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.
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.
Whiskeyjack and co. have arrived at Lake Azur, on the opposite shore from Darujhistan. They talk to the Moranth, and apparently the Moranth have given them a bunch of munitions for the work ahead. More interestingly, we get to hear(read?) one of them talk for the first time.
“Selectively, Bird That Steals. You are well known to us, Bridgeburner. You tread the enemy’s shadow. From the Moranth, assistance will never be scarce.”
The style is suitably weird for one of the Exotic People™. I wonder which enemy is being referred to here. The Malazan Empire? Do the Moranth consider them to be their enemy? Why then are they allied with them? Will we see a synchronized empire-wide betrayal at some point? Questions, questions…
Whiskeyjack tells the rest of the squad that the plan they’ve been given is nuts and he’s made his own plan, (presumably with blackjack and hookers). Through veiled conversation, Whiskeyjack asks them to be there a couple weeks from now. This maybe the exit strategy of the aforementioned plan. The Moranth agrees, and throws in some defense of their slaughter in Pale, saying they killed exactly as many Moranth as were killed over their struggle against Pale. I wonder whether anyone thought to subtract the ones they’ve managed to kill before that day.
Once the Moranth depart, Whiskeyjack lays down the plan. They’ll split into groups and sneak into the city, with some pleasant fishing on Lake Azur on the way. And the rest we don’t get to hear, because the scene shifts. I hate whenever this happens in books. You want to start in the middle of action? Fine. You don’t need no exposition? Fine. But don’t hide stuff from me that characters know! That’s just as bad as exposition, in a way. Yeah, I get why people do the fade to black, but it still annoys me.
Meanwhile, Quick Ben is checking up on Hairlock. I’m kinda amused that all it takes for him to travel to mysterious inter-dimensional realms is some sticks and string. He finds himself in the Warren of Chaos, at Spar of Andii. As in Tiste Andii? Are they maybe originated from the warrens? That would make sense actually. If people get magic from warrens, and the Tiste Andii are magic folk, then they might as well come from the Warrens.
They have a nice little chat, Hairlock recounts the Gear encounter, Ben tells him that he can’t handle the Power of Chaos, and somehow Tattersail knows in her feverish dreams that the coin has fallen into Crokus’ hands. I wonder if the coin is important only in what it signifies, or if it has powers of its own, like a Lord of The Coins. At the end, Hairlock seems to forget Ben, so Ben tells him to keep track of Tattersail, and literally kicks him off the cliff.
The wizard knew what he’d have to do—Hairlock had given it to him, in fact.
Aw, I thought I was following the conversation pretty nicely, but now I have no idea what it is that Quick Ben has to do.
Back to Whiskeyjack, who’s finished outlining his plan, which by the squad’s reactions in quite something. Kalam is not happy about having to row a boat across a huge lake (neither would I) but they can’t use magic. Why couldn’t they use the Quorls a bit further though?
And that’s the chapter. All things considered, a pretty unremarkable one.
Toc the Younger is out looking for someone who’s late for a meeting, when he spots the aftermath of a fight. The dead include special Malazan marines, Jakatan, and some Barghast, including a shaman. Toc spots a trail, and goes after it, even though he knows that it’ll lead to his death. Really? Toc didn’t strike me as that kind of a soldier.
It seems the trail Toc is following is that of Lorn, and the surviving members of her guard. She decides to make her stand at a tomb against the remaining Barghast. They’re wounded and outnumbered, and the fight goes as expected, until suddenly something skeletal bursts from the ground and kills the Barghast for her. Toc arrives just then, and helpfully identifies the thing as a T’lan Imass, who is apparently an ally of Lorn. Also, he’s three hundred thousand years old to boot. Y’know, normally series wait a few books before introducing this sort of ancient undead stuff. Oh well, we all know this ain’t your regular fantasy.
Toc and Lorn chat a bit, while he patches up her shoulder, and during this they mention that Lorn’s sword is made of Otataral, and is equipped with +10 magic resistance, though the Elder magic of the Imass is an exception. Jokes apart, I find it weird and very exposition-y the way this information is given to us. Normally I’d note mention it, but Erikson made such a big deal of not having exposition in the preface that it feels shoddy. Both Lorn and Toc clearly know about the sword, and yet they’re all yeah this here sword is anti-magic. It’s like one character seeing a rifle and saying, “Ah, a device that propels pieces of metals to supersonic velocities.” Ok, I’ve harped enough on this, let’s move on.
A couple of pages discussing how to travel with 2 soldiers 1 horse, and an enigmatic line from the T’Lan Imass, and they’re off for Pale.
Tattersail wakes up from her post-deadly-hound-encounter fever, and she and Paran have a chat. I can’t help but chuckle on how their talk begins:
“So it does. Well, now what?”
Paran’s eyes widened. “You don’t know?”
“But this is ridiculous,” Paran exclaimed. “I know nothing of what’s happening here.”
Join the club mate 🙂
They exchange notes on the events of the past few days, though Paran doesn’t remember much of his time in wherever that place with the Twins was. Tattersail mentions that Hairlock has vowed to kill Paran, and would off her as well if not for Paran’s sword. Why on earth? Isn’t Hairlock with Tattersail and the Bridgeburnders? Is it some scheme of his own, or just plain madness? Also, if Tattersail knows, why not snap his pesky puppet and be done?
Toc and Lorn arrive at Pale, and are received by Dujek. Interestingly, Lorn mentions that Sorcery doesn’t work on her, which makes me wonder why she’s bothering with the Otataral blade. Dujek also mentions that the soldiers are not happy with Toc and his life might be in danger. What the hell? What did he do? What did any Claw do? I don’t recall anything. Lorn offers to take Dujek’s side against Tayschrenn, but Dujek tells her to stay out of it. There have also been attempts at Dujek’s life, we learn. Who? Tayschrenn’s people? Or even higher up? Or the locals? Can this chapter stop giving me questions and give some answers?
They also discuss the future battle plan. This mostly consists of Dujek telling Lorn her plan is stupid and they should follow his plan, and Lorn agreeing.
Then Tayschrenn arrives, and Lorn chats with him. She explains to him that Dujek is not the enemy, to stop interfering and start cooperating with him, because even if he is of the old guard, he’s still loyal to the empire. Then once he’s gone Lorn harps some more about some repressed memories of Tattersail, and this time gives enough hints for me to guess she’s referring to the riots we saw in the Prologue.
A bit of thinking and pondering from Tattersail, the only notable thing is that she and Paran have the hots for each other.
Toc arrives at the big formal dinner. Lorn’s been praising him, telling how he took down four Barghast solo. Er, I don’t remember any such thing happening. Then Tattersail arrives, and apparently she’s looking quite nice. And then Lorn goes all grim and says that Tattersail was part of the violence in the Mouse that led to her family dying. Surprisingly, Tattersail is willing to accept an execution then and there, and Lorn is eager to do it. As Dujek points out, this is nuts because all that was Laseen’s order anyway, but I guess it can be hard to be objective when the murder of your family is concerned. I am surprised at Lorn’s loyalty to the Empress despite all this though.
Eventually Dujek manages to calm Lorn down by pointing out she has no business carrying personal vendettas as she’s supposed only to be the voice of the Empress.
Good old Toc relieves the tension by making jokes about Tattersail’s traveling wardrobe. Eventually Lorn question Tattersail about the Hound business, and she gives Lorn a full of crap but believable account of things, and everyone accepts it. Except that Toc knew Tattersail was lying, but backed her anyway because solidarity and stuff.
Back from the dinner, Paran gives Tattersail Hairlock’s message. He knows about Tool, and intends to track them. Paran also tells her the full details of his mission, but Tattersail insists that Lorn also intends to kill Whiskeyjack and co. They decide that Tattersail will go from Pale while Paran sticks around. Then they decide to bump uglies.
The next morning, Lorn leaves with Tool. On the way, we get some more insight into the T’lan Imass, which, as usual, gives me more questions than answers. It seems they’re some sort of ancient race, which the old Emperor reawakened and then they did his bidding, more or less.
Crone is off flying somewhere, thinking all sorts of dire thoughts.
If ever there was a dire convergence of great forces, it was now, and in this place. The gods were descending to the mortal soil to do battle, shapings were being forged of flesh and bone, and the blood of sorcery now boiled with a madness born of inevitable momentum.
You know, I feel at times like these that Erikson sort of overdoes this “great thins are happening” stuff. You know, show don’t tell and all that.
Toc goes to meet Paran. Paran asks him what Lorn is really up to, and he confirms what Tattersail told him, that Whiskeyjack is in danger from Lorn. So Paran decides to travel with Toc to Darujhistan and warn Whiskeyjack.
Tattersail is traveling through her Warren, and finding the going pretty hard. Eventually she decides to give up and return to the physical world. And runs into Bellurdan, who is here to take her back on Tayschrenn’s orders. Apparently the reason Tattersail had to leave her warren was because the T’lan Imass has an anti-magic aura of sorts.
Now I’m confused. The previous section indicated that Tattersail’s been traveling for a few days, which makes me wonder how on earth she’s not reacher Darujhistan yet if she was traveling by Warren all this time? Didn’t Paran travel even longer in a few hours with Topper in the first chapter?
Anyway, Tattersail buys some time with her talk of old friends and stuff, and Bellurdan tells her of a Jaghut Tyrant, buried/imprisoned near Darujhistan, and Tattersail concludes that Lorn and Tool are trying to free it. (So many more questions!), but Bellurdan does not accept that and asks her to return with him. Then Tattersail has an idea, there’s magic and fire and fade to black.
Lorn and Tool watch the results from afar – a huge pillar of fire that involves a bunch of warrens, including an Elder one (warrens also come in Elder/Younger varieties?). The fire vanishes, and Tool sense something new-born near it. What? No idea. What on earth have you done Tattersail?
Crone arrives to meet with Caladan Brood. They throw some unfamiliar names around, discussing recent battles, and Crone tells him about Crokus finding the Coin. The conversation beyond that I can’t make much sense of, though I get the sense that Brood is not the loyal right hand man of Rake that I assumed him to be.
Toc and Paran arrive at the location of the Tattersail/Bellurdan confrontation, and they find two burned bodies. But I know Tattersail isn’t gone because she had a plan, plus Tool sensed whatever has become of her. Paran assumes the worst though, and gets all emotional, and angry at Lorn of all people, who I don’t think had much to do with this.
Crone’s musings on the latest plot developments are interrupted by someone burning her fellow ravens out of the air. Apparently they spotted Hairlock coming out of a warren, and since then he’s been playing a sort of reverse whack-a-mole with them, popping out of his warren and killing them one by one. Crone tells them to sod off and goes to investigate on her own. All she achieves is amost dying herself and then runs off to report to Rake.
Tool warns Lorn about Hairlock pursuing them, but Lorn shrugs off his warnings and goes to sleep. She wakes up to Tool pointing a sword at her as a way of making her more careful, and then they have this weird little chat before leaving:
“Tell me, Tool, what dominates your thoughts?”
The Imass shrugged before replying. “I think of futility, Adjunct.”
“Do all Imass think about futility?”
“No. Few think at all.”
“Why is that?”
The Imass leaned his head to one side and regarded her. “Because, Adjunct, it is futile.”
“Let’s get going, Tool. We’re wasting time.”
She climbed into the saddle, wondering how the Imass had meant that.
No idea what that was about, but I liked it. I think I’m starting to like Tool and his weird ways.
And that’s book three down. This felt like the most uneventful one so far, mostly people chatting, except for whatever it was that Tattersail did (I hope she’s okay), so not much to comment here. I think book two was my favorite so far, hopefully we’ll get back to Darujhistan in the upcoming chapters.
I’m not entirely clear on why this one was called The Mission by the way. Book one and two are pretty obvious, but this one – which mission is it referring to? Whiskeyjack’s? Lorn’s? Tattersail’s? It seems everyone is on a mission.
I apologise for the delay by the way, my laptop crashed and the WordPress site managed to not have a saved draft so I had to rewrite a lot of the post. I’m now using the windows wordpress app instead so hopefully it won’t happen again.
The next post will cover chapter 11-13.