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A further consideration of Adjunct Tavore

#1 User is offline   Silentarius 

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 02:21 PM

Having just re-read most of the Malazan decalogy, I am fascinated by the way the character of Tavore develops; by which I mean that the development of the character in question strikes me as strangely unconvincing, even clumsily contrived - most particularly as regards her relationship with the other protagonists.

We first encounter Tavore as she commits the series' original sin, namely the delivery of her underage sister to slavery, hard labour, the certainty of repeated gang rape and the likelihood of a hideous death. Yes, she arranges for protection, but that protection is in practice so flimsy, that her sister has to sell her body in order to marginally improve the chances of survival of herself (and her bodyguard!) while on the slave transport. Not very nice, indeed. And the excuses made for her over the course of several books amount to, in effect, that she had no choice in the matter.

But observe: though the (thoroughly imbecile, but that's another matter) purge of the nobility called by the empress touches in theory every high-ranking official and officer of the empire, Tavore is not simply an unwilling tool in the purge: she is the empress's Adjunct and as such, can be presumed to have been profoundly complicit in the planning of it. More, we see her actually overseeing the loading (and partial massacre) of the purged nobles in Deadhouse Gates. No innocent, she, but rather a Lavrenti Beria to Lasseen's Joseph Stalin.

But it gets worse... In Memories of Ice, Dujek tell Paran that "Tavore... well knew what was coming. Nobleborn children were being raped. Then murdered. The order to have every nobleborn child under marrying age slain was never made official, perhaps indeed Lasseen was unaware of what was going on...". So if Lasseen was indeed unaware, who else was the architect of the purge but Adjunct Tavore? And what is being described here is perhaps the single greatest atrocity in a series richly stocked with atrocities. An order to first rape, then murder children... not even Stalin went that far.

And yes, of course Erikson has every right to present us with a cold-bloodedly cruel, ambitious and conscienceless protagonist, nor do we have to like the cold-hearted bitch. The problem is that Tavore, after a military career studded with failure, incompetence and the bodies of countless Malazan and allied troops, is still riding high with Lasseen. And while excuses can certainly be found for almost every one of her cockups, somehow I find it hard to believe that the empress would be much interested in excuses; after all, it was Napoleon who said that the quality he most valued in his marshals was luck.

And so we come at long last to The Crippled God, and to Adjunct Tavore's entirely unbelievable redemption, as she becomes the soldiers' darling and the Joan of Arc of the allied armies. This, after one final demonstration of bloody-minded military incompetence, as she forces her armies to penetrate ever deeper into the desert without adequate supplies of water. The soldiers' darling, my sainted arse. Erikson, we know, sees armies through the most sentimental of spectacles, but despite his best efforts, the troops' increasingly soft-headed adoration of this deeply unpleasant character does not even begin to convince: Tavore is tainted by her poor record, by her cold-bloodedness and, above all, by the fact that true soldiers invariably despise the tools of state repression (which all are aware she has been): German troops had no love for Gestapo officers, nor Soviet troops for the NKVD. It was sad to have the conclusion of such a monumental work undermined by Erikson's bizarre insistence on redeeming Tavore, the Empress's Butcher.
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#2 User is offline   Gorefest 

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 04:25 PM

I'm a bit surprised that, if you've actually read the series twice now, you still have this view of Tavore. Because I don't recognise this at all and Erikson has dropped plenty of hints along the way as to how/why things have worked out the way they did.

Tavore has been playing the long game throughout the whole series and way before the start of it. You cannot see her actions separate from the bigger story, you need to see the full arc to appreciate how her actions fit. That is, if you are willing to make certain assumptions which are justified within the larger context of the series.

Assumption 1: Tavore's dad was a member of the Talons and Tavore herself was a Talon, possibly even the head of the Talons (she carried a golden talon with her).
Assumption 2: Early plans to free the Crippled God had already been set into motion by ST and Cots way before the start of the MBotF series and Cots used his Talons to shape events.
Assumption 3: Ganoes was originally seen as the one to orchestrate the release of the CG, but he didn't have the right skills/mentality and left to join the military. This left Tavore to suddenly manage and protect the household (her parents' health was failing after Ganoes left) as well as taking on the burden of the CG release.

So, to address various specific comments in your post with these prefixes in mind:

1. Becoming Adjunct, the nobility purges, Felisin.
If we accept that Tavore has been set on a course very early on by ST, Cots, and perhaps others as well (Hood, K'rul) that required her to end up leading an army to help with releasing the Crippled God, she needed to be placed centrally into the Malazan empire hierarchy, in a military capacity. The ideal opportunity came when Adjunct Lorn died, opening up a slot close to the inner circle of the Empress. At this time, the purges were already under way. Don't forget that Unta's purge was not the first of its kind. You make out that Tavore was masterminding these purges, but purges were already taking place way before Tavore was even of age. We saw one of the first purges in the prologue of GotM, when Laseen was purging magic users in Malaz City. Her older brother Ganoes was still a boy back then. To gain the Empress's trust, Tavore had to be seen as ruthless and willing to carry out Laseen's orders even where it affected her own family. Which is why she had to renounce her family and include them in the Unta purge.

However, to ensure that Felisin was safe, she arranged for her to be protected by one of the best Talons out there: Baudin. If you read between the lines in DG and later books, it is pretty clear that Felisin did not have to sell her body at all. Baudin was already working hard to arrange for an escape route and transport off Otataral Island. But Tavore is cold iron, very cool and calculating, and tragically she had not realised that Felisin was hot iron. Felisin is very fatalistic and inclined to dramatism, believing that her family had completely abandoned her and that nobody in the world would help her but herself. She wallowed in it to such an extent that she did not see what Baudin was trying to do and she convinced herself that she deserved to be miserable and that her actions were a personal sacrifice to make the lives of her fellow inmates (Baudin and Heboric) better. Which was mostly the delusion of a young, impressionable and severely hurt/mentally scarred girl. You can crucify Tavore for putting her in that position in the first place, sure, but Tavore is looking at the bigger picture of saving the world and assumes that with Baudin in place and other outside help, Felisin would be okay in the end.

Even more, if you look at the very quote from Dujek that you yourself threw in, it actually shows that Tavore's actions probably saved Felisin's life. Because all other nobleborn children of Felisin's age were killed on the spot. Whereas Felisin survived and even most of the Paran estates and trade agreements escaped the worst of it, meaning that Felisin has something to return to as well.

2. Tavore's standing with Laseen.
You claim that Tavore's career is littered with failure, incompetence and dead soldiers. However, where do you base that on? We get very little information of Tavore's military activities prior to House of Chains, which is really the last time that she is still linked to Laseen. From the Bonehunters onwards their link already unravels and not long after that Laseen is killed. But we do know that Laseen trusted Tavore's military judgement so much that she put her in charge of trying to resettle Seven Cities after the Whirlwind rebellion, which in itself implies that she must have been doing pretty well for herself prior to the events in HoC. We also know for a fact that Tavore was a tactical genius, as she had been trained from a very young age in military campaigns. Furthermore, she was closely mentored by T'Amber, who we learn is a Goddess in disguise (the Eres'al). So really I do not see this military career studded with failure that you claim existed. Can you give any examples of this prior to HoC?

3. Tavore's 'redemption'.
You keep hammering on her poor record, but really all you have to go on in my opinion are the events from HoC onwards. So I can only look at those for reflection. In there, we see that she arrives in Seven Cities with a highly untrained 'army' of total rookies, because all the seasoned veterans were either in Dujek's Host, engaged in the Korel campaign, or pretty much wiped out by the Whirlwind rebellion and the Chain of Dogs. She doesn't get a chance to show her military or tactical competence against the Whirlwind rebellion because the events in HoC mean that there never is a military confrontation. Then we get the Bonehunters, where Leoman rigs Y'Ghatan with wildfire. Tavore has very little involvement with these events as she is back with the larger part of her host when the first troops enter the city. In tBH Tavore also already hints at a long journey ahead, showing that she appears to be aware of what awaits the army and what sacrifices she knows will likely follow. She needs her army to be free from any links to the Empire in order to put events in motion that can take them to Kolanse. So she has to break with Laseen and 'outlaw' her army, and she needs her soldiers to make the choice themselves to follow. She cannot force them to do this, because knowing what lies ahead there is no chance of gaining any success with unwilling troops. So from the events in tBH onwards, she is very limited in what she can make the troops do. She needs to get them to think and decide for themselves, to understand and accept the bigger threat to the world. She needs them not to do it for her, but because of their own convictions. They have to find it in themselves to learn about compassion and sacrifice, as she is very aware that most likely they will all die in their attempt to release the Crippled God. The main reason why the troops gradually turn from seeing her (unreliable narrators!) as a weak, uncharismatic and spineless leader to a 'Joan of Arc' as you call it, is because they gradually start to understand the bigger picture and the gravity of the situation. In my opinion, SE masterfully crafts this slow realisation. I do not see any 'unbelievable' redemption, I see a slow daunting realisation within the army of what they are faced with and what they are asked to do by their leader, and they are in awe. And at the same time we see Tavore almost buckling under the strain of having to ask such a huge sacrifice from so many soldiers, and then the soldiers realising the stress she must be under and the final mutual understanding and appreciation.

So in my personal opinion you are really not doing Tavore any justice here and you may be missing a key element of/insight into the entire over-arcing plot. But feel free to disagree.

This post has been edited by Gorefest: 03 August 2018 - 04:31 PM

She went and she left me like litter. She took all future summers with her. I lost all my money cuz I tried to bribe her. Now I can only afford an amateur sniper.
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#3 User is offline   Andorion 

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 04:58 PM

View PostGorefest, on 03 August 2018 - 04:25 PM, said:

I'm a bit surprised that, if you've actually read the series twice now, you still have this view of Tavore. Because I don't recognise this at all and Erikson has dropped plenty of hints along the way as to how/why things have worked out the way they did.

Tavore has been playing the long game throughout the whole series and way before the start of it. You cannot see her actions separate from the bigger story, you need to see the full arc to appreciate how her actions fit. That is, if you are willing to make certain assumptions which are justified within the larger context of the series.

Assumption 1: Tavore's dad was a member of the Talons and Tavore herself was a Talon, possibly even the head of the Talons (she carried a golden talon with her).
Assumption 2: Early plans to free the Crippled God had already been set into motion by ST and Cots way before the start of the MBotF series and Cots used his Talons to shape events.
Assumption 3: Ganoes was originally seen as the one to orchestrate the release of the CG, but he didn't have the right skills/mentality and left to join the military. This left Tavore to suddenly manage and protect the household (her parents' health was failing after Ganoes left) as well as taking on the burden of the CG release.

So, to address various specific comments in your post with these prefixes in mind:

1. Becoming Adjunct, the nobility purges, Felisin.
If we accept that Tavore has been set on a course very early on by ST, Cots, and perhaps others as well (Hood, K'rul) that required her to end up leading an army to help with releasing the Crippled God, she needed to be placed centrally into the Malazan empire hierarchy, in a military capacity. The ideal opportunity came when Adjunct Lorn died, opening up a slot close to the inner circle of the Empress. At this time, the purges were already under way. Don't forget that Unta's purge was not the first of its kind. You make out that Tavore was masterminding these purges, but purges were already taking place way before Tavore was even of age. We saw one of the first purges in the prologue of GotM, when Laseen was purging magic users in Malaz City. Her older brother Ganoes was still a boy back then. To gain the Empress's trust, Tavore had to be seen as ruthless and willing to carry out Laseen's orders even where it affected her own family. Which is why she had to renounce her family and include them in the Unta purge.

However, to ensure that Felisin was safe, she arranged for her to be protected by one of the best Talons out there: Baudin. If you read between the lines in DG and later books, it is pretty clear that Felisin did not have to sell her body at all. Baudin was already working hard to arrange for an escape route and transport off Otataral Island. But Tavore is cold iron, very cool and calculating, and tragically she had not realised that Felisin was hot iron. Felisin is very fatalistic and inclined to dramatism, believing that her family had completely abandoned her and that nobody in the world would help her but herself. She wallowed in it to such an extent that she did not see what Baudin was trying to do and she convinced herself that she deserved to be miserable and that her actions were a personal sacrifice to make the lives of her fellow inmates (Baudin and Heboric) better. Which was mostly the delusion of a young, impressionable and severely hurt/mentally scarred girl. You can crucify Tavore for putting her in that position in the first place, sure, but Tavore is looking at the bigger picture of saving the world and assumes that with Baudin in place and other outside help, Felisin would be okay in the end.

Even more, if you look at the very quote from Dujek that you yourself threw in, it actually shows that Tavore's actions probably saved Felisin's life. Because all other nobleborn children of Felisin's age were killed on the spot. Whereas Felisin survived and even most of the Paran estates and trade agreements escaped the worst of it, meaning that Felisin has something to return to as well.

2. Tavore's standing with Laseen.
You claim that Tavore's career is littered with failure, incompetence and dead soldiers. However, where do you base that on? We get very little information of Tavore's military activities prior to House of Chains, which is really the last time that she is still linked to Laseen. From the Bonehunters onwards their link already unravels and not long after that Laseen is killed. But we do know that Laseen trusted Tavore's military judgement so much that she put her in charge of trying to resettle Seven Cities after the Whirlwind rebellion, which in itself implies that she must have been doing pretty well for herself prior to the events in HoC. We also know for a fact that Tavore was a tactical genius, as she had been trained from a very young age in military campaigns. Furthermore, she was closely mentored by T'Amber, who we learn is a Goddess in disguise (the Eres'al). So really I do not see this military career studded with failure that you claim existed. Can you give any examples of this prior to HoC?

3. Tavore's 'redemption'.
You keep hammering on her poor record, but really all you have to go on in my opinion are the events from HoC onwards. So I can only look at those for reflection. In there, we see that she arrives in Seven Cities with a highly untrained 'army' of total rookies, because all the seasoned veterans were either in Dujek's Host, engaged in the Korel campaign, or pretty much wiped out by the Whirlwind rebellion and the Chain of Dogs. She doesn't get a chance to show her military or tactical competence against the Whirlwind rebellion because the events in HoC mean that there never is a military confrontation. Then we get the Bonehunters, where Leoman rigs Y'Ghatan with wildfire. Tavore has very little involvement with these events as she is back with the larger part of her host when the first troops enter the city. In tBH Tavore also already hints at a long journey ahead, showing that she appears to be aware of what awaits the army and what sacrifices she knows will likely follow. She needs her army to be free from any links to the Empire in order to put events in motion that can take them to Kolanse. So she has to break with Laseen and 'outlaw' her army, and she needs her soldiers to make the choice themselves to follow. She cannot force them to do this, because knowing what lies ahead there is no chance of gaining any success with unwilling troops. So from the events in tBH onwards, she is very limited in what she can make the troops do. She needs to get them to think and decide for themselves, to understand and accept the bigger threat to the world. She needs them not to do it for her, but because of their own convictions. They have to find it in themselves to learn about compassion and sacrifice, as she is very aware that most likely they will all die in their attempt to release the Crippled God. The main reason why the troops gradually turn from seeing her (unreliable narrators!) as a weak, uncharismatic and spineless leader to a 'Joan of Arc' as you call it, is because they gradually start to understand the bigger picture and the gravity of the situation. In my opinion, SE masterfully crafts this slow realisation. I do not see any 'unbelievable' redemption, I see a slow daunting realisation within the army of what they are faced with and what they are asked to do by their leader, and they are in awe. And at the same time we see Tavore almost buckling under the strain of having to ask such a huge sacrifice from so many soldiers, and then the soldiers realising the stress she must be under and the final mutual understanding and appreciation.

So in my personal opinion you are really not doing Tavore any justice here and you may be missing a key element of/insight into the entire over-arcing plot. But feel free to disagree.


To add to this, Tavore was quite strategically competent. In Reaper's Gale her soldiers took Letheras without taking too many losses. The Marines and the Heavies were unable to raise a general rebellion (faulty intelligence) but they were able to distract a very significant part of the army.

In DoD, her army was ambushed from out of nowhere by K'chain Nahruk, a conflict that was mostly accidental. And it survived, when it could have been obliterated. All the witnesses attested to the dire discipline of the Malazan withdrawal. Discipline like that does not come out of nowhere.

In TCG, her trek through the glass desert was part of a larger stratagem to expose the Spire and draw out the Assail forces. She knew she was risking her army, she knew that it might turn out to be futile self sacrifice, but it had to be done as nothing took priority over freeing the God.

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#4 User is offline   Silentarius 

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 05:01 PM

This is in response to Gorefest's very interesting post.

First of all, a few points concerning the Theory of the Long Game. Why on earth would so many major players get involved in a very deep, very complex and very long-term plot for Tavore, as you write, "to be placed centrally into the Malazan empire hierarchy, in a military capacity". Why? Was the Empire so short of military talent (and it certainly wasn't way back then) that a deep-laid plot to take down the Crippled God had to depend on the astronomical odds that a young woman with no military experience would turn out to be just the right person to lead the crusade? (This is assuming your Assumption 2 holds true, namely that there was such a deep-laid plot in the first place).

Secondly, once her sister had been handed over, no one person, not even a super-humanly tough Claw assassin, could guarantee Felesin's safety in the mines. Yes, a plot was in hand for her escape..sometime. Soon ™. Meanwhile, since Baudin could in the nature of things not be with her all the time, ill-treatment violence and rape at the hand of others was inevitable, Felesin's subsequent breakdown and Stockholm syndrome notwithstanding (actually, both reactions were probably unavoidable). And never mind the Otattaral mines. What do you think the fate of a pretty 16-year old dropped in the average Congolese, Indonesian or even American mixed-gender hard-labour prison camp today would be?

"Tavore is looking at the bigger picture of saving the world and assumes that with Baudin in place and other outside help, Felisin would be okay in the end".That's either a very naive supposition on Tavore's part, or rank hypocrisy. Hell, she could even tell herself that the kid could do with a bit of toughening up. As to the oft-repeated point about "the bigger picture", well - does a hypothetical end justify the most vicious of means? To say nothing of what the road to hell is paved with...

You have, with respect, dodged the most serious charge I made, which is the pogrom Tavore participates in and helps guide, which includes the rape and murder of children. Does the "bigger picture" justify the mass rape and killing of children? If it does, then the Malazan Empire is no better than the Pannion's - worse, actually, since Tavore and the Empress are supposedly 'sane' and 'civilised'. (And yes, I did indeed notice that Felesin is the only teenager in the transport and the mines, and realised the implication - which just makes Tavore's guilt that much greater).

Regarding her poor record: you admit that "she is very limited in what she can make the troops do". So why in Hood's name did anybody ever think it would be a good idea to task her with the job of taking on the Ultimate Big Baddy?

Finally: as far as the troops 'awe' towards the end is concerned, and their "final mutual understanding and appreciation", I repeat that such a highly improbable resolution is entirely down to Erikson's highly sentimentalised view of soldiers and armies. In any real army the world has ever know, she would have been fragged...

Anyway, enjoying the debate!

This post has been edited by Silentarius: 03 August 2018 - 05:05 PM

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#5 User is offline   Gorefest 

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 05:22 PM

Tavore was not the only pawn, they had several (Ganoes being another one and he ends up leading the Host). But why Tavore specifically? Well, there is the link between the Paran family and the Talons. We know that Tavore has a family heirloom which is a golden talon, implying that the Paran family has long and deep links with the Talons and therefore probably also with Cotillion. We also know that from a very young age Tavore turned out to have an exceptional gift for military strategy, and she was very much cold iron. She was an ideal way in for ST and Cots.


Regarding the culls, they were takimg place with or without Tavore. You can call it horrible and it was, but if Tavore hadnt been there it would have been someone else and the Paran family would have been wiped out. And yes, Felisins fate was horrible, but the alternative was death.

And about being fragged in real life, Malazan is not real life. You would not get a unit like the bridgeburners or the bonehunters is real life. SE is writi g a story with a narrative, he is not recreating factual events.


Also, Tavore does send out Pearl to check up on her sister. She does care very much.

This post has been edited by Gorefest: 03 August 2018 - 05:24 PM

She went and she left me like litter. She took all future summers with her. I lost all my money cuz I tried to bribe her. Now I can only afford an amateur sniper.
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#6 User is offline   Silentarius 

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 05:40 PM

View PostGorefest, on 03 August 2018 - 05:22 PM, said:

Regarding the culls, they were takimg place with or without Tavore. You can call it horrible and it was, but if Tavore hadnt been there it would have been someone else and the Paran family would have been wiped out. And yes, Felisins fate was horrible, but the alternative was death.

They were taking place, sure. But Tavore was the Empress's bloody Adjunct. That meant a hell of a lot; she wasn't some idiot commander or administrative pen pusher, she was virtually No.2 in the Empire. This means she couldn't possibly shrug off responsibility for either the policy or the execution. Apart from any consideration of morality, she could have pointed out that indiscriminate pogroms are invariably a sign of weakness and stupidity, and will always turn round and bite you in the ass. And if Tavore couldn't simply have pulled rank and refused to sacrifice her sister, she was either too powerless or too weak for her exalted position...

View PostGorefest, on 03 August 2018 - 05:22 PM, said:

And about being fragged in real life, Malazan is not real life. You would not get a unit like the bridgeburners or the bonehunters is real life. SE is writi g a story with a narrative, he is not recreating factual events.


Well, yes. Of course, that's a given. But the otherwise tough-as-nails, fearless realist SE turns to putty when gracing soldiers with every imaginable romantic virtue. And we bite, we bite...
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#7 User is offline   nacht 

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 08:50 PM

Silentaiius, you are echoing Fist Blistig
Hot iron will likely never understand Cold Iron. It is the same revulsion Corabb feels for Leoman after Y'Ghatan.

Quote

But it gets worse... In Memories of Ice, Dujek tell Paran that "Tavore... well knew what was coming. Nobleborn children were being raped. Then murdered. The order to have every nobleborn child under marrying age slain was never made official, perhaps indeed Lasseen was unaware of what was going on...". So if Lasseen was indeed unaware, who else was the architect of the purge but Adjunct Tavore?


This is Dujek *speculating* and is simply an opinion. He might very well have meant that situation went out of control, as you would expect from the law of unintended consequences.
Your hate/bias against Tavore is causing you to jump to an unwarranted conclusion.

Soldiers follow; that is what they are trained for. If they don't they can either desert or mutiny. Desertion is usually not a good option in a hostile place as there is more security in numbers (what can be more secure than being in the company of a large army).
As Andorion said, the glass dessert sojourn was Malazan tactics (and is clearly explained and by the way is successful in terms of drawing away the enemy)

Tavore herself has no expectation of success and is deeply burdened by the fact that her soldiers continue to follow her. Many stars had to align for her to succeed and she gets a lot of direct help (Mael, K'rul, Shadowthrone, Cotillion).

Your main source of hate seems to be that she started the pogrom against the nobles and for how she treated Felisin. Maybe you assume that since she was a noble, she should have some empathy for that group. Neither her or brother feel that.
Laseen chose Tavore (a noble) to enforce her pogram against the nobles. Felisin was her trial by fire. Any failure in this test would have led to a quick end for Tavore and her influence. Under these circumstances, a special ops of hostage retrieval is probably her only option and Felisin had to suffer, anything less would have led to a quick end to the plan.

As the Adjunct to the Empress, Tavore's strength was not war experience (Malazan relies heavily on sergeants and such). Rather, she was the symbolic head, like almost the empress herself being on the battle field and her Otataral sword which is a thing of priceless value, a way to negate all super beings. The sword was enough to dismiss the whirlwind.


Direct your hate to Laseen as I do :-)
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#8 User is offline   Luv2B_Sassy 

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 09:14 PM

I don't want to argue about this issue in particular but the notion of "original sin" caught my eye and I have to say none of the things that vie for that were committed by Tavore imo. Top 3, not counting anything we learn from other series, are (in no particular order): 1. Creation of Dragnipur 2. Taking Tiam's blood 3. Chaining the Crippled God.
They came with white hands and left with red hands.
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#9 User is offline   Silentarius 

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 09:42 PM

View Postnacht, on 03 August 2018 - 08:50 PM, said:

This is Dujek *speculating* and is simply an opinion. He might very well have meant that situation went out of control, as you would expect from the law of unintended consequences.

Come now. This is either pure speculation on your own part, or else a wholly unwarantable assumption; there is nothing in that passage to suggest Dujek is speculating!

View Postnacht, on 03 August 2018 - 08:50 PM, said:

Your main source of hate seems to be that she started the pogrom against the nobles and for how she treated Felisin. Maybe you assume that since she was a noble, she should have some empathy for that group. Neither her or brother feel that.
Laseen chose Tavore (a noble) to enforce her pogram against the nobles. Felisin was her trial by fire. Any failure in this test would have led to a quick end for Tavore and her influence. Under these circumstances, a special ops of hostage retrieval is probably her only option and Felisin had to suffer, anything less would have led to a quick end to the plan.

No. Felisin is up close and personal, and horrible enough. But what everyone in this debate is weaseling out from under is the fact that Tavore iinitiated/facilitated/executed (depending on how much influence you grant her) a general pogrom of singular hideousness, including the deliberate rape and murder of children - that is what damns her for all eternity. No possible argument of expediency can save her, any more than it could have saved Eichman.

And also, no, I don't hate Tavore; you can't hate a fiction. But as a fictional character, I find her journey from atrocity to redemption, particularly the kind of glorious redemption SE has in store for her, implausible and unconvincing.
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#10 User is offline   Silentarius 

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 09:45 PM

And by the by, nacht, I'm quite proud to be echoing Fist Blistig. Thank you for that!
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#11 User is offline   Silentarius 

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 09:48 PM

View PostLuv2B_Sassy, on 03 August 2018 - 09:14 PM, said:

I don't want to argue about this issue in particular but the notion of "original sin" caught my eye and I have to say none of the things that vie for that were committed by Tavore imo. Top 3, not counting anything we learn from other series, are (in no particular order): 1. Creation of Dragnipur 2. Taking Tiam's blood 3. Chaining the Crippled God.

I meant "original sin" only insofar as the Tavore story line was concerned. But if you are looking for the big original sin for the entire series, wouldn't that have to be the summoning of the Crippled God, rather than his chaining?

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#12 User is offline   Luv2B_Sassy 

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 09:57 PM

It's never a sin to call on god(s) for help. What else are they good for?
They came with white hands and left with red hands.
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#13 User is offline   Silentarius 

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 10:21 PM

View PostLuv2B_Sassy, on 03 August 2018 - 09:57 PM, said:

It's never a sin to call on god(s) for help. What else are they good for?


Usually, crushing you underfoot like a small black beetle. They've also been known to cure ingrown toenails. But not often.
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#14 User is offline   Gorefest 

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 11:28 PM

I still think you are accrediting way too much responsibility for the atrocities in the cull to Tavore, mainly based on a single comment by Dujek in MoI who at that point is outlawed and only has second-hand info. In HoC, Gamet actually provides far more insightful info through a flashback in which we learn that Tavore explicitly told Baudin that he was there to ensure that no harm would come to Felisin. Baudin also tells Gamet that Tavore's options are very limited and that she is under scrutiny. The best she could do for Felisin is a 'brief stint' in the Otataral mines, in Baudin's words. Most of the murders and rapes were committed by the smallfolk exacting revenge on the nobility, which the malazan troops 'let happen' for a while before restoring order and putting the nobles on trial. Tavore is also closely tailed and checked by the Red Blades, who are fiercely loyal to Laseen. Claiming that she masterminded the rape and murder of small girls and that she could have stopped these atrocities from happening are just as speculative as you claim my or other people's observations to be.

This post has been edited by Gorefest: 03 August 2018 - 11:29 PM

She went and she left me like litter. She took all future summers with her. I lost all my money cuz I tried to bribe her. Now I can only afford an amateur sniper.
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#15 User is offline   Zetubal 

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Posted 04 August 2018 - 12:04 AM

View PostSilentarius, on 03 August 2018 - 05:40 PM, said:

They were taking place, sure. But Tavore was the Empress's bloody Adjunct. That meant a hell of a lot; she wasn't some idiot commander or administrative pen pusher, she was virtually No.2 in the Empire. This means she couldn't possibly shrug off responsibility for either the policy or the execution. Apart from any consideration of morality, she could have pointed out that indiscriminate pogroms are invariably a sign of weakness and stupidity, and will always turn round and bite you in the ass. And if Tavore couldn't simply have pulled rank and refused to sacrifice her sister, she was either too powerless or too weak for her exalted position...


Well yes, she was relatively powerless in that instance. But I don't see how this is a point of criticism that can be leveled against her.
I feel like this needs to be viewed in its proper context. Tavore had only just been appointed as Adjunct. Her position, I believe, was anything but secure. So, if she wanted to keep it, she would've had to show her dedication to being the enforcer of Laseen's will. And the pogroms are, for all we know, a stratagem that was personally demanded and pushed for by Laseen herself. Tavore can't pull rank on her "boss". I also don't think that arguing over the effectiveness of the purges with Laseen would have worked. We learn early on that this practice of culling nobility is a tried and true thing that the Empire still does upon conquering an enemy city (e.g. in Pale), and that it has proven to be effective in quelling unrest. Throughout the series it is mentioned on several occasions that the way the ME treats its people may be ruthless, but it's efficient in several regards. And efficiency is king for Laseen. Her rule is grounded on her image as a ruler with an iron fist. We also learn later on that Laseen struggles severely against people who would like to usurp the throne. Getting talked down by your newly appointed junior on one of the policies that shows best that you're not to be trifled with would've sent the wrong signals to anyone who's just waiting to depose Laseen. So, I don't see much of a chance for Tavore to sway Laseen's opinion of the matter. Still, we don't even know whether Tavore tried to - she might've.


The idea that Tavore could just have pulled rank on whoever dragged Felisin out of the estate may seem plausible at first glance, but there are a couple of problems here, too:
Tavore is probably under the watchful gaze of everyone who'd love to take the position of Adjunct for themselves. Her appointment to the position is probably somewhat questionable already, considering that the general public likely considers one of her siblings, Ganoes, a traitor since he's part of Onearm's Host, which at the time of DG has allegedly defected from the Empire. It can be assumed that people expect Tavore to make up for her brother's "lack of loyalty" to the Empire. You can probably imagine that every politician in the Empire would love to see Tavore go against a direct order of the Empress by sparing her sister. Politicians could easily spin this against her, it would most certainly make her even more despised by the remaining nobility and show Laseen that Tavore puts her family before her service to the Empire. If her first action as Adjunct were insubordination, she wouldn't keep the "job". Moreover if she did she might have faced execution because Laseen doesn't take kindly to those who oppose her. And Felisin would still face the same fate.

You're of course right in that she's complicit in these atrocities but then again that's part of her arc. Tavore has to do terrible things and ask the impossible of people around her, whilst being alone in shouldering the burden. I'd actually go so far as to argue that this part of her character would be less tragic if she'd simply found the means of preventing atrocities from ever happening.
One last thing as a side note: I don't necessarily think that the series is meant to make anyone like or even really relate to Tavore. After all, SE is constantly doing his best to make us readers feel distant to her. There's not even a need to forgive her - she can't even bring herself to doing that. Ah, and I don't think her story is about redemption. It's not like she comes to regret the evil of her early deeds and seeks forgiveness.

This post has been edited by Zetubal: 04 August 2018 - 12:13 AM

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#16 User is offline   nacht 

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Posted 04 August 2018 - 12:42 AM

View PostSilentarius, on 03 August 2018 - 09:42 PM, said:

View Postnacht, on 03 August 2018 - 08:50 PM, said:

This is Dujek *speculating* and is simply an opinion. He might very well have meant that situation went out of control, as you would expect from the law of unintended consequences.

Come now. This is either pure speculation on your own part, or else a wholly unwarantable assumption; there is nothing in that passage to suggest Dujek is speculating!

View Postnacht, on 03 August 2018 - 08:50 PM, said:

Your main source of hate seems to be that she started the pogrom against the nobles and for how she treated Felisin. Maybe you assume that since she was a noble, she should have some empathy for that group. Neither her or brother feel that.
Laseen chose Tavore (a noble) to enforce her pogram against the nobles. Felisin was her trial by fire. Any failure in this test would have led to a quick end for Tavore and her influence. Under these circumstances, a special ops of hostage retrieval is probably her only option and Felisin had to suffer, anything less would have led to a quick end to the plan.

No. Felisin is up close and personal, and horrible enough. But what everyone in this debate is weaseling out from under is the fact that Tavore iinitiated/facilitated/executed (depending on how much influence you grant her) a general pogrom of singular hideousness, including the deliberate rape and murder of children - that is what damns her for all eternity. No possible argument of expediency can save her, any more than it could have saved Eichman.

And also, no, I don't hate Tavore; you can't hate a fiction. But as a fictional character, I find her journey from atrocity to redemption, particularly the kind of glorious redemption SE has in store for her, implausible and unconvincing.



So to you, the keyword "perhaps" does not imply speculation.
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#17 User is offline   nacht 

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Posted 04 August 2018 - 12:52 AM

View PostSilentarius, on 03 August 2018 - 02:21 PM, said:

Having just re-read most of the Malazan decalogy, I am fascinated by the way the character of Tavore develops; by which I mean that the development of the character in question strikes me as strangely unconvincing, even clumsily contrived - most particularly as regards her relationship with the other protagonists.



To me, the development of the Tavore character arc is probably SE's greatest character achievement. It is easy to like heroic characters like Fiddler, WhiskeyJack or Ganoes.
SE took the reader from hate to love, from judgement to compassion.




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#18 User is offline   Silentarius 

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Posted 04 August 2018 - 06:15 AM

View PostZetubal, on 04 August 2018 - 12:04 AM, said:

Throughout the series it is mentioned on several occasions that the way the ME treats its people may be ruthless, but it's efficient in several regards. And efficiency is king for Laseen. Her rule is grounded on her image as a ruler with an iron fist.

The ends justify the means. Ah now, that is a subject I should like to address in considerable detail in another post entirely: the Empire's vaunted efficiency, the ultimate justification for its realpolitik and even its entire existence. Considering the evidence ES gives us, how does a cost/benefit analysis of the empire's actions pan out? And of course, before even considering that set of data, we have to define our terms: whose cost and whose benefit are in play here? Is the object the greater good of the greatest number? To consider which is, of course, to consider empire as a political construct in the abstract. Let me get back to you on this one...

This post has been edited by Silentarius: 04 August 2018 - 06:17 AM

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#19 User is offline   Gorefest 

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Posted 04 August 2018 - 08:04 AM

Are you trying to claim some sort of moral highground over us for trying to justify Tavoreís actions and SEís stylistic choices? Again, you do realise that this is a work of fiction, not historical writing? Your comparisons with Eichman etc are pushing a similar comparison. We are not suddenly complicit in non-existent atrocities by defending a character arc choice. Zetubalís explanation of Tavoreís situation is pretty spot on, but that is an explanation, not a justification.
She went and she left me like litter. She took all future summers with her. I lost all my money cuz I tried to bribe her. Now I can only afford an amateur sniper.
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#20 User is offline   Silentarius 

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Posted 04 August 2018 - 08:27 AM

View PostGorefest, on 04 August 2018 - 08:04 AM, said:

Are you trying to claim some sort of moral highground over us for trying to justify Tavore's actions and SE's stylistic choices? Again, you do realise that this is a work of fiction, not historical writing? Your comparisons with Eichman etc are pushing a similar comparison. We are not suddenly complicit in non-existent atrocities by defending a character arc choice. Zetubal's explanation of Tavore's situation is pretty spot on, but that is an explanation, not a justification.


Am trying to claim some sort of moral high-ground over you? No, not remotely. When and how did this debate descend to the personal? I was making a point about what I saw as a literary weakness in the series, namely the unconvincing redemption of a major character. Others may, can and do see it differently; that is the nature of debate.

Do I realise that we are addressing a work of fiction? I think that yes, I did indeed come to suspect that despite certain similarities, this was a work that could not be laid at the feet of Mr. Gibbon.

As for "defending a character arc choice" - I'm not quite sure that there is much point, beyond the level of fan club discourse, in defending or attacking the choices of fictional characters; but one can argue whether or not such choices contribute to, or weaken, the effectiveness of the narrative arc. On literary, not moral grounds.
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