Author Topic: The Malazan Book of the Fallen Thread  (Read 1656 times)

Andrew the Great

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The Malazan Book of the Fallen Thread
« on: February 25, 2009, 04:52:04 AM »
I've been reading these books for a little while now, and am now on book 6, The Bonehunters. So, I wanted to see if anyone else here has read them (which I expect they probably have) and get their opinions on them. Who's your favorite character, what do you think of the overall storyline, etc. I'll eventually post my thoughts, but I want to get a bit farther before I do. So, discuss!

PS, if you didn't know, I'm talking about The Malazan Book of the Fallen Series by Steven Eriksen, beginning with Gardens of the Moon, then Deadhouse Gates, Memories of Ice, House of Chains, Midnight Tides, Bonehunters, Reaper's Gale, Toll the Hounds, etc. (since I don't remember what the last 2 will be called)
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Peter Ahlstrom

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Re: The Malazan Book of the Fallen Thread
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2009, 05:39:02 AM »
I read the first book. I'm sure I'll read the others eventually but perhaps not for a while. The book moves really fast and has so many things that come out of left field...I felt less connected to the characters than I often like. It was very creative though, and thinking back on it there were lots of parts I liked. The end was really deus ex machina but the problem that the deus solved also came rather out of nowhere, it seemed.

I liked that it deals with gods a lot, though. Gods are very active charactersóbut their motivations are a bit hard to understand.
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Bookstore Guy

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Re: The Malazan Book of the Fallen Thread
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2009, 05:38:22 PM »
I've been reading these for several years now. He would be much more known in the US if Tor would actually push him and release his books here the same time they are released in England. I tend to import his novels the day they are released in England. Their covers are WAY better anyway.

It's hard to say who my fav characters are because as you read the series, Erikson has a way of making every character one worth reading. Though, I do have a soft spot for Karsa, Mappo, and Icarium.

Ookla - its not so Deus Ex after reading the rest of the novels. The issue is that you are dumped into a world where you feel you've missed 2 books worth of info. On scale, more happens in one of Erikson's books than the sum total of most other SERIES by other authors (sorry Jordan fans, WoT has nothing on Malazan in terms of scale or power).

For any who are curious, this world Erikson created is actually a co-creation between him and Ian Cameron Esselmont. Esselmont also writes novels in the same world - Night of Knives and Return of the Crimson Guard. Erikson also has 3 short stories about some necromancers from the series - The Healthy Dead, The Blood Follows, and the Lees at Laughter's End (or something like that). They are more comical that the rest of the novels.

I have always said that Erikson has a VERY steep learning curve. Gardens of the Moon is hard to get into. However, the next 2 books - Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice - are the 2 that tend to hook most readers. They are, simply put, some of the best fantasy written.

I have yet to read Toll the Hounds (the most recent), because I am trying to write my own novel - Erikson owns my life if start a book of his. The 9th book will be titled The Dust of Dreams - released at the end of August 2009 in England. The 10th will be The Crippled God - released next summer or fall.

As Ookla said, Gods play a HUGE part of these novels - even from the first chapter of Gardens of the Moon (you just don't know until later on).  It is AWESOME.

I wholeheartedly recommend these to all fantasy readers. When I managed a book store here in Utah, I sold more Erikson than virtually any other author (Jordan included, Sanderson was about even after the book signings I set up for him). All that said, these books are much more intelligent and deep than most other fantasy (Bakker still wins here), and it can turn people off. These are not mindless action fantasy or Jordan travel-logs. These are truly Epic. Just bear that in mind.

For good measure, I ordered this a few months ago. It comes this week supposedly. http://www.subterraneanpress.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=erikson&Category_Code=B&Product_Count=44
« Last Edit: February 25, 2009, 05:42:11 PM by Used to be an Important Bookstore Guy »
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Re: The Malazan Book of the Fallen Thread
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2009, 07:08:20 PM »
I read Gardens of the Moon a few years ago.† I remember having difficulty wanting to read it.† It took me a while to figure out that I just didn't care about any of the characters.† I didn't know any of them.† And it occurred to me that there was sooooo much going on in that book that Erikson just didn't have the page-space to give to the characterization that is so important to me.† But I finished it.

About a year later I picked up Deadhouse Gates, and got about 100 pages into it before I gave it back to the library.† It was the same thing.† Too much plot, no characterization.† I just didn't like reading it because of that.† Then again, about a year after that, I began feeling bad that I had given up on probably one of the most vast and expansive epic fantasy series that would written in my lifetime and tried to read Deadhouse Gates again.† This time I forced myself through 200 pages before I just couldn't do it anymore.† Ugh.

Now, I agree entirely with BookstoreGuy that this series is absolutely AMAZING in terms of size and complexity and development.† Jaw dropping, in fact.† I just don't have words to describe the kind of awe I have for Erikson and Esselmont and what they've created.† But I just couldn't read it.† Maybe I'll be able to in a few years.† I won't be going back to them any time soon though.

The Malazan books, for me, are on the far end of the plot/character spectrum.† So much plot, and little to no character.† On the other end of the spectrum we find Martin with his Fire and Ice series.† So much character that it feels like there's no progression of the plot.† Jordan lands somewhere in-between.† Arguably, Jordan's books shift on this scale from one to the next, but he definitely writes between Erikson and Martin.† These are the three biggies though, and this is kind of where I see them landing on the plot/character balance spectrum.

I'm glad that there are people that are willing to support each of these authors.† What they are each able to do (or in the case of Jordan, has been able to do) with their books is amazing, and they deserve to be supported.† But as for me, I can't handle the extremes.† That's why I'm reading Jordan's series for the third time now, but have barely made it through the first two books in each of the other series.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2009, 07:10:47 PM by WriterDan »
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Sigyn

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Re: The Malazan Book of the Fallen Thread
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2009, 07:11:07 PM »
I've only read the first book in this series, and I loved it. I've bought the rest of the series and they are all in my to-read list. I think Erikson builds an amazing world, and I love the feel of it.
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Re: The Malazan Book of the Fallen Thread
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2009, 08:08:10 PM »
Not to bust your chops WriterDan, but your comments on character are a bit "out there." Since you haven't read the full novel of book 2, I think the credibility of your statement is a bit questionable. I think that maybe had there not been so much time between reads, you may have a different opinion. Like most authors, the ability to craft characters develops as the books go on and the author learns. I have hooked hundreds of people on the series, and character is not what their complaints are. Erikson's characters are extremely complex and none of them are "black and white."

Now, i do see where you are coming from in a sense. There is SO much going on that it can be easy to lose sight of the characterization that is in there. There is actually an ABSURD amount of character, but with how much info is thrown at you in all of book 1, and then the first chunk of book 2, it can be overlooked. The thing is that the learning curve happens again at the beginning of every book. This learning curve is usually what turns people off, because nothing is simple like in the other series they have read. There is no "beginning" to this story, and many readers are put off by that. I will admit that after reading book 1 i was a little meh. My manager at the time made me continue on saying "dont worry, things will make much more sense, and clues will start popping out at you." I did. By the end of book 2, i had such a connection with the characters, the the climax was made that much more powerful.
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Andrew the Great

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Re: The Malazan Book of the Fallen Thread
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2009, 04:08:58 AM »
Ok, a few comments. I disagree with the comments about there not being much character in Erikson's books. The scale is so huge that it takes some getting used to, and you spend most of the first book getting used to the world. I spent a good portion of the first book trying to figure out what the heck a warren was, and trying to understand the various politics (since he kind of drops you into the middle of a war). But the reason I say that I disagree with the fact that Erikson doesn't build characters is that when I started Deadhouse Gates, I was genuinely disappointed that there were only a few repeat characters, and none of them my favorites (except maybe Fiddler). I missed the characters from the first book.

I eventually came to like the characters in the second book as much as I did the first. And Memories of Ice - after I finished it, I placed it with no questions asked at the top of my best book I've ever read list. Ahead of any Wheel of Time or Song of Ice and Fire, which I loved.

The thing about the Malazan world is that everything is so detailed that it almost seems real. You begin to understand how everything works, and yet at the same time there are so many mysteries.

The other thing that I really like about the Malazan books is that there isn't a bad guy. The only character I can think of right now that has never been presented in a good light is the Crippled God. So far, Erickson is the only author I've come across who writes a war, and tells what both sides are like, makes you care about both sides. It results in these interesting feelings where you're happy that one side won, but at the same time you feel bad for the other side.

It took me a while to get in to the first book, but that was mostly because of the steep learning curve. By the end of the 3rd book, I was still really confused on some things, but.....The only way I can think of to describe it was that it was a go0d confusion, and added to the novel.

The Bonehunters is the first hint I've gotten that starts to connect all of the individual other books, and as soon as I realized that these were ALL going to be related, and not just 2 or 3 individual stories in the same world, I sat down in amazement at the scale. Basically these are the biggest books scale wise you'll ever read. But I've rambled on enough for now. More thoughts later.
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Re: The Malazan Book of the Fallen Thread
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2009, 04:51:18 PM »
/high-five Andrew

Your reactions to books 2 and 3 were identical to mine. I always tell people that once you read books 2 and 3 (which run concurrently), you will be floored. The way Erikson shows all sides of a conflict is incredible, and it makes your attachment to the characters extremely strong.

Once I get my collector's edition of Gardens of the Moon, I am going to start rereading this series.
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Re: The Malazan Book of the Fallen Thread
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2009, 11:52:40 PM »
I actually started this series because it was a Canadian author, and as far as I'm aware, there aren't very many Canadian authors with huge epic fantasy series.(random question, but are there any other Canadians on this forum?)

 I also started with Deadhouse Gates.(silly thing to do) I was going on a trip and needed to get a book out of the library, I thought I'd start this series because it was supposed to be so epic, but they didn't have the first one. So I decided to get the 2nd and see the writing style. I only got 200 pages before giving up. Terrible idea to start this series on the 2nd when even the 1st book is very confusing. I was so lost in Deadhouse Gates, I didn't know anything at all.

I did end up reading Gardens of the Moon though, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, very creative and I'll just reiterate that the scope is huge. It had me just stop and contemplate the vastness of it. Amazing.

But, is the whole series worth reading? Is it all good and ends up being connected so you get that awesome sense of piecing things together?  Or does it get old after a few books? Cause I don't know if I want to commit to this series unless all of them are as good as the 1st.

One more question. Are there new main characters in every single book, or are they the same people?

Thanks to anyone who can answer my questions.

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Re: The Malazan Book of the Fallen Thread
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2009, 01:50:05 PM »
I didn't start enjoying Gardens of the Moon until well over 1/2 way through the book.† Right now I'm on page 107 in Deadhouse Gates, and I'm struggling to pick this book back up.† Actually, the only reason I'm still reading this series is because Bookstore assured me a longtime ago the the ending to books 2 and 3 is so good they will leave me numb.† Perhaps my expectations were set too high because I still don't see what everyone is raving about.† I do plan on reading up until at least Memories of Ice before deciding whether to continue reading the series or not, but right now that looks like an awfully steep mountain to climb.

Here's my problems with the series so far.† Remember I'm only 100 pages into the second book.†

1)† I'm introduced to so many characters so fast that I have a hard time caring about them

2)† Not enough detail in the characters.† I just found out in the 2nd book that Kalam was black maybe I missed that detail in the first book, but if I did he mentioned it only once.† Sorry from what I remember is described as being "pleasing to the eye". WhiskeyJack is described as being older.† If I missed these descriptions then it's only because the author glossed over them.† In my mind WhiskeyJack looks just like Druss from David Gemmells novel Legend.

3)† So far everyone who dies comes back to life in one form or another.† This makes it even harder for me to care about the characters because I am not concerned with their safety anymore.†

4)† Up until now I'm very unimpressed with his battle scenes.† In GotM, he builds up builds up, and builds up to two battles near the end of the book, and he finishes them off in a couple keystrokes.† Then everyone moves on like nothing happened.

5)† Everyone seems to be in the right place at the right time with the right equipment.†

I really do want to like this series, but these are some of the things I'm struggling with.† Here's another example that I wouldn't consider a spoiler.† Fiddler and co. are crossing the ocean in book 2.† A sea serpent rises out of the ocean and threatens to attack them.† Turns out it's a soletaken(??), and it's going to kill them.† I'm thinking, here we go, battle for life, people saving people while defending themselves, blood and guts.† I'm thinking I'm finally going to see what everyone sees in this author, right.† What happens then is Fiddler pulls out a bow and arrow that has explosives attached and blows up the serpent, and everyone moves on like nothing happened.† And I've struggled to pick this book up ever since that scene.† Why would you be surprised to be attacked by a serpent if you were prepared to defend yourself against the serpent?† The scene kind of seemed pointless, like it didn't need to be there.†

Does the author move past these things that I'm complaining about?† Or does the entire series consist of 100s of characters with little to no description, who all come back from the dead, in the right place, with the right equipment at the right time, to kill the enemy with one shot so they can go finish their cup of tea?

Also, If I do decide to continue reading the series are the prequels part of the overall plot or can I skip them, or at the very least read them at a later date?
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Re: The Malazan Book of the Fallen Thread
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2009, 05:02:07 PM »
I think that, once again, the character description is being missed due to how much is being thrown at you. Book 1 is all new material, and it's all dumped on you at once. Book 2 starts, and it only starts with a few of the characters you thought you were getting to know from Book 1, so readers tend to feel a little bummed by that. It also makes readers feel that they are starting over. Book 3 goes back to tell what was going on with all the characters not mentioned in book 2. The learning curve is less steep.

One of the things I have learned to accept about this series is that this story has gone on LONG before we pick it up in book 1. Personally, i find it refreshing. I can only take so many kids growing up on farms who find out they are "special" before I want to hang myself. Remember, the series is "A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen." These are all interlinking tales in a world heading towards a Convergence (a term used frequently in the series) of massive proportions. This isn't a Jordan travel-log.

Another note: Erikson follows a certain pattern for story telling. If the reader is astute, he/she will catch a huge number of hints that explain what has happened in a new light, and foreshadowing of huge events to come (tarot cards do this a TON in the books). After a book or so, he has his, "In case you didn't catch it before, here is the deal:" moments. For example, stuff that happens as early as chapter 1 of Book 1 is explained in the prologue of Book 3. If you have a good memory, and like "aha!" moments, you will like this style of writing. This pattern if followed for the whole series.

Characters: Some die. Some stay dead. Some get reincarnated. Some become Ascendants. Some are already Gods. Many change their names. Erikson is cruel to many of his characters. They show up in further books, but not all of them. Book 2 introduces Mappo and Icarium who are just fantastic. The relationship they have that is furthered in subsequent books is incredible. There are new characters intro'ed in every book.

Soletaken: very important. its explained in book 1, and further elaborated on in every book. With the sea serpent event, it has a purpose, and it's also used to show that Fiddler is very prepared and, simply, a stud.

War: Once the intro to book 2 is passed, a majority of the book is a traveling war with a huge conflict at the end. the entire final 1/4 of book 3 is a war (and book 3 is LARGE). They are the kind of conflicts that I like - heavy casualties, heroic stands, big consequences, betrayals, no real "winner."

Prequels: as far as i know, only Night of Knives serves as a prequel. Return of the Crimson Guard I believe takes place after book 6. You dont have to read any of Esselmont's stuff. I haven't yet.

Last random tidbit: sometimes spoilers in this series are good. Erikson's stuff is very busy, and it can be hard to see the characters past the plot (or at times the reverse). Im very anti-spoiler, but in the case of this series, spoilers have sometimes made the series more fun for me. But that's me.
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Re: The Malazan Book of the Fallen Thread
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2009, 10:04:50 PM »
Having just finished the Bonehunters, I can now say that Erikson just keeps getting better. While Memories of Ice is still my favorite in the series so far, I enjoyed Erickson's humor much more, and he is doing better at writing action scenes too (whoever was concerned with that, it does get better. There were a few scenes that I found to be a bit convenient too, but Erickson is also harsh on his characters sometimes too)

Anyway, why I liked the Bonehunters: Very few new characters and a sense of the overall plot of the series. I'm seriously excited to see what he does in The Crippled God to live up to all the previous books have built for. 

publius75 : I had a hard time with Deadhouse Gates at first too. I struggle to convince myself it was worth it, and actually read several other books while I was reading it. Then I came back to it, pushed through, and about a third of the way through I was hooked. Keep going, it's worth it.
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Publius

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Re: The Malazan Book of the Fallen Thread
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2009, 01:20:58 PM »
I had to take some time off of work and leave town for a while because of family reasons, and while away I picked up and read Plum Island by Nelson DeMille.  Awesome book by the way, John Corey is now one of my favorite characters. 

Anyways, I picked up Deadhouse Gates again and I'm really starting to enjoy it.  I was initially frustrated with the book when I found out that it was all new characters and that I wouldn't be reading about the characters from Gardens of the Moon. 

I'm about 300 pages in and I can't wait to start reading it tonight.  Right now my favorite characters are Baudin and Fiddler.  Out of curiosity does Baudin become more of a major character or is he a minor character?  I hope he becomes a major character because he seems like a bad-a**.  However, I could also see him being killed by Felisin too.  By the way I can't stand Felisin!!  Hope she gets what she deserves!!
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Re: The Malazan Book of the Fallen Thread
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2009, 05:10:29 AM »
I had to take some time off of work and leave town for a while because of family reasons, and while away I picked up and read Plum Island by Nelson DeMille.† Awesome book by the way, John Corey is now one of my favorite characters.†

Anyways, I picked up Deadhouse Gates again and I'm really starting to enjoy it.† I was initially frustrated with the book when I found out that it was all new characters and that I wouldn't be reading about the characters from Gardens of the Moon.†

I'm about 300 pages in and I can't wait to start reading it tonight.† Right now my favorite characters are Baudin and Fiddler.† Out of curiosity does Baudin become more of a major character or is he a minor character?† I hope he becomes a major character because he seems like a bad-a**.† However, I could also see him being killed by Felisin too.† By the way I can't stand Felisin!!† Hope she gets what she deserves!!

to be fair, you ARE reading about characters from book 1, just not all of them.
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