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Book Review – Deadhouse Gates

deadhousegatesDeadhouse Gates

Author: Steven Erikson

Series: The Malazan Book of the Fallen #2

Genre: Fantasy

Published 2000

Review Copy: Paperback bought new

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Goodreads Description

In the vast dominion of Seven Cities, in the Holy Desert Raraku, the seer Sha’ik and her followers prepare for the long-prophesied uprising known as the Whirlwind. Unprecedented in size and savagery, this maelstrom of fanaticism and bloodlust will embroil the Malazan Empire in one of the bloodiest conflicts it has ever known, shaping destinies and giving birth to legends . . .

Set in a brilliantly realized world ravaged by dark, uncontrollable magic, this thrilling novel of war, intrigue and betrayal confirms Steven Erikson as a storyteller of breathtaking skill, imagination and originality–the author who has written the first great fantasy epic of the new millennium.


Deadhouse Gates is the second novel in Steven Erikson’s epic fantasy series The Malazan Book of the Fallen. This continues the story that began in Gardens of the Moon. It moves away from Genabackis and on to another continent in an area called the Seven Cities.

There are some familiar faces, but also many new ones. I find that one of the strengths of this book is the characters. It is very character-driven, and has many strong personalities. The cast of characters is very large. Felisin is the younger sister of Ganoes Paran from the first book, and is a major focus here. She has a very strong personality and incredibly defiant. Heboric Light Touch is an intriguing ex-priest who shows some very interesting abilities. We also get to meet Fiddler, Crokus, Apsalar, and Kalam again. They’re all from the first book. Kalam has a focused mission, so we spend a lot of time with him, and I really enjoyed reading his part. Apsalar is going through a lot of changes, while Crokus and Fiddler watch on. These three are still together from Darujhistan. The Wickan Coltain is a military leader, and his quest to bring the refugees of the Seven Cities is the main focus of the story. He’s a rather unconventional leader. The Imperial Historian Duiker is also a major character who is both an old soldier and an observer of the exodus. He is also an acquaintance of Heboric’s. The pair that impressed me the most were the half Jaghut Icarium and Mappo the Trell. The relationship between Icarium and Mappo was absolutely fascinating, and their friendship was powerful. And finally, although she played a small part, Ganoes Paran and Felisin’s older sister Tavore is now that Adjunct. She’ll likely play a much larger part in later books. They were my favourite characters in this book. I loved those two. There are many more characters, but these were the ones that had the greatest impact, I thought.

The world that Erikson created is vivid and realistic. I felt like I was there with the characters. The worldbuilding involved in this series is extensive. The desert of Raraku felt dry and dusty. I could imagine I was there. The way Erikson describes the scenes painted a realistic picture in my mind. The towns and cities all had their own unique character, the landscapes were amazing, and I felt like I could experience the weather. Excellent job.

The story was a bit different than what we saw in Gardens of the Moon. This time, we had more of a journey rather than a battle in one location. I felt like a tourist at times seeing many new places, since they kept traveling. The main focus was on Coltaine’s Army protecting the refugees from the Seven Cities as they were pursued by the rebel commander and former Imperial soldier Korbolo Dom. It was called the Chain of Dogs, which is shown on the maps in the book. There were many battles and many deaths. Kalam had his own mission to go straight to the Empress. Felisin had her sights on her sister Tavore, but she had an even greater destiny. Mappo and Icarium had their own journey, but there was something very interesting about their mission, and it had more to do with Icarium’s sad past. And finally, there was Apsalar, Crokus, and Fiddler’s journey, which led to a few surprises. Many paths crossed, many separated, and many joined together. It was like these story threads were woven together. It’s very intricate and complex, but very compelling.

The Malazan series is proving to be a very good series, and this second installment was incredibly enjoyable. I loved immersing myself in this world, even though it was treacherous and filled with war and death. The thing about this series is it’s dark and gritty. You should expect major characters to die unexpectedly. It’s war, and it isn’t pretty. But what a story it is. I would give this 5 out of 5 stars. It was just that good. Highly recommended.