Sep 7 2012 3:00pm

Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Reaper’s Gale, Chapter Twelve

The Malazan reread on Reaper’s GaleWelcome 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 Twelve of Reaper’s Gale by Steven Erikson (RG).

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 Twelve


Brohl Handar and Atri-Preda Bivatt observe what looks like the war camp of the Awl, expecting the battle tomorrow. Bivatt tells Handar she’s relieved as it looks like the Awl will use the same old failed tactics and mentions how the battle site—Bast Fulmar—is a valley of some “arcane significance” to the Awl. Handar is surprised she let the Awl choose the battle site but she says it’s a good setting: good visibility for the mages, open territory, and she thinks the Edur will probably not need to be used. Handar notes a lack of outriders/pickets and she dismisses his concern, saying the Awl wanted them to see the camp. They ride back with Handar thinking Bivatt, under instruction from Factor Anict, wants it to be a solely Letherii victory.


Toc fletches his arrows in the train of the Awl, which has been set up to look like a war camp, while Redmask and his warriors are hidden elsewhere on the plain. Torrent mocks Toc’s weapons, then leaves. The elder who knows Redmask joins Toc and says he doesn’t trust him, noting the suspicious magic surrounding Toc’s arrows. Toc and the elder exchange “secrets,” though the elder thinks Toc is playing a lying game. The elder’s last secret is that Redmask will betray the Awl. After their “game,” the elder tells Toc that Torrent thinks Toc will run and plans on killing Toc when he does so. Toc agrees his courage may be broken, but says Torrent will have a hard time catching him. Toc yells to Torrent (hiding in the shadows) that the Awl will have to face the question of cowardice tomorrow and wonders if Redmask can “bully” them into honor.


Hedge catches up to the T’lan Imass he’s been trailing—Emroth of Kron clan. She’s badly damaged, with only one arm. He joins her in walking “north.” She tells him she can’t turn to dust in this place, much to her dismay, as Hedge yammers on. When he hits a little too close to home, she tells him to stop and he points out how the Imass’ vengeance on the Jaghut was unnecessary and in fact did worse damage to the Imass themselves. She says she is unbound and her memories, specifically memories of love, have broken her. Farther north they spot Omtose Phellack, which Emroth says they’ll have to cross. When Hedge asks what’s on the other side, she replies she thinks it’s “home,” and Hedge thinks she just “[made] things a lot harder.”


Udinaas, fevered for days, “dreams” himself crippled, overlooking a wrecked temple and surrounded by hundreds of Forkrul Assail corpses littering the hillsides. The Errant appears, covered in blood and screams out in fury. The Errant tells Udinaas “Can you feel this grief?” and says they are for him, so their deaths will not be empty of meaning. Menandore, in dragon form, arrives and tells the Errant Udinaas is hers, but then agrees to give him to the Errant in exchange for a simple “nudge” to remove her sisters’ interference, though she says the child Udinaas fathered by her is not part of the deal. The Errant warns her the “child” is now grown and “his mind is his own.” When he calls this warning an act of “mercy,” she scoffs and tells him Udinaas will fail him, as “he has no faith, the compassion within him . . . [is] ever moments from annihilation.” Udinaas banishes the two.


Kettle speaks to Udinaas still in his dream, telling him the temple had broken because it couldn’t hold all the grief and Udinaas had been meant to see it “so you’d understand when everything happens. And not be sad. And be able to do what he wants you to do, just not in the way he thought it would be.” Before leaving, she tells him not to cry too soon. Udinaas thinks his dreams are like “lessons in taking control.”


Seren, worried about Udinaas, asks Clip when they’ll head into lower altitudes so she can find healing herbs. Clip says Udinaas’ fever isn’t wholly natural and Ruin agrees, saying old, fragmented sorcery permeates the area. He thinks it might be K’Chain Che’Malle, though he isn’t sure, nor does he know why only Udinaas seems to be affected. Seren tries to find snow to melt and wonders why so much of the past snowfalls that have accreted into glaciers seem to have passed through “smoke, ash, pieces of once living things.” As she digs, she uncovers a spear which Clip identifies as T’lan Imass. When Seren asks if that name is supposed to mean something to her, he says, “it will.” Clip then tells her he has been “blessed” by Mother Dark, that he can “walk the Darkness,” something Ruin doesn’t know, adding Seren shouldn’t tell Ruin since Clip is the only one who can stop Ruin from killing her and Udinaas, whom Ruin sees as enemies. When Seren scoffs at the idea of the two of them posing a threat to Ruin, Clip refuses to explain. Seren plans on giving the spear to Udinaas as a crutch and Clip mysteriously says, “It belongs with us.” When she does give it to Udinaas, Ruin tells Udinaas that he’ll have to give it up at some point (and not to Ruin). Clip mentions he’s never seen a spear fighter he couldn’t take easily and Fear laughs, to Seren’s enjoyment.


Quick Ben bemoans the loss of friends and knows he is trying to avoid making more friends for fear of more pain. He, Trull, and Onrack are being tracked by giant catfish and they discuss using Quick Ben’s gate to exit. Quick, though, fears some unknown consequences for Onrack, who replies he is expendable and if he has to be left behind, he’ll turn to dust and “join oblivion.” Just before being attacked, they move through Quick Ben’s gate into the world he’d entered before and Onrack is returned to full life. Onrack asks if they’ve entered Tellann and Quick Ben says he isn’t sure.


Redmask tells an ancient tale of long ago, how the land descended from sky to earth. He talks of the Shaman of the Antlers (T’lan Imass) who, he says, cursed the earth. Though they left to fight their wars, Redmask says the Awl do not forgive. Bast Fulmar, he tells his warriors, was not the site of battle between the Awl and K’Chain Che’Malle as both the Awl and Letherii think. It was where the T’lan Imass performed their ritual of Tellann and drained the valley of magic, meaning the Letherii sorcery will not work.


Twilight’s group reaches Boaral Keep near the coast and speaks to two old women. It turns out the two women, Pully and Skwish, are Shake witches. They have been cursing the Letherii leader of the keep with madness, cursing the entire line with killing their wives. The keep’s master of arms, Yedan Derryg, has ridden to the coast having heard rumors of monsters/demons. He is Twilight’s half-brother and also Shake (part of The Watch). Twilight, who had been princess, is now queen of the Shake, as her mother died about a year ago. She orders the two to lift the curse. Pully says it’s too late and Twilight decides to execute him, “avoiding” arrest. Pully informs Twilight the witches have chosen her a husband—Shake Brullyg on Second Maiden Fort, though they no longer know what is going on there, which is something unprecedented.


Bivatt had been surprised to find the Awl already set up in force at Bast Fulmar and then was told most of their dogs had been poisoned. She notes the Awl warriors are more disciplined then usual and they are using spears, not the faulty weapons sold to them by the Factor. Brohl Handar suggests Bivatt withdraw, offering several critiques and then informing her that the valley is dead to magic. The battle begins and does not go well for the Letherii as the Awl employ unusual tactics. Suffering major losses, Bivatt orders retreat, hoping to use her mages on the plain. Then she is told of “demons” attacking and being pursued by the Letherii mages. She tries to order the mages back.


As the battle commences, Brohl Handar sends reinforcements to the supply camp, having a bad feeling about things. The camp is attacked by K’Chain Che’Malle and Handar rides to its aid but is badly wounded.


Bivatt sees a K’Chain Che’Malle wreak havoc amongst her shoulders until being driven off by sorcery. She retreats toward camp hoping Handar fought off the attack there. Redmask seems content to let them retreat.


Twilight rides with three others towards the coast. She thinks of how the prison island had been sacred to the Shake and has been freed too late, thinking of how sometimes the Shake would see “demon-kissed children” born to them, some of whom would become witches using the Old Ways and others that would be tossed from the cliffs to the “thirsty sea.” She had fled the “barbaric legacy” of her people and the “nihilism of a self-inflicted crime.” She had understood better once she saw a fully demonic birth. She had thought the coven obliterated and thinks how the shouldermen are a “devolution” from “truly knowing the god that was the shore.” She thinks the coven does what it desires and wishes the Letherii had succeeded in wiping them out. She has spent time hand-picking her soldiers, choosing those with Shake blood. They run across Yedan Derryg and his soldiers, who are also Shake. He told her that like her he’d thought his title—Watch—was merely “honorific” but he felt himself summoned three nights ago, adding that they’ve discovered strangers have arrived, though they leave no tracks. Then they see a glow and investigating, they find hundreds of ships burning on the shore and Twilight recognizes them as Malazan, from a continent where they’d killed thousands when their fleets clashed. She tells Derryg they journey to the isle and the hell with warning the Edur and Letherii.


Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Twelve

Bivatt certainly is displaying that Letherii arrogance (though grounded in past experience), arrogance quickly revealed as we shift to the deception in the camp.

I love the back and forth between Toc and the Elder, with the Elder thinking (not too unreasonably after all) that Toc is playing some sort of lying game. If you just listed his lines and read them, it’s a pretty amazing succession of the surreal:

  • I suckled at the tit of a K’Chain Che’Malle matron.
  • These arrows were made by a dead man. Dead for a hundred thousand years.
  • This body you see isn’t mine. I stole it.
  • This body’s father was a dead man—he gasped his last breath even as his seed was taken
  • This body grew strong on human meat.
  • [I should have died] more times than I can count. Started with a piece of a moon. Then a damned puppet . . .

Just one of those would have sufficed for a single person’s experience with the fantastic, one would think. And Toc isn’t done.

That closing line is one that reverberates throughout the series but is apparent many times in this chapter as well: “thought about old friends long gone.” It’s a line that moves us nicely to one of those friends—Hedge—and also meshes with Emroth’s later lines about her memories, then leads us eventually into Quick Ben’s litany of the friends he’s lost.

I like how matter-of-fact the meeting is between Hedge and Emroth (by the way, we’ve seen a very similarly named T’lan Imass earlier. Anyone?). Here is one dead person meeting another dead person in a land of the dead and it’s “hey . . .”

It’s been a while since we’ve re-examined the Imass-Jaghut war (remember waaaaay back when it seemed so easy to just say “Imass good. Jaghut bad”?) We get a nicely phrased mini-lecture from Hedge on the topic. I particularly like the insight in “you made of yourselves the first victims.” Something it seems always to be guarded against in such wars. I also really like the ironic metaphor of the Imass facing off against the icy cold of Omtose Phellack by making themselves, their hearts, even colder.

Poor Udinaas. How must it feel to be tossed back and forth between two figures like the Errant and Menandore? And it isn’t like Menandore, after “claiming” him, does much bargaining. She comes down in dragon form all huffy and puffy and “Oh no you don’t—he’s MINE!” And then the Errant tosses off an “I’ll give you an anti-sister nudge for him.” And Menandore is like “Deal!” I mean, she could have held out a bit more for the guy. Maybe for a full “push.” Two nudges and a pinch? Even worse, she then tells the Errant he bought himself a dud. Caveat emptor buddy.

Not exactly a random mentioning of Menandore and Udinaas’ son here. Remember where we saw him? Here is what we said about this in Midnight Tides:

Udinaas and Feather Witch enter another world where they are taken by Imass. In the distance lies a wrecked Meckros city “plucked from the sea and sea ice.” Udinaas explains to Feather Witch how the Imass’ strong memories have manifested them as real people in this realm. The Imass have been joined by a Meckros boy named Rud Ellale who can speak Letherii. He says the Bentract took him in after Menandore saved him from the city. Rud is Udinaas’ son by Menandore and is draconic Soletaken. The head Imass, Ulshun Pral, leads them to 12 gates which were sealed by the bonecaster that took the Imass through and tells them they are in an overflow of Starvald Demelain.

Something to keep in mind.

We’ve had a running theme of sorrow/grief play out in the relationship between Udinaas and Kettle, and it’s built upon here as well when Kettle tells him he’ll need to “understand when everything happens. And not be sad . . . [and] don’t cry too soon.” It’s hard to imagine things ending well with all this build-up, I’d say.

Once he wakes for real, Udinaas’ pronouncements of what might happen if this were still a dream are somewhat interesting. Especially if one considers that his “dreams” aren’t exactly fictional. Is there something to what he says or has the fever truly “boiled his brain” as Clip says?

That spear seems to have some weight attached to it in terms of future narrative. First, it’s given lots of description. Clip says, “It belongs with us.” And Ruin “flinches” at its approach and then tells Udinaas he’ll have to eventually give it up. Curiouser and curiouser.

And a few more curiosities in Clip’s scene with Seren:

  • What does he know about Seren and Udinaas in terms of why Ruin sees them as enemies?
  • If he can “walk” the Darkness, why is he letting them struggle through mountains? Does that mean only he can do it, or, if he could bring them through, what requires him to bide for time?
  • Is he truly blessed by the up-to-now-only-been-described-as-withdrawn Mother Dark? And if so, to what end? (And if anyone is so blessed, why not Rake?)
  • And while we’re on the topic of Clip, does anyone not see his line “I’ve yet to face a warrior with a spear I couldn’t cut to pieces” as a big ole banner screaming “Here comes Trull!”?

It’s a nice tonal/emotional shift from the past few scenes to Quick Ben’s inner thoughts in this scene. The survivor’s sorrow and to some extent grief is a moving idea and it’s well expressed here, no matter that Quick himself “sneers” at the implied self-pity. Of course, as a reader, that self-awareness, self-deprecation only endears this character to us even more. As does his warmth, his guarded warmth, toward his two “noble” companions: the “humble Tiste Edur with his too-full heart, his raw wound of grief; nor that damned T’lan Imass who now waded through a turgid sea of memories, as if seeking one—just one—that did not sob with futility.” Note the compassion evident in how he thinks of them.

I also like the bit of comic relief to break up the sorrow: “We were assuming you were warding us from them [the giant catfish].”

Anybody else have to look up “prognathous”?

How moving is that scene where Onrack is reborn (nice touch with the little semi-halo of birds swirling around him)? We don’t react merely to his rebirth but also to Trull’s tears of joy for his friend. It’s a true double emotional whammy. Though in our shared joy at this resurrection, it’s hard to quell that horrifying thought—what if this is only temporary? What would it be like to lose this all over again?

And I love that shift from Onrack’s rebirth, his becoming “young again” to Redmask’s opening line “When the world was young . . .” What a great transition. Even better, the transition turns out to be way more concrete than it seems, as Redmask’s story turns out to be about the Imass and the T’lan ritual. Didn’t see that coming at the start, did you?

That sneaky Redmask—setting up in a magic-free zone. That’s gonna hurt....

Well, we’ve had, as I mentioned, increasing mentions of the Shake. Lots of intimations that that storyline, whatever it was with those people, was going to bloom into something bigger. And here we have it beginning as suddenly the whole plot line explodes:

  • Twilight was the Shake princess.
  • Twilight is now the Shake queen.
  • Shake Brullyg (whom Shurq Ellale is trying to see and who seems to be being held prisoner on his own island) is her betrothed (which she’s just learned).
  • There’s a coven of 200 Shake witches. And they seem to have some real power going by these two.
  • Twilight has a Shake half-brother.
  • That half-brother is known as The Watch, begging the question of course, what is he watching for?
  • And by the end of this chapter, Twilight has claimed her mantle of authority (though that’s not to say it’s going to be given easily to her or fully to her) and the Shake are about to go on the move. More to come.

I’m not going to go into much detail regarding the battle, save to say:

a) Boy, did Bivatt get her butt handed to her.

b) Erikson is one of the better handlers of battle scenes in fantasy, I think. It’s been a while since we’ve had one of these and it’s good just to note in general how it all feels quite real in terms of tactics and how it also feels (to me at least) quite clear. That doesn’t mean I don’t reread a line or two here and there to figure out the logistics, but it means that first of all, there are logistics (I hate logistic-free battles!) and it only takes a quick reread of a line or two to ground me in just what is happening to whom and where.

Okay, show of hands. Brohl Handar. Dead? Or alive? (I’m not telling.)

I mentioned last time that we were catching our breath, that things were building. And look where we end up, 40% of the way into the book: “The Malazans are on our shore.” Tell me that didn’t shiver your blood when you read that. I call those sorts of moments “Mufasa moments” after that great scene in The Lion King:

Banzai: Now that’s power.
Shenzi: Tell me about it. I just hear that name and I shudder.
Banzai: Mufasa!
Shenzi: Ooooh! Do it again!
Banzai: Mufasa!
Shenzi: Ooooh!
Banzai: Mufasa, Mufasa, Mufasa!
Shenzi: Ooooh!
Shenzi: it tingles me!

So I’ll just end on that line again: “The Malazans are on our shore.”

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

Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter
And so things start to come together. We have the Shake starting to be identified and Twilight is their Queen. Onrack is revitalized and they are in an interesting place. The Errant and Meandore are chatting and Udinaas has an interesting son.

Hedge is making useful comments and Udinaas has a useful spear.
The Lethari really aren't effective agaisnt people who can fight back, are they?
Chris Hawks
2. SaltManZ
The "demonic" Shake children are presumably half K'Chain? I remember assuming so. I also thought it would end up an important detail, but I don't recall that being the case. Someone on the forums posited a connection to the Jhorligg from "The Lees of Laughter's End" and I kinda like that thought.

I'm a very visual person, but I have all sorts of problems visualizing battle scenes. Even SE's, which are very well done. I just can't "see" it. (Some funny things happen when I do manage it, though; I've got a story about Donaldson's Mordant's Need I could tell.)
3. MatHornsounder
The Shake are Tisti Andi descendants right?
Jamie Watkins
4. Treesinger
No spoilers but are we told what the Shake really are? "Demonic" children, talons for toes? I can't buy the half-K'Chain theory because they K' aren't even humanoid.
5. Tufty
@SaltManZ, MatHorn and Treesinger

What are the Shake? You have to wait for it...

Once the necromancer chimes in, we can probably have a decent discussion about it, but until then it would be too spoilery, IMO.
Lee VanDyke
7. Cloric
A couple of points I feel compelled to comment on:

Of course, as a reader, that self-awareness, self-deprecation only endears this character {Quick Ben} to us even more.
(edit: I forgot that I can't use square brackets)

I'm probably in the minority, but this is one character in the entire narrative that I know I'm supposed to get emotionally invested in, and just... never did. His arrogance (even when he's not being arrogant, he still comes across that way to me) always left me with a total "meh" feeling about him. *shrug*

Anybody else have to look up “prognathous”?

This is a tendancy of SE's that annoys me to no end. I have what most of my friends and family consider a very large vocabulary, and I'll admit I tend to use a $5 word when something more common will do just as well. There are times when it seems like Erikson goes out of his way to find a $10 word instead. Even if I don't know the word, I can usually use context clues to get the general idea. Sometimes I can't. Either way, if I have to stop and reread a sentence or two just to figure out what the heck one word is supposed to mean, then realize that he could have used a less-weighty word, it completely pulls me out of the story. It does seem like this happened less as the series wore on, but not sure if that was his evolving writing style or my adapting to it.
Sydo Zandstra
8. Fiddler
Clip mentions he’s never seen a spear fighter he couldn’t take easily and Fear laughs, to Seren’s enjoyment.

One of my favourite scenes...

Then they see a glow and investigating, they find hundreds of ships burning on the shore and Twilight recognizes them as Malazan, from a continent where they’d killed thousands when their fleets clashed. She tells Derryg they journey to the isle and the hell with warning the Edur and Letherii.

I found this an epic scene, with all the burning ships. We'll see the Marines' POV later on, but Twilight reads it right: 'we landed baby, and we are not going back...'

Don't mess with the Bonehunter marines...

Now all the pieces are in play for the endgame....
Amanda Rutter
9. ALRutter
Just letting you know that my thoughts on Chapter Nine are now up. I shall be getting right up to date over the weekend, and then will be joining Bill from Chapter Thirteen this week :-)
karl oswald
11. Toster
Woot! I'm sure you know how appreciated you are here Amanda, but i'm also very happy for your success and all the cool things that take your attention from this reread :-D
Amanda Rutter
12. ALRutter
Thanks Toster :-)

Chapter Eleven comments are now up! Just this chapter to catch up with, but will probably be tomorrow. Off out for the evening now :-)
Amanda Rutter
13. ALRutter
Chapter Twelve

Nice reflection between the thousand suns in the Sidivar Trelus saying and the campfires of the Awl army.

Hmm, this is one of those moments where the reader with more knowledge (the fact that the Awl army now has a Malazan army veteran to guide their moves) wants to tell the character that they’re so wrong! “It looks as if Redmask was not able to sway the elders with any new schemes. It’s the old tactics – the ones that fail them time and again.”

Having said that, I’m not sure Toc is going to be able to really get through to these Awl, to show them how best to defeat the Letherii.

Aww, I miss Tool as well.

I am entertained by this little competition between Toc and the old guy who has been blackmailing Redmask as to who has the best secrets. I think Toc wins. Then again, I don’t know what the old guy is referring to. He does mention that Redmask’s sister killed herself. Is that the ‘she’ he’s already been referring to?

Hedge’s progress has been amusing in some ways, but I’m mighty glad that his story might be moving on some. I did like this though: “I keep forgetting that I’m already dead. If there’s one thing the dead should remember, it’s that crucial detail, don’t you think, Fid? Bah, what would you know. You’re still alive. And not here either. Hood take me, I’m in need of company.” That reinforcement of the relationship between the pair, and how much they miss each other, really touched me.

See? As soon as Hedge has company, the dialogue cranks up and I become much more interested. This, for instance: “It’s why I became a soldier, you know. To meet women. And then I discovered that women soldiers are scary. I mean, a lot more scary than normal women, which is saying something.”

Hedge says he never shared love, but I would disagree, considering his friendship with Fiddler. I guess it’s not quite the same, but it’s definitely love.

Not entirely sure what Hedge’s job is, but it seems he’s trying to get Emroth to open up about her memories.

Talk about a nightmare! Udinaas’ rapist and a god he doesn’t really believe in tussling over control of him, passing him one to the other like a toy. I forgot about the child of Menandore and Udinaas! Since we’re getting a handy reminder of the child here, I’m guessing they’re about to come front and centre. Erikson is good to us like that.

Do not have a single clue what Kettle is talking about though!

Although Udinaas’ words, as he comes back to the others from his dreaming, seems to be the muttering of the fever, I do think there is probably a few things to mark here and bear in mind, especially the bit about Clip sinking his hands into a pool of blood. Rather shocked by Clip’s casual ‘Kill him or leave him’ reaction to Udinaas’ illness.

Ugh, the images that Erikson conjures of this snow that has been filtered through smoke and ash and the meat of bodies is not nice at all. They’re not being led on a very nice path by Clip here.

This storied weapon, this spear – well, it makes me uneasy people picking up stray weapons after some of the situations we’ve seen over the course of the books. There is usually a good reason for weapons to have been cast aside. Clip reckons this one belongs with the group, a T’lan Imass spear – because it poses a threat to Silchas Ruin maybe?

And what is this ‘walking the Darkness’ that he mentions? It sounds like he’s using a Warren, but plenty can do that and it’s nothing really to be boasted of. Clip is such an unreliable narrator – I just don’t trust a single word he says, with all his boasting.

“Since the Enfilade at Pale, his life had been rather headlong.” I would indeed concur – even when the pace of the books has been slower, there is still a mountain of events we’ve gone through.

Oh, this is sad, sad, sad: Quick Ben contemplating his fallen friends, and the fact that “he was reluctant to let others take their places…” And a little intriguing mention of his past there as well, with the fact he has also lost “others, from long ago.” And this final sentence made me tear up a little, since I feel we, the reader, are also in this boat: “Us damned survivors don’t have it easy. Not even close.”

*giggles* “We’re about to be attacked by giant wizard-eating fish and you’re reminiscing!”

Anyone else feeling like this perhaps isn’t the right time for Quick Ben to be weakened? It’s nice to see that Erikson is showing a fragility in this clever mage, that Icarium was enough to cause him to expend too much power.

Wow! Onrack has been gifted mortality! And they are in the realm of Tellann – very cool.

And here’s another reason why the Awl are not going to be cowed in the same way as they have been in previous battles against the Letherii – there will be no magic in the location of the battle. I do feel sorry for the Atri-Preda and what she is going to face, as she rests happy and relieved in her belief that the battle will go the same way as it has before.

How creepy! Our first sight of the Shake mentioned a few times now, and it’s two eerie hags who have cursed the Dresh line to keep murdering the wives. This is very folklorish.

Ooh! Yan Tovis says: “My Shake name is Twilight.” Very intriguing. Heh. All this time I’ve just seen Yan Tovis as a minor Letherii player, and now we discover she is a Queen (with the death of her mother) and has a half-brother who tried as hard as she to outrun her blood. And she is betrothed to the Shake on the Isle where Shurq Elalle has made her camp… All these intricacies starting to pull together.

And so deaths are caused: “…laziness leaning heavy on past successes…” Ack, and then she compounds matters by not listening to advice offered. This Atri-Preda is a fool.

I think Erikson is one of the few fantasy authors whose battles I read in their entirety. He writes them well, both the sweeping overview and the individual tussles.

I do confess some disbelief at how much effect Redmask and Toc have had on these Awl over a relatively short period of time. I mean, these stunningly effective manoeuvres are slightly more than I was expecting to see.
I still can’t help but see the K’Chain Che’Malle as dinosaurs. They seem Erikson’s ode to our own extinct equivalent! This K’ell Hunter reminds me of nothing more than a very massive velociraptor.

And damn. Two K’Chain Che’Malle. Doing this much damage – admittedly against people entirely unprepared to face them or even believe their existence. But that is a lot of damage!

Is the Shake part of the reason why you kept pointing out the shore references that Erikson makes so frequently? “The shore’s battle had ever been the battle of her people.”

Hmm, do the Shake have links with the K’Chain Nah’ruk, with these demon-kissed children (“-the taloned hands and feet, the scaled, elongated face, the blunt tail twitching like a headless worm, the eyes of lurid green”)? Is this because they dwell by the sea and these seeds come to rest in their wombs?

And what a way to end this section of the book! “The Malazans are on our shore!”
14. Jordanes
Two of my favourite moments (of many) of the series in this chapter:

The shared laugh between Fear and Seren over Clip's disdain of spearwielders, one of the few lighter, more heartwarming moments in this particular plot line.

And then the scene of the burning Malazan ships. I've noticed that Erikson tries a new style or writing/plotting technique in every book (the most obvious we've had so far is the keeping to solely one plot line in the first quarter of House of Chains, but probably the clearest is yet to come in Toll the Hounds). In Reaper's Gale, we aren't introduced to one of the major plots (and probably the one we as readers are most invested in considering they have some of the characters we know best/longest) until halfway through the novel. In this way, their eventual arrival on the scene is that much more impactful.

There will also be much to say about the difference between the Bonehunters of RG and the previous novel - a much stronger, more self-confident lot here.
15. Innad
Emroth, the name did ring a bell, but I am unable to determine where from. I would welcome suggestions/refreshment of my memory.

I know that I will probably come across as being a bit sadistic, but I found the curse of the Shake witches amusing. What goes around comes around I guess, although ofcourse by letting it go on for so long they slightly overdid it. What? I'm a vengeful kind of person ;-)
Or maybe it was the entire conversation which I enjoyed, where they gave the information bit by bit to Twilight.

Personally, I too assumed the demon-kissed children were in some way offspring of the K'Chain - whatever form.

And somehow I don't feel sorry for Udinaas, because I have a feeling he can take care of himself. He hasn't had a good life up till now, but he keeps his head up and comes out stronger every time. Although not necessarily physically since he needs the spear to walk.
A question I asked myself was if the spear will end up with Trull. He's the only one who has been mentioned as fighting good with a spear.

@Cloric, I don't share your feelings about Quick Ben. I liked him from the start. Maybe that is why I still do: you never get a second chance to make a good impression, and he made a good one on me.
He can be perceived as somewhat arrogant, but to me that is because so much is asked of him and so many people depend on him.
Compare it with a CEO or a high level politician - they just don't have enough hours in a day.
Or, maybe I'm just a mage-lover. Probably the latter.
Darren Kuik
16. djk1978
Very possibly this is my favorite line to end any "Book" in the MBotF series. We aren't yet quite half way through the book but at this point I seem to remember the pace being pretty quick right through to the end.

The Malazans are on our shore. Indeed.

As for the Shake and the whole demon issue, I too assumed that this is a KCCM connection. Its worth remembering that the demon seed can get into just about anything. Further detail on this whole bit will be arrived at in ch 17 I believe.
17. Tufty

re: Emroth, I recommend not reading any answers someone gives you and continuing to try and figure it out yourself as future chapters continue that plotline. Even if the name Emroth means nothing to you, you can still piece together who this T'lan Imass might be.
18. Innad
In that case I will put my own brain to work.
Sometimes having information can help to understand, but indeed it can be more rewarding to figure things yourself.
Rereading the book - which I think I will start once I finish the series will be such a joy!
19. Innad
By the way, I am enjoying this book a lot more than The Bonehunters. There seems to be a general consensus on what are popular books, and personally my favorites deviate from that consensus.

Don't get me wrong, I liked TB, but this book does a lot more for me.
20. clgarret
This exchange is great too:
I understand, Emroth said.
You do? Understand what?
Why you have no companions, Hedge of the Bridgeburners.

Finally caught up to the reread too. Hi all.
karl oswald
21. Toster
Hello hello.

"Sure, she's hiding it well, but that woman died some time ago."

the whole first part of ch 13 is hilarious.
22. Dafthoser
Hi all. Long time lurker first time commenter. I just want to say this is where the book really starts for me. The first half of this book I think was the hardest section of MBotF for me to get though. Thank god for Tehol, Bugg, Toc and a few other old friends.

@Bill &Amanda keep it up! I look forward to your blog every week.

Brian R
23. Mayhem
I have to say I'm now dying to find out the history of that spear, presumably from the Kharkanas trilogy. Given Silchas's immediate recognition, and the comments from Clip, it is clearly a significant artifact.

Fragile. Oh yes, there is that. I poured too much through me trying to beat him back. There’s only so much mortal flesh and bone can take. The oldest rule of all, for Hood’s sake.

Ahh, now here is where things get interesting. Because there are two ways things can go when they get damaged, they can be permanently weakened, or they can adapt and become stronger. And if the oldest rule of all is mortal flesh can only take so much ... Quick Ben contains so much already ... so does that mean his flesh is changing, or his mortality? Is this perhaps another path to Ascendency?

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