Fri
Jan 6 2012 12:00pm

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

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 Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapter Thirteen 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 THIRTEEN

SCENE 1

Udinaas watches Rhulad and Mayen have sex. Rhulad tells her he’d long dreamed of this and she replies that he’d hardly hidden those desires. Rhulad’s lust wanes and grows again. Udinaas sees Mayen almost, possibly find a spark that could become desire, then lose it, but thinks perhaps not forever. He believes it was at that moment she became Empress and loses “faith” in her spirit. Next to him, Feather Witch weeps. Rhulad and Mayen begin again and he sees her find the spark again. Rhulad orders Udinaas and Feather Witch out. Feather Witch lashes out at Udinaas, scorning him and he tells her he no longer pursues her. She threatens to tell about what’s inside him, but he tells her that will stop her from getting her freedom, explaining Rhulad plans to conquer Lether and has summoned all the shadow wraiths. She refuses to believe him and leaves. Shadows, demons, and sea creatures gather to Rhulad’s summons.

SCENE 2

Hull arrives as Buruk and Seren prepare to leave. He tells her he’s been visiting old ruins and kill sites filled with fossilized bones of Tiste and “reptilian beasts” (he describes a flagstone plaza and city which calls up the battle scene between the K’Chain-Tiste at the start of the book) and says he has seen dragon tracks there. He explains the Edur pantheon, tells her of a shattered dragon skull nearby with Edur tracks near it, and tells her he believes Mosag is leading the Edur into a war of “destiny” in error. Seren catches him up on events and admonishes his use of “destiny.” He admits he is not what he once was and is not as honorable as she. They head off to speak to the First Eunuch.

SCENE 3

Hull and Seren enter the delegation’s house as the Prince argues for a pre-emptive strike via the Letherii sorcerers. Nifadas (First Eunuch) doesn’t even deem the idea worthy of response. The Prince then orders Moroch Nevath to arrest the “traitor” Hull, but Seren says he cannot as Hull resides under the protection of the Edur. Nifadas asks Seren to escort him to Rhulad. On the way, Hull and Seren discuss “certainty.” Rhulad welcomes them and asks why Hull arrives in the Letherii party. Hull “disowns” allegiance to the Prince and Rhulad tells him to step aside. Seren informs Rhulad she’ll be leaving with Buruk and steps aside. Nifadas offers to negotiate, but Rhulad rejects it, sparring with the Prince. Rhulad basically declares war and dismisses them, save for Hull and Seren. Rhulad confiscates Buruk’s wagons of iron and tells Seren the Nerek will stay as well. He gives them three days. Hull swears himself to Rhulad’s cause and Seren is dismissed.

SCENE 4

Gerun Eberict tells Seren Brys had asked him to speak to Hull. She warns him Hull is under Edur protection and he asks if she’s under the misimpression he wants to kill Hull. When she says she’s going home, he offers her a job working for him back in Lether. When she says he’ll probably be preoccupied soon, he mocks the idea that the Edur are a threat, noting the Letherii had defeated the Nerek and their Eres’al, the Tarthenal and their five Seregahl, warlocks and witches, etc. She tells him it will be different this time and he says the Lether “system” (which she calls “destiny”) makes victory inevitable. They spar over the meaning of freedom and when she continues to argue the Edur might win, he says even if they win, they’ll lose.

SCENE 5

Hull offers to tell Rhulad and the Edur everything of Lether’s military for vengeance for betraying him long ago. They discuss tactics a bit then Rhulad dismisses Hull to the Sengar house. Rhulad tells Mosag Hull’s assessments matched Mosag’s exactly. Asked about the delegation, Mosag says the Prince is thrilled with how things turned out, but though equally confident of victory, Nifadas “mourns for us.” Rhulad spasms again and Udinaas muses on its causes and how Rhulad is on the edge of insanity. Udinaas knows, via Wither, that the sword gives Rhulad command of the Andii spirits, though not Wither. Rhulad orders the Nerek be respected and Mosag tells him their hearth and are have been sanctified. Rhulad reminds Mosag their spirits are the “oldest this world has known,” and advises caution with the Nerek to avoid those spirits rising. Mosag points out the Letherii had no difficulty, but Rhulad says the Eres’al wasn’t fully awakened, but now something has changed. They discuss the gathering of the Edur and strategy.

SCENE 6

Trull feels an outsider and wonders how he can stop what is happening. Fear warns him not to try and says it is their job to guide Rhulad. Trull says Rhulad is mad, but Fear says he sees pain in Rhulad. Trull asks if Fear doesn’t wonder who is manipulating them, but Fear will have none of it. He warns Trull he walks the knife edge of treason and asks will he fight with his brothers? Trull says he will not show doubt to the others.

SCENE 7

Rhulad dismisses everyone save Udinaas, whom he calls to his side and asks him to remind him of who he (Rhulad) is. As Udinaas realizes Rhulad is “flawed,” Rhulad says “We are imperfect.” Udinaas says he understands as he is a slave. When Udinaas calls him “indebted” (Rhulad owes someone his life and power) Rhulad is angered. Rhulad says the person speaks to him, orders his thoughts and chooses his words, but claims the thoughts are his. When Udinaas orders another slave to get food, he realizes he has also risen along with Rhulad; the other slaves says he has been “elevated.”

SCENE 8

Trull and Seren speak and she realizes he wishes things were other than they are. They have a moment of empathy and understanding, then go their separate ways.

 

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Thirteen

I wonder whether the Jheck will prove to have much of a role in the rest of this novel. A whole race of Soletaken arctic wolves is very odd, but very cool as well. Where did they come from? Why are they Soletaken? Damn, if these questions aren’t now answered in Midnight Tides, I shall be disappointed!

I’m not really sure that the tragi-comic moment of those coins popping away from Rhulad’s man-parts really works for me. I’ve been loving the gravitas, the betrayal, the shock, the grim feel to the Edur storyline — and this moment brings a little of the more slapstick Tehol/Bugg plotline into it. I would rather Erikson had merely documented this encounter between Rhulad and Mayen without recourse to the black humour of this.

We already know that this can NEVER be said, and Rhulad is a fool for believing it to be true: “The past is dead.”

I really love the way that Udinaas reflects on that distance between he and the emperor — a few paces, a thousand leagues. The difference between master and slave. What is more poignant is that way he sees the gap between he and Feather Witch, the woman he loves but is coming to realise he will never have, no matter how he once dreamed of it: “Udinaas considered walking over to her, if only to tell her to be quiet. But his eyes fell on the intervening expanse of rugs and their images, and he realized that the distance was too great.” Not just a physical distance, that one.

Okay, so I’ll address the difficult point in this scene: the rape (non-consensual sex) and the way that Mayen seeks to find pleasure in the act. Do we think even less of Mayen for this? Do we share Udinaas’ practicality about the fact that she has to live with the situation and might as well find something to enjoy about it? Do we think the scene is necessary/unnecessary? I believe that it was necessary, to show Rhulad’s dominion and his lack of anything approaching spirit, compassion and heart. I do think much less of Mayen for trying to take pleasure from the act. In this, it seems as though she becomes complicit with Rhulad’s thoughts and actions.

Why does Feather Witch hate Udinaas so much? I mean, I’ve seen some of what has taken her to this place, but it seems very dramatic. I also find her petulant and far from all-knowing, frustrating to read about, in fact: “You cannot know such a thing.”

Hull has seen draconic tracks? We know the Azath has died, but I figured those draconean forms trapped within were still trapped at the moment... So is this some other dragon? Or is the timeline just a little bit mismatched, between the Edur and Letheras? (I really hesitate at saying the word ‘timeline’. *grins*)

Erikson briefly mentions that Hull is shocked, but he doesn’t exactly show much reaction to the idea of Rhulad dying, rising again, wresting power from the only member of the Edur to bring some of the tribes together, and then declaring himself emperor. I mean, if I were Hull, even a quick ‘WTF?’ would have covered it!

Seren seems to be looking at this word ‘destiny’ in very black and white terms — and mostly black, out of the two of them. She speaks of destiny as a ‘lie’ and a way to excuse atrocities. What about when people use the word destiny to imply serendipitous occurrences, and other such positives? Thinking on that, though, neither Seren or Hull are the most positive of people.

Hah! I really like the First Eunuch and his complete slapdown of the prince: “Answering it [...] makes implicit the matter is worth considering. It is not.”

Seren is definitely someone you’d want on your side in a crisis, isn’t she? I really admire the fact that, with shock after shock, she has remained calm and level-headed — even with the imagination to realise what a bad situation here might involve. She’s quick, too — ensuring that the prince doesn’t get his way over Hull’s arrest (just me, or is the prince a complete ass who deserves a quick demise?)

How much did it cost Hull to ask Seren to join him?

The two people are so different, aren’t they, Letherii and Edur? You sort of feel that, at some point, regardless of magic swords and self-proclaimed emperors, there would have been an almighty war between them because they just don’t understand each other at all.

*grins* The prince is really having a bad day! “Certainly more worthy of conversation with ourselves than this strutting fool whose nobility resides only in the fact of his crawling out from between a queen’s legs.”

There is a crack in Rhulad’s demeanour — does this mean that some other ‘entity’, for want of a better word, is controlling him, and that the actual Rhulad still remains within? Or is it more that Seren was observing that some trace of Rhulad’s old character still lies inside?

Another mention of the emotional gulf that can exist between two people: “Seren looked across at Hull, and their eyes met. Although neither moved, it seemed to her that he was retreating before her, growing ever more distant, ever further from her reach. The intervening space had become a vast gulf, a distance that could not be breached.” Exquisitely sad, that passage.

Gerun Eberict sort of epitomises the arrogance of the Letherii when he says: “These savages won’t reach Letheras. They’ll be lucky to make it across the frontier.” He is a really slimy and unpleasant toad of a man — after we saw what he did to his brother, we now hear his perspective on the nature of ‘destiny’ and his mocking words on hearing Seren’s decision not to work for him. A singularly distasteful individual.

I wonder how Rhulad would have treated Hull, had his answers about the Letherii military and their strategy not matched those of Hannan Mosag? I’m not sure he would have been invited to go and chat to Binadas!

Udinaas is a very cold and emotionless observer through this whole passage, particularly the way he muses on the two sides warring within Rhulad — the madness and the rational thought. “The slave registered all this in the span of Rhulad’s momentary spasm, and was unmoved.”

How did Wither avoid the summons of the Tiste Andii wraiths? That ‘somehow’ employed by Erikson doesn’t fool me! I think this will be a matter of import later on.

The Crippled God must be lending Rhulad his new knowledge? “The spirits they worship are the oldest this world has known. Those spirits do not manifest in ways we might easily recognise.” Hmm, could Wither be one of these spirits instead?

Poor Fear... I really feel for him — a man who has had his betrothed taken, who now has to be the warleader of his people. And Trull won’t stop asking his questions, raising his doubts. Not exactly what Fear needs at that point.

Rhulad is flawed and imperfect — surely the perfect tool of the Crippled God? I am starting to feel real sympathy for this member of the Sengar family - not many of them are currently escaping my sympathy, to be honest. They’ve been put through the wringer.

Suddenly that distance between emperor and slave seems to be so small, especially given Rhulad’s plaintive request that Udinaas remind him of who he actually is.

Oh.. Hull and Seren are so tragic. What an achingly sad end to the chapter....

 

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Thirteen

We will see more of the Jheck, Amanda.

I also liked the mulling over the “distance” between slave and emperor, desirer and desiree. I also liked the use of the rugs in several ways. The grand scenes of victory portrayed on the rugs: “Kings crowned. Champions triumphant.” And what have they become? Memories (if even that) ground literally underfoot, as the Edur tromp over them “indifferent.” Perhaps a lesson in there? I also liked the little throwaway of how the rugs have the “paths worn deep”—those ruts from retracing the same path again and again, one of those themes that comes up repeatedly in the book, usually via dialogue but here very subtly via a background detail.

I’ve got to say, I wasn’t a fan of the “humor” with the coins popping off either. It adds, I suppose, to the grotesqueness of the scene, but I think it also detracts/distracts from it as well; I’m not sure it was worth it. I’d say the latter bit about Rhulad’s lust fading due to the pragmatic nature of having to get out of clothes etc. works much better.

Before getting into the scene proper, I think I’d be remiss to point out that Trull was both right and wrong with regard to his suspicions re Rhulad and Mayen. Rhulad clearly did desire her and clearly was a little too obvious in revealing that. On the other hand, it seems equally clear that he knew quite well and had accepted the fact that he could not ever act on those desires. Which I’d say lends him a bit more sympathy. Sympathy that I’d also say isn’t long-lasting thanks to his arrogance.

I remember the severe discomfort I had with this scene the first time and it never fails to disturb me on rereads. One question as yet not wholly answered I’d say is how much of a “rape” this is. After all, if Rhulad is right and he did see desire in Mayen’s eyes earlier, and she was only betrothed to Fear as the “right” move as opposed to the emotional one, that casts a different light on things. If Rhulad’s observation of Mayen’s desire was wholly the delusion of his youthful arrogance, then the light cast is far more sinister. I give credit to Erikson for wading into some difficult and murky territory here. We’ll get some more sense of Mayen as the book continues. On a more practical level, I’m not sure I find it all that plausible that she’s finding pleasure here this first time. Seems to me the grotesqueness, Feather Witch’s weeping, coins dropping off, etc. would still outweigh the physicality (I’m ignoring the moral/ethical issues) until she gets a bit used to it.

I could have done without the direct statement of the “Letheri raping the Edur” metaphor. I buy that such a thought would be in Udinaas’ head. I absolutely buy he’d be thinking that. But still, I would have preferred a less direct method of conveying it to the reader.

I also find what the scene tells us about Udinaas to be equally as interesting, if less disturbing, in that he gets called out narratively for lacking compassion and empathy for Mayen. This is a pretty cold statement about a major character—it would be so in any book, but considering the context of this series, where (and I know you’ll all get tired of me saying this if you haven’t already) those two traits—compassion and empathy—are held up to be near saviors of “humanity” (in its all-inclusive sense in a fantasy world), this is a particularly harsh observation. And again, is pretty risky on Erikson’s part, having us pointed toward disliking a major character possibly so strongly.

Speaking of disliking. Feather Witch. I’ve never been a big fan of hers. I’m not sure why the utter antipathy toward Udinaas. I supposed in this context, she sees a rape—a complete mismatch of power and then a total surrender to the stronger power—and can relate this to her own existence, as a slave and also perhaps as one desired by the slave of the most powerful figure in their world. But really, I’m just trying to justify what I don’t quite get myself.

Once again, in the denunciation by Seren of “destiny” we can hear echoes of similar denunciations out of our actual history. What was “Manifest Destiny” if not a “justification” for the atrocities of what was done to the Native Americans? What was it if not “the means by which murderers armor themselves against reprimand”? And one needn’t limit oneself to historical analogues that share the exact word “destiny.” Nor necessarily limit oneself to long ago history. As for Seren having a limited view of the word, Amanda, I think she’s merely discussing it in the context of how the Letherii use it with regard to culture and empire.

That has to be a killer admission by Hull—that he knows what she means, that he does in fact see the horrors inherent in “destiny” and that is the “best [he] can do.”

Note the title reference in Seren’s thoughts; “This tide is rising, and there are scant few who would stand before it.”

I truly enjoy the utter disdain with which Nifadas treats the Prince. And I love as well how the Prince’s alliteration and grand pronouncements subtly mock him via style: “this treacherous tyranny!” “Arrest him!” Suffering Succotash!

If anyone was unsure how to take Hull’s actions, I think the conversation he has with Seren clarifies things: “If it is certainty you want, Seren, then join me.” Just as compassion and empathy have been repeatedly held up as positives, certainty has been repeatedly held up as nearly almost always a negative in this series. When Seren replies “certainty is the one thing I fear the most,” and Hull responds “I expected that sort of answer,” I hear in that a reaffirmation of his earlier line to her that she eclipses him in honor and goodness.

One can see that kind of “certainty” immediately in the Prince’s words: “Natural and undeniable laws guide our endeavours.” Can’t get much more certain than that.

That little tremor of the “young Rhulad” appearing in the facade of Emperor Rhulad is interesting. Another little tiny bit of sympathy offered up I’d say. It’s also hard not to like Rhulad’s broadening (for whatever reason) of the Edur cause to include the other tribes, to call Lether to account for its myriad of “crimes.”

Nice echo there of Udinaas’ musing on space and distance when Seren finally realizes that Hull, by his actions, is not pretty irretrievably gone from her life (much as his brothers realized earlier): “he was retreating before her, growing ever more distant, ever further from her reach. The intervening space had become a vast gulf, a distance that could not be bridged.” That’s one impactful “goodbye” I’d say.

Yep, Eberict definitely displays the Lether arrogance. Which is even better coming after we know he’s been robbed and so his veneer of untouchability has already been marred, though he doesn’t know it (I often enjoy knowing more than the characters).

As a little aside while we’re here, note his reference to the Tarthenal spirits—the five Seregahl—they’ve been noted earlier in the book. Five powerful creatures.

Who knew Gerun Eberict is Gordon Gecko? “The commercial core . . . The Tolls are the roots of our civilization . . . . feeds on the best and the worst in human nature . . . We win because our system appeals to the best and worst within all people.” Or, you know, “Greed is good.” If I’m hearing him right. What I find interesting is in his analysis of how Lether’s form of capitalism is inevitably victorious, how he uses words with negative connotations as well: it “infests”, it is “all-devouring,” it “will smother or starve.” He extolls its power, but he isn’t a romantic about it. And he is particularly insightful when he implies that even if the Edur win and conquer Lether, they will lose as the heart will “find new flesh.”

And aside from capitalism, it’s hard not to wince at his description of freedom being wielded like a sword to compel conformity to a particular standard.

More reason to like Nifadas—his sorrow (albeit misplaced) over the impending destruction as he sees it of the Edur.

Once again, while I can appreciate Udinaas having the thought regarding how Rhulad’s surface is the opposite of what lies beneath (gilt versus a “necrotic soul”), I would have preferred a more gentle prod in that direction.

Poor Mosag—talk about a dragon by the tail, as Hull had mentioned earlier. How scary to see Rhulad tottering on the edge of utter insanity. And consider, this is after he’s died once. Remember what was implied earlier—he’s got lots of deaths to go.

Hmm, with Udinaas’ “elevation” among his fellow slaves (and perhaps even the Edur though they might chafe at the thought) and Rhulad’s “madness”, is that “distance between emperor and slave” what it was? Or are the roles played by the same actors?

Poor Trull. He’s pretty much locked in to the Trull we saw earlier at this point—isolated, shunned, an outside observer. It seems now to only be formalized.

A sad end yes, as the two walk away from each other and Trull thinks himself a coward. And certainly some more foreboding on the path taken, the choices taken. But also maybe a glimpse of hope? Maybe Trull won’t always have to be alone?


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.

17 comments
Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter
An interesting chapter. SE gives us a blender of people/factions with motivations both good and bad. We've got Rhulad and Mayan's motivations and actions as a "couple" and Rhulad's actions as an "avenging" emperor vs a conquering representative of a twisted god.
We've got all the Lethari acting in ways both good and bad.
And then we've got Udinaas and Feather Witch. We've mainly seen Udinaas in a good light to this point, but now he gets some black thrown on and Feather seems upset at the rape so she gets some good thrown on.
Like I said, a real blender of a chapter.
Tricia Irish
2. Tektonica
Ok, my second time through, and I still don't understand what's up with Hull Beddict. Why is he so alienated? Is it his disgust at his own Letheri society? They way they conquer? That they "betrayed" him in the past? Fine. But why does he want war? Just to change things? Revenge? He would have all these people killed, so that the conquering of the outlying tribes would stop? For his own personal vengence? He seems almost completely "gone" and fanatic to me. The gulf between he and the very moral Seren, is enormous. Tehol's method of change seems more humane.

Trull really is out on a limb, alone, isn't he? No one else ever questions Rhulad or what is controlling him.

What awakened the E'resal? Did we see that?

Ah....eyes across a crowded bridge for Seren and Trull! Sweet. I like them both so much. Tragic circumstance!

Amanda: I agree with you about Feather Witch. Other than sensing the Wyval within Udinaas, and their differences in station, I get no clue why she would hate him so much and so dramatically. She's a big pain;-) As for Udinaas....I appreciate his thoughtful pov's, but he is such a downer. Such a "woe is me" character. Of course his situation is pretty ugly. (I am reminded of Eeyore, from Winnie the Pooh.)

As for Mayen....partly, I don't blame her for trying to find some pleasure in a profoundly difficult situation. However, I never cared for her, and her lust/teasing of the tension between she and Rhulad. I think part of her likes the idea of being "Empress", which makes me like her even less. It's a difficult judgement here. Rhulad has no compassion for his family (Fear), no soul left, it seems. He just takes what he wants. Although, Mayen didn't have a choice in this turn of events, and she couldn't reject him (or she would most likely die), I think she's scheming to make the best of it. imho. Really, not a lot of likeable character traits here.

Add Gerun Eberict to that list of unlikeable characters too. Slime. Gordon Gecko indeed, Bill! And it is nice to know he's going to meet with a comeupance upon his return!

SE certainly makes a lot of observations about conquering and capitalism here. Again, I think this is most personal book, with obvious reference to our recent past and present.
Chris Hawks
3. SaltManZ
@Tek: What awakened the E'resal? Did we see that?

I think Rhulad says right in the chapter that it was probably Mayen's blessing of the Nerek that did it.
shirley thistlewood
4. twoodmom
About Udinaas. I took his carefully cultivated indifference as a necessary shell to protect him from unavoidable but intolerable distress.
Mieneke van der Salm
5. Mieneke
I seem to be in the minority, but in this chapter Mayen gained some sympathy from me. However you look at it, she is forced to become an active participant in her own rape—and to me whether or not it was a rape or not was never in question. Is it weird she seems to find pleasure the second time? Yes, to me it was, then again, she's only mortal and her body will react as a body does; why not then make thebest of a horrible experience?

There were also a lot of characters retreating this chapter, Udinaas in his shell of indifference, Hull into himself and his vengeance and Buruk literally running home to Letheras. Distance seems important, both physical, mental and emotional distance, as Bill's comments on Udinaas' slave/master ponderances point out. But the achieving of distance, alienation and retreat also plays itself out in Letheras, i.e. Brys and the Ceda, doesn't it? Or am I trying too hard to make connections between the two story arcs?
Brian R
6. Mayhem
@Tek
Ok, my second time through, and I still don't understand what's up with Hull Beddict.

Hull is a fascinating character, and like most of those in the series, we never really get inside his head - we almost always view him from someone else's POV. The way I read it is he doesn't want the Edur to win - indeed, I think he too expects the Letherii to win eventually. They all do, an innate unthinking arrogance about their superiority is the ultimate Letherii trait.

Instead he wants to use the Edur to stand up for what is lost, to bloody the nose of the aggressor, and most of all to try and reclaim some of his own honor by doing to the Letherii exploiters what they used him to do to the tribes. And in doing so, he loses sight of what is happening around him - he's so lost in his mental idea of vengeance, he can't see the reality of what it will entail. And that will come to bite him later.
Brian R
7. Mayhem
@Amanda
Oh, we definitely see more of the Jheck.
It is subtle, but remember which Edur lands the brothers passed through on their quest for the sword.

‘Emperor,’ Hannan Mosag said as soon as Rhulad had visibly regained himself, ‘the warlocks among the Arapay—’
‘Yes. They are not to resist. They are to give welcome.’
Iris Creemers
8. SamarDev
Up till now Seren is living up to the expectation she will (try to) protect Hull. She tells both the Prince and Gerun Eberict that Hull is under Edur protection, thus letting them think twice before they might do something against him.

In a circumstantial way we are told Hannan Mosag has a good strategical insight into the Letherii, even without the inside-info Hull provides to Rhulad. So: remember he's no fool.
Amanda wonders about Hull's position in case his assessments hadn't matched Mosags, but I think you could wonder the other way round too. What if Rhulad had suspected his former War-King of giving false information? Whom can he really trust as advisor? I guess his wrath would have been harsh to Mosag and Hull alike.
Steven Halter
9. stevenhalter
In case anyone doesn't know, Ian Esslemont's next Malazan book (Orb Scepter Throne) is coming out on the 19th. Random house has a sneak preview of the first chapters on their site. I put a link to that in the Malazan spoilers forum.
Emiel R
10. Capetown
@Amanda
Oh.. Hull and Seren are so tragic. What an achingly sad end to the chapter....
You may have misread that scene Amanda as it isn't about Hull & Seren, but about Trull & Seren. Easy mistake to make though.
David Thomson
11. ZetaStriker
I also found Mayen's position rather sad in this chapter. I can't blame her for making the best of a terrible experience - it's no different than women sold into arranged marriages in older times. The phrase "close your eyes and think of England" just send shivers down my spine, and I can't think badly on Mayen for what happened without feeling like I'm blaming the victim for being raped.
Amir Noam
12. Amir
Something that struck me as odd here is Hull's knowledge of Scabandari Bloodeye's skull. This is a secret that very few of the Edur know. Simply seeing the physical skull got all the Edur in the party to start doubting their own cultural foundation myth of betrayal (and not just Trull, the natural skeptic).

So, beyond being a very sacred site, this involves a huge secret touching on cultural taboo subjects. I guess that the only way that Hull might know of this dragon skull is if he was told/shown by Binadas (his "brother"), but it still feels like a stretch for him to know this.
B T
13. amphibian
Binadas knew the truth long ago.

Furthermore, Hull is rather good at piecing together scattered bits into a cohesive whole - as are all the Beddict brothers. His talent is channelled into understanding a society and its myths are a Thrawn-like avenue to the cultural weakpoints.
Al Cunningham
14. BygTymeGuy
First of all, we miss you when you aren't posting, Amanda! Your "newbie" insight is such an important part of this blog.

Second, Tor will be glad to know that as a result of this reread, I began reading this series. As a result of me letting my son know how much I have enjoyed this series, my son has caught up with the reread as well (waves to Chris!) He has paid it forward by getting his brother-in-law to read it, altho he is doing it SOLO! (shivers at the thought of how lost I would have been for soooo long!)

Anyway, I thought I would share my feeling about the "rape" of Mayen. Not once did I think of the term rape during this scene. He told her that the result of this would be heirs. She mounted him at his request. All I thought about was all throughout world history where marraiges were arranged betwen kingdoms/countries to advance their mutual causes. I thought about those societies that still arrange marraiges to this day, the women expected to share the bed of someone they might not even like.

You might think me callous, but I don't recall if during one of these arrangements did I ever hear of rape mentioned when the marraiges were consumated. And I think Mayen further bolsters my position by, according to Udinaas's POV, finding a spark of pleasure. She looked to be attempting to make the best out of the situation in which she was placed.

When I read a book, I like to immerse myself into the world, into the time. If I took what happened and related it to a modern day society, the scene would probably have affected me more, but within the context of this story, my first thought was that she probably regretted not putting him in his place earlier on before she got under his skin.

Thanks again for doing this reread Bill and Amanda, and I hope to post a bit more now.
Iris Creemers
15. SamarDev
Hey BygTymeGuy (and Chris :-)): welcome and join the club! Good to hear that 'the word' (of both MBotF and this reread) passes on.

I think I'm with you with reading the books in the context of the series, and less in the context of the present-day world. Of course the latter influences my opinion of good and bad, but if I would read everything like modern real life, I would have never ever got to like Karsa, for example.

In this scene with Mayen I pity for her, but more because of the gruesome image of Rhulad as just resurrected dead man clad in gold who betrayed his brother, than on the fact that now that that event has happened, they have to 'play' man and wife in the bedroom as well. That was kind of inevitably now, it was 'just' waiting if SE would give it screentime or not.
My feeling were stronger with Stonny and Felisin, in kind of comparable involuntary sexual situations.
Tai Tastigon
16. Taitastigon
Can´t help it: I always filed the sex scene between Rhulad and Mayen under *creepy*, not *for laughs*.
Kjtherock
17. Kjtherock
@Amanda
The dragon tracks mentioned are probably fossilized tracks from the battle at the beginning of the book. Remember where Hull found them. As to Feather Witch, we will find out why she hates Udinaas so much as we continue reading.

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