Fri
Aug 16 2013 12:00pm

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

Steven Erikson Malazan Book of the Fallen 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 chapter twenty-four 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.

Next week we’ll cover the epilogue on Wednesday and then do our whole-book wrap up on Friday. Ever generous with his time, Steven will be joining us at the end as usual for a question and answer session, so look for the posting of that thread here on Tor as you consider what burning questions you have. Afterward, we’ll be taking our regular hiatus to regenerate our batteries for the next tome, Stonewielder.

CHAPTER SUMMARY

SCENE ONE

Monkrat and Spindle have gathered up twenty children and brought them to the nearby forest tunnels. Monkrat reflects on how he is different now, a new kind of soldier, so much so that he talks Spindle out of taking vengeance on Gradithan so that he doesn’t add more horror to the children’s lives. He tells Spindle he feels “redeemed,” a state of being Spindle admits he was looking for himself. Monkrat tells him “You don’t need answers no more, because you know that anybody promising answers if fulla crap… But maybe it don’t have to be someone else. Maybe it’s just doing something, being something, someone, and feeling that change inside—it’s like you went and redeemed yourself.” He adds that Spindle did what a priest should have—“no fucking advice, no bullshit wisdom, no sympathy… just a damned kick in the balls and get on with doing what you know is right.”

SCENE TWO

Clip nears the Temple of Darkness, hoping it is Rake inside resisting him, as he can sense his weakness. He is filled with rage at Rake’s absence when those in the Andara were killed. He enters to find Endest and the High Priestess instead of Rake and he lashes out in rage and power.

SCENE THREE

Endest feels the Dying God’s power tear into him and begins to yield, but then realizes he is the sole hope of his people and so he holds, seeking something to hang onto to, to give his strength and confidence now that Rake is gone. In his mind, he sees a black river and reaches for it.

SCENE FOUR

The Dying God feels his victory nearing, with both Seerdomin and Endest weakening. He thinks how his need for Clip, whom he disdains, will soon be over.

SCENE FIVE

Aranatha leads Nimander through darkness “to battle,” and as he follows he wonders if this is truly Aranatha. She asks if he will defend her, saying she can “barely reach through… but now she insists. She commands.” When Clip asks who “she” is, the answer comes: “Aranatha.” When he asks then who this person is holding his hand, it becomes clear this is Mother Dark:

Will you defend me, Nimander? I do not deserve it. My errors are legion. My hurt I have made into your curse… We stand in the dust of what’s done… I do not think enough of me can reach through. If you do not stand in his way, I will fall... I feel in your blood a whisper of someone. Someone dear to me. Someone who might have withstood him.… But he is not there to defend me. What has happened?

SCENE SIX

Seerdomin weeps at his helplessness and (he thinks) laughs at his silly pride that had made him think he would nobly resist beyond expectation so that songs would be sung of his glorious stand. When her hands begin to strangle him, he realizes she’d been the one laughing, and that all he had in him had been self-pity.

SCENE SEVEN

The High Priestess watches in horror, shocked at how Endest continues to hold even as she can feel her people start to succumb.

SCENE EIGHT

Everything stops in Dragnipur as all eyes turn to Rake standing atop the pile of bodies on the wagon. From the bodies, “the tattooed pattern had lifted free… unfolding, intricate as a perfect cage, a web of gossamer…suspended in the air around Anomander Rake.”

SCENE NINE

Kadaspala tells his child to stab Rake. And stab. And stab. And stab.

SCENE TEN

Ditch watches as the tattoo-god raises its knife to achieve its “one purpose. The child-god’s reason to exist.” He speaks to the child-god and it considers how “to give its own imminent death all the meaning it demanded.” The god asks what Rake is doing and Ditch, smiling, tells it: “Know this for certain. Whatever Anomander Rake now attempts to do, he does not do it for himself.” The child-god is stunned at this possibility: “Was such a thing possible? Did one not ever choose, first and foremost, for oneself?” And then the god decides to “do no less,” and so it stabs Kadaspala. As Kadaspala “dies,” Apsal’ara comes up with a knife to Ditch. He tells her to take it, and she slices out his eye.

SCENE ELEVEN

Rake smiles at Apsal’ara and tells her “Go, with my blessing,” and when she asks where, he says, “You will know soon enough.” She watches as his eye darken and then tosses him the god’s eye.

SCENE TWELVE

Rake begins to dissolve “as the Gate took hold of him, as it fed upon him, upon the Son of Darkness. Upon what he desired, what he willed to be.” Draconus finally understands and is humbled, crying out “Rake! There is no forgiveness you must seek—not from me, gods below, not from any of us!” As he sees Rake “scattered into the realm of Kurald Galain… [perhaps] to the very feet of Mother Dark,” Rake whispers “Mother Dark. I believe you must face him now. You must turn to your children. I believe your son insists. He demands it. Open our eyes, Mother Dark. See what he has done! For you, for the Tiste Andii—but not for himself.” The pattern grabs the Gate and sinks out of Dragnipur.

SCENE THIRTEEN

Clip draws a dagger to finish off Endest and then true dark enters the Temple as the floor “suddenly awakens with black, seething strands.”

SCENE FOURTEEN

Spindle and Monkrat watch the pattern form above Black Coral and sink down upon the city. When it touches Silanah, she spreads her wing and roars, “a cry of grief, of rage, of unleashed intent,” then launches herself into the air.

SCENE FIFTEEN

Nimander and Aranatha step through into the Temple Room and at the sight of the pattern forming, Aranatha whispers, “The Gate. How, oh, my dearest son. Oh, Anomander.” Clip’s damned chains get caught in the pattern, finally stop spinning, and sever his index finger before disappearing. He is shocked, in pain, bewildered, realizes he underestimated Nimander, and mostly thinks “Oh, s—” He gets tossed across the floor by Nimander and then the Dying God wakes in him. Not-Aranatha floats past Nimander, fully present now, and the Dying God also thinks, “Oh, s—” as she says, “Ah my son. I accept.”

SCENE SIXTEEN

Sensing the Gate has found its home in the Temple, Endest, dying, rises from the river that had sustained him to find the High Priestess mourning over him and asking how Rake could have asked this of him. Endest tells her for all that Rake has asked of everyone, “he has given us in return. Each and every time… We served the one who served us.” Then, to Mother Dark, he says, “For you Mother, he did this. For us, he did this. He has brought us all home. He has brought us all home.” And Mother Dark answers, “I understand. Come to me then. The water between us, Endest Silann, is clear.”

SCENE SEVENTEEN

Salind tosses aside the “ruined, lifeless remnant that had once been Seerdomin,” ready to attack Itkovian, who now marvels at a new presence: “A mother. A son. Apart for so long, and now entwined in ways too mysterious, too ineffable, to grasp.” He witnesses, then realizes “the truth of gifts, the truth of redemption,” and having had the epiphany, he embraces Salind and blesses her, [and] “Against this, the Dying God had no defense. In this embrace, The Dying God came to believe that he had not marched to the Redeemer but that the Redeemer had summoned him… to heal what none other could heal… [and] The Dying God simply slipped away… The Redeemer leaves judgment to others. This frees him, you see, to cleanse all.”

SCENE EIGHTEEN

Chaos has disappeared from Dragnipur and Draconus looks around to see so few left. Among the fallen is Pearl, “defiant to the very end.” Whiskeyjack/Iskar Jarak tells Draconus that Rake had called him a friend, and Draconus says he wishes he could have said the same, that he could have known Rake better. He then asks Hood what is next, now that they all remain chained but can’t pull the wagon due to being so few in numbers. Whiskeyjack says Draconus truly didn’t know Rake, and Hood adds that the final part of the bargain is still to come, though he wonders if he whom Rake made that bargain with will keep it. Whiskeyjack upbraids Hood for thinking anyone would betray Rake in this and Hood agrees.

SCENE NINETEEN

Antsy helps Barathol to his feet, Baruk and Caladan Brood walk up to Rake’s body, Karsa and his two daughters stand there as well. Baruk tells Brood what Rake had asked for must be done, but Brood refuses to do whatever it is until he buries Rake and builds a barrow for him. Barathol helps Brood load the body onto the ox cart and then Brood leads the ox west of the city. He is momentarily interrupted by Kruppe, who bows in deference and grief, and then the ox moves on.

SCENE TWENTY

People line the streets to watch and then follow the procession of Rake’s body as bells toll and thousands of Great Ravens flock overhead. Spinnock heads away from the city. Kallor sits alone in a tavern, listening to the bells playing “his song”—“Death, ruin, grief.”

SCENE TWENTY-ONE

Blend walks into K’rul’s Bar to find Duiker sitting there alone. He tells her Picker left, saying something about “them damned torcs.” They hear a bell ringing overhead and realize they’d put the bell in the cellar.

SCENE TWENTY-TWO

Samar asks Karsa if the two young women are his daughters and he tells her “I raped a mother and a daughter… It was my right.” She points out that “claiming a right so often results in someone else losing theirs. At which point it all comes down to who’s holding the biggest sword.” He says he was young, and when she marvels at the idea he might have regrets, he says he has many, though not his daughters. She asks why he isn’t talking to them and he says he’s waiting to think of something to say. Picker arrives and tells Karsa she has a message from Hood: “You must not leave Darujhistan… [or] you will have lost your one opportunity to fulfill a vow you once made… to kill a god.” Karsa shocks her by simply asking “which god.”

SCENE TWENTY-THREE

As tens of thousands follow, Brood leads Rake’s corpse to a place where a hill had been transformed by Tennes, a barrow and chamber raised, and after he inters the body, he seals it with a capstone that rose from the ground and marks it with the Barghast glyph for “Grief.”

SCENE TWENTY-FOUR

Alone at the site where Rake died, Shadowthrone and Cotillion discuss events. Cotillion says things are out of their hands now “until the end.” Shadowthrone agrees, then remarks he never liked Brood. They were surprised by so many Hounds of Light, and then Cotillion mocks Shadowthrone’s attempt to pretend that Pust going for Dragnipur had nothing to do with him. They decide to let Traveller have a few days before approaching him, and Cotillion says he tried to explain things, but Traveller wouldn’t listen. They leave.

SCENE TWENTY-FIVE

Torvald and Rallick find Bellam (with a broken arm) and escort him home, then the two head for Torvald’s home.

SCENE TWENTY-SIX

Spite and Cutter talk aboard the boat and when she says she’s returning to Seven Cities, he says he’ll go with her. He asks if she got what she wanted and she says no and mostly. As the ship heads out, they watch the procession and Spite says Envy once loved Rake, but then he got Dragnipur, which she assumes was the reason Envy, whom she calls aptly named, fell out with Rake.

SCENE TWENTY-SEVEN

From the bar’s roof (the non-existent bell has stopped ringing) Scillara watches Cutter’s boat head out, thinking Barathol is probably on it with Chaur. She thinks she’s “doomed ever to open her arms to the wrong lover, to love fully yet never be loved in return.” But then Barathol appears and kisses her. They agree to chain themselves together. It’s a blacksmith thing.

SCENE TWENTY-EIGHT

The heart-ill guard returns home to his family, Thordy gets her reward for Gaz, Picker and Blend reunite, Pust finishes rewriting holy text to allow for two wives, and Tiserra sees the two loves of her life at her door. Kruppe sings, “Love is in the air.”

SCENE TWENTY-NINE

Kruppe heads to the Phoenix Inn, drowning his grief in cupcakes. Harllo returns home and when Stonny tries to turn away, he demands her attention and love and she accepts it, looking it his eyes for the first time. Harllo gets his mother.

Amanda’s Reaction

So, straight off the bat we spend some time with Monkrat, who has had something of an epiphany. Now, Monkrat is a difficult character. In order for him to reach this point of redemption and understanding, he had to come quite swiftly from the kind of soldier that is willing to watch girls get raped in order to not rock the boat. And I, personally, think the transition was a little bit too swift in this case. In most cases, Erikson can give us the story of a character in just a few paragraphs—enough to make us care—but Monkrat is almost too dislikeable to have this change over the course of just one book. Even with that, it’s hard not to feel moved by this: “He’d been one kind for a long time, and had grown so sick of it he’d just walked away. And now Spindle showed up, to take him and drag him inside out and make him into a different kind of soldier. And this one, why, it felt right. It felt proper. He’d no idea...”

Also, in order to make Monkrat more likeable here, Spindle is the one that is suddenly after vengeance and fire and killing, which doesn’t quite fit. I feel a little unsatisfied with this scene, on some contemplation, actually. Spindle seems out of character, and Erikson’s use of Monkrat to talk about redemption feels unusually clumsy.

And now we see the start of Endest Silann’s heroic last stand: “This was his opponent? This useless, broken, feeble thing?” I mean, we know that Clip is horribly arrogant, but I think every reader here knows that Endest is being entirely under-estimated.

Plus, I love fiercely that Clip is so terribly disappointed that Anomander Rake is not there. I don’t like the reason for Rake not being there, obviously (still in mourning) but I can definitely cope with Clip being disappointed.

I still do like the way that Erikson can present us with parts of the story in an incidental way, like here where we’re with the Dying God who can sense that his High Priestess is pushing back Seerdomin, who is a mass of wounds, a dozen of them clearly fatal. I didn’t expect Seerdomin to survive this battle, but it’s painful even so to realise that he won’t see the final result of his bravery and sacrifice.

It’s lovely that we’re finally seeing the result of Aranatha/Mother Dark. I confess that this one I probably had signposted pretty well by what Bill asked me to bear in mind and file from earlier in the book. So I’m not overwhelmed by surprise. But I have enjoyed equally well seeing all the little clues dropped into the story—it has been immensely clever storytelling. “A kiss, sweet as a blessing—but had it been Aranatha who had blessed him?”

This little snippet of Seerdomin’s thoughts makes me want to weep quietly—it sort of caught me by surprise, the idea that this warrior could still care about the way he went out:

How grim, how noble, how poetic. Yes, they would sing of the battle, all those shining faces in some future temple of white, virgin stone, all those shining eyes so pleased to share heroic Seerdomin’s triumphant glory.

It is wonderful to me that the twisted child-god created by Kadaspala in a desire to wreak vengeance upon Anomander Rake sees this silver-haired Tiste Andii and is told: “Friend, know this for certain. Whatever Anomander Rake now attempts to do, he does not do it for himself” and is inspired to kill his own creator.

Ye gods, the scene where Anomander Rake shreds into the Gate of Darkness, and Draconus watches with horrified awe and says that Rake needs seek no forgiveness from any of the Tiste Andii—it’s just fantastic. Perfect.

Go Silanah! Burn! Destroy!

And, damn, when Mother Dark whispers: “The Gate. How... oh, my dearest son... oh, Anomander...” I suddenly have ALL the feelings. How does this book continue to wring my heart out?

Moment after moment after fantastic moment—I can picture exactly Aranatha rising into the streamers of darkness, watching the Dying God who quails before her. So good! (I’m going to run out of complimentary phrasing, aren’t I?)

This to me is the perfect eulogy for Anomander Rake:

“All that he has ever asked of us, of me, and Spinnock Durav, and so many others, he has given us in return. Each and every time. This... this is his secret. Don’t you understand, High Priestess? We served the one who served us.”

It’s also cool that Rake’s sacrifice is what allows the Redeemer to properly take control and become the God he was meant to be, banishing the Dying God.

Delighted by this interplay between Hood and Whiskeyjack:

“Shame on you, Hood,” said Iskar Jarak, gathering up the reins. “There is not a fool out there who would betray the Son of Darkness, not in this, not even now—though he has left us, though he has returned to his Mother’s realm.”

“You chastise me, Iskar Jarak?”

“I do.”

The Jaghut snorted. “Accepted,” he said.

It’s telling as well that Whiskeyjack refers to the fact that Anomander Rake has left a whole lot more than just the Tiste Andii, that his loss will be felt by many.

Ah, Caladan Brood, of course. Who better than to take Dragnipur for now and to convey Anomander Rake’s body to its final resting place? And OF COURSE this person could totally face down the combined force of Envy and Spite. And look at the echo here—the ox and cart that conveyed Murillio is now carrying Rake.

Damn, more tears as I think about all those people coming to pay tribute to the Lord of Moon’s Spawn, for whom the heart of the moon broke.

I like that when Karsa is asked what he is waiting for with regards to speaking to his two daughters, he says: “I am waiting...for when I can think of something to say.” I just find this so utterly right.

Ooh, questions, questions: what vow is it that Karsa made? Which god is he supposed to kill?

Eek! Iskaral Pust wielding Dragnipur! What a terrible thought...

And then some lovely snippets of scenes: Bellam Nom meeting with his two uncles, Cutter accepting that Darujhistan is behind him and thinking of the love of his life, Barathol and Scillara (which is just such a lovely moment) and, finally, Harllo demanding that his mother accepts him. This all gives a beautiful feeling of hope, that Rake’s sacrifice was not in vain. It doesn’t lessen the pain any, but it lets us know that the story still continues.

Bill’s Reaction

I’m going to say more about Monkrat in the wrap-up as I discuss the general theme of redemption that runs throughout. So for now, I’ll just say that he clearly is a thread in that thematic tapestry and he becomes an interesting mouthpiece for a mini-lecture (not saying he’s SE’s mouthpiece mind you) on redemption, as he’s a relatively minor character who has been involved (whether actively or passively) in some pretty bad stuff. I have a few issues with his character arc, but as I said, I’ll hold off on those for next week’s wrap.

Meanwhile, we have our favorite boy Clip entering on stage, seeking “justice,” another theme that runs through the novel, though he is clearly on the dark side of things, as he sees no purpose in judgment (another theme!) “when there is no one to hurt with it.” In many ways, Clip is a parallel here to Traveller, in that we’ve got two characters who have spent the entire novel heading toward a confrontation they’ve been seeking for some time, one in which they see themselves as the agent of justice and vengeance: Traveller versus Hood for what happened with his daughter, and Clip versus Rake for Rake’s abandonment of the children and the refuge. Traveller is possessed by the idea of vengeance, driven by it, while Clip is both figuratively possessed by the same and literally possessed by the Dying God (another example to toss into my heaping pile of “fantasy allows the metaphoric to become the literal” argument). Both have opportunities/choices to turn aside and neither does. Both seem to feel they “owe” the dead this act (though it appears neither has actually been told this, and so one has to wonder what the dead actually think). And neither finds who they are looking for—Clip finds Endest rather than Rake, while Traveller, ironically in this context, finds Rake rather than Hood. And both find Vengeance (whether the sword or the possessing god) turns on them in the end.

I love the storyline of Endest from beginning to end—this old man, his lack of confidence in himself, his love of Rake, his loyalty, Rake’s faith in him. I’m pretty sure I had a sense of where this was going to go from pretty early on—not the details, not him facing Clip in the Temple for instance, but in this idea of him holding to the very end and then dying in victory. That sense led a bittersweetness to all his scenes, and a sense of tragedy underlay his words each time he spoke or thought. And I thought these last scenes with him lived up to that feeling; I feel he got the ending he really deserved and that I so hoped for this character. I like that he makes his stand in the Temple, a place of faith, albeit empty to him (and isn’t that faith after all—believing in something not tangibly there?). I like that the High Priestess is there with him. I like that he thinks of Rake as a “pillar of fire” and when he recalls that Rake’s mere touch on the shoulder could bestow confidence and strength to “do the impossible.” I like his human fear of failure, especially now that Rake is gone, his inability to see his true strength. And of course, how despite that inability, despite that lack of confidence, he refuses to yield. That river has been running (no pun intended. Well, maybe a little) in the background of Endest’s story all along and now we see it rise into greater importance than we could have imagined. And I really like this little language play—that his source of confidence all along has been “fire” and now that the fire is gone he turns to water.

OK, I’m not sure anyone by now didn’t see where the Aranatha storyline was going, but we’ve said many times that what seems inscrutable/obscure in Erikson will, if one waits long enough, sometimes, even often, get explained pretty clearly (not always, but a surprising amount of the time considering the reputation he gets for being “difficult”). We’ve been listing all the little hints and clues that Aranatha was not what she seemed, and they have been getting more and more blunt. But if one hasn’t guessed by now, this scene should make it pretty clear. Who, after all, could be “reaching through with little strength” as she has only “ever been able to do,” who has cursed all of Nimander’s people (the Andii), who would sense Rake’s blood in Nimander and think Rake would have defended her, if not Mother Dark? Of course, even if one didn’t get that here, her actions and words later on this chapter pretty much are akin to her wearing a glow-in-the-dark tee-shirt labeled “Mother Dark.” And note as well that she also seeks to redeem her past actions.

And that brings us to Seerdomin, another in the long line of those seeking redemption. I really like how Erikson makes him such a real-life character by taking the time to step away from events and dig into his thoughts and pry out that honest self-appraisal of how he had pretended humility, being all like, “Oh no, I can’t stand against that. Are you freakin’ crazy?” All while he’s picking out titles for those epic songs that will be sung about his standing and thinking of all the little people he’ll need to thank in his speech.

These sort of scenes are greatly helped by the multiple POVs as the cut-away moments serve to ratchet up the tension. Endest barely hanging on then cut away. Seerdomin being strangled to... whatever that would be (we need a new word for “death” in this series since so many dead characters face, well, death. Super-death? Uber-death? Double-death? Double-dog death? Oblivion, I suppose, but it’s so dull) then cutting away. The High Priestess feeling her people fading, then cut away. The child-god getting ready to stab—cut. It’s all very effective.

Speaking of the child-god. There’s so much to like about this oh-so-short scene.

Let’s start with some imagery—that knife reared “like a serpent.” Intentional or not (and I’m thinking it is), “serpent” is a loaded descriptor in western literature and I really like how it plays here—the just-born and thus wholly innocent/tabula rasa child-god connected to the symbol of corruption of innocence—the serpent. With just this simple simile, we’re set up for what is about to take place.

Then there’s the image of Ditch as the eye—but an eye that looks both “inward and outward.” A conscience, a soul, a sense of morality.

The metaphor of regrets as chains, as a burden, a “creaking, tottering burden,” and how it so clearly parallels that damned wagon and those chained creatures. And then, taking that image, which would seem to be negative (chains, burden—a negative connotation to each), and turning it in unexpected fashion to a necessity of being human, a good thing. For to break free of those chains, to free oneself of regret, is to “shake free of humanity itself. And so become a monster.” Those chains, I imagine, being presented as a constant reminder of how one’s actions affect others. And here I think of Rake for instance, who carried the burden of Dragnipur not just of the souls themselves in the sword, but the chains of regret for many of those killings. And what a monster might he have been without that burden—he of such power and with such a sword, unencumbered by regret over taking lives? We see Traveller with chains, Karsa (who notes he does in fact have many regrets in just a few pages) with chains. I think way, way, way back to Cotillion, that epicenter of compassion in this series, and his statement to Apt in Deadhouse Gates: “’When I Ascended, Lady, it was to escape the nightmares of feeling… my surprise that I now thank you for such chains.”

That sense of tragic mortality—born to die. How do we give meaning to the futility embedded in that phrase?

And then perhaps (perhaps) the answer coming in a just-as-simple a phrase: do not do for oneself. This is Rake’s lesson conveyed by Ditch. This god has a choice of fathers in some sense—Kadaspala or Rake—and it chooses Rake. Granted, all this innocence/child-like aspect gets a little muddled (muddied, bloodied) when the child-god kills Kadaspala, but one can’t have everything… This child-god does a nice job of being the foil to the other new child-god/new god—The Dying God. One does for others and one does for himself.

That searing image of Ditch weeping blood—the lone person weeping for the death of the child-god. That’s always such a moving moment, one we see in many books, the sole mourner for a life passed.

Another thread in the theme of redemption—remember why Ditch is in here—killed by Rake for betraying him. And here Ditch is saving Rake.

I give you cinematic moment 1423 in this series: Rake dissolving into the Gate of Darkness. Let’s just pause and witness for a moment.

Note that “willed” again.

I love that Draconus hits his knees in the belief that he “finally understood” what Rake was doing, and it turns out he actually didn’t.

But that’s still a moving moment. And can anyone imagine Mother Dark not opening her eyes? (and isn’t there something just intellectually and linguistically fun about Mother Dark being turned away, not seeing?)

Who hasn’t been waiting all book for Silanah to take off? You go girl!

And another moving moment—Mother Dark’s recognition of what she had lost and what she had gained and how—“Oh, my dearest son. Oh Anomander.” And then “I accept.” How many thousands of pages have we been waiting for this? Even if we didn’t know this is what we were waiting for exactly?

And yes, it’s petty and small and cruel, but I still think “good!” when that damn chain of Clip’s takes off his finger. Boy, I hated that chain.

And then from the petty to the sublime. And I’m moved again, this time by Endest’s love of Rake and his statement that he and Spinnock “and so many others” do what they do because Rake has given them in return. And then, he gets to feel Mother Dark again. And he gets to recognize he is home. Think of the time, think of the loss. Literally unimaginable, but still worth trying to imagine. And a great closing line for Endest, to bring him home, to close that circle of his story of him and the river: “The water between us, Endest Silann, is clear. The water is clear.”

Well, all this wandering through the thematic underbrush of redemption had to eventually bring us to the character called The Redeemer. And so here we are. And he who has been lost as to exactly what his role is, how he does in fact redeem, has been shown the way by Rake and Mother Dark (and interesting that Rake is still around in some fashion—“entwined in ways too mysterious, too ineffable, to grasp” with Mother Dark). Though speaking of “ineffable,” I can’t say I’m wholly clear on what he is shown. I feel I’m missing something subtle here as the “the Redeemer leaves judgment to others. This frees him, you see, to cleanse all” seems to be just the problem he’d (and others) had been struggling with before. I can see Rake’s lesson as Monkrat says—one redeems oneself through one’s actions (as opposed to waiting for some higher being to do it, or someone else). Or the lesson of selflessness as the child-god takes. But I can’t mesh either of those with Itkovian at the end or the idea of “cleansing.” What does it mean to be “cleansed” by the Redeemer? What does it mean to be cleansed but not judged by him? Is the lesson that he has a “gift” and the truth of gifts is that they be shared? That if one can Redeem (whatever that means) one simply should, and leave all the other complicating stuff to others? I’m all fine with Salind being “redeemed” or “cleansed” as much of what she does is done via possession (even if she has aspects that lend her a bent in certain directions) or coercion, but can Gradithan, for instance, be “cleansed” or “redeemed” without judgment? Because I’m with Spindle on this one—Sic ‘em Silanah.

Happy to entertain ideas.

A moment’s silence for Pearl here please.

The procession of Rake is another great moment in a string of them. And does anyone think Rake would be upset to be taken to his barrow on this ox’s lowly cart? Speaking of barrow, I also like how it is raised and capped.

“It was said”—I like how we drift into the storyteller’s voice here. And already the story is changing. This is what happens to stories after all. Something to keep in mind years from now when we get to Forge of Darkness.

A good moment to see Spinnock setting off.

And Kallor sitting alone in the tavern spitting at mortality, cursing the bells and ravens and stupid funeral. But I like that subtle hint embedded in “Or so he told himself.” This is a much more complex Kallor than we’ve ever seen before this book, and in a novel that has focused so much on redemption, is it possible that even he may end up redeemed by the end? Might his curse finally end? We’ll see more of him down the road…

Bells ringing in a belfry with no bell. Just a little creepy.

Speaking of more complex, we noted last time how Karsa is showing sides we’d never seen nor anticipated: his stunned recognition of the skill when Traveler and Rake met, for instance. And now we have his acknowledgment of many regrets. His admission that once he was “young” and its attendant implication that once he was “wrong.” And his admission that he doesn’t know what to say. Like Kallor, this character is becoming more complicated. Character development is typical of course, especially when we see them over the span of thousands of pages. But Kallor and Karsa are both early on presented very much as “types” and have held that image for a long time. I like how those roles are now getting undermined.

Of course, that said, we’re back to good old Karsa with his fantastic response to being told to hang out in Darujhistan so he can kill a god: “Which one.” Plus la meme chose…

So while this part of Shadowthrone and Cotillion’s plan seems to have come off, it now appears this is only an early stage of the plan, though the rest of it is “out of their hands until the end.” So where does all these lead? And what was the plan? To bring Mother Dark back? To rescue the Gate? To do something with Death? What God’s death is required as part of the plan (beyond Hood’s?) Why are all the gods of war being ridden to? Lots of questions about what is still to come obviously, and for what purposes. But there clearly is a plan.

I’m glad though that it’s a plan that can be disturbed (by the appearance of Hounds of Light, by Pust’s actions), that can be surprised, that isn’t in complete control. And seriously, can you imagine Pust with Dragnipur? Eek.

I love the humor in and the image of Pust writing the Book of Shadows. And we do need a bit of humor here after all we’ve just gone through. But we don’t get to enjoy it for long as we’re quickly reminded of Traveler, a “lone, wandering, lost figure.” Another loose end we’ll have to catch up to later.

But if we don’t get to laugh very long with Cotillion and Shadowthrone, we do get a whirlwind of uplifting moments to temper the grief and shock of all these losses in this book (and not just the most recent—let’s not forget for example Mallet): Rallick and Torvald back together, Bellam home to a family worried about him, Tiserra and Torvald’s love, Barathol and Scillara together, the guardsman with a bad heart alive and rejoining his family, Thordy no longer tormented by Gaz, Picker and Blend. And then of course, Harllo. Tough to top a happier ending than an orphan declaring “This is my mother.” And so Stonny too is redeemed.

A surprising swirl of happiness and hope here at the end. It almost makes one fear the epilogue…


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.

33 comments
Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter
This half of the chapter is a whirlwind of sorrow and pain, uplift and dark, all swirling, swirling as Rake disperses though the gate.
Lovely.
Tricia Irish
2. Tektonica
Rake. I love his joining with Mother Dark. I love it for him. Finally.

A great chapter and a wonderful recap of themes, Bill and Amanda. Thank you. There's so much to digest.
David Thomson
3. ZetaStriker
I thought Spindle was well in character, actually. The Bridgeburners have never exactly been pacifists, and if I remember correctly he was one of the ones that lynched and killed Paran in the first book.
Nadine L.
4. travyl
I admit, that I don't really understand what happend here.
Why did Rake being shreded put the gate out of Dragnipur. "What" gate is it anyway? - between Dark and Chaos? And why was Mother Dark too weak (asking for Nimander's help), after she walked around inside Arthana for half a book now...
Thomas Jeffries
5. thomstel
seals it with a capstone that rose from the ground and marks it with the Barghast glyph for “Grief.”
Holy, holy crap, that's a hell of an echo. Every first-timer leave a marker on that page and come back to it later. You'll know when.

This series is SO good on the re-read.
Steven Halter
6. stevenhalter
thomstel@5:Yeah, I had forgotten how much is both resolved at set up here at the end of this book.
Nancy Hills
7. Grieve
Ok, I'm with travyl. I loved the resolution, that Anomander sacrifices himself in that way for everyone (though hate it that he is gone) and that Mother Dark is back, but did not understand the relationship between MD, Draginpur, the warrens,
Kurald Galain, and Chaos. Had Mother Dark been Draginpured in some way? There were hints she was in the sword to protect her - I forget where that was. (I have read through TCG, btw.)

I also never really got the Dying God thingy. That just never resonated with me. What was it trying to get in Black Coral? So many questions. Is the pattern that settles on Black Coral Kurald Galain?

The summary did clarify some things, though, so thank you for that.

I actually had always really liked Nimander and found their journey interesting. I know a lot of people thought it was kind of tedious, but I liked them. I'm glad he came through in the end, though suffering from Son of a Legendary Man syndrome.

The Child God freaked me out. I thought it would kill Anomander before he could accomplish what he set out to do.

Also, Cotillion says in his conversation with Shadowthrone that he didn't know if Traveller was going to "accept". I think now it was accept fighting Anomander and Traveller didn't stick around for the explanation of why so is grieving more than necessary. Before, I thought it was accept the entire scheme, so knew what was up.

Very intense chapter and resolution.
Nisheeth Pandey
8. Nisheeth
Really loved the scene with Harrlo.

The line:
"It shall be Caladan Brood and Anomander Rake, together one last time."

Made me feel more sad after Anomander's death than the death itself.

@7, Grieve: Reading FoD will clear somethings up, a little. But trying to answer your questions (from what I remember, might be wrong):

Had Mother Dark been Draginpured in some way? There were hints she was in the sword to protect her - I forget where that was.
Draconus had put the Gate of Darkness into the wagon in Dragnipur.As a (unexpected) consequence, MD somehow also got bound. Rake freed her, sacrificing himself in the process. I seem to remember, it was to protect Darkness(or Order) from Chaos, not specifically MD.

I also never really got the Dying God thingy. That just never resonated with me. What was it trying to get in Black Coral? So many questions.
To usurp Kurald Galain.

Is the pattern that settles on Black Coral Kurald Galain?
Its the manifestation of the Gate of Darkness.


@5, thomstel:
Can't think of which event you are referring to. Could you tell, whited out?
Gerd K
9. Kah-thurak
@8 Nishbeeth
Thomstel is referring to the beginning of Forge of Darkness.

@3 ZetaStriker
Sorry "killed" Paran on her own. Spindle had nothing to do with that.
Brian R
10. Mayhem
While hunting for quotes on Dragnipur, I was reminded of this on Kallor and why he is so hard to kill.

From the prologue of MoI, the curse ...
----
What of Kallor? Draconus enquired. What of this ... this creature?
We mark him, K’rul replied. We know his deepest desire, do we not?
And the span of his life?
Long, my friends.
Agreed.
K’rul blinked, fixed his dark, heavy eyes on the High King. ‘For this crime, Kallor, we deliver appropriate punishment. Know this: you, Kallor Eiderann Tes’thesula, shall know mortal life unending. Mortal, in the ravages of age, in the pain of wounds and the anguish of despair. In dreams brought to ruin. In love withered. In the shadow of Death’s spectre, ever a threat to end what you will not relinquish.’ Draconus spoke, ‘Kallor Eiderann Tes’thesula, you shall never ascend.’
----

So he's cursed pretty much to live life unending, always in the shadow of death, but never to actually gain it, for death would be a release from the curse. Yet he is also cursed never to gain any benefit from his long life. Nasty.
Brian R
11. Mayhem
Now, on Dragnipur, and sorry for the length but I want to do a lot of quoting.
From the prologue in MoI

They merged their power to draw chains around a continent of slaughter, then pulled it into a warren created for that sole purpose, leaving the land itself bared. To heal.
...
Then Draconus spoke, ‘Since the time of All Darkness, I have been forging a sword.’
...
Draconus continued. ‘The forging has taken ... a long time, but I am now nearing completion. The power invested within the sword possesses a ... a finality.’
‘Then,’ K’rul whispered after a moment’s consideration, ‘you must make alterations in the final shaping.’
‘So it seems. I shall need to think long on this.’

Contrast that with this chapter with Draconus forging the blade itself

Chains upon chains. Chains to bind. Bind Darkness itself, transforming the ancient forest through which it had wandered, twisting that blackwood into a wagon, into huge, tottering wheels, into a bed that formed a horizontal door – like the entrance to a barrow – above the portal. Blackwood, to hold and contain the soul of Kurald Galain.
He remembered. Sparks in countless hues skipping away like shattered rainbows. The deafening ringing of the hammer and the way the anvil trembled to every blow. The waves of heat flashing against his face. The bitter taste of raw ore, the stench of sulphur. Chains! Chains and chains, pounded down into glowing impressions upon the blade, quenched and honed and into Burn’s white heart and then – it begins again. And again.
Chains! Chains to bind!
Bind the Fallen!

So he seems to have combined forging the sword with the first chaining of the Crippled God, and quite possibly with the chaining of the destroyed realm of Kallor. A lot of his work seems to revolve around the idea of chains, both to hold and to strengthen.

From MoI, Ganoes Paran in the sword, which I guarantee everyone forgot about until the battles earlier.

‘What will happen if the wagon stops, Draconus?’
The man who forged his own prison was silent for a long time. ‘Project your vision, mortal, onto our trail. See for yourself, what pursues us.’
Pursues! He closed his eyes, yet the scene did not vanish – the wagon lumbered on, there in his mind, the multitudes passing by him like ghosts. Then the massive contrivance was past, its groans fading behind him. The ruts of its wheels flanked him, each one as wide as an imperial road. The earth was sodden with blood, bile and sweat, a foul mud that drew his boots down, swallowed them up to his ankles.
His gaze followed those tracks, back, to the horizon.
Where chaos raged. Filling the sky, a storm such as he had never seen before. Rapacious hunger poured from it. Frenzied anticipation. Lost memories. Power born from rendered souls. Malice and desire, a presence almost self-aware, with hundreds of thousands of eyes all fixed on the wagon behind Paran. So ... so eager to feed ...
He recoiled.
With a gasp, Paran found himself stumbling once more alongside Draconus. The residue of what he had witnessed clung to him, making his heart drum savagely in his chest. Another thirty steps passed before he was able to raise his head, to speak. ‘Draconus,’ he grated, ‘you have made a very unpleasant sword.’

And then on the purpose behind it ...

‘Darkness has ever warred against Chaos, mortal. Ever retreated. And each time that Mother Dark relented – to the Coming of Light, to the Birth of Shadow – her power has diminished, the imbalance growing more profound. Such was the state of the realms around me in those early times. A growing imbalance. Until Chaos approached the very Gate to Kurald Galain itself. A defence needed to be fashioned. Souls were ... required ...’
‘Wait, please. I need to think—’
‘Chaos hungers for the power in those souls – for what Dragnipur has claimed. To feed on such power will make it stronger – tenfold. A hundredfold. Sufficient to breach the Gate. Look to your mortal realm, Ganoes Paran. Devastating, civilization-destroying wars, civil wars, pogroms, wounded and dying gods – you and your kind progress at a perilous pace on the path forged by Chaos. Blinded by rage, lusting for vengeance, those darkest of desires—’
‘Wait—’
‘Where history means nothing. Lessons are forgotten. Memories – of humanity, of all that is humane – are lost. Without balance, Ganoes Paran—’
‘But you want me to shatter Dragnipur!’
‘Ah, now I understand your resistance to all that I say. Mortal, I have had time to think. To recognize the grave error I have made. I had believed, Ganoes Paran, in those early times, that only in Darkness could the power that is order be manifested. I sought to help Mother Dark – for it seemed she was incapable of helping herself. She would not answer, she would not even acknowledge her children. She had withdrawn, deep into her own realm, far from all of us, so far that we could not find her.’
‘Draconus—’
‘Hear me, please. Before the Houses, there were Holds. Before Holds, there was wandering. Your own words, yes? But you were both right and wrong. Not wandering, but migration. A seasonal round – predictable, cyclical. What seemed aimless, random, was in truth fixed, bound to its own laws. A truth – a power – I failed to recognize.’
‘So the shattering of Dragnipur will release the Gate once more – to its migration.’
‘To what gave it its own strength to resist Chaos, yes. Dragnipur has bound the Gate of Darkness to flight, for eternity – but should the souls chained to it diminish—’
‘The flight slows down—’
‘Fatally.’
‘So, either Rake begins killing – taking souls – or Dragnipur must be destroyed.’
‘The former is necessary – to buy us time – until the latter occurs. The sword must be shattered. The purpose of its very existence was misguided. Besides which, there is another truth I have but stumbled on – far too late for it to make any difference. At least to me.’
‘And that is?’
‘Just as Chaos possesses the capacity to act in its own defence, to indeed alter its own nature to its own advantage in its eternal war, so too can Order. It is not solely bound to Darkness. It understands, if you will, the value of balance.’
Paran felt an intuitive flash. ‘The Houses of the Azath. The Deck of Dragons.’
The hooded head shifted slightly and Paran felt cold, unhuman eyes fixing upon him. ‘Aye, Ganoes Paran.’
‘The Houses take souls ...’
‘And bind them in place. Beyond the grasp of Chaos.’

So Mother Dark had retreated far into the realm of Darkness. And then Draconus took the gate to that realm, the primary access point, and imprisoned it into the realm of the sword. Which meant that Mother Dark was no longer accessible, even if she wanted to be. Which if the cosmology is right about balance means neither would Father Light. Talk about unintended consequences.

So it seems Draconus created the wagon as a protection and a bait, to lure Chaos away from civilisation, and to reduce its influence. All he could see was the idea of retreat, of hiding the heart of Darkness from Chaos.
Now with the greater sophistication in the world, there are more alternatives to Order, from the Holds to the Warrens, from the Tiles to the Deck.

What Rake did was to find a solution that would allow Darkness a new home. The unveiling of Kurald Galain on Black Coral I suspect gave him the location, and the assistance of Hood, Shadowthrone, and certain others gave him the ability. All it took was for him to enter the sword as well, and the only way to do that was to die to it.

The reason for the direct struggle against Chaos was probably to empty the sword of most of the accumulated nasties that dwelt within it. Hood was needed to bring his armies to hold off Chaos after that was done long enough for Rake to arrive. How Kadaspala's tattoo was supposed to work I have no idea - it seems to have been an idea concocted by Draconus and Kadaspala, which Rake turned to a new purpose. I guess it was just pure power available to be given a direction.

Rake used his own connection with Darkness combined with his link to Chaos from the blood of Tiam and the power of the Child God to free the Gate from its prison in the wagon. As it consumed him, he broke it free of the realm of Dragnipur to forcibly return the power to the altar at the heart of the Andii temple in Coral, where it was gratefully accepted back by Mother Dark herself, now completely embodied in Aranatha.

Since Chaos no longer inhabits the realm of the sword, and most of the nasties are gone, the sword can be safely broken. This will release those within back to mortality, and I think it will also break some of the oldest chains on the Crippled God.

More unintended consequences perhaps?
Brian R
12. Mayhem
As for MD and Aranatha ...
I think Aranatha and MD are linked by ties of blood and worship if not necessarily consciously. The priestesses seem to connect best with MD during sex, perhaps Aranatha being a simpleton (savant?) didn't need that to reach out to Darkness and establish a link.
I can but reach through, not far, with little strength. It is all I have ever been able to do. But now . . . she insists. She commands.
So MD was able to work through Aranatha, but all relationships in the series seem two way, and Aranatha loves her brother so demands he be aided.
George A
13. Kulp
@Mayhem

That is an awesome summary of Dragnipur. It's been a while since I read GotM or MoI so I had forgotten about most of this. Seeing it now, I can't wait to start another reread :)
Nancy Hills
14. Grieve
@Mayhem - Wow. Outstanding posts and summary. Thank you so much. You should get a posting award, seriously.

I remembered the gist of those quotes from when Ganoes was in Draginipur, but not some of the details and, of course, I didn't remember where I had picked up that info.

It does lead to a couple (at least) more questions - always more questions lol.

The primary one being, since MD was trapped in her realm, was her long silence truly her choice or was it because she could not reach out to the Tiste Andii? I know she had initially turned away, but she may have turned back and found she could not reach them.
Eoin8472
15. Eoin8472
A good point Grieve thee. If MD was imprisioned in the sword, why didn't Rake or any other Andii a long time again think to themselves that "Sniff Sniff , MD isn't here. Why did she leave us.....hang one, shes been trapped in that sword all this time! she might have changed her mind and we would never have known it!"
Eoin8472
16. Mr Glum
I love when Kruppe steps in front of Caladan Brood. Kruppe mentions it briefly while talking about himelf... 'ask the man with the hammer.' On the last march Brood and Rake take together, it is perfect that Kruppe gets in the way, and steps aside.

Many parts in this chapter get me every time. Mother Dark coming back, Barathol and Scillara, Harlo's last line.

That ox. The whole book the poor thing has been hauling bodies around, being used as metaphores or examples in Kruppe's speeches. Kind of a throw away at first, but the same ox keeps coming back. Then the last body it carries is Rake himself... the ox is the true hero in Toll the Hounds.
Nadine L.
17. travyl
Mayhem @11
Wow, thank you for these quotes and the elaboration. It seems as if you might answer some of my questions though at the moment I very much feel like this quote (from above) from Ganoes Paran:
Wait, please. I need to think—’
Tricia Irish
18. Tektonica
Mayhem@11: THANK YOU!! You tied a lot of threads together for me there. Great post. My god, these books are dense.
Bill Capossere
19. Billcap
Great post/pull-together Mayhem. I mostly agree with the summary but I wasn’t sure about part of it:

“So he seems to have combined forging the sword with the first chaining of the Crippled God, and quite possibly with the chaining of the destroyed realm of Kallor. A lot of his work seems to revolve around the idea of chains, both to hold and to strengthen.”

I had never thought of the sword connected to the Crippled God. I read “fallen” as simply those that were killed by the sword, those that “fell” to it. Not as the fallen god (which I would have capitalized in that sense). And chains we see connected with those fallen with Rake. And of course as symbols/metaphors/literally throughout the series so that not every chain is, ahem, “linked” to the CG. As for Draconus changing the sword, I took that as changing it not due to the CG but because now the sword threatens him via Kallor’s curse. Is there something I’m forgetting that connects the sword to the CG? Not that I'd ever forget somethin in this series as the "veteran" reader. Or miss something the first, second, or third time it slapped me in the face . . .

I’ll be curious to see, if we ever do, just how much of Mother Dark’s absence was willful. I do think there’d have to be more to it than simply “trapped in the sword,” as one might imagine that still wouldn’t make her wholly incommunicado (at least to those in the sword). I also like to think there is more to it than him simply “freeing” her. That his sacrifice is not simply a “rescue” mission but a “gift” (giving her a path that she still need to choose), and an attention-getter (do not turn away a second time—see what has become of us, see what I do for us, for you, for myself), and as a chance at her own redemption (which again, she’d have to choose to accept, as opposed to just going “Whew! Glad someone finally let me outta this closet!”
Nisheeth Pandey
20. Nisheeth
@15, Eoin8472:
Maybe they didn't know of it? Rake somehow found out about it because of the plans between him, Hood, ST and Cotillion.

Though, I had a question:
Why did Rake and Hood and all the other forces have to come to Darujhistan?
Couldn't Hood have chosen a place where his presence would lead to less death (since he seems to regret those)?
Or Rake chosen one where he could provide the sword with more guards than just the hounds?
Darren Kuik
21. djk1978
Do Mayhem's quotes not indicate that Ganoes Paran is also involved in the germination of the idea to break Dragnipur? In fact the idea itself comes from Draconus?

I agree with Bill though about there being nothing to do with the CG and Dragnipur.

I do also think there is a huge distinction between MD being trapped in the sword and the Gate of Darkness being trapped. It's not as if Kurald Galain was completely closed off. The Tiste still had access to it. They ought to have been able to sense whether or not she was still turned away. No, rather I think that breaking Dragnipur and what Rake did are steps to repair the wrongs done to MD and to KG. They are not freeing her, they are righting the wrongs done to her before. Giving her something to believe in. Something else to believe in, incidentally, I think she finds in Nimander, hence her body-snatching of Aranatha.
Sydo Zandstra
22. Fiddler
Mayhem, thanks a LOT for putting that up for us. I've been pondering over the natures of Dark/Shadow/Light, Sea/Shore/Land and Order/Chaos, and how they relate to each other (without having started reading deeper yet). Your post is helping me with that.


Bill @19:

I’ll be curious to see, if we ever do, just how much of Mother Dark’s
absence was willful. I do think there’d have to be more to it than
simply “trapped in the sword,” as one might imagine that still wouldn’t make her wholly incommunicado (at least to those in the sword).

I think 'Balance' is the key, Bill. In fact, I'm starting to think this series is as much about balance as it is about compassion and empathy. I intend to ask SE about this in the upcoming Q&A, if I get my thoughts on this organized in time. I won't go on too much here since I've started thinking on this during my last (and 2nd) tCG reread. Maybe you can see where I'm heading with this, though.

In short, I think that in this case Dark becoming stronger by MD's return is a response to a need of balancing a situation.

Shadow has weakened with the breaking of Kurald Emuhrlan, and the Tiste Edur have pulled back from the stage.

Maybe Light is becoming (relatively) stronger? Evidence seems to point that way, with no less than 15 Hounds of Light suddenly showing up at the location where the sword holding the (main) Gate to Kurald Galain is contested, after the Knight of High House Dark's death. But who is sending/controlling them?


*sigh* I really need to read Forge of Darkness, and start digging the Malazan Forums for thoughts from others. Maybe I can expand/correct my thoughts on this subject some more then...
Thomas Jeffries
23. thomstel
Sorry for being cagey about the reference. Bob's your uncle:

http://www.tor.com/stories/2012/08/forge-of-darkness-chapter-two-excerpt

Buddhacat linked it back to this scene right there. Belated kudos to him/her!
Nisheeth Pandey
24. Nisheeth
@22, Fiddler:
I am quite sure there were only10 hound of light in this book.
My thought about the sudden appearance was that the Liosan finally decided to get out of isolation, instead of them coming to power.
Eoin8472
25. worrywort
'I sought to help Mother Dark – for it seemed she was incapable of helping herself. She would not answer, she would not even acknowledge her children. She had withdrawn, deep into her own realm, far from all of us, so far that we could not find her.’

That quote from part of Mayhem's passages says to me MD was already unreachable by the TA by the time Drac finished forging Dragnipur. So I would personally consider it a willful act.
Nancy Hills
26. Grieve
Oh yes, the original silence from Mother Dark was willful. But did she try to turn back long ago and find herself trapped and unable to communicate? What made Rake decide to do what he did at this time? Did he realize she was trapped or did something happen that made him realize she was trapped and needed to be freed? Also, what did she agree to? Because she was already communicating as much as she could through Aranatha, so that would indicate she wanted to communicate. Did she tell Rake she accepts entwining with him to gain the strength?

Or are these questions more detailed than had been intended? lol. I think fan questions frequently are dissecting stories and events much more than the author thought through. Beware fantasy writers! You will always be trapped in neverending details.

Also, Harllo and Karsa's two daughters - three children of rape in one book. Do you think that was consciously intended? A theme? A redemption?
Eoin8472
27. worrywort
Honestly, I'd never considered the notion that MD was ever trapped at all until this thread, so I haven't fully thought about it that way. At least up till now, all that I considered "trapped" in Dragnipur was the primary gate to Kurald Galain, along with the slain. MD herself had simply retreated somewhere, deep into Darkness somehow, and was willfully unreachable (perhaps semi-dormant). Not saying she wasn't aware of the forging of Dragnipur, and the complications it caused, but from her perspective I suppose those were pretty independent of her retreat from her children. Rake's decision was to draw her out, not free her; and in the same act, he was asking forgiveness of everyone, and if he was freeing anyone, it'd be Draconus. That was my understanding, at least, but now I'm gonna think about it in others ways thanks to you guys.
karl oswald
28. Toster
Re: Mayhem's post and the mystery of the tattoo's purpose

i always believed that the tattoo was the pattern that appeared over black coral, and that the gate of darkness used the pattern to move to black coral. this would be rake's will and power simply overwhelming any other use the child-gods power might be put to, like mayhem speculates.

iirc, draconus originally intended the tattoo to build some kind of impenetrable cage against chaos, keeping it out and the gate safe within. i can't help but think that, mad as he was, kadaspala was right that this idea would have failed.
Nancy Hills
29. Grieve
@26 Toster - Ooo, that makes sense about the pattern. Thank you.

@25 Worrwort - You may be completely right. Why would she come through Aranatha though, before Rake made his offer? Of course, her being able to use Aranatha would indicate she wasn't trapped. But why would she need Nimander to protect her, fight for her? I think I have to read Forge of Darkness, which I have started.

BTW, every time I get a notification that there is a new post to this thread, it tells me there is a new post in the Spoiler thread instead and gives me a link to the Spoiler Thread rather than here. Anyone else havingthat problem? I have unsubscribed and resubscribed and it is still happening.
Eoin8472
30. worrywort
Great question, and I can't say I know the answer. One reason may be, as far as we know, she retreated well before the TA came to the mortal world; they've all been here, but this is her first foray into it. She's alone, perhaps contrite, and perhaps nervous? Baby steps.

We also know these kids were on Drift Avalii with Andarist, and have the blood of Anomander, so she may have chosen them for that reason...divining that they were ultimately headed to Black Coral. Not saying that happened early timing-wise, since Aranatha's change seems to come later. But then we also know that Clip's rings can offer a gate to KG, so that might be how and when she slipped through into the group.

Man after all this time I still don't think I really get it. As of now, I guess what I believe is that MD knew something big was coming; was she was headed towards Black Coral with a vague notion that Anomander would be there? I don't know. I don't think she was literally trapped in Dragnipur, but I do think think the main Gate to KG was in there, and so minus the little gates like the rings and draconic Rake's gullet (was there a KG gate in the cave Menandore guarded?), there was perhaps impediment to MD coming through fully. Ultimately, all I really know is that my brain is broken.
Eoin8472
31. Dukkha
Hey all,

Finally caught up to the reread! Ive been following you guys for a while now during my own reread and have been dreading this moment when I now have to wait for posts (excellent job Bill and Amanda, the details make me feel like I can count this as three times through the series).

I have a couple of questions
@Mayhem - Are you sure that Kallor's wasted jacuruku empire is turned into dragnipur? I had always thought that it was the imperial warren? The descriptions of ash and bone, plus the fact that k'rul made a place within himself for it lead me to believe its the imperial warren.

@Billcap - Why is Spinnock leaving in scene 20 instead of Travellor? the description says that they are wandering, lost without a purpose and wouldnt traveller have no purpose or goal now that his vengeance has been denied to him? I imagined that Spinnock fought Kallor farther away from the city, and would have departed with Korlat.

Thanks again for this reread, you guys have been awesome!
Bill Capossere
32. Billcap
Steven,
Thanks as always for the gift of your time.

I was just wondering if you might address a bit more Itkovian’s revelation at the end, though I perfectly why you wouldn’t, so feel free to say “Take it as you will . . .” But just in case, I’m going to cheat and cut and paste my musings in the reread here as my question (s)
I feel I’m missing something subtle here as the “the Redeemer leaves judgment to others. This frees him, you see, to cleanse all” seems to be just the problem he’d (and others) had been struggling with before. I can see Rake’s lesson as Monkrat says—one redeems oneself through one’s actions (as opposed to waiting for some higher being to do it, or someone else). Or the lesson of selflessness as the child-god takes. But I can’t mesh either of those with Itkovian at the end or the idea of “cleansing.” What does it mean to be “cleansed” by the Redeemer? What does it mean to be cleansed but not judged by him? Is the lesson that he has a “gift” and the truth of gifts is that they be shared? That if one can Redeem (whatever that means) one simply should, and leave all the other complicating stuff to others? . . . but can Gradithan, for instance, be “cleansed” or “redeemed” without judgment?

I’m wondering if it has anything to do with simply it being the “end” and thus that non-judgmental embrace is the epitome of that theme of “compassion” that runs throughout? The idea of what does judgment matter at this point anyway—who is it for after all at this point—and so if one can “embrace”, the compassionate thing is to do so, the cruel thing to withhold. If that makes any sense.

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