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I just finished Richard Morgan's THE DARK DEFILES, book three in The Dark Court is clearly the group that Kovacs is with at the end of the third book. It would be damn great if his next project had some form of connection. So if you're not yet done with The Dark Defiles (or indeed any of the There's been a lot of debate/dispute about the ending of Defiles, . Also explores specific reasons behind western society's relationship with black men. The Dark Defiles Barat, a harbor-end pimp, was killed for causing fights in the coffle. Dakovash warns Ringil that chaos is gathering, and that the Dark Court is had a sexual relationship, and Hjel taught him the magic of the ikinri 'ska.
The story continues in the morning with Hjel and his band, along with Ringil and they have moved out of the Margins, where the world is solid again. A member of the court lets slip mention that the Black Sail gang has come for Ringil. Ringil goes down to the shore where Hjel is talking to them.
The Dark Defiles by Richard K. Morgan
The Black Sail gang are corpses wrapped in grave swaddling. Hjel has had dealings with them in the past, and trusts them. Hjel tells Ringil that they will take him where he wants to go. He says that he is not trying to get rid of Ringil, but there are greater forces at play, that "the cold legions" wrap around him. Ringil leaves with the Black Sail into the Margins. Ringil wakes up on a ship and smells dragon. He has recovered from the plague. He suits up and runs out to deck.
Lady Quilien of Gris had given an order to turn the boat about because they spotted a reef, which is really a raft used by the scaled folk for hatching. Ringil and the Lady Quilien talk, and Ringil learns she is the one who brought him on board, and that they are on their way to Yhelteth.
They smoke krinzanz twigs she offers, though she tells him she got it from his belongings. They want to harvest the dragondrift cuttings which they will sell for a good price. Out on the drift, the captain falls into the water and is lost. When they arrive in Yhelteth, a young girl has a message for Ringil as he disembarks. It is a cryptic message telling him to come quickly to the Temple of Red Joy.
Archeth calls to Ringil, who unexpectedly sees him. She takes him onto Shanta 's boat. They recruit Ringil to keep an expedition team in line. Ringil's story continues below.
Edit Egar is getting a shave in Yhelteth. He learns that some young Majak are part of the Citadel Guard, which surprises him. He returns to Archeth's house, but she is not home.
Egar has been spending his time working for Archeth, somewhat as her bodyguard due to her run-in with the Citadel in the previous novel. Egar learns that there are Citadel people watching the house. Egar goes to them and breaks the invigilator's collar bone, and seriously injures the other two, and tells them not to come around again. Egar gets up early in the morning, and goes to the Combined Irregulars barracks.
At the gate are Imperial Sons of the Desert southerners with desert-dark skin, almost Kiriath black. Egar is there to see Commander Darhan. He asks Darhan about the young Majak joining up with the Citadel. Egar is looking for a way in to get information about what's going on at the Citadel because of the people watching Archeth's place.
Darhan warns Egar not to get wrapped up in the Citadel vs Empire squabbles, but tells him to check out the Lizard's Head.
At the Lizard's Head, he learns there was a fight recently involving some northerners.
Pat's Fantasy Hotlist: The Dark Defiles
Half of them were wearing Citadel clothing. The publican tells him about Harathwho was there when the fight broke out.
Egar goes to find Harath, and asks him why steppe kids are working for the Citadel. Harath says he had followed Alnarh as an Ishlin-ichan brother to the Citadel. Alnarh went and converted to the Citadel. Technically Harath did, too, but only for the money. They were working for Menkarakwatching over slaves at a place called Afa'marag. Harath was kicked out due to an argument over a slave he had sex with. Egar takes Harath to lunch, and asks Harath to help him to break into Afa'marag.
Egar and Harath have a boatman take them up to the Afa'marag temple. There are Citadel guards posted there, so he won't stop close. They are dressed in black burglar's garb and charcoal smear. There are cracks in the old temple due to a volcanic eruption from long ago in the past. As they make their way in, Egar sees squat statues, the glirsht Naomic statues that Archeth had told him about. They run into some unexpected guards at the slave quarters.
There are three, Alnarh, Elkret, and another. They kill Alnarh and the other, but Harath asks Egar to spare Elkret who is badly injured. Harath went in to this mission not expecting to get in to battle. Even though it was Alnarh who turned him in, he feels bad about fighting the people he once was with. Elkret warns them about the "angels". The slave quarters are nice. It contains mostly young women, and a few boys, all northerners. They can't find the woman Harath had sex with.
Egar questions one of the young women. She tells them that the other was taken away. She pleads for Egar to take her with him. She tells him about the "blue fire angles". Egar decides to take her with them, and then they see the blue fire up the stairs.
Egar and Harath fight a dwenda in its black armor. Harath lands the killing blow. There are wolf howls, and the two dead Majak stir and are coming back to life. The glirsht statues are flickering with blue fire. Harath and the young girl go up a rope, but then two dwenda come upon Egar. Egar fights the two dwenda alone. They injure each other. Harath distracts the dwenda by throwing part of a statue down, and Egar jumps up to the rope to escape.
They make it to the boat and leave. Egar checks to see if the dwenda have followed, but doesn't see anything. Egar, Harath, and the girl go to get a drink. Egar tells Harath to sit tight at home and he will pay him the rest in a few days. He takes the girl Nil to Imrana.
The Cold Commands
Imrana is angry that Egar showed up while her husband Saril Ashant is still in town though probably visiting a brothel or mistress. She has the girl taken to be cleaned and taken care of. She stitches Egar's wound he received from the dwenda. Ashant arrives with Lord Hanan, who is angry to see a man in his wife's quarters. Egar kills both of them. Egar takes off, with a plan to have Imrana place all the blame on Egar to spare her.
Egar dyes his hair black, and buys a cloak from an old veteran beggar on the street. He goes to a doctor to deal with his wounds. Egar wakes up in the flandrijn house next to the doctor's. He has been there for maybe 2 or 3 days. Egar goes to look for Harath to give him a warning.
He goes to the Lizard's Head. There, Darhan recognizes him. Darhan tells him he needs to get out of town, there is a 20, elemental reward. Darhan hits him due to the high reward and because he was drafted for Demlarashanthis would be his way out. As the guards take Egar away, a burned man in the crowd slips Egar a knife. Egar kills several of the guards, and seriously injures the rest. He then jumps into the river and goes to the same flandrijn house, thinking it might be safe.
Egar's story continues below. Edit Archeth is at An-Monal communing with her past. Archeth is trying to get off krinzanzand she is experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Manathan asks to see her in her father's study. He tells her that a messenger is coming to give her a message in person. He tells her there will be a sign in the desert to indicate when it has arrived.
She returns to the boat that brought her there, the Sword of Justice Divine.
The Dark Defiles
On board is Senger Haldthe marine commander, Lal Nyanarthe frigate's captain, and Hanesh GalatHoly Invigilator to the ship, as well as a small detachment of marines. On board the four discuss the news of the messenger. Archeth wants to go directly to pick up the messenger, the others are hesitant. Then, a giant lightning bolt hits to the east, which is the signal that Manathan mentioned to Archeth.
They make their way down the river to investigate. In the morning, Galat asks to talk to Archeth. He essentially tells her he's aware of what has happened between her and the Citadel, and that not everyone is of the same opinion of Menkarakthat "we are not all filled with hate.Joseph Prince - Experience Victory Over Sexual Immorality (Full Sermon) 23-Aug-2015
They are not far from where they were going, so a team disembarks while others stay behind to get the boat free. They come across a burned caldera oak which is unusual because the tree normally does not burn. There is unspoken concern it was caused by a dragon. They see more burned trees, a crater, and a glassy pale substance in the middle.
They find a helmsman there. It spooks the men because it knows many details about all of their lives. It has limited ability to move on its own, and it asks them to take it to Yhelteth. The helmsman's name is Anasharal. They carry it to the boat where Nyanar refuses to let it on board. Galat proposes an open deliberation about what to do, to determine if Anasharal is a demon. After a prolonged discussion, Galat finally declares that Anasharal is welcome on the ship.
Anasharal won't tell Archeth why he's there, just that whatever will require cooperation, and that "something dark is on the way".
At the Chamber of ConfidencesJhiral is executing traitors. Archeth brings Anasharal to the palace and goes to talk to the Emperor. She tells him about the new helmsman. She learns that Bentan Sanagh was one of the victims being put to death.
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Archeth knows him through Mahmal Shanta. She liked Sanagh well enough, but didn't really know him. Anasharal is in the Queen Consort Gardens. There it ominously tells Jhiral that a darkness is coming to end the Empire. It tells a story: In the time before this, the Earth was ravaged by endless conflict.
Weapons of hideous, unnatural power. The planet shuddered from the tread of the Visitors. Allies chosen in desperation from other worlds and places worse than other worlds.
Nations and people disappeared inside storms that lasted decades. Humanity was broken into a dozen disparate races.
The wars ended for reasons no longer well understood. Into this void burst the dwenda, the Aldrain, the witch folk. They are human in base form, claiming a prior heritage, an ownership of Earth predating the conflict though it was argued their memories were faulty due to dwelling in the real of the Unrealized Possible. The Aldrain created an empire that lasted seven thousand years. Many called it glorious.
Magic was a way of life, sprinkled across the planet like seed. They created insane Dark Kings with dark powers. Eventually the enemies of the dwenda learned their magic, and brought the Kiriath through the hidden gates in the bowels of the Earth to defeat the Aldrain.
Angfal had once told Archeth that the Kiriath did not choose to come to Earth. They stayed only because they were afraid returning to the quick paths would break them.
He was brought up by the dwenda. When the Kiriath destroyed Hannais M'hen in the last stages of the Twilight war, the Ilwrack Changeling was at the head of the Aldrain forces and their human allies. The Aldrain fell back in chaos, not quite dead.
A few humans entombed him on an islet in the norther ocean, farther west and north than the Hironish Isles islands which are not on any maps. The magic was hurried and incomplete, thus the island emerges from time to time and stands solid again in the ocean, sometimes for only moments at a time.
There is a legend of the Hironish peoples. There is an uncharted island beyond the last in the Hironish Chain. In a Naom legend, it is said the dark lord will return when the Aldrain have been thrown back in battle from their heart's ancestral desire, and are once more in disarray.
The concern is that this dark lord is returning now. The Kiriath clan Halkanirinakral commissioned a city called An-Kirilnar to be constructed standing above the waves south and east of the Ghost Isle to set watch.
The Kiriath could not counter the sorceries of the Ilwrack clan or at least none they would bring themselves to deploy. The city comes and goes as the Ghost Isle does. Now, it has returned permanently for some number of weeks. Archeth and the Emperor talk about what Anasharal has told them, even though it is evident Anasharal can hear and speak through walls. Archeth mentions An-Naranash which stands above the water in the same way as what Anasharal described of An-Kirilnar.
The Emperor expresses how the Empire cannot afford an expedition and the problems with Trelayne pirate attacks, etc. Archeth and Jhiral's father had once done an expedition to An-Naranash, only to find it stripped of anything valuable, and that it was a great waste of money.
Anasharal interjects with a suggestion on how to pay for the expedition. The plan is to have several wealthy citizens to pay for the expedition. Archeth and the Emperor discuss who should fund the expedition, and make a list of names.
These people will put up the money in turn for plundered rewards and have the royal seal of approval. Jhiral tells Archeth that Bentan Sanagh named Mahmal Shanta in his confession about covert meetings of the shipwright seniors.
He knows that she and Mahmal know each other well. Archeth manipulates Jhiral to pick Shanta for the expedition. The story is that Shanta will be busy with preparations, that they won't be able to leave until next spring. And then, Shanta will want to accompany the journey, which will keep him busy and away and not up to "extra curricular activities. Jhiral acquiesces and agrees to Shanta.
Archeth is in discussions with Mahmal Shanta about not being careful enough, and how she had to save him. She tells him about the expedition. As Archeth is walking, she spots Ringil getting off a boat. Archeth and Ringil Edit During a meeting of the expedition team, Ringil asserts his dominance and the others back down from him. Ringil and Archeth talk about Egar and empire politics. Ringil goes to talk to Anasharal. It tells him that the Ahn Foi are not his friends, that once the Aldrain walked the Earth much the same as the Kiriath did.
Noyal Rakan comes to visit Ringil. After a long banquet given by Shanta for the Nyanar clan, Ringil and Rakan have sex in the room they stayed in at Shanta's place. The are woken early in the morning with news that Egar had killed several City Guard. Archeth, Ringil, and Rakan go with the messengers to the palace, expecting to send the King's Reach to get Egar.
There, Ringil slightly insults the Emperor, and after talking to the Emperor, Ringil and Archeth argue. Ringil leaves without talking to the guards about Egar per the Emperor's order. Ringil goes to the Lizard's Head. The bar tender points him over to Harath. Harath tells him the story of what happened.
Ringil recalls the strange girl who met him when he got off the boat, and told him about the Temple of Red Joy. Harath's whore tells him where the Temple of Red Joy is. Ringil goes to the temple. He sees in bass relief on an alter the image of Kwelgrishand recalls that he owes Lady Quilien a favor. Quilien is there circling him with luminous wolf-eyed intent equating her with Kwelgrish. A voice tells him to run.
He runs outside, there is commotion, and he sees Egar struggling with some guards. They are the King's Reach and some bowmen.
Ringil uses the ikinri 'ska against the bowmen, but it does not work against the commander it only works against weaker people. Ringil is about to kill the commander, but Egar stops him and turns himself in. Matters only grow worse when soldiers arrive from the League of Trelayne, with the news that the League and the Empire have gone to war. Separated from Ringil, Archeth and Egar are taken prisoner. Ringil is determined to get them back. Believing them to have been taken to the capital of Trelayne, under the control of a conspiracy headed by the supernatural dwenda, he sets out to rescue them—and if that means cutting his way through legions both mortal and supernatural, his attitude can be described pretty much as bring it on.
But neither Archeth nor Egar reached Trelayne. Instead, they were shipwrecked in in the Kiriath Wastes, an expanse of land that has been uninhabitable since the immortal Kiriath and their human allies fought and defeated the dwenda four thousand years before. The Kiriath were scientists and engineers, but apart from Archeth, they're gone from the world by the time the trilogy opens. Within Ringil's and Egar's lifetimes, they used their science to depart the world, leaving behind not only the half-human Archeth, but also some of their technology and the animate, constrained intelligences called "Helmsmen.
Fortunately, she and Egar stumble across An-Kirilnar by some quirk of fate, and the intelligence that animates the city—a Helmsman, but older and stranger than the Helmsmen that Archeth has interacted with before—sends them on a dangerous trek across the Wastes to where an aerial conveyance might be able to take them to within a survivable distance of home.
While Ringil slaughters his way through men and dwenda to a supernatural showdown, Archeth's and Egar's concerns pit them against themselves as much as against opposing forces. By any reasonable measure, this is a concluding volume that should not work as a conclusion. Its structure defies the usual forms of narrative catharsis and resolution, particularly in a story that has concerned itself with interrogating mythic-heroic arcs.
The divided protagonists do not reunite, at the end, to fight one last battle or to fade into the sunset of their times. While each protagonist experiences an epic confrontation or two and Ringil's confrontations involve straight-up showdowns with ancient inimical forcesthe battles are, in fact, as much about the kind of people the protagonists are, or the kind of people they can choose to be, as they are about vanquishing threatening forces. The ending is ambiguous, and can be read in terms of either tragedy or triumph, or both.
It should not work. And yet it does, because the resolution we do get is sufficient to each character's arc of development. And because the ambiguity of The Dark Defiles' conclusion is very well-matched to the ambiguity of what has come before.
For ambiguity is, it seems to me, central to Morgan's project in this trilogy. Moral ambiguity and the ambiguity of the kind of heroism that involves killing people in large numbers.
In many ways, The Dark Defiles and its predecessors are engaged in explicitly interrogating—explicitly deconstructing—the idea of the hero's journey that is common coinage in fantasy, and interrogating along with it the image of the chosen, or larger-than-life, hero itself.
I find what Morgan is trying to do in terms of interrogating the myths and structures of epic fantasy deeply interesting: