May 3 2013 12:00pm

Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Toll the Hounds, Chapter Six

Malazan Re-read of the Fallen Toll The Hounds Steven EriksonWelcome 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 Six of Toll the Hounds (TtH).

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.




Two days from where he’d landed on the coast of Morn and in bad shaped, Traveller is met by Shadowthrone and Cotillion. Shadowthrone makes the point that when Traveller dies and is taken by Hood, Traveller will have “lost” (by failing his goal of killing Hood). When Traveller sarcastically asks if Shadowthrone cares much, Cotillion surprisingly says yes, though they don’t give him a reason. Shadowthrone offers to give Traveller food and drink and have the Hounds lead Traveller to “salvation,” but refuses to say what he wants in return. Traveller says he won’t be stopped or delayed and Shadowthrone and Cotillion say they prefer the opposite. Traveller asks about the two white Hounds and Cotillion says they just showed up one day, and Traveller wonders if they might be the “fabled Hounds of Light.” Traveller realizes the bear had been driven to him by the two gods and angrily asked which of them wrecked his ship and killed his crew. Cotillion says they wouldn’t have done that, and Traveller seems to accept that and leaves.


Shadowthrone and Cotillion go “whew” after Traveller leaves without trying to kill them and discuss how Mael had been the one who smashed Traveller’s ship and they had pulled Traveller out. They wonder why Mael wanted to delay Traveller, and then Cotillion says it doesn’t matter since Mael is working under a false assumption: “A quarry on the run.” They discuss how they cannot fail and timing is all.


In the tavern, surrounded by villagers drinking kelyk, Nenanda tells the group they should discuss Clip while he’s gone, saying Clip has contempt for them and “sees what he chooses to see.” They appear to be behind Nimander, though there is disagreement as to whether they can trust Desra. Clip and Desra return and Clip tells them the Dying God will soon appear and they should go, which they do. Outside they hear the scarecrows singing and Nimander and Skintick go to investigate while the others return to their rooms. They sense the arrival of the god: “in terrible pain… the gate to his tormented soul open.” They come across the scarecrows writhing above the plants, which have opened and sent out clouds of pollen. Nimander is tempted to rush in and “taste the pollen… He wanted to dance in the god’s pain,” but is pulled back by Skintick, who is also drawn. They barely make it back, but are brought inside by Aranatha, “reaching down to grasp them… The strength she kept hidden was unveiled suddenly.” He feels Aranatha’s power, “an emanation of will” that she keeps cloaked “until it’s needed.” They worry about Clip, then hear sounds of him slaughtering the villagers. As they wait out the night, Nimander wars with the ghosts in his head. Phaed implies she killed his love, then warns him he should kill Nenanda before he is usurped by him. At dawn they find Clip, comatose, covered in the blood of the villagers he’d killed in the tavern. Aranatha says “they took something from him” and they decide to go to Bastion, where the Dying God resides, to get it back.


Endest senses a shout, “a cry that bristled with… affront. Indignation. Outrage.” Knowing that every other Tiste Andii must sense it and hope it is Mother Dark returned, he heads to find Rake. Rake asks Endest if he agrees with Mother Dark’s past judgment of him: “Did I not see true what was to come? Before Light’s arrival, we were in a civil war. Vulnerable to the forces soon to be born. Without the blood of Tiamatha, I could never have enforced peace. Unification.” Before Endest can really answer, Rake sighs and says “Yes, a most dubious peace… the peace of death... As for unification, that proved woefully shortlived… I wonder, if I had succeeded, truly succeeded, would that have changed her mind?” Endest asks what they should do about what is happening but as he listens he has no idea of what Rake is saying or thinking: “his thoughts traveled a thousand tracks simultaneously.” Rake decides, “I cannot give answer this time… Nor I am afraid can Spinnock. He will be needed elsewhere... It must fall to you, again. Once more.” Endest, though, says he cannot do it and Rake, at first surprised, accedes, saying “Reborn into fury, oh, would that I could see that... you cannot stand in my stead… Do not set yourself between two forces, neither of which you can withstand. You may well feel the need, but defy it with all your will. You must not be lost.” Suddenly, the strange power disappears, and when Endest asks Rake if it will return, Rake instead muses on the ever-changing sea: “nothing lasts forever.”


Salind says the Redeemer is troubled by something from the south that “had the flavor of Kurald Galain.” Around her are pilgrims worried about their safety now that they’ve been abandoned by the Benighted (Seerdomin). She muses on faith and the faithful and wonders “where the Redeemer’s reward?” The pilgrims ask if the Redeemer is yet another indifferent god and wonder who will stop/punish Gradithan (the one who preys on them). Salind recalls her own troubled past as a First born of the Tenescowri. They decide to go confront Seerdomin, though she thinks it a bad choice.


Spinnock and Seerdomin are playing in the tavern. Spinnock thinks of this strange drink—kelyk—that has been all over, one that causes “an alarmingly dark discharge—he’d begun to see stains… all over the city… abusers, stumbling glaze-eyed.” Spinnock is shocked when Seerdomin surrenders the game. Salind arrives and Seerdomin is shocked and furious, telling her this is his “refuge” and demanding she leave. Spinnock leaves the two alone and waits outside.


When Salind leaves, Spinnock speaks to her. She tells him how Seerdomin used to pray each day at the temple. When Spinnock asks why, saying it bothers him to see Seerdomin so upset, she points out that Seerdomin “answers [your] need, and so wounded as he now is, you begin to bleed.” Spinnock is shocked and she apologizes, then tells him Seerdomin offers the Redeemer his company, “asking for nothing, he comes to relieve the Redeemer’s loneliness.” She says Seerdomin is missed and leaves. Spinnock thinks he must do something “For Seerdomin. For her.” And he wonders at the effect she has had on him.


Kallor recalls his past women and how he’d had to watch them age while he didn’t (at least not at close to the same rate), until “there was no choice but for Kallor to discard them, to lock them away one by one in some tower.” He thinks too how it’s “too bad he’d had to kill every child he begat… He’d tear those ghastly babes from their mother’s arms not moments after they’d tumbled free of the womb and was that not a true sign of mercy? No one grows attached to dead things.” Which leads him to his belief that attachments were “a waste of time… a weakness. To rule an empire—to rule a hundred empires—one needed a certain objectivity. All was to be used, to be remade howsoever he pleased.” He doesn’t understand the “willingness of otherwise intelligent… people to parcel up and then bargain away appalling percentages of their very limited lives in service to someone else… He would bargain away nothing of his life. He would serve no one… He would never be one of the multitude.” He aims now for a “crown… a kingship… Mastery not over something as mundane as an empire… but over a realm.” His thoughts are interrupted by a sense of power north of him and then another he recognizes as Tiste Andii, and he wonders if it is “those two accursed hunters” (Korlat and Orfantal). He remembers how he has killed dragons before, though thinks two tat the same time might be harder. The powers disappear and he heads toward Darujhistan.


Kallor, employing his inimitable charm, hitches a ride with Nimander’s group, heading toward Bastion with Clip still comatose in the back of the wagon.


Traveller meets the Kindaru, “the last clan left” on the Lamath Plains, who tell him they’ve recently found an ambushed group of thirty raiders, killed seemingly by “a demon we think, who walks like a storm, dark with terrible rage.” They explain the raiders were Skathandi, who prey on everyone on the Plain, ruled by the Captain who sits in an ever-moving, two-story carriage drawn by slaves. The next day they scavenge the ambush site, Traveller taking a horse, and then are surprised by the appearance of Samar Dev, who says she’s following the damned demon (Karsa) to give him his damned horse back.


Amanda’s Reaction

Yep, I quite agree with this little excerpt at the start of the chapter and would love to say this to some people at times: “There is the door, and be sure to take all your pompous second-guessing delusions with you...” Hindsight is both a wonderful and terrible thing.

It seems to me that Traveller looks upon the rent that the K’Chain Che’Malle matron used to seal, near Morn: “All that bled from it now was pain, a sour, unyielding stench that seemed as thirsty as the ravaged landscape stretching out on all sides.”

I do enjoy Traveller’s rather dark sense of humour as he considers the fact that it might be something as simple as thirst that kills him.

Something occurs to me here as we meet Shadowthrone and Cotillion and see their descriptions. Shadowthrone is most often described as being a blurred cast of shadows, and can never usually be seen clearly, while Cotillion has his hood back and his face bared, with his form fully visible. I just wonder what that says about the respective characters. Although both are of Shadow, Cotillion is less shadowy, for sure, in intentions and ambitions.

Hmm, white Hounds as part of the Hounds of Shadow? I certainly don’t recall these from before. Are they related to the two Hounds that Paran freed from Dragnipur? Because I thought that they combined with their counterparts in the Nascent and became part of the Deragoth? Because the Deragoth are black, it makes me feel as though white Hounds would be related to the House of Light....

I like that the Hounds respond to Traveller’s empathy here, with Baran leaning his head into the caress and then licking him. I guess the tragedy of the Hounds and their existence would be the sort of thing to evoke pity in Traveller.

It’s sort of odd to remember that these three were once Kellanved, Dancer and Dassem Ultor, and are now Shadowthrone, Cotillion and Traveller. Friends, perhaps? The way that Shadowthrone talks to Traveller indicates the ease of friendship or at least of equals, with his “you damned oaf” and “you stubborn, obstinate, belligerent fool.” Hmm, is that affection or just exasperation?

See, Cotillion is definitely the clearer of the two here, when he says: “Perhaps the most telling truth of old friendships is in how their dynamics never change.” He’s quite certain that he and Traveller are still friends.

I simply adore this scene between the three of them, actually. It’s always a joy to have Cotillion back on page, one of my very favourite characters of the series. And I like the play between the three of them, even including Traveller’s rather bleak thoughts about the fact that they are gods and not to be trusted, despite past friendships. It’s also funny to see Shadowthrone shrug off the presence of these two new Hounds who, apparently, have just shown up... And, ha! Traveller thinks the same as I, that these might belong to the Light. If so (because it seems Cotillion thinks the same) why haven’t they been driven away? Because of this notion that balance required?

Hmm, what interest does Mael have in trying to shipwreck Traveller and delay him in his journey? It’s curiously not like the Mael we’ve seen before. I find him possibly the most contrary character in the series, actually. While he’s Bugg, we see compassion and humour and a very human interest in what goes on. While he’s Mael, he seems cold and distant and very much seeking his own results. We know now that Traveller is seeking out Hood to kill him—what interest does Mael have in delaying that?

I do find the Nimander storyline very glum—and adding in these villagers hooked on kelyk doesn’t help any. What’s interesting is that these Tiste Andii seem well aware that Clip is hellbent on using them for some purpose, but they just seem really apathetic and not that bothered. Especially Nimander, and especially here: “It was, Nimander would recall later, the moment when he could have stepped forward, could have looked into Clip’s eyes, unwavering, revealing his own defiance and the promise behind it. Instead, he turned to the others.”

This is a dark, dark scene as Nimander and Skintick head for the field—as they see the scarecrows come to life and sing their pain, as they breathe in the essence of the Dying God and have him address them. It’s nightmarish and pretty damn horrible.

Aranatha—well, she’s a surprising one. Strength kept veiled. Unaffected by the Dying God. “She hides her other self behind a wall no power can surmount.” Makes me wonder if she is just Tiste Andii, or is more....

The Dying God does not seem all that happy, friends, what with his immortal pain and suffering. Seems strange that this Dying God seems to be a rather big player in this book and yet we haven’t heard of him that much before now.

We are not being presented with a very nice view at all of Desra, via what the others think of her. Even a dead ghost here: “Desra is a slut. She has a slut’s brain, the kind that confuses giving with taking, gift with loss, invitation with surrender. She is power’s whore, Nimander...” Makes me wonder what is to come in Desra’s future—whether she’ll cause problems because of her attitude, or whether she’ll find absolution.

Completely agree with Nimander when he thinks: “Oh, we are a vicious bunch, are we not?” There are so many undercurrents here—hatred and jealousy and indifference and spite. Not entirely pleasant to read about, however well written it might be.

I am uncertain as to what is meant here:

“Nimander,” said Skintick in a low, hollow voice, “we are forced.”


“Awakened once more.”


“I had hoped...never again.”

Awakened to what? Is it due to the carnage they have seen?

Ooh, something has shivered through Kurald Galain—a war cry—and leaves the Tiste Andii hopeful. I wonder if this is connected to the Dying God and what happened with Clip and the others, or if it is entirely unrelated. Lots and lots and lots of details given in each little section so far this chapter—things I’m pretty sure I need to note, such as why Spinnock is needed elsewhere.

And it seems that shiver through Kurald Galain has the power to wake Itkovian for a brief moment as well.

I’m not sure I like what the merchant says: “I surrendered everything, all my wealth, for yet another indifferent god.” It is as though he thinks that he can buy the protection of a god, somehow deserves the protection because he’s given over all his wealth.

I must confess, the philosophy being talked by Salind goes way above my head in terms of understanding or enjoyment. I do wonder how many of you just skim the weighty philosophical diatribes?

This kelyk is truly insidious, isn’t it? And is it all the tool of the Dying God? A way for him to create worshippers?

It is very sad, the idea that the Redeemer is missing Seerdomin’s presence at the barrow, that he has enjoyed the company of one who isn’t seeking any help or requiring anything at all.

Ah Kallor, such a ladies man: “Better, yes, than watching those few who’d remained with him for any length of time lose all their beauty, surrendering their youth, until there was no choice but for Kallor to discard them, to lock them away....”

Ah Kallor, such a compassionate soul: “Too bad he’d had to kill every child he begat. No doubt that left most of his wives and lovers somewhat disaffected.” Ya think?

Ah Kallor, so selfless: “All was to be used, to be remade howsoever he pleased.”

I pity Kallor for not knowing enough about life and love and sharing that he doesn’t understand why Korlat still tracks him and tries to kill him.

As sad and depressing as the Tiste Andii are who travel with Nimander, I’m not entirely sure they deserve to be saddled with Kallor!

I love this welcome from the Kindaru to Traveller—it sort of reminds me of that Christmas greeting card that aims to include all religions and all blessings upon the person receiving it. Just so much overkill, but very charming for all that.

And that ending to the chapter is just fantastic, as we meet Samar Dev in hot pursuit of Karsa.


Bill’s Reaction

But, but, what if my pompous delusions are all I have....

In a series and a book that deals so much with the past and the idea of change, this is a nice opening we get: a huge spine of rock—probably something one would have looked at and thought of us “everlasting” has dropped off and beyond the change in the natural world, we’re also treated to the ruins of K’Chain Che’Malle tombs and a Jaghut tower. Beware a sense of one’s own importance or immortality seems to be one possible message.

I agree, it’s nice to see Traveller met with something other than fear or mistrust, as the Hounds not only greet him but Baran even gives him a lick.

As far as the white hounds, they’re not related to Paran’s freed hounds, but don’t worry—we’ll get more….

I’m not sure I could ever pick a single “favorite” character in this series, but on any short (very short) list would have to go Cotillion. So many (granted, not all) of his scenes seem suffused with warmth, empathy, humanity, and a sense of active, passionate compassion. And it appears Traveller can see the toll this takes on him, as Traveller notes an “exhaustion beyond anything he had ever seen when the man had been mortal.” And when Traveller wonders, “Where were the gifts of godhood? What was their value when to grasp each one was to flinch in pain and leak blood from the hands.” Nice Christian imagery there. It makes one think that Cotillion does not seek godhood for solely selfish means, that he is using his godhood to achieve something. This meeting would appear to be part of that something and while we don’t know what it is, it is hard to imagine it not being linked to empathy/compassion if Cotillion is involved (which is somewhat ironic for someone known as The Rope).

Friends? Yes, clearly between Cotillion and Traveller (and just how sad is that line of Traveller’s that comes after Cotillion winks at him: “Traveller saw once more—after what seemed a lifetime—the man he had once called his friend” And even sadder, his unwillingness to respond to that feeling). Maybe with Shadowthrone. But at the least, shared experiences, which sometimes binds one tighter than friendship.

So there is a lot of plotting going on in this book and it’s wise (or actually, maybe not depending on one’s point of view regarding a reading experience) to try and keep some of the points filed away. So here we have Cotillion and Shadowthrone trying to ease Traveller’s path toward Hood, though Traveller plans on trying to kill the God of Death. That path would also, based on geography and the sense of convergence, be aimed at Darujhistan. Finally, for this scene, file away that bit about how Mael (who is seemingly opposed to whatever plan is brewing or at least to the timing of it) is working under the false assumption that Hood is running. Which clearly implies Hood is awaiting Traveller. Why? File.

Funny close to a scene fraught with some tension and heartbreak (I also love the tiny detail of Shadowthrone turning his entire throne around to watch Traveller leave).

We’ve had lots of reasons to question Clip’s judgment and this scene with Nimander’s group gives us a more blunt reason to via Nenanda’s statement that Clip “sees what he chooses to see,” which strongly implies he’s blind to quite a bit. We see some coalescing around Nimander here, and the scene also does a nice job of setting up some tension with regard to Desra’s loyalty, as the group disagrees as to which side she will choose when the seemingly inevitable confrontation comes.

“It feeds them even as it kills them.” One thinks this might almost be a test of being human.

OK, now I’ve said to make sure you’re keeping the gods straight among the Crippled God, the Dying God, and the Redeemer. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t parallels/similarities among them. We’ve had many references to the CG’s pain, including in the scene with Baruk’s summoning, and here we have great pain/torment associated with the Dying God as well. Something to keep in mind.

This scene in the fields is a heck of a horror movie scene I’m thinking.

Among things to file away: Aranatha and these lines:

Reaching down to grasp them… The strength she kept hidden was unveiled suddenly, and they were being dragged towards the door...

A cough from Skintick at his side. “Mother Dark save us!”

‘Not her,’ said Kedeviss. “Just Aranatha.”

Aranatha, who flinches at shadows… hides her other self behind a wall no power can surmount. Hides it, until it’s needed. Yes, he could feel her now, an emanation of will.

It’s interesting that just after we have a scene with Cotillion, whom I think so often is a symbol of compassion/empathy in this series, we get Nimander’s questions that deal with almost the exact opposite: “Do we all feed on the pain of others? Do we laugh and dance upon suffering, simply because it is not our own?”

And there’s an ominous and dark close to this section—these Andii “awakened” again, against all their hopes.

Speaking of our gods (not to mention others of our characters), one could read something into Endest’s lines: “It was a quirk of blind optimism that held that someone broken could, in time, heal, could reassemble all the pieces and emerge whole… the notion that did not sit well, with anyone, was that one so broken might remain that way.” We have several candidates besides Endest himself—which way might they go?

Loneliness/isolation—another theme throughout and one set against empathy. So many of these characters are alone, isolated. Others are on the edge of breaking through it. Others we’re not sure of. Will Barathol and Scillara for instance, break their isolation via each other? What about Cutter? Rallick, back from being away so long? Traveller? The list is almost literally endless in this series. Luckily, though, we’ve seen the opposite as well: the camaraderie of the soldiers. Fiddler and Hedge. Quick Ben and Kalam. Probably no coincidence that those who seem to be doing so well have at least one significant other in their lives.

What must the Andii be feeling—thousands of years of wishing for the return of Mother Dark and then this odd stirring of power? Imagine the hope, and then the realization.

Now even Rake has second thoughts? Remorse? “Regrets, I have a few”—yep, that seems to be the theme song for this book so far.

OK, some file cabinet lines (boy, we haven’t used this sucker for a while, but this book is really starting to fill the drawers)

  • “I cannot give answer this time” Why? Is it because of what it is? Or does Rake have other things going on?
  • “Spinnock will be needed elsewhere.” Where? Why? What is Rake planning on doing with Spinnock?
  • “Reborn into fury” Who? Why?
  • “Would that I could see that.” Why can’t he? Where will he be? That’s an odd tone.
  • “Do not set yourself between two forces.” Which two?
  • “Nothing lasts forever.”

And more loneliness. And yet another dark and ominous close to a section. Where’s that comic relief when you need it?

What is it about what’s going on with the Dying God that “troubles” the Redeemer?

Hmm, so is this an observation or a criticism of faith:

A need that could not be answered by the self was then given over to someone or something greater than oneself, and this form of surrender was a lifting of a vast, terrible weight.

(And this general insight would seem to lead right into her sharp and blazingly fast insight into the relationship between Spinnock and Seerdomin)

Or this:

“Is it for faith to deliver peace, when on all sides inequity thrives?” I think that line’s been asked of religion since, well, religion. And a disquieting question for many religions it is, I think.

OK, outside of all the layers/metaphors/sociological insights of kelyk, at its core, it’s just kinda gross. Thus endeth my deep insight for the day.

And then more loneliness—that of the Redeemer. But it appears perhaps Spinnock is hooked by this young woman. Maybe he’ll do something? Though then again, Rake has plans for him, so it would apparently have to be soon.

Ahh, perhaps Kallor will offer us up some sorely needed comic relief. Or not. Now, we’ll see some sides of Kallor in this book that may be unexpected. But I have to say this little internal scene doesn’t do much for him:

  • The shallowness of his issues with his women “los[ing] all their beauty” due to age.
  • His belief he had “no choice” but to then pen the poor things up in a some isolated tower (more isolation).
  • His equating (somewhat) his “aging” with their own (“Did he not age as well?”)
  • His infanticide.
  • His disdain of “attachments.”
  • · His “vast construction projects” that probably cost thousands of lives to “glorify his rule.”
  • His lack of any understanding of what might make one human (or non-human) connect with another (he’s pretty much the opposite of Cotillion in many ways).
  • His utter bafflement at just why Korlat and her brother are so upset with him.

After all this, is anyone hoping Kallor will get his hand on this crown? I’m guessing not.

Him picking up with the Andii has the potential for some humor at least. And I give some props to Desra for trying to give him kelyk, though of course Kallor is too wise to fall for that.

And then it’s back to the plains and Traveller walking three days behind some demon killing slavers. Hmmm. As if we had any doubts, up shows Samar Dev. I like how we have all these mini-convergences coming up before what appears to be a large one: Kallor hooking up with Nimander’s group. Traveller and Samar who seemingly are about to meet up soon with Karsa. Our Malazan marines connecting with Barathol and Scillara. It’s like small tributaries joining together before all coming out in the same river (and will it lead to a nice, still lake? A tossing ocean? A waterfall?)

At least we end with some humor….

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

Chris Hawks
1. SaltManZ
As a father of three children under 9, the scene with the little boy dumping dirt on Traveller's boot made me laugh out loud.
shirley thistlewood
2. twoodmom
Kallor was cursed to have all his undertakings end in failure. Could it be that he thinks this curse also applies to his offspring or that they are monstrosities?
Darren Kuik
3. djk1978
Actually I think it's his extremely misguided view of mercy. They can never threaten him or succeed him so rather than let them grow up to disappoinment he kills them. An outrageous view of course...
Peter Bathge
4. Fansal
Can't wait for Karsa's return to the stage. It speaks volumes of this guy, that even the mere mention of his name by Samar Dev (another great character, I so dearly wish the two of them to hook up) sends shivers down my spine. And boy, does he have some great scenes coming up!

On other fronts some of the more tedious parts of the book are coming up, at least in my mind. Much foreshadowing in Coral without anything happening for the next few chapters or so and of course this journey through the countryside with the teenaged Andiis. At least Kallor adds some much needed humour to those scenes. Also thanks to Amanda and Bill for reminding me of Aranathas inner strengt. File cabinet, indeed.

Does anyone else think, this trek to Bastion and the Dying Good feels very much like a fantasy trope? Evil, evil god without any sort of redeeming qualities (at least so far), mind control, zombie-like citizens, a classic quest for the heroes, endlessly travelling with some stuff happening on the roadside. Frankly not something I would have expected in an Erikson book, as it seems so cliché. Or is it just me?
Nisheeth Pandey
5. Nisheeth
This was the chapter that made me want to get to these sections as much as teh Darujistan ones.
Eric Desjardins
6. SirExo
After 2 reads of this book, it is only now while reading the chapter summary that I realise what presence that the Tiste feel in chapter 5.

Got to love how things are not handed to you on a silver plater, make it a whole lot sweeter when you figure something out by yourself.
Darren Kuik
7. djk1978
I feel the plotline with Nimander's group has value but I really don't want to get into why at this point. I've said this before. I've never seen it at as trope, although I guess now that you mention it I can see why you say so.

First time through I didn't much care for this line, but I don't mind it at all now. It works for me.
8. Tufty
We're reading into the parallelisms now, huh?

-Two central cities - Darujhistan and Coral
-Two groups of Andii
-Traveller and Kallor, two swordsmen journeying north
-Black hounds and white hounds?
-Two huge wagons pulled by a horde of slaves that never stop moving

...and tons more. Probably a big part of what I like about TtH.
9. aaronthere
@amanda. i find the philosphical diatribes frustrating for a number of reasons (none of which is based upon any inherent dislike of thoughts of a philosphical nature)

1) regardless of character, most mental musings basically boil down to a 'life is hard, why do i bother?' style existential dilemma.
if it were one or even a few charaters, this could be chalked up to character development, but every character going through the same grim routine in their head is tedious and doesn't really add to the characterization or to the story.

2) there seems to be a strong correlation between diatribe frequency and actual novel length (perhaps excluding Bonehunters, which somehow didn't feel overly philosphical regardless of the new page count, because so much happens in that book.) If the books were the same length or even shorter I also don't think I would mind so much these mental rants. But reading through 300 plus pages of it and realizing nothing much is happening in the story and you still have a thousand pages to go is a little frustrating.

I think SE probably feels confident that if you made it past Bonehunter's you are probably in it for the long haul and will either put up with/skim/or even enjoy these passages so no harm done either way. It was never a big enough deal to stop me from reading through all 10 books the first time. You notice it bigtime when you go back after CG and read GotM how differntly paced the earlier books are...
- -
10. hex
Ahhh, a field of singing scarecrows. What a ghoulishly awesome scene.
Kartik Nagar
11. BloodRaven
Okay, so the power unleashed related to Kurald Galain that Kallor and people in Black Coral feel : is it the 'will power' unleashed by Aranatha while saving Nimander and Skintick, or is it something related to Korlat and Orfantal?

Traveller : how exactly do the hounds know him? Judging by the reaction of Cotillion and Shadowthrone, it feels that the hounds would not have interfered if Traveller had attacked the two gods. There is also the affection and respect that they show towards Traveller. It almost seems as if he was their master earlier. In any case, we do know that Traveller is not a new god, since the legend of Dessambrae is pretty old.

Karsa : Careless of him to forget his horse after all the trouble he went through to obtain it in the first place. One of the major storylines of HoC was dedicated for the horse quest.

Kallor, employing his inimitable charm, hitches a ride with Nimander’s group, heading toward Bastion with Clip still comatose in the back of the wagon.

Inimitable charm indeed! ;-)
Brian R
12. Mayhem
Speculation time ... there was only one Malazan who ended up on the plains of Lamatath with his horse.
The father brought over the best of the tack, and Traveller saw with surprise that it was a Seven Cities saddle, with Malazan military brands on the leather girth-straps.

I wonder if the tack once belonged to Toc the younger?
Darren Kuik
13. djk1978
BloodRaven @11: Karsa, if you recall, when through a portal to get to the Crippled God at the end of Reaper's Gale. He didn't take Havok with him. Afterwards he was obviously transported somehow to Genabackis and Samar Dev takes care of Havok.

Shadowthrone and Cotillion don't control the Hounds entirely I think. It seems pretty clear that the Hounds will do what they want most of the time, but there are things they will not do depending on who it involves. That line of control is somewhat tenuous I believe.

Mayhem, I don't see why it would have to be Toc's as opposed to any random Malazan soldier.
Tricia Irish
14. Tektonica
I'm in the "Nimander plot line is tedious" camp. I dont' mind the philosophizing so much, as it seems less odious than Nimanders group, full of doubt and depression. I still don't understand the realtion of that plotline to the main ones.

I did enjoy the reunion of Kellenved, Dancer and Dassem Ultor. And yay, for having Samar Dev back in the story....cue Karsa!
karl oswald
15. Toster
interesting theory about the tack, mayhem, it could be. does anyone remember if toc's tack was seven cities? however, plenty of seven cities soldiers fought in the conquest of north genebackis, i should think, and trade could bring one to the kindaru. would be a neat little tie in if it was toc's tack though.

it's not surprising that traveller approaches ST and Cot warily, since during their last meeting in RotCG he cut cotillions rope from kyles neck. mind, with all the timeline issues between these two books the time that's passed between the two meetings could be anything from a week to three years, depending on how old harllo is (harllo is HOW old? :P)

but of course, the timeline is not important, the timeline is not important, the timeline is not etc etc.

lastly, i have to say that the scene coming up involving that Captain and his Skathandi is one of my favourites in this book. so many great quotes.

"Everyone seeks to give me gifts. I reject them all. You believe yours is wondrous. Generous. You are nothing. Your empire is pathetic. I knew village dogs who were greater tyrants than you."

not from the next chapter, but isn't it about time we brought back the quote game? so many beauties in this book!
Peter Bathge
16. Fansal
BloodRaven @11
"Okay, so the power unleashed related to Kurald Galain that Kallor and
people in Black Coral feel : is it the 'will power' unleashed by
Aranatha while saving Nimander and Skintick, or is it something related to Korlat and Orfantal?"

The first one, at least that is how I understood it. At the end of the book we will get some insight into where Arantha's power is coming from.

"In any case, we do know that Traveller is not a new god, since the legend of Dessambrae is pretty old."

Actually, I didn't get that at all. If Dessambrae has been around for a long time how does that fit with Daseem being at most a hundred-ish years old? This whole business with Dessambrae, Daseem and Hood has always been a bit fuzzy for me - I would be very grateful for an explanation :)
Eric Desjardins
17. SirExo
We do know that Dessambrea was at the last chaining of the crippled god, I dont know how far back that was, but he is a very fuzzy person to pin down on anything
Pirmin Schanne
18. Torvald_Nom
Well, IIRC, said last chaining also involved the business with Dassem's daughter which led to the falling-out between Dassem and Hood, so I'm not sure whether that happened so far in the past (unless time travel was involved - see Toster's mantra for that).
Brian R
19. Mayhem
Hmm. Memory failed me it seems. Paran's horse was noted as Seven Cities style, but Toc had a Wickan one, and was thrown off it into chaos. Seems like they are unusual, but not particularly so.

Paran went to the other horse and tied his bag to the saddle, which was of the Seven Cities style, high-backed and with a hinged horn that folded forward – he'd seen several like this on this continent. It was a detail he'd already filed away. ...
No coincidence, that. Most of the 2nd, 5th and 6th Armies had been recruited from the Seven Cities subcontinent.

As for Dassem\Dessembrae ... are we sure they have always been the same person? Seems like Lord of Tragedy is a role a person can assume, and potentially one someone can replace ...
Eric Desjardins
20. SirExo
@19 That is a good point about the role, but his name is almost the same as the gods name. So I dont think other people have held that name, but the position that it holds may change from era to era maybe?
Kartik Nagar
21. BloodRaven
About Dessembrae : Originally, I thought he was like Nightchill or Mael, a god who would live like a normal human being and participate directly in their affairs. But we have seen Traveller reminiscing about his youth spent in Dal Hon. Now, I think that like Itkovian or Paran, he started out as a normal human being but then earned his godhood through his actions (and his strength), and because of the tragic nature of his life (although the only tragic event that I can remember is his daughter's death), he has assumed the role of Dessembrae. Don't know if more is revealed about him in later novels which contradicts this. I don't think there is any concept of reincarnation in the Malazan world, or else we could say that Dessembrae was reincarnated as Dassem Ultor.
Chris Hawks
22. SaltManZ
One particular scene in TCG throws a wrench in a lot of early Dassem/Dessembrae theories. That said, I've never gotten the impression that Dessembrae is anything other than a (relatively) recently-ascended god, a la Treach, or ST and Cotillion themselves.
Eric Desjardins
23. SirExo
@22 Can you post it in without, I dont recall the scene. or at least tell me were it is in the book.
Chris Hawks
24. SaltManZ
I'm talking about the scene in TCG where
all the gods are gathered at Coltaine's Fall, and Dessembrae appears as a separate entity from Dassem/Traveller.
Brian R
25. Mayhem
That scene definitely makes the last scene in RotCG a lot clearer.
But not the time to discuss it yet.
26. Jordanes
From what I understand, Dessembrae is, at a basic level, Dassem Ultor's 'god name', like Kellanved changed to Ammanas and Dancer to Cotillion.

However, unlike those two, Dassem rejects his godhood, much like Anomander Rake rejects his. So while he is an ascendant, his doesn't wish for, or, in general, acknowledge worshippers.

But it gets even more complex, because whilst he might not wish for them, there are still people who worship Dessembrae nonetheless as the Lord of Tragedy. I suppose in this sense, Dassem is like Bugg, a god who ignores his worshippers as much as is possible for the most part, and often seems quite unlike you would imagine his 'god' aspect to be (in Bugg's case, Mael, Lord of the Seas).

Regarding his age, Dessembrae has been around for more or less the same length of time as Shadowthrone and Cotillion (perhaps slightly longer, if we take into account the events of Temper's flashbacks in NoK). The last Chaining, which Dassem was present at, happened very recently, as it was there that Dassem lost his daughter.
Sydo Zandstra
27. Fiddler
On Dessembrae being present at the last chaining of the Crippled God, I'd like to add that Cotillion was there as well.

I recall a scene where Kalam or Quick Ben (forgot which one of them, probably QB considering his all-knowingness) has a conversation with Cotillion and thinks to himself along the line of 'You should have stabbed him and kill him the last time you were there and had the chance'. I think that was in tBH.

And it's already known there have been multiple Chainings. We as readers were just led to believe there was one, a very long time ago. The last Chaining was just more recent than we thought...

Another example of SE's skill in showing how blurred history can be, when we are shown it from characters' POV's.

Re: the Nimander/Clip plotline. In my first read this one annoyed me. It is leading somewhere though, up into the last book, and I can appreciate it more now.

Having said that, the outcome of the whole Dying God plotline is still unsatisfactory for me, and I mean a revelation that would be too big a spoiler to discuss here at this stage of the story. So I'll keep that for when we get there. The other vets know what I mean. :)
Tabby Alleman
28. Tabbyfl55
I remember feeling *some* confusion, but thinking at this point that the Dying God was probably the same as the Crippled God, and just this particular region/people had chosen "Dying" instead of "Cripped" as his moniker.

And now, looking back, I can't remember if I ever found out if I was right or wrong about that.
Darren Kuik
29. djk1978
Beginning from Saltman at 24 you're sort of all right or that the sum of the parts of it all. Don't read the white out unless you finished the series.

The best way I can look at it is that Dassem/Dessembrae are along the same idea as Ryllandaras the Jackal and Ryllandaras the D'ivers wolf. They are now separate entities. Dassem being the mortal aspect and Dessembrae being the ascended aspect. Perhaps a better example would be K'rul/Keruli from Memories of Ice. You could attribute this to Dassem not seeking godhood/ascension the way Dancer and Kellanved did, so that his mortal aspect is distinct from the ascension caused by Dassem worship. So I think there is a divergence from what was at one point only Dassem. Thus Dassem is Dessembrae, but not entirely. Or vice versa.
Darren Kuik
30. djk1978
Tabby, you do find out the answer to that if you finish the book.
Brian R
31. Mayhem

Started writing a big bit then browser died and you said much of what I wanted to.
Yeah, I read it as when Dassem forcibly rejected his nascent godhood following the last chaining, he split into two parts - one is stated in TCG as containing his cast off Pride, which is the God, and the other as his (Ascendant) yet still mortal self.
Dassem himself is still mortal, but now in some way not subject to the vagaries of fate and Hood - his life is his own. It cannot be taken from him, but it appears he can relinquish it if his will is overcome by something like starvation.
K'rul/Keruli and Bugg/Mael are similar, though unlike Dassem one is still a part of the other. Ryllandaras is a good example though.

As an aside, I think the part which appeared in RotCG was the man, as it shared a common history with the Sword and was willing to intervene on their behalf. He was transported there by Shadowthrone, and acted against Skinner as a favour to the god, then was removed and put in a place where he could resume his journey, where we pick him up now. The appearance at the end by Dessembrae is as the God, who dislikes Hood, but is not so single minded in doing something about it.
Nancy Hills
32. Grieve
Anyone think of or compare Nimander and L'oric, both sons of equally powerful entities, both in doubt about their father's acceptance and feelings for them, both rather lost and looking for something within themselves and others? Both harboring a sense of their own failure and inadequacy. Nimander has rather disparaging followers and L'oric cannot enlist any. Just a thought.

Also, in an earlier book re-read (don't remember which one, sorry), there was a discussion about Cotillion (who is moving from the god of assassins to the god of compassion and conscience) and how becoming a god had made him more aware and kinder. I thought when I read that "good point" but also thought that, as he influenced Apsalar when he took over her young self, that her innocence and compassion influenced him. Perhaps having been a part of someone so innocent changed him as he changed her. The influence of mortals on gods is a big theme of SE's. Just wanted to mention that since Cotillion and his humanity has come up again.

Happy to see Samar Dev again with Havoc.

Also, have to comment I have finished the book but still don't understand the Dying God and the Child God. Of course, I was reading it with the flu and temperatures up to 102 F. I could have missed something lol.
33. Jordanes
@ 32 Grieve:

I like your comparisons re Nimander and L'oric, I think those are really good points. Yes, certainly for both there is a feeling of 'not being able to live up to their parents' deeds/living in their enormous shadows'. Which only becomes more interesting when you read Forge of Darkness and see Osserc's relationship with his own father...

It's also interesting how Nimander and L'oric have dealt with it (or perhaps rather, not dealth with it) in contrasting ways. Nimander has been closeted for a long time on Drift Avalii, kept away from the outside world. Whereas L'oric has gone out of his way to involve/lose himself in that outside world.

RE the Dying God plotline: I have to say the denoument/revelation was unsatisfactory for me also. It just seemed...over-complicated when it didn't really have to be. Will be interesting to see the responses when we get there.
Tricia Irish
34. Tektonica
Grieve: I like your points about both Nimander and L'Oric, and especially Cotillion and Apsalar influencing each other.

The latter feeds my understanding in this work that, " We create our gods." a sense. Ascendents become gods by having worshipers ,and the worshipers help to define who that god is, and what he does.
Tabby Alleman
35. Tabbyfl55
@30: Oh good! Then when we get to that point of the re-read, I'll be reminded. : )
George A
36. Kulp
The new hounds are an interesting mystery. I wish we had a clearer understanding of what the hounds are, where they come from, what level of power they have, etc. Maybe this will be anwered later in the series?

I've been pretty bored with Nimander and his storyline, but I really liked this scene. The scarecrows opening up sounded like it was from a horror movie. Nimander himself is a pretty dry character, but the Dying God has me intrigued. I'm looking forward to meeting him/her in Bastion, and I'm hoping it's not just the Crippled God under a different moniker.

I mentioned a few chapters back that I didn't like how quickly the pov shifts were happening. Erikson seems to have eased off of this as we have several characters getting extended screen time here, either in lengthy pov sections or multiple consecutive sections. I'm happy he is structuring the chapters this way, as I didn't much care for the quick pov shifts that occurred throughout RotCG.

We had Nimander meet up with Kallor, who said that he was heading "north." Then in the next scene we see Traveller and he hears of a demon killing raiders heading "north." Did anyone else think Traveller was trailing Kallor at first like I did? I was hoping for a confrontation between the two to settle what happened after Ereko's death in RotCG. Although I can't say I'm sad to hear it turns out to be Karsa as he is one of my favorite characters in the series.

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