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Werthead

The Malazan Book of the Fallen Thread

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This is following up an discussion that started on a now closed thread in General Wheel of Time, found here: http://forums.dragonmount.com/index.php/topic,44842.0.html And I might as well make use of the already existing Malazan thread, rather than starting a new one.

You gave up on Deadhouse Gates? That's the best in the series, although Memories of Ice gives it a good run for its money. If you wanted more from Paran, the Bridgeburners and the rest of the Gardens of the Moon cast, you could have jumped straight to MoI. I don't think GotM was "too complicated", or badly written, although it's not his best work. It is, in fact, an excellent opener for the series, and Erikson does a good job of taking the second book off in a completely different direction, a mostly new cast of characters on a wholly new continent. You should give Deadhouse Gates another try, for the Chain of Dogs and Kalam running amok in Malaz City, if nothing else.
Complicated was the wrong word. I love epic fantasy. I love big living, breathing worlds. I love huge cast of characters. I don't love it when said huge cast of characters are all introduced in the first book. They should be introduced over time and the author can at least wait until after a few books, once we have a better handle on the world, to introduce them in large numbers. And no, it is not an excellent opener in my opinion. An opener does just that, and is supposed to give you a fundamental understanding of the world. If not a fundamental understanding, then at least focus on the characters and give them time to breathe and us time to know them. I am not the only one who thinks the author messed up with the first book. Just read the reviews, and you will find the same complaints. The fact that the second book goes in a completely different direction made me feel cheated too.
Seems like Erikson can't win. He gets blamed for introducing everyone in the first book, and for ditching most of the cast - including your favourite - in the second. Erikson does indeed introduce a lot of people in the first book, and he demands you pay attention. I don't think that's a bad thing, forcing the reader to keep up, throwing you in at the deep end, rather than pandering to the stupidest reader. Admittedly, he does rather overplay his hand in later books, to the extent that far too much is going on without any clear explanation and obscurity seemingly for the sake of it, with things getting lost in the shuffle of his numerous sub-plots. GotM is comprehensible, mostly, it just refuses to treat the reader with kid gloves. It does indeed introduce you to the world - or at least a small part of it. Because this is a series with a much broader scope than, say, Wheel of Time - Shara and Seanchan are conveniently made into monolithic empires, the Westlands are full of empty space, and most of the action takes part on a part of a single continent. Erikson follows storylines on three continents - Genabackis (1,3,8), Seven Cities (2,4,6) and Lether (5,7,9). The series as a whole is non-linear. Telling the story he wants to necessitates going off in a new direction (albeit not one that is wholly out of the blue, the situation in Seven Cities being referenced throughout GotM). This is not a bad thing, even if some people don't like it. His world is one of impressive breadth, although it lacks the depth that makes RJ's stand out. In GotM, we are introduced to the world, to many characters. It does everything a good opener should. If it is not to your taste, that is perfectly acceptable, but it is hardly too opaque for the reader to understand what is going on, too difficult, it doesn't throw too much at the reader. And Deadhouse Gates going in a different direction opens up the world. Why should that make you feel cheated?

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I have now read the first book. I am in no rush to read the next. I enjoyed it, and am sure I will enjoy the others. But I am in no rush to find out what comes next.

 

A common reaction. GotM is a pretty standard fantasy novel (well, standard for the harder-assed, GRRM/Glen Cook/David Gemmell end of the market anyway). However, Books 2 and 3 are much better, much stronger and much more individual books. I highly recommend pressing onto them :)

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I agree with Werthead. Although I did enjoy GotM alot, it was not until after I finished the second book that I was completely sold and hooked on The Malazan Books of the Fallen.

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This is following up an discussion that started on a now closed thread in General Wheel of Time, found here: http://forums.dragonmount.com/index.php/topic,44842.0.html And I might as well make use of the already existing Malazan thread, rather than starting a new one.

You gave up on Deadhouse Gates? That's the best in the series, although Memories of Ice gives it a good run for its money. If you wanted more from Paran, the Bridgeburners and the rest of the Gardens of the Moon cast, you could have jumped straight to MoI. I don't think GotM was "too complicated", or badly written, although it's not his best work. It is, in fact, an excellent opener for the series, and Erikson does a good job of taking the second book off in a completely different direction, a mostly new cast of characters on a wholly new continent. You should give Deadhouse Gates another try, for the Chain of Dogs and Kalam running amok in Malaz City, if nothing else.
Complicated was the wrong word. I love epic fantasy. I love big living, breathing worlds. I love huge cast of characters. I don't love it when said huge cast of characters are all introduced in the first book. They should be introduced over time and the author can at least wait until after a few books, once we have a better handle on the world, to introduce them in large numbers. And no, it is not an excellent opener in my opinion. An opener does just that, and is supposed to give you a fundamental understanding of the world. If not a fundamental understanding, then at least focus on the characters and give them time to breathe and us time to know them. I am not the only one who thinks the author messed up with the first book. Just read the reviews, and you will find the same complaints. The fact that the second book goes in a completely different direction made me feel cheated too.
Seems like Erikson can't win. He gets blamed for introducing everyone in the first book, and for ditching most of the cast - including your favourite - in the second. Erikson does indeed introduce a lot of people in the first book, and he demands you pay attention. I don't think that's a bad thing, forcing the reader to keep up, throwing you in at the deep end, rather than pandering to the stupidest reader. Admittedly, he does rather overplay his hand in later books, to the extent that far too much is going on without any clear explanation and obscurity seemingly for the sake of it, with things getting lost in the shuffle of his numerous sub-plots. GotM is comprehensible, mostly, it just refuses to treat the reader with kid gloves. It does indeed introduce you to the world - or at least a small part of it. Because this is a series with a much broader scope than, say, Wheel of Time - Shara and Seanchan are conveniently made into monolithic empires, the Westlands are full of empty space, and most of the action takes part on a part of a single continent. Erikson follows storylines on three continents - Genabackis (1,3,8), Seven Cities (2,4,6) and Lether (5,7,9). The series as a whole is non-linear. Telling the story he wants to necessitates going off in a new direction (albeit not one that is wholly out of the blue, the situation in Seven Cities being referenced throughout GotM). This is not a bad thing, even if some people don't like it. His world is one of impressive breadth, although it lacks the depth that makes RJ's stand out. In GotM, we are introduced to the world, to many characters. It does everything a good opener should. If it is not to your taste, that is perfectly acceptable, but it is hardly too opaque for the reader to understand what is going on, too difficult, it doesn't throw too much at the reader. And Deadhouse Gates going in a different direction opens up the world. Why should that make you feel cheated?

 

So did GRRM's A Game of Thrones treat readers with kid gloves? I got through that book just fine, and it had a large cast of characters, but not too many to the point where you didn't know who the main characters were. I have no problem with a large cast, I just prefer for them to be released over time. The Wheel of Time's cast is huge, yet I pretty much know who all the characters are, even the minor ones who were only in a few chapters like the Illian boat captain in FoH, or the Ebou Dari palace Darkfriend.

 

When I say I feel cheated, let me explain. I am a huge fan of Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind, the first in his trilogy. What happens in the first book? Well, pretty much nothing much. That said it is still a good story, and promises a lot in the second book. If what is promised in the second book doesn't happen when it is released later this year, I will feel cheated. I am perfectly okay with the first book simply building the world, or showing us some of the characters who we will follow. That said Erickson seemed to be attempted to actually annoy the reader by showing us glimpses of the world instead of actually building it while also placing importance on it. Basically you either build the world, or you ignore it. You don't show glimpses of it, yet have it hold such importance in the plot of the first book without letting us know more. Do you get what I am saying? If you do, help me out because I don't :P. I blame the 2:42am my taskbar shows. Anyway he also throws us a huge list of characters, usually introducing us to them in the middle of something important. I much prefer Rand and Tam walking down a quiet village road, or Eddard Stark at a simple beheading. I basically think that besides the fact that Erikson was writing it as a screenplay, he was also trying to be fancy, and got carried away with it.

 

All that said, I will probably read GotM again just to see what all the fuss is about. Once I get through Ranger's Apprentice, Codex Alera, some manga and anime, and Mistborn (looking forward to that since I finally read some reviews on it). I am not expecting much though.

 

PS- It really has been a long time since I read the books, so I may be wrong on a few things.

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So did GRRM's A Game of Thrones treat readers with kid gloves?
In terms of easing you into the story, yes. You might be swimming in darker waters, but you're still getting in at the shallow end. Erikson throws you in at the deep end.
I got through that book just fine, and it had a large cast of characters, but not too many to the point where you didn't know who the main characters were.
It's not really a question of how many characters, so much as Erikson not being the best at characterisation, at differentiating them. He does have a few strong characters, but some are pretty samey. Having too many similar characters thrown at you in a short space of time is the problem people have. And, while it may be easy enough to keep all these names separate if you pay attention, he really should be making you care about these people. For more important characters, he can usually do that, but for more minor ones, he's not the best.

 

When I say I feel cheated, let me explain. I am a huge fan of Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind, the first in his trilogy. What happens in the first book? Well, pretty much nothing much. That said it is still a good story, and promises a lot in the second book. If what is promised in the second book doesn't happen when it is released later this year, I will feel cheated.
The second Malazan book does deliver what is promised, but that might not be what you thought was promised. Perhaps the most obvious follow up - Genabackis, the war against the Pannion Seer - is delivered in Book 3, not just dropped. Book two follows through in the hints provided throughout book 1 of the situation in Seven Cities, and Kalam and Fiddler taking Apsalar home. I've not read The Name of the Wind yet (although I do have a copy, so I'll get around to it eventually), so I can't answer that precisely, but if there was a main plot to be followed up on and some subplots, and the author went with the subplots, making them into an interesting and complex story in their own right, and then followed up on the main plots in the third book, would you consider that a disappointment? I can see how you might, especially if it meant a longer wait than you were anticipating for the follow up to what you were interested in, but if you took that second book on its own merits you would probably be less disappointed. With Erikson, I find it best to just go along for the ride and try not to poke too many holes in the illusion as you do.
I am perfectly okay with the first book simply building the world, or showing us some of the characters who we will follow. That said Erickson seemed to be attempted to actually annoy the reader by showing us glimpses of the world instead of actually building it while also placing importance on it. Basically you either build the world, or you ignore it. You don't show glimpses of it, yet have it hold such importance in the plot of the first book without letting us know more. Do you get what I am saying? If you do, help me out because I don't :P.
What one person likes in world building is not what another likes. Would you say Erikson is guilty of a bit too much hinting, not enough actual building? A not entirely unfair criticism. Some authors do a good job of telling a story and using the world as a background, filling in details as and when, while others create virtual worlds. While you can't tell everything, you have to hint at some things, it is possible to go too far on the hinting front, and not do enough actual showing. That was what I meant earlier when I said Erikson's world lacked depth - he gives the impression of country over there, interesting culture here, lots of cults in this neck of the woods, but without really giving that much depth. RJ, on the other hand, gives quite a bit of depth to Seanchan culture. When they leash channelers as marath'damane, you can see where they are coming from even if you don't agree. Erikson's cultures seem a little flat for that reason.
Anyway he also throws us a huge list of characters, usually introducing us to them in the middle of something important. I much prefer Rand and Tam walking down a quiet village road, or Eddard Stark at a simple beheading.
Exactly what I meant about easing you in against throwing you in at the deep end. I can see how in media res might not appeal, and I do think Erikson could perhaps have handled it better, but he made a fair stab at it.
he was also trying to be fancy, and got carried away with it.
He got carried away with it sums up Malazan pretty well. Some might say the same about WoT. Or most other similar series.

 

All that said, I will probably read GotM again just to see what all the fuss is about.
I think you'd be better off giving Deadhouse Gates another try, or Memories of Ice. Paran is back in the latter. If the series is still not to your taste, just drop it and find somehing else. No series is to everyones taste, so if you don't like it you might as well find something else and move on.

 

PS- It really has been a long time since I read the books, so I may be wrong on a few things.
Given that Erikson is wrong on a few things about GotM in the later books, I wouldn't let it worry you.

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So did GRRM's A Game of Thrones treat readers with kid gloves?
In terms of easing you into the story, yes. You might be swimming in darker waters, but you're still getting in at the shallow end. Erikson throws you in at the deep end.
I got through that book just fine, and it had a large cast of characters, but not too many to the point where you didn't know who the main characters were.
It's not really a question of how many characters, so much as Erikson not being the best at characterisation, at differentiating them. He does have a few strong characters, but some are pretty samey. Having too many similar characters thrown at you in a short space of time is the problem people have. And, while it may be easy enough to keep all these names separate if you pay attention, he really should be making you care about these people. For more important characters, he can usually do that, but for more minor ones, he's not the best.

 

Agreed. There were like 2, maybe 3 Mat Cauthon characters in the first book, all in the same city, all showing Mat at his different stages. XD I liked that part though.

 

When I say I feel cheated, let me explain. I am a huge fan of Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind, the first in his trilogy. What happens in the first book? Well, pretty much nothing much. That said it is still a good story, and promises a lot in the second book. If what is promised in the second book doesn't happen when it is released later this year, I will feel cheated.
The second Malazan book does deliver what is promised, but that might not be what you thought was promised. Perhaps the most obvious follow up - Genabackis, the war against the Pannion Seer - is delivered in Book 3, not just dropped. Book two follows through in the hints provided throughout book 1 of the situation in Seven Cities, and Kalam and Fiddler taking Apsalar home. I've not read The Name of the Wind yet (although I do have a copy, so I'll get around to it eventually), so I can't answer that precisely, but if there was a main plot to be followed up on and some subplots, and the author went with the subplots, making them into an interesting and complex story in their own right, and then followed up on the main plots in the third book, would you consider that a disappointment? I can see how you might, especially if it meant a longer wait than you were anticipating for the follow up to what you were interested in, but if you took that second book on its own merits you would probably be less disappointed. With Erikson, I find it best to just go along for the ride and try not to poke too many holes in the illusion as you do.
I am perfectly okay with the first book simply building the world, or showing us some of the characters who we will follow. That said Erickson seemed to be attempted to actually annoy the reader by showing us glimpses of the world instead of actually building it while also placing importance on it. Basically you either build the world, or you ignore it. You don't show glimpses of it, yet have it hold such importance in the plot of the first book without letting us know more. Do you get what I am saying? If you do, help me out because I don't :P.
What one person likes in world building is not what another likes. Would you say Erikson is guilty of a bit too much hinting, not enough actual building? A not entirely unfair criticism. Some authors do a good job of telling a story and using the world as a background, filling in details as and when, while others create virtual worlds. While you can't tell everything, you have to hint at some things, it is possible to go too far on the hinting front, and not do enough actual showing. That was what I meant earlier when I said Erikson's world lacked depth - he gives the impression of country over there, interesting culture here, lots of cults in this neck of the woods, but without really giving that much depth. RJ, on the other hand, gives quite a bit of depth to Seanchan culture. When they leash channelers as marath'damane, you can see where they are coming from even if you don't agree. Erikson's cultures seem a little flat for that reason.
Anyway he also throws us a huge list of characters, usually introducing us to them in the middle of something important. I much prefer Rand and Tam walking down a quiet village road, or Eddard Stark at a simple beheading.
Exactly what I meant about easing you in against throwing you in at the deep end. I can see how in media res might not appeal, and I do think Erikson could perhaps have handled it better, but he made a fair stab at it.
he was also trying to be fancy, and got carried away with it.
He got carried away with it sums up Malazan pretty well. Some might say the same about WoT. Or most other similar series.

 

I say the same about WoT even though it is my favorite. Jordan got too carried away with this unique matriarchal culture he created, and at points while the prose itself is still good, it does seem more like fanfiction in that RJ wanted to explore all the possibilities. I enjoyed that too, since before I read WoT I had read LotR and that disappointed me with the lack of exploration of Tolkien's amazing world. So I guess you can love something while hating the effect it has on the plot pace.

 

All that said, I will probably read GotM again just to see what all the fuss is about.
I think you'd be better off giving Deadhouse Gates another try, or Memories of Ice. Paran is back in the latter. If the series is still not to your taste, just drop it and find somehing else. No series is to everyones taste, so if you don't like it you might as well find something else and move on.

 

Yeah, I will go for either Garders, or Deadhouse once I am finished with the THREE series I am making my way through right now (Ranger's Apprentice, Codex Alera, Mistborn (just started on that yesterday). Can't forget that I also put down Dresden some months ago, and I want to finish that too. :(

 

PS- It really has been a long time since I read the books, so I may be wrong on a few things.
Given that Erikson is wrong on a few things about GotM in the later books, I wouldn't let it worry you.

 

:)

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I have a question or actually a concern really. This series has been on my mind for a while, especially since the author is Canadian (i think?), but mostly because I've seen it mentioned countlessly before, and I know I'll enjoy it. So here's the deal, my schedule barely allows me to read much. I usually read on Fridays and Saturdays, unless I'm off from university with a break. The thing is, I know the books aren't an easy read and will probably require some dedication, but I'm scared that with my frequent gaps in between reading, I might lose track of the plot. What do you guys think?

 

Right now, I just recently finished Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series and Elantris, and I just started the First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. Other series I have on mind (other than WoT obviously) include Raymond E. Feist with his god knows how long of a series, George RR Martin (who will probably publish the next novel if we're lucky by the next decade), Robin Hobb (Farseer i think?), and lastly Terry Goodking (so I can finally force myself to finish the SoT after reading Wizard's first rule).

 

Basically, I'm not sure what to approach after I finish the First Law trilogy. I was thinking of starting Steven Erikson, but I don't know if its possible for me to keep up with the complexity of the books given that I sometimes have weeks before I can pick up a book again.

 

Advice would be helpful. Thanks! 

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If there is large gaps in between when you are able to read books, then I suggest using Wikipedia, or other online sources for Erickson's MBotF series. There you can find plot and character summaries that will be helpful in keeping track of the many plots and characters in this series.

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I guess that is a good idea. I know I always referred back to WoT encyclopedia, I'm not sure if there is anything similar for SE's series.

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I guess that is a good idea. I know I always referred back to WoT encyclopedia, I'm not sure if there is anything similar for SE's series.
I'm not aware of anything as comprehensive as encyclopaedia-wot for MBotF. There is encyclopediamalazica, which is quite good. Still a work in progress, though.

 

This series has been on my mind for a while, especially since the author is Canadian (i think?)
Yes, Erikson is Canadian. So is Bakker, if you're interested.
The thing is, I know the books aren't an easy read and will probably require some dedication, but I'm scared that with my frequent gaps in between reading, I might lose track of the plot. What do you guys think?
How good are you at keeping track of things in books you read? Erikson isn't big on exposition, if someone shows up from earlier, it'll be treated like you remember the guy, so if you're good at remembering minor charcters in WoT or ASoIaF or similar, then you should be fine. I think trying is really the only way to see. Just try GotM, and if you can keep track of the goings on in that, who everyone is, what they are doing, then you should be fine. If you keep forgetting people, you should probably put the series on hold until you have more spare time.

 

Basically, I'm not sure what to approach after I finish the First Law trilogy.
I would suggest Abercrombie's follow up to First Law, the standalone Best Served Cold. Also, if you've not tried Bakker's Prince of Nothing, that has a smaller core cast of characters, so easier to keep track of people. But if you want to try Erikson, I say go for it. If it really does get too much for you to keep track of, then drop it until you have time to read it properly, but if you have a good memory and can keep track of things you should be able to get through without too much bother. And if all else fails, just think to yourself "I don't know who theese peole are, or why they're doing what they're doing, or even what that is, but I know this: it's awesome." Because being awesome is something he does very well. Also, if you don't quite know the timeline of events, bear in mind the author doesn't wither, so don'tlet it worry you. Some things happened in the past, some will hapen in the future, some are happening now.

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thanks Ares for the help!

 

I think I'll definitely take your advice. I really wanna start the series, so I think I'll take up the first novel after I finish the first law series. I guess you make a good point, if worst comes to worst, I can always come back to it if it proves difficult to keep track of.

 

Thanks for the help!

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Bumped.

 

I'm halfway through House of Chains right now.  (As an aside, my library has all the books published so far except Midnight Tides and Reaper's Gale.  That frustrates me.) 

 

I love the series so far, though it is really complex and really difficult to follow at first.  It took me 2 and a half reads through GotM before I felt comfortable with what was presented in the book.  Same for DG (2 reads) and MoI (1 and a half reads).  I'm a fast reader, but reading fast causes you to lose a lot of the action and important details in the series.  Erikson's ability to hint at events relayed later and tie together the different POVs is impressive, and he doesn't parade everything in front of your eyes either.  Luckily I have a good memory and I'm reading all the books back-to-back, so they mesh together pretty well for me.  One thing that I found interesting was that I was able to predict many of the later revelations before they happened.  Erikson drops enough clues, though it's easy to miss them in the first reading. 

 

DG and MoI were both amazing.  I remember thinking that DG was going to be simple and boring because we were departing from all the action and the interesting characters on Genabackis, but Chain of Dogs is truly one of the greatest plot lines in fantasy.  The endings of DG and MoI were epic and, though they were a little predictable, stunning and realistic.

 

As far as superpowered characters are concerned, I think Erikson makes it work pretty well.  You don't go through the books wondering why the good guys haven't annihilated the bad guys yet.  And even the superpowered characters show enough weakness that you can believe they could be defeated.  Though I do agree that some of the "resurrections" so far have been a little tiresome.

 

The other thing to note is that throughout the first four books (at least so far), it's been non-stop material being introduced.  The scale of Erikson's worldbuilding is really impressive.  Every time you think you've started to grasp it in its entirety, he shows you new material and quite a bit of it too.

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Good timing. Book Nine - DUST OF DREAMS - should be starting to appear on bookshelves in the UK over the next week or so :)

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Dust of Dreams

 

From across the continent of Lether and far beyond, powers and armies are converging on the vast Wastelands to the east of the Letherii Empire. Adjunct Tavore, commander of the the Malazan 14th Army - the Bonehunters - plans to take her army into that wilderness, aided by the Letherii imperial legions under Brys Beddict. To the south her allies, the Perish Grey Helms and Khundryl Burned Tears, barter for passage across the Kingdom of Bolkando, only to be met with betrayal and murder. On the plains of the Ar'kryn, the Barghast White Face clans face insurrection and treachery. A ribbon of refugees flees westward from Kolanse into the Wastelands and the immense Glass Desert, whilst in the far west the Shake abandon their island homeland to seek the First Shore, unaware that their return to their ancestral warren will re-awaken ancient powers.

 

Human and Barghast, K'Chain Che'Malle and T'lan Imass, Shake and Jaghut, mortals and ascendants alike find themselves drawn into a convergence outstripping anything before seen in the mortal realm, for the sky is rent in flame and shadow and a long-imprisoned god returns to the mortal realm with Darkness clenched in his hand. The Bonehunters and their allies march to a war they cannot win to avenge an empire that has rejected them, whilst the K'Chain Che'Malle march to war to end an ancient conflict and find a place for themselves in the world. But under the light of what has appeared in the sky, it appears that all might be in vain...

 

Dust of Dreams is the penultimate novel of The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Steven Erikson's immense ten-volume saga chronicling the story of the Malazan Empire and its legions and the peoples and tribes it comes into contact with. More accurately, Dust of Dreams is also the first half of an immense 1,800-plus-page single novel, to be completed by The Crippled God when it follows (hopefully) next year. This, then, is the beginning of the end and the start of the final act of this immense series, certainly the most ambitious work of epic fantasy ever attempted.

 

Reviewing the ninth of a ten-book series feels slightly redundant. By now, people know if Erikson is for them or not. As a result, this review will likely be of most interest to those readers who perhaps felt that the series' second half has been more disappointing than its initial half, with the acceleration of the expansion of the cast of characters, concepts, races and forms of magic reaching an increasingly convoluted and over-complex pace. It is hard to argue with this, and the fact is that Dust of Dreams introduces yet many more new characters, ideas, forms of magic and concepts. Whilst it is certainly the case that we get some long-standing mysteries resolved in this book - like why exactly Tavore had to break with the Malazans and bring her army to the far side of the planet - other mysteries are left unaddressed or even further complicated by events. If Erikson takes the literally hundreds of questions left dangling by the series and answers them satisfyingly in the final book of the series I will be surprised, but I have a nagging feeling that an awful lot of stuff is going to be left for the already-promised nine additional Malazan books that Erikson (and four more from his co-writer Ian Esslemont) has been contracted for.

 

Dust of Dreams is certainly far more proactive in plot than the largely static and introspective Toll the Hounds, and returns to the format of many of the earlier books in the series: a lot of set-up and ponderous navel-gazing punctuated by some humour followed by a convergence of forces, usually in a massive battle sequence. The humour is great (although Tehol, one of Erikson's more reliable sources of comic relief, is actually severely annoying in this novel) and the characters in the Malazan army and occupied Letheras are mostly well-drawn, but the traditional problems of having tons of pretty identical 'salt of the earth' Malazan soliders with stupid names who can debate morality and political theory at the drop of the hat remains intact. Erikson's characterisation is also suspiciously transparent here: many of these soldiers, established not just here but in The Bonehunters, Reaper's Gale and House of Chains as well, seem to have scenes just so we feel sympathy for them later on when they are killed (or at least their fates are left hanging). For some of the characters this works, but for most it doesn't.

 

On the prose style, Erikson's writing ability remains impressive but is often mis-aimed: a lengthy five-page debate on morality between two characters often seems to end in the stunning realisation that it's wrong to use civilian shields in warfare, or unrestrained capitalism and the exploitation of poorer nations through trade is as bad in its own way as slavery and colonialism. Stunning insights into the human condition, these are most definitely not. As a result progress through the novel can feel like wading through treacle until the story actually gets moving again.

 

At the same time, Erikson still has an almost-unmatched ability to bring together subplots and characters in interesting combinations, moreso in Dust of Dreams as more of the puzzle of the entire series is unveiled and we begin to get a sense that most of those annoying minor elements that played virtually no constructive roles in previous books - such as Icarium and his machine, the Eres, the Shake, a certain journey through the Imperial Warren, Stormy and Gesler's long-ago transformation and the endless emo Tiste Andii moping around - are all vital pieces of the puzzle. The sheer breadth of Erikson's imagination, the scope of his world and the ambition of his story remains staggering and genuinely impressive, although arguably the weight of that narrative is so heavy that the author struggles in places to get his vision across.

 

Events culminate in a battle sequence that redefines the meaning of the word 'epic'. This series has had its share of massive engagements, from the Chain of Dogs through the Siege of Capustation and the Battle of Y'Ghatan through to the Bonehunters' rampage across the Letherii Empire, but what happens at the end of Dust of Dreams and the forces brought to bear eclipse everything that has come before combined. The novel ends on a colossal cliffhanger - for the first and last time in the series - with the immediate threat apparently receding but with the tally of the survivors incomplete. The fates of literally dozens of named characters are left hanging in the balance until the final book arrives, hopefully next year.

 

Dust of Dreams (****) is a typical latter-period Malazan novel, by turns infuriating and impressive, turgid and lyrical, slow and immensely action-packed. It's a stronger book than The Bonehunters and Toll the Hounds, possibly Reaper's Gale as well, and leaves the reader wanting more, which in the final analysis is a good thing, but there remains the nagging feeling that if Erikson could cut to the chase a bit more, the series would not only be shorter but also considerably stronger. Still, a bit late in the day to worry about that now. The book is available now in the UK and will be published in the USA on 19 January 2010.

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WOW!!!

I was already planning on buying this book when it was made available in the USA. However, after this excellent review, I am seriously considering spending the extra money to get this book from Amazon.co.uk

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Just to rub it in the face of those who haven't got it yet, I'm just over a hundred pages into Dust of Dreams.

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Any idea when this book can be expected over here?
That depends on where "here" is. If the USA, "The book will be published in the USA on 19 January 2010", according to Wert's review.

 

Anyway, I finished it this morning. The last couple of chapters are pretty impressive, and it ends on a hell of a cliffhanger. There are also plenty of other interesting bits, although an awful lot of it is the tedium typical of his later efforts. Still, enough set up for The Crippled God to really bring the series home in style, if Erikson actually sticks to the story. And there's no Karsa in this one, which is good.

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And there's no Karsa in this one, which is good.

 

No Karsa in Dust of Dreams? Well, fudge puppies. That is a downer to me, because he is one of my favorite characters in the series. However, I still fully intend on buy Dust of Dreams as soon as I can afford it.

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And there's no Karsa in this one, which is good.
No Karsa in Dust of Dreams? Well, fudge puppies. That is a downer to me, because he is one of my favorite characters in the series. However, I still fully intend on buy Dust of Dreams as soon as I can afford it.
Considering where we last saw him, he'll probably show up again in an ICE book, the one he plans for after Stonewielder. As it is, a lot of characters do show up in Dust of Dreams, mostly the ones you'd expect, given it's set on Lether, and some characters were either there or heading there at the end of the last two books. So expect Tool, the Bonehunters, Gruntle, etc. Also, expect new types of K'Chain Che'Malle, learning some new stuff about what is and has been going on, and a massive set piece finale. I doubt you'll be disappointed, even with Karsa absent.

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And there's no Karsa in this one, which is good.
No Karsa in Dust of Dreams? Well, fudge puppies. That is a downer to me, because he is one of my favorite characters in the series. However, I still fully intend on buy Dust of Dreams as soon as I can afford it.
Considering where we last saw him, he'll probably show up again in an ICE book, the one he plans for after Stonewielder. As it is, a lot of characters do show up in Dust of Dreams, mostly the ones you'd expect, given it's set on Lether, and some characters were either there or heading there at the end of the last two books. So expect Tool, the Bonehunters, Gruntle, etc. Also, expect new types of K'Chain Che'Malle, learning some new stuff about what is and has been going on, and a massive set piece finale. I doubt you'll be disappointed, even with Karsa absent.

 

Karsa might show up in the 'Darujhistan Tyrant' novel that ICE has planned for later on, either after STONEWIELDER or the one after that. Erikson himself is planning a sequel trilogy dealing with Karsa and the Toblakai, but wants to write a prequel trilogy dealing with Anomander Rake first. He's also apparently going to take 18-24 months rather than 12 to write each one, so it may be 6+ years after THE CRIPPLED GOD comes out that we see Karsa again.

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I am really looking forward to reading Dust of Dreams and also The Crippled God. However, even though I have several characters in the series whom are my favorites, I really was hoping that Karsa would have a huge role to fulfill in at least one of these last two books of MBotF. I am very disappointed that I will have to wait almost 6 years for anything new concerning Karsa.

*shrugs* Oh well. He is worth the wait.

 

Oh, and speaking of favorite characters, ... I do not want any spoilers, but does Ganos Paran, the Master of the Deck, have a significant part in these last two books? I really hope so, because Ganos was my favorite character in Gardens of the Moon.

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Oh, and speaking of favorite characters, ... I do not want any spoilers, but does Ganos Paran, the Master of the Deck, have a significant part in these last two books? I really hope so, because Ganos was my favorite character in Gardens of the Moon.
Not as yet, but Dust of Dreams is only part one of a two part book.

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