Tag Archives: Malazan Book of the Fallen

Reflecting on Gardens of the Moon

Have you ever read a book that left a big impression on you even a few years after you read it? One of those books for me is Gardens of the Moon. I read it four years ago, but when I think about it, I remember the incredible worldbuilding, cultures, and characters.

The world is unique. It’s been developed from the ground up, and has a fully fleshed out history. There are so many different cultures spanning continents. And Malazan Book of the Fallen does span several continents. It’s a global story that lasts for many volumes. I’ve only read two. The characters are colourful, imaginative, and far too real. Even though they may be a completely different species than humans, they feel real when I read the books.

I did a review reflecting on my memories of the book on video. Take a look.

I think you get the message that I love how this world has been developed. I want to get back in it and spend more time there. And you know what? This is a book that I want to reread sometime in the future. I can’t say that for many books.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below.

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.

Review

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.

At a Loss for Words

Ever feel like you can’t think of the words to describe your feelings or thoughts? I’m having that moment now.

There’s a scene in Deadhouse Gates that moved me so much, all I could think of is “Wow.” Two large and strong characters, one powerful beyond belief, shared a moment where they both showed how deep their friendship is. They would die to save the other. I found my favourite characters of the book.

Do You Like Heroic Fantasy?

Lord of the Rings, Shannara, Forgotten Realms, all standard fantasy involving heroes, elves, dwarves, and so on.  They’re quite popular.  But are you sick of it?  Do you prefer other kinds of fantasy?

wot01The Wheel of Time is a pretty typical heroic fantasy.  The main character is from a small village and goes on a quest with friends and magic users to defeat the evil overlord.  And he’s also got some big destiny waiting for him.  That’s pretty typical fantasy there.  It’s a long series, too.

A Game of ThronesA Song of Ice and Fire is the hot thing today.  It’s not your typical heroic fantasy.  In fact, I’d say there are no heroes at all.  It’s very dark and gritty with lots of sex and violence.  Many people die.  No one is safe.  It’s less fantastic, more medieval.  It has some magic, and it has dragons, but it’s mostly humans, giants, and the undead.

gardensofthemoonMalazan Book of the Fallen is another atypical fantasy.  It’s quite original in terms of the races.  Everything is original about this, except humans, and there are dragons.  From the unique magic system to the intriguing god/Ascendant based religions, we have a very interesting world.  It’s also very violent, dark, and has a lot of death.  And yes, there are dragons, too.  No heroes here, though. This is military fantasy.

wizardsfirstruleThe Sword of Truth series is another fantasy series, though the races tend to be only humans.  But there are dragons!  And swordsmen, wizards, and other magic users.  And the main character is a typical from-the-countryside-you-have-a-destiny type of hero.  This is very typical hero fantasy.

darkelftrilogyForgotten Realms, and in particular, the very long series about Drizzt Do’Urden, is another fantasy series with a hero.  And here, we have the very standard races, elves, dwarves, and so on.  This is about as typical as it gets, to be honest.  Drizzt is our hero, a dark elf hero.  Not quite typical, as he’s not some naive farm boy.  He does grow up to be something great, though.

There are many more examples.  So, do you like heroic fantasy?  Please answer the poll below, and leave a comment explaining your choice.

Is There a Trend Toward Dark, Gritty Fantasy?

Tolkien, Brooks, and even Jordan, all write or wrote heroic fantasy that features a naive and innocent protagonist who becomes a great hero and defeats a dark evil lord.  That’s pretty standard heroic fantasy.  But I look at some of the more modern fantasy series, and I see a move toward a darker and grittier tone.

A Game of ThronesGeorge R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is probably the best example of this.  It began in the 1990s with A Game of Thrones and has yet to be finished.  He takes a long time to write.  Well, this series has nothing of the heroic fantasy series, except maybe dragons.  There seems to be no innocence.  Everyone has a dark side. There’s a lot of violence, sex, and an incredible amount of very graphic death.  Martin kills so many characters, no one is safe.  Major characters die! Even the good people aren’t entirely good. And the antagonists seem to have some humanity.

gardensofthemoonAnother series is The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson.  In the first novel, Gardens of the Moon, also written in the 1990s, we get another vast cast of characters that has the reader briefly confused.  They are also all varying shades of grey, though there is a bit of an evil in this one.  Any innocence is shattered completely, as this is a brutally violent series with many deaths.  And this world has non-human races that are completely unique.  It’s an original world that doesn’t seem to borrow from the old heroic fantasy.  What I liked is that you never really knew who was good and who was bad.  Like in war, it’s a lot of people on both sides just following orders.

wizardsfirstruleI’m including Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth in this for one reason only, the evil antagonist is unlike any I’ve seen in heroic fantasy.  Don’t get me wrong, this is actually quite typical heroic fantasy, and our bad guy is truly evil, but this crosses a line that you rarely ever see crossed in heroic fantasy.  Let’s just say that the rapes are rather disgusting.  While the heroes are on a typical heroic quest, the villain is doing unspeakable things that felt so out of place.

What do you think?  Is there a trend toward the dark and gritty in fantasy?

My Favourite Author Is Better than Your Favourite Author

I was surprised when I saw this article.  I had no idea this was going on.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, because fans can be very aggressive online and bash anyone who disagrees with them.  I can understand a little bit, because I’m a sports fan, and I’m a very loyal fan of the Edmonton Oilers.  However, books are a different kind of thing.

A Game of Thrones

vs.gardensofthemoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

In one corner, we have the author of A Song of Ice and Fire, the series that spawned the Game of Thrones TV series.  He is George R. R. Martin.  In the other corner, we have the author of Malazan Book of the Fallen, a Canadian author who goes by the name of Steven Erikson.  They’re both authors of epic fantasy that have very similar themes.  They’re both violent, militaristic, epic war fantasies.  They’re both incredibly long.  They’re both gritty and dark.  But there’s one big difference.  A Song of Ice and Fire isn’t finished yet.

I have read the first two books of A Song of Ice and Fire, and am currently reading the third.  I’ve read only the first Malazan book.  Although they’re similar in theme, they are totally different in atmosphere.  I find myself getting immersed into both worlds very easily.  I also find myself getting confused with characters if I’ve left the series for too long between books.  I’ve forgotten most of the character names for Malazan, and there are many.  They both have huge casts of characters.  They’re both pretty amazing series.

But the fans seem to be at war with each other.  They seem to think the authors are competing against each other, as well.  But according to that article, it’s far from true.  Erikson and Martin have talked to each other several times and are rather surprised about their fans’ behaviour.  I’d have to say I am, too.  In the world of epic fantasy literature, there’s room to enjoy both series.  You don’t have to insult others because they like a different book than you.  Since I like both, I can’t understand this feeling.  I’ve read books I don’t like, but I don’t declare war on the people who do like them.  Honestly, it’s not worth it.

So, if you are one of these crazy fans, I have one thing to say:  They’re just books.  Just enjoy them.  Your personal tastes are just that, personal.  You don’t have to get upset if someone has their own personal tastes.

Personally, I really enjoy Gardens of the Thrones by Steven R. R. Martin.

Why Haven’t They Made a Movie Yet?

Great books are often made into movies.  Not always great movies, but movies nevertheless.  Sometimes they’re also made into TV series.

Recently, Ender’s Game was made into a movie.  A Game of Thrones is a TV series.  Lord of the Rings became amazing movies.  I enjoyed the Harry Potter movies, despite a lot of cuts from the original books.  But there are some books I’ve read that I wonder why they haven’t been turned into movies or TV series.

The book I’m reading now seems like the perfect book to be made into a movie about Mars colonisation.  That’s Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson.  I’m halfway through the first book of the trilogy, and it’s been about 20 years since it was published.  Will it ever be made into a movie?  I would watch it in a heartbeat!

Another I’ve read recently is Reality Dysfunction.  It would be great for those who like a bit of horror in their science fiction.  It’s a long trilogy, though.  It may be difficult to make such a complex story into a movie or series of movies.  TV series?

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series seems ripe for a TV series, although it is incredibly long.  Or how about 14 movies?  That would be long.  I wonder if it’s ever been considered for filming.  I think the length would put a lot of producers off of a project like this.

How about Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen?  It’s dark and gritty, and it seems people are eating up A Game of Thrones.  So why not this series?

Ringworld would be a fun movie to see.  It could be doable, and would need some great special effects.  I’d love to see it made into a movie.  The lighthearted mood in the book may not be carried over to a movie, though.

I know that Terry Brooks’ Shannara series has been optioned for a movie, but nothing has come of it yet.  I wonder if it will.  Same with Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series.  I’d love to watch either of them.

What would you like to see turned into a movie?

Note:  200th blog post!

Book Review – Gardens of the Moon

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson is the first book of the epic fantasy The Malazan Book of the Fallen. It’s a lengthy series, so it’s quite an undertaking to read all of it.  And I’ve only just started.

This book was a difficult one to rate.  It’s Steven Erikson’s debut novel, and I could see some flaws early on.  However, my attitude toward the book changed dramatically as I continued to read it.

Gardens of the Moon takes place mostly on the continent of Genabackis amidst a campaign of expansion and domination by the Malazan Empire.  The world was developed for a GURPS campaign by Erikson and his friend Ian Cameron Esslemont, and Malazan Book of the Fallen is a novelization of that world.  The world is completely original.  Unlike other fantasy novels, the cultures and races are unique to this series.  There are no elves, dwarves, ogres, and so on.  Instead, you get the Tiste Andii, T’lan Imass, Jaghut, and more.  Humans are the main race, however.  Wizards and gods take a major role, as well, but they’re not exactly what we would normally expect. Overall, the world is incredibly imaginative.

The ensemble cast of characters is vast.  Ganoes Paran is kind of the hero, though he doesn’t seem to be very heroic.  He’s a soldier thrown into a situation he wishes he wasn’t in.  Tattersail is a powerful mage with many insecurities.  Lorn, the Empress’ Adjunct is also an incredibly flawed character.  Sergeant Whiskeyjack, Kalam, Quick Ben, Crokus, Rallick, Kruppe, and more make some very colourful characters who aren’t always what they seem to be.  That’s one thing that made this book so interesting to read, the reader doesn’t know what to expect from the characters.  They are very well developed through the book, and we never quite know who are really the good guys and who are the bad guys.  With few exceptions, the line between good and bad is blurred very much.  While the characters are strong, it was very confusing for the first quarter of the book.  There were so many characters that I had a hard time keeping everyone straight.

The story has two sides to it.  In the beginning, I found it difficult to follow.  I had no idea what was going on.  But as the plot moved along, things became clearer, and I could understand what was happening.  Basically, it’s a large empire trying to conquer the biggest city on the continent of Genabackis.  But it’s not that simple.  There are many individuals who change their positions, the “good” seem to ally themselves with the “bad,” and so on.  It was incredibly unpredictable.  That should be expected, since this was based on a GURPS role playing campaign.  That’s what made much of this book so amazing to read.  You never knew what was going to happen.  Main characters die, sometimes unexpectedly.  We never know more than the characters know.  It’s like we’re going along with the ride, joining in the action.  It makes it much more exciting.

Like I said before, this was a difficult book to read.  For the first quarter of the book, I wasn’t impressed.  It was maybe going to get three or three and a half stars at that point.  But the rest of the book was a solid four and a half to five stars.  So, what do I rate it?

Four and a half stars.  Recommended to any fantasy fan, especially those who want something new and refreshing.