Malazan question

So, i finished Deadhouse Gates a few days ago and i had a question now that i’ve had time to digest it all. I am a bit confused about ascendants, from the first book i had the idea that they were basically immortal super powerful demi-gods, and the whole “path of hands” plot of the second book with the shape shifters having an all out war to ascend seemed to back that up. But it was also mentioned that all three of the marines from the headless rowers boat AND Coltaine were close to ascending at one point and that pretty much threw me off. What does it mean? why Coltaine? I assume the marines went through some magical-fu that made them into how they are (it was mentioned their skin was a weird color) and basically lucked into it but how did Coltaine (almost) achieve the feat? I thought it was supposed to be a big deal, not something that happened through sheer badassedness (Coltaine) or luck (the marines).

It was confusing for me too, but this is how I understand it- in the Malazan world, people usually become ascendants by getting tangled up in some sort of primal magic (like thse guys on the boat), or by becoming mythic and heroic and then things go to the next level. Then there are… opportunities that present themselves, where a non-powerful legendary hero person could make themselves into a god, usually involving azath houses. The Path of Hands is an azath-assisted type of ascension (as was Kellenvad and Dancer’s transformation).

Confused? Join the (Erikson fan-)club.

EDIT: Also, I think people worshipping you could turn you into an ascendant. That’s probably what happens with Coltaine.

That does make a lot of sense, specially since both sides were starting to think he wasn’t human.

I’m going to quote a bit from The Bonehunters(Book 6) to answer your question. I’ll spoiler it even though I don’t think that it really spoils anything. I will take out anything that identifies the characters who are speaking, because those make for major spoilers. I will note that the character who is taking about his theory about ascendancy is not an infallible source on the subject.

[spoiler]

  • Note that this is obviously incorrect. Oponn is unaligned, but Oponn has worshippers and is a god.[/spoiler]

:smack: Grammatical correction to my first post- I meant “non-power-legendary-hero person”, as in someone who* isn’t* one of those things.