Headscratchers / Malazan Book of the Fallen

This Troper can't be the only one getting mighty sick of the Implied Feats of Badass in this series, right? In particular: Mael was implied to have beaten the shit out of the Crippled God at the end of Memories Of Ice and to have had "a talk" with The Errant at the end of Reaper's Gale. Do we even get to see the aftermath of these Elder God beatdowns? No. Can we at least see Mael (Anomander Rake for that matter) actually fight someone - or does all the "on-screen" violent awesomeness only belong to Quick Ben and Karsa Orlong?
  • This editor agrees. Anomander Rake should have been allowed to kick much more butt than he did in Toll the Hounds. I also spent most of Midnight Tides and Reaper's Gale'' waiting for some Silchas Ruin action that never really came.
    • The Elder Gods don't fight each other much because such actions tend to be cataclysmic. Can there be such a thing as a subdued asskicking? For example, the mere existence of Tiam on Wu was implied to be the end of the world. Anomander can't so much as put his sword down without threatening to kill the Gaia-analogue. Erikson also studiously does not conserve ninjutsu, meaning Ruin or Rake going to fight virtually anyone would be rapid and without contest. Rake's one real sword duel in the entire series is with a demigod. Karsa spends a lot of time beating up on mooks and monsters; nobody else is really given that chance.

Granted, with Loads and Loads of Characters, not everyone's going to get a You Shall Not Pass or Last Dance. But really, I haven't read a death that felt as tacked-on as Trull Sengar's since Lupin and Tonks in Deathly Hallows. Even Dujek Onearm got a better death... and he died off screen in his sick bed.
  • Initially I felt the same way about nearly the entire last book, but there's something to be said for futility.

The number of just plain irritating characters is ridiculous. Karsa Orlong (hatehimsofreakingmuch!) and Hellian are the worst examples I can come up with, although Kruppe's pretty annoying, especially since he always wins. I hope him and Tehol stay on different continents.
  • All of those characters are awesome, and there's nothing I want more than a long chapter with Tehol and Kruppe. A whole book would be ideal, really. Seriously, if you don't like characters like Karsa Orlong (I admit, out of these guys, he's the one who does get on my nerves once in a while), Hellian, Tehol, and (especially) Kruppe, why do you even read this series? Do you just want apathetic depressed Malazan soldiers and Tiste Andii whining about how much life sucks?

Why do armies in the Malazan verse send their soldiers out to do battle in these large groups of several thousand who go marching across the landscape? I mean, we've seen there are quite a few sorcerors in the Malazans' world who can kill a thousand people with just a few blasts of magic. Add in stuff like dragon Soletakens and Moranth munitions, and a whole army could be decimated in minutes. You'd think the mighty, globe-spanning Malazan Empire, at least, would have switched to using guerilla tactics instead that don't make their armies such obvious targets for magic users.
  • The Malazans once had two very important factors which are gone at the start of the books: first was the elite mage corps, and the second was the Talon. Stealth assassins with a private pocket dimension and the best mages available to the human race made enemy mages effectively obsolete. The first book proceeds to kill most of the remaining High Mages, and by halfway through Tayschren has quit, for his own reasons. The Talon, and two of the most powerful mages, had left already. The Claw was stretched thin by this loss and then mismanaged into oblivion.
  • How about the marines' campaign in Lether? Small unit tactics - using mages as cover - taking on an empire sounds like this to me
  • You're forgetting; only the Malazan military have munitions, they've got their own mages who are pretty powerful, able to take on Anomander Rake. Also Soletaken aren't that common, most of the people they're fighting will just be ordinary humans.
    • But many, many times we're given scenes where mages kill hundreds, even thousands of soldiers within seconds. Militaries in the Malazan world have the supernatural equivalent of heavy artillery, but (at least in the first five books) they insist on using the battle tactics of a pre-artillery world.

How was Leoman able to injure the Hounds of Darkness? I can buy that Karsa could do it 'cause he's a giant, an Ascendant, has Anti-Magic in his blood, and wields an unbreakable, ghost-possessed sword. But Leoman just seems to be an ordinary guy who's good at using flails. Remember how the Hounds of Shadow were treated in Gardens of the Moon? They were able to massacre a small army without getting a scratch, and when Ganoes Paran injures one of them, it's taken as proof-positive that some sort of supernatural power is working through him. Given that, how can their much stronger cousins be injured so easily?

  • Because Leoman is really, really good with flails. The same way that Trull Sengar being really, really good with a spear let him fight a raging Icarium to a standstill and even start to gain the advantage, right up until his spear broke. You gotta remember, the series evolved from Erikson and Esslemont's GURPS campaign; in that system, if you have enough ranks in Stabbity Death you can use Stabbity Death to put the hurting on anything up to and including Eldritch Abominations despite your character being completely mundane, barring GM adjudication otherwise. It seems that the Malazan universe carries on in that vein and finest weapon masters can hit above their metaphysical weight class, letting them land injuries on Ascendants because they're just that damn good.

Maybe the reason was lost within the mass of text, or it was in one of the side stories... but why did Cotillion kill The Crippled God? Why didn't they just let him go home?

  • His physical body had to be killed in order for his soul to be able to go back to his own world.
    • In addition, that scene has a brief reference to Koryk which I think means a great deal.

For that matter, it wasn't clear to me what Karsa Orlong did that killed Fener...

  • Fener already was vulnerable after DG. Destroying the possibly last object he was worshipped with might have been the last straw needed to kill him.

I may have missed or forgotten something but I feel confusion about Quick Ben's and Shadowthrone's relation. In Gardens of the Moon its stated that Quick Ben was once a high rank member in the cult of shadow (maybe even High Priest, I am not sure at the moment). But his backstory revealed in later books shows that he joined Bridgeburners and met Kellenaved before he Ascended. Shadow cult as such existed before ascension of Shadowthrone but dialogue in The Gardens of the Moon seem to idicate that Quick Ben was still part of it when Shadowthrone came into power. Am I missing something or is this an actual plothole?

  • Quick Ben left the cult of Shadow when Kellanved ascended. The latter was pissed because he lost the potentially most powerful priest he would have had.

Was Corabb touched by Oponn? With all the chaos he was involved in and coming out unscathed, we he being manipulated by Oponn like Crokus and Ganoes?