Saturday, June 19

Crossing a crowded marketplace

Nothing good was going to come of this, Bottle knew, but he also recognized the necessity and so walked uncomplaining in Ebron's company as the cut across the round with its heaving, shouting throng locked in a frenzy of buying and selling and consuming - like seabirds flocking to a single rock day after day, reliving the same rituals that built up a life in layers of ... well don't hedge now ... of guano. Of course, one man's shit was another man's... whatever.

There was a hidden privilege in being a solider, he decided. He had been pushed outside normal life, protected from the rigours of meeting most basic needs - food, drink, clothes,shelter: all of these were provided to him in some form or other. And family, don't forget that. All in exchange for the task of delivering terrible violence; only every now and then to be sure, for such things could not be sustained over long periods of time without crushing the capacity for feeling, without devouring a mortal's humanity

In that context, Bottle reconsidered - with a dull spasm of anguish deep inside - maybe the exchange wasn't that reasonable after all. Less a privilege than a burden, a curse. Seeing the faces in this crowd flashing past, a spinning, whirling cascade of masks - each a faintly stunning alternative to his own - he felt himself not simply pushed outside, but estranged. Leaving him bemused, even perturbed, as he witnessed their seemingly mindless, pointless activities, only to find himself envious of these shallow, undramatic lives - wherein the only need was satiation. Possession, stuffed bellies, expanding heaps of coin.

What do any of you know about life?
he wanted to ask. Try stumbling through a burning city. Try cradling a dying friend with blood like tattered shrouds on all sides. Try glancing to an animated face beside you, only to glance a second time and find it empty, lifeless.
A soldier knew what was real and what was ephemeral.
A soldier understood how thin, how fragile, was the fabric of life.

Could one feel envy when looking upon the protected, ignorant lives of others - those people who cloistered faith saw strength in weakness, who found hope in the false assurance of routine? Yes, beacause once you become aware of that fragility, there is no going back. You lose a thousand masks and are left with but one, with its faint lines of contempt, its downturned mouth only a comment away from a sneer, its promise of cold indifference.
Gods, we're just goign for a walk here. I don't need to be thinking any of this.

From: A dust of Dreams (A tale of the Malazan book of the Fallen ) page 262 Book #9 in a 10 part series by Steven Erikson.

For some reason, books classified as Fantasy are automatically classified as something sub-par. Even below big brother Science Fiction. Neither will ever be classified as 'Literature'.
Sometimes you have to wonder why.


  1. Yes, I finally got around to starting on Dust of Dreams. I'd pre-ordered the paperback version but had to wait for the 2nd printing as there'd been more pre-orders than books in the first printing.
    This has been a regular occurance since book #3 came out. It's no Harry Potter but still, you'd think that they'd be able to notice the trend by now?

  2. I still have to buy a new copy of book 3 (or 4) after I left it in the plane before I can continue. It is amazing prose. It should be regarded much higher, but I don't really know if it matters. There are tonnes of people devouring his work. What some snobbish literature insiders think should not matter too much. Personally I think it is not good I can't handle more than one a year. So I will have 7 more beautiful years ahead of me.

    My latest book was "The Blade Itself" by Joe Abercrombie. It is book one of a three book series. Really nice. Erikson-lite-ish.

    Naamah's Kiss was also ouot in paperback in the States so I have picked that up as well. Which reminds me I still have to make a quick review post about Jacqueline Carey's last two books.

  3. I read the Abercombe tirlogy. Bought the three books in one go. Wasn't that impressed with it. It starts out ok but in book two it becomes obvious Abercombe is being "Nitty and Gritty" (including the parantheses) for the sake of being "Nitty and Gritty". Thankfully he doesn't quite fall in the trap George R Martin finds himself in (creating new characters for the sake of having someone to have horrible things happen to for a book or two before killing them off) which resulted in a 5 part story being smeared out over 8+ books.

    Steve Erikson's books are subtitled "Malazan tales of the Fallen" and despite that warning he gives you a hefty blow to the stomach every other book. But he's not doing it because it's the current trend. He's not a one trick pony, luckily.

    I still have to get and read #2 of Jacqueline Carey's second trilogy. If only to fill the gap in the story. Naamah's kiss is also somewhere on the to read list. Mostly been reading historical novels by Conn Iggulden and Bernard Cornwell of late though. Isgh. My reading slwoed down to about a trilogy a month when I was working day-shift. Been picking up sine I went back to shifts. Forgot my book today though, so lots of commenting to do :-)

  4. Good to know. I might skip the second and third book then. Plenty of other books to read.