Malazan Empire: 2020 Malazan Re-read: Bonehunters - Malazan Empire

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2020 Malazan Re-read: Bonehunters Starts Monday, June 1st

#1 User is offline   Aptorian 

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Posted 24 May 2020 - 06:34 AM

2020 MALAZAN RE-READ: BONEHUNTERS

Book description for Bonehunters:

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The Seven Cities Rebellion has been crushed. Sha’ik is dead. One last rebel force remains, holed up in the city of Y’Ghatan and under the fanatical command of Leoman of the Flails. The prospect of laying siege to this ancient fortress makes the battle-weary Malazan Fourteenth Army uneasy. For it was here that the Empire’s greatest champion, Dassem Ultor, was slain and a tide of Malazan blood spilled. A place of foreboding, its smell is of death. But elsewhere, agents of a far greater conflict have made their opening moves. The Crippled God has been granted a place in the pantheon; a schism threatens and sides must be chosen. Whatever each god decides, the ground rules have changed irrevocably, terrifyingly, and the first blood spilled will be in the mortal world. A world in which a host of characters, familiar and new, including Heboric Ghost Hands; the possessed Apsalar; Cutter, once a thief now a killer; the warrior Karsa Orlong; and the two ancient wanderers Icarium and Mappo, each searching for such a fate as they might fashion with their own hands, guided by their own will. If only the gods would leave them alone. But now that knives have been unsheathed, the gods are disinclined to be kind. There shall be war, war in the heavens. And the prize? Nothing less than existence itself...


January 1st we began the re-read of the main series of the Malazan books. The plan being to read one book a month. We've now added additional Erikson and Esslemont publications to the schedule, to be read roughly according to the publication order.

Quote

2020
January: Gardens of the Moon
February: Deadhouse Gates
March: Memories of Ice
April: House of Chains
May: Midnight Tides
June Night of Knives & The Bonehunters
July: Return of the Crimson Guard
August: Reaper's Gale
September: Stonewielder
October: Toll the Hounds
November: Orb Sceptre Throne
December: Dust of Dreams

2021
January: The Crippled God
February: Blood and Bone
March: Assail
April: Forge of Darkness
May: Fall of Light


You can read our thoughts from earlier months in these threads:

2020 Malazan Re-read: Gardens of the Moon

2020 Malazan Re-read: Deadhouse Gates

2020 Malazan Re-read: Memories of Ice

2020 Malazan Re-read: House of Chains

2020 Malazan Re-read: Midnight Tides

2020 Malazan Re-read: Night of Knives

June 1st we begin the re-read of Bonehunters, the sixth book in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Remember we will also be reading Night of Knives this month, Night of Knives coming first in the reading order.

There will be spoilers for all published books. So beware. Spoiler blocks are not mandatory but if people want to use boxes for the latest Kharkanas books or the Path to Ascendance books for example, I'd personally appreciate it.

Are you ready? What do you remember about Bonehunters?

This book was the turning point, where my adoration of the series and Erikson's writing started to waver. I still thought the series was great but I wasn't fond of the storylines, it lacked that proper convergence and didn't have quite the same epic moments that left you reeling with their implications. Rather at this point in the series I think Erikson starts to reveal answers to mysteries but forgets to create enough new ones. I liked Bonehunters and Reaper's Gale well enough but by the time I finished Toll the Hounds I was pretty frustrated with Erikson's over arching story and his pivot to more philosophical and more experiemental narratives.

Too many times Erikson swerves the reader, denying them that epic resolution I want. Dessim Ne'breahl never got to be the big bad I wanted, Mallick Rel never gets his comeuppance, The Jade Statue threat turns into nothing much, etc. It's a trend that continues in the later books and it gave me blue balls.

I hope that on this re-read I'll see these later books in a new light. I think maybe back then Bonehunters simply paled in comparison to Midnight Times.

This post has been edited by Aptorian: 22 June 2020 - 12:53 PM

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Posted 24 May 2020 - 04:46 PM

My disillusionment with Erikson began with a sharp bang on Toll The Hounds.

But yah, there are a few frustrating plotlines in this book, but it sets us up for RG which is one of my favourites.

Also, the blurb. "Battle weary 14th"
They're virtual unblooded no?

Anyway, I enjoyed BH, but the story line of cutter/heboric/felisin etc always drags for me, greyfrog being the light hearted exception.

Isn't this the introduction of Taralack Veed too? Fuck I don't like that character
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Posted 24 May 2020 - 07:39 PM

I'm just starting Midnight Tides, crap I'm falling behind.
So that's the story. And what was the real lesson? Don't leave things in the fridge.
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Posted 24 May 2020 - 07:56 PM

Read, Traveller, read like the wind.
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Posted 02 June 2020 - 06:03 PM

I thought this was coming in July and I'd have more time to try and stay ahead of the re-read. Guess I need to speed up my reading!

I have read the series twice, and while I tend to like the philosophizing Erikson does, I generally don't remember much of the later books, except that I found the end fitting for the rest of the series.

I remember not enjoying Bonehunters too much the first time through, then enjoying more the second time through (especially the crawl the the ruins of Y'Ghatan) (though I think that was because I read people talking about how great it was on here). I'm actually enjoying the beginning of it so far, which is kind of surprising (or maybe the fact that it isn't set in our world is all I need to enjoy something right now...)
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Posted 02 June 2020 - 09:26 PM

Gonna start this now just to get into it.

It's not as tattered as my GotM or Mon, but my BH has definitely seen plenty of abuse. I love coming back to a well worn book that I bought new, it means I'm getting into something I know I'll like. It's comfortable

I think I need comfortable right now, the world is a depressing place
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Posted 03 June 2020 - 11:21 AM

Agreed on the need for the comfortable read. Read the prologue and first few chapters and so many foreshadowing comments and loose ends set off... So many questions. With some time I'll go back and try to pick so off. Is this where the series just let's rip on the ambiguity?
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Posted 03 June 2020 - 09:55 PM

I totally forgot Spite was part of the 12 letting Dejim loose.

I often wondered, given his short appearance, was he just a really cool character Steve and Cam concocted during their gaming sessions and they felt the need to just shoe horn him in? A lot of the random characters, like snake lady in NoK strike me as such.
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Posted 05 June 2020 - 07:45 AM

View PostMacros, on 03 June 2020 - 09:55 PM, said:

I totally forgot Spite was part of the 12 letting Dejim loose.

I often wondered, given his short appearance, was he just a really cool character Steve and Cam concocted during their gaming sessions and they felt the need to just shoe horn him in? A lot of the random characters, like snake lady in NoK strike me as such.


Given how much ceremony his introduction is awarded he definitely seems special. Making what Erikson does with the character all the more confusing.
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Posted 05 June 2020 - 07:48 AM

Yeah,its a serious build up, but then I suppose the Malazan world is meant to be all about subverting tropes, so this super badass mofo coming into the world, only to get smacked down does fit with the overall Moto of the series. No one is untouchable, pretty much all the super powers can get a beat down, often from a 'mere mortal'
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Posted 05 June 2020 - 08:05 AM

Started the BH re-read.

I'd somehow completely forgot Helian and Banaschar. As I rack my brain I can't remember a damn thing about Banaschar. Does he join the army? I seem to remember him among the Malazans. But not how. Does he remain a D'rek follower? Re-read and find out.

Also fuck living in Kartool with fist sized spiders. Nope. Nope. Nope. Invoke a ritual of Telann and be done with the place.

The 7C info we get from Dejim Nebrahl is interesting.

P. 26.

Quote

At these words, the creature within the barrow felt a sudden snap, and the awakened awareness all at once found its own identity. Its name was Dejim Nebrahl. Born on the eve of the death of the First Empire, when the streets of the city beyond burned and screams announced unrelieved slaughter. For the T’lan Imass had come. Dejim Nebrahl, born into fullest knowledge, a child with seven souls, climbing blood-smeared and trembling from his mother’s cooling body. A child. An abomination. T’rolbarahl, demonic creations by the hand of Dessimbelackis himself, long before the Dark Hounds took shape in the Emperor’s mind. T’rolbarahl, misshapen errors in judgement, had been expunged, exterminated at the Emperor’s own command. Blood-drinkers, eaters of human flesh, yet possessing depths of cunning even Dessimbelackis could not have imagined. And so, seven T’rolbarahl had managed to elude their hunters for a time, sufficient to impart something of their souls to a mortal woman, widowed by the Trell Wars and without family, a woman whom none would notice, whose mind could be broken, whose body could be made into a feeding vessel, a M’ena Mahybe, for the seven-faced D’ivers T’rolbarahl child swiftly growing within her. Born into a night of terror. The T’lan Imass, had they found Dejim, would have acted without hesitation: dragging forth those seven demonic souls, binding them into an eternity of pain, their power bled out, slowly and incrementally, to feed the T’lan bonecasters in their unceasing wars against the Jaghut. But Dejim Nebrahl had escaped. His power growing as he fed, night after night through the ruins of the First Empire. Always hidden, even from those few Soletaken and D’ivers that had survived the Great Slaughter, for even they would not abide Dejim’s existence. He fed on some of them as well, for he was smarter than they, and quicker, and had not the Deragoth stumbled onto his trail … The Dark Hounds had a master in those days, a clever master, who excelled in ensnaring sorceries and, once decided upon a task, he would not relent. A single mistake, and Dejim’s freedom was ended. Binding upon binding, taking away his self-awareness, and with it all sense of having once been … otherwise.


I find the echoing of the Hounds and Deragoth peculiar. He was seven demons who became one D'ivers. This number seven repeats. Is there simply something about the continent that creates this tendency?

I also find the mention of the Deragoth having a clever master interesting. By not giving a name I feel the implication that this master wasn't Dessimbelackis. But who would that be? Maybe I'm just reaching.

As for DNs binding. I feel like Erikson doesn't explain these events well. Why such powerful creatures aren't just killed outright. In the above quote he mentions that Tlan Imass use enemies as magic batteries. We know the Azath do the same. But there's also always the implication that certain foes, Jaghut, Forkrul Assail, Demons, etc. are too powerful to kill outright. Yet DN dies like a bitch in this book no need for post defeat rituals. So does Calm and the five Seregahl and various other creatures. It seems inconsistent.
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Posted 05 June 2020 - 08:20 AM

Oh and there's Barathol. Don't remember anything about him either besides him being Kalams brother or cousin or something similar. I think I may have never re-read any books after Midnight Tides. Only skimmed them for relevant passages.
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Posted 05 June 2020 - 08:37 AM

Quote

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

THE MALAZANS
Empress Laseen, ruler of the Malazan Empire
Adjunct Tavore, commander of the Fourteenth Army
Fist Keneb, division commander
Fist Blistig, division commander
Fist Tene Baralta, division commander
Fist Temul, division commander
Nil, a Wickan warlock
Nether, a Wickan witch
T’amber, Tavore’s aide
Lostara Yil, aide to Pearl
Pearl, a Claw
Nok, Admiral of the Imperial Fleet
Banaschar, an ex-priest of D’rek
Hellian, a sergeant in the city guard of Kartool
Urb, a city guard in Kartool
Brethless, a city guard in Kartool
Touchy, a city guard in Kartool
Quick Ben, High Mage in the Fourteenth Army
Kalam Mekhar, an assassin
Grub, a foundling

SELECTED SOLDIERS IN THE FOURTEENTH ARMY
Captain Kindly, Ashok Regiment
Lieutenant Pores, Ashok Regiment
Captain Faradan Sort
Sergeant Fiddler/Strings
Corporal Tarr
Cuttle
Bottle
Koryk
Smiles
Sergeant Gesler
Corporal Stormy
Master Sergeant Braven Tooth
Maybe
Lutes
Ebron
Sinn
Crump
Sergeant Balm
Corporal Deadsmell
Throatslitter
Masan Gilani

OTHERS
Barathol Mekhar, a blacksmith
Kulat, a villager
Nulliss, a villager
Hayrith, a villager
Chaur, a villager
Noto Boil, company cutter (healer) in Onearm’s Host
Hurlochel, an outrider in Onearm’s Host
Captain Sweetcreek, an officer in Onearm’s Host
Corporal Futhgar, an officer in Onearm’s Host
Fist Rythe Bude, an officer in Onearm’s Host
Ormulogun, artist
Gumble, his critic
Apsalar, an assassin
Telorast, a spirit
Curdle, a spirit
Samar Dev, a witch of Ugarat
Karsa Orlong, a Teblor warrior
Ganath, a Jaghut
Spite, a Soletaken and sister to Lady Envy
Corabb Bhilan Thenu’alas
Leoman of the Flails, last leader of the rebellion
Captain Dunsparrow, Y’Ghatan city guard
Karpolan Demesand, Trygalle Trade Guild
Torahaval Delat, a priestess of Poliel
Cutter, once Crokus of Darujhistan
Heboric Ghost Hands, Destraint of Treach
Scillara, refugee from Raraku
Felisin the Younger, refugee from Raraku
Greyfrog, a demon
Mappo Runt, a Trell
Icarium, a Jhag
Iskaral Pust, a priest of Shadow
Mogora, a D’ivers
Taralack Veed, a Gral and agent of the Nameless Ones
Dejim Nebrahl, a D’ivers T’rolbarahl of the First Empire
Trull Sengar, a Tiste Edur
Onrack the Broken, an unbound T’lan Imass
Ibra Gholan, a T’lan Imass
Monok Ochem, a T’lan Imass Bonecaster
Minala, commander of the Company of Shadow
Tomad Sengar, a Tiste Edur
Feather Witch, a Letherii slave
Atri-Preda Yan Tovis (Twilight), commander of Letherii forces
Captain Varat Taun, officer under Twilight’s Command
Taxilian, an interpreter
Ahlrada Ahn, a Tiste Andii spy among the Tiste Edur
Sathbaro Rangar, Arapay warlock


That's a lot more varied character gallery than I remember. What are Twilight and Feather Witch doing in this book?

Dunsparrow is Whiskeyjacks sister as I recall. Which raises an eyebrow because why does she have a bird name? When Whiskeyjack was just known as Jack in the Path of Ascendance books. Was Whiskeyjack known as thus before he was named bird that steals by the Moranth?

And it looks like, I assume, Quick Ben also has some sister or something called Torahaval Delat.

Isn't it a bit weird that Erikson chooses to introduce an active family member for both Whiskeyjack, Kalam and QB in one book?

This post has been edited by Aptorian: 05 June 2020 - 09:33 AM

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 09:54 AM

Ah, first appearance of Karsa and Samar Dev and I'm already smiling. This is going to be fun.
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Posted 05 June 2020 - 10:16 AM

P. 47

Erikson injecting comedy into this conversation is subtle yet hilarious. I remember now why I always liked Corabb. Never been a fan of Leoman though.

Quote

Corabb noted a depression nearby in which sat half-buried lumps of clay. Drawing his dagger, he walked over and crouched down to retrieve one of the lumps. Breaking it open to reveal the toad curled up within it, he dug the creature out and returned to his commander’s side. ‘An unexpected treat,’ he said, pulling off a withered leg and tearing at the tough but sweet flesh. Leoman stared at him in the moonlight. ‘You will have strange dreams, Corabb, eating those.’ ‘Spirit dreams, yes. They do not frighten me, Commander. Except for all the feathers.’ Making no comment on that, Leoman unstrapped his helm and pulled it off. He stared up at the stars, then said, ‘What do my soldiers want of me? Am I to lead us to an impossible victory?’ ‘You are destined to carry the Book,’ Corabb said around a mouthful of meat. ‘And the goddess is dead.’ ‘Dryjhna is more than that goddess, Commander. The Apocalyptic is as much a time as it is anything else.’ Leoman glanced over. ‘You do manage to surprise me still, Corabb Bhilan Thenu’alas, after all these years.’ Pleased by this compliment, or what he took for a compliment, Corabb smiled, then spat out a bone and said, ‘I have had time to think, Commander. While we rode. I have thought long and those thoughts have walked strange paths. We are the Apocalypse. This last army of the rebellion. And I believe we are destined to show the world the truth of that.’ ‘Why do you believe that?’ ‘Because you lead us, Leoman of the Flails, and you are not one to slink away like some creeping meer-rat. We journey towards something – I know, many here see this as a flight, but I do not. Not all the time, anyway.’ ‘A meer-rat,’ Leoman mused. ‘That is the name for those lizard-eating rats in the Jen’rahb, in Ehrlitan.’ Corabb nodded. ‘The long-bodied ones, with the scaly heads, yes.’ ‘A meer-rat,’ Leoman said again, oddly thoughtful. ‘Almost impossible to hunt down. They can slip through cracks a snake would have trouble with. Hinged skulls …’ ‘Bones like green twigs, yes,’ Corabb said, sucking at the skull of the toad, then flinging it away. Watching as it sprouted wings and flew off into the night. He glanced over at his commander’s feather-clad features. ‘They make terrible pets. When startled, they dive for the first hole in sight, no matter how small. A woman died with a meer-rat halfway up her nose, or so I heard. When they get stuck, they start chewing. Feathers everywhere.’ ‘I take it no-one keeps them as pets any more,’ Leoman said, studying the stars once again. ‘We ride towards our Apocalypse, do we? Yes, well.’ ‘We could leave the horses,’ Corabb said. ‘And just fly away. It’d be much quicker.’ ‘That would be unkind, wouldn’t it?’ ‘True. Honourable beasts, horses. You shall lead us, Winged One, and we shall prevail.’ ‘An impossible victory.’ ‘Many impossible victories, Commander.’ ‘One would suffice.’ ‘Very well,’ Corabb said. ‘One, then.’ ‘I don’t want this, Corabb. I don’t want any of this. I’m of a mind to disperse this army.’ ‘That will not work, Commander. We are returning to our birthplace. It is the season for that. To build nests on the rooftops.’ ‘I think,’ Leoman said, ‘it is time you went to sleep.’ ‘Yes, you are right. I will sleep now.’ ‘Go on. I will remain here for a time.’ ‘You are Leoman of the Feathers, and it shall be as you say.’ Corabb saluted, then strode back towards the encampment and its host of oversized vultures. It was not so bad a thing, he mused. Vultures survived because other things did not, after all.

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 10:55 AM

P. 56.

The Nameless Ones killed Mebra? Hmm what is that about.

And apparently Telorast and Curdle work for Edgewalker. I did not imagine the old one was that proactive.

This post has been edited by Aptorian: 05 June 2020 - 10:55 AM

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 11:19 AM

That discussion between Cotillion and Edgewalker and the dragons on p. 60-68 is juicy. So much info. So much table setting.
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Posted 05 June 2020 - 06:18 PM

View PostAptorian, on 24 May 2020 - 07:56 PM, said:

Read, Traveller, read like the wind.


Yep ok I'm now on BHs. There's one aspect I'm not looking forward to over the next books, and that's the 'travelling' parts.
Where certain mismatched groups set out on a kind of vague mission and seem to spend a long time getting there, with not a huge amount happening along the way.

The Fear/Silchas party, Heboric/Scillara party.. it might be different this time around, but the groups travelling narrative seems like a retread of DGs.
Which stands out more after MTs which has none of that apart from the initial delegation to the Edur.

We'll see!

This post has been edited by Traveller: 05 June 2020 - 06:20 PM

So that's the story. And what was the real lesson? Don't leave things in the fridge.
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Posted 05 June 2020 - 06:22 PM

Yeah, just the initial 100 pages of BH is setting up a dozen different moving pieces. That's a lot to keep track of.

By the way, did you skip Night of Knives?
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Posted 05 June 2020 - 07:53 PM

Banaschar comes back in RG, he finances the whole thing by clearing the temple of D'Reks coffers no?
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