Malazan Empire: Chapter One Introduction Analysis - Malazan Empire

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Chapter One Introduction Analysis

#1 User is offline   SonOfJheck 

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 11:12 PM

In the spirit of the recent close readings of the Malazan prologues by A Critical Dragon on Youtube, I've decided to attempt a close reading of my own. In House of Chains Chapter One there is a short preface of sorts that has perplexed me ever since I read it for the first time. Below is my attempt to puzzle out its meaning, feel free to add your own thoughts as well.

"The dog had savaged a woman, an old man and a child before the warriors drove it
into an abandoned kiln at the edge of the village. The beast had never before displayed
an uncertain loyalty. It had guarded the Uryd lands with fierce zeal, one with its kin in its
harsh, but just, duties."


I believe the betrayal of the dog represents the betrayal of the Seven Gods of the Teblor. The dog had been loyal and had protected the Uryd, much like the Seven. They have performed their ('harsh, but just') godly duties effectively, up to this point. But, as we know from later in this book, they will ultimately abandon the Teblor for their own personal gains. In order to do this, they manipulate and use people from any stage of life (young, middle-aged, old), not caring if these people are injured or killed.


"There were no wounds on its body that might have festered and
so allowed the spirit of madness into its veins. Nor was the dog possessed by the
foaming sickness. Its position in the village pack had not been challenged. Indeed, there
was nothing, nothing at all, to give cause to the sudden turn."


This betrayal by the Seven is not caused by anything done to them by their followers and comes suddenly and, seemingly, without cause.


"The warriors pinned the animal to the rounded back wall of the clay kiln with spears,
stabbing at the snapping, shrieking beast until it was dead. When they withdrew their
spears they saw the shafts chewed and slick with spit and blood; they saw iron dented
and scored."


Even if the Teblor arm themselves against and turn away from the Seven, the effects of the manipulation will still leave a lasting impression. They killed the dog, but it damaged their weapons, making them less effective. We see this damage in the way that the Seven have isolated and weakened the Teblor.


"Madness, they knew, could remain hidden, buried far beneath the surface, a subtle
flavour turning blood into something bitter. The shamans examined the three victims;
two had already died of their wounds, but the child still clung to life."


This shows the hidden truth of the Seven. We know they have been manipulating the Teblor to create a champion for the Crippled God, but this manipulation was buried behind the guise of godliness. They have been poisoning the belief of the Teblor, turning their 'blood into something bitter'.


"In solemn procession he was carried by his father to the Faces in the Rock, laid
down in the glade before the Seven Gods of the Teblor, and left there."


I see irony in this action. The village hates the mad dog, but does not see the similarities between this dog and the Faces in the Rock. The man takes his injured son to the Seven and abandons him, an act that shows the Teblor's submission to the will of the Seven in general.


"He died a short while later. Alone in his pain before the hard visages carved into the
cliff-face."


The child was injured by the dog, but didn't die until being put before the Faces in the Rock. This bridges a connection between the actions of the mad dog and the Seven.



"This was not an unexpected fate. The child, after all, had been too young to pray."


This line seems to underline an important idea within the books. Since the child was too young to pray (to show servitude to the gods) he was not helped. If you cannot give something to the gods your life is meaningless to them. The Teblor are only a means to an end for the Seven T'Lan Imass Unbound.



"All this, of course, happened centuries past. Long before the Seven Gods opened their eyes."

The dismissive nature of the interjection 'of course' seems to speak to the idea that the past was a savage and depraved time, and that the bad things that happened back then would never happen in the current age. However, we see often in this series that this is a fallacy of living in the present. Time is a wheel and history repeats itself again and again. This line also contextualizes the next line, implying that the present is not decrepit like the past *because* the Seven Gods 'opened their eyes'. However, ironically, I also think these last lines further cement the idea of the mad dog being a representation of the Seven. They seem to imply that the entire story was about the Seven, more than just some random mad dog.


This introduction story is pretty confusing to analyze, so I would not be surprised if people have entirely different interpretations. I would love to hear everyone's thoughts.

This post has been edited by SonOfJheck: 22 July 2021 - 12:47 AM

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