Fri
Feb 28 2014 12:00pm

Malazan Reread of the Fallen: Dust of Dreams, Chapter Nine

Malazan Book of the Fallen Dust of Dreams Steven Erikson 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 nine of Dust of Dreams.

A fair warning before we get started: We’ll be discussing both novel and whole-series themes, narrative arcs that run across the entire series, and foreshadowing. Note: The summary of events will be free of major spoilers and we’re going to try keeping the reader comments the same. A spoiler thread has been set up for outright Malazan spoiler discussion.

CHAPTER SUMMARY

SCENE ONE

Tehol, Bugg, Janath, and Shurq meet. Sexual banter somehow breaks out. Janath and Shurq have a verbal catfight. Tehol and Bugg exit. Janath and Shurq, having staged the cat fight, move on to discuss new “guests” Janath met with that may need Shurq’s ship, then Shurq suggests Janath consider an open marriage.

SCENE TWO

Having pretended not to know the catfight was staged, Tehol and Bugg discuss using the king’s Intelligence Wing to play factions against each other.

SCENE THREE

Janath introduces Shurq to Princess Felash (14th daughter to King Tarkulf of Bolkando) and her handmaiden. Felash tells them the Malazans are about to march into “a viper’s nest” and war might possibly result, which has prompted her mother the Queen to send her to Lether. She now wants to hire Shurq to transport her home and, displaying a discomfiting knowledge of events in Lether thanks to her spies, tells Shurq she can bring along Ublala Pung. Shurq agrees and the princess and handmaiden leave.

SCENE FOUR

Janath tells Shurq the princess (really their handmaiden, they surmise) seems to have eliminated rival Bolkando spy networks.

SCENE FIVE

Felash suggests to her handmaiden that if Shurq proves a problem they can always kill her, but the handmaiden informs her that Shurq is already dead.

SCENE SIX

Janath and Shurq pick on Tehol.

SCENE SEVEN

We flashback to Deadsmell as a boy in his village north of Li Heng on Quon Tali where, as keeper of the dead, he sits last vigil with a dying priest of Fener. Deadsmell feels a presence and assumed it is Fener, but instead Hood arrives and Deadsmell is surprised by the “deep, almost shapeless sorrow rising like bitter mist from the god’s own soul… the grief one felt… when those doing the dying were unknown, were in effect strangers.” Hood tells Deadsmell the gods don’t come/care: “There is no bargain when only one side pays attention. There is on contract when only one party sets a seal of blood.” And he calls himself a harvester of the “deluded.” Hood takes Deadsmell as one of his own, telling him to “steal their lives—snatch them away from my reach. Curse these hands… Cheat me at every turn… respect the fact that I always win, that you cannot help but fail. In turn, I must give to you my respect. For your courage. For the stubborn refusal that is a mortal’s greatest strength,” adding Deadsmell will also get back “the sigh of acceptance. The end of fear.” Deadsmell agrees, and asks Hood not to be cruel to the priest, to which Hood says it is not in his nature to be willfully cruel. When Deadsmell says Fener should pay for his betrayal of the priest, Hood replies: “One day, even the gods will answer to death.” Back in real time, at the Letheras Azath House, Deadsmell feels Hood in the world again, and “he feared for his god. For Hood, his foe, his friend. The only damn god he respected.” He thinks on Brys, wondering his resurrection didn’t drive him mad, and Shurq, who doesn’t want her curse lifted (a decision he agrees with). Bottle arrives to say the army is marching out and Deadsmell tells him Sinn and Grub went in the House and disappeared, he thinks “the way Kellanved and Dancer learned how to do.” He says he tracked them using Bent and Roach, who went through the portal after the kids. Deadsmell tells him a story about a ram looking over the cemetery and the dying priest and the revelation all come to that “you see it’s empty… The whole Hood forsaken mess, Bottle. All of it.” Bottle says he saw the same in the eyes of the Eres’al: “The animal side of her… as if I was looking into a mirror and seeing my own eyes, but in a way no one else can see them. My eyes… with nobody behind them. Nobody I know.” Deadsmell says he saw the same look in Hood’s eyes: “Me, but not me. Me, but really, nobody. And I think I know what I saw… those eyes, the empty and full, the solid absence in them… It’s our eyes in death. Our eyes when our souls have fled them.” Deadsmell thinks of how the ram was ready to rut and wondered, “Was it the beast’s last season? Does it believe it every spring? No past and no future. Full and empty. Just that. Always that. Forever that.” He ends by telling Bottle he (Deadsmell) is “out of moves.”

SCENE EIGHT

Helian recalls coming across a dead minnow and remembers, “the deep sorrow she felt. Young ones struggled so. Lot of them died, sometimes for no good reason.” She tries to remember where she grew up, who she is. She blames her “sobriety” on Skulldeath, who tells her he is a prince and she will be his Queen. Helian says the hell with royalty, she accepts an officer having to be in charge—“between that orficer and me—it’s just something we agree between us… to make it work. Highborn, they’re different. They got expectations.”

SCENE NINE

Fiddler and Cuttle discuss the lack of munitions for the army. Cuttle says there’s a sense of dread about the army he can’t figure out and wonders what they’re doing now. They talk about past battles and squads and Cuttle asks why Fiddler is so anti-Hedge considering all the stories of how close they once were. Fiddler says that when Hedge died Fiddler had to put him behind him. When Cuttle suggests giving up the past and forging something new with Hedge, Fiddler explains it isn’t just that, but how looking at Hedge makes him see all his dead. They discuss a fever going around, blamed on mosquitoes, and when Fiddler notes the Letherii don’t seem to be suffering from it, they go off to find Brys and ask if he has any advice.

SCENE TEN

Tarr and Smiles spar. Corabb arrives with his new sword and when Smiles mocks him, Tarr gives her duty and then asks Corabb about the new weapon.

SCENE ELEVEN

Smiles comes across a group looking at a huge footprint—mysteriously one only—which they say belongs to Nefarias Bredd.

SCENES TWELVE—THIRTEEN

Captain Kindly promotes Pores sideways to Master Sergeant and gives them the “valuable recruits” he has, including the two whores that got wrapped up in Pores’ earlier scheme. Pores gives one a new name—Twit—and makes him sergeant, calls the two whores Corporals Rumjugs and Sweetlard, then attaches them to Badan Gruk’s group (includes Sinter, Kisswhere, and Primly).

SCENE FOURTEEN

Pores commandeers a tent in the name of Kindly to do supply lists, adding it would be a surprise if he didn’t “lose” a crate or two. He enters and starts to drink.

SCENE FIFTEEN

Kisswhere tells Rumjugs and Sweetlard they’re all sisters and brothers now—“that’s what being a soldier is all about.” Kisswhere exits to go get Skulldeath.

SCENE SIXTEEN

Twit, upset at his name, tells Ruffle his backstory—how he lost everything and that’s why he joined up. She renames him Sergeant Sunrise—“Fresh. No debts, no disloyal friends, no cut-and-run wives.”

SCENE SEVENTEEN

Brys tells Fiddler and Cuttle how to deal with the fever (the “Shivers”). They compare methods of Empire-growing. Brys tells how the Letherii used “creep and crawl… spreading like a slow stain until someone in the beleaguered tribe stood up and took notice… and then there’d be war [which] we justified by claiming we were simply protecting our pioneering citizens, our economic interests, our need for security… the usual lies.” Fiddler tells a story of how the Malazans gave gifts to an island chief, but something in the gifts killed a third of the islanders, including the chief, of whom Fiddler wonders to this day if he thought “he had been betrayed, deliberately poisoned… out intentions didn’t mean a damned thing. Offered no absolution. They rang hollow then and they still do.” When Cuttle groans and says the two are going to make him commit suicide, Fiddler tells him, “I’ve learned that knowing something—seeing it clearly—offers no real excuse for giving up on it… Being optimistic’s worthless if it means ignoring the suffering of this world. Worse than worthless. It’s bloody evil. And being pessimistic, well, that’s just the first stop on the path, and it’s a path that might take you down Hood’s road, or it takes you to a place where you can settle into doing what you can, hold fast in your fight against that suffering.” Brys chimes in, calling it “the place where heroes are found,” but Fiddler says that doesn’t matter, “You do what you do because seeing true doesn’t always arrive in a burst of light. Sometimes what you see is black as a pit, and it just fools you into thinking that you’re blind. You’re not. You’re the opposite of blind.” Brys leaves, thanking Fiddler.

 

Amanda’s Reaction

Hmm, for me four and a half pages of roundabout dialogue and not much seeming to be said seems an utter indulgence at this point. What I’m saying is that I didn’t find much humour in the scenes with Tehol etc, I found it rather unnecessary. I appreciate breaks in the grimness, I always have in this series—I don’t think you could read it without little flashes of humour to break up the horror and tragedy—but sometimes they just seemed to be pitched wrong.

Ah, so this is where the fourteenth daughter of the Bolkando King has ended up! I did wonder at the odd little mentions about her continuing disappearance. Is she a spy here? Or has she run from the Bolkando habits of killing people?

And then we find out that Felash is in Letheras at the bidding of her very mysterious mother—who looks to have entered this game.

This book so far is really examining the nature of prejudices and people under-estimating their rivals/companions. Here we see Shurq saying that Felash is no killer, and then a scene where Felash seems remarkably au fait with the use of knives and brings up swiftly the notion of killing Shurq if she proves troublesome. And then immediately Felash poo-pooing the idea that Shurq is already dead—more evidence of people not keeping an open mind.

Oh, I love this section where we go back into Deadsmell’s past and see how he first started his association with the dead and then with Hood. I have to confess that Hood is one of my favourite characters in this series as well—his quiet, impersonal sorrow for those he reaps, the fact he knows in most cases they’ll be expecting a different god to come and collect them, the respect he shows for certain mortals. Hood is a wonderful, complex and beautifully written character.

I like the way that Deadsmell views Hood as well: “He found that he feared for his god. For Hood, his foe, his friend. The only damned god he respected.”

And, oh, this is a fantastic quote to show how most of us experience our lives:

“Most impatient people I meet are just like that, once you kick through all the attitude. They’re in a lather, in a hurry about nothing. The rush is in their heads, and they expect everyone else to up the pace and get the fuck on with it.”

This conversation between Fiddler and Cuttle about Hedge, and why Fiddler can’t accept him anymore as a friend, is desperately sad, but also so realistic. Imagine if you’d done your mourning for someone who you were once closer to than family, you’d worked through your feelings of grief and managed to get to a place where you can cope with their absence—and then they return. Just how would you cope with that?

I’m interested by the way this chapter is examining the nature of those who come back from death—Shurq, Brys Beddict, Hedge. Very different attitudes from those around them towards them, different reasons for their revival, different ways that they act to their return to life.

A couple of lovely scenes centred around the Malazans as they get ready to march. I particularly enjoyed Ruffle coming up with the new name for Twit—it was very sweet.

I don’t think Cuttle is about to give up his worship of Fiddler. And neither am I.

 

Bill’s Reaction

A nice turn to comedy again after the close of that last chapter (sometimes it’s easy to miss these sorts of things when we go days in between “reading” the chapters). The banter goes on a little long for me here, as does the sexual focus, but I enjoyed the whole double deception with the women staging their fight and then Tehol and Bugg staging their exit.

That is a very lengthy description of Felash and her handmaiden. Perhaps pointing to the fact that they will be more than minor, fleeting characters. Note too how good with knives Felash is and how observant the handmaiden is.

I really like this leisurely introduction to Deadsmell’s past here, that we don’t just begin right away with Hood’s arrival but see the village, the cemetery, get that reminder that the vast majority of people in this world are living “in isolation from the affairs of imperial ambition, form the marching armies of conquest and magic-ravaged battles.” And I love how we spend time with the little dramas—the affairs and murders and thefts and grieving, etc.

And I love this scene with Hood. Actually, I love this whole journey we have taken with Hood (and it isn’t done) and how it so plays against type of the hooded, scythe-wielding Lord of Death. The sorrow, but not just sorrow—that generic emotive word that can at times be wielded to cheap effect—but in the mark of a good writer, a particular sorrow—“the grief one felt of the dying when those doing the dying were unknown.” And his sorrow/anger at the way those he collects are “deluded,” the impact/indifference of the gods, his personal disavowal of “willful cruelty” (and note again that precision—there are perhaps times he might be labeled cruel, but not “willfully” so). And then playing against type again, that when he “claims” Deadsmell as one of his, he exhorts the necromancer to fight him at every turn, to spit in his face. A nice tease too in that departing line: “One day, even the gods will answer to death.” Yep, love this scene, love this character.

And then who thinks about the Lord of Death in this way? — “He feared for his god. For Hood, his foe, his friend. The only damned god he respected.”

I like how this story of the ram presages in tone what comes later from Fiddler, and in how it’s “seeing clearly.” Seeing that look we all have, that revelation

Leaving Hood momentarily (kind of), is this a commentary on Brys’ strength of character or a bad omen, the way Deadsmell wonders how Brys hasn’t gone crazy since his resurrection: “Every step settling awkwardly, as if the imprint of one’s own foot no longer fit it, as if the soul no longer matched the vessel of its flesh and bone and was left jarred, displaced”? Or as he says later (about Shurq, though it would seem to apply equally to Brys): “The dead never come all the way back.”

Death is a running thread here, as we move from Deadsmell to Hellian’s dead minnow and her youthful realization that “Young ones struggled so. Lots of them died, sometimes for no good reason.” A line that might seem mere abstract philosophy were it not coming a few short pages after our time with Badalle and the Snake. And I love, writing-wise, that ying-yang of the water, the pool that wraps the fish “like a coffin or a cocoon”—the only difference being time.

Cuttle’s line about dread falling on them like a “sky of ashes” would be a merely a nicely poetic turn (and may very well be just that), but it certainly does echo louder with the history of the Bonehunters in Y’Ghatan (and all the references to fire/Sinn we’ve seen). And Y’Ghatan, of course, is a similar sort of thing to Blackdog—the way it is a name that “could send chills… could sink into a people, like scars passed from child to child.”

That reaction of Fiddler to Hedge is so realistic—both of the reaction actually. The first that he had done his mourning, had put Hedge “behind” him, and so how could he open himself to those wounds again? And the second, that every time he looks at Hedge he sees all his dead—how could it be otherwise? But you can’t help but be really hoping those two get something back together, can make something “new.”

The next few sections I don’t actually have a lot to say about, save that again, with all the death talk earlier, and Fiddler’s coming up, it’s a good balance bringing in some humor now. But even more than the lighter touch, I like how we see these groups moving into their roles—some firming up, others just starting. For instance, the way Tarr does such a subtle but great job of leadership in the way he knows what is important to Corabb and respects it—asking him about his sword—and how he knows that Smiles’ remark was over the line and thus she needed to be removed and also rebuked. Or how Kisswhere tells Rumjugs they’re all “brothers and sisters,” or when Ruffle gives Twit the shining gift of the name “Sunrise.” And of course, it’s good to learn that Nefarias Bredd will be going along with the army…

I will though say this about a particular moment, coming right after Harold Ramis’ too-early death, I couldn’t help but have a Stripes flashback when Pores gives us the “Same for armies the world over. Indebted, criminal, misfit, pervert… “ and in my head I’m also hearing Bill Murray proclaiming, “We’re all dogfaces. We’re all very, very different… “

And then out of the comedy and into the darker side of things, and also out of “fantasy” and into humanity’s grand history, as both Fiddler and Brys give us tales of Empire that could be torn out of the pages of multiple chapters in the history books—pick an era, pick an empire, and there you go. And let’s also not pretend we’re talking only “ancient” history either.

And I like that complexity offered up here when we have the “good” Empire (the Malazan, with its Emperor who prefers as little bloodshed as possible and gives gifts, and outlaws slavery, etc.) and the “bad” Empire (the Letherii, with its oppressive nature and its extinction and/or near-extinction of population), but the results are not as distinct as we would like to think. Or as Fiddler says, “our intentions didn’t mean a damned thing. Offered no absolution. They rang hollow then and they still do.”

And Fiddler’s speech—boy these moments are coming faster now. Think back to Kalyth’s speech to the K’Chain Che’Malle. And of course, this coming from Fiddler comes as no surprise. But again, to a rereader, oh, how this speech resounds…


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.

23 comments
BDG
2. BDG
As much as I am 'ripping' on this book that Fiddler and Brys sence is one my favorites in the books and that Fiddler quote about optimism is one of my favourites in the later half of the series. See I'm not all doom and gloom
Ryan Dick
4. Wilbur
The vignette from Deadsmell's past is one of the most enjoyable passages in the entire book to me.
Meg K
5. KittenSwarm
I'll agree with those here, that retrospective from Deadsmell was amazing. I'll be thinking about that section for quite some time.

The section where Shurq and Janath think they've fooled Tehol and Bugg, who knew and played along, is a cute bit of Shakespeare-esque comedy. It does feel a little lighthearted and slight compared to the tone of the book so far, but after reading Amanda and Bill's thoughts on this chapter it does tie into the idea of groups either over- or under-estimating each other.

So this is the 14th Princess! She's very colorful so far.
George A
6. Kulp
That flashback of Deadsmell's is probably my favority scene of DoD. Hood is so rarely on screen, it's great to see him directly interact with a character we know.

It's interesting seeing Felash and her handmaiden on a reread. I wasn't able to get a good handle on either one of these characters when I met them on my initial read, but now I can see the seeds that SE planted right from the beginning.
Sydo Zandstra
7. Fiddler
I, too, loved the Deadsmell background. Also a good planted seed, his closeness to Hood.

I did like the Tehol court stuff. His marriage to Janath reminds me of Iskaral Pust and Mogora...

Pores and Kindly will always remain my favourite duo in this series. I really love Pores here.

I also really understand Fiddler here, but how long will that hold?

On a side note, what happened to Hedge's ability to summon Moranth ammo? He was solid when he fought the dragon sister at the Refugium, so didn't lose the ability by crossing the border into there.

Has this been explained, and have I forgotten?
Brian R
8. Mayhem
@Fiddler

I think the ammo he uses in the Refugium was provided to him prior to entering - just kept in a sapper's bag of holding until needed. I don't recall him summoning more at need.

Certainly his lack of munitions becomes an interesting plot twist soon.
BDG
9. KingofFlames
"the Malazan, with its Emperor who prefers as little bloodshed as possible"

The same guy who had three hundred random Itko Kanese villagers slaughtered as a diversion?
Sydo Zandstra
10. Fiddler
Thanks, Mayhem. That is as good an explanation as any. ;)

And yes, you are totally right there.

You just gotta love Malazan Sappers and their cravings for ammo that makes others go BOOM! That is one of the things I like the most in this series... :D
BDG
11. Tufty
Hedge had his unlimited cussers only while he was proper dead. He was still proper dead after Ganoes summoned him in 7C, when they crossed
Verdith'anath, and then as he walked through the Nascent (without and then with Emroth). Then he goes into the Refugium.

The Refugium did and had for a long time provided all those within it with the illusion of being alive, but they weren't really. The Bentract T'lan Imass had been "living" there for thousands upon thousands of years, the animals crossing in the same way every season and none of them dying. They thought they were alive, forgot they had ever been T'lan Imass, but really were they deluded undead.

Both Hedge and Onrack, upon entering the Refugium, gained restored bodies like the Bentract, but they were also still dead. If they had left the Refugium, they would have returned to the same state as before. I'm not sure if, under "ordinary" circumstances Hedge would've been able to keep up his infinite cusser routine.

However, The Refugium only existed becuase of Gothos' ritual, which we saw in the MT prologue and which kept parts of Lether frozen in time and with a death-defiance problem. In RG, this ritual began unravelling, and as a result the Refugium began to die, which Ulshun Pral was so worried about in RG. So regardless of how it was before, those in The Refugium were already turning back into the dead/undead. Makes sense that Hedge would still have his infinite cussers then.
For example, Ulshun Pral reminded himself, he had been waiting for this time, understanding all that was coming to this moment, all the truths bound within what would happen. Unlike his people, he had not been a ghost memory. He had not lived countless millennia in a haze of self-delusion. Oh, his life had spanned that time, but it had been just that: a life. Drawn out to near immortality, not through any soul-destroying ritual, but because of this realm. This deathless realm.

That was deathless no longer.

It's a bit wobbly bobbly combination of dead and undead though:
Quick Ben cursed, then turned and walked back to Hedge.
And punched him in the nose.
Stunned, eyes filling with tears, the sapper staggered back. Brought a hand to his face to stem the sudden gushing of blood. ‘You broke my damned nose!'
‘So I did,' the wizard answered, shaking one hand. And look, Hedge, you're bleeding.'
‘Is it any surprise? Ow-'
‘Hedge. You are bleeding.'
I'm-oh, gods.
‘Get it now?'
And Quick turned and walked back, resumed his stance at the crest.
Hedge stared down at his bloody hand. ‘Shit!'
In any case, once they left The Refugium Hedge would still have returned to being dead. *Except*, then Silchas implanted Scabandari's Finnest into Kettle, creating a new Azath that rooted The Refugium and turned that realm into a reality that could resist the unravelling of Gothos' ritual. And as a consequence, all the undead who were in The Refugium at that dead - the Bentract, Onrack and Hedge - were returned to mortality for real.
There is now an Azath House growing in this damned realm.
Meaning?
Oh, lots of things. First, this place is now real. And it will live on. These Imass will live on.
And now that Hedge is returned to mortality from that effect, he no longer has the infinite cussers!
Joe Long
13. Karsa
from Amanda
Hmm, for me four and a half pages of roundabout dialogue and not much seeming to be said seems an utter indulgence at this point.
this is the exact point I was trying to make in the last chapter about how the Lether chapters just seem a little "off".
Darren Kuik
14. djk1978
@13 and Amanda: Is it indulgent or is it true to form for the characters that have been built up across Midnight Tides and Reaper's Gale? It was pretty clear that kingship wasn't going to change Tehol. Frankly if it had been anything else I would have felt it was off.
Joseph Ash
15. TedThePenguin
I really like Deadsmell's backstory, Hood's interaction there is awesome, its great to see how he interacted with his priests, and his utter contempt for other gods and their indifference.
Ryan Dick
16. Wilbur
@14
djk1978

I agree with you that the Lether characters are true to their aspects and behaviors in the DoD chapters. If Tehol and Bugg et al don't joke and goof around, they aren't Tehol and Bugg.

However, the whole tenor of the book is like an open wound, painful to read, gradually scraping across all the nerves of the reader. As other commentators have sagely pointed out in previous chapters, the book inverts the protagonist's journey, so that it is the reader who suffers for the climax of the MBOTF in DoD and TCG rather than just the main characters.

Therefore the off-hand jokes and general light-heartedness of the scenes in Lether do seem out of place in amongst the general suffering and pain, at least to me. They do perhaps serve to frame the pain with a reminder that not everything is failure and sadness, though.
Joe Long
17. Karsa
@14 - I don't object to the existance of humor in any way. But if I compare it to Midnight Tides or Reaper's Gail it has a feel of desperation about it. It feels slightly off -- a little forced, a little long, and a little out of place.
Darren Kuik
18. djk1978
@16: Ok, I guess I disagree with your point about the whole tenor of the book. Certainly there are more than a few aspects of it that support what you say, but there is enough "good" stuff happening maybe not to balance it all but to at least offset some of it.

I don't think DoD is a read it and despair book. Parts of it may be, some parts moreso to some readers. But all of it? It wasn't that way for me.
BDG
19. Tufty
I think it's easy as a re-reader to project certain emotions onto TtH, DoD and TCG... and to subconsciously convince yourself that those emotions were always there.

A first-time reader knows that big things are coming, because this is the start of what SE describes as one big final book in the series, and also because you see the Bonehunters preparing, and their allies getting messy out east. But the first-time reader doesn't know anything more than that, and I think many of us just found Tehol to be his usualy wacky self again when we first read this.

Tehol himself, of course, has no knowledge that he is starring in a soon-to-end book series, so he continues just being himself with his whole life ahead of him. Why would he do anything else?



All that being said, I don't think Shurq and Tehol ever made a great mix, in MT or here (probably because Bugg is already a dry straight-man to Tehol, and Shurq is just more dryness plus a sex joke). Tehol's at his funniest with Bugg, Brys or Ublala (or all 4), IMO.
Tabby Alleman
20. Tabbyfl55
I got the feeling that Amanda's comments about the Tehol/Bugg scenes weren't that they were unrealistic, but more of a "why are they here?" Since, to her, they aren't seeming to advance the plot. It feels like the Tehol/Bugg story arc is over and these scenes are an epilogue that don't really belong intermixed in the story arc of the rest of the characters in DoD.

It's kind of like it's a gratuitous pander to those readers who can't get enough Tehol & Bugg. And since I'm one of those, I wasn't complaining, but I think I see what Amanda's getting at.
michael
21. worrywort
"Light-hearted" banter isn't necessarily a sign of a light heart. As far as I'm concerned, they're all a little anxious about what's going on -- the new arrivals from the west, the darkness brewing in the east, and the departures of so many aimed right for it (including loved ones) -- and they're doing their darndest to sidestep all those worries in the silliest ways they know how.
BDG
22. Eoin8472
@9
Very good reminder on Kel/Shadowthrone.
He has killed many many innocent people. Intentionally.
Tai Tastigon
23. Taitastigon
Re the discussion of the Tehol&Bugg banter: I generally like their stuff, but can understand Amanda´s point. My concern is slightly different: Is it really necessary to advance the plot, with just two volumes to go ? And that is where I have my doubts. But this will go into the final discussion once we wrap tCG.

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