Mar 30 2012 1:00pm

Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: The Bonehunters, Chapter Five

Welcome to the Malazan Re-read of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapter Four of The Bonehunters by Steven Erikson (TB).

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 Five

(Just a note that Amanda is ill and so will get to commentary when she is feeling better)


Samar Dev and Karsa discuss several of her inventions (a spyglass being one) and her idea that ethics should be of primary concern for any inventor. She leaves to examine the Short-tail Karsa killed in the Keep after informing him it seemingly killed all the Malazan that had been inside.


Samar Dev dissects the Short-tail, discovering strange small mechanisms inside its stomach. The mechanism work for only a moment after exiting the dissected stomach. Dev and the Torturer standing guard over the short-tail corpse discuss torture and the quest for Truth.


Samar tells Karsa of a mysterious island called Sepik with two populations, “one the subject of the other.” Karsa decides to travel there and agrees to wait until Samar can get a map copied. She notices spirits have been drawn toward Karsa and are also frightened. She imprisons them using her knife.


Quick Ben’s squad has exited the warren and is waiting. They discuss Coral, Tavore and Paran, the ghosts at Raraku. They’re interrupted by the arrival of Khundryl Burned Tears.


The Tears bring the squad to Tavore (along the way Kalam notices the moon looking strange) and she asks why they aren’t in the Imperial Warren. He tells her there were 10-12 K’Chain Che’Malle Sky Keeps and speculates the Imperial Warren was once the K’Chain warren. She orders them to find out what they’re doing and why they’re trying to stay hidden. He thinks she’s sending him away before the siege of Y’Ghatan because she doesn’t trust them after they met with Dujek and Tayschrenn. Pearl shows up, Tavore’s group leaves, Quick Ben tells Kalam to leave Pearl for now and that he didn’t hear anything of import.


Captain Faradan Sort kills Joyful Union in front of Bottle, who performs an inappropriate “salute” in response. When asked, he gives his name as Smiles.


Faradan meets Fiddler and acts the strict captain. She orders Smiles to carry a double-load today. Smiles wonders what she did to deserve that and Fiddler says captains are just crazy. Bottle tells them Sort killed Joyful Union and Cuttle says, “She’s [Sort] dead.”


Keneb finds Grub in his tent. Grub mouths some weird things and leaves. Keneb worries about the siege with the lack of men and equipment as well as missing Quick Ben. Blistig enters and says he fears disaster, that there is a growing dread amongst the men, adding the Fists want to confront Tavore and make her open up. Keneb says no; they should wait. Blistig leaves and Keneb continues to worry what awaits them.


Hellian wakes, now in her eight day of being reassigned to the 14th, along with Urb. She thinks how unfair it is and needs more to drink.


Bottle tells Maybe and Lutes Sort killed Joyful Union and there’ll be no more fights, which angers them. He also warns them to put down their new scorpion, as it’s a female and the males will be attracted to her distress call by the hundreds if not the thousands. That gives Maybe an idea. Back in camp, Smiles tells Bottle she and Cuttle are going to kill Sort tonight. Koryk tells him they won’t; he’s noticed that Sort is from the Stormwall at Korelri. He can tell by her scabbard, which marks her as a section commander. Bottle doesn’t buy it, but Fiddler says he noticed too. Koryk explains to Smiles about the Stormwall, Korelri, and the Stormriders. Bottle offers to share Smiles’ pack burden and she agrees though is suspicious over his kindly offer.


Quick Ben’s squad scouts 11 Sky Keeps from a distance. They decide to have only Quick, Kalam, and Stormy attempt to board one.


Apsalar, Telorast, and Curdle are at the coast near Ehrlitan. The two spirits speak of the time of the great Forests that covered the land before the First Empire or Imass. A partially destroyed forest appears when Apsalar calls up the warren to cross the strait. The spirits say the destruction was from dragons fighting in the Shadow Realm, the same ones imprisoned in the stone circle. They identify the forest as Tiste Edur. Apsalar spots a sailing ship crossing as part of the other realm and sense someone important on it.


Dejim Nebrahl has closed with its prey and now lies in ambush anticipating the targets’ approach.


Crossing the Edur shadow forest, Apsalar comes across a rope hanging down, an invitation from whomever is in the carrack. She climbs it and meets Paran aboard. She has a strange reaction of guilt and shame but doesn’t know why. He realizes she doesn’t remember him and introduces himself, both my name and position as Master of the Deck. He asks if Cotillion still haunts her and she says sort of, adding he should ask Cotillion if he wants to know more. The two discuss the war and gods and future plans.


Dejim Nebrahl recalls the First Empire, the T’rolbarahl (whom he thought should have ruled), the betrayal of Dessimbelackis. He foresees a new empire with him at its head, feeding on humans and making gods kneel. His targets get nearer.


Samar and Karsa leave the city, with Samar still thinking on the ethics of inventions, the value of convenience, the power of ritual. He tells her a little of his past actions and when she asks if he’s reconsidered wiping out humanity he replies he didn’t say that, adding he has an army waiting for him at home. She thinks even the Empress would fear such an army.


Cutter’s group arrives at a range of cliffs and caves. Heboric’s madness appears to be getting worse. Heboric mutters about the Chained One, a war of gods, “all to bury the Elder Gods once and for all.”


Scillara thinks she could care less about the gods. She thinks Heboric hasn’t learned the “Truth of futility” and it has made him mad, though he also travels with the “gift of salvation.” Cutter asks if she’s pregnant and she confirms it.


Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Five

Okay, I’ve said that Y’Ghatan seems to be where this final battle with Leoman is heading and I’ve tried to highlight some of the lines that are foreshadowing just what is going to happen there without directly telling our new readers. It doesn’t take much close reading to see that the opening passage here makes pretty explicit that what does happen at Y’Ghatan can’t be so great for the 14th, given that it “could have been a fatal wound” to the Empire and that it took Tavore’s “cold iron” nature to make it something less than fatal. And I’ll also say her “being thrust into the soul of a raging forge” is another of those aforementioned lines.

While I’m generally laughing or at least chuckling at Erikson’s humor, every now and then it drops like a rock for me. Such is the case with the hemorrhoid joke.

It’s rare enough in fantasy that we see actual scientific/industrial/mechanical progress (too rare I’d argue) and it’s even rarer that we see it presented in a critical (as in analytical, not negative) fashion. Thus I’m a fan of Samar Dev’s inventiveness in general and of her ethical concerns in particular: “I must ask myself with each invention, what possible abuses await such an object? More often than not, I conclude that those abuses outweigh the value of the invention. I call this Dev’s First Law of Invention . . . ethics are the first consideration of an inventor following a particular invention.” One has to wonder how far along the industrial path we’d have gotten had this been the case. While we’re on the idea of science, Karsa’s question: How can you call yourself an inventor if you dislike breaking things?” is another nice nod to how scientific discovery works so often, just like we saw with Urko getting the skeletons wrong the first time.

I also like how Karsa’s insights (the above line and his earlier points about her laws/principles) continue to break the “obvious” image of his as a dimwitted “barbarian.” In that same vein, I appreciate Samar Dev’s dismissal of the “noble savage” wisdom that is as much a trope as the big, dumb barbarian. How many times does the sole Native American in a book or film play the mystic role (a role also often played by the single middle-aged or older black male/female). The Other seemingly has to be either way dumber than us or way more attuned into the supernatural than us—so long as they remain “Other” are never as “intelligent” as us.

And again, yet another example of the “escapism” of fantasy:

In a culture that admits the need for torture, there must perforce be a torturer . . . the justifications are always the same. To save many more lives, this one must be surrendered. Sacrificed. Even the words used disguise the brutality [“enhanced interrogation”?]. Why are torture chambers in the crypt? . . . This is the nether realm of humanity, the rotted heart of unpleasantness.

Both the ethical question of the torture itself (which is hardly a no-brainer type of question) and the metaphor that closes the passage raise the intellectual stakes, something I always appreciate as a reader. Well, not always—sometimes I like a good fast unthinking read, but mostly . . .

And then we get one of those concrete plot reminders of how the Malazan Empire is often an ethical improvement on what came before—we’ve seen them banning slavery before and now it appears they also banned torture.

The “mechanisms” inside the K’Chain are further evidence that the species was/is? highly technologically advanced.

The short scene with Quick Ben’s squad is a nice way to remind the reader of a few key plot events from hundreds and thousands of pages ago. The series, due to its complexity, number of characters, and shifting settings, almost requires these sort of periodical recaps and I think they’re almost always (possibly always though I wouldn’t swear to it at this point) handled in smooth fashion, meaning that don’t feel artificial or shoe-horned in, as so often can happen with exposition.

It probably goes without saying—the fact that a major character spends a paragraph on the details of the moon is probably enough of a red flag—but just in case, file away that passage: “The misshapen moon . . . was looking rougher round the edges, Kalam realized, as if the surrounding darkness was gnawing at it . . . Had it always been like that?”

Well, now we know why Quick was so, well, quick, to exit the warren. And how funny is it that he leaves so fast and almost as quickly gets ordered back in?

Just how much does Tavore mistrust that squad that she relinquishes the benefits of having a High Mage and one of the best, perhaps the best, assassin of the Empire for the upcoming siege? And will she come to regret that decision? Don’t forget that opening passage . . .

C’mon on now, hands up—how many of you were devastated by the death of Joyful Union? Honestly? C’mon . . . It’s a scorpion. A fictional scorpion. And I cared.

But really, a great intro to Faradan Sort.

Again, goes without saying, but file away those words of Grub’s: “Sleeping. She is not stupid, no. They are coming, to await the resurrection . . . They will try to kill her. But that is wrong. She is our last hope.”

“Fitting that the final spark should be snuffed out at Y’Ghatan.”

“Malazans die at Y’Ghatan. That city burned to the ground that last siege.”

Blistig. Wonder if his name is a play on “blister”—that annoying little thing you want to just get rid of

So Faradan Sort just became a bit more mysterious. Korelri has barely been mentioned to this point (we’ve had mention of Greymane being associated with the campaign there), but it will play a large role eventually. Here we get a good amount of info:

  • It is an island continent
  • It faces a threat from “demonic warriors of the seas” called Stormriders
  • They have a huge wall built and manned to repel the Stormriders
  • Only “chosen warriors” fight on the wall

“...we’d best put our plans on a pyre and strike a spark.”

I love that image of Paran’s ship sailing across the treetops of Shadow, the way the worlds overlap, the way the ship “anchors” in the forest.

I also like what Erikson does here with Dejim, the way he splits up the little scenes as the attack approaches, ratcheting up the tension and suspense for the reader—a good structural choice I’d say. The creature(s) is/are certainly not humble, huh? The question of course becomes, is Dejim as Supreme as it thinks it is?

That’s a sad reminder, when Paran says to Apsalar “You were little more than a child . . . “ Intellectually I know she’s young, but seeing/hearing that word “child” come from him, it just highlights it all the more. As does his later sorrow over her loss of innocence (this sorrow from the man she killed after all).

As much of a cipher that Tavore is, I’ve got to say that Paran’s discussion of her early military prodigy is a bit encouraging. Though still that passage that opens the chapter haunts the reader.

That’s an intriguing conversation the two have about war. It’s interesting that Paran’s first guess as to why gods might ally with the Crippled God is not ambition, vengeance, etc. but “compassion.” It’s also telling that he doesn’t immediately reject the idea that the CG might deserve compassion. Important lines for the rest of the series I’d say.

Also a good reminder that Shadowthrone, for all his seeming quasi-madness, is playing a long, deep game. As is Cotillion.

Also a little bit of a teaser—what threat is Paran in Seven Cities to neutralize? Why does he fear he’ll be too late? What plans are made in that conversation we’re no longer privy to?

Get the feeling Karsa wouldn’t be too happy in our modern, car-filled, noise-saturated world?

One doesn’t expect a philosophical/ethical debate on the plusses and minuses of technological convenience in a fantasy novel. Nor does one expect it to be couched in the language of ritual. Poor Samar would be perhaps a bit disappointed that we have yet to settle the question ourselves. I think of this sort of “ritual” whenever I go to the bank, which is such an anachronistic act nowadays. But I haven’t used an ATM in years because I enjoy the “ritual” of walking the few hundred yards to our bank and seeing the same people and having them ask about my son and wife and welcome me like an old friend. I purposely skip direct deposit and ATM usage because I’d miss the “ritual” of banking. Then again, I love that “convenience” of online banking to pay my bills and the like. I’m betwixt and between Karsa and Samar I guess.

So, will Karsa keep his goal of teaching civilization a pretty nasty lesson? Will he return home? Will his people follow him?

Hmm, methinks a war between gods is coming. Anyone else picking up that subtle concept? Is it, as Heboric says, going to be a war between the Elder Gods and the Younger Gods? If it is, and the CG is with the younger gods, (or newer at least), what about those who seemingly oppose him? Or is it not that simple a formulation? What side has Treach chosen?

Such a high concept—a War of the Gods—and yet, we’re brought back earthward by Scillara, who believes the Gods simply don’t matter for all their nattering and gameplaying, “as if the outcome mattered . . . “ But clearly, some who like humans, or were recently human, or somewhat still are, think it does matter a great deal. So who is right?

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

Chris Hawks
1. SaltManZ
That discussion about torture reminds me very much of Severian's musings in Wolfe's Book of the New Sun.
Steven Halter
2. stevenhalter
C’mon on now, hands up—how many of you were devastated by the death of Joyful Union? Honestly?
Yep, count me as sad over the death of Joyful Union. Count this as another example of SE's ability to make us care about even characters with small roles--even scorpions.

And yes, I would very much like to hear the full conversation between Ganoes & Apsalar.
Sydo Zandstra
3. Fiddler
@SaltMan, re Severian:

Same here. It's been ages since I read that... Yet I was reminded of it right away.


The scene where Faradan Sort kills Joyful Union deserved a fuller description, IMO. At least it should have described how Bottle was nursing JU, and then suddenly Faradan Sort's boot crunches it from above, startling Bottle.

Not only is this a nice comparison on how the Gods may consider humans in the Malazan World, but it's also a nice set up for a scene between Faradan Sort and Bottle we get to see later on...
4. amphibian
The Empire banned torture, yet so many of its agents and higher ups condone or even engage in similar things. It's an example of a high minded ideal being minded in fits and starts - which is actually much better than there being no high minded ideal at all.

Also, regarding the ethics of inventions, what would Samar Dev make of Leonard of Quirm (the Discworld/Terry Pratchett character)? Or Bloody Stupid Johnson?
Sanctume Spiritstone
5. Sanctume
I got a kick out of the scorpion sub-plot!
Antoni Ivanov
6. tonka
Oh yea I was so upset over Joyful Union's murder. I was totally with them for a second thinking, hey we've never really seen anyone killing superior (even Ranal or whatever name that stupid Lt had, go himself killed). But, yes, great intro for Sort
'None to Witness'
(The Lost History of the Bonehunters)
Haha, that made me smile, giggle, laugh... (and btw not so lost or unwitnessed if Duiker found them)

A week or so ago I finally finished reading the whole series (The Crippled God, and God was it a great book, both last books, Seriously how could someone be as productive and that good. Is Erikson a genious, lucky or something, usually really great books take a great deal of time (Robert Jordan, Patrick Rothfuss, G.Martin among fantasy).

What were Paran and Apsalar talking about?! Any ideas, perhaps I should head into the spoiler thread for this.
Mieneke van der Salm
7. Mieneke
Well, that was quite a way for Sort to enter the story! Also a good way to ensure I at least already don't like her. I am fascinated by her history though!

I'm really enjoying the combo of Samar Dev and Karsa as well. They've got some great convo's.
Damian Dubois
8. ParadoxicalDr??
Good to see all the love for Joyful Union. Those scenes with the marines and their scorpions were some of the funniest moments in the series. And to have it all end at the bottom of Sort's boot... RIP, Joyful Union!
Bill Capossere
9. Billcap
Saltman--I thought the same re the Wolfe

Fiddler--sorry not to give Joyful Union more joy. I've been slowly and nicely nudged toward shorter descriptions in the scene by scene. But thanks for pointing out the larger connections.

I was actually just thinking. Not only does Erikson get me to care about a scorpion; he'll also get me to care about a two-headed bug. I'm trying to think of when I've ever really cared much about a non-speaking creature that wasn't itself a character or a main character's pet (like Ged's Otak in Earthsea or Norton's Beastmaster animals). Nothing comes quickly to mind--I'll have to peruse the shelves and see if anything gets jogged
Paul Boyd
10. GoodOldSatan
Bill, I have noticed that the scene descriptors are much shorter ... sometimes, I feel, to the extent that valuable topics for discussion are ignored or dismissed. (Othertimes - "SCENE NINE: 'Karsa kills the lizard'" - the brief description is all that's needed to start the conversation.)

...kinda preferred it the old way.
Damian Dubois
11. ParadoxicalDr??
@ Bill. Have you read the Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb? That one pulled at the heart strings with Fitz's wolf 'Nighteyes'. Erikson manages to make you compare about all of his characters, both big and small time players.
Bill Capossere
12. Billcap
Sorry about the summaries--that was a specific request that we keep them a lot shorter than they had been, scene by scene and in toto. I can't really complain as it's less work (though I'm still finding myself writing more than cutting it down rather than just writing to the needed amount). We've got no limit at all on the responses, so we'll try and do a better job of more fully covering things there. And certainly we can rely on our commentary community to expand on the left-out items as well, as Fiddler did here.

ParadoxicalDr: the Farseer Trilogy is one of my all-time favorites, actually. And I agree that "Nighteyes" is a heart-tugger, though I'd consider that in the more "character" and "speaking" category. But great example.
Tricia Irish
13. Tektonica
ParadoxicalDr and Bill;

I concur.... Fitz is one of my all time favorite characters and Nighteyes is really a part of him, no?

Joyful Union is another kettle of fish, but helped to provide a lot of humor and insight into the characters and their relationships. Showing...not telling....that's SE. And you immediately dislike Sort, because she quashes the soldiers' fun. Stay tuned.....

I miss the longer recaps as well....these books are so dense! Maybe you'll just have to chime into our comment section more ;-0
Brian R
14. Mayhem
Add me to the list of people who miss the longer summaries - you were very good at pointing out little things that are all too easy to overlook.
Oh well, you'll have to do it in the commentaries instead.
I do confess to being amused that it took them five books to start complaining :p

With regards to non-speaking characters we grow to feel for, the only examples I can easily think of are generally horses. Very few authors ever take the time to flesh out their throwaway characters - let alone animals.

One observation on the autopsy of the lizard - it has four lungs.
The Thelomen Toblakai are also noted as having four lungs, which suggests that they might share a common line of evolutionary descent at some point. Either that, or the being that created them was cribbing notes from the god next door.
I wonder how many lungs the Jaghut have?
15. Gibberish
@ Mayhem
actually i'd like to have a anatomical atlas covering all the mbotf races.
including scorpions of course :-)
but only containing descriptions in words. pictures couldnt be anything but disappointing.
Except for maybe...a dhenrabi. I never quite managed to make myself a picture of these...thingies. (are they fish, giant centipedes living in water or whatever. anyone?)
Brian R
16. Mayhem
A dhenrabi is more or less a giant sea centipede, with lots of teeth, probably more like an aquatic Sandworm.

From Deadhouse Gates:
‘Think of a centipede eighty paces long,’ Fiddler answered. ‘Wraps up whales and ships alike, blows out all the air under its armoured skin and sinks like a stone, taking its prey with it.’

If you have a desire to creep yourself out more, go look up the giant isopod -

Now imagine one over a hundred feet long...
Robin Lemley
17. Robin55077
@ Bill

Add me to the list of those missing the more detailed summaries. These books cannot possibly be captured in the new format. What is Tor thinking?

Steven Halter
18. stevenhalter
Just to be contrary:-)
I usually just quickly scan the summary section--I usually read the chapter just a day or so ahead and so it is still fairly fresh. The commentary/reaction is what I really pay attention to.
However, some amount of sumary is quite useful if I need to look back at a section and I need reminded where that section fit into things.
Tricia Irish
19. Tektonica
Suvudu cage match: Rake vs. Moraine Damodred from WoT.

Moraine is winning, as you know those fanatical WoT fans are out in force. This can not be. Rally to Rake's defense I say!

I know it's silly and meaningless,'s Rake, for gods' sake!
Darren Kuik
20. djk1978
I went and voted but I can't see Rake winning in the face of WoT fandom, which is numerous (and a bit delusional, haha). WoT doesn't hold a candle to MBotF in my view but I understand the popularity of it. To be clear, I enjoy WoT. I just think MBotF is superior in every way.

On topic, I don't have much to add on this last chapter.
Tricia Irish
21. Tektonica

I totally agree with your assessment of WoT vs Malazan. It's good, but more like a motor scooter vs. a Ducati. And the fans are crazy!
Amanda Rutter
22. ALRutter
Apologies to all for the delay. Still not feeling great - all viral - but I wanted to catch up with you all!

Okay, so the opening section by Duiker gives a very effective little encapsulation of Tavore's character, by referring to her as someone who no one is truly close to. We also see the cold iron reference again as well. And the whole quote her gives me chills about what is to come: "...the events at Y'Ghatan could have been a fatal wound."

Heh, Karsa in those opening scenes is like a very large and disturbing child with his curiosity for what Samar Dev is doing. And she seems more like an alchemist or a scientist than a mage at this point.

What is giving Karsa his speedy recovery? His race? The touch of a god?

*giggles* "It is an ointment, for the suppurating wounds that sometimes arise on the lining of the anus-" Yep, very childish to laugh at this, but, y'know, if it's good enough for Chaucer to make bum jokes...

He is so beautifully simplistic, isn't he? "If something is far away, I simply ride closer."

There is a fantastically engaging quality in this burgeoning relationship between Karsa and Samar Dev. What I like best is the fact that Samar Dev a) recognises that Karsa presents thoughts or sees things that she is not capable of and b) refuses to under-estimate him. There is also definite respect and possible affection when she says: "Around Karsa Orlong, I suspect, only Karsa Orlong has his way.

The whole sequence with the torturer - the Avower (slight mistake by Erikson to make Avower and Avowed so similar - I think they are very different things...) makes me feel very squeamish. Torture is not something I ever like in my books, and it makes me feel worse to hear the Avower compare his arts to that of Samar Dev, although he maybe does have a point when he says: "We are questioners, you and I. We slice back the armour to uncover the hidden truth." Alive or dead does make a rather huge difference though!

So Karsa is going to Sepik now - what is it that he is seeking? And what chance of Samar Dev ending up going with him?

Hmm, this is a little bit of an anticlimax, coming back to Quick Ben et al when they have seemingly escaped from the situation in the warren? Am I reading this right? It seems they have returned to the Fourteenth?

We have a reminder of Mallet here, and I wouldn't like to consider his state of mind right now. I can't imagine he's having a happy time of it.

This is a rather scary thought! "Ghosts. Bridgeburners...ascended. Gods, what a chilling thought. They were all half-mad when alive, and now..." Here's something that occurs to me - which god are the Bridgeburners going to be aligned to then? Hood?

Right, okay, so Kalam and Quick Ben etc scarpered from the K'Chain Che'Malle who seem to be laying claim to what used to be their warren - I keep forgetting the Imperial Warren was usurped from its original owners.

Tavore really defies belief. Or comprehension. I really have no idea about her motivations, or her interests, or her knowledge. Which side is she on? Whose interests is she furthering? What role does T'amber play in her life? Who is T'amber really? After the amount of people we've now seen who prove to be other than they truly are, I can see this being the case with T'amber *dry*

WHAT!?! How cruel and unnecessary is the death of Joyful Union? *sulks*

Faradan Sort. I don't like you.

"Bottle stared down at the mashed, glittering pulp that had been Joyful Union and half a capemoth. He wanted to cry." So do I :-(

And interesting to note that Bottle gave Smiles' name in place of his own. Just causing problems for Smiles out of spite or for some other reason?

*grins* How careful Strings is... "Never knifed a single officer, the back. And I don't know a damned thing about fighting, except surviving it."

Faradon Sort really hasn't made the best first impression, has she?

A baffling child, indeed! Grub is more than a little otherworldly, with the comments he makes he. Who is the 'she' he refers to?

Why is it that Tavore doesn't want Dujek's assistance? He's too close to the Old Guard and the previous Emperor/Adjunct? I feel like I'm asking more questions again than providing commentary. Mind, that seems the case in all of the books - the first half gives me constant questions, while the second half answers some of them and leaves me still wondering over others.

Ah, I do like the way that Erikson gives us little reminders here and there, as long as we read carefully. Here I am reminded that Y'Ghatan is a place loathed by the Malazans and considered a place of death. And now it looks as though more Malazan blood will be spilled there.

Hee, and now a return to Hellian - poor girl, forced to join the Fourteenth at what is becoming a rather nasty period in their history.

Erikson really does turn the screw with the most minor of characters at times - here we're reminded of Joyful Union's rather nasty demise by seeing Maybe and Lutes talk about their own scorpion.

*pricks up ears* What is the Stormwall, then? And what does that mean for the new captain? Hmm, we've seen these Stormriders in Night of Knives, haven't we? Nasty buggers they were then, too.

*giggles* Bottle is a truly devious sort!

Wow, eleven Moon's Spawns! That does not bode well at all... And, my word, I am just loving seeing Kalam and Quick Ben together - the grumpy assassin and the mage who is happy to live by the seat of his pants: "All right, so the plan stinks. You got a better one?"

Oh, this makes me smile loads! "They now chased snakes, leapt into the air after rhizan and capemoths, duelled each other in dominance contests, strutting, spitting and kicking sand." So cute! Hard to remember they are rather nasty spirits.

Who did they give their promise to, that they would follow Apsalar? I'm guessing it was not just chance that had Apsalar meet them? They certainly let their tongues flap about things they perhaps shouldn't be revealing. And they know an awful lot about dragons, don't they?

Dejim Nebrahl seems to be setting up his ambush in a rather familiar location... Isn't this where Icarium and Mappo went down the chasm?

This is an exceptionally interesting exchange between Paran and Apsalar (and doesn't Paran seem more grounded and powerful - he's come far since we saw him last): "Yet now you call them players, rather than enemies," she said. "Suggesting to me a certain shift in perspective - what comes, yes, of being the Master of the Deck of Dragons?"
"Huh, I hadn't though about that. Players. Enemies. Is there a difference?"
"The former implies...manipulation."

Apsalar and Paran have an almost instant understanding - she's the first to have grasped immediately why he needed to sanction the Crippled God and bring him into the game.

Oh, this speaks to me absolutely and applies directly to our lives nowadays: "But...could simple convenience prove so perniciously evil? The action of doing things, laborious things, repetitive things, such actions invited ritual, and with ritual came meaning that expanded beyond the accomplishment of the deed itself."

So the sanctioning of the Crippled God has brought him into the pantheon of the new world, and so made him part of the world.

Is this what everything is aiming towards? "This war - so many lives, lost, all to bury the Elder Gods once and for all." A war between the Elder Gods and the new gods? In which case, the focus on the Crippled God is not correct in this war considering he is part of the new pantheon.

Okay! Looking forward to seeing you all properly on Wednesday again :-)
karl oswald
23. Toster
great to hear from you Amanda! hope you're feeling better soon.

about the imperial warren, quick ben may speculate, but there is enough evidence about it in the books so far to point us to it's true origin. k'rul makes a new warren after confronting kallor in MoI. it containts the ashen ruins of jacuruku. just that charred top layer, and that's what the characters stumble through when they visit. the skykeeps are simply making use of it, expecting to be uncontested - which, considering they are eleven skykeeps, is a pretty reasonable expectation. QB and Tavore are just crazy.
Darren Kuik
24. djk1978

I wonder if we should keep count of how many characters you say "I don't like" when you first meet them and how many stay that way or how many you end up liking.

Might be a fun tabulation. ;)
Tai Tastigon
25. Taitastigon
Amanda: A war between the Elder Gods and the new gods? In which case, the focus on the Crippled God is not correct in this war considering he is part of the new pantheon.

Amanda...hmmm...remember Cotillion´s talk with the three dragons...
Amanda Rutter
26. ALRutter
@ 24 - please don't, it would only embarrass me at the end of the re-read when you whip out the results and say, well, there were these 784 characters that you ended up really liking.....
Brian R
27. Mayhem
MoI states that they drew the remnants of Kallor's empire into a warren created for that purpose, but the journey of Pearl & Lostara and the ancient mechanisms found beneath the bones implies that the warren is far far older than that - it is suggested that K'Rul used a conveniently abandoned warren instead, layering the dead realm over top of the K'Chain Che'malle warren. After all, they are all dead. Aren't they?
28. Gibberish
@Tektonica: Just voted for Rake...doesnt seem that desperate. Im very surprised how balanced it is actually...
Tricia Irish
29. Tektonica

Thanks for voting!
Rake is losing, however, and the fan base at WoT hasn't ramped up yet. I think the Suvudu match ends Thursday, so maybe we should all lie low until then, and swoop in to victory?? Don't want to worry the WoT fans into an aggressive war. Not us...
Amir Noam
30. Amir
The suvudu match description between Rake and Moiraine is actually one of the better written ones I've read. Seems it was actually written by someone who knows both series.

Also, (and slighlty off topic for Malazan) if you haven't already read it, Brandon Sanderson himself wrote the match description between Moiraine (WoT) and Kelsier (Mistborn). Lots of spoilers for both series, but hillarious reading.
Darren Kuik
31. djk1978
Amanda @26: Don't worry I won't actually do that. :) And anyway I think a lot of us generally had the same types of reactions to many of the character introductions. It's really more of a commentary on SE than it is on you.

Mayhem @27: I think you misunderstood what MoI said. Kallor forged the human empire on Jacuruku upon the lost remnants of the KCCM empire. The ruins and mechanisms in the Imperial Warren are indeed KCCM but that is because Jacuruku was first a KCCM empire and then Kallor's afterward. The Imperial Warren is not the KCCM warren. The KCCM warren (or hold) is identified in MT as Kaschan, I think. Or at least, that is the name of the sorcery they use. In its description it doesn't really sound like it's even a warren. K'rul, Draconus and SoCN forged the Imperial Warren as new, to hold the ravages of Jacuruku within.
Brian R
32. Mayhem
I think this will be a good thing to put aside for our questions of SE at the end. I mistyped above though, it is here in this chapter that the suggestion is explicitly made by Quick, not in MoI.

The Imperial warren does have a floor though, if a long way down, and since the continent of Jakuruku was left behind, there must have been something used to fashion the warren on. I wonder if he used a flavour of Kaschan to make the warren, similar to how Tellann/Thyr are flavours of Kurald Thyrllan.

Actually talk of Kaschan made me go back into MT to find the notes on it (end of chapter 3 btw). The information we have on it so far is particularly sketchy, and mostly from Fear & Binadas. Not exactly reliable narrators, but the tales of the sheer power of entropy & chaos make for particularly disturbing reading, especially when combined with the Jaghut war on Death. A Death that the K'Chain Che'Malle brought to everyone...
Chris Hawks
33. SaltManZ
Amir @30: The Rake vs Moiraine writeup (and the Rake/Zaphod writeup before that) was written by "Abyss", one of the Malazan forum regulars.
Darren Kuik
34. djk1978
@Mayhem: Perhaps SE can clarify. I think we can discuss it though because it's not spoiler. At least everything I've pointed to is from past books. I agree that the Sengars aren't overly reliable about Kaschan, but I'd make that exact argument about Quick in this chapter.

MoI prologue: Here, on Jacuruku, in the shadow of long-dead K'Chain Che'Malle ruins, another empire had emerged. Brutal, a devourer of souls, its ruler was a warrior without equal.

And later: They left Kallor upon his throne, upon its heap of bones. They merged their power to draw chains around a continent of slaughter, then pulled it into a warren created for that sole purpose, leaving the land itself bared. To heal.

Since those quotes are SE's narrative rather than any characters words I'd consider them more reliable than Quick's words. Particularly that it says the warren was created expressly to hold the destruction. Implying that it did not exist before and is newly created by K'rul. The KCCM obviously are elder so if they had a warren at all, it would have already existed. Seems to me that the 3 gods scraped everything off of Jacuruku, leaving it as bare earth/rock.

As to whether Imperial is a flavor of Kaschan, well that I could see make some sense. That would be the question for SE. That and whether Kaschan is even a warren/hold at all.
Chris Hawks
35. SaltManZ
SE has said his and ICE's books are full of misdirection. I chalk up "the Imperial Warren is really Kaschan" as one of those. It always seemed to me that QB was just making a guess; I find the generic third-person narrator of the MoI prologue to be much more reliable.
Amir Noam
36. Amir
Welcome back, Amanda. Feel better soon!

Count me in the camp of those thinking that Quick Ben didn't know what he was talking about regarding the Imperial warren.
Amir Noam
37. Amir
Oh, and, time for quotes?

'It is a difficult thing, killing dragons.'
Tricia Irish
38. Tektonica
You want me to be your god? Fine, then! Have it your way!
karl oswald
39. Toster
Corabb is too funny!

Third Dunsparrow was to Leoman's left, the two brushing arms evry now and then and exchanging soft words, probably grim with romance, that Corabb was pleased he could not overhear.

emphasis mine :-)
40. Gibberish
Regarding Kaschan
i had the impression that Kaschan means K'chain in the same way that anomander is anomandaris. Especially since the edurs knowledge of such things is based on legends i think...
Bill Capossere
41. Billcap
Hey folks,
The post will be up later this afternoon (Bill's fault this time 'round).

Also, we'll be splitting the next chapter into two parts. Can't give a page number obviously, with all the versions out there. So it's roughly at the halfway point, we're going to split at the end of the scene that closes in italics "Rats will flee. Even when there's nowhere to go." And before the scene that starts right after with "Wounded . . . soldiers were being carried past . . . "
Steven Halter
42. stevenhalter
Wizard, you’ve got too many secrets by far.
Tai Tastigon
43. Taitastigon
Bill @41

Also, we'll be splitting the next chapter into two parts.

*gggg*....wondered when you guys would be hit with that brick wall... ;0)
Chris Hawks
44. SaltManZ
I can't wait until RotCG: 1000+ pages in 16 chapters plus prologue and epilogue...
Sanctume Spiritstone
45. Sanctume
Thanks for the headsup Bill. I'm gonna take an early nap at work then :)

Re: Imperial Warren.

Wasn't it already mentioned/implied that the dust/ash in the Imperial Warren are from the piles of bones around Kallor's throne?
Iris Creemers
46. SamarDev
So, late due to a week of holidays, I don't have really much more to comment then you all have already done. Just a few snips...
Poor Joyful Union, Samar vs Karsa is great, loved the longer summaries, liked Paran vs Apsalar (and how he is growing into his role of man with power), lol re the retreat from the Imperial Warren directly followed by the order to get back again.
47. endertek
Amanda - per your question:

Why is it that Tavore doesn't want Dujek's assistance? He's too close to the Old Guard and the previous Emperor/Adjunct?

IMO - Tavore knows that 1) she will not compare favorably in a match-up with Dujek - he'll easily take the loyalty of her new untempered army and more importantly 2) she knows that Dujek is broken due to the losses of Whiskeyjack and what happened with the Panion. I feel this is not a personal motivation for Tavore - she just knows how alone she is - that all of this is on her shoulders - and that no matter how much she would like to shift this burden to Dujek, she cannot because he is no longer capable. Therefore, instead of giving her new army false hope in a living legend, she avoids him altogether.
Tabby Alleman
48. Tabbyfl55
Have to add my two cents about the scorpion. Was I sad that Joyful Union was killed? Not actually, no. I was sad that it was done in front of Bottle for the purposes of breaking his heart. And yes, I did hope the other soldiers would kill Sort. Not for killing a scorpion, but for being mean to Bottle.
By the way, look for a reference back to this event in Dust of Dreams in a conversation between Sort and Kindly. See if that reference changes your feelings about the event.

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