Welcome to the Malazan Re-read of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapter 24 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.
Just a reminder that we’ll be splitting Chapter 25 into two posts next week! Hopefully Bill will be along in the comments to let us know where to read to *grin*—he’s the puppet master of this here readalong!
Coll watches as two masked priests-Rath’Togg and Rath’Fanderay—approach the temple of Hood. He is joined by Rath’Shadowthrone. Murillio and Baudin let the two priests into the temple and when Rath’Shadowthrone is about to join Coll in going in, Coll punches him, knocking him unconscious so he won’t spy. Coll enters to see everyone sitting/standing around the Mhybe’s prepared spot—all of them “waiting.”
Picker and Antsy’s squad are scouting out the gate into Coral. They watch 25-30,000 soldiers, a cadre of mages, and a Septarch exit heading for Dujek’s army. They hope the Seer won’t try to annihilate Dujek, but they fear it’s just what he’ll try to do, before any reinforcements show.
Quick Ben assembles his mages and tells them he’ll deal with most of the Seer’s sorcerers and they’ll handle whatever gets past him. But Dujek worries that’s not enough, and they are also low on munitions. He sees it as a choice between staying to take out 10, 000 or so of the enemy and possibly getting annihilated or just blowing the hillside and retreating. When Paran says that’s up to Dujek, Dujek says it isn’t and looks at Quick Ben. Quick thinks: “I made a promise to Burn. The captain and I had plans. To keep all that . . . we blow the entrenchments and scamper. But then again, I’m a soldier. A Bridgeburner . . . it’s more than a fair exchange. We make it for Whiskeyjack. For the siege to come. We save lives.” And he tells Dujek “it’s a fair exchange.” When Paran and Dujek leave, Quick Ben asks what Blend wants (meaning he can see her) and she tells him she picked up a charm that makes it hard for her to be noticed and maybe it can help Quick. He tells her to keep it and go back to her squad and keep an eye out for the condors. When she leaves, he laughs that her charm is a worthless piece of stone; it’s her inborn talent that keeps her unnoticed.
Picker’s squad watches the Pannion front line heading up the ramp toward the entrenchments, protected by their sorcerer’s magic. Picker thinks Quick Ben isn’t enough to handle this, that he’s been good in the past because he does it all in the shadows; he’s no Tattersail or Hairlock, she thinks. Demons suddenly appear among the legions and Blend tells Picker they’re illusions. Even so, because the soldiers believe, they are killed by the demons. The Seerdomin mages attack the “demons” and Quick Ben “kills” them off. The mages then send magic toward Quick Ben’s position and Blend worries he was killed. Another Quick Ben illusion kills some mages then the solders start to move into the trees alongside the ramp—heading for Picker’s squad.
Paran watches Quick Ben appear out of a warren, smoking from sorcerous attack. A messenger tells Paran the legions are heading up through the woods and Paran tells him to pass the word and also tell the soldiers to be aware that Picker’s squad will be coming up ahead of the Pannion soldiers. Quick Ben uses magic to pull up boulders and rocks from the ground, turn them red-hot, and send shadows among them—preparing an avalanche for the enemy. When the Seerdomin mages send waves of sorcery up ahead, Quick Ben opens a warren and redirects the magical attack against the Pannion soldiers. He then let’s loose the avalanche he’d prepared, killing lots of the enemy while avoiding the Malazans. Meanwhile, the sappers and regular soldiers are using munitions and arrows to kill even more. Then a wall of sorcery from a condor kills a lot of Malazans. The Black Moranth try to attack it but are wiped out. Quick Ben grabs Paran and tells him to draw the bird (as a card) on the ground. He does and Quick Ben “thumps” it with his fist and the condor drops to the ground. Quick and Paran go after it but when they’re attacked by another mage and Quick Ben takes them via warren into the river then out, Paran loses his sword. When they reach the condor, Paran pulls his dagger out and when Quick Ben uses an illusion to distract the condor, Paran stabs it but to no avail. He feels the hound rising in him and as Quick Ben watches, he sees “Paran almost invisible within a writhing, shadow-woven Hound. Not a Soletaken—not a veering—these are two creatures—man and beast—woven together somehow. And the power behind it—it’s Shadow. Kurald Emurlahn.” Paran kills the condor, though he is badly wounded and then falls unconscious.
Picker is amazed at all Quick Ben has done, thinking it was as if a “dozen High Mages had showed up to give him a hand . . . Or a god.” Blend appears and Picker tells her to collect the squad.
Paran wakes and Mallet tells him they survived and Dujek is assembling the army. Mallet says he was sent to heal him but Paran says take care of those who are worse off first. When Mallet objects that Dujek gave the order, Paran says, “I’ll carry my scars.” Paran goes to the command area where Dujek, Quick Ben, and Picker are. Dujek asks if Mallet found him and when Paran says yes, Dujek tells him he’ll be “seamed with scars.” Dujek then informs him that the Pannions retreated, probably because Whiskeyjack and Brood are coming fast. He then says the trenches are indefensible, he won’t get more Moranth killed by trying to send messages to the other armies (the condors are wiping out the Moranth fliers), and so he’s sending the Bridgeburners into Coral to breach a hole in the keep’s wall. They’re to pull out then. Dujek’s group will be coming in behind the Bridgeburners.
Korlat rides to Whiskeyjack, who asks her what Kallor had said upon arriving. She tells him he offered an apology from him and Brood, and the use of his sword and tactical wisdom. She says it “leaves me uneasy.” The two ride to a ridge overlooking Coral and look to the area where the battle of the entrenchments was fought (they saw flashes of sorcery from the battle). Whiskeyjack says that’s where he would have set up an army to deal with an incoming siege and Dujek must have messed up those plans. He thinks Dujek was driven back or is surrounded and says his army needs to pull the Seer’s attention away from Dujek and give him a chance to regroup. Korlat says the army is exhausted and he replies nonetheless—he wants them lined up on the ridge in clear sight. And asks that she and Orfantal take their dragon form. She says her brother wants to go to Dujek and maybe drive off the condors, but Whiskeyjack worries his presence will draw them and he’d rather have the two of them together to guard each other. Korlat says she and Orfantal are pretty formidable even alone, and Dujek has great need. She’ll stay and guard the Whiskeyjack’s army and Orfantal will fly to Dujek. Whiskeyjack says he worries about her and then asks her if she’s sensed Rake at all. She says no. As they turn away, they just miss sight of the Black Moranth taking the Bridgeburners into Coral.
The Bridgeburners get dropped off near the keep. On their way, they noticed a lot of condors on the roof. Hedge says the sappers can take them out and Paran orders them into position. They also plan to bring down a section of the wall. Paran thinks the sappers won’t be able to take out all the condors, and so wants Quick Ben to create another diversion by taking the two of them and Antsy’s group to the roof so the condors don’t attack Dujek’s army. He asks Quick Ben what the condors actually are and Quick speculates they were once actual condors but the Seer put chaos-aspected demons inside them so they are both demon and bird, with the demon having mastery. Paran asks which one does the flying and Quick Ben sees where he’s going. Toes uses his specialty and uses ghosts to carry grappling hooks/rope up to get the sappers into position. Undead K’Chain Che’Malle begin heading out of the keep’s gate towards where Dujek will be attacking. Paran orders Picker’s group to divert them. When he tells her to stay together, she says they’ll probably have to scatter to deal with the K’Chain. She and Paran make a bet on who will die first. Before leaving, she tells Paran “those knives at your back? They’ve been turned the other way for some time. Just wanted to let you know.” He thanks her. Quick Ben opens a Kurald Galain warren and takes them up to the keep’s roof behind the sleeping condors, a dozen of which suddenly exploded from Hedge’s sharpshooters. The others wake and rise to fly when Spindle opens his warren and the suddenly terrified condor-half of the possessed creatures start fighting with the demons for control of their body, letting the soldiers shoot them with crossbows. Then an entire tower is taken down by the sappers. The demons start to regain control of the condors (seemingly not too affected by the crossbows) and Paran’s group runs to the other side of the roof.
At the west wall, Tool takes shape and faces the wall. Rather than fall into dust and go over it or under, he decides he will announce his arrival by going through it.
Dujek’s second wave enters the city. Dujek watches as a wave of sorcery from three condors wipes out a thousand Black Moranth and five companies of his army. Hundreds of Moranth take down the condors via suicide attacks. He orders his men to take defensible buildings rather than aim for the keep and then sends a message to Twist asking him to make a single pass overhead, and warning him they probably won’t make it back, so he should keep a wing in reserve.
The condors on the keep roof are looking for Paran’s group but Quick Ben is managing to keep them hidden. They feel the keep wall being breached again, but not by munitions. Over the ice-filled bay, spouts are exploding and a storm seems to be forming. Paran’s group watches as a wing of Moranth drop heavy munitions on the city then are almost completely wiped out by a half-dozen condors. They worry the munitions may also have killed the Bridgeburners.
Picker’s group is down to twenty-two, with three of them possibly fatally wounded. They’re attacked by another K’Chain but before it can close on them, the wall explodes and another K’Chain falls through, destroyed. Tool steps out and takes out the K’Chain that was threatening Picker’s squad. He heads for the keep and Picker tells everyone to follow him.
Whiskeyjack’s army lines up before the field in front of the city. They had watched the battle and know Dujek is getting wiped out. As they look on, eight hundred K’Chain exit the gate. Korlat thinks how they’re going to get wiped out themselves to “occupy” the attention “for a time” of the K’Chain, so fewer are busy killing Dujek’s army. She thinks Brood’s group are too far behind, the Grey Swords closer but still too late, and Gruntle’s legion seems to have disappeared. She is not surprised the Seer is holding back 20 condors over the keep as the K’Chain are most likely more than enough. When she says the Andii will take first shot at the K’Chain, Kallor mocks her with the fact that the Andii warren is still poisoned and would require a full unveiling—“by all your kin, not just the ones here, to achieve a cleansing. Your brothers and sisters are about to be slaughtered.” She thinks Kallor knows too much of the Andii. Whiskeyjack looks to Artanthos, whose attention is fixed on the plain. The two marines appear and say they found Silverfox, and then the T’lan Imass army appears in front of the K’Chain Che’Malle. Silverfox heads toward Artanthos and then Kallor swings his sword at Korlat. She is struck and hits the ground, feeling a chaotic warren. She watches as Kallor charges toward Silverfox, chaotic magic surrounding him. Silverfox calls out for the Ay to defend her, but they do not appear. Whiskeyjack steps in front of her and engages Kallor. Kallor steps wrong and Whiskeyjack leans forward to stab him but his leg buckles and Kallor kills him. Kallor is shot by two crossbow bolts from the two marines, who then attack him, but are killed, though not before wounding him badly in the gut. He calls out for the Chained God to heal him. Korlat senses another warren, a “hot” one, opening and then sees Kallor attacked by sorcerous fire. Another warren opens and whisks Kallor away. Silverfox kneels over Korlat and tells her to hold on, that Brood is coming to heal her and that Orfantal, in dragon form, is approaching. Artanthos stands over her and Silverfox, identifying him as Tayschrenn, bitterly asks him if the “sorcery that accompanied Kallor’s betrayal was truly so efficacious as to leave you stunned for so long? Or did you hold back? Calculating your moments, observing the consequences of your inaction?” Tayschrenn answers, “Please. I would not,” and when Silverfox says, “Wouldn’t you?” replies “No.” Tayschrenn is badly wounded by chaos and Korlat knows it was more than she could have handled, knows Tayschrenn did not hold back, and thinks that he had done anything at all was “extraordinary.” She tells Silverfox to thank him for saving her life. Korlat thinks “He is yours, now. Hood. Do you smile? My love is yours.”
Itkovian’s mount is failing after Gruntle had woken him before dawn and told him something had gone wrong and they needed to get to Coral fast. Gruntle’s legion went on foot, using Trake’s power to go faster than Itkovian and Stonny could ride. When Itkovian asked what makes Gruntle so nervous, he tells Itkovian he thinks they’re going to be betrayed. He and his legion formed into a large tiger shape and speed away, with Stonny and Itkovian riding after. They reach Coral and arrive at the bottom of the hill where Whiskeyjack was killed, just after Itkovian was struck “with palpable force, a flood of raw pain, of immeasurable loss.” While Stonny and Gruntle head to the top of the hill, Itkovian moves toward the field where the T’lan Imass formed, feeling “cold horror. His god was gone. His god could not deflect it as it had once done . . . loss and sorrow such as he had never felt before. The truth . . . I am not yet done.” The T’lan Imass turn to face him.
Gruntle, feeling murderous and predatory, watches Orfantal appear from a warren with Brood and sees Stonny staring down at three corpses. Brood kneels to heal Korlat while Silverfox weeps. As he watches, Kruppe suddenly collapses and is caught by Hetan. Gruntle turns to see Itkovian move toward the T’lan Imass. Silverfox screams and begins running and Gruntle thinks he knows what Itkovian is saying to the Imass: “You are in pain. I would embrace you now.” Gruntle “feels his god’s horror, burgeoning to overwhelm his own—as the T’lan Imass made reply. Falling to their knees. Head bowing. Ah, Summoner. And now, it was far too late.”
Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter 24
Cults of Resurrection—just giving us a little background about Togg and Fanderay, and the fact that their were small cults devoted to them prior to the Capustan revival. This is interesting for me, because godhood has been suggested that it is partially determined by followers. The fact that these cults withered maybe reflects the fact that the two gods were lost and not ready to have followers just yet?
Those Mott horses that Coll and Murillio stole? I can totally see why they would have the characteristics they do, their orneriness, now that I’ve met a couple of the Mott Irregulars who used to own them!
Hmm, Rath’Shadowthrone being creepy and secretive... Who’d have thought it?
Awwww—I love this image of Rath’Togg and Rath’Fanderay stirring back to life (also, is it just me but some of the priests on the Masked Council actually do reflect their gods rather than just being mouthpieces): “On the Council we use them as bookends—in all my years in the Thrall, I don’t think I’ve heard either one say a word. Even more amusing, they’re lovers who’ve never touched each other.” I don’t like Rath’Shadowthrone’s glee in this fact.
So now Togg and Fanderay’s priests are standing over the Mhybe... I guess something is about to happen!
I really like the adjustment between Antsy’s attitude during peacetime, and his sudden focus when he’s required to be warlike. Here, for instance, Picker—who usually seems to treat him with a little affectionate disdain—asks his opinion on both the enemy soldier count and his impressions of the defences. Not just that, but his reply is considered and articulate. How often have you known people who completely change in moments of pressure? This is very realistic, for me, and some great characterization.
Also, in this scene between Picker and Antsy, we see the strong understanding that has developed between these last soldiers of the Bridgeburners, including a little bit of completing each other’s sentences:
“The sappers are—”
“They ain’t got the time!”
Hmm, I’m going to make a very English reference—the “we’re all going to die!” line here reminds me of Private James Frazer from Dad’s Army—“We’re all doomed!” Also, you know, parenthood seems to ring through all of this book now that I’ve started seeing the theme: here we have the childlike attitude of the mages as they cluster round Quick Ben and look for reassurance.
Truly towering arrogance from Quick Ben here, but, after having seen him in some action so far, I’m starting to reckon that it’s justified. “High Fist, I’m all you’ve got. I’ll keep ‘em busy for a while.”
Oh wow—the sheer nobility of this scene—High Fist Dujek, Paran and Quick Ben knowing that they could retreat and keep the Bridgeburners intact. But also knowing that whatever they can kill now is one less in the battle ahead—and believing their lives to be a fair exchange. You know, there is a remarkable echo with the last scene in Angel Season 5, as Angel says, “Let’s get to work” and the same doomed spirit on display. Haunting, this, and very very powerful.
“Raw but pure talent...” I sort of assumed that that was where Blend’s ability to... well... blend came from, not that she managed to find some trinket that gave the ability. Does the fact that she uses this “focus” to pretend away her magic mean she is entirely unaware of what she might be capable of? I think we might be seeing some more of Blend and her unique magic though.
It’s amazing that the lower order Bridgeburners have no concept of Quick Ben’s true abilities, or what he is hiding within him. You’d have thought they knew he was somewhat more than just a sneaky bugger: “In all the years she had known him, she had not once seen him openly unveil a warren and let loose. Not only wasn’t it his style, it also wasn’t, she suspected, within his capacity.” I think Picker might get an inkling of just what Quick Ben is capable of....
Having said that, Quick Ben isn’t exactly throwing fireballs here, is he? He’s using ingenuity and shadows to play on the fear of the enemy army, rather than brute force at the moment. You reckon he learnt any of this as a High Priest of Shadow? *curious*
Here, again, is a possible indication of Quick Ben’s past: “They were hard to see—shadows played wildly over their positions, filled the pits and the trenches linking them. The captain’s head snapped round to Quick Ben. The wizard was hunched down, almost invisible beneath swirling shadows.” Is there anything daft here like Shadowthrone actually helping?
Okay, two shocks there in quick succession. *draws breath* ONE condor managed to take down thirty Moranth? And then Paran displays some of the ability that he holds as Master of the Deck? Drawing a card and then being able to manipulate the being represented?
Wow, and the shocks keep coming—more information fed to us about Paran’s unique connection with the Hound of Shadow. Here he is entirely taken over by the beast, and yet they remain separate? I just don’t know how that works. Plus, another quick mention of shadow—they’re coming thick and fast: “And the power behind it—it’s Shadow. Kurald Emurlahn.”
Heh. Amuses me that Picker grasps just where some of Quick Ben’s power comes from. Although there is no mention of which god....
Sometimes I do wonder if the Bridgeburners can take much more of this... We already know that they were still vulnerable and broken from Pale. And now Dujek wants them to go first into Coral and keep them the Seer’s forces busy *shakes head* This can’t end well:
“We’re going into Coral. From the night sky, straight down into the damned streets.”
“Understood, High Fist. And the Bridgeburners are the first in, sir?”
“First in...” Dujek slowly nodded.
And last out.
Heh. Imagine if YOUR lover could turn into a dragon *grins* I think I’d be more than “uh, alarmed”!
I hate Oponn’s coin. It scares me.
I do sense that some might be wishing they’d taken Antsy’s suggestion when he says, “How ‘bout finding a cellar and hiding?”
Shadows, shadows, shadows... “The thirty-odd soldiers around him were ghostly silent. They moved from shadow to shadow without pause.”
This just gets harder and harder for me to read. Now we have Picker’s desperate last attempt to keep the K’Chain Che’Malle busy—and we all know what just one of them is capable of... We really need something to come to the rescue of the Bridgeburners. NOW. Please! And I’m getting sniffly at that last exchange between Picker and Paran, and her slightly awkward comment about the knives being put aside. Basically, Paran is now considered one of them. I mean, he damn well should be! He’s about to head towards some crazy demon birds to try and keep them busy—having watched just one of them take out thirty Moranth. Hmm, the enemy seem to hold all the cards right now, don’t they? Where is that last minute rescue, DAMMIT?
Is it just me who hates those horrible HORRIBLE condors? I simply cannot believe the devastation that they are causing. This is causing me a lot of anguish: “That’s it, then, we’re all in Coral. And if we don’t get help soon we’ll never leave.”
“A storm was building out there.” Well, that’s a new term for Lady Envy.
Poor Picker, now realising the weight of duty that lies upon a person who leads soldiers. I can’t comprehend giving a command that would lead to the death of a half dozen of my friends, people I had known for years. The K’Chain Che’Malle are shown to be deadly—scores of the experienced Bridgeburners dying—and then Tool arrives on the scene and handily takes a few of them down single-handedly.
“After him,” she replied, setting off. “Looks like the safest place to be is in that thing’s shadow.”
I’m so angling on this shadow thing—Erikson rarely uses words he doesn’t mean—but I might be harping on with something that is utterly irrelevent. If so, please do excuse me!
Oh HELL. No. No. NO! Whiskeyjack dead? *outraged* I knew it was coming—well, I knew something was coming. That damned leg. Why did he NEVER find the time? He had Brood right on hand for WEEKS! *angry* Y’know something? I’m actually angry at Whiskeyjack. Fuming. Why didn’t he just get it sorted out? How does Erikson make me feel so much that I wish I could come face to face with characters and SHAKE them for their stupid nobility? Poor Korlat. *cries*
And BLOODY Kallor! I hate him, too. What was the gold sorcery that snipped him away? It sounded as though there was both chaos magic and this gold magic. Was the gold part of it Tayschrenn? I suspect that would have been a far bigger revealing—a gasp moment on top of the pain of Whiskeyjack’s demise—if we hadn’t read Night of Knives when we did.
Not the Seer! That is not Itkovian’s task. The T’lan Imass! Is he honestly going to try and take their pain?
Wow. That one hit with some emotional impact. I’m going to go and find a hug.
Bill’s Reaction to Chapter 24:
Considering where this chapter is going—Whiskeyjack’s death—and where it’s just been—the massacre via the Moranth munitions—it’s probably a good choice to insert some humor so as to give the reader some breathing space.
Yes, Antsy is a different creature in battle mode. He has a line to that effect earlier where he says basically that—there’s gonna be fighting, right? I’ll be fine.
I like the symmetry of the twelve Pannion sorcerers and Quick Ben.
The scene with Quick Ben, Paran, and Dujek is indeed a noble one, and on a first read it is obviously extremely powerful. The clear facing of their own deaths in order to pave the way for those behind them. On a reread though, how much more powerful to read Quick Ben saying “we make it for Whiskeyjack,” knowing that Whiskeyjack will not be saved by whatever choice they make. Good connection to that Angel scene by the way, Amanda. You get a lot of these moments in fantasy. Westerns, too. This sort of, “yep, we’re not coming back from this. Okay.”
Dujek lowering his helm is a nice way of showing the workmanlike acceptance of Quick Ben’s decision—no pause, no questioning, just putting on the uniform and going.
I enjoyed that small scene with Blend and Quick Ben. Blend’s willingness to give up the charm to help him, though it is what makes her special, makes her “Blend” as Quick says. Quick’s refusal to take it and his willingness at this point to not complicate her life by letting her believe what she’s always believed.
While I agree it’s interesting that Picker doesn’t think Quick Ben can handle what’s coming, she’d give him a few props for being here—after all, all those mages she mentioned as being so much better are dead while Quick Ben isn’t. She does note he’s good because he keeps his head down, but you’d think a Bridgeburner would have a bit more respect for a simple survivor.
A good decision to have Picker bring up the very question any reader would have at this point—if mages can just kill folks with illusions, why not do that every time? And it’s a good answer. If the efficacy is predicated upon strong belief, if it happened every time there was a battle nobody would fully believe the illusions. By the way, this scene also sets us up nicely for another one later in the series.
That said about the explanation making sense regarding the illusions, one wonders why more mages don’t do what quick Ben does when sorcery attacks—just open a warren tunnel and let the sorcery enter one end and come out the other. I’m assuming that’s what he doing here. Seems that might cut down on the use of magery in battle. Perhaps it is done relatively commonly (explains the needs for armies), but just isn’t talked about.
Paran is certainly starting to come into his power in these last few chapters, isn’t he? Using his transport ability, his ability to gain knowledge, the way he speaks to Draconus and Nightchill, drawing the condor “card,” the physical power of his human/shadow hound merger. Just the beginning....
Once again, nice little joke when Picker thinks of how Quick Ben has done what he did—“Maybe if a dozen High Mages had shown up...”
Okay, time for another little quibble. I’m never a fan of the “bad guys holding back because...” kinds of formulations in these things. So I confess it bothered me when the Seer sent out the army but not the condors (or more than one) because he didn’t think he “needed” them. I mean, what’s the loss if all they do is fly around and drop feathers out of boredom? And not “needing” them to win a battle isn’t the same as saving lives by their presence. Not that the Seer cares about the lives themselves, but it seems he’d care about the bodies to defend and kill more of his enemy. So if you think you don’t need them and you’ll lost say 10%, why not throw them in and lose only 2%?
I’m also kinda curious as to why, once Dujek’s army has bloodied the attackers, they pull back and don’t send in the condors. I mean, if the Malazans say two or three would finish them, then let’s say the Seer seriously overestimates their abilities and double it. Is it really not worth a half-dozen condors to take out a third of his opponent’s army before the big battle? That seems an odd decision.
And, I’m kinda confused. Dujek says the Seer’s attackers pulled back because he thinks the Seer “doesn’t want to risk any more of his damned condors,” but a few paragraphs later he says he needs to send them into Coral because their position is too weak and “two or three of those condors will finish us.” Isn’t that a bit contradictory? Or am I missing something?
Okay, we now return you back to your regularly scheduled just-enjoy-the-damn-book-blog-entry.
I like how when Korlat and Whiskeyjack ride together Erikson notes how their horses “stumbled often.” I think a lot of authors would point out the exhausted army soldiers but given no thought to the exhaustion of the animals.
Oh, the sad irony of Whiskeyjack faring for Korlat....
Oh, the pain of that simple turning of the back and missing what was to be seen....
I really enjoy the sheer professionalism of the Malazans in the build up to the chaos that’s to come. Everyone doing what they do well and doing it quickly and efficiently and effectively—finding guards, getting up walls, moving silently, figuring out how to take a wall down, performing magic, etc. Remember Whiskeyjack talking to Tayschrenn about the lack of “discipline” and how there is lack of discipline outside of battle and discipline within battle—it’ll come out he basically told Tayschrenn. And here it is doing just that.
Lots of those—we’re not getting out of this, well okay—scenes in this, huh? And yes Amanda, that is a “sniffly” moment between Picker and Paran. A small aside, when Picker says they’ll settle their bet in front of Hood’s Gate, we might stop for a second to recall that Paran has already been there.
Another small aside—note what warren Quick Ben uses to get them to the roof....
Yes indeed, enter Tool. I love he decides to actually make an entrance—none of this arrive quietly as dust stuff. I’m pissed and you’re gonna know it! It’s clobbering time!
Okay, yes, that is a chilling, maddening, painful scene, to watch three condors take out a thousand Moranth. But this is what I’m talking about with the decision to not send them out after Dujek’s group earlier.
But what about those suicide attacks? That’s a scene that will deserve some stretched out time in a movie, and a good soundtrack. And you can see the sheer professionalism of Dujek as well when he orders more Moranth to their deaths—what must that cost after watching what he’d just seen?
More cinematic scenery. I love visualizing the K’Chain Hunter facing the Bridgeburners, then the wall exploding with another coming flying through it, followed by Tool stepping through. This is why Picker was chosen as leader—she’s smart enough to see immediately that the place you want to be is behind this guy, who cares where he’s going.
Hmm, another mention of a “full unveiling” of the Tiste Andii. Just saying....
So Silverfox calls on the Ay to save her and they do not appear. Not fast enough? A small measure of karma or vengeance for her not releasing them? A sign the beast gods are coming into their own at this time?
Well, we knew it was coming, didn’t we? All of it really. Whiskeyjack’s death has been foreshadowed by many a line. The fight between him and Kallor as well. And of course, the leg foreshadowed the most of all. It comes as no surprise really, but still, what an impact. And you know, it still has that impact on a reread.
And the same for the two marines. So loyal throughout. So distinctive as characters despite their lack of pages. That ultimate sacrifice—putting oneself in the position to receive a killing blow, to ensure the ability to give one. How often does Erikson do this—get us to care about characters we barely know?
Then Tayschrenn’s use of the fire warren—Telas to attack Kallor. Before the big reveal (which yes, we already revealed).
Nice to see with all the references earlier to Silverfox’s “coldness”—the passion in her voice (at least how I hear it) as she desperately seeks to keep Korlat with her, alive long enough to be healed.
I absolutely love that use of the horses’ hooves as a drum dirge. And the line of death having already “ridden” across the hilltop—calling up that archetypical visual of death on horseback—a pale horse, pale rider.
It’s a nice deflection, the horror that strikes Itkovian as he nears the hilltop, that sense of “loss and sorrow.” The reader will think, I’m guessing, that it’s the horror of what just happened up there he’s feeling—Whiskeyjack’s death—but instead, we find out it’s the horror of the T’lan Imass.
What will be the impact of Itkovian’s embrace? Tune in next week—same Imass channel, same Imass time....
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.