Mar 5 2014 1:00pm

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

Steven Erikson Malazan Book of the Fallen Dust of Dreams reread 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 readers. In this article, we’ll cover chapter ten 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.



Kalyth recalls a long-running rite of her people involving a spirit figurine, hers now lost, meaning her soul would “find no haven” upon her death. She thinks how her people had thought too highly of themselves, something she assumes is true of all peoples. Until they are humbled. She remembers a bhederin who took a long time dying and thinks how she too still stands.


Kalyth wonders why they are hiding from clouds. She sees flashes of light beneath the far off clouds, the ground shake, and she sees the plain on fire. Gunth Mach suddenly grabs he and the K’Chain Che’Malle take off running. Gu’Rull flies down before them and they come to a stop. Kalyth tells him they fled the storm on her command, surprising herself at standing up to the assassin. Gu’Rull looks at her, then takes off. The others set camp.


Zaravow of the Snakehunter (a sub-clan of the Gadra Barghast) bitterly recalls how his clan had once been powerful until their losses on the One Eye Cat Mountains to the Bridgeburners, their dissolution since then. He thinks their trip here to Lether was a disaster: their current camp is filled with rubbish, the young warriors are getting drunk and becoming addicted to a local drug, and he wishes he’d convinced the council to kill Tool and “Hobble” Hetan. As he prepares his deathmask, he sees his wife and soon after a young warrior—Benden Ledag—and he realizes they’ve been having sex. He decides he’ll challenge and kill Benden, then Hobble his wife. His wife suddenly starts screaming at something outside of camp and as he spins to look he sees a bank of quick-moving storm clouds moving right for the camp, before something inside is revealed.


Sekara, wife to the Gadra Warchief Stolmen, is proud of her title Sekara the Vile and the power it gives her, power greater and more efficient than her husband’s, whom she controlled anyway. She considers herself the rightful Barghast Queen, as opposed to Hetan, who won’t even take the title. She passes by the crucified victims of the Gadra with nary a glance, and she can’t wait to see Tool, Hetan, and their children suffer the same fate. She sees the storm clouds off in the distance, but dismisses them once she notes they aren’t moving closer, just as she dismisses the cowering dogs.


Hetan is with her son in their yurt when Tool enters and tells her somewhere Barghast have died. She and some warriors follow him to the edge of camp. When she asks if they’ve found their enemy, he says maybe, though he hopes not. They see storm clouds on the horizon and Hetan asks if the storm is magic. He tells her no, but makes it clear it is something, something grim. He adds that 500 Barghast were killed in seconds and he would cut his tongue out before telling her what he knows. He drops his sword, saying he wants to run, he does not want to lead the Barghast against what comes. She replies she stands with him, whatever, but she needs something from him. He asks if the Barghast will follow him if he tries to lead them away and she thinks to herself no, they’ll kill you, our children, and then do worse to me. But aloud she whispers if that is the plan—for them to flee in the dark. He tells her to select a hundred of his worst critics for him to lead to the killing site, where he says they’ll find no enemy, just their work. He hopes that will incite fear enough in them, though Hetan believes it will incite anger instead. He tells her stay behind with the children and await the return of Cafal and Talamandas, whom she should make sure stay until he returns as well.


As she watches Tool’s group ride away, Hetan thinks how the Barghast have become scattered, how peace has acted upon them like a poison. She notes the Jade Spears above and wonders if they truly had been omens of evil, thinking “When ruin is coming, we choose not to see it.” She realizes Tool had been asking her permission to flee with her and the children, to be a coward, and she had refused, had forced him into his position. She believes they will find an enemy, will go to war, and will lose, though Tool will command strongly even knowing that.


Setoc, Cafal, and Torrent reenter the world in the Wastelands, the ghosts they brought with them flowing out and vanishing. When Cafal says the land is empty, he tells them it was once full of great beast, but “we emptied it and called that success.” Setoc says she’ll travel with Cafal back to his people rather than with Torrent, saying she is responsible for the ghosts she brought and that “their journey remains incomplete.” They separate.


In Icarium’s city, a K’Chain Che’Malle drone is awakened and senses the intruders, much to the “ghost’s” dismay.


Feather pulls out new tiles and tells the others: “The old ones are dead. Useless. These belong to us, just us. For now. And the time has come to give them their names… No Holds, you see? Each one is unaligned, all of them are unaligned. That’s the first difference.” She names/describes them: Chance—Knuckles “at war with itself”; Rule and Ambition the flip side of the same tile as they “kill each other”; Life and Death, Light and Dark, Fire and Water, Air and Stone, Fury and Starwheel—Fury “blind, a destroyer of everything” and “Starwheel “that’s time, but unraveled”; Root and Ice Haunt, that “both seek the same thing. You get one or the other, never both”; and finally Blueiron and Oblivion, Blueiron as “the sorcery that gives life to machines” and Oblivion as “a curse [that] eats you from the inside out. Your memories. Your self.” She says Oblivion is getting stronger, that someone is coming to find them and that they need to feed Blueiron. Taxilian says he knows but can’t figure out how to help the city. Feather says to cut himself and let it—“the taste” of the city—inside. Icarium watches and thinks Sulkit, the drone, is coming, but not to slaughter them. Icarium feels a new sense of hope.


Yan Tovis leads her refugees through the dark road, though inside she is panicking because she is lost and she can feel her power waning, herself growing weaker. Pully and Skwish have grown younger on her power. Yan Tovis collapses and the refugee train drops out on the “underside” of Gallan. Yedan Derryg heads toward his sister. As he passes through the mob, he thinks the Shake have become “a diminished people, in numbers, in spirit… they had made themselves small, as if meekness was the only survival strategy they understood.” He wonders if they’ll ever be able to rise again. He arrives at the van and finds Pully and Skwish, though he doesn’t recognize them in their youthful bodies at first. They tell him Yan Tovis is in a coma, maybe dying, and they acknowledge what Derryg knows—they’ve landed in a realm of the Liosan. He tells them to force feed his sister, then he rides off to face the Liosan and slow them down once they, inevitably, come after them.


Swish and Pully discuss how their original plan to do nothing and just let Twilight live or die is unworkable now—either Derryg will kill them if she dies or he won’t return and they’ll need her alive to get out of this realm. They think maybe they can come up with another plan once they’re out.


Derryg is surprised by the appearance of a Forkrul Assail named Repose, who tells him “this land is consecrated for adjudication” (as proven by the skulls on the ground) and that because Derryg’s people have brought “discord” to the land, they need some of that Forkrul Assail “Truth”. Derryg declines the offer, but Repose says resistance is futile. Derryg, having seen what happened to Picard, decides to fight anyway, surprising the hell out of Repose by both winning and by declaring that he is the Watch of the Shake, just before he not-so-futilely cuts off Repose’s head. Just then, five Liosan appear. Unfortunately for the reader, none of them are Jorrude. Derryg kills them all, employing the age-old Watch tactics of sword-hurling, head-removing, eye-gouging, horse-leaping, and vertebrae-separating. He turns back to the camp.


Yan Tovis wakes up to find her people under assault by light and fire (five suns have now risen). Her brother returns and tells her they have time. She tells the two witches to begin the preparations to continue the journey. Pully and Skwish leave to do so, and the two siblings look at each other in recognition that they might have to kill this two before their quest is over.


Amanda’s Reaction

Okay. Okkkaaaaaay. So, this chapter starts to get into the arena where I am feeling massively uncomfortable. I know we plan to deal with the big incident in a separate post, but, frankly, this quote left me feeling ill—and the Barghast storyline is so thoroughly unpleasant that I have no idea how I will manage to proceed through it: “He’d take the front half of her feet, a single merciful chop of his cutlass, once, twice. And then he’d rape her. And then he’d throw her out and all his friends would take their turn. They’d fill her. Her mouth, the places between her thighs and cheeks. Three could take her all at once.” This follows rapidly on the heels of “His wife raped and the toes clipped from her feet, so making her a Hobbler, lower than a camp cur, forced to lift her backside to any man at any time and in any place.”

What the actual fuck? I think swearing at this juncture is totally appropriate, frankly. Why should I be reading this filth and depravity? Why should I be suffering through scenes like that in my head? Why should I want to deal with this Barghast storyline? Unless it has some massive bearing on the rest of this book and in The Crippled God, I actually have no idea why this plotline exists except to showcase a cruel and horrible way of tribal life. I can see no redeeming features, and I can actually feel myself getting more and more worked up about it.

The additional problem, I think, is that the Barghast story sits with none of the light-hearted elements that we see in the Malazan chapters. Rather we have the Shake, the K’Chain Che’Malle, Icarium etc alongside the Barghast. I mean, I don’t think we could easily have quotes like those above next to Tehol, Shurq, Janath and Bugg bickering away about sexy times—that format wouldn’t work either. But, damn, these chapters featuring the Barghast are becoming grimmer and grimmer.

Thankfully I am thoroughly enjoying Kalyth—her internal thoughts, her observations on life and faith, her development as a character. I loved seeing her standing up to the Assassin over the fleeing of the K’ell Hunters from the storm.

And that storm—I’m guessing that the clouds of dust are concealing Forkrul Assail. Bill seemed to think it was pretty clear to the reader what was coming, but I must admit that I didn’t have a clue as I read the first parts of the chapter. I was slightly concerned by the reaction of the K’Chain Che’Malle: “...her terrifying guardians, clung to the ground like rush-beaten curs.” If they’re scared, then we’re talking something major.

I find the Icarium storyline really confusing, in that he seems to drift off away from his body and the other people in his head. Or does he? It just isn’t clear, is it? I’m guessing that is to make it unclear for those people who haven’t guessed what the actual situation is?

In this Tile reading, we are seeing a lot of opposites being shown, which I think is important after we saw the extreme opposite of the dragons in the previous chapter about the K’Chain Che’Malle, where we learnt more about the nature of the Otataral Dragon. Chance at war with itself, so two sides. Fortune and misfortune are mortal enemies.

Yedan’s attack and ability to take down Repose is pretty damn impressive! And, wow, how chilling are the Forkrul Assail? Their cold reactions to the world, their reasoned judgment, their dispassionate attempts to bring justice—but their brand of justice.

You know something? This is the first chapter where I had to read the second half a couple of times to make sense out of it, and that was purely down to the horrible impact that the Barghast part had on me. I was so shell-shocked that I found my thoughts turning back to what I had read, rather than taking in what was said afterwards. This one was a struggle, folks.


Bill’s Reaction

I liked that little anthropological journey through the Elan’s beliefs. And the bhederin standing, the idea that the defiance is all. I might have preferred the connection made not so directly as happens at the end of the scene, but I can live with it.

So I think by now we can be pretty sure about what’s going on with these clouds. Especially given that the K’Chain Che’Malle (or should I say these KC) are afraid of them. Even so, I like the slow build to what eventually comes.

Kalyth is really coming into her own here, isn’t she? Standing up for Sag’ Churok and the others. Standing against the assassin. One would assume, based on all this build-up, she’s going to need that steeliness, that feistiness.

So we’ve clearly had the Barghast painted in a not-so-great light lately. But now we’re really ratcheting things up with the mention of ritualized maiming and rape. It doesn’t take much to see this is going somewhere, and with our earlier comments, that would pretty much seal the deal. Since we’ll be having that conversation soon in our separate posting, might be best to hold off on discussion on this prelude until then. But oh, how you really won’t mind if those clouds do what one thinks they’re going to do. And oh, how you want Hetan to listen to Tool. But that’s all I’ll say here and save it for our big post.

Well, at least we can move on to something more uplifting, like the plain where Torrent, Cafal and Setoc arrive, full of life and wondrous creatures. Oh wait. Damn. There was some speculation as to whether the world they entered for that brief time might have been our own. But there’s no doubt this one is, if not literally: “[There were] more animals, wandering about. Great beasts that trembled the ground… We emptied it and called that success. Fucking unbelievable.” And by “the ground,” I mean pretty much every place we’ve step foot. We’re an entire species of extinction-level comets.

OK, Setoc has an incomplete journey with the beasts. So that will probably eventually be important.

I always read this scene with the sleeping drone as dealing in terms of nanomites—others? I like a lot in this scene: the description of the drone’s awakening, the opening up of more information about the K’Chain Che’Malle, the adaptability of this system, and the way it starts to turn into a bit of a horror novel/movie scene: tentacled, fanged creature in an isolated, creepy old place with a small group of unknowing people (well, kind of) milling about. Give Sulkit a hockey mask and we’re all set…

A few thoughts on Feather Witch’s Tiles

  • I read them as linked to Icarium’s new warrens
  • The unaligned makes sense to me both from being linked to Icarium and also being new
  • That they are coins would makes sense in two ways to me. One is the progression we’ve seen before, from wandering to Holds to Houses. And once one has Houses then it seem larger collectives are in order and thus one gets Economy (or coins). Also, since these warrants were birthed in Lether, a coin-focus seems highly appropriate. Perhaps there are other reasons to be coins though?
  • I like the dismissive “Thrones are too obvious.” Young whippersnappers always know better than their elders. Or is that, their Elders?
  • I also like the implicit lesson in Rule and Ambition being flip sides as one “kills” the other
  • The duality pattern is interesting and while I can see it, I’m wondering where it comes from specifically here—is it just an ordering, a recognition of a “truth”, from Icarium’s own “duality”? Though Breath seems to dismiss the idea of a forced “order”, though perhaps she means only onto Time, as it’s in reference to Starwheel
  • Fury would certainly have a connection to Icarium.
  • As would Starwheel, as he has a long-standing connection with Time. But we have another character as well who can “unravel” time.
  • Root: an interesting linguistic choice as we’ve had several variants of that sound in this novel.
  • Ice Haunt: is this his Jaghut nature coming out?
  • Blueiron: technology?
  • Oblivion—what is coming for them? Is it Sulkit? But can he do anything to them? Is it the “ghost” that is Icarium? Or something else?

Off to the Shake:

Hard to trust these two witches before. Now, with their newfound youth, thanks to Twilight’s blood, it’s even harder to. And that’s before their conversation about future betrayal.

It’s an interesting parallel between the Barghast and the Shake as a “diminished” people. Will either “rise” again?

And holy s—t but did Derryg open up a can of Watch asskicking on some arrogant folks. Who saw this coming their first time ‘round? I’m pretty sure I didn’t, though I don’t remember for sure. But as a rereader, I love this scene even more for the microcosm it is of the future. Even if the whole eye-gouge move was a little gross (imagine what this guy could do with a good sword). Plus, I’m pretty much of the mind that anyone who says “let me be your truth” deserves as much humbling ass-handing-to-them as they get.

On the other hand, I’ve got to give some credit to the Liosan for raising freaking “suns” as their weapon of choice. You’ve got to admit—that’s pretty, um, cool.

And on that painful note…

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

Bill Capossere
1. Billcap
Before we go too far into this, just a reminder that we will be discussing the Barghast storyline at length in a separate post soon. I'd suggest holding off on discussion until then, partially so we don't have to worry about spoilers, but primarily so we don't spend several posts on what is going to be a very disturbing (to put it mildly) topic to many of our readers. And it will be best to have the discussion I think in the wider context we plan to. Tough to holster, I know, but if you can hold off, that'd be great.

Steven Halter
2. stevenhalter
Derryg, having seen what happened to Picard, decides to fight anyway,
Thanks for the note of levity there.

Brief Barghast note:
The Barghast are a painful line. I think it is actually more painful on a reread as the inevitable approaches inevitably while on the first time through we just got the pain of the current words. I'm unsure what advice to give you, Amanda on what to do with the Barghast. Painful words are painful.

@Bill:Yeah, I was pretty suprised at Derryg ability on my first time through. SE had conditioned us to see the FA as pretty much unstoppable--another switching of expectations from way back in House of Chains when we saw the FA deal with Karsa & co.

I read the new tiles pretty much as you do. They are unaligned as Icarium is unaligned and link to Icarium's new warrens. The coins do make a logical progression.
Joe Long
3. Karsa
@Bill -- I always took "Oblivion" to be the state that Icarium gets in when pissed off (like Amanda at the Barghast... :))

e.g. Oblivion is what happens when you meet Life Steeler
Sydo Zandstra
4. Fiddler
So I think by now we can be pretty sure about what’s going on with these clouds. Especially given that the K’Chain Che’Malle (or should I say these KC) are afraid of them. Even so, I like the slow build to what
eventually comes.

Hint for first readers, the first part of this book is going parallel to the events in Toll the Hounds. Events on the timeline here are heading towards the point where we ended that book with...

Interesting to see a Forkrul Assail in Tiste Liosan country. What would he be doing there?

I also was surpised at Yedan Derryg here. I had to read the scene two times on my first read. But this is certainly a promise for awesomeness...
Thomas Jeffries
5. thomstel
Barghast: I'll be brief (or try to!). Aside from their alliance to the Malazans in Memories, there's not a whole lot of redeeming qualities on display throughout the series. The verbiage used here is blunt for sure, and no fun to read/picture, but their culture is NOT one that I was expecting to see as "nobly savage". Hetan, Cafal and Trotts have been the best of them (relatively speaking), but even Hetan had her drawbacks (I wonder how willingly Kruppe went for his ride?). Nasty: yes. Unexpected: not so much.

Those clouds: Think about what sort of things can fly in the series, and so could be hidden by clouds. Then think about the KC group's reaction. I did NOT do that on my first read, and was really thrown by later events.

Yedan: Yikes, this dude is pretty good, and that surprised me also the first time around. Where'd he get that skill/power? Just being Shake? Is it a racial thing, or magical? Both? Or is it that the FA have been built up as ridiculously bad-ass and the reality of them doesn't match our expectations...
- -
6. hex
I got way ahead of the reread, so it's been a while... but I remember being utterly confused about the clouds. Was there some key reveal that clues the reader in that I missed?
Iris Creemers
8. SamarDev
While the clues are (more) clear at the rearead, I have to admit I had no idea what was coming with the clouds until it became - ah - clear.

And Kalyth: go girl! (ah - woman --> I think this is about the place in the book I always forget she isn't a girl but a woman with guts...)
9. Ardhanari
I'm with you, Amanda. The Barghest arc in Dust of Dreams is my least favorite bit in a massive series full of grimdark stuff. Horrible things happen to people all the time in this series, but the deeper philosophy and themes of empathy and compassion ultimately carry the day...

Still, I pretty much wash my hands of the Barghast. They deserve whatever horrible fate awaits them.
10. Tarcanus
I always thought that "Oblivion" was referencing the entropy curse that is relevant to the K'Chain Che'Malle.
Joseph Ash
11. TedThePenguin
I have to say I was massively surprised by Yedan in this chapter, I did not think him that capable, either this was meant to be a surprise, or I missed some foreshadowing of just how truly badass he is before this.
And Bill, I love your summary, thank you for the needed injection of levity. While I like me a good Picard-Borg reference, I preferred the in universe "Unfortunately for the reader, none of them are Jorrude."

The Barghest storyline here is just crushing, but what are we going to consider the "end" of it to start our discussion? Beacuse to me "the event" is not it, its just a turning point.

Wouldnt "Oblivion" also be known as "The Abyss" (no under-sea aliens here), its not like all of the new sides of the coins are really new.
Tricia Irish
12. Tektonica
Amanda....I totally agree about the Barghast. I won't be rereading it. Period. I'll be interested to see what discussion comes up in the separate post, but I'm not going there again.

Kalyth is becoming strong! Love that. And Yedan is amazing. And what are the FA doing there?
Darren Kuik
13. djk1978
I agree with you Tek. I don't even think I'll be reading that discussion. I still don't think it was necessary. Anyway I'll say no more.

I believe there were hints that Yedan was going to be as badass as he is here. He's a big reason why I like the Shake storyline so much.

Tek, I wasn't surprised to see a Forkrul Assail in a Tiste Liosan realm. They have similar notions about justice.
Meg K
14. KittenSwarm
First time reader, not liking at all what the Barghast story seems to have in store for us. Ugh. Really the hardest thing for me to read in the series so far.

I like the parallel we see between Tool's fear and his concealment of the threat the Barghast are going to face and then going to Twilight, similarly hiding the magnitude of the danger and her own terror from the Shake. My brain was really screaming "RUN!" at Tool and Hetan. I'm afraid they passed that opportunity up and are locked in now.

The description of Sulkit is very vivid and interesting. He'd be a character I would love to see on the big screen just based on his physical design.

And wow, was not expecting Yedan to be such a badass in combat. The Assail have been so terrifying and powerful when mentioned, so to have one taken down so quickly really indicates his skill. Plus then a group of battle ready Liosan! Are his combat skills part of his "blood memories" as the Watch? I've always found the concept of genetic and heritable memories in sci-fi and fantasy to be interesting.

Repose's surprise at not being able to control or sense about Yedan from his name was also interesting. The idea of true names/identity as power?
Bill Capossere
15. Billcap
Hmm, I seem to have jumped the gun on the clouds. Sorry about that and thanks Stevenhalter for a warning to keep in mind re saying too much.

It's funny not only how some things seemed pretty obvious to me on a first read (the clouds being one clearly, thus my mistake here), some I completely missed until a reread, some I missed until my third time around, and some I read the comments and go, "Wait, what? Man, how did I miss that the X-time?", but it's also funny how we all have different versions of that spectrum: different points that were "obvious" or "How did I miss that AGAIN. Face-slap." Sometimes I forget that part of this . . .
16. worrywort
You might be forgetting just why the cloud thing was a surprise the first time around cuz it hasn't quite come up yet (spoilered in white):

There's another mystery group traveling through the book that generates clouds of dust, and at least initially it is unclear which is which (or even if there's two) for a long while. This latter group has a decidedly better sense of humor though.
Joe Long
17. Karsa
re Yedan -- I always wondered if what happened was he became Aspected once they returned to the shore (or decided to return). I can't think of anything else that would explain what a Bad Ass(tm) he become. Soldier of Dark maybe? or the like...
Meg K
18. KittenSwarm
Some of the talk about the clouds has made my brain think of one possibility, which has taken root as "that would be so cool" so much that I may be disappointed if it isn't what I think.

I'll just have to wait and find out. :)
Iris Creemers
19. SamarDev
@ KittenSwarm
you're teasing, aren't you? While you have to RAFO, we rereaders will have to be curious about whether your 'That would be so cool" is correct or a completely different but still oh so cool idea... ;-). Promiss you will share in time if you were right or not?
20. Jordanes
I always thought of Blueiron as being electricity (gives life to machines).

And yes, I too pictured nanobots/nanomites in the description of Sulkit's awakening/changing. We've already seen in The Bonehunters that K'chain have been capable of minuscule technology, when Samar Dev dissected the K'Chain which Karsa had killed, and some kind of robotic worm things dropped out.

I think a good way of picturing what is going on with Icarium, Amanda, is to think of Quick Ben:

Quick Ben has twelve souls within him, but they are united and at peace, and Quick is definitely in charge. The same basic principle is now at work with Icarium, only all is in complete chaos, and the souls/memories/personalities absorbed into Icarium are anything but at peace, with one followed by another and then another taking 'charge' and all being in flux, with none of them actually aware that they are contained within one body. The ultimate tragic irony being that the one personality out of all of them who actually does have a body, imagines himself as a lost floating 'ghost'.

With regards to the clouds, when I first read the book I too had no idea what could be hidden within until they parted, but then it was like 'ohhhh, duh.' ;)

I remember actually being put off a bit by Yedan's fighting prowess. That is to say, the scene itself was cool, but it just seemed like Yedan had been suddenly ratcheted up a million notches in order to be able to do all that. I never quite understood why there is such a love-in with Yedan amongst a lot of readers. To me he's a cipher - you never really get into what makes him tick, or why he is the way he is - he's just there to serve a purpose and have cool fight scenes now and again. Lacked some character depth to me (I mean that only in relation to how well drawn most every other major character felt to me).
21. BDG
The Barghast are an important story because, I believe anyways, they are the final hammer on the theme of the failure of the idea of cultural relativism, afterward onto the next book we don't really approach the theme again. Oddly enough you could say we focus on what could be seen as the opposite of cultural relativism but I'll save that for later.

In general the Barghast didn't bother me outside of the treatment of a certain character. It was for me at least gratuitous show and could have been done without but I digress. Outside of that I have another problem with the Barghast, one I don't lay at the feet of SE, and that is the language and responses to it. Not to pick on Amanda but what's happening with the Barghast is NOT depictive of 'tribal life' but rather human life. And the idea that they deserve what's coming to them is an laughable one. If they deserve what's coming to them then surely every other civilization does as well for their crimes against each other is no less? Their crimes deserve punishment; they deserve to be brought to justice? It's odd we can be so revolted from one act of thinking about violence to cheering own another actual act (and I'm not accusing anyone here, I had very similar feelings in both situations, the Watch is awesome and the Barghast shown is objectively terrible).

I think the danger of Barghast (for me at least as I have to deal with both the idea of 'noble savage' and 'savage' on a daily basis) isn't not that they're a culture depicted as violent as it is but that it plays into the very mainstream idea of what a 'savage' is. But that's not SE fault, and it's probably have a mite more than a little of me projecting my own life onto the work. But I'll leave it at there, I don't want to start another shit storm.
Meg K
22. KittenSwarm
@19 SamarDev
Oh I definitely will! I don't want to post it now because I want to avoid having my suspicion confirmed or denied. :)

@21 BDG
Your point about not attributing the Barghast behavior to an idea of "tribal life" is a good reminder.

The way the Barghast are in this book isn't a development that doesn't make sense, but it is markedly different to how I reacted to Hetan and her brothers in MoI. I remember being very glad they reclaimed their ancestors and cheering for them in those sections. The idea that the Barghast would fall back into old patterns and split back into their warring tribes is a more realistic development than them instantly changing their whole society overnight.
David Thomson
23. ZetaStriker
Even back in Memories of Ice the Barghast weren't exactly shown as bright and shining stars of compassion, though. Although I didn't quite expect them to turn on the allied armies, I was worried they'd tear through the Pannion's armies and kill the people that were besieged in Capustan as well, for instance.
24. worrywort
Whenever things get too heavy I start to think of them as the Blargh!-ast and it cheers me right back up.
Ryan Dick
25. Wilbur
Does the KC drone that Icarium awakes actually exist, or is it another aspect of his scattered psyche, and thus it is Icarium himself who is kick-starting the engines, perhaps via "Blueiron"?

Way off scene question - Remember when Karsa fought the KC in an earlier book? What continent was that in, and what was a single KC doing there? If there is one thing we learned about the KC in DoD and TCG, it is that they are usually group-oriented rather than lone explorers. So what was a single KC doing haunting a building so Karsa could carve it up?

I agree with Jordanes, Yedan seemed like a real cipher to me throughout the entire series. Actually, the whole Watch / Shore storyline is one that interests me very little.

The poor Tiste Liosan. Every time they show up, some passer-by eats their lunch.

Do we get a clear explanation of the Tile reading?

One thing about the Barghast is that they do not show compassion on a regular basis. While I agree that nobody deserves what is coming to them, since Compassion is the great good in MBOTF, their dissolution seems a little more proportional or inevitable.

In chapter eight's discussion, Billcap noted that in MOI Talamandas admits that he is working for Hood to dislodge the Barghast from their rut.

And it was also in MOI that the Barghast found their Excellent Historical Swords and indicated that they would train the best of their children to wield them.

And because of those sorts of Chekhov Guns (swords?) being set up earlier in the books that the whole strategic disintegration of the Barghast Nation, destruction of Talamandas, and other nasty ends for the Barghast came as such a surprise to me. All signs pointed to them becoming more refined and more purposeful, that they would finally reconcile their Toblakai / Human heritage, settle their homeland, get quittance with their old foes, etc.
26. Jordanes
@25 Wilbur

For Sulkit, I could answer, but I might as well say RAFO :)

As for the K'Chain Karsa killed, that was in Seven Cities. By the description (stubby tail) it was a Nah'Ruk rather than Che'Malle. And remember that it seemed to have been nailed to a large stone slab and left imprisoned, but had escaped/been awoken by the Malazan garrison which had been stationed there (before subsequently presumably eating them). So it wasn't just wandering around by its lonesome, it had been trapped there for who knows how long.
27. BDG
As an aside I wish we could get a book on the K'Chain. It kind of gives the series a dash of New Weird (in a sense that the K'Chain are a bizarro species), technologically advance dinosaurs with insect hiveminds and bizarre mating and birthing patterns, at least compared to humans (and may have come outer space!). The K'Chain would not be out of place in a China Mieville novel.
28. Tufty
@25/26 - I vaguely remember a while back on the ME forums a discussion of the K'Chain Karsa fights in tBH compared to other K'Chain, particularly those Kalyth describes in the first couple chapters of DoD, with lots of quotes of descriptions flying around, and the end result was more or less that the creature Karsa fought doesn't quite match any of the K'Chain types - not J'an, K'ell, Vegoth, Nah'ruk, or even Jhorligg*.

Could've been some kind of short-tailed Shi'gal, as we already know from Gu'rull that the Shi'gal change form.

Given that it did have a short tail, I would think it's some kind of unusually large Nah'ruk - like a J'an-Nah'ruk or Shi'gal-Nah'ruk equivalent. It having been interred under that keep and survivied for so long impaled on metal spikes certainly would indicate it was very potent.

In any case, as to the point of it having woken up then and there, we also saw a bit later in tBH Ganath meeting and being killed by a small group of K'Chain Nah'ruk. We also got Mappo and Icarium exploring an empty Skykeep that had emerged underground in Seven Cities. So my guess would be that the Sky Keep emerging (from a warren) underground in Seven Cities awoke some alive but dormant Nah'ruk scattered around 7C. Karsa killed a super one, but the other awakened Nah'ruk grouped up and headed to the Skykeep that woke them up (killing Ganath in the process).

And remember that Icarium and Mappo found a crucified Sorrit inside that Skykeep. You did file that, right?

*Jhorligg = something related to the K'Chain, from The Lees of Laughter's End
29. KarlReadsTHeseBooks
I know the discussion will come soon, but for the time being, I'm just going to place this link here so you can all catch up and be ready when it hits (roll over to read the rest of the comment, which deals with upcoming events):

As good of a writer as Erikson is, he did not invent the concept of hobbling. And throughout he has demanded that you cast off the notion of the noble savage, repeated throughout this burgoening discussion.

Look, I know its horrible. But if the question is "Why do I have to read it?" Well, you don't. You can continue to exist and be a good person while not reading it. Or you can read it, react to it, and then take it one step further and educate yourselves on the realities of our own histories. And learn from them.

Were women within these societies always treated this way? No, probably - and likely - not, and women that were part of these cultures contributed in ways that are certainly not normal for Western civilizations.

But we are not considering the "other", whether from other tribes, or from alienating circumstances within the group. Regardless, it was a means of social control, and the threat of it was enough to keep parties in line.

It ain't easy to read this kinda shit, I admit. And its horrible and tragic how humans have treated each other, and still do. But don't be the person who cannot extricate themselves from the story they are reading because a barbaric practice with real-world roots makes you cringe. You should cringe. I would be more concerned if you DIDN'T cringe.
Steven Halter
30. stevenhalter
Mods -- Please edit the previous post as it contains details that we haven't gotten to yet and will be covering in a separate post.
31. KarlReadsTheseBooks
No it doesn't. Zaravow discussed hobbling already. I am reacting to other people's reactions, and there is no reason to edit my post.
Steven Halter
32. stevenhalter
KarlRead@31:See comments in the spoiler thread.
Bridget McGovern
33. BMcGovern
Moderator, here--I'll leave the comment up, just whited out for first time readers, but we would appreciate it if you could all hold off on further discussion of this storyline in this particular thread, in keeping with Bill's request in comment #1. Thanks.
34. KarlReadsTheseBooks
An equitable decision, and I understand.
Paul Boyd
35. GoodOldSatan
I hate to say it ... but, Amanda, save your outrage.

The conversation (@ 29, etc.) seems to have started, and I, for one, would prefer that it be contained, at least for the time being, in a separate thread. Bill, is it possible to start that thread now? I find it interesting that there is such a large sentiment to discuss it before we get to it in the story (basically, putting the conversation outside/independent of the story). Me, I'm here for the story.

Already we see the sentiment on this falling into 3 (maybe 4) camps, and I would be in the most ... ?? "uncomfortable"?

So, back to the story ... on first read, the ability of the Ghost to leave the seven (observing Sulkit) furthered my confusion about this group. Even suspecting the the Ghost was Iccy, it is unclear. Are any of this group corporeal? If not, what threat did Sulkit perceive (that it would be triggered to action)?

I also remember being ignorant of exactly what the clouds hid, but confused as to whether those observed by the WFB were the same as these seen by Kaylath's entourage, as I thought they were described differently. And I wish I had a clearer understanding (mapwise) of where everyone (WFB, The Snake, Iccy & co., Kaylath, Ampelas Rooted) are located relative to one another.
Bill Capossere
36. Billcap
Hey all,
Amanda and I will have a conversation about maybe starting earlier on this thread. There are issues with plot--we even thought of holding off to the very end of the series (we decided against it) as there are later relevant events that would be difficult to not bring into the conversation--but perhaps the spoiler issue is of less concern. We'll talk it over . . .

But yes, in the interests of keeping our regular twice-weekly posts a place people don't have to dread coming to, let's hold off until then and restrict our comments on this storyline to that dedicated posting thread. Thanks!

Ryan Dick
37. Wilbur

"And I wish I had a clearer understanding (mapwise) of where everyone (WFB, The Snake, Iccy & co., Kaylath, Ampelas Rooted) are located relative to one another."

Holy cats, yes, I certainly do wish that there was a coherent and relevant map for the stories in the books. The maps in the frontpieces of the hardbacks I read were very pretty, but often large portions of the book plot took place off the map displayed in the same book. This was confusing and frustrating, to say the least, and I had a hard time remembering who was where as a result.
Darren Kuik
38. djk1978
Maps can be found easily enough if one looks. has them aplenty. I'm not linking anything specific because some of the ones I found pertain as much to the Crippled God as to Dust of Dreams.

So seek and ye shall find.
Darren Kuik
39. djk1978
GOS, re-read the Prologue again. I think it makes pretty clear the answer to your question about who is corporeal and who isn't in the ghostly group.
Paul Boyd
40. GoodOldSatan

Thanks, I'll take a look at the Prologue again.

As for maps, I have them all, yet none show the locations of the groups I mentioned.
41. Tufty
Ask and ye shall receive.

(Note: this map is only up to where we currently are in the re-read, except that it has the name of the place Iccy and co. are exploring - that name hasn't been revealed yet.)

Full size:

Direct link (smaller):

Kalyth and co. aren't marked. Who knows where the heck they are - somewhere in the Wastelands, but it's a big place!
Paul Boyd
43. GoodOldSatan
Tufty, you are greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!
44. Ju1s
"Okay. Okkkaaaaaay. So, this chapter starts to get into the arena where I am feeling massively uncomfortable. I know we plan to deal with the big incident in a separate post, but, frankly, this quote left me feeling ill"

This is a spoiler, please change it. Also the headline of the discussion about "the big incident", please change it to something neutral without the words Hetan and Barghast.

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