Dust of Dreams is the ninth novel in the Malazan Book of the Fallen epic fantasy series. It was first published in Canada and the UK in 2009.
In war everyone loses. This brutal truth can be seen in the eyes of every soldier in every world.
This last great army of the Malazan Empire is resolved to make one final defiant, heroic stand in the name of redemption. But can deeds be heroic when there is no one to witness them? And can that which is not witnessed forever change the world? Destinies are rarely simple, truths never clear but one certainty is that time is on no one's side. For the Deck of Dragons has been read, unleashing a dread power that none can comprehend.
In a faraway land and beneath indifferent skies, the final chapter of The Malazan Book of the Fallen has begun.
Ten years ago I received an endorsement from a most unexpected source, from a writer I respected and admired. The friendship born in that moment is one I deeply treasure. With love and gratitude I dedicate this novel to Stephen R. Donaldson.
Commenting on the first half of a very long, two-volume novel is not an easy task. My thanks (and sympathy) go to William Hunter, Hazel Kendall, Bowen Thomas-Lundin, and Aidan-Paul Canavan for their percipience and forbearance. Appreciation also goes to the staff at The Black Stilt and Café Macchiato in Victoria who were very understanding in my surrender to caffeine-free coffee. Thanks too to Clare Thomas; and special gratitude goes to my students in the writing workshop I have been conducting for the past few months. Shannon, Margaret, Shigenori, Brenda, Jade, and Lenore: you have helped remind me what fiction writing is all about.
While I am, of course, not known for writing door-stopper tomes, the conclusion of The Malazan Book of the Fallen was, to my mind, always going to demand something more than modern book-binding technology could accommodate. To date, I have always avoided writing cliff-hangers, principally because as a reader I always hated having to wait to find out what happens. Alas, Dust of Dreams is the first half of a two volume novel, to be concluded with The Crippled God. Accordingly, if you're looking for resolutions to various story threads, you won't find them. Also, do note that there is no Epilogue and, structurally, Dust of Dreams does not follow the traditional arc for a novel. To this, all I can ask of you is, please be patient. I know you can do it: after all, you have waited this long, haven't you?
|Dust of Dreams|
|The Sea Does Not Dream of You|
|Chapter 1||Chapter 2|
|Chapter 3||Chapter 4|
|Chapter 5||Chapter 6|
|Eaters of Diamonds and Gems|
|Chapter 7||Chapter 8|
|Chapter 9||Chapter 10|
|Chapter 11||Chapter 12|
|Only the Dust Will Dance|
|Chapter 13||Chapter 14|
|Chapter 15||Chapter 16|
|Chapter 17||Chapter 18|
|The Path Forever Walked|
|Chapter 19||Chapter 20|
|Chapter 21||Chapter 22|
|Chapter 23||Chapter 24|
- The following summaries contain spoilers
Please access individual chapter summaries via the Chapter infobox
- The following summaries contain spoilers
Rutt, a young boy who carries the baby Held, leads a snake of refugee children from Kolanse in the continent of Lether, through the Elan Plain. They are chased by Quitters, their name for inquisitors, and harassed by 'ribbers', packs of dogs. Each day many die.
Kalyth is an Elan who escaped from Kolanse and now lives in a K'Chain Che'Malle keep, Ampelas Rooted, in the Wastelands. She is the only human there. Though she denies any extraordinary abilities, the insane K'Chain Matron, Gunth'an Acyl, has decided that she is their Destriant, and sends her to search for a Mortal Sword and Shield Anvil. She will be accompanied by the Matron's heir, three K'ell Hunters and a Shi'Gal Assassin.
A ghost follows seven bickering travellers across a wasteland; or perhaps there is just one wanderer...
...whilst elsewhere, Heboric Light Touch has visions and surmises that a final war has begun.
Book One: The Sea Does Not Dream of YouEdit
I will walk the path forever walked
Fasstan of Kolanse
In Letheras the Adjunct Tavore plans a Reading of the Deck of Dragons. Fiddler is located, not without difficulty, and commanded to be the dealer as he is an adept of the Deck. Others are also ordered to attend. King Tehol is told of the reading by Bugg, and sends his brother, Brys Beddict, to warn the Adjunct of its danger; however she is determined to go ahead. The local mages and gods are aware of the imminent event, and Errant, the Master of the Tiles, decides to gatecrash it.
Former Acquitor Seren Pedac is six months pregnant with the son of Trull Sengar. On the evening of the reading she is visited by Bugg who warns her of its danger: the Errant will consider it a challenge and may attack. As the baby has inherited his father's position of Knight of Shadow, it too may be a target. Bugg promises to defend him and summons two old gods, Ursto and Pinosel, to help.
Chapter 2 Edit
Silchas Ruin returns to the Refugium and meets Udinaas and Onrack T'emlava. He is concerned about Rud Elalle, Udinaas son, who is part Eleint; the Eleint are subject to uncontrollable rages in which they may destroy all near them. He proposes to take Rud away, partly to teach him but also for the protection of the Refugium. Udinaas reluctantly agrees, and the two Eleint veer to dragon form and depart.
The Perish Thrones of War are sailing to Bolkando, where some of the Grey Helm forces will disembark and march north to join their Bonehunter and Khundryl allies. The young Shield Anvil, Tanakalian, finds the elderly Destriant, Run'Thurvian, about to die; with his last words he claims that there would be a betrayal, that their vow was a mistake. Tanakalian does not believe him. The Perish negotiate safe passage through Bolkando.
At Second Maiden Fort in Lether, the coven of Shake witches have been conspiring to subvert the rule of their Queen, Yan Tovis (Twilight). Without her knowledge, the Watch, Yedan Derryg, protects her by murdering all but two of the witches. Twilight is forced to banish him from the Shake. She discusses their situation with the two remaining witches, who agree that they must evacuate the islands because of the rapid rise in sea-level.
Chapter 3 Edit
In Letheras the reading of the Deck begins, despite Fiddler's reluctance. It has attracted too much power which overflows in to the city: dead animals are reanimated; two dragons burst out of an inn, destroying it; the two old gods protecting Trull Sendar's child catch fire and seem to melt.
Instead of a normal reading, the cards are dealt at those attending. As each hits its mark, Fiddler names him: Sinn becomes 'Virgin of Death', Quick Ben 'Magus of Dark', Brys 'King of Life' etc. However for Tavore Paran there is nothing. Then Errant enters, expecting to become Master of the Deck, as he already is of the Tiles. However he is faced down by Brys and Fiddler, and leaves. He waits nearby and ambushes Brys, smothering him with sorcery, but is interrupted by Ublala Pung who knocks him unconscious.
Chapter 4 Edit
The K'Chain Che'Malle and Kalyth have set out on their quest for a Mortal Sword and Shield Anvil. Kalyth takes a drug that sends her into the Elan prophetic dream-world. While she is unconscious their camp is attacked by scouts of a White Face Barghast clan; the Shi'Gal Assassin has no difficulty in killing them.
Onos Toolan, Warchief of the Barghast, is still grieving over the death of Toc Anaster. The various Barghast clans are restless; their enemy was to have been the Letherii empire, but this no longer exists. Some clans are defecting, and Tool urgently needs to find them a new enemy.
The youth Torrent is the last of his people, the Awl, and has been adopted into the Gadra, a Barghast clan. He discovers the bodies of the scouts. Back in their camp is the Great Warlock Cafal. He is there to investigate the girl Setoc, who was raised by wolves and remains in mental communication with them. He speculates that she is a priestess of the Wolf God and Goddess, the Lord and Lady of the Beast Throne.
Chapter 5 Edit
In Letheras the Adjunct Tavore holds a meeting with her officers and Quick Ben. She tell them that the Bonehunters should prepare to travel east, through the Wasteland to Kolanse. Quick Ben explains that the Crippled God is there, and that the other gods intend to chain him more thoroughly and drain him of his power. The Forkrul Assail are also involved and are probably using the blood of the massacred population to create a Gate into Ahkrast Korvalain, their Warren.
Meanwhile Brys Beddict decides to lead a section of the Letherii army and escort the departing Bonehunters through the Wasteland. Ublala Pung remembers that Karsa Orlong told him to gather all the Tarthenal into an army for Karsa to lead.
Meanwhile Bottle discusses with his fellow squad mages how their warrens have been weakened. He reveals that Icarium made a new set of Warrens, perhaps from his own blood; and that this has disrupted the old ones. Fiddler's reading has fed extra power into these warrens. Sinn and Grub return to the Azath House and manage to enter one of the new warrens.
Chapter 6 Edit
The Bolkando have been surrounding Khundryl lands with forts, and Bolkando merchants have been overcharging and cheating the Khundryl. In response, war-parties of young Khundryl massacre merchants and burn the forts. Warleader Gall realises that this will precipitate war, and the large Bolkando army will march to attack them. He decides on a pre-emptive strike towards the Bolkando capital.
The Perish are being escorted by a suspiciously large force of Bolkando troops; the Mortal Sword, Krughava, suspects an ambush is being prepared in the mountain passes.
Yan Tovis finds herself in charge of ten thousand people, a mixture of her Shake subjects and ex-prisoners from the islands. Their homes will soon be inundated by the rising sea-level. They have little food and nowhere local can help. She decides to use her royal blood to open Gallan's Road to the Dark Shore, the lost home of the Shake.
The ghosts and the travellers have arrived at an enormous edifice in the shape of a dragon. They realise it was a city and wish to enter it, partly because they feel they are being followed, hunted. They find a buried door; when they enter they discover corpses of K'Chain Che'Malle, the city's builders.
Book Two: Eaters of Diamonds and GemsEdit
I heard a story
Chapter 7 Edit
The Bonehunters and Brys Beddict's Letherii troops hold war-games.
Sandalath Drukorlat announces to Withal that it's time for them to leave Letheras. She decides to visit the Shake to question them about their legends concerning their Tiste Andii ancestors. They leave, with the three nachts following.
Sinn and Grub explore the new warren, finding a desert landscape containing long-destroyed buildings and wagons.
Chapter 8 Edit
The K'Chain Che'Malle and Kalyth travel faster through the Wastelands; the Che'Malle sense they are being followed by a powerful enemy. They pause at a skeleton of a long-dead dragon. From their reactions Kalyth deduces that their religion involves worship of dragons.
The skeleton's skull was pierced by an otataral tooth. Sag'Churok states their belief that there cannot be a single god; there must be at least two in opposition. Gunth Mach then shows Kalyth a vision of the chained Otataral Dragon; they consider it to be the god opposing their own.
The Gadra clan react to the unexplained death of their scouts by blaming the Akrynnai and intend to attack them. Cafal, the Great Warlock, with Torrent and Setoc, try to leave by warren, but find themselves in a different world. Setoc can sense no living wolves; they had been hunted to extinction long ago. While Cafal prepares a gateway to home, Setoc summons the spirits of the wolves; enormous numbers respond and help widen the portal; they then all pass through.
The ghost's companions explore the dead city, finding machinery and storerooms. The ghost is becoming less amnesiac; he remembers the city's name: Kalse Rooted, a border keep.
The Shake are preparing to take the Road of Gallan, forced to hurry by rioting ex-prisoners. Yan Tovis slashes her arms that her royal blood might open the way.
The Snake enters the Glass Desert.
Chapter 9 Edit
The Bonehunters prepare to depart for Kolanse.
Chapter 10 Edit
Kalyth and the K'Chain Che'Malle see an immense storm in the distance. Thunder-like noises repeatedly shake the ground.
Onas Toolan sees the distant storm, and senses that it has just passed over and destroyed hundreds of Barghast. He suspects its cause but refuses to disclose it to his wife Hetan. He leaves with 100 warriors to investigate.
Cafal, Torrent, Setoc and the wolf-spirits reach the Wastelands. They are too far north. They separate, Cafal and Setoc returning to Cafal's clan.
In Kalse Rooted the presence of the travellers have been detected, and a sleeping Che'Malle drone awakened.
On the Road of Gallan, Yan Tovis is weakening, drained of blood by the journey but also by the two witches who are using the excess to regain their youth. She collapses, and the Shake are stranded on the Road. Yedan Derryg, the Watch, sees that the land around them is that of the Tiste Liosan, who will be aware of their arrival. Leaving the witches to tend to Yan Tovis, he rides to forestall any attack. He meets a Forkrul Assail who says he is adjudicating the land. They fight and the Assail dies. Five Liosan arrive. Yedan kills them. Yan Tovis recovers sufficiently to continue on the Road.
Chapter 11 Edit
Errant and Sechul Lath discuss which other Elder Gods are likely to take part in the forthcoming confrontation with the new gods. Sechal Lath discounts most of the others, but says he hopes that Olar Ethil remains uninvolved. The two of them plus Kilmandaros depart from the Azath Tower through a gate.
The ghost of Old Hunch Arbat guides Ublala Pung through a disused cemetery to the tomb of an ancient Tarthenal hero. All that remains of its contents are dragon-scale armour and an enormous mace. Ublala excavates them and dons the armour.
Chapter 12 Edit
The Barghast have been raiding Akrynnai caravans. In retaliation the Akrynnai army attacks the Barghast camp. Elsewhere another battle is being fought between the two sides when the battlefield is devastated by what seems to be a storm, but one that brings tidal-waves of earth; all are overwhelmed.
Onos Toolan, escorted by only a hundred warriors, is investigating the destruction of a Barghast camp. A rival clan discovers them and attacks. Tool realises what will happen, and suicides to save his companions from being slaughtered.
Torrent meets Olar Ethil, who is in the form of a T'lan Imass. She is annoyed that Onos Toolan has died and hints that she will do something about it. She says that Toc Anaster has interceded with her on Torrent's behalf, and so aids him.
Yan Tovis continues to lead her people on the Road. They finally reach its end and find themselves at Kharkanas, which is deserted.
Book Three: Only the Dust Will DanceEdit
The dead have found me in my dreams
Chapter 13 Edit
Sandalath Drukorlat, Withal and the Nachts have travelled through the warren of Rashan to the shore, but the Shake have already left on the Road of Gallan. They follow, and are immediately attacked by a Forkrul Assail. The Nachts transform into Venath demons and kill the Forkrul.
Kalyth is becoming more of a Destriant. She has a dream-vision of Whiskeyjack and the Bridgeburners. He explains that they have taken over Hood's role of Guardian of Death's Gate. The next day the K'Chain Che'Malle are pursued by a caste of K'Chain Nah'ruk, their bitter enemy. Two of the Kell Hunters are killed. Kalyth summons the Bridgeburners to help them but gets instead some undead Jaghut who kill their pursuers.
Sinn and Grub continue to travel through the warren. Sinn discusses their origin; she implies that they are both different, that Grub's Chain of Dogs experiences, and Sinn's in Y'Ghatan, somehow recreated them.
The ghost's companions are exploring the K'Chain Che'Malle keep. The newly-woken drone, Sulkit, comes to meet them. Surprisingly he can sense the ghost. The ghost is recovering his memories, which are of cruelty and killing; he had killed even his own wife.
Chapter 14 Edit
The Khundryl invasion meets the Bolkando defenders near to the capital. While they are routing the forces trying to surround them, Warleader Gall meets with Queen Abrastal who commands the Bolkando troops. The Queen agrees to the Khundryl demands for restitution and decides to accompany their army through the Wastelands.
The Perish are also marching, and easily outpace their poorly-equipped Bolkando escort.
Chapter 15 Edit
Onos Toolan is dead. He has a vision of an alternate past where the Ritual of Tellann didn't happen; instead the Imass dwindle and die out. He then encounters Toc Anaster, also dead, who denies him entry through Hood's Gate. Though Toc is the Herald of Death, he does this at the command of Olar Ethil.
The Akrynnai have beaten most of the Barghast clans. Sceptre Irkullas, their leader, sees the battlefield and corpses destroyed by the arcane storm, and decides to try to make peace with the Barghast.
News of the death of Onos Toolan reaches the Barghast camp and triggers a night of madness. Aspiring leaders kill their rivals. Tool's wife Hetan is hobbled and raped. His children are attacked and would have died but for the intervention of Toc Anaster who kills their assailant. He takes the children to Setoc for sanctuary.
In the Wastelands, Onos T'oolan is restored to life as a T'lan Imass.
Chapter 16 Edit
Errastas (the Errant) has summoned the Elder Gods to a meeting on an ancient, dead world. He came with Sechul Lath and Kilmandaros; eventually Olar Ethil and Mael arrive too. They are unhappy, considering the meeting to be premature. They warn Errastas that things are happening about which he is unaware, and that he cannot control. Errastas also becomes aware that Sechul and Kilmandaros themselves have plans. The meeting breaks up, Errastas leaving with Sechul and Kilmandaros.
The Bonehunters and their Letherii escort are en route to D'rhasilhani, first on foot, then by barge.
Chapter 17 Edit
In the Wastelands, a number of long-'dead' T'lan Imass return unexpectedly to un-life. They believe they have been summoned by the First Sword, Onos T'oolan.
Toc Anaster carries Tool's children on his undead horse, accompanied by Setoc. They come to a mound. Toc goes hunting and kills an antelope. While he is butchering it he is suddenly surrounded by the 14 undead Jaghurt. They chat, and Toc mentions the newly-arrived T'lan Imass.
While Toc is away, the boy has summoned an undead Ay. Toc returns, and recognises the Ay as the ghost of Baaljagg.
The remaining Barghast clans have merged into an army, which is pursued by the Akrynnai army. Tomorrow they will meet.
Trailing the Barghast is Cafal, who has arranged with Bakal for Hetan to be spirited from the camp and brought to him; he will take her away and hopes to heal her. The plan fails: Cafal and Bakal are killed and Hetan wanders off alone to die.
Chapter 18 Edit
In Kharkanas, Yan Tovis and Yedan Derryg enter the Citadel, its centre of power; the passage of years hasn't been kind to it. They debate whether the Shake should try to live in the city, or go to the nearby First Shore. Outside, they find the two Shake witches rendered unconscious by some external force.
They ride to investigate the Shore. When they arrive they discover it is the border between the realm of Dark and a sea of Light. The beach itself is comprised of fragments of bone that date from the fall of Kharkanas. Yan and Yedan exchange lore previously known separately by the Queens and the Watch. The Fall and the departure of those who became the Shake was caused when Mother Dark turned away, and so did Father Light. Gallan was a mage who created the Road as an escape-route; the exodus was ordered by Silchas Ruin when almost all of the Tiste Andii had been killed.
Sandalath and Withal have continued along the Road to Kharkanas. On arrival Sandalath is at first overwhelmed and collapses. She soon recovers, and explains that Mother Dark has returned to the city.
In Kalse Rooted the travellers are recalling more of their previous lives. But the hunter that the travellers had feared has arrived; it is Taralack Veed. He finds Nappett first and kills him; then others. Three are left, together in the Matron's chamber where Sulkit has now fashioned an enormous throne. Veed arrives and kills Rautos. He then tells Breath and Taxilian that the ghost is Icarium Lifestealer. It then seems to the ghost that Veed and the others disappear one by one, absorbed into him. He realises that the throne is a machine that he had once designed. He sits on it.
The Barghast and Akrynnai armies face each other and are about to engage, when the Senan, Onos Toolan's old clan, turn and leave the field. The battle starts without them. As it nears its conclusion, another arcane storm arrives, killing all involved with ice. The darkness gathers; out of it strides a figure: Draconus.
Book Four: The Path Forever WalkedEdit
When your penance is done
Chapter 19 Edit
Errastas, Sechul Lath and Kilmandaros are briefly toppled by the noisy arrival of Draconus. On recovering they realise that the release of Draconus from Dragnipur implies that Anomander Rake is dead. Errastas and Sechul depart to investigate. Mael then arrives and discusses the situation with Kilmandaros. He suggests that Draconus wishes to precipitate a crisis that will finally resolve the situation with the Crippled God.
The Snake approaches a city of crystal. Badalle suspects, correctly, that one of the children, Breyderal, is a disguised Quitter.
Of the twelve Forkrul Assail Adjudicators and Inquisitors who set out to follow the Snake only four survive, and they are in poor condition; the hunger and disease that has killed so many children has affected them too. They see ahead the city that they cannot enter, so they attempt to kill the children before they arrive, using their power of voice. Badelle manages to turn their power back against them, and they retreat.
Onos T'oolan encounters a thousand T'lan Imass. They had originally believed that he was their summoner, but now realised he was not. He warns them that he seeks Olar Ethil to confront her as being the cause of his resurrection. Despite this they wish to follow him.
The Adepts of the Bonehunters are gradually recovering from the sudden return of Draconus. Quick Ben is particularly concerned; Draconus is trying to contact him.
Ublala Pung meets Draconus. They travel east together.
Chapter 20 Edit
Silchas Ruin has taken Ryadd Eleis (Rud Elalle) to meet Olar Ethil, who is with Torrent. While they await her arrival he continues teaching Ryadd. When it occurs, the encounter is not friendly, and terminates when Olar breaks to Silchas the news of his brother's death.
Setoc and the children continue eastwards through the Wastelands. They find the wreckage of a Trygalle carriage which had been attacked by the K'Chain Che'Malle assassin; three of its passengers had been killed, others injured. Two of the survivors are Gruntle and Mappo Runt.
Chapter 21 Edit
Sandalath and Withal enter Kharkanas; its ambience is pervaded by the presence of Mother Dark, grieving over the death of her favourite son. Yedan Derryg has found a Hust sword, once broken and abandoned, now healed. He and Yan Tovis return to Kharkanas.
Errastas, Sechul Lath and Kilmandaros go to see the Otavaral Dragon.
As Olar Ethil and Torrent approach a K'Chain tower they are joined by the two undead Eleint, Curdle and Telorast. Forced to explain their nature they say they were bound for millennia in Kurald Emurlahn, a punishment for trying to win the Throne of Shadow. They found they could escape only by possessing their current tiny skeletal forms. Torrent says he will try to release them if they agree to protect him.
Shurq Elalle's ship is transporting Princess Felash towards Kolanse. Felash's handmaiden is an adept and can sense that dangers surround Queen Abrastal in the Wastelands. Their only hope of warning her is by summoning Mael, which will endanger the ship. They do so; Shurq sees an approaching squall.
Chapter 22 Edit
The children of the Snake have entered the Crystal City and found water and food. Badelle hunts Breyderal; when she finds her she uses her new power of Command to expel her from the city. Meanwhile Saddic has been exploring crystal caverns under the city, the walls of which somehow retain visual records of the original inhabitants: they were Jaghut and the city was called Icarias. They were killed by K'Chain Che'Malle.
The Bonehunter's camp wakes to discover Gesler and Stormy missing; they have been extracted from their tent, the only clues being slashes in the canvas and a smell of Che'Malle. Quick Ben guesses that a Shi'gal assassin is responsible.
Gesler and Stormy wake, alone apart from Kalyth. She explains that she is Destriant to the K'Chain Che'Malle, and they are to be their Mortal Sword and Shield Anvil.
Chapter 23 Edit
Princess Felash's warning is received by Queen Abrastal. She tells the leaders of the other armies and they increase their speed towards the Bonehunters.
The Bonehunters and their Letherii escort see what appears to be a dust-storm. As it draws near they realise it is an army of K'Chain; not Che'Malle but their enemies, the K'Chain Nah'ruk. The armies clash and there is great slaughter, mostly of the Bonehunters.
Chapter 24 Edit
Kalyth and her companions have returned to Ampelas Rooted, but discover it is now Uprooted, flying, a sky-keep like Moon's Spawn. The Matron has succeeded in spawning a large army, but the two Shi'gal assassins who stayed in the nest have rebelled; they have destroyed the Matron's brain, though she still lives.
Onos T'oolan, still blaming the Senan clan for the loss of his family, leads the T'lan Imass to their camp and kills them all.
The Che'Malle army doesn't wait to be attacked but advances towards the Nah'ruk, led by Gesler and Stormy. As the armies meet, a warren opens above them; Nah'ruk sky-keeps emerge and attack Ampelas Uprooted.
Many are destroyed, but so finally is Ampelas. The remaining Nah'ruk keeps attack both armies indiscriminately; then another large keep arrives, Kalse Uprooted.
Icarium had sensed the destruction of Ampelas Uprooted. He attacks the Nah'ruk keeps, but more are arriving from the warren. Icarium's constituent ghosts warn him that he must wall off the Gate. Feather Witch provides Errant's eye which Icarium uses as the seed of an Azath. Kalse Uprooted enters the Gate where it is engulfed by the Azath; the Gate is sealed.
Four Nah'ruk keeps remain. Suddenly they are covered in sorcerous fire and explode; Sinn and Grub have emerged from their warren.