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.
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.
They get back to the barrow, and Rake asks for more info about it. Unfortunately that’s not possible because the barrow-expert, Mammot, is in some sort of an enchanted sleep, because he went poking around in the barrow via his warden. First Kruppe, and now Mammot. Is every seemingly normal person in this city secretly a wizard?
Next we get a look at how the Eel’s network works, and it’s basically cold war style spy stuff in a medieval setting. Apparently Meese and Irilta are also the Eel’s agents. Hmm. I sorta expected them to be something more.
Meanwhile, Crokus and Apsalar arrive to find Mammot gone. While they’re wondering about this, Meerilta (I couldn’t resist) barge in and tell Crokus he must hide.
And good thing too, because at the same time another one of Rake’s assassins is at that moment planning to take out Crokus.
Kruppe also arrives in the city, with Murillio in tow, and with zero worries starts stuffing himself. This makes sense, because if he’s the Eel as I suspect, his agents have already gotten hold of Crokus and Apsalar.
Rallick Nom meanwhile, firmly believing the best defense is a good offense thing, is preparing to off Ocelot before he gets a chance to off Coll. He deduces Ocelot must be at K’rul’s belfry and sneaks up there. It’s annoying to see how much he talks to himself for someone who’s trying to be totally silent and sneak up on an assassin. Dude, rule one of being quiet: don’t talk.
The Malazaites (Malazanites? Malazanese?) soldiers are discussing future strategy. One more try to contact the assassins, and then they detonate the mines. Then they have a mini-intervention for Whiskeyjack, with Fiddler of all people giving a nice motivational speech to the sergeant. It seems to help.
The plot continues to trickle back into Darujhistan, this time it’s Paran and Coll. The latter’s wound is int pretty bad shape. I thought it was a minor sort of thing – painful and annoying, but this has turned life threatening. Paran hauls him to – you guessed it – the Phoenix Inn.
Meanwhile, on the belfry, Rallick jumps Ocelot. Fortunately for him, the otataral powder protects him from Ocelot’s opening shot, and after a bloody fight, he manages to take him down, but gets severely wounded himself in the process. You know, this is the flip side of not having a clear character to root for. Yeah, I’d prefer Nom to win, but I’m not really invested either way so the fight lacks that bit of tension and emotion. Hopefully that will get fixed as time goes on and I become more invested in all this.
Serrat the assassin-mage wakes up. Turns out she was about to make her move when someone knocked her out. Now who’s this who managed to catch a Tiste Andii unawares? Yet another of the Eel’s agent maybe? Doubtful.
At the Phoenix Inn, Coll is dying, and Paran is pretty depressed thinking that Oponn is offing his friends one by one so he’s isolated and a good tool, and is on the verge of breaking Chance when Kalam runs into him. And he remembers Mallet, and asks Kalam to fetch the healer on the double. Well, I think Coll will be okay now.
Kalam returns soon with not only Mallet but Whiskeyjack in tow, who proceeds to pull out a telephone made up of human bones and calls Dujek. I wonder how magical artifacts work, given the magic is accessed from Warrens? Like, is this bonephone opening a warren right now? Anyway, Dujek and Whiskeyjack discuss the situation. Dujek is planning open revolt, taking the whole of Genebaris out of Malazan control. There’s also talk of a new player, the Pannion Seer, who is apparently preparing for a holy war. So these guys intend to take on the Empire and this new guy at the same time? Be interesting to see how they manage it.
In the Tyrant’s barrow, Tool and Lorn find an object called a Finnest, which stores the Tyrant’s powers. The plan is to run away with it, and the Tyrant will follow. First off, why did these damned Jaghuts not destroy the Tyrant and his power for good instead of burying him and hiding the barrow and all that? Is the guy indestructible or something? Also, I’m a bit surprised they didn’t do anything to actually awaken the Tyrant. And finally, the Finnest is described as a “self-contained Omtose Phellact Warren”. This makes no sense to me. Isn’t Omtose Phellack the name of a warren? Because this description makes it seem that Omtose Phellack is just a type. Did the Jaghut all have their personal warrens? And you can lock up a warren in a bloody acorn?
Crokus is getting restless, and in a display of stereotypical teenage-ness, he’s all “no one tells me what to do” and runs off with Apsalar. Fortunately for his sorry ass, his mysterious protector once again foils Serat’s attempt at his life. Who is this person that’s able to overpower her with such ease?!
Meanwhile, Rallick gets back from his encounter with Ocelot. Turns out the Otataral has turned him into Deadpool minus the scarring, because his deadly wound is mostly healed already. Murillio is off to confront the Eel, who he suspects to be the same person that I do – Kruppe.
Paran’s figured out why, if they intend to rebel, Whiskeyjack and co. have mined the city. Turns out they plan on having Dujek conquer it and use it as their base. Smart enough move. I approve. There’s more talk of the Pannion Seer and his holy war, who is apparently more fearsome than T’lan Imass. Any further details are, frustratingly, not there.
Tool and Lorn say their goodbyes. I’m rather sad to see these two get separated, which is weird because I don’t even like Lorn that much.
Crokus and Apsalar arrive at K’rul’s Belfry. What the hell is with everyone hanging out at this place for seemingly no reason? At least the Phoenix Inn is an inn. It seems that even though the Rope has left her, Apsalar is not quite normal yet. For one thing, she’s got night vision. Crokus spots five massive winged shapes leaving Moon’s Spawn. Dragons at last?
Damn, this was one puny eventless chapter. Actually, the same can be said for this whole book. Erikson might well have merged it with the previous one and called it “Setup for Climax”.
Also, I really don’t like calling them “books”. It’s fine now, but I suspect it will make things way too confusing later on when book can mean an actual book or a section of a book. I need some other term.
Murillio is wandering the pre-dawn streets, dropping fun worldbuilding tidbits. Apparently each year in Darujhistan is named according to a wheel that was given to them by Icarium, believed to be a Jaghut. There’s also mention of Trell. Trell? Is Malazan secretly a part of the Cosmere? Is Kruppe also secretly a Worldhopper?
Probably not. But that would be next-level awesome.
Interestingly, the new year is named the Year of the Moon’s Tears. Just a random coincidence or did Icarium secretly give them a prophecy machine?
He finds Kruppe, and accuses him of being the Eel. Kruppe responds by doing some magic stuff to edit Murillio’s memory. Ha! I KNEW IT! And I predicted it way before you, Murillio. Me right now.
Rake has apparently realised that Simtal’s party is going to be a big plot point, and has decided to go, despite Baruk’s misgivings. Mammot is finally up, and he seems none the worse for his magic sleep. Apparently he’s invited to the party as well. I thought it was supposed to be an exclusive affair, but pretty much everyone seems have managed an invite.
By the time Lorn arrives, the festival is in full swing, complete with a shaved women running about screaming. I spent quite some time wondering why the woman was in such a panic, but got nowhere. Lorn’s wound has gone weird after her barrow travels, the healing’s slowed and it’s ice and stuff. Is this the tyrant’s influence? Will she become enslaved?
Her arrival is noted by Circle Breaker who just “happens” to be on duty at the gate. And he manages to swap shifts with another guard who was supposed to be at Simtal’s party, so he’ll be there too. Man these last few pages are mostly making sure everyone plot relevant at the party. Which is okay, but the fact that it was noticeable is not good. If you notice the author’s hand in trying to shape and direct the plot a certain way, then it’s bad because it breaks the suspension of disbelief. Ah well, maybe I’m being too nitpicky.
Lorn makes her way to the squad, who’re busy playing cards. Except it’s not regular cards, they’re doing the same sort of plot foreshadowy stuff as Tattersail did with the Deck of Dragons, and I’m still just as hopeless at understanding it. They do know somehow that the Rope is out of the game. So does the Deck of Dragons give real-time-ish updates on the gods?
Whiskeyjack does a good job of acting like nothing’s up, just a regular soldier on mission. Lorn debriefs him, seemingly trying to be all bossy, but Whiskeyjack’s got the situation thoroughly under control, to her irritation. He’s managed to get the squad hired as guards at Lady Simtal’s party. I imagine Erikson having a checklist of people who have to be there, and ticking of Whiskeyjack and squad as he writes this.
Crokus and Apsalar are still doing belfry and chill. His thoughts match mine pretty closely regarding said belfry:
For an abandoned belfry tower, this place had witnessed a lot of drama lately.
Once it’s night, he plans to go meet Challice, disguised as a thief, at – that’s right – Simtal’s party.
Serrat is preparing, once more, to kill Crokus. Whatever her failings, I have to give the woman points for persistence. Or is it bullheaded stupidity? In any case, the result is the same this time. Some invisible entity shoos her off. This time he even talks to her. She apparently knows who it is, but I’ll be damned if I have the least idea.
Then we get an interesting POV from the Tyrant himself, named Raest. Not really a villanous name. There’s tantalising hints of Jaghut culture. He mentions that the Omtose Phellack warren is no more. What? But I thought there were still Jaghut around. So where’s their warren go? And if the warren is gone then how did the barrow’s enchantments keep working? Did they willingly destroy their warren maybe?
Watching him exit his tomb is Crone. But she’s not the only one in the skies today. The Dragons have arrived. Five dragons, four black and one red.
Meanwhile, Raest’s first action is to torment a sleeping goddess underground, in a pretty dramatic and climactic fashion. Is it Burn? Or the Crippled God? Maybe they’re the same? Anyway, he’s planning his trip to Darujhistan when he spots the dragons. He tells them to sod off or he’ll kill them. The Dragons though have no fucks to give, and so Raest unleashes his power.
The effect is pretty dramatic and explosive, but doesn’t really do anything to the dragons. The dragons’ counterattack is more effective, but soon it becomes clear that strong they might be, but they’re not a match for Raest. They can ravage his body, but he keeps going through sheer magic power. I guess Rake knew this, and the dragons are there maybe to weaken or tire Raest before Rake faces him.
Lorn is hiding the Finnest – the acorn – in a garden, which is obviously Simtal’s. And then she abruptly switches gears and becomes totally philosophical and ponders the insignificance of a human and their actions. At least she has enough self awareness to realise that this sort of behaviour is not the sign of a well balanced psyche. And then, since Sorry is nowhere to be found, she decides to find and kill Crokus. Hah! Good luck with that. That lad is protected by like half the city.
A Kruppe POV, notable only for the fact that he drops his pompous act for once, thinking and planning for tonight’s events. But apparently his huge appetite is legit, and not part of an act. A string of POVs follow, which are all basically people departing for the party.
At said party, Simtal/Turban Orr meet Baruk/Rake. Baruk introduces Rake by his actual name, but turns out they don’t even recognise it, thinking he’s just some random noble.
Turban Orr’s busy obsessing about the spy in his organisation that he thinks is betraying him to the Eel. Well good luck finding that mole bro, because it doesn’t exist. He’s also sent a messenger to the Malazan people, hoping to aid them and thus gain even more power in the city. I feel the messenge is going to run into some turbulance on the road. And by turbulance I mean a battle between an ancient Jaghut tyrant and some dragons.
Just then he collides with someone, and thanks to a little aggravation to the other guy, announces a duel to the death. <insert Admiral Ackbar face>. There’s a lot of talk and bravado thrown around, mostly by Turban Orr himself, while Rallick tries to make him even more angrier with trash talk.
Meanwhile, Murillio does his part by distracting Simtal with his hot bod and manly charms.
Seconds are selected, and Rake of all people becomes Rallick’s second.
‘Perhaps,’ Turban Orr sneered, ‘the two strangers know each other.’
‘We’ve never met,’ Rake said. ‘However, I find myself instinctively sharing his distaste for your endless talk, Councilman. Thus I seek to avoid a Council debate on who will be this man’s second. Shall we proceed?’
Ah, savage. I am liking Rake more and more.
Meanwhile Kruppe meets up with Crokus, and also hands Circle Breaker his termination letter with a pretty nice severance package.
Back to the duel. More interminable talk, and then the duel proper starts, and.. is over like that. All this drama only to have Rallick take down Orr with one move. I love it. 🙂
Rallick makes his way to Simtal’s room afterwards, to personally deliver the news that she’s finished. By all appearances this is devastating enough that the woman will soon commit suicide. Mission accomplished, I guess. Though it was a tad too complex a scheme, but still, a fun miniplot overall.
Crokus spots Challice at last, but she thinks he’s someone called Gorlas. And that’s enough for him to go nuts and drag her into the woods. WTF?!
A departure shot of Circle Breaker. Even though we don’t really know anything about the guy, I’m happy to see the relief and hope in him.
Raest and the dragons are still going at it. He’s managed to drive off two of the black ones. And as I expected, he’s also offed Turban Orr’s messenger. He prepares to finish off the red dragon, Silanah, but then suddenly he’s elsewhere. Into Kruppe’s dream of all things!
Interestingly, he says that there’s Imass within Kruppe. Does that mean all humans are descended from them, or Kruppe is somehow special? Raest is not fazed though, secure in his power’s ability to control the dream. Except somehow his attack fails to kill Kruppe.
And then he’s attacked by Tool. Apparently he’s been brought here courtesy Pran Chole. Then K’rul himself comes, and tells Raest that he can either die to Tool’s sword, or come with him to the “Gates of Chaos”. Does he mean the Chaos Warren? But Raest is all “puny god”. And then he moves into another body.
Kalam and Paran sneak up on Sorry, who to my surprise manages to knee Kalam in the balls. There’s a growing block of wood there, which I guess is the Finnest. Paran goes and fetches Mallet to take a look at both Sorry and the Finnest.
Meanwhile, Rallick runs into Vorcan, who is of course also at the party. She’s surprisingly okay with him taking out Ocelot.
Crokus and Challice have a lover’s spat of sorts. It’s clear that she’s not into him at all, and I guess that’s that for this whole arc.
After examining Sorry, Mallet finds that Sorry’s mind is not quite back to normal. There’s another presence in there, that’s been protecting her mind from the Rope all this time, and now it’s dying. They don’t know anything about what it is, or what it plans, but they decide in the end to help it. I agree. I mean, anything is possible, but one must act on the observable evidence, which is that the presence is trying to help.
Rallick and Vorcan arrive then, and talk with Kalam, while Crokus spies on them. Kalam offers a contract on the T’orrud Cabal, lots of gold plus rulership of Darujhistan, and Vorcan accepts with zero hesitation. They leave Rallick at the Finnest as his Otataral seems to dampen it somewhat. Rallick asks Crokus to warn the mages that Vorcan is coming for them.
Then suddenly there’s a roar from the terrace, and there’s a reaction from the Finnest as well.
Rake and Baruk sense this as well, and conclude that the Tyrant is there. For now though, Rake is not going to fight him, leaving the mages in the party to do that. He himself makes his way to K’rul’s belfry for a high vantage point. And I have to quote the way he uses to clear the path for himself:
Standing head and shoulders above the jostling crowds, he unsheathed his sword. ‘If you value your souls,’ the Son of Darkness bellowed, ‘make way!’ Raised high, the sword groaned awake, chains of smoke writhing from the blade. A terrible sound as of wheels creaking filled the air and behind it arose a chorus of moaning filled with hopelessness. Before Lord Anomander Rake the crowd in the street shrank back, all thoughts of festivity swept away.
Back to the party, a proper fight breaks out this time, between Mammot and Quick Ben and a witch. Mammot it seems is controlled by the Tyrant, or maybe is the Tyrant. Anyway, people die left and right, and the others are no match for Mammot. Paran tries to help, but just straight up vanishes.
He finds himself who know where. There’s two figures fighting a ways off, one of them losing. One is a T’lan Imass, I’m guessing Tool. The other appears to be a sentient tree, which turns out to be the Finnest. Tool tells Paran that the “Azath” is not ready, too young to imprison the Finnest, and asks Paran for help against the Finnest.
The Finnest tries to take control of his soul, but it doesn’t work. Apparently his encounter with the hounds has left a trace, (I remember them mistaking him for one of their own) and so it doesn’t work. And then Paran goes on the offensive, and soon enough roots wrap the Finnest and drag it underground. Paran reappears. WTF is with Paran and vanishing into random weird places and then casually reappearing?
Mammot is still on rampage, and when spells are no use (sidenote: Quick Ben can access seven warrens simultaneously!) Hedge helps out by blowing Mammot to smithereens. So how come that worked and dragon fire was no use?
Well, turns out that wasn’t enough either. Mammot is still there. Fortunately for them, roots appear from the garden, and drag him down, screaming and kicking.
And that’s it for the Jaghut. Really? This guy was built up as this huge menace to everything, which he was, and then he’s taken out by this Azath just like that? I call Deus ex Machina. Well, maybe not technically a deux ex machina since they still ahd Rake, but still it was pretty out of the blue. Damn unsatisfying. What even is an Azath anyway? At least have the decency to explain that, Eriksen!
Then Kalam realises that if they blow the mines, the whole city is likely to go up since there are underground gas pipes, and they rush to stop Fiddler and friends.
Paran leaves the scene only to run into Cotillion and the Hounds. They take the sword Chance from him. And Paran is also somehow healing rapidly from the wounds Rood just gave him. So Paran thinks his luck has turned. Has it really? I don’t see which recent event might make him think that.
Crokus, reeling at his uncle’s death, leaves the party to go warn the mages. Moon’s Spawn is now looming over the city. Lorn watches him go, and follows. She also releases another of Tayschrenn’s demons into the city.
Baruk and the witch are huddled in his estate, feeling members of their group die off one by one. How do Malazan mages just know these things? Even Rake was able to just sense the Tyrant’s arrival at the party. I know they can sense power, but it all seems way too fine-tuned and precise to be just from that.
Rake, being the good boss he is, tells Silanah that she doesn’t need to do overtime, he’ll handle the demon on his own. And then he becomes a black dragon. Whoa!
Kalam manages to catch up to Fiddler and stop him blowing up the place, and then they witness the demon turn inot a Dragon as well. Dragon fight incoming!
Lorn prepares to make her move on Crokus, and just as I expected, is stopped by his mysterious protector. Or protectors rather, apparently there’s more than one. They finally reveal their identity, and they’re from the Crimson Guard it turns out. The hell? Wasn’t the Crimson Guard working with Rake/Brood? Then why are their people stopping Rake’s people from taking out Crokus?
Lorn finds that she’s no match for Crokus’ protectors, and is now on the run. They let her go, but Meese of all people finds her, and kill her. Not like this indeed. I do feel pity for her, but little sorrow. Paran finds her after, as she’s dying. And then Oponn find him. They’re scared at the Rope having their sword, which they expect he’ll use against them soon enough. This part of the Malazan world I still don’t get. Gods can control people but this opens them to repercussions. But why? What is a God even? Why can’t they end the connection, so to speak?
This chapter’s poem gets special interest from me because it’s about the Azath, and also because it’s by Quick Ben. But there’s not much info that I’m able to glean from it.
DragonRake smashes into DragonDemon, but then both resume their regular shapes. Aww! There’s some trash talk, and then they duel. It’s a flashy affair, and a close-ish thing, but in the end the demon is no match for Rake and Dragnipur. The demon’s death is pretty long drawn and a bit creepy, the way chains come out of the sword and literally drag him in.
In the estate, Vorcan arrives to finish her assignment, and looks to be doing it – even combined Baruk and the witch are no match for her, not even with help from , but luckily for them they’re saved by a pair of well thrown bricks by Crokus. Really? A mage like Vorcan didn’t have some sort of protection to protect against such mundane attacks?
Back at their place, Whiskeyjack takes stock and contacts Dujek with an update. Since they can’t blow the mines, there’s not much they can do in the city and so they’re pulling out. Which I feel leaves them in a rather bad spot, seeing at the Empress will want them dead even more but they don’t really have a place to go. Fiddler and Kalam for some reason decide to go with Apsalar instead, who intends to go back to Itko Kan. For what? Wasn’t her whole village wiped out? Wait, they never did find her dad’s body though.
All this while Rallick has continued to sit around near the Finnest. But the Finnest is taken by the Azath, so maybe it’s the Azath he’s watching grow. Whatever it is, it’s grown into a house. Vorcan arrives, being chased by a bunch of angry Tiste Andii, and goes unconscious. I expect him to give her up to the Andii, but instead he rushes into the house with her.
The Tiste Andii who were following arrive soon after, but decide that they won’t be able to get in and give up chase. They mention that another such place, the Deadhouse, was involved with Emperor Kellanved and Dancer. Hmm, so is book two a flashback into the formation of the Malazan Empire? I wouldn’t mind that at all. Interestingly, the Azath is young enough that Rake could still destroy it, but they decide not to summon him. There’s talk about Light and how it destroyed the purity of the Dark, echoing the Tiste Andii origin story, but I can’t quite extract new details from their conversation.
Whiskeyjack and co. depart, and Quick Ben is watching them go. He’s pondering some plans of his own, but decides it’s not time to tell the sergeant yet.
Paran can now sense Tattersail somehow, thanks to the Otataral, promising to come to her once he’s done with the Pannion Seer. And she talks back to him.
Also, remember how Kalam was supposed to tell Param all about the Pannion Seer? That infodump never happened, damnit!
Crokus has apparently given up on Challice, and is now riding with Apsalar and Kalam. Seems a bit rash to leave all he knows behind for this girl he just met. Well at least there was no forced love triangle. Also on this boat is Circle Breaker. Why do I feel the books are not quite done with him yet?
This ends the first tale
Book of the Fallen
Phew! Amost 5k words. That’s what I get for covering so much in one book. But really, The City of Blue Fire chapters didn’t really deserve their own post. Anway, that’s that for Gardens of The Moon. Damned if I’m any closer to knowing what the title is about though. But, I did learn a lot about the Malazan world, though I ended up with more questions than answers I feel. That’s okay, we’re just getting started.
The climax was good. I was enjoying it enough that I didn’t want to wait for Sunday, which is why this post is both late and early, depending on how you look at it. But it did have some big flaws. The tedious orchestration to make everyone arrive at the party, the Azath appearing out of the blue, Vorcan going down to a pair of bricks to name some. Then again, I had plenty of qualms about The Eye of The World, and by the end of WoT I totally loved the series, so I’m definitely willing to give Malazan’s book one a pass as well.
There will be no more posts this week, since I’ll be taking a little break to finish Mark Lawrence’s The Liar’s Key. But I will try to post a (spoiler-free) review of GoTM in the meantime. I think I’ll rate it like 3-3.5. Expect the first Deadhouse Gates post next Sunday.
And seriously, what the heck is an Azath?