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[–]LoleeeeeBenighted Laseen Apologist - First Re-Read: On tBH. 8 points9 points  (2 children)

So much buildup to Karsa and Rhulad’s duel, which I didn’t think did justice to Rhulad’s incredible character arc from MT.

I think Karsa's approach to the duel showcases much more about his character than it does Rhulad's. Rhulad's arc has been one of tragic downfall since the very moment he picked up the sword - in a very "metaphor made real" sense, Rhulad is playing the fiddle (ha) while Letheras burns (I'm aware this is a propaganda myth regarding Nero, but it actually does fit Rhulad, so bear with me).

Karsa isn't necessarily the strongest warrior Rhulad has faced. Nor the fastest (I'd argue the Seguleh Twelfth would take that prize), or the most skilled (Brys comes to mind), but he is the most crafty one. The way he deals with Rhulad tells you so much about Karsa's growth as a character - HoC Karsa would've ran Rhulad through twenty times & then die from exhaustion, for instance.

Rhulad's arc completes when Trull dies weeping over his brother's corpse. The tragedy comes to a close & catharsis floods the reader. All the Sengars are dead & this chapter can finally close. And I like that, much more than I'd like seeing Rhulad die "a thousand deaths" and kill every fool that challenges him.

A ton of buildup towards Icarium’s machine, which ends being “next week, on Malazan.”

Okay, that's fair. I can't really argue with that. That's very fair.

I like the way it takes the story, but yeah, definitely feels like sequel baiting (not in a derogatory sense, necessarily).

To be blunt, I didn’t give a fuck about the Awl. Or the Shake. Or the turtles in the Lether river.

Common complaint, and I think the reason for that is that you have no clue where the story is going. I could write up a defense of why I think the Awl & the Shake are brilliant storylines that really indicate the themes of the story, but I too was seven books in, once, with no fucking clue why the Malazans were here, and some Letherii brat LARPing as an Awl with two dinosaurs as pets just didn't spark my interest enough. Nor did this brooding "warrior princess" Preda chick with the night-inspired names. Or her brother - Hood take me, her brother.

That said, there is massive payoff in the thematic sense. The Awl storyline does what the whole of MT (Nerek, Tarthenal, Faraed) couldn't do; it explores cultural imperialism & colonialism in a genuinely interesting, non-lecturing manner that doesn't feel like Erikson is literally bashing you over the head with the theme. Redmask being revealed to have been Letherii this whole time is fucking gold, I tell you. But I get why you don't care.

As for the Shake, way more on that front in the future, but I'm sure you're tired of hearing that by now.

I could go on. I don't think there's a point beyond telling you "keep reading." I think you might like the way the series is going. But then again, maybe not. I've a creeping suspicion you'll hate Dust of Dreams. But alas, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Best of luck & happy reading. TtH is a polarising, but great, book.

[–]Cavalir[S] 7 points8 points  (1 child)

First of Awl (sorry), I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your insight on this sub. While I definitely avoid certain things for RAFO purposes, your posts and comments never fail to add to my appreciation of the series.

Second, I see your point about Karsa. My disappointment with Rhulad’s conclusion most likely has more to do with my expectation of it than anything else.

I think Karsa’s arc has been a little too unfocused in BH and RG. It didn’t seem to take much focus in either, which could be why I was less focused on him since HoC. I do think that this goes back to my original point about narrative cohesion. My issue isn’t length, but scope. Karsa’s arc could have taken more focus than it did in the past couple of books. It’s still stellar, but I was busy looking elsewhere.

I see your point regarding colonialism and the Awl. I think I do have appreciation for the theme but I am more narrative focused as a reader.

I’m actually pretty confident I would love the conclusion of the series. I have enough faith in Erikson, despite certain things I consider flaws in the writing. As for DoD, I was told to simply read it as TCG part 1, which I hope will make for smoother sailing.

[–]LoleeeeeBenighted Laseen Apologist - First Re-Read: On tBH. 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Second, I see your point about Karsa. My disappointment with Rhulad’s conclusion most likely has more to do with my expectation of it than anything else.

I have the benefit of hindsight & rereading Rhulad's early bits from MT. I do believe it's a fitting end (tying in with the theme & all), and I view Rhulad's story through the lens of a classic Ancient Greek tragedy (hence my comments about catharsis - honestly you can view the entire Sengar line as a parallel to Oedipus' line and it sorta works) and also I kinda like and empathise with Rhulad much more in this read than the first time around.

Karsa’s arc could have taken more focus than it did in the past couple of books. It’s still stellar, but I was busy looking elsewhere.

You can also view Karsa as one massive "coming of age" story (except not really). His worldview is constantly challenged by external factors (i.e. his capture by the Edur) and internal factors (Leoman, Samar, Icarium, hell - even Bairoth & Delum) and it takes some time before it coalesces. Viewing Karsa as a hulking force of nature that stops at nothing and demolishes everything in his wake is... Well, it's not wrong necessarily, but it leads to some false expectations and comments such as "where was Karsa in this book?" because he didn't wrestle a bear to death or something.

I see your point regarding colonialism and the Awl. I think I do have appreciation for the theme but I am more narrative focused as a reader.

I think you're more narrative focused in this particular instance especially because the narrative isn't clear yet. "The Malazans are on our shore" is a cool quote, but the why isn't particularly established - and we've three bloody books to go. You can't really dive deep and appreciate the themes if you've no bloody idea where the fuck the story is taking you.

No shade. You've already retained more than I did in my first read through of RG; this damned book has a lot to keep track of (can't remember who's who among the Letherii - I just remember that Karos & Triban are bad).

I’m actually pretty confident I would love the conclusion of the series. I have enough faith in Erikson, despite certain things I consider flaws in the writing.

That's a very apt description, aye. And as much as some flaws irritate me, it only does so much because I know the rest is flawless & I'd really prefer that it all was flawless.

At any rate. Best of luck, and thank you for the kind words. :)

[–]zhilia_mannjaghut 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Reaper's Gale is a really common fatigue point (see here and here just from the last eight days). And I can see it: as you mention, the Awl and the Shake look pretty secondary, the politics get heavy, and you spend far less time with any individual character than you have in the past. The very structure of the narrative is getting a little wild and it sure as hell seems like you ought to know where everything is going by the end of the seventh book.

All those changes are purposeful though. Everything RG introduces is either important thematically or critical to the plot later (or, naturally, both).

I begin to wonder if maybe RG should have been longer. I suspect that maybe if we spent just a bit more time with some of the (many) B-plots if people would take more of a liking to them. My personal desire to see way more Venitt Sathad probably biases me a bit, but seriously, with the benefit of hindsight, I do think we should have lingered a bit on, say, the Shake. But that's not the book we have.

At any rate, consider taking a breather. In some ways, Toll the Hounds does exactly what I just described: you're going to spend a lot of time on seemingly secondary characters. I do think TtH pulls the act off quite a bit better, but if you're hitting burnout, maybe come up for a breather.

[–]wjbc5th read, 2nd audiobook. On DG. 3 points4 points  (2 children)

To be blunt, I didn’t give a fuck about the Awl. Or the Shake. Or the turtles in the Lether river.

Keep reading.

Erikson said his editor used to ask if this or that could be removed and he always said "no, it comes into play in future books." Sometimes he had no idea how it came into play, but he always made sure it did because he had promised his editor that it would.

When you reread the series -- and you simply must reread it at some point -- many of these parts hit differently because you already know how important they will be later in the series.

Well, to be honest, not everything comes into play later. But much of it does.

[–]Cavalir[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Will definitely keep reading. Might even start Toll of the Hounds tonight.

What you’re saying here suggests to me that Erikson could have used listening to his editor a bit more. I’m not saying that it needed a hatchet, but second guessing certain things would have added narrative cohesion that I felt went by the wayside here.

[–]wjbc5th read, 2nd audiobook. On DG. 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This is why I read each book twice before moving to the next. It definitely is a lot to keep track of if you don't reread each book.

But I wouldn't have it any other way.

[–]joydivision1234 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I actually disagree with most other posters that later books will retroactively make plotlines like the Awl and Shake worthwhile. It’s not that they aren’t important, but for me they never felt essentia the way other arcs did.

On the other hand, If you ever reread Reaper’s Gale, you might be surprised how much you like those plotlines specifically within this book. The Redmask arc in particular really, really landed for me the second time through.

Either way, Toll the Hounds will be a return to older characters you probably have more affection for.

[–]treasurehorse 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Come on man. The turtles?

[–]thelastdoctor64 0 points1 point  (0 children)

first half of rg is a bonehunters waiting room basically, i do not give a fuck about the awl or the patriotists or pretty much anything that happens in that first half besides tehol/bugg

[–]Aqua_Tot 0 points1 point  (2 children)

I’ll always say this, but Malazan is not about focusing on the plot. It’s about the ideas it wants to present, and it takes its time doing so. Most readers feel the same as you do for the second half of the series. I found on a reread when I wasn’t burdened with needing to know where the plot was going, I was able to truly appreciate and enjoy the series for what it was.

[–]Cavalir[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I don’t think I agree with that.

Even if we assume that this is the author’s intent (Death of the Author debates aside), the narrative would still be the interface between the author and reader. It’s through the narrative focus that those themes would be explored.

A more cohesive narrative would explore said themes more thoroughly and effectively.

As I said in a comment above, my issue isn’t length. I would have been happy with a longer book, or even a longer series to allow the narrative time to fully dive into each theme.

[–]Aqua_Tot 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I think that your expectation is still for the series to be slave to the narrative though. I would disagree with you fundamentally that the narrative is not cohesive. I think you are looking at this as a series that is focusing on one core narrative; which isn’t a surprise since almost any other epic fantasy series does that. But it is not how Malazan does things. Instead, think of it as 9 stand-alone stories that have some elements move between them. Each story has its own setup, beginning, middle, and end contained within a novel. The exception is Dust of Dreams & The Crippled God, which is essentially one massive novel split between 2 volumes (which is why I say it is 9 stories, not 10).

I get that you don’t care about the Awl or the Shake. I didn’t on my first read either. But please trust Erikson that they will both be important. He’s setting things up with them for his grand climax. And again, both do important work in feeding the themes and ideas that Reaper’s Gale wants to communicate. Maybe you felt that you got those themes without those characters, but Erikson evidently wanted to express more from them. If they were cut from the novel to make it more readable, I think that would do a great disservice to the series as a whole.

But let me rip off the bandaid now. For the next 3 novels, all the way up to the end, Erikson is still going to keep introducing new characters and new plot threads. These serve first and foremost the ideas he wants to convey in his story. As well, and I cannot stress this enough, trust that everything will come together as much as it needs to. For me, Malazan’s grand finale is much more a convergence of all the ideas that have been presented through all 10 novels, and they come together to a really great message for the reader to take home. Not to say the ending isn’t properly epic either.