Fri
Dec 20 2013 1:00pm
Malazan Reread of the Fallen: Stonewielder, Epilogue

Malazan Book of the Fallen Stonewielder Ian C Esslemont 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 epilogue of Stonewielder.

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.

A few notes: Amanda will add her final reaction in the comments section. Apologies for the mix-up on last post’s summary gap—bit of a miscommunication on our part. We’ll be back in January after the holiday break, perhaps with a Q and A from Cam (still working on that) and then we’ll be taking our usual between books break. And then delving into the penultimate book: Dust of Dreams, beginning sometime between Jan. 22–29. Thanks!

STONEWIELDER EPILOGUE

SCENE ONE

Suth rests aboard a ship returning to Quon Tali. He is questioned by Devaleth, though she assures him it is not an “official inquiry.” She asks to make sure no one touched the chest and they Suth had seen it actually fall into the sea. Turns out she’s a little worried about Manask’s thieving reputation, but Suth reassures her that Ipshank was watching. When she asks about Kyle’s departure, he replies the Adjunct had said something about going back home. She dismisses him after informing him (as she told Peles, who is standing right there) that Greymane had strongly praised Rillish before leaving. Later, Goss tells Suth he’ll be promoted to sergeant.

SCENE TWO

Fisherfolk, returning to Ring City after the flood, float over the Ring looking for the Stormguard’s keep, hoping to salvage what was left behind. Looking down into the Ring, they see “An armoured giant of a fellow in a full helm and holding, point-downwards on his breast, a great grey blade.” The young start talking about him being a guardian, which quickly morphs into “The Guardian,” there in case the Lady returns. They decide, “No one should come here at all,” so as not to disturb him.

SCENE THREE

Bakune is bored as he judges a case in the “newly sovereign Kingdom of Rool.”

SCENE FOUR

Troops of Baron/General Karien’el catch up with the ex-Lord Mayor of Banith and ask him about all the treasure. The ex-Mayor tells a tale of being robbed by a “giant of a fellow. A giant!” Refusing to believe such an implausible story, the troops take the ex-Mayor for some stern questioning.

SCENE FIVE

Ivanr, who has been (resignedly) leading a small group of followers and two wagons of the blessed Martyrs (Priestess and Black Queen) tells them here is their stopping point, where they will raise a modest monastery. When one of the followers such he should go back to the capital and rule, he refuses, as he does the idea to build the “mightiest monastery in the world.” He does, however, consider the idea of weapons training/”meditation”

SCENE SIX

Kiska wakes on a beach of fine black sand on the shore of a “sea of white light. Liquid brilliance shimmering and lapping.” Leoman, also there, calls it “the Shores of Creation.” He points out a giant “the size of a mountain” straddling the shore and moving a fortress-sized boulder. She sits, stunned at the sight. Leoman says he felt the same when he first saw it, then continues to say that for the first time, here he feels he can “sleep utterly at ease. Completely free of fear.” She refuses to just sit around doing nothing and stomps off.

SCENE SEVEN

Warran watches the Liosan army, “battered but victorious” return to camp. Cotillion appears beside him and asks if he’s done yet. Shadowthrone answers yes, saying, “The creeping loss of Emurlahn is not to be ignored . . No one steals from me.” When Cotillion argues “this was never a threat,” Shadowthrone replies he is too sure of himself. They fade out, with Cotillion saying they are “too busy for this.”

SCENE EIGHT

Kyle is aboard ship, leaving Fist behind and thinking he’ll head for home, “if he can find it. He wasn’t exactly sure where it lay . . . It had been years.” He wonders what he’d gained in his travels—“a weapon that brought him more attention than he wanted, new scars, and painful memories.” He considers looking up Stalker and the others from the Guard, then sadly recalls Greymane, thinking he (Greymane) had been right to leave him behind without saying what he was planning to do. He thinks then of Ereko, touching the tone he’d given him and wondering if that gift had been what protected him against the Lady’s magic. He is sick of “war and death and great powers grinding people underfoot as they groped for advantage,” and thinks again he’ll look up Stalker and his cousins, who were from the lands north of Kyle’s home on Assail.

SCENE NINE

A fishing boat south of Malaz Island sees a silver flash beneath, then pulls up a body that startles them with suddenly breathing and then asking to be brought to Unta.

SCENE TEN

Rillish returns home to his wife and children.

 

Bill’s Reaction:

Mostly I enjoyed this section. Generally, I thought it concisely, quickly wrapped up some loose ends and gave us some closure on a few characters we’d still be caring about (one hopes) without spending a lot of unnecessary time and space on it.

Suth becoming a sergeant continues the maturation story line we’ve seen all along with him. I enjoyed Devaleth’s concern about Manask, especially considering the scene with the ex-Mayor to come. I love thinking of Manask making off with the treasury of Banith. I’m just very sorry he didn’t leave any parting words.

Greymane under the water (that’s the assumption I’m going with) continues that sense of peacefulness he had at the very end. I like that it is sort of made “official” by his posture here. And how he does in fact become part of myth now as “The Guardian.” And I enjoyed the eye-rolling of Ernen at how one myth immediately replaces the last one and now it’s still forbidden to go near the Ring.

Kiska’s scene, rather than giving a sense of closure, opens things up a bit—where are they? What is this shore? What is that giant? Good to have the book not completely close off at the end.

I don’t know if anyone by now is shocked that this was Shadowthrone, but it was pretty contingent upon Esslemont to give us the reveal, and it’s lightly humorous. One does have to wonder what they are so “busy” with.

As with Shadowthrone, it seemed this was meant to be a bigger reveal—the whole Assail thing—than it feels to be. It’s already been mentioned, so I’m not sure why we get the italicized “Assail,” as if one can hear the accompanying organ chords. Duh Duh Duhhh! I did like the callback to Ereko though.

I’m not quite sure why the ambiguity at the very end with the body, but I’m working on the assumption that the body is Rillish and that the “bright flash” was a Stormrider bringing him here. It’s possible I’m not remembering some reveal in a later book, but this is what I’m going with here. And maybe it’s a bit sappy/sentimental, but I like the ending. So there.

 

Bill’s Whole Book Response:

I thought when I read this the first time it was the best of Esslemont’s works to this point, and I can’t say I’ve changed my mind in the reread. I still have issues with some things, but I found a lot to like in this. Here are a few thoughts on both.

Likes

Manask: Gives a run for funniest single character (others often play as part of a duo, so he might be the funniest solo) and I would happily have spent more time with the big fella. I am, however, glad that Esslemont erred on the side of restraint with him; I’d rather be left wanting more than thinking, all right already, enough with the large guy’s one-liners!

Ussü: This comes as no surprise, but he really was one of my favorite characters in this novel and one of my favorite Esslemont creations overall. Like Manask, albeit for different reasons, I would have happily spent more time with him Amanda is right in that he does some creepy things, but for all the reasons I gave Amanda last time, he really was a fascinating character for me, compelling in his mix of good and bad, for his intelligence and insight and sense of loyalty and curiosity.

Hiam: Like Ussü a compelling character for his shades and layers. A man who does terrible things in the service of what he perceives as a greater good (similar to Ussü somewhat). A man with a code, with a sense of nobility and dedication and loyalty, a commander who cares for his people, a man of faith. Yet also a man who enslaves, who is unthinkingly cruel, who is constantly doubting his own faith. I think for the reader, knowing what we know of the Lady (not the whole CG thing—more on that later) and coming from our perspective, we always feel a bit of trepidation for that moment when Hiam finds out, as we’re almost sure he will. And that moment pays off big time I think at the end, what a soul-crushing epiphany to have, to find out you are the monster, and have been the monster all along, that all you stand on is illusion. Great character put into a great situation (for a reader)

Quint: Not so much in his own right, but as the mirror/contrast to Hiam. The man of perfect faith, the constant reminder to Hiam of his own imperfect one and a reminder too of the burden of thoughtful command.

Suth: more than a little familiar, but I still enjoyed his storyline and gradual maturation into the military life and a leadership position, his growing understanding of what war is and what it requires.

Warran: I had figured him out pretty early my first time through, so for me it was just the enjoyment of his lines coupled with knowing who he really was, and thinking of Shadowthrone always brings a smile to my face.

Devaleth: not a lot to say about her save I enjoyed her scenes and found her likable. I also found it a point in her favor that she was willing to turn against her conditioning, to see

beyond it, unlike say Hiam or Quint.

They Synod: similar to Manask, Esslemont was probably right to err on the side of restraint with this group, but I thoroughly enjoyed their scenes and could have done with a few more. I liked the characters and the situation they found themselves in and the pick-them-off-one-at-a-time plot.

Pacing and structure: For the most part, I found the pacing to be smoother than the earlier books. It lagged here and there, but not much. A lot of people have commented on how Kiska’s plot line sticks out a bit, and I would definitely agree with that. It feels grafted on and not really an organic part of this novel. That said, while I did feel that way, as mentioned I enjoyed hanging out with Warran, so that was OK with me. Otherwise, I thought the shifts in POV and the balance were mostly handled smoothly and effectively.

The imagery: there were some wonderfully vivid scenes in this novel, some huge and cinematically grand, such as the landing and Devaleth’s wave. Others quieter but no less impressive, such as the snowfall and ice glazing on the tower near the end. I think in this aspect especially Stonewielder was a real jump forward.

The Malazan 6th. I loved the idea of a Malazan group actually going rogue (we’ve had a few teases) and really liked how they were presented as being shadows of themselves now that they have been on their own for years—that same sense of loss and decay and concern for the future that we get from the Stormguard (it’s interesting that both are “invaders” gone native). I wouldn’t have minded even more from their perspective and would have liked to have see more direct interaction between them and at least some members of the current Malazan force.

Some storylines/themes: I really liked how sense of doom/decay that held over the Stormguard, the way one always had a sense that we’ve caught them at a really bad moment, always a bit behind. Behind in repairs, behind in numbers. I could have lived without the references to the prophecy; I’m not sure they were necessary or added much. But the whole atmosphere of quiet desperation was very well done I thought. And just the darkness of all that effort put into a lie. Even as a write that I can feel the heaviness of that burden. One of my favorite aspects of the novel.

Greymane’s end: The whole sense the horror that has to be done and again, the burden of that upon someone. I wish it were fleshed out more, but the ending itself I felt played well.

Middlings

Bakune: I really liked the idea of this character when he was introduced. And I liked his slow awakening to reality. But after the first few instances, it felt as if he were dropped too much and his character, which seemed to me to have great potential, never matched that potential. It didn’t help that his whole “mystery” about the killings seemed a bit self-evident. I so much wanted more done with this character.

Karien’el: Another character I really liked and would have liked to have seen more done with. He too seemed to get dropped a bit too early.

Kyle: He just doesn’t do much for me to this point. Though he is the Adjunct here and takes the point, he still seems flat and at times passive to me, and is more a conduit for action and power than an initiator of such. And his bit at the end about being sick of war is so well worn an idea, and I care so little about him as a person, that it doesn’t have the impact on me it should.

Crimson Guard: Save for Corlo’s inner turmoil, which I really liked, this plotline, while I didn’t dislike it, also didn’t do much for me. I know on my first read I was never in much doubt about its resolution, so it lacked any narrative tension or urgency. And because we didn’t spend much time with them as characters, it didn’t have much emotional impact.

Kiska’s plot: Were it not for Warran’s presence, I might have had more complaints about this story. As it is, I enjoyed it for those moments of Shadowthrone-dom, but otherwise it was a bit of a side-point without not a lot of urgency to it despite protestations by the characters to the contrary. I did like running into L’oric again.

Issues

Ivanr’s storyline had its moments, but overall just didn’t wasn’t very compelling for me. He was very passive (and I get why but still), there were some repetitive points to it, and the battles didn’t do much for me.

Sometimes I wonder if all the ambiguity is really necessary. I like having mysteries, I like having aspects not explained, but at times it seems that there’s more of a middle ground than we get and that the ambiguity robs the novel at times of some potential impact.

 

On a trivial note—the body the fishermen pick up at the end. On a somewhat larger note, concealing the identities of Leoman and Shadowthrone. And on a much bigger note, the whole Lady/Stormrider issue.

I can understand the idea that we’re coming in not even in the middle of a story but at the end, but even at the ends of stories, people still think about or talk about what happened beforehand. I can’t guarantee it, but I have the feeling that much of what happens at the end would have more impact if I knew more about what had happened with Greymane earlier, more about what the Stormriders are, more about their ancient enmity with the Lady, etc. Again, I don’t need an encyclopedic history, don’t want one, but not only would it have (I think) benefitted me as a reader in terms of caring about events more, but it also would have relieved me of that feeling of authorial manipulation by having characters so clearly avoid talking/thinking about things.

As for the Lady, we get this from the Guard:

‘A fragment of the entity charading as the Lady,’ said Shell.

‘A fragment?’ Blues repeated, alarmed. ‘As in the other name for the Crippled God … the Shattered God?’

So this seems to imply the Lady is the CG (a piece of him). I’m going to go with the idea, akin to what we’ve seen in similar cases earlier, that once upon a time there was a little old island deity who got melded with a big piece of the CG. The sea-folk say they “know the Lady by her ancient name. Gozer Shrikasmil—the Destroyer.” Now, it’s possible the CG fragment wholly took over the deity (Shrikasmil) and that is what is meant by masquerading. But I’m not quite sure why the Lady still sees the Stormriders, who had already been attacking the island and who had already been said to have been defied by the Lady, as her “ancient enemy.” So maybe it’s more of a melding, again, as we’ve seen before. Though reading that line about the ancient enemy, it isn’t clear she is referring to the Stormriders. Greymane says the Stormriders argue the Korelri were preventing them “access to their own territory and blocking some kind of ancient obligation,” though again, they were already attacking the island even before the Guard and the Wall and according to the prologue, one character thinks the Lady is seen as protecting the island settlements. Have I mentioned it’s all a bit ambiguous? I think the pieces are definitely CG pieces. I’m just not as definite about the self-aware Lady and the relationship to the CG or the Stormriders. And that’s the area I would have liked, not “certainty” (an evil word in this series) but a bit more to work with as I come up with several possibilities—I like the several, but I want them more solidly speculative than all this feels, if that makes sense.

 

OK, I’ll stop there and continue in the commentary. We’re also trying to get Cam to join us as usual—more on that when we hear.


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.

37 comments
Paul Boyd
1. GoodOldSatan
OK, as with the first time through this book, I found the journey moderately enjoyable, but the destination a disappointment. And, mixing metaphors, I think it was because not enough loose ends were tied up, dots connected, or … Besides, as you all know by now, I'm a little thick. So ...

1. Where did the wielded stone sword come from? When? From whom? Where did they get it (or how did they make it)? Why didn’t they wield it themselves?

2. What did Ivanr’s whole story line contribute to the overall plot? (The raising/lowering of the chain? Was that a coordinated effort (Gosh)? Or a lucky happenstance?)

3. Speaking of the Synod, nothing in the story seems to indicate any long term (pre-second invasion) plan of theirs to destroy the available remnants of the CG. For example, it is hard to connect them to the Stormriders.

4. Shattered God? Pieces of him seem to be everywhere. Do we know which pieces? Surely not his heart. Wasn’t he chained for at least some of the history of Korelri? Given that, how did the Lady/Kaminsod have such a huge impact there (limiting access to warrens, punishing those who did, etc.)? In the Books of the Fallen he is confined to a warren remnant in a tent.

5. I’m trying to reconcile the Prologue with the rest of this. What did/do the Stormriders have against the CG (more so than anyone else has something against him)? What kept them out of Pirates Sea, Fist Sea, Damos Bay, Black Water Straight? Now that the deed is done, how will the Stormriders spend their time? How did the one chest (of the Lady) become three sacred relics?

6. Why mention that the Stormriders look like Tiste?

7. Whatever happened to Cherghem? Hegil seemed to disappear from the storyline too.

8. I get the whole betrayal of the Stormguard (blood sacrifice and all), but am slightly confused about the string of murders first introduced in the Prologue. The higher-ups in the Lady’s Cult, it would seem, are also providing some sacrificial blood to Her. How widespread was this knowledge (that Bakune and the Stormguard were unaware of it). What did the Cult get out of it? Also, as an aside, what did the CG get out of it? As mentioned above, he’s still stuck in a tent (so it didn’t give him enough … whatever … to get out).

Thanks,
GOS
BDG
2. BDG
I think this book is one of my favorite books in the entirety of the Malazan world, definitely in the top five. As I stated before the reason I enjoy this book so much, other than thinking ICE is an above-average fantasy writer, is the unity of theme throughout the books. It is a book much about faith, and because of this thematic unity I didn't really have a problem with the unconnected plotlines as many others did.

On the Stormriders: it has been awhile since I read the book but I honestly don't remember the Stormriders being in the prologue and had always thought them to the original inhabits of the land that were killed/transformed by the Cripple Gods dissent and that’s why they had such a grudge against the Lady and her bloody wall.

On Greymane: I didn't think it was all that hard to figure out what happened to him in the past from both this novel and the last, though again it's been awhile since I've read them. After negotiation with the Stormriders, which the Koreli see as disgusting obviously and to a lesser extent so do the Malazans, he is given the burden of destroying the wall. He doesn't do it. The campaign stalls and eventually he is overthrown by his own people including Rillish. He feels paranoid and anger at this, the second time around.

On Leoman: I know a lot of people complained about him not being the 'real' Leoman. But for me I think he is the logical conclusion of a faithless man having his burden lifted off of him. He’s laid back, and truly carefree. He's not the brooding warleader as he was before and why would he be? When people bring him up I like to point out the offstage characterization Dancer went through from Gardens of the Moon and later books.

On Hiam, Ussu, Suth, and Manask: I just want to say I really enjoy these characters I think are a good example of ICEs range when creating new characters. I also enjoy ICEs varied snapshots of Malazans soldiers’ throughout his books.

On the Crimson Guard: I pretty much love anything these characters do, and I'm not really sure why.

On diversity: something, I think at least, is not really pointed out about the Malazan books is the vast amount of diversity in the books (including this one) which is funny to because how much this has become a talking point in the genre. They aren't perfect in depiction but I doubt you can find a book that is (double-fold for white westerners) and I just think it's a thing worth pointing out.

Overall I remember enjoying the book very much, more so than other fantasy I read in the time frame (Way of Kings and the Winds Name...I honestly don't remember the name). I didn't have as much of a problem with it as over readers did.
Steven Halter
3. stevenhalter
I thought this was a fun book to read. My likes pretty much parallel Bills although I would bump the Kiska storyline up as I am enjoying that whole storyline as it goes through the books.
BDG
4. Tufty
@GOS:
5. I’m trying to reconcile the Prologue with the rest of this. What did/do the Stormriders have against the CG (more so than anyone else has something against him)? What kept them out of Pirates Sea, Fist Sea, Damos Bay, Black Water Straight? Now that the deed is done, how will the Stormriders spend their time? How did the one chest (of the Lady) become three sacred relics?
---

8. I get the whole betrayal of the Stormguard (blood sacrifice and all), but am slightly confused about the string of murders first introduced in the Prologue. The higher-ups in the Lady’s Cult, it would seem, are also providing some sacrificial blood to Her. How widespread was this knowledge (that Bakune and the Stormguard were unaware of it). What did the Cult get out of it? Also, as an aside, what did the CG get out of it? As mentioned above, he’s still stuck in a tent (so it didn’t give him enough … whatever … to get out).
My interpretation is that the string of murders, the sacrifice of the Stormguard, etc, were all hidden from everyone except the highest-level priests. The Lady is very powerful because she derives tons of power from tons of blood sacrifice, and she does so without anyone realizing while her church encompasses the continent and pretends that she is a nice and protective goddess.

We start with Bakune investigating a string of murders that it turns out were blood sacrifices by the church. Then when the city is rioting Ipshank, Bakune and Manask go to the church and find the Lady has sucked the life out of the priests there. etc etc until we get to the big reveleation that the Stormwall isn't really a wall at all, it's a colossal altar for the Stormguard and their Chosen to die in blood sacrifice to The Lady.

re your Stormriders issue then, I don't think it's a matter that the Stormriders couldn't go around the Stormwall to the other side of Korel, but rather that they needed to destroy the Stormwall first to make The Lady's three shards vulnerable, so there was no point in going elsewhere (except to Malaz Isle sometimes, it seems).
Tabby Alleman
5. Tabbyfl55
I do hope we get some more Manask in a future book(s).
BDG
6. devilsadvoc8
Like I said two chapters ago, this book really fell apart for me in the end.
-The resurrection of Rilish? What? Why would the stormriders do that for him? He had no interaction with them.
-Really no info on the stormriders. We don't understand their motivation for attacking, their history, their honor, their power, their link to the andii?
-Stonewielder was never explained sufficiently
-If the Lady was some part of the CG why the need for all the blood sacrifice? That hasn't been his M.O. in previous books has it?
-It appears that ST had the whorl under control the whole time. The army of Light, whose incompetence in keeping two non-ascendent prisoners is embarassing, is just a useless sidebar. We were teased with the one hound of light but that was never covered. I wonder if something was cut out by the editors.

Maybe I'm being too critical. But I'm 3 chapters into DoD and much happier.
Ryan Dick
7. Wilbur
Thanks for another nice book re-read and review, Bill and Amanda!

Who was the guy picked up by the boat in the sea at the end?
Brian R
8. Mayhem
For me, I really liked the book on first read. It has the cascading flow in the final third which is typical of the Malazan books, although the diverse events were a nice change from the inevitable convergence of the plotlines. In fact I sometimes wonder if that was a deliberate subversion on ICE's part - all were trying to do the same thing - fight the oppression in the land - but few were actually pulling in the same direction to do it.

My feelings mostly match Bill above, although I also really liked Devaleth as a character. It's good to see inside the mind of a powerful mage again. The Ivanr storyline didn't bother me much, although it did drag somewhat.

@GOS
1. Where did the wielded stone sword come from?
Hammerspace. Literally, he conjures it from the earth when he needs it, and puts it away when he doesn't. I wonder if that is the difference between Greymane & Caladan Brood - Greymane is D'riss - Stone, while Caladan is primarily Tennes and Denul - the Earth and Healing. They are counterparts as it were. But if Caladan lacks D'riss, he may not be able to hide the Hammer away like the Sword apparently can be.

The sword itself was a gift from the Stormriders, it was found by them deep under the waters off the coast of Korel, and passed to Greymane as a reward for attempting to treat with them at the climax of the first Invasion. I suspect that as they are aspected to Ice and Water, Stone was too alien for them to use anyway.

2. What did Ivanr’s whole story line contribute to the overall plot?
All I can think is it showed that rebellion was happening across the lands, not just in areas under Malazan eyes. Not necessarily successfully though, depending on events elsewhere.

3. the Synod
I don't think they had one. I like to think that they were the last of the original inhabitants of the isles, or descendents thereof. So they knew what was happening to the area, they just couldn't do much with it. I certainly wouldn't link them to the Stormriders other than as mutual enemies of the Lady.

4. Shattered God? Do we know which pieces? Surely not his heart.
From what I'm gathering, the reason there were so many Chainings, was because each piece was Chained when found. I think the difference here was that the Lady was a fairly powerful local who managed to get sole possession of several pieces, so was able to coopt the power entirely for herself. In every other case we've seen, the group who gathered to perform the Chaining didn't trust any of the others to take power, so forced it to be locked away from everyone.
The heart now ... that is definitely somewhere else, as is much of the body, presently embodied in the Great Ravens who ate his much of his flesh at the Fall... (from Rake's comments in GotM)

Wasn’t he chained for at least some of the history of Korelri?
Yes, but not here. See above.

5. I’m trying to reconcile the Prologue with the rest of this.
I really wouldn't conflate the CG and the Lady - I think she has power derived from him, but he has no presence in these lands ... it is all her.
I definitely think the earliest scenes in the prologue are the start of the early worship of the Lady, the path that meant she had enough power to claim the fallen fragments for her own.
What kept them out of Pirates Sea, Fist Sea, Damos Bay, Black Water Straight?
Bloody good question - the wall runs along the length of the island ... what is there preventing them simply swimming around the edge? There are several passages they should have been able to go through.
And then they could easily attack the Korelri from behind, or strike straight for the Ring etc.

6. Why mention that the Stormriders look like Tiste?
Hmm. One theory - the Tiste are described as alien to the world ... they migrated to Wu from ... somewhere else. Presumably the Stormriders also came from somewhere else, and they don't resemble anything native to Wu, so the Tiste are probably the closest resemblance.
This of course presumes that we don't learn that they were the Tiste who hung out swimming and fishing in the FoD trilogy, before something Went Wrong. :D

7. Whatever happened to Cherghem?
Good question.

8. I get the whole betrayal of the Stormguard
Well answered above by Tufty I think.
Paul Boyd
9. GoodOldSatan
Tufty, Mayhem,

Thanks for you helpful responses. I think that I do conflate the Lady and the CG, simply because no other explanation of her existence was forthcoming (other than a random, heretofore unmentioned,ascendant ... which, I suppose, will have to work).

I didn't mention earlier about the Kiska/Leoman/Liosan plotline which I found a distraction the first time through (and there will be much to say/ask about it after the OST reread ... presuming that it comes after DOD/CG). But for now, ST appears to be letting himself be distracted by minor events when there are important elements of a larger, more serious plot in motion ,,, as The Rope lets him know. For the most part, it seems as if the greater plot is only held together by Cotillion. SW takes place roughly parallel to DOD?

I guess one question that could be asked now is in reference to Warran/ST's observation of the returning Liosan army, "battered, but victorious." Victorious over what/whom? And what does ST think is "settled?"

Wilbur, given his requested destination, you would have to say Rillish.
Brian R
10. Mayhem
Mental mantra ... the timeline is not important, and Esslemont isn't helping!
But as best as I can piece together SW appears to be from late RG to the end of DoD. Orb Sceptre Throne happens at roughly the same time but definitely subsequent to TTH. His newest Blood and Bone is pretty contiguous with DoD/TCG, it starts halfway through SW, and continues on to just post TCG. His Assail book is supposed to be a wrapup of threads after TCG.

The Liosan army is one of those plot threads that will dangle a bit longer. I think they were victorious over Yathengar, and ST simply used them to fight his battle over the fragment of Shadow for him.
I think after their battle they are too weak to take matters any further, so ST is satisfied that end is wrapped up.

One thing I *really* liked here was looking closer at ST as a god - it really makes sense now why both Quick Ben and Iskaral Pust would rise so high in his service - all are somewhat insane, but all are also extremely effective geniuses. Like every other religion, the nature of the God is reflected in his worshippers, and the character of the worshippers molds the God...

I also have a sneaking feeling that Esslemont played ST while SE played Cotillion, which would be why each gets the character so well.
BDG
11. StevenErikson
Hi All, just thought I'd throw in my two bits upon your completion of Stonewielder, but not with any intent of supplanting your upcoming q&a with Cam. But you see, I'm left smiling in the wake of this novel, in that it possesses so many elements that Cam and I gamed (the Stormwall, Greymane and his pact, the shards at the centre of the landmass, etc, in fact, the whole inundation of the Stormwall ... you can't imagine the cruel glory of seeing a rolled-up character, heroic in his own right, ending up universally cursed as a betrayer. It was exquisite, and perfectly in keeping with how we gamed, and with what we aimed for in terms of fucking over the other guy's characters. So, well done, Cam -- you conveyed so much of what we were always looking for, and then added those extra layers on the subject of faith, etc).

That said, yes, ST was Cam's character in the gaming, right from the start, while I played out Dancer/Cotillion as a NPC. Whatever tidbits you get with their conversations with each other, well, they were what gaming those two was like. How can I not feel nostalgic?

Finally, have a great holiday, everyone, and Bill and Amanda and everyone at TOR, thanks so much for taking this through -- we're nearing completion, folks, although Cam may have a certain announcement forthcoming (yes, I'm offering a tease that puts him on the spot, something Dancer often did to Shadowthrone, as I recall).

Pax Malazica
SE
Tai Tastigon
12. Taitastigon
SE @10: we´re nearing completion, folks

Erhh...lemme see: D&D, tCG, OST, B&B, FoD...that´s another year and a half right there. Thanks Gawd we ain´t... ;0)
Nadine L.
13. travyl
Pax Malazica?
No, I don't see it.
Not as long as you haven't punished Mallik Rel ;)
BDG
14. Tufty
re: The Lady's origins (before acquiring CG chunks) doesn't Gheven say at some point that the Drenn and/or other Korelri natives have an older name and image of the Lady? That's where I got the impression that she was a local Korel goddess unaffiliated with the CG who gained power from his chunks.


My overall impressions on SW are mixed but mostly good. The prose is improved a lot since the weaker parts of RotCG (no surprise given how long ago RotCG was supposedly written, ICE has had lots of time to improve since) and the Korelri sub-continent is really well fleshed out geographically, culturally and historically for a single book. In some ways, I think by the end of this book we know more about Korel than Seven Cities, and we've had 3 books there!

As others have mentioned, there is some feeling of disconnectedness between the various plotlines. Leoman and Kiska are entirely separate from the rest, mostly just traveling from where they ended RotCG to where their plot will rejoin the world in OST, and that's fine I guess, but I'm thinking more about the various Korelri uprising plots - Ivanr, the Synod, Ipshank/Manask and Greymane's invasion especially. Given how the Synod were showing up everywhere, and how Martal ended up being an old lieutenant of Greymane, I think it would have been more engaging to have these groups be in-communication with each other and coordinating their efforts - even if it were a secret and revealed half or two-thirds of the way in.

Instead, I found it rather incredulous that Ivanr and the Synod secured The Ring, Ipshank lead a sortie into the caves, and the Crimson Guard attacked the tower in a great coordinated triple-assault that doesn't seem to have been coordinated at all.

All that being said, when it comes down to it I found a lot of the set-pieces very entertaining, and that's the most important thing. Stonewielder left me wishing ICE wasn't jumping to all the missing continents, 1 per book, because after this I wanted to see more Korel over seeing Assail!
Amanda Rutter
15. ALRutter
So, I can only apologise for the radio silence. Various things caught up with me on the run up to Christmas, and the end of Stonewielder rather fell by the wayside. Thing is, I can't imagine other books falling by the wayside like that, even with what was going on, so I do have to conclude that some of it was a general lack of impetus to pick up the book again once the major scenes had been concluded.

Here is my look at the Epilogue:
- First, its very nice to see Devaleth taking on her role as High Mage. I especially liked: "It seemed the Empire had finally once more found a mage worthy of the title."
- This whole dropping of the chest into the ocean is a little concerning. It just seems that it isn't a very secure thing to do, that the chest containing aspects of the Lady (and the Crippled God?) could be retrieved. I am amused by Devaleth feeling worried about Manask being the one to have got rid of the chest, until Suth says "Ipshank was watching."
- This is both a sad end to Stonewielder, and a fitting tribute. The idea that these locals are already starting the legend of the Guardian, and saying that the area shouldn't be visited. Is also interesting seeing how quickly they are moving away from the Lady, now that her grip on the Land has been broken.
- Still hard to see how Kiska's storyline fits in, but there are a couple of bits that I've found interesting. Here I am intrigued by this titanic figure on the Shores of Creation. What is it? Who is it? Why has it been dropped into the story here in the Epilogue?
- And the final reveal of Shadowthrone as Warran - took me a while to get there, but I'm rather glad I realised before this point! Warran was one of the characters that I enjoyed in this book.
- And, ahh, a happy ending for Talia and Rillish.

So, there we go. Stonewielder done. And I feel rather meh about the whole thing. Sure, there were aspects that I enjoyed and some of the action sequences were very well written. But I found that the storylines just didn't seem to hang together all that well. There was no real rhyme or reason to what was included. Ivanr and Bakune's respective storylines just didn't seem to go anywhere once they'd been started. Esslemont did well with certain characters. I especially loved Devaleth, considering that she's come from a point where I didn't think much of her at all. Hiam was a high point. I did not share all your love for Ussu at all, but I could see how his storyline connected in and helped to reveal some of what was occurring.

But, overall, I have way more questions at the end than answers.
- Is the Lady part of the Crippled God?
- What has happened now with the Stormriders?
- What is going on with Kiska and Leoman, and how is that relating to everything else?

I just find it an unsatisfying read, all told, which is disappointing for me. I will be glad to head back into Erikson's novels.
BDG
16. Tufty
- What is going on with Kiska and Leoman, and how is that relating to everything else?
It doesn't relate to anything in SW, but it does relate to several other upcoming books. ICE needed Kiska and Leoman to have their zany journey through Shadow and reach the crazy beach, and there was probably no good way to tie that into the events on Korel, so he just didn't. I suppose he could have made their trek a short story published on its own outside SW, but then I'm sure many readers would have skipped it.
Joseph Ash
17. TedThePenguin
Amanda,
I believe that the chest was thrown into the water so the stormriders could destroy it. Wasnt there some mention of stormrider activity where it hit the water.

As for the uncoordinated attacks, the ring and the caves were both the stormriders, coordinated by Greymane. The synoid could detect the other attacks and decided to help the stormriders attack by destroying the chains... At least that was how I read it.
BDG
18. Tufty
@TedThePenguin

Absolutely. Once the Wall was destroyed, the Stormriders attacked all three pieces of the CG that The Lady had.

At The Ring, they descended into the depths, which boiled with battle, then left. Then they came back later to leave Greymane's body at the bottom.

At the caves near Banith they were in the waters below and destroyed the chest when it was thrown in, as well as saved Rillish when he fell in it would seem.

The third piece was in the Sky Tower, which the Stormriders attacked and may have been able to overwhelm the Chosen defending it, but the Disavowed also showed up, beat back the Riders and Chosen, and took the last piece of the Crippled God. As we know from RotCG, Skinner is the new King in Chains, so makes sense that he and his Disavowed are doing something in relation to pieces of the CG. Maybe they're stealing this one back from The Lady for the Crippled God to have back.
BDG
19. BDG
I honestly have a hard time believing people are complaining about the lack of connectedness of the plotlines, it's pretty much a staple of the series as far back as Deadhouse Gates which the three main plotlines had about shit all to do with each other than a) happened in the same time b) happened around the same area and c) were thematically connected. Which can all be said about SW. It's as if we're holding ICE to some magical standard we weren't to SE when we first read his books and its, IMO, ridiculous to do so because ICE is easily better than the majority of 'good' fantasy writers out there.
Chris Hawks
20. SaltManZ
@BDG: Citing DG doesn't help your case, considering all of the plots in that one actually do directly intertwine.
Brian R
21. Mayhem
Well, to be fair to BDG, the Chain of Dogs is pretty irrelevant to the Path of Hands, and Felisin's story only really interacts right at the very end. They all do interconnect at some point, but are pretty independent compared with say RG or MoI.

I still wonder if the mostly unconnected threads here are a deliberate subversion of the inevitable convergence of - lets face it - pretty much all the other books.
BDG
22. BDG
DG main plotlines: Chain of Dogs, Felisin and crew, Path of Hands

Chain of Dogs has pretty much nothing to do with either of the other ones...basically nothing.

Felisin and crew for the vast majority of the book are on their lonesome on only become semi-connected near the end.

The Path of Hands again had little to do with both the Chain of Dogs and Felisin and companies.

What they did have was character crossover...which SW also has. Not mention various POVs do interact with each other in the climax of the book along with the Synod throughout.

Basically what I'm trying to say is the complaints of the non-connectedness of plotlines is something that exist with the Malazan books is an empty criticism on ICE alone. Moreso the complaint is vastly overblown. Two plotlines...TWO...out of the entirety of book don't eventually interact with the main threads. The Ivanr one and Kiska (which is interconnected throughout the books but I digress) so I really, really have a hard time imagining that those are legitimate complaints that can be laid at ICEs feet alone. Again I think most Malazan fans hold ICE to supernatural standards for reasons I find mind boggingly.
Paul Boyd
23. GoodOldSatan
Methinks thou doth protest too much,

I was fully invested in the Coltaine storyline and only mildly interested in the fate of Ivanr (... leading a ragtag ... on a ....) or even Greymane, for that matter (there was nothing in the story that worked to get me invested in him).

As mentioned earlier, the story was OK, but the vast number of loose ends leaves the ending unsatisfying. Since the ICE stories take place on different continents, that leaves only the Kiska and Kyle storylines (from this book) that could possibly be continued (and tied up).

I'm not saying that I disagree with the whole "Floating Opera" concept, just that we should get enough of the story to peice together a denouement.

As for your earlier comment about ICE compared to other "good" fantasy authors ... I guess it depends on your definition of good. I'll read anything ICE writes, but probably not for the reasons you list.
michael
24. worrywort
@Mayhem: Korel is uniquely inadequate for convergence, in the usual Malazan power player sense, due to the presence of the Lady. I would say it is deliberate (metafictionally) but also quite natural to the setting.
George A
25. Kulp
Any word on whether or not we will be getting a Q and A with Cam?
BDG
27. Rekan
Aye, an update would be appreciated!
BDG
28. Dreamwolf
Has the reread ended? No news for a month!
Well it was nice as far as it went.
Bridget McGovern
29. BMcGovern
Hello, all--the reread will continue as soon as Bill and Amanda are both ready to start Dust of Dreams, either on the 22nd or the 29th. We'll let you know as soon as we have an exact start date.
Bill Capossere
30. Billcap
Hi folks,
Sorry--we were holding off to see about the Q and A (which unfortunately we'll miss this time around). We should have popped in to let you know we were in a holding pattern, but, well, life--you know.

But Amanda and I are back and ready to go for the sprint to the finish for Steven's last bit. Of course, that last bit was broken into two novels. And they aren't tiny novels. So by "sprint" I mean, you know, run a few marathons to the finish. But still . . .

We'll be back next Wed. with the prologue to Dust and Dreams. Hope all had a good holiday of whichever sort it might have been and are rested up and ready to join us!

Sorry again about the radio silence. But Tog's Teat, did you really think we'd leave you here? Burn me if that wouldn't be a bastardly thing to do . . .

Bill
Brian R
31. Mayhem
Yaay! I suddenly find myself with a ton of spare time while some broken bones mend, so the reread is making a welcome return.
Ryan Dick
32. Wilbur
I hope that both of you had a good Christmas and New Year's break.

I am looking forward to your return - your insightful commentary and the discussion of the other forum participants have made my reading of the MBotF far more enjoyable that if I had read it in a vacuum.
Joseph Ash
33. TedThePenguin
I was going to wait a month (look at that... I did anyway) before asking for an update. You guys usually take some time off between books, plus holidays. You deserve it with the ultra (hyper omega....) marathon that this series has been. And let me say (again!) how much I appreciate this re-read, it really makes the books much more enjoyable. I have sorely missed it as I pushed forward into Dust of Dreams (so many moments I really wish I could have seen what Bill or Amanda had to say about them). BUT I guess I will just have to wait like everyone else who has already read the books.

Too bad about the Q&A with Cam... I will take the blame, since I suggested cornering him about the stormriders ;-)
Hopefully we can catch up with him another time (like after OST).
Tabby Alleman
34. Tabbyfl55
I'd be surprised if we ever get a Q&A from Cam. His writing is so often unfavorably compared with Erickson's here, that I doubt he's inclined to do us any favors.
Bill Capossere
35. Billcap
Thanks for the kind words everyone--nice to hear! I know I'm looking forward to these next two books, which are really one wind-up story that had to be split for length. Hard to believe we're nearing (well, relatively) the end (of this part of the tale at least)

As for the Q and A from Cam, I wouldn't read too much into that. I don't the details (above my pay grade), but I do know that several of our Tor overseers were quite ill and that, combined with the holidays, might have been all that was needed to cause us to skip it so we could move as quickly as possible back into this reread. I'm sure Cam has a far thicker skin--as a writer you pretty much need to--to worry overmuch about perceived (or even real) slights out in the world.
Joseph Ash
36. TedThePenguin
I think this is where I say I really enjoy Cam's writing as well.

As for the logistics, Steven did admit to putting Cam on the spot, about something, so he very well could be quite busy anyway.
Darren Kuik
37. djk1978
I used the break to read Forge of Darkness!!! Looking forward to DoD and will try to participate a bit more. Not that I didn't like Stonewielder, just didn't have much time.

I have a feeling DoD is going to provoke some diverse reactions. Glad Bill and Amanda are recharged and ready to go.

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