Fri
Feb 24 2012 1:00pm
Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Midnight Tides, Chapter Twenty-Five (Part Two)

The Malazan reread on Tor.comWelcome to the Malazan Re-read of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll cover the first half of Chapter Twenty-Five 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.

A quick note on our schedule for the next couple of weeks:

Friday 2/24: 2nd half of Chapter Twenty-Five
Wednesday 2/29: Epilogue and Comments on the whole book
Friday 3/2: Steven’s Q&A thread
Wednesday 3/7: Break
Friday 3/9: Break
Wednesday 3/14: Begin Bonehunters

All set? Good!

 

Chapter Twenty-Five (Part Two)

SCENE ONE

Udinaas heals from Kettle’s blood as she and Wither talk. Silchas crawls up from the swamp and Kettle gives him the swords as Wither introduces himself as Killanthir, Third High Mage of the Sixth Cohort. When Silchas says the Wyval is fighting off Sheltatha Lore but won’t survive, Wither says he wants to help it. Silchas gives him permission and Wither dives in. Silchas likes the swords and tells Kettle it’s time to do what he promised (with regard to the Tarthenal gods).

SCENE TWO

Corlo worries that even an Avowed can die (“a matter of will” he believes) and he knows Iron Bars is almost done while he himself is “used up.” Shurq and Harlest appear.

SCENE THREE

Ublala kills one of the gods but then is knocked down, stunned. Silchas shows up, distracting Iron Bars enough that he gets knocked down and his shoulder shattered. He sees/hears Silchas kill the gods then Silchas tells Iron Bars “You did passably well” and wonders why he hasn’t gotten back up yet.

SCENE FOUR

Rhulad enters the throne room, with Mosag behind him, along with Fear and Trull carrying the large sacks from earlier. Mosag orders the sacks opened to reveal the Prince and Queen terribly deformed by Mosag’s sorcery, horrifying all the Sengars. Rhulad orders them taken away then tells Ezgara to yield the throne. The First Eunuch Nifadas pours two wines, gives one to the king and drinks the other. Ezgara tells Brys to step aside, but Brys refuses. Brys fights Rhulad and surgically cuts him to pieces so he cannot move, slicing tendons, muscles, and ligaments. The king tells Brys to kill him, but Brys say no, the Ceda specifically said not to. Trull is stunned at the skill and precision. Rhulad begs his brothers to kill him. Trull asks Mosag, but he says he cannot, “only the sword and only by the sword.” Brys takes a goblet of wine and Trull recognizes him as Hull’s brother. Rhulad calls for Fear and Mosag informs him Fear just walked away. Rhulad begs Trull to do it and Trull hesitates, then hears the Queen laugh. Turning he sees Brys start to drink the wine, then Trull notices the King is not conscious and Nifadas appears dead. He tries to warn Brys not to drink, but too late. Brys tells Trull they’ll take Rhulad and hide him away, but Trull responds it is “too late” for Brys and he should send the guards away; the Edur will deal with their Emperor themselves. Trull apologizes for not warning Brys in time. As Brys staggers Mosag tells him the King was already dead when Brys fought. Brys dies. Trull tells Mosag someone will kill Rhulad as he commands, Mosag says no they won’t.

SCENE FIVE

Tehol comes to and Bugg tells him they’re in a crypt under the river. Tehol says he should be dead and Bugg agrees, then adds Chalas died protecting Tehol and he (Bugg) killed the Edur. Tehol realizes Bugg magically healed him and wonders how he can continue the “conceit of being in charge.” Bugg offers to make Tehol forget the events of the day and admits to being Mael. Tehol wonders why Bugg didn’t stop the invasion. Bugg says he doesn’t much like Lether and offers up several criticisms and says he’s seen it all a million times before. They share advice then Tehol wonders why Mael took on Bugg’s persona and Bugg replies being eternal can be boring but being with Tehol was “an unceasing delight.” Bugg then says it’s time to make Tehol forget.

SCENE SIX

Fear walks through the city, thinking he’d wanted to believe in simplicity. He marvels at Brys’ ability and weeps for him and others, including Trull whom he realizes he’s abandoned to a horrible choice. He thinks of himself as a coward and knows he has shared the same doubts as Trull but didn’t voice them. He stumbles across Mayen’s corpse, looking at peace. He pulls out the knife, recognizes it as Udinaas’ and thinks he killed Mayen.

SCENE SEVEN

Trull covers his ears against Rhulad’s weeping, Mosag drags himself to the throne, and Brizad stands watching. Rhulad tells Trull all he wanted was to be included and Mosag says Rhulad wanted respect. The Guardian from under the sea, of the forgotten gods, enters and stands over Brys. Brizad tells him Brys was poisoned and the Guardian, looking at Brizad, tells him he knows all his names, then asks if Brizad/the Errant “pushed” Brys into that position. Brizad replies then asks if Mael knows the Guardian is there. The Guardian says he will talk to Mael soon. The Guardian worries that Brys knew all the gods’ names and now they are lost, but Brizad says they are not, but will be soon. The Guardian says he needs someone and takes Brys, killing Rhulad out of mercy on his way out. Trull throws Mosag off the throne and tells him to let Rhulad know he went to find Fear.

SCENE EIGHT

The Wyval and Wither climb up from the Azath barrow, Wither carrying Udinaas. Silchas tells Shurq he is Andii not Edur when she mistakenly identifies him as such and when asked says he is now free to take care of things he needs to. Kettle asks if she can join him and when he agrees, Shurq suggests he had made a promise to the Azath about Kettle. Silchas says as long as she stays with him Kettle will be safe. Shurq and Silchas discuss his need to get out of the city without being noticed and Iron Bars suggests Seren escort Silchas and the others)out (she is someone who knows all the secret ways in and out.

SCENE NINE

The Guardian finds Bugg in the crypt (Tehol is asleep) and accuses him of abandoning them. Bugg, seeing Brys body thinks Tehol will grieve his brother’s death greatly, then apologizes to the Guardian. The Guardian transfers the names of the gods from Brys to Tehol then takes Brys with him as another Guardian in the deep.

SCENE TEN

Feather Witch enters the throne room after helping Uruth with Binadas. The Chancellor, Triban Gnol, had sworn fealty to Rhulad. She makes eye contact with Brizad and notes his “interest” in her. Rhulad orders Udinaas found. She finds a severed finger (Brys’) lying on the floor and thinks a witch who possesses it might have power.

SCENE ELEVEN

Seren sits in her house, sick of it all, wanting to be gone. Fear and Trull appear at her door.

SCENE TWELVE

Trull finds Fear and tells him Rhulad has returned and explains how. He thinks he and Fear can guide Rhulad, but Fear rejects going back, saying this is all the work of Scabandari Bloodeye and he is going to find Bloodeye’s spirit and free it. He thinks Seren can help get him out of the city and they head toward her house. Trull warns they are being manipulated and when Fear says “what of it” he has no reply.

SCENE THIRTEEN

Fear tells Seren he needs her help while Trull thinks he is falling in love with Seren, has fallen in love with her already. Seren asks if Trull will come with them and when he says he cannot she appears “wounded.” He says he will wait for their return though and she asks why they’d come back Fear answers to end the tyranny about to start under Rhulad. Trull gives Seren his sword, across the threshold (the Edur proposal) and she accepts it, knowing what it means. She says she just takes it as a weapon and he says yes, (thinking “no”). When she accepts “the gesture was without meaning now.” Trull leaves.

SCENE FOURTEEN

Fear is about to speak to Seren about what just happened when they are interrupted by Kettle appearing to say Iron Bars had told her Seren would help her and others get out of the city. Fear recognizes Udinaas and Wither tells him Udinaas did not betray Rhulad or kill Mayen, but was used by the Wyval now overhead. Silchas, hooded, calls himself Selekis of the Azath tower. Seren invites them all in.

SCENE FIFTEEN

Shurq finds Tehol and Bugg on Tehol’s roof and points out one of Tehol’s eyes is now blue. He says he’s still plotting the fall of the Lether economy and tells her to deliver Shand, Hejun, and Rissarh to the islands. She leaves to head off and be a pirate.

SCENE SIXTEEN

Tehol tells Bugg he’s glad Bugg didn’t make him forget because now he can grieve.

 

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty-Five, Part Two

This first scene where Silchas Ruin emerges from the tatters of the Azath is a little anti-climactic after building to it for much of the book. Although I should really cut him some slack — he must be a bit disoriented and has these two new swords to work with!

The whole Avowed thing is pretty damn cool — but I can see there being holes in the idea so big you can drive a truck through them. Already here we see that Avowed’s can die, but it takes a “certain” amount of damage and a “matter of will” can keep them alive. I imagine this fluidity makes it easy for Erikson/Esslemont to play around with the degrees of death.

After seeing Iron Bars manage himself against five horrific gods for at least a little while, it is then astonishing to hear this: “It had been said, by Guardsmen who would know, that he was nearly a match to Skinner.” I now want to meet this Skinner. A lot.

Now this is more of the entrance I expected from Silchas — striding into the fray through a cloud of steam, dispatching gods (with a little nibbling help!) and then telling Iron Bars that he fought “passably well.”

Have to say, Silchas’ entrance might have been decent, but this one by Rhulad into the throne-room entirely surpasses it. It is full of foreboding and very dark, with the rattling coins and the hulking figure.

You know something? I’ve been ignoring those sacks in the past chapter or so, despite all the nudges from you guys. And now, as Hannan Mosag brings them forward, I’m getting the same feelings as I got when I watched Seven and saw Brad Pitt receive THAT box... This isn’t going to be pretty, is it?

Worse. Worse. You guys were so right. The princess and her son did NOT deserve this fate — this ruined skin and horrible awareness.

And then the scene is made even more traumatic and distressing — first the fight between Rhulad and the King’s Champion, then the realisation that the Sengar brothers can’t kill Rhulad, and then the fall of Brys. This is tragic, tragic, tragic. And, I confess, a tiny bit confusing — is it Hannan Mosag who has planted the poison? Did the Letherii king decide that he would rather die by his own hand than by Rhulad, since he thought that Brys couldn’t win the fight?

Thank you! Thanks so much, you guys, for not making a whisper about Tehol still being alive.

I’ve been waiting for this conversation, between Tehol and Bugg. It’s just brilliant that Tehol has known for so long that Bugg is more than what he seems and then says this:

“But this changes everything.”

“It does? How?”

“Well, you’re supposed to be my manservant. How can I continue the conceit of being in charge?”

“Just the same as you always have.”

Aww, I, too, prefer the name Bugg! Mael has too many connotations.

Oh ye gods, this conversation is an utter delight. So full of meaning, such depth of feeling, so much affection and respect. If I hadn’t already adored this odd couple (Yes, yes, y’all were right waaaay back at the beginning of the novel when you said it would come!) then this scene would have sealed it. My favourite part? “My association with you, Tehol, has been an unceasing delight. You resurrected in me the pleasure of existence, and you cannot comprehend how rare that is.” [Bill: My favorite part as well.]

From highs to lows. The scene with Fear is stark and desolate, laid bare to show the ultimate suffering of one who finds everything has been torn away from him. I’ve been frustrated by Fear at a few points during Midnight Tides, but no one, least of all him, deserves this fate. You know something, though? I feel Mayen does deserve her fate — not so much the death, but the peace and the freedom. She might not have the freedom she wanted, but at least she rests now.

Hannan Mosag shows his true colours here, his mocking, as he says, “Respect, Trull. That is what he wanted. Where does that come from, then? A sword? A wealth of coins burned into your skin? A title? That presumptuous, obnoxious we he’s always using now? None of those? How about stealing his brother’s wife?”

Okay, the Guardian...? Help. I have no idea. If it’s a RAFO, then say, but I wouldn’t mind a little steering if it’s okay to know now. I wonder if this means good news for Brys? I think the Guardian is a follower of Mael, going by the barnacles and whatnot.

So Kettle is going to head off with Silchas Ruin. I suspect they are about to be joined by one Seren, considering Iron Bars’ words. And I simply love this:

“Thinking of things before I do does not bode well for a good working relationship,” Shurq Elalle said.

“Apologies, ma’am. I won’t do it again, I promise.”

Ah. No. No good news for Brys. He’s about to become a barnacled eternal Guardian, which is bound to put a spanner in anyone’s works. And Tehol now carries The Names, whatever they are! [Bill: The forgotten, well, nearly forgotten, gods.]

I think the most important part of Feather Witch’s observation here is the following, “The world has drawn breath...and now breathes once more. As steady as ever, as unbroken in rhythm as the tides.” One empire exchanged for another. Oh, and I have filed the severed finger....

Alright, you know how I usually comment as I go along? Well, from the moment that Seren finds Fear and Trull at her door I just could not stop reading to the end of the chapter! I saw that pushing and prodding of Fear and figured that the Errant was behind it, that he wants Fear to go questing for Scabandari Bloodeye — and that he then also puts him in the company of the only Tiste Andii who can tell him what actually occurred.

But the bit that caught at my heart the most was Trull and Seren — that moment where she clarifies that the sword is simply a weapon, rather than a declaration of love and intention is heartbreaking. After everything they’ve suffered, surely these two deserve to be together.

And then the knowledge that Tehol has one blue eye — thanks to The Names? — and is also still aware of Bugg’s true nature.

This was a deeply satisfying climax to the novel, with hints and threads of what is yet to come. Just the Epilogue, and I don’t think it will be able to do enough to dislodge Midnight Tides from being right up there with Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice for me. Epic stuff.

 

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty-Five (Part Two)

I like how Silchas is introduced in this scene so as to add some tension and nervousness for the reader as to whether he is about to turn out to be a bad guy. He arrives first described as a “blood-drained corpse,” his first words are “the swords,” his eyes are “cold, cold eyes, deep red,” Kettle “cowers” before him, when she mentions his promise to help he repeats “help” as if he’d never heard the word or made such a promise, he seems unconcerned about the Wyval’s death (the one that saved him) — “I fear he will not survive, but he keeps her occupied,” he twice responds to Wither with “as you like,” — as if he is utterly indifferent to events now that he is free, and he focuses yet again on the swords. Erikson keeps us in suspense all the way to the very last line: “Child, get behind me . . . It is time to fulfill my promise” until we get that he is going to be true to his word. It’s a really cleverly constructed, almost diabolical scene.

Skinner. Remember that name, the name of another Avowed. And you know, Amanda, I’m not really sure you do want to meet him....

I love that introduction of Shurq and Harlest — “one them clawing the air and hissing” — and then Harlest, attached to a dying Tarthenal god getting dragged past Iron Bars’ eyes — especially as mentioned last post we don’t get to laugh a lot in these last few chapters.

It’s an interesting way to have Silchas wipe out the Tarthenal gods “off-stage” — we see only the results and not the action. I think this actually makes him seem more not less incredibly good. What do you all think of this choice?

That is a foreboding entrance by Rhulad. And so appropriate, the death of Lether announced by the clink of a coin. Live by the sword, die by the sword; live by the coin, die by the coin. And a bloodstained coin too, of course, which may as well be the flag of Lether.

And the metaphor made literal continues with the presentation of the bodies — this is what “corruption” looks like, what it does. This is what “using” does.

Mosag did not plan the poison, Amanda. In my interpretation, it was planned by the King and First Eunuch. Note how the king downs it in “three quick swallows” (not usually how one drinks wine), how Nisall’s eyes “narrowed on the First Eunuch” in suspicion, Nifadas’ words that Brys’ fight will be the final act of our kingdom. Anyone think differently?

Later we get some nice foreshadowing/set-up as the king leans “drunkenly” (Really? After one cup of wine?) and Nifadas speaks in a “strangely dull” voice. We should be pretty clued in that something is up when the king “slumps,” but definitely by the moment when the king is looking half-asleep with Nifadas senseless on the floor and both the Chancellor and Nisall are reacting with “sudden realization.”

More subtly (if intentional) are these lines from much earlier:

From Silchas’ conversation with Brys: “You leave me without hope,” Brys said. 
"I am sorry for that. Do not seek to find hope among your leaders. They are the repositories of poison.”

Or Rhulad to Nifadas at their first meeting: “...the poisonous words you would have me swallow.”

While this event caught me by surprise when I first read it, reading this book so closely this time around knowing what was coming makes me think we should in some ways not be surprised (after the fact) because “poison” permeates this novel. Everyone is poisoned, it seems. Udinaas is “poisoned” by the Wyval and by “spite,” Lether is “poisoned” by coin and greed, the Edur are “poisoned” by Lether at first and then by corruption, Trull is poisoned by suspicion of Rhulad and later by doubt, Rhulad is poisoned by ambition, Mayen is poisoned by white nectar, Seren is poisoned by Buruk, Hull is poisoned by “lack of forgiveness,” Menandore and her sisters are “all poisoned by the mother’s blood,” Dresh Lake is poisoned, the Crippled God “poisons,” greed “poisons,” coin “poisons,” the mind is “poisoned by fear and malice,” uncertainty “work (s) its insidious poison,” “suspicion becomes a poison,” “Chaos . . . dwells like a poison in every one of us,” and power is like a “shroud of poison” over all. That’s a lot of poison.

Now, I’ve got to say while I love the concept of what Brys does, a big, big part of me just doesn’t buy it as I read it. While there are times I have issues with the power levels in a relative sense, it isn’t often that I have plausibility issues. But this is one of them (the Seguleh are another but that’s down the road). I’m with Trull: “It is not possible,” but I’m curious as to others’ reactions.

And again, metaphor made real in fantasy, this time via Rhulad: Live (or be reborn) by the sword, die (only) by the sword.

And now we get the first hint as to the aptness of Fear’s name perhaps as he is afraid of what to do here, and then abandons Trull to it, and then we later learn he shared Trull’s doubts but feared to voice them.

I know some folks complain about all the “philosophy” in these books. But I am a thorough fan of moments such as these, when Bugg stops to do some social criticism about the “betrayal of commonality” and the fetishism of competition. (Oh, don’t get me started on competition!) I find his little lecture on monuments being “a testament to the common, to co-operation, to the plural rather than the singular” a pretty original thought (at least in my reading), a different path than the much more common criticism of such kingly monuments, which usually runs along the Ozymandias path of their folly in the scope of time. Though I confess to feeling a bit cheated by where the discussion ends up — which basically is “I got nothing.” Though to be fair, I’m not sure what Erikson could have.

And you’ve got to love the temerity of a just-about-dead mortal giving advice to the god who healed him: “Live to your potential.”

Along with that line you pointed to in this conversation, Amanda, which I said was also my favorite, my second is this one “I can be very selfish at times” — which is so simple, so understated, yet says so, so much. This is, after all, a god saying this.

Funny, but as much of a plausibility issue I had with Brys not-killing Rhulad, Fear stumbling across Mayen’s corpse in an entire city never makes me think twice unless I stop to actually, you know, think about it. It’s a painfully poignant, quietly sad scene amidst all the more noisy bloodshed.

We saw the Guardian earlier, Amanda, when Brys was sent to the deep among the repository of forgotten gods. Brys is the one who gave him that sword of Letherii steel. I love his casual dismissal of Mosag: “You can try.”

And how about that — a long period of tyranny begun by an act of mercy, an act of mercy itself spawned by Brys’ earlier act of mercy. Oh, the ironies....

Silchas, Azath, Kettle, promise. File.

I’ll give you this, Amanda, we haven’t seen the last of Brys. And file that finger for sure. But don’t forget it’s only one of two.

Feather Witch. Errant. Interest. File.

And now a moment’s reveal — Feather Witch gave Mayen the knife that killed her. Knowing what would be done with perhaps?

How ironic is that “fervent prayer to the Errant” from Feather Witch?

Who would have thought, knowing as we all do how Trull ends with Rhulad, that at the close of this novel it would be Trull heading back to save/guide Rhulad and Fear abandoning him? As Wither notes, “this is unexpected.” He keeps us on our toes, this Erikson guy.

Only a weapon. Right. Only a weapon. Sure.

So this book comes somewhat to resolution, but really sets us up for lots of adventures to come. Which we’ll talk about next week as we hit the epilogue and then wrap up the novel before being joined again by Steven. Hope you’re all honing those questions!


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.

58 comments
Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter
@Amanda:
I now want to meet this Skinner. A lot.
Maybe not--and definitely not in a dark alley.
Steven Halter
2. stevenhalter
I liked Silchas emergence--he just dragged himself out of a barrow after like 100,000 years. That's got to leave a person a bit tired.
Then I liked how we had just seen Iron Bars fighting the gods and Ublala helping. This really shows Iron Bars as pretty cool and Ublala doing the right thing. Then Silchas emerges and wipes the floor with the gods off camera with new swords. I liked that it was off camera, it seemed to add to Silchas mastery to me. I was pleased that in this case we got someone (Silchas) who seems to be living up to the build up.
Darren Kuik
3. djk1978
I didn't have too many plausibility issues with what Brys did. For one thing it's fantasy, and so fantastical things are possible. For another we've already been set up that Brys is the best opponent that Rhulad will face so far. We've heard that from Moroch Nevath. "You bastards haven't met him yet." So we're set up to know that Brys is exceptional, and we've also know that death doesn't work against Rhulad and that the Ceda has instructed him to not kill. There could have been off-screen instruction into how to do this. So I can buy it.

I like Silchas off-camera killing of the Tarthenal. Not that Erikson doesn't write sword play nicely, but some characters have been set up to be so bad-ass that it's more effective to leave it to the reader to imagine than it is describe it. After all this is the Silchas from the prologue who chose to stand with his people against the KCCM instead of using his draconean form. The off camera scene makes it a lot easier to describe as an easy clinical victory than any description would.
Osyris
4. Osyris
@Amanda:

I get the sense that king Ezgara poisoned himself rather than die at the hands of the Edur. I can't remember if this gets confirmed outright. Perhaps he sought to spare Brys... thinking that without him there, the champion would not find it necessary to defend. I see Brys's poisoning to be totally by accident... perhaps with a push by the Errant?

The Guardian indeed has direct connections to Mael. He is the being that Brys fought when he entered Mael's realm a few chapters back at the request of the Ceda. The Gaurdian of the old gods (one of which Hanradi stole - the one now trapped in the lake). He presumably came to collect Brys's body because Brys had earned his respect then and proabably also wanted to be certain the Names were not lost.
Brian R
5. Mayhem
With regards to Brys's abilities, I buy it for one major reason - Rhulad simply isn't that good yet. So he is far more vulnerable than he appears, despite the coin armor and the power of the sword. When we return to Lether in a couple of books, the Emperor has had far more experience of combat and his skills are such that this tactic would most likely not be repeatable.

A bit of a spoiler with regards to the Seguleh, who are the consummate sword users in the mythos, but what the top guys do in OST is similar to Brys here, who is acknowledged as the top guy in the empire.
The difference is they have hundreds with that level of skill, while Lether had .. one.
Chris Hawks
6. SaltManZ
Yeah, Ezgara definitely poisoned himself (or, rather, had Nifadas poison him); the Edur had nothing to do with it. Brys' poisoning was purely accidentally (minus the Errant's aspect, of course) and we know from Chapter 6 that Brys isn't one to shy away from randomly drinking whatever he finds just lying around.
Osyris
7. Jordanes
It is definitely implied in this chapter that Nifadas and Ezgara poisoned themselves.

However, in Reaper's Gale Erikson indulges in a bit of retconning concerning this...


Overall, this was a fantastic chapter to close with. Very powerful. And every character seems to reach a satisfying conclusion despite the fact that this is essentially a prologue novel to the rest of the series.

The scene in the throne room following Brys' defeat of Rhulad always gets me. Trull's despair, Brys' tragic accidental suicide, Fear's sudden abandonment, Hannan Mosag dragging himself to the throne (he's changed somewhat from the man who simply wanted to protect his people). Trull cupping his hands over his ears to drown out Rhukad's cries is heartrending stuff - imagine seeing your own brother in such a cursed condition, begging and pleading you. And then, after the Guardian kills Rhulad, I LOVED Trull's reaction - manhandling the formerly taunting Mosag and the lines: "The throne? You just lost it, you bastard!"
Hugh Arai
8. HArai
@Amanda:
This was a deeply satisfying climax to the novel, with hints and threads of what is yet to come. Just the Epilogue, and I don’t think it will be able to do enough to dislodge Midnight Tides from being right up there with Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice for me. Epic stuff.
I was hoping you'd come around to feeling this way, back when you were asking if the rest of the series could match those two.
Mieneke van der Salm
9. Mieneke
@Amanda: I think Tehol has one blue eye, because all babies have blue eyes and Bugg literally grew him a new one, at least that is what I interpreted from the following:
'And a new eye, most of your organs, this and that.'
'The eye doesn't work well.'
'Give ot time. Babies can't focus past a nipple, you know.'

So I don't think it has anything to do with the names.

And I almost cried at Brys' drinking from that cup. I also loved Trull's sorrow at not being able to warn him in time. That whole scene killed me, Trull's and Fear's inability to act, to give Rhulad the end he needed. At the same time I hated that the Guardian gives Rhulad mercy, because he could have saved the world so much problems if he hadn't!

As for Silchas being a badass offscreen, I liked that because it makes him that much more scary and dangerous/skillful if you have to imagine that fight yourself instead of having Erikson lay it out for you.
Osyris
10. Dr. Locrian
Tehol and Bugg are just the best. I love those two to death. I don't usually do this with characters in a novel, preferring my own imagination, but almost from the first moment this pair appeared they were played by Ian Holm and Johnny Depp in my internal movie.
Per Beltoft Madsen
11. Herr_Flick
@ Bill

I´m with you on the whole fight scene being over the top. To the point where this was the second time I put away this series and only came back to it when I didn't have anything else to read (the first time being Envy and the Seguleh carving their way across a continent through several armies). Sigh.

Maybe it's because I haven't played high level RPG since I was a teenager, or because I never read superhero comics - but that fight ruined the ending for me. On rereads I have skipped that section.
Joris Meijer
12. jtmeijer
Erikson always manages to get to me, even now only reading these summaries while my books are in storage.

@Amanda, one way to look at the Avowed is as people with the regenerative powers of Wolverine (but at a lower level), or those of the protagonist in a lot of modern shooter games. But linked to their vow, and partly powered by will power.

@ Bill, I was fine with the Brys fight. Partly because he was always known as the best Lether had to offer, partly because I could see it as a meeting of styles. With Rhulad now for the first time meeting someone who fights with the point, who can fence and is not only good at fighting in combat.
Joe Long
13. Karsa
The difference is they have hundreds with that level of skill, while Lether had .. one.
well, I'd say *maybe* has one. Nothing egainst Bryce or anything, but Rulad is a good way of comparing...(no more hints! :))

ah...Skinner. i've typed what I think of him a couple of times, but decided to not spoil it. too much.
Steven Halter
14. stevenhalter
I didn't have a problem with Brys fight. The skill needed would be pretty extreme, but we've been watching a 100,000 year old guy claw his way out of a barrow while gods play games--suspension of disbelief required.
Robin Lemley
15. Robin55077
@ Bill
"Mosag did not plan the poison, Amanda. In my interpretation, it was planned by the King and First Eunuch. Note how the king downs it in “three quick swallows” (not usually how one drinks wine), how Nisall’s eyes “narrowed on the First Eunuch” in suspicion, Nifadas’ words that Brys’ fight will be the final act of our kingdom. Anyone think differently?"
I actually find myself wavering on this a bit each time I read it. It is most definitely planned by the First Eunuch but I waver on whether or not the King was in on the plan. At times I believe that the plan was concocted between the two of them and at times I think that the poisoned wine was the final act that the First Eunuch performed for his King, to be carried out only in the event of defeat, as a way to "protect" the King from suffering at the hands of the Edur.

I remain undecided on this one.

I do agree, however, that the poisoning of the First Eunuch and the King was solely influenced by one or both of them and no one else.

Brys' poisoning, is a different matter entirely.

:-)
Robin Lemley
16. Robin55077
@ Bill
"It’s an interesting way to have Silchas wipe out the Tarthenal gods “off-stage” — we see only the results and not the action. I think this actually makes him seem more not less incredibly good. What do you all think of this choice?"
I loved that it occurred "off-stage." For me, it seemed to add another layer to Silchas' mystique and/or badass-ness. We are left still wondering about him and/or his exact abilities. I love that we are left with those questions just hanging out there.

:-)
Darren Kuik
17. djk1978
When it comes right down to it I don't understand readers having plausibility problems with fantasy books. No offense Bill, or Herr_Flick.

But you are reading a fantasy novel. Unless the author is going out of his way to say that his world follows similar rules to the real world why should I have trouble believing in Brys' ability. What is it about Brys or the Seguleh that is so much more unbelievable then say, a Kris'nan blowing up an entire Letheri army? If it's just because a swordsman is mundane, something we understand through our own human history I don't think that is a good enough reason, because we're talking about a fantastical character in a fantastical world and not someone from our world. You have to set aside real world notions as soon as you pick up the book. So I don't have a problem believing that the Seguleh can chop through an army, or that Brys can surgically disable Rhulad with a sword. It doesn't bother me anymore than the concept of an extra powerful mage or a shapeshifter dragon or any other fantasy element.

My only problem with power levels is when it's inconsistent. As such I have had issues with certain moments in this series, past and future. But I don't with this.

That's my opinion anyway...
Osyris
18. alt146
Hi everyone

I'm still following the reread, although I haven't had much time to get involved in the discussion.

There was something I read in this chapter that was a pretty heavy hint that Brys drinking the wine was a nudge by the errant. Can't find it now though.

I always thought Tehol's new eye is blue because Bugg used some organs from the servant who died to save Tehol in order to bring him back to life? Tehols eyes stay mismatched, so I don't think it's just because it's new. If it was grown by Bugg, blue makes sense because Mael is the god of the sea.

The whole throneroom scene in this chapter is one of my favourites, starting with the Ceda's fight to the guardian slaying Rhulad out of mercy. Although I will admit, I had totally forgotten who the guardian was on my first readthrough too. What does confuse me is that given the number of times we've seen creatures too strong to be dealt with trapped under rocks, why hasn't anyone tried this approach on Rhulad? It seems to be the go-to move, but no-one has even thought of the possibility.

Also SE will be doing a QA on reddit on the 28th:

http://www.reddit.com/r/Fantasy/comments/q1xvl/fantasy_author_steven_erikson_will_be_joining/

I thought the non-forumites would appreciate the heads up. I know a couple of people that started the reread as noobs have finished the series since and might appreciate the opportunity to have a spoilery Q&A up to the end of the series
Tricia Irish
19. Tektonica
I'm on an extended journey, and haven't been around to comment, but I assure you, Bill and Amanda, I have been keeping up with your excellent posts. Thank you!

The throne scene...actually starting with the taking of Letheras..... travelled like a freight train. The culmination in this chapter, is so sad...the loss of the Ceda, Brys, (almost) Tehol. The Edur becoming the Letherii. Mosag showing his true colors finally. Rhulad given another go-round. The severing of the brothers, Sengar and Beddict, albeit for different reasons. A sad sad book, really.

I had no trouble with Brys surgically carving up Rhulad. Brys no doubt had the best of teachers, and superior innate skill. He would've been taught where to do the most, and least, damage to an opponant, depending on the desired outcome of the duel. That, combined with the fact that this is a Fantasy book, as several have pointed out, makes it very realistic in this context, for me. ;-)

Thanks for the heads up, alt146@18...sounds very interesting!

I must say, I didn't care for this book too much the first time through...especially the first Book. I came to learn, of course, that it is important in many ways, but the second time through, with the reread, has opened my eyes further, and I think I can say that I actually enjoyed it! Thanks all!

I look forward to the Q & A with Steven and on to the Bonehunters!! Yippee.
Iris Creemers
20. SamarDev
Wow, this chapter brings so much together...
- Tehol survived (I assumed his eye is sea-blue, I don't think Bugg/Mael would do organ-transplantation from Chalas)
- And following that, the complete conversation between Tehol and Bugg. Pure gold...
- Brys' incredible fight with Rhulad (I bought the fight, had no problem with it), followed by his o so tragic death (Errants nudge? bleh)
- The dark, dark fate of Queen and Prince. You don't wish that for your worst enemies.
- The drama / dillema of the Sengar-brothers. Brys' work is their relief of a dark future, exept for the mercy of the Guardian. Bitter mercy.
- The finishing off of the Tarthenal gods (with Silchas' dry comments on Iron Bar's achiefments, 'hiss hiss'
- The hope for Trull and Seren, 'but it is just a sword'.
- Tehol realising it is better to grief than to forget (we saw that before with Seren?)
- And just like some of you, I thought at Amanda's comment re wanting to meet Skinner: 'do you?' :-)

(and nice to see some new names in the comments! Be welcome and join the club!)

And Amanda, you don't need to be afraid the epilogue will ruin the book. Actually, I really like it a lot :-)
Iris Creemers
21. SamarDev
I like to add another nice quote, with some good forwarding in it.
'Hood's balls,' Iron Bars muttered. 'When do we sail?'
Shurq Elalle shrugged. 'As soon as they let us. And who is Hood?'
The White-skinned warrior replied distractedly, 'The Lord of Death, and yes, he has balls.'
Oh yes, he has balls indeed...
Bill Capossere
22. Billcap
No offense taken djk1978. To your point though:
I don’t think your comparison is the right one. The K’risnana are presented as using a force wholly unknnown to us, and non-existenct, one which hasn’t been given any parameters really in the world we move in. Until the author gives us those parameters, we can’t quibble about plausibility. On the other hand, none of the human (I use “human” in knowledge they are not human, but for purpose of this discussion, they may as well be) swordsmen wielding normal swords are ever presented as using anything but human capabilities. We don’t see them jumping higher, running faster, throwing farther, etc. Sure, some do “more,” but it’s a simple quantitative difference, not qualitative. For example, an Olympic sprinter runs “faster” than most as a matter of quantity; if they ran a 4.0 sec. 100 meter I’d call that qualitatively different. To me, Brys’ swordsmanship here is more qualitatively different than quantitatively, but I can accept that it’s a matter of where one draws the line personally and for some this is fine. Now the Seguleh, well, that might be a whole other discussion :)
To the larger point, these characters are presented as “Fantastical” (the human ones) only in the sense really that they are fictional, not that they have fantastical (as opposed to simply “better”) abilities. The same in my mind holds with regard to the laws of physics, which don’t appear any different save for the times magic seems to offset them. Hurled weapons don’t keep going as if there were no gravity or suddenly reaccelerate, time doesn’t suddenly slow or speed up, etc. When abilities or physics (or chemistry or any other “natural” or “familiar” sort of law or rule etc. is presented as being broken by a fictional force or as an inherent aspect of the creation, I’ve got no problem at all. If you want to have magic destroy an entire universe, let plants talk, turn someone into a frog, go for it. But if you present a basic sword for example as having difficulty cutting through flesh, let alone bone, you can’t suddenly have the same sword wielded by the same user with no external force acting on it suddenly slice through diamond like paper—I think it’s fair to call “plausibility” on that not because it is implausible in our world but because it’s implausible in the world presented to us by the author. Btw, I’m not saying that example is what Erikson is doing in this scene; it’s just exaggerated for ease of discussion.
Bill Capossere
23. Billcap
Robin,
I absolutely understand the back and forth on if the king knew. I perhaps presented my theory with more authoritative confidence than I meant. I lean that way, but I don’t think it’s 100 percent clear

Alt
I don’t have the book handy, but I think the Errant himself tells someone about Brys something like “poignancy is my way” in direct reference to Brys’ death. And thanks for the heads-up re the Erikson talk.
Amir Noam
24. Amir
“It had been said, by Guardsmen who would know, that he was nearly a match to Skinner.”

This is the Crimson Guard's equivalent of a Malazan soldier saying: "he was nearly a match for Dassem Ultor".
M G
25. parabola
As far as I'm concerned, Brys's precise disabling of Rhulad is one of the best Moments of Awesome in the series.
(One of... I said ONE of...)

... and @Amir, that might be more true than you realize.
Darren Kuik
26. djk1978
@Bill, I can see your point but I don't agree that Erikson limits his sword players to mere "human" ability. To me, if you have plausibility issues with Brys and the Seguleh then you should have issues with Andarist, Rake, Traveller, Dassem, Temper and his friends, Karsa and a number of other characters both seen and yet to come. Of course, if you do I can accept your consistency... :) I get that some of these have additional abilities, particularly Rake and Karsa. But a lot of them are just exceptionally gifted with a sword. There's another example coming in RotCG.

What I'm saying is that Brys is not unique to the series in this regard. If he was completely unique I would agree with you, maybe. But even then I would point to clear indications of the Ceda's assistance in this matter.

Also I agree that magic is a bit different, but I used it as a reference to establish that this world is not our own so the author has license to establish physical abilities in exceptional ways. So assuming it's possible to surgically disable someone in this way (I know little about anatomical possibilities of that) I can accept a fine swordsman being able to do this.

I'm content to agree to disagree on this point. :D
Robin Lemley
27. Robin55077
@ 20. SamarDev
"- Tehol survived (I assumed his eye is sea-blue, I don't think Bugg/Mael would do organ-transplantation from Chalas)"
This has always been my assumption as well. I always picture that eye as "sea-blue" myself. Also, Bugg's making of a mis-matched eye for Tehol is in keeping with everything else Bugg made for Tehol in the book....one sleeve overly long, one too short, etc.

I read it as Bugg's sense of humor to give Tehol mis-matched eyes.

:-)
Iris Creemers
28. SamarDev
Robin @ 27
yes, thinking of your examples it could be Bugg's humor indeed.
Btw, what kind of sea-blue do you think of? I picture it as some kind of clear Adriatic-Sea-blue (or 'tropical-island-white-beach-blue-sea'-blue), as contrast to the more-dark-grey-than-blue Dutch North Sea... :-)
Robin Lemley
29. Robin55077
@ 28. SamarDev

I picture it as a bright blue, similar to the water when looking at a beach picture of the Bahamas, so probably identical to your
'tropical-island-white-beach-blue-sea'-blue.


:-)
Bill Capossere
30. Billcap
djk1978
I'm also happy to to agree to disagree. My continuation isn't an attempt to convince anyone, I just like the discussion. As I said, plausibility is very subjective, and I'm perfectly fine with different lines in different spots. I find most attempts to convince someone about their own reading experience silly; why we get so bent out of shape over what other people do or do not enjoy I've never understood. Anyway . . .

I've gotta yank Rake, Dassem, etc. out of the comparison based on their ascendancy. Then, I've gotta cull the clearly not-at-all-like-a-human, such as Karsa. It's possible I'm not remembering, but I can't off the top of my head think of any "human" swordfighting that is this same level of literally surgical precision. Speed, yes. Brute force, yes. But I can't think of this level of literally millimeters (or less) precision and reaction time (to keep the milimeters-fine precision even as the subject moves up and down or side to side)
As I read this scene, I can't help (thanks to the author's language) but think of how a surgeon needs incredible concentration, a very small device purposely designed for precision and maneuverability, lots of time, assistants to mop up blood and sweat, an utterly immobilized patient, and even then, they sometimes nick a "blood vessel" accidentally. This after decades of honing their skill, much as a swordsman would. Here we've got "surgery" in moments, with a several-feet-long device, while the "patient" is not simply moving but actively trying to avoid being "operated on" (with some magical enhancement to boot) and the surgeon is moving as well (plus losing a few fingers). Even when Rhulad is down (and he'd still be moving--he isn't out cold), the surgical nature just seemed a bit too much with the device at hand. I'm all for the immobilizing, slicing through tendons, etc. It's the sense, and maybe I was misreading it or over-reading it, that this was all Brys was doing, with pretty much no collateral damage, certainly nothing that would risk a bleed out.

That plausibility issued pulled me out of the story for a paragraph or two. Not for long, obviously, and I actually find the Seguleh less plausible than Brys' work, but I did wish it were toned down just a tad. Not a lot, just a bit. And because I only need it toned down a little I can perfectly see how some readers would find this scene not only believable but awesome.

btw--what assistance did you mean from the Ceda? I completely missed that.
Steven Halter
31. stevenhalter
@Bill:THe Ceda did send Brys to the bottom of the ocean. And maybe that milk drink he gave him wasn't just a drink.
Darren Kuik
32. djk1978
Yeah, just arguing for the sake of discussion now...

I'm ok with removing ascendants but that still leaves characters like Temper and the rest of the First Sword, who I don't think are ascendants and who's warrior abilities, although not surgical like Brys are nonetheless implausible. As I said, there's a character coming in RotCG whose name escapes me right now who is cut in a similar mold. Even Trull's ability with a spear falls in that category.

Brys, as you say is a bit different, but I'm suggesting that he receives help from the Ceda off camera. We know that he's received a "you shall not kill" order from the Ceda regarding Rhulad. I submit that perhaps it wasn't just that order but a lot more explicit instruction in how to accomplish that. And I wasn't even thinking of the drink he got from the Ceda. Thanks shalter, for that conspiracy theory! Anyway, Brys isn't just an "ordinary human" in my eyes.
Bill Capossere
33. Billcap
The Ceda work would be a bit too "off-stage" for me here (plus, his whole confusion thing and Brys' belief he hasn't "done anything" as well as his confusion when the Ceda told him that would seem to argue against at least direct instruction). And I definitely don't want that milk drink to be something useful--it's too funny otherwise! But that is an explanation I could have gotten on board with--the Ceda tossing Brys a little extra energy before dying (or even the Errant "nudging" the sword blows a bit so they hit "just right"). Seriously, I just don't get why Steven doesn't check with me beforehand on these things!

I can't recall who the character in RoCG is you might mean, but it's possible we'll have this discussion there as well :) I know we will when we get to Orb, Sceptre, Throne. Which btw, shameless plug, my review of which should be up on Tor early this week.

I always do like seeing different reactions though. I find it endlessly fascinating that these sorts of things happen--that so many people can glide by this scene with nary a thought, while it pulls me out of the book momentarily but only momentarily, while for Herr Flick it seemed to be the last straw in the book and down it goes. As I said, it's why I'm always befuddled and bemused by those endless flame wars over whose series is "best"
Brian R
34. Mayhem
We actually see this kind of ability quite a bit more in Esslemont's work, because he has a fondness for using exiled Seguleh. But the skill level is more common than you'd think, just because the books are pulling from an entire world. One or two preeminent players per empire seems par for the course. Minor spoilers below.
There's Rell in RotCG, there's two in TTH, who turn into three in OST. Then theres the Seguleh leader in OST, and how he deals with a challenge from the ranks.
Other normal(ish) I would add off the top of my head who would be capable would include Spinnock Durav, the Falahd's Champion in Temper's stories of the fall of the Sword, several Avowed and Skulldeath.

Really the main challenge for Brys was to disable the sword safely. Once that was out of the way, and the knees were done, the rest of it was just anatomy, somewhat excessive, if judicious surgery.
From my readings of how cripplings were done (long story), severing the important tendons at the back of the knee or elbow was seldom difficult, and rarely led to unwanted complications. Tendons don't carry much in the way of blood, so as long as they are cut away from the main arteries, the wounds will scab over fairly quickly.
Steven Halter
35. stevenhalter
Most of the cuts that Brys performed wouldn't have been terribly hard for someone with really good blade control. Behind the knees, ankles and elbows have large tendons that wouldn't be too bad for cutting.
The chest and shoulder cuts seem more difficult but I don't think there are a lot of major veins in these areas.
Now, doing all of the cuts rapidly in the heat of battle would be quite a trick but not an impossible one. The Lethari swords have been noted as being extremely sharp and durable with many of the top end ones having magical properties of various sorts--that may have aided somewhat.
The main concept we are seeing is that Brys is quite simply a genius with the blade--similar to Tehol's genius of the mind. (I guess Hull is a genius at moroseness?) So, it's not beyond the realm of the possible.
While reading the passage it didn't through me out of the moment at all--quite the contrary, it swept me along in the imagery. So, still not disturbed by it.
I suspect this is one of those areas where your first reaction will forever color your thought. My first reaction to the scene was--cool.
Bill Capossere
36. Billcap
"The main concept we are seeing is that Brys is quite simply a genius with the blade--similar to Tehol's genius of the mind. (I guess Hull is a genius at moroseness?)"

Now there's a good game. If Tehol is a genius of the mind and economics (and he is), and Brys is a genius with the sword (and he is--plausibly so or no), then what exactly is Hull a genius of? Moroseness is not a bad entry. It does seem he was once a genius at understanding other cultures, though not seemingly a genius at figuring out how that genius would be used. Though you'd think the first genocide/enslavement might have clued him in . . .
Brian R
37. Mayhem
Oooh.
Yes, Hull was definitely a genius at understanding and relating to other cultures. He was the perfect example of someone completely at home anywhere and everywhere except his own home and culture.

But remember the first enslavement didn't happen until he finished travelling around all the neighboring cultures. He returned to the king with his descriptions which were then ruthlessly exploited in the subsequent years campaigns.
Darren Kuik
38. djk1978
Thanks Mayhem @34, that was the name I was looking for. I just wasn't sure if I was confusing it with another person of similar name. And thanks for the other examples too.

Anyway, circular though it may be, this is the longest discussion we've had for a few chapters.
Chris Hawks
39. SaltManZ
All of the Sengar/Beddict brothers have their specialty, except for (it would seem) Rhulad: Trull (spear), Fear (sword and weapons in general), Binadas (magic), Tehol (economics), Brys (also sword). Hull's I always assumed to be, what's the word for it? outdoorsy-type stuff: tracking, hunting, surviving in the forest, etc.

Relating to foreign cultures is a good thought, too, though.
shirley thistlewood
40. twoodmom
I enjoyed the Brys/Rhulad fight and was not put off by it. On sober reflection, and after reading all the comments I have to wonder that none of those pesky gold coins got in the way . I know gold is relatively softer than steel but even so!
Robin Lemley
41. Robin55077
I think that Hull's specialty (although it is a weakness and not really a strength), is self-delusion. That is how I see Hull throughout this book. Hull sees only what he wants to see and is shocked when reality hits him.

Another question I have relative to Hull, was anyone else disappointed a little that Seren would have chosen him as a mate at one point in time. That pairing never seemed right to me. Seren always seemed somewhat better/smarter than that to me. Just wondering.

:-)
Hugh Arai
42. HArai
Robin55077@41: I think Billcap and Mayhem hit the target @36 -37. I think it quite plausible that someone so capable at relating to other cultures would a) never imagine the need/desire to obliterate those other cultures, b) be heavily traumatized by the destruction of those cultures.

I could see Hull being quite dynamic and confident (and mate-bait) right up until Lether started destroying his new friends with his information. After that, Seren also has self-worth issues, so someone even more internally conflicted might have appeal.
Bill Capossere
43. Billcap
I think you're right Harai. We see Hull definitely on the down slide. I would imagine that all the qualities that made Hull so good at understanding and "infiltrating" (not that he meant it for such sinister means) other cultures are the same qualities that would make him appealing to Seren, who has those similar qualities. I could actually see the two being quite the "power couple" in terms of international relations had circumstances been different
Tai Tastigon
44. Taitastigon
Funny, if I simplify even more:

Brys = martial crafts, Tehol = economics, Hull = cultures.

Brys brings his physical opponents down, Tehol brings economies down, Hull brings cultures down.

Brys does it as his duty, Tehol on devious purpose, Hull inadvertently.

And all three are highly idealistic about their activities.

Three interesting outcomes for idealism...
Amir Noam
45. Amir
Fun analysis of the differences between the brothers.

Remember the conversation between Brys and Tehol back in chapter 10. Equating the 3 Beddict brothers to different types of stone shaped differently by the river's water, Tehol describes Hull as a stone almost completely worn out.

@Taitastigon: Good point about idealism. I wouldn't call Tehol's purpose "devious" (though he does use devious methods to accomplish his goals).
Robin Lemley
46. Robin55077
@ 42. HArai

I see your point. I hadn't thought of it in terms of what Hull was in the past, only the Hull we see here. Thanks!
Tai Tastigon
47. Taitastigon
@Taitastigon: Good point about idealism. I wouldn't call Tehol's purpose "devious" (though he does use devious methods to accomplish his goals).

Yep, sounds more precise. Kinda meant it like that re Tehol. I guess all three are straightforward on their purposes, whereas Brys is very straightforward/open, Tehol subversive/devious and Hull...well, just deluded/worn down/confused...
Chris Hawks
48. SaltManZ
To my prior point about the number of Sengar brothers, on today's reddit Q&A the following question was asked:
"Why did you make Binadas a Sengar brother? Midnight Tide comes off as a story about two sets of three brothers and we almost forget about Binadas entirely. Was this intentional or did you not want to smush Fear and Binadas together into one character?"
SE's answer is a good one:
"But don't you think that three brothers and three brothers would have been rather, uh, obvious?"
Chris Hawks
49. SaltManZ
Also, I never weighed in on the "Tehol's new eyeball" debate; I never really thought about before, but Mieneke's proposal of a new-grown eyeball being the reason for the blue color makes total sense to me, especially considering all the talk of infants in that scene. Does Tehol still have mis-matched eyes when we see him later?
Iris Creemers
50. SamarDev
What a great analysis of the pair of brothers. Don't have anything else to add, but really enjoyed it!

To start the begin of the end of this reread of MT, two short quotes of the epilogue.
The first because it is just fun, especially after all the drama (and - for now - a good finish for those characters we have met just so briefly).
And the second one because it's one of those quotes that stick in my mind, and can be reproduced any time.
And they stood there, side by side, until, perfectly timed, their flows were done.
'But for now, I am going to beat a god senseless.'
Iris Creemers
51. SamarDev
SaltManZ @ 49. Yes, if I remember correctly, he has. That's why I don't think the 'newly grown eye can't see far, just like babies, so that's why it's blue'-explanation. I know Bugg mentions the 'focus past the nipple' himself, but because it stays blue it sounds more like an inmprovisation of his side.
Sydo Zandstra
52. Fiddler
I just want to chime in to say I find this a fascinating discussion :)
Brian R
53. Mayhem
@49 & 51
Yep, insignificant spoiler to confirm he keeps the mismatched eyes in his next appearance.
I agree with the "it is a new eye therefore it is blue" idea, because as Mieneke said, almost all children start with blue eyes, which later darken to their natural colour as the melanin develops.
But it isn't unknown for eyes to dramatically change colour after severe trauma in real life, and for another view the replacement organ speed grown by Bugg here probably wouldn't have the same melanin infiltration that a slowly developing eye would have, hence the constant colour. It might still darken some years down the track though.

Besides, at the end of the day the only argument that really applies is "It is like it is because a wizard did it"
Darren Kuik
54. djk1978
Interesting stuff in that reddit Q&A. Well worth a read if you haven't done so.
Mieneke van der Salm
55. Mieneke
@49, 51, 53: See that's where the fact that this is my first read of MT comes in, I didn't know that the eye remains blue in later books (and yay that we'll see Tehol again!) Besides, I've got babies on the brain, so I kinda lept to that conclusion ;-)
Racheal Smith
56. Dernhelm
I've been scrambling to catch up with this re-read since I found it, its just fantastic! I just wanted to throw my two cents in regarding Tehol's blue eye.
My take was that Bugg didn't have the power to regenerate Tehol's eye but could regenerate his own, so gave Tehol one of his own eyes (I always imagined Bugg with blue eyes). I find this version utterly touching so thought I'd share.
Osyris
57. endertek
Just another little observation on the names of the Beddict brothers:

Tehol - makes me think "the hole" and that is what he wants to do with the entire economy of Letheras - put it in the hole. He's the original money pit - the bottomless hole into which money is poured.

Brys - I think of the circumcision ritual - and severing. This is what he does to Rhulad - with his sword, he severs his tendons and he severs the relationship between Rhulad and CG - if, alas, for only a few minutes

Hull - he's the outer shell of a seed that had so much potential. The hull has the shape of the seed without its life / potential. He's an emptied man - the kernel of himself has been removed and all that is left is the hull
Osyris
58. TedThePenguin
so, first comment and resurrecting this thread, but I am just reading through for the first time and really felt a need to chime in about a couple things:

Brys disablement of Ruhland, most of it IS possible without getting close to major blood vessels, back of the elbow, FRONT of the knee (they specifically mentioned his patella on the sword, no standing without that!), achillies tendon, etc. all of those are significantly separated from the major vessels (its not perfect, wrist and shoulders are still tough, BUT he wouldnt be moving much after those first ones). Remember a surgeon is trying to put stuff back together, not break it, different order of magnitude in terms of precision! But you mentioned it Bill, you could blame the Errant for all of it working so well. I think it was a crowning moment of awesome, and thoroughly enjoyed it, but debate is fun, and I am an engineer, I cant turn off the "figure out how everything works" part of my brain, so when something like this comes up, I HAVE to think about it.

Hull is the genius anthropologist/sociologist, basically Hull is SE's professor he talked about in his HoC Q&A
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.

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