Fri
Dec 2 2011 3:30pm

Steven Erikson Answers Your House of Chains Questions, Part 2

The second batch of answers has come in from Steven Erikson regarding your House of Chains questions! This time around we’ve broken out the lengthy answers into their own series of posts. You can read the first batch of answers right here.

All answers include their originating questions. A big thank you to Steven Erikson for taking time out to answer over the past couple weeks! As always, you can find Bill and Amanda’s original recap and reread of House of Chains in the Malazan Reread index.

1. amphibian: Wow. I’m blown away by the considerate responses and the playful humor.

Bellurdan a Thel Akai instead of Tartheno Thelomen Toblakai? News to me...

Good luck with the writing, family and defense of the unknowing disadvantaged, Steve!

Steven: The Thel Akai are the progenitors of Tartheno, Thelomen, Toblakai, Teblor, etc.

 

2. Mayhem: Regarding the two objects. Pages from the Bantam mmpb
Kalam scatters his diamonds across flagstones in a ruined city @p798 (chapter 20). He then blows his whistle and his five and every other demon in a diamond awake to do the needful.

Lostara finds an object lying among cobbles and stones @p875 and hands it to Cotillion @p879 who recognises it, and suggests that the item was in fact important to her in some way.

The Acorn appears to Kalam from the Stone Forest @p885 Drops off a tree above him, at which point he wryly comments on why they don’t do this any more.

Our discussion was more or less were the object and the acorn related, or if not, how did QB get his acorn to Kalam, and why would an azalan diamond have been important to Lostara?

Curiously just before Kalam scatters his diamonds, a Pardu Shaman scatters a handful of small objects as well, black and glittering. But they apparently weren’t from Shai’ik’s army. I wonder what the Pardu were doing there, other than serving the plot by summoning the dogs :p

Steven: You know what, I haven’t a clue (still). The next move is for you to invent a time machine and send it to me. I can then go back, corner the bastard, and get him to spill the beans (and I use that last phrase advisedly). In the meantime, did Lostara and Pearl have a run-in with Iskaral Pust in that novel? If they did, then it’s a diamond that Lostara finds, and if so, she should damn well have used it much later on! Must’ve, uh, slipped her mind…

If something shakes out of my brain any time soon on this pressing matter, I’ll let you know on this site.

 

3. Jragghen: One of your answers made me wonder anew:

Karsa’s first appearance was like that, but I already knew him well, as I’d run a solo campaign with a friend (Mark Paxton-MacRae) who played Karsa (that campaign delivered to Mark the same experience of dismay and unease as the readers subsequently got, as I didn’t explain to him the truth behind the ‘children’ either; in fact, he didn’t even realize that he was a giant who would view all adult humans as children. Needless to say, I dragged Mark through hell, and now it was time to do the same to a few thousand readers).

Now, many of us already knew that the world was birthed from the gaming campaigns of yourself and Esslemont. In a previous interview following the final novel of the series (I believe it was over on Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist?), I learned who your characters were (highlight for spoilers for people who want to guess themselves) Cotillion and Shadowthrone, respectively.

Now, because of this, I treated it as “confirmation” of sorts of a theory that I had: that your roleplaying sessions were the “Old Empire,” so to speak - other members of your gaming group played Lassen, Dassem, Whiskeyjack, Dujek, Nok, Toc the Elder, Urko, etc, and that the stories of their conquests - never explicitly told - were your roleplaying sessions, and that we’ll never get to “see” those, because it’s more of a shared story that was crafted amongst your group. However, your answer above throws a monkey wrench into that theory, as a portion of House of Chains is directly taken from one of your roleplaying sessions. So I was wondering how much of the series proper was from actual roleplaying sessions, how much of the backstory is, and which characters in particular were PCs in your sessions?

Steven: Much of our initial gaming did indeed play out the backstory, but not all, and I continued gaming after Cam and I stopped living in the same city, and elements of that fed into the series, often as major events. Karsa, Fiddler’s squad in the Bonehunters, something of the Sengar brothers, were all elements of gaming (including Fid’s squad’s final scene). They were anchors in the series where I knew, from the reactions and responses of those who played those characters, that I had something both dramatic and effective in those scenes, and did my best to stay loyal to them. A few of those gamed scenes that come to mind include the ‘Rannaled’ scene and the ambush that precipitated it, Y’Ghatan #2, the Bonehunters’ last landing (trying to avoid spoilers here … better stop now)…

 

4. SamarDev: Re the acorn/diamond-question: if the object and acorn are related, how could Lostara recognize the acorn for what it was, actually Kalams / QB’s shaved knuckle in the hole?

Could she detect QB’s very special magics due to that special night (Bantam @ p. 388 – chapter 8 ± 2 pages into Lostara’s POV).

Or are QB’s acorns always shadow-related (although that’s ‘just’ one of his warrens), and could she as Shadow Dancer detect the Shadow in it and associated that – logically – with Cot?

Steven: see my evasion above…

 

5. Zohar666: This is one of the crucial puzzles of the entire series. Why Cottilion and Shadowthrone s priorities about revenge against Laseen changed from book one to book four? And why do Shadowthrone and Cottilion blame one another about who instigates the other about the revenge?

Steven: In the early scenes in Gardens, Cotillion and Shadowthrone are new to their ascension. They’re still smarting from the ‘assassinations’ and Laseen’s betrayal, especially Cotillion, an assassin beaten at his own game (and his Talons being murdered). Accordingly, he plots his revenge. But all precipitous acts need justification, sooner or later…

Cotillion is not a nice man. He was never a nice man, and he shows that through Sorry’s actions, all of which subvert his desire to bring the Bridgeburners on board. The point here is that, ironically, for Cotillion it takes becoming a god to rediscover his own humanity. Imagine if he’d taken his newfound power and simply extended it to serve his own inhumanity (as expressed in Sorry)? Even Shadowthrone would have balked at that (eventually). Of course, you’re invited to think of these two gods as thoroughly corrupted by their newfound powers: but their journey is actually the very opposite. From tyrannical mortal rulers to gods prepared to surrender everything (except their humanity).

For both gods, plans change, profoundly; and among the gods, they’re not alone in that, either. The key to this transition comes mostly from Cotillion, who through his interaction with mortals who are, in one sense or another, helpless, comes to a realization of all the things he had walked away from as a mortal, all in the quest for absolute power. If you like, Cotillion and Shadowthrone represent the possibility of enlightenment even among the gods: and the light they eventually shine across the entire pantheon proves blinding indeed.

The only consistency they display is one of mutability and fallibility, and the willingness to adapt as circumstances change. This doesn’t make them any less arrogant (well, not Shadowthrone, anyway), and this is expressed by their constant front of being in control of everything, even when they’re not. Cotillion is more honest when speaking with chosen mortals, but when he discusses things with Shadowthrone, well, they have old roles to play, as old friends always have. So much of control, in human society, depends on the front presented, that veneer of confidence and brazen balls to the wall (of course, this front often hides something venal and self-serving, and politicians come to mind [Cameron, anyone?], but in the case of these two gods, they actually move towards humanity rather than away from it, and that’s the gist of their tale). In these novels, not even the gods are immune to change.

At a certain point, ST and Cotillion stretch their ambitions, and maybe, in a way, that’s what Cam and I did, too. As much as the storyline was pretty much in place, we both had to be prepared to alter it whenever something cooler came along. There was always an organic component to this series.

 

6. Karsa: ’Two years ago we began a game of our own. A simple settling of old scores. It seems we have stumbled into a wholly different game here in Pale.’ ’Whose?’ ’I shall have that answer soon enough.’ ’Don’t get distracted, Ammanas. Laseen remains our target, and th collapse of the Empire she rules but never earned.’

You are assuming that these two sentences are connected. What wrong were they righting? why does the empire need to collapse?

I try to always keep in mind that because a character says something doesn’t mean they really think it. and if they think it, it doesn’t mean its true.

of course, Steven’s reaction more than welcome! :)

Steven: Well, yes, see my response above. This is the point where they are beginning to comprehend a bigger gambit, but have not yet committed to it.

 

7. Xiphiasar: Thanks for writing Malazan Book of the Fallen, it’s the best series I’ve read. I’m on Toll the Hounds.

It would be prohibitively expensive to adapt Malazan Book of the Fallen into movies. But I think it could be made into an anime, maybe one season per book. Most anime sucks, but some with high production value, like Ghost in the Shell and Cowboy Bebop, are amazing. I feel like anime could do justice to MBotF’s magic and battles where live action couldn’t. What are your thoughts on this? Would you consider it as a possibility in the future?

Steven: We’ll consider anything.

 

8. Mr. Glum: “Hah! It won’t work, because a proper feud requires both sides to be familiar with the enemy, and I will guarantee you no fans of any other work or series will ever bother plunging into and staying around through the entire Malazan Book of the Fallen,”

UNTRUE Steve! Give fantasy fans a little more credit sir!

I got into your series because I was tired of reading WoT over and over. And I now own the entirety of both (or I will at least whenever Mr. Sanderson gets around to writing Memory of Light)

Anyway, volunteering to be a free agent for whatever side wants me in the battle between WoT and Malazan. I love both for very different reasons, and I also feel entirely free to dump on certain books in either series.

A: dump away. The point is, I have no interest in encouraging feuds among fans of the genre. Perhaps you feel that some form of competition exists, or that us authors are eager to establish rivalries (but then, why would we want to encourage the antics of trolls on various fan-based sites of appreciation?). And for all I know some authors are indeed eager to play that game. I’m not. As your post points out, fans of the genre are voracious in their consumption of fantasy fiction, and I for one am not only glad for that, I am appreciative of their flexibility. Why would I want an Us versus Them scenario? What is this series about again?

 

9. Iris1979: what you said about sympathy for Felisin And Tavore really rang a bell with me as they were the characters that drew me (at the time a reluctant reader) into the Malazan world. It was a refreshing change to find that not everyone would follow the ’kill bill’ style narrative for an abused woman. The expectation that she would be capable of recieving help or forgive or become a superhero is totally overturned. There is no victory for her nor really for Tavore and it felt shockingly real. Rape has often seemed in genre fiction as a prop to signify that it’s a dark adult story and is often just ignored once it’s happened, what happened to Felisin continuing to affect her and those around her felt to me as a comment on how lightly other writers treat it. I’m just curious to know your thinking around this stuff.

Steven: You’re right, abuse and violence can be gratuitous, in any form of storytelling, and we’ve seen how far that can go in electronic gaming and in films and on television. This might sound cruel, but characters in crisis are always more interesting than characters immune to crisis (hence the endless plot difficulties in the Superman comics). If there’s one thing I find most disturbing about the trend I mentioned earlier, is the proliferation of characters (heroes, protagonists) inviting chaos then blithely walking through the carnage with expressions devoid of all humanity. This is supposed to be cool? As an exercise, think of how many times you’ve seen that image, in games, in trailers (especially trailers)? Since when did sociopaths become cool? Pulp Fiction? Maybe… in which case, Tarantino has a lot to answer for.

Iris1979: I’m not much of a commenter normally so I’ll prattle on a bit, I want to get this all out now sorry! Somewhere in HoC Felisin mentions her mother having visions, were we supposed to assume that Tavore inherited this ability?

Steven: Read further and come to your own conclusion on that one.

Iris1979: Lastly on a less serious note I thought it a bit of a tragedy that Hedge and Fiddler were not lovers, the lack of slash fic Malazan style really grinds my gears. I decided you were a helpless romantic after I finished the series but was a bit sad there was no man to man action, I guess if you felt like talking about it more how concious were you of creating a world that had a fair level of gender equality and homosexuality was normal. I guess I don’t really have a question here I’m just interested in your thoughts around it.

Steven: We wanted to present an alternative world where there was no stigma attached to gender preference, relationships, etc. We also wanted a world where there were no gender-based barriers to the attainment of power. We wanted a world without sexism. But in creating that world, we realised that no-one living in it would give much thought to a bigoted alternative: why should they? So, all this equality of virtue needed to go unmentioned by anyone.

As for explicit man-on-man sex scenes … well, even the woman-on-woman and the women-and-man sex scenes were hardly explicit, were they? All three situations had their place in the series, but only in passing (I save writing explicit sex scenes for my novellas, and those are mostly comedy … hmm, what does that say about me? Don’t ask).

That said, anything involving children and sex was written as examples of abuse, which is precisely what they are. And, as far as I can recall, the lives of any adult involved in that, in the series, did not end well. And as for the characters who suffered such abuse, I wrote them with all the compassion I could muster (hence my constant surprise at how judgmental and harsh some readers are regarding Felisin).

 

11. Jordanes: If you don’t mind me asking, when are we likely to see Forge of Darkness hit the shops?

Steven: I’m not sure when Forge will be coming out. There’s always a lag while I wait for the editor and copy-editors to read the manuscript. That said, I’m sure they’ve set a release date and whatever it is, we’ll meet it easily enough.

 

15. The Gunslinger: My question is in regard to the pronunciation of some of the races in your world. I love talking about the books with friends, but I’ve found that nobody pronounces things the same. If you could give phonetic spelling of each (or just words that rhyme), I would be very grateful.

K’Chain Che’Malle (K or kuh, Sheh or Cheh, Mall or Male, as in tamale)

Steven: K, Cheh, and Malle as in Hal.

Tiste (is the “e” silent, have an “eh” sound, or an “e” sound?)

A: silent ‘e’

Edur (is the “e” stressed?)

Steven: yes, and as Eh not Ee

Jaghut (is the “h” pronounced? If so, is hut Hutt as in Jabba, or hoot?)

A: silent ‘h’ and Ja-goot but accent on the Ja: the word should fall off on completion

The Gunslinger: This question coming from my girlfriend: Are your publishers ever going to reissue the series in hardback? There most certainly is a demand for this, as I’m sure most Malazan fans would love to have a complete (U.K.) hardcover collection. If they don’t have any plans right now, Eric and Lisa humbly request that you beat this idea into them, as you are attempting with the audiobook (you must be forceful!).

Steven: I do bring it up, thus far without success…

The Gunslinger: And because I have to ask a question that I know you can’t (or, rather, won’t) answer: Will we ever see Quick Ben again?

Steven: if you do, why, you may not recognize him.

 

16. Billcap: You talked in one of your replies about cultural relativism and how the idea offends you. Do these sort of ideas drive or simply inform the writing and is this because it’s the mental world you’re currently swimming in, because you look to actively (but only) explore such concepts, or because you’re trying to answer such stances? For instance, you stated “thus the lesson,” a statement of seemingly strong intent (“I’m gonna learn you folks!”) that most authors shy away from. Once that door is opened, do you ever cringe at what walks through via what readers think you’re espousing (says the guy who weekly trolls through your work and blathers on about what he thinks it is “doing”—feel free to snort, roll eyes, or do some other sort of “who is this guy” with thumb and face)

Steven: most of the time in my writing the lesson delivered is to me. That said, I railed against cultural relativism back in university, and I still do so to this day; but it is for me no longer as simple as exploring it with respect to ‘other’ cultures. There’s a part of me that wants to tackle our own host of customs and practices. So, cultural relativism is a notion I wanted to explore. When I explore something in my fiction, my methods range from microscopic incisions to taking a mallet to the topic and hammering it into a bloody pulp. Alas, sometimes I catch my own foot amidst the wild swings. In fact, if I’m not limping away from the whole thing by the end, I haven’t done my job. As for all of you, well, you’re just looking in. So, on the one hand, it’s all exploration, while on the other is my own railing at the inhumanity of the things we do to each other in the name of custom, tradition and control (and really, isn’t it all about control?). Accordingly, this is certainly one subject in which I invite readers who disagree with me to weigh in.

What follows here, in this response, is all about cultural relativism. For those uninterested, skip ahead.

Back when I was taking my anthropology degree, I was witness to what I later learned was an annual thing: specifically, a nervous breakdown in class afflicting a professor, when in his lectures he came to a description of his own work in a South American country (this was quite a few years ago now). His research involved befriending local groups and mapping the kinship-based trade routes of a certain plant product which when processed creates a certain illegal drug. Upon the completion of his research, certain law enforcement agencies, including a foreign intelligence agency, swooped in and took all his research, which presumably assisted them in cracking down and prosecuting a few hundred otherwise impoverished peasants. So, the man was suffering the clash of ‘objective,’ scientific research, a methodology dependent on establishing trust among reasonably secretive people, and the unintended exploitation of his data: he could not reconcile these issues or his role in them, and it broke him down again and again.

All matters of legality aside, my heart went out to that man, (rather, it does so now: but not at the time. Instead, I was probably quick to judge and to then dismiss, without much thought, the moral dilemma this professor was repeatedly living through). Needless to say, all of that has stayed with me, and led me to think about it in as many ways as possible.

How is this relevant? Well, it comes to the heart of cultural relativism, which is usually expressed in terms of objective distancing from some other culture’s practices of social control, its rewards systems, and its mechanisms intended to reaffirm the status quo. The professor’s breakdown was, at its core, a clash of the human agency of the mind (his mind, his life) and the pseudo-scientific rigours applied to the study of cultural anthropology. In effect, all that scientific objectivity was in place for two purposes (as far as I can see): one, the notion of an inherent value in objective, non-participatory observation of human behaviour (on which most of anthropology and indeed, sociology, is predicated); and two, a riff on the old journalist’s line about remaining objective (even when, say, filming or taking shots of a murder, etc). Where the journalist at least could fall back on the defense that bringing such atrocities into the public eye (but then, see how fast that was compromised, in embedding) has a useful purpose; for the cultural anthropologist, that end-run attribution of value was a distant one, and mostly an illusion. So, this professor felt betrayal on all sorts of levels, from his seeming betrayal of his subjects and the trust they place in him, to the betrayal of his work being co-opted to an act of suppression, which led to his sense of having betrayed his profession.

In recording a culture’s activity within the field of anthropology, much of the original incentive was to preserve (for us) examples of human behaviour fast coming to an end due to the incursions of the civilized outside world. In this was buried the notion that diversity had an intrinsic value. But once you absorb that stance, the door is kicked open to the idea of ‘value’ itself. It became evident to many practicing anthropologists that the things that could be really learned about when studying ‘other’ cultures was how those cultures reflected back onto our own, in terms of mechanisms of control, universality of behaviour, and how the environment asserted impositions upon a people, and then how those people internalized those impositions in their social practices. In other words, the notion of ‘value’ itself became central to the examination (once it became self-examination, there was no way around it).

Yikes, this is getting way too technical here. Let’s switch tack here.

What makes cultural relativism so pernicious is its ability to justify doing nothing, not only with respect to what happens in other cultures, but also in our own. It invites passivity and often, those defenses voiced that say we should ‘respect’ the customs of some other culture (or group within our culture … but here, well, not always, right?) are often signifiers saying ‘we won’t mess with you and what you do if you don’t mess with us and what we do.’ I don’t know where cultural anthropology is right now, as a discipline, or what reconciliations it may have achieved to these topics: I’ve been out of it too long. But I do recall, just before I left, a trend towards something called ‘active anthropology,’ which I wrote an essay about as my last parting shot. In effect, the movement was to actively assist peripheral cultures in adopting technological improvements to their way of life. My essay was one of appalled indignation, I remember, and earned me my worst grade of the year. Do I have a problem with improving a struggling people’s battle to survive, via new wells, irrigation methods, the shift away from hunting and gathering to raising cattle, etc? No. But I do have a problem when it’s anthropologists doing it. The sheer patronizing presumption of that left me breathless. So now, we’re back to the whole notion of ‘value,’ but not just that: the active anthropologist is in effect dismantling the whole scientific rigour the discipline worked so hard to achieve (not that it had any value in the first place … any wonder I left the field, given my views?) and thereby justify its claim to a place under the wing of the social sciences (itself a dubious phrase). And worse, whatever happened to the value of diversity? Now, if that intent was stated outright, unapologetically, I might have less of a problem with it (and maybe it since has), but not by much. Cultural anthropologists as the new missionaries, as the new colonizers of the impoverished world, arriving blazing with the shining light of ‘how to do things the right way.’ Uhm, look around, buddies … we’re doing things the right way?

It’s complicated. I’ll take clean water over dirty water. We all would, and wanting that for everyone is a worthy goal. But where to draw the line? And what exactly gives us the right to do so on behalf of someone else? While we’re at it, let’s install some supermarkets, freeways, lots of cars, gas stations, fast-food joints … all in the name of ‘preserving’ that original group of people and their unique ways of living.

Say what?

Anyway, scientific objectivity in the realm of human behaviour is, for me, a fascistic invitation. So, it is for me an issue that won’t go away. It should be clear after this response here that I barely brushed the surface of my thoughts on this, in House of Chains. I suppose one could say, ‘well, that’s all some kind of academic angst in crisis, and really, what the fuck does it have to do with all of us here in the real world?’ and you might have a point. I did say you were all just looking in, didn’t I? It’s not like our Western culture possesses egregious cultural practices, is it? I mean, we don’t have some kind of rite of passage ritual that involves an invitation to addiction, to the risk of sudden death, and one proven to be carcinogenic and destructive to the lives of others and to the world itself, do we? Tobacco addiction? No, oil addiction, and here son, is your driver’s license, and here’s your car, happy birthday…

Then there’s the much bigger ritual, called the nine-to-five, which reaffirms the status quo of arbitrary value (money), and more chains snapped round our ankles than you’d think possible. When I think of those as-yet-uncontacted tribes in the high reaches of the Amazon, I feel a surge of envy at times (leavened with recognition of fatal illnesses that could be cured, parasites, etc): no money, no taxes, a whole different set of values. Why, even if I went there and ended up with my head on a pole, it’d be smiling…

Every culture justifies its own idiocies. In House of Chains I went after one ‘foreign’ to most of us (female circumcision). In Toll the Hounds, I went after one dear to all of our hearts. Curiously, of the two only the last one saw me castigated. Funny, that.

So, in the end and to answer you, Billcap, was I out to make a point? Maybe only that, well, someone should, don’t you think?

Billcap: When you say “the original consensus” was negative toward the book, I’m curious as to how you ascertain that consensus. Do you read reviews, fan boards, is it just sales? And if so, does it have any impact in the process, either directly on you or indirectly in pressure from publishers, agents, etc.?

Steven: just a general sense of the responses on fan sites, review sites, amazon.com. I don’t pay attention to sales or anything. As for pressure from my publishers … no, none.

Billcap: The idea that the stories are perhaps seen as difficult because at least some of the characterization aims at creating “real” people, who bring with them all the contradictions, paradoxes, inconsistencies, etc. of real people, is something I’ve mentioned myself in reviews and responses to complaints (and is one of the reasons I enjoy this series so much). Do you ever, to use one of your words, “chafe” at this reputation of “difficulty”, understanding that you accept the reader is free to any judgement they wish to make as to personal response to the works.

Steven: No, it’s a reputation well-earned. I do write difficult stuff. Can’t help it. Sorry! It’s like my answer to one of your previous questions, up there above this one. There are so many sides to everything. It seems the only frontier we’ll never conquer is that of the human condition; of consciousness, perception, feelings, thoughts, that sense of ‘self’ and where does it come from? We can chop out pieces of the brain and see it all go away, but why, and where does it go? Writing that looks inward, and inward yet more, can only proceed in wonder and humility. We’re so effing complicated, and the more you look, really look, the more you see. The day I tire of that will be the day I tire of living.

Billcap: I’m curious as to the strength of your response to the feud question someone asked (to remind you: “I will guarantee you no fans of any other work or series will ever bother plunging into and staying around through the entire Malazan Book of the Fallen, especially if its ethos is something they find unpalatable, which they would, wouldn’t they?”) Maybe I’m just missing something or misreading. Why is it that you think fans of other series wouldn’t read all of the Malazan series? I’ve lost track of the fantasy or non-fantasy series I’ve completed or am in the middle of and from comments on this reread, it seems a lot of your fans share similar experiences. I would think Malazan fans especially are big, catholic readers and thus come to it as fans of other works. Also, why are you so sure that the “ethos” of Malaz would be off-putting to those other fans? What is it about the ethos that you believe is so singular or so antithetical to others series? (tone is always an issue in online communications so you’ll just have to trust me that this is asked in the spirit of pure curiosity/mystification and thus lacks any smattering of snark)

A: but here’s the thing: you’re on this site and re-reading these books, meaning you found them, liked them, and still like them. In other words, the presence of everyone on this re-read skews the curve! Probably more fantasy readers drop my stuff (usually in Gardens) than stay on (I think that’s a fair assessment). They will all have their opinions, and those opinions will be universally negative. But presumably they stayed with other writers, and other series, meaning their opinions on those will be positive. Maybe a few take a second or even third try at the Malazan stuff, but those have to be rather rare, I think. So, there you have the sides, but only one side of which can actually speak with authority on the Malazan stuff (along with, as you say, many other series they/you happen to have read and like, or not). The other side doesn’t know squat about the Malazan series and to encourage a feud simply entrenches their negative stance. Why would I want to see that? I get enough heat as it is!

Well, thanks to everyone for staying on board. Time for me to return to my Bauchelain and Korbal Broach novella (not ‘Excesses of Youth,’ though: gave that one a rest since it was not grabbing me … this happens and it can wait. Instead, the one I’ve started sort of follows on, sequentially, from ‘Lees of Laughter’s End.’ It’ll be called ‘The Wurms of Blearmouth.’ Ripping along nicely at the moment…).

Cheers

SE

7 comments
Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter
‘The Wurms of Blearmouth.’ Cool.
The Gunslinger: And because I have to ask a question that I know you can’t (or, rather, won’t) answer: Will we ever see Quick Ben again?
Steven: if you do, why, you may not recognize him.
A whole new quest!
Sydo Zandstra
2. Fiddler
@Shalter:

I m thinking Forge of Darkness here. ;-)


@Steven Erikson:

You, Sir, are awesome.
Steven Halter
3. stevenhalter
@Fiddler:Yep--Can you find QB? (And maybe he's there, maybe he's not.)
Steven Halter
4. stevenhalter
And, if QB (or facsimile thereof) is involved, the Forge part takes on a new series of meanings.
Slynt
5. Slynt
Dear Steven,
you're a fucking megalith among pebbles.
I appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions and give a little of yourself to your readers immensely.
The Malazan books become better by the re-read.
(Oh and I am one of those rare people who had to give it more than one try before "getting it") :-)
M D
6. Abalieno
I've never seen an Erikson so forthcoming of explaining his stuff as in point (5), I'm surprised ;)

And glad because his interpretation matches mine (and clarifies more). The only thing I'd criticize is that this "arc" is quite counterintuitive for the reader, especially because with the absence of PoV it happens entirely in the dark and so the motivations and logic connections are also omitted. So it happens that some readers (me as well at some point) read it with some frustration since every time they (ST & Cotillion) entered the scene they had a different agenda, so also the tendency to interpret it as "inconsistent" and arbitrary.

It's a bit a cultural obstacle. One has the tendency to believe that if something is not in the spotlight then it doesn't exist or doesn't matter (something like a cultural inverse of "Chekhov's gun"), while in Malazan certain core points are kept in the dark gaps and corners. One assumes that since they aren't clearly visible they do not exist.

And yes, I'd like a HC collection. So far I have 1, 8-10. And 6-8 in that smaller book club edition. I really wish for an unified format/style. Trying with Tor mass market at the moment.

The rest is good food for thought.
Iris Creemers
7. SamarDev
Wow, great answers again...

Nice to have specified some of the scenes that found their origin in the role playing games. Those are remarkeble scenes and anchors indeed.

Great backinfo on ST and Cottillion either. It matches the (unconscious) feeling about them, but when you put their development all together this way, the understanding of the how and why of their motivations and gambits in this series gets much clearer - even without explaining them all into the open (or 'light', if you will ;-)). They remain Shadow gods after all...

I wonder if the anthropology professor ever got to read this series, especially Midnight Tides. Enter Hull...

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