|House of Chains|
|Faces in the Rock|
|Chapter 1||Chapter 2|
|Chapter 3||Chapter 4|
|Chapter 5||Chapter 6|
|Chapter 7||Chapter 8|
|Chapter 9||Chapter 10|
|Chapter 11||Chapter 12|
|Chapter 13||Chapter 14|
|Chapter 15||Chapter 16|
|Chapter 17||Chapter 18|
|House of Chains|
|Chapter 19||Chapter 20|
|Chapter 21||Chapter 22|
|Chapter 23||Chapter 24|
|Chapter 25||Chapter 26|
All that breaks
must be discarded
even as the thunder
of faith returns
In the stone forest near Sha'ik's camp, Karsa Orlong is finishing up carvings of the seven Teblor gods as well as those of his dead friends, Bairoth Gild and Delum Thord. He is met by Leoman who asks about the seven carvings (he recognises the other two as Toblakai) and is visibly startled when Karsa tells him they are his gods. There is something he is not telling the Teblor about what he sees.
Karsa cuts off this line of discussion and Leoman informs him about the Malazan army's movements. He agrees with Korbolo Dom that the Malazan advance must be contested, but not with the pitched battles Dom favours. Instead, he has been given permission by Sha'ik and Mathok to venture out beyond the Whirlwind with a small force to scout the Malazans, but not harass them. Karsa gets Leoman to admit that he will do whatever he desires once he is in the field. He sneers at Karsa's warning that Sha'ik will know he disobeyed and begins to complain about the goddess' leadership and decisions. Karsa agrees, saying that she is, after all, a Malazan and that she is chained by her memories and trapped by fear that is born out of a secret only she and Ghost Hands know. Leoman says Karsa's words whisper of defeat, which Karsa shrugs off before admitting that he once viewed the Malazans as enemies but has come to realize that the are no worse than other lowlanders. He even notes that at least the Malazans have a strong sense of justice and that the people of Seven Cities who despise them seek nothing more than to have the power the Malazans took from them, power they used to terrorise their own people. Leoman agrees and admits that that is probably why Sha'ik considers him to have "no loyalty." He goes on to explain why he supports the Army of the Apocalypse, because he feels that the human race, with all its cruelty and brutality, should be annihilated and "the sooner we obliterate ourselves, the better the world will be."
Heboric, Bidithal, L'oric, and Febryl are within Sha'ik's tent reviewing the cards of the House of Chains that have newly appeared in the Deck of Dragons. They disagree on aspects of the House, namely its power and whether it is enemy or friend. Sha'ik also asks to see the new Unaligned card—the Master of the Deck—and asks Heboric what he senses from it. Heboric replies that he can sense nothing from it, and that there is no link of power between his hands and the Deck. She asks him again, this time as a historian and priest, what this new Unaligned card may tell him. They discuss various aspects of the details of the card and speculate on their possible significance. Heboric, being blind, asks specific questions regarding details of the card, giving Sha'ik and L'oric suspicions that he has knowledge he is not sharing with them.
Heboric then leaves, guided by Sha'ik's adopted daughter, Felisin Younger. As he passes Dom's army training in the Malazan fashion, he notes how it and Tavore's army will be evenly matched. Felisin tells him he must retrace his path to the jade statue on Otataral Island that her mother has told her about. Otherwise what haunts him will kill him. She offers to accompany him and Heboric says he will think on it. It will be one way to deliver the girl from Bidithal and escape the battle to come.
Leoman invites Karsa to join his raiding party, but Karsa says there are no horses to match his size in this land. Leoman says there wild horses bred by the Jaghut in the Jhag Odhan to the west that would match his stature. Karsa is intrigued and agrees to get Sha'ik's permission to venture out to find a suitable horse. Afterwards, he will ride out to find Leoman and his warriors. But he pauses when he realises this will leave Felisin Younger unprotected from Bidithal's depravity. He comments that he should just kill Bidithal before he leaves, but Leoman convinces him that Heboric is also making plans to depart and will take her safely away with him. Leoman says he will see Karsa again in the morning before the Teblor leaves.
After Leoman departs, the air suddenly grows cold and snakes are seen fleeing the grove. Urugal's visage awakens and the moans of a thousand souls mixed with the snapping thunder of chain fill's Karsa's mind. Urugal says the Seven have waited three years for the Teblor to fashion this sacred place and demands he destroy the two sentimental carvings of Bairoth and Delum because they are offensive to him and the other gods. Karsa refuses and reminds the gods that it was his hand that freed them from their prison in the Teblor lands and brought them here. Now their first words to him are of chastisement? He warns he can shatter their carvings just as easily.
The god rages, but Karsa refuses to back down. Eventually Urugal says Karsa has brought them close enough to sense the precise location they require. The Teblor tells Urugal he is plans to travel west into the Jhag Odhan and they are shocked and excited that he already seems to know where they want him to go. Soon they will be free in full. The seven gods withdraw, and Karsa knows they are not as close to freedom or as powerful as they want him to believe. He returns to the carvings of his friends, for whom this place is really sanctified, and confesses that his loyalty was misplaced. He had served glory and empty words while there was true glory before him, in the form of his loyal friends. Bairoth's statue speaks, "Lead us, Warleader," and both of his companions agree to follow Karsa on his quest once more.
Heboric is alone in his tent meditating on death when L'oric enters. The High Mage wishes to learn more of what Heboric knows of the Master of the Deck, so he offers an exchange of knowledge that remain between the two them. At first Heboric says that L'oric has nothing of interest to him, but he relents when L'oric says he can tell him what he knows of the Hand of Jade. Over tea, they discuss histories of the humans and the Tiste and speculate on the identity of the new Master of the Deck as well as the origin of the Jade statues. L'oric says that the Jade statues are “intruders in our world from some other realm.” They are all found in deposits of otataral. L'oric suspects that their arrival was anticipated and the otataral was prepared to trap them, but Heboric disagrees and speculates that the passage of the giants through the portal is what creates the otataral or maybe the otataral was created by the accumulation of magic from a ritual involving collective sorcery, like the Tellann Ritual or the calling down of the Crippled God. Then L'oric has one more piece of information to impart that will reveal much about himself. This information is not shared with the reader, but we are told Heboric's world dims to insignificance while hearing it.
Karsa checks his supplies and makes ready to depart. Bairoth Gild's ghostly voice begins to ruminate in his ear until Karsa tells him to be quiet. Leoman enters the glade, momentarily unsure why the Teblor has told him to stop speaking. Karsa is pleased that his friend has come to see him off. They exchange warnings and advice of how each other should proceed. Karsa tells Leoman not to hide overlong in his pit and to obey the Chosen One's commands for restraint against the Malazans. He has come to respect the and fears Leoman will unwittingly awaken their full power. Leoman tells the Teblor to beware his gods and kneel before them only with clear eyes. As Karsa departs, he hears the ghostly voices of his friends say, "Lead us. Lead your dead, Wareleader."
Kamist Reloe informs Korbolo Dom of Karsa's departure, and the two continue to discuss their plans to take the Malazan Empire for themselves. Only Leoman and Heboric remain as possible threats, but Leoman leaves in a few days and Kamist dismisses Heboric as a doddering fool blinded by hen'bara tea. Their plans anticipate Febryl killing Sha'ik, Tavore killing Febryl, and Dom and Reloe destroying Tavore and the Malaz 14th Army in turn. Afterwards, they will quash the Seven Cities rebellion in the Empress' name to ensure a triumphant return to Unta, before assassinating the Empress and taking the throne.
Korbolo Dom does not see how the plan can fail to work. Who can stop them? The Talon are poised to cut down the Claws, Whiskeyjack and the Bridgeburners are dead, and Dujek is a continent away. Mallick Rel is proving to be a useful ally, but Dom knows better than to trust him. Dom orders Reloe to dispose of L'oric as a loose end in need of tying. As Reloe leaves, Dom muses on how he would like to see all magic and gods in the world gone, so mortals could be the master of their own fate and the world would belong to people like him.