Jun 29 2011 2:00pm

Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, Part 3 and Epilogue

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 readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapter 25 Part 3 and the Epilogue 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.

This is the third part of our Chapter 25 split—in this section, we’ll be reading from where Toc enters Anaster’s body to the end of the chapter and also the Epilogue.

Since Bill is still away I’ll repeat his disclaimer (although he has managed to spend some time working on Malazan while driving up mountains, or whatever active thing he is doing *grin*): Those of you reading Bill’s commentary over the next few weeks [Bill: “What do you mean, those reading my commentary? Isn’t everyone reading my commentary?”] may notice a decline in quality, substance, length, depth, and insight. Some of you may notice no difference at all [Bill: “Hey!”], even if his commentary is completely absent [Bill: “Double hey!”]. The reason for said decline or possible absence is that Bill is currently wending his way across the U.S., through the southwest, trying to avoid the now-raging forest fire, and up to Yosemite National Park, then wending his way back through Death Valley, Bryce, Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, and so on until returning home. He is dutifully carrying his trusty Kindle and equally trusty iPod Touch in a valiant, noble, and some (mostly Bill) might say Herculean effort to stay on top of his blogging duties, but it seems his archaic tent is not equipped with wi-fi (what is this, the Franklin expedition or something?) and so his ability to stay in contact with the actual world (you know—the online community as opposed to that place with all the rock, flora, fauna, bears, etc.) may be limited.



Lanas Tog leads Silverfox to the gathered T’lan Imass, now “unburdened.” She asks forgiveness of Pran Chole, who says there is nothing to forgive. She says she will now free them, as she has the Ay, but he tells her no. They have heard from Lanas of their kin trapped on Assail and they must save them first, then they will return to her to have her end them. She says she will join them and he tells her they would be honored. She then asks what Itkovian has done and Pran Chole tells her to sense what he has done, sense the power in the ground. She says the realm is home to the Beast Thrones, the Rhivi spirits, and the Wolf Gods, but he says even more. “You have, perhaps unwittingly, created a realm where the Vow of Tellann unravels. . . Itkovian freed our souls and found, in this realm you created, a place for us.” She asks if they have been “redeemed,” and he tells her only she can do that, “the T’lan Imass have been awakened. Our memories—they live once more, in the earth beneath our feet. And they are what we will return to, the day you release us. We expected nothing but oblivion, upon that release. We could not have imagined that an alternative was possible . . . it surpasses us what one mortal man so willingly embraced.” He tells her they have one more thing they must do before leaving.


Picker watches the Rhivi looking for more bodies. The Bridgeburner corpses had already been retrieved (with the help of the Andii) and she suspects they didn’t find Paran or Quick Ben’s corpses because they weren’t there. She thinks of how the Bridgeburners are destroyed—had been destroyed at Pale. Envy, Garath, and the three Seguleh appear, and then Rake. Rake asks Envy what she wants and when she tells him she’s traveled far to tell him something, he asks what. She says they should go somewhere private and he tells her just say it. She informs him Draconus is plotting to escape Dragnipur and Rake says he wonders what has taken Draconus this long. Envy says “in case you’ve forgotten, we worked damned hard to slay him the first time.” Rake points out she just watched the battle and anyway, there isn’t much Rake can do until Draconus actually frees himself. Envy asks what he knows of the Master of the Deck and when Rake makes it clear he knows a lot, she’s infuriated. She warns him they will try to break the sword and that his “very life totters on the whim of a mortal.” Rake says, “I’d best step carefully then,” and leaves. Picker tells Blend to gather the last Bridgeburners and they’ll head for the gate, where waits the wagon holding their dead. Blends tells Picker she did what she could, but Picker replies “wasn’t good enough, was it?” Blend leaves and as Picker moves away Rake asks if he can join her group on their way to the command position. She says they aren’t very pleasant company but he responds they are “worthy company,” and then tells her he regrets he arrived so late. He says he would pay his respect to a fallen soldier, and she answers they all would. He and the five remaining Bridgeburners head for the hill.


Stonny tells Gruntle she wishes Harllo were there, even just his body with all the other fallen rather than out in the middle of nowhere alone. Brood and Dujek approach Korlat and Dujek asks who saw what happened. Korlat tells him and Dujek asks if the leg was responsible for Whiskeyjack’s death. Korlat lies and says his leg broke after Kallor killed him. Dujek says “We kept telling him to have it properly healed. ‘Later,’ he’d say. Always ‘later.” He asks her again and she lies again and he muses that Whiskeyjack was an excellent swordsman, gave Dassem trouble. He asks how long it took Tayschrenn to recover from Kallor’s attack and the mage said only moments, but too late. Korlat tells Dujek Kallor is “a formidable warrior,” but Dujek still seems troubled by the story. Stonny tells Gruntle the broken leg must have come first and he grabs her and shakes his head. Dujek says, “I have lost a friend.” The simple statement strikes Gruntle hard as he recalls Harllo and Itkovian. Rake arrives with the Bridgeburners and Crone. Dujek’s army—under a thousand—line the slopes of the hill, with the Barghast, Rhivi, Andii, and Brood’s army behind them, silent, mourning, honoring. Mallet steps up and sees immediately that it was the leg and collapses. Rake asks Korlat how she will answer Whiskeyjack’s murder and she tells him she and Orfantal will hunt Kallor down. He tells her to leave him alive for Dragnipur and she agrees. Rake tells the others that Moon’s Spawn is dying and will be sent over the ocean to sink there. He ask that the three Malazans be interred there, along with the other Bridgeburners. Picker agrees.


The Mott Irregulars are packing up their loot when their table glows and out of the “card” underneath step Paran and Quick Ben and Kilava.


Shortly afterward, Quick Ben calls the Bole Brothers the “scariest mages we’ve ever faced,” though he changes it to “warlocks” rather than mages, and says they have a sister “you wouldn’t want to meet, ever.” Kilava had already left them by then. Paran feels numbed by everything: “He was unused to being the hand of redemption . . . . So long ago, outside Pale, I’d felt her [the Jaghut girl], felt this child, trapped in her eternal pain, unable to comprehend what she had done to deserve what was happening to her. She had thought she was going to find her mother . . . and then it had all been torn away. Suddenly alone. Knowing only pain. For thousands of years.” He thinks how Quick Ben and Talamandas had taken her memory of it, with Hood’s help, how the Seer still has issues, and how Quick Ben had told Paran that “I needed to find a way to slow the infection, weaken the poison. I’d warned the Crippled God, you know. Told him I was stepping into his path. We’ve knocked him back, you know.” He thinks with pride of all they’d accomplished, including “we gave a child her life back.” But just then they reach sight of the hill and Quick Ben says, “I don’t like the feel of this.”


The bodies had disappeared into Kurald Galain and Rake himself took care of interring them. As Gruntle looks after Moon’s Spawn, he sees a group of soldiers standing around a bier and pile of stones. He takes Stonny with him and leads her to where the Grey Swords stand around Itkovian’s body on the bier. Gruntle notices that Anaster is no longer empty, and in fact now feels like Gruntle’s “rival.” The Destriant gives a small speech, but before they can lay the body in the shallow grave, a Malazan soldier steps forward, holding Itkovian’s helm, and tells her he would replace it for his helm he had exchanged earlier. She says no, Itkovian would refuse as he was pleased by the soldier’s gift, but if the soldier wishes, he could return it to . . . “She tails off at the sight of all the survivors of Dujek’s Host lining up at the slope, along with the Andii, etc, and then the Imass. The first T’lan Imass steps forward and tells the Destriant each will offer a gift in turn for the gift Itkovian gave them: Together, they shall become his barrow, and it shall be unassailable. If you refuse us in this, we will defy you.” She doesn’t refuse and he lays a shell on Itkovian’s chest. This continues throughout the night and at dawn, the Malazans start, beginning with the soldier placing the helm. At the end, Gruntle looks at the massive barrow and sees Tellann sorcery in it, holding each object in its place. He leaves the torcs there—thinking “Sorry, Treach. Learn to live with the loss. We do.”


Paran and Quick Ben had watched, but not joined. Paran feels too broken by Whiskeyjack’s death as well as by him and Quick Ben arriving too late to take part in the ritual farewell since they had arrived after Whiskeyjack’s body was already gone. As he and Quick Ben watch Moon’s Spawn drift toward the sea, Quick Ben tells him to draw Moon’s Spawn. He does and then takes them through to a chamber at the end of which was a raised dais, a throne pushed aside to make room for three sarcophagi. Along the approach were others, warded by Kurald Galain. Quick Ben identifies who lies in them, including Twist, Hedge, Shank, Toes, Detoran, and Trotts. They reach the dais and Quick says Rake did those spells himself. Quick Ben adds it was the leg that killed Whiskeyjack, that he had Kallor. Paran thinks how Picker and the others are watching Mallet, worried he’ll try to kill himself out of guilt, though “Mallet, he kept pushing you away . . . It wasn’t your fault, Mallet. Soldiers die.” Quick Ben leaves one of his pebbles behind in case he wants to visit, maybe with Kalam. As they prepare to leave, the mage tells Paran the Andii left everything behind in Moon’s Spawn. Paran wonders why, since they’ll settle in Black Coral and the city is empty. Paran opens a portal and Quick Ben steps through. Paran turns for a final farewell: “Whiskeyjack, for all that you have taught me, I thank you. Bridgeburners, I wish I could have done better by you. Especially at the end. At the very least, I could have died with you. It’s probably far too late. But I bless you, one and all.” He leaves and the portal blinks out, but a new glow appears in the chamber, “seeming to dance with the black web on the sarcophagi.”


Gruntle awaits the approach of the necromancer’s carriage. Reese halts the carriage and bangs on the sides. Bauchelain and Broach exit and says, “This is a place I could call home.” Gruntle laughs and says neither the Andii nor the Malazans will tolerate Broach’s activities. Broach agrees but Bauchelain says think of all the corpses, plus the dismembered K’Chain. Broach smiles. Bauchelain asks Gruntle to move out of their path but asks first if he could answer a question. They’ve received a strange note from a Jib Bole and brothers asking if they could visit the necromancers and Bauchelain wants to know if Gruntle knows them and if so, what sort of etiquette advice he’d give with regard to hosting them. Gruntle smiles and tells him to “Wear your best.” Bauchelain thanks him. Gruntle leaves for the temporary camp set up by the Grey Swords near Itkovian’s barrow. Tenescowri are flocking there, having heard of Anaster’s rebirth and hoping for salvation. Gruntle thinks the Tenescowri “too need to be reborn. The stranger within Anaster . . . has much to do.” Gruntle decides he should “take the man’s measure,” assuming Toc/Anaster will be “a better Mortal Sword than I am. Likely smug, sanctimonious.” When they meet, Toc asks him what it means to be a Mortal Sword. Gruntle, surprised, asks, “You don’t know?” Toc says “No. Do you?” and Gruntle laughingly admits “not really.” The two take an immediate liking to one another as they share experience and head off for a drink. Gruntle says he’ll get Stonny and the two part calling each other friend.


Paran watches as Quick Ben speaks to a Trygalle mage and Kruppe. Picker joins him and tells him he shouldn’t have left her in charge, that she messed up. Paran tries to take the blame, saying he abandoned them, but Picker says Quick Ben told them what the two of them did and they were all thankful that at least some kind of victory came out of all this. Paran then tries to buck her up by saying she came out of Coral with survivors and nobody could have bettered that. Dujek appears and says Paran is right. Dujek looks awful, as if he’s aged years, and his single arm trembles. He calls the Bridgeburners (the five beside Paran and Picker) together and tells them there’s a full complement of back pay in one of the Trygalle carriages and the guild will take them to Darujhistan. As far as he and Tayschrenn “know,” and will report, all the Bridgeburners were killed in Coral. Before anyone can speak, he adds that this was Whiskeyjack’s wish for the company and himself. Finally, he says, he’s giving them one more mission—to deliver someone to Baruk, someone who is not well and who, he says, needs “Malazans. Soldiers.” He dismisses them all but Paran and tells Picker to send “High Mage Quick Ben” up. When Picker is startled by the title, Dujek tells her “That bastard can’t hide any longer. Tayschrenn insisted.” Alone with Paran, Dujek informs him Dujek is taking the Host to Seven Cities to support Tavore’s army and invites Paran, who tells him no thanks. Dujek says he’ll add Paran to the casualty list and he can go with the Bridgeburners. When Paran diminishes his soldiering, Dujek tells him he is truly a “noble man”—not by birth but earned, something he calls “damned rare.” Paran disagrees, saying he’s been “humbled, again and again, by those around me.” Dujek sends him off to his “fellow Bridgeburners” and the two say goodbye. As Paran walks, the significance of that—”fellow” Bridgeburners strikes him: “My fellow Bridgeburners he said. Well, the achievement is shortlived, but even so. I made it.”


Toc/Anaster retrieves the beer for his meeting with Gruntle and Stonny. As he prepares to meet them, a stranger (Tool—whom Toc has no memory of) steps forward to him. He looks like a Barghast Toc thinks, “covered in scars—more scars of battle than Toc had ever seen in a single person before. Despite this, there was a comfort there in his face—a gentleman’s face, no more than twenty years of age . . . framed in long black hair devoid of any fetishes or braids. His eyes were a soft brown.” Tool tells him “I only sought to look upon you to see that you were well,” and Toc thinks, “He believes me to be Anaster. A friend of old perhaps—not one of his lieutenants though—I would have remembered this one.” He tells Tool he is well and Tool replies “This pleases me . . . I will go now, brother. Know that I hold you in my memory,” then heads off into the forest. Something about his walk nags at Toc but before he can place it, the Grey Swords Shield Anvil interrupts with a question. Toc tells her not now and heads off to drink with Gruntle and Stonny.


Kilava meets Tool at the edge of the forest and asks if he is done. He says yes and she tells him she’s missed him. He says he’s missed her as well. She notes the absence of his sword and when he asks if she thinks he’ll need one, she tells him “now more than before I would think.” She tells him of a quarry and says she’ll “invest it, of course, to prevent it shattering,” as she did once before, “so very long ago.”


Envy reawakens Mok and tells him his mask has cracked, saying, “I reluctantly admit, none of our facades have survived unfractured.” She adds Rake has banished them from the city and yes, he awakens in the same forest they had spent days in earlier. But, she says, your punitive mission is done, “perhaps satisfactorily, perhaps not,” though the Pannion Domin is done. When she tells them it’s time to head home, Mok replies they will demand an audience with the Seventh (Rake). She tells him it’s futile—Rake won’t see them and the Andii will blast them with sorcery rather than cross swords. She ends by saying she’s decided to escort them home.


On the way north, Hetan and Cafal meet up with Tool and Kilava. Hetan asks the stranger’s name and Tool says Onos Toolan. She says she can tell he hasn’t bedded a woman in a long time and he smiles. She likes his eyes, “my lover’s eyes.”


Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter 25 Part 3

Here is an idle thought... If the T’lan Imass has not been unburdened by Itkovian, would they have been so willing to head for the other continent to save their kin, or would they still be entirely invested in happenings on Genabackis and wondering what the Summoner plans?

Certainly Itkovian’s sacrifice and compassion have had a profound effect on the T’lan Imass, and I do think that left them able to think about helping others. More than that, wanting to. Also, how much easier must it be to remain “in torment” when knowing that an entire Realm holds your memories and that there will be no oblivion? Then to continue on your eternal task, not knowing when you’d find surcease, or what would be waiting when you were released?

Also, here: is this the first time that Silverfox has openly acknowledged the fact that four travel within her? She outright states that the T’lan Imass will be accompanied by Nightchill, Bellurdan, Tattersail and Silverfox. I think this is a new level of acceptance.

Ouch, this observation from Picker really hurts: “We were brittle. Destroyed months ago, outside Pale, it’s just taken this long for the few of us left to realize it. Hedge, Trotts, Detoran. Corpses who kept saluting-”

Okay, I’m going to go get my tissues. I think I’m going to need them, with such quotes as:

“First in.

Last out.

For the last time.”

Those Bridgeburners are everything characters should be in novels: realistic, three dimensional, humorous, angry, mournful. Their dialogue is sarcastic and biting, but at times honourable. We’ve seen them despairing, desperate, furious, bantering and soldiering. We’ve seen the very best of them and, dear Gods, I’m going to miss them. Someone asked in the comments why I didn’t mention Hedge’s death particularly in a previous analysis—the fact was, I couldn’t face yet another of the Bridgeburners to have gone down. I love them. And this tiny remnant is almost worse than if all of them have died. The survivors having to dwell on the departed is more than painful.

“And aren’t you looking very martial this afternoon...” *grins* Is there ever a time, while dragon or Tiste Andii, that Anomander Rake doesn’t look martial? Either he’s carrying a damn great sword or has teeth!

Much as Lady Envy makes my teeth hurt, I did love this exchange between her and Rake—but mostly because Rake slaps her down royally. He doesn’t allow her all those little mysterious utterances she’s so fond of, and generally makes a mockery of her concerns. Have I mentioned, I do like that Rake fellow?

Poor Picker, with her “wasn’t good enough, was it?” line. It’s such a bad thing that she feels guilt for the deaths of the soldiers under her command. I can see why she would—it seems as though any good Lieutenant should do—but these circumstances were beyond the pale (and I intend no pun there...). I don’t think anyone would have been able to extract any more of the Bridgeburners than Picker managed to—in fact, most would have done worse.

*grins* Is Rake avoiding the Seguleh, in order not to be drawn into discussions with them, considering he is one of them?

*flinches* Imagine being one of those Bridgeburners—surviving the horrific events of Coral, watching people you’d known for years die, and then to find out that Whiskeyjack hadn’t made it. I wouldn’t have wanted to be the one to deliver that news. I like the quiet respect that imbues every word of Rake’s as he talks about the Bridgeburners being allies and worthy. It means a lot coming from an Immortal who has seen thousands of years pass—for him to be so moved by the actions of some soldiers and their commander, well, it must just take a lot to get that reaction from him....

This is an incredibly neat book-end to the novel, that Stonny verbalises, where she remarks on how the three of them watched Moon’s Spawn on the move right at the start of Memories of Ice. It is truly incredible to see them now, with what they’ve been through, and realise that Erikson has accomplished that character development in the course of one novel. Excellent stuff.

Oh man... I am broken. This with Dujek—wondering about that damned leg and whether it was responsible indirectly, whether he was responsible for Whiskeyjack since he didn’t absolutely insist on the leg being healed. And then that “I have lost a friend.” Indeed, raw simplicity. And so very painful.

Oh Mallet... That one hit hard as well. “Some wounds never heal, and that man has just taken such a wounding. Would that Dujek had left Whiskeyjack hidden beneath the rain-cape...” I wonder what this means for Mallet’s future character development.

I like how Korlat is offered the chance for vengeance against Kallor.

*shudders* “He has earned Dragnipur.” Even for Kallor, that is a dark punishment.

Wow, even more respect for Rake—here, he takes on a great deal of responsibility for Whiskeyjack’s death: “...slain by a betrayer delivered here by myself and Caladan Brood...”

Moon’s Spawn is a fitting sarcophagus for Whiskeyjack. I fiercely approve.

Ha, I really want to read more about the Bole brothers—and that sole sister mentioned. Gods, if even Quick Ben talks them up as the scariest warlocks around, then there is definitely a story there!

Ahh, the horrible juxtaposition between the quiet satisfaction of Paran and the ego of Quick Ben, and then their realisation that something has gone so very wrong. They had every reason to feel pleased with themselves, and it is so painful that they are about to discover Whiskeyjack’s death. Erikson uses the reader’s knowledge well here, creating a sense of dread with few words.

And I fiercely approve of the gestures shown towards Itkovian. His funeral is a fine moment, a sparkling occurrence to pay tribute to a very special man. Yes, I definitely approve. And another nice book-ending situation where we see the Malazan soldier return that helmet.

More sadness, as Paran mourns Whiskeyjack and then as Quick Ben says that he will tell Fiddler of Hedge’s death. That is not something I would be offering to do.

There is a real ache in me for the fact that Quick Ben whispers the names of the Bridgeburners to Paran—I suspect this is because Paran didn’t have the opportunity to meet them all properly in the time he took command. And then the echo when he thinks: “Whiskeyjack, for all that you have taught me, I thank you. Bridgeburners, I wish I could have done better by you. Especially at the end. At the very least, I could have died with you. All right, it’s probably far too late. But I bless you, one and all.”

So, these Bridgeburners have been blessed by the Master of the Deck, and have the possibility of ascending thanks to events in Deadhouse Gates. I will be very interested to see what happens, especially with those last words: “A dance of mystery.”

Hee! “Aye, I’m ready to hate the bastard, I admit it.” I like this misdirection!

And then a final dart of sorrow, as Anaster/Toc says “I won’t, even if they torture me...” and then pales. I think those scars will never fade.

Seriously, guys, I can’t take much more of this—this chapter has left me in bits! Now Dujek’s offer to the Bridgeburners, the elevation of Quick Ben to High Mage, the fact that Paran is considered ‘noble’ not for his blood, but for his actions, the way Paran says: “...there’s but one experience I will carry with me of my time in this campaign, High Fist, it is that of being humbled, again and again, by those around me.” And that final line: “I made it.” Excuse me while I go and have a bit of a cry in the corner.

So very sweet, this scene between Toc (his name for the last time, I suspect) and Tool. And lovely to see Tool taking back his humanity (although, I confess, I’m not quite sure how this happened—help please? All we saw is him relinquish his sword, did that then equate to him becoming human again? Is it because he was outside of the Ritual?)

Some lighter moments to lift the mood as we leave the main bulk of the novel, but nothing can really take away the pain of the passing of the Bridgeburners, the tragic death of Whiskeyjack and the noble compassion of Itkovian. I will miss them.


Bill’s Reaction to Chapter 25 Part 3

While I think what Silverfox did for her mother, in creating the dream world, was truly admirable, it unfortunately gets somewhat tainted for me by all the baggage surrounding it. But her immediate decision to join the T’lan Imass, to lend her formidable powers to saving their and her kin, is something I can enjoy and respect in a pure sense. It may be my favorite moment of hers, though I’d have to think about it. I do find Pran Chole’s “long moment” of hesitation interesting though. Why the long pause before accepting? Is it a father’s concern about the safety of his child? A sign that he doesn’t fully trust Silverfox to act in their best interests? A worry she will be a constant reminder of what she didn’t do or perhaps what she can do? Anyone have ideas? Or maybe he just had a little dust in his throat....

“You have been redeemed”—File.

Pran Chole’s statement that the Imass expected “nothing but oblivion” upon release gives you a sense of just how much they wanted to end their existence.

Funny how many little cliffhangers Erikson tosses at the reader at the end of these small scenes—what does Tool want, what is the “one more task,” etc. I think if these were divided into chapters and an equal number of chapters ended in this fashion, it might seem gimmicky or annoying. But in the flow of these multiple scenes in long chapters, one feels the bit of suspense, but not as strongly, and so they don’t feel so cheap or cheesy.

Picker’s thoughts are so poignant, have such an emotional impact. Again, note how in so many of these moments Erikson really pares back the language: short paragraphs, short sentences, fragments, no fancy latinates, few polysyllabic words:

Our wagon. The wagon carrying the dead Bridgeburners.

First in.

Last out.

For the last time.

Nice touch that repetition of “last” as well.

Speaking of nice touches—how light and sharp is that image of a “scarred cattle dog” coming here, after a battle, amidst memory and grief and sorrow and loss.

And then a deft pivot amidst all this grief and literal darkness into the light (yes, pun intended) repartee of Envy and Rake.

Then another sharp momentary pivot as Picker looks at Envy and thinks, “not a scuff on that telaba . . . Yet there we stood, side by side, in that hallway.” That unmarked telaba I’d say stands for more than just a piece of clothing here—Envy is not marked by events like Picker; Ascendants (most of them) are not marked by events like mortals.

Then more humor. And false pomposity from Envy: “Hear me then, Wielder of Dragnipur.” Forcing your sense of self-importance much? “Blood whispers.” Yes, yes, and the crow croaks at midnight. I love that Rake’s first response is a “grunt.”

How’s that for a tidbit of a scene you want a much bigger bite of: “we worked damn hard to slay him the first time!” ’Course, it turned out Envy didn’t do much save watch, but still—more, I want more.

By the way, I’d say this qualifies as Chekov’s famous rule of drama: “If you stick a big bad-ass god on the wall in Act I, he’s gotta go off in Act II.” In other words, does anybody really think that after all these references to Draconus wanting/trying to get out of Dragnipur, it’ll all end up with him sitting on the back of the wagon complaining to Pearl about how he never could figure out how to do it: “I coulda been a contender; I coulda been somebody.”

And I love her deep dark, once again self important: “do you know of . . . ” followed by Rake reeling off all he does in fact know, that Envy does not.

“Gather ’em up, Blend.”

“Shouldn’t take long.”

Think about that for a moment.

I like how when Rake joins Picker, her first impression of him, and so the readers’ in this particular relationship, is of “the Tiste Andii’s hard, unhuman gaze.” (Nice touch by the way of not using a pronoun—his—but giving us the inhuman species name.) And how that segues into “you are worthy company” followed by sincere regret and sorrow and an apology. Though with a bit of a bite (intended or unintended?) and perhaps reproach in the “I didn’t know you Malazans had, without telling us beforehand, stolen ahead and entered the keep.” And Picker’s recognition of that, as well as her insight that her fellow Bridgeburners would as well and her staunch “That alliance was solid as far as we were concerned.” And Rake’s humble, “Then I would walk with my allies, Lieutenant, one more time.”

And then the impact of that last line, with all the allusions to the few Bridgeburners we’ve had the past few paragraphs, to get that concrete, monosyllabic actual number—five—it hits you like a wall.

From grief to grief. Once again, Erikson doesn’t let us forget the fallen. Too many authors, too many books, feel they’re being “gritty” or “tough” by killing off characters—sometimes just by quantity, sometimes by knocking off a major character or two—but then it all becomes just a gimmick because they never force the survivors, and thus the reader, to face the recurring, constant loss of those dead. It’s on to chapter 12, on to the next big battle! Erikson doesn’t let us move cheerily on as if the dead were nothing to us beyond a page or two. So we get Gruntle and Stonny grieving over Harllo—my god, that was so chapter 12! (he says without bothering to check). We get that line about a cattle dog, so we feel the pang of losing Coltaine and Duiker (yes, yes, I know), and Bult etc. all over again. It’s an adult version of grief. Now, grant you, there’s also the whole dead people don’t die, they just come back as people who had been turned into a shell thing, but more on that later....

Speaking of grief, this scene on the hill kills me every time. Every time. Dujek wiping his face. Korlat speaking tonelessly. Korlat’s lie. Gruntle covering for the lie. The simplicity (again) of “I have lost a friend.” The roll call—so short a list—of the Bridgeburners filing in. And then Mallet. Mallet is the dagger. Rake’s gesture is grand, noble, and great, and Picker’s wry response rescues some good feeling, but Mallet. It just sticks.

Boles. File.

And then after that very quick comic relief from the prior scene, we’re back in it again as Quick Ben and Paran start moving toward what they don’t know and we, the readers, do. And so the pace gets slowed by Paran’s thoughts as they move toward tragedy, stretching it out for the reader. And by the end, we start to feel good again as Paran starts to check off all the good they’d achieved: “stolen the Seer from under Anomander Rake’s nose . . seen an ancient wrong righted . . . removed the threat . . . gave a child her life back.” (And let’s just say that this is a very interesting checklist. Or is it a roadmap?) But just as we’re starting to smile again, we’re plucked back to reality: “I don’t like the feel of this.”

And then we get to feel both good and bad at Itkovian’s burial scene. The Malazan soldier and his helm. The line-up of those there to honor. I love the flatness of the Imass as they begin to honor: “if you refuse us this, we will defy you.” So much packed into that. And Gruntle dropping the torcs in there.

File that barrow by the way.

More on rituals. We’ve seen this kind of examination before—of the meaning of rituals, of what they offer. And the pain of not being able to partake in the ritualistic farewell to Whiskeyjack. The emptiness that leaves Paran with. That would have been too much, I think. I can do grim, but this would have hurt a lot had Erikson not given us the two of them in Moon’s Spawn.

Did I mention Erikson doesn’t let us forget? Nice touch to include Twist in this Hall of the Fame for the Fallen. And another roll call. We’ve had a shorter roll call of the fallen, then a roll call of the survivors to remind us of the fallen, and now another of the fallen again. Thud. Thud. Thud. I like that it isn’t a “greatest hits” of characters either—not just the big boys, the ones we know like Hedge and Detoran and Toes. Aimless. Runter. Story. Thud. Thud. Thud.

More evidence of TATIR (reminder—The Awesomeness that is Rake): “These spells. He worked alone.”

Mallet. The dagger twists.

Good old Quick Ben. I love the idea of him visiting Moon’s Spawn. But again, just as you get a bittersweet smile, another dagger; “Me and Kalam.”

Did I mention cliffhangers? Hmmm, a little dancing glow... a “blessing” from the Master of the Deck. And don’t forget, a song. Hmmmm.

“Wear your best Bauchelain,” indeed. I love that scene.

Note that semi-cult already starting around Itkovian. File.

Once again, Erikson makes good use of dramatic irony—of the audience knowing more than the characters. Hard not to smirk as Gruntle gives us his “measure” of Anaster/Toc as “likely smug, sanctimonious.”

“I don’t want followers” seems to be a surprisingly common refrain among many of these characters, eh?

A quick little detour to remind us of the other events of Deadhouse Gates—Fiddler this time rather than Coltaine. Smoothly done.

So Paran is now officially a Bridgeburner in his mind. Hmm, does that mean he blessed himself?

So after all the grief, we’re staring to get some good feeling: Rake’s noble acts, Quick and Paran getting to say goodbye, a hint that the Bridgeburners might not be as finished as first appeared, Toc and Gruntle, and now Tool refreshed. Stop for a moment and picture all the times we’ve seen him prior, all those scenes of bones and dust and disappearing into ground and the burden of the Vow—and now this: “a comfort there in his face—a gentleman’s face, no more than twenty years of age . . . His eyes were a soft brown.” Tell me that doesn’t warm you. And reunited with his sister as well.

Let’s go to the list:

Mother Mhybe—daughter Silverfox reconciled? check

Brother Jaghut—sister Jaghut reunited? check

Father Pran Chole—daughter Silverfox reconciled? check

Brother Tool—Sister Kilava reunited? check

Mother Dark and Andii? “closer?” but no check

Did I miss any familially-themed pairings?

And what a great ending (yes, I know there’s an epilogue, but still). Hetan and Tool. Been a long time for that guy . . .

There’s a happy close though: “My lover’s eyes.” True joy to top off all this grief and loss.




Paran enters the Finnest House (the Azath in Darujhistan) with a pack of gold and tells Raest he’s decided to live there after spending three weeks in an inn. Raest asks what Paran plans to do with the two bodies in the hallway (Vorcan and Rallick Nom) and Paran replies he doesn’t know yet. He tells Raest tonight is the opening of Picker’s new tavern (in partnership with the Bridgeburners) which they’ve made out of K’rul’s old temple/belfry.


As Paran exits the House, he stumbles over an old hooded figure with useless legs who asks for a coin. Paran gives him some silvers and the beggar tells him he is seeking a treasure buried in the Tahlyn Hills. Paran tells him he’s got enough money, and warns him hanging around outside the House probably isn’t a great idea, that “The House does not welcome strangers.” The beggar says, “Not this House . . . but I know one that does.” Paran leaves.


Picker stares at the man they had brought back to Baruk (Duiker). She thinks how Baruk “had done all he could to restore life to what had been a mostly destroyed, desiccated body.” Duiker hasn’t spoken a word since the resurrection. She looks around the nearly empty bar (only the Bridgeburners, Kruppe, Murillio, and Coll), depressed at the failure of opening night at K’rul Bar. Baruk enters. Picker says the hell with the opening, time for some stories, and she suggests that the Daru might like to hear how Coral was taken. But nobody wants to tell it. Spindle says, “Too close . . . a story to break our hearts all over again! Where’s the value in that?” Duiker answers: “There is value,” but says Spindle was right—it is too soon for the story of Coral. He begins to tell the story of the Chain of Dogs.


Amanda’s Reaction to the Epilogue:

Hahaha, I love Raest! You know what he reminds me of? An Igor type character. You know, the lugubrious voice, the mocking humour that the master fails to grasp entirely. He makes me giggle.

“The Imperial Historian had fallen silent. No-one knew why.” Oh, we know... And I miss Coltaine all over again now as well. It seems truly fitting that Duiker is to tell the Bridgeburners of the Chain of Dogs—heartbreak for heartbreak. This truly is the Malazan Book of the Fallen. *sighs* See you on the other side.


Bill’s Reaction to the Epilogue:

I love the Odd Couple routine one can imagine with Raest and Paran.

Those two bodies will eventually stop being doorstops.

Jaghut humor. God help me, I like Jaghut humor.

So what do you think, do people actually speak in capital letters when they say the word “House”? Poor Munug, he does seem to have fallen on hard times. I know he can’t make trips to sell his goods anymore, but I am surprised he’s reduced to begging, as his talent lies in his hands and head (and possibly heart), not his legs. Did the Crippled God take more than his legs from him? Is this just spiteful cursing? Any guesses?

Ahh, the power of stories.

And so we go from the joyful close of the book proper to the oh-so-bittersweet close of the narrative as a whole—and Coltaine’s story comes crashing down on us once more....


Amanda’s Reaction to Memories of Ice:

Well, now... It’s hard to marshal my thoughts on this one—but what I can immediately verbalise is the fact that it would be impossible to pick a favourite part of the novel, unlike with Gardens of the Moon and Deadhouse Gates. For me, I pretty much loved every part of Memories of Ice.

I also want to mention just how tight Erikson’s writing is. I was thinking about what a tome Memories of Ice is—well over one thousand pages in my edition—and yet there is not one redundant scene, in my opinion. Not one part that could easily be excised. For someone who is used to reading bloated fantasy epics, it comes as a real breath of fresh air to realise that, despite its length, Memories of Ice is an incredibly honed book.

My over-riding feeling when coming out of the read last night was one of loss and sorrow. Despite some of the lighter moments within Memories of Ice, this is a novel where real life hits. Not everyone is safe. Characters you love will succumb to this tragic war. None of the deaths felt gratuitous either—done for shock value. All of them felt incredibly fitting given the events of the novel.

And what about the classic moments—where Moon’s Spawn comes crashing down into the Keep; the release of Toc from his torment; Itkovian’s desire to free an entire race from their burden; and Whiskeyjack... This novel is chock-full of moments to cherish and read back.

I loved the banter of the Bridgeburners. I loved the change in Gruntle, and his mocking of the Gods. I loved (and hated) the siege of Capustan. I loved the way Quick Ben tweaked the Crippled God’s nose.

From huge epic sweeping moments, to the mundane talk between soldiers waiting for the next battle, this is a supreme novel and the very finest example of what can be accomplished within fantasy fiction.


Bill’s Reaction to Memories of Ice:

Okay, I don’t have a lot of time as the Starbuck’s employees are:

a) mopping around my table

b) grimly toting up the time I’ve spent here typing and drinking the same single medium (or whatever Starbucks calls a medium; I confess I never bothered to learn) Earl Grey (more hot water please).

This series is obviously a favorite of mine, or I wouldn’t be doing this, so who knows how often I will say this, but I do think MoI is one of my favorites among my favorite series. GoTM grabbed me, but it has its weaknesses and while its above average, with some great scenes (Rake’s arrival at Baruk’s for instance), it doesn’t match what’s to come. Deadhouse Gates is a big step up in so many ways. And the Chain of Dogs—just wow. But MoI has so much in it, so much depth and richness and emotion. Sure, it has its battles, but it’s so much a smaller focus, so tight on characters and relationships: Korlat and Whiskeyjack, Paran’s acceptance into the Bridgeburners, Blend and Picker, Tool and Toc. DG has a lot of spectacle and while MoI has its own (such as Moon’s Spawn rising out of a harbor then dropping like the vengeance of Stone and Sky), it draws me in and holds me closer. This is a series of big scenes, big battles, big set pieces, big ideas. But none of those work without the human element—and MoI has it in spades (I think of how I reacted to Mappo and Icarium in DG). Not to mention it sets up oh so much to come. Like I said, I may call each one ”my favorite,” but of the three so far, MoI takes the lead....

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

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

1. Kadere
ROLL ON HOUSE OF CHAINS! One of my very favorite books of the series!
2. Jordanes
Great roundup, I am really enjoying this reread immensely.

Amanda and Bill are doing a truly fantastic job - from the former I get the fresh perspective and new wonder, and I get to grin in delight at what she's yet to find out, and from the latter I get the incisive analysis and I get to nod wholeheartedly in agreement with someone who seems to love the series as much as I do.

Roll on House of Chains! I wonder what Amanda will make of Erikson's narrative experiment in this novel :)
Steven Halter
3. stevenhalter
This, the third part of the chapter, is a very well done wrap up and bridge to the future at once.
We get sorrow (the hill) and hope (Hetan and Tool) and humor (Rake and Envy).
We get glimpses at the "dance of mystery" that is to come. I really like that line, both as it applies to the sarcophagi in Moon's Spawn and to the series as a whole.
Chris Hawks
4. SaltManZ
That epilogue gets me every time. We've now covered the 3 biggest "Uh, I've got something in my eye" moments in the series for me: Coltaine's Fall, the DG epilogue, and now the MoI epilogue. I like to think that Duiker's response to Spindle ("There is value") is SE's own. And how moving is it to see Duiker sitting there, staring at his piece of cloth, which—though SE doesn't mention it—we readers know to hold the name of his "nameless" marine and lover, Sa'yless Lorthal.

Man, this makes me want to read TtH (which I've only read the once) again right now. But I'm also really looking forward to HoC now, especially the first quarter—especially now that I've got some Robert E. Howard and a little Elric under my belt since reading it last in 2008.

Amanda: I believe that when Tool dropped his sword in front of Silverfox, he was denouncing not just his role as First Sword, but his allegiance to the Ritual, and thus Silverfox released him to be Imass once more.

I found it interesting when Pran Chole said that Itkovian could not "redeem" the T'lan Imass, given events in TtH...
Steven Halter
5. stevenhalter
As Bill said, the amazing thing about Memories of Ice is how finely drawn the events and characters are. We get the big (and amazing) siege of Capustan and battle of Coral, but we get so many small moment like Whiskeyjack and Korlat and Whiskeyjack's fall and the final scene in the epilogue with Dukier starting the tale of the Chain of Dogs.
Then, we get all the little references to things ahead, the Emperor of the Edur and the glow on the sarcophigi of the BB's. The whole series really is a dance of mystery between finding out and glimpsing.
6. Osyris
To all the re-readers (somewhat spoilerific):

What was a very hart warming and feel good moment in Tool's meeting with Toc on a first read, is so incredibly heart wrenching on re-read :( I know I'm not alone in this? One of the small things that makes re-reading Malazan such a treat every time!
Amir Noam
7. Amir
Rake is avoiding the Seguleh, not to avoid discussions, but to avoid fighting. Remember how he got to be the Seventh: He visited the Segule island, and being Rake, he deferred to no one in his path (like Tool). This led to a series of duels, and after killing the Seguleh Seventh (thus taking his rank), Rake left by warren to catch his breath.

Had he met the three Segule here,there would definitley have been a duel between Mok and Rake. (as Mok himself told Envy earlier: "He is the Seventh. I am the Third.")
Amir Noam
8. Amir
I've *completely* forgotten about Munug! Thanks for the reminder.

And I love Jaghut humor as well. And Raest's stand-up routine is the best of the lot :-) I would have gone to see his show in Vegas any night of the week.
9. Jordanes
@6 Osyris

Yes, I agree entirely. Very poignant now. Still brings a smile to my face, but it's a sadder smile.

@ 4 SaltManZ

I'd say there's a few more tear-jerking moments to come in the series. Indeed, I would say that the most heartstring-pulling moment is still to come. I'm talking of a certain event in The Bonehunters, involving a distant relation of Kalam's and his simple companion....
10. Jordanes
About Munug: Though I do like that even what happened to this minor character is established at the end of the book (is there anything that SE didn't tie up at the end in this book?) I did wince a little - a tiny bit - at the 'but I know a House that does' line. Cue evil cackle and DUN DUN DUN music :)

As long as I'm complaining (it's a short and entirely nitpicky, unimportant list), Anomander Rake's "He has earned Dragnipur line" shit, Rake, he has killed an entire continent's worth of people! Oh, you mean coz of Whiskeyjack?.....So, not for the previous crimes?

Perhaps it's a three strikes kind of rule? :)
Tai Tastigon
11. Taitastigon
Jord @10

Beat you to it *ggg*:

Chapter 24

35.Taitastigon VIEW ALL BY | Tuesday June 21, 2011 03:16pm EDT Flag | Bookmark | Edit

And on the quoting game, I am really sorry, Steven, but I must call *she-cheese!-igans* on you: He has earned Dragnipur. For killing WJ behind your back, Rake ? Well, shiii-it ! What about Jacuruku ? Naaw, that one was just a little poopooh...!...didn´t happen behind my back, after all... ...errh...we all feel for WJ, but...DAMN - that is very *release the seven*, man !

12. amphibian
I actually came to this series with an ARG of Memories of Ice. I loved it on first read and went back for the other two, then forwards through House of Chains.

Hahaha, I love Raest! You know what he reminds me of? An Igor type character. You know, the lugubrious voice, the mocking humour that the master fails to grasp entirely. He makes me giggle.

If Igor was perhaps the single most powerful ascendant we've yet met in the books, sure...

(Think about it, it took Rake, Silanah, several Andii Soletaken, Malazan magic and an Azath to imprison Raest in GotM - and that's without him having his Finnest.)
karl oswald
13. Toster
well, here we are, MoI is in the books, and i mean really in the books! hoods balls this wrap-up is some seriously well done stuff. it strikes me every time when duiker finally speaks up. strikes me right in the heart. it's such a shame that we can't skip right to TtH and keep reading about the bridgeburners and gruntle and stonny and the D-Stan crew, but i can take it i think.

i also loved that line about a dance of mystery, as it really speaks to the series as a whole, and reminds me of a certain mage who describes sorcery as "mystery and poetry."

finally, just want to give Bill kudos for keeping up with the reread despite his travelling. you're a credit to the fandom, Bill!
Emiel R
14. Capetown
Amazing book, and so good to do this reread so I got to experience it all again!

Small thing that confuses me though. Did we at one point get to know who or what Garath is?
Sydo Zandstra
15. Fiddler
This remains the favourite/most powerful book in the series to me.

SaltManZ mentioned 'I got something in my eye' moments. There are a lot in this book, as mentioned above. But to me the most heartbreaking moment in the book is when Mallet sees WhiskeyJack's body.

And realizes.

Other big 'eye' moments to me are a certain scene with a mage in RG and a scene with 2 dogs late in the series.

On a side note, the summary said five remaining surviving Bridgeburners going with Rake. But there are six actually: Picker, Blend, Antsy, Mallet, Spindle and Bluepearl.

Still with Quick Ben, Kalam and Fiddler added, that isn't a big number...

@Amanda: we saw the BB's go down. But as Gandalf said at the lighting of the Beacons of Gondor, 'Hope remains... ' ;-)
Tai Tastigon
16. Taitastigon

Actually, good time to take that little break before HoC.
This reread showed me clearly how much DG and MoI, great in their own right, are setup for the rest of the cycle.

One interesting theme that should be filed away for future use: SE now has killed off Coltaine/Chain of Dogs and the Bridgeburners. From a physical presence they have moved into the realm of legend (well, at least). It is highly interesting to see how SE weaves both *legends* into the future plot, how these legends evolve and start affecting their general environment, especially how other...entities... like the Bonehunters will measure up to the legends, or be measured up against them.

House of Chains is a great start in that direction.
Tricia Irish
17. Tektonica
Thanks for a great write up guys. And kudos to you Bill for keeping up while surrounded by all that Southwestern beauty!

This is the single best Fantasy book I've ever read. And it sets up so much for the future books! The enormous tragedies would be simply plot, were it not for the profound characterization by SE. I love these people. So real.

Amanda....have you come to like Paran? If I remember correctly, you didn't like him so much in GotM. I always liked him, but his character arc is fun to watch. SE lets us inside his head in ways I don't believe he does with others....we get to see his insecurities, doubts, ah-ha moments...much self reflection and growth. Nice.

And Rake...what a gentleman. So honorable....and he was so very frightening at first. He seems so awakened to life now. He has become so involved with humans again and particularly the BB's and WJ. Glad to see him participating in this battle.

The Epilogue was good in many ways, but particularly seeingDuiker, even in his broken state.! I'm so glad the Chain of Dogs story will be told....accurately.

Thank you Amanda and Bill and Steve Ericson. Wow.
Tricia Irish
18. Tektonica
Any word on whether we'll get to see Steve here after this?
19. StevenErikson
Not so long, I should think. I look forward to your questions. Thank you Amanda and Bill for your thoughtful commentary throughout these re-reads (although as one reader noted, might want a second look at the last Tool/Toc scene...), and thanks to all the readers who have participated. This site serves to remind me of things I have since forgotten (I never go back and read my own novels, once they're published), and also helps me focus on what works and what doesn't. MOI was a monster of a novel, the one where I felt I was at the very edge of my juggling ability -- so many things in the air all at once; I never knew if I plucked each one down at the right time and in the right way, but it seems that mostly I did (which is a relief). As a set-up for the rest of the series, I would view both MOI and DG as that, in that they are in a moebius relationship, elliptical, and that is something I played with in all the books of the series awaiting this re-read. Anyway, I am finding it refreshing to read what goes on here for another reason, as I am halfway through the first Kharkanas novel, brow knitted as I wonder what the hell I'm doing -- which is exactly how I felt while writing MOI. Let's hope lightning strikes twice, huh?
Pirmin Schanne
20. Torvald_Nom
On a side note, the summary said five remaining surviving Bridgeburners going with Rake. But there are six actually: Picker, Blend, Antsy, Mallet, Spindle and Bluepearl.

The scene is described from Picker's point of view, so it's the other five Bridgeburners.
Tricia Irish
21. Tektonica
Thank you, Steve, for reading along with us. I look forward to a Q and A session! Very exciting to hear you're working on the first Kharkanas novel!
Now that The Malazan Book of the Fallen is complete, we'll be starved.
I have no worries.....
22. djk1978
Jordanes @10 and Taitastigon @11 : I answered this little issue of Rake's response when Tait posted in before but I'll repeat what I think.

You're right in that the Jacaruku continent is a far worse crime then the slaying of one man in WJ. If Kallor is deserving of Dragnipur obviously the actual crime of continent annihilation would be a more worthy reason.

But I think you should consider Rake himself and allow him some personal emotion and desire for revenge. After all, although Rake undoubtedly knows about what Kallor did, he may not have seen it and he wasn't part of the cleanup. That much is clear from the prologue. So it's not personal for him. Whiskeyjack on the other hand is the first person aside from Brood who he counts as a friend I think. That's saying something, considering how long he has lived. Even other Andii are not his friends, although there may be some closer than others. But think how unknown he is to Korlat even. So I find it easy to allow him to make a statement like this. Is Rake beyond grief and anger for a friend? I'd like to think not. And what greater punishment can Rake think of then Dragnipur?

That line is not a stretch to me.
Julian Augustus
23. Alisonwonderland
Rake instructed Korlat and Orfantal to 'save' Kallor for Dragnipur. Which, of course, they obeyed. Light bulb moment. This explains a scene I could hardly credit in TtH, one involving a certain soletaken dragon. Then, I thought that was the most incredibly dumb dragon I have ever heard of, with a level of stupidity that was impossible to believe. Now, of course, I can see why it acted the way it did. Kudos, Steve.
Julian Augustus
24. Alisonwonderland
Memories of Ice regularly tops the polls of fans' favorite book of the series, and this re-read shows why. An absolutely outstanding book, and for me the peak of the series.
Julian Augustus
25. Alisonwonderland

Also, here: is this the first time that Silverfox has openly
acknowledged the fact that four travel within her? She outright states
that the T’lan Imass will be accompanied by Nightchill, Bellurdan,
Tattersail and Silverfox. I think this is a new level of acceptance.

Something is amiss here. Later events indicate Bellurdan was never a part of Silverfox. So, is Silverfox mistaken here? How can she not know which souls are within her? Or is this some kind of misdirection on her part? Or perhaps authorial error?
Chris Hawks
26. SaltManZ
So, I've long wondered—and maybe The Man Himself can shed some light here, since's he's popped in once already—but ever since I heard that MoI was originally being written second when the computer ate it, I wondered if the MoI epilogue was always planned as a lead-in to DG.

I mean, then the series goes like this: GotM -> MoI, ending with Duiker telling of the Chain of Dogs, which leads into DG -> HoC, ending with Trull beginning to tell his story, leading in to MT to start the third and final arc of the series.
Chris Hawks
27. SaltManZ
@Alison: Early in the book, it kept being pointed out that no one could sense Bellurdan inside Silverfox, which made sense given what we find out later (and indeed, I was impressed with the foreshadowing, given that I originally thought the later revelation came out of left field.) But then the second half of the book everyone mentions him every chance they can get. I originally attributed it to blatant misdirection on SE's part, but then we get Tattersail's POV and open acknowledgement of the "Skullcrusher within" (if you will) so now I don't what to think.
28. Illuyankas
@SMZ: My first Malazan book was Memories of Ice, and since the library didn't have Gardens at the time the end certainly functioned as a lead-in to Deadhouse Gates for me.

Also I think something similar happened to Bellurdan as to a later ascendant, involving splitting off the unsavoury parts into a separate entity. Any more would be end-third-of-series spoilers.
29. Abalieno
Huh, I have some catching up to do. Let's see... I'm still at Chapter 23, it will take a while ;)

I have had a number of things to comment but some of them I forgot and I still have to read the last chunk to re-frame some opinions. One of the things I wanted to say (but it's still based on what I remember since I'm not on those scenes yet) is that I consider Kallor one of the weak chain links of this book. An element that had some potential but that wasn't played fully or executed so well.

At the start of GotM the alliance between Brood and Kallor is already taken for granted but it always left me skeptical. Here it becomes more of a factor and I still think it doesn't work too well. One wonders why these two are together (the only guess is that Brood prefers to keep this kind of enemy close).

But more than the motivations of the alliance I didn't like how Kallor was used in the story. I know he gets some better characterization in a later volume, but here he remains quite shallow. The way I perceived him is that he was mostly used as a tool to get to WJ's planned death. He seems to have no other purpose within the novel, and as a betrayer he wasn't even well hidden. No real intrigue or surprise about what happens. He seemed fixed on a cliche role, with superficial motivations, and then made to connect the plot point without much significance. The bad guy does his stabbing at the end as part of the script.

More specifically I was thinking about this because I was watching Fringe (the X-Files-like TV series) and there's a bad guy that is relatively cliche as well, but used in a way that is more satisfying. Or think for example at another similar figure like Hannibal Lecter. These are cases (and plot patterns) of "bad" guys with which uneasy alliances have to be made. One would avoid consorting with them, but the alliance becomes a necessity and has to be "suffered", no matter the unpleasantness or danger of it. See what I mean? From my point of view Kallor filled here a similar role. He represents an uneasy alliance that has to be endured, even if you expect it will likely backfire and give you lots of troubles.

Yet it's the key element that is missing: Kallor isn't really needed for anything. He's not indispensable the way Mr. Jones of Fringe or Hannibal Lecter were, in order to solve the cases, and so the lives of those involved. There was a lot at stake that made the alliance a necessity in those cases. And so crossing to the dark side had to be suffered no matter the risk. But in MoI? Kallor, plot-wise, is more annoying that WJ's leg. He could have been easily dispatched, he serves no purpose, he's an active threat. Yet he seems to be kept there, in his cliche role, only to fulfill a betrayal that could be seen from miles away. Again, one could see things going wrong even in Lecter's and Mr. Smith case, but, once again, there were good motivations to go down that path and take the risk. While Kallor had no reason to be kept around. So, more than the leg, one wonders why they didn't deal with him, because the outcome was very predictable.

That's why I consider it a weak link. It doesn't hold the story well and it comes out as it started: as a cliche.

(formally, it's a very typical pattern in movies: the protagonist know there's a TRAP, but he goes headlong into it because he has no choice. Like the life of someone is at stake or somesuch. This is a cliche as well, but it works because its rules are respected. Instead it seems that in the book we got the pattern but without respecting the rules. So it doesn't work. The rule being that Kallor wasn't "necessary" and so outside every form of possible double-bind)

And sorry for being polemic again ;) if I ignore these points I don't feel like I'm being honest or doing a good work commenting the text. I wish I was in time so that it could spark a discussion. (and overall impression need to wait I finish commenting the rest I left behind)


I never go back and read my own novels, once they're published

I don't remember why or where, but I thought you were planning to read the whole thing before starting to write The Crippled God. That was before your ill-fated archaeological travel that year. I guess that if you really had that intention it still didn't work too well because of what happened.

Anyway, I think you should at some point because it would probably be useful in some ways having a second look. I'm curious about the reasons why you avoided doing that. Maybe time constraints, maybe because it's plain tiring reading the stuff you worked for so much time all over again, or maybe there's a slight fear of some kind about not wanting to go there. As if risking to break the incantation or find things differently from how you remembered them.

It's not my choice to make, but I still believe that giving a second look, word by word instead of skimming, may end up being quite helpful instead of harrowing.

I'm curious because of this because I was the one calling for "revisions" once the series was over and noticed you were quite against the notion. There are writers who endlessly revise their own work, even Tolkien spent a huge amount of time fixing very minor errors in all the subsequent editions of LotR. So I'm curious why you have this stance about your own work, as it appears to be more rooted than merely not being interested in using time that way.
Irene Gallo
30. Irene
As Steve says, we'll be posting a "Call for Questions" thread next week. Stay tuned!
pat purdy
31. night owl
Thanks Bill, for remembering Munug. When I read that exchange between the cripple and Paren, my mind raised a ? .Had we meet before or will he be important later on. You have had us shove so many things in our 'file" cabinets that it got lost in the mix!

Each book gets better and better and with only 3 books under my belt I am impressed with all of them . To soon to pick a favorite for me.
32. Abalieno

I would view both MOI and DG as that, in that they are in a moebius relationship, elliptical, and that is something I played with in all the books of the series awaiting this re-read.

That made me think again about DF Wallace as Infinite Jest is also structured elliptically and the "annular" shape is a "theme" in the book that is "played", sometimes through metaphors, in a number of different ways and contexts. Which is what Malazan is doing as well, stylistically, even if on different terms.

I'm writing that because after thinking that I go to continue my reread, still on chapter 22, and this the first thing I get:

He would have liked to call the man he had been a stranger now, but the world had a way of spinning unnoticed, until what he'd thought he'd turned his back on suddenly faced him again.
Even worse, introspection - for him at least - was a funnel in sand, a spider waiting at the bottom. And Coll well knew he was quite capable of devouring himself.


The world spins about us unseen. The blind dance in circles. There's no escaping what you are, and all your dreams glittered white at night, but grey in the light of day. And both are equally deadly. Who was that damned poet?

Quite fitting happenstance.
33. Jordanes
I thought this was quite interesting - I came across an old article on the Guardian newspaper (UK paper) website - it's headlined 'Malazans and Megabucks' and reports on the six-figure book deal which Erikson signed after GotM came out:

I was struck by the mocking tone of the article, especially in the first half. The journalist regularly uses quotes from GotM in a deprecating manner, as if to elicit the response, 'why the hell did this kind of writing get such a payoff?'

If Steve is still around and reading these comments he might also find the article amusing/bemusing ;)
34. StevenErikson
Dropping in again. Abalieno: regards your first post, I am sorry you wrote at such length explaining how Kallor didn't work as a bad guy. I'm afraid the founding premise is wrong: he never was a bad guy, not in this novel and not in any other. I don't like the bad guy/good guy stuff. His motivations regarding Silverfox were, in his mind, sound ones. WJ just got in the way. Kallor was with Brood and Rake because it's better to keep powerful potential enemies close and up until that point, Kallor had done nothing untoward.
With respect to re-reading ... yeah, I thought about tackling the whole series before starting The Crippled God, and in the end decided not to, as my sole reason for doing so was to reacquire momentum. Since my trip to Mongolia was cut short, there was no momentum loss to reacquire. I have tried re-reading the novels, but usually settle for re-reading sections instead, particular scenes and exchanges and so on. The one thing I have always noticed is that I often don't recognise the writing as being mine.
A couple days ago Kit Soden and his girlfriend Aliza visited: Kit is a Canadian musician who has been adapting some of my poems to song, has put out one album thus far and is about to record a second one (based on poems in the last three Malazan novels). They were doing gigs across Europe. He and Aliza performed fourteen songs the night they stayed: at least three times I did not recognise the lyrics as being mine. I can't explain why that is so, except to suggest that it may come from the mindfulness I apply when writing that closes out the outside world, and time itself, disconnecting it, and me, from everything else. I'm not a fan of modern poetry, to be honest. I find most of it self-indulgent and self-obsessed. Generally, I look for a point-of-view for the poems that is not my own, and the poem's tone and voice follows as being not my own; and I prefer it this way (which is why one of my favourite poems is The Last Duchess). My point to all this? Just that I think I become a different person when I'm writing, as everything must feed the story, the intent, the tone, atmosphere and above all, the characters in question, and in the rigour of that I simply disappear.
Re-reading for me is an exercise in bafflement. Who wrote that? Damned if I know.
Regarding the history of the novel sequence, yes, I lost the first 300 pages of MOI and they were markedly different from what I eventually produced. The ending, with Duiker's words, were not, however, planned in advance to lead easily into Deadhouse Gates. In fact, I don't think they would have worked if MOI had been published (and written) before Deadhouse Gates; and had I written them the other way round, I probably would not have created that scene, because it would not have had any emotional impact for the reader, and would have offered up an open frame to a book yet to be published, which I probably wouldn't have considered (I did later, to lead into Midnight Tides, but the context was a good fit -- in the conversation between Onrack and Trull). So it's a bit of a relief that at least one reader, who started the series with MOI, didn't have a problem with the open frame he/she would have perceived at the end of the book (when, as noted here, it was in fact a closed frame).
The Guardian article ... oh yes, I'm familiar with it, not that I've read it in a few years. The reviewer was set off wrong right from the bat, since the opening line in Gardens surrenders grammar for rhythm (the word 'on' was dropped from the line), something I was in the habit of doing at the time. I don't hold grudges on those things, especially given the Guardian's reputation as being somewhat stuffy, smug and self-righteous. It earns a half-smile and a shrug and that's about it.
I'm done for now. Cheers.
35. Wulf the Red
For my money, the climax of MoI (basically from the point Korlat and WJ just miss seeing the BBs fly into Coral through to the end of the book) is not just the best bit of the series, but probably the high point of the whole genre. I don't think I've ever managed to take a break and not to read it right through in one sitting.

So in one sense, it's all downhill from here :).

Happily, it's not far downhill - perhaps the most remarkable thing about MBotF as a whole is that, although not as good as DG &MoI (and most fantasy series that ngo beyond a trilogy seem to peak with the second or third book imo), the quality of the next 7 books drops very little. Each of them at times reaches the same level as what we've just read, but for sustained genius nothing quite matches Coral.

On that Guardian article, the mocking tone is typical of the writer, who can be very funny when he's on form. And although he was wrong about MBotF, it's that article that got me reading the series, since I was curious to know about this fantasy writer who was worth so much money. If you ask me, they got a bargain.
36. djk1978
@Wulf: Not to be contrary but as good as MoI is I don't think it's the best book in the series. Or at least I don't think the series tails off at all. Midnight Tides, Bonehunters and Reaper's Gale for sure are just as good or better in my opinion and the others we have yet to come to are pretty close too. I agree with your general point in that the quality is consistent throughout. In terms of setting up the series we get most of it here but MoI isn't yet the high point for me. Erikson is like Itkovian. He is not yet done.
Tai Tastigon
37. Taitastigon
@35 and 36

MoI and DG may be the tomes that I like most as single standing volumes. Especially MoI could survive pretty well as a completely self-contained novel.

But from HoC onwards...well, how should I say it ?...and some people will misunderstand it...but HoC ends with tCG, IMO. I see the first book of HoC as a great intro to that 6000pg-mega-arc, because it purposefully breaks the given rhythm so far. It is almost like a *palate cleaner* before the main course starts.
Tai Tastigon
38. Taitastigon
...and, aaw Gawd, just a little quip:

Steven, since you are reading here, one silly question: How can Picker talk about *pissing icecubes* ? Aren´t icecubes just a tad *modern* for that world and for her to know the concept ? Juuuust kiddin´.....*g*
39. Jordanes
@ 38

Perhaps there's some Jaghut hiding out as bartenders, making icecubes for drinks? :)

As for whether this is the best book - I find that there's something fantastic in each and every one of the Malazan books (still haven't read tCG, but I'm fairly certain that will remain true!). MoI has possibly the easiest to recall standout moments, because a lot of them centre around action pieces or poignant deaths that stick in the mind.

But others in the series have perhaps more...subtle, but equally touching moments, the ones that make you think of the book long after you've put it down. The ones that fit so perfectly into the mood of the book as a whole. As I write this I think most of Midnight Tides.

Still not my favourite though, an award which goes to the Bonehunters. It's the book that has the most strands, the first one to have characters from all three major arcs converge, and that is a hell of a lot to juggle, and SE does so admirably. That book just hit you again and again, revelations and mysteries, exaltations and tragedies, a rollercoaster ride which made MoI's ups and downs seem like a kid's ride :) And every character seemingly got their moment in the spotlight.

The only one which I still think of as being on a significantly lower par than the others is Dust of Dreams. But I strongly suspect that is because I've only read it once so far. And it is the law that you must read an SE novel at least twice, preferably three times, before judging it. Because you've definitely missed out on something incredible in your first hurried readthrough :)

And, in fact, no novel of the series invokes this law more so than House of Chains. I didn't think much of it the first time I read it. As a consequence, it was by far the most improved book for me on a re-read. Why? Because a lot of the things that happen in the book don't make a whole lot of sense until you've read the later books and know what happens next. After that, House of Chains is astonishing for the amazing set up job it does - it closes one arc of the story while opening all the doors to the next one. And it's a pretty darn good yarn on its own too.
Sydo Zandstra
40. Fiddler
I don't think MoI is the best book in the series. For me that would be tBH and TtH, because of the connections to multiple-book plotlines.

But in my opinion, MoI is the most emotionally gripping book in the series. It all fits so tight. TCG is a second, there, on an equal scale. (But MoI got there first ;-) )
Mieneke van der Salm
41. Mieneke
*shudders* “He has earned Dragnipur.” Even for Kallor, that is a dark punishment.
At the same time, Kallor would be exactly the kind of powerful soul Dragnipur needs to keep the Gate out of the reach of chaos, wouldn't he?

While reading the summary I got all choked up again at Paran's last farewell to Whiskeyjack and the Bridgeburners. But then I spent most of the time reading this chapter and epilogue either breathless or choked up.

I was so glad to see Duiker in the Epilogue, but also saddened to see how broken he is.

I think MoI is the book where the painfulmess of the MBotF became clear to me. Yes, the Chain of Dogs is harrowing, but the events here in MoI broke my heart in pieces several times over and I lost some of my favourites characters so far: Whiskeyjack, Itkovian, Hedge to name a few. It brought how that no one is safe. I have read HoC once before, but as I have said before of the previous two books, I can't remember much about it as it's been so long. So I'm looking forward to picking it up again and rediscovering where the story will go from here. And after HoC, I'll be just like Amanda: exploring undiscovered country, a newbie in truth!
Gerd K
42. Kah-thurak
I think it is another great thing about these books, that so many different volumes are named as "favourites". For me that is Deadhouse Gates. I have to agree with Jordanes though, that DoD is somewhat below the general high quality level of the series - and for me that did not completely change with the second read.
Iris Creemers
43. SamarDev
I agree with Kah-thurak @42. The fact that there isn't one overall favorite says a lot about the series. Everytime I read a book again, I find out that I 'forgot' how good / amazing / surprising / emotional / ... it was, so then I try to re-evaluate my own list, which is never easy and I usually give up making 'real' decisions :-)

@ Jordanes
lol, I like the mental image of a Jaghut bartender :-)

re Steven Eriksons contributions this week: I really like the insight in the way you work, jugling all the threads and writing in a kind of parallel universe, which outcome you hardly recognize when 'back in real life'. The great results seem to indicate the writing is 'easy' for you, but of course it isn't and it's good to realise that again.
It's always difficult for me to formulate sound questions in the Q&A-session. I always love the answers, but even if that session wouldn't come this time, your contribution thus far is greatly appreciated! (Of course I don't mean to suggest to skip the Q&A, I'm sure my fellow (re)readers have lots of nice issues to discuss! :-)).
Steven Halter
44. stevenhalter
I think that my favorite Malazan book is possibly the one that I am currently reading at any given time. Or, maybe it is just The Malazan Book of the Fallen as a whole.
46. Abalieno

Abalieno: regards your first post, I am sorry you wrote at such length explaining how Kallor didn't work as a bad guy. I'm afraid the founding premise is wrong: he never was a bad guy, not in this novel and not in any other. I don't like the bad guy/good guy stuff. His motivations regarding Silverfox were, in his mind, sound ones.

Yeah, I know well :)

I should have used "antagonist" instead of "bad guy". It's just the relative position and function of the character within the novel. My point was more about the pattern I was describing than painting Kallor as a "bad guy". In fact even in the two other examples I made the lines are more blurred (well, not SO blurred with Hannibal Lecter, the point isn't that Lecter is "bad", but that he he's both dangerous and helpful). It's just that limited to this book Kallor didn't seem to have much depth and seemed to be there on the scene only to do his betrayal. It felt a bit too convenient and the nature of the betrayal itself not too deep.

It just an element of this book that I think wasn't played to its potential. I was expecting more from Kallor. Being more involved in the events on different levels instead of being played mostly as a "hidden" (and not so subtly) dagger.

And thanks for the insight about the rest.
Amir Noam
47. Amir
So, can anyone help jog my memory as to how exactly is Kilava all alive and well (i.e. not T'lan Imass'ed) after all these hundreds of thousands of years?
Sydo Zandstra
48. Fiddler

I don't think that's explained. But my guess would be that Kilava is an Ascendant.

TCG spoiler:
She is Trake/Treach's mother, after all.
49. Jordanes
@ 47 Amir

I always put it down to her being a sorceress and Soletaken. All Soletaken seem to be extremely long-lived, as many of them are all the way from the time of the First Empire.

@ 46 Abalieno

I think your argument would have greater merit if you were talking about a character in an entirely standalone novel, rather than one which is part of a series. As such, it allows characterisation and motivation to be spread and developed over more than one book - so Kallor's actions should be considered in light of everything we learn about him from MoI *and* the other novels he appears in.
Hugh Arai
50. HArai
Abalieno@46: At the risk of piling on, it sounds like your issue once again, much like your DEM complaints in the GotM discussion is that you don't seem to grasp the idea of a series of books carrying plots, characters and themes throughout the whole series. If you expect every character to be introduced, developed to maximum effect, and given closure in each individual book of a series, your expectations differ from pretty much everyone else. It's sort of like complaining there was no game-winning touchdown in the first quarter.
51. djk1978
I've been checking back for word on a Q&A. Is that going to happen or do we just wait until next week for the beginning of House of Chains?
Kimani Rogers
52. KiManiak
I finally caught back up to the reread after a brief hiatus to plow through the whole series, finish TCG, and then spend a few weeks recovering. I really love this series. Erikson did such a great job. I am now eagerly awaiting his Kharkanas series.

Amanda and Bill, you guys have done an excellent job! I obviously missed so much in my initial read of this book, so my thanks to you and to the other commenters for their observations, insight and analysis. I know I’m about 4 or so weeks late with this comment, but I strongly encourage you both to do this reread in the way that works best for you guys. The number of comments may have decreased, but I think the quality of this reread ranks at/near the top of all of’s rereads.

As for my overall impressions of this book, I echo a lot of the positive things that were said above. I remember that when I first finished this book, I thought that it was very good, but that DG hit me stronger, emotionally, and was therefore my favorite of the two.

After finishing the series, reading the reread and rereading certain portions of MoI myself, I have to say that I’ve changed my mind. The Chain of Dogs was an incredible story, but MoI has so much (Whiskeyjack and Korlat! Whiskeyjack and Rake! Whiskeyjack and the 2 marines! Itkovian! The fall of the Bridgeburners! QB & Paran in Moon’s Spawn with the BB! Etc) that can reach out and grab you.

Is MoI my series favorite? Right now, I’d say yes, but I’ve only read the following novels (HoC – TCG) once each, so stay tuned; maybe rereading them and discussing them in the reread will change my mind (I’m really hoping so for HoC. My initial response to it was iffy at best, but I have caught some of your comments that it stands up better on its 2nd read, plus…Karsa). I almost want to fast forward to TtH and TCG (my 2 other favorites, right now, with TBH in the mix as well) to get Bill’s veteran analysis and (especially) Amanda’s first timer’s impressions, but I’ve been told somewhere that patience is a virtue, so I’ll just have to wait...

Finally, I’ve posted a new question up on the spoiler forum and I’d be interested in Malazan vets answers (if there is one) or their opinions/theories. I’m sure there’s so much stuff that I missed on my first read through…

Anyway, looking forward to the next reread post.

EDIT: I see that Fiddler already addressed my question on the Forum. It appears that there wasn't a clear answer in the books (shocking for the Malazan series, I know!), and I'd welcome any potential theories...
Sydo Zandstra
53. Fiddler
I'm not all knowing, Kimaniak. I went from memory there. ;)

It could be an interesting discussion, unless I overlooked/forgot something, which wouldn't be the first time. :)
Kimani Rogers
54. KiManiak
Fid@53 - Dude, your recall and understanding of what goes down in this entire series is still very impressive. Don't sell yourself short :-)

I admit that I was semi-lazy and didn't extensively check the malazan empire forum site you've recommended for any theories. There's a lot there, and I admit I wasn't sure whether to search through the forum for TBH, DoD, or TCG.

But we've got some pretty knowledgable vets on this reread and so I was curious about their opinions/theories/recall as well...
55. Kadere
So I take it the Malazan re-read is over. That's a real shame, HoC was my favorite.
Steven Halter
56. stevenhalter
No, not over. Bill and Amanda just took a bit of vacation--should be back soon.
Jamie Watkins
57. Treesinger
So, I am slowly catching up, only nine months behind now. I want to thank you all for your enthusiastic passion for this remarkable series, I would have really missed out if I hadn't begun following the re-read a year late. I almost bought Toll the Hounds when it came out but decided to start at the beginning.
I have several questions/comments. Why did SE even include Bauchelain and Broach? They seem to be evil reprehensive characters that are completely superficial to the story's other themes. Why even include them? Was anyone else disturbed by how easily the Pannion Seer escapes punishment? The Seer was responsible for millions of deaths -- he drove people to extreme canibalism for Fener's sake-- and yet it is Okay because, what, his sister was living in torment? Half a continent is de-populated and he receives no retribution? Please tell me that the T'lan Imass get him later. Well it is off the House of Chains and I will catch up with you when I finish that one.

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