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Malazan > GotM: Book One - Pale

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message 1: by Scott (new)

Scott (thekeeblertree) | 1049 comments Went ahead and started early cuz I'm just gangsta like that.

Interesting start, I wouldn't even know where to begin with speculation on where it's headed. I will say that the world and story is pretty intriguing here at the start.

So far the character I want to know the most about us Lorn the Mage killer. She seems like an interesting one

Like how these people are named: Whiskeyjack, Nightchill, Tattersail

message 2: by Geoff (new)

Geoff (geoffgreer) This first part definitely lives up to the reputation the series gets for being unforgiving in the information given to the reader. I wouldn't say its overly complicated though, just challenging. And I like it.

message 3: by Bill (new)

Bill | 1596 comments The first time I read this book I didn't care for the names but the second time I really enjoyed them.

message 4: by Rob, Mayor of Ghost Town (new)

Rob (robzak) | 6373 comments Mod
I still feel the series has too many characters, many of whom have names too similar to one another.

I do have a fondness for certain names though when they are brought up due to my affection for those characters.

message 5: by Scott (new)

Scott (thekeeblertree) | 1049 comments Feels like a game of chess played by gods with these humans as their pieces and the rules of the game hidden to the reader so far.

If I'm understanding, Sorry is the girl we met early on who has been inhabited by Chilion (sp?) and is working with the A dude to a.) take revenge on the empress or b.) kill her and Lorn

From how this part ends, it seems Oponn will now be using Paran and Tattersail in opposition to Shadowthrone who might be the giggler associated with Sorry?

So far I haven't really connected with any of the characters even though they all seem interesting in their own ways. Paran was starting to grow on me and hopefully Tattersail isn't done for because I've enjoyed her so far.

message 6: by Rob, Mayor of Ghost Town (new)

Rob (robzak) | 6373 comments Mod
If I'm understanding, Sorry is the girl we met early on who has been inhabited by Chilion (sp?) and is working with the A dude to a.) take revenge on the empress or b.) kill her and Lorn"


By the "A dude" do you mean Anomander Rake?

message 7: by Scott (new)

Scott (thekeeblertree) | 1049 comments Ammanas was the one I was thinking about but I guess they could be the same guy. Or, maybe they were the two guys we met when we were first introduced to the fisher girl

I need to take notes lol

message 8: by Rob, Mayor of Ghost Town (new)

Rob (robzak) | 6373 comments Mod
Oh. Yeah him. I forgot about that name. He's different than Rake.

He's the one Cotillion was talking to at the beginning.

Man that scene has to be a whole different experience when you actually know who they are and what they are doing. I forget how many books it takes until you find out. lol.

message 9: by Scott (new)

Scott (thekeeblertree) | 1049 comments Yeah, and he was the one with her when she stabbed Paran. I mean, I'm under the assumption that the fisher girl, Sorry and Cotillion are all the same person, which obviously could be dead wrong

I was hoping we'd found out in this book but I think I'm going to need to take a "go with the flow, things will be revealed slowly" approach

I do think he's an excellent writer and things are set up in a way that I'm pretty engrossed. Trying to get through a good chunk today since I'll be working the following 4 days and won't have a ton of time to read

message 10: by Rob, Mayor of Ghost Town (new)

Rob (robzak) | 6373 comments Mod
No comments on any of your theories. Because it leaves me with 2 options: spoilers or RAFO. Neither of which are good answers.

It's hard for me to remember when you find out which details. One of my major criticisms of the series as a whole is his tendency to hide things from the reader, even when it doesn't make sense.

Like you'll be reading a scene and there is a discussion between two characters. Then suddenly they say something and you're not allowed to know what.

He also loves to play the pronoun game too much and you have to guess/infer who a certain character is based on subtle clues. Even when you already know the characters. It's the kind of thing you couldn't do in a visual medium without resorting to disguises. But since it's text he simply withholds information from the reader.

Some people may like that stuff, but I got really tired of it by the end.

The world and many of the characters are great though, and most of the story was enjoyable.

Then again I'm not a total fanboy like most fans seem to be. I'm in the "good, but not great" category which seems to be rare. People either seem to love it completely or hate it completely most of the time.

message 11: by Dara (new)

Dara (cmdrdara) Now that I've finished the series, I fully appreciate how difficult it must have been for re-readers in the Malazan Fallen group to know what to say to help clarify things without spoiling anything.

message 12: by Rob, Mayor of Ghost Town (new)

Rob (robzak) | 6373 comments Mod
Yeah they didn't always know what they could/should say. I had to yell at them a lot. Especially David. It became a running joke of sorts.

I still want to go back and read all the stuff in spoiler tags sometime, but I'll probably wait until I'm up for a reread, which won't be for at least a year or two.

message 13: by Dara (new)

Dara (cmdrdara) You are an intense spoilerphobe... :-)

message 14: by Rob, Mayor of Ghost Town (new)

Rob (robzak) | 6373 comments Mod
Dara wrote: "You are an intense spoilerphobe... :-)"

That's true, but so are many other people. By accommodating to my level, you can ensure that most people should be happy. At least that was the idea.

I can feel confident referring people to those threads and not worry they are going to get mad about being spoiled.

message 15: by Robyn (new)

Robyn | 150 comments Dara wrote: "Now that I've finished the series, I fully appreciate how difficult it must have been for re-readers in the Malazan Fallen group to know what to say to help clarify things without spoiling anything."

This is especially true if it's been awhile since you last read, and can't remember precisely when something happened......

Wish I had the energy to restart the series as GotM is one of my favourite books and .... it's been .... uh, 4 years since I read it. (Jeeze, really? I'm getting old.) But there's so much new stuff to read and I still haven't even finished the series! I think I'll be reading your comments though so I feel like I'm there!

message 16: by Dara (new)

Dara (cmdrdara) The whole thing sort of mashes together into one long tale, which is what Erikson probably intended. I remember certain events being in their respective books but otherwise it's all mushed together for me.

message 17: by Robyn (new)

Robyn | 150 comments Alex wrote: "Where did you get to Robyn? You should join us and pick up where you left off when you get there. :)"

I will! I need to start with Book 8, Toll the Hounds ..... I got bogged down when I started walking to work and didn't want to carry the massive hardback with me. (I should probably just invest in the ebooks.)

message 18: by Geoff (new)

Geoff (geoffgreer) I'd like to say that I was completely shocked by the inclusion of a maniacal, magically imbued marionette. I thought I was getting myself into a serious fantasy epic but then here comes a puppet. And it didn't take me out of the story.

message 19: by Scott (new)

Scott (thekeeblertree) | 1049 comments Haha, well said Geoff! Too true

message 20: by Rob, Mayor of Ghost Town (new)

Rob (robzak) | 6373 comments Mod
(view spoiler)

message 21: by Laurel (new)

Laurel | 41 comments Coming back to this series is like meeting up with old friends :)

I'm loving the first introductions of the bridgeburners and picking up on stuff I didn't see the first time round. I thought I was so clever being able to follow the story without getting completely lost and now I realise how much stuff I actually missed!

message 22: by Sky (last edited Feb 22, 2015 04:56PM) (new)

Sky | 1291 comments Rob wrote: "By the "A dude" do you mean Anomander Rake? "

Yeah, I think from the Deck of Dragons game the Knight of High House Dark is Amomander Rake - He is referred to as such in the song/rhyme when I went back and searched the kindle for references to High House Dark up to that point. He is in opposition to High House Shadow, and the two are duking it out...At least that's my theory.

I gotta say wow, just wow. This is probably the best first novel I've read in a SFF series. There is so much intricate detail. I feel I am following along OK, but I know that in a re-read there is so much there left dangling to pick up on that I am missing in first read.

I love the deck of dragons game. There have to be so many levels to the meanings. There is a first simplistic level that I understand now and nod my head and say yeah that's what's going on, but I know there has to be 2nd and 3rd layers of meaning in there that one would only pick up on re-reads.

This book is fantastic so far. I am tempted to start it in audio for the commute, but I think I will savor reading slowly while trying to tease apart the clues.

So my big question now is where house shadow came from? We are told that they were never heard of for over a millennia until the assassination Kellanved and Dancer by Laseen. The fact that two were killed and two ascendants arrived on the scene seems to imply that Kellanved and Dancer ascended (is that the right word?) to become Ammanas and Cotillion?

message 23: by Sky (last edited Feb 22, 2015 05:39PM) (new)

Sky | 1291 comments Here is the quote

Shadowthrone and his companion the Patron of Assassins - Cotillion - were unheard of before Kellanved and Dancer's deaths.

Well the Dramatis Personae lists Amomander Rake as "Lord of Moon's Spawn, Son of Darkness, Knight of Darkness" but there was some other quote I found linking Rake to House Dark - still looking. Chapter two "Call to Shadow" intro refers to Pale as the city "One stalwart, proud banners beneath Dark's power wing"

I am still a bit confused about Sorry - It seems she absorbs the witches soul in the opening chapter before learning the names of Ammanas and Cotillion? So is the witch Rigga behind her the reason for her old, old eyes? Is she being pulled by both the witch and house shadow? Or does the witch just impart her prophecy and then die. The prophecy also confuses me a bit:

"They'll put a sword in your hand, they'll give you a fine horse, and they'll send you across that sea. But a shadow will embrace your soul. Now, listen! Burty this deep! Rigga will preserve you because we are linked, you and I. But it is all I can do, understand? Look to the Lord spawned in Darkness, his is the hand that shall free you, though he'll know it not--"
and then the witch Rigga dies.

Two things here - so they are "linked" somehow, even though Rigga is dead. Does that imply Rigga still inhabits Sorry? The way she talked like an old woman immediately after Rigga dies, and has old eyes, seems to imply that - or, did Rigga just impart her some power?

Second, its clear house shadow has "embraced her soul", but what of the Lord spawned in Darkness (Amomander? I am still confused about the players in the high houses as there appear to be knights, masons, lords, ...) that shall free her? Rigga dies before completing the prophecy. Is this saying that Amomander will free Sorry from House Shadow's control (accidentally?) I have no clue!

message 24: by Sky (last edited Feb 22, 2015 05:39PM) (new)

Sky | 1291 comments Here is the quote about Amomander Rake vs House Shadow:

"Midway through the spiral was High House Dark's Knight, its placement coutnerpoint to both the beginning and the end...The Knight's sword reached a black, smoky streak through the Hound at the spiral's apex, and in this instance she knew its meaning. The future held a clash between the Knight and High House Shadow."

And then we have Oponn...I am not sure what twin's game is. High House Shadow, if they are the murdered emperor and his advisor, (or even if they aren't) - seem to have a definite grudge against Lasseen. Their motives are clear (are they? i think so???)

Amomander Rake - I am not sure what his deal is - He is Tiste Andii, he meddled in earlier wars before abruptly pulling out. Right now he opposes Laseen and the Malazan empire, but from the reading of the deck of dragons is also in opposition to House Shadow? So he is fighting multiple fronts? The enemy of my enemy is not my friend in this case it seems.

So that leaves us with Oponn. Are they just jokesters who love a little indirect meddling in the lives of men (and gods?) What are their motives in all of the schemes within schemes?

Or maybe I am just reading way too much into this now and seeing stuff where it doesn't exist. But it sure is fun!

message 25: by Scott (new)

Scott (thekeeblertree) | 1049 comments Some great posts, Sky. Lots of things I never caught or thought about up to that point. That's what great about these threads, we can all go crazy with speculation and the re-readers can sit back evil laughing at us :D

As far as a first in a series, I totally agree. It's one of the best I've read up to this point in the book.

One thing that has been slightly bugging me is the amount of POV characters. It's been kind of hard for me to fully connect with a lot of these characters. For the most part, I find them totally intriguing but I wish we were able to spend more time with some and others more in the background. But, really, that's not a huge slight to the book for me

message 26: by Justine (new)

Justine (justinejustine) | 318 comments Scott wrote: "Some great posts, Sky. Lots of things I never caught or thought about up to that point. "

Me neither - and I'm nearly finished the book...makes me wonder what else I've missed! :) Maybe that Kindle Voyage hi-def DPI really is making all the difference, Sky.

But seriously, it's great to have other people point some of these things out and get the thoughts/discussion going.

message 27: by Sky (last edited Feb 22, 2015 07:52PM) (new)

Sky | 1291 comments Justine wrote: "Me neither - and I'm nearly finished the book...makes me wonder what else I've missed! :) Maybe that Kindle Voyage hi-def DPI really is making all the difference, Sky."


Actually I printed out the maps from here:

So far the maps aren't providing much clues except knowing oh so that's where they are.

And the dramatis personae from here:

x-ray and fictionary for malazan are good if you forget who at a high level the character is, but are usually less helpful than the list of characters in the front of the book.

Mostly I've just focused on anything spoken propheticly or divined from the deck of dragons, where gods or high houses are mentioned, or anything with recurring themes like the spinning coin and the hounds, and if they make opaque references, search back in the text for any previous mentions of unknown terms/people, and then highlight them in the kindle to come back to later.

As a side note, this is the first time I've read a book this way, it's a lot of fun - I've never been much of a re-reader, except when I was little and would re-read my favorite books over and over, but now I am starting to see the appeal. I think before Queen of Fire comes out I may re-read Blood Song and Tower Lord - I've already read a few sequels this year where I couldn't remember a lot of what happened in the previous books and it cut into my enjoyment/understanding - but there is also so much new to read! argh!

message 28: by Sky (new)

Sky | 1291 comments Scott wrote: "That's what great about these threads, we can all go crazy with speculation and the re-readers can sit back evil laughing at us :D"

Totally...It's so frustrating. I am waiting for a re-reader to chime in and say "nice catch!" or "nope, try again!" but they can't comment w/o spoiling so as you say all they can do is sit there and laugh at our expense :)

message 29: by Sky (new)

Sky | 1291 comments Alex wrote: "Are you on your first read? If so, good eyes, my friend. I can neither confirm nor deny obviously, but you're picking up on many clues/red herrings that I'm only starting to see on a re-read.

...Though now I see you're being devious with your Kindle searching. Honestly, good call. I'm noticing a lot of phrases Erikson uses that are so easy to miss, but stand out like crazy on a re-read."

Yeah, its my first read. I was expecting a lot of clues to be dropped given what I've heard from the group, so i've been reading it pretty slow. Kindle search is great, but I am making sure I only search up to my current page (eg, backwards) so I don't spoiler myself.

Another mystery that I assume will get explained later - who is Quick Ben? Why has Tattersail never heard of him? He seems quite powerful, especially with what he did to Hairlock.

message 30: by Rob, Mayor of Ghost Town (new)

Rob (robzak) | 6373 comments Mod
<3 Quick Ben. I especially love the scenes with him and Kalam teaming up. Man you guys are in for some fun. :)

And personally I think the too many POV things is one of the reasons why this series will never be my favorite as it seems to be for most other Malazan fans. It's one of a few things I got really tired of by the end of the series.

So if it's bothering you now in book one, just wait until book 8 when he adds 40 new characters and 10 new POVs, after having done that in just about every book...

message 31: by Sky (last edited Feb 23, 2015 07:17AM) (new)

Sky | 1291 comments Oh wow thanks Alex - I had seen the glossary when I first was perusing the book and then promptly forgot about it. Looks like it names the houses and positions but not who fills them. Gonna print it out and try to start filling it in with any guesses/hints :)

For Kindle readers, if you want to print it out for easy reference/note taking you can find it here:


message 32: by Richard (new)

Richard Eyres (richardeyres) My first read of this series. Doing a mix of book and Audio. So far i am getting a nice strong vibe of ancient oriental. This is a good thing.

It is fairly heavy, and you are thrown in the middle of it. However, I decided to just take everything at face value for the time being until I can get a feel for the world.

The characters are ok as none really stand out for me at the moment. Hopefully the next book will flesh it out a little more for me.

I started a little late due to wanting to complete Half the World read. I have a weekend of painting, so i should be able to listen to another book or two.

message 33: by Kat (last edited Feb 28, 2015 09:15AM) (new)

Kat | 1175 comments I"m way behind you, but I"m getting there..

Here's what I thought:

Holy mother of infodumping! I felt like I had missed the first 2 chapters where people and concepts get indruduced. You're just thrown into a story without knowing what's going on, then fast forward a couple of years and you're thrown right into it again.

I want to know how the Emperor was assassinated. One line refers to "his watery grave". Was he drowned?

I have no clue whose side I'm on.

So many characters are (not) introduced and immediatedly start acting. The scene in the command tent before the battle, for example. Tattersail's lover (forgot his name) had just rolled out of bed, and BAM there's Dujek Onearm, and Tayschrenn, and Hairlock all being introduced at once. And the only one getting more than 2 words by way of description is Dujek. The rest just start talking and I don't even know what they look like, so have no mental image yet. Also, he kept referring to Dujek by both names - Dujek said this, Onearm turned around, Dujek looked at... I had trouble determining just how many people were in that tent while I was reading that scene.

"The air was febrile" - learned a new word. That's rare.

I didn't mind the POVs - I hadn't even noticed they switch so often until I read your comments. But so far I'm not liking that I have to read and file stuff away for later before they get explained.

message 34: by Kat (last edited Feb 28, 2015 10:06AM) (new)

Kat | 1175 comments Alex wrote: "Is it infodumping though?"

I meant that you're just drowned in information you cannot use yet. You have to keep it all in your head because you don't know which parts you're gonna need to remember later.

For example the scene in the command tent. I tried to keep a mental picture of all of them, including Calot, who was descibed in much more detail than the others, only to be killed 3 pages later.

Do I need to remember those details about him? For now I'm guessing no, because he's a pile of ash.

But Hairlock materializes in a chair and isn't described further at all, even though he stays in the story.

That's a lot of details to remember when you're not given any clues as to what you need and what you don't....

message 35: by Sky (new)

Sky | 1291 comments You'll get a much better mental image of what Hairlock looks like soon ;)

message 36: by Kat (new)

Kat | 1175 comments Well, at the moment he's a puppet, but I expect that is temporary.

message 37: by Scott (new)

Scott (thekeeblertree) | 1049 comments I'm the same way with characters in my head. And usually when I do actually imagine one it doesn't ever match up to the description given by the author.

Like Wade in Ready Player One was always a scrawny white kid in my head but he was actually an overweight, pimply guy

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