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Literature: Deadhouse Gates
Coltaine rattles slow
across the burning land.
The wind howls through the bones
of his hate-ridden command.
Coltaine leads a chain of dogs
ever snapping at his hand.

Coltaine's fist bleeds the journey home
along rivers of red-soaked sand.
His train howls through his bones
in spiteful reprimand.
Coltaine leads a chain of dogs
ever snapping at his hand.

A marching song of the Bonehunters

Deadhouse Gates is the second book of ten in Malazan Book of the Fallen, and the first in the Seven Cities arc. It was released in 2000, and is preceded by Gardens of the Moon.

Following the death of Adjunct Lorn in Darujhistan, the Empress has chosen Tavore Paran, sister of Ganoes Paran, as her replacement. Tavore's first act as Adjunct is as politically logical as it is callous: the noble houses of Unta are purged, and her younger sister Felisin with them. Felisin is shipped to the otataral mines as a slave along with the handless historian Heboric and the silent Baudin.

On the subcontinent of the Seven Cities, Dryjhna the Apocalyptic — the Whirlwind Goddess — has chosen a mortal prophet, Sha'ik. Religious fanatics are stirring up anti-Malazan sentiments, proclaiming that the Whirlwind, a religiously mandated uprising, is at hand. As historian Duiker finds himself on site, he witnesses as Coltaine, the newly-appointed Fist in the region, starts preparing his forces for the protection of the seemingly-inevitable exodus of Malazan civilians across the continent that will take place.

Elsewhere, the wandering duo known as Mappo Runt and Icarium find that a convergence of shapeshifters is going to take place soon. The amnesiac Icarium finds himself drawn as well, and the pair set off.

Oblivious to the troubles of the Seven Cities, Crokus and Apsalar, both free from their respective gods now, attempt to cross the Holy Desert Raraku, the sacred centre of the Whirlwind, on their way to Apsalar's old home. Two Bridgeburners, Fiddler and the assassin Kalam, are escorting them — but Raraku is a special place, and this is not the first time it has seen Bridgeburners.

Followed by Memories of Ice.

This book provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Chekhov's Gunman: Sha'ik's bodyguards are not merely eccentric and deadly; remember Leoman of the Flails and Toblakai for later, because they are Important.
  • Crossing the Desert: All of the plotlines involve a crossing of a desert — either the Holy Desert Raraku or the Otataral Desert — or a very hot and dry region at some point.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Apsalar's plan for getting into Tremorlor, the Azath House, is to walk up and open the door. Much to her surprise, but not anyone else's, it fails.
  • The Reveal: A major one pertaining to the Myth Arc: Shadowthrone and Cotillion are actually Kellanved and Dancer ascended.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: The Chain of Dogs storyline ends with Coltaine and his soldiers slain within sight of the walls of Aren, and sees Duiker and ten thousand soldiers crucified, when their superior in Aren panics and tries to placate the Army of the Apocalypse's leaders, which only sees him killed. The only reason the Dog was not Shot as well is because the metaphorical Dog succeeded at its mission.
  • Too Dumb to Live: At the climax of the Chain of Dogs arc, High Fist Pormqual panics when he notices the size of the enemy army besieging the city and attempts to surrender. All his officers agree that the city can hold easily against a siege, but Pormqual overrides them and marches most of the garrison outside to disarm—evidently forgetting that the Chain of Dogs happened because the uprising was conducting a pogrom against the "Mezla" outsiders. He is killed out of hand, and his army is crucified.
  • Wham Episode:
    • In the scene when Sha'ik fulfills the prophecy by opening the Book of Dryjna, all expectations are thrown aside as she is unexpectedly shot in the head.
    • Felisin, Heboric and Kulp are ambushed by Gryllen inside the Whirlwind. Kulp is murdered, and Baudin suddenly returns to save them in a gruesome Heroic Sacrifice which leaves Felisin broken, providing the set up for the next wham:
    • After several chapters hinting at Apsalar journeying to Sha'ik's corpse to enact her prophecised resurrection, Felisin arrives instead.
    • The slaughter of Coltaine and the entire 7th Army at the novel's climax is remembered as one of the most shocking moments in the series.

Gardens of the MoonLiterature/Malazan Book of the FallenMemories of Ice
Dead BeatLiterature of the 2000sDead Is
Gardens of the MoonFantasy LiteratureMemories of Ice

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