Wed
Jul 24 2013 12:00pm

Malazan Reread of the Fallen: Toll the Hounds, Chapter Twenty-One (Part One)

Steven Erikson Malazan Toll the Hounds Welcome to the Malazan Reread 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 the first half of Chapter Twenty-One 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.

CHAPTER SUMMARY

SCENE 1

Cutter arrives at the mine, and an old man starts to make his way towards him.

SCENE 2

Gorlas Vidikas is told that another man has come to take Harllo back, and wonders what is so special about the boy. He has a vision of paupers as he walks towards the ridge, and thinks that he is right to be greedy and ambitious, as it has brought him everything he desired. He hopes that the man waiting for him is Coll, but is even more pleased that it turns out to be Cutter, considering what is happening with Challice. He assumes that Cutter is here because of Challice, and tells him that Harllo is dead. Cutter goads Gorlas into a duel, to the point where Gorlas says they should dispense with convention—Cutter replies ‘“I was waiting for you to say that.”

SCENE 3

The foreman watches as Cutter assassinates Gorlas with two knives. The two of them talk: Cutter makes sure that the foreman will confirm that he never issued a formal challenge; the foreman ascertains he won’t have to pay back the loan he owed Gorlas. As Cutter leaves, the foreman spits on Gorlas’ face, then sends messengers back to Darujhistan with the news of Gorlas’ death.

SCENE 4

Cutter stops riding on his way back to the city, and weeps both for Harllo and the boy that he used to be.

SCENE 5

Venaz likes to be thorough and so heads off the confirm that Bainisk and Harllo are actually dead. He thinks he will be rewarded that way. He finds Bainisk and soon realises that Harllo is still alive and has escaped the mines. He follows Harllo through a womblike passage to the surface, until he spots him and shouts after him: “Harrrllo! Found youuu!” The chase is on—Harllo reaches the top of the scree first and makes a run for it.

SCENE 6-14

Kruppe shows us a few of the inhabitants of Darujhistan as a strange wind blows and events begin to quicken.

SCENE 15

Shardan Lim goes around to the Vidikas estate to look on it and think about his plans for the future, when he has impregnated Challice and can seek to usurp Vidikas. He is therefore in place to receive the message that Gorlas is dead. One of the men reveals that it was murder and vengeance rather than a duel. He directs the messengers to tell Hanut Orr of what has happened, while he gives the news to Challice.

SCENE 16

Challice selects a rather revealing gown in which to receive Shardan Lim. When she meets him, she realises that he is trying not to smile as he tells her the “terrible” news. Shardan Lim suddenly thinks—as he talks to her—that maybe Challice took a contract out on Gorlas. He thinks she had him murdered, and asks why she didn’t go to Shardan for help. Challice lets Shardan Lim assume it was her, since she believes that Cutter killed Gorlas Vidikas at her request.

SCENE 17

Hanut Orr receives the news about the assassination of Gorlas Vidikas and believes Coll to be the culprit. He assembles four guards and together they go to the Phoenix Inn, with the intention of bringing justice to those within.

SCENE 18

Torvald Nom stands on the roof of the estate, watching Madrun and Lazan Door throw knuckles, and sees that they are also being watched by Studious Lock. He feels an odd wind, and thinks to himself that at least he has done all he could, but it most definitely isn’t enough.

SCENE 19

Even Scorch and Leff can feel the tension in the air.

SCENE 20

Cutter is back in Darujhistan and heads for the ship he arrived in. He chastises himself for the way he treated Scillara, and then realises that he needs Lady Spite’s particular form of hard comfort. There is no one on board ship. He goes below to the main cabin and finds the lance that the dead Seguleh horseman gave him in the plague-stricken fort in Seven Cities. The lance’s blade appears to be sweating; it feels warm to the touch and seems to be trembling. As he goes back on deck he hears the deafening chorus of howls and realises that the Hounds have arrived.

Amanda’s Reaction

(Song of) Old Friend that starts the chapter by Fisher is haunting. Especially given recent events.

And I love that Kruppe ends his first section of narrative by saying “It begins.” I do feel that this is basically the start of the true endgame, that this chapter marks the beginning of the rush to the end, so Kruppe is definitely saying more than just “Cutter has arrived.”

Ah, Gorlas. Such a lovely, warm, sympathetic character… *tumbleweed* Ye Gods, he doesn’t even go out on a high note, where we can be sorrowful that he never achieved the redemption that he had the potential for. Nope, he just thinks on about how he is better than everyone else:

“Let them fall to the wayside, let them tumble underfoot. He was going where he wanted to be and if that meant pushing them out of the way, or crushing them down, so be it.”

I don’t think anyone will grieve for this man.

Also want to just mention where Gorlas says:

“If you want to think it was all your idea, fine. But I should tell you, I know her well—far better than you. She’s been working on you, filling your head—she’s pretty much led you here by the hand, even if you’re too thick to realise it.”

I actually think that Gorlas is right about this. Challice has played Cutter, because I don’t think he would have been so quick to march out for vengeance on Murillio if Gorlas hadn’t been the one to cause it. Sure, he would still have been upset, but I think there would have been some talking with Kruppe—maybe time for Rallick Nom to join them as well. Things could have gone differently.

I love the whole: “The child’s not some orphaned prince or something, is he?” Very cool nod to traditional fantasy.

I think my heart broke a little, first at Cutter saying that Harllo was just a boy that no one loved, and then as he weeps in the desert for the boy that he used to be. I think the transition from Crokus to Cutter is pretty much complete at this stage.

Thoroughly enjoyed the chase scene with Venaz and Harllo—suitably taut and tense. And especially creepy when Venaz shouts after Harllo once they’re both on the scree—just imagine thinking that your escape was almost complete and then hearing that? Absolutely terrifying. Also liked that Venaz just couldn’t comprehend the smile on Bainisk’s face—this is a little boy who could quite easily turn into Gorlas Vidikas if he is allowed to grow up…

The quick look at some of the residents of Darujhistan as the tension increases on this night is well done—I love especially the move from a terrible marriage to a marriage of love and respect as we stop first with Thordy and then with Tiserra. Even the thoughts that they end their respective sections with are very telling. Thordy thinks: “Anticipation was such a delicious game, wasn’t it?” while Tiserra thinks: “It promised that the night ahead would stretch out into eternity.” One of these is eager for what is to come, while the other is dreading it.

I’ll be intrigued to see where Blend is heading—following Scillara?

It’s sweet to see Chaur refer to himself as C’ur and Barathol as Baral.

And I like seeing once again this guard, stricken by pains but doing his duty and thinking about his wife and children. “He was a man who would never ask for sympathy. He was a man who sought only to do what was right.”

Shardan Lim really shows the nature of his soul, as he watches the Vidikas estate and gloats to himself about his intentions of usurping the place of his co-conspirator. And then when he hears about Gorlas Vidikas’ death, there is not the hint of any sorrow. All he does is move to consolidate his position, while directing Hanut Orr on a pointless and potentially deadly route towards vengeance against Coll and his companions. Another person this world can do without!

And then we move to another unlikeable person: Challice. Sure, she has probably been forced into some of what she has done through circumstances, but I’m feeling a distinct lack of sympathy for her now. Even her ‘I killed him, I killed him’ refrain doesn’t make me feel an ounce of sympathy. She knew everything she was doing. She went open-eyed into adultery, found she liked it, and then manipulated Cutter into a position where he might well have gone to kill Gorlas at her urging. I am actually looking forward to her knowing that it wasn’t really her at all that caused it, simply because it might stop her thinking that the entire world revolves her. Hmm, that all got a little ranty, didn’t it? Just shows my dislike for her, I think!

Intrigued to see what Torvald Nom is up to on the roof of the estate, carrying Moranth munitions…

It comes to something when even Scorch and Leff can sense something coming in the night! I absolutely adored this line: “Ug, got nuffin but this mask, and m’luck’s boot to change, ‘sgot to, right? So, I’m in—look, ‘sa good mask! Ug.” Simply because it is so very far from what we’ve seen of the Seguleh up to this point!

I have completely neglected to remember the lance given to Cutter by the dead Seguleh… Anyone care to quickly refresh my memory? I can’t tell if it is sweating and trembling because of the presence of Seguleh in the city casting bones or because of the approach of the Hounds.

And then what a fabulous line to leave this on: “The Hounds. They’re here.”

Bill’s Reaction

We’ve seen several times how Erikson, just before killing off a character, will give us something prior to that death scene that will make the death all that harder to bear—an insight into good character, a warm laugh, a Mallet offering to help Barathol, and so on. We get pretty much the opposite here with Gorlas—it’s pretty hard not to root for this guy to get killed as he works through these early pages—looking forward to killing someone else, his contempt for the poor, etc. You find yourself really hoping this isn’t going to be one of those “The world sucks, so sometimes the bad guy survives” kind of scene.

The part of this that sticks out as different is his vision of a half-dozen paupers. I’ll just mention that we have seen this scene—a long, long time ago (but not in a galaxy far far away). Anyone recall?

I do like the tongue-in-cheek nod to fantasy cliché via “The child’s not some orphaned prince or something, is he?”

And of course, you have to like Gorlas being hoisted by his own petard in this “duel.”

Of all we’ve seen happen in this book to this point, I find it interesting that one of the saddest lines of all, one of the most affecting, comes in response to an untruth (that Harllo is dead): “He was a boy nobody loved.” So simple. So incredibly heart-breaking. Even the man who runs the moles has to wince at its harsh reality and all it says about the world.

And then, almost as sad, is the impact on Cutter of all of this, and his weeping both for the boy thought dead, and the boy he once was and/or could have been. It’s perhaps a key linguistic choice that Cutter is referred to multiple times as “the man” throughout this scene, as if cluing us in that this character whom we have most likely always thought of as young, either no longer is or soon no longer will be.

Boy, we really don’t get to revel in Gorlas’ death for long, do we?

Or in Harllo’s escape, as we’re tossed into the creepy, suspenseful chase scene.

So what voice is Thordy listening to? Who has a heavy voice that can speak of a “legacy of death”? And who does she wait for with that knife? Her husband? Herself?

And suddenly everything is a swirl of motion and activity and “anticipation.” Things are moving apace, the game is afoot! And so we have a shift into very short chapters zipping from one POV to another.

This first shift is a nice one, from a marriage in name only (Gaz and Thordy) to a real one: Tiserra and Torvald.

And I really like that Erikson spares the time to give us not just the ascendants and the god-touched and our main characters, but ones like Tiserra (evidence that there is love in the world) and Chaur (more such evidence) and the poor heart-worn guard, exemplar of a man who sought only to do what was right. Such people appear in the world, every world, now and then, like a single refrain of some blessed song, a fragment caught on the spur of an otherwise raging cacophony). Though I like to think such people are not quite so rare, that is a killer line to close that scene: “Imagine a world without such souls. Yes, it should have been harder to do.”

The guard’s scene tells us this is the “culmination of the Gedderone Fete.” We’ve seen this celebration before, in GoTM, so this is a nice bit of a full circle here. It’s also more than a little ironic, as the Gedderone Fete is to celebrate the end of winter and beginning of spring—i.e., the return of new life into the world. Yeah—good luck with that tonight… Though I suppose in some ways…

I like how the housing detail with regard to the Vidikas estate can stand very well for the sort of relationship/love inside that home: “its rooms abandoned to dust and spiders.” The dust conjures up an image of barrenness while spiders, as we all know, sit in their webs and spin dark and fatal plots. And then a few lines later, we get “If the tower were a tree, it would be dead, centuries dead. Hollowed out by rot, the first hard wind would have sent it crashing down.” Commentary on those inside, or foreshadowing of their future? Well, “her” future at this point, as it’s a bit late to foreshadow Gorlas’ death.

Interesting choice of phrasing with regard to the messengers and Challice: “having three sweaty men descend on her wouldn’t do.” Cough cough.

More foreshadowing? “[L]ying flat and motionless on her bed… a ghostly walk in the silent garden.”

Challice’s musings on what creates success are in direct contrast to her husband’s earlier thoughts on the same topic:

“the truth was, luck and mischance were the only players in the game of success. Privilege of birth, a sudden harmony of forces… good fortune. Oh, they might strut about… and proclaim that talent, skill, and cunning were the real players, but Challice held the belief that even the poor, the destitute… might possess talents and cunning.”

Seems we regularly have this same debate today (see “You did not build it… I built it” in our last Presidential campaign)

I’m thinking when a character retreats toward a tower already associated with dust, death, and rot, further connecting it to dust and rot herself, taking with her a symbol of lost innocence and imprisonment, while obsessively repeating “I have killed him,” that this is not perhaps going to end well.

Speaking of full circle—the celebration, the “duel,” the assassination, two knives, an Orr, Coll. No, the past never does stay the past.


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

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

26 comments
Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter
Gorlas' thought of:
Why, he could have been born in the damned gutter, and he’d still be where he was today. It was his nature to succeed, to win. The fools could keep their resentment and envy. Hard work, discipline, and the courage to grasp opportunity when it presented itself – these were all the things most people lacked.
also a) doesn't do much for his likeability quotient and b) helps to really show the mindset of a person completely lacking in compassion. A mindset that can be seen all too often out here in the world.
And then quickly after Gorlas thinks:
Nor, Gorlas realized, was he a stranger. Gods below, can this be? Oponn, is it you so blessing me now? Pull me forward, Lady. Shove him closer, Lord.
And sees no contradiction to praying to Luck with his previous thought of "All you need is hard work." Blindness, arrogance and no compassion all wrapped up in one package.
- -
2. hex
Another thing struck me about Cutter's assasination of Gorlas- how it mirrored Rallick's own faux duel / assasination of Turban Orr during the
Gedderone Fete in GotM. Rallick warned Crokus not to follow in his footsteps, but here's Cutter doing just that.
Brian R
5. Mayhem
Imagine a world without such souls.
Yes, it should have been harder to do.

Seriously, that has to be one of the hardest hitting lines in the series.

How seldom do we consider the quietly noble types, from the Mother Theresas down to that guy who gives up every weekend to make sure the little uncoordinated kids can have their football league too.
And not only do they get no attention or praise, but with all the other news in the world, we completely ignore them, they get as much attention as the beggars we walk past.

And from a story point, we're now reaching the end of the callbacks to GotM, which means where that one started with a bang and ended with a bit of a whimper ... well ... hold on to your hats!
Nadine L.
6. travyl
Unlike Amanda, I think that even had Challice not influenced Cutter to kill Gorlas, Cutter would have gone off to kill him upon Murillio's death.
His fight with Rallick proved that he is more than capable, and since Apsalar left has a destructive mindset. - It probabyl would have been enough even without Challice to revenge his friend, whom he knew from a more innocent time.
Jordanes
7. Jordanes
"The part of this that sticks out as different is his vision of a
half-dozen paupers. I’ll just mention that we have seen this scene—a
long, long time ago (but not in a galaxy far far away). Anyone recall?"

Gardens of the Moon was it? Kruppe had at least one dream involving a room full of paupers.

A great callback to a previous event, and TtH is chock-full of them.
Corey Sees
8. CorwinOfAmber
"Boy, we really don’t get to revel in Gorlas’ death for long, do we?"
I feel like Erikson never revels in the death of an antagonist. He either heads off or cuts short the celebration when they die. It is one of my favorite parts of his writing.

Edit: because I never learned to proof-read.
Gerd K
9. Kah-thurak
I really like the symmetry with Gardens of the Moon the plot shows here. That was nicely done and is continued in The Crippled God. This is one of the reasons why the series can be seen as really complete. Even though there may be other stories told in the same world or with the same characters, this not some ever on running series of books that dwindle away until they stop insignificantly but a finished story with beginning and end.
Tabby Alleman
10. Tabbyfl55
Love how Gorlas' arrogance is his undoing.
George A
11. Kulp
Cutter's scene on the side of the road is incredibly sad. I think everyone has a moment of clarity at some point where they realize "wow, I'm not a kid anymore." Cutter's moment is just a lot more brutal than most people.

I'm with Amanda on Challice. Too much of her story has her complying with the people oppressing her. She passively takes the abuse and at times passes it on to others, as with Cutter. That being said, this scene has some fairly heavy foreshadowing as Bill points out.
Jordanes
14. Capetown
Caught this little tidbit:

Venaz Crouched. He would collect Bainisk's belt-pouch, where he kept all his valuables - the small ivory-handled knife that Venaz so coveted; the half-dozen coppers earned as rewards for special tasks; the one silver coin that Bainisk had cherished the most, as it showed on one face a city skyline beneath a rainbow or some sort of huge moon filling the sky - a coin, someone had said, from Darujistan, but long ago, in the time of the tyrants.

Anyone who has read OST should be able to make a guess what this rainbow/moon represents.
Nisheeth Pandey
16. Nisheeth
So, I re-read the section in GotM about the beggars, and noticed that the one pauper missing in Gorlas' vision was the one swinging from a branch. That one represented Humility.
That was a great call back!
Nancy Hills
17. Grieve
I would like to talk about Chalice, because I find her a tragic figure in how she is used in this book, the world she is given to live in and how she is viewed by the readers.

There is absolutely no one that cares about this woman – not her father, not her husband, not her lovers. They all are attracted to her beauty and nothing else. That is all she is. She is used in ToH for degrading, unsatisfying sex and scenes. She has lived in Darujhistan all her life but is given no world beyond the needs of the male characters in it. She has no contact with female friends or females at all. She isn’t cruel, she isn’t completely vapid, she isn’t evil. Her experience is limited, but she has done what is expected of her in her world. She is a bit excited by the danger? So what? Most people are. She’s as young as Cutter, btw. She is allowed to have experiences and learn just like he is.

Is she a saint? No, but compared to what other characters do in MBotF, she certainly is not a baddie.

She manipulated Cutter? Seriously? He doesn’t care thing about her, his thoughts about her are uncharitable and he has no sympathy for her life or situation. His first passion for her was because of her beauty that is the only thing that interests him in her. This is a young man who used Scillara, has negotiated with gods, is an assassin, has traveled the world and is in love with another woman. He doesn’t think about Chalice as he heads out to confront Gorlas. He doesn’t care whether she will be accused of hiring him after the deed it done. He doesn’t think about her at all. He went to kill Gorlas because he wanted to revenge Murillo.

Yes, she tries to manipulate him but really, it doesn’t work, it is a poor attempt and it really is the only real option given her given her situation. Messing around with Cutter has put her life in danger.

As for her “adultery” – she is married to a man who cares nothing about her sexuality or satisfaction, has used her sexually basically like a sweat sock, pimps her out to two different men and probably would do more. He is abusive and cruel. There is no marriage there to be adulterous to.

The man who “saved” her turns out to be a complete creep. Btw, any man that introduces a woman to that kind of pleasure would be sought out by her, not cast away so that whole thing rings very “unrealistic” to me.

This character has nothing good in her life except she’s not physically starving. She isn’t given enough of a life to engender disdain. She's a throwaway character to everyone, in and out of the book, and she doesn't deserve that.
David Thomson
18. ZetaStriker
I don't think it's at all correct that her father doesn't care about her, actually. I think he was the one real positive figure in her life and she threw him away to marry Gorlas. That said, I hardly villainize her. She was dealt a terrible situation and both she and Cutter used each other terribly; they were both the bad guy in the affair. And the sad fact is that despite all that it was still Chalice's healthiest relationship since marrying Gorlas.
Jordanes
19. Eoin8472
She is definitely a better person than Karsa is .....
Nancy Hills
20. Grieve
I think it is possible that Karsa has a surprise waiting for him when he gets back to his people. Do you remember when he was a captive the first time, they asked him to describe his home and territory and he did in arrogant detail? His father already told his grandfather they would be dead by the time Karsa returned. Karsa may have another lesson waiting for him.
Jordanes
21. BDG91
I'm actually quiet disturbed by the hatred of certain female characters throughout the books: Mhybe, both Felisins, Chalice. All of them are clearly given a shitty hand yet certain parts of the fandom actively dislike them, and see them boring or annoying or worst.

And to segway into another I'm bothered by a bit. That is the lack of empathy for the 'bad' kids. Snell is clearly shown to be disturbed but it's also shown he's clearly living a shitty life. Same goes for Venaz (who, if I remember rightly is just another kid working in the mines) who's probably just another boy nobody loved. I don't know any of your life’s stories but in my childhood I did something’s I regretted (like stealing candy because I couldn't afford it) and violence was pretty much an everyday thing. It made me into a hard little kid willingly to go that extra mile to preserve myself before others.

I am not saying Snell or Venaz are hapless victims, but I think if we look at their surroundings they were birthed and raised into (as with Chalice who Grieve nicely laid out her surroundings) it's easier to see why they became as they did. Both of these troubled children, are I think, a better indicator of the systematic abuse of the poor as it is of their deranged personalities.

Also I think your way off the mark when comparing Gorlas, a man whose is privileged allowed him to make other choices rather than being a raging, power-hunger sociopath, to Venaz, a kid whose options are very limited, and he might not get many chances to escape his current life. It's easy to see the flaws in the bad kids when placed up to Harllo, who’s just a wonderful human being, even when compared to adults, but I think it’s wrong to write them off as terrible people. Plenty of terrible people redeem themselves; Karsa is on a constant search of redemption.
Nancy Hills
22. Grieve
@BDG91 - I agree with you completely. Snell is a sociopath, his brain is broken, he just can't feel empathy at all. I don't think it would matter what his economic situation is. It is not his fault, but society definitely needs to protect itself against a person broken in that way, unfortunately. However, it is not a cause for feeling righteous, just practical.

I felt sorry for Venaz when reading. He had to one thing he cared about taken away from hm by a newcomer without so much as a nod. In the darkness of that pit, when your one light is extinquished it would be painful. He didn't make good or kind choices, but he's a kid in a terrible, terrible situation. A little recognition of what he lost might have turned it around some.

My concerns about Challice (wish I could correct my misspelling in my origina post) is part of a larger concern about the treatment and disposition of heterosexual women in the series. (I have read through The Crippled God.) I was very happy to see the lesbian and bi females given the prominent roles they were, but began to be disturbed by the others. However, I don't want to discuss it until the end of the series. I can't even completely discuss Challice yet, since her story in this book hasn't played out as yet.

I want to make it clear that I do not think Erikson is a some kind of male troglydyte or that I don't recognize and appreciate other points he makes, including the more subtle ones. In fact, it is because I respect his intelligence and grasp of things, as well as the thoughtful posters here, that I find it so disturbing. It only highlights how deep, pervasive and accepted negative opinions of women are. I am also open to finding out that I am wrong and missed some things entirely. It is a long, complicated series and subject matter.
Gerd K
23. Kah-thurak
@Grieve
I dont think that you can form a group labeled "The heterosexual women in the MBotF". It doesnt make sense. What do Lady Envy and Felisin Paran have in common after all? A lot of characters in these books are in terrible situations regardless of any "category" or "group" they might or might not fit into.

I must say that I found the treatment of Hetan in Dust of Dreams disturbing. One of the most disturbing things in the series and in a bleak book like DoD this may have the the one dark touch too mouch that made me not like it (the only book in the series I did not like). But it is not as if Toc the Younger was treated any better and only the less grim focus of the other books make it more bearable in my opinion.
Tai Tastigon
24. Taitastigon
Kah Thurak @23: In agreement with you that the issues in DoD/CG are others.
Nancy Hills
25. Grieve
@23 I understand your skepticism at my statement about heterosexual women because I don't want to go in to it too much at this point in the series. Furthermore, I am trying to look at the women in the series to see if what I think happens is correct.

Please understand, it is not just the violence directed toward the women. This is a violent, grim series of books. Children are crucified, for God's sake. It is difficult for me to discuss what I see consistently without discussing the future events.

I will say one of the reoccurring depictions that I am troubled by is something I mentioned in regards to Challice. She has no female friends. None of the heterosexual women have female friends. The bi and lesbians have deep relationships with other women, but usually they are lovers, too.

Otherwise, it's all viciousness and backstabbing. This is a current meme that has taken over the media and social exhange. Women are viscious and cruel to each other without exception. They can't be friends like those two noble boys in the mine. This is quite untrue and is a very destructive view of female life. It is not a message you want your daughters to absorb, thtat to be a proper female, you have to be friendless and vicious to other women.

++++Spoiler Alert++++

I will say (still being careful with spoilers) that it was the Hetan incident that put me over the top. I stopped reading the series and my pleasure in it disappeared. However, after a few days, I decided I owed it to Erikson - and myself - to see what he did with it. While I agreed with the point it was used for, there were still many reoccuring themes within that and other depictions in the series. This also is not just an MBotF concern, but I think the violence here accentuates it.
Jordanes
26. Eoin8472
You know, there is something in what you say Grieve. Part of the problem is that we usually don't "normal" societies points of view, it was usually soldiers and there isn't the "suburban" community spirit there. However TTH as (well as MT and RG) have many passages taking place in cities and yet we don't see the interactions you mention.

Anotehr thing that bothers me is, aside from Karsa (and Kallor and Kallor is a fatastic example), the lack of "grey" characters as the series progresses. Harrlo is a sterotypical "Jesus" magical good child who is a fantastic human being. Bainisk is a great kid. Bellan Nom is a great kid. Snell and Venaz are aweful. Where are the "ok" kid characters. Where are the characters who are not aweful but not fantastic. And I'm starting to see this in the adult characters too in the series. They are all either abusers or paragons of virtue/goodness/self-sacrifice. I thought of this in conjunction with Amanda's statement that she was trying to classify Draconus as either a "goodie" or a "baddie" based on his previous encounter with Rake. I realised that some of the moral ambiquity of the series must have been lost if she is still trying to do this 8 books in. RG really layed on the good/bad tropes if I recall correctly. Remember the camp overseer in DG who was using Felisin but who went off to die by doing his duty when the revolt happened? What happened to those sort of characters? Or are they still there and I am just missing them? Antagonists who are not compledetly irredeemable.

I'm pining for the days of
Darren Kuik
27. djk1978
Grieve, I share your repulsion at the graphic description of how some people, and especially some women are treated in the series. I do that without trying to be old-fashioned.

I do think there are women that otherwise break down your argument with the exception of them having many female friends. Certainly though there are heterosexual female characters who are not treated abysmally in the series, or if they are who are redeemed from it to one or another extent. They have emotional problems sure, but most characters in the series seem to.

Dredging up names from the past books, and without naming other examples upcoming I can mention: Apsalar, Tattersail, Envy, Seren Pedac, Samar Dev, Faradan Sort without thinking to hard. I'm sure if I went through the dramatis personae's I could find others.
Gerd K
28. Kah-thurak
@Grieve
As I said, I share your problems with Hetan's DoD storyline. As believeble as it is, and as much sense it may make in the story, it is just too dark for me.

Nevertheless, I have to disagree with your general point, and I think I can give some good reasons for this: Having finished my Bonehunters Re-Read yesterday, I came across the following quote:

"Lostara, the Adjunct, she's lost T'amber now. You need to take that place -"
"I'm done with lovers, male of female -"
"No, not that. Just... at her side. You have to. She cannot do this alone."


And I would claim that this is exactly what you were looking for. And I think there are other examples that can be found. Irlita and Meese in GotM. Felisin Younger and Felisin Paran in HoC. Scilara and Felisin Younger in Bonehunters. I am sure that I am missing some. Naturaly you are right that there are more male / male friendships in this series. But I think we have to take into account that a lot of this story has been gamed as an RPG. By a pair of male friends, often playing pairs of characters.

Also there are a lot of positively displayed female heterosexual characters (I will also include characters that have no known sexual orientation):
GotM: Tattersail, Sorry/Apsalar, Rigga, Irlita, Meese, Derudan, Serrat, Silanah, Crone
DG: Nether, Apsalar, Mogora, Selv, Lostara Yil, Apt
MoI: Lady Envy, Korlat, Crone, the Grey Swords recruit, Silverfox, Kilava

I guess I can stop at this point. So, I think it is the darker more bleak tone of DoD that made you see things a lot worse than they actually are.

@Eoin
Hm. I dont think that there are no "grey" characters in TTH or the later books. In fact I would say that a lot of characters are exactly that. Lets take Dassem Ultor for example. He is on a quest to kill Hood. Out of vengance. Hood is not exactly one of the bad guys in this series. Neither is Dassem. Who is black and who is white there?

Then you mention, that Amanda cant decide whether Draconus is "good" or "bad". Dont you think that that in itself is a contradiction to your point? That one cant say whether he is the one or the other because he is neither? But "grey"?
Nancy Hills
29. Grieve
I deeply appreciate all those who have taken an interest in my concerns and thank you for your responses.

I do believe, though, that you mistake my concerns with a reaction to the violence, the rapes ratther than the larger issue that concerns me. However, as I said previoulsy, I my ability is discuss it is limited by not wanting to give hints at what happens in the rest of the books. Because it isn't just an incident that bothers me, it is how these characters end up, what they do in the series, their role in bringing the story to its conclusion.

So I will hold off discussing it until further in to the reread, though, no doubt, I shall sometimes say something about it.

It is important to move from an intellectual understanding of a problem to absorbing the emotional or spiritual problem. Things do not change until the inner self has made the change, and what it bothering me is I still sense the same emotional foundation about women. I am not talking about Erikson. This is pervasive throughout fantasy and science fiction literature. They intellectually understand the problem, but deep inside, where we really live, things haven't changed that much.

And now we are on to the incrediable end of TtH.
Joseph Ash
30. TedThePenguin
Dont forget all of the Endur Women in MT and RG (to a lesser extent), who have a VERY strong community amongst themselves, and are generally potrayed in a much more positive light as compared to the rest of the Endur.

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