The Crippled God - Steven Erikson - The Spoiler Thread

While I just got it yesterday, I haven’t had a chance to crack it open yet and am looking forward to business travel this afternoon to give me that opportunity.

Figured I’d start a thread for a discussion on the 10th and final volume of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, without mucking up other peoples enjoyment of the series with spoilers in the book thread or the “Steven Erikson… WTF?!” thread.

Very much looking forward to seeing how it all plays out in the end here. All the initial early reviews have been positive, but I’m really just waiting to see some of the aftermath of what the last 2 books have wrought on the world there, and how the Bonehunters recover from the end of the last book.

So you started a spoiler thread…without spoilers.

Hood kills Dumbledore!

What people are saying is that the book is good and filled with stuff, but inconclusive on certain points.

I had the privilege of exchanging a couple of messages privately with Erikson and… there may be reasons why it’s inconclusive.

Your air of mystery intrigues me, sir. Did you write about this on your blog last year?

Seriously though, what do you mean?

My understanding is that he has signed for a trilogy in the Malazan world.

I simply mean that there’s a conclusive end, but it takes a bit more contribution to be fully realized. Euri is right, but that’s a whole different piece to add.

More relevant are going to be Esslemont books that complete Erikson series. I’ve been forbidden to reveal the specifics so this is as much I can say.

From what I understand the problem was that Esslemont arrived a bit “late”, and so Erikson had to push a bit on the brake in this last book in order to coordinate the definitive conclusion.

I have yet to actually read an Esslemont book, but I feel I need to with what little I know happens in them.

The Return of the Crimson Guard is quite essential, in my opinion, post the Malaz Isle fracas in The Bonehunters.

Just bought this on Kindle to read later (which was a surprise as I didn’t think it was going to get a simultaneous kindle release).

It’s my understanding that a lot of the major subplots from the main 10 book series are going to be finished outside of it, just as we’ve already seen with Return of the Crimson Guard. I believe there is going to be a separate book dealing with Karsa’s destroy the world ambitions, one wrapping up the rumblings of Kallor ruling over Darujistan and some more stuff on the barely visited continent of Assail.

Anyone who has missed out on the necromancer novellas in the Malaz world should do themselves a favour and catch up, much more playful than most of the main series they veer into Pratchett-esque territory very capably.

I think they are also going to publish some kind of official Malaz encyclopedia which will probably be of great help on a re-read.

Getting back to spoilers (at least vague ones), the defense of the Shore thread is phenomenal. I never really liked the Shake, but their prince does indeed kick ass.

I was pretty disappointed with Sandalath in that line. Though lots of characters in that world act the same in that world.

Yeah, she did pitch a bit of a hissy fit.

I’m not done yet, but I’m getting really sick of hearing about man vs nature.

I get it. Let’s move on.

I’m about 300 pages in, and enjoying the usual Erikson buildup that he does towards the larger battles and scenes as things get into place.

So many questions, but I think if even 1/3 to half get answered I’d be happy. The 14th Daughter is growing on me quite a bit here, and dammit if Hood isn’t great when he makes an appearance. A lot of little great things going on.

Hood is well portrayed. He’s a bit of an ass and does whatever he wants, which works for the character both because he’s recently retired and because the guy’s been around forever. I’m glad he wasn’t set up as some kind of Gandalf for that group of characters.

Just finished. Massive spoilers follow with wild abandon.

Overall impression is pretty great. Depending on your viewpoint Erikson either starts to get a little tropey with himself by the end (the endless, no hoper march springs to mind), or carefully pulls together the themes of the whole series to create an emotionally satisfying climax.

He doesn’t try to wrap everything up in a neat bow; I’d say about half the mysteries and sub plots raised over the course of the book are still left floating by the end of The Crippled God. What he does deliver is emotionally satisfying character endings for most of the major characters still left alive (and even some that are dead, or sort of dead). I liked the series ending epilogue that symmetrically closes the series as it began (in a self-aware way).

What’s left when the dust settles? As anticipated Karsa is still kicking around, yet to fulfil his character arc - he does get a nice legend building cameo in The Crippled God though. Darujhistan is still bubbling away in the background ready to be the subject of another book, its main cast including Kallor getting minor cameos. The never-ending mystery of Quick Ben is given some extra building up that I found quite opaque but he also doesn’t feel quite ‘done’ yet as a character either. That other mystery mage; Tayschrenn, is also still at large, though his character arc appears to have become a sub-plot in Esslemont’s books now.

Errastas vs Draconus and Ganoes Paran - there was a lot of talk about these three characters meeting one another but so far they haven’t finally faced off. There is also a larger plot still swirling around these characters about the Elder Gods/Holds vs the New Gods/Warrens. Kurald Emurlahn - will it ever get all joined up again? There is still a lot of opaqueness swirling around it’s shattering (I’m still not entirely clear if it was Dragons, Elder Gods, Icarium or something else that broke it into pieces). Icarium on his own probably has a book still in him, there is a hint right at the end of The Crippled God that his memory might finally be returning but if it does what exactly will he do?

Some of the implications of the ending are also still a bit mysterious, did Cottillon have to kill the Crippled God to free him to leave? Skinner gets mentioned but never actually shows up with his piece of the Crippled God. I’m guessing he must have had other plans for it elsewhere (perhaps Assail? Is that where he went with his rebel guard faction).

Other random mysteries. Ardarta - Elder goddess of spiders. She’s been lurking around shadow (mostly via Iskaral Pust) since the beginning and did some kind of crazy ritual on Mappo who now appears to be dead. Mallick Rel; he’s yet to get his final comeuppance will a reinvigorated Host return to the Malazan Empire to give it to him? What exactly was Ruthan Gudd? How long has Tavore been in the Talon? There are probably many more minor ones lurking.

I got the impression (and it needs a re-read) that Cotillion’s assassination of the Crippled God was just a classic Shadow betrayal; he and Shadowthrone simply couldn’t afford to have someone of the CG’s capabilities running around (in any dimension) that they couldn’t control. It was a complete surprise to everyone but the two of them. Cotillion did it because, hey, he’s the God of Assassins. That’s the moment he was moping over for the entire book; he killed what was essentially a force for “good” at that point in time.
He and ST have always been tricky bastards.

Draconus and Ganoes don’t have any beef with each other. Oponn and Draconus are hunting the Errant; as soon as Oponn flushes him out, Draconus will kill him. If Kilmandaros couldn’t stop Draconus, there’s absolutely no way the Errant can. The Elders considered Draconus capable of killing the otataral dragon, after all.

I expected more of Ruthan Gudd. He confirms that he’s Elder, but denies being a god. Another child of Draconus? Some kind of Stormrider Ascendant? He reminded me a bit of Loric in terms of a being completely pointless demigod character.

Mallick will hang around for a while, I think. There’s no obvious successor and Grub is coming into his own as the “First Sword of the Later Malazan Empire”, as I think he was called out in Deadhouse Gates.

It was a good book, but the whole man vs nature thing felt belabored. And, oh, the poetry…way too much.

I’d lean to that interpretation if there wasn’t so much buildup of the Malazan/Bonehunter/Tavore sympathy for the Crippled God and how satisfied they seem with the final result. If it was a complete shadow betrayal unanticipated by anyone you’d expect Tavore and so on to be a little pissed by how things shook down. I guess you could also assume that noone of regular power levels bar Fiddler and Koryk knows exactly what Cotillon did at the end.

Another interpretation is perhaps careful use of the word’s ‘release’ and ‘free’ perhaps the Crippled God was thinking of them in the sense of he being able to run around doing his thing or being sent home while the other characters were thinking of ‘releasing’ him from his pain to the oblivion of death. Both are a kind of kindness, especially if there actually was no way to send him back. Perhaps the foreign place he originally came from no longer exists? Maybe it was necessary to fool him into thinking it was one kind of release to get him into an unchained mortal body so he could finally be killed? On the other hand, Shadowthrone and Cotillion did seem to suspect that all the Gods would be after them after what they did…

No, but Errastas has a portfolio beef with Ganoes (there is a lot about this in Dust of Dreams) and Draconus has a beef with Errastas for masterminding the Otataral dragon release plan. Though really that Korabas release seems to have been crucial to the whole Crippled God unchaining plan anyway.

You can add Silverfox to that weird pile of super powered characters that got built up and seemingly just hung out somewhere else during the last couple of books. I think L’oric had a cameo in the Liosian realm during Stonewielder, but he must have wandered off before the battle with the Shake.

Well there is the vague possibility of a Paran family takeover. Tavore is constantly referenced as having that indefinable something that makes people do things for her, she’s definitely not above making hard choices and she might possibly even have a secret Talon network to rival whatever is left of the claw. Ganoes has the ‘High Fist’ title and and a full understanding of the implications of a heavily Moranth munitions equipped army on military tactics - and that’s without considering his playing card kung fu powers. They are both described as children of the empire too.

Whether they would have the inclination to take it over and deal with all the political bullshit in which Mallick Rel thrives I am much more doubtful. Plus, the brother and sister battlefield reunion is a great ending to their family saga.

There is also a young Coltaine reborn who is of similar age to Grub and would no doubt make an excellent ally of the young future First Sword.

I think the Bonehunters are done. That was the campaign of a lifetime; the only thing left for them to do is say goodbye to the Fellowship and sail off into the West. Tavore especially has to be burnt out at this point.

Also, another reason for me to re-read: was Fener a willing sacrifice or was that a bit of a surprise for him? It seems like he got double-teamed by Gesler/Stormy summoning him and Karsa killing him, but I’m not sure whether or not he knew that was coming.

There is a key scene with Fener and The Errant/Errastas in I think Reapers Gale, he says something about how he is pretty much done as a God and is just hiding out until a big enough battle forces him to fully manifest when he expects to be killed. I’m guessing that exiled gods are frequently killed by other gods while they are vulnerable as was the case here with Shadowthrone via the Bridgeburners & The Crippled God arranging to have Karsa kill Fener when he manifested to fulfil one of his many vows.

There is also a fair amount of evidence that Stormy, Gesler and Heboric formed the full Shield Anvil, Mortal Sword, Destriant roles for Fener before he fell. I don’t think his sacrifice was willing but nor do I think he was very surprised to die.