Wed
May 30 2012 12:00pm

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

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 Twenty-One 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. The next two chapters are both long and packed, so we will be splitting each in half. Chapter Twenty-Two Part One will end with the scene that closes with “Never, dear gods. Never mess with mortals.” Part Two will begin with the scene that starts “Grub and three friends, playing in a cave.”

 

CHAPTER TWENTY ONE

SCENE ONE

Felisin is being worshipped as Sha’ik Reborn and she has fallen into excess, with all here needs, as she says, being met and also increasing. She has grown fat, picked up desires for wine and rustleaf and sex. She believes this is the true apocalypse — one of excess and desire and devouring. She has a hard time imagining this paradise in the after-life Kulat speak of, and believes there were levels of salvation instead. She retains some doubt about what she does. She meets with Mathok (Leoman’s past friend who now controls the army), who deliver the Holy Book of Dryjhna to her. Felisin tells him she has need of neither book nor army and his men’s days of slaughter are over, saying her weapon is the promise of salvation. He drops the book and orders his army out, leaving Felisin to her “bloated, disgusting world.”

SCENE TWO

Mathok surrenders to Paran who says he and his men are free to go where they will. Paran says he wishes to speak to the leader of the City of the Fallen and Mathok castigates her and her followers. Paran says there is power there and Mathok agrees, then suggests Paran slaughter them to rid the world of the “plague” of their religion, which he says will grow quickly. Paran worries Mathok is right, but dismisses the suggestion, though he changes his mind about speaking to Felisin. Paran says they’ll return to Aren and Mathok puts his army into Paran’s service. Paran makes him a Fist and calls for Ormulogun, thinking he’ll need to make a new card called Salvation, believing it will eventually break free of the Chained God’s influence and be an unaligned force. He worries he should have done as Mathok suggested, noting he and Mathok are alike “in our weakness,” which is why he likes Mathok.

SCENE THREE

Mathok tells Hurlochel that the first Sha’ik Reborn (Felisin elder) was Malazan and that Tavore never knew that. Hurlochel, fearing what may be possible revelations, doesn’t question him further, and forgets to bring it up to Paran.

SCENE FOUR

Ahlrada Ahn recalls the atrocity of what the Edur had done in Sepik. He feels emptied by it, tainted, and considers suicide. Veed and Icarium join Ahlrada, other Edur, and several warlocks as they prepare another assault on the throne. One warlock says they’ve been deceived, that Icarium is no great warrior; instead the warlock senses “in you nothing. Vast emptiness.” Ahn thinks the warlock a fool. They all travel via warren to Drift Avalii to assault the Throne of Shadow. The warlock notes all the demons have fled and wonders why, but Ahn thinks it’s because of Icarium. An owl snatches prey nearby.

SCENE FIVE

Icarium tells Veed the shadow spirits left upon his arrival and there would have been a man who was skilled enough to possibly kill even Icarium, which Veed deems impossible. They enter the courtyard and Icarium tells them there is no need to go further.

SCENE SIX

Ahn and the warlocks enter the Throne’s chamber and find it destroyed, smashed to pieces. Ahn tells the weeping warlock it is time to try for the other throne.

SCENE SEVEN

The news of the throne infuriates the Edur. They prepare to head out to attack the First Throne. Icarium suddenly laughs, telling Veed “the weaver deceives the worshipper.”

SCENE EIGHT

The Throne of Shadow returns to its former self and Shadowthrone steps forward to watch the war party leave. At the last moment, Icarium looks back and Shadowthrone sees amusement in his eyes as Icarium nods to him. The Edur leave via warren.

SCENE NINE

Run’Thurvian tells Tavore that Shal-Morzinn’s three sorcerer kings will not allow the fleet passage. He suggests travel by warren instead to the world of Fanderay and Togg, which would also save them months, adding they began preparing this gate two years ago. They say they’ll need Quick Ben to add his power and they agree to open the gate at dawn.

SCENE TEN

Kalam and Quick discuss if the other is “with” Tavore or not, agreeing she is difficult to know and thus the whole idea is much harder than when they were “with” Whiskeyjack or Dujek.

SCENE ELEVEN

The Silanda passes through the age into a sea filled with icebergs. Fiddler is sick.

SCENE TWELVE

The night of the jade storm, four Malazan ship enter Malaz City harbor, part of a fleet that had driven away a strange attacking fleet. The ships had picked up some castaways: two Malazans and seven Tiste Andii, all of whom are now at Coops, where Banaschar is talking to Braven Tooth, who says the Empire is getting scared and paranoid and dangerous. He fills in the details of the castaways — marooned on Drift Avalii, a fight between Edur and Andii, Traveller. They left when Traveller told them to, then got shipwrecked on an island. Braven Tooth says Traveller sounds like someone familiar. He adds the Andii are led by Nimander, who is the first son of Anomander Rake — all of them are related to Rake, though by different mothers. Phaed’s mother, for instance, was Lady Envy. The news seems to shock Banaschar.

SCENE THIRTEEN

Foreigner looks at the Andii and is trying to come to a decision.

SCENE FOURTEEN

Cartheron Crust is aboard the Drowned Rat and anxious, partially due to the “malice” that seems to have infected the city, the pogrom against the Wickans, and “all that other stuff.” He looks at Mock’s Hold and fantasizes about killing Tayschrenn. Four silver-topped dromons are sighted coming into the harbor and Crust orders his first mate to get the crew back to the warehouses; he wants to be going soon, now that the Empress is arriving. Looking at the jade storm, he thinks he’d seen something similar once before that had resulted in “a mountain of otataral.” He wonders whom Laseen has brought with her.

 

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty-One

Poor Sha’ik — on the one hand still the girl she was, wondering about why people would bow and scrape in her presence and smoking rustleaf, and on the other changing into someone new: “...and those needs — much to her surprise — were growing in count with every day that passed.”

Fat characters in fantasy are always done so badly. Either you have softened eunuchs, or fat jolly innkeepers, or various other stereotypes. I am so tired of fat people being seen negatively. I hope that Erikson steers clear of the tropes and doesn’t equate the new Sha’ik as fat = bad person. It would make me sigh.

I don’t know, someone who has voyeuristic tendencies always gives me the creeps (I’m sorry to any of the readers here who do have voyeuristic tendencies...) I have a feeling that those readers with healthy voyeuristic tendencies are probably decrying the fact that all voyeuristic representation in novels is ugly and ill-done! You often develop a dislike for any character who has these tendencies thanks to the way they are portrayed.

These few paragraphs showing Felisin’s new life make me so very sad and faintly disgusted. Why doesn’t she fight back more? Why does she seem so accepting?

A happy nod by Erikson to the fact that there are stories within stories occurring in this world: “A difficult journey, one worthy of its own epic, no doubt.”

Now this is a strange point — Felisin offers a life of excess, but no war, and is refused by those who wish to keep bearing armies and taking the fight to the Malazans. Which is the worse path of these, do you think? I have been disgusted by the life presented that Felisin is now living but equally I have hated the life of constant warfare faced by some of these characters. Both paths are equally flawed, I think.

I like this passage very much: “We dwelt in the Holy Desert Raraku, a desert now a sea. We fought as rebels, but the rebellion has ended. We believed. We believe no longer.” It is easy to see from this just how torn from their roots so many people have been during this story.

Does this say Crippled God to you? “A religion of the maimed and broken. A religion proffering salvation...you just have to die first.”

So easy Paran avoids a fight and gains “four thousand or so of this continent’s finest light cavalry...” It almost makes me think we’re reading the wrong series and there is ta’veren at work here.

Personally I like both Paran and Mathok for their weakness — for the fact that they are unable to destroy Sha’ik and her followers, even though it might well lead to greater bloodshed. It leaves you respecting their humanity.

Did we already know that Felisin was Malazan? [Bill: He’s referring to the original Sha’ik — Tavore and Paran’s sister.] I do apologise, because I suspect we very well did and it’s one of those crucial little details that I should be remembering. I do think that there will be regret over the fact that Hurlochel didn’t manage to tell Paran of this fact.

Sometimes Erikson takes my breath away with the sheer cruelty of his writing — do you think the following was hard for him to consider and write? Or did he laugh gleefully at the idea of putting this into written form? “One by one, mothers were forced to throw their babies and children into the roaring flames. Those women were then raped and, finally, beheaded. Husbands, brothers and fathers were made to watch. When they alone remained alive, they were systematically dismembered and left, armless and legless, to bleed out among bleating, blood-splashed sheep.” I am actually feeling physically sick — and I don’t honestly know how Ahlrada Ahn can bear to remain with these monsters.

Oh! Icarium is being taken into Drift Avalii, where dwells Traveller, protecting the Throne of Shadow. The Edur are certainly attacking various Thrones, aren’t they? But where has Traveller gone? “There was...someone...a man, but he too is hone. Some time past. He is the one I would have faced.” I guess he has left because of the destruction of the throne — who on earth managed to destroy a Throne?

Haha! I should have suspected Shadowthrone. I love that Icarium realises exactly what is going on and acknowledges Shadowthrone with the ghost of a smile and a nod. And I especially love the way ST says “Idiots!”

Ah, Shal-Morzinn again — and an indication of the devastation that will probably follow.

The Adjunct agrees bloody quickly to this rather audacious plan, doesn’t she? Not too many questions, a quiet command that Quick Ben will lend his power to the scheme. And how about that “...taxing, yes, but not so arduous as to leave you damaged...”

And note this too: “Just how many spirits and gods are pushing us around here?” Hood, Soliel, Poliel, the Crippled God, Shadowthrone, Cotillion, Ardata, Eres’al, Edgewalker, Togg and Fanderay — I’m sure there are more involved as well!

An intriguing conversation between Kalam and Quick Ben this time — what would happen if they decided they were against the Adjunct? Looks like they’re weighing in against Laseen and I can see why they’d be nervous about that fact.

Oh man! Giggling like crazy at this: “I said good news, Bottle. Like, we’re all about to drop off the world’s edge. Something like that.”

“Oh. Well,” he called out as the man slithered across the deck, “there’s seals!”

Back to Malaz City, where we get a hint of just how close to bursting the city is — and then we discover just where some of the defenders of Drift Avalii have ended up. A quick canter through the relations, where we learn that the son of Anomander Rake had sexy fun with Lady Envy — bet that went down well!

I like this reminder of who Traveller really is: “That one named Traveller, he’s the one that interests me...something familiar about him, the way ‘Slinger d’scribes ‘im, the way he fought — killing everything fast, wi’out breaking a sweat.” And again I ask, where has Traveller gone?

 

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty-One

I know what you mean Amanda about the cliché of the fat character. I think here though Erikson is using it as more a metaphor for the self-destructive hunger/insatiability, rather than the cheap and easy fat = villain. The line about how “apocalypse was announced in excess. The world ended in a glut . . .” seems spot on to me, in that it is our materialistic/consumer-driven/required accelerated growth culture that has such a deleterious effect on the world. Humanity does indeed “devour.”

In a general sense regarding the “fat” character, I do understand how in a pre-industrial world the fat character does serve as a shorthand for a person who is relatively indolent (not a lot of fat serfs for instance) and relatively wealthy (to afford a consistent diet of caloric food). I wonder if that translates so often into “fat = bad” because the “good guys” are usually the underdogs and thus neither rich nor powerful enough to be either indolent, well fed, or both.

Still on the fat note, one has to wonder as well as a reader I would think if Felisin is being “fattened up” in terms of a sacrifice — metaphorically if not literally. (Though in this world who knows?)

That inner monologue gives us the hope that Felisin will resist, at least until she is somehow saved if she doesn’t have the will to break free herself.

There’s a nice job of using physical detail to set the contrast between Mathok’s people and Felisin’s to prepare us for Mathok’s departure. After we get the description of the rustleaf and “silver tongs,” needs being met and “pleasures of the flesh,” of curtains and painted panels and “cushions of her own fat,” we get Mathok’s group described in these terms: “hard, weathered faces, the streaks of sweat through a layer of dust, the worn leather armour.” No surprise the scorn these people have for what they see around them.

So many loaded words in Mathok’s description of the City of the Fallen to Paran: poisoned, fallen, insatiable, plague.

Felisin’s new path and Mathok’s do both seem a bit the path of extremes as you say Amanda. Is there no middle ground between war, violence, privation and peace, utter indolence, debauchery? Seems a pretty wide ground between the two.

I was going to point to that same line, Amanda, from Mathok about how their lives have been turned totally upside down, no foundation left.

I like the symmetry between both Paran and Tavore (brother and sister) having armies handed to them (both will use them by the way). There is also an interesting broken symmetry. Tavore marched in and killed a Felisin who was Sha’ik. Paran turns aside from a Felisin who is Sha’ik.

It’s also of note that Paran seems to think the Crippled God may have created a monster here, one that will soon slip its, um, chain.

And thus by the forgetfulness of Hurlochel is Paran spared the knowledge (and perhaps Tavore as well) that his youngest sister was killed by his other sister.

That is indeed a brutal scene obviously. To be honest, it is so brutal, I have a hard time placing Tomad Sengar there. I can accept that a few of the warriors have turned sadists, even that they might intimidate the others into such atrocity (at least partaking in passive manner, though even this seems too measured and reasoned an atrocity to me), but while I could perhaps muddy my way through to some explanation for Tomad being involved in this, it’s a lot of work for me to do based on what we’ve seen of him earlier.

I like the little twist Erikson throws in here to keep us on our toes. Here we are assuming this is yet another attack on the First Throne, since that’s what’s been referenced so much recently, and it turns out to be an attack on the Throne of Shadow, which we’ve probably forgotten about by now.

I also like how Ahn is portrayed as the most insightful of all of them, seeing Icarium’s danger, Veed’s fear, the warlock’s ignorance. And deducing that Icarium is the reason the island is empty and thus wondering what the hell are we bringing with us? Insightful, but not insightful enough.

And while we have to cheer these guys not getting the throne, that sense of “victory” is more than tempered by how this loss ratchets up their anger, their desire for “slaughter” as they head out for the other throne, which we recall is guarded by Minala’s children, so many of whom have already paid such a horrible price. And there as well are Trull and Onrack. Will Ahn face Trull?

That’s a great moment between Icarium and Shadowthrone. And prepares us I’d say for a nice contrast for the Icarium we’ll soon see.

Yes, there are a lot of gods involved. Perhaps even “pushing.” But we’ve seen what happens when gods mess with mortals. And we’ve seen gods ally themselves with mortals. And some of those gods are quasi-mortal — Shadowthrone and especially Cotillion. So it isn’t quite so bad as it sounds.

One of the rare times Quick Ben says he doesn’t know something and it appears he really doesn’t, or at least, I believe him (can’t recall if this remains true or not).

Sorry, but I don’t remember — is this our first intimation of well, intimacy, between Tavore and T’amber?

I’m curious — it’s hard for me to separate myself as a rereader from first-time reaction quite often. In this scene, I really want Quick and Kalam to be on Tavore’s side, but I don’t know if I would feel that way not knowing what I know. So what is the response from first-time readers?

I don’t actually have much to say about these last two scenes. It’s mostly either recap or pretty basic exposition or set-up for what’s to come. In other words, pretty straightforward plot. Though that last line from Crust regarding otataral is intriguing.


Amanda Rutter is the editor of Strange Chemistry books, sister imprint to Angry Robot.

Bill Capossere writes short stories and essays, plays ultimate frisbee, teaches as an adjunct English instructor at several local colleges, and writes SF/F reviews for fantasyliterature.com.

32 comments
Chris Hawks
1. SaltManZ
Bill: "Sorry, but I don’t remember — is this our first intimation of well, intimacy, between Tavore and T’amber?"

I'm reasonably sure that was more or less stated back in HoC.

Amanda had tweeted yesterday that one of the scenes made her physically ill, and when I inquired, she said I'd know it when I read it. And sure enough, I did. And I felt awful, not at the scene, but at the fact that I read right through it without being affected by it at all. I worried that I'm becoming desensitized to violence in my fiction; but maybe it was just the matter-of-fact, not-overly-detailed manner in which Erikson related the deed—you wouldn't want all the visceral details described in such a scene; just enough detail that the horror of the act registers, but over in a couple of sentences so you don't have to dwell on it. If that was SE's intention (and how could it not be, the man never does anything unintentionally) it was a good decision.

And I agree, Bill, that Tomad's willing involvement seemed incongruous.

Why would anyone worry that Erikson will pull a fat=bad at this point? Who are the fat characters we've gotten so far? Kruppe and Tattersail are the first that come to mind.

So Ganoes Paran and the Host are to headed to Aren, and then to leave Seven Cities, "never to return." Where will they end up? You'll have to be patient, but trust me when I say it will be legen—wait for it...
Kadere
2. Kadere
The Felisin Younger plot always agrivates me because I'm still waiting to get back to it. I know Erikson and Esselmont work on a cosmic scope of shared world connections, and you can almost never tell when one or the other will grab a dangaling plot and run with it, but with all the promise here I'm ITCHING to find out what's still happening in the Seven Cities regarding this new religion of "salvation." From what it sounds like neither of Esselmont's remaining books will come back here, and Erikson's writing in a totally different timeline now, so I guess I'll have to wait YEARS to find out. :(
Chris Hawks
3. SaltManZ
@2: Religions of disfigurement and salvation play a big part in TtH, though, so maybe SE figures he's said all he needs to about it? Could be a good question for the wrap-up.
Aeria Lynn
4. aeria_lynn
@Amanda

One of the things that I truely enjoy about Erikson's writing is that he doesn't ignore the bad stuff in his storytelling. He's telling an epic story, but he's not writing heroic fiction. I think the Malazan series is a prime example of how the two types of stories don't have to go hand-in-hand. As such, he's breaking powerful tropes, and as a storyteller, I can only cheer him on.

Yes, some of what he's writing is ugly, dirty, cruel, vile, and disgusting. But that's his world, bad, good, and all. He doesn't shy away from the grittiness of what is "real", and I think that's what makes his work so vital, so gripping to me.

One other thing: I don't think Erikson is hammering on the fat = bad thing, not given Kruppe's girth.
shirley thistlewood
5. twoodmom
RE Felisin the Younger vs Kruppe. I get the impression that Kruppe savours his indulgencies of his own will but Felisin was tricked into hers and is trapped by them.
Darren Kuik
6. djk1978
I find I have little to say about Felisin and the new apocalypse. Unlike Kadere I also have no interest in going back to it. If this is the end of the matter so be it.

Regarding Tomad, I think if you are viewing him through the perspective of the Tomad we saw in Midnight Tides especially early on, then you are sort of wrong. To expect him to be unchanged by the disappearance of 2 sons and the madness of another and the shorning of the last would be a mistake. Moreover, although it makes clear that everyone on Sepik is dead, the explicit atrocity described in the first pages here are the responsibility of 2 other Edur and their troops and were visited on a small outlying village. Doubtless it was not the only such event but we do not necessarily have to attribute that level all to Tomad. He probably remained in the city. Of course this is no justification at all for a genocidal murder without accompanying attrocity is still genocidal murder. There can be no excuse, and little, no nothing to redeem Tomad from his crime here.

Anyone else feel like the Edur should be more in tune with the throne of Shadow than they were?

The rest of this was very much set up for the big finish.
Anthony
7. andagil
djk1978 @6: "Anyone else feel like the Edur should be more in tune with the throne of Shadow than they were?"

I think this is just further cementing the theme of the Edur heritage being subsumed by Letherii culture that was explored in Midnight Tides. They have lost/renounced their way, and thus it makes sense that they are no longer in tune with Shadow. Alternatively, it could be a statement about how much Ammanas has gained control of Shadow, that he is able to hoodwink Shadow's children so easily. I suppose it could even be a bit of both.

I think that Erikson's depictions of their various atrocities continues with this theme (the Edur's cultural descent), although I'll admit that this assertion is more of a stretch.

Regarding Felisin, I have a similar opinion as yours. I believe that Erikson said all that he had to say here about the matter specifically, and agree with SaltManZ about him exploring the broader subject more thoroughly with different players and religions in TtH.

I also share SMZ's viewpoint about being disturbed that the Edur's depravity didn't make more of an impression on initial reading. I'm embarrassed to confess that I completely glossed over it on my first readthrough.
Dustin George-Miller
8. dustingm
I actually think that Erikson's description of Tattersail bucks the "fat trope" quite nicely. The fact that she describes herself at one point in GOTM as "the fat lady with the spells" AND the fact that young, handsome Ganoes Paran loved her, I think shows Erikson is actively trying to discourage it, or at least circumvent it.

The corpulent, brilliant thief is somewhat of a trope itself, though, isn't it?

(Edited for clarity)
Bill Capossere
9. Billcap
Djk,
I don't think anyone expects Tomad to be "unchanged." But that's a whole lot of filling in for the reader to do to get the Tomad of Midnight Tides to the Tomad who is present while the Sepik king is physically forced to hold his head up and keep his eyes open as his people were killed in front of him one after the other (one imagines not in any particularly pleasant fashion) until Tomad "wearied" of his screams and ordered him tossed off the tower. Like I said, I can make a line from the one to the other based on what you gave as possible reasons, but with such a relatively known character, I think that's leaving a bit much to the reader. I can, just as easily, I'd actually argue even more easily, draw a line from the Tomad of the first book to the one who, after losing his sons to this mad Empire, brings these atrocities to a halt, or dies trying, or or or . . .

Re the throne, I thought the same at first but then wondered if this was an example of how sundered they were from their true roots. Makes me wonder if Trull's mother, for instance, would have been so easily fooled. But let's not forget Shadowthrone is a master, something easily lost in his cane-tapping giggling silliness
Anthony
10. andagil
dustingm @8: To futher support that, Toc the Younger remarks to himself about her attractiveness when she dresses up for the dinner w/ Dujek, Tayschrenn, etc. in GotM. I want to say that there are a couple of other moments in the series where a character has a favorable thought/comment about the appearance of a woman who is described as heavier, though I'm not certain about that.

Billcap @9: Regarding Tomad's behavior, it may be significant that, not only has he lost two sons, but that he's just recently learned about Binadas' death. This could certainly factor in with him lashing out/still being in shock/overseeing genocidal mutilations, etc. He may have already been at the edge of a moral event horizon that has been building since MT, and that was simply the last push.

ETA: Actually, this makes even more sense to me as Tomad hasn't just lost two sons, he has now lost all of them- Trull is Shorn/exiled, Fear has fled, Rhulad is insane, and now he discovers that Binadas has been killed.
karl oswald
11. Toster
Amanda asked:

"Where has Traveller gone?"

well, you might hate me for this, but he's gone... travelling :-D

but don't worry, we are reading RotCG next, right?
Kadere
12. Tufty
re: Tomad

This tBH description of Tomad doesn't seem to match well with MT-Tomad on the first read, but IMO it matches very well with RG-Tomad.

The (temporary) problem is that right now we just have other characters describing Tomad's actions, but we won't get the thoughts and justifications for them until we have some Tomad PoV in RG.
Brian R
13. Mayhem
Tufty is right. The Tomad of Reapers Gale is a far different creature from the one we last saw in MT. There is a passage I won't quote now which covers the change very well from the point of view of his wife, especially with regards to Sepik. You know Erikson by now, there's no way he'd let an event like that be a throwaway line...

@10 - he learns of the death of Binadas *after* the destruction of Sepik - they laid waste to the island before encountering the Malazan fleet and the Silanda. He's even more unbalanced now, as RG will make clear.
Anthony
14. andagil
Thanks for the correction, Mayhem. That's what I get for following the re-read without, you know, actually re-reading it. :)
Amir Noam
15. Amir
Regarding the "fat=bad" trope, I might be wrong (as it's been many many years), but I seem to recall a good example of flat out reversing this trope in Robert Jordan's The Eye of The World. There we have Rand, after being betrayed, making a mental note to never trust an innkeeper who *isn't* fat.
Darren Kuik
16. djk1978
@15, that wasn't a trope reversal was it? Isn't the benign, jolly, fat innkeeper a trope in itself?

Kruppe and Tattersail are better examples. I think SE does a good job of mixing his character descriptions. His heroes aren't all handsome/strong/beautiful. His villains don't have sinister scars, hunched backs, dark expressions. In fact, I usually take note of it when a character is described that way because it's more rare than not.
Steven Halter
17. stevenhalter
I thought the bit:
The owl then flapped upward once more, a tiny broken form clutched in its reptilian grip.
was a nice callback to the owls in MT. Highlighting the reptillian grip along with the brokeness of the warlock provides a nicety.
Steven Halter
18. stevenhalter
I think that SE is showing the effects of the total embrace of excess upon Felisin Younger. Thus, the weight is an effect rather than a cause.
In many of the tropes we see an unfortunate confusion of cause and effect. The Inn Keeper is jolly and trustworthy because he is fat. The villain is evil because of their scar. Those are examples of bad reasoning.
Bill Capossere
19. Billcap
"That's what I get for following the re-read without, you know, actually re-reading it. :)"

that's OK. I 'm writing the re-read and not re-reading it . . . (joke people, that's a joke!)

good reminders that we'll see Tomad later and maybe get this filled in; I hadn't recalled that. Though I think even in the constraints of Ahn's pov we could have been given a more expansive view--Ahn mentioning how Tomad had become harder or something along those lines

Shalter--thanks for the owl reminder, I'd meant to toss that in. I also thought it a nice touch.
Mieneke van der Salm
20. Mieneke
@Amanda, SaltmanZ and others: I did feel shock at the description of the slaugther at Sepik, however, this was mostly due to the babies and the women. I think if it had only been the men, I might have shrugged it off more easily as this is war. So perhaps desensitisation can be partial as well!

@Bill: This is my first read-through of tBH and I really want Quick and Kalam to be with Tavore. I've really grown to like her, so I guess somewhere along the way I've started rooting for her!

And once again Shadowthrone shows that the line between genius and insane is a thin one!
Darren Kuik
21. djk1978
@Bill, I don't think on first read we really have enough idea what being with Tavore means and what it doesn't mean. Who does being with Tavore mean you are not with, and who else does it mean you are with?

I know that on first read I had no feeling that they SHOULDN'T be with her at least. For what that's worth.
Stefan Sczuka
22. moeb1us
Re atrocities
I am too inclined to rather like SE for really showing us the ugly sides of war, the so often unmentioned cruel faces. I think it comes up in the series a couple of times, how easily the 'civilized' skin of humanity is wiped away to be replaced by sadistic, motivated-by-nothing-but-pure-evil, uncomprehesible acts.
There are countless examples in documented clashes between people. Pyschological warfare, destroying the enemy and its people, specifically the people, and not only the armies/military.
Look at a war, and you find those. Vietnam, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, WW1/2, Korean, Japan/China wars, all African wars, Nigeria, Kenia, South Africa... Humans are sick in that regard. Sigh.
Stefan Sczuka
23. moeb1us
question: can someone shed some light onto the reaction of Banashar as BT told him about the Andii and the involvement of Lady Envy? Like, draw a breath man etc? Why?
Kadere
24. Jordanes
Fat villainous characters in MBotF:

Gryllen, Mallick Rel, Orbyn Truthfinder

:)
Sydo Zandstra
25. Fiddler
re: 'fat is bad trope'

I think it's more about acceptance, reconciliation and moving on.

Tattersail had accepted she was a big woman, and moved on. Her sex appeal didn't suffer from her posture, because she had self confidence. Her thoughts about 'being the big woman with the spells' seem more like self mocking ability than it being a problem to her.

Felisin Fatter on the other hand, wasn't really happy with how fat she became and the hedonism that became the foundation of her life there. The fact that she called her toyboy Crokus (IIRC?) underlines that: being sad about losing her former life and unanswered adoration of Cutter.

I have met fat women of both kinds (self confident and feeling ashamed about themselves) in RL, and the Tattersail kind surely had sex appeal...
karl oswald
26. Toster
quotes!

"... but I see a Rusty Gauntlet-"
"A what?"
"Right here before me. A new drink that Bottle in his inebriated state just invented."

"Ah! So you really wan't explanations!"
"Not until you give me the answers!"

and now time for the final sprint...
Iris Creemers
27. SamarDev
yeah, bring on Fiddlers game(s)!

'You are to misunderstand, Fist. I leave the details of that misunderstanding to your imagination.'
Darren Kuik
28. djk1978
@23: Not sure if this is a spoiler or not, and in fact I am having a hard time confirming it but one possible reason is in white below.

It has been suggested that Nimander's mother is also Lady Envy. Put that together with Phaed also being Lady Envy's child and you can see why Banaschar would be dumbfounded.

Again though, I haven't read, or don't remember reading, anything that definitely says this is true.
Kartik Nagar
29. BloodRaven
Okay so the reread has been over for some time, and this post is unlikely to see the light of the day, but I have to say something about Tavore here.

First, I am reading this series for the first time, and so have no idea about what Tavore has planned for the army, but based on her actions so far (in HoC and here in TBH), there are so many reasons for Kalam, Quick Ben and others not to side with her.(In fact, I was actually with Tene Baralta when he reasoned about the possible treasonous connection between Tavore and Leoman).

Tavore leads the army to march from Aren to Raraku in HoC, but by that time, the people of Seven Cities have already started worshipping Coltaine and the Wickans,(especially the local tribes), one of the tribes even joins her army, and hence she doesn't have to face a running battle on the march like Coltaine. With all the mess in Sha'ik's camp, Tavore and her army were always going to face a divided enemy(not to mention Korbolo Dom's ultra-ambitious plan to betray Sha'ik and get in the good books of Laseen, which somehow still seems to be on track). In the end, Tavore didn't even have to face them, as the ghost army did the job for her, and she just non-chalantly killed her helpless sister without breaking any sweat.

Then, she allows Leoman and his small army to escape, does not pursue them with full force, and finally allows them to settle in Y'Ghatan. Now, from flashbacks of her childhood and the musings of Ganoes, we know that Tavore conducts an extensive research not only about the enemy army, but also about the place where the battle will take place, the history, previous battles taken place there, etc. Hence, Tavore must have known about the Olive Oil situation for Y'Ghatan, and must have suspected Leoman will somehow use it(though maybe not in such a drastic manner as he actually did). Yet, there was no plan, no intimation to the marines who first infiltrated Y'Ghatan about this. It almost seems as if she wanted to get rid of the veterans in the marines. After the slaughter of the siege, she did not really try to look for survivors, but was in a hurry to escape the plague.

Frankly, she has done absolutly nothing so far that suggests of anything extraordinary(even using those bones as a good symbol rather than an omen was Fiddler's idea), and it is really baffling that new armies continue to pledge their loyalty to her, even veterans like Kalam and Quick Ben are actually thinking of betraying Laseen to side with Tavore.
Kartik Nagar
30. BloodRaven
Oh, and to the above post, I almost forgot to mention the tyrannical attitude of Tavore while making tactical decisions for the army - discussions with the other Fists are not encouraged, there are no exchange of ideas, everyone in the army is completely in the dark about what Tavore really has planned. All of this together really defines a bad commander.
Steven Halter
31. stevenhalter
Welcome BloodRaven. All posts are fully in the sunshine here!

It does seem like Tavore has a number of questionable decisions to here side of the ledger. That all of these people continue to see something in her kind of defines that there is something to her personality and character that they see that overrides all of the rest.
Joseph Ash
32. TedThePenguin
Dont forget that Tavore also made some very good tactical decisions on the march to Raraku (the fights with Leoman, etc.) as well as the implication that she had some idea what might happen when she got there (not having to actually fight, given the orders to Gamut's legion).
People generally get the feeling that she is a good person, and remember Ganos' statement about her feelings towards her troops. I think Quick and Kalam are trying to reconcile their feelings that they want to be with Tavore with the locic that she isn't nearly as easy to get behind as Whiskeyjack or Dujek, nor as transparent.

Given all of that will be very soon cleared up in Malaz city.

About the intimacy with T'Amber, I remember that was implied way back in DG, when it was discussed that she was coming with her army and her lover.

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