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In Deadhouse Gate, Fiddler finds out who the new occupant of the throne of shadow is:

Ammanas/Shadowthrone is in fact the old emperor Kellanved and Cotillion/Rope his old companion Dancer who both were assassinated by Laseen the new empress.

It seems that the House of Shadow was unoccupied for some time (and thus probably inactive in the deck of dragons). The books start shortly after there is a new king in the House of Shadow, why does everybody know this and acts as if they know how this new ascendant usually acts right away?

Are these two ascendants in the House of Shadow always named the same and act the same as the previous ones? E.g. are they changed through the warren when they ascend?

  • I think you already have the answer, the deck of dragons . Throughout the series knew cards show up immediately when houses and positions change. Shadow should have been vacant for 100s kf thousands of years at this point so when shadowyhorne and cotillion show up 2 new cards would have been introduced for the first time correlating to house shadow – Himarm May 23 '16 at 11:52
  • @Himarm but not everyone has access to a deck. Or do all soldiers regularly consult an adept of the deck in their army? The Bridgeburners are an rather special with their "card game". – Thomas May 23 '16 at 13:06
  • Each city we see seems to have tons of deck readers some poor some great, the entire malazan army structure puts mages in every unit. Most middling mages but all normal soldiers have someone in their unit with access to a warren. Magic is so wide spread i find it would be easy for most of the world to learn about shadowthrones ascention to high house shadow in weeks of its happening – Himarm May 23 '16 at 13:10
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The books start shortly after there is a new king in the House of Shadow, why does everybody know this?

Word of mouth.

And it comes from two sources:

  1. The Deck of Dragons which reveals that an entity has occupied a warren or he/she interacts with another entity.
  2. The Priests who communicate directly with their god and start preaching his/her way/teachings immediately. This will happen again in the series multiple times starting from Memories of Ice.

Are these two ascendants in the House of Shadow always named the same and act the same as the previous ones?

No, not at all. It's just that they reveal themselves through their priests. Think of Iskaral Pust for example. The Priests in the Malazan world are not just preachers but they usually are direct spies/enforcers of their god's will.

  • 1
    Good point regarding the priests. Didn't think of them and that they really have a direct link to their gods. Though that brings up another question, what did the Shadow priests do in the long time span where no one was the ruler of Shadow? – Thomas May 24 '16 at 7:44
  • Either there were no shadow priests during the absence of their god or they existed and the preached the "Shadow way of thinking" and possibly the coming of their god. Of course, I have no reference for this, it's just a guess. Good question though. – Aventinus May 25 '16 at 18:29
  • @Thomas In the House of Chains, we find out that Bidithal, one of Shaik's High Mages was an ex-High-Priest of the Seven Cities cult of Rashan, which was considered to be one of the human-accessible offshoots of Kurald Emurlahn. I'm not sure who says this, but it's mentioned somewhere (probably Heboric?) that the Shadow priests had no problem worshipping an 'empty throne' – Sphoorthy Nutulapati Feb 17 '17 at 11:56

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