May 2 2012 1:00pm

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

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


Paran’s group has exited Omtose Phellack and arrived in Seven Cities near G’danisban. Ganath says she’ll go to deal with her ritual regarding a sky keep having failed and Paran agrees she can call on him for a favor. Paran gives Karpolan Lorn’s otataral sword as payment. Karpolan breaks it and gives Paran a shard. Ganath leaves and Paran rides toward the city. Two Malazan soldiers arrest him on suspicion of desertion and take him to Onearm’s Host.


In the camp, the captain (Sweetcreek) orders Paran imprisoned before being executed. Paran knocks out and ties up the captain and soldier and looks for someone he knows from before. He finds Hurlochel, the old chronicler, who tells him the plague is devastating Seven Cities and seems to be emanating from the grand Temple of Poliel in G’danisban. Dujek led an assault on the temple, met Poliel herself and returned with plague. Hurlochel convinces Paran to take command using Captain Kindly’s name. He also gives some background on Genabackis, including that the Crimson Guard just vanished.


Lostara joins the Y’Ghatan survivors. Sort fills her in, tells her Tene Baralta was badly wounded, and says she hasn’t asked Sinn to contact Tavore because she is a wild talent and runs the risk of becoming “avatars of chaos.” They discuss Sort’s background on the Wall, the role of Oponn/luck vs. skill in survival, the nature of sorcery.


Kalam recalls battles in Black Dog swamp with the Mott Irregulars and the Crimson Guard and the impact on the Bridgeburners. He tells Quick Ben he feels old and wonders what they’ve accomplished. Quick says he’s wondered why Kalam hasn’t killed Pearl for stabbing him in Malaz City. Kalam says they have bigger worries and they speculate on Tavore’s plans, the war between the gods, the Empress’ side, Paran’s role as Master of the Deck, with Apsalar warning Quick to be cautious with his schemes. Quick Ben says he’d like to see Pearl killed, implying he’d help Kalam.


Fiddler, carrying a little girl, goes back over the numbers killed. Fiddler asks if Corabb will join his squad. Corabb tells him about Leoman and Dunsparrow and Fiddler tells Kalam and Quick, informing the reader that Dunsparrow is Whiskeyjack’s younger sister, whom he was a quasi-uncle to when she grew up. Kalam says at least her being alive with Leoman and the Queen of Dreams is better than being dead and Fiddler says maybe not, explaining Dunsparrow was born to a dead woman and was given up to Hood in his temple, but Whiskeyjack and Fiddler broke in and took her back, though she’s already been consecrated in Hood’s name.


Apsalar thinks of Whiskeyjack’s secretive past, his being a mason and how it connected to the role in the Deck of Dragons. She thinks of Laseen’s rumored role in Dassem Ultor’s death, if it had been to sever ties with someone becoming a cult figure and linked to Hood (via being the Mortal Sword), wondering even if the Emperor had ordered it. She speculates if Whiskeyjack had been part of Dassem’s cult, if the Queen of Dreams knows about Dunsparrow, if the Queen is allied with Hood, if Dunsparrow is merely a pawn. She worries about becoming entangled with Kalam and Quick’s schemes, as well as wonders about Telorast and Curdle’s motivation for following her.


Bottle walks with Koryk, who is carrying finger bones to distribute to the other soldiers. Bottle worries about the upcoming meeting with Quick Ben and all his warrens. He feels the soldiers have gone through a rite of passage but it hasn’t left them reborn but more burdened, more brittle.


Hellian is miserable. Gesler realizes they’re killing themselves and suggests Apsalar ride ahead to let the Fourteenth know about them. They decide to send someone the Fourteenth knows — Masan Gilani. Apsalar gives Masan her horse and a knife and Masan heads out. Sort says they’ll march again after resting a bit. Nearby, Dejim Nebrahl reaches the ancient ruins of Yadeth Garath, having traced all the old cities’ paths desperately seeking food to answer its hunger. It senses food not far away.


Dejim attacks Masan, wounding her and killing her horse but is wounded as well, one of its bodies killed and one “crippled” by Masan. As Masan runs the howls of the Deragoth break out and one approaches her, making eye contact before moving past.


Dejim, down to four bodies (one wounded and lagging) flees. It loses scent of the Deragoth hunting it and wonders.


The Malazans catch glimpses of huge shapes in the dark, then Apsalar orders them off the road. Bottle tells Fiddler some huge “bear-wolf” is out there and other fast-moving creatures are coming up on them.


Dejim senses the Malazans but then is stunned to find itself facing a Deragoth. The Deragoth kill all but one of Dejim’s bodies, then one Deragoth takes the last body in its jaws and heads off, followed by the others.


Kalam and Quick check their drawers.


Back at the Fourteenth, Kindly yanks Pores out of the healing wagons (Pores had been wounded in an encounter with bandits). The command council is together and Ruthan Gudd is telling about long-ago events involving the T’lan Imass breaking Jaghut sorcery leading to the rising of the seas and destruction of a citadel now buried beneath the sea they’re overlooking. He says he is from the island of Strike, whose people believe they are the only remaining original inhabitants of Falar.


Keneb hopes they can find a place to take ship and he hopes to go home, see his family, make up for past mistakes. He thinks about the new cults “honoring” the Chain of Dogs and wonders what it means when one’s enemies take up one’s own heroes. Blistig advises moving on but Tavore says no and Nil says the weather will change. Keneb worries about Baralta, if his spirit has broken since he hasn’t spoken or moved in days, despite being healed as much as possible. Nether says Poliel is hunting Malazans.


The Y’Ghatan survivors find Masan. Fiddler asks Bottle what he sees when he looks at Telorast and Curdle and Bottle says he sees dragons.


Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Thirteen

Two things I like about Chapter Thirteen immediately. One is Ganath’s reference to how this new inland sea of Raraku is already changing the weather systems and the air culture of the Seven Cities — more humid, more insects. And then I love how Erikson describes the way that Paran’s mount will hold its breath when it comes time to cinch the girth — this is something that I always had to sort out as well when I went horse riding regularly. You either have to press on the horse’s ribs when cinching to force them to breathe out, or you have to cinch the girth twice. These little details and accuracies show the immense amount of work Erikson must do to flavour his series.

I can see why Ganath would have an edge to her voice — Paran has made the world more dangerous and unpredictable with the release of the Deragoth.

What did Ganath’s now-broken ritual hold apart from the Sky Keep? Something to bear in mind! And the fact that at some point in the series ahead Ganath is going to be asking Paran to do something for her...

Why would they destroy the otataral sword? I know it is a rather nasty piece of gear for those who wield magic to face off against, but breaking it into pieces seems odd. And I’m interested in what Paran is going to be using that shard for in the future! I wonder how deliberate it is that Karpolan Demesand refers to him as Master of the Deck as he is invited to take that shard?

I can see completely why the Jaghut would not be interested in any war after what happened between them and the T’lan Imass. What does it say about the T’lan Imass that they’re pretty happy to jump right back in? (If not happy, at least getting involved...)

Does Paran still wear the cape he was issued as a Malazan soldier? That’s very cool, if so! And I do laugh at the idea of him being arrested as a possible deserter.

Wow, Paran has changed! Despite everything that has happened to him, you somehow still think of him as being that same lad we saw right back at the beginning of Gardens of the Moon. But, no! He is hardened, he has less patience, he has gained some of the roughness and skill of the Bridgeburners. Have to confess, I like him better now. And I would say that his journey has been one of the longest and one of those I can empathise with the most.

What Hurlochel discusses with Paran reminds me greatly of the episode of Buffy called “The Zeppo” — what we have here are massive events that have essentially taken place off-screen: the attempt to take a temple that has the Grey Goddess within. This is like the apocalypse that takes place in “The Zeppo” while Xander faces his own issues, which turn out to be just as huge and potentially destructive.

This line makes me incredibly sad: “If anybody earned their days in the sweet sun...” Said about the Bridgeburners, it reminds us that, despite everything they’ve been through, they are bound to be drawn into this war between gods since no one will remain exempt from participating on some level.

Geez, with all our concerns about the Fourteenth being an untested force (although whether that can still be said now...) here we see that Dujek’s force is completely washed up as well. And so Paran becomes Captain Kindly, which is even more amusing that it would have been because we’ve met said Captain Kindly!

I can’t imagine the Falari princess, Captain Sweetcreek, is going to take “kindly” (at least I amuse myself...) to having been punched out by someone who is about to outrank her. I can see fireworks ahead.

This is exceptionally powerful stuff: “There was strangeness in that moment of meeting, survivors eye to eye, both recognition and disbelief. Acceptance, a sense of something shared, and beneath it the ineffable flow of sorrow.”

The paragraph where Lostara considers Tene Baralta’s state of mind after his injury and his occasional bouts of sadistic cruelty before he lost his arm says something about how a person might react in the event that they are injured as badly as this. A person can either rise above the pain and their way of thinking before, or they can succumb entirely.

I love this!

“You survived Y’Ghatan,” Faradan Sort said. “How much of that was the Lady’s pull?”

Lostara considered for a moment, then replied, “None.”

Kalam’s thoughts are dark here, but who can say, hand on heart, that they haven’t had similar thoughts to this? “I suppose we were like that, once. Only...from then till now, Quick, what have we done? Damned little that meant anything.” I think a lot of people might look back on their lives and wonder what it is that they were doing, wondering what all that work and effort has led to. Now look, even I’m thinking dark thoughts! Fiddler gives us a similar thought: “It’s more of the same ‘cause that’s what soldiers do, that’s how soldiers live.”

Ouch. Apsalar not replying about whether she is to be feared by Quick Ben and Kalam makes me worried. Surely neither of those are the one that is on Cotillion’s list? I’d venture that possibly Pearl is the last person that she is to remove from the equation — especially if Cotillion is concerned that Kalam can’t do the job.

We’ve always known that Kalam is this mega assassin and he seems somehow invulnerable — to see this exchange between him and Quick, and to know his thoughts about whether he can tackle the possible master of the Claw, does diminish him. I hope none of it is true and Erikson is just messing with us.

Now this is interesting. Dunsparrow is Whiskeyjack’s sister. You know something? For a dead guy he is certainly impacting a hell of a lot indirectly on this novel, what with this and previously the fact that we found he was the Iron Prophet and is now sort of guiding Karsa’s steps.

Quick Ben is worried about it. Possibly panicked. That does NOT bode well. And now we hear that Fiddler and Whiskeyjack stole Dunsparrow away from Hood. What impact is that going to have on the story ahead?

I’m going to quote this wholesale because I think it’s very important about Whiskeyjack:

He’d been a mason, once, a worker in stone. She knew that much. A fraught profession among the arcana of divination and symbolism. Builder of barrows, the one who could make solid all of history, every monument to grandeur, every dolmen raised in eternal gestures of surrender. There were masons among many of the Houses in the Deck of Dragons, a signifier of both permanence and its illusion. Whiskeyjack, a mason who set his tools down, to embrace slaughter. Was it Hood’s own hand that guided him?

I think this is something that I seriously need to bear in mind, no matter how much I like Quick Ben and Kalam and think them utterly badass: “Two men, then, whom no-one could truly trust. Two men whom not even the gods could trust, for that matter.”

A very interesting observation by Bottle: “The Bridgeburners has been forged by the Holy Desert Raraku — so for us, wasn’t Y’Ghatan enough? It seemed that, for these soldiers here, the tempering had gone too far, creating something pitted and brittle, as if one more blow would shatter them.” Is this observation true? And, if so, what will that blow be?

Now, is Hellian just going mad from what she’s been through and from the lack of drink? [Bill: More the latter, I’d say.] Or is there something more to her thoughts about her skin being about to explode from bugs and worms? Has she been taken by a god?

I somehow didn’t feel the impact of Truth’s death because I felt sure that he couldn’t be dead in truth. I still think that. After all, we know that his skin and his trial through a previous fire has given him special skills and ability to endure heat. Why couldn’t he survive Y’Ghatan? I still suspect to see him again. And I guess this is the downside of Erikson bringing various folks back after we believed them dead — now we just can’t afford to believe. And so the true deaths of some characters pass by the wayside without true grief.

Dejim Nebrahl rather dangerously considers himself to be judge, jury and executioner on those he deems wanting, doesn’t he? Like those poor fisher-folk eking out a life that he destroys and feels gladly about because they didn’t remember something that no one bar students of history would recall. Trust Erikson to make us care about the lives and deaths of those who lived many thousands of years ago.

Okay, I now totally get what Bill was referring to when he spoke about maybe Dejim Nebrahl not being the terror it was before — now we see Masan Gilani managing to do some damage to what is supposed to be an unbelievably formidable enemy. This isn’t right, surely? I mean, Masan Gilani isn’t some superhero or ascendant or creature from nightmare — from what I can tell she is merely a soldier, a wanderer, a mother. The D’ivers was almost mad with hunger, but how can this be?

The scene where the Hound stops beside her and stares at her with those lambent amber eyes is immense, amazing. I was breathless reading it, and I could just imagine that happening in some horror movie!

Fevered minds... Or Hounds of Shadow. I think I’d rather be suffering the former. At least there is a chance of surviving.

The Hounds of Shadow have stolen the last of the Dejim Nebrahl? For what purpose?! (Oh, and stupendous battle scene between these two immense opponents.)

This really resonates and hurts after reading the Chain of Dogs: “When one’s enemy embraces the heroes of one’s own side, one feels strangely...cheated, as if the theft of life was but the beginning, and now the legends themselves have been stolen away, transformed in ways beyond control.”

And then a wonderful reveal (although of something already suspected) — Telorast and Curdle are dragons....


Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Thirteen

I also liked the detail, Amanda, of Paran’s horse, for several reasons: its realism, the recognition that humans are not the be-all and end-all together with the fact they often think they are (I think we’ve had similar reference to horses pressed into human ugliness before), and the way it serves as characterization for Paran — both that he is attentive enough to this and that he doesn’t begrudge the animal doing what it can.

And, in usual Malazan fashion, here is confirmation of what was hinted at before — that Ganath’s ritual involved Mappo and Icarium’s skykeep.

I also like the way Erikson gives us two teases early in this chapter: a) what favor might Ganath ask of Paran down the road and b) what use does Paran have in mind for the shard of the otataral sword? As for why break it, I suppose one possibility might be to divvy up its anti-magic properties among more Guild mages, something that is tough to do as the Empire so restricts it.

As for the Jaghut, by now we are no longer surprised at the long road we’ve come from when the T’lan Imass — Jaghut war was first presented to us.

I’m with you, Amanda — I love this Paran. I love the way he takes action, I love the action he takes, and I love his self-awareness about it. And it sets us up nicely for things to come with this character. And oh how I love that he takes the name of Captain Kindly — a character so great he works even when it isn’t the real character.

It does show us the scale of this series that you can have an encounter between a character like Dujek, who plays such a huge role in early books, and a goddess, and as you say, Amanda, have it all happen off-stage.

Just real quick before we leave this scene, note that little thruway tidbit of info from Hurlochel: The Crimson Guard all up and left as if they had somewhere to be. Somewhere to, perhaps, “return” to.

You’re stealing all my material, Amanda! But yep, that opening paragraph with Lostara rejoining the survivors is emotionally powerful and on target.

Remember this about Sinn: “without the discipline of schooling as an apprentice, they tend to become avatars of chaos. Power, yes, but indirected, wild.” I also like that Lostara asks what is essentially a readerly question — hey, how come your mages don’t just let the 14th know. (Though note how Sort doesn’t make any reply as to Quick Ben.)

I wonder, when humans first started using atlatls or spears or bows, did they ponder the morality of killing at a distance? We’ve certainly been asking Lostara’s question — “Is it better to look your foe in the eye as you take his life” — for some time. And in the modern-day world of drones, Sort’s words are highly relevant.

Kalam’s memory of Black Dog is a nice reminder that we came to the Bridgeburners in media res, that these guys have a long and powerfully connective history amongst them.

There’s a lot to file away in this discussion amongst the line here:
Fiddler carrying a child in a line of marchers, some doing the same. Save that image.

There are a lot of bricks being stacked with regard to our friend Pearl; will one land on his head?

What will Laseen do with regard to Tavore and the 14th? What will Tavore do in response to what Laseen does?

Speaking of filing away, let’s file away your concern about Kalam, Amanda.

You knew Dunsparrow was going to come up again, but this is a pretty big revelation. As is the whole background story. One, again, I love how the story characterizes both Whiskeyjack and Fiddler — that takes some nerve, to break into Hood’s temple and steal away Dunsparrow. It so fits what we’ve seen with these characters. I also love how it adds a whole new level of complexity to an already obviously complex tale. Think of how many permutations and combinations this opens up. Just to name a few: is Dunsparrow still connected to Hood and if so, is she a representative as an alliance between Hood and the Queen of Dreams or is she going undercover to spy out the Queen of Dreams? Is she a focus of vengeance from Hood and if so, will his aim strike as well at the Queen of Dreams and/or Leoman? Is Fiddler in Hood’s focus and if so, what might that mean? Since Whiskeyjack is dead, does it matter that Hood may think Whiskeyjack owes him something for what he stole? I’m sure you can add some more.

Finally, it’s another way Hood gets dragged into this story — something I’ve pointed to throughout this novel’s reread.

Funny, Amanda, but that line about Quick and Kalam just makes me like them all the more....

The poor 14th. It’s always been a worrisome army, hasn’t it? Always concerns about it being “brittle” or “fragile.” Concerns about its commander. They made it through the encounter with Sha’ik’s army, but it wasn’t their doing. They made it through Y’Ghatan, but as Bottle says, they didn’t come out the other side feeling tempered as yet. If Y’Ghatan wasn’t the crucible to forge these guys, what will be? Is it that it just hasn’t happened yet? Is it Bottle is just wrong? Is it that they have something else coming that will do it? Or will they end up like Coltaine’s army — destroyed in the forging or maybe even before then? We’ve got several candidates already for possible future blows: plague, the fleet not showing up to take them off, something Laseen does....

Death can be controversial in Malazan. I know what you mean about being concerned about how bringing people back can either make you always wonder if dead is going to stay dead and also runs the risk of lessening the impact. Since you brought up Buffy, I’ll say it reminds me of when Xander threatens to let a bomb explode with the bad guy zombie guy from high school in the room when the zombie guy scoffs at the threat because he’s already dead, Xander says something along the lines of: “Yeah, but this isn’t drinking with your buddies dead” (Huh, this wasn’t from “The Zeppo,” was it? That would be weird). We will certainly have lots and lots of opportunity to discuss this further as the series continues. We can talk about it in comments if you’d like, or wait a bit when we’ll get to have more examples to talk about.

Dejim’s viewpoint of humanity “deserving” death, destruction, and devastation for their willful denial of history does have something to it. After all, how many lessons in environmental destruction, overpopulation, climate change, etc. do we need? Of course, in the abstract, it’s always easy to judge who deserves what. I also find it a little bit of a gap in his argument that while nature is indeed indifferent to humanity’s desire for special treatment — the lands and seas do change, weather will wreak it will, etc. these are forces without wills whereas Dejim is not acting with “indifference” or as an agent of indifference or without will; he enjoys what he does, he chooses victims, he chooses to slaughter. It seems a bit too pat of a self-justification.

Masan. Dejim. Sigh. Discuss.

As for what the Deragoth will do with the one remaining Dejim, it’s possible to put together a theory. Think of who is involved in directing them: Paran and/or Shadowthrone. Who in Seven Cities is someone for one or both of those two to be concerned about? (The direction the last Dejim is being carried in might help, as well.)

Have I mentioned how much I love Kindly and Pores? These two should have their own show.

Ruthan Gudd seems to know a lot of old stuff, hey? Just saying....

That whole bit with Keneb was very sorrowful and effective I thought, beginning with his desire to “sail away,” his regrets with his family, the recognition of how everyone is bound in a “web” (more of the spider imagery in this particular book and more of the empathy theme from the series as a whole), and then most powerfully, the appropriation of the dead in those lines that Amanda quotes. And this is so true today as well (think of how some of our dead come back to hawk products). As a bit of a throwaway in there, note how Keneb thinks of how Temul/Duiker’s horse had eyes “filled with sorrow,” which just continues the thread we mentioned at the very start with Paran and his horse — just as Masan also focused on Apsalar’s horse. I’m not pointing to any great meaning here, just highlighting the consistency of the thread.

Yeah, the “reveal” regarding Telorast and Curdle really wasn’t much of a one — bit of an anticlimactic chapter ending. But that’s okay. Not every chapter needs to end with a home run.

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

Darren Kuik
1. djk1978
I think it's probably typo and/or oversight but it's worth pointing out, and clear from the text that it is the Deragoth who kill the 3 healthy D'ivers and it's the Hounds of Shadow who capture the crippled D'ivers. You'll recall there is a reason why both sets of Hounds are involved. And naturally there is more to come.

Masan vs Dejim: another small commentary on the mistake of certainty. Dejim is too certain that a single rider can't oppose him, and he doesn't know that Masan has Apsalar's knife. Also weak, starving, enraged Dejim is surely not anywhere near as dangerous as he could be.
karl oswald
2. Toster
Also, he would have had Masan for sure if not for that loose rock on the slope.
Chris Hawks
3. SaltManZ
Lostara and Sort's discussion of luck is a good enough justification of Masan V Dejim for me.
Thomas Jeffries
4. thomstel
How have I never noticed Ruthan Gudd getting mentioned in this book before this re-read?!

Steven Halter
5. stevenhalter
I was intrigued by Fiddlers statement:
and Whiskeyjack, well, he was finishing his prenticeship. We was young then
So Fiddler and WJ share a very long background.
Tai Tastigon
6. Taitastigon
...and of course, as a curious side note, SE doing his take on Lady Godiva with Malan Gisani... ;0)
Tricia Irish
7. Tektonica

Where did Ruthan Gudd come from? Was this his first mention? I remember being surprised when he popped up later, but then, here he is.
Another nod to the thoroughness of SE.
Bill Capossere
8. Billcap
thanks for catching the mix-up with the Hounds--doesn't make much sense to talk about how Shadowthrone is directing them after I called them the Deragoth. Note to self--doing these at three a.m. after grading final papers not a good idea. Thanks again

Thomstel and Tektonica re Ruthan Gudd
I admit I was surprised as well to find him not only here, but also given a surprisingly large number of intriguing lines. I hadn't remembered this intro of him at all. According to the handy search function on my Kindle (employed because I wondered if I had somehow missed him even earlier), this was the first mention of him, at least by name.
Dustin George-Miller
9. dustingm
So I'm intrigued by the "war of the gods" and since I'm becoming known as "the chart guy" on here I'm curious as to how to go about creating a visual representation of the sides of the conflict thus far. Or maybe that's too complicated a task, considering the numerous shades of grey involved? I dunno.

On on hand we have the Crippled God. Poleil seems to be obviously allied with him, as is (was) Dryjhna and the forces of the Whirlwind. Anyone else?

On the other side we seem to have this loose coalition of not-so-opposing forces: K'rul, obviously, but also Hood, as well as Shadowthrone/Cotillion. I suppose you could throw in Ardata in as much as she helped out Mappo. I wouldn't, however, say that any of them are necessarily allied in cause as much as overall intent.

Then there's the Queen of Dreams... and Oponn. And there's the other major wildcard, the Azath/Nameless Ones.

Suggestions? Comments?
Darren Kuik
10. djk1978
@dustingm: I would not recommend it. I think you will have a hard time figuring that out. For example, how sure are you that you have the two sides right in what you say above?

The gods are at war, but as with the rest of the series, it's very hard to pin down sides. It's just not that easy. I would also ask you whether there is only one war, or is there more?

Your chart would be prone to many revisions I think.
Amir Noam
11. Amir
The piece from Buffy that you quoted was from the episode "The Zeppo" :-)
Xander: Yeah, but this is different. Being blowed up isn't walking around and drinking with your buddies dead. It's little bits being swept up by a janitor dead, and I don't think you're ready for that.
Jack: Are you?
Xander: I like the quiet.
Amir Noam
12. Amir
Fiddler's long history with Whiskeyjack and his family (pre-army days) seemed really werid to me, even putting aside the whole timeline thing (Fiddler being younger than he seems and WJ seeming to be an older man with a long army service behind him).

I was reminded of the scene in Memories of Ice where WJ told Rake the story of the formation of the Bridgeburners. We get this story in 3rd person narrative, but it is WJ's story. And here is how Fiddler is introduced - definitely doesn't sound like Fiddler and WJ share a long friendship from before their army days (and Fiddler is refered to by Hedge as a "lad"):
A rider joined him. Thin, young, an ornate, oversized Seven Cities helmet on his head. 'Sir'.' the soldier said.
Whiskeyjack stared at him. 'Gods, man, lose that helm - you'll cook your brains. And the fiddle - the damned thing's broken anyway.'
'The helmet's lined with cold-sand, sir.'
'With what?'
'Cold-sand. Looks like shaved filings, sir, but you could throw a handful into a fire and it won't get hot. Strangest thing, sir.'
The commander's eyes narrowed on the helmet. 'By the Abyss, the Holy Protector wore that!'
The man nodded solemnly. 'And when Dassem's sword clipped it, it went flying, sir. Right into my arms.'
'And the fiddle followed?'
The soldier's eyes thinned suspiciously. 'No, sir. The fiddle's mine. Bought it in Malaz City, planned on learning how to play it.'
'So who put a fist through it, soldier?'
'That would be Hedge, sir - that man over there beside Picker.'
'He can't play the damn thing!' the soldier in question shouted over.
'Well I can't now, can I ? I t's broke. But once the war's done I 'll get it fixed, won't I?'
Whiskeyjack sighed. 'Return to your position, sir Fiddler, and not another sound from you, understood?'
'One thing, sir. I got a bad feeling… about… about all of this.'
'You're not alone in that, soldier.'
'Well, uh, it's just that—'
'Commander!' the soldier named Hedge called out, nudging his mount forward. 'The lad's hunches, sir, they ain't missed yet. He told Sergeant Nubber not to drink from that jug, but Nubber did anyway, and now he's dead, sir.'
'No, sir. A dead lizard. Got stuck in his throat. Nubber choked to death on a dead lizard! Hey, Fiddler - a good name, that. Fiddler. Hah!'
Amir Noam
13. Amir
Damn double posts...
Mieneke van der Salm
14. Mieneke
Shalter @5: It also suggests Fiddler and Whiskeyjack were far closer in age than I thought! I thought WJ was about a decade older than Fiddler.

Ust as an aside, Paran brings up Hurlochel side-job as a chronicler and near the end of the chapter Keneb recalls the fact that Temul is carrying Duiker's writing to our minds. Is there a connection there in the offing? Something to keep in mind when the Fourteenth meets up with Dujek's army?

I love how in the convo where Fiddler tells Kalam and Quick Ben about Dunsparrow, they keep scolding each other for panicking and maybe alarming the troops. It reminded me of how I can't freak out at spiders anymore now I've got kids, cause they'll get scared too. In combination with the earlier discussion of memories it also reminds us that our vets see the other soldiers as kids. I liked that subtle reminder.

Why does Bottle not want to meet QB? Is he intimidated by him or is he afraid QB will find out something about Bottle that he's been keeping a secret or something more nefarious?

I also loved the Bottle's little throwaway observation that Deadsmell is a necromancer in addition to a Healer. Might be significant with all the Hood hints, no?
Steven Halter
15. stevenhalter
Amir@12&Mieneke@14:Exactly what makes this passage so intriguing.
Tricia Irish
16. Tektonica
Billcap@8: Thank you, sir. Kindle to the rescue. It makes me feel better about not remembering his mention ;-) I was just kind of shocked when he popped up here.

Dustingham: As Djk1978 mentioned..lining up the gods on distinct sides might be difficult...maybe aligning the various ascendents up with their gods would be interesting although, those might change too....or you could try the gods thing and adjust as we go along and find out more. I do love your charts...they help!

I, too, was surprised that Fid and WJ seemed to be old buds here...especially after your quote from MoI, Amir. Time line? ;-)

I guess with a name like Deadsmell, we should've guessed he was a necromancer.

I always assumed that Bottle didnt' want to meet QB because he wanted to keep his magic on the DL...not be noticed.....afraid he'd get sucked into QB and Kalam's plans....or someone else's. Thoughts?
Thomas Jeffries
17. thomstel
A chart for the war of the gods? Should be easy: just put every god on his or her own side and you're done! ;)

As for Fiddler and Whiskeyjack's ages/pasts, could it be a case of them playing it cool with one another during that scene in MoI? Paran and WJ shared a moment in history too, but never said a peep about it even though Paran (at least) remembered the moment clearly. I can see WJ & Fid doing what needed doing to save Dunsparrow, getting away with it, shaking each others' hands on a clean getaway, and then turning and walking away until a chance assignment puts Fid under WJ's command years later.
karl oswald
18. Toster
exactly. i still think they could be close to ten years apart. we simply don't know enough about WJ. where is he from? i don't think we get a solid answer on that simple question in the entire series. he is old guard. he came to the malazan military within the last 20 yrs or so of it's history, but was good enough to impress dassem ultor. before that he's supposed to have been a mason and fiddler knows him enough at some point to help him break his sister out of a temple. could be that fiddler was a teenager at this point.
John B
19. Xenai
The Dejim-Misan Gilani scene was another one of those power-level scenes I just can't figure out a way to rationalize. The Hounds of Shadow are described as having wards normal weapons can't pierce (GotM, when Paran stabs one), and they've also been shown twice cutting through dozens of soldiers with ease. Perhaps Dejim isn't as powerful as the hounds, but from the way he's been described he's at least close, and why he wouldn't have similar wards I can't imagine. Or if he doesn't, why he wasn't cut down by a couple hundred archers or cavalry back when he was such a terror. Also, he took down 11 priests of the Nameless Ones when he first woke, of which I believe 6 were high mages, who are debatebly worth more than 800 Malazan Marines each (per the end of RG).

On the other hand, when I read of tBH (which was slightly before I got to this section of the reread, I'm currently on TTH), I didn't see the Curdle/Telorast reveal coming and quite enjoyed it.

On an unrelated note, would it be possible to get the most recent post at the top of the page feature added to the mobile version of the reread page as well?
Steven Halter
20. stevenhalter
Xenai@19:Masan does have a knife from Apsalar. So, it could have some special properties.
But, yes, those are all good questions.
Karl lives in Delaware
21. Karl lives in Delaware
THhose mages sacrificed themselves to the Trollbarrel. Spite played 'em and dragoned her sexy tail outta there.
Steven Halter
22. stevenhalter
It is also possible that being dead and/or revived weakened Dejim in some ways. Or, the sundering of Dessimbelackis may be linked.
Julian Augustus
23. Alisonwonderland

to follow up on djk's comment, you really don't know nearly enough about the upcoming war to make any meaningful attempt at listing who is on what side and, more important, what the war is going to be about. Don't bother, would be my advice.
Mieneke van der Salm
24. Mieneke
Toster @18: But Whiskeyjack was said to be finishing his prenticeship. To me that indicates he was in his late teens, early twenties at most, so while Fid might have been an early teen at the time, I don't see Whiskeyjack dragging such a youngster along on a rescue mission! So maybe the age difference is more like five years, instead of ten?
Brian R
25. Mayhem
I would put the descriptions of the Bridgeburners as being .. erratic -
In the prologue of GotM Whiskeyjack is described as a veteran but young for his position which would put him as probably in his 30s.
His face was scarred, and something that might have been a burn marred his jaw and left cheek. For all that, he looked young for a commander
9 years later at Pale, he is described as showing the first signs of aging, which would fit early 40s
The sergeants lips grew taut beneath his grizzled, wiry beard

Later in Darujhistan he reflects on his equipment with
That weapon had come to him after his first battle, found amid a field of dead. He'd still had the chalk of his father's quarry on his boots then, and a world's promise stretched out before him on the banners of the Empire.
So the background of being a Mason was laid early.

However in MoI, just a few months after GotM, Whiskeyjack is mentioned as being clearly grey bearded
At Dujek’s left side rode another officer, grey-bearded and solidly built
He remains described as older from then on, and his behaviour is of someone in his 50s.

Fiddler on the other hand is explicitly described as near Paran's age in the prologue, and then later we learn he
"Was born in an alley in Malaz City, learned the stone-cutting trade breaking into barrows up on the plain behind Mock's Hold.
So there was an unlikely potential for contact prior to the army between the two.

At the start of DG he is the old sapper yet when he speaks with Kimloc he states I’ve not spent fifteen years fighting Imperial wars with my eyes closed which would match up with the 9 years since Malaz, and a half dozen years where the Bridgeburners forged their reputation in Seven Cities.
Going back to Amir's quote above where he is described as young, we also learn of the Bridgeburners themselves
Seventy soldiers ... each from squads that had effectively ceased to exist. Three years of sieges, set battles and pursuits for most of them.
So those three years could have included Li Heng and the conquest of Quon Tali, before Dujek brought them into the rebellion in Aren.

I have vague memories of Fiddler and Whiskeyjack rescuing Dunsparrow with the aid of several other members of the squad though, but can't pin down why I think that.

Overall I get the definite impression that Fiddler and Whiskeyjack are as old as the plot requires and likely to remain so.
Steven Halter
26. stevenhalter
I think some of the age appearances can be put down to the use of various healing/anti-aging magics. At any given point a character may look older or younger than they might actually be. So the appearance isn't that puzzling.
In this from QB:
We knew she was a stubborn, wild little demon, we knew that, even then – and you knew her better than us, me and Kalam, we only met her once, in Malaz City. But you, you were like her uncle, which means you got some explaining to do!’
A decent time for them all to have been in Malaz would be at the start of GotM. In WJ's Bridgeburner origin story to Rake he seems to imply that he didn't know Fid at that point. He could have been lying to conceal something and they did know each other when young.
Darren Kuik
27. djk1978
Or it could be a GotM-ism.

I don't think that being grey-bearded means over 50 though. My brother is in his early 40's and when he grows his facial hair out I'd most definitely describe it as grizzled and grey. Not everyone's hair changes colour at the same age and if you couple that with 15 years of campaigning one could see easily how 15 years could pass and the man look 20-30 years older in the meantime.

But all that said, I'd fall back on what Mayhem said.
Chris Hawks
28. SaltManZ
I've always been a fan of the idea that WJ singled out Fid in the MoI flashback specifically because he knew him.
John B
29. Xenai
@20: Good point. Still, I don't recall any point that Apsalar's knives are discussed as being particularly powerful on their own (though I haven't finished anything past the beginning of TTH).

@21: Yes, but presumeably they sacrificed themselves because they were of the opinion that Dejim was more powerful than they or anything they could do, otherwise why sacrifice themselves?
Darren Kuik
30. djk1978
@29: Because they knew Dejim would need to recover his strength to fulfil the mission they were giving him, and he does that through blood.

Again, I reiterate the point that I think the plague changed everything, and I don't think the Nameless Ones or Ganoes Paran accounted for that when they released Dejim and the Deragoth. I think Dejim unleashed on a healthy 7 Cities, full of inhabitants is an entirely different prospect to what actually occurs.
John B
31. Xenai
@30: Hmm, you may be right. It still doesn't quite make sense to me that Dejim was weakened to the point that a single marine could kill one of him and maim another, as I'd have to guess that high mage blood is especially potent. Otherwise, it doesn't seem as though the Namesless Ones would have had any qualms about bring a couple dozen peasants to sacrifice. Still, an unaccounted for derth of food making him fairly impotent does make sense.
Amy Hajny
32. calicodisko
@everyone re: fiddler and whiskeyjack need also to remember that the original Bridgeburners have enhanced longetivity due to Raraku.
ie. they look/feel younger than they really are. cant remember which book i read that in, so im whiting it out
Karl lives in Delaware
33. Gibberish
He was trapped for quite some time and propably needed to stretch his legs first.
then well he didnt get a proper breakfast...imagine! (just a cple of high mages who used up all their power for the ritual)
so hes weak, getting weaker, has no knowledge of anything thats going on, and hes hungry.
Most of those mighty guys need time to recover sometimes. Take QB for example after a heavy phase of spellweaving hes usually wasted and not able to do much for some time.
What i was wondering actually was something different. We know he can make more copies. Could he have made less, but stronger ones? Did he just choose the wrong strategy?
Plus its not just any soldier! its Masan "the ass" Gilani!
Iris Creemers
34. SamarDev
Gibberish @ 33:
Plus its not just any soldier! its Masan "the ass" Gilani!

Besides that, I'm late again... Not contributing much to the discussions lately, because all the nice stuff has already been said when I get here...

So just one small comment: I always think of our Falari princess captain as Sweetcheek, as fitting well with her beauty combined with a swollen jaw...
Mieneke van der Salm
35. Mieneke
Quote time!

And all that terrible certainty – beat it down, beat it out of him.

She could only think of resources and the best means of exploiting them. It felt less and less like a virtue with every passing day.

'My name is Spite.'
'Oh,' said Iskaral Pust, 'now that's fitting, since I hate you already.'
Steven Halter
36. stevenhalter
‘We all have our bad days, Scillara.’
Karl lives in Delaware
37. PerfectDisdain
I had forgotten until this reread that Masan Gilani was one of the escapees from Y'Ghatan. I wonder who got the privelege of crawling behind her?

I find it interesting that Masan is Dal Honese, just like Pust (and Magora?) It's hard to imagine those characters having anything in common! It also sends my mind back to the perported sexiness of Gilani, and makes me wonder if ALL Dal Honese foreplay is like Pust's and Magora's "tearing and scratching" ...

Anyway, I too thought it kind of lame how easily Masan took out two of Dejim. It's being argued that Dejim was not at full strength, etc. But neither was Masan! She's basically naked, sunburned, exhausted, hungry, and armed with only a knife. Once again Dejim fails to impress.

And THAT makes me think about other ancient supposed badasses. Maybe huge powerhouses like Icarium aren't such a danger anymore. Maybe some mere mortal might even actually stand his ground against him ... ;o)
Chris Hawks
38. SaltManZ
Kellanved, Dassem Ultor, and Duiker were all Dal Honese, as well.
Karl lives in Delaware
39. Aergrim
@perfectdisdain; well Karsa 'Norris' Urlong, ascendant in the House of Chains (at least that we may assume) recently had a bout with our mean green machine Icarium and nearly had his ass handed to him. So I doubt any mere mortal would last very long...
Karl lives in Delaware
40. Karambha
I wish I could be more specific - but I am sure that we had some guy in a tower who is an "old guard" who drowned his way out of the limelight. He mentions that Whisky Jack was in right at the beginning befor there was an Empire. Can anyone fill me in on who I'm half remembering?
Karl lives in Delaware
41. Addison
All re: Whiskeyjack and Fiddler.

"A rider joined him. Thin, young, an ornate, oversized Seven Cities helmet on his head. 'Sir'.' the soldier said.Whiskeyjack stared at him. 'Gods, man, lose that helm - you'll cook your brains. And the fiddle - the damned thing's broken anyway.''The helmet's lined with cold-sand, sir.'"

Nowhere in that quote does it necessarily imply that Whiskeyjack and Fid do not know each other, nor in the rest of the passage that I didn't quote...I mean he wasn't even named Fiddler yet, so Whiskeyjack knew him by whatever his pervious name was.

Certainly they would maybe want to keep their knowledge of each other on the d.l., if it led to any awkward questions ("Oh! How do you know each other?" "Uh..breaking into a temple of Hood"). Although I guess the other Bridgeburners learned about it at some point, since they all know who Dunsparrow is.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment