A Close Reading of TSA (First Post)

  • 6 Replies
  • 1743 Views

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Wolfdrop

  • *
  • Momurai
  • **
  • Posts: 92
    • View Profile
« on: October 27, 2015, 10:25:11 pm »
Hey guys, first post over at the forum. I’ve posted a few times on the reddit page with a few bits and bobs but had a longer post in the works so figured here would be a better place for it. Long-ass post inbound with some (minor) spoilers but bear with me!

First and foremost, this isn’t a criticism of the books. They’re my tied favorite series with Malazan, and are arguably the best written fantasy or sci-fi I’ve read. It’s for this reason (and a little OCD) that I’ve re-read them particularly carefully and picked out a few things I can’t help but notice. Some of these are spelling/naming consistencies and other are interesting cultural bits which could be intentional or me over thinking things (likely). 

I’ll start with the inconsistencies. I can never decide whether these are simply mistakes, or are thrown in purpose to give a sense of history being unreliable or told from different perspectives. That’s what I tell my OCD anyway if it's not curled in a ball trembling at my unmatching covers.

In the Canadian editions of TDTCB, the prologue has the sentence: “But no army of inhuman Sranc had scaled its ramparts.” Whereas in the US and UK editions its: “But no army, human or inhuman, had scaled its ramparts.” The Canadian one also list of all the languages and dialects and how they are related that is absent in other editions. The character and faction glossary for PoN is also ordered by Nation/School rather than alphabetically, which I found more useful personally.

The skinspy Gaortha is alternately spelled Gaortha and Gaorta.

Allosian Forum and Allosium Forum change about.

The capital of Zeum is “Domiot” whenever written and “Domyot” on the maps.

The Circumfix Kellhus is bound to changes from bronze to iron between TWP and TTT.

Diacritical marks come and go for names and places between books, sometimes disappearing then returning.

The No-God changes between Tsurumah and Tsuramah.

Kosoter’s armour changes from scale to splint between the prologue of TJE and everything else. Even though it’s clearly the same armour, it’s described as reeking, hoary and old.

Captain Harnilias changes to Captain Harnilas between TJE and TWLW. In not only the main text but the character and faction glossary.

Zsoronga’s eyes are described as brown and noticed by Sorweel in TJE, though he’s ethnically a Satyothi. It changes to green (as it should be) in TWLW and its commented by Sorweel and someone else I think.

That’s off the top of my head. I think I’m going to make a list of them all on my next re-read. The main annoyance was when an alternative spelling changed the way something was pronounced. Harn-ill-uss, Harn-illy-uss etc. But I can remember spellings changing a few more than I’ve listed.

Now for the more interesting part that may or may not be intentional but none the less made me really appreciate Bakker as a writer.

Better to finish on the positive note, so here’s my observation. Apologies if these have been noted before.

The Kellian Empire incorporates many traits from its constituent nations, taking the old Nansur Empire as its foundation. This is reflected in a number of aesthetic choices.

Kellhus keeps the Kidruhil, the famed heavy cavalry unit of Nansur. In the PoN, there banner is the Black Sun halved by a horse’s head. The New Empire’s Kidruhil banner is a gold horse under a black circumfix on red, which is coincidently, a recolouring of Athjeari’s banner from the First Holy War ( a red horse under a black circumfix, presumably on blue), one of the First Holy War’s most, if not the most important cavalry units. I really hope this was done by Kellhus (or Bakker) in honour of Athjeari, cause the “wind has teeth” was one awesome motherfucker. Does Saubon see this and subliminally think of his favoured nephew?

Esmenet is painted in white cosmetics in TAE. Not just her face but arms etc., a tradition before seen only in Ainon.

Much of the apparel of the New Empire uses the Nansur as its base. As Exalt-General, Proyas wears a golden breastplate instead of mail and a silver mask, adopting the Nansur uniform seen worn by Conphas and Matermus in PoN. Though he ties his blue general’s cloak around his waist like a war-skirt, keeping a part of the old Conriyan uniform alive.

Kosoter’s helmet is described as being conical and “curving back like a single ram’s horn”.
I guessed it could be like a Maratha helmet: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/3d/15/a2/3d15a2d0cf8164b8e18dfa5434ada298.jpg

A fitting style for an antique Three Seas armour, influenced as it is by the Middle East.

Kellhus wears the same armour for his meeting with the Nonman Embassy that Anaxophus is wearing in Achamians final dream at the end of TTT. Down to the lions embossed on the breastplate.

Ratakila means Bloodmane. Retorum Ratas means Red Towers. If we look at the “rata” part, assuming rata is “blood” and “ratas” is red, then maybe in Ainoni, the word for red is derived from the word for blood or vice versa.

In TAE, Skaiyelt is reported as dying in glory as a matyr during the Holy War. He died shitting blood from hemoplexy. Not that the Ministrate would ever let that be known as the truth.

There’s interesting parallels between the Eothic Guard and the Germanic and Varangian Guard. Picked not only for their appearance, size and strength, but because they would have little interest in the politics and schemes of the Roman and Byzantine Empires respectively. Likely the same reasons the Eothic Guard are mercenaries out a Cepalor.

That’s all I can think of for now. All criticism is welcome.

I’m looking forward to discussing the books with you guys :).

Wilshire

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • Enshoiya
  • Posts: 4891
  • Do you remember the words?!
    • View Profile
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2015, 11:04:37 pm »
Hey guys, first post over at the forum. I’ve posted a few times on the reddit page with a few bits and bobs but had a longer post in the works so figured here would be a better place for it. Long-ass post inbound with some (minor) spoilers but bear with me!

Welcome. I can't help but wonder what the Malazan inconsistencies do to you psyche ;). FYI, spoiler tags are to be used in subforums to info past that point in the series. As luck would have it, this is a spoiler free-for-all zone, so you're good.

As for most of your post, spelling and names, most of that is probably just sub-par editing, and/or inevitable in large works. 



I’ll start with the inconsistencies. I can never decide whether these are simply mistakes, or are thrown in purpose to give a sense of history being unreliable or told from different perspectives. That’s what I tell my OCD anyway if it's not curled in a ball trembling at my unmatching covers.
I hear ya, especially the bold. I've been hunting matching covers for Malazan since I started, somewhat unsuccessfully.
As for unmatching Bakker, there are a few sets that are consistent all the way through.
  There is the set with faces that starts at TDTCB. I believe they are available in large edition softcover as well as hardcover
  Rankine's original PoN covers are a favorite of mine, though that design doesn't carry though to the last series.
  There is a set of mosaic-style softcovers that carry though all the books so far, at least in US editions, and they might be hardcovers in UK (not sure on that).

In the Canadian editions of TDTCB, the prologue has the sentence: “But no army of inhuman Sranc had scaled its ramparts.” Whereas in the US and UK editions its: “But no army, human or inhuman, had scaled its ramparts.” The Canadian one also list of all the languages and dialects and how they are related that is absent in other editions. The character and faction glossary for PoN is also ordered by Nation/School rather than alphabetically, which I found more useful personally.

Going to have to ask you to be more specific with "canadian" and "US and UK". Every edition of TDTCB I've got, regardless of edition, print, or hc/sc reads "But no army of inhuman Sranc had scaled its ramparts." ... and I've got 5+ different ones, though they are all Overlook published. (btw, I'm not a fan of Overlook).

Also potentially noteworthy, are any of those referenced from Kindle versions? Turns out that Bakker's books, including TSA and Neuropath, have had some noteable omissions in the kindle version, with whole pages or sections missing. Did I mention Overlook is terrible? Anyway, again, in all the version of TDTCB that I've got, the language/dialect reference stuff is in the back.


The skinspy Gaortha is alternately spelled Gaortha and Gaorta.

Allosian Forum and Allosium Forum change about.

The capital of Zeum is “Domiot” whenever written and “Domyot” on the maps.

The Circumfix Kellhus is bound to changes from bronze to iron between TWP and TTT.
The map and the bronze -> iron switch is a bit irritating.

Diacritical marks come and go for names and places between books, sometimes disappearing then returning.
You aren't the first to notice this, though I can't say I've ever really payed attention to them. I just guess at the pronunciation.



Zsoronga’s eyes are described as brown and noticed by Sorweel in TJE, though he’s ethnically a Satyothi. It changes to green (as it should be) in TWLW and its commented by Sorweel and someone else I think.
This sounds noteworthy, especially if other characters noticed. Can't say I spotted this, maybe something important happened here. Nice find.


I wouldn't worry too much about the spelling/pronunciation if you can help it. Bakker so far has refused to suggest correct pronunciations for most everything.


Now for the more interesting part that may or may not be intentional but none the less made me really appreciate Bakker as a writer.

Better to finish on the positive note, so here’s my observation. Apologies if these have been noted before.

The Kellian Empire incorporates many traits from its constituent nations, taking the old Nansur Empire as its foundation. This is reflected in a number of aesthetic choices.

Kellhus keeps the Kidruhil, the famed heavy cavalry unit of Nansur. In the PoN, there banner is the Black Sun halved by a horse’s head. The New Empire’s Kidruhil banner is a gold horse under a black circumfix on red, which is coincidently, a recolouring of Athjeari’s banner from the First Holy War ( a red horse under a black circumfix, presumably on blue), one of the First Holy War’s most, if not the most important cavalry units. I really hope this was done by Kellhus (or Bakker) in honour of Athjeari, cause the “wind has teeth” was one awesome motherfucker. Does Saubon see this and subliminally think of his favoured nephew?
Nice eye for detail. Thats pretty cool. Also, I know a few people around here who appreciate Athjeari as do you ;).


Kosoter’s helmet is described as being conical and “curving back like a single ram’s horn”.
I guessed it could be like a Maratha helmet: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/3d/15/a2/3d15a2d0cf8164b8e18dfa5434ada298.jpg

A fitting style for an antique Three Seas armour, influenced as it is by the Middle East.
Awesome.

Kellhus wears the same armour for his meeting with the Nonman Embassy that Anaxophus is wearing in Achamians final dream at the end of TTT. Down to the lions embossed on the breastplate.
Another great catch. Imo, 0% chance that is an accident.

Ratakila means Bloodmane. Retorum Ratas means Red Towers. If we look at the “rata” part, assuming rata is “blood” and “ratas” is red, then maybe in Ainoni, the word for red is derived from the word for blood or vice versa.
Someone I know tried to derive some meaning/alphabet from that single phrase. Never went anywhere though. Having more than a single point of reference would be nice.



Great first post :).
One of the other conditions of possibility.

H

  • *
  • The Zero-Mod
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • The Honourable H
  • Posts: 1937
  • The Original No-God Apologist
    • View Profile
    • The Original No-God Apologist
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2015, 10:27:47 am »
Great first post :).

Indeed, great post, great to have you here.

There is at least one (well, two) more examples of things changing spelling: chapter 16 of TWP has Nil'giccas spelled Nil'gikas and Anasûrimbor Nymeric spelled Nymeric.   Frankly, I am sure these are just editing failures.

The map has changed in other ways too, most notably the location of Sakarpus.

Hope to see you in our other threads!
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

Madness

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • Conversational Batman
  • Posts: 4928
  • Strength on the Journey - Journey Well
    • View Profile
    • The Second Apocalypse
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2015, 01:45:36 pm »
Can't go back through them right now but welcome to the Second Apocalypse, Wolfdrop. Glad you found your way and our ineptitude didn't keep you from registering for too long.

A couple I told GJ last night were the two inconsistencies that I remember Bakker's mentioned.

Firstly, Bakker claims that in one of the editions of PON one of the dates given at the beginning of a chapter is years off. As well, and I think more importantly but what can you do, that the historical notation by Kellhus referencing the Cuno-Inchoroi Wars are a thousand years off (that one I know there is a link for somewhere - have to find it later).
The Existential Scream
Weaponizing the Warrior Pose - Declare War Inwardly
carnificibus: multus sanguis fluit
Die Better
The Theory-Killer

Wilshire

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • Enshoiya
  • Posts: 4891
  • Do you remember the words?!
    • View Profile
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2015, 02:19:19 pm »
The map has changed in other ways too, most notably the location of Sakarpus.


This one is pretty glaring. The location of an entire city migrates significantly between PoN and TAE, and in such a way that really does change the journey of The Great Ordeal.
One of the other conditions of possibility.

Wolfdrop

  • *
  • Momurai
  • **
  • Posts: 92
    • View Profile
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2015, 06:49:40 pm »
Thanks for the warm welcome guys!

Quote
I hear ya, especially the bold. I've been hunting matching covers for Malazan since I started, somewhat unsuccessfully.
As for unmatching Bakker, there are a few sets that are consistent all the way through.
  There is the set with faces that starts at TDTCB. I believe they are available in large edition softcover as well as hardcover
  Rankine's original PoN covers are a favorite of mine, though that design doesn't carry though to the last series.

I first bought the Orbit TDTCB as it was the one in the bookshop. I managed to get the Penguin editions second-hand in like-new conditions with the Rankine covers after that. I really like those ones. My TAE editions are Penguin as well, those covers are pretty cool too. I can't help but feel that Orbit's covers are ruined by the big face. Would look great with just the mosaic design.

I have one Overlook edition of TTT for loaning out. The covers all curled up really bad soon after I got it, and the pages are difficult to open, like the binding goes right up to the margin. Never bought an Overlook copy since but will be getting their hardcover of The Great Ordeal if it's the first available. The small paperback format is my favorite.

Quote
Going to have to ask you to be more specific with "canadian" and "US and UK". Every edition of TDTCB I've got, regardless of edition, print, or hc/sc reads "But no army of inhuman Sranc had scaled its ramparts." ... and I've got 5+ different ones, though they are all Overlook published. (btw, I'm not a fan of Overlook).

Also potentially noteworthy, are any of those referenced from Kindle versions? Turns out that Bakker's books, including TSA and Neuropath, have had some noteable omissions in the kindle version, with whole pages or sections missing. Did I mention Overlook is terrible? Anyway, again, in all the version of TDTCB that I've got, the language/dialect reference stuff is in the back.

Sorry, to clarify: US= Overlook Canada = Penguin and UK = Orbit

It's the Orbit edition that doesn't use the word sranc and doesn't have the language stuff. You can see it on the amazon.co.uk preview.

The Sakarpus thing was the other big one that was bugging me, I was convinced I was just imagining it moving until I sat the maps side by side.

H

  • *
  • The Zero-Mod
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • The Honourable H
  • Posts: 1937
  • The Original No-God Apologist
    • View Profile
    • The Original No-God Apologist
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2015, 07:17:26 pm »
I'm guessing that they decided to lose the Sranc reference since realistically, no one could know what it really is describing until later anyway.

As for Sakarpus, pre-TJE, it is referred to as being in the "heart of the Istyuli Plains" while, in TJE and after, the Istyuli Plains are referred to as beginning North of Sakarpus.  I think once the story really reached there, Scott probably retought it's location and decided it made more sense to be closer in to the mountains, not out in the plains themselves.  I think this is because being just past the mountains makes more sense from the supply-chain aspect.  Being already remote makes it less realistic, since the chain would already be long in reaching there.
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira