Wed
Jul 23 2014 12:00pm

Malazan Reread of the Fallen: The Crippled God, Chapter Six

Malazan reread The Crippled God Steven Erikson Welcome to the Malazan Reread of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll cover chapter six of The Crippled God.

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

 

CHAPTER SUMMARY

SCENE ONE

The T’lan Imass led by Tool stand among the dead bodies of children that they killed, until eventually the First Sword leads them away southeast. All but two of the T’lan Imass follow him. Kalt Urmanal and Nom Kala remain behind, the first stricken and seeking penance for what has been done, the latter feeling absolutely numb. Despite the call of the First Sword, neither feels that they can follow him any longer. They head out together to find one precious moment of peace.

SCENE TWO

We see Tool’s point of view as he remembers the first instance that humans met the Imass, and how the Imass killed them, and then were persecuted into extinction by the humans, so now the T’lan Imass kill the children of the humans. And then he realises that these are all Olar Ethil’s memories—that she is inserting her hatred and lack of compassion into him. Now Tool thinks that Toc was compelled by Olar Ethil to send him away, and he forgives him for his actions. Tool can feel the rising of the Elder Warrens and the convergence in the east, and he takes his T’lan Imass towards it, so that they will not be forgotten.

SCENE THREE

The three thousand T’lan Imass follow Tool, drowning in his thoughts since he has opened his mind to them and shared the battle going on in his soul. Rystalle Ev thinks that they travel to their own end, and that this is an acceptable fate.

SCENE FOUR

Ulag Togtil is swept along in Tool’s emotions, knowing what his fate will be, and he wants to weep.

SCENE FIVE

Gesler punches Stormy in the face to get his attention and then tells him that he has to leave, to return to the Bonehunters and find out who survived and how badly their allies were hurt. Stormy, as Shield Anvil, is also supposed to ease the ghosts of those still lingering. Kalyth provides him with an escort as he leaves immediately.

SCENE SIX

Grub watches Stormy leaving and tells Sinn that something is up. She doesn’t really care, and reiterates that they’re mostly dead. She taunts Grub about Keneb. Grub then thinks about Keneb and the fact that he is truly gone, and he mourns (although he doesn’t even know the name for what he is feeling). Sinn’s reaction to her brother’s dead—cold indifference—concerns Grub, and he knows she feels nothing and wants him to join her in that. He thinks that, if it means an end to pain, he will.

SCENE SEVEN

We see the scene from Sinn’s youth where she is raped and the magic first materialises, to kill the boy that raped her. At that moment she took on the mantle of the Virgin of Death. She wants the fire to cleanse her, but so far she still feels him inside her. Sinn is given to realise that she has nothing to lose. She sees Grub as her precious possession, something to keep pure and safe, and she is willing to burn others to protect him—or get close to him. Which is why she rode the lightning of the K’Chain Nah’ruk to kill Keneb, so that she and Grub would have no one but each other.

SCENE EIGHT

Rud Elalle huddles by the fire and watches as Silchas Ruin stands, unmoving, lost to his own thoughts. He knows he would be warmer if he spent time in his Eleint form, that the raging chaos would keep him inured to the elements, but he is concerned about the siren song of being Eleint, the fact that he loses his rational thought and clear purpose. Silchas Ruin tells Rud Elalle that he plans to find him a sword, and it sounds as though it’s going to be a rather special sword. He departs and Rud Elalle is left to think about how lonely he is for his father and his people. As he surveys the land around the peak where he sits, he remembers an encamped army laying siege to a fortress carved from mountains, and wonders about what and who was involved.

SCENE NINE

Umm, some help with this scene—a group of warriors, including a Thel Akai, ready themselves to march. They are the remains of invaders who once numbered in their tens of thousands. This Thel Akai is accompanied by tusked warriors.

SCENE TEN

Ublala Pung wakes from another dream (ah, was that the scene we just saw?), one of many visions since carrying the strange mace with the four blue-iron heads. He watches Ralata sleep, and remembers fondly the last time she tried to kill him and Draconus stopped her. He and Draconus argued about keeping Ralata alive, and Draconus agrees to give her one more try.

SCENE ELEVEN

Setoc holds an ancient wolf skull and is shown a vision of how they died, to the sticks of the K’Chain Che’Malle (or Nah’ruk—we’re not given the length of their tails to judge). She thinks on her companions and their desire to return to the city, and she realises that it is time to leave them and follow her own destiny. She thinks that it is time to let the Wolves cleanse the world of humans, that she wants to kill them all. She wonders about returning to those she left and starting with them, but leaves them be. She knows now that the Wolves seek a war of retribution on those who have stolen their land and killed them.

SCENE TWELVE

The remains of the Trygalle mission start waking up, and Faint asks Precious Thimble to try and conjure some water. The young witch warns that the ground flinches, that it hurts to use magic, but Faint insists. So Precious Thimble tries and summons forth a jade statue from the ground that tears Sweetest Sufferance to pieces in the most gruesome manner. Amby punches Precious Thimble in the face to stop her and then runs away with her, screaming. Faint watches as a vast statue begins to rise.

SCENE THIRTEEN

Draconus feels the earth shuddering and tells Ublala and Ralata to wait while he investigates. He draws his sword, which pours darkness into the shape of wings that he flies away on.

SCENE FOURTEEN

Faint watches as the jade statue continues to emerge, then sees an enormous shadow descend and plunge a sword into the forehead of the statue. It becomes motionless. Draconus materialises and walks towards Faint. He tells her that where the statue came from every god is a Shield Anvil, then continues south. Faint drops to her knees.

SCENE FIFTEEN

Falata looks to use Draconus’ absence as an opportunity to escape, as Ublala tries to persuade her to stay. He tries to convince her he isn’t a coward by telling her of the time he fought five Teblor gods, and then tells her about the time he killed Dalk and a dragon, but those are actually from his visions.

SCENE SIXTEEN

Olar Ethil warns Torrent that the Wastelands are crowded and that everything is too close to the surface. She tells him to summon no gods. Torrent takes Absi from her to let him ride his horse for a while, and the twins ask Torrent about their father—whether he is still alive. Torrent warns them he might have changed from what they know.

SCENE SEVENTEEN

Gruntle uses the shredded warrens to travel and, as he plunges through different places, ends up losing himself to the killing. The woman who is the black panther (Kilava) brings him back to himself. As he returns to his human body, he resigns himself to fighting Treach’s war.

SCENE EIGHTEEN

Mappo forces himself onward, torn between his desire to find Icarium and his desire to flee his shame. He tries to convince himself that allowing three children to be taken was balanced against being there to prevent Icarium destroying the world, and those children within it. But he still knows that it was wrong. He now admits to himself that he is trying to find Icarium to be released.

SCENE NINETEEN

As Stormy rides to find the Bonehunters he encounters the fourteen undead Jaghut and has a brief and amusing conversation with them.

 

Amanda’s Reaction

I do not approve of Tool right now. I know—gosh, how I know—that his life has been painful, that he wasn’t allowed a peaceful death and was sent back out. But, hell, murdering children? And leading others to do it? This is a Tool I no longer want to spend time with. I’m glad that two of the T’lan Imass have decided to no longer follow him, but their decision comes somewhat too late for them to be able to find the peace of mind they now so desperately seek. “But he knew with desolation as abject as anything he had felt before that there would be no gift of peace, not for him nor for any of the others, and that even dissolution might prove unequal to the task of cleansing his soul.

Ah, and then Erikson turns me upside down by allowing me to see Tool’s thoughts—I’m delighted to see that, although we don’t get all of Tool back, he is at least realising Olar Ethil’s extreme manipulation of both he and Toc. It is a lovely moment when Tool recognises that he forgives Toc:

“Toc Younger, what is this winter tide that so carries us forward? Ride to me, let us speak again, as we did once. Toc Younger, I forgive you. For the wounds you delivered, for all that you denied me, I cannot but forgive you.”

But even despite this section where we see Tool waking up to what has occurred, he has still killed Barghast children, and I think that is pretty unforgiveable? What do you guys reckon? Tool is definitely one of the more complicated characters of these later books—he requires much thought.

It’s sad to see the three thousand T’lan Imass suffering along with Tool and sharing the war in his soul. I do appreciate that Rystalle Ev recognises what they have done:

“It was, in fact, just. Slayers of children deserve no glory. The caves are emptied now, but we cannot dwell there. The air is thick with the blood we spilled. Even the flames from the hearth cannot warm us.”

Have to say, it is a rather gloomy and desperate start to this chapter!

Thank God, then, for Gesler and Stormy, and the comedy they bring, because I was feeling a tad bleak! I love this:

“I needed to get your attention,” the Mortal Sword replied. “With you, subtle don’t work.”

“How would you know? You ain’t tried it yet. Not once, in all the years I’ve been cursed by your company.”

And then this as well: “Classic Malazan military structure at work here, woman. Short, violent discussions and that’s it.” It certainly gets the job done!

I’m so concerned for Grub here. This is where he needs the company of someone other than Sinn to help lead him through his grief about Keneb, and to let him know that time will heal and the pain will pass. Her attitude and coldness is not one that I want Grub to develop. Sinn just sounds more and more psychopathic, quite frankly:

“Your brother has died, Sinn. And you just sleep. The magic’s carved everything out of you, hasn’t it? You’re just wearing that girl’s face, her skin, and whatever you are, there inside, is isn’t human at all any more, is it?”

Begs the question why neither Stormy nor Gesler have spoken to Grub and Sinn properly. Maybe they just don’t deal well with children? Or perhaps Sinn just scares the bejeezus out of them, and they think that Grub is lost to them as well?

This little glimpse into Sinn’s mind and memory of what made her is truly terrifying. And her vision of what Grub means to her and what she is willing to do to protect him—including making sure that Grub has no one to love but her—just makes me utterly uneasy for what Sinn is going to do in the future. As she thinks: “she had nothing to lose” and that makes her able to do truly anything.

And I grieve for the Sinn that was, before the rape that took her innocence and awoke her magic.

Rud Elalle is definitely a character to watch, particularly when we see that he would rather shiver on the side of a mountain than spend time in his Eleint form, because he knows that the chaos in his blood affects him profoundly and he loses his sense of self. I wonder what sword it is that Silchas Ruin intends to get for him—it sounds like he has a specific one in mind. I hope it’s nothing so dire as Dragnipur!

Also, I feel so sorry for Silchas Ruin here—alone in the world, both his brothers dead.

“He was utterly alone, bereft [...] But Silchas Ruin had finally straightened, biting on that wound in the manner of a speared wolf, and he’d been limping ever since.”

I love the fact that Ublala Pung is willing to argue with Draconus, and wheedle concessions from him—it is very like a parent/child relationship! And is this mace of his giving Ublala visions of the past? Who carried the mace before him?

So the Wolves are now properly entering the arena of killing, retribution and death, are they? This is certainly a book where we’re seeing ancient grievances brought back into play, as mortal enemies come face to face once again. “This is the war the Wolves have sought. The Hold shall be reborn. Am I to be their leader? Am I to stand alone at the head of some vast army of retribution?” I wonder how this will affect the Grey Wolves led by Krughava?

It strikes me that if a mage tells you the magic hurts and the ground is flinching and there is the feel of a spirit around, you perhaps shouldn’t poke too hard at it. But no, Sweetest Sufferance is torn to pieces in a really nasty little scene (NOT one I want to see on the big screen…) and a vast jade statue emerges from the ground. Hopefully from here we’ll be given a bit more knowledge as to what these jade statues are, because I’m assuming that the sky is full of more arriving. This also means that jade statues have fallen to this world before—does that mean they are connected to the Crippled God?

And then a scene I would REALLY want to see, as Draconus unsheathes his sword and this smoky, inky wings unfold and lift him into the air. Winged darkness, indeed.

This scene where Faint becomes immersed in the voices from within the jade statue—is she trying to embrace their pain and absorb them as a Shield Anvil would? I’m unsure what Draconus means when he says: “Where he came from, every god is a Shield Anvil. Woman, have you lost your mind?”

I really am liking Torrent as a character—his protectiveness of the children against fearsome odds, his failure to feel scared of Olar Ethil, his attempt to warn the twins that Tool might not be the man he once was to them. He is the very definition of compassion.

I’m intrigued by when Torrent thinks this:

“Summon not Toc Anaster, my one-eyed guardian who can ride through the veil, who can speak with the voice of death itself. Why do you so fear him, Olar Ethil? What can he do to you? But I know the answer to that, don’t I?”

Do we know the answer, us readers?


Amanda Rutter is the editor of Strange Chemistry books, sister imprint to Angry Robot.

20 comments
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1. hex
Mention of Draconus's sword confuse me here. It can't be Dragnipur, which had to be destroyed to release him... right? That's what I had assumed the first time around anyway.

I suppose it could have been what he was using when Rake killed him, but why wasn't he fighting with Dragnipur, and how the hell did Rake get ahold of it? I guess we have to wait for more Kharkanas trilogy for answers.
Tufty
2. Tufty
SCENE NINE Umm, some help with this scene—a group of warriors, including a Thel Akai, ready themselves to march. They are the remains of invaders who once numbered in their tens of thousands. This Thel Akai is accompanied by tusked warriors.
Is it just me, or does this sound like it might be part of the Jaghut Death War referenced in TtH? The companions sound like Jaghut, given the tusks, horrible laugh and wry amusement. Furthermore:

"They were the Fangs of Death, their numbers were endless and that, he well knew, was no exaggeration."

"Death was ever the enemy, yet death was also the source of sustenance. It took a ferocious will to murder earth."

"A war they could not win."
SCENE ELEVEN
Setoc holds an ancient wolf skull and is shown a vision of how they died, to the sticks of the K’Chain Che’Malle (or Nah’ruk—we’re not given the length of their tails to judge). She thinks on her companions and their desire to return to the city, and she realises that it is time to leave them and follow her own destiny. She thinks that it is time to let the Wolves cleanse the world of humans, that she wants to kill them all. She wonders about returning to those she left and starting with them, but leaves them be. She knows now that the Wolves seek a war of retribution on those who have stolen their land and killed them.
From the description, I'm pretty sure this is humans (or Eres, or Imass, or Jheck, but probably humans) with spears, not K'Chain. The wolf notes oily skin on the attackers but that could easily just be sweatiness. The rest of the description matches humans much more than K'Chain (and also thematically makes sense for the Wolf Gods wanting to eradicate the humans in the rest of the scene).




@hex: #1:
Mention of Draconus's sword confuse me here. It can't be Dragnipur, which had to be destroyed to release him... right? That's what I had assumed the first time around anyway.

I suppose it could have been what he was using when Rake killed him, but why wasn't he fighting with Dragnipur, and how the hell did Rake get ahold of it? I guess we have to wait for more Kharkanas trilogy for
answers.
It's an extension of Draconus' own power. Recall that back in RotCG he was a couple times seen with a dark void at his side. It seems he can manifest his own darkness aspected powers into various things, like a sword, wings, a void, etc.
Tufty
3. skaundrel
Not spoilers, just reminders of what we've read:

We've seen the Jade statues multiple times before. They're buried under Otataral island (book 2) and the suggestion was that the otataral was, itself, the earth's defensive reaction against the impact of those statues. Also, book 6, Heboric stops more from impacting the world in a devastating way by communing with the spirits inside them. We also get a glimpse of the rent in space they come through, and the strong implication that they come from wherever the Crippled God is originally from, full of his worshipers seeking him out.

So the "jade spears" of books 9 and 10 are pretty clearly more of them, drawn to the Crippled God by the spirits that lie within them, and could theoretically cause an apocalypse, as they're already cracked the moon (book 8)
Brian R
4. Mayhem
@Amanda
As you guessed, the confusing vision of the Thel Akai with his Jaghut escort was a dream vision of a previous wielder of the Mace. Given Draconus' recognition of the armor and weapon, I expect that will crop up in the prequel trilogy.

As for Sinn - she is one messed up individual. But then ... she always has been, the disturbing reality hidden inside her. Our first meeting is back in DG when she poisons the entire enemy camp with a very nasty slow poison, and things go down from there.

@1
The sword here is the one he made back in Dust of Dreams when he arrived. Not a nice piece of work ...

The figure paused, held out a gauntleted left hand.
Lightning spanned the blackness, a thousand crashing drums. The air itself howled, and the darkness streamed down.
Withered husks that had once been living things spun upright as if reborn, only to pull free of the ground and whirl skyward like rotted autumn leaves.
Shrieking wind, torn banners of darkness spiralling inward, wrapping, twisting, binding.
Cold air rushed in like floodwaters through a crumbling dam, and all it swept through burst into dust that roiled wild in its wake.
Hammering concussions shook the hills, sheared away slopes leaving raw cliffs, boulders tumbling and pitching through the remnants of carnage.
And still the darkness streamed down, converging, coalescing into an elongated sliver forming at the end of the figure’s outstretched hand.
A final report, loud as the snapping of a dragon’s spine, and then sudden silence.
A sword, bleeding darkness, dripping cold.
- -
5. hex
@2/4 Ah, thanks. That clears that up. I also completely missed how Draconus must be left handed. How sinister.
michael
6. worrywort
So the Barghast gods -- the ones who wanted all those ancient swords removed from the old boats in MOI and distributed to Barghast children for training and glorious war -- finally got their wish granted by Tool. In a world full of despicable gods they are right up there with the worst of them.
Ryan Dick
7. Wilbur
@6 Worrywort, I thought that in MOI the Barghast said that they worshipped their own ancestors, and then more generally Togg and Fanderay? I thought it was the ancestors who wanted the swords handed out? That whole thing still confounds me.

In Scene Nine, I believed that the vision was from the War on Death, as Tufty indicated above. The barrow armor is the source of these weird visions Ublala is having, along with the influence of Draconus.

In one (or maybe more) of Esslemont's books there is some discussion about how the Jade Statues rain down onto Mu periodically, as if they are in a highly eccentric orbit around the sun that intersects that of Mu. So I imagined that they are buried here, there and everywhere around the planet, often in locations with deserts. The statement about every god being a Shield Anvil is still rather opaque to me, though.

The members of the TTG caravan sure got the short end of the stick in the MBOTF, didn't they? Their story is like an essay on sundry terrible ways to die horribly on various planes and continents.

Sinn seems to me to be yet another Erikson example of how the universe and fate can utterly destroy individuals, creating psychopaths without any options for redemption.
Steven Halter
8. stevenhalter
@Amanda:Yes, Tool is fraught here--from many directions.

And, yes, the Draconus scene would be another great one to see.
michael
9. worrywort
They worship their ancestors who are, therefore, their gods.
michael
10. worrywort
I would say the "every god is a Shield Anvil" line is about a world -- in contrast to this one -- where gods are proactively interested in the well-being of their worshipers, or at least their post-death souls. Draconus is making a distinction between the two god-worshiper relationships, that sheds a negative light on the pantheon to which he himself belongs.
Brian R
11. Mayhem
@7
The statement about every god being a Shield Anvil is still rather opaque to me, though.

I think it is a backhanded reference to our style of Abrahamic religion and/or zoroastrianism... where the God or a designated proxy is a often a sacrifice on behalf of the worshippers. The Shield Anvil is one who embraces the fallen, who shields the living from the horrors and sorrows of daily life, and basically redeems them to that faiths particular idea of afterlife.

Compare and contrast with the behaviour of Angels in our world, esp guardian angels, or the idea of confession and repentance.


As for the Barghast - they worship their ancestors, the Eldest of which became their gods as @9 said.
The birth of Barghast gods rang like a hammer on the anvil of the pantheon. Primordial in their aspect, these ascended spirits emerged from the Hold of the Beast, that most ancient of realms from the long-lost Elder Deck.
The Barghast gods though are not as old as Togg and Fanderay, who were lost long before the ritual of Tellann. However they were familiar with them, and some of them may have worshipped them back in the day. In the current world despite being Ascended to gods, they actually have little power in their own right, most of their power was actually loaned from Hood, as QB finds out in MoI. Mostly I think they are TTT & Imass descended, they certainly aren't pure human.
karl oswald
12. Toster
Re: "...every god a shield anvil."

i feel like it's also an explanation of the behaviour of the souls. their gods are shield anvils who cleanse their worshippers souls of pain at death, and so these giant statues full of souls go around pouring distilled suffering into everyone who encounters them, hoping that one day they'll find the right god. must be pretty awful. or at least that's the impression i get from faint feeling like the voices sounded relieved when draconus answered them with darkness. after all that time bottled up with your pain darkness wouldn't be so bad.

such a macabre scene as well. i can just hear precious thimbles confused voice as she's going all slack-jawed from the power. Hungry indeed.
Tufty
13. Coldar
@11 and @12, I'm a little confused by Draconus' comment about the statues coming from a place where all gods are Shield Anvils also. Every time I read about a Shield Anvil I always think of Itkovian first. He seems to exemplify what the world inhabitants commonly think of as a Shield Anvil - someone who absorbs wrong-doings and provides redemption. If the Crippled God was a Shield Anvil on his home world before he was taken down, then it makes sense that he was no longer able to provide his redemption services to his constituents. So from what I understand, either his constituents devised a means to travel to him via the statues or some other god in their home world didn't want them laying around anymore and is priority-mailing them to their owner. What I'm still confused about is that if Draconus is right that an entire world is filled with Shield Anvils, and they all function more or less as Itkovian does, then how would morality survive in such a world? How many people would throw consience out the window if they knew they would be redeemed in the end? There was a similar discussion in the Seer Domin/Itkovian scenes in the earlier books. But just imagine what it would be like with an entire world full of Itkovians. I guess I'm with Draconus in being afraid of the statues if they are filled with folk with limited moral constraint and high sense of entitlement.
And now that Hood's realm is at least temporarily closed for reparis, is every god on the Malazan world going to have to adopt or become a shield anvil? How scary sounding!
Sanne Jense
14. Cassanne
Hm, I dunno. Many Christians in our world believe all or most sins will be forgiven upon dying and/or confession, yet this doesn't make them behave immoral. At least not more so than those who believe in predestination, atheism or anything else, as far as I can tell. Morality is much closer tied to empathy, and religion only affects it in how strongly it promotes empathy. Then again, there is also fear of punishment, which could be a stronger force in a world with real and visible gods.

In the Malazan world, some of the players seems to feel it would be better, juster (heh) for each god to take responsibility for its worshipers, from who it draws its power after all. Which means take their souls, be their shield anvil. The gods resist this, some because they want to be free, some because they are cold bastards who honestly don't care.
And now I really want to know: who was Death before Hood? Were there many gods there maybe? Or none?
George A
15. Kulp
Asking those kinds of questions is opening a can of worms. Ever since I finished TtH I've been wondering that same question. After Hood was Dragnipur'd my first question was who is the new god of death? My second question was who was the god of death before Hood?

You can follow this line of questioning even further. If the God's can be replaced, where do their aspects come from? We know that the warrens are a part of K'rul, but where do the Elder Holds receive their power? What is the "engine" that gives Omtose Phellack it's power? What is an "elemental force?" Who IS Nefarias Bredd??

The list goes on and on. One of my favorite parts of this series is how much the reader is left in the dark in regards to magic and power. This allows Erikson to be flexible with the rules, without breaking them outright.
karl oswald
16. Toster
@14 i wonder if what we see in the CG's world and the malazan world are two opposing points of a spectrum in terms of worship and its forms. on one hand there are the somewhat free gods of malaz that dump all their worshippers into hoods handy catch all and operate basically on their own, while on the other hand you have gods who are shield anvils and carry the pain and suffering of every worshipper with them. can't imagine how that would shape the world but it's probably interesting.

this is only speculation on our part, informed by draconus' opinion on the matter. what he knows of it is unknown as well. he could only be likening the gods of the other world to something one from this world might understand - but then again maybe not, draconus is rarely careless with his words.
Bill Capossere
17. Billcap
This opening is emotionally wracking—revisiting the horror of what the T’lan Imass via the minds of those who did it emphasizes that horror I think more so than the physical description of it—both in its impact on those purveyors of the violence, its eternal (perhaps literally) impact; and in the way we’re forced to see it in the long chain of violence between other and other.

“Penance”, as I think I’ve mentioned, has been a word popping up quite frequently in this novel. The idea of atonement and forgiveness runs throughout, it’ll be interesting to see if it plays a more direct role in the plot going forward

just a note of that “memories of ice” in Tool’s thoughts

I love that vivid imagined meeting between the Imass and the humans, which I read as between the Neandertals and the Homo Sapiens (roughly)—it works well here in the story, but I also enjoy it in our real-world context. What must those meetings have been like? (think I’ve mentioned this before, but for an excellent novel-length view of this, I highly recommend Kim Stanley Robinson’s Shaman)

Now Erkison is just messing with us, the way he flips these thoughts about “Tool’s” justification for killing humans around to make them Olar Ethil’s thoughts and Tool being aware of how she’s trying to manipulate him. That said, while I get his “The Barghast deserved their fate,” in the sense of vengeance for what was done to his family, the question arises—were all those slain by the T’lan Imass guilty of that? It is a bit of a whiplash to go from Tool’s thoughts of deserved slaughter to his arguing that Olar Ethil lacks compassion, and that he will show her it by weeping for her at the end. And then to his statement that he cannot weep (if he cannot weep for Toc, how will he weep for Olar Ethil?). In any case, the theme of compassion rises yet again.

Love that elegiac ending of this section—the pathos, the poetry, the sense of fate and loss and sorrow in it.

I also like these quick shifts amongst his followers as we see their reactions to Toc’s pain, to their own. And also how we get flickers of those images/themes so familiar to us by now: chains, “witness”, wolves,

Good timing for some Stormy-Gesler humor to lighten things a bit, even if the underlying subject—the maiming of the Bonehunters—is still pretty dark

It’s hard to know what is more sad—Grub’s sense of loss at Keneb’s death, or his inability to name what he’s lost.

And more warnings about Sinn—“the magic’s carved everything out of you . . . you aren’t human anymore.” These ominous lines are really adding up around her. As for Grub, while his lines seem to portend a similar shift: “if it means an end to feeling pain, then I will”—I’d say a) those lines are immediately contradicted by the next line dealing with the pain of Keneb’s death and b) if you note the loss of feeling, you probably won’t do the loss of feeling

And then we get Sinn’s horrible back story and for (I think) the first time, her own acknowledgement that she has given herself over to nothingness, to the fire. And her psychotic nature—the burn the world to ash to protect Grub, that “you and me” are all we need that turns into psycho-killer mode (is there an implication here she merely witnessed Keneb’s death and was pleased or that she rode along the lizard’s fire to revel in that death and how it left Grub all hers, or that she, despite not “guiding or choosing it” still had something to do with its effect?). Between all the earlier references, and now this internal monologue, and the end of this paragraph (not the first in this fashion) that emphasizes the fires, clearly we’re being set up for Sinn and fire and death.

Love the dream sequence from Ublala, but not a fan of his awake much of the time in these scenes, I have to admit. Boy, I want to see that war though.

This little group of Setoc’s is almost the anti-fantasy quest group. Rather than coming together, they’re falling apart. Rather than acting heroic, they’re giving up children. One by one we’re seeing them step away onto their own paths, none of which at this point have a good sense about them. Mappo heading for Icarium, whom we know isn’t doing well and is mixed up with the Forkrul Assail. Gruntle heading for what he thinks is his own death. And Setoc now heading out, feeling lost and unsure, feeling the protector of animals (and based on humanity’s history—hard to see that working out for her). Her images and thoughts seem to mirror those of the T’lan Imass earlier—the justification for taking down humans is what humanity has done for its entire history: “Let the senseless killing end: we are tired of running, tired of dying . . . You empty the land. You break the earth and sue it until it dies . . . Do not blame any of us for that.” And yet, like Took, she seems a bit ambivalent: “Am I to stand alone at the head of some vast army of retribution?” And as Amanda says, how will this impact those humans sworn to the wolves?

Yep, that’s a great cinematic scene with the statue, Draconus flying off, the earth shaking. OK, if not the big screen, we’re seeing so many series optioned now for big and little (Pern just most recently), maybe HBO or Showtime or Neflix can do something . . .

Man this group is heading in bad directions. Torrent, walking along with crazy old Olar Ethil, might be possibly in the best, most optimistic position. The rest are getting mangled by jade statues or heading off on impossible quests or being torn by their “destiny”. There’s something tragic about Gruntle, who has fought so hard, acceding to “this war.” And there are certainly mixed messages about what the result will be when he comes to that black panther (who we should know at this point). Will they be allies or foes? The latter seems to be implied in this scene.

And just as Gruntle lost himself in the beast, Mappo as well is losing his sense of himself, someting that has been going on for a while.

After all this, it’s a welcome return to these 14 Jaghut. Have I mentioned how much I love the Jaghut in this series? Always send more.

People are on the move—some groups running into each other, some individuals heading off, some folks heading for meetings. The players are being put in place . . .
Kunal Garg
18. Invoker
Regarding the Gods being the Shield Anvil in that world, i always viewed that as a positive thing. A world where gods were worthy of worship and love unlike this world. So when Fallen One was brought down to this world, his beloved worshippers set out on a course to find him.

And as has been referenced somewhere i don't remember. Gods in that world were at war when this chaining happened.
Kunal Garg
19. Invoker
What i want to read about the most is the Chaining itself. And then Erikson uses the phrase - First Chaining. Has it been done before to someone else? Or after?

Rake was involved in the chaining too. And I for NOT one second can imagine him doing something that was not justified and necessary.
Rake can be taken as the only moral compass in this series i think amongst the millenia old Ascendants!
Joseph Ash
20. TedThePenguin
Hold on... the gods were at war when Kaminsod was ripped from his world into Wu (effing Thaumaturgs), that is different than when Kaminsod was first chained.

Also, the mupltiple Chainings were mentioned already I thought. Different parts of Kaminsod were chained at different times, as they were found? You also hear "The Last Chaining" mentioned, this one had Dancer, Kellanved, and Dassem Ultor were present at.

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