Aug 12 2011 1:00pm

Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: House of Chains, Chapter Eight

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 Seven of House of Chains by Steven Erikson (HoC).

Just a note for today that Amanda has had to deal with a sudden crisis and so may or may not be commenting this week. She sends her apologies.

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.



Tavore is reviewing an assembly of the 14th Army, which isn’t going well. Gamet’s legion arrived late and disordered while the other two legions wait. Nok, meanwhile, has sailed with the fleet. Cuttle arrives with a dozen others, all looking pretty ragged in mismatched armor, and he explains they were in jail and he himself had killed an Untan noble called Lenestro. He tells Gamet he can get the legion under control. Gamet begins to lead him to where Tavore stands, just after Fiddler frees himself of the mob and heads toward her as well. Fiddle and Cuttle (both of whom are unknown to Gamet) make eye contact then communicate via gestures. Cuttle tells Fiddler to “draw us a line” and as Fiddler does that, Cuttle extracts munitions from his bag, telling Gamet and Tavore to withdraw some distance and to warn the Wickans to get off and hold their horses. Tavore begins to object but Cuttle interrupts and tells her to move. Fiddler and Cuttle discuss munitions placement as Gamet shakes his head thinking “sappers.”


The explosion gets the legion’s attention (as well as knocking a third down) and Cuttle and Fiddler gets them in order. Gamet asks if Cuttle’s dead nobleman was on the Chain of Dogs. Cuttle says ye and he was too until he was wounded and put on the Silanda. He said he would have preferred to have killed Pullyk Alar, but he’s run off with Mallick Rel, whom he’d also like to kill. Gamet offers him a command position, but Cuttle says he’s assigned to Fiddler’s squad (he calls him Strings) and prefers to stay there. Gamet asks how he know Fiddler and Cuttle, obviously lying, tells him he’s never met him before.


After reviewing the now ordered 8th legion, Tavore tells Baralta and Blistig to send their legions in a company at a time. She’s interrupted when the 8th suddenly goes quiet, reacting to the appearance of Gamet’s toddler son Grub appears and walks to the exact spot where Tavore had just been reviewing the soldiers. Grub sees Keneb and raises his arms, revealing that he is holding a human bone. Keneb picks him up and explains to Tavore Grub was given him by Duiker, an orphan of the Chain of Dogs. He apologizes and she murmurs, “It is far too late for that.” Gamet thinks she is right: “Soldiers—even recruits—recognized an omen when it arrived. A child in the very boot prints of the woman who would lead this army. Raising high a sun-bleached thighbone. Gods below.”


Fiddler calls a meeting of veterans, including Stormy, Gesler, and Cuttle. They are all depressed: There was no doubt among them concerning the meaning of the omen and Strings was inclined to agree. A child leads us to our deaths. A leg bone to signify our march, withered under the curse of the desert sun . . . this army of recruits now see themselves as already dead.” Fiddler tells them of a similar situation years ago when Nok commanded a half-dozen ships. They were going to meet pirate ships blessed by priests of D’rek, the Worm of Autumn. Nok’s fleet drew water at a river and sailed on with the barrels stored. When they opened the first, a paralt snake came out and bit the sailor that opened the barrel, killing him. Nok “shrugged the whole event off” and then, when he’d heard sailors and marines were dying of thirst because nobody wanted to open the other barrels, he ordered one brought up and opened it himself. It was full of snakes, as were all the others. The fleet never met the pirates and returned with half the crew dead. They sank all the ships in the harbor as an offering to D’rek. Nok had to wait another year to deal with the pirates. Fiddler tells them that was a story of how not to deal with this sort of thing: “You don’t destroy an omen by fighting it. No, you do the opposite. You swallow it whole.” He tells them he’d heard of a nearby cemetery “blown clear, the bones exposed to all” and tells them that’s where they’re heading.


Tavore addresses a meeting of commanders and tells them they march in two days. Gamet thinks to himself they should just disband the 14th; it’s useless after Grub’s action. Tavore tells them, as if she knew what Gamet was thinking, they can’t afford not to march; even if they are “annihilated” at least they’ll reduce Sha’ik’s army. She tells them to tell the officers she’ll be visiting each company tonight, restrict all men to barracks, have the Red Blades confiscate all alcohol, durhang, and the like. She dismisses them and calls for T’amber. Gamet thinks mentioning T’amber publically was a mistake, “That perfumed lover of yours has been kept from the sights of everyone here but me. They know of course. Even so.”


Blistig pulls Gamet and Baralta aside and tells Gamet Tavore is crazy: “We cannot march at all. There will be a mutiny at worst, at best an endless bleeding of desertions. The Fourteenth is finished.” Gamet asks if Blistig and Keneb set up the scene with Grub. Baralta stops Blistig from drawing his sword in indignation, but also tells Blistig he had wondered the same. Blistig says Keneb would never do such a thing. Gamet tells them Tavore asked for two days and when Blistig objects that it was an order, Gamet tells him he wasn’t paying attention: “The Adjunct, young and untested as she is, is not a fool. She sees what you see—what we all see. But she has asked for two days . . . Trust her.” They other two agree. Baralta asks about T’amber: “Why is the Adjunct being so cagey? Women who take women for lovers—the only crime is the loss to men and so it has always been.” Gamet tells him Tavore isn’t being cagey, just private. Baralta wants to know what T’amber is like and if she has “undue influence” and Gamet replies he has no idea. He says he thinks she was a concubine in the Grand Temple of the Queen of Dreams back on Unta, but he’s hardly spoken to her. Before leaving, he tells Blistig he no longer suspects him.


Lostara Yil finishes stowing her Red Blade equipment. She had enjoyed being a Red Blade. She recalls growing up on the streets of Ehrlitan—“It had been common practice—before the Malazans came with their laws for families—among many tribes to cast out their unwanted children once they reached the fifth year of life.” Many were taken up by various temples and cults, though nobody knew what happened next with those children. She was rounded up at seven by the Rashan cult, where she spent two years doing menial labor, then was selected to be taught Shadow Dancing:

You are nothing child. Not a dancer. Your body is in service to Rashan, and Rashan is this realm’s manifestation of Shadow, the drawing of darkness to light. When you dance, it is not you that is watched. IT is the shadow your body paints. The shadow is the dancer, Lostara Yil, not you.” Meanwhile, the Malazan Empire came and purged many Seven Cities cults, but not Rashan, “for it was a recognized religion.” She remembers the night the cult was destroyed.

A High Priest from another city was visiting. Come to speak with Master Bidithal . . . There would be a dance . . . She remembered the stranger . . . Tall, thin, a laughing face, remarkably long-fingered, almost effeminate hands—hands the sight of which awakened in her new emotions . . . that stuttered her mechanical dancing.” Bidithal grew angry she had tainted the dance, drawn attention to herself, but the stranger’s “eyes held Lostara, in fullest recognition of the desire that overwhelmed her . . . Recognition and a certain pleased, but cool acknowledgment. As if flattered, but with no invitation offered in return . . . Of course, Delat had not come to steal the heart of a Caster. He had come to destroy Rashan. Delat, who it proved, was both a High Priest and a Bridgeburner, and whatever the Emperor’s reason for annihilating the cult, his was the hand that delivered the deathblow. Although not alone. The night of the killings . . . there had been another . . . an assassin . . . Lostara had been the only resident spared. OR so she believed for a long time, until the name of Bidithal rose once more.” And she thinks, “I was more than spared that night, wasn’t I? Delat’s lovely long-fingered hands.”

She joined the Red Blades—seen by the Seven Cities people as the “deliverers of Malazan justice” and she was fine with that as these people had betrayed her, had let be cast out at five, be dragged away by Bidithal at seven. She wonders if she now is a betrayer, and wonders as well what caused the Talons to turn against the Empire. “Betrayal was a mystery. Inexplicable to Lostara. She only knew that it delivered the deepest wounds of all.” Cotillion suddenly appears in her room. He tells her he was there that night in Ehrlitan: I was witness to your unexpected performance. Did you know Delat—or rather, the man I would eventually learn was Delat—would have taken you for his own? Not just he one night. You would have joined him as a Bridgeburner, and that would well have pleased him. Or so I believe. No way to test it, alas, since it all went—outwardly—so thoroughly awry . . . Delat, who had a different name for that mission and was my partner’s responsibility besides—Delat let Bidithal go. I suppose it seemed a betrayal, yes? It certainly did to my partner . . . who was not Shadowthrone then, simply a particularly adept and ambitious practitioner of Rashan’s sister warren, Meanas.” He introduces himself as both Cotillion and Dancer and implies a connection between that last name and what she was trained to do, telling her “it was never meant for performance, Lostara. It was, in fact, an art most martial. Assassination.” He calls upon her loyalty to the Empire and she assumes he’s going to say Laseen shouldn’t be the ruler. He, though, replies Laseen is “welcome to it . . . but she could do with some help.” Lostara responds “She supposedly assassinated you . . . She betrayed you.” But Cotillion shrugs it off, saying, “everyone had their appointed tasks. The game being played here is far larger than any mortal empire. Btu the empire . . . its success is crucial to what we seek . . . and the Empress sits on a tottering throne.” When she asks didn’t Cotillion betray Shadowthrone, he tells her “sometimes I see further than my dear companion. Indeed, he remains obsessed with desires to see Laseen suffer—I have other ideas, and while he may see them as party to his own, there is yet no pressing need to disabuse him of that notion . . . I admit to having made grave errors, indeed to knowing the poison of suspicion. Quick Ben. Kalam. Whiskeyjack. Where did their loyalty truly reside? Well, I eventually got my answer but I am not yet decided whether it pleases me or troubles me. There is one danger that plagues ascendants in particular, and that is the tendency to wait too long . . . I would make amends for past, at times fatal, hesitation.” He tells her he’d rather she doesn’t tell Pearl. She asks where Delat is and he answers “I have no hold over him these days . . . He is too powerful. Too mysterious. Too conniving. Too Hood-damned smart . . . Sometimes one must simply trust in fate, Lostara. The future can ever promise but one thing and one thing only: surprises. Btu know this, we would all save the Malazan Empire in our own ways.” She asks if he’s making her a Talon and when he says they no longer exists, she angrily tell shim not to play her for a fool. He reiterates that Surly destroyed them and asks if she has knowledge otherwise and she says she just assumed. She asks what he wants her to do.


Later, Pearl enters and says he senses magic. She tells him she was doing the Shadow Dance moves—keeps her flexible for fighting—and they can sometimes evoke Rashan. He tells her she should avoid that so as not to draw attention.


Pearl and Lostara go to question Gesler, Stormy, and Pella. They find Gesler in the barracks and Stormy asleep. Gesler tells Pearl if he wants to talk to Stormy, he can wake him up. Pearl rips the covers off Stormy, who grabs Pearl and throws him across the room. When he advances on Pearl, Gesler says let him be, he’s a Claw and Lostara is a Red Blade. Lostara tells them Pearl wants to hear their story and then asks where Pella is. She’s told out back and she goes to talk to him, finding him drilling holes into lots of small bones. She asks about his time as guard in the mines and as she tries to be discrete, he figures out she’s asking about Tavore’s sister Felisin: “I was wondering when somebody would find me about that. Am I under arrest?” When she asks why he would be, he answers he helped them escape the night of the Uprising—she and Baudin and Heboric. He describes them and their plan but he doesn’t know if they ever made it to a rendezvous on the other side of the island, but Truth might. She notes that Truth has the same strange skin as Gesler and Stormy and then asks about Felisin’s group. He tells her Kulp, sent by Duiker, was involved in order to help Heboric. Pella warns her against slandering Duiker: “This is Aren after all. The city that watched. That saw Duiker delivering the refugees to safety. He was the last one through the gate they say.” She tells him she knows, that Blistig had freed them from jail but after Pormqual led his army out. She has no interest she says in besmirching Duiker or his freeing of Heboric; she’s interested in Felisin. Truth figures she was sent by Tavore and he and Pella say they’ll keep it secret. Truth, though, says they’re all dead; Gesler is just telling Pearl that. Pella gives her one of the bones before she leaves and tells her to wear it prominently, but not why. She and Pearl leave and Pearl says he needs a handler—that Stormy was unnaturally strong and that there is something strange about all three: Stormy, Gesler, and Truth. He adds Gesler merely assumes Felisin’s group died; he doesn’t actually know. He plans to check out the Silanda. He also tells her Stormy was lucky she stepped between him and Pearl and she says Pearl obviously missed the T’lan Imass sword—that “probably weights as much as I do”—under Stormy’s bed, which shuts him up. At the Silanda, Pearl tells her most of the wood is from Drift Avalii, a drifting island filled not with “demons and spectres” as Lostara says is rumored, but with “hardly anything so frightening.” He uncovers a pile of severed heads, mostly Tiste Andii, and tells Lostara the ship is filled with layers and layers of magic: Kurald Galain, Telann, Kurald Emurlahn, Rashan.” Inside he finds the Tiste Edur killed by Karsa and otataral dust on the floor. He tells her Felisin was there and wonders who killed the Edur and what happened to the whistle that animates the rowers. He tells her they’re going to head for where Felisin’s group may have left the Silanda as it journeyed through warrens—across the mainland from the Otataral Sea to Aren Bay. Lostara says they may have ended up in the middle of the rebellion and Pearl says that may have seemed a good thing compared to what they’d been through.


The army forms for Tavore’s review. Ranal notes the bones everyone is wearing and blames Fiddler for it, saying he’ll tell the Adjunct that when she wonders who “is responsible for this last spit in her face over what happened yesterday.” Fiddler calls him an idiot. Eyeing Keneb, Fiddler thinks of what he’d heard of how he’d ended up in Aren and wonders if Keneb is a coward who ran. He’s surprised when Tavore points to something around Keneb’s neck and he realizes Keneb’s wearing a bone. Tavore asks Ranal about the bones and he tells her it’s against his orders. She interrupts and tells him to make them more standardized in how they are worn and that the looted graveyards should be returned to their former state as much as possible. She adds he should get one himself. Fiddler thinks “oh well done lass.”


Gamet thinks whoever came up with the bone idea deserved a kiss: “they’ve turned the omen. Turned it!” He notes the “rekindled fire in Tavore’s eyes” as she orders him to make a standard inspired by the bones. He agrees. A messenger arrives and informs Tavore 300 Wickans with horses and dogs have arrived as volunteers: “Clan of the Crow. The Crow! Coltaine’s own!”


Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Eight

In a chapter with such a focus on omens, how about the image that begins with Tavore being “engulfed”: “A pernicious wind was seeping the dust cloud directly toward the Adjunct. In moments she was engulfed . . . No commander could be more alone that she was now. Alone and helpless.” A whirlwind of dust swallowing her—foreshadowing the Whirlwind itself? Alone—is this her path? Helpless? We’ll see. And what about a few lines later, when she saved Gamet “the humiliation of trying to impose some order on his troops. She had, instead, taken that humiliation upon herself.” What does this tell us about Tavore’s acts in the future?

Past that we get some nice humor:

You’ve got to love the introduction of Cuttle and the others: showing up late because they were in jail, the sack “thumping” into the ground, half the standard issue armor, a “random” collection of fittings, a “threadbare, stained” uniform, no insignia, a “scarred, pitted” face, the others “decrepit,” wearing “piecemeal” armor, carrying a whole bunch of non-standard, non-Malazan weapons. “Sappers.”

I like too the immediacy with which Fiddler and Cuttle fall into knowing exactly what to do and who will do what. I don’t know many authors, possibly none, who do camaraderie anywhere near as well as Erikson does. He shows us the serious side of it as well at the end of the scene when Cuttle claims, knowing Gamet won’t buy it, he never met Fiddler before.

Gamet’s internal thoughts add some laughs as well. His momentary image of Fiddler killing Tavore in front of the army, his “gulp” when he realizes exactly what was in that big bag that “thumped” down right next to him.

Humor grows as well out of the disconnect between Tavore’s title/position and Cuttle’s language: “lass,” “lady,” “comely hip.”

Lenestro, by the way, is the noble whom Duiker stopped from whipping his servant. No great loss.

It’s a nice pivot, that scene with Grub. We’ve had all this humor, then we get a “happy scene” with the army settled and Tavore having learned a lesson, and now we got this toddler wandering up. What kooky krazy hijinks are going to happen now, we’re wondering. And then we get that human leg bone. And boy does the tone switch. Look at the language used throughout now: froze, hiss, thing, gasps, shiver, struggling, dread, screaming, shaky, snapped, brittle. A bit of a change from “cherubic” that preceded it.

Fiddler’s story about Nok introduces yet more scenes involving snakes, a recurring image I’d mentioned last chapter. We saw in Sha’ik’s camp, and now here in Tavore’s world, lots of references to betrayal, and I think the snake imagery is playing right to that theme, a theme that will run throughout this book. Who will the snakes in the grass be by the end?

We see a quick glimpse of mistrust in Tavore’s camp when both Gamet and Baralta wonder if Blistig and Keneb set up the scene with Grub. And it’s a bit interesting that, indignant as he is, Blistig’s best defense is that Keneb wouldn’t have done such a thing.

Gamet: “The Adjunct is simply a private woman.” Possibly the biggest understatement in all the series.

Nice little bit of suspense and mystery surrounding T’amber as well. Who is she? What, if any, is her influence? Is Gamet right that she was a concubine? Is there significance, if his info is right, to the connection between her and the Queen of Dreams?

So, raise your hands if you think the fact that Lostara Yil is a Shadow Dancer isn’t going to be significant at some point. Thought so.

I like how there is the connection with Bidithal here in Lostara’s flashback coming so soon after we had the discussion of him as a former priest, etc. But it raises the question of whether his “appetites” were going on then as well and whether Lostara Yil ever suffered from them. On the one hand, I’m not sure if that’s the sort of thing one comes to late in life. On the other, assaulting those you’re teaching the Shadow Dance to, which as Cotillion tells us later is an assassination artistry, seems just a tad risky. And of course, Lostara doesn’t mention anything about Bidithal in her recollection. Anyone want to guess?

Related, I have to wonder why Quick Ben lets Bidithal escape, especially if Bidithal is the same kind of guy we see now. I can’t put that together—anybody any ideas?

As for the reason for the purge, I’m going on the assumption that Dancer and Shadowthrone were clearing the road of possible obstacles in their ascension to Shadow, getting rid of folks who might try to prevent them or might have some power to harm them.

So I’m thinking Quick Ben and Lostara slept together that night, going with her obvious attraction, her fond memory of his “long-fingered hands,” and the phrase “I was more than spared that night, wasn’t I?” I can’t figure out what else the “more than spared” would cover. (Also kinda gives another light to Dancer’s pause when he tells her “I was witness to your . . .unexpected performance.” The Shadow Dance yes, but something else?)

Cotillion’s statements about his view toward Laseen and the Empire of course bring up some questions. After all, in GoTM, we have Cotillion telling Shadowthrone: “Laseen remains our target, and the collapse of the Empire she rules but never earned.” So it appears that either this is a contradiction of character/plot or Cotillion and possibly Shadowthrone had planned to take down Laseen but since then they’ve learned other things that make a strong Empire more important (I lean toward the latter). Others?

What do you all think of Cotillion’s lines that he didn’t fully trust Quick Ben, Kalam, or Whiskeyjack (more betrayal theme by the way), then believed he has learned “where their loyalties truly reside,” but the answer wasn’t the fully satisfying one he was hoping for. Questions raised: Why does he mistrust them? When did he mistrust them? When did he learn whom they are loyal to? Who are they loyal to in his mind? Why does that answer not comfort him? As usual in these kinds of areas, I’ve got my own theories, but I like throwing the questions out to spark some discussion before just tossing my ideas out.

A separate question re Cotillion coming up right after these lines is when does he think he screwed up by hesitating, by acting too slowly?

And let’s take a look at an early glimpse into the power of Quick Ben—we have an Ascendant saying he has no hold over Quick because he is “too powerful.” That sets us up for some big things from Quick in the future. (We’re already well aware of his being “too conniving. Too Hood-damned smart.")

Lostara offers up a bit of surprise news to Cotillion re the Talons. Wonder what he’ll do if he thinks the band is getting together without their lead singer....

And, as one might expect, we get the tease about just what does Cotillion want her to do. He’s doing a lot of delegating in these chapters....

“And have you a name soldier?”


“Well, what is it?”

“I just told you . . .

Cue rim shot....

This whole scene is a nice interlude of humor. It’s easy to forget when recalling the reading experience, with all the death and tragedy and warfare, etc. just how many funny lines there really are in the series.

I also enjoyed Lostara’s all hush-hush secret mission tiptoeing around things cut short with Pella’s “Tavore’s sister you mean. Felisin.” You can almost hear the needle go scraping off the record at that point. Well, you could, if any of you damn young’uns knew what a needle was, a record, and what it sounded like when the two were together and then, abruptly, were not.

Kulp. The name still gets me. I’ve said it before; I really respect the way Erikson doesn’t let his reader forget the dead in this series.

And more ripping away of the veil of secrecy surrounding Lostara’s mission (a pretty translucent veil, it seems, one of those that you might see when... never mind) as Truth just assumes Tavore sent her and Pearl.

This scene does another nice job of reminding the reader of what happened two books ago, again in a fashion that makes sense rather than in contrived fashion. And it also reminds us of points that will be important down the road: Stormy, Gesler, and Truth having gone through a warren of fire, the ways in which that journey changed them beyond simple skin color, the T’lan Imass sword Stormy has.

A tiny bit more info on Drift Avalii, where we know Cutter and Apsalar are headed: it does drift, and it does have something on it seemingly, though according to Pearl whatever is on the island isn’t as frightening as “demons and specters.”

Pearl’s listing of warrens on the Silanda is another neat way of reminding us of events there:

  • Kurald Galain: the Andii (the dead crew)
  • Telann: The Imass that appeared there, both the Seven and their pursuers
  • Kurald Emurlahn: The Edur Karsa killed
  • Rashan: Kulp when he was on board

Hmm, where’s that whistle?

Ah, Ranal. Good to have a noble to hate again, isn’t it? Love Fiddler: “you are a raging idiot.”

I love too how Tavore yanks the ground underneath Ranal when he’s thinking he’s getting Fiddler in trouble and she’s like—great idea; let’s really make it our thing....

A tiny moment of suspense with the messenger is quite effective. After all, we’ve just enjoyed Ranal being put in his place, a major victory for Fiddler, a positive glimpse of what Tavore is capable of, so when the messenger arrives all a puffing, we’re bound to think, like Gamet, “great—here it comes, the other shoe . . . And instead we get that rousing close. Though, now we’re wondering how Erikson’s going to turn this around on us....

Taking a bit of a big picture here, we’ve had some interesting parallels going on

We’ve been shown Sha’ik’s camp: an army with infighting concerns about betrayal, with characters worried about their commander, and then we leave them on a moment of celebration.

Then we’re shown Tavore’s army, brittle, untested, concerns about the commander, concerns about each other (noble officers, Blistig), and we end on a note of celebration with them as well.

And of course, we have the obvious parallel: each one led by a sister. It’s a nice set-up.

We’ve also got a running theme of betrayal now—lots of characters talking about being worried about traitors, lots of characters we have reason to think our traitors, talk of past betrayals, and imagery of betrayal—the snakes.

We’ve got a suspense thread just beginning: the search by Tavore for what happened to her sister running side by side the their movement toward conflict with each other, leaving the reader in suspense as to will Tavore learn Sha’ik is Felisin before actually going to war against Felisin. If yes, how will that change things? If no, what will that mean?

We’ve got characters in chains (literally) and figuratively. Who is in chains? What is chaining them? Will they free themselves? For example:

Karsa’s people chained to their ignorance of their past, to their misguided faith, to their tales and views of glory. Karsa, of course, is literally chained (several times) and literally breaks his chains (several times), which I’d say can be read as him breaking the chains of his people, which we see him doing as he evolves/changes. There is also the idea that freeing yourself is a constant, ongoing process.

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

karl oswald
1. Toster
Bill Said:
Cotillion’s statements about his view toward Laseen and the Empire of course bring up some questions. After all, in GoTM, we have Cotillion telling Shadowthrone: “Laseen remains our target, and the collapse of the Empire she rules but never earned.” So it appears that either this is a contradiction of character/plot or Cotillion and possibly Shadowthrone had planned to take down Laseen but since then they’ve learned other things that make a strong Empire more important (I lean toward the latter). Others?
What do you all think of Cotillion’s lines that he didn’t fully trust Quick Ben, Kalam, or Whiskeyjack (more betrayal theme by the way), then believed he has learned “where their loyalties truly reside,” but the answer wasn’t the fully satisfying one he was hoping for. Questions raised: Why does he mistrust them? When did he mistrust them? When did he learn whom they are loyal to? Who are they loyal to in his mind? Why does that answer not comfort him? As usual in these kinds of areas, I’ve got my own theories, but I like throwing the questions out to spark some discussion before just tossing my ideas out.

i'll toss my two cents in the ring. i can't think of anything other than the revelation of the CG's increasing influence being responsible for Cot/ST's sudden turnaround. in GotM, the game is still just an imperial gambit, there isn't much of a hint of the bigger picture yet, and so their perspective is a little stunted.

at this point, you can be sure that Cot/ST have seen the threat that the CG represents to them. to explain the most pressing threat he represents would be spoilerific, but it becomes clear at some point in this book, when the nature of the whirlwind is revealed. because of the knowledge Cotillion has gained, he knows that he needs tavore to succeed.

as for the questions of loyalty that he talks about, i'm guessing that the loyalty he dicovers they possess is the loyalty to each other. he wondered: are they loyal to the empire? to laseen? to myself and Shadowthrone? but in the end, their most enduring (a little understated, lol) and strongest loyalties are to the bridgeburners. does this make cotillion happy? he doesn't know. what does it mean that their loyalty is only to each other? we will find out, and boy does it mean a lot.
Steven Halter
2. stevenhalter

So I’m thinking Quick Ben and Lostara slept together that night, going with her obvious attraction, her fond memory of his “long-fingered hands,” and the phrase “I was more than spared that night, wasn’t I?”

The intimation I got from that thought sequence was that not only was she spared from death, she was saved from Bidithal.
The later section:

Did you know Delat—or, rather, the man I would eventually learn was Delat—would have taken you for his own? Not just the one night. You would have joined him as a Bridgeburner, and that would well have pleased him.

Leaves just what Lostara and QB did ambiguous (I think). QB certainly noticed her and she clearly remembers him (and his hands), so there is an implication that there was more there than just dancing.
For right now, I'm going with saving and a mutual attraction. Was the attraction requited? Don't know at this point.
In this section we also get an idea of just why Shadowthrone is perturbed at QB. QB was supposed to take out Bidithal and didn't. Why he didn't is also a mystery here as it certainly seems that Bidy is someone QB wouldn't like.
Steven Halter
3. stevenhalter
On the Cot/ST side of the Lostara chat, I would tend towards the idea that Cot was perturbed at her for trying to actually kill them in GotM, but that he has learned since then. The problem of the Crippled God has become more of his priority and personal problems with Laseen less so.
Also, as always, note that Cot may not be telling all of the truth here.
Hugh Arai
4. HArai
@Bill - Interesting that Pearl's list of warrens on the Silanda is one short. Maybe he doesn't recognize or can't pick up the last one...
5. Alt146
I got the impression that ST & Cot's plans regarding the CG started well before the events of the books. It may be though the House of Chain's admittance to the pantheon forced them to change tack, but personally I think they just wouldn't admit that they got outplayed. The other thing to keep in mind is that the person who would have been best suited to take control of the empire if the assassination had succeeded is now dead.
Sydo Zandstra
6. Fiddler
I always thought/assumed that the assassin that Loastara mentioned being around with Quick Ben was Kalam, and that Cotillion was just keeping an eye on the situaton.

But since Dancer hadn't ascended back then yet (because Cotillion says Kellanved hadn't become ST at the time) I guess it was Dancer after all, going on a killin spree there.

Although, it could still have been Kalam. Thoughts?
Steven Halter
7. stevenhalter
Fiddler@6: From the text we have:

‘I do not know you,’ she whispered.
‘True. But there were three of us that night, so very long ago in Ehrlitan...

So, Dancer was there. QB was there. And, Lostara was there. Of course, Kalam could have been the assassin and just not been viewing the Shadow Dance events. But for simplicity, I guess I would go with the assassin in this case being Dancer. Certainly QB and Dancer would be more than enough.
Which raises the point that if Dancer was doing the assassination and QB was doing the magic side then Dancer may be being a bit opaque in saying that QB let Bidithal go.
Sydo Zandstra
8. Fiddler

Which raises the point that if Dancer was doing the assassination and QB was doing the magic side then Dancer may be being a bit opaque in saying that QB let Bidithal go.

That is a questionmark for me too. The 'us' could also imply that QB, Kalam and Dancer were there, with Dancer magically peeking in.

As in: three of 'us', and we spared you, even if you were one of 'them'.

What I mean is, 'us' can be read in two ways: as in present company, or as in two parties in a conflict.
Steven Halter
9. stevenhalter
Fiddler@8:Right. Or the third could be Bidithal since he was there also. In which case Cot means Dancer, QB and Bid were watching Lostara.
There's a lot of subtlety going on in these comments of Cot's.
Joe Long
10. Karsa
Related, I have to wonder why Quick Ben lets Bidithal escape, especially if Bidithal is the same kind of guy we see now. I can’t put that together—anybody any ideas?

The way I see it is that they were breaking the cult. But in a highly distributed cult like that, it is really hard to get everybody. So you let one of the leaders go and he'll naturally rally the survivors around him. Then you can go finish 'em all off.
Iris Creemers
11. SamarDev
It seems everybody takes the appereance of Quick Ben as High Priest of Shadow, and his acts, for granted here. For me it was kind of a surprise. Of course it is mentioned before when QB escapes ST in GotM (where he says he was once an acolyte to Shadow and that he raised high in ST's service) but that QB was a high priest and was trying to finish the cult?

re Fiddler # 6: I always assumed the QB/Kalam duo too, and the idea that it was in fact Dancer doing the job doesn't sound like a lightbulbmoment to me. But I don't know if I don't see it that way because its a weak argument, or that I don't want to see it because the idea of QB and Kalam already working together in that time is more attractive... :-)

Thinking this is bad reasoning, I took the book and reread again.
'Lostara Yil. You may doubt my words, but I remember you-'
She stepped back and shook her head. 'I do not know you,' she whispered.
'True. But there were three of us that night, so very long ago in Ehrlitan. I was witness to your ... unexpected performance.'

Three of us: was that QB, Cotillion and ... Bidithal? I can't think of Cot calling Bidithal 'one of us' because they came to kill him. So I think the third one could/should be Kalam. :-D
Iris Creemers
12. SamarDev
I would like to raise a kind of risky question: how about the timeline for the events with Lostara/QB/Dancer in the temple? Not as critical point, but just wondering for an idea how old everybody is (approximately of course :-)).

- Lostara started learning the Shadow Dance after two years of service, when she was 9, and 'years of discipline, of limb-stretching training' followed.
- Her reaction to QB's fingers 'the sight of which awakened in her new emotions'. So I guess QB visits her temple when Lostara was a teenager (14? 16?), discovering her first sexual feelings? Ah, she enters the streets of Ehrlitan after that final night after ‘seven years’ absence’, so she was 14 indeed. Check!
- After that she went to the Red Blades, made career and became captain, and being a Red Blade became a second nature. I assume both take some time, especially because she has no I-have-noble-blood-and-know-nothing-but-will-be-promoted-to-captain-immediately-factor with her.

- QB was already high priest and member of the Bridgeburners, while he joined the BB as a 'middling' (but soulshifting) wizard. But he is also kind of attractive to Lostara, so he was at least somewhere in his twenties? It is my impression that all those Malazan soldiers start quite young, but I would think it takes some time to make career as priest/soldier. When you’re -say- 25 when you become high priest of whichever cult, you have done well in my opinion. It could be realistic to me (and yes, it is fantasy, but even then this is not a series with all these incredible child-hero-fighters etc).

So how long ago was this night? It happened before the ascension of Kellanved and Dancer. DG (with the beginning of the uprising of Seven Cities in it) starts in the tenth year of Empress Laseen, and counting the months of Coltains ‘trip’ we could count the empire under her reign now about 11 years. So I guess this Shadow Cult purge happened about 11-15 years ago?

Concluding: that would make Lostara late in her twenties now, and QB something like late in his thirties. I think I can live with that. How about the rest of you?

Btw, Bidithal is quite old to still have his appetites. Lostara thinks back to Bidithal as Temple Master being 'sour and old'. That matches with Filisins first encounter with Bidithal in DG when she describes him as ‘ancient and shriveled’ . Felisin thinks he had found – and abused – the old Sha’ik when she still was a child.
13. ksh1elds555
My first read-through of House of Chains was over a year ago. This time through I am seeing so much more. I remember reading part one, thinking "I really do not like this Karsa Orlong fellow". But I kept reading and really getting interested in the story. I wondered to myself at that time, why am I devouring this book when I don't even like the guy? Well the payoff was huge starting in section 2. I completely missed who Toblakai was from DG, until we re-read DG. *forehead slapping moment*. And as I have read through the entire series, Karsa grew to become one of my favorite characters to read about. I absolutely love his scenes in all the later books, especially his interaction with a certain witch. Even though- I can't say I understand him very well. I am not sure why he hates all of civilization, cities, towns, etc, despite some personal growth and becoming more worldly. In this book, I am not sure why he hates Heboric so much, other than Heboric sees more than Karsa wants him to see and that makes him uncomfortable. Clearly it seems that Heboric is one of Sha'ik's most trusted advisors.
If SE does a Toblakai trilogy, I am certainly going to read it!!
I think in this book, Sha'ik/Felisin loses some of her bitter edge and I feel she is more likeable. Maybe likeable is not the right word... ahem... less annoying? I definitely have more to say on her but not til the end of the book to avoid spoiling anything.
The Cold Iron/Hot Iron metaphor... honestly this is one of my favorite concepts presented in the series. I kept going back and rereading parts of that section the first time around and now I am really noticing hints of it here and there throughout the book that I missed before. I don't know how SE manages to pack so much into a novel.
And it is like meeting old friends now and brings me so much reading joy to see Bottle, Smiles, and Cuttle showing up, new and freshly minted in the 14th legion. And Fiddler.... what a heart-breaker. I know what you have hidden in the bottom of your napsack dude, and I can't wait to read about it again.
And Cotillion!!! This is the book where I really fell in love with him- it's so hard to pick one's favorite character from a series like this but he's definitely in the top 3. I never expected to read about a god of assassins who's just so damned likeable. He is described as being almost nondescript in physical appearance, which is probably a good trait for an assassin... someone like Blend who no one notices. His honesty, humor, and self-deprecation are really refreshing.
I did not remember the Lostara Yil- ShadowDancer passages, and now a few things that happen at the end of the series make a hell of a lot more sense. That's all for now.
Sydo Zandstra
14. Fiddler

The timeline in this series is a bit flunked. My advice is to ignore that and just enjoy the reading while you're at it :)

Personally I never cared about it, because the writing and the story are still Awesome, but people who are looking to figure out a system may bother...
Sydo Zandstra
15. Fiddler

Even though- I can't say I understand him very well. I am not sure
why he hates all of civilization, cities, towns, etc, despite some
personal growth and becoming more worldly.

That is because it's human civilization. He is aware of how humans near his homeland have been corrupting the outer tribes of his homeland. He will not stand for that.

Because he is Karsa Orlong.
karl oswald
16. Toster
@14 fiddler

yes, the timeline is a bit flunked, but in this instance i don't really think it applies. i don't see where there's any inconsistency regarding timeline. 11-15 years ago sounds just about right. at that time, Cot/ST probably would have been prepping for their ascension to shadow already, delving the warrens and leaving surly to administer the empire. meanwhile, they massacre a cult.
Iris Creemers
17. SamarDev
re Fiddler #14
Oh, I don't really care about the timeline. I know about the debates and that's why I stated it as a kind of risky question. Is the timeline correct, are events happening at the same time or not, are there a few years (or some centuries in world history, or the first years of a childs life) missing... I don't care and usually even don't notice at all. Most of the time I glance over dates. But I like to think about the characters. Are they 'my' age, or are they younger, older, how would I react when I was that age / will be in that stage of my life. Not that litterally and not always, but sometimes its nice musing about that.

I thought about Lostara as a pretty young woman, and thinking about her lifestory brought me to late in her twenties, which fitted my vague mental image quite well. When I think of QB as late thirties, that feels a little old to me, but listing the things he has done / been in (as I did above) I realised it could be just possible. Or not, which is fine to me as well.
I just liked sitting here half evening at the pc with 4 books heaped around me, checking if I could find some 'clues' :-). Most of the time I just follow the story, but sometimes I have a whim and I start counting and doing maths in an attempt to get an idea about the distance of a league (once in DG), or these ages tonight. Totally useless, but I had a nice evening and that's part of the rereadfun to me :-).
Hugh Arai
18. HArai
QB is complicated and seems to be one of the many characters who doesn't age normally for any number of reasons.

Bidithal's appetites seem to be focused mostly on crushing hope, desire, and pleasure out of youth. You don't have to be young yourself for that, just sick.
Hugh Arai
19. HArai
Since it looks like Amanda isn't commenting this week, let me just say I hope she will be well and her crisis is resolved in the best manner possible for all involved.
Tricia Irish
20. Tektonica

I usually just go with the flow and enjoy the show, so to speak, but I really enjoyed your time line of Lostara Yil and QB...two of my favorite characters. I know what you mean about comparing your own worldly understanding with those of the characters. Mostly, I am humbled at all they have experienced at very young ages, and the aplomb with which they handle situations and learn and grow.....or not.

Your pleasure enjoying the reread, is ours too. Thank you.

Why QB/Cotillion/Kalam/whoever that let Bidithal go is a mystery to me. Perhaps his twisted predilections had not manifested just yet? But still, they were wiping out a cult, why leave a head priest? Unless, as Karsa@10 points out, you are using them as a lodestone.....but if so, why is he still around in HoC??

And Yay for Lostara and QB....I hope they did hook up...missed that the first time through ;-) Her familiarity with his long fingers should've been a dead give away.

Amanda: I hope your crisis resolves quickly and with a good outcome.
Joe Long
21. Karsa

but if so, why is he still around in HoC??

because the lodestone finally served its purpose. these guys really plan ahead!
Sydo Zandstra
22. Fiddler
Good point, Karsa.

Let me add my best wishes to Amanda.
Steven Halter
23. stevenhalter
SamarDev: Remeber that since QB is working for the Malazans at this point he has the experience of the multiple souls regardless of his age. Also, we don't really have much to pin his age on yet as rates of aging do vary.

For "the three of us" it could also be Cot, QB and Lostara that Cot is referring to.
Bill Capossere
24. Billcap
Being spared from Bidithal would seem to make some sense as an idea or an action, but the problem I have trying to fit that to the scene is
it seems the phrasing would be “I was spared more than death that night” or something like that. The “I was more than spared” seems weird cuz being saved from Bidithal isn’t being “more” than spared, it’s still being just “spared.” And it would make letting Bidithal go even odder. It’s that darn “let him go” as opposed to “let him escape” added to “it seemed a betrayal” that makes it seem as if QB did it deliberately.
I agree what Lostara and Quick did is ambiguous, but the conjunction of “more than spared” with the “ah” and his “lovely long-fingered hands” is what makes me lean the one way. But I can see easily if they didn’t

On the three people, I’ve always assumed it was QB, Kalam, and Dancer. Dancer’s line “but there were three of us” doesn’t fit with including Lostara as one of the three (she knew there were two so there’d be no need to tell here there were three including her—she can count) or Bidithal (as has been said, hard to see him counted as an “us”). Hmm, now I’m wondering: could the “third strain” that “slipped in” be an awareness of Dancer himself? And so the “more than spared” might not be physical but a “I was awakened”—not just saved dying but made aware of sexuality, etc.? I kinda like that idea.

I usually go with the flow on timelines as well in the series as it doesn’t detract from my reading experience (though I think it’s fine to point to problems with it), but I think in the case here, your focus on the ages is a bit different. It doesn’t matter much if say Karsa arrives six months later than he’s supposed to someplace—it may be annoying to a careful readers, a small sign of carelessness or indifference of the author, etc. but it doesn’t fundamentally change anything. But if one thinks, for instance, that QB may have slept with Lostara (and now I may backpeddle from that based on the above), there’s a big difference if she is 11 or if she is 16—a difference in characterization for each of them, I’d say. There are times when “when” something happened can carry some extra, or at least, different weight.
Joe Long
25. Karsa
@24 -- Bill, my interpretation of "spared more than death" is that she was spared death (e.g. not killed along with all the other cult members) and spared Bindithal, which would have happened if they hadn't killed everybody.
Bill Capossere
26. Billcap
:ksh1elds555@13: Even though- I can't say I understand him very well. I am not sure why he hates all of civilization, cities, towns, etc, despite some personal growth and becoming more worldly.

That is because it's human civilization. He is aware of how humans near his homeland have been corrupting the outer tribes of his homeland

true, but he also sees the effect of civilization on its own and on the world around him. Sometimes civilization should really be read as "civilization". We'll see more examples of it, but the slavery, the debt, the inequality, the devastation of natures

karsa@ 25
I could see that interpretation if she'd given us reason to think Bidithal was doing what he's doing in Sha'ik's camp (we only think that cuz we've seen it now--but I don't think there's anything in her recollections that point to him like that) and if that line wasn't followed immediately with the long-fingered hands of QB. If you're thinking "whew, thank god I just missed being sexually abused and forcefully circumcised," I can't see thinking about someone's lovely hands you were attracted to being the very next thought. Unless of course those long-fingered hands were wrapped around the abuser's neck, which, sadly, we know they weren't
Sydo Zandstra
27. Fiddler

:ksh1elds555@13: Even though- I can't say I understand him very well. I am not sure why he hates all of civilization, cities, towns, etc, despite some personal growth and becoming more worldly.

Bill: "That is because it's human civilization. He is aware of how humans near his homeland have been corrupting the outer tribes of his homeland."

I think I said that, Bill. Pay attention ;-)
Amanda Rutter
28. ALRutter
Thanks guys, for all of your patience bearing with me!

Here are my thoughts on Chapter Eight. I have also added my thoughts to the comment section for Chapter Seven. I am all caught up and ready to go this week :-)

Chapter Eight - brief thoughts

This is *so* sad, this extract at
the start of Chapter Eight. One sentence particularly resonated with me:
"It is the horror of war that, with each newly arrived generation, the
nightmare is reprised by innocents." I think you all know by now that I
am a military brat. My dad came within a whisker of being sent out to
the first Gulf War - in fact, a family friend did get sent out. And then
within such a short space of time, more innocents were treading the
same path out to Iraq. Once again, Erikson makes political and military
commentary in the form of an innocuous extract at the beginning of a

How telling is this? "Adjunct Tavore stood alone..." I reckon this is not something unusual.

poor Gamet - trying so hard but failing to mould his soldiers into any
form of effective force. This chaos will be completely unable to form
any resistance against the rebellion. So thank the Gods for one Fiddler,
who decides to help shape Gamet's force. And he is already settling
back into his mantle of sapper, which I adore.

It is definitely a way of making people attention! "Do what I say, or die!"

we saw Cuttle in the Chain of Dogs, didn't we? He was one of the
sappers on the ford, who was installed on the Silanda due to injury, and
so survived the endgame of the Chain of Dogs? That seems to be what my
poor memory is telling me :-)

The entrance of Grub! And what an awful omen to start the path of
this army against the rebellion. Led by a child. Carrying a bone.
Everyone is going to die thanks to the inexperience of the commander. No
wonder there is terror in the barracks.

A little tale of Nok - used by Fiddler to make a point, but is still
interesting to see a little of the background to this mysterious
admiral. I guess this means that Fiddler and the rest are planning to go
into battle under banners of bone and truly led by a child, in order to
force the rest to feel pride in their unique circumstances rather than
scared of what will face them.

Adjunct Tavore is *cold* - it would be better to lose the entire
army in battle against the rebellion than to give up the continent?

T'amber - the perfumed lover, and first mention of her
publicly. I remember seeing her from distance in Deadhouse Gates, as
Felisin (now Sha'ik) was being chained and dragged to captivity.

Oho! Lostara was under the influence of Bidithal as a child - she
learnt the Shadow Dances under his tutelage. I'm sure that connection
will become something of import as we go through.

Oh wait! Delat? Ben Adaephon Delat? He was the one who cast out
Bidithal? These connections are amazing! Heh - Lostara fancies Quick Ben

Ah, another wonderful cameo by Cotillion, and once again he is asking
someone for help in his grand plan - in the plan that sees beyond
Shadowthrone's base desire to have revenge upon Surly. And I LOVE that
Cotillion realises he no longer has the power to summon Ben. "I have no
hold over him these days, alas. Why? He is too powerful. Too mysterious.
Too conniving. Too Hood-damned smart."

There is sometimes some very gentle humour in the Malazan novels, such
as where Balgrid thinks he has fooled Pearl with his illusion and where,
in the next scene, Pearl demonstrates that he realises. It is perfect
for breaking the tension.

Stormy is a bit strong, isn't he?

Awwwww! "At the foot of a nearby pile lay two dogs, both asleep, one
huge and terribly scarred, the other tiny - a snarl of hair and a pug

I like the way that Erikson recaps the situation concerning Felisin, and
how the trail between various people is linked. Helps to refresh the
memory, apart from anything else!

Heh, more connections! So Cutter and Apsalar are headed to Drift Avalii!

Oh, now this I LOVE: Tavore not only accepting the idea of the
fingerbones, but outright telling Ranal that he has to join in. "Oh,
well done, lass" might be Fiddler's words, but they echo my thoughts.

And Coltaine's Own have arrived. What a fist-punching end to the chapter!
Paul Boyd
29. GoodOldSatan
I had always assumed that the reasom ST was pissed at QB (rereading back a book or so ago) was precisely because QB had let Bidithal go. But "why" QB did that remains a mystery to me.

But QB? With a libido? Strangest thing yet in all the series.
Bill Capossere
30. Billcap
Fiddler @ 27

man, this plagiarism stuff is hard! Sigh. Sorry 'bout that.
Sydo Zandstra
31. Fiddler
Amanda! Welcome back and good to hear everything's ok. And good that there were no riots in Portsmouth.

@Bill. No worries. You are always free to borrow. I'm your fan after all ;-)

I noted a small mistake in scene 3, btw. No biggie to me, but it could be confusing to new readers. Grub is said to be Gamet's toddler. Should be Keneb, of course. The names are alike, though.

Amanda said:

Stormy is a bit strong, isn't he?

Yes, and adorable. There's a reason my red-and-white furry purringmonster (also known as a cat) has been named after him.

Strong, adorable and a heart of gold. :D
32. amphibian
I read Amanda's comments for Chapter 7 and just want to say I think it's awesome that she already highly values Karsa as a character. It's only going to get better from here on in, readers...
Brian R
33. Mayhem
Just a quick note on the ages question above, remember that Bidithal and Quick Ben are both priests and mages, they age much slower than 'normal' people. Think back to Tattersail being over a century and still looking attractive. So the idea of Bidithal being 'sour and old' doesn't conflict with still having desires, especially when you later learn his reasoning - he practices his mutilation *for the benefit of the victim*.
He's the classic wizened old evil bastard who backstabbed his way to the top of his temple.
Emiel R
34. Capetown
@Bill and others, I think that the last part of the following quote strongly indicate QB didn't reciprocate Lostara:

"eyes held Lostara, in fullest recognition of the desire that overwhelmed her . . . Recognition and a certain pleased, but cool acknowledgment. As if flattered, but with no invitation offered in return."

As for QB's hands, I took that as a loving recollection of an adolescent's (or "bakvis" in Dutch) fancy.

I am also of the opinion that 'more than spared' means saved, but in the way that she now has a life/profession she likes much more than the life she could have expected in the cult.

@ alt146 regarding the HOC and the Pantheon. Be careful as there is no such thing in the story at this point.
Tricia Irish
35. Tektonica
Aw Capetown....burst my romantic bubble, bummer. There's so little of it in MBotF...which is probably a good thing, but geesh...It would've been kind of nice to see a "softer" side of QB...a more "human" one.

Amanda: Welcome back and thanks for the post. Glad everything's OK with your mum.
Steven Halter
36. stevenhalter
Capetown@34:Good text catch.

Bill@24:Yes, the three could refer to either group of 3 and the spared/saved could go either way. Capetown text catch above does seem to imply that the "romantic" attraction was on Lostara's part.
Brian R
37. Mayhem
regarding the HOC and the Pantheon. Be careful as there is no such thing in the story at this point.
Yes there is.
At this point in the story, we are roughly equivalent to the fall of Coral, with the bad guys celebrating the death of Whiskeyjack. And Paran sanctioned the House Of Chains following the Fall of Capustan, which means that the Chained One has had plenty of time to fill in the missing gaps in the House. At this point we explicitly know of (or can work out from careful reading) seven of the ten positions in the House, but I won't state them yet.
The remainder have been filled, but we don't learn by whom for some time to come.
Paul Boyd
38. GoodOldSatan
Capetown @ 34 (and Tek):

I just read your highlighted text to mean that he had more important things to deal with at the time; clearly he had taken an interest. Maybe I'm the romantic?
Emiel R
39. Capetown
Mayhem @37

"And Paran sanctioned the House Of Chains following the Fall of Capustan"

He did? Wow, did I just totally miss that? Lol. I was waiting for it to happen in MOI, but I thought it never did. I thought he only acknowledged his place as master of the deck. Does anyone have a quote for me?

GOS @38

IMO the text means that Lostara thinks QB acknowledges her attraction to him and seems flattered, but doesn't plan to do anything about it romantically. It suggests to me that what we have here is a not too abnormal adult's reaction to an adolescent child (she's 14) attracted to him.
Paul Boyd
40. GoodOldSatan
@39 re: 37

I, too, have some mis-anamnesis about when Paran authenticate the HOC, but - as a non-event spoiler; as it is revealed in the first scene of the next chapter - a new House has, indeed, been observed in the Deck (as well as a Master of the Deck card).
karl oswald
41. Toster
i think the house of chains was sanctioned the second paran made his decision that day on the steps with gruntle and quick ben. it's not gonna take paran doing some weird voodoo or bellowing his decision from a mountaintop to sanction the house of chains. if the master of the deck decides that it'd be all right for there to be a house of chains, that's all that needs to happen. he's the master. even if he can't understand how he does it, his choices decide what the deck of dragons looks like.
Michael Rubino
42. Bauchelain
I've always liked to think that the House was sanctioned when Paran gives those coins to Munug in the MoI Epilogue.
Brian R
43. Mayhem
On a reread of the relevant parts of MOI, it is clear that the House of Chains was almost fully formed prior to the sanction, and I had forgotten that Hood spells out who two more of the positions are, so we only actually have one role left unknown at this point.

The first cards apparently appeared in the deck around the time Gethol starts trying to recruit Kallor, and following the discussing on the steps Quick Ben concludes
there will be a House of Chains. Accept it, and prepare for it. You've ample time… more or less.
The actual point it is sanctioned is never explicitly stated, but following this conversation Paran slowly starts embracing the role of Master of the Deck, and as Toster says above, as soon as he makes his decision, thats that.
Compare with Silverfox, and just how easy it is for her to release people from the Ritual. It seems that a lot of truly momentous deeds are accomplished by a simple thought, once the person involved puts their mind to it.
And think of the effect Paran has when he blesses the Barghast gods simply by using the words.
To paraphrase Lenny Henry's Genie - "Please treat the words 'I Bless' with the same respect you would use for 'Please castrate me' "
Gerd K
44. Kah-thurak
I am unsure about this. Obviously, Paran can bless someone or something unintentionally just by saying something like "You have my blessing". Therefore I would think that he would need to bless the House of Chains in the same way, and not just by thinking he wants to accept it.
Emiel R
45. Capetown
I still don't know guys. The quote in the opening scene says

"(...) the new House. Sanctioned? Undecided. But not rejected out of hand, oh no, not rejected. And the Readers - the patterns! The House will be sanctioned - not one Reader doubts that."
Brian R
46. Mayhem
I was wrong. The house is not yet Sanctioned, it is just not Rejected.

Paran made up his mind not to oppose it after Capustan, but at this point in the timeline he hasn't yet made up his mind on whether to embrace it. The House is vigorously establishing itself and formalising positions, and various entities are jostling for or being forced into roles in the hierarchy.

Reading ahead I found a point where it is mentioned in passing that the house has been Sanctioned, and people sensitive to the deck are now aware of the change. The actual event happens offscreen though.

So Quick Ben was right, Hood does have time to prepare, if not as much as he might have hoped...
Steven Halter
47. stevenhalter
Here's a quote from chapter 9 that will resonate:

Her mind is broken.

Amir Noam
48. Amir
GoodOldSatan @40:
And to continue on a bit from the next chapter, we are indeed told that there is a new House, but also immediately told that it is neither sanctioned nor rejected.

Of course, the speaker is not 100% trustworthy on the subject :-)
Paul Boyd
49. GoodOldSatan
So, it is interesting that unsanctioned cards appear in the Deck (worldwide?).
Brian R
50. Mayhem
Well, it makes sense. The House now exists and the Deck reflects the current state of play in the world, so new cards to represent the House need to be created. The primary question around Sanctioning is how long the House will *stay* in the Deck.

The best part is coming in the next few chapters, where we learn what the *other* new cards are...
Mieneke van der Salm
51. Mieneke
I love the combo of Fiddler and Cuttle, I adore the sappers' irreverence for authority.

T'amber is going to be trouble in the long run isn't she? For some reason, maybe Gamet's reaction to her, I already don't like her.

Ranal seems to be in for an unpleasant end, if he keeps this up. Is this a genuine foreshadowing or is this just my suspicious nature?
Sydo Zandstra
52. Fiddler
Gotta love sappers and their mindframe :D

T'Amber isn't in it for politics/power, Mieneke. We'll find that out in The Bonehunters.

After this book there will be a phrase like "he got Ranal'd". Watch out :D
53. kjtherock
I believe Cotilion screwed up by hesitating at the time of Whiskeyjacks death. He may have wanted to save him but because of his indesition he was to late to save him.

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