Malazan Read: Deadhouse Gates, Part 2

Spoilers for book 1 and Deadhouse Gates to Chapter 2| More info and previous posts  |Please no spoilers for future books/events

In my plan to read The Malazan Book of The Fallen, I’m now on book 2, Deadhouse Gates. This post covers chapter 2.


Chapter Two

Duiker is wandering around in Hissar, looking at markings on the wall, which are some sort of local pictographic code. He makes his way to a trader camp, mixing with the locals and feeling out the public opinion. He’s good enough that no one recognises that he’s actually Malazan. He also witnesses two seers doing some sort of ritual, foretelling the spirit of Dryjhna and bloody times ahead. Then one of them drops dead, probably to make sure we take it extra seriously. I wonder if Dryjhna is an actual god(dess) like Shadowthrone, or something more abstract.

Once he’s done with his undercover shenanigans, Duiker goes to a meeting with Coltaine. There is some banter about past battles, Dujek’s lost arm is mentioned. Now I feel stupid for expecting some big epic backstory to it, turns out a horse just randomly bit it off. They bring in a warlock to the council as well. Interestingly, all warlocks were killed by Laseen a while ago but fortunately their souls/power were collected by crows and they were reborn.

Um, what? Are these seven cities people for real? I can swallow resurrection, but Magic soul transporting crows?! Maybe Coltaine/Bult are just messing with Duiker. Also, what’s the difference between a warlock and a regular magician? Is it just a local term, or do they do some different sort of warren stuff?

Anyway, the council proceeds. There’s the usual talk of seven cities rising up, which I think has been mentioned at least a couple dozen times so far in the books. Then Mallick Rel gives Coltaine his orders from the High Fist, which are to pack up and go to Aren so Pormqual can check out the Seventh. Coltaine tells him to sod off. It was expected with the way Coltaine’s been acting and talked about, but still fun. But he clearly likes Duiker. Soon after, the meeting is adjourned and Kulp and Duiker go off to chat. Duiker wants Kulp to help rescue Heboric (and presumably Felisin) from the Otataral mines. Kulp seems reluctant, but I think he’ll cave. Good for Heboric and friends, but why does Duiker give a crap about him? Is there a secret Illuminati-esque Historian association? *grabs tinfoil hat*

We are treat to some extensive backstory about the city of Ehrlitan. Spooky stuff. Apparently Seven Cities was founded by seven Ascendants. On a sidenote, the depiction of Seven Cities as this exotic, unwelcoming place steeped in aaaaancient history is starting to feel a bit heavy handed. I mean, every place has its own history, right?

Anyway, Fiddler watches a bunch of Red Swords brutalise some random unarmed citizens. In their wake, two little girls are snatched by a pimp. Fiddler goes after him, and rescues the girl by the brilliant tactic of buying them from the pimp. Rescue of the day right there. Then he escorts them back to their house, and loses most of the respect he gained from me by selling them back to their people. Dude, not cool. It’s one thing to accept some reward, another to demand it. Anyway, the girls’ family is quite pleased, and invites him in.

Their grandfather turns out to be some sort of big shot Tano wizard/priest. They chat a bit, he tells Fiddler about the upcoming convergence in Raraku.

“A gate. The Prophecy of the Path of Hands. Soletaken and D’ivers. A gate promising…something. They are drawn as moths to a flame.”

Well that was certainly illuminating. NOT.

He does elaborate though, saying that this might be a way to Ascendancy. Hmm, that is certainly a prize that would draw all sorts of nutters. Although I’m still not clear exactly what it is. Then the guy offers to sing a magic song that has the potential to make all the Bridgeburners Ascendants (the shapeshifters ought to be chasing this guy), but Fiddler doesn’t have time to tell their story, and so he’s sent off with a conch shell for protection.

Also, we learn this guy, Kimloc Spiritwalker, is so powerful he could’ve decimated the Malazan armies, but didn’t because that would not stop the Empire. They would send the T’lan Imass after. Fiddler returns and reports his findings to Kalam, and the two of them then administer this epic burn to Crokus:

Crokus dragged a chair to the table, dropped into it and reached for the wine. “We’re tired of waiting,” he pronounced. “If we have to cross this damned land, then let’s do it. There’s a steaming pile of rubbish behind the garden wall, clogging up the sewage gutter. Crawling with rats. The air’s hot and so thick with flies you can barely breathe. We’ll catch a plague if we stay here much longer.”
“Let’s hope it’s the bluetongue, then,” Kalam said.
“What’s that?”
“Your tongue swells up and turns blue,” Fiddler explained.
“What’s so good about that?”
“You can’t talk.

Now it’s Kalam’s turn to have a trip into the city. He goes to meet an old frenemy, and asks him for signs that will keep them safe on their journey. The man tells him that it’s the sign of the Whirlwind. Dude, even I could have guessed that. Kalam also takes a book from the guy. This is a special book, the Book of Dryjhna, to be delivered to Sha’ik in Raraku, at which point she will supposedly unleash the apocalypse. Kalam decides to take it as insurance against betrayal. When Kalam is gone, some other warriors come to talk. They’re Red Blades, and intend to tail Kalam and kill Sha’ik. They’re also curious about what Kalam’s plans are. Hmm, schemes upon schemes within schemes…

Icarium and Mappo meanwhile are still on their desert safari. They’ve run up against other D’ivers, this time a bunch of leopards that they slaughtered down to the last one. Mappo seems apprehensive that this will bring out some sort of madness in Icarium. I would be worried too, but considering the (relative) ease with which the Jaghut tyrant was taken care of in the last book, I’m not.

Anyway, they arrive at an inhabited cliff, and set to looking for a way in. A Soletaken, this time a bear, comes, and transforms back into a man. They recognise him as Messremb. The guy makes an interesting observation, that Icarium’s scent is close to Jaghut, but not quite. Wait, so he’s not actually a Jaghut? What is Icarium then? Ex-Jaghut? Is this related to his amnesia? The bearman soon leaves, and someone else arrives, a guy on a mule. You know, for a desert, this place is feeling pretty packed.

The guy and the mule are a pretty weird pair though. For a start the mule is also a shapeshifter, for another the guy – Iskaral Pust, seems to be batshit crazy. At least partly. The cliff turns out to be an abandoned monastery, now occupied by Shadow people, with Pust as their High Priest. The four make their way into the cliff.

Surprisingly, Icarium doesn’t remember their fight with the leopards. So his memory loss is continuous? Memento: Malazan incoming?


 

Another very late post. My excuses are the same as before, but I have not, and don’t intend to, give up on the read. It’s just going to be slower than I expected. I hoped this one would come out sooner and be longer, but stuff happened, like me falling and getting a back injury. Oh well, let’s hope I speed up, or we’ll be doing this for like twenty years at this rate. Anyway, the plot.

In the tradition of big fantasy series, the beginning of a book is not generally where the exciting stuff happens. It takes a lot of time and pages to setup the explosive finales, after all. So we’ve got people pretty much just slowly making their way through the plot. Just like chapter one, Fiddler and co. probably had the best scenes. I’m still mad at him for trying to haggle for a reward when he returned those girls though.

I’m warming up to Icarium and Mappo a bit, though their whole plot remains weird and inscrutable as ever, and Iskaral Pust’s craziness won’t help. Maybe they’ll run into Kalam and co. as they pass through the desert. Yeah I know the Raraku and Pat’potsun Odhan are different deserts, but they’re still pretty close together, so it’s not that outlandish.

Also I’m getting the feeling that Kalam’s assassination mission might not be resolved within this book, from the pace they’re moving at, and the number of other side plots. Maybe this upcoming convergence will form the climax of book two. Though I’d hate for climax = convergence to become a pattern.

How Duiker’s and Felisin’s plotlines will figure into this I can’t guess.

Malazan Read: Deadhouse Gates, Part 1

Spoilers for book 1 and Deadhouse Gates to Chapter 1| More info and previous posts  |Please no spoilers for future books/events

In my plan to read The Malazan Book of The Fallen, I’m now on book 2, Deadhouse Gates. This post covers chapter 1.


Prologue

I expected to be in like 2000 BS (Before Sleep), so it’s pretty nice to see we’re still in the “present”. Not nice to see is this guy:

Honoring his god on this day, the servant of Hood, Lord of Death, had joined his companions in stripping naked and smearing himself in the blood of executed murderers, blood that was stored in giant amphorae lining the walls of the temple’s nave. The brothers had then moved in procession out onto the streets of Unta to greet the god’s sprites, enjoining the mortal dance that marked the Season of Rot’s last day.

Ew. Ew. Ewww. Is Hood the god of death or of Ew?

Watching this monstrosity come her way is Felisin, who I remember is Paran’s sis. I’m a bit surprised by this since she didn’t have much of a role in the last book, I guess it’s just a memorable name. She’s in a bad way, no doubt part of the Malazan anti-nobles thing.

The priest ends up coming to the priest of Fener beside her, and the flies proceed to talk and suddenly, the flies fly off, and it turns out there’s no man underneath. Cue my first WTF of the book.

Felisin chats a bit with another noble lady, and we find out that her sis Tavore is the new Adjunct (RIP Lorn). Sucks for Felisin, but it does make a brutal sort of sense to renounce your noble house when it’s clear that it’s only going to get one into trouble. She also makes sort-of friends with a thug Baudin and a priest/historian called Heboric. Then it’s time for them to go get bloodied an angry mob of peasants. And it is pretty brutal even though we’ve been warned it’s coming. Baudin though is not cowed, he fights right back, killing people left and right. I’m surprised the guards don’t interfere, don’t try to stop him. Finally he kills the noble woman, sawing her head off and throwing it to the crowd to scare/appease them. And then they’re put on a slave ship.

Well. That was quite the gory prologue.


Chapter One

Icarium and Mappo, last heard of giving weird clocks to Darujhistan, are hanging out in the Pan’potsun Odhan desert. You know how Erikson comes up with some totally rad made up names? Yeah, “Pan’potsun Odhan” is not one of those.

They chat about some inscrutable stuff regarding an upcoming Convergence, as people do in the series. How do they know about a convergence months in advance? Do all gods etc. set up a schedule in advance? Then something Mappo says catches my eye.

Shy as a hare is Mappo Trell.

I’m probably way off the mark, but this reminds me of the way Kruppe speaks and now I have this weird theory that Kruppe is part Trell. Probably wrong, but better put this here in case I turn out to be right.

Apparently others are also seeking what they seek, and Mappo is worried. Icarium is not, he just wants his memories back. Amnesia? Really? Is this a ’90s soap opera?

A pack of wolves approach them, it seems they are all controlled by the same consciousness, which they call a D’ivers. Parallel computing FTW! I’m mentally prepping for a fight, but the two parties just chat a bit, and part amicably enough.

Next up is a brand new POV character, Duiker, the imperial historian, with an evil priest, waiting to meet up with the new Fist of the Seventh, Coltaine. Being a historian, Duiker obligingly gives us a backstory of the guy. Basically he’s a local who once led the Wickans against the Empire before Kellanved stopped him, and now they’ve recruited him to quell the brewing rebellion. I can’t quite decide whether this is a genius move or a stupid one. Time will tell.

Fiddler and Friends are in a boat, bound for Ehrlitan, which is also on the Seven Cities continent. Fiddler is pretty grumpy, since he’s seasick. Can anyone who’s actually been seasick tell me, is it really so bad? Every book with a seasick character makes it sound like the worst thing ever, 24×7 puking and aches and stuff. They mention flying fish, who jump on whales and eat them up. I fail to see why they have to be flying fish to do this though. But before I can get creeped out by murderous flying fish, Fiddler drops this:

“Think of a centipede eighty paces long,” Fiddler answered. “Wraps up whales and ships alike, blows out all the air under its armored skin and sinks like a stone, taking its prey with it.”

What is with this book and horror movie-esque imagery? Did Erikson spend the time between GoTM and DG thinking up scary/creepy wildlife for the Malazan world? BTW, What do you even call this world, since Malazan is just a part of it?

They’re just saying how these Dhenrabi don’t occur around here, when one breaks the surface. And not just a normal one, a Soletaken/Shapeshifter. Why do they call Shapeshifters Soletaken? Does one have to sacrifice their soul or something to gain this ability? Anyway, the monster is kind enough to telepathically inform them that the only reason he must kill them is they saw him. Um, what? Dude if you’d just stayed underwater they wouldn’t have seen you.

Without missing a beat, Fiddler loads up his crossbow and fires at the thing, and blows its head to bits. That was… easy. I expected a desperate escape or unexpected help or something, but Fiddler just took it out like it was a regular centipede.  I guess this was supposed to make us feel that Fiddler is badass, but all I can think is, too easy.

Then they get right back to chatting. Crokus has realised that Fiddler and Kalam are not just there to escort Apsalar home, but have their own agenda, and demands to know what. The answer? Kalam is out to take out Laseen. Holy shit I am immediately hyped for 1v1 Kalam vs. Laseen, because she was the Claw commander in her time too, wasn’t she? And Quick Ben is their ace in the hole, he’s not here now but can come help Kalam anytime anywhere. Cool.  Although I don’t see why Fiddler is with them for that. Same goes for Apsalar and Crokus.


Well, that’s probably the tiniest post I’ve ever posted, and simultaneously the one that took the most days to write. I normally wouldn’t publish it, but a few people have been making noises about how damnably late I am already, and this is a peace offering of sorts.

You see, real life has, rather rudely, interrupted my leisure days with a new job. And so I find out, like numberless college kids before me, that a full time doesn’t really leave much time for reading, much less posting about said reading. I way looking forward to finishing this post off last weekend, but a touch of fever and cold put those plans to bed, along with me.

But I’ve got my schedule figured out a bit better now, and so the next post will hopefully be earlier than (OMG it’s been three weeks since the last one WTF) three weeks.

Now to talk about the actual reading. Not much to talk about since it’s just the prologue and chapter one, but I’ll say that I’m finding DG way more to my liking, so far. (And I’ve read upto the end of part one, Raraku). The Icarium business, as it involves weird supernatural stuff, is still damn mysterious, but the rest of the plot I almost have a handle on. Looking forward to see how Laseen deals with these multiple rebellions – though we did get a hint, with the cull. Still no sight of Whiskeyjack and co., which sucks since I was pretty eager to find out more about the Pannion Seer.

#39 The Wheel of Osheim, by Mark Lawrence

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All the horrors of Hell stand between Snorri Ver Snagason and the rescue of his family, if indeed the dead can be rescued. For Jalan Kendeth, getting back out alive and with Loki’s key is all that matters. Loki’s creation can open any lock, any door, and it may also be the key to Jalan’s fortune back in the living world.

Jalan plans to return to the three w’s that have been the core of his idle and debauched life: wine, women, and wagering. Fate however has other plans, larger plans. The Wheel of Osheim is turning ever faster, and it will crack the world unless it’s stopped. When the end of all things looms, and there’s nowhere to run, even the worst coward must find new answers. Jalan and Snorri face many dangers, from the corpse hordes of the Dead King to the many mirrors of the Lady Blue, but in the end, fast or slow, the Wheel of Osheim always pulls you back. In the end it’s win or die.

Spoilers for Prince of Fools and The Liar’s Key and The Broken Empire Trilogy

Mark Lawrence is a writer from whom I expect much. He’s got a lot of things going for him, and all of them are present in this book. And yet, it fell short of the bar set by The Liar’s Key for me, not to mention the original Broken Empire trilogy.

To start off with, the cliffhanger ending of The Liar’s Key is resolved in a very anticlimactic way – literally the first scene is Jalan escaping hell. I didn’t mind it that much honestly, because Jalan’s return is pretty spectacular and well done.

The actual events of Jal and Snorri’s stay in hell are recounted in little flashbacks here and there, and that was the part I did mind. Mark Lawrence loves to do this thing where he’ll have some past narrative woven in with the plot, and that’s starting to feel old when the same device is used in the sixth book in a row. Plus the hell journey was not really interesting, seeing as we already knew its outcome.

Still, the first half was quite entertaining. Jalan (or rather Mark) has a way with words, a style of talking, that makes you enjoy every single twist and turn of his journey. I still feel Jorg was a more compelling protagonist, but Jalan is still a great character, and he’s become really fleshed out over the trilogy.

All this adventuring and running from undead horrors is all well and good, but the trouble starts when we get to the actual plot of the book, the Wheel of Osheim. For starters, we already know from reading the first trilogy that the world will not end up destroyed. So Jalan’s success in his quest is guaranteed from the start. Plus I began to hate how anytime it’s mentioned, we have to go through an explanation of how it’s slowly ending the world and must be stopped. So basically I had minimal interest in the actual plot of the book. Though the very final couple of pages did have some great stuff.

I still enjoyed the book, because the writing and Jalan’s narration is still amazeballs, but it suffered from being a parallel story to The Broken Empire trilogy, and not its own thing.

tl’dr: Great writing, worldbuilding, characters, but a meh plot. It was like eating cold, undercooked fries with the most amazing ketchup. No matter how good the ketchup, it can’t quite make up for the fries.

PS: I have to add that I listened to the audiobook by Tim Gerard Reynolds, and the man is amazing. His Jalan voice is totally spot on. Do consider giving it a shot.


My Rating: 3.5/5

Malazan Read: Gardens of The Moon, Part 6

Spoilers for Gardens of The Moon to Chapter 24| More info and previous posts  |Please no spoilers for future books/events

In my plan to read The Malazan Book of The Fallen, I’m now on book 1, Gardens of The Moon. This post covers chapters 17-24.


Chapter Seventeen

Back in Darujhistan, Rallick arrives at the Phoenix Inn and is met by someone who claims to be the Eel’s agent. He tells Rallick that Ocelot has been hired by Turban Orr to take out Coll. Ooh, assassin fight incoming. By the way, if I were an assassin, I would be way more suspicious of this messenger and his message. Why’d Turban Orr want Coll taken out anyway?

Baruk and Rake are meeting. They discuss the Tyrant and stuff, but more interesting to me is  a speech on what motivates Rake. His people have the standard elf sickness, in that they’re dying out and are kinda aimless and bored and have no purpose. And if Rake just goes off to safety in Moon’s Spawn, this disinterest and despair will be their legacy. Rake does not want that. He’s apparently trying to get them interested in stuff again.

Well that answers the question I made a few posts ago, about why Rake is bothering with the Malazan Empire at all. At least partly. I do think there’s more. Continue reading

Malazan Read: Gardens of The Moon, Part 5

Spoilers for Gardens of The Moon to Chapter 16| More info and previous posts  |Please no spoilers for future books/events

In my plan to read The Malazan Book of The Fallen, I’m now on book 1, Gardens of The Moon. This post covers chapters 14-16.


Chapter Fourteen

This book’s verse is very definitely about Tattersail, reborn as a child. Though the card she’s looking at, Obelisk, is totally new to me. (Edit: Just realised this, maybe it’s the stone at the Tyrant’s barrow?)

Also, this chapter is dated in no less than three different systems.

As Lorn and Tool arrive at the Gadrobi Hills, Tool takes it upon himself to give a little lesson in the History of Magic. Somehow Warrens are located not only in a different place, but also time. A different “flavor” of time. (I’ll take mine in butterscotch, thanks.) And the barrow is in a lost warren. He goes on to explain to Lorn exactly how risky it is to free the Tyrant. Continue reading

Malazan Read: Gardens of The Moon, Part 4

Spoilers for Gardens of The Moon to Chapter 13| More info and previous posts  |Please no spoilers for future books/events

In my plan to read The Malazan Book of The Fallen, I’m now on book 1, Gardens of The Moon. This post covers chapters 11-13.


Chapter Eleven

Kruppe is chilling by his god given fire. The air has the breath of rotting ice. What the hell that breath might be like I try hard to imagine, but it’s no use. How does ice even rot??

Anyway, turns out he’s somehow managed to time travel in his dreams and is met by a Kron T’lan Imass, Pran. Or rather just Tlan, as he goes on to explain, but soon stuff will happen and they will become Imass. Soon a Rhivi woman turns up as well, a pregnant one. Apparently they’re all here to take care of Tattersail, courtesy K’rul.

Kruppe goes to meet Tattersail who is wearing Nightchill’s body, and brings her to the others, who do some ritual stuff which ends in Tattersail’s soul going from Nightchill to the pregnant woman’s newborn.

WTF? I mean, I kinda get what’s going on, but still. Tattersail somehow managed to light up a huge pillar of fire, trigger several warrens including elder ones, and now a returned god helped her be born 300k years ago in Kruppe’s dream? To quote myself, WTF?

Even weirder, when Kruppe asks about the child originally in the woman’s belly, K’rul has this to say:

“There was none, Kruppe. The Rhivi woman was prepared in a manner unknown to any man.” He chuckled. “Including myself.” He raised his head. “This sorcery belongs to the Moon, Kruppe.”

So there’s more people invovled in this? Is this Moon as in Moon’s Spawn. Why is K’rul even bothering with Tattersail? How does he know about Tool and Hairlock coming to Darujhistan?  Continue reading

Malazan Read: Gardens of The Moon, Part 3

Spoilers for Gardens of The Moon to Chapter 10| More info and previous posts  |Please no spoilers for future books/events

In my plan to read The Malazan Book of The Fallen, I’m now on book 1, Gardens of The Moon. This post covers chapters 8-10.


Chapter Eight

I’m guessing the beginning verse is about Whiskeyjack – the clue was:

and so in stepping down
but not away

I remember that Whiskeyjack once used to be higher up in the hierarchy – above Dujek even. And the extract is from The Bridgeburners after all.

On to the text we go comrades.  Continue reading