I can't tell you what it means to hear so many people say that they have enjoyed the Malazan Re-read and recommended it to people. Honestly, you're making me feel all weepy with happiness that it was appreciated.
I should have looked at the publication dates! ;-)
Alright, finally I've been able to dive into Forge of Darkness proper, and I really enjoyed this first chapter.
I too marked the dichotomy of 'there will be peace' and then the vivid picture of the savage cuts into stone, which feel as far from peace as you can get.
It's funny how conviction is seen as a good thing in the phrase 'having the courage of your convictions'. We're supposed to be brave enough to state our certainty. But here it is seen as definitely negative. "The detritus quickly swept from view" sounds like someone disregarding every other thought but their own, which does indicate a terrible path.
What is interesting to me about this presentation of Draconus is how first time readers would view him, rather than those who come to this novel with the weight of the Malazan novels behind them. We already know where Draconus' story leads him, and we're able to see good in the character. Those seeing him fresh here might well be inclined to see him as cold and distant, and possibly difficult to like.
Arathan is an interesting character, with his nervous foibles, and his thoughts that he is unworthy of notice, matched by eyes that miss nothing, and martial ability that has not even been fully tested by those trying to teach him. He's very definitely clever and his thoughts on the world around him are sharp, albeit sometimes naive.
I wonder why Arathan is not moved by Draconus' power, which makes even the expressions of highborn tighten when they encounter him. Is it perhaps because Arathan has raw power of his own?
This glimpse of Envy, Spite and Malice is too cute. Yes, they grow up to be pretty hellish individuals, but you can almost imagine mischievous poppets here. Almost. Well, until Malice shows well why she is named such, by whispering cruel names and thoughts to Arathan.
The justice presented by Sagander is pretty damn cold, but what occurs is that the justice of the Forulkan becomes even more renowned later.
Sagander really isn't presented well, is he? Even comments like "overslept every morning and was often the last to make bed at night" portray someone who thinks himself better. His treatment of Arathan and the things he teaches in his lessons about Arathan's lack of worth are despicable. Conversely, Ivis straight away provides a feeling of warmth. He is immune to politics, he seems to admire Arathan where others regard him ill, and he demonstrate common sense in his conversation with Draconus.
Interesting that Arathan starts to regard power as just an illusion, but is unwilling to examine this notion too closely.
I really love this quote: "What we desire in our hearts, Arathan, and what must be... well, that is a rare embrace, so rare you're likely to never know it." It is such a sharp observation, and so beautifully presented.
Draconus talks about bereaved elements within the Greater Houses and Holds - what bereavement have they suffered? And it doesn't bode well that Draconus is caught between the highborn of the Holds and Mother Dark. They are all sons and daughters of Mother Dark? Is this going full circle back to Assail, where Jethiss took on the title of Son of Darkness?
I like the fact that Sangander thinks of ice whenever he contemplates the journey he is going to make to the Jaghut - it provides a wry smile.
Hmm, so Sangander needs something to provide him with a blazing resurrection of his reputation as a scholar. I mean, with what he teaches Arathan and his beliefs regarding the rightness of killing the unknown in the name of being safe, he doesn't seem the best scholar anyway! Anyone else a little concerned as to the fact that he has been mostly in charge of Arathan during his formative years?
Also, anyone worried that Raskan wonders about treachery in the ranks of his Borderswords? I mean, he thinks immediately that Borderswords are neutral, but there is always a chance he could be wrong.
Curious about Raskan's perception of the brewing civil war, when he thinks: "what was this power that so many seemed determined to grasp?" Does this mean a literal power, like magic? Or is it the more nebulous representation of the word?
With the discussion that the Borderswords have at the end of the chapter, where they refer obliquely to Mother Dark, are they indicating that "No one notices. Not until it's too late" is in regards to the sorcery that has now become impenetrable around her? There are definitely some intrigues in what they say, and the stream metaphor they keep using, but I'm damned if I can follow much of it! Ah, welcome back to Erikson!
Right, chaps - I'm sorry I went AWOL on this one for a while, but now back and ready to race into Forge of Darkness. I have my shiny copy sat right next to me and ready to go.
Which means revisiting my thoughts on Assail.
What's strange is that this is the first novel in the re-read that I came to with more of an editorial hat on, and recognised more of the problems with the balance of Assail.
Take, for instance, those first giddy chapters where we were offered a mysterious Tiste Andii, who suffered amnesia and had no idea who he might be. The wondering about which character it was. His determination to find out who he is. The scene on the bone bridge. All very exciting, very dramatic and part of my favourite scenes in the novel. However, towards the end of the novel, he suddenly vanished. Even in scenes where he was supposed to be (featuring Fisher and Kyle) he wasn't even mentioned. It was as though Esslemont thought "I need a Tiste Andii for the ending" and then got excited with the possibilities of a mystery as to who it was, but then went too far down the Anomander Rake red herring route that he couldn't really write anything more and so dropped the character.
Speaking of the ending... When you are less than fifteen pages from the end, it is pointless having a character look to a huge mountain with Forkrul Assail at the top and wonder if they're going to get out alive. There is no tension. We know they're going to survive.
And there was a problem with balance at the end. We had read pages and pages of description at other points, but the ending gets wrapped up with dizzying speed. To the point where I wasn't *entirely* sure what had been achieved. Also, Kyle being the saviour of the novel? No, just no. The random necklace that had barely seen a mention in prior novels suddenly being the one thing that would save them all from Forkrul justice? Didn't work for me.
So what did work?
Well, I actually enjoyed the setting and the Jaghut magic wreathed through it. For me, it was such a contrast with Blood and Bone, and it was beautifully achieved. I could feel the cold making my teeth ache in some of those scenes.
I adored the Cartheron Crust sections. That scene in the camp where the Malazans are drawn together and then cause havoc? One of the finest scenes Esslemont has ever written. It did bring to mind something - these Crimson Guard books have not had the vigour and fun of the Malazan series, because the Guard generally seem more po-faced and serious. And then it occurred that perhaps it was a deliberate tonal shift by Esslemont because of the Vow they have taken and their ultimate destiny. Which would be just superb, in my eyes, and an excellent recognition by the author of what needed to be conveyed.
With the Vow - yes, it was long-drawn-out and most of us got there before the big "reveal", but consider the audacity of Esslemont and the vision that led him to realise what a wonderfully poetic resolution that would be. The execution was lacking a little, but the idea was breathtaking and did lead to some brilliant moments.
So, not my favourite novel, by any means, even of Esslemont's (I think I would list Blood and Bone as the favourite), but one that had some great sections and showed an author really developing into his own voice.
- Kyle has touched or been aware of that amber stone from Ereko in the last couple of chapters way more than he has in the last couple of books. Coincidence? I think not. I'm preparing myself for something big; it is a definite Chekhov's gun moment.
- One thing I have been really disappointed about this novel is the whole Jethiss storyline. When it started out, there was real intrigue and it felt as though he was going to be a major player. However, he's barely been on the page, barring a couple of moments where it almost feels like Esslemont has to give him something to do to justify him being there. It's like he needed a Tiste Andii character and so needed a reason for one to suddenly be on Assail, but then didn't fully think through a decent and involving plotline for him.
- We're also told that Cal-Brinn and some of his Guard are having similar issues traversing the ice as Shimmer and her lot - this is an effective way of letting us know that ALL the Guard are experiencing the same problem, rather than it being something unique to those following K'azz.
- It must be horrible for Orman at this point to think that his stabbing of Buri had been for little, considering the T'lan Imass were still on their way and hadn't been stopped by the moving mountain of ice. It's a shame we see this moment from Kyle and Fisher's point of view, because it strips some of the emotion from it.
- Heh, yet more here: Kyle believes K'azz and the others to be Imass from their emaciated state. The clues do come thick and fast in this novel. I didn't know the way the Vow was going before this novel, but what has been given us here to piece together makes it very clear.
- It is bittersweet, this reunion between Cal and the rest of the Crimson Guard. It should have been joyous and full of talk and swearing and laughter, but instead it is quiet like the grave. Is that what clues in Fisher to what is happening? He is very quick to see it, considering the people it is happening to haven't even realised. I guess a bard would see clearly, thanks to knowing all the stories that have been and gone.
- I do like that comment "It has been a long time" from the Jaghut Mother, as she sees the spear that impaled her once upon a time.
- Is it key that Fisher's Jaghut blood means he is unable to draw on the elder as she passes him, even though he is desperate to find a way to stop her and the others?
- You know, the Forkrul Assail are so very terrible in other parts of this series that I should be dreading them coming onto the page, but the slim amount of pages remaining sort of suggests that unless Esslemont does the unthinkable and has them kill everyone, they aren't going to play much of a part. And that saddens me. The foreboding we should be feeling at this point is absent, because there isn't enough of the novel left to do them justice.
- Two decades it has been since Cal walked with the rest of the Crimson Guard and there is barely any emotion! That is a poor reunion for them, because of how the Vow has now affected them.
- Heh, if K'azz is essentially now part of the T'lan Imass, then you could see why he might be angry at them not following the prescribed rituals of greeting. Does he know about those formulas because of the Vow, or because he has just spent so many years out in the world and so has become familiar with things of that nature?
- Sometimes you can feel moments of bitter sadness from the T'lan Imass - they have been consumed by the Ritual and by their unceasing fight against the Jaghut, and it does leave them with nothing remaining. They are empty of purpose apart from that, which means life must truly feel unending and dry. No life at all.
- Shimmer feels rather dense here, as she considers the Vow of the T'lan Imass and is still completely oblivious to the nature of her own Vow.
- Is it just me or does it feel as though the T'lan Imass part here was all wrapped up too nice and neatly and quickly? Silverfox realises they don't know about the Redeemer, shows them, and then everything is all fine and dandy? There doesn't feel like enough emotion or gravity is being wrung out of this scene. We've spent so long wandering across Assail with various groups that this scene now feels abrupt in comparison. We seemed to be building towards this as a big convergence, but it hasn't played out like that.
- Esslemont does well with the final reveal for Shimmer about the Vow. Sure, we've known, but this character only realises truly at this point, and he carries us well. The scene is riveting.
- On page 751 of a 776 page novel, Kyle thinks this: "He also knew at that moment that it was unlikely that they would get off the mountain alive." Actually, it seems pretty certain that most of the characters are going to do exactly that. We might lose one or perhaps two in the next encounter, but the few pages remaining of this story make it too clear that everything is going to be okay. It removes all tension from those words.
- So, lots suddenly happens here... The Forkrul are all set to cleanse the landmass of everyone when Fisher suddenly announces four races are represented who all broke an ancient peace once before. The K'Chain Che'Malle are replaced by the Tiste Andii, is that correct? So Forkrul Assail, Tiste Andii, Jaghut and T'lan Imass swear to keep the peace and their ultimate agreement is partly in thanks to that innocuous amber stone carried by Kyle that we've barely heard anything about before this. Plus, we have that attractive little moment where Silverfox turns all kindergarten, and points the finger of blame at the Jaghut for starting things.
- And all of that happens in the space of about five pages. We spent more pages than that with Orman when he spent all those days climbing ice to meet Buri! I can't stand imbalance like this personally. The big events justify more space and time than the incidental parts of the novel, but it isn't how this ending has worked. And that, for me, makes this an ultimately disappointing read.
- I do like Orman's idea of building one Greathall for all the Icebloods and ending the silly feuding. It feels quite naive as a plan, but I hope he succeeds in stopping further years of useless bloodshed.
- So in this parting between Kyle and the T'lan Imass, Kyle is basically awarded all the credit for 'tipping the balance' in the encounter? But he didn't do anything! And I didn't feel as though they were in deadly danger and needed saving, besides.
- Hmm, this doesn't seem the greatest way for Fisher to meet one of his exes *grins*
- I don't know - whenever I see someone thinking about the little they now have to do to finish up a job in a fantasy novel, it always screams that there is about to be some problem. And this one is a rather huge problem!
- What makes me laugh here about Teal is that he is told that the soldiers believe the northern gods are angry, and he is quick to dismiss it as bullshit, but we've seen how much of a direct hand gods have in events in this world. Although the Letherii were never so much about gods as other people were.
- I, too, love the descriptions of Teal becoming slowly aware of the horror being unleashed towards him. My favourite part is when he thinks that the slope above him is suddenly steeper and closer - it really gives a great impression of just how huge this event is, how dwarfed he is.
- His dignified decision not to be killed as he scrambles away for a few more seconds of life is really powerful. It reminds me of that scene in Titanic with the old couple lying together on their bed, holding hands as the water rises.
- If someone as formidable as Malle has nothing particularly to say regarding what they should do in the face of this natural (or, rather, unnatural) disaster, then it would make me feel consternation at the very least!
- I like that Orosenn manages to convince Tyvar that their true purpose is to save innocents, rather than to fight - to shield people from danger. Considering they represent one of the more warlike gods, this is a real switch in perspective. It does make me rather confused as to what their original purpose here was. They haven't really seemed to achieve that much while on Assail.
- Heh, so was the old emperor a big fool or the most cunning person, hmm?
- This moment with Cartheron says a lot - his remark about being on the receiving end of the stone spears, his desire to still see new things, his stubborn resistance to leaving, his acknowledgement that he is essentially going down with his ship and so his crew can make up their own minds. I love this crotchety old commander.
- I also like the generosity of Orosenn, where she states that Jute should rejoin Ieleen and have a happy, loving life together. I mean, she could quite easily be thinking that she needs every able person to fight, but she would rather he left and made more of his life.
- Hmm, thoughts as to the fact Enguf offers berths to the highest bidders? That seems rather cruel considering there is limited space aboard the ships, and so only some can go, and therefore the richest are able to pay their way to a space.
- I don't like the idea of Jute staying. With his warm relationship and his plucky attitude, he seems ripe to be picked off by an author! I don't want him to die! And how are you supposed to stand against an avalanche of ice?
- Aha! Cartheron has some thoughts about how to deal with the massive glacier. And he also has a special cargo that people have been very careful about... Can anyone say munitions?
- Have to say, of all the places Cartheron might have chosen to settle, Assail seems an odd one. Perhaps he likes it because the Malazan influence is barely present!
- Jalaz and Jute's conversation says so much in such a small space. This is the sort of exchange I expect from my Malazan novels. Jalaz's confession that the empire that conquered her people also made it possible for her to see the world. And then Jute's words about the new emperor - they set some seeds as to what might come after these novels.
- That conversation is made particularly poignant by the thought of Jalaz offering to perhaps give her life in the service of the Empire, in order to save many lives. I'm pleased to see her make it through.
- These are some exceptionally written scenes, as the avalanche comes barrelling towards them. The inevitability of their death suddenly affected by the munitions that have been planted. It is epic in scope, with some great sentences. I love this: "And now this man, Cartheron Crust, was pouring half the imperial arsenal of Moranth munitions into this unstoppable mountain of ice in a colossal contest of wills that would grind all else into dust."
- Damn, Cartheron's mention of the retired life for him, accompanied by his chest pains and trembling hands, makes me worried.
- Which is the far older war that Orosenn mentions? Is it to do with the Forkrul Assail?
I find it a little arrogant of Kyle to think that he is the one who least needs protection, when he is surrounded by Crimson Guard and a Tiste Andii and some of the Icebloods. Sure, he has a magic sword, but the others are pretty damn capable as well.
Since Fisher is a bard and supposed to be someone who talks and tells tales, you would think people would pay more attention to his grim silence and realise that he is really not happy about their current direction and eventual destination!
Heh, some fantasy authors dwell for so long on food and feasts, and here we have virtually inedible hard rations from Esslemont. In fact, it’s interesting to think back and realise that neither Erikson or Esslemont write much about food - it’s quite refreshing for fantasy novels!
I liked the mention back of Ereko, back where Kyle’s journey started. He has come a fair way since then, although somehow his progress doesn’t seem so great. Yes, he is more stoic and capable, and he has the Weapon of Severing, of course, but at the same time he still hasn’t worked out his life, where he’s meant to be.
First they want the bard to tell stories, and then when he does, they mock him. Considering where they live and what they’ve seen, it seems bizarre to me that Badlands would not believe Fisher’s words.
I really admire the way that Esslemont has described this cold land, particularly after displaying such skill presenting the hot jungles in the last novel.
It is an awesome and powerful moment when Kyle and Fisher alone are the two to turn back when they sense the presence of the T’lan Imass. It really brings home how unique this feud is, but also shows how it has encompassed other people, since Stalker and the Crimson Guard are also drawn in.
We have seen the T’lan Imass (in the last chapter) avoiding the killing of bystanders to their personal war, so them trying to avoid killing the Crimson Guard here seems similar. But is it something… more? Apparently the Imass have never attacked them.
This part with Buri is weird. Why is this sacrifice needful? I don’t find Buri’s words particularly logical, if I’m honest, and this has all come about rather quickly. Plus, why is the spear of their enemy needed to achieve this?
Also, the death doesn’t achieve much in the way of emotion for me. We didn’t know Buri long enough to gain any particular attachment to him. If we are supposed to feel this death, it is from Orman’s POV. And yet that isn’t made authentic enough because we are not given a strong enough reason for Buri’s death. Think back to Anomander and Traveller. Yes, we had spent more time with those characters, but that sacrifice had real resonance and affected both parties profoundly. This seems so throwaway in comparison.
I agree with Bill - how is it that Silverfox can have no interest in the Jaghut, when it is the enmity between them and the T’lan Imass that brings her to where she is now?
What I am enjoying with Silverfox is the real sense that she is formed from four very distinct characters - the paragraph showing her other souls as they spent time with the Jaghut is wonderfully done.
I hate Silverfox’s dismissive: “They have no feelings.” We all know this is not true, having read of many T’lan Imass characters by now.
What strikes me is the amount of times we’ve seen Silverfox referred to as fragile, or easy to shatter, or “worried that I had fallen apart”. We’ve also seen the four souls referred to more in this novel than the last time we saw her. Is she going to break into her component pieces in this novel? Is that why we’re being shown these images?
And we’re seeing Shimmer unduly affected by the ice. I wonder why that might be? The Vow “secret” has been drawn out way too far at this point. Is there any reader who would still be wondering at this point what the Vow really means to the Crimson Guard? What is intriguing at the moment is how differently it is affecting each of them.
I think Bill has described my thoughts more eloquently than I could (as has often happened through the course of this re-read, I'll be honest! Let's all take a moment to pay tribute to the outstanding writing of this guy!)
Basically, reading fantasy as a woman is a very different experience to reading fantasy as a man. It took the longest time for strong female characters with their own agency and foibles to emerge in comparison to the strong male characters you have had all along. Take it all the way back to the Lord of the Rings - we had Eowyn, Galadriel, and Arwen, to an extent. You had Aragorn, Frodo, Sam, Gandalf, Pippin, Merry, Legolas, Elrond... Need I go on? All of those men with their own journeys and motivations.
So, the Malazan series as written by Erikson has always been a huge delight to me because of the wealth of female characters we've seen. I've always spoken of it as almost a feminist series because the women follow the whole range of personalities and have a variety of motivations for their actions.
Because I love it so damn much, and because casual nudity from women is handled just fine in Erikson's books (as in, sure, people take off their clothes - women and men - but there is no lingering description of nipples [I think it's the use of 'high' and the fixation on the colour of the areola that offends me so]), it really leaps out at me to see something like this and I find it disappointing.
I confess I do groan a little at the moment when I see that we're entering a Kyle section - we just don't seem to get the same excitement or flow or vivid writing. My other issue is that I see too many similarities between Kyle and Orman - both of them suffering during their respective journeys, both of them the bearers of mystical weapons, both of them having random encounters with people, both friendly and not-so-friendly. Having both of them in the same novel and, additionally, having both of those storylines duller than ditchwater at times, feels like an imbalance.
So, this frost he ingests - something to do with Omtose Phellack?
I mean, what exactly do we learn from the encounter with Gleeda and her hangers on? That the rumour of Whiteblade is going around? (we knew that) That there are people looking to take advantage of the gold rush for their own nasty ends? (we knew that) That the blade of his sword can lop through anything? (we knew that) For me, the scene adds nothing we haven't already seen.
I do like the idea put forward by Cull that a reason for these gold diggers being disliked is that they are taking part of the land away with them. It certainly gives a better idea as to why the settlers there would be invited to kill off trespassers by their ancestors.
And I also like Cull's perspective: "Death does not erase death." For someone who fell on his head, he seems to deal in a fair amount of sense, and more of the people in the Malazan world could do with following this principle!
This bald old man was a surprise in the encounter with the Crimson Guard. It's always jarring to remember that they can die, that they're not entirely invincible. I don't understand why K'azz is saying sorry to Shimmer about the deaths of the Crimson Guard.
The timelessness spell reminds us all too much of Jacuruku - it seems poor form to bring back something that has already been done to them previously.
This not knowing who is in charge seems bizarre for a military band. I just can't think how any of them would actually stand for it, the idea of not knowing who is actually giving the orders. This moment where Shimmer wants to order the High Mage, but can't really because K'azz is the one who is in charge of Cowl... well, it just seems daft that any of them would continue in that vein.
Is it the timlessness spell that makes them not check on Petal? The Crimson Guard honestly seem to be unravelling here.
Ah, Mist again. And another random encounter between the witch and travellers. I wonder if she will achieve anything further in this novel, or if this was all her role will be.
I'm unsure why the Vow left the Crimson Guard untouched by Mist and her powers. Is it because of the Jaghut/Imass connection? Same as the ice that only falls on the ship of the Crimson Guard, and Cowl's warning that they need to turn back?
Reuth is still one of the nicest characters in the novel, what with his clever knowledge about the witch Mist, and now his desire to help the Guard who had previously helped them. I hate Storval for the way he acts towards Reuth, and do hope he gets a nasty comeuppance.
Poor Yrkki. I know he is a dangerous creature made of bones, but it doesn't seem right the way he is treated by the Imass. Isn't it easy to dislike them in this novel? It's hard to remember how good some of them have been through the course of the previous novels. Esslemont has to walk a fine balancing act here - keeping us aware of Silverfox and what happened to many of the Imass, while presenting other Imass as terrible oppressors. So far he's managing, but I think it would be easy for him to fail.
I checked back and thought that the K'Chain Che'Malle used the term 'matron'. I, too, thought that the matriarch referred to them, but I believe it is a Jaghut Matriarch. Could be wrong! Happened before!
*bustles in* Sorry, sorry! I was on vacation last week and firmly believed I would be able to keep up with commitments - until I found the house I was in had Internet roughly the speed of dial-up having a bit of a sleepy moment. Great for getting away from it all, not so great having to do *anything* related to my various online jobs!
Anyway, here are my comments on Chapter Four:
- I'm sort of with Shimmer, with the whole 'vast depths and lengths of open ocean' and the fragile construct of a ship. I like travelling by ship and don't get sick, but that whole yawning emptiness and the fear of what could be beneath in the vast depths does make me a little quivery.
- I find it amusing that a soldier would find the sense of humour of a sailor odd. I'm sure the reverse is true as well. We've definitely remarked on the banter of the Crimson Guard before - even if it isn't as odd as the humour of the Malazan sappers!
Also amusing how Shimmer listens to Sept and Lean joking, and finds it perfectly normal.
- Perhaps K'azz is no longer scared of death because he is starting to suspect that he cannot properly die? I mean, even those Crimson Guard who are no longer physically alive are still around.
- It must be even more terrifying for an ocean crossing to take place with only a very sketched out idea of how to get to the final destination. Especially when the sketched out idea only comes from the descriptions of other sailors while they were drunk in bars.
- Shimmer might prefer K'azz to show evidence of taking command again, but it can't be particularly good for the Crimson Guard - never knowing which person is going to be giving the orders. In the event of a battle, looking to two different people would be problematic.
- Nice contrast between Luthal's cheery smile of greeting and the forty crossbows aimed at the Avowed!
- The Letherii are darkly amusing, in terms of their insistence on trading rules, but they're also pretty sinister when you really think about it. Their instant claim to this whole island, their naming of an establishment, the fact they now consider the Crimson Guard to be trespassing. It provides comedy, but does show a nasty colonial streak to the merchants.
- I'm not entirely sure what negotiation K'azz does here - I'm pretty confused by the whole 'setting the price at the sum of the entire beach'. I didn't see where Luthal did that. It feels as though Esslemont wanted to create a clever trade, but it became too obscure.
- Why doesn't Shimmer trust K'azz when he acts like this? I mean, he obviously is aware of things that she isn't, so why shouldn't she allow him to do what he thinks right? Having said that, learning that your commander is about to be, in essence, drowned and knowing that he isn't of the best state of mind could make her worry about a death wish.
- This exchange between Blues and Shimmer only emphasises how little connection Shimmer now has with K'azz. She can't understand anything of what K'azz has just done, but here: "She glanced to Blues and the man edged his head up and down in the slightest of nods. So it was decided, without any words, as only two who had campaigned side by side for years could decide."
- I actually don't like Shimmer's reaction to K'azz through this whole section, her assumptions, her inability to trust him.
- Was anyone else confused as to why the Letherii weren't going to honour the trial, and why they felt it hadn't been successfully passed? I felt a little dissatisfaction at the whole scene, to be honest.
- This is a really spectacular scene with the ghost ship and Burl and Whellan. It sends chills up the spine as you think about crewmen jumping over the side into the clear freezing water one by one, leaving an empty ship. This cold, this frost - anything to do with the Jaghut?
- I agree with the commenter who mentioned that the Orman sections feel very Vikings or 13th Warrior, with this climb into the mountains towards an unknown fate. And I also agree that Joggenhome could be a very bastardised Jaghut.
- I find it slightly curious that Orman is so quick to give up the idea of gold, especially when he is handed a large nugget that would make him rich in anyone's eyes. Is the spear to do with his quick change of heart? The spear does seem to be a weapon of revenge and vengeance, and seems to cause more feuds than it is worth. Interesting that it is pictured to be so very old, considering something like it was held by the ghostly woman who came to visit him. And she warned him about something arriving by the summer - the T'lan Imass? Are her overlarge canines to show that she is connected to the Jaghut and their tusks?
- This is a slow unfolding of Orman's story. I am enjoying seeing him come to life, but it is very different in tone from every other part of the book so far. Also, I would have liked to see the two brothers remain ambiguous in terms of who is who for longer!
Amanda's comments on Chapter Twelve:
- The idea of the jungle not being able to resolve where the land becomes the water, and the fact they merge into one another is a lovely echo of the fact that it feels the Crimson Guard are being sucked into the jungle and being made part of it as well. We've already seen this with Sour starting to dress in the fashion of the natives. It's as though the longer a person stays there, the more they become a part of Himatan.
- Having seen the way that the jungle claims everything, why would Shimmer then expect to see a city in the sense of one from back on the other continent? Wouldn't it be a part of the jungle itself?
- I don't know if this is deliberate, but I like the way it echoes the green skies and the Crippled God: "The light reminded her of that unearthly greenish luminosity that comes just before the clouds of a massive storm."
- Why is K'azz so unconcerned about the fact he seems to be gradually becoming a living skeleton? Is it because he knows where the Vow is taking them?
- I like seeing these Crimson Guard seeming to wake as if from a dream once they disembark the boat - their sudden anger, their realisation about what has happened to their armour and belongings. It creates a very real shift in mood from what we have seen.
- It is just like humans, isn't it, where in the event of disappointment, they continue to propogate a legend? Like here, continuing to talk about the treasures of Jakal Viharn when they know for a fact that they are not true.
- I know that they help to further the atmosphere, but encounters like with this shapechanger woman often frustrate me unduly. The fact that they can't speak clearly, and that there are loaded looks etc make me wonder why questers can never meet people who are straight talking and say exactly what they mean with no hint of subterfuge. I guess epic fantasy novels would be a LOT shorter in that case.
- Interesting how Rutana has now lumped these Crimson Guard in with the misshapen woman, in the way that she says they are all waiting and praying for Ardata to heed them and engage with them.
- And another tidbit about the Vow, the fact that Rutana considers them all doomed and suggests that Shimmer really needs to speat to K'azz about its nature.
- With the clinical life of the Thaumaturg, you must imagine that this environment and manner of living is pretty much Pon-lor's worst nightmare.
- The encounter with Anmathana feels so D&D random monster encounter, it's untrue. You can imagine Erikson and Esslemont having played that. At least whoever was controlling Pon-lor did not roll a one, when it came to trying to fool Anmathana with their magic!
- Ha, this is great - and vaguely terrifying! "Okay, Murken Warrow, it's time to get a grip on the situation. Everyone's countin' on us to get their puckered sphincters out of here. And who am I lookin' at to pull that off? Fuckin' useless Sour! We're sunk."
- As we see Sour becoming more and more attuned to the jungle, it feels like the same theme as the idea that all of the jungle is merging together and becoming one. It's also interesting that, as he becomes more like this, people are taking more and more time to ask his opinion. I'm amused by Murk's surprise that Burastan is finding Sour to help someone, and not himself. And then Burastan's defence of Sour: "You'll fucking do what you're told," she hissed, "or I'll cut the skin from your damned feet and make you walk point!"
- Murk and Sour have always been a partnership but now Murk finds more in common with Burastan.
- Haha, I love that Burastan tells Yusen about the flower and that Sour is fibbing to the troops, and then Yusen asks whether it has been disproved, and then allows it to continue.
- Brilliant moment where Ina almost brains T'riss, and the Enchantress wryly acknowledges (once she comes around) that she should know better than to lay her hands on an unsuspecting Seguleh.
- I'm really curious as to how T'riss refers to her aspect here - anyone shed any light? "My aspect. My manifestation. My territory. An area of concern that, through general neglect and laziness, has become my responsibility."
- Fab scene featuring Spite and her attack on T'riss and Ina. I feel sorry for Ina in her realisation that she is merely part of the subterfuge rather than a real bodyguard.
- I actually quite like the fact that we rarely see anything of the occurrences that cause death in Golan's army, that we only see the aftermath and Thorn's reports.
- The humour in this particular encounter between Golan and Thorn is dark and biting, isn't it? Especially the way, with extreme innocence, Thorn keeps pointing out the fact that Golan is still walking when the army has once again been halved in numbers.
Amanda's comments on chapter eleven:
- The little snippet here before the chapter begins proper is rather ominous, with the shapeshifting and the changing and the prophecy of disaster.
- During the scene where the Warleader is laying out his plans and the family heads/chiefs are nodding away and accepting everything, I don't so much think about Jatal and feel sorry for him surrounded by imbeciles. I paused to think that in this series, on so few occasions have we been presented with faceless, nameless characters like this that it sort of stood out. Usually we'd know a few of them, we'd be given names and differing perspectives on events. Here they nod as one mob and it feels very 'traditional fantasy', if you know what I mean?
- I'm slightly amused by how Jatal brings his analytical nature even to the reasons behind why he can't fall asleep.
- Jatal is such an inconsistent character - presented as intelligent, yet also a completely lovesick fool. I don't know if this is intentional, to show that even the most intelligent can fall foul of love, but his continuous lovelorn actions towards Andanii are annoying. And surely someone that intelligent can form a better reaction than he had to being rejected. Ugh. "Well... she has slain me already. This flesh is but a hollow shell."
- I am amused by his superior stance over the raving of the mercenaries before they go into battle. Like he is above it all.
- Scarza is rather impressive in battle, non? We have been shown how formidable the yakshaka are, and he seems to be toppling them with little ceremony.
- "Jatal thought her voice a touch too choked and shrill. Perhaps she had lost her taste for adventure and daring, now that the price to pay was so bitter. It occurred to him that their positions had seemingly been reversed: he, once reluctant and fearful, was now completely open to whatever the day might bring." I'm surprised it doesn't occur to him that it might be because he once had something to live for and now doesn't think he has, while she has gained something important to her that she doesn't want to lose.
- Ah, Esslemont really does know how to write a rotting corpse, doesn't he? *gags a little*
- Not just D&D and those statues, but any Egyptian grave robbing movie there's been. Just don't mess with the statues!
- Yeah, I'm with Bill. I don't buy Andanii not having had any time or opportunity to somehow let Jatal know her suspicions. After all, she's shown herself non-averse to sneaking around camps at night and being very secretive, so why hasn't that extended to this situation?
- That moment where we see the children with their mouths sewn shut is bloody gruesome.
- It is a particularly cruel moment where Kallor reveals that Andanii had done everything she did because of her love for Jatal, and the fact she was trying to protect him.
- Amused that, when asked about whether he knows who Kallor is, Scarza says: "It's an old story. Seen it a thousand times." In fact, it could have been Kallor over and over again, what with how long he has been in existence! Kallor is, himself, an old story.
I also want to chime in with Bill and say thank you back to all the people who have thanked us recently. Believe me, it would be nothing without you - just us talking into the void, and I don't like the sound of my own voice that much! Although I am always fond of reading Bill's words :-)
I want to also say thank you to Bill as well in a public setting - he has shown such patience and enthusiasm and overall joy in reading and sharing these books with me, and he deserves most of the kudos for what we have done. He is the one who has scheduled our posts, kept in touch with Tor, done the mammoth amount of chapter summaries... Bill is the coolest.
So, as promised, here are my comments!
Gosh, what an utter joy the opening scene of this chapter is, featuring Golan and Principal Scribe Thorn. After all the eulogising about Erikson's spectacular duos, this one really has to take its place in that vast list as well. I loved every nuance of their exchange, from the moment when they both stare in silence at the river that Thorn has announced blocks their path of advance, to the 'our cause is hopeless indeed' when Golan finds out the draught animals are deserting.
The truly wonderful thing is that these two characters appear to be playing gentle games with each other - the way that Golan starts marking the points that Thorn achieves with him, to the way the reader is left wondering whether Thorn really is this bureaucratic or whether he is taking the opportunity for some mocking.
Clever word play as well, with the fact that Thorn reports 'no casualties from enemy actions or resistance'.
I just love it all. Nothing further to say.
Of course, we then revert to seeing the Thaumaturgs as these curiously clinical and dispassionate people, with the fact that they consider surgeons barely more than labourers because they just sew up pieces of meat, to the way that Golan is able to face the heavy scents and sights of rotting flesh and maggots with equanimity. I love Golan, but also sort of hate him at times as well, which I greatly admire from Esslemont here.
A lovely parallel is drawn with the way that early doctors of medieval times used to have no real idea of what certain organs achieve. I particularly liked: "And why in the name of all ancients are there two kidneys? They really must be quite vital."
Sad to see U-Pre leaving us, and peculiar to see the way that even on his deathbed he is determined to follow all the formalities. "My apologies, lord [...] for the inconvenience." Yes, the inconvenience of dying from gangrene...
Jatal sort of annoys me, I confess. His desperate puppy dog longing for Andanii, who has discarded him without a backward glance for the sake of someone who clearly has more power, just seems so naive. Although I guess I am thinking about it from the point of view of someone with two much life experience. I mean, I had puppy dog eyes for my first boyfriend and excused some truly awful behaviour on his part because I just couldn't see life without him. I guess Jatal is youthful and inexperienced enough this this is being presented.
I think I'm sort of impatient that Jatal can't recognise who the Warleader actually is - but I think that was because I guessed it myself early on. If I was still unsure as to his identity, then this would be fine writing. I mean, why would Jatal truly expect a figure from history to be walking, talking and commanding troops with such expertise? So therefore why would he look at the Warleader and go 'aha! Kallor!'?
Kallor's headlong rush into battle seems more than impetuous, whether he believes them to be a ragtag mob. And then to be trapped by the chain and the surprise yakshakas seems silly for someone who is presented as being such a great tactician. Seems overwhelmingly out of character.
Speaking of that mob, well, the Thaumaturgs have sunk in my estimations again - treating them as a chained human shield.
I love the imagery of the magery wiping the field clear of all living beings, except for Kallor. That would be a fab cinematic scene. And I also love that moment where, no matter what Sher' Tal might think of Jatal and his abilities, he waits for confirmation of orders from him, rather than the Warleader.
I enjoyed much of this section, which continues my belief that this is one of Esslemont's finer novels.
Quick comments from me on the first part of Chapter Eight - apologies for the delay, guys!
I actually felt through the whole scene with Jatal and Kallor as though the Warleader was entirely toying with Jatal. He has obviously been having prior conversations - and perhaps more - with Andanii; he doesn’t give up his information easily; he seems amused by Jatal’s primitive politicking.
Despite Jatal’s comments about it, I actually see him as still enormously naive. He is giving over the idea of jewels etc as a potential win in favour of Andanii - who we then see is likely playing him against Kallor (probably hedging her bets as to which of them is going to prove the most useful to her - ruthless!) He obviously cannot stand toe to toe with Kallor’s experience and knowledge - although I did like that moment where Jatal’s entirely innocent comment made Kallor worry about what exactly ‘talking about history’ might mean.
And then back to Murk and Sour, which is proving to be one of my most favourite storylines within this novel. Here I particularly like Sour’s wholehearted embracing of the culture, with the food and the use of the natives’ methods. Although it is interesting how he automatically comes up with his own names for those flowers, disregarding what the natives might call them. It goes to show that, no matter how much a person might want to embrace a culture, they are still governed by their own thoughts and ideas.
One point I wanted to discuss is how much I thoroughly hated the half naked native women (Ursa) dragging Murk off for sexy times, and then admired him as a warrior. You could argue that this shows her being confident and happy in her own sexuality. But all I could see was those old movies where the women are seen as ‘exotic’ and men love the idea of being taken into tents by them. I really did not like that being put into this novel. It seemed so backward.
As promised, here are the rest of my comments - just in time for the next chapter!
I love this glimpse into King Veng. There is a teeny tiny reminder for me of the Transformers movie where Hot Rod lands on the weird Sharkicon planet - metal creatures and death issued as a response. I am probably not making any sense to half of you with this!
I'm enjoying this sequence with Mara and Skinner. And there is definitely more mystery to come, what with the almost certainly deliberate mention of the missing sword. That must be a factor in the future.
We get a real sense here about how the Thaumaturgs hierarchy works when Pon-lor thinks: "He mustn't question the sagacity or plans of his superiors."
I also can't see why Pon-lor would be so happy to continue following Jak when he so obviously seems to be hiding something, and acting in hatred against those he is guiding. Seems bizarre. Unless it's because he's received his orders and so is bound and determined to follow them through.
Another glimpse at the way Thaumaturg society works is in this: "As Pon-lor was not of sufficient rank to be allowed to hold a parasol [...] he gestured to a nearby guard and this man unfurled one to hold above him while he walked. And so do we find our ways around rules and prohibitions, he mused..." Of course, you have to then ask why the guard is permitted to hold a parasol!
Special attention? Jesus...
T'lan Imass? Or automatons? Just wondering what this creature is that Pon-lor is sure he knows. Ah, the dead from Chanar Keep.
Who are the Twins referring to when they talk about 'him' and unrequited love?
Sorry, guys, for slipping deadline! Here are my comments on Chapter Four:
I like that we have a bookworm as one of our characters - I always root for them! I especially like that Jatal seems to be keen to read love poems and softer stories than you might expect from a member of a rather warlike tribe. It gives him added depth, in my view, and that is compounded by the considered way he regards the situation around him - well, everything except for Andanii! She just ties him in knots.
Wow, this is a sudden shocking look at what the Thaumaturgs are capable of! I mean, we'd already seen what happened with Hanu and the loss of his tongue, but this is another step, especially this description: "Meanwhile, the human dray animal paced on, his head hanging, his long hair filthy and crawling with vermin - just like any neglected mule or ox." Then additionally seeing that his eyes and tongue have been carved away adds to the horror. Hearing that he is essentially lobotomised is almost a step too far.
I do find it interesting that, despite their backward ways regarding slavery and dominion, the Thaumaturgs are so progressive in medical matters, and transforming people and beasts.
Esslemont also describes incredibly well here how we can read of atrocious acts, but somehow they don't become real until we observe with our own eyes, thereby finding it easy to ignore awful things that happen because we don't see them directly: "He knew these things intellectually of course... but to be confronted with the reality - in the flesh, as they say - made him feel threatened on a level far more intimate than any mundane enemy."
I wonder if showing Jatal this abomination is deliberate on the Warleader's part - to ensure that he starts to think about eliminating the Thaumaturgs?
Ah, Kallor, how lovely you remain: "And in a single blur he drew the heavy bastard sword at his side, swung it up, and brought it cleaving down atop the creature's head, chopping the skull clear down past its ears." No, I don't think we can ever regard Kallor as anything but a monster, no matter how he might show the tiniest flashes of humanity.
Poor Jatal - with his eyes opened to one aspect of what the Thaumaturgs are capable of, he must now have to believe every awful tale he heard about them.
I have wondered exactly what Andanii has myself - how a woman is a slut when a man is a player. I'm coming to like her character.
Ah, so Murk is trying to hide from the truth of who Spite is, rather than being completely unaware. That makes more sense. These are a really interesting duo, with Murk's sharp intellect, and Sour's astonishing level of power.
The shadow-forest is intriguing and confusing. So Ardata has used the Shadow Realm to hide Jacuruku? I'm not sure I'm getting that quite right. And Celeste is also confusing - why does her name cause Murk to think that the person who named her did so out of a grim sense of humour?
Gosh, Edgewalker - what a tantalising little reminder of a character who is still a great mystery.
Ahh, so Celeste is a manifestation of the part of the Crippled God that they are carrying. Still doesn't explain the name thing. The idea of an innocent part of the Crippled God walking around, one that would possibly follow the teachings of whoever got to her first, is actually rather sad.
Interesting little encounter with Shimmer and the jackal-dog-people, especially their protectiveness of Ardata and their absolute dislike of Skinner - I wonder if he truly knew all the consequences of betraying this spider goddess who has a horde of odd creatures willing to kill for her.
Also, is the jungle really close to the warrens, or perhaps a warren of its own? I ask because of the fact Smoky appears and uses his magic to save Shimmer.
I think Esslemont was maybe a little heavy-handed with the way he kept referencing Saeng forgetting to use her magic, but I actually appreciate the fact that he has made a point of presenting this person who has only recently come into power forgetting that it is actually an option. For someone who has grown up most of her life without magic, it must feel like a stretch to consider using it to begin with.
Well, Moon and Ripan are particularly odd, but somehow they fit the idea of living in this jungle and only occasionally coming into contact with strangers. Those tattoos of Moon's and the way they move across his skin are beautifully described.
"Jaghut! How they troubled everyone." Well, except for this reader *grins*
I love the fact that Osserc has sat here so long that spiderwebs have started to cover Gothos - stubborn, the pair of them.
My comments on chapter eighteen:
- It's interesting that we ended the last chapter considering the Moranth destroying the city of Darujhistan with an aerial bombardment and then see Ebbin straight away thinking about "the city in flames, screams, mass murder, carnage. The fall of a civilisation."
- Why is it such a mindfuck for Ebbin to learn that there has only been one Tyrant? Long-lived folk/Ascendants are known, so why would it be such a horror?
- Imagine being like Jan, surrounded by people who are so against your own culture that it is hardly bearable associating with them - yet being forced to. It must be a terrible way to exist.
- You wonder how far exactly Jan is going to be pushed before he snaps. At the moment it is bending, however ungracefully, but there must be a time when that will end. I wonder as well whether the arrival of Dassembrae and his couple of Seguleh will tip Jan towards some sort of decision.
- Or maybe he has already been pushed too far, with the declaration of the Tyrant intending to take over the training of the Seguleh? If he is going to reinstitute the Exile and risk the challenge of Gall, then it seems he is ready to leave. Which makes it extra heartbreaking that the Moranth are all fired up and on their way.
- The Seguleh can be so po-faced, like here where Antsy thanks them for his life, and they clarify that they didn't actually intend to save him.
- And more mystery about these Heels, with the fact that they are able to see in the darkness of Kurald Galain without assistance.
- Wow! Nice little revelation about Orchid! Part-Andii and part-Eleint as well... She's a big character to be hidden away in just one part of one book like this.
- Yusek's interest in the Seguleh and their way of life... It makes me wonder how early they start their training, whether she is already too old to become one of them. In most martial civilisations, the children were taken at a young age to begin training in order to have it second nature by the time they were called upon, and Yusek seems too old.
- Wow. Jan seems cold here, on Gall's arrival and his description of the Moranth's destruction of a lot of his force. He merely thinks that it is to be expected that the Moranth would have also changed. No sorrow, no grieving for the fallen.
- Eh, the sequence with Kiska and the old woman I found a little mystifying. Not sure what was really said, or what purpose it had?
- I love this thought of Spindle's: "Gods, why do they always have to be at the top? Never on the ground floor." Wizards - or alchemists, rather - do have a tendency to like high buildings. I wonder what would happen if one of them was afraid of heights.
- In fact, I do love this whole sequence with Spindle and Duiker and the gentle poking of fun at fantasy tropes: "We're inside the inner sanctum of a powerful alchemist. We find an amphora specifically hidden away and sealed and so naturally we open it. Sounds like an epitaph to me."
- Huh, it never occurred to me that the people in Darujhistan would have no way of knowing that Jan had brought his whole people to the city, that they would be expecting a whole horde of Seguleh to arrive.
Apologies for the break on Wed, peeps - we won't be posting today either. Just one of those nasty deadline weeks for both Bill and I, where we can't cover each other's absence. Back Wednesday :-)
My comments on chapter ten:
- Torvald travelled with Karsa, so knows all about intimidating figures - but not sure what would happen truly if Karsa went toe to toe with Caladan Brood! I think both are equally intimidating...
- Ha! Loving that Torvald asks Brood about his act, and trying his luck in the city as a strongman - much grinning, especially at Brood's nostalgic smile.
- It could be said that Torvald is travelling for both love and coin here - anything to put himself in a position where he can make Tiserra comfortable and happy. So, not directly for love and coin, but I suspect both of those things motivate his every act.
- Aww! K'ess likes Fal-ej back!
- Which makes this especially amusing: "By the Seven False Gods, what's gotten into you? Hanging about like a mare in heat. It must be offensive to the man."
- Esslemont writes this little romance between K'ess and Fal'ej particularly well, with the way that we first see the way he sees her, and then sees the way that she sees herself, questioning why he would like her. It's terribly sweet.
- Heh: "Now don't go and just kill everyone..."
- And then the gentle humour of Sall's puzzlement over being ignored, and Yusek's rather pointed laughter and question about being on the receiving end.
- I love the whole sequence where Sall spars on the sands - beautiful descriptions and somehow managing to convey a lot about Sall himself and the Seguleh and these people of Dassembrae.
- Poor, poor Sall - having to live up to such a formidable father. And having to give up his position. Just because of one seemingly insignificant sparring match in a monastery in the ass-end of nowhere.
- Eh, I just didn't find that section with Krute and Humble Measure the most interesting. I can see its necessity, but that whole sequence with Humble Measure talking about the city and the flies and the land was just a struggle.
- Aragan must feel the surreal aspects of this meeting - a quiet hall with a masked throned figure, sycophants in gold masks hovering near, and a scruffy figure speaking for the Legate. And then the demand for the instant move of all Malazan troops from the area. I'm surprised he doesn't think that he is somehow dreaming the whole affair.
- Ah, it was Topper from the previous chapter. Oddly, one of those names who seemed so fundamental back in the early novels of the Malazan Empire, but who drifted away from events.
- And the Malazans begin to stir... "It seems to me that so far whatever it is that now squats on Majesty Hill has done all the pushing. It's long past time someone pushed back."
- Ha, love how the Malazans react to Topper's entrance!
- And what a wonderful scene, from the price of their involvement to the nervousness with which they treat Topper. I'm reminded through here just how much I did love Topper when he was previously on-screen.
- Umm, just me getting utterly bored of Scorch and Leff?
- I do like the sudden fright of this Rhivi scout at realising that walking legends have entered her land.
My comments on chapter nine:
- I'm getting a little tired now of the moustache interplay between Leoman and Kiska. It feels like this is the entirety of their interaction: him playing with it and her getting annoyed.
- Where Kiska and Leoman meet with Yathengar, we get the best and worst of Esslemont's style: the genuine heart-stopping moment when they first hear his voice (the slight horror angle) and then the rather perfunctory fight scene.
- The finding of Tayschrenn feels rather anti-climactic. Suddenly he pops up but can't remember anything, and ends up getting into a fist fight with another mage rather than using his power. It just isn't the most gripping scene.
- Their conversation at the end of the scene, where Leoman talks to Kiska of Sha'ik, doesn't have as much impact for me as I would have liked. Although I did like: "'Yes,' he said, all alone. 'I thought of that.'"
- The atmosphere in the Spawn is chilling and developed very well. It amuses me when Antsy tries to tell Orchid and Corien that Moon's Spawn could rise as well, but they scoff at him.
- I'm deeply touched by Antsy's thoughts as he sits and keeps watch, his thought particularly that even one of the least-liked Bridgeburners got a proper send-off when he died, and that really those remaining should not be so pleased to lose each other.
- Hmm, it strikes me that Malakai is not really being as accommodating here as he seems in letting them go their own way, especially because he wanted those munitions so damn badly.
- Bless Antsy, not realising how intimidating he is. "Me? You haven't met the scary Bridgeburners, friend."
- I can't help but think that Taya is going to eat those words about sitting next to the rightful king of Darujhistan...
- Hmm, who is the 'him' who will be contesting? The same as before? Intriguing. Studlock certainly doesn't seem fond of whoever it is!
- Dear Lord... is Kruppe *flirting*? And can someone please, please, take away that whole battering ram image from my brain?
- It is pretty terrifying that Aragan would prefer the Pannion Domin back than what they are currently facing...
- Hmm, my memory is borked - can't think who this mysterious Master of the Claw is. That is going back too far for me.
- God bless Malazans - Turner here is deeply amusing as he tries to get into character as a new worker (and secret spy). Spindle shows himself to be massively capable as he muses on what he saw within the tent, including objects that he's only heard described before but knows the name and purpose.
- Baruk is so clearly in conflict, like when he manages to give Coll the information that he is there with the figure in the gold mask because the Cabal failed in their task.
Well, this is the second time that someone has mentioned those Twelve Fiends in relation to this tomb that Ebbin persists in exploring (even with the awful creepy figure that is down there). I wonder if the Twelve Fiends thing is an introduction to them making an appearance, or if it is designed to take us off the correct track.
And more ominous words: "Like they was interrupted, maybe" or "Perhaps they meant to return to finish the job - but never made it back." All suggests this tomb isn't the one to go exploring in.
And there we go. Sinister mummy figure sucking the life out of people and generally being scary. And what was that stone in the chest cavity of the remaining corpse in the twelfth tomb?
This is some excellent writing. I am so tense as I read about Drin trying to escape his inevitable fate, and then there is a genuine feeling of sorrow when you realise that his is now the body lying on the plinth. Curious as to how Ebbin escaped the same fate? Because he hid?
Ah, familiar faces in Scorch and Leff - and doing just as good a guard job here, eh?
Wow, Ebbin, way not to be endearing as you take those two guards to their certain death! Although how does he get the figure in the golden mask to kill them? Especially since he wandered around there before without it making any moves - it seems that it only comes to life when the tomb is disturbed, and how would Ebbin make the two guards disturb it without the figure killing him as well? Seems like this is one of those points where you don't want to look too closely.
And now the Malazans have watched a masked and cloaked figure emerging from Ebbin's well. It's pretty unnerving to see Malazans say that they intend to give him plenty of room!
Poor Ebbin. It seems he is now under some kind of influence, and it sounds as though his chances of escaping the masked figure are slim to none (have I mentioned how this is very much like The Mummy, where Imhotep seeks out all those who disturbed his tomb and sucks them into dust?)
This is some really great scene setting, as we see the marketplaces completely silent, and people facing the walls, weeping. It gives a real sense of power and cruelty to this masked figure. And then seeing the Moranth fleeing the city? It says everything about this when Aragan orders the soldiers to full alert.
What is going on with Vorcan? That sudden injection of heat when Rallick touches her; her sudden urging that he leaves and cuts all contact with her? What does she know, and is it related to the mysterious figure who has entered the city?
Uh, not quite sure what is going on in the scene with Ebbin, the masked figure and the pearl - does the figure want Ebbin to eat it?
Huh, so Vorcan has managed to avoid the Call to the Tyrant, but Baruk hasn't?
And are the Seguleh heading to take down the Tyrant? Or to join with him?
We're doing it in thirds is all I know at the moment :-)
Just for the record, I didn't feel the Hetan reappearance was cheap - I just didn't believe it was actually happening, that something so happy ever after could happen in these novels! As someone else pointed out, it is very Disney, which just doesn't feel like Erikson at all.
The whole thing with Hood and the heart reminded me very much of Galadriel turning down the ring when Frodo offers it to her - recognising its power and knowing the temptation, but knowing it is better off on a different journey :-)
- I think that Toc is destined to break my heart right to the end. Here his quiet wish to have been part of the Bridgeburners and to be where they are now in death is a painful moment.
- I think it is dangerous for a commander like Diligence to imagine so determinedly the way that the enemy will behave on their approach to his defences - it doesn't allow for a change of plans when he discovers that they don't do what he wants them to.
- "This invasion had already failed" - ah, there is the Forkrul Assail arrogance we've come to know and love...
- Fantastic reveal that the Gilk are the only Barghast to have betrayed the Forkrul Assail and are, in fact, equipped to battle against them. And it just goes to show that Diligence is afflicted by the fact that he can't know everything and that things that others find to be of minimal importance might change the course of this battle.
- And then Reverence wondering if she should mention the potential issues she sees, in the bay and the dust cloud approaching, but deciding not to fuss Diligence. This is an army who seem to be unable to truly judge what faces up to them. It does give me hope for the first time that maybe everything won't go completely wrong!
- I do love Reverence's dawning horror and realization, firstly that the Crippled God might be the one revealing the location of his heart, and secondly her view of the flailing Perish ships as she thinks there is no wind.
- Oh man, the scene from Grub's viewpoint is heartbreaking, as he thinks that he will be for ever alone and can't get upset about the fact. I just wanted him then to find love and acceptance and a reason for carrying on.
- I worry about the way the Ve'Gath is covering Grub. I hope that it is just trying to protect this child and not consume him.
- Oh, I love Stormy and Gesler: "How many cronies of that long-dead rat-faced Emperor are involved in this?"
- Oh WOW! Since Tool is once more bound to the Ritual of Tellann, he serves Shadowthrone? Ha, that is some comeuppance for Olar Ethil. I'm just LOVING that.
- But then immediately grieving for what Tool reveals: "I am invited to my own death, Malazan. The manner of it remains to be decided."
- And then smiling at the embarrassment of Gesler and Stormy as they say out loud that they are trying to right an old wrong and send the Crippled God home.
- Oh, bless Tool. His words bringing these two hardened Malazans to tears, as he declares that their sacrifice is worth it if they can relieve the suffering of this one god - he makes me cry as well.
- Who would fail to be moved by the silent salute between Tool and Sag'Churok, and then Tool's thought: "One more gift, then, on this final day. I see you, K'Chain Che'Malle, and I call you brother."
- Who wouldn't be scared of Sinn and her obsession with fire?
- I find myself quite amused by Reverence's sudden infliction of giant lizards. That's gonna put a crimp on anyone's day.
- Unexpected slapdown of Diligence by Setoc. These Forkrul Assail must now be wondering whether their voices actually work on anyone anymore. Something that used to be their ultimate weapon is turning out to be matched by most of the people arrayed against them.
- The love that Aranict has for Brys is beautiful to see. And then reading Brys' thought about Aranict: "Aranict, my love, you now hold the best in me."
- This gives me shivers - I can just imagine Krughava's utter shock: "Wolf eyes. One silver, one amber. Blessed Throne - she is our Destriant! The Wolves of Winter look out from those eyes!"
- Huh. I was NOT expecting that from the encounter between Tanakalian and Krughava (and Setoc). Poor Setoc. I pity her so much - she never asked for any of this and was brutally used by the Wolves. I worry now mostly for what this means to the rest of the battle, considering the Perish are now leaderless.
- This is a nice link back from Calm to when she was once imprisoned, and her realisation of what Korabas is capable of through the panic of wanting to stay free is pretty sobering. And watching a Forkrul Assail go into meltdown over the fact Korabas is free is also pretty sobering...
- Only the Eleint can take down Korabas? It seemed that a combination of different people managed to trap the Otataral dragon before, didn't they?
- Well, the stakes just became impossibly high: "The dragon is negation. But Icarium is an open wound into Chaos itself. When his self shatters, when his so-called rage is unleashed, he is but a conduit, a portalway. This is why he cannot be stopped - he is not even there. Shall you do battle against chaos itself? Impossible. They will clash, and that battle shall destroy the world."
- There is real horror in the mismatch between Calm's violent dismemberment of the two T'lan Imass and her continued destruction of the bones of the female, and her uplifting thought, "Such a glorious world it will be." Whatever world Calm thinks would be glorious is most certainly one I would not want to see!
- Kilmandaros seriously needs to take responsibility for what she has unleashed, rather than hiding behind the idea that Errastas was the one who wanted Korabas freed...
- Wow, that scene as Draconus in dragon form attacks Kilmandaros from the sky is just brilliant - and Sechul breaks my heart here, as he tries to protect his mother.
- Because Shadowthrone and Cotillion have seemed so ever-present in the series, it comes as a little bit of a shock to realise that Draconus doesn't know Shadowthrone. He knew that *someone* has been pulling the strings, though, evident from: "The spider at the centre of this web." What I wonder is why Draconus is being kept away from the Forkrul Assail. He's just killed Sechul and Kilmandaros without breaking a sweat - couldn't they use that sort of firepower against all the forces arrayed to face them?
- Shadowthrone's words about these two Elders having such long lives and then falling here - that leaves me a little shaken. It is true that these really are ignominous and pointless deaths.
- I adore this idea of Shadowthrone visiting his mother, and her eternal disappointment of him and what he's achieved: "Emperor? Oh, that empire. So now you're a god? Oh dear, not Shadow? Isn't it broken?' That is comedy gold.
- Oh my... Hearing from Korabas' POV is really affecting, especially this: "...a thing that does not destroy, but creates. Please, can I not be more than I am?"
- It must be difficult for Paran, knowing the overall intentions of the Wolves of Winter and that they have been drawn into a battle that doesn't give them what they need. Especially the idea that he might have to battle against the Perish because the wolves have been misled.
- It's a really interesting discussion that Quick Ben and Kalam have, especially the fact that Kalam can't really recall or articulate how Tavore got him to die in her place when facing Laseen. No one knows how she gets anyone to do anything - so at least us readers are not alone *grins*
- This is a lovely distinction from them:
"There was no respect in what Laseen offered," the assassin said. "It was a raw bribe, reaching for the worst in me. But from Tavore..."
"Nothing but respect. Not I see it, Kal. I see it."
Would be interesting to know what Quick Ben sees here.
- Eep, two scary pieces of information handed to us by Quick Ben: the fact the Otataral dragon was formed by Eleint and Elder Gods creating a firestorm of magic, and the fact that Korabas can sniff out and is drawn to Otataral... Oh help! And Kalam's reaction to this - strangling Quick Ben - just seems so reasonable *grins*
- Oh, I love this scene with Tulas Shorn and Silchas Ruin - all the things they discuss. The idea that Anomander Rake is trying to open the door to a reconciliation between Draconus and Mother Dark. The fact that these two Dragons realise that they have to fight on the side of Korabas to give her a fair chance against the Eleint coming to destroy her. It's momentous, and makes me have ALL the respect for Silchas and Tulas. Just a shame we don't hear more about the Throne of Shadow!
- Ooh, I got shivers when Paran flourishes that new Malazan card for the Deck!
- I love the shadowy walk of Kalam through the enemy troops - it's chilling and suspenseful. And gosh, that moment where he throws two knives and kills both sentries at once - it's just a reminder of how lethal this man is.
- Ha, that dry: "You weave a fine tale" is just perfectly pitched.
- From the very first page of this series, almost, we have been invited to love the marines, and this from Paran is wonderful: "The hard eyes, the weathered faces, the sense that they were all half wild and straining at the leash. To make matters worse, this lot slouched before him on this chill morning were, one and all, sappers."
- And then those sappers knowing that Paran is holding back the big stuff, and already preparing their own way of getting it in their grubby hands! They really can't be controlled at all.
- But it takes a crazy person to be one of the sappers, with the work they do here. I love this description of the Kolansii army just dissolving; this definitely is a way to show the Wolves what they will be facing. The sappers are a superb intimidation tactic.
- Although... it is a hell of a choice to make. The destruction of one army to ensure that another army surrenders. Kalam got right to the heart of the matter with Erekala - the idea that humans will just continue to destroy each other, and eventually leave the world to the beasts.
- Poor, poor Korabas.
My comments on this chapter:
It's pretty hard watching Sandalath's descent into a sort of madness as she dwells in the past and watches the ghosts in her throne room, rather than being able to go out and take part in the fighting. It seems almost as though her reaction and Withal's to the death of the humans fighting on their behalf really highlights the difference between mortal and Tiste Andii as well.
This is rather a chapter where madness takes hold, it seems, as Withal is taken by the unique madness of battle - something that has him walking towards the fight and being prepared to plunge in, rather than heading far from there.
And then the madness experienced by Yedan as he carries the Hust sword into battle, time and time again.
It's an excellent scene where Sandalath (and the reader) gradually realises that Spinnock Durav is actually there, that the Andii have arrived and can help out the last remnants of the Shake.
So it seems the one who sits the throne has the command of Silanah. Hmm, a person who is going mad from the past and wants to burn Kharkanas in charge of a dragon who is able to achieve that and more... Yeah, that's not a great situation!
Just every now and then I think Erikson misjudges when to add in some back story. This bit with Apsal'ara going in search of her armour is one of those. It flattened the pacing of the chapter for me.
I don't like Aparal here, as he walks among the wounded and tries to find out the remaining strength of those beyond the gate. I don't like the way he keeps referring to the fault as Kadagar's - that really is passing the buck. I don't like the way he doesn't really understand what has happened to his people. The one part I did like was when he was disabused of the notion of a Hust Legion and told it was just one man - felt so proud of Yedan then!
It's fantastic to see these little glimpses of Anomander Rake and realise just how much he had done for the Malazan people, how he had prevented the wholesale destruction of their armies at Pale because he was able to stop the Eleint madness from possessing him. So we go from people who have descended into madness to a man who tried to avoid it at all costs.
I love the quiet dignity of the remaining Letherii and Shake as they lift their swords a final time, with the whispered words, "We all end somewhere" rippling through their ranks. And then that beautiful moment where Yan Tovis kneels to her people - that had the hairs rising on the back of my neck.
I feel sad for Yedan Derryg, but all this time it has felt like an inevitability that he would fall here, that this would be his end.
There is something horrifying as Phaed convinces Sandalath to retire to her old room, the Hostage room, where the root of this madness was created.
Oh Fant... With all his cruel words about Yan Tovis, the way he gloatingly decides how he might kill her, well, we were all ready to see him die at that point, weren't we?
And that glorious moment where the Tiste Andii arrive just in the nick of time.
I'm not sure exactly what is happening in this scene with Korlat at the end, and her insistence that her blood is not pure.
These three - Sechul, Errastas and Kilmandaros - really don't have the kindest view of mortals and how gods fit into their lives, do they? Gods being remembered as drinkers of blood, or as someone to blame for all the ruin committed by mortals. I think they miss a lot here, like the idea that worships changes, or moves in cycles. I mean, we have Mael, who is an Elder God and seems to be growing again in strength. I'm glad not all the gods share their view.
However, their view does seem to be leading them down this path where they are possibly going to destroy the world thanks to something that may go one of two ways. Killing this Otataral dragon could destroy K'rul and so all magic. It's pretty terrifying to see how coldly they view this.
Oh, I love the moment where Kilmandaros strikes down Errastas for talking ill of Anomander Rake, and saying that, although they didn't always see eye to eye, she regarded him as a man of integrity and honour.
I think we, the reader, has seen much more than these three when it comes to Draconus recently. "Rake once said to me that Draconus was a man of great honour. Before the betrayal. Before his day of rage. I believe him." And so does the reader, because we've started to see evidence of that, I think.
Oh my! This encounter between Silchas Ruin and Tulas Shorn is fantastic: "Their embrace was savage with memories thought for ever lost, a friendship they'd thought long dead." I love the way their conversation is full of short cuts and half-finished sentences, because they know what the other means instantly.
And Silchas' view of humans made me grin as well: "They consider themselves masters at cheating. But then, I think this will be the first time that they sit at a table with mortal humans facing them. Cheating? When it comes to that, the Elder Gods are as children compared to humans."
Ahhh! But then some of this conversation between the two old dragons is completely dense. What secret is it that Tulas refers to, the one that Anomander didn't even tell Silchas?
My, my, Kilava is not sounding like the most sensible here, as we hear from Udinaas his suspicion that she deliberately tampered with the Azath, pushed the Imass into the world of the living, and is not planning to resist the sundering of the gate. What is it that she is seeking to achieve with these actions?
What a lovely scene with Kruppe and Torrent! It's wonderful to see him again, and hear that dialogue *grins* And not a neglectful father, it turns out, but one who provides for his daughters in the form of weapons for their protector.
I hope Tool finds inside him the idea of love, that this discussion with Rystalle and Ulag about love has made his walls crumble a little. I want the Tool who was alive with compassion back. He's followed by so many now - this army is becoming formidable, and I hope it will end up helping the armies we already have on the march in this book.
In the scene where Gruntle meets Kilava, something in his thoughts made me wonder. See, he thinks this: "From generals and warlords and miserable tyrants. Justifying yet another nightmare epoch of slaughter. Of suffering, misery and despair. And what do we all do? We duck down and weather it." And I'm just thinking that isn't this what is happening with the Bonehunters and Tavore? Sure, it's presented to us as being a good thing, or we're supposed to be rooting for them. But it's the other side of the coin to this - and they could be presented in exactly the same way. Tavore, as a tyrant, justifying her crusade against the Forkrul Assail and all the death that will follow. The Bonehunters, heads down and weathering it...
Poor, poor Mappo, sliced by the words of Badalle and accused of choosing one child over another. It's weird that Badalle sees Icarium as a child, but I guess that is an apt description while he remains hidden from his true self.
And wow. Just wow at that scene as Korabas rises and wakes. Interesting to hear that Otataral is a bastardisation of Otas'taral which means the Eye of Abnegation. I confess I had to look that up. It means either the act of renouncing or rejecting something, or self-denial, for those others amongst you who weren't quite sure.
Oh God. "Where she passes," said Kilmandaros, "no life shall ever return. The stillness of matter becomes absolute. She is the Eye of Abnegation, the storm's centre, where all must die." Anyone else feel as though their plan is the very definition of 'biting off more than you can chew'?
It strikes me here as well that, in view of what SE has written above, we can use the Jaghut and the T'lan Imass. Do we all remember those first firm views we held about the Jaghut Tyrant? About how the T'lan Imass had been wronged? How long did it take us all to start wondering about how just that first impression was? How long did we take to come to forgiveness and compassion concerning both sides of that conflict, and who may have been at fault?
We can then apply that to the Crippled God. Our first impression of him has always been of a horrific tyrant, and that was really hammered home by his actions. But we've gradually come to see, over books and books, that he has been driven to this, and so I think we have to find a measure of compassion for the situation he was in. Our first impressions came about as a result of false or lacking information. Now we're given more (although not all!) of the information, and surely we then have to adjust our perspective, rather than clinging blindly to something that has been overturned. That is like clinging to the bad first impression you have of someone you meet, even if given much evidence to prove them otherwise.
I think Tavore is being wise here with her commanders - even Blistig. If you look over all of the commanders, they sort of run the spectrum of views about Tavore herself - from outright distrust to absolute faith and everything in between. By surrounding herself with that, I think she allows the commanders to talk about the situation and provide each other with some perspective, and they also become the bridge between her and the regular troops. I mean, the troops might not blindly follow Tavore - but they'd follow Fiddler into hell and back. And Fiddler believes in Tavore, so the troops will therefore follow Tavore. By very deliberate action, she has brought together a team of Fists who are able to forge these Bonehunters into what she needs.
I am still finding it incredibly hard to read Badalle's sections. They are so opaque, with uncomfortable connections and an odd rhythm, and just leave me wondering what the point is. I feel myself utterly distanced from them, especially in comparison to most of the sections that surround them. I sense Erikson is achieving what he intended, that I am finding it hard to raise interest and compassion, but it is an odd thing to insert into storytelling.
Although I am intrigued very much by Saddic's thoughts and impressions of the city below ground. Icarius. Worshipping a half-blood. "They were drawn to his great machine of memories, this place he made by his own hand." Is this where Icarium first lived, first came from? Or is this one of the places he stayed when he was unaware of his destructive tendencies?
Gesler and Stormy have been nicked by the K'Chain Che'Malle? Is that the winged creature, or is it something else? Can't think why the K'Chain Che'Malle would want them. Oh wait… The K'Chain Che'Malle who still require a Mortal Sword and Shield Anvil? Two positions, two Ascendants stolen.
Oh, just making me giggle: "Fiddler stared at Bottle, wondering when the fool last jammed his nose into a lizard's armpit, then decided that some questions just should never be asked."
And, ha, trust Quick Ben to be the one who knows some K'Chain Che'Malle come with wings… I think Bottle shares my thoughts: "You snake-eyed shifty know-it-all bastard from the bung-hole of Seven Cities."
Although Keneb needs him to step up, I do feel sorry for Blistig actually. Wanting to be one of the lads, but in a position that requires him to keep himself removed. "They didn't need their Fist spreading his hams on a crate at the fire, passing a jug. Such nights should be rare events, on the eve of battle, perhaps, but even then no one should ever be permitted to forget an officer's position."
Fiddler here is talking overtly about the fact that the T'lan Imass, the K'Chain Che'Malle, the Forkrul Assail and the Jaghut are all gathering again – we're being shown the convergence beginning to happen.
And another wonderful bit of Malazan humour:
"Shortnose will do. He's hiding a brain behind all that gnarly bone and whatnot."
"Are you sure?" Keneb asked.
"I sent him to collect four people in a specific sequence. I didn't need to repeat myself, sir."
"And he's a heavy?"
I love Brys Beddict so much. Since Hood's death, he is most certainly expanding into his power more, isn't he? Knowing the memories of gods. Being able to retain facts and information to a massive proportion. He is definitely changing.
And the scene with Lostara Yil and Henar? I found it really rather sweet (in a horribly overtly sexual way) – even more sweet is the fact that Brys is now trying to match make the two of them.
So, yep, Gesler and Stormy have risen in the world – who else is quaking at the thought of an entire army of K'Chain Che'Malle?
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.
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!
Okay, a quick catch-up now that I'm back from the whirlwind of a weekend that was Eastercon :-)
These three scheming gods! I really enjoyed their conversation where they discussed the implications of Draconus' return and the obvious fact of Rake's death, since this is the only way Dragnipur would have released Draconus. I particularly liked Kilmandaros': "The world has lost some of its colour, I think." Her sorrow at Rake's death brings back vividly the moment it happened and the crushing sadness that I felt then and still felt. It's odd - I think Erikson is the only author who has made me continue to feel for characters even after they have left the page. Reminders of them brings back pangs of sorrow.
I also found Errastas during this scene amusing, as he states with conviction that it must have been Caladan Brood who did the deed. He is such an oaf. A dangerous oaf, granted, but he just seems like a child in the face of Kilmandaras and Sechul.
Also, there is a little pointed reminder from Kilmandaras that Draconus was not the only person of power trapped within Dragnipur - and now all would be freed in some fashion. Including Eleint.
Interesting to hear from Mael and Kilmandaros that there is a plan afoot to keep Errastas in the dark about the fact he actually has very little power and they intend to assassinate him.
What I love about the conversation between Mael and Kilmandaros is that it feels a little like we've walked into this chat and are fighting to keep up. We can piece a few things together through context and what we know, but they have been through many lifetimes and have so much shared history that we would fail to understand every word. And I quite like that. And it reminds me of Gardens of the Moon, where I was so impatient and had so little trust and wanted everything NOW. Man, this series certainly makes you grow out of that! *grins*
This really might as well have been the description on the back of this book and The Crippled God: "A final accounting, I'd wager. An end to the stupid games. He might as well have locked us all in one room - and no one leaves until we settle things once and for all."
Mael seems to know so much of the game that is now being laid out: "Oh, you are indeed clever, Kilmandaros. It all falls home, doesn't it?" That certainly implies that he was way ahead of her and had already joined the dots.
Huh, so Brayderal is a child of the Quitters - has she been set amongst the Snake as a spy or something? And, hey, she is inhuman and is taking care to stand and move as the humans do. Not human. And the Wasteland contains Forkrul Assail - she one of them?
*reads a few more pages* Yep! Man, they are desperately inhuman, aren't they? Such a lack of compassion.
Badalle certainly quickened, didn't she? I assume she is somehow tapping into the new Warrens that Icarium created and that Sinn is already employing. All children so far, isn't it, who are able to tap into that power?
It is awesome seeing the Malazans from Atri-Ceda Aranict's point of view, particularly watching as her lofty opinion of Quick Ben starts crumbling. This is neat as well: "He was also in the habit of muttering to himself in a host of entirely distinct voices..."
Ha, this is a rather succinct summary of plotlines so far :-) "Anomander killed Hood, Dassem killed Anomander, Brood shattered Dragnipur, and now Draconus walks free. Burn trembles, the Gate of Starvald Demelain rages with fire, and cruel twisted warrens the like of which we've never before seen now lie in wait."
Oh hell, I am loving the hell out of this scene, especially where Aranict grabs the candle that opens a path to Draconus just to light her smoker. It's just so perfectly done.
And this. This is awesome on every level: "Draconus. He is the one who arrived in darkness, who made a gate that stole half the sky, who holds in his hand a weapon of darkness and cold, of blackest ice. And Quick Ben means to stand in his path."
Apologies for the break - here are my views and thoughts on Chapter Seventeen:
It seems that the gods are all admitting their own fallibility, since I don't think we've actually seen a god in this series that does nothing. So either her thought that: "Doing nothing was a choice swollen with omnipotence. It was, in fact, godly. And this, she now realized, was the reason why the gods did nothing" is entirely incorrect, or she has seen something that we haven't with her own gods. To me, even those gods such as Edgewalker, who seem to steer clear of human issues, are total meddlers.
This is so terribly ominous: "Many died today," she said. "We can eat."
More hints about fire in this book: "I have flown to where the sun sets, and I tell you, Rutt, we are marching into fire. Beautiful, perfect fire."
I really enjoyed seeing various of the Imass be resurrected - Erikson manages to tell their life stories in such a brief amount of words, so that we become familiar with these new characters and what motivations drive them.
What is Olar Ethil up to when it comes to resurrecting them? Or is it even her? "We do not know who had summoned us. It is curious, but we are closed to her, or him."
Wait, Nom Kala is part of a T'lan Imass clan that were involved in a *different* Ritual?!
Ahh, it seems that Nom Kala knows more than the others, and says that Tool is the one who has summoned them - and he is building an army of the dead. Which is not the only army of the dead on the march in this book.
Does Setoc inhabit the body of Badalle as she rides behind Toc the Younger? "She could smell scorched feathers, and all at once the land far below was a sea of diamonds, cut in two by a thin, wavering line."
I'm not entirely clear what Setoc and Toc (hey, look at their names together!) are talking about when they refer to the wolves and waging war and whether the wolves would kill all the humans. It isn't completely making sense to me.
Oh, this made me chuckle, because it can apply to characters in this series just as easily: "K'Chain Nah'ruk, and now T'lan Imass. Doesn't anyone ever go away?"
It is both hard and lovely to read about Toc's vow to himself that he will watch over Tool's son, in whom he can see so much of Tool. "But, what I could not do for you, I will do for your son."
Tool's son seems remarkably powerful, summoning a dead ay into being again so that Toc will have a companion.
I don't have much to say about the Barghast sections that I haven't already touched on in separate threads. Truth be told, I don't dwell on these sections, I tend to rush through. Sure, I'll read them, but it is in a flinching manner.
The one thing I do like is seeing some of them coming round to the idea that Tool was right all along. Too little, too late, and doubtful any change can be effected, but better than them mindlessly following old traditions.
It is interesting reading this distinction: "The Barghast were not soldiers, not like the Malazans or the Crimson Guard. A profession could be left behind, a new future found. But for the warrior, war was everything, the very reason to live." It does make me wonder how many retired soldiers actually manage to wholly leave their profession behind.
Is it that Badalle now has Hetan's soul within her?
A mostly unpleasant chapter again, to be honest.
So, I can only apologise for the radio silence. Various things caught up with me on the run up to Christmas, and the end of Stonewielder rather fell by the wayside. Thing is, I can't imagine other books falling by the wayside like that, even with what was going on, so I do have to conclude that some of it was a general lack of impetus to pick up the book again once the major scenes had been concluded.
Here is my look at the Epilogue:
- First, its very nice to see Devaleth taking on her role as High Mage. I especially liked: "It seemed the Empire had finally once more found a mage worthy of the title."
- This whole dropping of the chest into the ocean is a little concerning. It just seems that it isn't a very secure thing to do, that the chest containing aspects of the Lady (and the Crippled God?) could be retrieved. I am amused by Devaleth feeling worried about Manask being the one to have got rid of the chest, until Suth says "Ipshank was watching."
- This is both a sad end to Stonewielder, and a fitting tribute. The idea that these locals are already starting the legend of the Guardian, and saying that the area shouldn't be visited. Is also interesting seeing how quickly they are moving away from the Lady, now that her grip on the Land has been broken.
- Still hard to see how Kiska's storyline fits in, but there are a couple of bits that I've found interesting. Here I am intrigued by this titanic figure on the Shores of Creation. What is it? Who is it? Why has it been dropped into the story here in the Epilogue?
- And the final reveal of Shadowthrone as Warran - took me a while to get there, but I'm rather glad I realised before this point! Warran was one of the characters that I enjoyed in this book.
- And, ahh, a happy ending for Talia and Rillish.
So, there we go. Stonewielder done. And I feel rather meh about the whole thing. Sure, there were aspects that I enjoyed and some of the action sequences were very well written. But I found that the storylines just didn't seem to hang together all that well. There was no real rhyme or reason to what was included. Ivanr and Bakune's respective storylines just didn't seem to go anywhere once they'd been started. Esslemont did well with certain characters. I especially loved Devaleth, considering that she's come from a point where I didn't think much of her at all. Hiam was a high point. I did not share all your love for Ussu at all, but I could see how his storyline connected in and helped to reveal some of what was occurring.
But, overall, I have way more questions at the end than answers.
- Is the Lady part of the Crippled God?
- What has happened now with the Stormriders?
- What is going on with Kiska and Leoman, and how is that relating to everything else?
I just find it an unsatisfying read, all told, which is disappointing for me. I will be glad to head back into Erikson's novels.
Just a heads up that Bill and I are breaking this week for Thanksgiving. The next Malazan post will be the Wednesday after Thanksgiving.
The rest of my comments! And sorry for being late! Normal service now resumed :-) (just in time for Thanksgiving...)
Interesting link between Ivanr and Beneth - the fact that they both took the same vow against killing. Since it has been mentioned I reckon it will probably end up being an important thing.
Warran is an interesting character, but I'd rather see more of the mystery revealed than have additional comic relief (like where he says: "Of course they are, you crazy woman!" when Kiska tries to break it to him that the fish are dead.
Hmm, a white Hound... I wonder how closely this book links to the last time we saw the white Hounds? Which of the white Hounds is this, and why is it in Shadow? Trapped?
And this just doesn't sound at ALL good: "This is still Emurlahn, now a border region of Chaos [...] Lost now to Shadow." And then, damn: "I mean that hole is eating everything. Chaos included." What is this whorl?
What is this thing that Kiska is carrying, the sculpture of twigs and cloth - is it related to Tayschrenn?
I am very much enjoying the fact that Bakune is developing into a more well-rounded character. I mean, he was always a person I enjoyed reading about but now we're seeing more from him, a genuine desire to change from a limited view to something more.
I do love the fact that Bakune's team consists of Manask, Hyuke and Puller - not exactly a crack squad, is it?
From sinister - as the crowd is encouraged to bay for this poor girl's blood and to burn her - to humour - as Manask makes his "furtive escape". A very cool sequence.
Oh, poor Ella! I like how both Erikson and Esslemont do this - bring us full circle and remind us of minor characters and the fact that their stories continue behind the scenes.
Haha! "Once there, while they are busy prodding you with red-hot pokers and eviscerating your bowels, I clean out the treasury."
Not sure what it says here that the Malazans are at first confused with the Stormriders as they approach the harbour. I guess terror is terror, no matter what form it takes.
The scene with the Lady taking over the body of a young girl is utterly chilling, especially given the carnage caused in the Cloister. And Ipshank keeps turning her down - that is some power displayed by him.
Okay, quick catch-up on the second part of Chapter 6:
It's good that this is being recognised: "Invaders. How odd to hear that from our mouths when we ourselves are invaders."
I love seeing Greymane from Devaleth's perspective - the way that the men adore him, and the mystery of him being such a criminal on this subcontinent.
"He was a mystery. A man who went his own way and be damned to the consequences. She didn't know whether to admire the fellow, or to be profoundly terrified of him."
Is he the one who has spread the rumour that Devaleth is behind the protection? Or simply not told the truth? Is it him who is doing the protecting?
*shudders* Well, that little scene with Ussu and his female subject was creepy as all hell. Everything about it... I'm not 100% clear what happened with it really, in terms of what the Lady was saying - is she not happy with Ussu and what he is doing? - and in terms of whether the Queen of Dreams spoke to Ussu.
"We're spotted, lads and lasses," Twofoot called - just to make it official.
No fucking kidding. Suth felt that his backside was now very exposed and very fat.
I did enjoy the battle scenes very, very much. As we've said, this is where Esslemont truly excels - and, indeed, seems to be getting better and better. I love that we follow Suth for a lot of it, as he is a real fish out of water and shows the confusion that I think any of us would feel trapped in the same situation.
Borun is quite the military talent, isn't he? It seems that without him the army would be in a far worse place.
I like that Bakune is coming to see how his brand of justice - meted out from on high and given little further thought - is being challenged. First by experiencing the rotting in a cell that others have under his command, and now seeing how Soon is treated. In fact, the priest even says to him: "...but it seems to me that your notion, and practice, of justice has been rather narrow and blinkered."
Although it does seem that Bakune is now determined to become a vigilante of justice!
Heh, these two idiots seem to utterly fit with Bakune's new determination to seek the truth - I'm sure Puller and Hyuke will be a great help! *sarcasm* Also fun to have it confirmed that Karien'el was a bit of a naughty boy, and that is why Bakune never really knew about black market stuff!
I think I might have missed something with the sack that Kiska is carrying that seems to have something alive within it? Why don't they want to open it immediately and see what it is?
Everything in Shadow is so very dreamlike here. It reminds me a lot of the world of Labyrinth - crazy things happening, things that seem familiar but truly aren't.
Warran? *snorts* That's as bad as Kyle for being utterly prosaic. I do wonder which names are picked by both Erikson and Esslemont and which are Esslemont's own alone.
Right! Apologies for lateness. World Fantasy rather took it out of me and then I went down with con crud. As such, I now have PLENTY to catch up with and therefore my comments might be a little slight, but hopefully I will still hit all the major points and be on track to post with Bill tomorrow for Chapter 7!
For me (I have a keen interest in history, and how primary/secondary sources have distorted our views of events) this quote that begins the chapter is pretty spot on: "History consists of nothing more than the lies we tell ourselves to justify the present."
I also like the fact that realism is presented in Hiam's ability failing thanks to encroaching age. I didn't realise (or maybe didn't remember) about Hiam being present on the Wall for so long - that is some commitment to the cause! "The spirit is willing but age has wrought its betrayal. Imagine, to have survived nearly thirty seasons upon the wall only to fall to so pedestrian an enemy - the snail's crawl of the years."
These Riders - I wonder if they are really presenting a facade of honour and courtesy, or whether that is their true nature and we have been fed the lies that the starting quote referred to, in order to misrepresent this "enemy"?
Hmm, live to see what? What is it that Hiam doesn't want to go back to?
A reminder here that we have "bad" Malazans and "good" Malazans, what with the emissary to Hiam from Yeull, trying to win Hiam over to his cause and demonstrating towering arrogance in terms of what they think those on the Wall will know about events around them.
Poor Ivanr! He really isn't getting a lot of choice in his destiny, is he, what with the meddling of the Priestess and this naming him as her heir?
I find myself extremely intrigued by Martal and I do enjoy the way she teases Ivanr - with enough of a point to make him realise that he really has to invest himself in what is happening.
Oh, I *adore* these scenes with Manask! His idea of stealth amd lock picking are so funny. I find him immediately endearing.
I also liked the scenes with Shell on the ship of the Sea Folk, showing the way that she desperately needs her preconceptions shifted in order to deal properly with these people that she is currently rather looking down on. I can see her having an epiphany regarding them, considering her initial stance is so against everything that they do.
I really like Lazar - so far, not too much screen time but I'm finding he steals his scenes, like when Turo returns from his "capture" and we see this:
"She looked at Lazar, who was smiling crookedly in silent laughter.
High praise indeed, coming from him."
This picture of Leoman as someone who is unable to give up, who manages to smile and have optimism in the face of a stint trapped that is sending Kiska slowly mad, is so very far removed (I say again) from the character we've seen before. Although, to be fair, his fortitude and determination was definitely present before.
Neat reminder that Shadow really is up for grabs still:
"This is the language of the pretenders.
Pretenders? Ah! Cotillion and Shadowthrone."
What think you that we'll be seeing much more about this Chaos Whorl that has been dropped so casually into the story...? Whorl, Void, touching Chaos. None of it sounds good.
And then, after a few scenes that I thoroughly enjoyed, I found that the pacing slowed glacially when we reached the passages involving Ussu and Borun. I just can't get to grips with this part of the story as well - and I do wonder how much of that is to do with Ussu himself and the fact I don't like him as a character?
And why would I like him, with lines like this being proffered:
"Any. It does not matter. So long as they are strong. I mean to do some scrying."
And seems I'm not the only one!
"Why Our Lady tolerates your perverted dabbling in these demon-arts is beyond my understanding." Why, indeed, does she allow it?
This is real progress in the character of Kyle, from when we first met him and he was an unblooded boy. Here, from Rillish's perspective, he has real gravitas.
And the interplay between the characters of the 17th prior to going into battle is well done - showing us elements of their characters in the way that they wait for the battle.
Me and Bill are rubbish and we're sorry. Delay, delay, delay.
Here's my reason: World Fantasycon coming this week, muchos work to get completed before heading down.
Here's his reason: Bill's full-length play had a stage-reading this week as part of the local theater's New Plays Festival, and he was in intensive
rehearsal/rewrite mode all week, all of which took up much more time
than he had (dumbly) thought. Now that the reading is over, he's going
to take a day or two to recover (and catch up on the actual work for his
real, paying jobi.e. teaching and grading papers), and then he'll be
back in re-read status.
We'll be back real soon, folks!
Sorry, sorry, sorry, guys! Bill and I have been suffering illness and busy weeks and unfortunately the Malazan posts have had to take second place (well, nearer fifth place actually :-o) We hope you can bear with us and posts will return as usual next Wed!
Ha, thanks Fiddler! But I did mean the five Hounds of Shadow and the two white Hounds :-) Next time I'll be more explicit ;-)
My quick thoughts on the second part of Chapter 13:
I like this little look at what I presume the remaining Bridgeburners have managed to accomplish: "Precisely who is in this city who can with impunity cut down a score of deadly assassins?" I'm guessing it is the Bridgeburners since there is mention of no one noticing and putting together the fact that K'rul's Bar has now closed. Those poor Bridgeburners - pulled back into a form of service while trying to make a life after the military.
What wears off, in this conversation between Rallick Nom and Krute? Didn't quite grasp this: "Things were easier before - should have recognised that back then. Should have liked things just fine. Should have stopped gnawing." Is Rallick Nom indicating that Krute's thankfulness that Nom survived is wearing off?
The storyline involving Thordy and Gaz is really, really creepy - Thordy knowing that Gaz wants to murder her; Thordy building the weird stone and ashes and glyphs in the garden. What is she building? The storyline is an exercise in slowly increasing tension.
It doesn't help that we see what Gaz has done to various bodies in the city: "Another one, this man beaten so badly he was barely recognisable as human. Not a single bone in his face was left unbroken. The eyes were pulped."
Ah, a very sweet view of DNA: "And I figure that in that wallet there's notes [...] With all the details of that body written on 'em."
From the very mouth of the horse, Iskaral Pust: "And she'll see that with me she'll have more than she ever believed possible! Why, I shall be a giant walking penis!"
An interesting meeting, to be sure, and isn't it a little convergence that both Lady Envy and Lady Spite are in Darujhistan at this time?
Now, see, this meeting between Challice and Cutter sort of makes me think about how it would be meeting my first love - how you have the past in common, but don't know anything of each other now; how you are able to talk like old friends, but have much between you that goes unsaid. Uncomfortable, awkward, and yet comfortable.
And all of that encapsulated in this simply beautiful paragraph: "He was not the same man. She was not the same woman. Yet they had sat as if they had once known each other. As if they were old friends. Whatever childish hopes and vain ambitions had sparked the space between them years ago, they were deftly avoided, even as their currents coalesced into something romantic, something oddly nostalgic."
Poor Cutter, thinking that Apsalar somehow knew that he might be capable of having an affair with a married woman. His self-esteem is just non-existent.
It's upsetting to see Scillara's view of those Bridgeburners who died: "We just stumbled into these people. A crazy contest at a restaurant. We were just getting to know them, to treasure each and every one of them." Heartbreakingly, we see her perspective on all of them and it brings it home just what the reader has lost with their deaths as well.
Equally upsetting to know that Duiker would rather have died with them than live, and that he blames Scillara for taking him away, when she was just trying to provide him with a new life.
Fisher is so, so much more than he seems, what with having taken down his share of the assassins, and seeming younger to Scillara, and having a tone in his voice that comes before cold killing. He truly is one of the enigmas of the series. Him and Edgewalker both, I simply haven't managed to get a read on.
Poor Harllo. And I am starting to get a little unnerved by Dev'ad Anan Tol, who is thinking about an empty throne.
My thoughts on the first part of Chapter 13:
So, the section with Gruntle and the undead army is super fun and awesome to imagine, but I think the key thing to take from this is that the dead are on the march: "Gods below, all of the dead, on the march - but where? To what war?"
Also, it's a nice reminder of just how deadly Gruntle is when the god aspect is upon him - he takes down that demon with absolute ease.
Or, indeed, let's consider this quote: "Maybe not to, maybe from." What is there that the dead would run from?
Oo-er - no gate in the realm of Hood? Is that a gate out of or a gate into, or a gate from Hood's realm into somewhere else? Whichever way, it doesn't sound too good.
Ha, I want to hug the section of dialogue between Jula and Amby- it's just pure gold, and gives us so many cute moments.
Interesting. And one of the few infodumpy sections that Erikson puts in - this section with Hood's Revenants, led by an outlawed Seguleh. It seems dropped in rather than naturally introduced to the story. I don't think we've ever heard before about Hood's Merchants of Blood, or this battle that is going to take place on "the hidden plain called Defiance Last." Dawn of Flies? Final battle? Where has all this come from, and why have no other characters before now even hinted at it?
Personally, I agree with Mappo's personal thoughts about value: "What held real value in this world? In any world? Friendship, the gifts of love and compassion. The honour one accorded the life of another person."
Hmm, does Master Quell's explanation of the effect that the Trygalle Trade Guild has on the warrens have any relation to the chaos that is starting to descend in this world? Are they the only people scarring the warrens in this way? "I admit, it's starting to trouble me, this way of travel. I think we're scarring the whole damned universe. We're making existence... bleed. Oh, just a seep here and there, amidst whatever throbs of pain reality might possess."
So Precious Thimble is an odd one, isn't she? Magical? As Mappo says: "What game does she play at, I wonder..."
This is a wonderful insight into Gruntle's state of mind - his stubbornness and his growing acceptance of the position he's been thrust into: "Listen, Trake, if you want me to be just like you, stop playing these scenes for me. I'll be a tiger if that's what you want - just don't confine it to my dreams. I wake up feeling clumsy and slow and I don't like it. I wake up remembering nothing but freedom."
I absolutely love this scene, where Gruntle meets the black panther being ridden by another soul. Now, the only black panther we've seen prior to this was connected to Kilava Onass - so is this she? Or is it someone else? It strikes me that it would be careless of Erikson to introduce a new character with a black panther altar ego when Kilava is so known to us, so I am going to firmly assume it is her. This New Morn that she speaks of - I wonder if it is some kind of parallel universe, or past, or future? Curious.
The conversation between Ditch and Draconus does indicate that the latter is able to leave Dragnipur, as he tells Ditch that he is not a logical man.
And here, again, after the comments from Master Quell, is an indication that chaos is breaking down the walls of the warrens: "Oh, the warren was there, yes, as impervious as a wall - yet he sensed something he had not expected. Cracks, fissures, things bleeding in, bleeding out. The effects of chaos, he realised. Gods, it's all breaking down!" Maybe this is why Draconus can escape out of Dragnipur? And perhaps this means that everyone can escape Dragnipur if these fissures continue to grow?
So much to take from the meeting between the Tiste Andii and Ditch - what is this inked pattern really describing? Who is this Tiste Andii who tried to steal Dragnipur from Draconus? "Wanderings, Holds, Houses, every god, every goddess, every spirit worth mentioning. Demon kings and demon queens. Dragons and Elders..." Maybe the Malazan series would be easier to read if we all had access to all of this! *winks*
Oh heck, what on earth did Anomander do to Andarist and Enesdia to make this brother of Enesdia, Kadaspala, need to blind himself and want to murder Anomander? "I blinded myself [...] when I saw what he's done. What he'd done. To his brother. To my sister. To my sister."
I love Anomander even more reading this section where he encounters Apsal'ara in Moon's Spawn! Especially knowing his grief and sorrow over ending her life with Dragnipur.
Next little catch-up - I vow to be all caught up soon so that I can post with you guys! Miss it! Miss you!
Hmm, this seems telling: "Children of Darkness, with Aranatha's quiet power embracing them..." For one thing, that use of the word 'children' seems to be telling us something explicit. For another, Aranatha isn't hiding her newfound power at all now, is she?
This walk of the Tiste Andii through the horrors of Bastion is very atmospheric. The tension as I read is palpable.
The fight scene - so few Andii against a huge swelling mass of rabid worshippers - is brilliantly done. I love the mention of casual grace, because this is the impression we have as they dance through the mayhem and destruction. I liked seeing the battle glimpsed from different Tiste Andii, from Desra feeling the power and force of battle to Skintick just praying for peace.
I confess I am finding the sections with Salind and Seerdomin the hardest to read in this book at the moment - both because they are quite dense with the weighty questions and considerations of compassion and religion and sacrifice, and because of the nature of their respective stories. Seerdomin and his unending pain from what he did. Salind and her desperate need for the Redeemer to accept her.
It's so wonderful to see this version of Itkovian - his quiet grace. I love that Seerdomin only decides to fight on Itkovian's behalf when he realises how humble this god is: "If not for your humility, Redeemer, I would walk away. If not for your...uncertainty, your doubts, your humanity."
I wonder how things would be different had Spinnock told Anomander of his love for Salind.
I thought it terribly real how Skintick recognises the seduction of kelyk and why people would give into it. On the face of it, it seems a stupid thing to become addicted to - it doesn't offer any pleasure. But then Skintick thinks on the fact that it offers an escape from reality. All addictions can be expressed so: the powerful allure of something that can be incredibly damaging.
Wow, the Dying God is formed of all those little rejected parts of gods and goddesses? All those times where people turned away from those they once worshipped? That is dark indeed.
And the Dying God is terribly creepy besides, what with all these little dolls that represent his attempts to try and create a body that will last. And he wants Clip, right? Was it his intention all along to get Clip to Bastion? And who is this 'she' that the Dying God wishes to pay back for what she did?
Oh my God! The Dying God is Bellurdan?! Now that is a name from the past. Let me try and recall... Oh, hang on! The 'she' who discarded the fragment is Silverfox, isn't it? "Children woke. There was great need. You were the part of her...that she did not want."
And, if the puppet that held the Dying God does not speak, I guess he has now fled into Clip.
I don't know whether to feel sorrow for Seerdomin. Has he truly died? Or will his soul now remain to help the Redeemer? Whichever way it is, I am glad that it seems Seerdomin has found some peace.
It seems incredible that we're seeing names like Hairlock and Bellurdan and Nightchill again - after so many books where they were absent... It makes you marvel at the sheer ambition and work that went into this series.
Just letting you know I've popped my commentary in the comments thread of Chapter 12 Part 1 :-) (gradually catching up!)
Thanks for your patience in waiting for me, guys! BEA was a blast, but, damn, it's a busy few days... I've read through your comments and discussion above, and I think I grasped every second word there *grins*. I'm afraid my look at the chapter may be a little more lowbrow than Bill's discussion of religion and choice and big deep important things!
Oh! Our first glance at Kharkanas seems to show a more modern interpretation of life than what we've found in the other Malazan novels. With the factories, and with Endest being aware of the notion that oxygen is required by plants to survive.
And then it also indicates that this is a damaged version of the Andii - those that left the purity of the forest and laid down the stones of the city. It's Tolkien and his ruralism all over again *smile* "Born to give breath to the sacred wood, and that the first fall of his people occurred the moment they walked out, to set down the first shaped stone of this city."
Well, it seems at some point Silchas, Anomander and Andarist were willing to work together towards the same goal - although Andarist's part of that was to do nothing. I'm confused. And was this goal the severing of Mother Dark? Or was it seeking a new world for the Tiste Andii? I am looking forward to Forge of Darkness so that I can fill in some of these gaps.
I think the bit that affected me most in that scene - knowing what we know of him - is when Silchas' eyes are wet at the idea of betraying Andarist. Real emotion from a draconean Lord. Or was this before they took on their dragon aspects?
Ah, I think me and Caladan Brood could be friends, when he says: "See? Already my skull aches." His and Endest's conversation has little moments where I think I should be taking note, such as the bit about the Jaghuts giving more than they took (except for the Tyrants) but it's all wrapped in such philosophical leanings that I do find it hard to take what is needed from the scene. And there, I think, is my biggest problem with Erikson getting all philosophical through his characters - I never know what is just the characters being a mouthpiece for Erikson's thoughts and ideas, and what is useful in terms of the themes in the over-arching story.
Huh! The Forkrul Assail are still at war with the Jaghut! Where abouts is this war occurring? When Caladan Brood says far away, does he mean in terms of physical distance, or in terms of warrens, or in terms of worlds?
Well, now, there is a real look at prejudice in action - Harak automatically assuming that the killer is one of the Tisti Andii: "He'd always known that the unhuman demon-spawn were far from the innocent, benign occupiers they played at, oh, yes, they were rife with deadly secrets."
I wish that Harak had had his prejudiced notions disabused by realising that Seerdomin was the one behind the killings. Oh well. And there is yet another name that comes and goes in a flash. Erikson does like his named deaths, rather than just giving us faceless and nameless characters that we're unable to attach any feelings to.
I wonder how many who lived in Germany during World War II felt like this during the years that passed afterwards: "If one had any conscience at all, there was no escaping the crimes committed, the blood on the hands, the sheer insanity of that time - when honour was a lie, duty a weapon that silenced, and courage itself was stained and foul." I realise that I use the example of WWII a fair amount as I read through these chapters and I don't mean to be offensive or derogatory as I do so. The same accusations could be put at all sides in a war, depending on which side you look at it from.
Poor Salind - and poor Seerdomin. Her introspection about him and her desire to return to the Redeemer has played her straight into Gradithan's hands. Here's hoping that Seerdomin - or someone - will rescue her before things go too far.
Ah, I love this quote: "Love could be such a squalid emotion: burning bright in the midst of pathos, the subject of pity and contempt, it blazed with brilliant stupidity all the same."
Well, I for one do not like the new Seerdomin - and I hope that Spinnock's revelation about Salind and that he loves her, and that she's now unprotected, will make the real Seerdomin come back. I like people to find absolution as much as the next person, but I somehow feel that one like Seerdomin will not find it in murder.
I love, love, love the idea that Traveller and Karsa are swapping war stories and getting all chummy - and I adore that Samar Dev finds this just revolting behaviour. I love every part of it, because it feels so exactly right for these characters, but you still don't expect it when it comes.
And I like that Samar Dev tells Traveller seriously that there was another member of the Old Guard: one Dassem Ultor. Does she know? Or guess? Or is it just happy coincidence that she tells Traveller that he was also taken out by Laseen?
Anyway, I do love that last scene!
Ack! Sorry, guys, I do hate it when real life intrudes on fun stuff like this, especially when it is unexpected. Anyway, to my comments about chapter 3:
- That poem is, for me, one of the more affecting I've seen in the Malazan books. The loneliness, the determination, the sacrifice. It's all very powerful.
- The language in this book is different in many ways than what has come in the books before. More gradiose and circular, I feel. I'm given to understand from comments made that Kruppe is actually narrating this book and it certainly comes across well.
- I've always thought that cities have a presence, especially those that are overburdened with history. Such as London or Paris. When you step into those cities, they do feel like living, breathing things. Certainly in Kate Griffin's urban fantasy series about London (beginning with A Madness of Angels) the city is represented as being fantastically alive. I do urge you all to read them, as an aside. Just tremendous writing and imagination.
- You know this scene where the driver is thrown from the coach into the rubbish cart? It reminds me very much of Biff - in each instalment - being thrown into waste!
- Ha! As soon as I read about this carriage hurtling into view and crashing so haphazardly I did wonder if it was the Trygalle Trade Guild making another chaotic appearance in the series. It's well done that I've only seen this carriage and characters a few times, but can guess from the way they arrive who it might be. Strong character building, I guess.
- I love the florid expansion of Kruppe's dialogue contrasted with Mallet's very matter-of-fact speech, and the way that the latter sighs about having to spend time with the former.
- It's no real surprise that Kruppe knows (or will know) who has the contract out on the Malazans, is it? He does have his finger in *all* the pies...
- "Dearest Meese, yet another discovery..." *chortles*
- Bah, I'm not bonding with Scorch and Leff. Took me ages to engage with their section. I kept finding Internet distractions and had to push through. Not one of my favourite duos.
- Ah, Gruntle - nice to see you again. So far this book does feel like a real reunion of characters.
- Does Gruntle still belong to Treach? I guess I'll be finding out. RAFO is the phrase, yes?
- See? "The damned markings on his skin rose flush with battle, and took weeks to fade back into a ghostly tint".
- Has Gruntle always been able to command the dead, or is that a fancy new talent that has developed recently?
- Now we meet Torvald Nom again, after last seeing him a fair few books ago with Karsa and in the Nascent. This is stretching my brain, to remember all these people. I remember the names well enough, but not quite where I last left them. Thank you Malazan Wiki for the help!
- Poor Humble Measure has really borne the brunt of the Malazan Empire's depredations, hasn't he? You can sort of see why witnessing his various female family members being raped and murdered would bring on blind rage where Malazans are concerned. Interesting to see how various Malazan actions in the past keep having effects on the present.
- Ooh! What is the discovery that Humble Measure has discovered in the crypts below the city? Six hundred years old? Perhaps something Icarium left?
- Don't like the whole "Whatever was necessary" angle of Humble Measure's plan.
- I love the idea of these bhokarala crewing the ship. And, hang on, does this mean we'll be seeing Kruppe and Iskaral Pust together? Delightful!
- I can almost feel Spite's impatience at Cutter's childish behaviour, in insisting that he knows best. It is very much the action of a grown-up to a surly teenager, and reflects Spite's long life and experience.
- What a fabulous reflection of this disparate group! "Worshipful bhokarala, a miserable mule, an old hag who collapsed into a heap of spiders if one so much as looked askance in her direction. A scrawny, entirely mad High Priest of Shadow, and a brokenhearted Trell. And while Spite comported herself with all the airs of a coddled princess, she was in truth a Soletaken sorceress." There is some potential for mischief in them, non?
- I forgot just how much I LOVE the way that Iskaral Pust mutters his every thought and plan. Just so much fun.
- It is a difficult conversation between Barathol and Mappo here, because of seeing Mappo brought so low, and in so much pain. The fact that he feels the need to quest for Icarium alone to atone for the errors he feels he made is hard to see.
- The mule! Male and now female?! What the hell is it?
- I feel sorry for Scillara. Cutter is just so self-centred that he only really sees how life affects him, and doesn't know that his relief will hurt her.
- Aha. So Vorcan was the one who ran from the Azath House that we saw earlier.
- "The stresses of owning property." *grins*
- I LOVE Raest. So funny. Isn't it odd how we look at the Jaghut *so* differently from the first book of the series? How talented Erikson is to have turned it around so thoroughly.
Thanks for your patience in waiting for these comments!
Sorry for the late response to this one, guys - real life caught up with me briefly and left me a little delayed, but here is what I have to say about this section:
More mentions of the "guest down below" in the prison as we go back to Ho and are introduced to Su (who is amusing). This particular remark of Su's makes me wonder: "Takes you longer than anyone to admit you're human just like the rest of us, doesn't it?" Are we implying that Ho is not quite human? That seems to then be emphasised by the whole ritual thing that Bill already pulled out. Also, when Ho says 'Queen' who does he mean? After all, we know about the Queen of Dreams but we are also becoming more familiar with Queen Ardata, thanks to Skinner...
I find this scene with the prisoners facing down Treat and Grief interesting, in terms of the fact that even those considered to be peaceful groups can turn into a witch hunt with only a little prodding. Especially when those who would oppose them feel too apathetic to try.
Also, it seems that Su has smelt something interesting about Grief and Treat - but then we've always known that they weren't quite what they presented themselves to be.
This is an odd book in terms of POV changes. Right now it feels quite disjointed and as though we're reading several short stories that have been entwined together, and there still isn't quite enough to draw them together. This with Ho, Treat and Grief is one particular POV that is taking a long while to really get going, and feels distinctly unconnected from the rest of the story.
Hmm. HMM. So one of those mysterious jade statues has come to rest here in this mine. And it is *weird*. I find these unusual alien constructs one of the very oddest parts of the Malazan series. I can handle gods, and demons, and strange magic systems that can't clearly be explained, but enormous jade statues that fall through the sky from another universe are just too weird.
And I suppose that Grief and Treat are some of our Crimson friends? Going by the whole not being dead thing. And the way that Su asks whether they are recruiting. What interest do the Crimson Guard have in this mine - are they searching for Prince K'azz? Ah, no, instantly answered - they are there to bring people back to fight against the Empire.
A lot to take in now that Ho's storyline is beginning to shift forward - yay! First of all, the idea that is touched upon: that of somebody who has been imprisoned for a long time and essentially put their life on hold, and then, when offered freedom, wondering what to do with their life. It's quite poignant. Then the idea that the Crimson Guard are a real force, where even a mage looks at them and wonders what use he is in a world where they can take down twenty-five people at a time. Poor Ho. Lots of grim thoughts for him.
How *horrible* to find out that the soul-destroying work you've been doing for six or so DECADES has just been discarded and not even been used! This is just a nasty form of punishment - sort of like those outer circles of hell, where you spend eternity rolling boulders up hills only for them to roll back down to the bottom.
Ah, now Ghelel has started hearing about news of the pirate fleet - which must be the Crimson Guard, considering that Cawn is mentioned - so at least these two storylines are now on a collision course.
I absolutely love, love, love that part of the scene where the sigil is recognised and the pirates are confirmed as being Crimson Guard. We've been given hints that Ullen is a strong soldier, a good tactician, someone familiar with war - so to have him turn white from shock and instantly start issuing commands to combat them (even forgetting the Empress' imminent arrival) really packs a punch.
I also quite like Ghelel's shy approach towards Ullen - it reminds me of just how young a girl she is, one with her first crush.
In fact, I like as well the young Seti girl and Ghelel's attempts to keep her warm. This whole scene is handled very well and makes me feel very warmly towards the characters involved.
I really enjoyed this exchange!
"We've tried to keep as low a profile as possible."
"Obliterating half of Unta?" the Marquis snapped. "Burning Cawn to the ground?"
The man smiled, baring sharp teeth. "As I said - a low profile."
And then a quick trip back to Hurl et al - where Silk does not seem to be getting on too well, looking ill and out of sorts. Wonder what is causing that, or whether it's simply the stress of deciding to open Ryllandaras.
And that poem spoken by a disembodied voice - that is damn creepy and doesn't make me feel any more comfortable about Ryllandaras being freed.
Nope - we did the whole stretch. But Chapter Three is being split.
After a nasty little cold that knocked me out for the best part of a week (yep, that'll teach me to be smug about having time off work) here are my brief comments on the first half of chapter four:
Lament of THE Lonely Traveller could so easily become Lament of Lonely Traveller, and be very specific to a person in this book, couldn't it?
The fact that Greymane apologises to Kyle about the Ascendant makes me really warm to him actually. Yes, it's a bit late, but at least he's acknowledged the fact that something of importance to Kyle went down.
And Greymane a coward? That is something I don't see somehow.
This description of Shimmer makes me instantly intrigued about her. It's a fearsome lady that manages to lead a squad as fearsome as these of the Crimson Guard, I think. For some reason, there are faint echoes of Quick Ben about her, I don't know why. Maybe just the dark skin, but also some of their composure and notoriety.
So Diaspora. Just to clarify. Diaspora means a migration, so I'm guessing at the start of the Diaspora the Crimson Guard migrated. Since we've seen different squads in different places, I'm guessing they scattered to the four winds. And so this Return (so indicated by the title of the book) is dealing with them all getting together again? "The Diaspora was ordered to preserve the Guard for the future."
Skinner is well-matched with Dassem. Hang on... My creaky brain is recalling that we identified Traveler as Dassem Ultor in a previous novel - so there is a big possibility that these two will meet again.
Not sure I get this entirely, but it seems to indicate that Kyle is no longer going to pretend that Stalker is less than he seems: "What did you see on the Wanderer?" Kyle asked, thinking if there was any time to put aside pretences, it was now.
Hmm, Mallick is pretty much being handed power by being the go-between for the nobles and Laseen. He's getting rid of those who would strive to take down the Empress, while at the same time making sure she's completely isolated. A nasty little plan. I feel sorry for Laseen at the moment.
This is a fantastic entrance by Iron Bars *grins* And just as badass as I remember! It's cool to see the Vow in process here, as Iron Bars says: It never [...] gets any easier." I wonder if this is after the events on
Jacuruku where Iron Bars and the rest of them were dropped off?
Poor Rillish: "A quiet posting until retirement, they said, Chord. A well-earned rest." Seems like things are about to get busy for him!
So Traveler... He has Ascended, yes? Becoming more like a god? Otherwise why would those who look upon him like this Tiste Edur witch woman find their previous faith shattered and a new Path forged? Because I have to say, this scene was one of mostly mystification. Not quite sure what is going on, and what Erekos sees as the connection between Traveler and Sorrow.
I don't know whether this is fabulously naive - or just a bit close to the truth: "But gods?" "Just powerful spirits to my mind. Beings who have more power than others - nothing more."
Lots of sitting around with Kyle! So far this novel consists far too much of sitting around with Kyle mooning over Wind Gods and sounding far too much like a country and western singer...
Well, Skinner is a few spoons short of a dinner service, isn't he? Gone a bit cuckoo! Is this Ardata that same one who helped Mogora heal Mappo Trell? The Elder Goddess? Has she taken Skinner into her service?
Okay guys, sorry about my brief absence! Here are my comments on the second half of chapter three:
So after the faint disappointment from the first part of this chapter, the second part opens splendidly. I really enjoyed the walk with Hurl and Sunny as they trail the captain. They are Malazan sappers to the core and Esslemont really got the tone, including amusing asides like "Their ages looked to Hurl to vary directly with their distance from the light" and nicely-handled hints of back story from various characters.
So these old cadre mages, including Orlat, are trying to recruit Storo to their ranks... And he is loyal to the Malazan Empire, it seems. My, this book is exploring well all of the variations of personnel within the Malazan forces. It's interesting to see who has aligned themselves with which faction.
Hmm, how come Hurl thinks that Rell would be a pretty good match for six veterans then? What is it about this "young fellow" that means he is able to do this?
Have to confess, Silk creeps me out a bit. Which is so weird for me, because the last Silk I read about was the one from David Eddings' Belgariad and Mallorean series - and he is far from being creepy! I wonder if there is any homage to that character at all, or whether it was just a coincidental name?
Ack, this was a very confusing line - I thought Sunny had left the mortal coil: "A crack sounded as Sunny jumped - the release of a crossbow - then a crash of him lying dead flat on his back..."
I feel this sentence is deliberate when it comes to Rell: "Orlat's gaze was narrow as he watched Rell's form." What is there to watch?
I found the runty knife guy and his part in this pretty amusing - first being vanished to who knows where by Silk, then returning and getting through the smoke of a, uh, smoker to threaten Hurl and Sunny again and then getting a knife in his side. Suspect it isn't the last we've seen of him either.
It is very cool seeing sappers not being led by either Hedge or Fiddler and knowing that they are continuing traditions laid down by those two. Nice to see respect for the munitions as well: "Gods! Cussor tossing! No matter that it took more than a shock to set them off - the imagination did wonders."
So here we're looking at a rising by the Seti and Tali, and Laseen has managed to weaken the Malazan forces by sending them off to foreign escapades. And, at the same time, the Malazans are in two different groups - those for the Empire and those who have turned. Seems like a big mess, if you ask me!
This is interesting and haven't seen it mentioned explicitly before: "This is home turf for me. I pull more out of myself here than anywhere." Is this common to all mages, or is Silk a special case?
Why does Liss (who is a cool character!) call Hurl a Builder? There was a very deliberate capital there.
And more mystery about Rell, since Liss doesn't put her hands on him and seems to show this young lad the utmost respect.
Tis not the first time we've seen a small group of Malazans aiming to take on a whole organisation!
*grins* Poor Hurl with her delicate stomach... She doesn't seem so much like a sapper at this point.
Now Ryllandaras is a name I've definitely heard before - although I'm not convinced Dancer killed him and I can't remember the jackal aspect that clearly. I thought he was wolves when we saw him before?
Hmm, so Silk is now revealed to be far more than he first seemed. Not just a common mage, but one who was familiar with Ryllandaras and Shalmanat, the Protectress of Li Heng. It certainly seems as though he's been hand-picking a squad in preparation for this moment... Oh, and Hurl is definitely protesting too much that that smile of Silk's has no effect on her at all.
Seems like Rell doesn't seem to think they can succeed in their mission: "Rell unsheathed each of his two odd slim longswords, single-edged, slightly curved, and then threw the sheaths away into the dark. That gesture dried Hurl's mouth."
That camp stool is poignant, if it is in fact the throne of Li Heng.
Sometimes Esslemont is clumsy, with things like a dash in this sentence that highlights what the reader should be taking on: "It was also very clean and very white and bright - though no source of light was visible." There is no need for that dash, which means that Esslemont wants us to pay attention.
Eep! That Rell is a wee bit formidable - and he has a code. Something to bear in mind, methinks. Seems to imply that his swordsmanship is something he takes incredibly seriously.
Silk does seem to produce that blinding white light on a frequent basis, doesn't he?
Now this mind me smile lots, even in the midst of all the carnage caused by Rell: "All the while she stood behindRell, a cussor raised in one hand, with a look in her eye that she hoped promised utter annihilation the moment Rell should fall. She liked to think that put a bit of hesitation into their limbs."
And eep again! Look at Silk go, with his Kurald Liosan!
See, this half of the chapter was great. A swift read, with loads of entertaining bits and pieces, and hints of what is to come. Good stuff.
I have consulted with the boss (Bill!) and he has advised this about splitting Chapter Two:
Let's split at the following point -
The ending section for tomorrow closes at ""Jamaer! Umbrella!"
And the section we begin next week's post starts with : "The fat man in ocean-blue robes walked Unta's Street of Dragons"
So we won't tackle all 100 pages in one go ;-)
Okay, my comments for chapter twenty one!
The Malazans are doing well, aren't they? Pressing ever closer to the capital and only now getting to a point where someone on the opposing side is pulling together a unified response. Having said that, I'm so conscious of just how few Malazans there are, seeking to take down this empire - it's almost ridiculous that they're even trying.
A heartbreaking choice there - go to the aid of fellow soldiers or slip past in order to take the battle to the enemy somewhere else. Fiddler is the consummate professional, isn't he? But how much must it hurt after having lost his own Bridgeburners, to think about leaving behind others. "So I left 'em to it. And the detonations died away, but the screams continued, Hood take me."
And madness seems to be stalking the squad - this taking of grisly trophies (particularly those taken by Smiles - those are very gruesome) is something that seems to have come on only as they've spent more time on the frontline. "Gods below, look at these fools - how in Hood's name have we lasted this long?"
It's painful seeing Fiddler at a point where he's thinking about wanting to be dead. He's usually so gruff and so vital that you can't imagine him losing hope, but he's on the edge of it here. There couldn't have been a better time, I don't think, for these marines to have found a village being held by their own.
In the midst of Hellian's drunken observations is that wonderful greeting between Fiddler and Gesler. And then immediately the thoughts of depression about the aftermath of battle. Sharp observations for someone who is trying to hide in a bottle.
I think it's cool that Hellian, of everyone, is the one that manages to succeed in dodging the Edur and liberating the Letherii, all while completely inebriated. There is that one line which I particularly like: "And since Urb was adamant on who was leading whom, it really had been her." It shows that Urb feels at least some respect for this "drunken, ferocious marine".
Ahhhhh! I dread hearing Stormy say: "We're all damn near unscathed, given what we've been through. More living than dead in every squad here." Isn't that just asking for trouble? Cursing them to worse situations?
Oh, bless Beak... Not able to rest, knowing that the worst is yet to come. And then that mage teasing him, but her eyes softening when she realises that he is taking it literally. Beak is becoming a favourite.
And, oh, such a tragic story ahead - I can just sense it, especially with his magic flaring out of control: "The candles, they won't go out. Not any more. They won't go out."
*grins* "I got my target!" [...] "By bouncing your quarrel off the cobbles and don't tell me that was a planned shot!"
Erikson is showing the darkly funny side of battle here in these little scenes that we're jumping to - the unintentional shots, Corabb tripping and somehow snarling up three of the enemy, Smiles' in convulsions of laughter. You can imagine that the tension of battle and the extreme adrenaline must cause hysterical laughter as well as screaming.
The Bonehunters are sustaining losses now... *sad* And some of these losses are people that we never really knew and will never get the opportunity to, like Sinter and Kisswhere.
What gives with this Letherii sword that howls like a wild woman every time it's used?
This quick glimpse into Skulldeath's past (the fact he is the last surviving male of the Futani royal line of the Gilani tribe) is just the latest reminder that we join these characters partway through their life - so partway through the 'conversation' - and so might never find out everything about them. I really like that. I like that it is so realistic.
Lucky Hellian - lucky, lucky Hellian!
Oooh, who is this mysterious and capable stranger who has rescued Koryk and Smiles? Skulldeath, really?
It's funny that Fiddler thinks this: "Ain't nobody waiting other side of Hood's Gate, unless it's to jeer" when we know that Hedge has gone beyond.
Poor Smiles! Looks like she's going to lose Skulldeath to Hellian - who is far from the Queen of Kartool!
A *very* interesting talk between Quick Ben and Hedge. Not a lot of trust between these two, is there? Hedge's pointed remark about not knowing who or what Quick Ben is shows that. I think it's good that he's throwing doubt on what Cotillion and Shadowthrone know and how much they are now using Quick Ben, especially keeping him close to them and part of their plans.
And Quick Ben keeps up that mysterious aura: "Just how long do all of those souls plan on hiding in there, Ben Adaephon Delat?" The wizard eyed him, and, predictably, said nothing.
This is a deeply powerful scene, as Trull faces Hostille Rator. The idea that Onrack is prepared to fight for the Bentract because he can't bear the thought of returning to his T'lan Imass form is truly heart-breaking. And then to learn that the price Onrack pays for his friendship with Trull is a soul that can never find peace... It's painful.
Looks like the showdown for the Finnest is going to be happening within this odd realm, if Quick Ben is correct!
Clip is very quick to play down the destruction of the gate, isn't he? And, if Udinaas is correct, we now learn that he is an assassin - which doesn't seem the right sort of occupation for a Mortal sword, if I'm honest.
NICE ending to the chapter - when I say nice, I mean shocking! All the dragons are dead? Starvald Demelain is dead?
Comments for chapter twenty are now also up!
Even though he has no flesh, it is good to see Bruthen Trana still in existence. He has been one of the nicer new characters of this book. But this lonely quest without a body of flesh is rather a sad way of seeing him, and his train of thought is pretty grim: "Dissolution seems to be the curse of the world, of all the worlds. All that broke, all that failed, wandered down to some final resting place, lost to darkness, and this went beyond ships on the sea and the lives on those ships."
Oh, poor Bruthen... This section really is deeply sad: "What am I looking for? Who am I looking for? I have forgotten."
This house on the bottom of the ocean is incredibly atmospheric and written beautifully, in a very creepy manner. Those extra joints - am I looking at another Forkrul Assail?
The old chap does have a sharp knowledge of what is happening above the waves. I do have no idea who he might be, but it strikes me that he is known by many different names by many difference people, since he says: "Best know me by one of my many titles. The Letherii one will do. You may call me Knuckles."
WHAT?! Knuckles has Kilmandaros as his house guest? And it sounds as though Knuckles is the son of Kilmandaros, so definitely Forkrul Assail. And a god? Would the son of a god also be a god?
Heh, and his true name begins with 'Setch', going by the way he stopped Kilmandaros from completing the word and insisting on being called Knuckles.
Yup. Definitely a god. "He had just, with a single gesture of one hand, stopped time."
Nice to see even his enemies have respect for him: "Anomander does not break his word, Mother. Never has, never will."
It makes me grin to see Knuckles quickly distracting Kilmandaros when her thoughts stray to Scabandari - and hence to dragons.
And then another look at the son of Udinaas and Menandore - Rud Elalle. Any relation to Shurq? I'm guessing so, since it's a fairly unusual name.
This is an interesting perspective from Rud Elalle about the dragon blood, that it was stolen from true Eleint and that they are not the same as the children of Starvald Demelain. I can see why Menandore wouldn't be too fond of a son of hers holding that view!
Menandore hasn't taken any time to try and get to know her son, has she? Mistake. Definitely a mistake if she is seeking to use him in her plans, since he sounds like he has a real mind of his own from this exchange between them.
She is a bit of a cold-hearted bitch, isn't she? "Kill those new Imass, those strangers with their sly regard, and be quick about it."
Oh, and a very sweet view of Udinaas - something that we haven't really seen: "That ease, Rud now understood, was the true face of Udinaas. The face of his soul."
And then the very humorous situation where Menandore is hounded by the two emlava cubs, as she tries to intimidate the group approaching Rud (that includes Trull and his companions).
It's both lovely and bittersweet to hear Hedge think about the joy he feels at seeing Quick Ben's face again, and, in the same instance, comment on how he wishes Fiddler was with him.
I think that Hedge definitely needs Fiddler as his balancing point of view, since he confesses that he doesn't trust nice people, whereas I do think that Fiddler is more prepared to trust those outside of the Bridgeburners.
It's an interesting thought that Rud presents, the idea that Hedge might have regained a physical body through coming to this realm that has restored Onrack to flesh. And that Hedge rejects the idea of cutting himself to check because he knows he still has to leave.
Some great quick dialogue between Quick Ben and Hedge:
"Hood above, Quick-"
"Oh, now that's a giveaway, Hedge. What's Hood doing 'above'? Just how deep was that hole you crawled out of? And more important, why?"
"My company soured already? I liked you least, you know. Even Trotts-"
In fact, their whole exchange is tremendous.
Would Rud have Soletaken ability then? Just because he has the same blood as another Soletaken? After all, it is diluted blood. And I thought that you had to do something specific to become a dragon Soletaken?
Uh oh. Trouble ahead, with the tribe of the Bentract. Now, does Cotillion need Rud to join the world in order to help further his plans? Because his loyalty to the Bentract is going to be a sticking point in him leaving, especially if Ulshan Pral is in some kind of danger from the three Bentract T'lan Imass who have returned.
The darkness of that ship crewed by headless Tiste Andii definitely gains an extra creep factor when you balance it against the living Tiste Andii of the Drift Avalii. Nimander's thoughts about it are hysterical indeed.
And the same thoughts are driving Phaed to the murder of Sandalath Drukorlat, unless Nimander is strong enough to prevent it. Ugh, although I didn't expect Nimander to snap her wrists like that - or to try and kill Phaed in turn before being torn away from her by Withal.
Does Nimander truly see the truth of Phaed, the emptiness? Or is he simply driven to become the kind of hero he believes Anomander and Silchas to be? Whichever, it's clear that Nimander has been driven to madness.
It is good that Withal realises that Nimander has sought to save Sandalath's life, but not good that this then leads him to throw Phaed to her death and then ask Nimander to help lie for him!
After that very dark interlude dealing with the Tiste Andii, it is a welcome break to have Captain Kindly come on scene, so proud of those turtleshell combs.
People saying that Sinn is more powerful than Quick Ben? It gives an indication of just where she is on the scale, doesn't it? Imagine a showdown between the two of them!
Ah, Shurq Elalle - never one to worry about the fact that she is dead (at least now she has been made suitably attractive). What will happen when her 'ootooloo' takes over her entirely? Will she become like Anita Blake and the ardeur, having to have sex with everyone in sight? *grins*
Ugh, Tanal Yathvanar is absolutely loathsome - and it's utterly terrible that Janath is back in his hands after experiencing the freedom and healing of living with Tehol Beddict.
I like the way Janath looks at the economic collapse - the fact that, although Tehol started the process, he had many who willingly followed him to financial ruin: "So, Tehol Beddict had paved the road, but hundreds - thousands? - had freely chosen to walk it. And now they cried out, indignant and appalled, even as they scurried for cover lest blame spread its crimson pool."
Poor Janath. Poor, poor woman. She is starting to remember her time of madness while under Tanal Yathvanar's ministrations. And I think she has rather fallen in love with Tehol Beddict, so she is also terrified for his life. I don't feel happy.
I think it does say something about him that Karsa hasn't just taken Samar Dev for himself, that he is allowing her to choose.
This is a distinction that I think we needed reminding of by the Senior Assessor: "No, Varat Taun, Rhulad is not. A god. The god. He is a cursed creature, as mortal as you and me. The power lies in the sword he wields." Once that sword is removed from him, he will then become mortal - and, presumably, dead.
This section with Rhulad echoes the section with Bruthen Trana at the beginning - a person who is lost and who longs for oblivion. It is very very easy to feel the tragedy of his life.
Just to let you know - comments for chapter nineteen have been put into the relevant chapter :-)
Yay! Back from Frankfurt! Time to do a three chapter catch-up :-) Here's the first:
At the beginning of chapter nineteen - in the excerpt from "The Ashes of Ascension" - there is reference made to Saphinand, Bolkando, Ak'ryn and D'rhasilhani, which we've not seen before, right? And yet this excerpt is supposedly about the events in this book Reaper's Gale... Have I missed something?
As a young girl, I also believed in the fact that true love would come into my life and sweep me away. It did feel disappointing as I became an adult and realised that love was very different from the fairytale happy ending I had learned as a child (still amazing and rewarding, but not as easy and simplistic). I can understand Seren Pedac's thoughts here.
This particularly rings with chilling truth: "That had been the poison within her, the battle between the child's dream and the venal cynicism that has seeped into adulthood. And Hull had been both her weapon and her victim."
Her dark thoughts here - and her ongoing reaction to the rape she suffered - bode ill for her and Trull: "I am poison. Stay away. All of you, stay away." Or perhaps Trull is the one person who truly will act the hero, and lance the poison from her?
These thoughts here do seem to be darker than those she has been suffering recently - is that merely because we haven't really spent much time with her during the narrative and only seen her from other people's perspectives? Or is it something more, and either the Imass spear or the voice of Mockra is causing her additional trauma?
Ack! It's torture for me knowing that Trull *is* alive and wanting Seren Pedac to know it too.
Seren's observation of her companions, seeing how 'ungathered' they are, is an important one, I think. Despite their time spent together, they have not managed to grow close by events. They are still six individuals, not a group working together. Although then Fear does offer her this: "While I live, while I hold madness at baym Seren Pedac, I will protect and defend you, for a brother of mine set his sword into your hands."
Also, this is concerning: "She [Kettle] had succumbed to an uncharacteristic silence these past few days, and would not meet anyone's eyes."
Interesting discussion here about who the father of Andarist, Anomander and Silchas actually is. Would it be Father Light? And who is he? Funny how the three brothers go from dark to light in their features: "Andarist, like midnight itself. Anomander, with hair of blazing white. And here, Silchas, our walking bloodless abomination, whiter than any corpse but just as friendly."
Udinaas really is displaying some knowledge here, but I don't know how much to trust as being correct, like when he says that Andarist is dead. Is this all coming from the wraith Wither?
Seren Pedac really stands at a crossroads here, doesn't she? Is she going to use her newfound power in a good way or a bad way? It's worrying that she thinks: "I will have your secrets, slave. I will have those, and perhaps much, much more."
Another sly dig in Udinaas' thoughts towards certain fantasy books: "...those legends of old when the stalwart, noble adventurers simply went on and on, through one absurd episode after another..."
Udinaas' fevers each night and these things he learns - from Feather Witch? As a result of her interference?
This group of adventurers are oblivious of each other's abilities and secrets - there are so *many* secrets between them. It is very different from the scene we left between Trull, Onrack and Quick Ben as they start to share some of their secrets.
I do love Udinaas in this scene where he reveals that they are being tracked by someone else, who Silchas Ruin identifies as Sister Dawn. Some of his pronouncements and questions are exactly the kind of thing I would want to say! "Just what did you all do to each other all those millenia ago? Can't you kiss and make up?"
Ahhhhh! And suddenly one of those conversations where I feel as though every line is important, that I have to remember every part of it. Here it is Udinaas talking about what came before Darkness, and whether Chaos was the "Nothing" that Darkness imposed upon. The fact that Silchas Ruin might know very little about where he's come from. The fact that Mother Dark had to have been born from something. Lots of very important things here.
This chapter has an incredibly tense atmosphere, only aided by sentences like this "Slaves who might be masters, and somewhere ahead of them all, a bruised storm cloud overhead, filled with thunder, lightning, and crimson rain."
It strikes me that perhaps Seren Pedac should have tried someone else to infiltrate before she tried Udinaas - someone who clearly knows more than he should, and is suffering fevered dreams. I actually LOVE that Udinaas completely turns down Feather Witch - and not because he feels he's being protected by other people, but just because he doesn't want to be associated with her. Interesting as well that he sent the Errant away.
You know something? Udinaas' reaction of hurt and betrayal is something that I can get behind entirely - and surely Seren Pedac, of all people, shouldn't even contemplate the rape of another's mind, the stealing of their soul. We're seeing the bad side of Seren Pedac, unfortunately.
I'm glad to see some remorse from her, and it absolutely kills me to see those tears on his weathered cheeks.
Am slightly glad to move on from these tragic adventurers, although the town of Drene is not the place to go to for a lighter storyline! Here we see some of the effects of the economic collapse caused by Tehol - and we can see that there is most definitely a negative side of this plan: "The garrison has set out into the streets to conduct a brutal campaign of pacification that was indiscriminate at first, but eventually found focus in a savage assault on the poorest people of Drene." At least the poor fought back in this case.
And, interestingly, those rioting seem to realise that the Letherii are the true oppressors of their society, and leave the Edur alone.
Ahhh. And here is mention within the chapter of the Bolkando and their allies - a scheme of Letur Anict's.
And much more to Venitt Sathad than we might have thought, right? "I am Venitt Sathad. Indebted, born of Indebted, most skilled slave and assassin of Rautos Hivanar, and you, Tehol Beddict - and you, Bugg - need never fear me." Heh, that sentence sounds like it should have "...and I shall have my vengeance, in this life or the next..." somewhere included!
And then the last part of the chapter gives us a quick canter around the Awl, Brohl Handar and the Atri-Preda in the aftermath of the destructive battle they undertook.
Those cairns that they've seen - are these from the K'Chain Che'Malle?
This final battle - both the Letherii and the Awl once again feel that they can win it and destroy their enemy. I suspect there might be a twist to events.
I thought I'd been quite obvious that I was hinting towards thoughts that it might be Hood's body :-D
Nice reflection between the thousand suns in the Sidivar Trelus saying and the campfires of the Awl army.
Hmm, this is one of those moments where the reader with more knowledge (the fact that the Awl army now has a Malazan army veteran to guide their moves) wants to tell the character that they're so wrong! "It looks as if Redmask was not able to sway the elders with any new schemes. It's the old tactics the ones that fail them time and again."
Having said that, I'm not sure Toc is going to be able to really get through to these Awl, to show them how best to defeat the Letherii.
Aww, I miss Tool as well.
I am entertained by this little competition between Toc and the old guy who has been blackmailing Redmask as to who has the best secrets. I think Toc wins. Then again, I don't know what the old guy is referring to. He does mention that Redmask's sister killed herself. Is that the 'she' he's already been referring to?
Hedge's progress has been amusing in some ways, but I'm mighty glad that his story might be moving on some. I did like this though: "I keep forgetting that I'm already dead. If there's one thing the dead should remember, it's that crucial detail, don't you think, Fid? Bah, what would you know. You're still alive. And not here either. Hood take me, I'm in need of company." That reinforcement of the relationship between the pair, and how much they miss each other, really touched me.
See? As soon as Hedge has company, the dialogue cranks up and I become much more interested. This, for instance: "It's why I became a soldier, you know. To meet women. And then I discovered that women soldiers are scary. I mean, a lot more scary than normal women, which is saying something."
Hedge says he never shared love, but I would disagree, considering his friendship with Fiddler. I guess it's not quite the same, but it's definitely love.
Not entirely sure what Hedge's job is, but it seems he's trying to get Emroth to open up about her memories.
Talk about a nightmare! Udinaas' rapist and a god he doesn't really believe in tussling over control of him, passing him one to the other like a toy. I forgot about the child of Menandore and Udinaas! Since we're getting a handy reminder of the child here, I'm guessing they're about to come front and centre. Erikson is good to us like that.
Do not have a single clue what Kettle is talking about though!
Although Udinaas' words, as he comes back to the others from his dreaming, seems to be the muttering of the fever, I do think there is probably a few things to mark here and bear in mind, especially the bit about Clip sinking his hands into a pool of blood. Rather shocked by Clip's casual 'Kill him or leave him' reaction to Udinaas' illness.
Ugh, the images that Erikson conjures of this snow that has been filtered through smoke and ash and the meat of bodies is not nice at all. They're not being led on a very nice path by Clip here.
This storied weapon, this spear well, it makes me uneasy people picking up stray weapons after some of the situations we've seen over the course of the books. There is usually a good reason for weapons to have been cast aside. Clip reckons this one belongs with the group, a T'lan Imass spear because it poses a threat to Silchas Ruin maybe?
And what is this 'walking the Darkness' that he mentions? It sounds like he's using a Warren, but plenty can do that and it's nothing really to be boasted of. Clip is such an unreliable narrator I just don't trust a single word he says, with all his boasting.
"Since the Enfilade at Pale, his life had been rather headlong." I would indeed concur even when the pace of the books has been slower, there is still a mountain of events we've gone through.
Oh, this is sad, sad, sad: Quick Ben contemplating his fallen friends, and the fact that "he was reluctant to let others take their places
" And a little intriguing mention of his past there as well, with the fact he has also lost "others, from long ago." And this final sentence made me tear up a little, since I feel we, the reader, are also in this boat: "Us damned survivors don't have it easy. Not even close."
*giggles* "We're about to be attacked by giant wizard-eating fish and you're reminiscing!"
Anyone else feeling like this perhaps isn't the right time for Quick Ben to be weakened? It's nice to see that Erikson is showing a fragility in this clever mage, that Icarium was enough to cause him to expend too much power.
Wow! Onrack has been gifted mortality! And they are in the realm of Tellann very cool.
And here's another reason why the Awl are not going to be cowed in the same way as they have been in previous battles against the Letherii there will be no magic in the location of the battle. I do feel sorry for the Atri-Preda and what she is going to face, as she rests happy and relieved in her belief that the battle will go the same way as it has before.
How creepy! Our first sight of the Shake mentioned a few times now, and it's two eerie hags who have cursed the Dresh line to keep murdering the wives. This is very folklorish.
Ooh! Yan Tovis says: "My Shake name is Twilight." Very intriguing. Heh. All this time I've just seen Yan Tovis as a minor Letherii player, and now we discover she is a Queen (with the death of her mother) and has a half-brother who tried as hard as she to outrun her blood. And she is betrothed to the Shake on the Isle where Shurq Elalle has made her camp
All these intricacies starting to pull together.
And so deaths are caused: "
laziness leaning heavy on past successes
" Ack, and then she compounds matters by not listening to advice offered. This Atri-Preda is a fool.
I think Erikson is one of the few fantasy authors whose battles I read in their entirety. He writes them well, both the sweeping overview and the individual tussles.
I do confess some disbelief at how much effect Redmask and Toc have had on these Awl over a relatively short period of time. I mean, these stunningly effective manoeuvres are slightly more than I was expecting to see.
I still can't help but see the K'Chain Che'Malle as dinosaurs. They seem Erikson's ode to our own extinct equivalent! This K'ell Hunter reminds me of nothing more than a very massive velociraptor.
And damn. Two K'Chain Che'Malle. Doing this much damage admittedly against people entirely unprepared to face them or even believe their existence. But that is a lot of damage!
Is the Shake part of the reason why you kept pointing out the shore references that Erikson makes so frequently? "The shore's battle had ever been the battle of her people."
Hmm, do the Shake have links with the K'Chain Nah'ruk, with these demon-kissed children ("-the taloned hands and feet, the scaled, elongated face, the blunt tail twitching like a headless worm, the eyes of lurid green")? Is this because they dwell by the sea and these seeds come to rest in their wombs?
And what a way to end this section of the book! "The Malazans are on our shore!"
Thanks Toster :-)
Chapter Eleven comments are now up! Just this chapter to catch up with, but will probably be tomorrow. Off out for the evening now :-)
Oh, it's lovely to see Hunch Arbat, after such a tiny mention of him in Midnight Tides. Poor fella, with his only wish to head off to villages unknown, to have a bath, and for people to not know him as a shoveler of shit. It's not much to ask, is it?
But what visage was it that has finally prompted Hunch Arbat to leave, including facing down some of those who have caused him issues in the past? And why are his knees knocking together at the thought of his destination? Where is he going, and at whose urging?
Aww, Ublala Pung a sweet reminder that he wants to be loved only for himself, and not for his
umm, other attractions.
There is so much joy and clever wordplay in this group dialogue between Tehol, Bugg, Janath and Ublala Pung. They are making for a very fine ensemble cast that lightens the mood whenever they're on-screen. Such as the idea that Janath is still slightly mad because she's making pillows from the down of deceased chickens; the fact that Ublala accidentally causes the extinction of another chicken because of his constant pacing and fretting. Just so much to enjoy. And, as usual, sharp observations in amongst the light humour: "Wait a moment and they'll start ripping it apart," Bugg said, shambling over to collect the carcass. "Between the two, I prefer indifference."
And Ublala Pung wants Tehol and Bugg to meet Karsa. I can't see that going down well.
This exchange had me in fits:
"But I assure you, food poses a sensuality rarely achieved in clumsy gropings on some flea-bitten mattress with errant draughts sending chills through you at every change of position."
Ormly's withered face twisted into a scowl. "Change of position? What does that mean?"
"Something tells me there is no legion of beleaguered women bemoaning the loss of one Ormly."
Scale House collapsed through Karsa arriving, didn't it? (or was it Icarium?) Regardless, now it seems as though Rucket and Ormly knew it was going to happen and were waiting for its occurrence. Curious.
Oh yeah! This is me! "Even though we're no closer to knowing what'll happen when whatever it is happens, assuming we'll even know it's happening when it does." That is me reading Malazan *grins*
Hmmm, where is all the coin? What is Tehol managing to pull off this time?
It's still incredibly hard reconciling Bugg with Mael. What is interesting here as the Errant thinks is the fact that Mael has an increasing number of bloody followers, which in turn increases his power. How much of an influence will Mael have on final events?
This sequence with the Errant, Feather Witch and the Ceda is brutal the Errant is planning to declare war on the Warrens, therefore on Paran and K'rul? That is BIG. Is that what will send everything spiralling towards the war that they're currently tip-toeing around? And then Feather Witch destroys the Errant's eye with Binadas' finger and takes the eye. What does she plan for that, if she remains alive?
Something ominous about that knife piercing the Errant's chest in his Tile, non?
Ugh! Feather Witch *eats* the eye?!
This is some powerful stuff, as Feather Witch compels a god telling him to choose Udinaas as his Shield Anvil, in an effort to ensure they're bound together through hatred and betrayal; the chains mentioned again; wanting to claim the Empty Throne.
Ooh, who does Feather Witch see as the Errant's Mortal Sword? Tehol? (I ask because of the Mael connection).
Events coming thick and fast now, as Samar Dev steals the Ceda to add to the souls within her knife. The fact that she won't heal Feather Witch really does give truth to the saying 'Don't kick people on the way up because they will kick you twice as hard on the way down'. If Feather Witch had been slightly nicer to Samar Dev, she might not now be on this path to ruin.
"Yes, a warren within a weapon. Don't imagine that as unique as you might want it to be." A little nod to Anomander Rake and his sword there that is an interesting reflection.
The dynamic between Samar Dev and Karsa is fantastic, that fierce chemistry and fear and desire and animosity.
Heck, Karsa *dangles* by the legs the Segulah (I think she was the eleventh, wasn't she? Anyway, I think she was lower than Anomander, which makes you wonder how he would cope with Karsa
) Even Icarium doesn't want to fight Karsa!
The Mortal Sword that Hannan Mosag is talking about is this the same one that Feather Witch was referring to? In which case, it can't be Tehol, can it? "He is dead. But not dead. Distant, yet is summoned. His tomb lies empty, yet was never occupied. He is never spoken of, though his touch haunts us all again and again." And then this from Bruthen Trana: "Did not a demon of the seas retrieve his body? No, Hannah Mosag, you dare not name him. He is not even Tiste Edur. Yet he must be our salvation."
*grins* Love the use of skulking between Tehol and Ublala, especially when the guard then says: "There! Who's skulking in that alley?"
Oh! I feel dense. So very dense. Not Tehol, but his brother Brys Beddict. He is to become the Mortal Sword.
Chapten Ten comments are now up!
This One God, this Stealer of Life, Slayer and Reaper are those latter not some of the names by which Icarium has been known? Would that give a good reason as to why our Cabalhii monk of chapter nine went running as soon as he heard the name?
*grins* Hedge's resignation with things falling from the sky amuses me: "Hood knew, enough strange objects had tumbled down from the low, impenetrable clouds during his long, meandering journey across this dire world." And, truly, we have seen a large number of objects across the whole series falling from the sky from dragons to jade statues to gods.
I suspect this little mention of three dragon carcasses that all are sheathed in "something like black, smoky glass" are going to be of importance. I also think otataral when I see this sort of thing, but I suspect Hedge would know what that looked like and so wouldn't be unclear about what the dragons were coated with.
Has Hedge gone mad? This 'voice of the wind' stuff is a little crazy! Funny at times, but crazy.
I do like this, though, which brings to the fore the idea that we are reading the Book of the Fallen: "Among the fallen, among the dead, will you find more soldiers more fighters than non-fighters? Will you find more men than women? More gods than mortals? More fools than the wise? Among the Fallen, my friend, does the echo of marching armies drown all else? Or the moans of the diseased, the cries of the starving?"
I am very glad that Twilight took the Mocker in her flight away from Letheras, and the showdown between Rhulad and Icarium. And you know something? The fact that everything seems so focused towards those two meeting makes me think that Erikson is going to do something that will make me go 'oh!'
"The truth may be that Yan Tovis is a coward." The truth may be, for me, that Yan Tovis is the most sensible one amongst them!
This might well be a chapter of madness. I just can't see why Varat Taun would want to go back to a place where Icarium might be unleashed.
Ooh, so Trull has now been named the Knight of Shadow, thanks to him facing up against Icarium and defending the Throne.
I like both the point about Trull being unable to hide his grief at the frailty of life, and Quick Ben's thought: "Life stays stubborn until it has no choice but to give up, and even then it's likely to spit one last time in the eye of whatever's killed it. We're cruel in victory and cruel in defeat, my friends."
If I were Shadowthrone I would maybe not feel it wise to anger Quick Ben so, especially since it seems that we know Quick Ben has angered Shadowthrone before, in his role as High Priest of Shadow. Sure, Kalam might be alive, but snatching Quick away from a situation where he was desperately needed hasn't exactly endeared Shadowthrone to the mage.
*giggles* Ballant is as pretty as a picture, isn't he? And I am amused by the manner of his wife's demise. And in love with Shurq Elalle what a situation to find himself in!
Seren Pedac has hay fever?! How prosaic!
"There will be blood." I think that Seren's thought here is prophetic.
I'm confused (and have probably forgotten something). Does Seren know that Trull giving her the sword signifies something specific? And, forgive me, is it a declaration of love? Of a plan to return? I never quite got this, I don't think, I just enjoyed the scene when it happened. Certainly Fear knows the significance of it: "You see her as betrothed to your brother." Well, that explains away some of my confusion!
Toc's impression of what it was like to die and then live again shows a situation where it would not be desirable! Pain, and another body's memories to contend with. "Toc wondered if any mortal soul had ever before staggered this tortured path." To that, I would probably answer yes! I do also think that these few paragraphs help to demonstrate the depth of Erikson's writing. No easy reincarnation for his characters. No emerging into a new body without any regard of what that would actually entail. Erikson very clearly shows the damage that can be created on the soul.
And ick! Toc desires the flesh of the dead because Anaster used to feast on it? That's just nasty.
Toc thinks all my questions for me! Wounds in the sky. Where is the K'Chain Che'Malle matron? How does Redmask know their names? "What is it, then, about this story that I really do not like? How about all of it."
Hmm, this sounds like a hint towards Redmask's past: "I know what she meant to you, and I know why." This old man has somehow cowed Redmask, with the threat of revealing his secret.
Poor Stayandi! Again, I love how something we've already seen directs the story, so, here the death of Abasard. Now we join his sister, as she dwells with wolf people (or wolves, not too clear on this, since our narrator is a little unreliable). Will be very interested to see the reveal of who she has ended up following.
Just letting you know that my thoughts on Chapter Nine are now up. I shall be getting right up to date over the weekend, and then will be joining Bill from Chapter Thirteen this week :-)
I really like the piece by King Kilanbas the idea of looking at a landscape and seeing the effects of war (i.e. trees challenging upstart low growth). The idea that war is ubiquitous and, to be in a state of non-war, we have to go against our natural urges towards violence.
I also like the immediate echo Erikson provides as he starts the chapter with a, no doubt deliberate, look at a glade where the forest of pine behind it crowds out all else.
Now this seems a little harsh: "Freeing her sister should have yielded nothing but gratitude from the bitch." Yet the paragraph afterwards immediately shows exactly why Sheltatha Lore is in no fit state to offer any gratitude. Erikson paints an effective picture in a short amount of space of what it must have been like for her in the Azath constant fighting, claustrophobia, near-drowning over centuries in a bottomless bog. That way lies madness, surely, and Sukul Ankhadu is not showing herself to be that pleasant by not giving due consideration.
Mind, Sukul seems to be a little bit off the mark in a few things: "Worthy ascendants were few and far between in this realm, after all." Uh
not so much, from my perspective, and I think that Sukul will get a harsh awakening to this fact. Plus, y'know, the mortals can hold their own as well.
Despite her experiences, I think that Sheltatha Lore is by far the more sensible of these two, especially when she says things like "Cast that word away, sister. It is meaningless." Trust is indeed something that I would find hard to do were I in Sheltatha's position. Sukul's mouthed assurances really don't give me much assurance that she knows what is what. Mind, then Sheltatha says something silly like: "Tell me how we shall crush Silchas Ruin who is without equal in this realm-" These two have been too long out of the loop, to be saying the things that they are.
Hmm, their perspective on Silchas that he deliberately took the knife so that he would outlast Scabandari and not join in his fate shows a very different side of the character than we've seen so far. So very cold and draconean.
Heh, Samar Dev's reaction to her imminent demise: "I didn't know we're destined for execution. Well, that changes things although I am not sure how." Something about Samar Dev makes you feel confident that she would be able to extract herself from a situation like that, if needed.
Taxilian's point is of import, I think. The fact that Scale House, the temple that fell, was part of a pattern across Letheras: "Samar Dev, there are such courses of energy, like twisted wires in mortar, woven through this city." So now Scale House has created a wound
Interesting as well to see just how loyal Samar Dev is to Karsa at this point unwilling to flee and leave him, even if it means joining him in death. Loyalty or love?
Ahh this is lovely: "
when something breathes, it is more than a weapon. Hot blood in the veins, the grace of motion, a cavort of thoughts and feelings in that skull, awareness like flames in the eyes."
Taralack is a character where we have seen real change. From the person convinced he was right and Icarium was evil and the Nameless Ones were who should be followed, to a situation where he thinks: "Choosing to betray the Nameless Ones rather than this warrior before the gate. An evil choice? The Gral was no longer sure of his answer."
So the Throne of Shadow is no longer accessible?
The Cabalhii monk is a delight of a character; I really enjoyed his part in this scene where Varat Taun is healed. I admire again just how much Erikson can make you feel about a character in such a small space of time. I dread the idea of this chap going up against Rhulad, especially as, as Twilight figured out, he is an ambassador rather than a warrior and should never face Rhulad. Also, his reaction to Icarium is enormously interesting yet another person familiar with Icarium and what he is capable of. Both his reaction and Varat Taun's words finally make it clear to Twilight that Icarium is capable of killing Rhulad. And we find that she is prepared to give no warning to anyone that Rhulad can be killed. She is prepared to let it happen.
It is nice to see a little more background to the Errant. He has for a while just been a rather ineffectual figure that I have had little compassion for but now we learn that he voluntarily gave up a great deal of his power to prevent any more pogroms against his followers (at least, I read it as such I might have been wrong in that?)
And Fener back! How did he make his way here? Is it because we're now starting to experience this huge convergence thanks to the Crippled God, and the war between the gods?
I am easily amused by this: "White Crow yes, I have heard. Some bandit in the reaches of the Bluerose Mountains now claims that title." That would be Silchas Ruin, yes? Some bandit indeed
Kuru Qan wants to ally with Feather Witch? That is an odd joining. Or is he just using her? I just didn't see him as the type to work with someone like Feather Witch. Perhaps it is her ability with the tiles that has drawn him.
I think the thing I like most about the Tehol and Bugg exchanges is how you still have to pay attention. You can be entirely lulled by the nature of their dialogue and the amusing asides, but then either one of them will slide something in that seems to be key. Here, we find out that Scale House, as well as a wound, is now a door. To what?
Ouch, Nisall has been taken. I think this shows how very little power and knowledge Rhulad has over the empire he supposedly rules, considering his concubine can be taken for interrogation like this.
I want to cheer a little bit for Bruthen Trana and his actions here!
Oooh, another casual mention of the Shake, as we learn that Tissin's ancestry was Shake and she prayed to her god as she died.
I love that Nisall spies the puzzle that Tehol gave to Karos Invictad and mocks him for it, even as her death draws ever closer. There is one bit that I don't get here has something taken over Karos Invictad when he kills Nisall, as in, is he possessed? "And saw, in them, nothing human" seems to indicate he's been taken over. Although it could just be panic and anger.
Bruthen Trana should have killed Karos Invictad. I think he will regret that he didn't. Not only that, but now the pair of them are taking the Letherii and the Edur into yet another war.
The hens are making me giggle, especially when Bugg thinks: "Surrounded on all sides by mindless clucking. Abyss take me, I might as well be in a temple
I feel so blessed to be reading many of your comments expressing that you're missing my input as I sit here on the last night of my stay in Chicago after a tremendously busy Worldcon.
I am a little hurt by the comment that said I was away more than I was around.
For those who don't know, nine months ago I started work as the editor for Strange Chemistry. I moved from ten years as a qualified accountant, with no publishing experience, to set up a new YA imprint. I have consistently been putting in fifteen or sixteen hour days and working weekends to try and get to a point where I have filled a busy publishing schedule from nothing to twelve authors being signed, and eighteen slots being filled.
I'm sat here at eleven at night trying to frantically catch up with everything that I missed during Worldcon, including work emails. I would say fervently that I am not slacking, despite my occasional absences. I would also say that I always make the effort to catch up and post my thoughts. Sure, it's later than the original post, but is it really so bad to have to click back a couple of links after a week or so to read what I thought?
I do appreciate that my time has been more limited, but I desperately wanted to continue the Malazan reread. Maybe that was selfish of me, now that I can't give it the same efforts I could when I wasn't as hellishly busy.
If people feel it is time for me to step down from the Malazan reread in order to have someone who is able to post two analyses on two chapters every single week (which, by the way, feels like a pretty damn punishing schedule when I look at some of the other rereads....) then speak up now.
So yeah. Hurt.
Right, I feel as though I have spent the entirety of The Bonehunters apologising for not being around. I am sorry, guys, but this time a house that needed sorting ready for selling took precedence. It's all done! Just in time for me to take an official break.... Thems the breaks!
So, just before I do my recap of The Bonehunters (I won't do the epilogue, because I felt Bill covered everything needed) I just wanted to put my own thoughts into this main discussion - and since I am one of the re-readers you might be stuck with this :-p
Basically, I cannot conceive of not doing ICE's books as part of this re-read. I'm happy to be led by Bill and other regulars when it comes to inserting them into the re-read in the right order but, as far as I am concerned, they must be read. Ian and Steven wrote these books together, they dreamt them up together. Just because some of the people following this read are not as fond of the books does not mean we can skip them. Also, y'know, Erikson's books are kind of intense, if you haven't noticed ;-) It's nice to skip to something that doesn't have the same flavour or the same power to the writing. It's nice to take a look at other parts of the world and other characters. So we're not taking them out.
From what I can tell, the agreement is Reaper's Gale next, which I have fed back to Bill, and that is what we'll kick off with on 20th July (that's when we come back from our hols!) We can have the DoD/TCG together or not together argument closer to the time ;-)
Right, anyway, The Bonehunters...
From my perspective this was the hardest novel of the series to read and, as such, it is not a favourite of mine. A lot of this might well have been personal circumstances - I have skipped in and out of the reading and not immersed myself as thoroughly as in past novels. I will be interested to see if I retain the same thoughts in the event that I re-read the Malazan series. However, some of the difficulties came from the structure of the novel. It was very hard to have something with the sheer intensity of Y'Ghatan right in the middle of the novel. Building to that event and then reading all the repercussions, the trek through the earth, the true forging of the Bonehunters - that was epic. Reading on after something as blistering as that, as tough, was SO difficult. And then to build to a further climax, with the death of Kalam and the actions of Lifestealer, the meeting between Laseen and Tavore - it was almost too much. You know when pleasure can verge on pain? Yep, reading The Bonehunters was like that for me.
I have massive respect for what Erikson achieved in this novel - the level of storytelling is probably the very definition of epic fantasy. In the dictionary, against epic fantasy they should now just have the words "Steven Erikson". He defines this very genre with the quality of his work.
I liked the way he did try a different narrative structure in The Bonehunters. I liked the fact he uses parallels to highlight situations (such as brother and sister both taking control of armies and little details like that). I liked the way we saw through the eyes of various people before, during and after Y'Ghatan so that we could really identify with the events happening.
There were some of my very favourite characters featured in this novel - I adore Cotillion and to see him this much, and in some very vulnerable positions, was just wonderful. Quick Ben and Kalam (*sobs*) were fantastic. Seeing Icarium's journey in this novel was heartbreaking. And Scillara just tugs at my heartstrings as well. So many fabulous characters - and they really go through the wringer in The Bonehunters.
So much to like, but it fell just a little short of books like Deadhouse Gates and Midnight Tides. Only just a little ;-)
See you in a few weeks!
Thanks for your patience while I was away at BEA! Here are my quick and dirty thoughts on the second part of Chapter Twenty-Two...
- More hints about T'amber; that she is beautiful, that even Bottle has absolutely no idea who she is and who she is about, mention that she doesn't like men.
- So T'amber has requested that Bottle retrieve Foreigner? To what purpose?
- Bottle says "We've been betrayed. All of us." Who is he talking about here? Does he have sudden knowledge of what is occurring with Laseen and her new allies?
- Ahhh.... T'amber is "someone...a lot more than she once was, soldier." A lot more? A woman who has been taken over by a god? That would make some sense, I think!
- This quote shows how close-knit the Fourteenth have become since we first met them: "No uniform, no markings whatsoever that would suggest he was a soldier of the Fourteenth - the absence of fetishes made him feel naked, vulnerable."
- And then this quote immediately shows that, no matter how much the Fourteenth might have joined together, they're still not 100% sure about their boss: "He'd thought he'd heard the winching of a longboat, somewhere a few cables distant from shore. Against every damned order the adjunct's given this night."
- We hear as well that Kalam still doesn't know which way he will turn.
- Ooh, who are the "all of them" that Curdle and Telorast refer to? All the gods? All the players?
- I get the feeling that Tavore is asking Kalam much more here than just whether he will be willing to escort her to Mock's Hold. Certainly T'amber is disappointed in his response. I do notice that Tavore says "To the Hold, yes, that is what I have asked of you here." The Hold. Not Mock's Hold. It could create a whole new meaning from that.
- And poor Tene Baralta *sighs* His has not been a pretty story.
- At least Braven Tooth realises that someone is deliberately setting rumours and stirring up trouble in Malaz City.
- It is a cool exchange between Braven Tooth and Banaschar when they talk about the temple coffers *grins* And Braven Tooth seems especially knowledgeable when he invites Mudslinger and Gentur to pursue the Claw.
- That plunging fireball... Just a decoy or something more sinister?
- Now this is bloody explicit for Erikson - a member of the Claw saying: "...his disaffection with the empress had taken a long time to emerge, and even then, if not for the Jhistal Master it would never have found focus, or indeed purpose."
- Heh, now Mallick Rel has called the Claw the "Black Glove".
- Is this the first time that we've heard Mockra needs no formal training? I guess I keep being surprised at the idea that Erikson's "magic" doesn't always involve innate talent, but can be learned.
- Well, that was a surprise! That Mudslinger and Gentur could be taken down so easily after being hand-picked by Braven Tooth. It does show the effectiveness of the Claw, though - a reminder that they are not soft touches and have been trained in their art since childhood.
- Whatever else I might think about her, I do love Tavore's ability to totally wrongfoot those who oppose her. Here she completely steamrollers Rynag with her cool approach.
- *grins* Loving the pestilence signal flags. What a way to easily counter the Empress' commands!
- Such talent with the build of tension! First the "...something terrible and vast had just stepped onto the dry land of this island" and then "A stranger had come to Malaz City." Who is this?
- And then the desperately prosaic reveal that this is Hellian *giggles*
- Oh! Banaschar is from the Prologue? One of those that caused Hellian to set off on her original journey? This sort of circular storytelling is just brilliant!
- Awwww! It's just delightful to hear this from Fiddler: "Hey. I'm home. Imagine that. I'm home!"
- And equally delightful to see Fiddler's meeting with Tak, including the fact that he is charged more for the fiddle than he is for those sapper-adjusted crossbows.
- Oh, Banaschar and Hellian are a wonderful duo to read, with all of those explanations and answers and questions and lies. And right in the vicinity of the Deadhouse and Smiley's - very familiar names for us.
- All heading towards a big finish now!
Okay, finally, brief thoughts as a catch-up for this chapter:
- If the 14th feels like it has its heart cut out right now, then I can't wait for those who were buried within Y'Ghatan to catch back up and give them a reason for fighting again.
- The Adjunct shares so little of her burden.
- Ha, there is Shal-Morzinn mentioned again!
- An unknown fleet to the north? Tiste Edur on the hunt?
- Grub is ace. That whole 'wait three days' business reminds me of The Two Towers and waiting for Gandalf to arrive, except a little less full of battle! Also, this quote: "Sepik, but that will be bad. Nemil will be good. Then bad. And after that, we find friends, twice. And then we end up where it all started, and that will be very bad. But that's when she realizes everything, almost everything, I mean, enough of everything to be enough. And the big man with the cut hands says yes." Strikes me the remaining plot of the book is right there (and perhaps in a few more of the Malazan books)! Also, the man with the cut hands = Heboric??
- "Kindly was mostly bald." *grins*
- Ah, very humorous and mocking: "Now wouldn't that be something? High Fist Kindly, commanding all the Malazan armies" in view of Paran having taken the name Kindly briefly and then becoming High Fist.
- Chaur is a very sweet character so far.
- I like that Cutter is trying to fulfil Heboric's last wish. I still can't really believe that he is dead, it feels as though he still has a role to fulfill?
- Nice echo of Cutter following Apsalar, as Scillara announces that she plans to follow Cutter in the ways of a thief. I think that if anyone can bring back some semblance of Crokus, it will be Scillara.
- I like that Scillara is deliberately flirting with Cutter, in an effort to prevent him wallowing in guilt over his lack of ability to protect his party. It shows real thought by this woman.
- Ganath is dead? Nooooo! I liked her! And at the hands of the K'Chain Nah'Ruk - the short tails. They're back.
- Haha - that mule of Pust's makes me so curious!
- Wow, if we weren't already to feel wary about what is coming, Spite certainly spells it out for us here: "The war in question, then, is messy, the battle-lines muddied, unclear, and even the central combatants struggle to comprehend what constitutes a weapon, what wounds and what is harmless. And worse still, to wield such weapons proves as likely to harm the wielder as the foe."
- Hell, this conversation between Spite and Mappo Runt is fundamental and yet so deep that I only grasp but a tenth of its meaning! Sometimes I feel like an ineffectual reader! I especially note this: "All that they do in that god's name is at its core profoundly godless."
- Not really sure how much the conversation between Ormulogun and Gumble adds to proceedings :-/
- Dujek wanted Paran in charge of his army after his death. And interesting that brother and sister are now both in charge.
- Poor Paran, trying to follow in the footprints of a hero, and somehow not realising that he is starting to reach that status himself.
- I think it was a masterstroke to put Samar Dev as Karsa's companion. We gain perspective on his skills; we are amused by some of his barbaric ways and appalled by others; his character coloured by Samar Dev makes him more appealing. And it also allows Erikson to make sure that he is able to be reigned back at times - not often, but sometimes Samar Dev can influence his actions.
- Oh man! "Were these tall, unhuman strangers such poor fighters?" We know this is not the case where the Tiste Edur are concerned. This really does provide some perspective on how good Karsa is. Or is it true that their isolation has prevented them from advancing?
- I love how this clash of cultures are both surprised by the use of the words Tarthenal and Toblakai.
- Lots of things tumbling into place here. Has Karsa been baited to try and kill the Emperor?
- Temul's view on his soldiers is bitter and heartbreaking: the fact that they expected to die and are shamed by having to return alive.
- The frustration at Keneb by the rest of the soldiers and commanders makes me laugh, since we know that it is all delaying tactics to ensure Grub gets his three days.
- The whole end of the chapter and the "welcome back, soldiers"? Yeah, I might have something in my eye....
Catch-up comments left on chapter 15 as well - epic, that one!
Some brief thoughts on chapter fifteen:
- We're not required to like that priest of Soliel at any point, are we? Because I think I would find it very hard...
- My heart grieves to see Dujek Onearm in this condition.
- Busted! There was bound to be a few who would know that Paran wasn't actually Captain Kindly!
- A handy dandy mention of this place Shal-Morzinn, no doubt so that it can be introduced again at a later point. Particularly because it was visited by the emperor and Dancer...
- A shame that Noto Boil has the profession of Cutter, since, when he's referred to by only his profession, it confuses with the character cutter. Or maybe just me? Do you ever feel that the names in a series can reach boiling point, where you simply can't take in any more? *grins*
- An interesting sentence here that I plan to take forward: "It's easy to weep when staying far away, doing nothing."
- Eep, not a pleasant quote: "I'd swear it with one heel on Hood's own foreskin, Captain."
- It is awesome to see Paran taking such control of the army.
- Hmmmmmm. Seems like Quick Ben has always been the devious and arrogant sort. And knowledgeable about magic and such from the age of ten. Nice to see a little background to him, but wasn't he a brat!
- Now we have Quick Ben's sister entering the fray, and on the side of Poliel, or certainly under her thrall. Lots of the old gang are suddenly gaining family members, aren't they?
- What evil has "fully grown into itself" within Quick Ben? Is this to do with his role as High Priest of Shadow? Or is this more the opinion of his sister and hence unreliable?
- Fear from Quick Ben towards Kalam?
- Tremendous scene where Bottle finally meets Quick Ben and seems to completely own him! Re-aligning the figures, telling him what they mean, re-creating the picture. The Shadowthrone element is incredibly sinister and worrying, especially the way he now seems to resemble something....else.
- Quick Ben is quick (ha ha) to pick up on the fact that Bottle is being ridden by Eres.
- Ouch - Cotillion and Shadowthrone both want Torahaval dead...
- I disagree with Apsalar's impression here: "The gods place knives into our mortal hands, and need do nothing more." For one thing, the gods have stepped into the fray. And for another, the mortals sometimes kick back.
- Hahaha! "Not the otataral one, idiot."
- I am not sure I am remembering who this young girl is who has been chosen of Soliel :-/
- Sometimes it is hard to keep sight of how important Paran now is, until you read something like this: "In that man the entire world hangs in balance, and I shall not be forever known as the one responsible for altering that condition."
- Interesting reflection of Karsa when this Soliel-possessed girl says "To witness!"
- Paran is definitely growing in stature as he faces down Poliel (and that is what the shard of otataral was for!)
- "Time's nearly up." Rife with meaning.
- I never dreamt that Quick Ben would care enough for his sister to put himself into Shadowthrone's power and owe a debt, considering their history (all three)...
- Somewhat amused by Kalam and Fiddler both heading off in different directions, trying to find Apsalar, but it feels very much as though events are building. Has Erikson begun his usual end of book sprint here?
- I don't get how Bottle can be so calm and isn't striving to help out, is willing just to wait and see?
- Oh man! Paran has unleashed the Hounds on Poliel! Take that!
- Wait, wait, wait.... Apsalar is attacking the Hounds? So that Quick Ben and his sister can escape? Or for her own ends?
- Now this intrigues me: Poliel's thought as the Deragoth come for her - "A broken goddess, who had sought to heal Burn." Does this mean that all her actions, however hideous, had at their root a good intention? Or am I reading that very wrong?
- Does Paran now realise that he made a mistake by unleashing the Deragoth on Poliel, when he sees Quick and his sister?
- I like the comment about the wolf :-)
- This is heartbreaking: "No, what she wants ain't for us to give. She wants to die."
- *giggles* Love Cotillion's indignation over the accusation from Shadowthrone about the Hounds.
- Oh Dujek :-(
Just letting you know I posted reactions to Chapter 14 in the comments! Catching up gradually :-)
And thanks to everyone who asked after me! x