through it, it is way behind SE's work. And about the blogs: I already loved Bill's and Amanda's work, but compared with the aSoIaF-read I like this so so so much better. Much more depth in both the blogs as the comments (I skip those other comments now completely - too time consuming too less content). So let's keep going all together here!
Emiel R
19. Capetown
@ Mieneke

I think the poison in Twists arm might be more a reflection of the poisoning of burn by the Crippled God being chained to her flesh.
Amir Noam
20. Amir
At the risk of starting a controversial thread, I'd like to mention that I really did not like the Hetan/Kruppe interaction. The comparison that comes to mind (at least for me) is the whole Tylin/Mat thing from WoT. And I completely agree with Leigh's (very eloquent) reaction to that infamous scene.

I do see the humor in this scene between Hetan and Kruppe. It's hilarious when reading it for the first time. However, I cna't help but see the first scene between them as Hetan threatening to rape Kruppe as a way to get him to shut up, because he annoyed he (in front of witnesses, to increase his shame, if he continues to speak!). And the second scene is the aftermath, where she claims that since he returned to his annoying manners after the first rape whe will have to teach him a second lesson.

Looked at in this manner, it's hard to see the humor in the scenes.


(This is my humble contribution to the Malazan re-read thread(s). If this doesn't start up a discussion, we'll have to talk about gun control, or something :-) )
Emiel R
21. Capetown
Didn't Kruppe start the flirting with Hetan? IMO it's all very consensual. Also in the next chapters, Kruppe may have a few surprises up his sleeve for Hetan. ;-)

I really hated the whole Tylin/Mat thing (as I hated Jordan's women in general before I stopped reading the books), but I find the Kruppe/Hetan act hilarious.
Jordanes
22. Jordanes
@20

An interesting thought. I have to say, it strikes a chord with me. I remember watching the film Wedding Crashers, in which there's a scene where Isla Fisher forces herself on Vince Vaughn while he's tied up and gagged and clearly resisting. The cinema found it hilarious whilst I was shocked. Just turn the scene the other way round and it would be rape. Of course it was rape.

As for Kruppe and Hetan, I get the sense from the scene that he is only pretending at being resistant because, as always with Kruppe, he effects an innocent and powerless demeanour. I just have to assume it would have been consensual when it happened.

I read that link you posted and I just have to say, I am so glad I gave up on the wheel of time after the second book.
Hugh Arai
23. HArai
I think if you read the full Kruppe/Hetan interaction closely you'll see it's consensual on both sides. As Jordanes says @22, Kruppe just gets a lot of mileage out of "Poor innocent me".

I'd love to see discussion in this thread stick to MBotF, without digs and references to other series and series (re)-reads. I just don't think the discussion here is improved by the sniping. Just my personal preference.
Amir Noam
24. Amir
HArai,

I didn't mean to "snipe" anything, but for me references to other works is something that greatly enriches any discussion of a literary work. My intention was not to start a discussion here on WoT. But as part of re-reading this chapter of MoI, I was reminded of a similar concept that was presented (and discussed) in the context of a different work and thought to bring this up.

Therefore, the discussion forwhich I was aiming was not of a different series (or series re-read), but of a concept that was raised while reading this particular chapter of a Malazan book.

Now, I agree completely that the situation between Hetan and Kruppe is not as dire as the one presented in WoT, and just further down the chapter we'll see that Kruppe does indeed manage to quickly gain the upper hand in this relationship (slipperly eel that he is). Still, I found the current scenes more disturbing than humorous. I believe that a simple exercise of "flip the genders" makes my point clearer.
Jordanes
25. Jordanes
Re-reading it again, I do get the sense that Kruppe was toying with Hetan just as much she was with him - even if she didn't realise it. As such, I would say it is a different situation to the one in WoT which you refer to.

And that is also with trying not to look at the scene from the viewpoint of knowing what happens next, i.e. that Kruppe starts chasing after Hetan. Because, of course, any number of consensual times does not in any way excuse one non-consensual time.

So I think that while you raise an interesting issue with regard to viewpoint-shifting due to gender-shifting, I don't think SE has mis-represented a disturbing issue as a comical one here.

In fact, SE actually doesn't show gender bias with this kind of situation, and does in fact point out the darker side of this behaviour. We see a fair few times in later books where a certain male Toblakai speaks in much the same way as Hetan does here, sometimes with serious consequences, other times to comical effect. As ever with SE, shades of darkest grey.
Joris Meijer
27. jtmeijer
SaltManZ @5: the description of the Barghast and their (lack of) development is again really important in book 9, and perhaps 10. So this half chapter links up to almost all of the rest of the series. Really impressive.
Amir Noam
28. Amir
HArai @26:
That's a very interesting question, actually.
I must admit that the Detoran/Hedge relationship did not give me the same vibe, and I do wonder why.

I think it might be because Detoran is completely silent (does she ever talk?) about her intentions and all we get are the jibes and jokes made by the fellow Bridgeburners. Also, we're seeing explicit acts of violence from Detoran towrads Hedge, but not explicit sexual violence (the sexual part is more implicit and behind the scenes, only echoed in the joked by the squad members).

Not that I condone the violence (without sex) part, but it's clear that in Erikson's world, men and women can be equally violent towards wach other, so this didn't bother me when I read it.

So, I don't have a full answer why I saw this relationship in a different light. I'll have to think about this some more.
Tai Tastigon
29. Taitastigon
Curious to see, these reactions to Kruppe/Hetan. IMHO, it has mostly to do with the *players* involved, not the act by itself, which is not very extreme on the SE scale.

I mean...Kruppe ? We are still trying to figure out whether that guy is human, ascended or a god - the least thing I would imagining Kruppe doing is headlining an episode of *Sex Acts That Hopefully Never Make It To The Television Screen*.

In retrospect, SE did something very interesting with this cycle - in a BTW-fashion, he messes with the trope of who is supposed to have sex in this genre and who not.
Tricia Irish
30. Tektonica
Interesting discussion....For me, SE treats men and women in such an egalitarian way, that the Hetan/Kruppe pairing just came across as SE Humor to me. The thought of a rather poncy, short, fat guy with a predilection for pastries, and the large rough warrior woman going at it was just too funny. And I got the distinct impression that Kruppe liked it! Was flattered, even.
Brian R
31. Mayhem
With Hetan/Kruppe, I really just like the constant flipping of roles - it starts off with Hetan as the predator, and Kruppe as the eel just .. staying .. out .. of .. reach. Then she catches him, much to everyone else's amusement, as it seems like she's finally someone who can make Kruppe shut up for a while. (mild spoiler) And then in the next sequence, complete turnaround, as she's being worn down by him, and finally her father laughing his head off as she's stuck down with morning sickness. And later still we learn that promiscuity is looked upon fondly by the White Face, until the girl gets pregnant. At which point she is expected to settle down and stop being silly.
@14, echoing the answers above - the Moranth are Barghast, tempered by tolerance learned from the Edur. Although they do have a very strict view of justice, remember back to Pale, where they went in and slaughtered *exactly* how many Moranth were confirmed killed by Pale over their history (shudder).
Hmm, that view on justice becomes even more revealing in the light of the revelations later in the series. Never noticed that before.

It is never fully clear what brings about the alliance with the Empire, but it is an alliance in part not in whole for different reasons - the Gold allied as a personal favour to one character, the Blue and Green are paid mercenaries used for logistics, while the Black are the main allies on Genabackis, apparently to settle old scores. There are several other clans mentioned but they take no part in the main story.
Sydo Zandstra
32. Fiddler
Tek@30:

And I got the distinct impression that Kruppe liked it!

Of course. Kruppe is not estranged by male feelings. In fact, they are close friends, visiting when needed as good friends do, for example when a worthy specimen of the female variety like Hetan shows interest in humble Kruppe... ;-)

Does anybody really believe that if Kruppe didn't want sex with Hetan, he'd let her get near him? This is Kruppe we're talking about... :D


Re: ASoIaF. I'm not really bothered by the posts showing up on Friday there. I read Leigh's comments and that's it. I still find the whole idea flawed there because of the spoiler issues. I recently finished my own reread of SoS and FfC there, in preparation for the next book. And suddenly, I find my reading list to be empty. So I decided to reread TTH, DOD and TCG back to back. There are worse ways to spend your reading time. ;-)


There are a lot of seeds for later books in this part, indeed. Which makes me appreciate this book, and SE's craftmanship even more. And in a way, it fits. The remaining Bridgeburners are walking on their teeth, and as a company their numbers are dwindling. As readers, we do not want to face this fact, I guess, but SE has been laying it out since book 1.


I always liked how Whiskeyjack and Dujek talked about who is more necessary for the survival of the Empire. The Japanese saying goes 'Duty is heavier than a mountain, death lighter than a feather.' (No, Robert Jordan did not invent this wisdom), and for now Whiskeyjack has a lot of mountain to carry.

On a side note, the whole situation of there being only one veteran army and 2 capable generals left in order to deal with the Seven Cities situation makes Coltaine's decision to give his get-out-of-jail-card to Duiker even more awesome.

Witness, indeed. A main theme in this series.


A few weeks ago, I said I had some things to say about the siege of Capustan. I never really got to say them, so I'll insert them here.

I have never read anything so gripping as how SE wrote this siege. How Gruntle keeps an isle of resistance, up to the building almost exploding because of the bodies inside. How Bauchelain and Korbal Broach set up their own defenses, and are not disturbed by the pannion troops after the first encounters (that says a lot!). How Brukhalian was betrayed, and knowing it all.

But the most gripping scene to me was Itkovian and his forces stumbling into the throne room, where Anaster was eating the prince, his reaction and decision to defend this throne room at all costs. That is honour.
Tricia Irish
33. Tektonica
Help!!

When I go to the Forums button on the main page, I get a written list like an outline and can't seem to get to the Forums. Is everyone having this problem? How do I navigate this? ARgh.
Chris Hawks
34. SaltManZ
@33: Looks like the stylesheet isn't loading properly. I imagine it'll resolve itself—or someone will fix it—shortly.
Jordanes
35. Jordanes
Hmm, I wrote a post a day or so again but it seems to have disappeared....

What I said was, in relation to this chapter, I really enjoy the way SE handles these calm before the storm moments (or, perhaps, calm after the storm, seeing as we've just had the siege of Capustan), with the armies marching to the next location. He doesn't just brush over it, in a 'after several days the armies reached Coral, having found nothing to oppose their march' way.

Instead, he uses this 'pause' to not only move future significant plot points along, but also to give the characters even greater depth, through small conversations and little actions. I think he does this especially well in books 2-7 (GotM not really having a 'marching army' aspect), but does somewhat lose that touch in Toll the Hounds and Dust of Dreams (I haven't read tCG yet), where character development is pushed aside in favour of greater philosophising.

Perhaps it could be argued that by book 8, the characters have reached a critical level of development, and philosophising was the only option left :)
Amir Noam
36. Amir
Jordanes,
I agree. TtH was a struggle for me to get through all the stuff between action scenes. I've never had that problem with th earlier books.
And I'm only very slowly progressing now in DoD (too much other stuff to let me make real good progress there :-( )
Jordanes
37. djk1978
@35 and @36: I had a totally different experience. I couldn't put TtH or DoD down. Yes, there were a few parts that I blazed through a bit quicker than others (not many) but overall I didn't find them any tougher to read than prior books. The biggest struggle for me on first read was HoC and MT. Both were much better on re-read and MT is actually quite fantastic and contains my favorite duo in the series.

Going back to the Kruppe/Hetan thing I agree that Kruppe could easily have avoided Hetan entirely if he'd chosen too. He's capable of withstanding ascendants and gods as we've seen. A simple Barghast would prove no problem and future events do prove that. So I don't have a problem with the scene from that perspective. I do find the Barghast "sexual culture" a bit odd. It's too free for my taste.
Jozefine Propper
38. Onderduikboot
Somehow I can't get into the Moranth. They're there, doing what they are doing, but I don't get involved with them like I do with the rest of the characters. Too distant, too mysterious for me to care about them.

Concerning Hetan and Kruppe I agree with Fiddler. I don't think Kruppe is a victim of Hetan. He's way to smooth and ... slippery.

@djk1978 37
I liked the sexual culture of the Barghast till I read more about it in later books. Especially because it's the women who take the initiative. Ofcourse it's not only the Barghast women in TMBotF who aren't shy about sex. But they seem more extreme and overt, or should I say agressive, about it then other women in the series.

I don't seem to be able to whiten my possible spoiler.
Suggestions please?

Anyway I just ordered TCG and am on page 800 of DoD. So second time readers probably can imagine what's on my mind.

Brian R
39. Mayhem
@38 To re-whiten spoilers, I edit the post, then highlight and change the font colour then immediately post. Colour issues seem to crop up during the preview stage. Likewise I generally only white out during original preview.
Al Cunningham
40. BygTymeGuy
I thought the scenes of Hetan and Kruppe were hilarious. Never have I felt that Hetan would rape someone if they declined her advances. Besides, she has made numerous unsuccessful attempts at bedding other individuals. It's like she is telling everyone that she desires that not only does she think they need to get laid, but that she will ruin them for any other woman if they succomb to her charms. And the way that Kruppe turns that idea on its head is priceless!

And one only have to look to Stonny to see how Erickson really deals with rape.
Jozefine Propper
41. Onderduikboot
@Mayhem #39
Thank you.
I'll try that next time.
Your description is exactly what happened, so I'm confident your tip will work.

Try-out
Let's try immediately.
M D
43. Abalieno
I flipped pages to see where the Mhybe comes up again and it seems it will take a while. On a second read the most hated part of the book is the one that is keeping me hooked the most. Also because it's at the same time easier to parse, as well as mysterious since I can't remember how the details will fit (and how they could be interpreted/may mean on a higher level).

With a book so dense with ideas I think that one thing that kept Erikson focused is about tackling a few elements at a time, let them play but following a momentary order. A linearity within utter chaos. So for example when something is introduced in an excerpt at the beginning of a chapter it means that the argument will be resumed a few pages later. In this case it's the Moranth and Twist in particular.

In that excerpt it's implied the question about why the Moranth are involved in this battle (instead of being like the Barghast, neutral), and especially why siding with the Malazans. Though the focus is on a "lost story". A story that is untold and so forgotten. Scattered among the ashes of the Fallen. It reminds the loss in the process. This is a "hero", whose story has vanished. And for all the stories that are told and that stay meaningful there are always a mind numbing number that are "unwitnessed", in spite of their value. The lack of memories is more frightening than what remains.

If one flips back the page to the Mhybe's scene, that's where we left. An oblivion that is more frightening that the nightmares she was having:

The Abyss she had seen in her nightmares of so long ago had been a place of chaos, of frenzied feeding on souls, of miasmic memories detached and flung on storm winds. Perhaps those visions had been the products of her own mind, after all. The true Abyss was what she was now seeing, on all sides, in every direction-

What about Blend? Amanda wonders if there isn't magic involved in her skills and that's the same vibe I had reading the book. I thought it was something just waiting to be revealed at the right moment. Now instead I think Erikson openly toyed with the idea. The relationship between Blend and "magic" is the same that there's right here in the scene. The way Blend tries to trick Paran telling she's hearing the sounds of the other BBs. It's quickly revealed as a trick. We got an objective "answer" to that mystery, can narrow it down to a "fact" (Blend was pretending, Paran wasn't fooled). Yet it still leaves a suspicion. A very slight one, sitting hidden in the corner (like Blend herself). But it's there, and you're left wondering.

So Blend is a bit like the idea of Shadow that is developed in the next pages. The shadow of a shadow. Something that plays, tricks through ambiguity. Not true Shadow. Something you see and then the next moment leaves you wondering if there was really something. That scene with the interplay between Paran and Blend is more telling because it plays directly with the core of the idea. It's not simply disappearing in the shadows, but playing with an illusion, with suspicions.

The "fact" is that Blend isn't using magic. Erikson is simply playing magic as a perspective here. You may know someone for real that has the habit of creeping on you, Blend is a play on that idea. It looks like magic, but may as well be plain normal. Just perspective. It never transcends normality, it only tiptoes on the edge. Pragmatically one imagines that if Blend was using magic then the other mages like Spindle or Quick Ben would be able to sniff it out. Yet the slight suspicion can as well remain. Blend could just have a natural talent that wasn't developed into magic. Certainly she has an affinity to shadow, and so may even reach close to it without tapping on magic directly. In the end, though, it's just a character that appears as magical even if she's merely a very good trickster.

Or maybe not. But as this book plays with frames and turns perspectives, I think that this won't be used as a plot point. It will just remain a suspicion at the periphery of the sight. A self-contained play. The story may as well hide another (the story of Blend's previous life, as it happens with Lostara) but in this case it's a story that can remain untold.

Then there's again a quick mention of Twist just before he comes in the scene to piece together his part of the story. We've had revelations about the Barghast and here we are told the Moranth side of the story. There's a fragment of Shadow where they live and they made peace with the Tiste Edur (who are also being introduced here to reappear in an handful of pages later). Even if this explains most things, especially finally giving the answer about why the Moranth joined the war and decided to ally with the Malazans, there are still a number of specific questions still lingering. For example the nature of their armor, or why they speak with clicking, insect-like sounds. Surely lots of time passed that justifies big differences between Moranth and Barghast, but those aspects must be rooted into something.

In a way, the Moranth don't really look like an "evolved" version of the Barghast. Blocked in armor. As if restrained. Or as if the stagnation of the Barghast was physically displayed in the Moranth's armor. Being weighted down and made impersonal.

A part that drew my attention was Twist's switch of perspective regarding his arm. Then using it to generalize to the case of the Barghast:

The Barghast must accept that growth is necessary, even if painful.

Especially if further generalized, as the Mhybe (and Toc) seems set on a similar path where the suffering is necessary for salvation.
M D
44. Abalieno
I already discussed Hetan when it was in relation to Itkovian. In this case with Kruppe it's really not forced. Kruppe's thoughts are quite obvious in one of the following scenes:

"Oh, hear naught of Kruppe and his secret desires for self-destruction at hands of delicious woman! Hear naught! Hear naught until meaning itself disperses..."

He's just playing around as usual, and if he wanted to escape I'm pretty sure he would be able to do it ;)

The most harrowing thing is how it was all happening right in front of the mule:

the mule was there, after all, and look upon poor beast - exhausted by what its eyes could not help but witness! Exhausted unto near death by simple empathy!

Think about it. It's not that it's kind of embarrassing to have sex in front of a mule who seems staring intently, but it's actually in front of K'rul! I mean, the Elder God is watching! I guess he's learning about that as well...

The scene also drives the mystery of Anomander Rake (Erikson puts this scene after an intense and dense one, so it's as if the levity wants to be a break, when instead we in truth get a continuation). Kruppe's words seem to me the obvious link (and that's also what Kruppe means with "until meaning itself disperses").

This is also where I like Kruppe the most. His way of speaking is all about misdirection, but it's never done by saying something false or purposeless. He always chases the truth, and the misdirection is done through a shift of perspective, not by actual alteration. You think he's talking about "this", but he's truly talking about "that". Yet what he says is true, and by way of translation, it applies to both contexts. The misdirection works like the layering that Erikson does with the text. Words and ideas that carry at the same time more meanings, or that can be used as symbols to relate to something different.

I guess this could work as well as another interpretation of Kruppe. The manipulation is on the level of meaning and symbols, not on reality directly. And Kruppe deals primarily with dreams, where the minds plays on similar patterns, twisting perception, ideas and their symbolic meaning, creating interpretations and different perspectives that are almost impossible to extricate. Something that is at the same time completely self-contained and driven by its rules, as well as dependent on what's outside (since dreams derive in their totality from waking life). Yet even the "fabric" of dreams is as true as the real world. It's always authentic and shaped around truth.

When, oh when will darkness come? When will merciful darkness fall, Kruppe reiterates, so that blessed blindness enwreathes proper selves, thus permitting inspiration to flash and thus reveal the deceit of deceits, the sleightest of sleight of hands, the non-illusion of illusions

Darkness is the link to Rake. Kruppe's been silent because he's been thinking. The whole scene seems just misdirection about what happened with Hetan, but Kruppe is actually saying something different and more important, as usual. That quote is in truth the result of the thinking. He was thinking about what happened to Rake, and it seems that he figured out what could have happened. He speaks about sleight of hand and courage. A future moment of revelation.

More shaved knuckles in the hole. Not just Quick Ben and Paran playing their own game ("But for those two it's a double-blind - there's another mission hiding under this one"), But also Rake preparing something. The alliance is falling apart, but surely not for lack of initiative.

I'm wondering if there isn't a plot point hidden here:

Forgive us, somewhat longer-legged spawn of Humbrall Taur, we beg you!

It's a detail but I wonder why Kruppe here describes Cafal and Hetan like that. Some kind of different heritage, or starting point for the evolution of the Barghast. My suspect is that Kruppe is seeing something, and so called it out as usual, even if while keeping it hidden.

Kruppe's admiration for Hetan is also obvious everywhere, including the high point where Hetan mimics Kruppe's way of speaking, with Kruppe reveling in it:

"Dear lass, you are one after Kruppe's own heart! Pray, resume this non-interrogative question, at length, wax your words into the thickest candle so that I may light an unquenchable flame of love in its honour."

Besides, Hetan seems one of the few who can look right through Kruppe's misdirection. At least sometimes.
M D
45. Abalieno
A couple of more points.

The first is that there's a relevant part that explains the "peculiarity" of the Malazan army:

"Dassem Ultor's style of command. Soldiers given permission to think, to question, to argue..."
"Making us the best army this world has ever seen, Standard- Bearer."
"None the less..."
"There is no 'none the less'. It is the reason why we're the best.

Considering this day's context I'm wondering if the concept can be extended to us readers... (given the permission to think, to question, to argue)

Another aspect is that the meeting that follows between Dujek and Whiskeyjack may mark another relevant moment. It was in Chapter 21 that we argued about a whole slew of new possibilities (it was another meeting), and I think someone argued about a possible solution because of some revelation in The Crippled God that contradicted it. Specifically about Laseen not being hostile to WJ (which is required in order to make work most of the plot).

In the past I was able to make sense of some plots in GotM by figuring out that certain characters don't hold one opinion without ever changing it in the course of the book (which is very hard to consider if said PoV is not in the book, so keeping us in the dark about causes and consequences). So certain contradicting behaviors can be explained if there's a reason to believe that a character changed his mind.

I think there may be another case here (but I don't know if it holds together for the future revelations too). There was a point when WJ was a threat to Laseen, and she wanted him out. She even had very good reason to believe so, as we can speculate that Kalam was sent to her, in DG, in order to take her out and replace her. Yet, we see Kalam stepping back in DG. We probably aren't at that point yet in the timeline, but it is possible that Laseen changed her mind regarding WJ before Kalam changed his regarding Laseen.

Dujek here is in direct connection with Laseen, through Tayschrenn, who we know is very close. Tayschrenn is also trying hard to "redeem" himself from the past debacles. That's why it is plausible to believe that he's grooming Dujek to persuade WJ he's not (anymore) a threat.

This possibility would solve the apparent contradiction, because it means that Laseen wanted, specifically, WJ dead during the events of GotM (explaining why he was sent on suicidal missions). And then, in light of following developments, completely changed her mind and figured that WJ could become one of her best allies. She has valid motivations for this change, so I tend to accept it. It only remains to see if this possibility is not contradicted in a later book. In any case Dujek is not completely sincere (or is at least manipulated by Tayschrenn), since he's trying to persuade WJ that his fears aren't founded, when instead we know they were.

I wonder how a first time reader is hit by the revelation that Shadowthrone has control only of a limited fragment of the Shadow warren. Here the revelation is relatively closed as it is mostly used to introduce the Tiste Edur. These sections where Paran uses the Deck of Dragons seem "authoritative" since they do not seem bound to PoV, and so should be taken as the closest thing to truth (even still, right at the end there's an example of the contrary).

Lots of stuff being dumped, but it appears quite linear. The Shadow warren is fragmented. The real throne is somewhere in the mortal realm:

The air smelled of the sea, and somewhere outside the chamber seagulls bickered above a crashing surf.

This is Drift Avaali (it's explicitly pointed out a few lines later).

I'm wondering why the throne speaks with such emphasis, ending each sentence with an exclamation point, which actually runs counter to the dramatic effect. But beside this detail, it is revealed that there were Tiste Andii protecting this throne, and protecting it from the Edur. Who, led by a Tyrant, are chasing it (Twist previously described the Edur as "grey-skinned wanderers of the seas") to seize the throne rightfully theirs, and use that power to destroy Mother Dark (weren't the Andii also against Mother Dark since she betrayed them to go and create the Edur? Seems that both children are holding grudges).

Even the revelations in Dragnipur and about Darkness are fairly linear. I wonder about an odd parallel. Both Shadow and Darkness are being chased. Shadow by the Edur, the legitimate owners. Darkness by Chaos. We were talking about the cosmology so what's said here is very relevant and I really hope that Erikson remembers it well.

I'm a bit confused on a higher level. It's not order versus chaos, but Darkness. Draconus speaks of a "growing unbalance", and it seems this all becomes an analogy for "life":

you and your kind progress at a perilous pace on the path forged by Chaos.

What's the human role in this? Just subject to consequences or affecting them directly? And what's Burn's role?

Early in the novel it's Burn being fevered leading to such consequences, and Chaos being the hand of the Crippled God. But here we see a similar pattern that would precede the other by hundred of thousands of years. Darkness versus Chaos, the creation of Dragnipur. Surely Draconus and his sword pre-date the fall of the Crippled God. Or not. Went back to check the Prologue:

"The forging has taken... a long time, but I am now nearing completion. The power invested within the sword possesses a... a finality."

So I'm wondering if there's truly a link between the creation of the sword and the fall of the Crippled God (and so Burn's sleep and her "chaotic" fever).

Also wondering if the timeline is all "fake"... As if simply the projection of mortals, as with the gods. So the world would really start with "Burn's sleep", and everything else would be just illusion. Huh. Let's not go there.

It even seems that WJ preventing Rake to kill the witches may have had other consequences. Maybe they wouldn't make a big difference but here we see that the killing was required for another purpose, and so there was another side of the story beside eternal damnation (though, it's not a justification).

When Paran looks for Rake he doesn't find him. I said the Deck of Dragons is "authoritative" so this would mean Rake is really lost. Yet there's a caveat (not sure I remember this right). The fact that the Deck can only see inside itself, and not outside of it.

For example: the Deck wouldn't be able to reach the Crippled God before his House of Chains is sanctioned and admitted to enter. So Rake may be hiding somewhere outside the Deck which would justify why the Deck can't reach him.
Steven Halter
46. stevenhalter
@Ab:

We were talking about the cosmology so what's said here is very relevant and I really hope that Erikson remembers it well.


Don't worry--he does remember it well.

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