Saving here one of my comments on the Tor reread about Deadhouse Gates.
It touches one of the core themes of the whole series.
The quote from Heboric at the beginning of chapter 14 reminds me of one in Midnight Tides I already brought up.
‘Show me a mortal who is not pursued, and I’ll show you a corpse. Every hunter is hunted, every mind that knows itself has stalkers. We drive and are driven. The unknown pursues the ignorant, the truth assails every scholar wise enough to know his own ignorance, for that is the meaning of unknowable truths.’
Maybe I go off on my own tangent but I interpret that as this quote (from MT) and the “cocoon of peace” discussed on a previous chapter:
‘We are not born innocent, simply unmeasured.’
‘And, presumably, immeasurable as well.’
‘For a few years at least. Until the outside is inflicted upon the inside, then the brutal war begins.’
Consider that the quote above from Heboric starts from “We can’t stay here.” I see the status of “being pursued” like the impossibility of staying still. Not moving equals dying, but moving equals pain. This is the way of living. The “outside inflicted upon the inside”, without being invited in. Without being invited to be born (which is a thing both forced and painful) and grow up (like Felisin, and again can be both forced and painful).
Same for “we drive and are driven”. This line goes directly to Felisin’s part of understanding:
She felt she was close to grasping a profound truth, around which orbited all human endeavour since the very beginning of existence. We do naught but scratch the world, frail and fraught. Every vast drama of civilizations, of peoples with their certainties and gestures, means nothing, affects nothing. Life crawls on, ever on. She wondered if the gift of revelation – of discovering the meaning underlying humanity – offered nothing more than a devastating sense of futility. It’s the ignorant who find a cause and cling to it, for within that is the illusion of significance.
As Amanda pointed out, the series shows this futility, but also the “massive repercussions” of action. And the pains and woes of inaction. So back at “being pursued” and always moving. Always trying even when facing the certainty/inevitability of failure (like Felisin).
This last quote also makes a link to Memories of Ice. Humanity perceived like a thin and temporary “layer” on the surface of the world. And if the world stirs it may well be the extinction of us all (Burn sleeps, we are her dreams).