Welcome to the Malazan Re-read of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll begin our coverage of the Epilogue 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 spoiler thread has been set up for outright Malazan spoiler discussion.
Nimander wakes to the sound of Clip’s spinning, snapping chain in the street below his window. He goes out and meets Clip, who tells him to get his kin and he will lead them home to Anomander Rake. When Nimander objects that Rake doesn’t want them, Clip says it doesn’t matter what Rake wants or even what Clip desires, because he is “her [Mother Dark is implied] Herald.” He adds that he would have killed Nimander’s sister himself had she still been alive, as she was insane. Nimander goes to get the others, thinking, “Our exile is at an end.”
While Nimander is gone, Clip thinks how “pathetic” he and the others are, and how he had told Nimander mostly lies. He wonders how Ruin did in Letheras, thinking probably not so great, then thinks about how he and Nimander’s group will find Rake and make him “give answer to us. No, not even a god can blithely walk away, can escape the consequences of betrayal. We will find you . . . We will show you just how it feels.”
Rud and Udinaas talk, while below them in the valley a lost ranag calf bawls for its mother. Udinaas tells Rud he can hear Seren’s grief even at such great distance, and mourns telling Onrack of Trull’s death. Rud, fearing the answer, asks how long Udinaas plans to stay, and Udinaas replies until Rud kicks him out, though he says doesn’t have much to teach him. Rud disagrees, saying Udinaas can team him how to survive. The calf is found by three adults.
Onrack tells Kilava he must go to where Trull’s body is, must tell Seren of Trull’s life since he’d known him. Kilava tells him she is going to go with him.
Tehol is Emperor. He meets with Bugg, Brys, and Janath. Tehol is still Tehol.
Seren is trying to pry up the paving stones at her house entrance to bury Trull’s sword. Bugg moves the largest one, then before leaving tells her “Do not grieve overlong Seren Pedac. You are needed. Your life is needed.” Bugg comes back for a moment to tell her he found the Errant and that is how he learned of her and what happened, finishing by saying “You have all there is of him, all that’s left. Cherish it . . . and yourself.” She touches her stomach.
Amanda’s Reaction to the Epilogue
Well, that there is not a fun poem, is it, to start the epilogue?
So first Clip claimed to be the Mortal Sword of Anomander Rake, and now he claims to be Mother Dark’s Herald... Who on earth is he, and whom does he represent in truth? With these lies, it seems he might be associated with the Crippled God. And it isn’t good that he’s taking these vulnerable and naive Tiste Andii for himself.
Hmm, a clue about Clip: “Oh, Anomander Rake, we will find you. And you will give answer to us. No, not even a god can blithely walk away, can escape the consequences. Of betrayal.”
Ah... painful to hear about Seren’s mourning for Trull, and even worse to know that Onrack is now aware of Trull’s death.
It is the very sweetest moment as Udinaas and Rud talk together, especially this bit, where Udinaas realizes he finally has a place where he belongs and where he is important: “In this time, it seemed Udinaas had found something wrong with his eyes, for his hands went to his face again and again.”
At least Onrack has Kilava to ease his pain. Imagine how much worse it would have been were Onrack alone and suffering through the death of Trull.
Another really lovely scene, between Tehol, Brys, Bugg and Janath. Particularly love:
“Goodness, how the blessings flow over.”
Janath said, “Careful you don’t drown, Tehol.”
“Bugg would never let that happen, sweetness.”
Who is that old man, with the mason’s wrists, that assists Seren moving the pavestone? It doesn’t seem to be Bugg—is it Withal? Except he seems to be a god, with his rather omnipotent knowledge when it comes to Seren’s pregnancy. I’m glad she has something good that will come from her too-brief time with Trull. And I’m eager to see what role the child of Trull will have in future events.
This is a very neat epilogue compared to some in the rest of the books. It completes a few of the loose ends remaining, without adding in anything too mysterious, as we’ve seen before. And it leaves a rather heartwarming feeling, after the really rather tragic events of the previous few chapters.
Bill’s Reaction to the Epilogue
Well, we’ve seen Clip lead one group on a journey and how that ended. Will this next one go any better? Starting out with lies doesn’t seem to bode well. Nor does his desire for vengeance on Rake or his talk of betrayal. Though, and I hate to do this, I do have to give credit for his perspicacious assumption about Ruin not doing so hot in Letheras.
The idea that Udinaas can sense what Seren is feeling is a nice slant way of giving us her grief without being overly sentimental or too blunt with it (while we’re on that topic, I’ll just say the ranag calf was a bit too blunt for me). It also makes one wonder if this ability might come into play somewhere down the line. I do like the restrained emotion (excepting the calf) in this scene between the two of them.
And then more restrained emotion, and a nice bit of comic relief, with Onrack’s obliviousness to Kilava’s assumption that she is going with him. Erikson taketh but sometimes Erikson giveth as well (at least for a while, we’ll have to wait to see if Kilava and Onrack are a happy couple for long).
Poor Seren. The sword was so long a questionable symbol. And after it was revealed to be just what it was, how empty is its burial? Thank god (sorry about the pun) for Bugg (that is him, Amanda), able to bring a smile to her, a harder task one would guess than moving the stone (he did indeed move stone in getting her to smile, one could say).
As Amanda says, a surprisingly neat, tidying up sort of epilogue, with even a happy ending for the most part, though a happy ending soaked in grief (if such a thing is possible).
Whole book wrap up next time....
Amanda Rutter is the editor of Strange Chemistry books, sister imprint to Angry Robot.