Wed
May 9 2012 12:00pm

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

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 Chapter Fifteen 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.

Just a note that once again, Amanda will not be joining us this post.

 

Chapter Fifteen

SCENE ONE

Paran (as Captain Kindly) forces his way past Noto Boil (the company cutter, priest to Soliel — Mistress of Healing and sister goddess of Poliel) to see Dujek, who is on the edge of death. In the sick room with Dujek is Fist Rythe Bude, who knows Kindly. She fled Shal-Morzinn after defying the Three who have ruled the land for thousands of years (and also kept Dancer and Kellanved out). Paran tells Noto Boil he is coming with Paran to attack Poliel in the temple.

SCENE TWO

Hurlochel tries to talk Paran out of the assault. Paran complains about Soliel doing nothing, saying the “so-called friendly, sympathetic gods have the most to answer for.” He orders Hurlochel to ready the army to march in a few das. Paran and Noto start for the city.

SCENE THREE

Trapped in Poliel’s temple, Quick Ben’s sister Torahaval recalls hunting him down at age ten when he’d used magic to give nightmares to his family and how he’d anticipated and planned for her hunting him down. Beside her, Bridthok categorizes foreign coins. Torahaval thinks of how Poliel will soon choose another lover from among the prisoners, now that the current one, Sribin, is rotting away. Bridthok says the Sha’ik cult has risen again around a new Sha’ik in the City of the Fallen and Poliel was harvesting an army for her, while behind all is the Crippled God. Bridthok tells her they are summoned and as they go to Poliel, Torahaval remembers a nightmare Quick Ben had told her of when he was a child: he had died but still wandered the world searching for what he had forgotten. She wonders if he had forgotten how to live.

SCENE FOUR

Fiddler drags Bottle to meet Quick Ben and Kalam. Quick is stuck with a doll ritual and Bottle helps. Bottle deduces one doll is a girl related to Quick who is in desperate trouble and Quick realizes it is Torahaval. Bottle reforms the Shadowthrone doll into a Hound carrying something like a snake, then falls asleep. Quick senses the Eres was with Bottle.

SCENE FIVE

Apsalar has been spying on the above meeting. She remembers that Torahaval’s name had been on Mebra’s list and thinks that both Cotillion and Shadowthrone want Torahaval dead, which she thinks is too bad. She senses Quick Ben is going to do something to help his sister and she begins to Shadow Dance.

SCENE SIX

Telorast and Curdle, watching Apsalar, decide to never mess with her. Telorast says “the doom’s come upon us” and they decide to “cause trouble.”

SCENE SEVEN

Quick Ben says he has to go in (meet with Shadowthrone) and Kalam is going to stay to pull him back. Fiddler has a bad feeling about it.

SCENE EIGHT

Paran and Noto Boil enter the city. They meet a child chosen by Soliel. The girl recalls being saved from rape by Malazans long ago (Fiddler in his gral disguise, Apsalar and Crokus back in Deadhouse Gates). She warns them enemies are coming, led by a “broke-face” man (the guard whose face was nearly bitten off by Fiddler’s horse in Deadhouse Gates). She says she will lead them to safety but Paran refuses, saying he expects a different offer from Soliel later. He sends Noto with the girl, saying he expects Soliel will “make use of” him. Paran leaves.

SCENE NINE

Noto starts to reject Paran and Soliel (through the girl) tells him to shut up, that “in that man the entire world hangs in balance and I shall not be for ever known as the one responsible for altering that condition.” She says she not plans “to witness.”

SCENE TEN

Paran meets a mob led by Brokeface, who tells him Poliel wishes to know who it is that resists her before the mob kills Paran. After noting that there is “ a beast” in Paran’s eyes, Brokeface agrees to take him to Poliel to make the offer Paran says he is there for.

SCENE ELEVEN

Torahaval thinks she has worshipped at many gods and has realized the worship is mere reflection of the worshiper and that a single god is tortured by the multiple desires of the adherents. She also believes the gentler gods have the cruelest worshipers thanks to their certainty. Torahaval is chosen by Poliel as Sribin’s replacement. Paran’s arrival interrupts.

SCENE TWELVE

Paran rides in to face Poliel, sitting on a throne of malformed bones. He throws the otataral shard at her and it pierces her hand, causing her agony and the loosing of chaos power.

SCENE THIRTEEN

Quick Ben meets with Shadowthrone. Shadowthrone tells him Torahaval has earned no mercy and she has severed all ties with Quick Ben anyway, but Quick says she’s tried to but he has threads tied to her she cannot break. Shadowthrone forces Quick Ben to agree he owes Shadowthrone and then sends Quick to his sister. Shadowthrone cuts threads in the room.

SCENE FOURTEEN

Bottle sees the threads have been cut by Shadowthrone and says he can’t do anything. They then note Apsalar has seemingly joined the gray wherever Quick is. Fiddler and Kalam leave.

SCENE FIFTEEN

Captain Sweetcreek is about to take command again when she is interrupted in her yelling at Hurlochel by the arrival of the Shadowhounds racing through the camp (one literally running over Hurlochel’s group) and into the city. Hurlochel wonders why the Shadowhounds looked terrified then the Deragoth arrive.

SCENE SIXTEEN

Noto’s horse bolts, dropping him to the ground. He hears “thunder.”

SCENE SEVENTEEN

Paran tells Poliel she made a big mistake messing with mortals.

SCENE EIGHTEEN

Brokeface thinks he is now alone again, and remembers the day his life/pride was shattered years ago when Fiddler’s horse bit his face, causing all to look on him with revulsion and then he in turn wishing to cause misery and terror to others. Poliel has been a “gift” and he’s furious with Paran for killing her.

SCENE NINETEEN

Quick Ben arrives in the throne room beside Torahaval. He realizes there is otataral nearby so he’ll have to physically move her out of its range before he can do anything. He hears the hounds coming.

SCENE TWENTY

Paran exits, just missing getting trampled by the Shadowhounds. He sees Noto and the girl and tells them they’re going to Soliel’s temple, just as the Deragoth arrive.

SCENE TWENTY-ONE

Quick Ben starts to drag his sister out, thinking he’s dead, that the Shadowhounds have come for him and Shadowthrone has outsmarted him.

SCENE TWENTY-TWO

Brokeface purposely steps in front of one of the Shadowhounds hoping to be killed but is just shouldered aside. He sees Apsalar attacking the Hounds, forcing them back then guarding the doorway with Telorast and Curdle by her side. She tells Brokeface to follow quick and his sister through a bolthole behind the throne. He says he just wants to die and she tells him to go to Soliel’s Temple. When he tells her Soliel is “ever turned away,” Apsalar tell shim not today thanks to Paran. The Deragoth arrive.

SCENE TWENTY-THREE

Brokeface catches up to Quick and helps him with Torahaval.

SCENE TWENTY-FOUR

Apsalar tells Telorast and Curdle it’s time to go and leaves.

SCENE TWENTY-FIVE

Poliel feels trapped. The Crippled God has withdrawn his power. She believes Paran understood nothing and that mortals seek their own destruction even as they deliver it to others and the world itself. She thinks “diseased minds and foul souls” had brought her into this world to heal the land, heal Burn, once they were all gone via “fever.” The Shadowhound tosses Dejim’s last body onto the dais and leave just before the Deragoth arrive and kill both Dejim and Poliel.

SCENE TWENTY-SIX

Brokeface convinces Quick Ben to bring his sister to Soliel’s temple

SCENE TWENTY-SEVEN

Paran and Noto arrive in Soliel’s temple and Paran summons the goddess, who arrives furious. She starts to say Paran has made a terrible mistake, but he interrupts and tells her to start healing, starting with giving Noto some of her power so he can heal the army outside the city. She agrees, though she implies Paran will soon be suffering. Quick Ben arrives and he and Paran discuss how Quick bargained with Shadowthrone to save his sister. Before leaving, Quick Ben asks Paran if they can trust Tavore and Paran tells him she will do what needs to be done and she makes no distinction between her needs and the needs of her soldiers. They agree to share a beer when it’s all over and Quick leaves just before his sister wakes.

SCENE TWENTY-EIGHT

Quick Ben arrives back at the camp where Bottle is waiting. He tells Quick Fiddler and Kalam discovered Apsalar with blood on her knives and are confronting her, thinking she killed Quick Ben. Quick Ben stops things before they get out of hand, upbraiding Kalam. Sort arrives to say they’re marching. Quick thanks Apsalar, though she says she doesn’t know what he means. He believes she wants to die.

SCENE TWENTY-NINE

Cotillion meets with Shadowthrone, who is surrounded by wounded shadowhounds. Shadowthrone says he had Quick Ben but Cotillion ruined it (via Apsalar).

SCENE THIRTY

Paran arrives back in camp with Noto and is told Dujek died. Paran realizes this is what Soliel had been talking about. Sweetcreek informs him the army voted to make Paran their leader, their High Fist.

 

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Fifteen

That is not a good sighting of Dujek and it’s pretty horrible for the reader who has seen him in his moments of power. Even worse is that Dujek is not dying fighting, but is gasping away his life horribly on a cot in a tent. Of course, by now, we know as readers that near-dead doesn’t always mean dead, and dead doesn’t always mean dead, so the tension is will Dujek die or not; if he does, will he stay dead or not; if he does and stays dead, will it be “dead dead” or “walking around dead”?

I love this scene with Rythe Bude because it’s a great example of how authors can do some worldbuilding by creating a world larger than the one they’re dealing with in the story, as opposed to the kind of worldbuilding where you feel the world is constructed solely for the story and so all the world is bound within the story (if that makes sense). In other words, I like that we just get this brief little lesson on this almost entirely mysterious land and all of it will lead in this story to, well, nothing much. But still we get great and intriguing details:

  • Shal-Morzinn is ruled by three sorcerers who are at least a thousand years old.
  • They’re powerful enough to have made even Dancer and Kellanved think twice.
  • They burns their corpses, filling them with oil so the chest explodes and frees the soul.

Tell me you don’t want a novel exploring this place....

Paran’s line: “It’s the so-called friendly, sympathetic gods who have the most to answer for” brings up some interesting questions for the reader since we’ve now might wonder how Paran might deal (or not) with some “friendly, sympathetic gods” that we’ve already seen, such as K’rul or Mael. And his eyes flaring like a “beast’s” when he talks of bringing such gods to account (and I love Hurlochel’s wide-eyed response) makes one think those gods better watch out.

“I’d swear it with one heel on Hood’s own foreskin.” I don’t have anything deep to say about this line; I just enjoyed it a lot.

“In the meantime, you command the Host, sir.” And thus it begins — Paran gets himself an army. And not so “meantime” it will turn out....

Not that I’m condoning the youthful cruelty of Quick Ben, but I love how this scene shows him as untrustworthy, devious, manipulative, powerful even as a ten-year-old, one who even then is layering schemes inside of schemes. And I think if anyone was in trouble and counting on Quick Ben to help, and knew this, it would make them feel a bit better.

Bottle has grown before our eyes as readers as more and more he is revealed to be someone of some power and significance (no matter how he tries to hide it). Seeing Quick Ben’s dilemma and fixing it is yet another way he steps up in our regard.

Note that very throwaway line by Fiddler when Quick asks if Fiddler understands him — “As clear as the moon lately.” It’s a nice subtle way to remind the sharp reader that something very funny is happening with the moon.

Apsalar’s line of thinking about Torahaval being marked for death — “both Cotillion and Shadowthrone wanted the woman dead, and they usually got what they wanted. Thanks to me and people like me. The gods place knives in our mortal hands, and need do nothing more” — is nicely ambiguous. Is this Apsalar saying it in a resigned tone of voice, planning on killing Torahaval? Or is this a resentful Apsalar saying it in a bitter tone, meaning she just might not let them “get what they wanted” this time?

I have to admit, I’m not remembering what is coming enough to know what Telorast means by “the doom’s come upon us” (save for something that I do not believe is what she means). Anyone got this? I do like the “I say we cause trouble.” Reminds me of “I aim to misbehave” from good old Malcolm Reynolds.

Love the “not the otataral one, idiot.” Nice mood breaker amidst the growing tension.

Speaking of worldbuilding, I so love that the voice of Soliel is the little girl Fiddler saved back in DG, just as the leader of the Poliel’s mob is the guard Fiddler’s horse bit in that same book. I like the way it keeps the world alive, I like that these sort of things reward readers/rereaders, and I like how Fiddler’s good deed gets rewarded in such unexpected ways.

More discussion of religion here: “All that is worshipped is but a reflection of the worshiper.” Again, I find myself nodding in agreement. I’m not sure how one avoids this sort of thing, since there is the seemingly inherent contradiction in believing in a being wholly above humanity yet one can only think as a human, and thus the wholly inhuman being ends up with all-too-human qualities. But clearly lots of people manage to get past this. I do like how Erikson forces us to examine such things though. Or I suppose, offers us the opportunity to. He can’t make a reader stop and think about it after all.

And there is “certainty” rearing its ugly head again. Funny timing, as I my ten-year-old and I were just reading one of his new magazines (Calliope, I think) which was all about the Protestant Reformation and I had to explain why all those people were getting burned at the stake.

Web imagery also making its appearance yet again, not for the first time in this chapter, though I didn’t point out the earlier one.

A nice little reminder of Dunsparrow. Erikson is really pretty relentless in keeping names and plotlines before the readers’ eyes, something other huge, sprawling epic authors could take a lesson from I think. Not just the idea (rather than having characters disappear from the mind entirely for hundreds if not thousands of pages) but the economy of it — we don’t need a recap of prior events, an expository paragraph or even sentence or two — just remind us of the name. The good reader will do the rest.

There’s a lot going on in this scene with Paran and Poliel. Two powerful beings, each acting with a sense of knowledge and well, even certainty, but each not really fully understanding things. For instance, Poliel saying “Blood was their path. And so we choose to poison it.” [italics Erikson’s] seems to confuse Paran who frowns then shrugs. I assume she is referring to the Elder Gods and the Crippled God poisoning the warrens. Anyone have a different take? And of course, Poliel doesn’t understand what Paran really is or what he plans. I do like Paran’s regret over what he feels forced to do.

So what will Shadowthrone require of Quick Ben to pay his debt? Stay tuned....

“Mess with mortals . . . and you pay.” We’ve seen variations on this line before and it remains a favorite running concept in this series for me.

So, Brokeface. A minor character. And, as presented to us earlier and now here, a not at all likable one. And one that most authors wouldn’t waste their time with I think save to make him unlikable. But here, even amidst all the literally world-shaking events going on involving major personages and ascendants and gods (Quick Ben, Paran, Poliel, Shadowthrone) we get a few paragraphs to delve into the psyche of Brokeface. The way his pride was broken the day he was maimed. The way the maiming drove his life (and I’m not saying here he had not choice in the direction) down a certain path. Then we get a few lines about his desire to die. And we get to “witness” to use the series’ terms, the possibility than the reality it seems of rebirth. We get to see someone respond to him not with revulsion with “simple regard” and already, one thinks, that begins the healing. As I said, I don’t think many authors would have spent those lines on such a character, but its moments like these that more than, say, the battle scenes, that separate for me this series from others.

And then, perhaps trying to top himself, he gets me to feel sorry even for Poliel. This is what point of view can do. This is what complexity can do. This is what careful eschewing of “certainty” can do. It robs the reader of the ease of the Dark Lord — all evil because he’s evil, and that’s all we need know. But now we get Poliel feeling betrayed. Betrayed by the Crippled God, who withdrew his lent strength it seems. Betrayed by Paran, whom she seems to believe should have understood that a war against the Elder Gods stood mortals in good stead? We get to think about how (if I’m reading this right — feel free as always to correct me) her warping and disfigurement of humans via her plague is mere revelation of the warping and disfigurement that lies within them. We get to think of her performing an act of mercy — not on a human scale — but on a larger scale that humans can’t ever consider — that by killing them off she is saving the planet. For after all, she thinks, who is doing more to destroy the land, the world, than the mortals who despoil all they touch seemingly (hard to argue that point — on a world scale, we are as virulent a parasite as they come). We get to see how she sees herself — someone dragged into the world for the world, dragged in by “diseased minds and foul souls.” Erikson forces us out of our parochial mindset where we “humans centre salvation solely upon themselves.”

I love that Quick Ben, who will face down Shadowthrone, Andii assassins, Rake, and sundry other powerful creatures, flees before his angry sister wakes up. Humanizes him a bit.

“Tavore will do what needs to be done.” Yes. Yes she will. Remember.

There’s so much for the reader to enjoy in these scenes: Poliel taken care of. Quick’s sister saved. Quick saved. Quick and Paran sharing a moment. Quick and Apsalar sharing a moment. The humor with Shadowthrone and Cotillion and the hounds. And then we’re hit with the news of Dujek’s death. An offstage death. A horrible death. And the impact is heightened by the news coming when it does. And heightened by its having its own line: “Dujek Onearm is dead.” And by it ending a chapter. So much for triumph....


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.

36 comments
Tricia Irish
1. Tektonica
I so love this chapter....perhaps my favorite in the book. Didn't I say that about an earlier chapter? There's just so much meat in here. I feel like there's so much SE. His anthropology is showing! He throws so many questions at us....the nature of religion and gods, manmade? Who created whom? The selfishness and hubris of humans, and our rush to destruction of the planet and ourselves. Etc.

And then there are the various character arcs....Paran has grown so much throughout these books. Bottle is coming into his own. Quick is humanized with some backstory. Apsalars' dispair becomes obvious. There seems to be some kind of "rivalry" between Quick and Shadowthrone. I agree, Bill, the economy of characters, and the care SE takes with these secondary characters, creates a very rich depth.

Oddly, losing Dujek off screen didn't bother me too much. We didn't know him as well as we did WJ, whose loss off screen would have been infuriating. The story here was Paran finding and using his power, I think. The changing of the guard, so to speak. A rearranging of the playing field.

And a question for you all......Paran is the Master of the Deck, chosen for his neutrality/independence, iirc. He is an ascendent, because of being MotD, or because he's a BB. He is perhaps on his way to becoming a god, much like the Errant, if he gets worshipers. BUT....how does he know certain things? How does he deduce what's going to happen? Is he just a master tactition, ala QB or Shadowthrone? Does he have some kind of godlike foresight? Did something happen to him when he was residing in the Azath in Darujustan? Can anyone shed some light on this?
James Golden
2. Treemaster
Just a great chapter. My favorite in the series so far (I just finished Toll the Hounds for the first time). When I go through more difficult portions of the series, I just remind myself that chapters like these exist.
Chris Hawks
3. SaltManZ
Per SE, his short story "Goats of Glory" (which appears in the Swords & Dark Magic anthology) takes place in Shal-Morzinn, and "hints at a conflict with The Three." There are only a couple of inconsequential hints to tie it in with the rest of the Malazan world, but it's certainly worth checking it out.

The poem at the start of this chapter always gets me: it's boring, and it goes on too long, and then I reach the last few lines, and I grin and it was totally worth it.

Amanda's missing a lot of good stuff. Will she be filling in her commentary when she gets back (as she's done in the past)?
MDW
4. MDW
I can't believe we won't get Amanda's reaction to this chapter. It's so full of good stuff.

I'm glad to see the scene summaries are verbose again.
Dustin George-Miller
5. dustingm
Was there ever a consensus reached on what kind of creatures Poleil and Soleil were before their ascension? Because by Erikson's description, they sure do seem to resemble Forkrul Assail...
Amir Noam
6. Amir
Thanks, Bill, for connecting the dots on who Brokeface is!
It was easy to figure out that the girl is the one saved by Fiddler (Kimloc's granddaughter), but I just couldn't remember if we've encountered a character who got bitten in the face by a horse.
Tricia Irish
7. Tektonica
dustingm@5: Good idea, Since all the weird joints were mentioned. But how did they get here? Inquiring minds want to know!
Steven Halter
8. stevenhalter
This is indeed an epic, fantastic chapter. When we went through the Y'Ghatan chapter, some were wondering how it could be so early in the book and what SE could do as the book rolled on. Here we have: Both kinds of hounds rampaging, a goddess slain, Paran gets an army, we get precious QB backstory, Dujek slain, Bottle embiggened, Apsalar dances, ...
I like this chapter at least as much as the Y'Ghatan chapter and that is quite a bit. It isn't, however, my favorite in the book. That chapter is yet to come.
Mieneke van der Salm
9. Mieneke
I love that little exchange between Paran and Quick regarding Tavore. There's just so much riding on that I feel, as if had Paran answered otherwise Tavore would have irrevocably lost any chance of binding the Bonehunters to herself fully as Dujek did his soldiers. It's also a rather poignant way of Paran giving her his blessing I felt, which with him being the Master of the Deck might mean more than just an endorsement of his sister's character. Or am I just rambling?

And Bottle's just awesome. But how much if his awesomeness is Bottle himself and how much is due to his connection to the Eres'al?

Poor Dujek, another of the old guard gone.
Iris Creemers
10. SamarDev
I like how Paran has grown. No 'I like this works' anymore, he just draws a line and rides through the wall without hesitation. No hesitation about what to do with Poliel (like with the CG before), he just acts as he thinks is good.

And so much more is in it. The way small characters remind you of reading a series, not just a book. Devious little Ben. The 'hah!' you think when Paran smartly uses his otataral sword shard, directly followed by the doubt whether it was a good decision (by his own thoughts and those of Poliel). The shock of Dujeks death. The way the T'rolbarahl comes to its end. Quicks question whether they can trust Tavore (who hasn't thought the same, with all her introvert decision-making?). Shadowthrone versus Quick Ben ('that horrid little thousand-faced wizard!').

Well, in short, nice chapter :-).
Amanda, first of all I hope you are well. When you're able to join us again, would it be possible to get your short overall impressions of the chapters you've missed now, if it's not possible to catch up with your more extensive comments?
B T
11. amphibian
This is Bill's best chapter summary yet. It may be that all of these months of doing this, reading along, cogitating and just plain out being frustrated with the slow pace has put him in a spot where he's letting loose some awesome stuff on the page.

Good work, Bill.

And I heart Erikson.
Chris Hawks
12. SaltManZ
Kalam's cousin, Whiskeyjack's little sister, and now QB's sister: it can't be a coincidence they all randomly show up in this book. (On top of which you've got Soliel/Poliel as sisters I think, plus the Paran siblings leading the remaining 7C armies.) And yet, I can't work a theme for the book out of any of it. Anyone have any ideas?
B H
13. Greyhawk
Tek @1 and if I can add to your question, how does Aspalar "know" so much. It almost seems as if once a character reaches a certain "power" level the readers are no longer privy to all of their thoughts and experiences in the same way we were when they were more "human". Is it because it is too difficult to write or is it a writing technique to preserve the mystique of the major powers? I know I am not expressing myself well here, but it is like comparing the character of Pug in the Feist novels early on (say Magician Apprentice) to him in his lates outings (Demonwar Saga)--Pug is just able to do things now because he is that powerful, whereas before we saw him grope for the spell to choke the ogre and save the duke's daughter. I am not comparing Erikson and Feist directly, only a aspect of fantasy writing that seems to be common across the fantasy writing spectrum.
B H
14. Greyhawk
As a follow-up I know that Aspalar has Cotillion's memories-so maybe she wasn't the best example. But she seems to have grown beyond that now.
Kimani Rogers
15. KiManiak
Hey all,

I have been following the reread and the comments –in lurk mode- but decided to delurk and comment myself on this chapter. I know that a lot of folks stated their favorite chapter in TBH was the fire of Y’Ghatan (Chapter 7, right?), but I have to say that this chapter is my favorite one of TBH. It was that way when I first read the book, and it has stayed as such once I saw how the remaining story developed, up to events we see in The Crippled God.

Paran is such a great character. I respect how he took on this task to try to save Dujek (along with other reasons) and how although he failed in his personal mission, he won the respect and leadership of Dujek’s army. I almost wish the reader could have read Dujek’s logs to see how he characterizes Paran. Just so we can see what the Fists and Captains think what type of man he is and what type of things he did. Dujek knew he was the Master of the Deck, an Ascendant and potentially incredibly powerful; did Dujek put that in his logs?

I love that Paran takes down Poliel, and reminds the Malazan Pantheon “don’t mess with mortals.”

I like that Quick Ben and Paran are able to discuss Tavore’s capabilities briefly, as that helped the reader (or at least this reader) maintain faith in Tavore’s actions at a time when you still don’t have an idea of who she is and what she’s doing (wait; do we ever get a better idea about that?)

I am saddened by what Apsalar must go through, including the continuous distrust of her former squadmates, including 2 individuals who recently fought side by side with Apsalar (not Sorry) in the end of Deadhouse Gates and saw the quality of person she had become.

tektonica@1 – I don’t think its ever spelled out clearly as to how Paran knows what he knows. I’d begun to believe that some Ascendants have an “awareness” of what’s going on in the world; kind of like the “cosmic sense” that some celestial level characters have in the Marvel Universe :-) Anyway, that’s how I’ve been able to accept actions and deductions by Paran, Shadowthrone, Anomander Rake, Hood, Apsalar, and Tavore. Of course, “One of these things is not like the other…”

dustinggm@5 – I guessed Forkrul Assail as well, due to the clues. I don’t think its ever spelled out, though…

shalter@8 – I think I can guess about your favorite chapter; I think it may be the same as my 2nd favorite…

I just love this chapter. Back to lurking…
MDW
16. MDW
@6 Amir
I think Soliel's child is not Kimloc's granddaughter but the other girl saved by Fiddler, Apsalar and Crokus when they were moving through the sacked city.

@5 dustingm
I didn't know there was discussion about that, but now that you mention Forkrul Assail seems to fit their personality too.
karl oswald
17. Toster
@16 MDW, Kimloc's child was in Ehrlitan, before the rebellion erupted. fiddler has a habit of saving children it seems.

re: Paran's awareness, we do have to remember that Master of the Deck is not just a title. I imagine he could peruse and understand the relationships between every card in any field he laid, with enough certainty to act with confidence. He seems to do most of it mentally, much like a certain grease-ball who speaks in third-person and usually ends up playing everything and everyone. maybe one day paran will match him ;-)
MDW
18. PerfectDisdain
I still don't get why the hounds carried Dejim all that way just to let him be killed by the Deragoth at Poleil's feet.
Amir Noam
19. Amir
MDW,

Completely forgot about that scene from DG!
Brian R
20. Mayhem
@18
The hounds carried Dejim to Poliel because Shadowthrone told them to.
The idea was to use the Hounds to kill QB and leave Dejim behind to appease the Deragoth, so that they wouldn't go on chasing the Hounds to the Shadowrealm.
Tricia Irish
21. Tektonica
And why does Shadowthrone want QB dead? A good old fashioned rivalry? Because QB has his own plans for the CG/Burn?, or from his ex- Priesthood? Isn't he an ex- priest of...something?
Amir Noam
22. Amir
Tektonica @21:

QB is a former High Priest of Shadow.
And he's apparently also a former Malazan High Mage.

His CV is impressive.
Darren Kuik
23. djk1978
I enjoyed this chapter for all the throwbacks to Deadhouse Gates and I join the ranks of it's almost a favourite. The beauty of it is we've been set up to really dislike Poliel for this plague (good catch on the Forkrul Assail connection - I never picked up on that) and now when Paran kills her we find that she is actually trying to heal Burn. And that brings sympathy because we know that QB is also looking out for Burn.

And we find out why the House of Shadow of spared Dejim, as a decoy should the Deragoth ever get close. And we see how deadly even unpossessed Apsalar is, if the Hounds think Cotillion was the one who attacked them. I dare say Kalam would be overmatched against her.

Onward!

PS: KiManiak you should delurk more often!
MDW
24. Tufty
Bill said:
We get to think about how (if I’m reading this right — feel free as always to correct me) her warping and disfigurement of humans via her plague is mere revelation of the warping and disfigurement that lies within them. We get to think of her performing an act of mercy — not on a human scale — but on a larger scale that humans can’t ever consider — that by killing them off she is saving the planet. For after all, she thinks, who is doing more to destroy the land, the world, than the mortals who despoil all they touch seemingly (hard to argue that point — on a world scale, we are as virulent a parasite as they come). We get to see how she sees herself — someone dragged into the world for the world, dragged in by “diseased minds and foul souls.” Erikson forces us out of our parochial mindset where we “humans centre salvation solely upon themselves.”
Those all seem valid to me, but with the reference to Burn, I think Poliel was aiming to awaken Burn, much like the Brood's Hammer dilemma from MoI. By destroying most humans and toppling civilizations, Brood would no longer have any reason not to awaken Burn.
John B
25. Xenai
The scene where tiny dinaosaur Telorast and Curdle are making vaguely menacing motions, and the massive Hounds of Shadow are all backing up a bit and seeming a bit preturbed, is one of my favorite scenes in the book to picture. A close second is where Cotillion shows up and all the Hounds snap at him and he's going "Hey, it wasn't me! No, really, it wasn't!" and they're all totally unconvinced.
Iris Creemers
26. SamarDev
Quotes...

'Make it three days.'

'It's not good,' he said, 'following anyone's shadow.'

'These soldiers are yours, Ganoes Paran. No matter what the Empress decides.'

'Aye,' he said in a rasp, 'we went hunting... through the bones of the damned city. And then, with the captain's help, we crawled outa that grave.' (...) 'Bonehunters in truth, then. Welcome back, soldiers. '
karl oswald
27. Toster
interesting note about the chapter opening poem for tmw. the author is Sogruntes, and am i the only one who always thinks Socrates every time they read that name?
karl oswald
28. Toster
and a hilarious quote

"If your friend scratches that comb he's admiring Captain Kindly will kill you both."
"Thikburd! Put that down!"
"But it's pretty!"
"So's a mouthful of teeth and you want to keep yours don't ya?"
Mieneke van der Salm
29. Mieneke
Quotes...

'There's thinkin' and there's thinkin' and that's jus' the way it is. Soldiers do one kind and leaders do the other. Ain't good the two getting mixed up.'

And with soldiers like these, we won an empire.

'"In proclamation, one defines his enemy for his enemy".'

'And precisely how,' he asked in a whisper, 'am I to live up to this?'

'Karsa, tell them to get the Hood off this land!'
Tricia Irish
30. Tektonica
Kimaniak, Dustingm, Toster:

Thanks for your thoughts re: Parans,' or any ascendents', awareness. Reading the Deck has to provide some insights, but we really never see Paran do that....like Fid does. Maybe just being the Master of that Deck gives you insights. As for Apsalar, who knows....Cotillions memories and his assignments to her, might give her some premonitions about what will happen. She seems to be able to deduce where QB is going from spying on his and Bottle's machinations with the stick figures...maybe from Cotillions knowledge of such.

Amir: So as a former high priest of Shadow, Shadowthrone is PO'ed at QB. I can certainly see ST holding a grudge! And the fact that QB has his own agenda, of which ST is not privilaged and probably has his suspicions ;-)

Thanks all.
Tricia Irish
31. Tektonica
The boy knows things....Grub

"Adjunct, you hang the captain for desertion and you better get a lot more nooses, 'cause we'll leave this miserable world when she does."
Tricia Irish
32. Tektonica
Forgot this one......

....at his ankle that yipping mutt that looked like what a cow would regurgitate after eating a mohair rug.

more good humor.....

There was no question of Kindly lacking courage, or at least raging megalomania.
Chris Hawks
33. SaltManZ
Toster @27: You're definitely not the only one. :)
Kimani Rogers
34. KiManiak
djk1978@23 - Thanks for the kind words! I still really love Malazan and do follow Bill and Amanda and all of the commenters each post.

I'm actually in the midst of my first full Malazan reread and so I spend a lot of my "Malazan oriented time" reading Bill/Amanda and trying to catch up to them with my own reread (still a couple of books behind); less likely to compose my own comments to these posts that consistently. I may delurk here and there; hopefully more when my own reread has actually caught up.
Bill Capossere
35. Billcap
Saltman@3
Thanks—I’ll have to pick up that anthology obviously

amphibian@11
thanks for the kind words—glad you liked it. Feel free to send along reason why—things you thought were done better this time, suggestions for improvements (same goes for anyone). Always looking to do this better . . .

Saltman@12
It’s funny you mention that. I actually had a line or two about the family relationships cropping up and took it out because I wasn’t sure what to say about it yet and was holding off to see what more may fill it out.

KiManiak@15
Glad you came out of lurk mode—lots of good stuff to say! Part of me also wanted to see those logs.

Tufty@24
I hadn’t thought of Poliel wanting to waken Burn, but I can see what you’re saying.

On Paran’s awareness (and others’), I sort of also go the Spidey Sense kind of way, thinking their ascendancy gives them more of an in-tune-with-the-world sense. As well as the ability to sense other power and perhaps perceive some of what that other power is doing (I think you get some of that in Tolkien as well—with the “Eye” and Galadariel being able to perceive Sauron etc. With Paran in particular, I think he also has the advantages of being tuned to the Deck and the (I assume) roles in it. And some of them might just be working on familiarity—as many have said, lots of folks are rewalking the same old routes so how hard is it for some to figure out the paths? Though these new guys aren’t making that any easier . . .
Amanda Rutter
36. ALRutter
Some brief thoughts on chapter fifteen:

- We're not required to like that priest of Soliel at any point, are we? Because I think I would find it very hard...

- My heart grieves to see Dujek Onearm in this condition.

- Busted! There was bound to be a few who would know that Paran wasn't actually Captain Kindly!

- A handy dandy mention of this place Shal-Morzinn, no doubt so that it can be introduced again at a later point. Particularly because it was visited by the emperor and Dancer...

- A shame that Noto Boil has the profession of Cutter, since, when he's referred to by only his profession, it confuses with the character cutter. Or maybe just me? Do you ever feel that the names in a series can reach boiling point, where you simply can't take in any more? *grins*

- An interesting sentence here that I plan to take forward: "It's easy to weep when staying far away, doing nothing."

- Eep, not a pleasant quote: "I'd swear it with one heel on Hood's own foreskin, Captain."

- It is awesome to see Paran taking such control of the army.

- Hmmmmmm. Seems like Quick Ben has always been the devious and arrogant sort. And knowledgeable about magic and such from the age of ten. Nice to see a little background to him, but wasn't he a brat!

- Now we have Quick Ben's sister entering the fray, and on the side of Poliel, or certainly under her thrall. Lots of the old gang are suddenly gaining family members, aren't they?

- What evil has "fully grown into itself" within Quick Ben? Is this to do with his role as High Priest of Shadow? Or is this more the opinion of his sister and hence unreliable?

- Fear from Quick Ben towards Kalam?

- Tremendous scene where Bottle finally meets Quick Ben and seems to completely own him! Re-aligning the figures, telling him what they mean, re-creating the picture. The Shadowthrone element is incredibly sinister and worrying, especially the way he now seems to resemble something....else.

- Quick Ben is quick (ha ha) to pick up on the fact that Bottle is being ridden by Eres.

- Ouch - Cotillion and Shadowthrone both want Torahaval dead...

- I disagree with Apsalar's impression here: "The gods place knives into our mortal hands, and need do nothing more." For one thing, the gods have stepped into the fray. And for another, the mortals sometimes kick back.

- Hahaha! "Not the otataral one, idiot."

- I am not sure I am remembering who this young girl is who has been chosen of Soliel :-/

- Sometimes it is hard to keep sight of how important Paran now is, until you read something like this: "In that man the entire world hangs in balance, and I shall not be forever known as the one responsible for altering that condition."

- Interesting reflection of Karsa when this Soliel-possessed girl says "To witness!"

- Paran is definitely growing in stature as he faces down Poliel (and that is what the shard of otataral was for!)

- "Time's nearly up." Rife with meaning.

- I never dreamt that Quick Ben would care enough for his sister to put himself into Shadowthrone's power and owe a debt, considering their history (all three)...

- Somewhat amused by Kalam and Fiddler both heading off in different directions, trying to find Apsalar, but it feels very much as though events are building. Has Erikson begun his usual end of book sprint here?

- I don't get how Bottle can be so calm and isn't striving to help out, is willing just to wait and see?

- Oh man! Paran has unleashed the Hounds on Poliel! Take that!

- Wait, wait, wait.... Apsalar is attacking the Hounds? So that Quick Ben and his sister can escape? Or for her own ends?

- Now this intrigues me: Poliel's thought as the Deragoth come for her - "A broken goddess, who had sought to heal Burn." Does this mean that all her actions, however hideous, had at their root a good intention? Or am I reading that very wrong?

- Does Paran now realise that he made a mistake by unleashing the Deragoth on Poliel, when he sees Quick and his sister?

- I like the comment about the wolf :-)

- This is heartbreaking: "No, what she wants ain't for us to give. She wants to die."

- *giggles* Love Cotillion's indignation over the accusation from Shadowthrone about the Hounds.

- Oh Dujek :-(

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