Oct 14 2011 5:00pm

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

Malazan Reread on Tor.comWelcome 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 Twenty-Five of House of Chains by Steven Erikson (HoC).

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.

Chapter Twenty-Five


Febryl sits on the ridge, his warren spread out across the whole oasis, expanding and enhancing his senses. He feels powers converging, Dom’s assassins heading out on their assigned tasks, Reloe returning from his journey, the Malazans digging in. He’s bothered however, by a “strange song...the voice of Raraku itself”; the sensation that Hood himself is near, masking “other presences”; and the stirring of sprites and ghosts. He looks forward to “yet another apocalypse on Raraku’s restless sands.”


L’oric’s body has been dragged to the side of the command tent and left for dead. He hears Dom give his several orders

  • Henaras is to release his assassins to kill all of Bidithal’s spies and Scillara
  • Durly is to ride to Tavore and deliver Dom’s message and to impress on her the need to call back her own killers, “lest they do the Whirlwind Goddess’s work for her.”
  • The 4th company and Fayelle are to block Leoman’s return
  • Ethume is to be within crossbow range of Febryl

Henaras says she feels “terrible powers” nearing, to which Dom replies that’s why they need Tavore and her sword. He asks if they’re safe in the tent and Henaras says she thinks so due to the wards set up by her, Fayelle, and Reloe. L’oric is distracted by the sound of one of Dom’s guards outside being killed, then Greyfrog slices through the bottom of the tent wall nearby. He grabs L’oric and pulls him out, telling him “things are coming. Suitably ominous. Frankly, I admit to fear and advise we hide.” L’oric agrees and tells Greyfrog to leave him somewhere safe then return to guard Felisin from assassins.


Kesanal, one of Dom’s assassins, is looking at Scillara and Felisin. He signals to his hunting group to encircle the women, then beings and incantation to dull the intended victims. He and his squad step forward once the incantation works and then are killed suddenly by Karsa. Kesanal finds himself next looking at Hood’s Gate, heading toward it with his four kinsmen/associates.


As Felisin and Scillara struggle to recover, Karsa asks where Bidithal and a list of others (Leoman, Febryl, Dom, Reloe, Heboric) are. Felisin, still dulled and also shocked and horrified by the ease and speed with which Karsa had killed the five assassins, can’t even speak. Scillara tells Karsa to find them where he can. Karsa leaves. Felisin whispers he’s going to kill all he named saved Leoman.


Mathok looks down at two corpses — the most recent assassins sent to kill him. He orders T’morol to gather the clan, goes to get the Book of Dryjhna that Sha’ik had entrusted to him, then rejoins T’morol and the clan and tells them they are riding to Leoman. The rest of the clans are to guard Sha’ik. T’morol asks if they will wait and watch what happens at dawn to “gauge the wind.” Mathok says yes.


Heboric feels Febryl’s web torn by the several forces moving through it. He senses ghosts in the city and gods coming near to “witness all that was to come. Witness, or to seize the moment and act directly. A nudge here, a tug there, if only to appease their egos, if only to see what happens.” He thinks how “these were the games he despised, source of his fiercest defiance all those years ago. The shape of his crime, if crime it was. And so they took my hands.” He realizes he is “indifferent to Treach, [is] a reluctant Destriant to the new god of war despite the gifts [of his new hands]...Otataral Island and the giant of jade — that is what awaits me. The returning of power. Even as those last words tracked across his mind, he knew that a deceit rode among them. A secret he knew but to which he would fashion no shape. Not yet.” He exits his tent.


Kalam tucks the acorn he’d been tossed into his sash and heads out, feeling the song inside him, as well as the awakening of powers in the oasis before him. He enters the oasis and comes across a hand of assassins, wondering who in the camps would organize them in such fashion. He tracks them and notes how they move slightly differently than a Claw Hand. Realizing they are Talons, he wonders if this is what Cotillion wanted him to confirm. He kills them all, whispering in the last’s ear “If your masters are listening, and they should be, compliments of the Claw. See you soon.” He assumes their target is inside the building they’d been heading toward. He moves toward it, coming across the corpses of three young girls and two blood trails leading away toward the temple. He tracks the trails into the temple, sensing as he nears it that despite its age and ruined appearance, it has been newly sanctified. Inside he comes across another corpse, this one killed by magic, and he sees shadows farther in. He pulls out his otataral knife. Inside a young girl sits surrounded by three other corpses; she asks him if he remembers the dark. Kalam tells her not to move and she’ll live. Bidithal, at the far end of the inner pit, tells him her mind is gone. He adds that he is not Kalam’s enemy and in fact, the one trying to kill Bidithal is Dom and Reloe. He asks if Kalam (whom Bidithal knows only as a Claw) wants directions to their tent. When Kalam says he’ll find it himself, soon, Bidithal warns him that his otataral blade is not enough inside this temple, saying that though Kalam may think he knows the temple’s nature, he is “in error.” He orders Silgar to give Kalam some wine. Silgar squirms across the floor; he has a silver tray strapped to his back with a jug on it. Bidithal apologizes for Silgar’s slowness, then introduces himself as “arch-priest of all that is sundered, broken, wounded, and suffering. My own awakening proved both long and torturous...had fashioned in my own mind every detail of the cult I would lead. All the while unaware that the shaping was being guided...even when the fated new House was laid out before me, I did not realize the truth. This shattered fragment of Kurald Emurlahn, Claw, shall not be the plaything of a desert goddess. Nor of the Empress. None of you shall have it, for it shall become the heart of the new House of Chains. Tell your empress to stand aside. We are indifferent to who would rule the land beyond the Holy Desert. She can have it. You can have her [Sha’ik] as well. Marched back to Unta in chains — and that is far more poetic than you will ever know.” Kalam tells Bidithal the offer is interesting, but he feels it’s filled with more lies than truth. Bidithal says perhaps Kalam is right, as Bidithal needs Sha’ik for another day. But he insists he would work with Kalam to deal with Febryl and Dom, telling him Dom calls himself Master of the Talon and plans on “returning to Laseen’s embrace...[using] Sha’ik to bargain for his own position. As for Febryl...what he awaits no one but he is mad enough to desire.” Kalam wonders why all the talk as Bidithal has no plans to let him leave alive. He adds that the Hounds of Darkness are coming and asks of Bidithal summoned them, if he or the Crippled God think to control them and if so, he calls them mad. Bidithal says the Hounds “seek a master.” Kalam thinks to himself “Cotillion was right about the Chained One,” and out loud replies “One who is worthy...meaner and tougher than they are. And in this oasis, they will find no such individual...They will kill everyone.” Bidithal tells Kalam he has no idea of Bidithal’s power, but says Kalam was right about not leaving alive; Bidithal’s just been waiting for his shadow servant to return. He says he will now leave for he “made a promise to Sha’ik and I mean to keep it,” adding that if by some miracle Kalam survives, Bidithal won’t stop him from going after Dom and the others. Bidithal disappears in darkness and Kalam has a momentary shiver at the “uncanny familiarity of the sorcerous departure” before the shadows attack. It turns out his otataral blade was enough, with the assistance of Cotillion.


Karsa has killed numerous of Dom’s killers, though some had knives invested with sorcery. He enters Heboric’s tent but finds it empty, as is Leoman’s pit. He goes to Bidithal’s and hears fighting inside. As he watches, Silgar crawls out, right to Karsa’s feet. Silgar says “He fights like a demon...Both blades cut through the wraiths...A god stands at his shoulders.” He tells Karsa to kill them both and when Karsa says he takes no orders from him, Silgar calls him a fool and says, “We are brothers in the House now, you and I. You are the Knight of Chains and I am the Leper. The Crippled God has chose us. And Bidithal, he has become the Magi...he wisely fled and I am doing. The Claw and his patron god are even now slaying the last of his shadow servants. You are the Knight — you possess your own patron. . . Kill the enemy, it is what you must do.” Karsa agrees, and kills Silgar, thinking as he sees it done that “Leoman was right long ago — a quick death would have been the better choice.” He lifts his sword free of Silgar’s corpse and says, “I follow no patron god.” He starts to track Bidithal.


Corabb heads back to Leoman’s camp with an escort of 20 of Mathok’s warriors. To Corabb’s surprise, the escort is stopped at the perimeter; Leoman has ordered none from the oasis is allowed in. Corabb tells Leoman Sha’ik wants him to replace Dom as commander. Corabb confirms that Dom’s assassins are between them and her but says they won’t challenge the entire force. When he says Dom didn’t know yet but that Sha’ik had demanded his presence, Leoman says Dom will simply ignore her, and that in fact Dom probably does know. He asks if Corabb thinks the Dogslayers will follow someone other than Dom and Corabb says they’ll have no choice since it is Sha’ik’s order. Leoman nods then orders his men to break camp, saying they ride to Sha’ik.


Kalam exits the temple, shaken by what he’d witnessed of Cotillion’s skills. He thinks he had done with Cotillion had asked of him: “he had found the source of the threat to the realm of Shadow. Or at least confirmed a host of suspicions. This fragment of Kurald Emurlahn will be the path to usurpation by none other than the Crippled God. The House of Chains had come into play.” He thinks that’s Cotillion and Shadowthrone’s problem though; he had “more immediate tasks.” Considering them, he is glad Cotillion had “been kind enough to deliver a pair of Kalam’s favorite weapons.” He sees Silgar’s corpse and thinks it looks like the wound had been delivered by an Imass sword. He heads for where he thinks Dom would be set up, moving through “heavy layers of sorcery...seeming to flow in streams.” He reaches Dom’s fortified area and watches as a troop heads out quietly. He wonders at their purpose, but is happy to have fewer soldiers in the encampment, though he’s sure Dom has left himself still well-protected: “He calls himself master of the Talon after all. Not that Cotillion, who was Dancer, knows a damned thing about them. Sparing the revelation only a sneer. Kalam sneaks into the camp and makes his way to just outside the command tent. He pulls out a pair of Claw crossbows then watches as Reloe appears out of a portal and enters the tent with three assassins. Suddenly, a hand settles on Kalam’s soldier and someone tells him to keep eyes forward. Kalam “knew that voice, from more years back than he’d like to think. But that bastard’s dead. Dead before Surly took the throne.” As he pictures the “acid-spattered face,” the voice continues: “ love’s lost between me and the company I’m sharing again. Figured I’d seen the last of ever damn one of them and you...Need a way in there, right? Best we mount a diversion. Give us fifty heartbeats. At least you can count those.” The ghost leaves and Kalam wonders what is happening, “That damned captain went renegade. They found his body in Malaz City the morning after the assassinations or something closely approximating his body.” As he looks at the tent, he hears screams and Moranth munitions, then the guards head away, leaving two visible ones. He kills them then enters the tent to face a Pardu assassin who, seeing him, says “Kalam Mekhar. I suppose you don’t remember me.” Kalam kills him then says “No I don’t.” Reloe and the other two assassins appear. Reloe says they’d expected a Claw attack, though not, he confesses, a ghost one as well. Reloe can’t use magic due to Kalam’s otataral blade. One of the assassins says Kalam would probably take them singly but not together. Kalam says he’s right, then tosses his acorn to the ground. The three flinch as it rolls toward them, then when nothing happens one of the assassins kicks it away. Kalam kills the assassins with his crossbows. Reloe suddenly shrieks and is fatally attacked by sorcery. Quick Ben steps out from where the acorn had rolled to and, kneeling beside the dying Reloe, tells him “It’s disloyalty that bothers us the most...We always answer it. Always have. Always will.” Kalam notices that Quick looks “older. Worn down. Scars not written on his skin, but on his heart. He will, I suspect, have nothing good to tell me when all this is done.” He asks if Quick had caused the diversion and the mage says no, “Nor did Hood, though the hoary bastard’s arrived. This is all Raraku.” He says he’ll explain later, then standing, warns Kalam that Henaras is with Dom in the back area, behind some tough wards. Kalam says that’s fine, drawing his otataral blade. But when they enter, they find Henaras’ corpse laid out on the map table; atop her chest was a single pearl. The continue on to find Dom in his chair. His voice filled with fear, he tells them he has already sent a message to Tavore saying he’s ready to attack Sha’ik with his army. Kalam says if Dom thinks he and Quick Ben are Tavore’s reply, he’s wrong. Dom says he and Reloe had thought the mage was either dead with the rest of the Bridgeburners or still on Genabackis. Quick answers that Tayschrenn sent him ahead while he used his sorcery to speed Dujeck’s fleet to Seven Cities, adding they’d arrived in Ehrlitan a week ago. Dom says, “What’s left of those legions, you mean.” Kalam is blindsided, thinking “The Bridgeburners dead? Whiskeyjack! Onearm’s Host — gods below, what happened over there?” Dom starts to negotiate, saying they can work together to pacify Seven Cities and bring Sha’ik in chains to Laseen. Quick interrupts to say if Dom thinks he’ll get a pardon he’s insane and when Dom suddenly attacks him, Kalam simply knocks him out. As he starts to tie him up in preparation for bringing him someplace Quick has thought of, he asks about the Bridgeburners and Whiskeyjack. Quick tells him “Dead. Barring Picker and a handful of others,” adding he’ll tell him all of it later. Kalam says he feels like killing, but Quick says not Dom, not now. Kalam thinks, “Hold back on the feelings Kalam Mekhar. Hold back on everything. Quick’s right. In time. In time. Oh, Whiskeyjack.”


Bidithal moves toward Sha’ik’s palace, thinking he needs her and the goddess and that “Once the goddess’ rage has cooled, has annealed in to beauty by victory — we can still achieve this. But I know now what Febryl has done. I know what Korbolo Dom and Kamist Reloe plan for the dawn.” He hears screams from the Dogslayer’s camp and thinks Kalam has made it there. He sights the palace and considers what he needs to do: “Counter the Napan’s gambit — awaken the goddess to the threat awaiting her. Then hunt down that gnarled bhok’aral Febryl and see his skin stripped... even the goddess, yes even the goddess will have to recognize me. My power. When flanked by my new pets.” His musings are rudely interrupted by Karsa picking him up and throwing him to the ground. He looks up to see Karsa standing over him, surrounded by “gathering ghosts, chained souls.” Karsa tells him, “You should have left her alone.” Bidithal screams “We are both servants of the same god...I would save Sha’ik!” Karsa tears away Bidithal’s sex organs and as Bidithal dies, he looks up to see Karsa watching and thinks “You fool, Toblakai.” Karsa shoves the organs into Bidithal’s mouth, saying “For you Bidithal. For every nameless girl-child you destroyed. Here. Choke on your pleasure.” Bidithal then finds himself before Hood’s Gate, “And there, gathered by the Lord of Death, waited demons who were of like nature to Bidithal himself, gleefully closing about the new victim. A lifetime of vicious pleasure. An eternity of pain in answer. For even Hood understood the necessity for balance.”


Lostara begins to head out, but Cotillion appears and tells her to stay. She tells him she woke Pearl as he’d said to do and he then went into the oasis. Cotillion replies Pearl is returning because he senses what is nearing. She asks if it’s what is making Cotillion hide with her and he answers “There are times when it is advisable to step back and wait. The Holy Desert itself senses the approach of an ancient foe and will rise in answer if need be. Even more precarious, the fragment of Kurald Emurlahn that the Whirlwind Goddess would claim is manifesting itself. The goddess is fashioning a portal, a gate, one massive enough to swallow this entire oasis. Thus she too makes a play for Raraku’s immortal heart. The irony is that she herself is being manipulated by a far cleverer god, who would take this fragment for himself and call it his House of Chains.” Lostara says she doesn’t much care; she and Pearl are there for Felisin. Cotillion tells her they’ve found her, but she is beyond them “For the moment.” She says they’ll just wait for the path to clear and he says, yes, just as he’d said. He leaves.


Febryl had killed all of Dom’s assassins that tried to kill him. He senses Dom and Reloe are dead. He waits for the “oasis behind him to become as a nightmare wakened into horrid reality...everything was proceeding perfectly.” Karsa suddenly appears and kills him.


Karsa can feel Urugal’s voice screaming in his head, trying to push him away from the oasis, but he doesn’t like being pushed. He turns to face the oasis and can feel “a thousand ghostly chains stretched taut behind him begin pulling. The Teblor growled under his breath and leaned forward. I am the master of these chains. I, Karsa Orlong, yield to none. Not gods, not the souls I have slain. I will walk forward now, and either resistance shall end, or the chains will be snapped.” He hears a pair of howls and thinks, “Ahh, they have arrived.” He moves forward, the chains no longer resisting.


Gamet lies in agony on his cot, his head in incredible pain. He blacks out, then finds himself armored, pain-free near the tent exit. He feels he needs to go out, to get his horse. He mounts and rides out, joining three figures at the ridge: Nil, Nether, Grub. Grub tells him the Wickans and Malazans will take the flanks, but Gamet will ride straight up the main ramp. Gamet sees an army preparing to do so and when Grub tells him to ride to them, he salutes and does so. A dragon-helmed rider asks Gamet to join them and when Gamet says he cannot — as Fist is must command — the rider replies “Not this night. Fight at our sides as the soldier you are. Remember the old battles? When all that was required was the guarding of the companions flanking you. Such will be this night. Leave the commanding to the lords. Ride with us in freedom. And glory. Gamet feels his blood racing and draws his sword, saying he will ride with them. He notes the banner — a clan of the Burned Tears — then notes their “archaic and half-rotting” armor. They attack the unprepared Dogslayers and Gamet hears “Screams on all sides, strangely muted, almost faint. Sounds of battle, yet they seemed a league distant.” As they rout the Dogslayers, butterflies descend “in swarms, to flit above the carnage in the trenches.” He notices how the Dogslayers offer almost no defense, sees their horror, “the terror in their faces as he and his comrades delivered death. He could hear the battle song now, rising and falling like waves on a pebbled shore, yet building towards a climax yet to come — yet to come, but soon. Soon. Yes, we’ve needed a song. We’ve waited a long time for such a song. To honor our deeds. Our struggles. Our lives and our deaths. We’ve needed our own voice, so that our spirits could march, march ever onward. To battle. To war. Manning these walls of crumbled brick and sand. Defending the bone-dry harbors and the dead cities that once blazed with ancient dreams, that once flickered life’s reflection on the warm, shallow sea. Even memories need to be defended. Even memories.” The rider who had asked him to join rides up beside him and reveals herself to be a “dark-skinned woman, her eyes a stunning blue within a web of desert lines.” When he says there are still more enemies, she laughs and says not the tribes for they are kin. She says their battle is done; others will fight tomorrow. Now they ride to the shore and she again asks if he will join them. He says yes and she inquires again, asking if he would leave his friends. He answers, “For you, yes” and she smiles. He looks at all the dead Dogslayers and thinks “Vengeance. She will be pleased. She will understand and be pleased. As am I. Goodbye, Adjunct Tavore.”


Koryk asks Fiddler [note the shift to calling him Fiddler] what he’s looking at and Fiddler, wiping his eyes, says “Nothing, or nothing that makes sense.” Koryk says they aren’t going to see battle in the morning, are they and Fiddler tells him “The glory of battle, Koryk, dwells only in the bard’s voice, in the teller’s woven words. Glory begins to ghosts and poets. What you hear and dream isn’t the same as what you live — blur the distinction at your own peril, lad.” When Koryk asks why Fiddler is there then, Fiddler says he thinks the song called him, and that while Quick Ben probably knows more about it, Fiddler thinks the song means the Bridgeburners have ascended, “at least, the dead ones. The rest of us, we’re just malingering. Here in the moral realm.” Koryk asks if Fiddler’s planning on dying anytime soon and when Fiddler answers no, he says good, “Because we like our sergeant.” He leaves and Fiddler turns his attention back to the battle, feeling “as if friends are fighting. I can almost hear sounds of battle. Almost.” Then two howls pierce the night and “the darkness above the oasis began to change.”


Mathok and Leoman meet. Mathok tells him “Raraku has awakened. Ghosts have risen, the Holy Desert’s own memories. When Leoman asks who are their enemies, Mathok replies “Betrayal upon betrayal, Leoman.” He says he’s set his clans between the Malazans and Sha’ik, but he fears the battle is already lost. When he adds he’s brought the Holy Book, Leoman asks “To Y’Ghatan?” Mathok says yes; his tribe will go with him and he’ll leave behind nine thousand others for Leoman to command. Leoman says no, he has no choice or time to modify the tactics. He asks about Sha’ik and Mathok says the goddess still holds her, even Dom’s assassins can’t get to her. Leoman though believes Dom would have anticipated that and planned something else. He tells Mathok he rides to Sha’ik. Mathok’s says the Holy Book was a history, not a prophecy. Leoman says he knows, and the two say farewell. As Leoman’s group heads through the defile, they are attacked. Leoman jumps on Corabb’s horse and the two ride on.


Quick Ben and Kalam dodge a group of heavy infantry ghosts. Kalam asks if they’re the ones singing and Quick says he hears the song in his head as well. He explains it’s a Tanno Spiritwalker song for the Bridgeburners: A Tanno stole our tale and fashioned a song — but for that song to have any effect, the Bridgeburners had to die. As a company. And now it has. Barring you and me.” Kalam interrupts to say Fiddler too, then recalls Fiddler saying something about a Spiritwalker in Ehrlitan. Quick says however it happened, the Bridgeburners have ascended, though he doesn’t know what that means — “I’ve never heard of such a thing before. A whole company — there’s no precedent for this.” Kalam asks what about the T’lan Imass, and Quick says, “An interesting thought...In any case, Raraku’s ghosts have risen on that song. Risen to battle. But there’s more. I swear I saw a Wickan standard back near the Dogslayer trenches.” Kalam wonders if Tavore’s taking advantage of the chaos, but Quick says she knows nothing of it due to her sword and the darkness hiding everything: “the darkness is sorcery. Remember whenever Anomander Rake arrived someplace with is warren unveiled...This is more primal.” Kalam mentions the Hounds,” like the Shadow Hounds, only somehow worse.” Quick thinks then says “Two Hounds of Darkness. The Deragoth then. So who broke their chains I wonder.” Kalam wonders what there is that Quick doesn’t know and the mage says he doesn’t know what they Hounds are doing here. Kalam takes that “here” as general, but Quick means it in the literal sense.


The Hounds are as large, but stockier, than a horse, a mix somewhat of a hyena and plains bear. “They had come to destroy. To tear life from all flesh, to mock all claims of mastery... this was a new world for them. New, yet once it had been old. Changes had come. A world of vast silences where once kin and foe alike had opened throats in fierce challenge. Nothing was as it had been, and the Deragoth were made uneasy. They had come to destroy. But now hesitated. With eyes fixed on the one who had arrived, who now stood before them. Karsa steps forward and tells them that though the Chained God has reconsidered his “ambition...dream of mastery,” Karsa would face them. The Hounds separate and Karsa says, “You would let me pass?...Do you remember the Toblakai, beasts? But they had been gentled. By civilization. By the soft trappings of foolish peace. So weakened they could not stand before T’lan Imass, could not stand before Forkrul Assail and Jaghut. And now they cannot stand before Nathii slavers. An awakening was needed.” He moves between them and they attack as he expected them to. He badly wounds one and the other wraps his jaws around his leg. Karsa lifts it up and throws it down, then wraps his hands around its throat even as it rips at his arms. He kills it, then heads off after the one he had wounded.


Kalam and Quick step out from hiding and stare after Karsa leaving. They look at the Hound’s corpse, then Kalam suggests they drop of Dom and get out of there. Quick says it’s a brilliant plan. They leave, ignoring the “shadows pouring out of the burgeoning shattered warren of Kurald Emurlahn.”


Greyfrog meets Heboric and tells him he was sent by L’oric. He leads Heboric to him. L’oric has a Deck out and informs Heboric a Master has sanctioned the House of Chains. Heboric is surprised at first, then says “Let the gods rail, he or she had to do just that.” L’oric agrees, saying “The Crippled God is now as bound as is every other god.” Heboric wonders if he’ll regret this at some point. L’oric continues, saying the Crippled God is planning on taking the fragment of Kurald Emurlahn, though that has been made more difficult by Karsa’s killing of Bidithal, adding Karsa is the Knight in the House of Chains.” Heboric, not pleased about Karsa’s return, says his role is “unfortunate for the Crippled God. Toblakai will kneel to no one. He cannot afford to. He will defy all prediction.” L’oric interrupts to tell him Karsa has already done so, “to the possible ruination of us all. Still, at the same time, I have come to suspect he is our only hope...Two Hounds of Darkness arrived...and now I believe but one Deragoth remains [and]. .. . Toblakai even now pursues it.” Heboric asks what or who brought them there and who has Karsa just thwarted, but L’oric says he does not know and perhaps has yet to be decided. He asks Heboric to take Felisin away, saying Greyfrog will go with them though he himself will go to Sha’ik, “That mortal child is soon to be no more. The goddess is about to devour her soul even as we speak — and once that is done there shall be no return. The young Malazan girl you once knew will have ceased to exist. Thus, when I go to Sha’ik, I go not to that child, but to the goddess...I must speak to the goddess before she takes Sha’ik’s soul.” Heboric doesn’t answer, trying to figure out what L’oric wants from an insane goddess. L’oric tells him “There are two Felisins...Save the one you can.” When Heboric says someday he’ll find out who L’oric really is, L’oric responds: “I am a son who lives without hope of ever matching my father’s stride. That alone, in time, will explain all you need know of me.”


Karsa catches up to the Hound and they face off. Suddenly, Corabb’s horse bursts out and collides with the hound, throwing Corabb and Leoman to the ground and stunning the Hound. Karsa wounds it, then Leoman joins him in killing it. Karsa says he didn’t need Leoman’s help, but Leoman says he needs Karsa’s.


Pearl heads out of the oasis as “Kurald Emurlahn was opening like death’s own flower, with the oasis at its dark heart. He reaches where he’d left Lostara and is struck down by surprise by Kalam, who says, “That was for Malaz City. Even so, you owe me one.” Pearl says Kalam owes him for Henaras. Kalam replies she wasn’t worth counting, then drops Dom next to Pearl. Pearl agrees he owes Kalam, then listens as two sets of footsteps head off. He thinks, “The wizard was in no mood to talk, I suppose. To me, that is. I believe I ma sorely humbled.” He smiles and dawn arrives.


Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty-Five

Well, now, that little poem to begin Chapter Twenty-Five does not exactly cheer the soul, does it? The dirge of the lost can relate to those already dead and gone, those about to die in the conflict between the two sisters, those who will die in the larger conflict.... With all that we’ve seen, and all the people we’ve lost already, I think we hear that dirge ourselves.

Febryl really does have his own agenda. I thought he was linked in to the others but right now he seems to be acting very much on his own! “Yet another apocalypse” in Raraku — what happened before?

At least here I finally have confirmation that Korbolo Dom is working on behalf of Tavore — after the MASSIVE hint of the throne in the previous chapter.

Awww, Greyfrog really is an absolute delight. Can I have one?

And now Karsa makes his explosive entrance! I don’t agree with all the people he wants to kill, if that is what that list signifies. Particularly Heboric — I really like him, and I’m glad he’s taken on a role in Treach’s new army. Also, why is Felisin so sure that Karsa won’t kill Leoman — some sort of foresight? [Bill: Just because they were friends and Leoman has done nothing to anger or insult Karsa.]

The Book of Dryjhna is still in existence — does that mean that another Sha’ik could be produced, if they open the Book? Could Felisin be relieved? Or will it only take her death? She’s had such a tragic story so far that it seems likely she is going to die!

What is the deceit that rides Heboric’s thoughts as he tells himself “Otataral Island, and the giant of jade — that is what awaits me. The returning of power”?

That acorn is significant, isn’t it? Is that the OBJECT?

I love it that one of the differences between the Claws and the Talons is that they move at different paces apart. That is just so... administrative! Is it just me, or do the Talons seem just a little bit showy compared to the Claws? Dressing in dark clothes, clandestine meetings, things like that?

Urgh! I could have survived my whole life without knowing that there was a chance a corpse would vomit on your head as you snapped its neck. [Bill: Never let it be said that Erikson’s books are not educational.]

Now, why did I not realize that Bidithal would be the latest convert to the Crippled God’s House of Chains? He is the perfect candidate, right?

Oh, you know something? When Bidithal says: “They seek a master” about the Hounds and Kalam replies, “One who is worthy. In other words, one who is meaner and tougher than they are” I instantly think about Karsa. I think he might find himself in charge of a couple of Hounds before the night is over....

“Leoman was right, long ago — a quick death would have been the better choice.”

I don’t think that even Silgar deserves the fate that he has now suffered, as the Leper of the House.

Wait? Did Cotillion fight against Kalam? Or was it just that Kalam watched Cotillion against Bidithal’s servants? Because a fight between those two would be AMAZING and I can’t ever imagine it would take place off-screen, as it were! [Bill: Both fought against the shadow servants, though Cotillion did most of the damage.]

Eep! Who might this be, who gives aid to Kalam? “That damned captain went renegade. They found his body in Malaz City the morning after the assassinations... or something closely approximating his body.” [Bill: From Night of Knives: “Ash,” said Surly. “Ex-Lieutenant of the Bridgeburners. And one very determined man.” She raised her bandaged hand. “Acid.”]

Claw versus Talon — at least we now know which is more skilled, at least when Kalam is involved.

QUICK BEN! Oh, he and Kalam together again at last! Haha, I knew that acorn must have relevance — it was mentioned too often to be incidental. And those words he speaks, “It’s disloyalty that bothers us the most. We always answer it. Always have. Always will.”

A pearl on the chest of Henaras? From Pearl? [Bill: Yep.]

Poor Kalam — another person to hear of the end of the Bridgeburners and the death of Whiskeyjack in an almost off-hand manner. That final “Oh, Whiskeyjack....” from Kalam is both bitter and heartbreaking. I don’t think that will ever cease to hurt.

“I know, Bidithal, where your sick desires come from. I know where your pleasure hides — the pleasure you would take from others. Witness.”

I approve of Karsa’s punishment of Bidithal. I fiercely approve.

Hmm, I think, having not read the whole section, that Gamet actually dies as these words are written: “A time of blankness, then he found himself standing near the tent flap. Weighted in his armour, gauntlets covering his hands, helm on his head. The pain was fading, a cool emptiness rising in its wake.” I think he has become one of the ghosts of Raraku.

And, here, affirmation that the Bridgeburners have ascended — at least, the dead ones have. Poor Fiddler. Left behind due to being alive. I feel conflicted. I almost want him to have an honourable death so that he can join the rest of his comrades — particularly Hedge, who he must miss every minute of every day. And yet I, of course, want Fiddler to be alive because he’s wonderful.

How does Corabb survive everything?

Now, that conversation between Quick Ben and Kalam is probably reading the whole book for. It’s just perfect. The way that Quick still keeps his secret, the wonder they both have about the ascending of the Bridgeburners (including the rather bitter thought that this is why they had to die as a company), and Quick’s reaction to Kalam wondering whether Anomander is about to arrive. So funny! “I hope not. I mean, I don’t think so. He’s busy...” What makes me wonder is how Fiddler, Kalam and Quick Ben can join the Bridgeburners? And why were they not included in the death of the company?

Now that is an AWESOME battle between Karsa and the Hounds. Just brilliant. He is badass, isn’t he?

Haha, great exchange:



“Let’s drop off the Napan and get out of here.”

“A brilliant plan.”

“I just thought it up.”

“I like it very much. Well done, Kalam.”

It sort of reminds me of something from Blackadder!

Poor Greyfrog — he seems to convey the same confusion that the reader must be thinking, “Thoughtful. A fell night, this one. Ghosts, assassins, warrens, silent battles. Does no-one in this world ever sleep?”

I like the fact that Heboric is finally told that he should be concentrating on Felisin Younger. And I do feel very sorry for Sha’ik, who was Felisin, and has had the very worst life.

Now this chapter is why I read the books, even when I’m not sure where Erikson is going. I have a sneaking suspicion I enjoyed it so much because Trull and Onrack were not involved — sorry, people, still not liking their part of the story. And, boy, did I enjoy it!


Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty-Five

The sands were stirring...Spirits and ghosts...A curious thing, but he was not unduly concerned.

Gotta love just how sharp good old Febryl is.

I like the contrast between Dom being referred to as the “Supreme Command of the Apocalypse” even as he sends out his assassins to kill little girls (Bidithal’s cute little spies) and a whore “Scillara, that bitch,” and makes his plans to betray the Goddess. Not to mention his hiding in his tent in a bit of panic and fear: “Which is why we need the Adjunct and her damn sword. Are we safe enough in here, Henaras?”

Karsa certainly makes his presence known early on, eh? And we get a redshirt character who sees Hood’s Gate so we’re not surprised when a much more major one — Bidithal — does the same later on.

Note when Heboric rises how the “gloom felt solid, reluctant to yield,” — an intimation of Darkness perhaps.

Not a fan of the gods is Heboric. That’s a pretty bitter take on the gods and their nudges and tugs — how rather than actually directing events out of need to achieve a desired or in their minds necessary goal, they do so simply to “appease their egos,” to feel in the game so to speak or simply out of boredom. Though, as we’ll see, some gods have some pretty complex and long-term plans....

A reluctant Destriant to a god of war — I’m thinking that’s perhaps not such a bad idea.

More reference to Darkness falling — Kalam noticing how “the starlight seemed strangely muted.”

I too like that precise contrast between the Claws and Talons — seven paces apart rather than five. Do you think they had arguments over the effectiveness of each? “Seven? Are you crazy? Five is obviously the perfect pacing!” “Five? Why, with five you’d..."

Not the first time we’ve seen a whisper into the ear of a dead/dying assassin for those who are watching.

You know you really loathe a guy like Bidithal when he makes you feel bad in how he treats a guy you already loathe, like Silgar. I hate that.

And so while we’ve known the Crippled/Chained/Ticked-Off God was involved with the Edur and the Seven Imass renegades and the First Throne, we now see his direct involvement with the whole Whirlwind story as Bidithal tells Kalam that his “shaping” of the cult he’d planned on was itself being shaped by the CG: a god of those who are “broken, wounded, and suffering.” And we can see how powers might be converging beyond the mortal as this has moved beyond a clash of armies to a clash over control of this fragment of Kurald Emurlahn: The CG wants it, the Goddess wants it, might the Edur want it as well? And who would want to ensure it does not fall into the hands of those who might want it? We’ve got the goddess, the CG. Cotillion. Will Shadowthrone appear? Hood seems to be hovering. That’s a lot of gods in one small place.

Too bad Kalam isn’t interested in just why marching Sha’ik “back to Unta [not that “back”] in chains” is so “poetic.” Too bad.

As you say, Amanda, hard not to think of Karsa when Kalam mentions someone “meaner and tougher” than the Deragoth.

I like the understated ending of this scene — his knives proving “sufficient” and the mention of Cotillion. Good decision not to show us the actual fight I think.

Remember those assassin knives “invested with sorcery.”

Things don’t seem to be going so great for the Crippled God tonight. His mage — Bidithal — is killed. His Leper — Silgar — is killed. His Knight — Karsa — is the one killing off his other players. Doesn’t seem to bode well for the whole “just wait ‘till I get my hands on the Emurlahn fragment” plan.

As much as we see “Conan” Karsa in this chapter with all his slaying and his, “I have returned,” “I follow no patron god,” “I never liked you,” “Cimmeria sucks in the winter” (okay, I made that last one up), we also see the more mature and wise Karsa in his recognition of error when he says Leoman had been right about Silgar, that “a quick death would have been the better choice.” A nice reminder of his layers in a chapter that has him mostly in Terminator mode.

This is the second scene where the Rope has been preternaturally deadly. To impress Kalam tells us a bit more I think than the prior scene.

Love the whole “Kalam Mechar. I supposed you don’t remember me.” And Kalam’s “nope.”

And the acorn scene.

And oh, that sharp, painful reminder of what we’ve managed to forget about for a while, the deaths of the Bridgeburners and Whiskeyjack: “Scars written not on his skin but on his heart.” And I like the professionalism of Kalam in this moment of realization that he knows whatever it is — and it’s obviously big — needs to wait. And I love how it’s the tight relationship between the two that lets him know that, and know to wait, and know Quick will tell him when he can. And the simple moving pain in the closing line of the scene — “Oh, Whiskeyjack.”

Dom. Dom. Wait for it.

I cringe every time at this scene with Bidithal. Really, really cringe. But so fitting. As is his future.

As we near the end, note how often Erikson tells us what is going on with this Shadow fragment. Bidithal talks about it, Kalam thinks about what Bidithal told him, and Cotillion explains it to Lostara. We’re getting good and grounded in things before everything explodes.

I enjoy how the past few times Karsa shows up to kill someone, it’s always right after they think to themselves how perfect everything is going for them. Karsa — the Sword of Irony.

Love this ending for Gamet, absolutely love it. The death, the riding out, the reverting back to what he always only wanted to be — a soldier, the victory. And he even gets the girl. Good for him, I say. Good for him.

Note how he salutes to Grub.

“Even memories need to be defended.” Great line. And fitting for a series where we’ve said repeatedly the past is never truly past.

And in case we couldn’t piece together the whole Tanno song thing, Erikson has Quick Ben do it for us. As happens more than I recalled from my first reading, wait a while and you’ll get a surprisingly clear and concise explanation of things. Not everything, mind you, but to me a surprising number of them.

Hmm, are the T’lan Imass a precedent for the Bridgeburner’s ascension? Or will this be different? We have, after all, noted a lot not to like about the whole living dead Imass thing. Stay tuned....

Love, absolutely love, the Kalam-Quick Ben road show with the Hounds, from start (“No, what are they doing here?”) to finish (“A brilliant plan.” “I just thought it up.” “I like it very much.”) Good to get some humor in a chapter filled with death (some quite graphic) and mayhem and betrayal and ghosts and entrails and vomit. (Sorry Amanda.)

I can’t say Karsa kills the Hounds easily, but still, part of me just wishes he weren’t quite so indomitable.

Speaking of humor:

“Does no one in this world ever sleep?”


“Bidithal is dead.”

“Good. Who?”


“Oh. Not good.”

And from humor to heartbreak:

“There are two Felisins. Save the one you can.”

A busy night. What will the dawn bring?

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.

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

Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter
The first time I read this it seemed like Karsa took out the hounds too easily after all of the build up. And, I almost felt sorry for them. (Poor puppies.)
But, then I gradually realized that it was again an old/new sort of statement. Old viscious thing--meet the new boss, not the same as the old boss. The hounds themselves seem to realize this but weren't quite bright enough (or patient enough) to take advantage of the concept.
It is a good thing Toblaki don't seem to particularly have a "going into shock" response. Having lots of chunks torn off doesn't usually turn out well for humans once the adrenaline wears off (or even before.)
The Gamet scene was really goood. And you do have to love QB and Kalam (no, really it is mandatory.)
Hugh Arai
2. HArai
shalter@1: Maybe it's a side benefit of the whole multiple sets of organs thing?

Agreed about the Hounds seemingly not living up to the hype. Actually I felt that way about both the Hounds of Shadow and of Darkness over the course of the series. The impression is they're seriously seriously bad news and then they get the "Bad dog, no biscuit!" treatment every so often.
3. djk1978
Karsa killing the two Deragoth was the scene I alluded to in a previous chapter about being conflicted about them. The hounds in the memory warren where L'oric finds Osric have no trouble with 3 Kell Hunters and are described as having taking down 3 sky keeps.

They are set up as masters of their domain. Ok I get that Karsa is bad ass, uber bad ass even. Bad ass enough to rival Icarium even. And I well understand shalter @1's point about old vs new. But it all just seemed too easy. We've seen in NoK and DG how deadly a hound of shadow is. The hounds of darkness are supposed to be worse. But Karsa has no trouble with them. Ok he gets chewed on but still. It's the one scene that I just can't buy into in this book, even after multiple re-reads.
Chris Hawks
4. SaltManZ
Man, that Gamet scene makes me tear up every time. Fantastic scene.

It just occurred to me last night that, though I've read HoC twice before, this is my first time back since having read NoK (also twice), and so I missed the reference to Ash before. Then remember that NoK was published almost two years after HoC. Lovely bit of continuity.
He saw three figures ahead, standing at the ridge, and thought nothing strange as to their presence. They are what will come. These three.
Nil. Nether. The lad, Grub.
Makes me wonder if maybe Nil, Nether, and Grub aren't "The Three" mentioned in that earlier epigraph.
Sydo Zandstra
5. Fiddler
For even Hood understood the necessity for balance.

This is where I started to like Hood...


How does Corabb survive everything?

There is a very special Lady pulling his Luck...


I too like that precise contrast between the Claws and Talons — seven paces apart rather than five. Do you think they had arguments over the effectiveness of each? “Seven? Are you crazy? Five is obviously the perfect pacing!” “Five? Why, with five you’d..."

Or maybe the Talons just used longer Blades... ;)
(Personally I doubt the number of paces would really make a difference, but I love the debate you pictured there :D )

Karsa — the Sword of Irony.

Oh Yes... Malazan's own Boogeyman. I'd love to see him meeting Susan Sto Helit... ;-)
(Discworld reference)
Sydo Zandstra
6. Fiddler
Saltman Z:

Makes me wonder if maybe Nil, Nether, and Grub aren't "The Three" mentioned in that earlier epigraph.

I'll sent you a shout in private, since I don't want to spoil.
David Thomson
7. ZetaStriker
I'd rather have Hood meet Death actually. Those two seem like they'd get along pretty well. XD
Sydo Zandstra
8. Fiddler
Good point, ZetaStriker :D
Robin Lemley
9. Robin55077
@ Bill
"Not the first time we’ve seen a whisper into the ear of a dead/dying assassin for those who are watching."
Nor is it the last!

Robin Lemley
10. Robin55077
@ 4. SaltManZ
"Makes me wonder if maybe Nil, Nether, and Grub aren't "The Three" mentioned in that earlier epigraph."
Nice catch. I never made that possible link. Thank you for pointing that out. Nice food for thought!

Robin Lemley
11. Robin55077
In scene 7 Bidithal says to Kalam:
"You can have her as well. Marched back to Unta in chains — and that is far more poetic than you will ever know."
Did anyone else realize that Bidithal knew such details about Sha'ik. On my initial read, I certainly didn't. I knew that he knew she was Malazan but, based on this line, he obviously knows exactly who she is. More than that, he also knows that she was marched from Unta in chains.

Robin Lemley
12. Robin55077
@ Bill
"Love the whole “Kalam Mechar. I supposed you don’t remember me.” And Kalam’s “nope.”"
I absolutely love this scene. I always picture some braggart, more convinced with his own self-importance than the reality of life around him, wanting to impress both Kalam and those others present with his story of his past meeting with Kalam, then Kalam's simple "nope." I bet you could just see the man's chest deflate at that single word.

karl oswald
13. Toster
@11 Robin

I didn't get it i'm sure, but the book is layered with reasons why he could know that you can put together. it`s full of talk about bidithal's spies and his shadows, not to mention sha'iks obsession with tavore, almost to the exclusion of all else.

i'll say one thing about karsa taking out the deragoth. he is inherently badass, just by being karsa orlong the toblakai (and that's very important), but otataral is a hell of a drug as well, and he's got it in his blood. this is what charlie sheen was talking about, his wacked out mind just couldn't comprehend it.
David Thomson
14. ZetaStriker
Isn't it also stated later that he has his own warren enhancing his prowess as well? And that's why the ghosts attach themselves to him?
Joe Long
15. Karsa
At least here I finally have confirmation that Korbolo Dom is working on behalf of Tavore — after the MASSIVE hint of the throne in the previous chapter.
I've always thought that Dom wanted to make this his plan, but I didn't think Tavore ever closed the deal...anybody else have an opinion?
Sydo Zandstra
16. Fiddler

At least here I finally have confirmation that Korbolo Dom is working on behalf of Tavore — after the MASSIVE hint of the throne in the previous chapter.
I've always thought that Dom wanted to make this his plan, but I didn't think Tavore ever closed the deal...anybody else have an opinion?

Yes. I think this is just Korbolo Dom trying covering his bases. He betrayed the Malazan Empire, based on Spite and Opportunism, thinking to be on the winning side. And during DG he was.

But now the tables are turning, and regardless how confident his battle plans look, he did consider the possibility of defeat, especially with the possibility of Claws entering the camp. So he plays the 'I was all the way looking out for Malazan interests and I can really help' card.

We saw him and his actions in DG, and Tavore knows, since she has survivors of the Chain of Dogs in her army. Does anybody ever think Tavore would strike a Deal with Korbolo Dom?

Also, I doubt Dom has communication lines with Tavore to start a dialogue in the first place :)
Tricia Irish
17. Tektonica
Defending the bone-dry harbors and the dead cities that once blazed with ancient dreams, that once flickered life’s reflection on the warm, shallow sea. Beautiful, so evocative. I just had to quote that.

Whew, what a chapter! Quick Ben! I loved how he just "appeared", I suppose with the acorn. The shorthand between he and Kalam is wonderful. Poor Kalam, just hearing offhand about the BB's, but keeping his cool.

Mr. Badass Karsa, disrupting eveyone's carefully laid plans. I agree with those who don't see the Deragoth as all that bad, if Karsa can strangle one? While it chews on him? They are as big as horses? I know Karsa is big, but a giant? Meh.

The scene with Gamet is wonderful. He is transformed and freed from his pain and doubt....a true release. It's sad to see him go, but I'm happy for him, at the same time.

Gamet's death is certainly different from most of the deaths we see Bidithal. Made me shudder (and I'm a woman), but he did kind of get what he deserved. Hood seeking balance, heh heh...enjoy, Bidithal.

I so wish they'd just killed Dom. Argh. Such an arrogant, wimp. Hiding in his tent. Harumph. A paper tiger. Better off dead and gone.

I *Heart* Greyfrog. Loved your comment, Amanda...."Can I have one?" Yeah, me too.

Just such great dialogue. I don't think I've ever read better, anywhere. Incredible characters.

I hadn't wondered why the BB's had to die as a company before, but it does make sense, given the Tanno Song, that they were needed in some odd way to awaken Raraku. Thanks for that insight, Bill.

It's interesting to see all the players on the board... the various gods swirling, trying to grasp this portion of the warren (The Chained One, Sha'ik), trying to protect their position (Cotillion, the dead of Raraku), those exploiting the conflict for their own aggrandisement (Dom, Reloe, Febryl, Bidithal), and the true victim(s) (Felesin I, nameless soldiers, acolytes). What a selfish mess! Thank goodness for the Malazans, who appear to be saviors, instead of invaders and conquerers.
Tai Tastigon
18. Taitastigon
...Greyfrog is a doll...and top-notch how SE establishes early on in tBH that Greyfrog is amusing, but also a pretty wild *pet* with a serious *bite*.
You don´t wanna take that bugger home, gals...
Sydo Zandstra
19. Fiddler
Greyfrog only seems to have an appetite for males, Taitastigon. He's quite the womanizer, so Amanda and Tek are safe. But you have read tBH. ;-)

And good to see you active again. :)
Iris Creemers
20. SamarDev
Heboric about L’oric playing with the Deck of Dragons.
‘I never do,’ L’oric replied in a murmur. ‘Play, that is.’
Ah, do we accidently know someone who does? Wait and see that there is ‘playing’ and ‘playing’ with the cards!

Amanda (and others) have mentioned the brilliant dialogue between QB and Kalam. For me the last (not mentioned) sentence is the finishing touch.
‘Like I’ve always told you, Quick, I ain’t just a pretty face.’

About the bureaucratic 5-7 paces difference between Claws and Talons, I have a vague memory (might be from future books??) that Talons operate in teams of 7 too. So then it is still a kind of rebellion to the old Claw-system, but in a consequent way (“They do everything in 5, so we in 7.”).
Iris Creemers
21. SamarDev
Kalam feels like killing Dom. Oh, sometimes you’d better follow your gut-feelings… By the way, I’m in with those thinking Dom is bluffing about his work for Tavore.

I love the statement of QB, that they always have, always will answer disloyalty. We see more of that in ICE’s Stonewielder, so it's a nice continuing line between both authors.

Note how Cotillion is willing to hide, step back and wait if he judges that necessary (with the Hounds of Darkness). It says something about his (and Shadowthrone’s) ability and way of work to be patient and not to run into things without thinking or overestimating themselves. Do what you need to do (even if you don’t like it, isn’t it, Cotillion…), but leave it to others if possible.

As Bill said, we see a redshirt-character arriving at Hoods gate before Bidithal does, but we already know sometimes Hood gives a special treatment / attention to special people (Toc, Baudin). And in GotM Ganoes arrives at Hood’s Gate before being send back to life, so we know people do arrive at Hood’s Gate not just figuratively, but literally too.
Iris Creemers
22. SamarDev
I’ve still some questions left about the acorn. I understand Kalam getting the (or an) acorn is an indication of QB entering the stage (we have seen him using it before). And I can see Cotillion as patron-god providing it to Kalam.
But why recognised Lostara the acorn and associated it with Cotillion? And why this specific acorn, there are more oaks in the neighbourhood? Did Kalam lost the acorn while tigering around the oasis, or dropped Cotillion it there for him, but Kalam missed it, and by the way of Lostara it came back to him?
Tai Tastigon
23. Taitastigon
Fid @19

That´s true, Fid - he is quite the ladies´ demon. Which makes him kinda creepy-funny. SE has a knack for these offbeat characters.

And yep, more active again. But RL is competing for time.
Sydo Zandstra
24. Fiddler

But why recognised Lostara the acorn and associated it with Cotillion?

It's a lot of untold stuff. But Lostara had a Steamy Night with QB, back when her original Shadow Cult was offed (IIRC that was run by Bidithal). I think Dancer was there too, but others disagree.

In any case, Lostara has a connection with QB. And she didn't associate the acorn with Cotillion. He asked for it.
Iris Creemers
25. SamarDev
@ 24
I know about that night with QB/Lostara, we had a nice discussion about that in the reread. But I can't imagine QB telling her that night that if she might find acorns one day, she should connect it with himself / Shadow / at-that-moment-not-yet-existing-Cotillion. Cause that is wat seems to happen here.

Years later Lostara picks up an acorn in the middle of a desert. When turns out Pearl noticed, she kicks him unconcious. Then Cotillion comes and they have a chat. After that:
'I will leave you then, since I have other tasks to attend to this night.'
Lostara reached into the pouch and tossed a small object towards him.
He caught it in one hand and peered down to study it.
'I assumed that was yours,' she said.
'No, but I know to whom it belongs. And am pleased. May I keep it?'
Even if she has a special connection with QB, how does she know that he works for Cotillion (if he does indeed) so she can give the acorn to Cotillion to bring it back to Kalam so he can call QB? She says she thinks it is his, she doesn't ask Cotillion to act like a messenger boy to bring Kalam QB's acorn. And I see the acorn-thing as typically QB-Kalam and not as something associated with Cotillion. He / Shadowthrone are more diamond-like.

Anyway, I don't think there is a clear answer to this, it is just one of those small things we have to trust SE there is a reason why it is why it is :-).
karl oswald
26. Toster
She assumes that it's cotillion's, imo, because she was once part of the shadow cult, and has a little affinity with shadow. QB uses shadow a lot in his 'shaved knuckles'.
Robin Lemley
27. Robin55077
@ 25. SamarDev

I know that the popular (and, as far as I’ve heard, only) theory is that Lostara saw the acorn, recognized it, picked it up, gave it to Cotillion, who then gave it to Kalam.

However, I am with you in that it doesn't make any sense to me and my reasons are similar to yours.

I am not trying to be agumentative. I am just trying to explain why I have trouble with this "acorn" theory that, until SamarDev's post, I believed I was alone in believing that there must be some other explanation.

Lostara spent one (and as far as I recall, only that one) night with QB. This was not even a full night as it was also the night that QB was busy destroying the cult of Rashan, so probably more likely only an hour or two? Also, remember that at the time Lostara was in no way affiliated with the Malazan Empire, nor was she associated with the Red Blades; she was simply a young acolyte of Rashan, the very cult that QB was on a mission, that exact night, to destroy. As secretive as he is with any information having to do with himself or his missions, I cannot see any circumstances where QB would have told her that, “Oh, by the way, sometimes when my marine buddies and I are in a really tight spot, I will secretly implant my magic into a seemingly inconsequential object, like an acorn, so if they get in a really, really bad spot, it/I can help them out. So, for the rest of your life, pick up any acorn you see lying about, becase it may be a magic acorn.” However, isn’t that what we have to believe in order for this theory to be true?

This theory seems based on us believing that sometime during this hour or two of passion with a complete stranger (who is an acolyte of the cult he is planning on destroying that very evening once he leaves her bed) QB decides to share some of his deepest secrets and tells her all about his magic and his use of acorns, in enough detail that now, years later, in the wake of the wall coming down and all the debris falling back to the ground, upon seeing an acorn on the ground Lostara would have somehow recognized it as being from QB? Further, even if we buy that as true, why would she have thought it belonged to Cotillion?

I believe without a doubt the acorn that falls near Kalam comes from QB. It just doesn't feel right to me that Kalam's acorn is the same object that Lostara picked up and gave to Cotillion. Based on Kalam's "just like old times" comment, I don’t believe that Kalam’s acorn has anything to do with Cotillion. I believe that acorn came directly to Kalam from QB and that Cotillion has no reason to have any knowledge of the acorn.

What I cannot figure out… what the heck did Lostara pick up off the ground? My first thought upon reading that section was that perhaps she found one of the black diamonds (demon diamonds). It made sense to me that one may have fallen from Kalam's clothing when he entered the Whirlwind. However, I never saw where Cotillion gave it to anyone later so I have had to scratch that possibility unless something is revealed in this re-read that I have missed on my prior reads.

Of course, Cotillion could have simply handed a black diamond back to Shadowthrone and it was never seen again. Though boring, that makes more sense to me than Lostara finding QB’s acorn in all the debris.

If Lostara did spot and pick up THE acorn that QB had given to Kalam, that is probably one of the biggest DM's that I have ever seen.

LOL Gotta love the way SE makes us dissect the smallest things!

28. amphibian
We know from Lostara's entire timeling that she has a particular affinity or sensitivity to Rashan/Meanas and probably unconsciously felt that there was something special about the acorn.
29. Captain Bizarre
Karsa@15, Fiddler@16:

I thought it was made pretty clear that Dom (and the majority of the command structure with Sha'ik) had planned to betray the uprising all along.

If I have it right, the background plot goes like this:

When Pormqual is given the position of High Fist over Dom, Dom conspires with Mallick Rel to destroy the Malazan occupation in Seven Cities. But they do this in order to worm their way higher up the Malazan hierarchy. With Coltaine and the 7th gone and Tavore marching for Raraku, Rel heads off to start spinning the "true" tale of the uprising for Laseen. He does so in anticipation that Sha'ik will fail, but that the Malazans will be decimated. Since Dom has "won" the position of commander of the Army of the Apocalypse, he is in the perfect position to betray Sha'ik during, or after, a very bloody battle with Tavore (Dom likes massacres). In the aftermath, Dom and Rel are hailed as heroes who had the foresight to place themselves in a position where they could avenge Pormqual's treachery!

We get an idea of just how well Rel's embassy goes later on (in "Return Of The Crimson Guard"), but Dom's side of the plot falls apart. I think this is partly because Dom fails to make contact with Tavore, whose plans almost certainly involve bringing Dom to justice rather than plotting treachery with him, and partly because Dom owns a great deal more bloodthirsty arrogance than foresight or wisdom.
Robin Lemley
30. Robin55077
@ 29. Captain Bizarre
"We get an idea of just how well Rel's embassy goes later on (in "Return Of The Crimson Guard")..."
I think we get that knowledge even before that in tBH when Tavore returns to Malaz City.

Robin Lemley
31. Robin55077
@ 28. amphibian

I understand what you are saying. However, if QB cannot hide his magic from persons with a "particular affinity or sensitivity to Rashan/Meanas" then he is nowhere near the Mage I think he is. We got an explanation earlier (I think it was in DG?) that QB purposly uses things like this (acorns, rocks, etc.) to help hide it. I think QB designs these things to be hidden. He does not want them to be found out by others. Although Lostara may have a sensitivity to Rashan (based on her living in the temple and being trained as a shadow dancer), she isn't even a mage.

Just so you know, I am probably 90% sure that you all are probably right and Kalam's acorn is what was picked up by Lostara. If, however, that is the case, then I am just plain disappointed because that just seems too "cheap" to me.

With all of the mystery surrounding QB and his skill that is purposely built into this entire series, to now be told that his more "secret" items can simply be "sensed" by anyone with a "particular affinity or sensitivity to Rashan/Meanas" is just hard for me to believe. This brings QB back down to the level of most other magic users in the series and I guess I find it very hard to believe that that was SE's intent. If you all are correct, then I just have to rethink things a bit to see how this new QB fits into things compared to the QB I thought I knew.

Iris Creemers
32. SamarDev
@ Robin
I think we mostly feel quite the same, apart for the consequences. I never understood that acorn-plot completely and so just read further, but through the reread I was able to grasp the several aspects of it better than before.

For me 'the' theory is almost plausible, but now I see it covers the situation maybe for 90 or 95% and has a few weak spots where we as reader have to get along creativily to let it fit all together. In so many 1000-s of pages that might happen now and then, but I don't really care. I just thought I was missing something everybody was clearly seeing. When you are used in a book to everything fitting perfectly, if there rubs or wrings something, it just feels wrong. In any other series you just think 'ok' and move on, but in this series you start doubting yourself :-).

For me it doesn't change how I see QB's or another characters abilities. You can see it as a small flaw of the character (= for the rest of the series) or of the scene (which has just finished), and I prefere the latter one. :-)
Gerd K
33. Kah-thurak
@Samar Dev
Maybe, if Steven again does a Q&A at the end of the HoC re-read this would be a good thing to ask him. Though he is rather skilled at evading this kind of question ;-)
Amir Noam
34. Amir
SamarDev @20:
"So then it is still a kind of rebellion to the old Claw-system, but in a consequent way (“They do everything in 5, so we in 7.”)"

If I remember correctly, the Talons had actually come first (created by Dancer), and only later Surly has created the Claw as her personal assassin force. Can anyone confirm?
Tricia Irish
35. Tektonica
SamarDev & Robin:

fwiw, I agree with you, that Lostara/Cotillion giving to the acorn to Kalam for QB, is a big stretch. I prefer the scenario where QB just drops the acorn in Kalams lap, and whatever it was that Lostara found and gave to Cotillion, is something completely different. Lostara recognizing the acorn as QB's, presumes closer ties to him, via events we have no knowledge of. Which, though questionable, is something that SE sometimes does.....making a rough outline of events, with big holes for us to fill in, or discuss like this!

A good question for him at the end of the book.....though I expect a vague answer ;-)

Captain Bizarre@29: That's how I see the Dom/Rel motives.
Tricia Irish
36. Tektonica

I thought Dancer created the Claw, and Surly ran it for him. When she became Empress Laseen, didn't she ban the Claw, hunting them down, then installing her "new version", the Talons, thus eliminating any remaining loyal holdouts for Kellenved/Dancer?
Kalam was a Claw, right? Loyal to Kel/Dancer.
Pirmin Schanne
37. Torvald_Nom
Tektonica@36: I thought Dancer created the Claw, and Surly ran it for him. When she became Empress Laseen, didn't she ban the Claw, hunting them down, then installing her "new version", the Talons, thus eliminating any remaining loyal holdouts for Kellenved/Dancer?
No, Surly was Commander of the Claw, and transferred that position to Topper when she gained the throne (you can check the Dramatis Personae of GotM for that). The Talon was Dancer's organisation, and mostly hunted down even before during Laseen's coup.
Kalam was a Claw, right? Loyal to Kel/Dancer.
When Kalam was a Claw the first time around, the two weren't exclusive. He left after the coup, and only rejoined after meeting Laseen in DG.
Emiel R
38. Capetown
I still strongly think QB and Lostara Yil never had a 'night of passion' together. It remember from the specific chapter that it was proved that QB didn't reciprocate Lostara's feelings for him.
Tricia Irish
39. Tektonica
Torvald Nom@37:
Thanks for that....I guess I need a scorecard.

Now don't go ruining a girls fantasy!
Iris Creemers
40. SamarDev
Capetown @38
haha, I too wondered why everybody now assumed QB and Lostara were together in this way, while way down in chapter 8 there seemed some agreement that there might be some attraction, but without action, so to say.
41. djk1978
Yes, the Talon first and the Claw in response.

And I wholeheartedly agree with Capetown. In ch 8(?) we mostly agreed that Lostara was probably too young and that QB was likely not interested anyway for that night to have been anything romantic/sexual between them, no matter how sensual the Shadow Dance may actually be.

That said I always assumed object = acorn despite that but I can certainly appreciate Robin's difficulty with that scenario. However I can't think of an alternative to what the object might be unless it's something that simply disappears and the just doesn't seem like SE to me.
42. amphibian

Lostara is someone so special in terms of how she connects to Rashan/Meanas that Cotillon, Quick Ben and Bidithal paid attention to her as a precocious girl.

Her noticing the acorn doesn't necessarily drop Quick Ben down to "mundane" power levels. Delat uses the acorns as trackers and as shortcuts to himself. They probably are relatively magically invisible, but Lostara was right on top of it. Hard to miss something akin to a magical GPS unit when you're standing next to it.
Robin Lemley
43. Robin55077
@ 42. amphibian

I do understand what you are saying, however I just disagree because I don't believe QB's "trinkets" (for lack of a better word) would be that easily detected by anyone. If you recall, back in DG, QB and Kalam did something similar with a stone on the boat with Salk Elan/Pearl near. Pearl even suspected that Kalam had something to "link" with QB but he could neither find it or sense it. If Pearl could not find it when he was purposely trying to, I really find it hard to believe that Lostara would find the acorn by chance amongst all the debris falling to the ground from the Whirlwind wall coming down.

That is all I am trying to say I guess, is that I feel QB's abilities are much greater than to have Lostara have picked up the acorn.

It doesn't ruin the story for me or anything, I just think QB is better than that so to me, that cannot be what she picked up. :-)

That having been said, I have no other theory that can be backed up by anything I have found to date. Believe me, for the past several years, I have tried. LOL The only thing I can say is that it doesn't feel right to me. I was hopeful that once we got here someone would be able to point out something that would click on the light bulb in my brain and I could say, "Ahhh, now it all makes sense." This is apparently just one of the things that I will have to take to my grave not quite being as convinced as everyone else is that Lostara picked up the acorn. I can live with that....I was just hopeful that I didn't have to.

Does that make any sense?

Brian R
44. Mayhem
@37, 41
Correct, Dancer created the Talons as a form of tactical military intelligence/assassination squad. Subsequently Surly created the Claw as a primarily political counter-intelligence organisation.
It also explains the antagonism between Military command and the Claw - in our world the two never really get on either, they operate in similar spaces but have very different intentions.
Think GRU vs KGB, or MI-5 vs MI-6 or for americans DIA vs CIA.
Especially with regards to one group overstepping its remit.
Brian R
45. Mayhem
With regards the acorn, I still read that it was given to Kalam by Quick, choosing whatever small rocky object was convenient, and the item Cotillion collects was something else. Kalam was in a petrified forest, the acorn is a rock, and Quick is known to work with pebbles. Also, Cotillion and Shadowthrone haven't exactly forgiven Quick for whatever he did in the past, they just aren't actively working against him for now. Whatever Lostara picked up was definitely left for her by Quick though, the context makes it clear.
I especially like the subtlety of Kalam sheathing his knife as if in resignation, when in reality it allows Quick to approach. And I love the Indiana Jones style 'just shoot him' subversion to fighting the Talons.
Brian R
46. Mayhem
With regards to Karsa, this is when he really starts coming into his own. The Deragoth are huge and terrifying, but they are clearly based on dogs. And dogs behave differently to wolves and their ancestors. Wolves and hyenas tend to go in and nip and hamstring their prey, hit and run attacking from all sides. Dogs however tend to go all in at once, and once checked take a few seconds to reconsider before returning to the fray. And Karsa is familiar with wardogs.
What Karsa does is blunt the attack of one of the pair, driving it away wounded while accepting the bite and worry approach of the other. He can then turn and deal with that one properly while the other licks its wounds and looks for an opening. I see the fight more as a match between a big rugby player, and a oversized St Bernard type. The dog is huge and powerful, but very vulnerable once off its feet. At that point leverage will come into play, and the battle becomes much more even.

Not to mention the whole 'ohshit lets work together on this one' support of a God as Knight of Chains.
Steven Halter
47. stevenhalter
I read it that Lostara picked up one of the diamonds that Kalam was forced to throw to delay the hounds. It was from ShadowThrone, so that was who Cotillion was taking it to. The acorn in the forest was a seperate incident. Kalam knew it was from QB as that was standard between them.
Joe Long
48. Karsa
@29 - yes, agreed they plan to betray from the beginning. *but* -- I think they wanted to use this as a tool to get pardoned by the empress, worm in with the Malazan's, etc.

this is very different than consipiring with the Malazans to betray the Apocolypse. I'm sure that didn't happen because events would have played out quite differently.
Bill Capossere
49. Billcap
I knew that "object" was gonna spark a lot of back and forth :)

My own take is that I don't know how to take it. I personally feel it's one of those "messy" areas and I'm not sure yet if it's a writer problem or a reader problem (though I'm workign on trying to figure it out)

I find problems with either reading of it.
If they are two separate objects--Lostara's object and Kalam's object, and the latter is meant to come from Quick, I just don't buy that Quick merely tosses it to him without a single word. You're about to go all "lair of the bad guys" with gods and goddesses and Hounds and traitors and mages, etc. and you'll drop off a needed object but not stop for a moment's planning? And if the idea is they spoke and we just didn't see it, I find it hard to fathom as well, especially with the big news Quick has for Kalam.

If it's the same object, then I don't buy Lostara recognizing an acorn. One because I don't find her knowledge of Quick to be that great and two, because she says specifically she assumed it was Cotillion's, not Quick Ben's.

On the other hand,
Kalam's "glad we don't do this anymore" is a line that fits nicely with his relationship with Quick. It could be with Cotillion, but the tone doesn't seem quite right

On the other hand, Cotillion is "pleased" at what it signifies, and that would fit with Quick being in the area as that would please him

If Cotillion knows of her either dalliance or wished-for dalliance with the younger Quick Ben, and he's looking at an acorn and knows it's Quick's, then that would explain his sort of amusement in connecting it to her--when she says it doesn't matter to her. Though why she'd think it a mistake to give it to hiim I'm not sure. But I go back to if it's an acorn, why does she recognize it and assume it is Cotillion's?

If it's a diamond and it's Shadowthrone's, I still wonder at her recognition but I can kinda sorta accept her Shadowdancer background as explanation, but I don't get his amusement at it mattering or not to her.

And if it is a diamond, I think sequencing things as they are--she finds a small object, gives a small object to Cotillion, Kalam receives a small object is not a very fair thing for a reader

In other words, I can put some of the references together so they click to say one thing, and I can put some of the references together so they click to say soemthing else, but I can't put all of the references together to make one thing make sense

Like I said, messy
Iris Creemers
50. SamarDev
Mayhem @ 45 "I especially like the subtlety of Kalam sheathing his knife as if in resignation, when in reality it allows Quick to approach."
Ha, subtle indeed, great catch!

Bill, nice summing up. Funny how several of us tried to do the same, with different words but everytime almost the same outcome.
Re Lostara's object being a shadow-diamond (as Shalter suggested too): how come it didn't explode when Kalam blew the whistle to get rid of the Deragoth, while all-over the world the Azalan-demons were released?

Well, I think I'll do an attempt to formulate the dilemma's surrounding The Object succinctly, to ask SE himself if he is so generous to give us an Q&A again. Btw, any news on that, Bill / Amanda? Do we finish chapter 26/epilogue/wrap-up this week, with a Q&A next week, or go we straight through to Trull's story in MT?
51. ksh1elds555
This chapter is so full of information and action, it was very hard to wrap my head around everything even the second time around. It's a whirlwind-literally!! Some readers voiced the idea that the Deragoth's demise was too easy based on all the set-up they've been given... and by that, the way "The Hounds" have been setup since GotM. If the Deragoth are truely the most badass of hounds, so much so that the Hounds of Shadow are like their "shadows", then it should have been harder for Karsa to kill them. True, he did get injured but I didn't get the feeling he was really in immanent danger. That's just my feeling on that encounter. Also in tBH, there's a similar scene which just doesn't sit right with me given the ancient and powerful beings these Hounds are supposed to be.

I also loved the witty dialogue in these last couple of chapters. It is much needed.
Robin Lemley
52. Robin55077
@ 47. Shalter

That is my thought as well, except that I think if it was one of the daimonds that Kalam threw when the hounds attacked him it would have activated when he blew the whistle. I suspect more that it came loose from his person when he entered through the Whirlwind and perhaps with the warren of Shadow being active at/within the Whrlwind wall itself, if it was caught there it didn't activate when he blew the whistle. It may have been kinda caught between the two worlds so to speak. Then, when the Whirlwind wall came down, it fell to the ground with all the other debris that had been caught in the wall.

Of course, as I stated earlier, I cannot prove any of that through the actual text, but that is my theory.

Bill Capossere
53. Billcap
"Of course, as I stated earlier, I cannot prove any of that through the actual text, but that is my theory"

text-schmext. Finding support in the actual words is so 20th century :)
Robin Lemley
54. Robin55077
@ 53. Bill

So true!

If nothing else, by disputing that Lostara picked up the acorn, it got the comments back up over 50 !!!!!
karl oswald
55. Toster
Bill said:

"If it's the same object, then I don't buy Lostara recognizing an acorn. One because I don't find her knowledge of Quick to be that great and two, because she says specifically she assumed it was Cotillion's, not Quick Ben's."

This is why i think it's because lostara is a 'shadow-natural' that she recognizes the object - why else would she assume it's connected to cotillion? if she doesn't know it's quick's, she must have simply noticed that it had some shadow magic in it. cotillion sees it is an acorn and is pleased because quick uses acorns, meaning it's time to get the band back together.

and i think quick uses mundane objects in order to fool mundane people. a simple tracker or beacon spell doesn't necessarily have to be completely undetectable by mages, and if might even be undetectable to most mages, if they aren't rashan/or maenas users.
Robin Lemley
56. Robin55077
Just curious as to why the assumption is that QB's magic use with the acorn is rashan/meanas. Has that ever been stated? I mean, he has access to at least 12 so why does it have to be those? Simple odds are, it is something other than Rashan or Meanas, which would blow the theory of Lostara being able to "sense" it because of her connection as a shadow dancer totally out of the water?

Her possible "sensitivity" to shadow seems to make it more likely that it is one of the shadow diamonds to me?
Robin Lemley
57. Robin55077
By the way, polite disagreement/discussion is so worth it in this context. I truly do love being able to hash out these type of questions in this type of forum.

Although no one has yet convinced me to change my view on this topic, you have in the past and I'm sure will again at some point in the future. I think that is great!!!

Amir Noam
58. Amir
Another thing about this chapter that I haven't seen mentioned:
We have several references to Febryl's sorcerous web covering the entire oasis to track the movement of people and powers. And although his web begins to tear, it's still intact around him, making him feel secure. And then suddenly Karsa appears just besides him and kills him.

So, why didn't Karsa show up on Febryl's "web"? Is it simply the usual answer about Karsa being such a bad ass that it's off the scale? Is it the otataral in his veins? I don't remember another reference of Karsa being invisible to detection sorcery.
Iris Creemers
61. SamarDev
@ Amir 58
I think it's the otataral in his veins, we know he is kind of immune to sorcery (except those rigid spells meant for dhenrabi's) . I can't think of an event in the series where Karsa is noticed before due to detection sorcery, just where he surprises mages because he isn't reacting on their work in a normal way.
And I like how Febryl is so confident in sensing everything everywhere in the oasis. Not... :-)
Hugh Arai
62. HArai
Amir@58: There's a scene later on in the series where an apparently knowledgeable person gives a fairly plausible explanation for several of these sorts of things. I'll just go so far as to say Karsa's conviction that sorcery is weak and doesn't work on him has tangible effects.

Regarding the "object": if it was the acorn Lostara doesn't necessarily have to sense it magically does she? I would find an acorn in a desert to be odd and quite likely would pick it up and think about it. The problem remaining there is why she'd assume it was Cotillion's.
Robin Lemley
63. Robin55077
@ 58. Amir

I think that SamarDev and HArai are both correct in answer to your question. All of the otataral in his body would tend to make him "unseen" to magic. Karsa is different from every other named character in the books and probably even the others of his tribe. A couple of these differences are:

1. As we have already been told, Karsa is/has his own personal warren; and

2. As HArai has pointed out, Karsa's belief in something seems to tend to bring it into fact sometimes.

Most likely the two are related, that his belief becomes real may be because of his personal warren?

We will learn more about Karsa as the series progresses.
karl oswald
64. Toster

except that the original Ben Adaephon Delat was once a high priest of shadow. so i lean toward him using rashan/meanas more often, as he is most comfortable with it. plus, two of his souls are:

Etra: mistress of Rashan
Renisha: High Meanas
Robin Lemley
65. Robin55077
Correct, although to me, D'riss (stone) seems perhaps at least as obvious of a choice in this case and we know from his dealings ith B&C that he is very comfortable with D'riss as well.

All I am saying is that Lostara's sensitivity theory is dependent on QB's use of Rashan/Meanas and we don't know that that is what he would have used.
karl oswald
66. Toster
true enough, there's always the chance that he's using another warren in his acorn, and there's always the chance that we're just banging our heads against a problem we can never truly find an answer for, because SE deliberately wrote it that way. the bastard :p

all that aside, the simple fact that lostara assumes it's cotillions is enough for me to believe that the object is related to shadow, yet not a diamond, because all the diamonds are now dust. after that, all else is speculation. :)
Sydo Zandstra
67. Fiddler
I'm still leaning towards QB counting on Lostara's sensitivity (regardless of anything else in their previous meeting, he must have sensed her affinity to one of the shadow flavours). But that would make one wonder how he knew where to find her. Inconsistencies inconsistencies... ;-)

Re: which Warren being used, assuming he used one of the Shadow Warrens in his arsenall would be a safe bet, since he's dumping the acorn right inside a fragment of the shattered Warren of Shadow.

It could be a good question to ask Steve, but I seem to recall he never goes back on rereads himself...
Bill Capossere
68. Billcap
Hi all,
Hate to break this to you after this great series of comments, but we'll be missing today's post and posting the final chapter and epilogue on Friday. This one's all on me--I'm dealing with a Pale-level enfilade of midterm papers. I might have been able to toss a post out but especially as it's the final chapter, I wanted to do it justice. We'll also as usual be looking into the possibility of Steven answering some questions once we wrap the novel--we'll get back to you on that. So final chapter and epilogue will be up on Friday--apologies to one and all!

69. djk1978
No problem, thanks for letting us know Bill!
karl oswald
70. Toster
i have a suspicion that i know which question will be the first one asked ;)
Robin Lemley
71. Robin55077
No problem Bill. I would rather have you at your best for the final chapter!

Quote game then?
"But one must consider the notion of innocent momentum."
Tricia Irish
73. Tektonica
Well, I'll make good use of the delay and reread this very good chapter, again! See you Friday, Bill and Amanda.


This is wide-eyed stupid.
Marcel Steffen
74. Rotzlucky
Hey @ all.

Just got through all the comments and I have a question regarding the object as well.

How did it end up at Lostaras feet at all?
The only reason I can imagine is, that it was in Kalams possesion an he lost it when he was entering the whirlwind. That would mean it has to be that acorn that is given back to Kalam later.
If it is any other random object or one of the diamonds, then why would it lie there on the ground? Where did it come from?
And on the other hand: If it is not the acorn, what is the purpose of this storyline at all? Why let Lostara find something and give it to Cottilion when there is nothing more to it? That would make no sense.
So it should be the acorn, although I also have no explanation why Lostara would pick it up and hand it over to Cottilion.
Brian R
75. Mayhem
Quote fun.

Malazan, you are no longer my enemy.

followed by

‘Where’s the lieutenant?’
‘Right here’

and finally
‘Symmetry, lad, is a power unto itself.’
Iris Creemers
77. SamarDev
Oh, Mother, look at us now.

'Aye,' Cuttle said again, then flashed a hard grin. 'I'm wearing Ranal.'
Chris Hawks
78. SaltManZ
"When I began this journey, I was young. I believed in one thing. I believed in glory. I know now...that glory is nothing. Nothing. ... The same cannot be said for mercy."
79. Captain Bizarre

Agreed. What I was trying to say, was that Dom/Rel wanted to conspire with the Malazans at a certain point to back their (Dom/Rel's) play, but that Tavore ignored or put off their overtures.


I think the tragic form of this story makes it my favorite. (This far into the re-read, at least. I stopped reading the series after "The Bonehunters" and "Return of the Crimson Guard" in order to actually re-read the books, instead of just recalling stuff that people brought up in the Tor re-read - so I have time to change what's left of my mind.) I loved that I could see the ending coming from a desert away (because it's the one, true ending for Felisin's tragedy), but it plowed on, like an angry Thelomen Toblakai, or a bad case of the runs. (Uh, more dignified and ominous than the runs, I suppose.) A lesser writer would have spared more lives and feelings.


I think Karsa's defeat of the Deragoth is a pointer to his role in the world, not a mistake in interpreting the true power of the Deragoth. Karsa breaks chains; once, the Deragoth had bound an entire "world" to their will. When they reappear in the (vastly changed) world, they do not make it through customs (so to speak). There are any number of other individuals who would have suffered mightily from the attention of the Deragoth but, (like Icarium or Rake, for example) Karsa has a greater role to play in the world. That "fated" role, and possibly the aid of the Chained God, and possibly Karsa's knowledge of how hounds behave in battle, and possibly Karsa's (pseudo?) warren, and possibly sand in the Deragoths' eyes, or a low Biodex day for canines, results in a huge bonus to Karsa's dice rolls (so to speak).
80. kjtherock
With regards to the acorn: finding an acorn where there are no trees let alone oaks makes it special. Cottilion showing up right after she picked it up just allowed her to draw the conclusion that it was his. Probably thought he had put it there to let her know he was around.

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