House of Chains

Lenny

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I'm going to start a new topic on this book, regardless on whether there already is one (which will have beeen silent for months, if not years).

Just to let people know where I am - start of Chapter Four, 235 pages in, Keeper has just sent Karsa and Torvald on their way to Ehrlistan.

Can I ask for no spoilers for the rest of the series after House of Chains, and no spoilers for the rest of the book? Thanks.

And before I go any further, a warning to those who haven't got this far:

*SPOILERS FROM GARDENS OF THE MOON, DEADHOUSE GATES, MEMORIES OF ICE, AND HOUSE OF CHAINS*

I'm about a fifth of the way into HoC, and already it's chaining together the first four books of the series. You don't realise the scope of it all until you get this far, and the links are falling into place. It's as complex as a Gordian knot made of chains, except you're watching it being tied.

First of all, Torvald Nom. I suspected from the outset that he was related to Rallick (GotM), and it seems I was right, with Torvald saying, "I have a cousin, an assassin..." when explaining how his being verbose is a curse, but that half of the Nom family some to be the opposite.

MoI started to reveal the links between books, with references to the on-going "Chain of Dogs" 'campaign' (in DHG there are also references to Dujek's Host in Pale), and a scene in which Quick Ben comes back from talking to some Trygalle Traders about taking Moranth munitions to Fiddler. One assumes that in the same conversation, the small glass bottle (egg-timer?) is given to the traders, as well as the third object, which I forget... but anyway, links were made. In HoC, when Karsa is taken prisoner for a second time (by the drunk squad of Malazans), a reference is made to the Seige of Pale, and one later on that it has moved on.

Yada, yada, then we come to The Shattered Warren. In Deadhouse Gates, in what has to be my favourite bit of story out of all the books so far, Kulp and Co. make their way into a strange warren filled with water a few of feet off a seabed, and make a transition from their sinking boat to a black boat shrouded in sourcery. There they find wrapped bundles, and five people in a cabin, one with a harpoon through him and the blood still wet. In HoC, Karsa massacres the living crew of the boat, and drives a harpoon through the mages chest. I thought this was brilliant. That chapter alone, where Karsa and Torvald are in the shattered warren, instantly jacked HoC up to my second favourite Malazan book (DHG obviously being the first). I thought it was a very nice touch when Torvald began to wrap the heads... which are later unwrapped in DHG. :p

The timescale is interesting. In each book, we follow a few groups of characters, the story arcs of which begin to, and do indeed, converge in the final half of the book. To do it in a normal length book is no easy task. To do it in books regularly hitting the 1,000 page mark is a fantastic achievement. But to do what it is beginning to look like, and do it across a whole series?! Let's say a final count of 10,000 words, 20 groups of characters, 30 to 40 story arcs... I've never come across anything so detailed. It's even putting Final Fantasy to shame, and that's something that I believe to be extremely well done (sure, the story may only follow a single group, but the work that goes into the worlds, and the backstory that has to be built up, well, Squenix employs some amazing talent)!

235 pages in, and already a long post on links. Not only that, but it's also got me thinking a lot about Karsa, his chains, Dragnipur, and the Crippled Gods house (don't answer any of these, let me find out myself).

Simply put, Erikson's series amazes at every turn. The work put into it is phenomenal!
 

chopper

Steven Poore - Epic Fantasist & SFSF Socialist
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you're not wrong. now that i've read Karsa's tale - and the book is pretty much that - i feel i've got to go back to DHG to properly understand allthose links back into the Shattered Warren.

hmmm.....the whole Malazan thing is a house of chains, eh?
 

Rane Longfox

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You think you're starting to get an idea of the scope of the series?

No spoilers of course, but you poor poor deluded boy :D:D
 

Wiggum

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Karsa's story is probably my favorite individual character's rise to prominence within the series.

Especially after those damn dogs come a beggin'.
 

Lenny

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*SPOILER WARNINGS, boviously. So don't read if you've not read HoC*

I could've sworn someone told me that House of Chains bore (I'm tempted to write "boar", because of "bear"... but I'm not sure if "bore" is the past tense of "bear"...) no relevance to evens favourite Cripple in MoI.

When it came to the scene in which Karsa saw thousands of chains stretching back behind him, I instantly thought that he'd end up being the Knight in the House of Chains... then I looked in the glossary and saw that the Knight was actually Toblakai from Deadhouse Gates. "Oh", said I despondently, "Toblakai must end up killing Karsa and subsequently takes control of his chains". How foolish I felt when it turned out that Karsa = Toblakai. :rolleyes:

It was a very good book, and is definitely my second favourite after Deadhouse Gates. The ending seemed a bit strange... the Fourteenth Army had trekked so far, only to have Coltraine's legacy beat them to the punch, the ungrateful... you'd have thunk they'd have had their fill of glory, but nooo. The only member of the Fourteenth to get his sword wet in proper battle rather than skirmishes was dead... oh.

After all we've heard about them, the Talon arc was a bit "meh", though it does make you wonder if Baudin had any ulterior motives in the whole Felision/House Paran saga.

My favourite bits were centred around Fiddler, particularly the scorpion fight. You don't very many sections of relief in Erikson's Malazan books, I've found, but when you do, they're often centred around Fiddler and/or the Bridgeburners.

Overall, a very good book, and I'm looking forward to the events in The Bonehunters.(so sue me, I looked at the Dramatis Personae just to see if I could guess what would happen. What? Don't pretend that you wouldn't do the same with a half-tonne pile of books on the corner of your desk!).
 

Rane Longfox

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I must admit, I think HoC is the weakest of the series. Mostly because of not really liking Karsa, as he certainly dominates the book. I did quite like the ending though, with the Bonehunters simply not having a battle. It's an important non-event too, and has repercussions:) tBH is a better book, I think, so if you liked this, you should like that even more :D
 

Lenny

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Actually, Rane, I don't think they've officially come to be called "Bonehunters" yet, have they? I kinda assumed that they'd get that name in The Bonehunters, what with it not turning up in a Dramatis Personae until Reapers Gale. :rolleyes: :p
 

Rane Longfox

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Really? I thought they first picked up the nickname towards the end of HoC, though they don't grow into it until later.
 

Lenny

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Hmmm... if you're right, then it doesn't speak well about my short term memory.

One moment, I'll check.

EDIT: A quick flick through the end doesn't throw up the name "bonehunter", and a quick Google search didn't help, although it did confirm my thoughts that one person might somehow die due to, let's say, some kind of magical plaguey type death-bringing thing. Hey, he's not in the Dramatis Personae in anything after MoI, so i kinda guessed, and he's not the most whole of people, in many ways, actually. It's amazing what a Dramatis Personae can reveal. :p To say the least, though, that's going to be a sad moment, and a terribly "unglorious" (for want of a much better word) way to go for... him.
 
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Valko

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Bonehunters were 1st named in err The Bonehunters ;)
 

Lenny

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That was just after we saw the Fourteenth lining up on the parade ground in front of Tavore in HoC.

They wouldn't do it properly, so Fiddler and Cuttle (I think), planted a line of sharpers in front of them and shocked them all into silence. A while later, Keneb's adopted kid, Grub, walked onto the parade ground holding a thigh bone. A couple of days before they started marching, Fiddler and crew (from the 9th Company) decided to try and turn the omen by digging up finger bones and wearing them on their uniforms. When Tavore saw them, she told them to wear them in a certain place and what not, thus officially adopting them.

But no mention of the name "Bonehunters" until TB, which makes sense, though I can see why you'd think they got the name in HoC.
 

Valko

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It was Tavore who named the 3 squads The Bonehunters after the Y'Ghatan 'incident' (without spoiling it for anyone)
 

Green

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I was under the same impression at first: that they didn't get the name until TBH, but (after re-read) I think it was originally mentioned in passing in HoC.

Not entirely sure, but I think that's how it went down.
 

Rosemary

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HOC for me seemed as if it was the start of a new series altogether, not a follow on from MOI. :( I certainly didn't like the first four chapters and I felt a deep dislike for Karsa Orlong. I know it is fantasy but this guys amazing feats seemed far too exagerated. I was quite glad when previous characters returned. :)
 

HoopyFrood

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I'm on page 270 of this at the moment and, as with all the Malazan books, am getting more and more into it as it progresses (and then feel worn out by the time I reach the end). I just (I can't help it, I get caught up in these things) let out an exclamation of delight when a messenger rode up to Tavore and declared "Wickans! Clan of the Crow...Coltaine's own!" had just turned up to join the fight. Yay!

I have to admit that for the first part of the story I kept thinking that Karsa was one of the people from the Whirlwind Rebellion in Deadhouse Gates (Korbolo and Kamist) because they all start with K :rolleyes: Then I realised otherwise, of course. I got so caught up with Karsa that I actually felt a little disappointed when he disappeared into Sha'ik's army and changed his name (I hope he pops up again soon). I also really liked Torvald Nom (Lenny, how could you have been doubtful that he was Rallick's relative? As soon as I saw "Nom" I was completely certain that he was!) and I hope he appears again, too.

What I love about this series is that characters that appear for a brief moment in other books suddenly are launched into the limelight later on; Karsa being the obvious example. I don't think I took much notice of Toblakai at all in Deadhouse Gates, so to now found all this incredible back story behind him is great. And it also means that I'm very tempted to reread the novels before this, or at least Gardens of the Moon and Deadhouse Gates, if only to pick up on all the small details.

I find this arch of the story quite intense; when following the other arch with the Bridgeburners and Quick Ben and Kruppe and the rest, there are, especially in Memories of Ice, a lot of small but very funny moments, particularly from the lower-ranking soliders. But there are, I'm glad to see, a few moments like this in this book, especially with Fiddler (or Strings, if you will) making an appearance and thus bringing in a point of view from the soldiers. I think the best moment so far was the soldier whose name is "Maybe". Absolute genius! I'm getting my name changed by deed poll.

Anyway, back I go...
 

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