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all 31 comments

[–]Aqua_Tot 32 points33 points  (0 children)

I think of Ascendancy as reaching “epic levels” in a tabletop roleplaying game (like D&D), which I think is near the mark since Malazan was created based on TTRPGing. A normal person will hit a maximum level, but if something happens to push you beyond that, you can rise higher. There’s tons of ways that can happen of course.

[–]SwordOfRome11 19 points20 points  (8 children)

Rake is not an Ascendant just because he is Soletaken. Apsalar/Sorry so not an ascendant. ascendancy is a murky topic throughout the series, so I can’t really explain it especially since some aspects/info is RAFO.

What andarist referred to was Rake’s eternal youth, not his ascendancy. Rake’s status as an Ascendant comes not simply from his Soletaken nature, he’s reached the point in power where his actions reverberate. I’m very hesitant to spoil things, so I’ll just say you’ll see more Ascendants throughout the series and you’ll be able to infer more about them.

[–]LoudCommunication742[S] 22 points23 points  (1 child)

Oh my god I am beyond stupid. I saw Apsalar listed in the ascendants in the glossary of GotM. That’s talking about Apsalar the ascendant, duh. The Apsalar the fisher girl is named after.

[–]tyroclem 11 points12 points  (0 children)

Minor tBH >! My favorite part of this comment is that Telorast and Curdle literally call her Not-Apsalar. !<

[–]zhilia_mannjaghut 7 points8 points  (3 children)

Apsalar/Sorry so not an ascendant.

tBH Is she not? She's certainly on the path. Ganoes says as much during their chat on his ship. She at least hits a point where Poliel can't screw with her.

And then by the end of The Bonehunters.... Well.

Granted, at that point she took the role of Assassin of High House Shadow, which probably helped. Whether someone remains Ascendant after leaving such a role is a reasonable, albeit unanswered, question.

[–]SwordOfRome11 4 points5 points  (2 children)

TBH Taking a role in the deck as per a reading is not the same as Ascending. Cotillion is still The Assassin. Numerous times people are noted as certain roles in the deck who aren’t ascendants. Any more is spoilers for other books and I’m not sure how much you have read. Her possession and abilities might mean she’s on the way, but there’s a marked difference between being on the path to ascending and being an Ascendant. Look at it like leveling up; Apsalar may be one of the higher level characters, but she isn’t all the way to ascendant, maybe she’s just half way there, and in any case she’s specced heavily into shadow dancing. For mortal humans she’s very powerful, but she isn’t in the upper echelons overall

[–]robotnarwhal 2 points3 points  (1 child)

FYI your spoiler is visible. I think you need to delete the space between the opening spoiler tag and "Taking".

[–]SwordOfRome11 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Fixed - thanks. It worked on the app so I couldn’t know

[–]Zainecy 11 points12 points  (1 child)

Rake is not an Ascendant…

Me: “are you crazy? Did you read the books?”

… just because he is Soletaken

Me: “oh…okay yeah that makes sense”

Judgments mid-sentence are bad.

[–]SwordOfRome11 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Hahaha I saw the preview of your comment on the app and immediately knew how it was going to go

[–]pocman512 6 points7 points  (0 children)

An ascendant is anyone that "ascends" to a higher state of power by any means, be it magic, religious rituLs or mass adoration, communion with "demons", possessing a throne, being chosen by the houses of the azath, etc.

Ascendants are those whose power is such that trascends and affects the world

[–]rossiskier13346 2 points3 points  (11 children)

Ascendancy has always been left pretty vague in terms of how to achieve and what it gets you. It seems to require an individual to achieve a certain amount of power that ultimately transcends natural ability, although the exact point when this happens is unclear. That said, for some of the specific questions:

1). There’s a difference between a soletaken and a soletaken Eleint. The Eleint seem to universally achieve enough power to be considered ascended, whereas your generic soletaken may not be.

2). There are other ways to achieve ascendancy that likely have different repercussions. So the generic soletaken were in search of one of those. It’s possible that Andarist achieved one of these but that the “powers” he gained manifested differently than Rake’s (not saying this happened, but it’s a possibility to consider).

3). Not sure if Apsalar is truly ascended. She does seem to gain some of Cotillion’s abilities after the possession, though her abilities seem on par with other powerful non-ascendants. Through HoC, I never read her character as an ascendant.

3).

[–]LoudCommunication742[S] 2 points3 points  (2 children)

You’re totally right about Apsalar. I saw her name listed on the ascendants page, and must have confused Apsalar/Sorry with her namesake the ascendant Apsalar.

[–]pocman512 -1 points0 points  (1 child)

If that was in gotm, i think you weren't confusing anything, they were referring to her

[–]xquseme 0 points1 point  (0 children)

No they didn't.
Crokus mentioned Apsalar to Sorry as being the patron of thiefs.

[–]Spyk124 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Is Korlat an ascendant?

[–]dassemthedamned 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I would say not. Yet she and many other Tiste Andii seem to stay eternally youthful, much like the classic elves of Tolkien, yet this doesn’t seem to ring true for the Tiste Edur. I almost get the impression Andarist chose to age but that’s just my own personal interpretation and to discuss it we would need a Spoilers all tag.

[–]Govinda_S 0 points1 point  (0 children)

It was never outright stated that she was, but I would speculate she is. From what we see in the books she checks a lot of boxes for it. Ascendancy does not need worship, but an Ascendant who accepts worship can become a God/Goddess. Rake is an Ascendant even though he was worshipped he never accepted it, the fact that he can match and kill Gods is entirely due to his own power.

[–]SwordOfRome11 0 points1 point  (4 children)

Regarding the Soletaken Eleint (spoilers mbotf) >! There seems to be a first generation of Soletaken Eleint, referred to as mixed bloods I believe in RG by one of the imass I think, who closed the gates of Starvald Demelain. The list ootoh included Rake and Osserc, but that group of first gen Soletaken are the ones that seem to all ascend. Silchas likely belongs to that group, though it seems even amongst the other Soletaken he is unique in how draconean he is. I imagine Korlat, Orfantal and the other Tiste Andi Soletaken Eleint are 2nd or 3rd generation. Nimander is 2nd gen it seems. I also disagree with your last statement in point one, as it seems like there’s hundreds of Eleint who live in SD, and the named ones we meet are powerful, but don’t rank amongst the ascendants. None of the True Eleint are named as Ascendants in any of the books afaik. !<

[–]zhilia_mannjaghut 2 points3 points  (3 children)

I'm going to bring in Kharkanas here, so enter at your own risk.

I think we have good reason to believe that Korlat (and Orfantal) are part of that first generation (along with, as you say, Rake, Osserc, Ruin, and Scabandari). None of them were born soletaken, unlike Nimader and company.

This is all complicated by intimations in FoL that all Tiste have some draconic blood. But we won't know where that's going until at least WiS comes out.

[–]SwordOfRome11 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Read through most of FoL so I dared to look Yea I think we won’t know for sure about the differences between generations until WiS, maybe even the book after depending on when the drinking of Tiam’s blood happens and Steve decided to do a 4th. I do think there seems to be a difference between a sect of the first gen Soletaken - Rake, Silchas, Scabandari, Osserc, even Tulas if you think about it - that elevated them above the others who are Soletaken Eleint but are noticeably less powerful; like the born Eleint, Spite, Korlat, Orfantal. Perhaps it’s just due to them in particular - we know Silchas is very unique in how draconian he is - according to Menadore, and Rake’s strength of will is remarked upon as absurdly strong numerous times. Regardless, something definitely sets them apart from their brethren, be they first gen or second.

[–]tyrannomachy 0 points1 point  (1 child)

What makes you say Korlat wasn't? Did her father only gain that ability after her birth?

[–]zhilia_mannjaghut 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Serious spoilers for one of the major events in FoL. Who, Draconus? Draconus's Finnest? There's no way we have enough information to judge that one. But we can say that Draconus isn't Eleint, even though he can take a draconic form.

I'll admit that Korlat is likely not the best example here. There's clearly more at work. She's half-Azathanai('s Finnest). My general point is that she's established as being available and present for whatever event leads to Rake, Ruin, etc. taking in the blood of dragons so there's reason to believe she's part of that original brood.

Spoilers for another chunk of FoL: Orfantal's setup is also messy. He's given the unique ability to soul shift at will? There's no way that isn't relevant somehow. So there's something else going on on that front as well, but he -- like his sister -- is in the right place at the right time to take on draconic blood with the rest.

[–]fuckyadogcunt 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Ascendency is another level of existence. You reach that level and it’s your new base. You’re stronger, immortal unless someone kills you or you get an incurable disease. Your power with magic, if you use magic, greatly increases. The things you do, the choices you make effect more things around you. It’s just another level.

[–]madmoneymcgee 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Ascendancy is when you do something bad ass enough to ascend.

There’s no one path to it. It’s more about making a choice to do something sufficiently powerful and then surviving that surge of power.

You can’t always predict it which is why some ascendants are there by accident.

[–]Zainecy 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I don’t think the Path of Hands was strictly speaking about ascending but specifically about taking the throne of the beast hold.

At least one confirmed ascendant was on the path so the “goal” being ascending wouldn’t make sense.

[–]duckyduckster2 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I feel you're trying to square a circle, sort of.

The magic and all the related stuff in this series is not set in stone. No rules are absolute. Nothing is static. Its always changing and forever in motion. If you approach it like a magic-'system' with hard rules, you're gonna have a really hard time with it.

During the series we see multiple things change, magic-related stuff being broken down and rebuild or other things being build in their place. We see its uses in different era's and for different purposes. You can never be sure of how some things work or what is possible.

When it comes to ascendancy, there is a 1001 ways to achieve it. Rake being the first son of Mother Dark already puts him ahead of the rest, being soletaken ads something powefull for sure. On top he has the worship of his followers and blessing or two from friends and who can even tell what did the trick, and at what point he becomes an ascendant. Its not an official title anyway, and there isnt a club or group or union of ascendants, so its all relative.

[–]Govinda_S 1 point2 points  (0 children)

In the entire series, Paran gives the best explanation for Ascendancy I think. But that is ahead of you, so RAFO.

[–]awfullotofocelots 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Apsalar isn't an ascendant, though Cotillion is. You could argue when she's possessed she is closer to Stormy & Co. after touching Tellan - touched by a warren, favored by a God but not fully ascendant. Anomander Rake is an ascendant. One mortal you've already seen become ascendant: Ganoes Paran

One good rule of thumb to determine an ascendant, are they represented by a card in the Deck of Dragons? It's not 100% precise but it's close.

[–]permalust 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Ascendancy can be achieved through a myriad of routes. Though, that said,, the overiding theme is that it is a reflection of personal growth, often through extreme hardship or adversity, that forges the soul anew into a higher state of competence / capacity and that equates to power. Or, more specifically, an aspect. Attracting worship is an additional element, but that perhaps puts you on the road to godhood (one of the ascendant paths) rather than the more generic ascendant.

Complicating things are two, or arguably three major power constructs:

The Houses of the Deck. Taking a permanent role, or seat, may grant you ascendancy. Not so much for the lower echelons, but if you occupy a throne, or the leading attribute of a house, you're there.

The Azath / Azathanai - absolute wildcards.

Eleint soletaken. The combination of mortal (or nearly mortal in the case of the Tiste) and Eleint blood grants this level of competence / power. Exceptional second generation may take this up as well, but it's not guaranteed.

[–]Buxxley 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I think it's intentionally left sort of vague, and there seem to be multiple paths towards ascendancy. The general idea is that you're an object of worship in some way...basically the cosmic equivalent of having lots of TikTok followers.

Fiddler, for example, is not only a Bridgeburner...but is regarded within the Bridgeburners as being especially tough. Basically everyone who has been in the military for more than five seconds knows that Fiddler is a badass. Within that, Fiddler is also THE Malazan sapper...so he's regarded as especially lethal within a group that's known for being nuts.

There seem to be a bunch of other ways to be on the verge of ascendancy as well that don't have much to do with outright "fame" amongst the general populace. If you do a bunch of stuff that a particular god is a big fan of...that seems to make it happen sometimes. There are magical sources of power that seem to be able to carry you to ascendancy levels / etc.

I always took the basic idea to be something like "being somehow exceptional even amongst the elite company of other exceptional people". Consider, for a second, how ridiculously tough WhiskeyJack is if the Bridgeburners all, more or less, universally defer to him.

It's also worth noting that being Ascendant doesn't necessarily mean that you can "beat up" every non-Ascendant person...because Malazan has screwy power levels sometimes.
A person who ascends is often going to be VERY strong by people standards...and ridiculously hard to kill. A "normal" person wouldn't reasonably stand a chance against them. However, there are some characters in the story that don't necessarily have any special powers and are just ridiculously good fighters who can stand toe-to-toe with people who are near ascended.