Wed
Jan 18 2012 12:00pm

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

Malazan reread of Midnight Tides by Steven EriksonWelcome 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 Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapter Sixteen 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 Sixteen

SCENE ONE

Feather Witch tells Udinaas Mayen beats her and “Uses me. In ways that hurt.” He says he’s seen the bruises. He adds Rhulad doesn’t do that to Mayen. Feather Witch says she doesn’t care, has no interest in trying to understand Mayen’s perspective. She admits what Rhulad does to Mayen, the non-physical hurting, is what she does to Udinaas. He replies she’d rather bite. She heads off and he thinks of the march on Trate toward vengeance.

SCENE TWO

Trull’s force has been detected by the Letherii mages. As they wait to see what the Letherii will do, the Jheck arrive, informing Trull the Letherii are retreating to High Fort and that First Maiden Fort has already fallen and that Edur army is marching on Fent Reach. Four major battles are predicted in the next few days.

SCENE THREE

Seren is trying to get drunk in a tavern, listening to conversations about the impending war, most of it arrogant predictions. A foreigner arrives with an offer of taking her with his group on a boat away from Lether He introduces himself as Iron Bars, Second Blade, Fourth Company Crimson Guard and says his group just got off of Assail and he and his friends have fallen deep into debt just by showing up on the in Lether. Seren suggests he join the army and he tells her Lether is in big trouble in this war. When she rejects his offer, he tells her their boat is in Letheras and they’ll look for her there, warning her to get out of Trate as soon as possible.

SCENE FOUR

The Letherii mage Nekal Bara looks out to sea from the lighthouse, worried the war is already going badly. She thinks she knows where the sea creature that the Edur have bound to their use came from, an old spirit that should have died once its worship had ended. She will try to kill it while Arahathan, another mage, distracts it. She thinks this battle will be hard but isn’t worried about its final result. The fleet and spirit attack and Arahathan is killed, then Nekal, though not before she learns she was wrong about the spirit and within was something utterly surprising against which she has no defense — she calls to the Ceda to “Hear me! See—” before dying.

SCENE FIVE

Seren wakes in a cellar, robbed and raped. There is panic and chaos in the streets. Three of her rapists return to take her, one of them carrying a dead young girl. Before they attack her, Iron Bars shows up and kills them (painfully so until Seren tells him to do it cleanly). He apologizes for leaving her and tells her Trate has fallen and the Edur are killing every soldier in sight, though not non-combatants. He says his group is waiting and Corlo, thanks to the Edur’s arrival and what they brought, can use his warren again, first time since they landed in Lether. He’s about to lead her but says they’ve been cut off.

SCENE SIX

Rhulad, a dozen Edur warriors, and Udinaas move through the city, Rhulad effortlessly killing right and left and “gibbering” as he does so. Iron Bars arrives, kills the Edur soldiers and Rhulad, then motions Seren forward and they disappear round the corner. Udinaas recognizes Seren, sees she’s been badly used, and thinks that will not happen while the stranger is with her.

SCENE SEVEN

Iron Bars says that guy with the sword was good and in a few years would be tough to beat. Seren, in shock, doesn’t know what he’s talking about. They meet his group — two women and four men of the Crimson Guard. He says Corlo is opening a warren to Letheras. His comments about the Edur finally slip in to her consciousness and she realizes he fought Rhulad. She asks if Iron Bars killed him and is dismayed to find he did.

SCENE EIGHT

Withal waits on the beach of the Crippled God while Rhulad recovers. The two Nachts, Rind and Pule, are fighting and Withal wonders if the increasing frequency of this is their attempt to tell him something. Withal feels lost. Rhulad says he’s not going to the tent; the CG can keep the sword. Withal denies having anything to do with it and Rhulad accuses him of making the sword. Withal says he’s made tons of them, then muses that this sword came from two shards of another (or an “overlong knife”), “black and brittle.” Rhulad says everything breaks and when Withal agrees, Rhulad suggest he break the sword. Withal says he can’t and then says he thinks the CG is stealing his mind, that the CG had said he’d set him free if he made the sword but hasn’t. He warns Rhulad the god lies. Withal tells Rhulad it’ll be harder for him to die each time he does. Rhulad wonders about Father Shadow and Withal argues if he were alive he’d have stopped the CG from co-opting the Edur. As he speaks, he gets an idea and tries to keep it hidden in his mind from the CG. Rhulad says he is ready and they move toward the tent.

SCENE NINE

In the warren, Corlo says the Edur have Kurald Galain and wonder if they even know it. He explains to Seren the Hold of Darkness is Andii, not Edur — they should be using Shadow. He adds the warren is overrun by Tiste Andii spirits and Seren asks what the relationship is between the Edur and the wraiths. Corlo says the Edur have bound the wraiths and she suggests negotiating with one. A female wraith speaks to them, saying she was one of the first to die in the war and because she was not killed by an Edur, they cannot bind her, though her spirit is trapped. He asks her to guide them and says her assistance isn’t worth being paid for. When they ask what she’d like anyway, she asks they throw a ring she would bind herself to into the sea so she could rejoin her bones. They agree and when the wraith wonder at their honesty Iron Bars says he is an Avowed and she can see the “meaning of that by laying her hand on [his] chest.” The wraith does so and is shocked and horrified by what she senses and then feels pity for him. Iron Bars says, “We all make mistakes.” The wraith gives her name as Sandalath Drukorlat (note the last name).

SCENE TEN

As they head to the tent, Withal thinks on how Mape makes him nervous due to her strength and seemingly intelligence. Rhulad wonders why he can’t just kill the Crippled God and Withal says his power in his tent is probably absolute. When Rhulad responds “The vastness of his realm,” Withal wonders why those words strike him so hard. Inside, Rhulad tells the CG to pick someone else. The god says Rhulad is lucky it was Iron Bars and not Skinner or Cowl, who would have taken more notice of him. When Rhulad says he doesn’t want the power, the CG says of course he does, though Rhulad complains he hasn’t earned anything. The CG tells Rhulad the truth of Bloodeye’s “betrayal” and says others already know. The CG says perhaps he offers Rhulad the chance to make amends via empire. He tells him to choose. Rhulad grabs the sword and lunges for the CG but disappears. Withal and the CG argue and Withal says he knows the CG’s problem — his lack of a realm and inability to control his own body, warning him the more pain he gives the more he gets. The CG dismisses him, saying he (the god) has figured out a solution for Withal’s problem.

SCENE ELEVEN

Iron Bars’ group exits the warren far south of Trate on the shore. Seren walks into the ocean to cleanse herself and nearly drowns herself but is saved by Iron Bars (who had just tossed Sandalath’s ring into the ocean), who then asks Corlo to heal her. Corlo says he’s too tired and Iron Bars tells him to put her to sleep.

SCENE TWELVE

Sandalath starts to die again, thinking of her husband either dead or grieving, her daughter perhaps a mother or grandmother, having fed on draconic blood. A voice tells her she can’t die because the voice needs her. She arrives on a beach alive.

SCENE THIRTEEN

Hundreds of Edur, including Mosag, Mayen, along with Feather Witch, have gathered where Rhulad was killed by Iron Bars. Rhulad comes back to life and gives his orders. When Midik promises to get the one who “did this” to Rhulad, Rhulad says “he cannot be defeated,” but Udinaas points out Midik meant the one who killed him. Rhulad asks Udinaas to take him out of there. As he does so, Udinaas thinks the Ceda will learn soon about Rhulad and he wonders if he’ll realize he can’t do anything about it.

SCENE FOURTEEN

The CG had told Withal there would be a gift for him on the shore. There he finds Sandalath, which angers him for how the CG just uses people. Despite his hatred of religion, Withal prays to the Meckros’ oldest god — Mael.

 

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Sixteen

So, just before we start on this week’s commentary, I just wanted to say something... Someone caught me out in the comments last week, but not in the way that they thought! Someone asked whether I had read ahead to The Crippled God since I voted for it in the best books of 2011 on Tor.com — no, I can promise hand on heart I have not read ahead. I did the other thing that shouldn’t be done and voted for a book I hadn’t read — but one which I’m absolutely sure does deserve the accolade, considering what Erikson achieves in that novel with the culmination of the Malazan series.

I can swear to you that the first time I cast my eyes on Chapter Sixteen is right now. I read and provide comment as I read along. If you read the chapter and my commentary side by side, you will see it matches exactly — you can see where I am in the chapter according to what I have written in my commentary.

Me and Bill are slightly rueful that we’ve never managed to create and maintain a buffer of chapters, since I know that I, for one, am about to embark on about three hours work as I start reading and commenting on Chapter Sixteen. It takes that long to read, think about how to articulate my thoughts past “wow” or “I like this bit,” and cross-reference previous posts/chapters, if needed. It is possible that Bill takes less time. [Bill: Oh, he wishes!] I certainly need some time to get my head around what is going on.

Anyway! After that little set of confessions, let’s get started!

We’ve moved from a poem at the start of the chapter to an extract, which means I feel I’m cheating if I don’t read it, while I’m more inclined to skip the poems (as we talked about last week!) I’d love to make sensible comment on it, but I don’t have a clue what is going on! (So I lied, this commentary seems as though it is destined to be littered with confessions...) I do note that it was written by Nameless Fent. Now, does this mean that the Fent is a member of a species or race and this is a nameless one of those? Or is it the name of one of the Nameless Ones? (Which, now that I’ve written it, just sounds daft!)

It strikes me that I could be reading this wrong, but it sounds very much as though Mayen is raping Feather Witch in turn: “She tears my clothes off. Uses me. In ways that hurt. I hurt all the time.” I guess this is out of her feelings of powerlessness and lack of control. Feather Witch is now the only one she can take out her anger, fear and frustration on... But it makes me respect her even less. And then especially when she criticises Udinaas for his desire to try and understand others!

I really enjoy here the breakdown of the military options facing the Letherii as they strive to find out the Edur numbers without giving away their strengths. Erikson presents the options in a manner which even someone without any military nous can comprehend.

This quote here shows how vulnerable and alone Trull really is: “And I can stay here, in this tense cast of my mind’s thoughts, from now on. It will take me through this war. It has to. Please, take me through this war.”

A nice little juxtaposition here that also shows the military tactics going on — first we hear from the Edur “I have news. First Maiden Fort has fallen. No battle...” Then we hear from the Letherii: “Give ‘em First Maiden Fort, aye. Why not? Pull the bastards in and in.” I guess it shows that warfare is as much a guessing game, as well, as plotting and coming up with tactics.

I’m not sure what is meant here: “Twilight’s just waiting for the siege to settle in. What’s that? You saying she surrendered?” Is Twilight a fort? Or a person? Edit — got it, a couple of pages later. See? I read and comment — even when it makes me sound stupid.

Ha! THE CRIMSON GUARD! Nice to see them on screen. I guess these are the people who become the Return of the Crimson Guard? Even if not, it is lovely to get some view of the Crimson Guard. Don’t they feel so familiar, even though we’ve not seen this particular character before? I love it! I feel like shouting “Seren, just GET ON THE DAMN BOAT!”

There is something truly primal in the fear generated by this: “And in the waters beneath those sleek hulls...a thing. Ancient, terrible, eager with hunger.” Hell, I still get the jitters about water after watching Jaws!

Oh! Now here Erikson explicitly asks the same questions that we have asked in our re-read. (I do hope he knows the answers.) “Had the spirit existed before the worship began, and was simply drawn to the gifts offered? Or was it conjured into existence by the very will of those ancient worshippers?”

I simply love the idea that the verge between sea and land is a place of worship, a symbolic transition, and that spirits/gods/ascendants take power from the people who die near the shoreline and the treasure thrown into the sea.

Ah, Erikson still has the capacity to make me sigh over his prose: “Beneath the lead ships, a dark tide surged forward, spreading its midnight bruise into the harbour.”

And he truly has the capacity to shock and horrify me, even after four and a half books: “Layers of withered newborn corpses, each one wrapped in leather, each one with its forehead stove in, above a face twisted with pain and baffled suffering.”

What is within the spirit held together with memory? What new nightmare?

Does Erikson use rape too often? Does it remain shocking? Or do you start thinking “Oh, another one?” Here we are AGAIN: “The ache between her legs told her the worse had happened.” Discuss.

Iron Bars is hard as nails, isn’t he? Those blurs of motion as he attacks the three men are awesome. Found myself a little queasified at the whole tearing-the-bottom-half-of-a-jaw off — I’m not sure that fighting move will catch on. Love him.

And Seren shows just how different she is to Mayen, when she asks Iron Bars to kill the man who raped her clean, rather than taking eye-for-an-eye vengeance.

Well, that death was rather shocking, wasn’t it? I mean, we knew that Rhulad was destined to die many deaths, but the abruptness of that neck snapping by Iron Bars took me by surprise — sort of like that neck snapping in Buffy season 2. (I know that at least some of you will know what I’m talking about!)

I think that Withal comes closest to the truth here: “It was enough that mortals were capable of appalling evil; he wanted nothing to do with their immortal, immeasurably more powerful counterparts.”

Rhulad’s sword is the battered parts of Silchas Ruin’s two blades? Ye gods, I’m sure we already knew that and I’m just forgetting the small details....

What is the thought that suddenly strikes Withal? Maybe I’m being dense but I can’t put together the hints.

Kurald Galain! The are in the Warren of Darkness — which is what the Tiste Edur are currently using. Now does this mean that they adopted the warren for some reason? Or does it mean that the wraiths are far more in control that they know? Or is it because Silchas Ruin is on the move again?

I love this exchange between the Tiste Andii wraith and Seren (and the Crimson Guard). Avowed sounds incredibly important — and it might be why Iron Bars seems so superhuman? And what could make a Tiste Andii appalled?

Mape and Pule make me giggle. Just sayin’.

You know, it gives me some hope that Rhulad realises the difference between respect forced and respect given freely.

Now this strikes me as very interesting — the fact that it is the Crippled God who comes up with this thought: “The power is yours to shape as you will. The empire shall cast your reflection, no one else’s. Will you flee from that? If that is your choice, then indeed I shall be forced to choose another.” It really doesn’t sound like someone of absolute evil.

Poor Seren. *cries a little*

Eep, who has given the Tiste Andii life again? (I guess I’d better find her name — should have known she would be more than a fleeting character since she was given a name. Although, y’know, Pearl gives the lie to that statement.) And there you are — the Crippled God shows merciless regard as he pulls Sandalath Drukorlat back to life.

And drives Withal to pray to Mael. Might Bugg soon be feeling that?

 

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Sixteen

I also read Feather Witch’s lines as being about rape, Amanda. I think the way she circles around it, the clothes being ripped off, the way she starts to say how Mayen “pushes” then cuts it off.

It’s interesting that after this reveal (if we’re reading it right) which would seem to lend sympathy to Feather Witch — a character that is very hard to like at any given moment I’d say — she speaks against one of what I’d argue is a major theme/tenet of the series — empathy: “I don’t care about her point of view, I’m not interested in stepping into her shadow, in trying to see the world how she sees it.” While this could be taken as further indictment of Feather Witch — as Amanda (I think is saying): look, she even is anti-empathy! — one could also see it as drawing a line at empathy, that some things shouldn’t be explained away or “understood.” Does her surprisingly self-reflective insight indicate the latter more than the former?

So did that image of the army “swarming the forest floor” remind anyone else of the image of the mice with Silchas?

I like how that “vengeance” at the end is ambiguous — is it the Edur’s vengeance on the Letherii or Udinaas’ vengeance?

I also liked how Erikson laid out the military possibilities, making war a more intellectual process than is usually presented.

Even in the tavern chatter, Erikson keeps up his criticism of Letherii society, as they don’t simply have the arrogant chatter of assumed victory (though they have that of course), but it’s all associated with making money. Big shock there.

How about that intro of Iron Bars — “hair shoulder-length and the hue of polished iron”? I also like how we get immediately his insight: “Jus’ another Letherii? Asked myself that once and once only. No, I think, not this one,” his empathy/compassion: “I think, that ain’t an easy thing,” and his playfulness: “though I’d consider it my fortunes on the upswing if it was to happen the way you think I meant.”

Note another reference to Kolanse, in this case it being a “mess.”

Also the reference to Assail, which the Crimson Guard (The Avowed no less) had to “claw” their way out of. Remember this from the Imass in Memories of Ice: “I am Lanas Tog. Sent to bring word of the fates of the Ifayle T’lan Imass and of my own Kerluhm T’lan Imass . . . I am the last of the Kerluhm. The Ifayle . . . are all but destroyed . . . cannot extricate themselves from the conflict [on] the continent of Assail. Our losses: 29000 Kerluhm. 22,200 Ifayle . . . We have lost this war.” When Envy says “it seems you’ve finally found a Jaghut Tyrant who is more than your match,” Lanas says, “Not Jaghut. Human.
Also, though we don’t know these people, it’s hard not to like Iron Bars immediately and thus equally hard not to condemn Lether for its system that took Iron Bars and his group and ground them into debt and degradation.

I mentioned how last chapter felt a little like old home week and someone mentioned this would as well (correctly) and I have to say, it’s a pleasure just to get back some of our old vocabulary: dhenrabi, Hood, enkar’al, rhizan . . .

Always the question, isn’t it, as Amanda points out, always the chicken and the egg — the god or the worshipers? (And I’m not sure he knows the answer, Amanda.) We see this effect of the worshipers on maybe what seems a “dumb” god here, but is there anything that says the “smart” gods don’t also get forced down paths by their worshipers?

I’ve mentioned this idea of shore before and it will play a large role as the series continues. It is after all a built-in symbol, this boundary between water and land.

Who doesn’t love a reference now and then to the good ol’ “trebuchet”?

I love that scene with Nekal Bara — the image of her falling, the description of the layers of the spirit, her horror at humanity, and the two teases we get about the sorcerers’ shock at what they find before dying — all highly effective I’d say.

Actually, I’d say Erikson’s use of rape multiple times is the right way to use it. I’d argue when one focuses on a single rape it is less effective for several reasons. One is it could be seen as pretending it happened just that once, which is just not real. Or if we’re supposed to take it as a “representative rape,” then it trivializes the act by reducing it to the abstraction of symbol. Or, a singular use makes it stick out and it becomes a “big thing” to manipulate us for characterization. The way it raises its ugly head again and again in this series makes it more real, less abstract, less “symbolic,” harder to see as a crafted plot/character point. That’s how I take it.

I’m not sure there is anything more disturbing in this series to me (though there may — I’m not promising I’m remembering it all) than the young girl in this scene. Hate to say it, but Seren is a better person than I; I’m with Iron Bars on this one. At least for a while.

It’s a pretty stark contrast — that image of Iron Bars ripping off the mandible of the Letherii, the rape, the young girl, then Rhulad’s mad killing, the corpses, the “writing, weeping figures,” — and then Udinaas, reaching down to the ones calling out for their mothers comforting them in their last moments: “I’m here, my boy. It’s all right. You can go now.” What a lovely quiet moment of humanity and compassion amid a storm of horror. Yes, as Amanda points out via Withal: “mortals were capable of appalling evil” but also moment of such great compassion.

Love the way Rhulad is killed so surprisingly — I remember I didn’t see this coming the first time and even knowing it’s coming now, it still doesn’t exactly surprise me but has a feel of pleasant surprise somehow.

Those hints:

  • The Nachts sending a message via “destruction,” destroying their nests or “homes”
  • The nests having “sloped walls”
  • The tent as “the vastness of his realm”
  • The way the physical surroundings change as they approach the tent — the grass, the air, the earth.
  • “You sit there, alone in your tent, and that is the extent of your realm”

We’ve had glimpses of some sympathy for the Crippled God and here we get more references to his “eternal pain,” but our sympathy is lessened by his need to share that misery. The question is, will he learn to do differently? Will he come to “understand” what Withal tries to tell him?

Is the weaponsmith responsible for the use of his weapon?

The Avowed are definitely something special. And this is not the only time we will see someone shocked by what lies at the heart of the Avowed.

Note that name by the way — Sandalath Drukorlat. Look at that last name closely and think of how names work in our own world....

Note how Rhulad doesn’t reject any of the Crippled God’s descriptions of what Rhulad wanted: Mayen, the throne, power over his brothers.

We know the Crippled God lies. But we also know he tells the truth. Which is it when he tells Rhulad the shape and form of his empire will be up to him? It will be a reflection of Rhulad?

Nice parallels here: the suicide of Buruk and the near-suicide of Seren. The “drowning” of Sandathal’s ring and Seren going underwater. The beach and the beach. How many people have we seen weeping on a beach in this book?

Okay, Sandalath Drukorlat (note that name again) has a daughter who fed on draconic blood — is a Soletaken dragon Andii. And no, that daughter isn’t living free of sorrow. Not at all. Just saying....

Oh yes, Bugg just might....


Amanda Rutter is the editor of Strange Chemistry books, sister imprint to Angry Robot.

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 fantasyliterature.com.

43 comments
Brian R
1. Mayhem
@Amanda - Don't worry, I was only winding you up in the comments last time :) We have faith in you.

With regards the Nameless Fent, Trate is right beside a geographical location (and Letherii fort) called Fent Reach, so I expect the Fent were a tribe that used to live in the area and have since been subsumed into the Letherii.

I simply love the idea that the verge between sea and land is a place of
worship, a symbolic transition, and that spirits/gods/ascendants take
power from the people who die near the shoreline and the treasure thrown into the sea.

Oh wait till you see what Erikson makes of those who dwell on the Shore.

As for the prayer ... turn the page lol.
djk1978
2. djk1978
I agree with Bill. The incidents that Seren and Feather with go through are uncomfortable reading. I don't enjoy them but they are effective and realistic to the scenes, one of a slave with few rights and another of a horror of war situation. I like how Erikson changes it up by having both of them be off screen things.

The Shore is another thing that you should be filing. If this is the first mention of it, here in the spirit background, it's certainly not going to be the last in the books as a whole.

The Crippled God is still hard to understand at this point if indeed he has a motivation beyond suffering.
djk1978
3. BDG91
I have no insightful comment, only to share my joy that IRON BARS has finally come to light. Easily my favourite character outside of Fiddler, the Parans and Karsa and he show's up a lot less then the rest.
Amir Noam
4. Amir
Seren's encounter with the Crimson Guard here has the same "old home" feel as when Karsa had met his first Malazans (the Ashok regiment).
Sanctume Spiritstone
5. Sanctume
Yeah, I was so awed by Iron Bars and the whole concept of Avowed and the Crimson Guards--and more tease about Assail.

I was also curious what was interfering with Corlo's magic.
Amir Noam
7. Amir
Hmmm.
Isn't it weird that Corlo can use Kurald Galain at all?
I mean, the Elder warrens are supposed to be inaccessible to humans, right?
Steven Halter
8. stevenhalter
I'll vote with Bill on the rape scenes here. These are both presented as realistic details. Stuff happens in situations like slavery and war. By not "reveling" in the details, but acknowledging their impact, SE carries it here.

Iron Bars and the CrimG are a nice balm here. After all the unfamiliarty, just the hint of familiarity they give is refreshing.

Sandalath Drukorlat--yes, good name and we'll be seeing more of her and her story.

The whole tale of just what it means to be avowed and how that effects the CrimG is a very interesting one. It takes a while to tease out.
Tai Tastigon
9. Taitastigon
Erikson has this wonderful talent for doling out some delicious little snippets/retributions - especially involving nasty people.

Anybody catch this one ?:

So there is this ugly scene in the bar (with Seren getting blasted) where the drunk patrons want to sow shut the mouth of a divergent person...and end up doing it:

You a damned traitor, you a damned Hull Beddict ? Shut that mouth of your or I´ll do it for you...-
Sewing lips tight is as easy as mending sails
pg.598, Bantam PB
[i]
But here is the gimmick - on the page before, following comment from the same nasties:

I´ve got a perch halfway up the lighthouse, paid a fortune for it, I´ll see it all.



Flash forward to the sea monster attack (pg 604 PB):

The concussion sent the lighthouse wavering beneath her feet and she threw out her arms for balance. Two-thirds of the way down, along a narrow iron balcony, onlookers were flung into the air, to pitch screaming down to the rocks below.

I simply LOVE these little details. No free tickets with SE. *g*
Tricia Irish
10. Tektonica
I think Bill has the right of it about the rape scenes. They are always uncomfortable, even when they happen off screen, but, they are used to illustrate the horror of the culture towards women, to great effect. I appreciate the contrast between the vulnerablity of women who are not soldiers, and the strength of the Malazan women recruits. Interesting to see women portrayed both ways. Not that any of the women are "weak", just vulnerable, and the "common man's" attitude towards women is so disgusting. Of course, there's a lot of "disposable" people in this story.

As for Kurald Galain and the wraiths.....I'm still trying to piece this all together in my mind. Haven't we been told that the Edur have their history on inside out, so to speak? That Bloodeye was, in fact, the 'betrayer" of Silchas Ruin, the Andii? Since the Edur are confused, they think the shadow wraiths are their kin, there to help them, when in fact, they are the Andii that the Edur slew in the battle in the prologue?

But are the Andii wraiths "bound" somehow to serve the Edur? Why? Don't they want release and vengence? How did they get "stuck" in the shadows? That's where I get confused. Have the Edur lost "their" warren, which is shattered?

Ah, Sandalath Drukorlat. I didn't care for her much at first. I can certainly understand her dismay at finding herself alive again, but she is so brutal to Withal! It's not HIS fault she's there. I did come to like her later. I love all the connections ;-)

The CG does lie, and I think he's lying to Rhulad when he tells him the Empire will be "his". We've witnessed the CG's take over of Rhulad a few times already, and I certianly don't expect that to cease. I find it very hard at this point to summon much sympathy for the CG. Sorry.
Chris Hawks
11. SaltManZ
I do believe this is the first book where using the same acronym for both the Crippled God and the Crimson Guard becomes mildly problematic. :)
Brian R
12. Mayhem
@Tek
But are the Andii wraiths "bound" somehow to serve the Edur? Why? Don't they want release and vengence?
Oh yes they want release, although not necessarily vengeance.
Previously they were bound by the Edur as free roaming wraiths, more or less part of the scenery it seems. They certainly weren't abused as such. But now they are bound by the sword - there was a moment when Wither exulted at being able to hide behind Udinaas and resist the summoning. Now the wraiths are being forced into work, as scouts and as weapons, often at the cost of what remains of their lives.

The CG does lie
Ahh, but does he?

@SaltmanZ
Lol! Indeed it does.
Tricia Irish
13. Tektonica
Thanks Mayhem. Did we see this "binding" somewhere? Or is it just a fait au complet? I'm really curious as to how they got bound.
Mieneke van der Salm
14. Mieneke
I'll join the chorus in agreeing with Bill. In Erikson's world rape is a part of war and slavery, just as it is in ours. It woukd be stranger if it didn't happen. What SE does do remarkably well, is that he never has his rape victims just shrug off what happened to them. We saw it with Stonny in MoI and we see it here in Mayen's abusing Featherwitch in return and in Seren's near-suicide. Too often rape is just used to motivate its victim into vengeance or another form of action, I find that far more disturbing than SE's use of rape.

And woot, I figured out Sandalath's daughter's identity all by myself :-D And no happy ending for her *cries* I do wonder what role Sandalath will play. Will she be able to resist the CG?

And I really like the Crimson Guard! Iron Bars rocks. I can't wait until we get to Return of the Crimson Guard!!
Amir Noam
15. Amir
Mayham @12:

The CG is just evil enough to say things like:
"Everything I say is a lie"
or
"My next sentence is true. My previous sentence was a lie".

And Chaos ensues....
Brian R
16. Mayhem
@15
Yes, he kind of reminds me of Babylon 5's Morden - always asking 'What do you want?'
And then he has the cruelty to make it happen...

Tek @13
It looks like the first binding was made during the slaughter in Scabandari's time, but at some point the general Edur perception of the wraiths changed from being 'slaves of victory to be used' to being 'ancestor spirits willing to assist'. It is that illusion that is broken now, as the power of the CG enslaves them all once more.
From Chapter 11
‘The shadow wraiths—’
‘Are Tiste Andii, brother. Slaves to our will. And I will tell you this: those who serve us died by our hands.’
From Chapter 13
The answer hides in that sword, and Hannan Mosag knows far more about that weapon – and its maker – than he has revealed.Then again, I do as well. Wither, the shadow wraith that had adopted Udinaas, had whispered some truths. The sword’s power had given Rhulad command of the wraiths. The Tiste Andii spirits.
Wither had somehow avoided the summons, announcing its victory with a melodramatic chuckle rolling through the slave’s head, and the wraith’s presence now danced with exaggerated glee in the Letherii’s mind. Witness to all through his eyes.
djk1978
17. Jordanes
@5 sanctume

Corlo wasn't able to use his magic because there are no warrens on Lether, only the more primitive Holds due to Gothos freezing everything in time. But the Edur bring with them Kurald Galain, a warren and thus something Corlo is more familiar with.

This is also essentially the beginning of the 'unfreezing' process - that and the death of the Azath house mark the beginnings of a change coming to this forgotten continent.
B T
18. amphibian
A minor correction to Jordanes' post above:

The Edur brought the remnants of Kurald Emurlhan that they have control over.

The wraiths provided the key to Kurald Galain.
Iris Creemers
19. SamarDev
hmm, late again, so not so much to add to the comments already made.

Just want to let Amanda know that I think she doesn't need to worry about being misinterpreted about her reading according to schedule etc. And even if it would be so, I think we all are enjoying your comments so much, that the main feeling would be 'so what?!'.
About your comments following the chapter: that's precisely what makes it so nice, because that gives us back the first impression-experience.

oh, I'm rambling, think I'm just trying to fill the time till the new post :-)

Tai @ 9: nope, didn't catch that one. Minor detail indeed, but I'm nevertheless satisfied in enjoying it at last, so thanks for sharing!
Steven Halter
20. stevenhalter
While we're waiting:
‘I thought I heard someone whisper my name—’
and
The notion of inequity, my friends. For from inequity derives the concept of value, whether measured by money or the countless other means of gauging human worth. Simply put, there resides in all of us the unchallenged belief that the poor and the starving are in some way deserving of their fate.
djk1978
21. ksh1elds555
Yay- Iron Bars! For whatever reason, whenever I read about him I get the picture and voice of Sam Elliot in my mind... "beef, it's what's for dinner". But what a good character, it's so good to read about him again.

This is one forehead slapping chapter... I had forgotten where Sandalath shows up in the story and how she and Wither become a large part of a later storyline. I've had quite a few moments reading where I know a character's name and know I've seen it somewhere but can't remember where they came from. Thanks to this reread so many of those moments are getting cleared up for me.

To Meineke, you mentioned you were expecting in a few weeks- Congrats! I am expecting in early April. Maybe it's my state of mind or whatever but sometimes I have to take a mental break from the somewhat relentless darkness of these books and read something lighter. Thank goodness I recently discovered Discworld! How did I exist for so long without reading Terry Pratchett....
Iris Creemers
22. SamarDev
'A truly succesful leader is a reluctant leader. Not one whose every word is greeted with frenzied cheering either - after all, what happens to the mind of such a leader, after such scenes are repeated again and again? A growing certainty, a belief in one's own infallibility, and onward goes the march into disaster.'
Iris Creemers
23. SamarDev
@ ksh1elds555: I agree with you that MT makes much more sense the second round. SE keeps rewarding you when you try :-)
I recently read a few Discworld-books too. They're funny, but I think they're not quite my kind of funny, so I stopped reading them. For me the humor is a bit farfetched, even though I can see why other people can rofl on it.

And you expecting a child as well? Nice! Maybe we can ask the Tor-mods for an online kindergarten, so you and Mieneke can find the time ;-) to keep following the reread?
Amir Noam
24. Amir
SamarDev, Mieneke & ksh1elds555:

Perhaps we should do like Pixar: Each of their movies' credits end with a list of "Production Babies" - i.e. babies born to the crew during work on that movie.

We could have a list of "Re-read babies" :-)
Mine is 3 months old now :-)
Iris Creemers
25. SamarDev
@ Amir
Ha, congrats! Didn't new about Pixar, but I like the idea of papa's and mama's urging their kids in - say - 16-20 years to start reading the books (and this forum), thus creating a new generation Malazan-fans :-D

So, fellow (re-)readers, any other childs born between july 2010 and now?
Bill Capossere
26. Billcap
At this rate we may still be doing this reread!
Iris Creemers
27. SamarDev
Hi Bill, any word if the post will be up or will it be skipped till next wednesday?
Bill Capossere
28. Billcap
Hi SamarDev,
To be honest, I'm not sure what is going on with the post save knowing it was turned in. Usually we get some notification when an issue arises, but I haven't heard. If I do (before it goes up), I'll post here to let you all know.

congrats by the way to our parents-to-be!
Mieneke van der Salm
29. Mieneke
Kshield @21: Congratulations! And yeah, pregnancy hormones aren't very helpful with the reread. For me it isn't so much the darkness of the books that's problematic, it's all the details. At the moment I have a hard time remembering what I ate for dinner yesterday, let alone what happened six hundred pages ago in MT!

Amir @24: Congrats as well! And I didn't know that about Pixar, though it is a very cool idea :-) And my kids will have no choice, they'll have to read the Malazan! I actually read bits of GotM and DG to my eldest (almost two) when we started the reread, as it was one of the few things that would settle her down when she was fussy ;-)

Bill @28: Thank you!
Emiel R
30. Capetown
Anyone noticed that Sandalath is talking about her husband and her daughter, but not about her son, which is a bit strange in the light of events in TCG.
djk1978
31. djk1978
Thanks for the update Bill. Too bad, I wonder what happened. Hopefully we Malazan readers aren't getting the short end because there's not as many of us. :)

I'd like to see it up before Wednesday and carry on the usual schedule so hopefully that can happen.
djk1978
32. Osyris
Or perhaps two chapters on Wednesday?
Please? :)
karl oswald
33. Toster
@ 30 Capetown

perhaps it was too painful to talk about then?
Emiel R
34. Capetown
@ 33 Toster

Yes, but she is thinking to herself and there is no reason why thinking about that would be painful at this time IIRC.
Stefan Sczuka
35. moeb1us
1) Booh on not getting a post on friday!
2) Can somebody please help me out with those hints Bill gave regarding the Nachts? Destruction? Sloped walls? What the heck? What am I missing? -scratches head-
Irene Gallo
36. Irene
@31, Rest assured, we are not pitting Malazan against Ice & Fire, or anything else. We were a little short handed last week, due to illness, and it slipped by us.

Our apologies to Bill and Amanda and all you great readers. Not that we wanted to skip a week but it's nice to know it was missed? :-/
Iris Creemers
37. SamarDev
@ 35 Moeb1us
I forgot if you have read the book or if you're on your first read. If the former: I'll write something in the spoiler thread. If the latter: wait and see... :-)
Bill Capossere
38. Billcap
Hi all,
In case it wasn't clear from Irene's post (thanks Irene!), last week's Friday post will appear tomorrow. And as she said, nobody's comparing comment size or commentator numbers, so no need to worry about if that has any impact (course, we all know whose page total is bigger!). A little flu, a little slip through a crack of communication and the best laid plans of mice and men, or Mouser and Fafhrd . . . Tor has our (and your) backs!
djk1978
39. Jragghen
Rest assured, there's plenty of us who may not comment but look forward to reading each new entry. :) There's also a number of other folks who have been having trouble keeping track of places/people and whatnot who have used your series as an immense help for getting into things, particularly in GotM. Keep up the good work!
djk1978
40. Ktherock
Just wanted to mention that since the sword is made from the shatered remains of Ruins' sword, that is why it has control over the Andii wraiths killed by the Edur.
Tabby Alleman
41. Tabbyfl55
Confused. Bill and others seem to be suggesting that Korlat is Sandalath's daughter, but to me it seems the name should suggest the opposite. But then, as far as I can recall, the relationship, whichever it may be, doesn't ever turn out to be important to the story in any way, so it's just a "cool to know".

Having just finished tRotCG, I am amused by (and grateful for) the reminder that we first met Iron Bars here.
Iris Creemers
42. SamarDev
@ Tabby
Korlat is Sandalath's daughter indeed. And remember: Erikson just wrote the first of his Kharkanas trilogy, so without spoiling too much I think you can expect more than just 'cool to know'.
Tabby Alleman
43. Tabbyfl55
Would it be too much of a spoiler to tell me now if the name gets explained? Sandalath is named after her daughter? Or named her daughter Korlat because of her name? Seems backwards to me.
djk1978
44. AndrewWard
I know it's years since this entry was written, but I'm only reading the books now - and I just wanted to say how much I loved the appearance of Iron Bars. Not because I had any idea who he was, but his mode of speech, and reference to Hood made me immediately think "He's a Malazan. Hooray!". Of course he's actually Crimson Guard, but still it stirs the heart to meet someone who feels familiar in this crazy, mixed-up world.

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