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.
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?
Then we go into flashback to the events of the day before the dream. (Wait, that makes it sound like I’m talking about the previous day, as in Kruppe dreamed on Tuesday night and I’m talking about Monday. So, the day of the dream? That doesn’t sound right either…)
Anyway, we pick off right after Kruppe’s meeting with Baruk featuring the exploding wax coin. As Kruppe leaves, there’s a shout and a crash, some sort of sorcery happens, and then Kruppe moves on.
And watching him do that are the road repair crew, who turns out are Whiskeyjack and co. in disguise. Sorry says that Kruppe is important for some reason, so Whiskeyjack sends her off to follow him. The description of soldiers doing road repairs got a chuckle out of me:
Trotts was swinging his pick as if on a battlefield. Stones flew everywhere. Passersby ducked, and cursed when ducking failed. Hedge and Fiddler crouched behind a wheelbarrow, flinching each time the Barghast’s pick struck the street. Mallet stood a short distance away, directing pedestrians to the other pavement. He no longer bellowed at the people, having lost his voice arguing with an old man with a donkey wobbling under an enormous basket of firewood. The bundles now lay scattered across the street—the old man and the donkey nowhere to be seen—providing an effective barrier to wheeled vehicles.
All in all, Whiskeyjack concluded, everyone with him had assumed the role of heat-crazed street worker with a facility he found oddly disturbing.
And I can’t even put my finger on the reason. It this super understated humor or just normal text I happened to laught at?
The squad is busy mining major intersections in Darujhistan. I look forward to the day when I see them actually burn some bridges. Whiskeyjack is worrying about Sorry. And I don’t know why. I mean, yeah, there is the fact that she looks like a 17 year old girl, but they know enough for it to be obvious that she’s no simple village lass. And an experienced soldier like Whiskeyjack should be able to see past her appearance. He seems to think that she’s like himself in her murderous ways, but that feels a pile of crap to me. It’s clear that, unlike Sorry, he is bothered by all the violence he’s had to, and will, do.
Crokus goes to meet his uncles Mammot, and his flying pet monkey, Moby, who for some reason I immediately dislike. They discuss Crokus getting educated and stuff so he can mingle with the high society. He doesn’t mention the reason, but his uncle seems to know anyways. More interesting for us, Mammot gives mini history lesson. Turns out Darujhistan was founded on a rumor – of the very same Jaghut tyrant’s barrow that Lorn now seeks. Apparently a bunch of people came looking for it, didn’t find anything and instead of going back home decided to stay right there and so Darujhistan was born.
Sorry is tailing Kruppe, and we get a rare insight into what’s going in her head. I’d assumed that Cotillion made her into a killer, but it seems that instead there’s something else in control, while the original girl’s conciousness is sort of bound in there. Aw, poor girl. Maybe someone will end up freeing her? Ooh, that’d be a nice arc, her becoming herself again and going on a revenge quest againt Ammanas and Cotillion.
So, Kruppe gets to the Phoenix Inn, Sorry is stopped by the doorkeep so she straight up murders him and goes right in, with a scary casualness. Crokus arrives soon after, going all “OMG Someone killed that guy!”. There’s not as much uproar as I expected – I guess you get used to that sort of stuff in this sort of bar. Sorry recognised him as Oponn’s pawn, courtesy the freaky coin doing freaky stuff. I would point out that it’s a bit stupid of Oponn to draw attention to Crokus like that, but as I understand it, they’re like the Joker of the gods, so whatever.
Crokus also realises that Sorry is the one who killed the guard, and Sorry is about to off him, when she’s stopped by two random chicks, Meese and Irilta stop her. Now who are these two?
Meanwhile, Kalam’s been trying to make contact with the local assassins, with no success. That it to be expected. He goes back to meet Quick Ben. The wizard is off on some magical errand of his own. He goes to the Warren of Chaos, which is apparently super special, and from there makes his way to the Shadow Realm. I say realm, because the description is more like an alternate world than a Warren.
Kruppe is doing some reading. The Crippled God is mentioned. Armed with the foreknowledge of the titles of the books, I pay immense attention to the extract, but there’s not much beyond some sort of god being brought down and chained. A bunch of people were involved in this, including the Tiste Andii. It is mentioned that Moon’s Spawn is also home to Dragons. I recall something about Rake having drunk the blood of Dragons. Please let there be badass Dragons in this series. For the amount of fantasy I read, it’s been remarkably long since I read one with badass Dragons.
Crone meets with Baruk, informing him of the stuff she witnessed on the Rhivi plain, including her almost being killed by Hairlock. Baruk in turn tells her about the Jaghut Tyrant, though refuses to tell her the precise location. Does he know, then, where it’s buried? You know, I thought that he was just another power hungry mage, but if he knows the location of the barrow but is trying to keep it hidden to keep Darujhistan safe, maybe he’s not that bad. Once Crone is gone, he contacts Mammot.
In the Shadow Warren, Quick Ben is received (not quite) cordially by the Hounds, and led to Ammanas. Apparently the Hounds are a proper family, not just seven identical monsters. Ammanas’ digs are suitably scary and shadowy, but Ammanas himself seems a bit too chill considering what he is. Anyway, Quick Ben offers a deal to him, in that he will deliver Hairlock to Ammans. In return, he wants his life to be spared. It turns out he was once a follower of the Shadow warren, and leaving the cult is a deadly offense. I didn’t think these gods had classical following and temples, but in hindsight, it’s only natural that this should be the case. I mean, if people worship gods that present no evidence of existence, they’d totally worship these actually physically existing gods.
Ammanas then asks a very reasonable question. What’s to stop him from killing Ben here and now, presumably after painful interrogation? In answer, Quick Ben reveals himself to be someone called Delat, and makes his escape using the power of Chaos.
Okay, I’m sure I’m missing a lot, but that seemed rather stupid. Why reveal himself, when clearly that would make Ammanas more likely to kill him? What makes Ben think that Ammanas will keep his end of the deal now, instead of sending a couple of hounds after him? At least I understand him wanting to dispose of Hairlock.
Kruppe arrives at yet another meeting with Baruk. Notably, he lies about the Malazan people being in Darujhistan. And he’s brought a message from the Eel. Hang on, we never saw him get any such thing. Guys, what if Kruppe is the Eel? It would totally fit. He’s definitely sharp and knowledgeable, plus he’s the last person anyone might suspect, with his pompous boisterous exterior. I hope he turns out to be, anyway, because otherwise I just made a fool of myself right now.
Anyway, Baruk tells him to get the gang and go scope out the Gadrobi Hills, and Kruppe departs.
Quick Ben returns to his body, and reports that he’s succeeded on both counts. One, of course, the Ammanas thing, but what’s the other one I wonder. He also mentions one interesting thing:
Without temples and priests the gods’ bloody meddling couldn’t touch the mortal realm.
Combine that with the fact that K’rul sort of came back to life when he received a sacrifice of sorts, does that mean that a god’s power is related to how many people worship it? This is not a new idea of course, but doesn’t seem to fit with the Malazan world.
Sorry arrives soon after, and this gives more confirmation, if needed, that she’s related to the Shadow realm – since it was Quick Ben touching the Shadow realm that allowed her to track him. She reports that she’s found an assassin in the Phoenix Inn, and is off again, while Kalam and Ben go to the Inn.
At the Phoenix Inn, Rallick, acting like the bait, is spotted by Kalam, and goes to report the same to his boss. He’s ordered to lead them into a warehouse, presumably where they’ve got an ambush prepared. Ooh, this could go quite badly for Ben and Kalam. We’ll see whether the Bridgeburners have earned their reputation.
Meanwhile, Crokus prepares to go put back the stuff he stole from the hot chick.
Once Rallick leaves, Kalam and Ben finalise their preparations, which include a bunch of spells. You know, Ben’s magic seems rather different from what we’ve seen so far, in that he often seems to require some sort of rituals and prep before doing his stuff, unlike the more spontaneous sort that we’ve seen everyone else do. Is it because of the type of magic he does, or what?
By the way, the two also know that they’re probably walking into an ambush, but they think that the assassins will at least hear them out first. Ordinarily maybe, but I doubt that will happen now. Still, they won’t be caught completely unawares. Some dryle humorous comrade banter, and then they follow Rallick across the rooftops to the ambush point.
Baruk’s demon is watching all this unfold from up above, when it itself is ambushed by someone. It flees, and yet another bunch of assassins descend on the scene. These, I’m guessing, are the ones who started the whole murderous business.
Fighting ensues, though all the named characters manage to survive relatively easily, though Kalam gets wounded. Although it’s not over yet – the book mentioned twelve assassins dropping down, and only four have appeared so far – two each fighting Kalam and Rallick, which still leaves a bunch.
Meanwhile, Sorry is stalking Crokus. I’m becoming ever more convinced that Ammanas put something in her that took over, and now the real Sorry is trying to fight back. As for Crokus, she plans to kill him, but only after finding out what he’s up to. Also she’s killed yet another guard. Damn but Sorry kills with zero fucks given.
Inside the manor, Crokus has succeeded in his mission, but the girl has woken up and they’re having a nice little chat, surprsingly calm and chill. They introduce each other, and Crokus proclaims that he shall meet her again, all formal and proper, and Challice responds with laughter. Oh, poor Crokus. I know that feel bro. And Crokus makes a hasty exit, spotting Sorry on the way.
Back to the rooftops. More assassins have arrived, and Kalam and Ben decide to make a run for it. Ben deploys a demon to hold them off, named, weirdly, Pearl. He’s the single most relaxed and calm demon I’ve seen, I think. Pearl’s pretty confident about winning, until more assassins (who it turns out are Tiste Andii) arrive, including Anomander Rake. Then he’s like, well, RIP me. But still totally chill.
Rallick is regretting his career choices, when he runs into Crokus at the Phoenix Inn, and goes all “Get clean and stay off the streets” on his ass. You know, for a bunch of thieves and assassins and assorted low-lives, they all seem to care about Crokus quite a lot. Good thing too, he’s gonna need all the help he can get with Sorry on his sorry ass. (Ha!)
Having dispatched Pearl (aw, I was kinda starting to like him), Rake is debriefing his soldiers. He’s disappointed by their performance. So am I, for that matter. Legendary Tiste Andii, superhuman and all, with the advantage of numbers and the element of surprise, failed to kill not just Ben/Kalam, but also Rallick/Ocelot. Not that I wanted them to succeed, but I did expect more. But Rake is a merciful god, and instead of killing them or something, gives them a mini-vacation. Now that’s the kind of boss I like.
Whiskeyjack and co. are done with their mining job and are chilling in their abysmal quarters. We’re given a detailed description of Whiskeyjack’s armor, and all I can think is he should probably get the rust and broken links and all that repaired. Kalam and Ben arrive, and give their report. So. Rake outplayed them in the assassin business, foiling their attempts to contact the local assassins. Well, Malazan has their own famous Claws. But I guess they’d rather risk the locals, who would have the home ground advantage as well. They decide to start offing council members to flush out the real power holders, and do the job themselves.
Another Sorry POV. She’s been watching pretty much everything that went down, and she’s decided to do some more waiting and watching, and try to kill Crokus outside the city on the mission to the Gadrobi Hills.
Rake goes to meet Baruk. I guess he’s responding to the feedback Baruk sent via Crone, that he wanted more facetime. Rake admits that he started the assassin war, and explains his reasoning. Baruk, however, is not happy, and his irritation seems to stem mostly from the fact that Rake didn’t consult him first. There’s also talk of Rake’s sword. It seems that it’s a sword-cum-eternal-dark-soul-prison of sorts. *shudders*
Another dream of Kruppe’s. K’rul appears for a mini info-dump, telling Kruppe about Rake’s sword, Dragnipur, and tells him that there’s going to be Imass v. Jaghut in the Gadrobi Hills and to be careful.
And that’s book four. We’re almost two-thirds throgh book one now, and I still feel like I’ve just scratched the surface of this world. I like this feeling.
Plot wise, I’m becoming ever more comfortable. With everyone converging on the Jaghut Tyrant’s Barrow, I’m finally starting to feel like there’s an actual plot in here and getting a handle on it. Needless to say, of course, there’s plenty that I still don’t understand, but I’ve accepted that.
By the way, one question I want answered – in a non-spoilery way. I know that the Malazan books are all over the place in terms of time and place. But, do they all combine into a single large 0verarching story with a proper conclusion? I sure hope so, it would suck to read a bunch of books to realise there’s just a bunch of seperate plotlines with no single bit plot to tie them together. .