Fri
May 2 2014 1:00pm

Malazan Reread of the Fallen: Dust of Dreams, Chapter Twenty-One

Welcome to the Malazan Reread of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll cover chapter twenty-one 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 is at a conference in Texas and will catch up to us via the comments later.

CHAPTER SUMMARY

SCENE ONE

Sandalath and withal discuss the return of Mother Dark, a return with “sorrow knotted into grief… like a widow trying to hold on to all she had lost… in mourning.” She tells him they arrived too late to warn the Shake, saying Blind Gallan had cursed them with just enough memory to make them return, but Withal responds that people “need to know where they came from… What do you think make them restless.” She answers that everyone is restless then, since “none of us know where we came from. Or are going.” She asks bitterly if Mother Dark will give them Kharkanas, and Withal says maybe that’s her role, to convince Mother Dark. She scoffs at the idea and when he asks about hostages, she thinks of how the hostages were like coin in the realm, though “Gold does not feel… You can hide us away… bury us… but you can’t eat us, and you can’t fuck us. No, you can’t do that.” Withal interrupts her thoughts by asking if hostages were ever killed, and she replies not until near the end, when the rules went out the window and people show “our true selves.” Near collapse, she says she will beg Mother Dark to leave again. As he comforts her, the Shake find them.

SCENE TWO

As Pithy and Brevity head toward Sand and Withal, Pithy notes that Sandalath is an Andii and wonders if her more full claim on the city might be an issue. They introduce each other and head toward the city. Pithy and Brevity discuss how there is a painting of Sandalath amidst a group wearing shackles in an altar side chamber. They decide to get the witches once they enter the city.

SCENE THREE

As they cross over the bridge, Sandalath feels Mother Dark’s presence, at first indifferent but then perhaps sympathetic. Sandalath tells Pithy and Brevity she wants to go to the temple and also needs to speak to Yan Tovis. They tell her Twilight and Yedan went to the First Shore, then admit to being nervous because of the painting of Sandalath, which was done a looooong time ago. Sandalath says that Mother Dark has returned, as have the Shake, and now she wants to find out why her own people, the Andii, have not. When Withal asks if Sandalath think she’ll get an answer, Sandalath realizes Mother Dark has spoken to him, and is hurt that she has not yet done so with Sandalath.

SCENE FOUR

Pully and Skwish have claimed an old estate. Pully recalls angrily how Mother Dark had “gathered up their souls… exploring every nuance… Then the cast. Dismissive, all interest lost. Damned insulting.” Skwish tells Pully the estate belonged to Draconus (well, she calls him Draconus and clearly doesn’t know who he is). Brevity arrives to tell them about Sandalath and Withal.

SCENE FIVE

Yedan Derryg has found the Hust Sword. Twilight asks how it can have healed, and he tells her of how the Hust weapons were immortal, “quenched in dragon’s blood,” and how this particular one belonged to a Hustas, a Master of the House. He wonders how a five-blade (cut through five blades as a test) Hust sword had been broken. Yedan says he’ll handle the logistics of settling their people and suggests she re-sanctify the temple with royal blood. He adds that they don’t have much time; they must find why they were brought here by the goddess. Yan Tovis looks at the shore—“the tumultuous wall of light—and the innumerable vague figures behind the veil” and is horrified at the idea: “No, please. Not again.”

SCENE SIX

Sechul Lath, Kilmandaros, and Errastas walk an unnamed warren. He considers how Kilmandaros viewed creation as “her personal anathema, and the destruction in her hands was its answer. She saw no value in order, at least the kind that was imposed by a sentient will… she bore a thousand names… each and ever one a source of mortal dread. Destroyer, annihilator, devourer… Among the believers, she personified the loosing of rage… the rejection of control.” He wonders what lessons she might have for him. He believes his own was “the purest worship of them all… Lord of Chance and Mischance, Caster of Knuckles… Who lives, who dies? The decision was his… the arbiter of all they [mortals] sought… The gods never even heard the supplications from their followers The need, the desire snared each prayer, spun them swirling into Sechul’s domain.” He thinks how he gave it all up to the Twins he’d spawned, having grown tired of it all: “Save my child? Another must die. Balance! All must balance! Can existence be any crueler than that? Can justice be any emptier? To bless you with chance, I must curse another with mischance. To this, even the gods must bow… I am done with it!” He considers it all pointless, something the K’Chain Che’Malle realized as well—that it’s all a cycle ever spiraling downward: rise and fall, rise and fall, but each time the rise a little lower, the fall a little deeper. Errastas’ idea of a resurrection, Lath thinks, is impossible; it will only “precipitate your final fall, and good riddance… But lead on, old friend. To the place where I will do what must be done. Where I will end everything.” They reach the spot above where the Otataral Dragon is chained. Sechul Lath says it might be good to know why she [the dragon] was imprisoned in the first place, it might give them a bargaining chip, but Errastas says obviously it was because she was uncontrollable, “the poison in their midst.” Lath thinks to himself, “She was the balance, the counter-weight to them all,” and wonders if this is a good idea. He muses out loud that her real poison was to K’rul’s new warrens and so K’rul needed her “chained, negated.” He finds it interesting that the Crippled God is now the one poisoning the warrens, but Errastas dismisses the idea, saying the two are unrelated. When Lath persists in questioning the wisdom of freeing her, Errastas says worst comes to worst, Kilmandaros can just kill her. Lath asks how Errastas can be confident the dragon will keep any agreements once they free her, and Errastas says just to trust him. Kilmandaros starts beating up the ground.

SCENE SEVEN

Torrent is shocked to find out that the carriage tracks he’d been following lately were apparently an illusion, one which Olar Ethil has now grown tired of: “I stole into your mind, made you see things that weren’t there. You were going the wrong way… I turned you from that trail.” Instead, they are now heading toward a K’Chain Che’Malle city, which turn his thoughts to the purpose and symbolism of cities: “Maybe there were all about the claiming the right to live somewhere… to take from the surrounding land all they needed to stay alive. Like a giant tick.” Telorast and Curdle arrive in skeleton bird shape and pledge servitude, “a temporary truth. Allegiance of convenience so long as it’s convenient.” Olar Ethil says they aren’t fooling her; she knows their history: “You two almost won the Throne of Shadow. You killed a dozen of your kin [Eleint] to get there.” She asks what they want and when they reply power and survival—“terrible times. Things will die. Lots of things.”—she wonders if they guard her back as they pledge, who will guard her from them.

As she looks at them closely, Olar speculates they are not Soletaken as she’d first thought, but D’ivers: “Born as Tiste Andii, one woman but two dragons… But how? The blood of the Eleint resists the fever of D’ivers.” She agrees to take them into service/protection if they reveal their secret. In discussing it, they seem to reveal that they “were never meant to be Soletaken. It just happened… But we were true Eleint.” Olar Ethil says that makes no sense—“Two who become one? Soletaken? A Tiste Andii Soletaken?” and then decides they must be lying. They swear to tell the truth. They tell her that after being defeated, they were given a choice by Edgewalker—Kilmandaros chaining them to a piece of Emurlahn or Rake’s sword Dragnipur. They chose the chaining and spent centuries thus, but were found by Dessimbelackis, who held “chaos in his hands. He told us its secret… desperate. His people—humans—were making a mess of things. They stood as separate from all the animals… their tyranny so cruel. Slaughtering the animals, making the lands barren deserts.” Olar Ethil says he created the D’ivers and Soletaken ritual out of chaos “to bind humans to the beast, to force upon them their animal natures… to teach them a lesson. About themselves.” Telorast and Curdle agree, saying that he forced the ritual (a much older one than him or even this world) upon his people, and that by the time the T’lan Imass arrived to kill them all, Dessimbelackis had fled in his D’ivers form (the Deragoth). Needing allies, he’d tried to free Telorast and Curdle, but couldn’t break the chains so instead he took their souls and brought them to a Tiste Andii corpse, a females. There they vowed to serve him.

When Olar Ethil said they betrayed him, they replied that it wasn’t so much that, but that “each time we sought to semble into our true selves, the chains returned,” and they found themselves back in Emurlahn, making them of no use to Dessimbelackis. Now, if they hold to their Eleint selves, the chains drag them back, so they can only take this skeletal form or take abode in a body. They tell her if they could just reach the throne, they’d escape their chains, or they say, Olar Ethil could just break them herself. She says she could, but she has no reason to risk angering Edgewalker or Kilmandaros, who had their reasons to imprison them after all. When they ask her who deserves eternal punishment, she scoffs, saying, she’s been with the T’lan Imass, don’t tell her about eternal punishment. Torrent is horrified and angered by that comment, telling her, “ You did that to them and now you call it a punishment? What had they done to you to punish them for all eternity… You were cursing them.” She yells back at him, saying to look at her, “Do I not choose to wear that curse? My own body, my own flesh? What more can I do?” He asks what it was, and when Telorast says “Why don’t you let it go… Let them all go,” Olar Ethil tells them “I have no choice in this—none! You mortals are such fools—you just don’t see it… I am trying to save your pathetic lives! All of you!.” But Torrent tells her if this is the cost—“holding prisoner the souls of the T’lan Imass” it’s too much; she should let them go, saying it is neither their fight nor hers, and she should find another means of redemption. When he says she treats the Imass like slaves, she replies she needs them. But he stings her by answering they don’t need her. She declares without her they would be dust and nothing else, and when he says perhaps that’s their preference, she tells him, “Not yet!” He turns to Telorast and Curdle and says he’ll try to free their souls if they guard her back, especially against Olar Ethil, and they agree. They move toward the tower with Olar Ethil trailing, and Torrent thinks she seems, “Unbreakable, and yet, broken. You sour old woman. Let it go.”

SCENE EIGHT

Kebralle Korish was clan leader of the B’ehn Aralack Orshayn T’lan Imass, now only seven left. She recalls the battles with the Order of the Red Spires as she walks with the others behind Tool, her comrades scarred by the battle sorcery of the Three (the Order). Looking at them reminds her of her attack on one of the Three itself—the Bearded One—his shock at being struck by her, the shock on his two companions at how she had withstood their ensuing sorcerous attack. She still has not forgiven Inistral Ovan for calling the withdrawal then, at the moment “the war turned,” and her vow to make him pay for that is “enough reason to persist.” More so than Tool’s issues with Olar Ethil; whom she is willing to follow so long as it leads to possible vengeance on Inistral Ovan.

SCENE NINE

Kalt Urmanal is obsessed with the idea that the K’Chain Che’Malle, the killers of his family, are on this land—he can smell/sense them close. Though hatred allegedly died with the Ritual, he can feel it in him, and it makes him think how Tool has made a mistake in not binding his kin, for Kalt knows all have “wars rag[ing] within.” He considers how this is sign that Tool does not, beyond his swordsmanship, have the necessary tools of leadership: “the strength to impose his will… the arrogance of command and the expectation that such commands would be followed unquestioningly.” He recalls the Jaghut, the way they “played games with us. Painted themselves in the guises of gods. It amused them. Our indignation… became a rage… But it was misplaced… The wars were not necessary. Our pursuit acquired the mien of true madness and in assuming it was lost ourselves for all time.” He believes the war should have been against the K’Chain Che’Malle rather than the Jaghut, for the KC were the ones who hunted the Imass for food and fun. He thinks Tool, who tells them nothing, doesn’t even acknowledge their presence, is worse even than the Jaghut, and as for Olar Ethil, who had cursed the Imass, he finds her as blindly stupid as all the others and if Tool will fight her, he will do so on his own.

SCENE TEN

Nom Kala walks beside bonecaster Ulag Togtil, whom she thinks must have some Trell blood based on his size and tusks, though she wonders if her “memories” of the Trell are simply bleed-over from the Orshayn, whose flood of tortured feelings and desires threatens to swamp the others. From Tool, however, comes nothing; he is a total mystery to her. Ulag interrupts her thoughts, calling it a “measure of mercy,” explaining, “We believe we are the creators of our thoughts, our feelings, but I think otherwise… We roll in his wake. All this violence, this fury. It devours us… And so we believe each of us stands alone in our intent. How soon before we turn on each other.” She says it must not be mercy then, but he says they will see his purpose if they wait. Nom Kala says if Tool waits too long to try and draw the others to his purpose, the less chance he will have of succeeding. Ulag agrees, but has “faith,” and wonders if perhaps Tool seeks to awaken that particular feeling in the Imass, to make them “more than T’lan Imass. Thus he does not compel us. Instead, he shows us the freedom of mortality… How do the living command their kin? How can a mortal army function given the chaos within each soldier, these disparate desires?” She wonders what the point is of showing them that, since they are not in fact mortal, but Ulag says Tool will show them.

SCENE ELEVEN

Draconus and Ublala meet up with Ralata and Sekara (the Vile), the last of the Barghast Ralata says, as all are dead. Sekara’s mind is gone, her fingers gangrenous, and Draconus, with Ralata’s permission, kills her out of mercy. He tells Ralata there are other White Face; he saw them some days ago, about five or six thousand of them heading east. She says she is hunting a winged demon that killed several of her friends, though she has not seen it for two days, since she found Sekara. She agrees to head east, as that was the direction she was tracking.

SCENE TWELVE

Strahl leads the Senan east, bearing the burden of the Senan’s guilt for fleeing the battle against the Akrynnai. The army is down to the last of its supplies, its shouldermen and witches at the limits of their abilities to produce water, and the nearing jade spears seem an omen of the death of the White Faces. He thinks they march to their deaths, which is all they have ever done.

SCENE THIRTEEN

Shurq Elalle and Felash (Abrastal’s 14th daughter) talk of the mystery of Kolanse and then move on to discuss Tehol. Shurq tells Felash that Tehol (and his Queen) despises “virtually every trait that empire possesses. The inequity, the cruel expression of privilege and the oppression of the dispossessed. The sheer idiocy of a value system that raises useless metals and meaningless writs above that of humanity and plain decency… they would dismantle all of it if they could. But how? Imagine the resistance… Imagine if they delivered upon you and your people a diplomatic onslaught of emancipation. The end of the nobility and inherited rank and privilege… The end of money and its false strictures.” Felash calls the idea “madness” and is shocked that the two rulers “revile their own claim to power,” arguing “someone needs to rule” and pointing to Shurq’s role on her ship as proof. Shurq points out the coincidence that most of the rules the rulers make somehow ensure their continuance in power, and their descendants’ continuance as well, though she says it’s all beyond her and Felash should debate it with Tehol and Janath. Felash leaves to go with her handmaid, who is below, seasick.

SCENE FOURTEEN

The not-very-seasick handmaid tells Felash “it is as we feared. A vast emptiness awaits us. Desolation beyond measure. Upon landing, we shall have to travel north, far north. She reports they haven’t heard yet from the Queen’s cedas, but it’s clear Abrastal has decided to remain with the Perish and must have a reason. Felash sees no point, reminding her handmaid that Kolanse never gave Bolkando anything important and has given nothing at all the past five years. She asks about the T’lan Imass, and her handmaid says there are thousands, and their leader has a blinding power. She says she senses others as well: One of darkness and cold. One of golden fire high in the sky. Another at his side, a winged knot of grief harder and crueler than the sharpest cut diamond. Still others hiding in the howl of wolves [the Perish yes but also now she tells Felash]… and yet another, fiercer and wilder than all the others. It hides inside stone. It swims in a sea thick with the pungent flavors of serpents. It waits for the moment, and grows in its power, and facing it… Highness, whatever it faces is more dreadful than I can bear.” She says this fight will happen on the Wastelands and Queen Abrastal is unaware of it and thus in trouble. They agree they must find a way to warn her, and think of using blood to bargain with Mael. Felash says to summon him.

SCENE FIFTEEN

Shurq sees a bad storm heading their way.

 

Bill’s Reaction

I like how the imagery in this opening with Sand plays into the themes: her memories that come at her “like wolves, snapping on all sides.” Withal describe as a “finely made sword.” The called-to-our-attention image of the bridge, the Andii of the land, the man of the sea, and the Shake of the Shore.

Withal’s line about people needing to know where they come from is a nice thought, but based on what we’ve seen on what history does to those tales, how “history” is as much a “tale” as some named fictive work, that learning one’s true background is a hard task, if not impossible. Especially working as we are over so many years. As Sandalath says, “none of us know where we came from.” Which seems less obvious than her line that none of us know where we’re going. And so often we’ve seen as well that even the ones who do know where they came from, that knowledge often turns out to be a lie (as might be where they tell themselves they’re going?)

Normally, I’d think that Sandalath reminding us that the Andii were a people “in the habit of tearing out their own eyes” in grief would be a bit ominous coming only a few paragraphs after we’re told Mother Dark has returned in “sorrow knotted into grief,” save for even I think on a first reading it’s hard to image her spurning what Rake did.

Sandalath says she was but a hostage and Mother Dark will have no time for her, but perhaps she is forgetting, or simply disbelieving?, that reading Fiddler did a while back and her role in that reading.

We know she has some bad memories of this place, and we get a little more detail here. And I think the repetition of “you can’t fuck us. No, you can’t do that” may be a bit packed with meaning.

The arrival of Brevity and Pithy is a nice bit of comic relief coming after this dark scene. And I like imagining the thoughts in their head of realizing that Sandalath doesn’t merely look like one of the people in those paintings; she is one of those people. It’d be like wandering through the Lascaux Cave and coming across someone pictured on the wall there (had they painted people rather than animals).

After all the ominous build-up of Sandalath’s return, the arch’s shadow falling over her like a “shawl” is a somewhat surprisingly positive simile (as opposed to say, slipping over her like a shroud). A feeling perhaps mirrored by that brief touch of maybe-sympathy she feels. On the other hand, that has to be quite the personal blow to know that Mother Dark spoke to the human and not to her. Is that anger? Indifference? Shame? Guilt? The silent treatment?

I like how the two witches end up in Draconus’ place, but don’t have the sense of how big that is that we readers do. Including the misreading of his name (talk about taking him down a peg)

Those are oddly detailed statues.

Yedan has a Hust sword! Yedan has a Hust sword! Now tell me you don’t want to see what he does with that?!

And perhaps we might. Why have they been brought there, if Yedan is right and there must be a reason. What is it that so terrifies Twilight when she looks at that wall of light? Is it going to be yet another last stand? Is that wall breaking down somehow? Are the Shake here to replay their earlier role?

I like the complexity added to Kilmandaros’ character with the idea of her as the necessary destruction half that balances the creation-destruction equation, as well as the poetic description that paints her as such, with her thousand names and fists that speak in the “cruel forces of nature.”

One wonders how much of Sechul Lath’s interpretation of his power is real and how much if any is overstated. Is he indeed the final arbiter? The one who decides who lives and who dies? Even if that isn’t so, if he believes it to be so, one can see how that might wear down the head after millennia—that constant cruel balancing act, a balance that is mere mechanics seemingly and not “justice.” No wonder he decided to create the Twins (Oponn) and abdicate in their name. Especially if he sees everything through that prism of entropy, that it’s all a constant fall, no matter how many times it appears to those “in time” that it is a rise. One can see how that view might lead one to consider ending it all, putting life out of its misery so to speak, something we coincidentally see happen at the end of this chapter.

He also brings up the parallel between the Otataral Dragon and the Crippled God—both of them poison. What he doesn’t see, but what we as readers do, is then a similar parallel: one group attempting to free the Dragon and one group, ostensibly at least, attempting to free the Crippled God. Balance indeed?

It’s clear Sechul is having some second thoughts, or at least playing at it. Once Kilmandaros starts hammering the ground, it’s hard to imagine anything preventing the Otataral Dragon from being freed unless it is dissension within this group, as there is no indication at all of any exterior force nearby or aware of this event.

Poor Torrent. Of course he wants to kill Olar Ethil—who wouldn’t in his situation? Now, what does she want with a K’Chain Che’Malle city? And is this the one we saw with Icarium? The one Kalyth comes from? Or a different one?

Torrent has a nice cultural insight into how many urban-based cultures find it hard to take nomadic ones “seriously.” We’ve certainly seen that in our own history. And it’s also hard to argue with his analogy of a city to a tick, bleeding the land around it dry. Or, in the case of modern civilization, bleeding dry as well many lands far, far away, for those resources the city needs for its maintenance.

It’s funny how many expository scenes we’re getting in this book. Of course the question is always how much of what seems exposition can be taken at face value. Especially, in this case, when it comes from someone like Telorast and Curdle. Though I have to say, their explanation of their past does have at least a ring of truth to it. The way they almost won the Throne of Shadow but were prevented by Kilmandaros, Edgewalker, and Rake (and I still want a book just on Edgewalker dammit!). And then the history involving Dessimbelackis, pieces of which we’ve had before. Here we have his motivation as trying to teach humanity a lesson after witnessing how they had moved themselves further and further from the animals and from nature, seeing themselves as standing apart from both and thus justifying their “rule” over both, and their destruction of both. How he fled the chaos that ensued and the slaughter by the T’lan Imass and asked Telorast and Curdle to be his allies, bringing them to that Tiste Andii female (and is it important who she was/has she been mentioned?). Perhaps the most interesting tidbit of information though, is not this history but the idea that comes out of it—that the Ritual of Tellann was a punishment upon the Imass, a “curse,” which is something we’ve heard bandied about as a description of their existence but never so literally as far as I can recall. Just as intriguing is her claim that she “has no choice,” and that she does what she does to “save” mortals (though of course, “for your own good” has long been the justification for evil).

And you have to like the way Torrent steps up here, taking on Olar Ethil, who you have to admit is a bit intimidating, and then making a deal with Telorast and Curdle (though perhaps not a wise choice of allies)

So many times we’ve flitted amongst Malazan soldiers, mind to mind, as they march or prepare for a battle. It’s funny to do the same here amongst the T’lan Imass, a parallel that is made bluntly toward the end of these scenes. When it’s asked how to mortal armies stay together with so many different desires, it makes me wonder at what seems to be a difference here in that in the minds we touch here the desires are for vengeance, something we rarely see in the minds of the Malazan soldiers (if I remember correctly) no matter their disparate views toward whatever battle is impending.

Order of the Red Spires and The Three. I like yet again how we are reminded that we are only getting a sliver of grand and not-so-grand events in this universe. Lots has gone on, lots probably is going on, that we simply are unaware of. So I always enjoy when we get these seemingly throwaway references (some turn out of course not to be throwaway at all). We had an earlier mention of three very scary mage-rulers. Are these the same “The Three”? Or do badass mage-rulers just come in trios a lot? Who knows at this point.

From one obsessed with vengeance mind to another via Kalt Urmanal, who seeks vengeance on the K’Chain Che’Malle (might this group run into Kalyth?) Interesting how we’ve seen Tool now “lead” two different groups and both question his leadership. Do they have something? Or should they perhaps be paying better attention?

A little bit of suspense there at the end, the idea that Tool had better not hold off too long on whatever his purpose is. I also like how the idea of T’lan Imass with “faith” is tossed in here, as that would seem to be a major shift.

Talk about irony—mercy being delivered to Sekara the Vile. Boy, if she can be granted compassion/empathy… But it’s intriguing that last look of hers—it doesn’t seem, for that this is presented as a mercy, that she dies in peace. So, is this a kinder, gentler side of Draconus (he’s even described as being “gentle”). Or is this how he might view the world—putting it out of its misery as a “mercy”?

Doesn’t look good for the Senan, does it? Will they find a battle before they end, if end they must? Or will they run into one of these groups out here and find relief? We’re certainly not set up for the latter in the tone and language of this section. But maybe it will be a surprise.

Shurq seems to have listened pretty well to Tehol, it seems. She makes his points well. Well enough to frighten the hell out of Felash. It would be interesting to read what happens with Tehol and Janath as rulers (we did get a sliver earlier)—to see them attempt to put into place their beliefs, to see them try to stand up for distribution of power and wealth, to see the elites resists and try to hang on to the concentration of power in their hand, to see how Tehol tries to deal with the problem of inequality. You know, all that “escapist fantasy” stuff…

Well, we knew the handmaid wasn’t simply a handmaid, and now we see she’s got some stuff to her, what with this divination/sensing she’s doing. Though there isn’t a lot we aren’t already aware of. Kolanse is a wasteland? We knew that. Powers are converging? Well, seeing as how we’re following them, we certainly knew that. T’lan Imass on the march? Check. A pair of powers in the sky? I think we can guess those—one golden fire and one wracked with grief (I’d guess Ruin and Ryadd). One of darkness and cold. Hmm, Draconus? The howl of wolves? The Perish to some extent, but not “simply” the Perish. Could be Setoc. Could be the split we’ve seen within the Perish. Could be Toc. The last one is a bit more mysterious to me—the one that swims in a sea thick with the flavor of serpents. That would seem to point to K’Chain Che’Malle, “hiding” in their last Rooted. But I suppose it’s possible it’s Icarium, who also is in a stone construction of the K’Chain Che’Malle and whose power, if one considers his head now coming together, is also growing. Or it could be something else. In either case, it faces something “more dreadful” than the handmaiden can bear, and let’s not forget she’s just named some pretty powerful folks without saying that, so, um, well, that’s all I’ll say about that.

And this is a strong ending—summoning Mael and the storm aiming right for them. One can’t imagine this ending well.


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.

9 comments
Jordanes
1. Jordanes
You definitely get the sense in this chapter that things are starting to converge as we flit among the disparate groups.


I too think, as Bill hinted, that The Three are the rulers of Shal-Morzinn, who we heard about back in the Bonehunters.

I also love the convoluted explanation from Telorast and Curdle, and it's always nice to hear more on Dessimbelackis, one of the most frustratingly mysterious characters in the series.


And boy, when Bugg is Mael, he really can be a jerk...
Sydo Zandstra
2. Fiddler
Yedan Derryg has found the Hust Sword.

Oh yes. This is a big warning for future cool stuff. No spoilage here.


If Telorast and Curdle are D'ivers, they must be the first case of schizophrenia in the D'ivers world. I'd go with two messed up Eleint twins here instead.

Olar Ethil. I really disliked her while reading this series the first time.
Whiteout.
After reading Forge of Darkness, she's leading my list of most despised characters.
.

Shurq Elalle, otoh, is a very likable character :)
George A
3. Kulp
I'm glad we're going over this, because I never got my head around Telorast and Curdle. I kind of sped through DoD and CG when I read them the first time and this explanation confused me quite a bit. Glad to know I'm not alone. I hope the Kharkanas trilogy helps to flesh their background out.
karl oswald
4. Toster
The physical description of Draconus' estate is pretty foreboding too. I believe the terms blasted out and scorched appear. Makes for some pretty interesting retroactive foreshadowing for the next two kharkanas books.

Hust swords. Badass.

Strahls thoughts, brief as they are, do not encourage optimism in the Senans chances. Even if they come upon any other army, resources are likely to remain strained. The Senan themselves might attack for a chance to seize supplies. Interesting if they encountered the Gilk I would think.

Of all these new t'lan, I always liked ulag togtil
The best. He's sharp enough to see how tool is subtly giving the t'lan a taste of mortality. Funny how Kalt doesn't question WHY he can suddenly feel hate. In answer to bills question, I'd say the other t'lan need to pay more attention.
Steven Halter
5. stevenhalter
I rather like the idea of Telorast and Curdle being at Olar's back here.
- -
6. hex
The last one is a bit more mysterious to me—the one that swims in a sea thick with the flavor of serpents. That would seem to point to K’Chain Che’Malle, “hiding” in their last Rooted.
Maybe D'rek, who's to play a role later?
Jordanes
7. CalmOgre
The last one is a bit more mysterious to me—the one that swims in a sea thick with the flavor of serpents. That would seem to point to K’Chain Che’Malle, “hiding” in their last Rooted.
Sounds to me like she was referring to the Otataral Dragon.
Amanda Rutter
8. ALRutter
A quick sorry, sorry, sorry for both this post and the one coming today (Wed 7th May). Am going to have to catch up in the comments for both. Travelling, big conference and now jet lag has completely flummoxed me!
Amanda Rutter
9. ALRutter
Chapter Twenty-One

I really like the idea that Sandalath explains to Withal – that she is of this land, while Withal is of the sea and the Shake are of the Shore. Balance created.

Oh man, is this accurate… “All it needs is the breaking of one rule, one law. A breaking that no one then calls to account. Once that happens, once the shock passes, every law shatters. Every rule of conduct, of proper behaviour, it all vanishes.” We saw that with the London riots. It also is why, I think, our countries have foreign policy and sanctions, so that they are seen to call other countries to account.

Interesting getting hints as to how Sandalath was a hostage and what it meant for her life. Then the conversation between Pithy and Brevity:
“She ain’t just like them in the wall paintings, Pithy. She is one of ‘em! I’d swear it!”
“She’s in there. Her and maybe ten others. They got manacles on their wrists.”
No wonder she ain’t happy about coming home.

Poor Mother Dark – I guess mourning here, this fresh wound, for Anomander Rake.

Heh, can anyone say convergence when you read Sandalath’s words here? “Mother Dark has returned and now faces us. The Shake have returned as well. Who remains missing? The Tiste Andii. My people. I want to know why.”

I am growing to enjoy Yedan’s sense of humour – it is as dry as dust but very entertaining, and the perfect foil to Yan Tovis’ sighing and whining about how everything is so difficult. She is becoming most annoying.

Loving hearing about Kilmandaros from Sechul’s point of view – she certainly isn’t a comfortable parent to have around. There is part of me that appreciates the honesty and directness of Kilmandaros. She isn’t subtle. Destruction, destroyer etc. It’s pretty clean and without the machinations of some of the other gods.

This is interesting – I wonder if it is just a throwaway comment or a warning of something that might happen: “Leave it to my Oponnai. The Twins must ever face one another, lest existence unravel.”
Errastas really has a breathtaking lack of foresight and ability to see that he might not be able to control what happens in the future. His idea that they can just kill the Otataral Dragon if she doesn’t cooperate seems to be a massive assumption on his part. With the fact that Sechul does show such wisdom and knowledge that things might not go as planned – chance, the knuckle in the hole – you’d think Errastas would pay some attention to his dire warnings…

This is an absolutely brilliant scene where Curdle and Telorast catch up to Olar Ethil and offer alliance. I love the information – in some places, the rather stunning information – that we’re given. The fact that these two are D’ivers as well as Soletaken – that they are one woman, but two dragons. The fact that Edgewalker thought these two were dangerous enough that their only choice would be between the chains of Kilmandaros and Dragnipur of Anomander Rake – that is pretty brutal, and gives an insight into the level of power they have. I love the reasoning behind why Dessimbelackis created D’ivers: “He created a ritual out of chaos – to bind humans to the beasts, to force upon them their animal natures. He sought to teach them a lesson. About themselves.”

And then finally the fact that the ritual of the T’lan Imass was actually a curse by Olar Ethil… What on earth would have made her curse them for all eternity?

Do we believe her when she says: “I am trying to save your pathetic lives! All of you!” We’ve seen before that she isn’t the most reliable person to pay attention to.

Hmm, interesting… “The Jaghut were the wrong enemy. The Ritual should have been enacted in the name of a war against the K’Chain Che’Malle. They were the ones who hunted us.” Obviously Kalt Urmanal has a biting hatred anyway for the K’Chain Che’Malle, but it is quite remarkable to see one of the T’lan Imass think that their war against the Jaghut was not right.

Oh Ublala, never change! “Are we there yet? this armour chafes my shoulders. And the axe is heavy. And I miss my friends.” So childlike. And just the most perfect companion for Draconus.

Enjoyed all the sections with Felash! She is an exceptional character, especially for one introduced so casually.

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