Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

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Postby Denethor » Mon Jun 07, 2004 8:39 pm

Finished Midnight Tides. It is easily the most digressive of the books so far, and is also the one which is the most straight-forward read. Given that it gives some description of the nature of warren magic, I wonder if people new to Erikson might be advised to try this one first!

Rating this one in terms of the series, I'd place it below Memories of Ice (of course) and Deadhouse Gates, but above Gardens of the Moon and House of Chains. Erikson once again shows his great ability to make fun of clichés (this time he has a go at the horror genre), while at the same time he manages to build up a storyline that has a great and sinister atmosphere. This book also contains a high level of social commentary (more so than in the preceeding books), and while certain bits of the story are certainly very applicable to the current situation in our world, Erikson never comes across as preachy.

In terms of weaknesses, I don't think Midnight Tides quite succeeds in its aim of pulling off a classic tragedy (at least in comparison with Deadhouse Gates, which has both Felisin and that great ending). Rhulad is certainly a great character, but other characters who are clearly supposed to be tragic, especially Hull Beddict, are nowhere near as engaging. I also thought the ending of the book was a bit average in comparison to its predecessors, and given that this book was supposed to be about providing some back-story, there are a surprising number of loose ends.
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Postby Maedhros_the_Tall » Wed Jun 09, 2004 8:18 pm

I made a leap of faith a month or so ago when i purchesed the first four books of the series on Amazon Ca. However, my faith has really paid off, because i am enjoying these books immensly.
The story is incredibly complex, which i love. My only problem, if it even qualifies as a problem, is that the books appear to be written in a way that almost demands a reread. It is almost impossible to understand many of the significant happenings, and the consequences without reading future additions the the series and then goin back. True, it gives the series longevity and keeps people interested, but IMHO it slightly hampers the readers enjoyment the first time through. Being in the dark, so to speak, regarding so many important matters.
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Postby Epor » Fri Jun 11, 2004 2:18 am

Maedhros_the_Tall wrote:The story is incredibly complex, which i love. My only problem, if it even qualifies as a problem, is that the books appear to be written in a way that almost demands a reread. It is almost impossible to understand many of the significant happenings, and the consequences without reading future additions the the series and then goin back. True, it gives the series longevity and keeps people interested, but IMHO it slightly hampers the readers enjoyment the first time through. Being in the dark, so to speak, regarding so many important matters.


This is true, though it's not something I'd complain about. I've re-read the whole series each time when the next part has come out, and every time I notice new things made significant or explained by events that happen in the later books.

For example, in Gardens of the Moon, members of the Crimson Guard guarding Crokus seems ridiculously skilled and capable to be a bunch of human mercenaries. The ease with which Blues beats Lorn was as annoying as it was unexplained, and remained thus until Midnight Tides.

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Postby Maedhros_the_Tall » Fri Jun 11, 2004 12:47 pm

yeah, i certainly have mixed feelings. Believe me, i do enjoy the mystery and depth provided by the unexplained. i certainly dont like everything spoon fed to me, plot wise. However, i does sometimes get annoying, not knowing what the heck is going on, especially involving magic, warrens and Gods, which are already unfimiliar territory to the reader, at least when first starting the series. So its a mixed bag for me.

but then again, what am i complaining about. i love to reread good books.
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Postby ereine » Tue Jun 15, 2004 11:06 am

Maybe I dare to post here.

Because the books have been very highly spoken of here I got interested in them, and though I thought that they weren't the right books for me I decided to try them. At the moment I'm reading Memories of Ice, and have enjoyed the books so far a lot. I'm quite surprised of it, if someone had told me exactly what the books were about beforehand I probably wouldn't have read them, I don't like war or violence or dark things. I stopped reading George R.R. Martin because his books got too scary for me but I have no problems with Steven Erikson. Except that I'm forced to read library books and have forgotten who some people were (who is Coll? He sounds very familiar but I have only a vague idea of who he is) and too many people have read the books and pages are coming apart. The books are maybe too thick to be paperbacks. But mostly I'm able to follow the plot and to keep track of who people are. The details are amazing, I'd never thought that a series of books could have so many people and races and gods and assorted creatures and not get too confused and confusing, nor did I think that I'd like to read about armies or gods walking on earth. And considering all that grandness and darkness I'm very surprised to find myself laughing aloud.

So thank you to some people who talked about the books here :)
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Postby Epor » Thu Jun 17, 2004 8:53 am

(who is Coll? He sounds very familiar but I have only a vague idea of who he is)

Coll is friend of Kruppe. He was a member of the Darujhistan ruling Council, but was stripped of his position by the devious Lady Simtal, and became a drunk. In Gardens of the Moon Murillio and Rallick Nom (with help from Kruppe and Baruk) set up the "suicide" of Lady Simtal and Coll's subsequent return to the Council.

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Postby ereine » Thu Jun 17, 2004 11:43 am

Thank you :) I thought that that might be him but as I didn't have the first book I couldn't check (those are the kind of books you really should own and not get from library but I have to eat too).
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Postby Epor » Fri Jun 18, 2004 10:40 am

ereine:

Glad to be of assistance.

The details are amazing, I'd never thought that a series of books could have so many people and races and gods and assorted creatures and not get too confused and confusing, nor did I think that I'd like to read about armies or gods walking on earth.

Erikson's books seem unique in this respect. I can think of no other series or book even close to what he achieves in fecundity and variance of imagination (well, maybe Tolkien). All the original races, gods, ascendants and heroes with their rich histories, reaching back hundreds of thousands of years in some cases, are just mind-bogglingly well realized.

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Postby Falagar » Sun Jun 20, 2004 4:13 pm

I'm now 100 pages or so into Midnight Tides and so far so good. :) It's interesting to for once see some of mundane village-life of a non-human people, and also how the plot preceeds the events in House of Chains (at least some of them do, if I'm not much mistaken).
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Postby Epor » Wed Jun 23, 2004 10:16 am

Falagar wrote:the plot preceeds the events in House of Chains (at least some of them do, if I'm not much mistaken).


The entire books takes place well before we find Trull Sengar chained to a wall in the beginning of House of Chains.

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Postby Falagar » Wed Jun 23, 2004 12:12 pm

Epor wrote:The entire books takes place well before we find Trull Sengar chained to a wall in the beginning of House of Chains.

Therefor 'precede' and not 'proceed' (at least that's what I meant). ;)

I'm now a few hundred pages into it (can't remember exactly how far), and it's still good (not quite as good as Deadhouse Gates or Memories of Ice, perhaps a shared third place with House of Chains).
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Postby Epor » Wed Jun 30, 2004 8:33 am

I was mainly responding to the "at least some of them do, if I'm not much mistaken" bit.

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Postby Falagar » Wed Jun 30, 2004 8:42 am

Yeah, I hadn't finished it so I wasn't quite sure...have gotten it confirmed now though. :wink:
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Postby Denethor » Mon Jul 26, 2004 4:31 pm

Here's the cover art for the not-yet-released US edition of Deadhouse Gates:

http://www.stephenyoull.com/New20.html

I don't think this one is quite as awful as the GOTM one, but it is still pretty bad, and clearly inferior to the art on the UK edition.
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Postby Maedhros_the_Tall » Fri Jul 30, 2004 3:32 pm

I swear, if i had seen these books with their US covers i would not have considered reading them. Close minded maybe, but i have a certain threshold for bad fantasy art and these covers most definetly cross it. thanks the gods i found the Uk editions because the books are certainly a worthwhile read.
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Postby ereine » Fri Jul 30, 2004 9:19 pm

I don't really think that the covers of the editions I've read (the UK ones) are exceptionally good. The American covers are awful but the UK covers are only slightly better. If people hadn't recommended them so I probably wouldn't have read them because of the covers. But then, most fantasy has awful cover art.

I just got the fourth book from library. It took me most of the summer to read the third book, not because I didn't like it or it was too difficult, I just didn't seem to have enough time to devote to it.

I probably said it earlier but I still have to say how surprised I'm with the books. I never thought that I'd like a book about soldiers and armies and war or a fantasy book described as dark. I've been comparing the books with George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire, which also was recommended to me in almost the same way and which I stopped reading after two and half books. Some people seem to think that because Martin kills quite a lot of his characters, no matter how central they are that it's a sign of a good book. For me it seemed like every character was doomed from beginning, I couldn't bother to get attached to them because they would get killed anyway. There was nothing surprising in it. Erikson too kills important characters, but it feels like a natural part of the story and sad. More like real life (if real life had lots of magic and gods and Ascendants :)) than fantasy. Erikson's books feel real.
Another surprising thing was how funny the books are. I never expected that. And it's very frustrating that most of the jokes make only sense if you've read the books. I tried explaining to my mother why I thought it funny that someone said something like Oponn's luck with you to Paran but I lost her after first explaining who Paran was and who Oponn was (or should that be were). Of course it may be possible that those parts aren't meant to be funny. But I like the occasional relief from more serious parts.
And I like that unexpected things can happen. The characters don't behave the way you'd expect or the way they would if it was a usual fantasy book.

A not so good thingg about the books is that you have to have quite a good memory but fortunately most things are explained. I didn't have to remember exactly for example who the souls within Silverfox were, it was told quite often. It's good for a person like me who doesn't have a good memory for names. (on the subject of names, they are mostly very good but Aral Fayle reminds me for reason of Robert Jordan, I have no idea why).
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Postby Denethor » Thu Sep 16, 2004 10:30 pm

My local library (usually good on sci-fi but poor on fantasy) has for some reason decided to outdo itself. When I went there today, I found not one but TWO limited edition copies of Erikson's new novella The Healthy Dead sitting on the shelf. The edition in question was limited to 500 paperback copies - and each one was signed by Erikson himself! Needless to say, I've now borrowed one of the copies.

The story itself sees the return of everyone's favourite necromancer, Bauchelain, and is pretty light (well, as light as a bunch of animated corpses running around a city wreaking destruction can be). It is essentially a gruesome (but very witty) satire on people who try to dictate public morals.
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Postby ereine » Sat Sep 18, 2004 10:31 am

I envy you. I think that finding something like that in my local library would need a miracle, I'm actually surprised (and grateful) that they have any books by Erikson.
Bauchelain is very creepy.
And the story sounds very interesting.
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Postby ereine » Tue Oct 26, 2004 3:43 am

I've now read Midnight Tides and unsurprisingly enjoyed it a lot. I can't remember when I've last laughed so much aloud while reading a book (I'm not sure if it really was meant to be so funny or if I'm just easily amused, it didn't seem that tragic to me). The most tragic thing was knowing what would happen to Trull Sengar and waiting the whole time for it to happen.
I think that I liked Tehol Beddict most. I tend to like the kind Hull Beddict type of strong silent rangers but he was rather dull and in the end I didn't really care about what happened to him. I liked Tehol's way of helping the minorities more, Hull didn't seem to care about them as people, just about regaining his honour.
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Postby BornofFantasy » Tue Oct 26, 2004 4:58 am

I like this series, a planned 10 books series, is a serious undtertaking not many authors of this genre has been able to accomplish succesfully. Obtaining these novels (when they were firs treleased I was in the States), was a bit of a nuisance, and I felt the first novel was a bit everywhere in plot, and I was glad to see a remarkable improvement as far as plot in the 2nd instalment, just a more cohesive direction in my opinion. This is series is definitely on my "to read" list, and highly recomended.


On aSoIaf i guess we can only agree to disagree:

"Some people seem to think that because Martin kills quite a lot of his characters, no matter how central they are that it's a sign of a good book"


I feel this is rather a unfair way to look at his work, this argument is more common in it's detractors then it is for the fans of the series in my opinion. What's nice about aSoIaf in my eyes is that if he kills of any character, it has meaning because of Martin's ability to flesh out all his characters. In my opinion, the "golden halo" some authors put on thier "main characters" is a turn off, what's the use of following an undefeatable, "immortal", character? This has been done before, and no one has been able to do it better then Tolkien did almost a century ago.

" For me it seemed like every character was doomed from beginning, I couldn't bother to get attached to them because they would get killed anyway. "


It amazes me sometimes that people can only get attached to characters that survive a series. The setting of this series is during a time of war, I ask anyone to find a "war" where every major participant lives, excluding he "evil" characters. To each thier own of course, I like it, as do many others:) Thier are so many wonderfully portrayed characters I find it hard to believe people that feel the need for this attachment, cannot find one out of the numerous characters in the series. Especially in a series whose "supporting characters" are better characterized than 90% of "main" characters in other series' in this genre. I just find any argument concernng lack of well written charcaters in this series is almost unbelievable.

I like, and enjoy Erikson's effort alot, it's just not on the same level as Martin's masterpiece in my opinion, but a step below along with other fine authors such as R. Scott Baker, Robin Hobb, Greg Keyes, and JV Jones. Not bad company, in my opinion:)
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Postby undomiel » Tue Oct 26, 2004 8:16 am

I've put the first book on hold with my library. With so many recommendations I had to try them out. Hopefully they will live up to my
expectations. :)
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Postby BornofFantasy » Tue Oct 26, 2004 8:39 am

"I've put the first book on hold with my library. With so many recommendations I had to try them out. Hopefully they will live up to my
expectations. "


Just a little warning, this series recieved tremendous "buzz", and honestly in my opinion it didn't really live up to it until about halfway through the first novel. I found it very unorgazined in it's begining, however it all starts coming together in the latter stages of the first novel, and really shows great strides/improvements in the second instalment and continues on afterwards, enough so to make it one of my favorite series at the moment. Just a little warning Domie:)
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Postby ereine » Tue Oct 26, 2004 8:42 am

Even as it is quite off-topic I feel like I have to defend myself (if I remember correctly and actually said those things BornofFantasy quoted). I recognise the value of Martin's work, though I don't personally like it and I really like my fantasy to have a little more fantasy and less accurate historical facts (which Martin's books seem to have, or so I'm told). I can't remember what Martin discussion it was, it was maybe a year ago and it turned into a fight, that's where there were many people who actually said that killing off characters makes a good book (maybe not in those words but still). I haven't followed the recent discussions, the attacks in that thread were enough so I don't know the current reasons why Martin is a genious.
And I really don't only get attached to people who will survive for sure, I can't really describe what I meant by that, maybe that sometimes it felt like the deaths didn't happen because the plot demanded them but to make the books as dark as possible and try out new awful ways to slaughter people. Also, Malazan Book of the Fallen is mostly a series about war, or there's always some war in the books and people get killed and raped and awful things happen to them and I don't get the same feeling at all, it all feels a lot more realitistic and natural, Martin's books resemble more an epic tale afterwards or something like that, they don't have as much life.
Very confusing explanations, but maybe that makes sense. And I don't mind agreeing to disagree, at least in this thread. Maybe I should start talking about Martin again in proper threads, maybe the people from some other forum will come to insult us again.
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Postby BornofFantasy » Tue Oct 26, 2004 8:56 am

First I beg everyones forgiveness for getting off topic for a moment, merely answering some matters directed at me:)

"I feel like I have to defend myself "


If you feel this way, I truly must apologize, I was by no means attacking you, merely responding to some of your thoughts:)

"so I don't know the current reasons why Martin is a genious. "


Brilliant characterization, masterful story-telling, and perhaps being the author of what is fastly being thought of as the preminent current series in the genre. Sorry, couldn't resist:)

"Maybe I should start talking about Martin again in proper threads, maybe the people from some other forum will come to insult us again.


Being a member of the official board myself, I know they can be rather rabid, obnoxious to a point, hoewver I have never known any of them to childlike, just very convincing to the point where people get upset. I will browse thru the prior discussions, and see if I can identify some of them, and see if I agree.

Again, my apologies if you felt I was singling you out, I meant nothing personal in any way, just good old-fashioned book debate in my eyes, I sincerely apologize if it seemed otherwise.
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Postby undomiel » Tue Oct 26, 2004 11:37 am

Actually, I don't know anything about the "buzz" the books have received. I'm going purely on what's been said about them here by Torcers. I trust them more than critics any day. :)

It may not be entirely fair for me to comment on this subject as I've only read the first few chapters of the first book of Martin's and I haven't read Erikson's at all yet, but I'm going to anyway. ;) I didn't like what I read of aSoIaF. I was unable to like or identify with any of the characters thus far introduced and if the writing was good the story so far had been uninteresting. I liked the prologue a bit, but after that lost interest and after a few chapters had no desire to continue reading. Personal tastes vary. I do plan to give them another chance in the future, but there are so many other things I want to read first, this series being one of them. :)


BornofFantasy, you really are taking this forum by storm, aren't you? ;)
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Postby ereine » Tue Oct 26, 2004 12:15 pm

Sorry, I probably sounded too insulted, I was in a hurry and tired which really don't improve my English :) I don't mind discussion and debate at all.

This is the horrible story of that Martin thread: Once upon a time there was a thread on the books and as I had heard lots of good about them and started to read them (in the end I read two and half books) I took part. If the thread still exists you can see that at first I was quite positive, partly because I genuinely liked the books, partly because I was intimidated by the other posters and didn't want to seem too ignorant by admitting that the books disturbed me too much, because they were so fashionable. But somehow I got the courage and told them that I had decided to stop reading the books and that I thought that they were too dark for me and not really worth all the praise. Another poster agreed with me, quite politely. It was quite innocent until a poster (who shall remain unnamed though I know who they are) posted a link of the thread to another mb. I can't remember what it was but I think that it was a general fantasy mb with a very strong crowd of Martin fans. Someone else posted a link of that discussion to TORC and things stopped being innocent. First they just ridiculed our ignorance and thought our speculations extremely simple and childish. Then they agreed that anyone who can't see the excellence of Martin is clearly a moron and deserves to be told that. I can't really remember what exactly happened but there was name calling on both forums and frankly, the Martin fans didn't act very maturely. Fortunately it died out quite soon but it really didn't make me like the series more.

I guess that deep down the reason is that I think that Erikson is so much better and that my mission is to tell everyone about it and convert them, especially if they are Martin fans. I know the Truth and so it's my duty to preach about it. I really am glad that I'm not at all religious, I'd be very annoying :) Martin really is a good author, those aren't just the right books for me. I have read one Martin book I enjoyed a lot, though, called Tuff Voyaging or something like that. Very funny.

I forgot to wish to Undomiel happy reading, I really hope that you'll enjoy them :)
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Postby BornofFantasy » Tue Oct 26, 2004 11:34 pm

"BornofFantasy, you really are taking this forum by storm, aren't you? "


Well, although I'm new to the board, I'm not new to the genre, I already know everything about LOTR and the other related Tolkien works. Thier is real no need for me ask questions and it seems thier are already some brillaint experts on the subject to answer questions. I have been thoroughly impressed with Romestamos(sp), and his replies, thus another voice is not necessary in my opinion:)
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Postby Denethor » Wed Oct 27, 2004 4:22 am

undomiel wrote:It may not be entirely fair for me to comment on this subject as I've only read the first few chapters of the first book of Martin's and I haven't read Erikson's at all yet, but I'm going to anyway. ;) I didn't like what I read of aSoIaF. I was unable to like or identify with any of the characters thus far introduced and if the writing was good the story so far had been uninteresting. I liked the prologue a bit, but after that lost interest and after a few chapters had no desire to continue reading. Personal tastes vary. I do plan to give them another chance in the future, but there are so many other things I want to read first, this series being one of them. :)


The first hundred pages of A Game of Thrones is, in my opinion, the weakest part of ASOIAF. The POVs are almost entirely those of children (Bran, Jon, Arya) or Ned Stark, who is not exactly the most "exciting" character in fantasy literature. The story does, however, greatly pick up from there, especially as in A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords the POVs are often those of anti-heroes.

As for Erikson vs Martin, while I have no problem at all with characters dying (rather the reverse), I personally prefer Erikson; I tend to place a higher value on great worldbuilding than great characterisation. Martin's excessive use of fake deaths and cliff-hanger chapter endings is also a bit annoying.
Last edited by Denethor on Wed Oct 27, 2004 4:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Denethor » Wed Oct 27, 2004 4:29 am

BornofFantasy wrote:Well, although I'm new to the board, I'm not new to the genre, I already know everything about LOTR and the other related Tolkien works.


Everything? :twisted:
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Postby BornofFantasy » Wed Oct 27, 2004 4:48 am

"The first hundred pages of A Game of Thrones is, in my opinion, the weakest part of ASOIAF."


If I had to critique it, I would agree. This is the most common complaint regarding the series, getting into the begining of the first novel. However when regarding a very long novel, 100 pages in introducing a major family like House Stark is hardly inappropriate in my opinion. Lots of information in these pages.

" Martin's excessive use of fake deaths "


What is excessive? When comparing it to the number of real deaths, of actual real characters it more then equals out, in my opinion. People have to understand this series started out in a setting where magic was almost non-existant, with the coming of magic more "fantastic" aspects are going to occur...it is after all Fantasy. What death in aprticular bothers people or for that matter fake death? I would be most interested to know so we can debate a issue, and not an idea:)

"I tend to place a higher value on great worldbuilding than great characterisation."


So you like Jordan, in my opinion and often regarded as the preminent world builder in the genre (no matter how lousy his work has become), better than both aSoIaF and Erickson?? Or Ed Greenwood, the creator of The Forgotten Realms better then either? I hope not....:)

"Everything?"



What I'm saying is everything anyone else knows, we all have access to the same volumous of info both here and the many appendixes/companion books of Tolkien and his son. Thier won't be a question asked that hasn't been asked and answered numerous times to the extent possible before here on this forum.
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