Wed
Jun 26 2013 11:00am

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

Toll the Hounds 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 cover of Chapter Sixteen 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.

Apologies about the lack of post on Friday—Bill has now started a month of fairly intermittent posting, and I had an unscheduled medical thing to sort. As I say, Bill is going to be in and out until Wednesday 7th August, doing various fun things with his family on vacation. I will be doing the chapter recaps and posting alone—Bill has said that he will try and drop in here and there to make comments, but we shouldn’t rely on it. And, indeed, he should be enjoying his holiday!

CHAPTER SUMMARY

SCENE ONE

The undead dragon that escaped arrives at Kallor’s camp. The dragon tells him “You cannot feel my pain,” and “I have dreamt of a throne.” When Kallor expresses surprise the dragon would take a master, the dragon replies, “Because you do not understand... You think to make yourself the King in Chains. Do not mock my seeking a master.” Kallor tells the dragon, “The Crippled God’s days are numbered... Yet the throne shall remain.” The dragon and Kallor discuss the Jaghut, the dragon musing on how they only went to war once. Kallor said the Jaghut should have exterminated the Imass, but the dragon replies he’s referring to an older war, one that some of the Eleint joined in beside the Jaghut armies, an image which humbles even Kallor. The dragon says they failed, telling Kallor:

Grieve for the Jaghut... for the chains that bind all life... Know, for ever in your soul that the Jaghut fought the war no other has dared to fight... Think of them High King. The sacrifice they made for us all. Think of the Jaghut, and an impossible victory won in the heart of defeat. Think, and then you will come to understand all that is to come... The Jaghut’s only war, their greatest war, was against Death itself.

The dragon flies off, with Kallor thinking “Bless you, bless you all,” and that he owes Gothos an apology. Kallor, crying, wonders about a dead dragon choosing The Crippled God as master, and then recalls a Kellanved quote: “A throne is made of many parts, any one of which can break, to the king’s eternal discomfort.” Kallor thinks he’d learned long ago it wasn’t enough to simply sit on a throne.

SCENE TWO

Endest muses on the beginnings of things, of purity and time and aspects of Darkness, Life, Light, etc., believing the Age of Purity was merely a myth and those aspects were “nothing more than the raw materials for more worthy elaborations... transformation was only possible as a result of admixture. For creation to thrive, there must be an endless succession of catalysts.” He thinks that belief was what drove Rake to all his decisions. He recalls the coming of light, a sun, remembers Andarist covered in blood with horror on his face, thinking “Do not look so betrayed, damn you! He is not to blame. I am not to blame.” Memories continue to flood him: Shadow born; “the knowing half-smile of Silchas Ruin on the dawn when he walked to stand beside Scabandari, as if he knew what was to come;” Shadow shattered and pieces drifting; Andarist broken; Ruin gone; Rake alone. He chooses to believe in Rake’s belief in him.

SCENE THREE

Draconus drags Apsal’ara out from under the wagon and asks if, “when the time comes to fight,” she will be on his side. When she asks why, he tells her he’s impressed by how she’s been working ceaselessly to escape and he would have those few he “admires” by his side at the end. She notes it’s been said will is the only weapon that can fight against chaos and they both agree she has lots of that. She wonders if he is gathering a group of similarly strong-willed ones, a “core of resistance. Of stubborn will... To win through to the other side.” She asks if there even is another side and when he says he doesn’t know, she tells him, “All my life I have chosen to be alone... I will face oblivion in the same way. I must—we all must. It does nothing to stand together, for we each fall alone.” He apologizes to her and she walks back to her spot on the wagon, thinking:

Draconus... You made this sword, but the sword is only a shape given to something far beyond you... You just made it momentarily manageable... Rake understands... More than you ever did. Then you ever will. The world within Dragnipur must die... This is the greatest act of mercy imaginable. The greatest sacrifice... You [Rake] give us chaos. You give us an end to this.

She thinks how neither she nor Draconus would do what Rake does.

SCENE FOUR

Ditch awakens to Kadaspala trying to tattoo his face, after having done half his body. He tells Kadaspala he refuses to be part of this and crawls away, with Kadaspala complaining he is “necessary” and warning he’s summoned Draconus. Draconus arrives and breaks Ditch’s spine so he can’t crawl away, then tosses him back to where Kadaspala needed him. Ditch bemoans his inability to heed lessons or take to heart the truth of people like Draconus and Rake who “do what they have to do when it needs doing.” Kadaspala resumes the tattooing.

SCENE FIVE

Kedeviss takes pleasure in how the mountains and nature are reducing structures into ruins, finding “a secret delight in impermanence, in seeing arrogance taken down.” They’d crossed a dead lake filled with shipwrecks of all sorts and she ponders how Andii would learn to “Take no chances. Dream of nothing, want less,” while humans would try to figure out ways to better the odds for next time. Kedeviss tells Nimander she doesn’t trust Clip and when he agrees, she says she plans to confront him. He wonders if they should all do it together, but she tells him only if she fails. She wonders if Nimander knows how like Rake he has become, how strong.

SCENE SIX

Clip thinks he senses Rake keeping him at bay, and he wonders why Rake is forcing him this longabout path. He believes the Liosan were right about judgment being “unequivocal,” and considers mercy a flaw, as is doubt. He thinks justice and punishment must be pure and plans to make it so, using the Tiste Andii to “deliver justice upon this world. Upon every god and ascendant who ever wronged us, betrayed us, scorned us.” And he thinks too of Rake’s betrayal; of Mother Dark; of the Andii left in the Andara; of Nimander and his kin; of Clip himself.

SCENE SEVEN

A witch meets with the Andii High Priestess to tell her the Redeemer Cult has become corrupted, explaining about saemankelyk and the Dying God and saying outlaws have made addicts of the cultists, including Salind. The witch warns the corruption could spread (offending the High Priestess with the implication the Andii are just like humans) and asks for help, specifically Spinnock Durav. The High Priestess brings her to a chamber of power, telling her, “By entering here, you have drawn Kurald Galain into your body... The sorcery is now within you.” When asked why she’s done this, the High Priestess said she’d sensed the Witch’s weak heart and ascertained she’d die on the way back. The witch surprised the High Priestess by saying she’d known that, that she’d hoped her sacrifice would have been worth saving Salind. The High Priestess tells the witch Spinnock is gone, adding that humans always make the mistake of thinking they need to “bargain” with the Andii instead of simply asking. The witch, realizing she’s been healed, thanks the High Priestess (playing by her own rules) and asks her to help Salind. The High Priestess refuses, saying the Temple believes neither Salind nor the Redeemer need help yet, though they will act if they have to, adding it’s been hard restraining Silanah.

SCENE EIGHT

Karsa rejoins Samar and Traveller. She tells Karsa she once lived a civilized life with all its benefits, but he says “birds sing of imprisonment” and points out her life was isolated from the reality outside her house as well as what it took to proved her civilization’s benefits. The undead dragon arrives then sembles into Edur form, introducing himself as Tulas Shorn. He tells them he doesn’t recall his death, then refers to Samar as a priestess of Burn. Samar slaps down Traveller and Karsa for their belligerent reaction and invites Tulas Shorn to their fire. Tulas tells Samar Burn is sick and the illness must be purged or the goddess dies. Samar, frustrated by his assumptions, tells him she has no idea where to start. He says the illness comes from the pain of the Crippled God and says he doesn’t know if that pain, both physical and spiritual, can be mended. Samar calls the CG “anathema to the likes of me,” and Tulas talks about the courage of knowing a stranger’s pain, a courage beyond himself and most others. They sleep and in the morning, Tulas is gone, as are their horses (save for Havoc). Traveller thinks Tulas was slowing them down for Hood’s purposes.

SCENE NINE

Tulas, who has seen “far too much death,” had taken the horses and dropped them off leagues distant with other horses. He flies away, thinking that too many “animals were made to bow in servitude to a succession of smarter, crueler masters.” He senses the Hounds of Shadow (calling them “My Hounds”) and flies toward them, wondering if they would remember him, “The first master, the one who had taken them raw and half-wild and taught them the vast power of a faith that would never know betrayal.”

SCENES TEN & ELEVEN

The Trygalle Trade Guild carriage makes its typical entrance.

SCENE TWELVE

In the tower atop the coastal cliff where the carriage landed (in a town called Reach of Woe), a Jaghut sighs “not again,” and his dozen reptilian servants begin “a wailing chorus” which wends its way down into a crypt where “three women, lying motionless on stone slabs, each opened their eyes... and began shrieking.”

SCENE THIRTEEN

Gruntle and the others sit in the tavern in Reach, the conscious ones wondering why everyone went into the cellar and shut a suspiciously thick door. Gruntle and Mappo look at each other, realizing what they’d thought was the storm was in fact “terrible, inhuman voices, filled with rage and hunger.”

Amanda’s Reaction

I have totally experienced the same as Kallor being woken here at the start of the chapter... I have woken nose to nose with my cat. Undead dragon, cat requiring food NOW... yes, that is totally the same thing! Amazing visual to kick off the chapter.

Well, well, well... This undead dragon has much to reveal, doesn’t it? And enough to move Kallor to tears, not something I would ever have believed possible, and an absolutely lovely full-circle with the start of the chapter when Kallor shows such disinterest.

We’ve been hearing much about why Hood and his armies might be on the march—and now we hear about a time when the Jaghut armies rose up against Death, and the futility of such a battle. Does this mean, as well, that many of Hood’s army are Jaghut, from that time when they were forced to take sides?

And then this final point that I find utterly intriguing: “And he would wonder, with growing unease, at the dead Eleint who, upon escaping the realm of Death, would now choose the Crippled God as its new master.”

Endest Silann is haunted by his past, isn’t he? Every little hint that we see about Kharkanas, and about what Anomander did to cause him to stand alone, makes me wonder about the Lord of Darkness. We’ve seen the good side of Anomander—but we never knew him before his endless years, before he learnt the patience of the long game. When he turned his back on Mother Dark and she rejected the Tiste Andii, is this what created Shadow? We’ve seen how the creation and then breaking of Shadow has reverberated through the course of these books—was Anomander the inadvertent cause of all these events?

Draconus’ treatment of Apsal’ara here might give an indication of the difference in power between gods and ascendants—although you guys have often told me not to try and work out how A can be more powerful than B, yet weaker than C. *grins*

So Draconus is still fighting to beat the sword, to win through to the other side of Chaos by using the strong-minded among those trapped in the realm of Dragnipur. We see Apsal’ara’s arguments against it, her knowledge that the world within Dragnipur must die—and her thought that Anomander is right not to slay anymore, to let Chaos win. What would Chaos mean to Dragnipur—would the Warren hidden within Dragnipur then be released into the world as well?

Once again we see a very admiring thought about Anomander—the Lord of Darkness is being built up to something very special by those around him. Even those he killed:

“None other. None other but you, Anomander Rake. Thank the gods.”

Hmm, is Ditch completely mad, or are we going to see that the tattoo he’s creating has a fundamental role to come? “The apex and the crux and the fulcrum and the heart. He chose you. I chose you. Necessary! Else we are all lost, we are all lost, we are all lost.”

And here’s a thought... Ditch is very much on the side of Draconus, so I wonder if this huge tattoo, this pattern, is a way of holding back chaos? In which case, they are going against all of Anomander Rake’s wishes.

Oh my god! Draconus just snapped Ditch’s neck to keep him still! I find this terribly shocking, and it doesn’t enforce my good opinion of Draconus. Hmm, Apsal’ara thought she could see wisdom in Draconus’ eyes, but it seems sorely lacking here.

This could possibly be the way that Elder Gods think—using people in the here and now for a distant end result. But, somehow, I don’t feel as though all the Elder Gods would be so cruel.

It is so clear that Erikson has considered the ramifications for a people who have essentially lived forever. The thoughts of various of the Tiste Andii show this careful consideration as to how their long lives would affect them: “There was a secret delight in impermanence, in seeing arrogance taken down, whether in a single person or in a bold, proud civilization.”

Nimander is being built up a great deal, especially with such quotes as: “...and yet Nimander had grown into a true heir to Rake, his only failing being that he didn’t know it.” And you know something? An heir implies a passing of the one already in the role... That is a touch foreboding.

Who is preventing Clip from using his rings to open the warren of Darkness? He thinks it is Anomander, but I believe Anomander has absolutely no knowledge of Clip’s existence. Or, if he does know about him, just doesn’t care.

Hmm, this thought seems to imply that Clip is sharing his body with the Dying God: “I will take your people, and I will deliver justice. Upon this world. Upon every god and ascendant who ever wronged us, betrayed us, scorned us.”

Just as an aside... there have been many discussions recently about women being under-represented, from female authors to female characters within novels. And I constantly wonder why people do not talk up Erikson more when this happens. Sure, he is a male author, but we have here yet another example of a society where women hold high profile roles, with the High Priestess of Kurald Galain and the female temple guardian. They are mentioned casually, with no fanfare—this is just the way of things in Erikson’s world. The women are as strong and weak, as flawed and honourable as the men. I applaud him for that and wish more people would realise just how effective it can make a story.

It is interesting that Traveller seems to be slowing down Karsa and Samar Dev as they head towards Darujhistan. What is he heading towards that requires these moments of quiet contemplation and slowing of pace?

Karsa accuses Samar Dev of being constantly suspicious, and yet he is guilty of the same issue, especially when he thinks about civilizations. Sure, some of what he thinks is true, but there is also much to appreciate—although Karsa has gained some shades of grey, he is still much more black and white than many of the characters in this series. “The birds sing of imprisonment, Samar Dev. The soap is churned by indentured workers with bleached, blistered hands and hacking coughs. Outside your cool house with its pretty garden there are children left to wander in the streets.” (And it carries on in that vein!)

Huh! Why did I not think that the undead dragon (Tulas Shorn, as it turns out) might be Soletaken? That Shorn business—something like Trull Sengar being shorn from the Tiste Edur?

This is interesting—it reminds me of Itkovian, and presents yet another view of the Crippled God and the plight he faces: “It is an extraordinary act of courage to come to know a stranger’s pain. To even consider such a thing demands a profound dispensation, a willingness to wear someone else’s chains, to taste their suffering, to see with one’s own eyes the hue cast on all things—the terrible stain that is despair.”

Samar Dev would certainly not be the first reluctant priestess we’ve seen—someone taken by a god against their will. Is she truly Burn’s? And is it her role to heal the sleeping goddess?

I also appreciate the way that Erikson talks about horses. It makes me think that he is familiar with them—perhaps rides, even. His sympathy to their plight yoked to men moves me often. I love here that Tulas Shorn takes the two horses to a herd of their own, allowing them their freedom. And it establishes oh so neatly that Tulas Shorn is a beastmaster—and the original master of the Hounds of Shadow. Moments like that—neat and clever moments that require the building of the entire series to realise just what it means—are worth every hard section of these novels.


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

15 comments
Brian R
1. Mayhem
One thing I really like about the section in the sword ... we have a tendency to anthropomorphise everyone we read about - to imagine different characters as if they were human like you or me. And in doing so, we forget the context surrounding them.
Draconus is not human, most likely not even mortal. We forget that at our peril, and his actions here are a sudden bucket of cold water to remind us of that. Clearly there are definite undercurrents in the realm of Dragnipur that we aren't seeing, and there is some form of arrangement between Draconus and Kadaspala as to what is happening.
It does bring to mind the sort of prison culture you see in movies like Escape from New York, where the prison is large enough not to need internal guards, and Draconus is definitely the biggest baddest guy there.


As for Tulas Shorn ... he seems to be a creature of Shadow, a former master of the Hounds. I think it is even more likely that the ritual casting out of Trull was derived from whatever happened to him in the past.
I'm also really curious to know if he took part in the Jaghut war on Death, or if he only speaks of true Elient, not Soletaken ones.
Steven Halter
2. stevenhalter
The meeting between Tulas and Kallor was a really great scene. First, there is the visual aspect of waking up and seeing an undead dragon. Great cinemtic stuff.
Then, there is the info. The only war the Jaghut participated in was against death itself. The epicness boggles the mind. Fantastic.
Then, Kallor's tears are a really unexpected touch. Lovely as both a cinematic touch and an indication that even a character as seemingly unredeemable as Kallor has the possibility for change.
Nisheeth Pandey
3. Nisheeth
The scene between the Dragon and Kallor is one of my favoirites in this book. The way it is written is just beautiful.

I don't think that the Dragon that meets Kallor is Tulas though. Originally my reason was that later Tulas mentions to Silchas Ruin (tCG or DoD spoiler) that he doesn't remember how he died.

Now that I am reading FoD, I have another reason to believe that the dragon wasn't Tulas (I will white it out, just to be on the safe side):
We see Tulas in Urusander's Legion before he even became an Edur. Now the Tiste don't believe that the Jaghut ever had any army. So the war must have happened much earlier. I also got the impression that Hood is already on the throne of Death. Hence Tulas couldn't be teh dragon.
Darren Kuik
4. djk1978
It's worth recalling that Rake put all these people into Dragnipur in the first place. While Apsal'ara might respect him, one has to wonder if they all do. We've already read earlier that Kadaspala has cause to hate Rake a lot. So what exactly are he and Draconus trying to accomplish? There's a lot waiting to be discovered here.

I too think that Tulas was the first Edur to be shorn. I don't know if he's exactly Edur at all, mind you, and I have no evidence beyond the implications of his name.

How does one war against Death itself? And what is the nature of the victory that was one in defeat? Does it relate to Hood now being the lord of Death? One thing I love about Erikson is that when he infodumps (if you can call it that) it often fits in wonderfully and even more often leaves you with just as many questions as answers.
Rajesh Vaidya
5. Buddhacat
@3Nisheeth:

I don't understand your comment. Whited: At the end of FOD, Hood creates his army, presumably to fight death (after his wife's murder, after Draconus frees him from Gothos.) Kagamandra Tulas would learn of it during the evnets of that time. I don't think there was such a thing as Throne of Death at that time..
Darren Kuik
6. djk1978
Nisheeth, I think it's simpler and there is only one undead dragon. (Of course there is also Olar Ethil, but she is female and far away as far as I know). Tulas doesn't only speak that way to the character you referenced in tCG. He also says the same to Samar Dev in this chapter.

Yet he says otherwise to Kallor. He also doesn't give Kallor his name. I think it's likely that Tulas is just giving some misinformation. Possibly he doesn't want Kallor to know who he is.
Nisheeth Pandey
7. Nisheeth
@5, Buddhacat:
I haven't finished the book yet. I am a little over half way through. That confuses me in another way though: The Old Man mentions a High King, one that irks Draconus. Kallor would have to be around the time sice he is cursed by Draconus, Krul and Nightchill and that Draconus is slain by Anomander around the time MD turns away from the Andii (now all this might be wrong, like so many other thigs the book has shown to be).
If the war happened then, Kallor would have known of it.
FoD and this also have another contradiction. FoD has Gothos leading to the Jaghut living alone through argunemts about the problem with civilization, and the dragon has the war being the cause. I think that the dragon might be wrong though.

@6, djk1978:
It might be as you say. But to me, Tulas felt quite different from the dragon, which lead me to wonder whether they even were the same dragons, and get confused.
Brian R
8. Mayhem
@Nisheeth
One thing to keep in the back of your mind (whited)
Are you certain that the dragon escaped?
He's not the only dead being on the move outside Hood's Realm in this book, and they appear to have had ... instructions.
karl oswald
9. Toster
the dragon controversy will go i'm sure, but i wanna revisit what amanda said about how well erikson writes women. there's a pretty well-known litmus test for whether a writer is stereotyping their female characters, basically, do two women have a conversation that doesn't involve a man somehow? i'm pretty sure this test couldn't come near malazan book of the fallen with a ten foot pole XD

also @Amanda, i'm genuinely curious if you didn't have any comments on the arrival of the trygalle trade guild to the reach of woe. this is the best part of the chapter, from the carnage of the landing, to the immediate discovery of a tavern, to the blue jaghut in a tower and the shrieking women. the back and forth between amby and jula while everyone else is shell-shocked had me in stitches and is some of the funniest writing in the novel. the following scene which we get later is even better.

but just imagine it in film, especially the final realizations of mappo and gruntle and how their eyes meet immediately! the tension is seconds from ripping apart. SE is fantastic with suspense in these moments.
Darren Kuik
10. djk1978
@9, While I agree on the cinematics this is sort of where the TTG/Gruntle/Mappo thread started to lose me. I'm just not sure what the point is. I'm hoping the commenters and readers will help with that. But when Amanda doesn't even comment on it that makes me wonder if I'm not alone in missing the point of it all.
Tufty
11. Tufty
@Buddhacat - whoever said Rake slew Draconus and took Dragnipur around the same time as MD turning away? AFAIR, there's never a concrete point in time given to that event.
Nisheeth Pandey
12. Nisheeth
@11, Tufty:
It was me who said that, not Buddhacat (to whom I was responding).
I seemed to remember reading something like that, though not where. I might be imagingnt it though.
Tufty
13. aaronthere
am i the only person that got really bummed Bill won't be posting that much for the next month and a half? His commentary is the main reason I follow this re read, and usuall contains the most important and helpful information in tying this series together. hopefully the veteraned rereaders (you know who you are) can help pick up the slack until he returns.
Bill Capossere
14. Billcap
Hi all,
As Amanda mentioned, I"ll be hit and miss for a while and probably not super in-depth when I can post. I'm currently driving to Alaska which means 5000+ miles, often thru areas with no web access, and then my family will be flying in to meet me for some camping (more out of touch), and then my son and I are driving back (so not a lot of "sit over there while I blog, boy!"). Sorry 'bout that, but I know Amanda will make you all soon forget I'm even supposed to be chiming in. But, since I've splurged tonight on an actual roof over my head for the first time in a week, and I have some wi-fi to go with it, here's a few thoughts on today's post. I'll also apologize ahead of time for brevity, typos, and lack of cross-commentary vis-a-vis Amanda's points--I'm doing this on an iPod touch which doesn't lend itself to those three things very well. Fair warning.

That's a great opening, Kallor waking to a dead dragon.

I don't know if this is intentional, but it seems to me there's a lot of imagery surrounding "waking"/rebirth in this scene, which would be appropriate considering the topic of conversation. A few that caught my eye:
* Kallor "wakes"
* the undead dragon has "escaped" death
* the near-dead colas "lick into flames"
* the sun is rising
* tears flow down "withered cheeks that seemed cursed to eternal dryness"
* Kallor "will come to feelings that he'd not felt in a long time"
* there is also pollen mixed in with dust--a nice mix of life (pollen is seed) and death (dust)

there's also a nice symmetry between the moths into the flame and the war doomed to failure

as for the victory within defeat, I wonder if it might be with what became/took over Death? Or how death was administered?

but oh the scale of the thing--talk about "epic" fantasy

purity, certainty, compassion--Endest is checking off all our important themes here. Purity is after all it seems to me another side of certainty and put those two together and you're almost bound to end up with atrocity (fear the certain man obsessed with purity--we've evidence enough of that in human history). Those two also do tend to crowd out compassion.

I like this metaphor of life as alchemical, as always needing transformation to keep going, catalysts to keep going, a willingness to change. My gut response, adn I think generally the human response, is this idea of "change or die"--but then I wonder about things like crocs and turtles and cockroaches--they've not done so badly for themselves by sticking pretty much to what they've always been. But then, there's "being alive" and then there's "living". So I'm still gonna stick to the whole change team.

What did Andarist witness that left him bloody and horrified? (more a rhetorical question for those reading for the first time--hands down you people in the back!)

Have all civilizations I wonder had their "Age of Purity"--the Garden of Eden, the Golden Age of Man, etc. Are their cultures out there who thought we started out crappy and h ave actually been getting better all this time? Or do they all think we started out high and are now trying to recover from a fall/The Fall?

so many hints and teases in this scene of Endest's. Only another year or two and we can talk about this in detail with FoD!

Just one last comment on this scene--I really responded to the elevated language and poetry of Endest's thoughts--some really beautiful lines in here Including that one about Shadow shattering like blowing on a flower's seed head--an interesting simile: destruction aligned with life

Draconus is pretty blunt, huh? Dragging Apsal'ara off like that, snapping Ditch's spine. But we also get some other interesting aspects--his defenseless smile, his malice turned to near wisdom, the ide athat the sword has humbled him.

While I think this whole gather folks together to fight, is there another side, why are we spending so much time on people inside a sword thing is important, I want to focus more narrowly here on this bit of the conversation, as I think it highly significant in the series:
"It is said that only on'es will can fight against chaos . . . I have strength of will."
"You will fight long," he agreed.

It's less the plot point of fighting chaos then this idea of "will" I want to focus on. I think one can argue this is what makes so many of our characters what they are--Ascendants, gods (I"m ignoring the worship part of those and am thinking along the line of Dancer and Shadowthrone), figures of power. I mean, what makes Karsa Karsa if not his sheer force of will? What keeps Rake Rake over millennia if not sheer will? What keeps Draconus sane so long inside a freaking' sword? And it connects a bit to what I was trying to say a few posts ago about all the choices we see characters making/facing--the way they exercise their free will. And then we get characters like Shadowthrone and Dancer who are revealed, seemingly, to be exercising their will and focusing their will toward alleviating suffering and misery. And a smarter person than I could probably start heaving up all sorts of philosophical references at this point, because I'm sure I can vaguely recall how Will and Compassion wend their way through some of those folks like Schophenhauer and Nietzche (I think the latter complained about the former's views on compassion, but I could certainly be wrong). Anyway, this isn't all to say that Erikson is "giving" us one guy or the other (or whoever it was, if anyone), but that's he's working in the same deep territory. Something I think we saw when we had that great conversation he so nicely chimed in on with regard to religion (which also has a lot to say about Will and Compassion). And as we just saw Kallor, now I'm wondering if he is an example of naught but Will--power for power's sake--Will devoid of compassion/empathy. Though we see not wholly immune to it, if long divorced from it. And perhaps we'll see more of this. OK, time to move on as I'm running out of time here.

More on Apsal'ara
"To struggle was her own madness . . . fighting what could not be defeated." This seems like she'd have fit in well with the Jaghut's war. And doesn't this encapsulate all mortal life? The doomed struggle? After all, we're all dying everyday; why bother with anything? (back to that philosophy again--the absurdist aspect: we're doomed to failure and oblivion, yet we act as if it were not true, we strive for meaning in a meaningless world?

"Each chained. Together, and yet alone." A nice summation of the human condition again I'd say

"The world within Dragnipur must die." That seems pretty blunt. Is she right? File this.

Another focus via Apsal'ara on Rake and sacrifice

Ditch has similar thoughts it seems re life/death: "as if he was moments from hearing some devastating news . .. the details were unknown and all he could do was wait. Live on in endless anticipation of that cruel, senseless pronouncement." Again, isn't this us? The question I suppose becomes how one spends that waiting time.

Do grief and pain overwhelm all else? Are they more powerful than joy, or love, or even compassion? (this is why religions invent an Adversary it seems to me--to answer this very question.

Back to will for a moment--this line of Ditch's seems to encapsulate it with regard to our key players: "them who do what they have to do, when it needs doing." I give you the cast of the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

More distrust of Clip. and now Kedeviss plans to confront him. File both those.

Clip's monologue about Rake holding him at bay (which implies he'll eventually get there) is another indication among several of a schedule being paid attention to. Something to keep in mind.

well, after earlier talk of certainty and purity, and of compassion, Clip doesn't come off as much of a winner in my mind with the whole anti-mercy, anti-pity (again, is this shades of Nietzche here?), acknowledging "no flaws within his own sense of justice." He mentions the Liosan as a group focused on purity and justice, and there's also another one that likes to think of themselves as bringers of pure justice.

"Your betrayal, Anomander Rake, of me." Hmm, after all this high falutin' talk of abstraction like justice and compassion, does it all come down to it being personal for Cliip?

"flames to beat back the coming darkness. But it would not last. It never lasted." More reference to the fleeting nature of moral lives? "We live in the flicker" as Conrad might say.

Ok, quickstepping now
Karsa's description of what underpins Samar's civilized life is pretty sharply biting to our modern world. How many Bangladesh dying in fires? How many Foxconn workers committing suicide? What again, is an "acceptable" level of misery for our level of comfort and convenience?

"there was a mood?"
"Too subtle, was it?"
Nice tension breaker . . .

moths again

Tulas Shorn's lines on empathy I'd call a key, key passage in this series

I also liked his point about smarter, crueler masters

"My" hounds of shadow. Interesting . . .

You have to love the entrances these Guild folks make. Every time.

"Not again." Cracks me up.

this ending bit with the Guild is a well-balanced mix/alteration of action/humor/suspense/horror. And a great organ-thumping monster-movie ending.
George A
15. Kulp
I like how this chapter starts out by subverting what you think you know about characters. We see Kallor and we immediately think how indifferent he is, only to see him weeping at the sacrifices made by others. And then on to Draconus, who we are shown as wise and worthy of admiration with Apsal'ara, only to snap Ditch's neck because he wouldn't do what Draconus wanted. Who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys? I love Erikson's ambiguity.

@13
I agree, Bill is an integral part of this commentary and he helps guide first time readers through these books without being too "on the nose." But Amanda's perspective is also great. I am a first time reader as well, and it always makes me laugh when she asks the same questions I'm asking in my head.

@14
Bill,
I think it's hilarious that you preface your post by saying your on an iPod Touch and then proceed to make one of the longest posts you've ever written. I appreciate the dedication, and I appreciate how difficult it must've been thumb typing that essay on a tiny touch keyboard.

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