Nov 9 2011 1:00pm

Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Midnight Tides, Chapter Two

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 Two of Midnight Tides by Steven Erikson (MT).

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 Two


A trade merchant, Buruk the Pale, is traveling to trade with the Edur, accompanied by Nerek tribesman as workers and Seren Pedac as his “Acquitor” — the required official guide. They camp at the pass, marked by an old Edur shrine in the shape of a ship. The obsidian walls have strange shapes in them. As she stands there, Seren thinks of how the Nedrek tribe was destroyed by their submission to Lether, to “civilization.” She sees the shapes in the rock as “the sentinels of futility” and wishes she could sink into the rock and join them.


As Baruk gets drunk yet again, Seren thinks it’s because he is carrying secret instructions whose contents are killing him. They are joined by Hull Beddict, who is mobbed by the revering Nerek. Hull refers to him as the old Sentinel (a former court official) and as a traitor to the Letherii. Hull had been charged with studying the outer tribes and to his dismay his knowledge was used to subjugate them, destroying the tribes and leading to Hull’s resignation and self-exile. He and Seren had once been in a relationship. Hull tells Seren this treaty meeting will be different because the Edur are now unified under the Warlock King. She informs him of who will be in the negotiating party (making clear there are factions in the Letherii court) and the news makes Hull wonder if the Letherii are trying to provoke war. Seren is unsure herself and adds Baruk is carrying secret instructions though she doesn’t know what they are.


Tehol (brother to Hull and Brys Beddict) and Bugg sit atop the roof of Tehol’s house, with a view of King Ezgara’s Eternal Domicile — his grand still-under-construction palace. Bugg surprisingly has a solution seemingly for the construction problem bedeviling the palace. Bugg tells Tehol three strange women came to find him today and Tehol goes to meet them. The three women tell Tehol they know who he is and what he did, and they want him to do it again but “go all the way” this time. They want him to meet them back at their own building to discuss it.


Brys is talking with the First Eunuch, Nifadas about Hull, whom Nifadas thinks might be a problem. Nifadas informs Brys that Hull has joined Baruk, whose instructions Nifadas knows nothing about and which he thinks are not sanctioned by the King. He worries Hull will believe Baruk is acting for the king, though, and try to stop him. Nifadas wants to wreck the plans in his own way. Nifadas asks what Brys knows about Seren, which is little. Before Brys leaves, Nifadas asks if he is doing OK in his new role as King’s Champion, to which Brys answer yes. Brys leaves and thinks of Hull and Tehol that they had both peaked and were now sliding down “paths to dissolution and death.” He enters the chamber of the Ceda, the King’s Sorcerer, who tells him he has a task for him later. Brys enters the throne room. Prince Quillas, the Chancellor Triban Gnol, Queen Janll, First consort Turudal Brizad, and the head of the Prince’s Guard Moroch Nevath all enter. Quillas makes a demand that is rejected (the return of Finadd Gerun Eberict from Nifadas’s entourage to the Edur) and Nevath steps forward as if to use force but stops when he sees Brys there with his sword drawn. The Queen tells the Prince to show patience and he storms out. The Queen apologizes for him and her party leaves.


Brys rejoins the Ceda (Kuru Qan) who brings him to a large chamber floored in huge tiles representing the Holds. Qan asks Brys what he sees first and Brys says Barrow, “among the tiles of the Azath Hold,” adding he senses restlessness from it. Qan agrees, but says he’s visited the actual Azath House and the grounds and tower are unchanged. The next tile is a Dragon’s Gate. Brys references the Seventh Closure, a prophecy when the King shall ascend and assume the old title of First Emperor and the Empire be reborn. Qan is less sanguine about the prophecy, and recalls how the First Emperor/Empire were destroyed in a distant land and Lether is a surviving colony. Moving back to the tiles, Brys says he recognizes Betrayer of the Empty Hold and White Crow of the Fulcra, though the third one is unfamiliar. The Ceda identifies it as Seed, last tile in the Hold of Ice. The fourth tile is blank, which the Ceda says means the divination ceases. Qan says he has told only The First Eunuch, so he can be prepared at the Great Meeting, and Brys because as Champion his job is to protect the King. Changing the subject, Qan asks about what the Queen incited the Prince to do and what Brys’ heart tells him. Brys answers he fears his brother Hull may kill the Prince at the Great Meeting.


Tehol, Shand, Hejun, and Rissarh are at the women’s building. They tell Tehol they want him to take their money, make a lot more of it, and buy the “rest of the islands.” Tehol tries to pretend he had a near-impossible time of making a small percentage of the amount they want “last time,” but they aren’t buying it. They discuss how Tehol almost destroyed the economy/country testing his theory that money is the “promise of power . . . so long as everyone keeps pretending it’s real.” They want him to collapse the economy this time as vengeance for what Lether did to their people (they’re half-bloods — Faraed, Tarthenal). They know he created a refuge for tribefolk on one of the islands as recompense for Hull, but it isn’t enough. He tells them Lether is going to fall soon anyway due to the Edur. They say he can make it easier then and he agrees.


Seren and Hull await an approaching Edur (Binidas). Hull tells him she weeps at night and that when they were together her crying always woke him. She asks if Hull fears the Great Meeting and he says it will buy peace, but “a deadly peace” for the Edur, as was the case with the other tribes. He tells her he plans to wreck the negotiations and incite the Edur to war.


Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Two:

Fisher is back again with this poem that talks more about the Holds. I’m intrigued as to who the Mistress is and who her lover is, the ‘he’ who wanders a path between us all. Another of those cryptic little poems to the first-time reader that no doubt holds a wealth of meaning to the re-reader.

More hints about how these new societies work. Seren is Letherii? I notice from the Dramatis Personae at the front of the novel that Seren’s name features under those based in the north, and I can’t work out immediately if that makes them Letherii. They certainly have dealings with the Edur, being permitted to go into Edur lands.

Buruk the Pale: another verbose character in the mould of Kruppe, by the looks of things. It seems as though Erikson has a particular love for this flavour of character. I must admit, they provide a nice counterpoint to the stark nature of soldier’s dialogue that also features heavily.

Here we are told that Father Shadow is one of the Edur gods — but we know he is Scabandari Bloodeye and therefore an ascendant at best, surely? Either way, he’s not someone I would want to claim as a god!

That translucent obsidian, with figures moving behind it, is beautifully mysterious. Trapped souls? People who will feature at a later date? Erikson very rarely includes anything that won’t be used later in the proceedings, which, when you consider the scope of these books, is a rather marvelous and almost scary ability. Just reading them makes my head hurt at times with all the details and foreshadowing, let alone writing about it in the cryptic manner Erikson does!

These obsidian rocks — some relation of otataral? I ask because of their healing properties.

It is a bleak picture presented of how the Letherii have casually destroyed the culture and society of the Nerek. Control over religious practices and beliefs is often the manner by which true domination can be achieved — and here we see the sadness of a race being forced to treat the bodies of their kin in an unfamiliar and painful way. Also, although I felt sorry for the Letherii since they were enslaved by the Edur, now I find they also commit this foul practice. No taking sides here, clearly.

“This impending conjoining of broken hearts...” So, does this relate to Seren and new arrival Hull Beddict? Or does it relate to Seren and Buruk? — unlikely, in my view. Or, finally, does it relate to Buruk and Hull Beddict? I could be barking entirely up the wrong tree and misinterpreting that phrase as being something to do with two of these people having a connection and suffering a broken heart?

We have hints here that Buruk is on a mission, possibly at the behest of the Royal Household, and it is causing him to turn to drink and drugs. I can see this being pivotal to the plot.

What has Hull Benedict done to deserve such adulation from the Nerek? (something to do with betraying the Letherii?)

Such undercurrents in this exchange:

“Parched, Acquitor. Like a drowning man who swallows air.”

“Only it’s not air, it’s water.”

He shrugged. “A momentary surprise.”

“Then you get over it.”

“Aye. And in those last moments, the stars swim unseen currents.”

And now I ask what has happened to Hull Benedict to cause this distraction and distance in him? It is telling that Buruk says that nothing can reach through his hides and furs. It seems as though nothing touches him. What relation has Hull Benedict to the Royal Household? There are hints he has connections to them.

Buruk is the delegate from the Letherii to the Edur for the Treaty Meeting? That seems a little insulting. And it sounds as though Quillas just adds further insult. “Allowing Quillas to flail about, to deliver clumsy insults in the face of Hannan Mosag. Is this plain arrogance? Or do they truly invite war?”

There you go... Hull Beddict was once a favoured member of the King’s Guard and was handed the title of Sentinel by King Ezgara Diskanar. His loyalty and ability in relation to the tribes such as the Nerek was then betrayed by his King — not a pleasant situation at all. “In all, a war so profoundly cynical in its cold, heartless expediting that no honourable soul could survive witness. Especially when that soul was responsible for it. For all of it.” Isn’t that heartbreaking?

I immediately warm to him now hearing that he handed back the role of Sentinel after those events. His distance is explained and I find him deeply honourable.

So the heartbreak is between Seren and Hull Beddict, then... I wonder how Hull Beddict views Seren’s treatment of him, whether he also considers it to be unforgivable and selfish?

Here come Tehol and Bugg.... and I sniggered during their first exchange. Loved this line: “I’m fairly certain my left arm is of a length close to, if not identical with, that of my right.” Is this empty throne referred to the one in the Hold?

And now some toilet humour... I can see why people have mixed opinions about Tehol and Bugg!

And now a little bit of lecherous regard towards women with high, fine breasts... Yeah, I’m not sure.

What baffles me is that Tehol must be some sort of relative to Hull, going back that same name of Beddict! They are so different on first impression! I wonder whether Tehol’s rather spartan living situation is as a result of Hull Beddict’s response to the King?

Well, I’m not rightly sure what is going on between Tehol and these three Amazonian women, but I liked the exchange. And so far I’m liking the tone of levity in this storyline. I have a feeling that it is going to become one of the few areas of lightness and laughter in Midnight Tides.

Politics, politics, politics... I feel like I am grasping at shadows, trying to work out all the factions. Brys/Finadd is interesting on this first look — again, entirely different from his brothers. Three brothers, so TOTALLY different, in fact.

There is an echo of the Hand and the Spider from GRRM’s classic epic, as I read this scene between Brys and Nifadas. The latter is sly, with secrets and plans. The former seems to have sense and I automatically like him more. Very much like Eddard Stark.

Oh, I do like Ceda! He’s just wonderful!

Here evidence that women can rise to positions of power in the militia within the Letherii — very different from the Edur. I wonder if that difference is one of the causes of their lack of understanding and rising levels of conflict.

The Queen and her son are not liked by many, are they?

“We are nearing Seventh Closure. It is momentous. The First Empire shall be reborn. King Diskanar shall be transformed — he shall ascend and assume the ancient title of First Emperor.” Surely this is Kellanved and his use of the T’lan Imass being referred to instead?

Confused... Tolls, peaks, thirds... Guessing they’re all forms of currency, but I have no idea what it is that Tehol is able to do. Is he some sort of alchemist? Okay, so the basic plan is to bring down the Letherii economy thanks to vengeful feelings from half-bloods?

Okay, so the plot is beginning to open out, with more of the major players stepping into place. You’ll all be relieved to know that, despite my confusion over some plot points, I am enjoying it so far more than House of Chains. Long may it continue. See you Friday!


Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Two:

I like how we meet Seren and the others in a pass, a threshold between two places, as this is the pause before swift and sweeping change, the pause between two eras. I also like it because these characters are caught between two cultures — their own that they feel a personal sense of duty to (the Letherii) and the one they feel a moral sense of duty to (the Edur). For me, the setting mirrors these ideas nicely.

I also like how we get a quick sense of relationships between Lether and the outer tribes before we get Seren’s more direct exposition. We see it on how Lether strictly controls exports, how the Nerek are near-slave labor.

Then of course we do get Seren’s harsh judgment of what bowing to Lether had done to the Nerek, and of course while this is “fantasy,” it’s impossible not to read this via our real-world analogues, the long sad list of natives overrun by “civilizing” powers — done in by force perhaps at first if necessary (though it was not always so), but then by more insidious means: language, ritual, religion, economics, alcohol, urbanization, etc. Remember we heard something similar in Memories of Icewhen Karsa was briefly enslaved, when one of the Sunyd spoke of the destruction of their clan, saying they lost the old ways “long ago. Our own children slipping away in the night to wander south into the lowland, eager for the cursed lowland coins — the bits of metal around which life itself seems to revolve . . . some even returned to our valleys as scouts for the hunters . . . To be betrayed by our own children, this is what broke the Sunyd.”

Another common series refrain in Seren’s theory as to what lies in the obsidian cliffs: “Sentinels of futility . . . Reflections of ourselves forever trapped in aimless repetition.” Little does she know the expected repetition is about to break.

We end the scene with her desire to remove herself from the world, to be an observer only, and only of the wind. We’ll have to see what will tether her more fully to the world.

As Amanda says, we have some pretty clear foreshadowing of something ominous in Buruk’s mysterious instructions.

How it must eat at Hull, to be “worshipped” by the very ones he feels he betrayed to utter destruction (oh, those tattoos kill me). It’s not hard to see why he is “lost.” And why he not only resigned, but might turn against his king and country. Though one has to say, based on the slow manner in which he has to be led to understanding of the politics going on, it’s hard to imagine him being effective at all. We’re introduced to Hull as a tool of the king and Chancellor, then to Seren herself who “made sore use of him” as she thinks. Is there any reason to think he will not be made a tool again?

What a great trio we’ve got — each haunted by their own source of guilt.

Then an echo of Seren’s lines from before: “This is the curse then, that we are so inclined to look ahead, ever ahead. As if the path before us should be any different than the one behind us.”

And from the humorless three grouseketeers to Tehol and Bugg. I know people vary greatly in their reactions to these two. I fall down on mostly greatly enjoying them, though I do think there are lots of times where Erikson tries too hard with them, forces the humor a bit much. But overall, I’m a big fan. And we certainly could use some comic relief after the prior scene.

That’s a lot of detail about a palace construction job. Perhaps a clue it’s going to be somewhat important?

Bit of a surprise, that seemingly knowledgeable explanation by Bugg of what to do with regard to the palace’s construction issues. You’ll find he’s full of those sorts of things so it’s not spoiler to say Bugg is more than he appears and one should watch him carefully.

You’re right Amanda, that Tehol is quite different from his other brothers. In some ways. In other ways, they’re quite similar. It’s good to note as well at this point that we’ve been introduced to a pair of integral sibling groups now: Tehol-Hull-Brys and Trull-Fear-Binidas-Rhulad and we see some large differences/conflicts/lack of understanding amongst them.

We get an early hint of Tehol in his conversation with Chalas — note how he steps up to protect the Nerek mother and her two children. There is more to Tehol than meets the eye, and this is some good foreshadowing for what we learn later about his setting up a refuge on the island for tribesfolk. Note how one of his very first steps when he agrees to act for the three women is to have them hire the Nerek family.

And then we get Lether. Tell me these words don’t strike a contemporary nerve: “A more decrepit collection of useless items for sale Tehol had yet to see. And the people bought in a frenzy, day after blessed day.”

We can see already a clear difference between Brys and Hull in how quickly Brys picks up on the political maneuvering.

Though what he may know of politics, how he may read the court people, he seems to not really see his brothers, despite his statement to the contrary. It’s a bit ironic that his statement to the First Eunuch, that he did not understand his brothers, a statement he considers untruthful, is in fact true.

I, too, like the Ceda, Amanda.

Well, we’re certainly set up for some fine swordsmanship from both Moroch and Brys. One has to imagine that will come into play down the line. And we’re being set up for the two to face off as well — question is will that also happen down the line?

“Balance” — another theme throughout the series. Speaks well of the Ceda I’d say that he is an adherent of it.

And now we get our second reading of the tiles, akin to a Deck reading. (I keep meaning to pop back into last post to check out the theories . . . ) So we’ve got a restless Azath (never a good thing one would think, considering what an Azath does and what we’ve seen of what lies imprisoned there), though the Ceda tells Brys he’s checked and the “tower and grounds” are fine. I’ll point out that we’ve seen a reference to an Azath with a tower prior to this . . . Next we’ve got a Gate in Dragon Hold. Well, we’ve certainly seen dragons. Then we get interrupted by mention of the approaching Seventh Closure and the prophecy. Even on my first read, I was with the Ceda on this whole just-a-little-suspicious-of-vaguely-worded-prophecies way of thinking. Don’t these guys ever read the old stories? I give you Croesus as exhibit A.

Note that kernel of history in the Ceda’s lines though: Lether is a former colony of the First Empire.

Back to the tiles, we get a Betrayer of the Empty Hold, and yet another White Crow reference. Once again, I’ll point out we’ve seen something white beyond that crow. Then Seed in the Hold of Ice — an interesting juxtaposition. Ice has usually meant Jaghut — is that the case here?

And a little suspense at the end for the reader — will Hull kill the Prince?

Yes, the currency can get a little confusing, but it will make sense. Really. Even here we get that a “third” is a lot less than a “peak.” In fact, we’re told that one peak equals one million thirds, so we do have a scale. Then we get a dock is less than a third. He’s not an alchemist though Amanda. When he says he “made” a peak, he doesn’t mean literally; he’s an economic/market wizard, a master manipulator. So we can translate their conversation to roughly (and I mean roughly, this isn’t meant to be literal): in less than a year, working only a few days a month (to all appearances, which is quickly becoming clear are not what they seem to be with regard to Tehol), Tehol took a hundred dollars and turned it into a million dollars and then, again “apparently” lost it, though the trio know better.

Then we get some basic economics — money is not real; it’s a shared illusion. And so long as everyone shares in the illusion, it has power. If that illusion is broken, it loses that power.

Tehol came very close once to toppling the Lether economy, basically proved he could do it if he wanted to, and you’re absolutely right, Amanda, the plan (part of it at least) is now to go all the way.

And now we get a fuller view of Tehol that was hinted at with the Nerek family in the alley; he used some of his money to buy islands as refuges for remnants of those tribes destroyed by Lether.

And we get two more echoes of themes: walking down the same path (at least the third time we’ve gotten that one in these early pages) and the theme of “blindness.”

So we’ve seen Brys totally misread his brothers. Now we see Tehol apparently doing the same, thinking Hull will fight for Lether. Does he really believe this or is he dissembling?

“I’m not convinced a host of barbaric Edur overlords will do any better.” File.

There’s that sinking problem at the palace rearing up — told you....

Hmmm, crossing and recrossing a river called “Blood”. Nothing ominous there....

And now we find out where Binidas was going when he met Trull.

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
Guessing they’re all forms of currency, but I have no idea what it is that Tehol is able to do. Is he some sort of alchemist?
From a certain point of view, that is actually not too far off. Alchemists wanted to change base things into gold or eternal life--getting value from nothing.
Think about the story of Holland and tulips. What is money really?
Philip Thomann
2. normalphil
Here we are told that Father Shadow is one of the Edur gods — but we
know he is Scabandari Bloodeye and therefore an ascendant at best,
surely? Either way, he’s not someone I would want to claim as a god!
Something I love about these Tiste Edur is how non-chalantly self-serving their understanding of history and themselves is. Trull drew attention to it last book and here you start getting to see it in action. It's not a dark secret, it's not a great lie to be revealed, it's not a plot-point, it just is. It functions. It forms a mythos. It does stuff that enables a culture to be run on a day-to-day basis. It gives verisimiltude to a culture of fantastic wilderness elves.
3. djk1978
I see Tehol as basically a genius investor or financial advisor. He knows how to make big gains in the markets. But then again if he's flat broke maybe he's not such a genius. The three women don't seem to believe that, although his paltry living would indicate so. Somewhere in there lies the truth.

I admit the bawdy talk can get tedious but it's the exchanges like that about the shirt or the new trousers that make me laugh.

It's interesting to me that you are sympathetic to Hull, Amanda. There's a character that I never warmed to on any read. I'm not really sure why.
David Thomson
4. ZetaStriker
I'll extrapolate some of my thoughts more once I get a hold of my book again, but yeah, Hull was the one thing I was not looking forward to seeing again when we started this novel. Probably my least favorite character in any Malazan book in terms of my interest in reading about him. Beats the controversial Mhybe by a large margin.
5. Jordanes
I can't stand it's Binadas, not Binidas!! :D

Sorry, spelling police away!!!

Amanda, re Seren, Buruk, and Hull: Broken hearts indeed, all of them.
Iris Creemers
6. SamarDev
And to add to Jordanes: It is Buruk the Pale, not Baruk (of Darujhistan)... No need to make the dramatis personae more complicated then neccessary :-)
Iris Creemers
7. SamarDev
I wondered, does 'Five wings buy you a grovel' actually means something, or is it 'just' a Teholism? I'm so used to that scentence after reading MT several times that it sounds like any 'normal-world' proverb, but I guess it isn't...

About Bugg, I agree with Bill it is soon clear, so no spoiler, that Bugg knows rather many things for a simple manservant, but why? I suggest strongly that is a nice thing to let Amanda / other newbies figure out for themselves...

And who doesn't like our Ceda Kuru Qan? The image of him enjoying something ordinary as glasses.. He's kind of cute. But 'the Ceda' as well, so apparently he has some power too.
Iris Creemers
8. SamarDev
Brys is portraited as a fine character as well. The way he smiles inwardly, how he thinks his new position gives him new 'rights' to come to places otherwise inaccessable - without being proud of it. The way how he gives other reasons he might have defeated Moroch (Brys wasn't that fast, but Moroch misjudged him), how there is relief in his step because he left behind no blood in the thronehall after the possible confrontation with Moroch.
A humble man without boasting.
9. MDW
@#3 - I don't think there is any doubt that Tehol is deliberately playing being broke in order to hold off suspicions about what happened to his an everyone else's money. The fact that he is lives in a shack and not a palace is used as evidence that he suffered just as much as everyone else from an "unforseen financial collapse" rather than having orchestrated it.
Sydo Zandstra
10. Fiddler
SamarDev @7:

I wondered, does 'Five wings buy you a grovel' actually means something, or is it 'just' a Teholism? I'm so used to that scentence after reading MT several times that it sounds like any 'normal-world' proverb, but I guess it isn't...

Note that in the previous scene Tehol and Bugg were discussing the building project on King Ezgara’s Eternal Domicile.

I'm not sure (lacking the time to do a proper reread on MT), but IIRC the palace has Five Wings...
Robin Lemley
11. Robin55077
@ 7. SamarDev
"I wondered, does 'Five wings buy you a grovel' actually means something, or is it 'just' a Teholism?"
I always just thought he was just referring to the Eternal Domicile as it has five wings and in its present condition it is unlivable, thus, could be referred to as a grovel.

Of course, I could be missing something here!

Robin Lemley
12. Robin55077
@ 7. SamarDev

Sorry for the repost. Fiddler beat me to it but it is nice to see that I may have been on the right track with that one.

Iris Creemers
13. SamarDev
Fiddler @ 10
Yes, I know (think) it has to do with the five wings of the Eternal Domicile. The king hasn't five wings in his palace yet (because of the sinking), but if you have so, then... something. What we know after this chapter, is that Tehol is expecting Royal Engineers to visit, so he thinks they will fix the palace, and kind of deliver this fifth wing to the king. But then what?
I didn't understand the word 'grovel'. I finally tried Google translate, but its outcome 'kruipen' didn't make it more comprehensible...

I just 'cross-read' it again. Tehol is talking about the palace and the Empty Throne at the same time, seemingly mixing both subjects. For purpose, or just Tehol? I might be seeing too much in the scentence, maybe because in a way I like the sound of it. As I said, a Teholism...
Iris Creemers
14. SamarDev
@ Robin 11. And you beated me too :-)
...could be referred to as a grovel.
Ah, but what is 'a grovel'? Google translate gives 'grovel' just as a verb synonymous with 'to crawl'. So, if you have five wings, you can buy yourself crawling? Swimming would seem more appropriate, looking at the sinking-problems. There's my confusion... but never mind, I don't think it's important to the story whatsoever. :-) There should be much more interesting things to comment about...
Robin Lemley
15. Robin55077
@ Amanda
"It is a bleak picture presented of how the Letherii have casually destroyed the culture and society of the Nerek. Control over religious practices and beliefs is often the manner by which true domination can be achieved..."
One of my "hobbies" for the past 25 years has been a study of Native American culture/history. Letherii's treatment of their "conquered" tribes never fails to remind me instantly of the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania where, following the surrender of the final groups forced onto the reservations, they were coerced into sending their children east to the school. Immediately upon arriving at the school,their hair was cut, they were placed in "white man's" clothes, and they were forbidden from speaking of their religion, from speaking their native tongue, and from anything even remotely having to do with their culture. Punishments for transgressions were often cruel.

All in the name of progress!

Sydo Zandstra
16. Fiddler

A grovel by Letherii society/Economy. (You had the right Dutch translation)

It has to do with what they'll do to support the pillars of the palace. I can't do any whiting out anymore, not in any known way, so this is as unobscure as I can say it...

(Nice play of words with 'gravel' too).
Robin Lemley
17. Robin55077
Re: grovel

Real Dictionary lists grovel as a noun as a synonym of welter.

Welter is defined as: 1: a state of wild disorder, turmoil; or 2: a chaotic mass or jumble.

This may just be a colloquialism where I live here in West Virginia, but people around here use the word "grovel" as a noun in the sense that something is chaotic or jumbled. That is why I immediately thought of that.

Although, this being W.Va., this could have absolutely nothing to do with the correct meaning of the word.

18. amphibian

Verb: Lie or move abjectly on the ground with one's face downward. Or to act in an obsequious manner in order to obtain someone's forgiveness or favor.

In one sense, the repairing of the palace would be a grovel to the king - as the royal treasury isn't as full as it used to be. The work would be done at a low-profit rate mostly for the prestige of "working for the king".

There's another sense to the palace, king and so on, but that's a discussion better taken up later.
19. Jordanes
RE: Five wings will buy you a grovel.

To grovel is to prostrate yourself on your hands and knees at someone or something's feet, i.e. to beg them for something.

Five wings will buy you a grovel is a popular Letherii saying, the first lines of a poem which will be revealed in one of the later chapter headings, I think. That poem explains more about what exactly is meant by the saying. But yes, the five wings does refer directly to the five wings of the Eternal Domicile. The poem reveals who is the object of the grovelling, and why.

It's not really a major spoiler in any kind of way if I told you right now, but I think it's always nice to let people find out for themselves, spoiler or no spoiler :)
Robin Lemley
20. Robin55077
I forgot just how much information we get in just these first two chapters. Only chapter 2 and we have already met most of the players.
Tricia Irish
21. Tektonica
I assumed that "five wings will buy you a grovel", was Tehol humor. Something like, you can have FIVE wings in your great big palace, but you still get groveling, ie: people crawling to you. Or that you still have to grovel to get it finished, and prevent it from sinking. Vague. I don't really understand that, but then it is Tehol. ;-)

Brys is a favorite of you say SamarDev, a gentleman, very competent, but not boastful. Refreshing. I think the Beddict brothers all value Honor, they just manifest it very differently in each personality.
22. Jordanes
@ 21

It's not personal to Tehol, he even asks Bugg what the hell he thinks that saying means. But, as I said, it's made quite a bit more clear later.
Bill Capossere
23. Billcap
So I come back from family sushi, pop in to check out the site before sitting down to work, and I see our family discussion recapped in your post--now that's weird. We (my wife, I, and our ten-year-old) were just talking about forced hair cuts, forced dress, forbidden language and religion with regard to Native Americans.
Robin Lemley
24. Robin55077
@ 23. Bill

Wow! What can I say....Great minds think alike!

I just can never read that scene without thinking (heavily, I might add) of the Carlisle School. I know it is off point, but I felt the need to share that.

Robin Lemley
25. Robin55077
@ Amanda
"Seren is Letherii?"
Yes, she is Letherii. She is one of ony 7 Acquitors/guides allowed into the Edur lands. Quite a lucrative position as no murchant can enter Edur lands without an Acquitor.
"These obsidian rocks — some relation of otataral? I ask because of their healing properties."
I don't recall that there is any connection to otataral.
"Here we are told that Father Shadow is one of the Edur gods — but we know he is Scabandari Bloodeye and therefore an ascendant at best, surely?"
How does one become a god in the Malazan world? The most agreed upon definition is an ascendant who develops followers. In this sense, Scabandari/Father Shadow would be a least to the Edur.

And, finally, I have never heard anyone say that they did not like the Ceda, so you are in very large company on that one.

Robin Lemley
26. Robin55077
Perhaps the saddest scene in this Chapter for me is when Hull Beddict arrives at the camp and is greeted by the Nerek. Hull, who deeply feels personally responsible for the fall of the Narek, standing there surrounded by the Nerek who revere him in a near god-like manner.

And a part of me hated Buruk when he tauntingly offered one of his Nerek slave-women to Hull for the night.

Oh, poor Hull.

Chris Hawks
27. SaltManZ
This is a fairly big spoiler, but isn't the bizarre obsidian-like stone with the shadows inside it dragon blood?
Chris Hawks
28. SaltManZ
I've always had a little bit of a crush on Seren Pedac. I don't know why. Here's a pretty great piece of fanart of her. I used to picture her blonder, but this picture has made that difficult.
Hugh Arai
29. HArai
Enter Brys and the Ceda. Two people I cheer for even if I can't stand "the Letherii Empire".
30. amphibian
I've never understood why people dislike Hull so much.

The Beddict brothers are exceptional, but all applied their insane work ethics to separate pursuits and got so good at them that they reached the pinnacles of their respective professions. Tehol was the best financial speculator in Lether. Brys became the finest swordsman on the continent. And Hull..

Hull became a person who could so thoroughly understand and evaluate native societies that he could become a near-ascendant. In many ways, he's like a super-ambassador, completely at home with the natives and effectively building great relationships with them - with the added mournful note of how his work is so dispassionately used to take apart the Nerek.

This may be the the part in me that really liked Dances With Wolves, but I see a sadder version of Kevin Costner's character in Hull. He had no Stands With A Fist and a promise of a life afterwards to ease the blow of betrayal. Instead, he treads onwards, carrying the expansionist Letherii empire to the one group that can help him take revenge of sorts...
Robin Lemley
31. Robin55077
@ 27. SaltManZ

That is my understanding as well, although I cannot remember where we learn that to provide a reference point.

32. alt146
I like Hull, he always made me sad.

There's tons of commentary regarding modern (western) society when you look at the Letherii, their obsessions with wealth and the way they treated the various tribes. I think there will be a lot more to discuss regarding the parallels between Lether and the real world as the book progresses.

"I need only look back to see what lies ahead" Such an incredibly true, incredibly tragic statement and one of the most succinct ways of summing up on of the major themes of the series.
Iris Creemers
33. SamarDev
Re 'grovel'. Lol, thanks for all the explanations! I somehow missed / forgot the poem (but maybe recognize it when we'll reach it).

SaltManZ @ 28. Nice picture, Seren Pedac looks quite familiar to my imagination there.

Re comparison Nerek etc to native Americans (or Aboriginals, or...). Very sad storyline. When you read it, you think 'how could the Letherii do that?!', but you then realize it's not just fantasy but history...

Tektonica @ 21. Gentleman, that's the word that fits Brys :-)

And I met a guy in the train this morning, reading DG. He apparently took it up again after 10 years and already understood more now than then. I strongly advised him coming over here, so who knows... I'm never having difficulties to do some SE/reread-advertisements, how come? :-)
Mieneke van der Salm
34. Mieneke
I really enjoyed this chapter, especially Brys' section. I liked his character and the storyline. Tehol and Bugg were funny, but I actually am more interested in the economic aspect of what seems to be becoming their story arc, than the humour. But that might be because it's a very current topic here in Europe at the moment. Bill's comment:
Then we get some basic economics — money is not real; it’s a shared illusion. And so long as everyone shares in the illusion, it has power. If that illusion is broken, it loses that power.
rings scarily true at the moment, taking the situation in Greece and Italy into consideration.

Here we are told that Father Shadow is one of the Edur gods — but we know he is Scabandari Bloodeye and therefore an ascendant at best, surely? Either way, he’s not someone I would want to claim as a god!
Then again, would you choose Karsa's Seven as your gods? We've seen some fairly unpleasant gods so far on Wu and I wouldn't be surprised if we'll meet some more before the end of The Crippled God!

Am I the only one who assumed Seren to be Edur at first? It was only when you guys called her Letherii here, that I realised she wasn't.
Sydo Zandstra
35. Fiddler
SaltManZ @28:

I've always had a little bit of a crush on Seren Pedac.

Same here. But you can ask Tek, I have a weird taste in women in Fantasy. She was surprised at the fact that I'd date Joline, from WoT (no Warders allowed on the date though). ;-)

amphibian @30:

This may be the the part in me that really liked Dances With Wolves, but I see a sadder version of Kevin Costner's character in Hull.

Funny. I have the same idea about Hull. A very honourable character in his own way, just like his brothers are in theirs. And used by his own society (and King even) to betray everything he stands for.

A tragic character...


No, I placed Seren as Letherii and therefore human right away. :)
Tricia Irish
36. Tektonica

No accounting for taste, eh? Joline? Really? ;-)
Amir Noam
37. Amir
"Tehol is quite different from his other brothers. In some ways. In other ways, they’re quite similar."

Hmm. This reminded me of other three-sibling-groups we've had in this series, such as Ganoes/Tavore/Felisin Paran. Similar, yet completely different.

Hell, you can even count Anomander Rake/Andarist/Silchas Ruin, or the three daughters of Scabandari Bloodeye (two of which we've seen named already at this point of MT).
Iris Creemers
38. SamarDev
Amir @ 37
SE isn't doing just nice duo's, he's good in trio's as well :-) And even quartets, as you say with the Sengar-brothers (although Binadas is less on the foreground).
Iris Creemers
39. SamarDev
Quoting time! Back to Edur territory.

Something was awry here. With both the Letherii and with ... us. With Hannan Mosag. Our Warlock King. Our shadows are dancing. Letherii and Edur, dancing out a ritual - but these are not steps I can recognize. Father Shadow, forgive me, I am frightened.

Because Rhulad must win. In everything, he must win. That is the cliff-edge of his life, the narrow strand he himself fashions, with every slight observed - whether it be real or imagined matters not - every silent moment that, to him, screams scorn upon the vast emptiness of his achievements.
Allana Schneidmuller
40. blutnocheinmal
The Malazan books are full of amazing duos, Tehol and Bugg being one of my favorite.

They remind me of Arthur and Hobson from the movie Arthur (Dudley Moore and Sir John Geilgud). I imagine if I'd ever read any of the books, I'd say Jeeves and Wooster as well.

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