Apr 9 2014 12:00pm

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

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 seventeen 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.

Note: Amanda will be catching up with today’s post later in the comments section. And we’d like to continue using the Hetan thread from earlier to continue discussion of that storyline, so please place comments on that topic there. For instance, if you’d like to discuss the conversation in this chapter about why the Barghast women involve themselves in such a thing, that would be the place to do it, rather than in this thread. Thanks!



Badalle considers the plight of the Snake, the power and lack thereof of the gods, how “Children understood at a very young age that doing nothing was an expression of power… was in fact, godly,” and this was perhaps why gods do nothing, since “to act was to announce awful limitations, for it revealed that chance acted first—the accidents were just that—events beyond the will of the gods, and all they could do in answer was to attempt to remedy the consequences.” She herself had seen the gods as she flew, seen their “growing fear… and self-obsession,” and she knows “the gods were as broken as she was broken, inside and out.” Rutt tells her he can’t go on and she thinks she can’t let him be broken as well, for then the Quitters would get them all. She tell him that Held is nothing without him, that that she has seen a city at the end of the Glass Desert, one they will find tomorrow and one that the Quitters are afraid of. He begs of her not to go mad, and she agrees if he promises not to give up. She tells him they are marching “into fire. Beautiful, perfect fire.”


Several T’lan Imass rise again (Lera Epar—Bitterspring, Kalt Urmanal, Rystale Ev, Brolos Haran, Ilm Absinos, Ulag Togtil). Brolos says, “The Ritual is broken. Yet we are not released,” and he believes it is due to Olar Ethil, though the others say there is as yet no proof of that. Another risen Imass comes toward them, and says she was of another clan, one that had been down to near extinction by humans and also, she says, by “the lies we told each other, by the false comforts of our legends, our stories, our very beliefs.” Desperate, they had tried a different Ritual of Tellann. They thought they’d failed, but it appears not (they’d been buried under ice). When asked whom they’d been waging war against, she answers, “No one. We were done with fighting.” She tells them they have been summoned by the Onos T’oolan, the First Sword, under the “banner of vengeance and in the name of death… The T’lan Imass are going to war.”


Bitterspring walks toward the group of Imass, noting the appropriateness of their return to a land “lifeless as the world we have made.” She wonders if she is beyond betrayal, if she is still a slave to hope: “Life is done, but the lessons remain… the trap still holds me tight. This is the meaning of legacy. This is the meaning of justice.”


Toc leads Setoc and Tool’s children to a cairn to rest, after scaring off some Akrynnai warriors. He senses the newly risen Imass and wonders what Olar Ethil will do if Tool turns them all away. He converses with Setoc about what the Wolves want, and she responds that they want them to all go away, to leave the Wolves and their children alone. He warns her that will not happen, and that “no other thing is as good at waging war as we are.” He asks if the Wolves would kill every human if they could, saying he once knew a woman who could “flatten a city with the arch of a single perfect eyebrow” (Envy), adding she didn’t do it to all because, “she liked a decent bath now and then.” He goes off to hunt and while he’s gone, Tool’s child summons a dead Ay from the ground. The twins tell Setoc the boy “needs Toc. At his side… And they need you. But we have nothing.” They wonder what will happen when Setoc raises her eyebrows, leaving Setoc to wonder, “I can’t level cities. Can I?”


Toc is surrounded by the 14 Jaghut who had fought the K’Chain, led by Captain Varandas. When they tell him they’re looking for something to kill, he warns them the T’lan Imass have awakened, but they reply they had died long before the chance to face them. Toc, before leaving, tells them the Imass will find the Jaghut comforting thanks to nostalgia as they chop the Jaghut to bits.


The Jaghut have a laugh about the Imass until they realize there aren’t many Jaghut around anymore. They decide to head east.


Toc returns to find the Ay, which reminds him sadly of Baaljagg, just as Tool’s son reminds him of his friend (and of what he had been forced to do to Tool). He thinks what he couldn’t do for Tool he’ll do for his son, though he wonders how that will be possible due to his position. He sadly recalls his past self.


Sceptre Irkullas mourns the coming battle with the Barghast, for he feels “he was about to tear out the throat of the wrong enemy.”


Bakal and Strahl discuss the upcoming battle and how Bakal has survived two more murder attempts. Behind them, Estaral listens in and recalls how Bakal killed her husband and his own wife to stop them from killing her. After Strahl leaves, Bakal tells Estaral, who will be the only woman guarding Hetan tonight, that he wants her help in getting her to Cafal, who waits outside the camp. As they talk he asks why the women hobble other women, and she tells him it keeps the men away from them, the men who beat them regularly and laugh about it. She tells him had Tool not died he would have changed the Barghast. She agrees to help Hetan.


Maral Eb’s brothers pick the spot to make their stand and plan their defenses.


Cafal, who has been told of Bakal’s plans, hides from Akryn scouts as he waits. He thinks he has killed Setoc when he struck her, and has contempt for himself, his people, his people’s gods. He considers this coming battle their just desserts, and thinks the two groups worse than animals, whose pack leaders at least fight themselves, rather than having others fights for them.


Estaral gets Hetan to the perimeter. Bakal kills the three perimeter guards, but is killed in turn. Estaral discovers his body and sends Hetan past the perimeter, then is killed by a group of women led by Sekara who find her returning to camp. Cafal, waiting, is killed by an Akryn scout. Hetan walks on, then lies down on the ground.


Strahl hears of the deaths and knows he is now in charge of the Senan. He thinks of what Bakal had intended had he led, and he wonders what the clan chiefs will do when he tells them in the morning.


The armies await each other.


Hetan has frozen to death.


Badalle has had sight of the two armies and Hetan, telling Saddic, “I held her broken soul in my hands… As Rutt holds Held.” She adds she has “seen a door. Opening.”


Bill’s Reaction

Badalle’s words on gods doing nothing are interesting in that we actually mostly see a lot of gods doing a lot of something in this series. Especially coming out of the last chapter, where we saw a little PTA-like meeting of a group of gods planning a whole lot of something. And we know Shadowthrone and Cotillion have some plans in the bag. But then, from Badalle’s perspective of the Snake, it’s certainly easy to see why one would think as she does. Which gods, one wonders, have turned away from them. Are they purely local? Are these the “broken” ones of which she speaks? If so, how were they “broken”?

More direct questions also rise out of her scene. What does she mean that Brayderal has “threads in her blood”? What is this city she has seen? Why are the Quitters afraid of it and will it truly be a refuge for the Snake? What is this “Beautiful, perfect fire” she sees them heading toward?

This reawakening of this group of T’lan Imass seems ripe for big screen treatment. I like how we get a sense of their early lives, hints of other stories (The Order of the Red Sash), and how the Imass story keeps getting more and more layers to it from that first time we heard of them. Here we have an entire clan who had tried their own Ritual, who had given up the Dark War and decided they were done with killing and were performing the Ritual not as a means of continuing a war but of bringing justice to themselves, having it seems faced the “false comforts of our legends, our stories, our very beliefs.” That last part seemingly becoming a pretty major theme in this story, though it is of course something we’ve seen from an early point in the series.

And if in fact her people had given up killing, what will be their response to Tool’s call to vengeance and death?

Speaking of running themes, Bitterspring’s noting of how empty this world is, the world that is “lifeless as the world we have made,” is yet another in a string of such references (with more quickly to come via Toc and Setoc) that we’ve seen throughout but that are really piling up as we near the end.

It’s interesting that as Badalle sees the Wastelands, Setoc seems to have caught herself in Badalle’s thoughts as well, dreaming of children, of a glass desert, of a “thin, wavering line.” Might these two more directly connect in the future? And what sort of conversation might they have—one who has watched children abandoned and killed and pursued, who has seen the cruelty of people, and the other who is aligned with the Wolves, whose own beasts have been abandoned and killed and pursued. They might find they have a lot in common.

An interesting disagreement here: one T’lan Imass thinks it was Olar Ethil who raised the new Imass, the other says it is Tool summoning them, and now Toc says it was Olar Ethil and that Tool might just deny them, release them from any summons. Who is right?

Well, that’s not a comforting question from Toc: “could the Wolves kill us humans, every one of us, would they?” Nor a comforting answer from Setoc: “If they understood it was them or us, yes!” And sure, it might seem a rhetorical question, save for Toc’s reference to Envy, who could after all level entire cities. Might Setoc be able to do the same? If so, would she? She herself seems unsure.

Boy, I love Jaghut. This is one of my favorite lines in the series: “K’Chain Nah’ruk, and now T’lan Imass. Doesn’t anyone ever go away?” Cracks me up. Especially considering the source. Jaghut humor gets me nearly every time. Like a few more pages in with the “We should make ourselves scarce.”

So right on top of the T’lan Imass talking of the “false comforts of our legends, our stories,” comes Toc explaining how “Our memories lie. We call it nostalgia and smile. But every lie has a purpose… We lie about our past to make peace with the present. If we accepted the truth of our history, we would find no peace—our consciences would not permit it.” Has there ever been a people this was not true for? Ever?

How often do Toc scenes break our hearts in this series? This is yet another—his memories of Baaljagg. His pain at seeing Tool’s younger self in his son. His pain, again, at what he had to do to Tool. His fear that any vow he makes regarding Tool’s children cannot last. His memories of the self he had once been, one “who knew how to smile, and love… [who] once wrote poem.” The man is a walking dagger to the heart.

Sorrow onto sorrows. I find Bakal’s death particularly sad, among so many deaths, because one really had hope that he was on the path of change. We’ve seen it really ever since that scene with Tool, the effect that Tool’s death has had on him, and even keeping in mind that he had up until really recently been a more than willing proponent of all things Barghast-ugly, it’s hard for me not to pull for the guy, to hope that he could not only find his own way onto a better path, but might lead others onto that path as well. He’s not easy to root for, given his past, and given his killing of his wife and her lover (granted even that they were about to become murderers themselves), but still, in his actions, in his thoughts, in his insight into the reality of the warrior life, and his shame at his recoiling at Tool’s compassion, oh, I wanted him to win through to the other side. And one would like to think his death is a redemption, a sacrifice, but then, Cafal and Hetan both die. This doesn’t lessen the sacrifice, but it sure does remove any taste of victory from it. Cafal’s death made even worse by how close he ends up to his sister, by the senselessness of it (killed by those he has no quarrel with and whom he even wishes well to on the morrow’s battle), and by his dying thinking he had killed Setoc. As for Hetan’s death, we’ll save detailed discussion of her for back in the other thread (especially Bakal and Estaral’s conversation about it), it’s hard to see that and not wonder if it is a mercy, as disturbing a thought as that is.

It also seems that one by one the “good” or “potentially good” Barghast are being whittled away. Making it awfully hard to get too upset if they get wiped out. Though we’ll have to see what Bakal had planned and if Strahl will go through with it.

Love that definition of tradition: “Stupidity on purpose.”

More references to the wolves and the beasts. Coming fast and furious, aren’t they?

That’s an interesting connecting Badalle makes near the end, with how she holds Hetan “as Rutt holds Held.” And what “door” has she seen? And does it’s opening bode well for them? Or not? Lots of things could be on the other side.

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

Ryan Dick
1. Wilbur
One small criticism about the last two books is the portrayal of the different individual Imass we meet here for the first time. In prior books, SE had given the various Imass in the stories personalities and individuality that enabled me to differentiate them fairly easily, but in TCG and DoD they all sort of run together. Only the five survivors of the Seven in the Rock and Tool register for me as individuals.

On the other hand, this chapter really does a good job in finally driving home the self-destructive nature of the Barghast culture, as one small group or person kills off another, and is murdered in turn. The lack of moral center or guiding principal in their worldview is most clearly demonstrated to me here and not in the hobbling chapter, as rather than band together in the face of an impending battle with outsiders, they spend their energies and their lives settling selfish scores to no real purpose.
Steven Halter
2. stevenhalter
Undead Jaghut are great. I totally concur with Bill on this.
3. Jordanes
Bill said:

"Badalle’s words on gods doing nothing are interesting in that we
actually mostly see a lot of gods doing a lot of something in this
series. Especially coming out of the last chapter, where we saw a little
PTA-like meeting of a group of gods planning a whole lot of something.
And we know Shadowthrone and Cotillion have some plans in the bag. But then, from Badalle’s perspective of the Snake, it’s certainly easy to
see why one would think as she does. Which gods, one wonders, have
turned away from them. Are they purely local? Are these the “broken”
ones of which she speaks? If so, how were they “broken”?"

I think that this not quite along the lines which Badalle is speaking/musing on this. Yes, we see gods do plenty of things in this series - but they are almost always either doing it for themselves, for their own goals and ambitions, or they're doing it for some very grand, world-altering, purpose.

But what Badalle is talking about is that gods do nothing *for their worshippers*, specifically. The ones who look to them the most and in particular. They ignore the prayers, beseechings, entreaties, etc., which are directed toward them, and do nothing about it. And that's a belief which has been echoed in one form or another at previous points in the series (sometimes turned around - as in, what do gods owe mortals, why should they intervene in petty, often selfish, problems). So I don't think that Badalle is talking about a specific god or gods, but really about all of them as a group.
karl oswald
4. Toster
Thats a sharp point Jordanes, that calls back to when hood appeared to deadsmell in the priests house back on quon tali. fener wasn't there to collect the priest, even though deadmsell calls him a 'true believer'

Badalle's viewpoint has always been one of my favourites in this book, since so much of her metaphorical ramblings are actually pretty spot on divinations of the current game board.

she talks of how the Fathers had forced their chidren out, and now believes that the Father's of the gods have forced the gods into the sky. now she's obviously not consciously aware of the details like us, but the errant seems pretty set on wiping out the so called 'children' of the elder gods. this is aside from the things that she's sees directly, like cafal and hetan.

another thing i like is her talk of choices. the first one to mention the shadowed figures on the snakes tail is brayderal, whom badalle doesn't like and chooses to not believe. later however, badalle tells rutt brayderal was right because of 'threads in the blood'. apparently having known this already. i feel like it grows out of that godly feeling she's getting from withholding action. she's a fascinating character and only gets better.

i have to agree that it became hard to keep these risen t'lan imass straight in my head sometimes but once we start to get a few more glimpses of their past, it gets more interesting.

i've kind of been wondering about how exactly absi summoned the ay. he'd been making the blalalala song and drawing the pattern for a while now. i would like to submit that it took setoc arriving in the place of absi's little ritual for it to be effective. even if she and toc both think she wasn't related, she's got wolf magic pretty much boiling at her fingertips.

in regards to the barghast - yes it does seem that they've turned the corner into completely irredeemable now. the score settling, the slaughter of not only the herds but also any animal that could be throat-cut over an altar. that's a lot of blood spilled for the barghast gods. i wonder if they're listening...
Ryan Dick
5. Wilbur
I concur with the view that Jordanes and Toster take on the gods being broken, in that they don't fulfill the basic, inherent duties of being a god - responding to their followers and worshippers.

Plus there is also a broken god around, specifically the god that the FA rejected who is now only a swarm of insects.
Bill Capossere
6. Billcap
That's what I was going for, though obvously I didn't phrase it clearly enough. What I found interesting about that moment was that it came so closely after we'd just seen a bunch of gods doing a whole bunch of plotting and planning, so it struck me that it wasn't so much that the gods choose not to act, but they choose not to reveal their actions, which are not bounded by expectations and/or requests/demands (or perhaps more accurately, one doesn't note those actions because being not in response to expectations they blur into the background and so seem like "not acting"). In other words, that their "limitations" could only be revealed by their actions if those actions were in response to specific requests/demands, if there is a base point of comparison so to speak. They act, as you say, for their own purposes and not "for" their worshippers. But what I found interesting is the phrasing--that instead of saying the gods do all sorts of things but never what we ask/want, it's phrased as the gods "don't act" or "withhold". Which seems revelatory as much about the mortals as it is about the gods. If that makes any sense (though perhaps your point is that Badalle sees this and just chooses to focus on her singular concern--how they respond or not to worshippers)
Yotam Ben-Arye
7. Anomander_Purake
We have often seen how this series tells stories which are reminiscent of real-life historical events, and I believe such is the case with the Barghast storyline. This is a culture we have been raised for several books now to believe are noble and good at heart, and have just found out not long ago that there is something rotten on the inside with its people. Not only that, be for several chapters now we have seen how the best of them die tragically one after another. We are indeed, as Bill put it, left with an entire people we could not care less about should it be wiped out entirely. We are, to put it harshly, condoning genocide.

Could this be an allusion to Nazi Germany, back in the early '40s? Throughout the '30s, good and honest German people have tried to fight the Nazi regime in their own political ways and failed, having been forced to flee. People like Kurt Weill, Bertold Brecht, Marlene Dietrich, and Sigmund Freud. In the end, at least in many people's minds, Germany was a place populated entirely by evil men and women. It had been considered righteous, for instance, to bomb Dresden to the ground as retaliation for what the German army had done to England earlier in the war. Just as in the case of the Barghast, we tend to forget the multitude of hapless victims amidst the "evil enemy" – children who have done no harm, people who have committed no atrocities in person but who nonetheless have been too weak of spirit to do anything about the vile way of their government and leaders, the elderly, the sick.

I am certainly not condoning the actions of the Nazi regime back then, and likewise not considering the Barghast to be tragic heroes whom Mr. Erikson described by the worst light as a cheap propaganda. My grandparents lost many members of their family back in the death camps. Both culture's evilness is extremely tangible. But in a tale about compassion and mercy, I find it very troubling how we grow to consider (with rightful reasons) the Barghast as a whole undeserving of our sympathy. How we would actually be glad should they be put to the sword, to the last standing member.
8. Jordanes
This is another mostly 'character development chapter', another (relatively speaking) calm before the storm moment, though one perhaps even more depressing than the previous bored Malazans one, but, despite the further tragedies, there are spots which make you think maybe not all is lost for these characters.

In between Toc's loneliness and depression, there seems to be a suggestion that he has a vague plan of some sort, though whether he can fulfil it is another question entirely. But Toc's remembering of Envy - doesn't that just pluck at the heartstrings? And it all seems so very long ago, years, lifetimes...which of course it has been for Toc, but in another sense it feels that way for the reader too. Not just because it has been a long time since we read Memories of Ice, but also because Toc - one of the longest-serving, most-often appearing characters in the series - has changed so much in that time. Can this man be reconciled with that cheeky Claw scout we were introduced to in Gardens of the Moon?

The conversation between Bakal and Estaral adds another layer and a different angle to Hetan's hobbling, as I'm sure will be discussed in the separate thread.

Speaking of Bakal and Estaral, I remember being shocked that they died so quickly, especially Bakal. And worst of all, their efforts seemingly coming to naught, as both Cafal and Hetan die within hours of each other, within yards of each other. And one feels like screaming at Strahl for afterwards believing that it was all Estaral's fault, thus sullying the memory of her.

I suppose one must think that at the least Hetan's suffering is over - even if, for better or worse, she is not joined in the afterlife by her husband and children. Badalle's words, about holding Hetan's poor soul, are both heartbreaking and at the same time oddly...not hopeful, perhaps, but not bad, either.

And it has to be asked how Badalle can see all these things happening many many leagues away, even if she perhaps doesn't quite understand the context of the visions (for lack of a better word)? More to Badalle than meets the eye? I think that's more than apparent by now. Perhaps the more pertinent question is, what links Badalle to these people, so that she sees what is happening with them?

As ever, interactions with the Jaghut provide a welcome lighter tone. "Doesn't anyone ever go away" asked by undead Jaghut, and: "Nostalgia". lol.
David Thomson
9. ZetaStriker
What I really think people want is for the Barghast culture to die a painful death, but in the absence of other options that desire shifts to the obvious solution of a total victory for the approaching army. It really all comes down to how else one can destroy a culture as vile as the Barghast's without such extreme measures. Using the Nazi Germancy example, after the Allies invaded at the end of World War II, evidence of the Nazi's greatest crimes were basically put on public display so that the populace would know exactly what they'd turned a blind eye to. But the Barghast already do that to themselves, there's no blind eye here, so how do you get them to halt such endemic cruelty?

The only thing I can think would work is some level of violence, as odd as it sounds. If a leader seeking change isn't willing to fight, such as Tool, they and their loved ones will be killed or worse. But that also feeds into their culture, so I'm not sure that ever could have worked either. Hell, it took Tool's death to sway even Hetan's own tribe. The only other obvious option presented is that they be destroyed like the Awl were, but the loss of life is so high that it basically amounts to genocide anyway.
10. Raven728
Having read a few chapters ahead at this point, I'd like to pass along a message to the other first-time readers who are as frustrated as I was by not understanding exactly what the overall picture is (i.e. where the Bonehunters are going and why): hang in there, help is coming in the form of a scene that spells things out quite clearly. :-)
Sydo Zandstra
11. Fiddler
Anomander_Purake @7:

This is a culture we have been raised for several books now to believe are noble and good at heart, and have just found out not long ago that there is something rotten on the inside with its people.

Sorry, but this is a wrong assumption. The events in Memories of Ice where Trotts and WJ's squad went to the Barghast already showed this.

The only 'noble and good at heart' things were in Humbrall Taur, Cafal and Hetan. After Humbrall Taur died, things already started to break down. (note Spax's comments on this in a later stage).
12. Jordanes
On an entirely unrelated note, I have just noticed that Part 1 of GRRM's Dance With Dragons is entitled: Dreams and Dust.

Brian R
13. Mayhem
I have to say it took three different rereads before I picked up on Badalle holding Hetan. With all the emotional numbness induced by the events here and after, it is a *very* easy thing to miss.

And I love the fact that Undead Jaghut humour is even dryer than living.

Actually, the Jaghut are probably my favourite group of all the races - not only do they turn the whole Rampaging Primitive Orc Hordes idea on its head, but they do it with black humour, and they do it with style.
Darren Kuik
14. djk1978
I've read DoD 3 times and I think I missed Badalle holding Hetan's soul everytime.

I also love me some Jaghut humor. It seems to get better and better every book. The Jaghut army in this book is some of the best.
Ryan Dick
15. Wilbur

So are you saying that Held was Hetan the whole time?

I certainly missed that as well. I thought that Rutt was holding a child that died on the march named Held.

Or are you saying that Badelle held Hetan in her vision during this chapter only?
Darren Kuik
16. djk1978
Hetan is not Held. Badalle says she held Hetan's soul in her vision in the same way as Rutt holds Held.
Amanda Rutter
17. ALRutter
Apologies for the break - here are my views and thoughts on Chapter Seventeen:

It seems that the gods are all admitting their own fallibility, since I don't think we've actually seen a god in this series that does nothing. So either her thought that: "Doing nothing was a choice swollen with omnipotence. It was, in fact, godly. And this, she now realized, was the reason why the gods did nothing" is entirely incorrect, or she has seen something that we haven't with her own gods. To me, even those gods such as Edgewalker, who seem to steer clear of human issues, are total meddlers.

This is so terribly ominous: "Many died today," she said. "We can eat."

More hints about fire in this book: "I have flown to where the sun sets, and I tell you, Rutt, we are marching into fire. Beautiful, perfect fire."

I really enjoyed seeing various of the Imass be resurrected - Erikson manages to tell their life stories in such a brief amount of words, so that we become familiar with these new characters and what motivations drive them.

What is Olar Ethil up to when it comes to resurrecting them? Or is it even her? "We do not know who had summoned us. It is curious, but we are closed to her, or him."

Wait, Nom Kala is part of a T'lan Imass clan that were involved in a *different* Ritual?!

Ahh, it seems that Nom Kala knows more than the others, and says that Tool is the one who has summoned them - and he is building an army of the dead. Which is not the only army of the dead on the march in this book.

Does Setoc inhabit the body of Badalle as she rides behind Toc the Younger? "She could smell scorched feathers, and all at once the land far below was a sea of diamonds, cut in two by a thin, wavering line."

I'm not entirely clear what Setoc and Toc (hey, look at their names together!) are talking about when they refer to the wolves and waging war and whether the wolves would kill all the humans. It isn't completely making sense to me.

Oh, this made me chuckle, because it can apply to characters in this series just as easily: "K'Chain Nah'ruk, and now T'lan Imass. Doesn't anyone ever go away?"

It is both hard and lovely to read about Toc's vow to himself that he will watch over Tool's son, in whom he can see so much of Tool. "But, what I could not do for you, I will do for your son."

Tool's son seems remarkably powerful, summoning a dead ay into being again so that Toc will have a companion.

I don't have much to say about the Barghast sections that I haven't already touched on in separate threads. Truth be told, I don't dwell on these sections, I tend to rush through. Sure, I'll read them, but it is in a flinching manner.

The one thing I do like is seeing some of them coming round to the idea that Tool was right all along. Too little, too late, and doubtful any change can be effected, but better than them mindlessly following old traditions.

It is interesting reading this distinction: "The Barghast were not soldiers, not like the Malazans or the Crimson Guard. A profession could be left behind, a new future found. But for the warrior, war was everything, the very reason to live." It does make me wonder how many retired soldiers actually manage to wholly leave their profession behind.

Is it that Badalle now has Hetan's soul within her?

A mostly unpleasant chapter again, to be honest.
Michael Friedman
18. lycophidion
@Bill -- you know, up until a moment ago, I was wondering why Erikson didn't have Cafal "save" Hetan. But, you said this: "As for Hetan’s death, we’ll save detailed discussion of her for back in
the other thread (especially Bakal and Estaral’s conversation about it),
it’s hard to see that and not wonder if it is a mercy, as disturbing a
thought as that is." Yep. Maybe this is a reality check for us. In reality, things don't often end happily for victims of misogynistic violence. What it would take to transform that aspect of culture and the matrix of power relations that underlie it, render the idea of "knights (or shamans) in shining armor" puerile, superfluous and even repugnant (aren't such "knights" merely the flip-side of the abusers?).
Sydo Zandstra
19. Fiddler
As I see it, Hetan didn't get saved because her death serves to further Tool on his tragic path. This story is a tragedy, IMO.
Vincent Lane
20. Aegnor
Just finished this chapter. Brutal. It sets you up and gives you hope that some small positive thing might come of it. And then crushes those hopes into dust.

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