Welcome to the Malazan Re-read 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 25 Part 1 of Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson (MoI).
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.
This is the second part of our Chapter 25 split – in this section, we’ll be reading from where Envy storms out after Kilava to where Toc enters Anaster’s body. Part 3 next Wednesday will finish Chapter 25 and also include the Epilogue.
Since Bill is just away I’ll repeat his disclaimer (although he has managed to spend some time working on Malazan while driving up mountains, or whatever active thing he is doing *grin*): Those of you reading Bill’s commentary over the next few weeks [Bill: “What do you mean, those reading my commentary? Isn’t everyone reading my commentary?”] may notice a decline in quality, substance, length, depth, and insight. Some of you may notice no difference at all [Bill: “Hey!”], even if his commentary is completely absent [Bill: “Double hey!”]. The reason for said decline or possible absence is that Bill is currently wending his way across the U.S., through the southwest, trying to avoid the now-raging forest fire, and up to Yosemite National Park, then wending his way back through Death Valley, Bryce, Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, and so on until returning home. He is dutifully carrying his trusty Kindle and equally trusty iPod Touch in a valiant, noble, and some (mostly Bill) might say Herculean effort to stay on top of his blogging duties, but it seems his archaic tent is not equipped with wi-fi (what is this, the Franklin expedition or something?) and so his ability to stay in contact with the actual world (you know—the online community as opposed to that place with all the rock, flora, fauna, bears, etc.) may be limited.
CHAPTER 25 PART 2
As Paran watches the Seguleh slowly win against the K’Chain, Quick Ben points out that Moon’s Spawn is going to crash into the keep. Kilava, still in panther form, appears on the roof and Quick Ben yells at her to wait. Quick Ben calls on Talamandas as Moon’s Spawn strikes the roof, crushing the Matron and heading toward the Seer and just behind him Kilava. Quick Ben hits her with a bolt of sorcery then, telling Paran to follow him, and leaps for the Seer as Paran grabs hold of Quick just before he opens a warren. All plunge into it, followed by Kilava. Moon’s Spawn sinks into the roof, and a huge chunk of Moon falls, killing the two Hunters while the Seguleh make a run for it.
Gruntle is exhausted and is left with only eight of his soldiers alive. Stonny appears, tells him she’s been doing what she could, mentions that the Mott Irregulars are somehow here. Moon’s Spawn has torn through the keep and drifts overhead, rain falling from it. The Grey Swords’ Destriant appears and tells them they found Dujek and 800 of his soldiers. She tells them the city has fallen and they will be gathering outside the walls. Gruntle says they’ll join her, thinking if it weren’t for the Ay they’d all be dead. He wonders what is happening with Itkovian.
Korlat and Orfantal fly toward Moon’s Spawn and as they do, they sight four Malazan ships of war entering the harbor. Orfantal tells her to go down; he’ll stay and guard the skies, though the enemy is fallen. He tells her: “What you would guard, staying with me, is the heart within you. You would fend it from pain. From loss. Sister, he deserves more. Go down, now. To grieve is the gift of the living—a gift so many of our kin have long lost. Do not retreat. Descend, Korlat, to the mortal realm.” She lands and veers back into human form. As she moves toward Brood, she watches Crone report to him then fly away, and she thinks she has “never seen Brood looks so defeated.” High Marshall Stump reports to Brood that the Boll Brothers took care of the mages atop the wall and asks what the Mott Irregulars should do now. He suggests putting out fires and when Brood says fine, he leaves. As Korlat nears, Brood is trying to figure out how the Irregulars got in the city, behind the wall. Korlat tells him of the ships and Brood says Tayschrenn has already informed him, before heading to the ships. When Korlat mentions the Malazans, due to their losses, won’t be “bargaining from a position of strength,” Brood tells her “as far as I’m concerned, the Malazans have earned all they might ask for. If they want it, Coral is theirs.” Korlat informs him the full unveiling of the Warren of Darkness is permanent, that “the city now lies as much within the Tiste Andii warren as within this world.” Brood asks if the Andii will claim Coral, now that it’s obvious Moon’s Spawn is just about finished. She says she doesn’t know what Rake intends and head for the hill where Whiskeyjack lies. As she walks, she thinks: “Dear Mother Dark, do you look down upon me now . . . Do you smile, to see me so broken? I have, after all, repeated your fatal errors of old. Yielding my heart, succumbing to the foolish dream—Light’s dance, you longed for that embrace, didn’t you? And you were betrayed. You left us, Mother, to eternal silence. Yet, Mother Dark, with this unveiling, I feel you close. Was it grief that sent you away, sent you so far from your children? When, in our deadly, young way—our appalling insensitivity—we cursed you. Added another layer to your pain. These steps, you walked them once. How can you help but smile.” She steps into rain falling from Moon’s Spawn “weeping down upon her and upon the filed of corpses surrounding her . . . upon thousands of kneeling T’lan Imass . . . the scene . . . growing more solid, more real. No longer the faded tableau of a Tiste Andii’s regard. Life, drawn short, to sharpen every detail . . . make every moment an ache.” She begins to cry.
Brood watches her cry: “as her head tilted back, face slowly lifting to the shroud of the rain . . . A heart, once of stone, made mortal once more. This image . . . he knew, with bleak certainty, would never leave him.”
Silverfox is approached by the Rhivi spirits. As she awaits them, she thinks everything has been ruined: “there were lives within that frozen rain. Entire lives, sent down to strike the flesh of this world, to seep down, to thaw the soil with its fecundity. But it has nothing to do with me. None of this. All that I sought to fashion—destroyed. This dream world was itself a memory. Ghostworld of Tellann, remembrance of my own world, from long, long ago . . . taken from the Bonecaster who was there at my refashioning, taken from the Rhivi spirits, the First Clan, taken from K’rul, from Kruppe. Taken from the slumbering land itself—Burn’s own flesh. I myself possessed nothing. I simply stole. To fashion a world for my mother . . . where she could be young . . .live out a normal life . . . All that I stole from her, I would give back.” She thinks bitterly that her intent had justified her theft, but it was a lie, and so all she “hoarded was in turn stripped of value . . . gone to dust.” When the spirits arrive, she thinks she knows they wonder what false promises she will offer this time, what lies. Thinks she had a people for them, a people who had lost their own gods. The spirits tell her they have found two thrones, awaiting “this warren’s true masters.” Angered, Silverfox says the realm was made for the Rhivi, and wonders who dares “usurp” their right. But the spirits say she is wrong, that the realm is too much for them, too “vast, too powerful . . . we will endeavour to treat with the new masters. I believe they will allow us to remain. Perhaps indeed we will find ourselves pleased to serve them.” And despite the spirit telling her that her goal might still be achieved, if in different fashion, Silverfox thinks, “As I stole, so it has been stolen from me.” She tells the spirits to go and walks away, thinking “My gift to her. My gift to you. . Grand failures, defeats born from the flaws within me . . . [I am] an abomination.”
The Rhivi elder says they will seek the mother again, as commanded by the Bonecaster. Another says she will simply flee as she did from the Ay and wonders why this would be any different. The first says because “this land . . . now lives.”
Toc is free, “riding the soul of a god. Within the muscles of a fierce, ancient beast.” He howls and is answered by the appearance of the Ay: “the children of Baaljagg—of Fanderay—ghost memories that were the souls of the T’lan Ay. Baaljagg had held them, within herself, within her dreams—in an ageless world into which an Elder God had breathed eternal life” Then Fanderay arrives and the two wolves/gods are united. Toc looks on with joy as they run toward their thrones.
The Mhybe tries to break free of Kruppe’s hold, afraid of the wolves she senses/hears despite Kruppe’s statement that they have nothing to fear. Kruppe tells her the world is no longer his, it must be “passed on . . . You are the vessel in truth, now! Within you—take this dream from me. Allow it to fill your spirit.” She breaks free and finds herself seemingly chased by tens of thousands of wolves led by two huge ones. Before her is a bone hut and a group of Rhivi. The wolves arrive but ignore her. She asks what is happening and Kruppe tells her Togg and Fanderay have come “to claim the Beast Throne.” The Rhivi elder tells her the world was created by Silverfox for the Mhybe: “it is for you. Indeed, it exists within you. With this world, your daughter asks for forgiveness,” and “sought to answer” the tragedy of the Rhivi, the T’lan Imass, the Ay. When the Mhybe asks where Silverfox is, the Rhivi answers that “despair has taken her away.” The Mhybe asks if she will awaken and Kruppe says “That woman [the old Mhybe back in Hood’s temple] now sleeps eternal . . . Your daughter spoke with Hood. Reached an agreement . . . She believes, having lost the T’lan Imass, that she has broken it.” The Mhybe realizes the agreement was freedom for the Imass, “their souls delivered to Hood.” When she says Hood won’t stand for the loss of the T’lan Imass, Kruppe replies that Hood is patient. The Mhybe wishes for Silverfox so the Mhybe can beg forgiveness of her. Togg speaks to her and tells her that Toc is within him, and that the god would release him if she—the “mistress” of the realm, would give leave. She does.
Itkovian, under the rain of Moon’s Spawn, tells the T’lan Imass he has taken their pain and suffering and will leave them. The T’lan Imass say they do not understand why such a gift. He tells them he was born 30 years ago and his mother, attached to a “hard, just man . . . smiled but once in all the years I knew her. The moment when I departed. Still, it is the smile I remember. I think now that my father embraced in order to possess. That she was a prisoner. I think, now, that her smile answered my escape. I took something of her with me. Something worthy of being set free . . . In the Reve, I wonder, did I simply find for myself another prison?” The Imass tell Itkovian his mother is free within him but they still do not understand his compassion and generosity. Itkovian says: “We humans do not understand compassion. In each moment of our lives, we betray it. Aye, we know of its worth, yet in knowing we then attach to it a value, we guard the giving of it, believing it must be earned. T’lan Imass, compassion is priceless . . . It must be given freely. In abundance.” He dies.
Silverfox meets Tool and Lanas and behind them, the Ay. Tool tells her to free the Ay—”Their spirits await them. They would be mortal once more, in this world you have created.” She releases them: “for too long have they known chains. For too long have these creatures known the burden of loyalty.” Tool thanks her, introduces Lanas Togg, then drops his sword at his feet. She wonders at the act, then realizes what it means.
Baudin says it is time to inter the Mhybe. K’rul wonders since when has Hood become so generous and Baudin says he is “ever generous.” Murillio protests she is still alive and K’rul informs him that it is not a burial; she “will sleep for ever more. She sleeps, to dream. And within her dream lives an entire world.” Coll tells Murillio they should help with the bedding for her. The two priests remove their masks and when Coll asks why they are crying, K’rul says their gods have found each other inside the Mhybe’s dream world.
Paran, Quick Ben, and the Seer fall out of the warren. Quick Ben has the Finnest. Kilava bursts out of the warren behind them and Paran swings his sword, wounding her, before she throws him aside. Quick Ben tells her to stop and attacks her with sorcery, then tells Paran to stand because he’s done. The panther growls at him and Paran growls back, taking the form of the hound again. As Kilava hesitates, Quick Ben tells her they are not her enemies; “we seek what you seek.” When she still looks to attack he yells, “vengeance is not enough.” She veers back into Imass form. She identifies the setting—Morn—and Paran turns to see the rent: “A wound, bleeding pain—such pain, an eternity—gods below, there is a soul within it. A child. Trapped. Sealing the wound . . . the child of my dreams.” Quick Ben speaks to the Seer and says the Finnest holds the Matron’s power—”Unable to sense itself, yet alive . . . presumably it feels no pain.” Kilava interrupts and asks what Quick Ben intends and he tells her something where everyone wins. She says she wants vengeance for her brother’s pain over Toc. She relates what happened and says she wants to make the Jaghut suffer. The Seer says haven’t you already? Quick Ben tells them both that the Jaghut’s sister is still inside the rent and that sending the Finnest in will release her. The Seer asks for what purpose: “how long would we survive. . The T’lan Imass will hunt us in earnest . . . I free my sister to what? A short life, filled with flight? I remember . . . running. Never enough sleep. Mother, carrying us . . .” He tells Kilava he remembers her too, sending them into the rent and she says it was a mistake; she thought it was a portal to Omtose Phellack, but he doesn’t believe her. When she protests it was an accident, he asks why she never rectified it and when she says she didn’t find a way he calls her a coward. Quick Ben says enough—free his sister with the Finnest, and Kilava says while the Jaghut is right—they will be hunted and killed—that is still a better fate. He says he’ll just wait for somebody to probe the portal, exchange themselves. Quick Ben says he has a better idea. He tells the Seer he knows that the Imass will seek Omtose Phellack whenever it is unveiled, but he knows of a place they will not be able to find it, where Omtose Phellack can not only survive and thrive but heal. When the Seer calls Quick a liar, Kilava says perhaps he should listen, then Paran points out the Seer has been manipulated by the Chained God, used to wreak havoc and pain, and he asks “since when were the Jaghut interested only in destruction . . . Do you still feel as twisted inside? Do you still delight in thoughts of delivering pain?” The Seer says he feels empty and asks why he’d believe them. Paran tells Quick Ben to let him go – then tells the Seer that if he accepts the offer, he will be safe with his sister and could even make the Chained God pay. When Kilava says the Seer will twist/corrupt his sister, Paran says the Seer will not be alone with her. Quick Ben tells Talamandas to release the Seer, and he rises to his feet, then asks Quick Ben if the place is far.
The sister, the same young age, steps out of the warren. When Kilava asks what she will remember, Quick Ben says hopefully nothing and tells her he and Talamandas will work to ensure that. The Seer stays back and Paran tells him go to her. When he says she remembers a brother, Paran says he can be her uncle. The Seer then says, “We Jaghut are not known for compassion among our blood-tied” and Paran replies “And we humans are? You’re not the only one who finds such things a struggle. There’s much you have to repair, Pannion, starting with what is within yourself, with what you’ve done . . .let the child—your sister—be your guide . . . you need each other.” The Seer tells Paran he regrets what he did to Toc, then tells Kilava she has her own road to redemption. They both agree they cannot forgive the other, yet. He goes to meet his sister.
Inside Burn’s cavern, Paran can see the Crippled God’s infection dissolving the giant. They are joined by the old witch Quick Ben had spoken to about Burn earlier. She tells Pannion she has been chosen by Burn to help him take care of his sister. But that first he must unveil Omtose Phellack and use its cold to fight Burn’s fever/infection. He does so and Quick asks if it’s cold enough for the witch. He tells her it was Picker and the witch’s hints about cold that gave him the idea. The witch tells Kilava the warren is not to be assailed and she cannot tell anyone of its existence. Kilava says this is where she begins her own path toward redemption. Quick Ben tells Paran to think of a card in his mind and lead them out.
Atop the hilltop where Whiskeyjack was killed, Korlat stands over the three Malazan bodies. As Gruntle looks outward, he sees the T’lan Imass are gone, Itkovian’s body lying on the ground as the Grey Swords approach, Brood standing with Taur, Hetan, and Cafal, and Dujek’s devastated army exiting the city. Dujek himself is heading up the hill. A warren opens and out steps Tayschrenn and the Malazans from the ships. One of Gruntle’s survivors asks to raise the Child’s Standard and he tells her to do so down among the dead, in the darkness, and also to stop calling him Lord. She says it was a title and position “purchased in blood” and he relents, but says, “I’m not a soldier. I hate war. I hate killing.” Tayschrenn is introducing the Malazan Ambassador to Brood, who says formal negotiations need to await Rake, due soon. Dujek arrives and looks to Korlat standing over the bodies.
Toc feels the joy of running, then sudden pain, a rush of breath. He finds himself in Anaster’s body. A Grey Sword asks if he well “leave your gods” and he answers no, and she welcomes him as “Mortal Sword of Togg and Fanderay.”
Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter 25 Part 2
Some nice evidence of the skill of the Seguleh. We’ve heard so much about the speed and swiftness of the K’ell Hunters, and here just two beings are tearing them apart (albeit with some damage). I do now understand more what Bill was referring to way back in Gardens of the Moon when he spoke about not being able to grasp the relative power of all these beings, and who could beat who. I don’t know about a Cage Match for all fantasy characters (as Suvudu hosts) but I would love to see a Cage Match just featuring Malazan characters. *grin*
I’ve put a post on my blog (shameless plug: Floor to Ceiling Books) talking about the reasons why I don’t think Malazan would make a great TV series—you’re all welcome to come over and comment—but here is one of the reasons why I still want to see it, despite all my reservations: “Dragons, diving towards the city, waves of power lashing down to thunder in the streets, against buildings, darkness billowing.”
*grins* at this commentary:
“I thought Rake would at least come down in person for this,” the wizard went on. “Instead, he’s elected something…uh, less subtle.” Like obliterating this entire keep and everyone in it.
With the bromance emerging between Quick Ben and Paran, I wonder what position this leaves Kalam in once he is back on the scene. *snickers*
I didn’t like the Matron much, but I don’t think she deserved that particular death. *sad*
Moon’s Spawn crashing like that gives me a mental picture of the alien ships from Independence Day plummeting to earth!
And now here is the price of war writ large: “His gaze fell once more on his few remaining followers. All this, just to get fifty paces inside the gate.” Makes me feel that this is what the soldiers in World War I must have been thinking as they advanced their trenches a few feet and counted the cost. And yet, we know that had this offensive not been launched, the Pannion Seer would have continued to advance and do to other cities what he did to Capustan. Is the cost worth it? When you’re measuring the cost in lives, it’s always a hideous choice to make. A duty—the duty we’ve seen mentioned by people like Whiskeyjack and Paran and Picker.
Another little hint that the Mott Irregulars are a little… irregular, what with the fact that they managed to get to Coral before anyone else.
Commentary from Korlat about how past events led everyone to this point inside and outside of Coral—memories affecting the present: “Our history, my lost love, our history destroyed us all.”
Can Korlat actually regain mortality? Or is it just a comment on the fact that her heart has been so affected by Whiskeyjack, and brought to life again?
“What you would guard, staying with me, is the heart within you. You would fend it from pain. From loss. Sister, he deserves more. Go down, now. To grieve is the gift of the living – a gift so many of our kin have long lost. Do not retreat. Descend, Korlat, to the mortal realm.”
There is definite thought here on the fact that grieving for a person indicates how much you care, and shows respect. If Korlat does not grieve for Whiskeyjack, then it almost implies she didn’t have that much to lose. If she is crushed by grief, it gives credence to her love for the mortal man.
I think that Brood’s attitude is right—this might be a victory, but it sure doesn’t look like one, what with the loss that has been faced. I find myself agreeing utterly with him: “Korlat,” he said softly, “as far as I am concerned, the Malazans have earned all they might ask for. If they want it, Coral is theirs.”
I’m not 100% sure with what is meant by this unveiling of Kurald Galain—what it now means for the city of Coral, why it will be staying, how it helped with the end of the battle? Anyone care to help an idiot out? *smiles*
What a beautiful poignant heartbreaking visual: “Watched as her head tilted back, face slowly lifting to the grey shroud of the rain.” Knowing that Korlat cries for all she has lost.
Poor Silverfox. I do feel sorry for her—somewhat frustrated that she brought this on herself, thanks to not telling anyone else what she had planned (barring Kruppe, who has his own agenda), but definitely sorry for her. She feels such self-loathing, since she believes that she has failed to give her mother anything, failed to give the Rhivi spirits a people to call their own, failed to show the T’lan Imass a new home. It must be so painful.
Awwww, and now what a moment where Togg and Fanderay find each other! That is just lovely, especially since it has been building from the first few pages of the novel.
We’ve seen the Beast Thrones before, haven’t we? Empty? In Deadhouse Gates, when the D’ivers were all trying to claim them. And now Togg and Fanderay sit them (although, as Kruppe says, not literally—that would indeed look ridiculous), which is entirely fitting.
And, finally, forgiveness and understanding from the Mhybe—who we can appreciate as being called the Vessel, now that she holds a whole Realm within her. You were all right when you said that I would enjoy the endgame of this particular plotline. It all slots into place and leaves me feeling at peace (which is needed, with some of the other events that I have had to endure in these last few chapters of Memories of Ice).
Itkovian! What a hero, right to the very end. Imparting his thoughts on compassion, and the knowledge that it must not be “earned,” but must be freely given. I will sorely miss Itkovian, but his work is done and I want him to rest peacefully. Unlike Whiskeyjack, this one is not sore. This is something I knew must happen—and equates to a relative who is mortally ill, but achieves what they must before succumbing. Although there is sorrow, there is relief as well, that this person goes in peace.
Immediately, we then see Silverfox, who says a “gift is hers to give”—as in, the Ay should “earn” it before she releases them. I like this juxtaposition of Itkovian and Silverfox, especially when they are both dealing with undead races. It is good that Silverfox does release the Ay—and finally realises that this is her sole purpose in being born. Nothing more matters. She has been caught up in trying to manipulate and force people and races into positions that she thinks they “should” be in—when really she should be offering the same compassion as Itkovian to the T’lan Imass.
Here is the connection between the Mhybe and Burn vocalized:
“She sleeps, to dream. And within her dream, Murillio, lives an entire world.”
“Like Burn?” Coll asked.
The Elder God smiled in response.
I don’t know whether this is merely a reflection (such as that I mention between Itkovian and Silverfox), or whether this will lead to something happening in future books, especially when Murillio then says: “Just how many sleeping old women are there?”
I think there is something in this line that Kilava utters: “Who knew a mortal, and called him kin.” The relationship between Tool and Toc is also reflected in Rake and Whiskeyjack, and Korlat and Whiskeyjack. In fact, during this period, there have been a number of immortals realising the importance of the mortals around them. Is this a deliberate theme? What is Erikson trying to say here?
*weeps* That last section of the sentence where Quick and Paran talk to the Seer, and he says in a child’s voice: “This other place […] is it far?” See, Erikson has me all turned on my head again… Yes, the Jaghut has been manipulated by the Crippled God, but look at the atrocities committed in his name, and yet here I feel such sorrow and compassion for him, and want him to be put beyond the woes he has experienced.
So Omtose Phellack is going to be used to fight the infection within Burn? Which means….. Quick Ben has this in mind all along, since he knew (or suspected) that the Seer held within him the last Jaghut on the continent? What a slippery snake of a character!
What card will Paran fashion? And what effect will it then have on the Deck?
Grief again: “The High Fist had heard the news—Gruntle could see it in his slumped shoulders, the way he repeatedly drew his lone hand down the length of his aged face, the spirit of the man so plainly, unutterably broken.”
And Toc alive! Properly alive! That, at least, gives a moment of pleasure to end this section on. *smiles*
Bill’s Reaction to Chapter 25 Part 2:
I like Paran’s very pragmatic and very self-aware decision that stepping in to help the Seguleh would most likely get them killed.
There’s something that is spot on about those two tiny stutters we get from Quick Ben as he watches Moon’s Spawn come down: “Uh, it’s not going to clear,” and “uh, less subtle.” It’s a perfect touch that makes the dialogue so realistic and also shows us Quick Ben somewhat surprised but in a quiet kind of way.
Followed, of course, by his immediate recognition of Kilava and her intent. Can’t keep a good guy down….
I actually kind of felt for the Matron Amanda—here she is, come out into a world utterly changed, all her children dead or undead, half-made, and used and abused by this Jaghut/Crippled God. In her insanity, she’s down to that singular maternal need of loving Toc, but her love regularly near-kills him, which if she is at all aware of has to drive her even more insane. Though perhaps my bit of sympathy/empathy for her is somewhat a product of this being a reread—I don’t at all recall my first response to her. I don’t think it spoils things to say in abstract terms that as we should expect by now, we get a differing view of the K’Chain at some point and perhaps that makes her more worthy of some sympathy on the reread. Though I’m glad to see even you though grinding her into mush and then mere smears was undeserved.
I had the same thought of WWI Amanda with Gruntle’s recognition of how little actual space they had gained. Even worse for those WWI guys is sometimes they pay by the hundreds and thousands for a few feet/yards and then give it back a month (or less) later. And again, though we never knew him, never heard really much from him, I confess to a pang of sorrow for that Lesteri officer.
Gotta love a brother’s insight. Korlat indeed is trying to guard her heart—I think her blood-festooned claws are another sign of that attempt. I like, too, that Orfantal’s advice doesn’t only show love and understanding of his sister, but also great respect for Whiskeyjack. One could see a millennia-old being sneering at grieving over the mayfly life of a mortal human. And it shows he, like Korlat, has seen what has become of his people—their inability to grieve, the way that implies a kind of death-in-life. (Hmm, where have we seen that before in another people?) He’s a good guy, this Orfantal.
I also like the inverted play on Ascension, with his advice to her to “descend” I think this is more than mere playfulness though. The idea that these ascendants have grown too aloof from the world, too indifferent, and therefore perhaps find cruelty easy (or they are simply oblivious to it) is a running theme, and one that two of the most recent Ascendants—Dancer and Kellanved—will deal with, especially I think Dancer, in one of my favorite series-long aspects.
You mentioned the Mott Irregs and Bole brothers and how strange it was they got there first. Another point to note is that they dealt not with the Seer’s soldiers, but with his mages.
We will see what the full unveiling of Kurald Galain means in later books. Suffice to say that the earlier phrase “Black Coral” resonates with some meaning. And obviously the Andii have need of a home for at least a while.
“Memories grown cold”—lots of ways our book’s title ripples throughout this novel.
In that same paragraph, as Korlat thinks on Whiskeyjack’s death, note the theme of abandonment that comes into play as well. WJ doesn’t simply die—he “withdraws;” he leaves her—”leaving, leaving me.” Think of Silverfox earlier and her sense of abandonment. We’ve seen it elsewhere. And now Korlat moves us from Whiskeyjack to Mother Dark’s abandonment of her children (hmm, more parental issues). Does Korlat really feel Mother Dark close? Will Mother Dark ever return?
Korlat under Moon’s Spawn is one of those moment’s I’ve mentioned before where I see it coming and wince a bit. I’ve said before Erikson almost always pulls it out. Here, I think he comes pretty close. I absolutely love the visual, the image. And I love that we move from the narrative description of it to the impact on Brood—himself a man of a thousand lifetimes who walks perhaps the edge of indifference. That said, I wouldn’t have minded had Erikson pulled back just a tad—not given us the closing line in her scene about the tears, not given us the line from Brood about the heart of stone, but let the reader make those connections. But it’s a minor quibble and I’ll take those lines if it means I get that image—one can almost see that as a sculpture: Korlat’s Loss or some such title.
I confess, while intellectually I feel bad for Silverfox, I just can’t get the emotional sympathy going. I just want to shake her and say “if you’d would have just mentioned…” I know people have come up with explanations for the secrecy, but none of the explanations really do it for me. So yes, I know she’s bereft here, and yes, I know I should feel bad, but….
Great line though: “gone to dust.” Talk about an appropriate image for leader of the T’lan Imass.
We have seen the beast throne before (remember Paran took us there). It’s good to see the long-lost lovers reunited. But things have consequences in this world, and we’ve already seen that gods are lining up for war—don’t forget that….
Compassion. It always comes down to compassion in this series, doesn’t it? Probably my favorite aspect of it. And what a great Itkovian scene. Simple language. Spare and simple. But a mass of depth and emotion carried by the language. “I am done.” “…he died.” I think this scene has so much more impact due to the simplicity and clarity—his memories, the dialogue back and forth, the close. Erikson doesn’t bury the impact in a forest of language.
“For too long have they known chains.” Hmm. An interesting line in a book whose major villain is called the “chained god.”
What does Tool want? Well, that last line of Silverfox’s, referencing a a few paragraphs back, is a pretty strong hint.
I love that line of Murillio’s—”just how many sleeping old women are there?”
“Vengeance is not enough”—not in a work where compassion reigns.
And now we see more of the cruelty of the T’lan’s war on the Jaghut—the Seer would rather leave his sister in the rent than put her through it again. And note how quickly Kilava says the Seer is right in thinking they’ll be hunted all their short lives—but, she says, a quick (relatively) death is better than eternal pain.
A clever snake indeed, that Quick Ben.
Oh, that scene with Dujek. And it just gets worse. And then Mallet. Good to focus on Toc’s rebirth. Good idea. We picked a smart place to end this section….
Amanda Rutter contributes reviews and a regular World Wide Wednesday post to fantasyliterature.com, as well as reviews for her own site floortoceilingbooks.com (covering more genres than just speculative), Vector Reviews and Hub magazine.
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.