The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

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thegreentick
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The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

Post by thegreentick »

I don't think that anyone else has made a thread for this series of books. It is probably the most 'epic' series I have come across. Classic fantasy stereotype is thrown to the wind. There are many very unique and interesting touches. It is a very long series (8 books so far) and each book is long to the point of being ridiculous (R Jordan and GRR Martin don't hold a candle to this guy.) but the books are good enough that I don't mind the length. Unlike other series' *cough* Wheel of Time */cough* Steven Erikson doesn't seem to lose interest and start to draw things out. They seem to be getting better as they go along. There are a lot of characters but they are memorable enough that you don't start a chapter and spend five minutes trying to figure out who the heck you're reading about.

A few complaints I have are as follows: 1. A couple characters, mostly in the earliest books seem to be rather two-dimensional and seem to be there only to move the plot where it needs to be going.
2. At the beginning, there is no attempt setting things up or explaining how the world works. You're thrown into the middle of things and expected to have it figured out already. Do you know what an Eleint is? Yeah, neither did I, but I kept on having to flip back through pages, seeing if I'd missed something important only to realize I hadn't.
3. This guy spews forth Philosophy in the form of internal dialogue like it was going out of style. He's not as bad as Terry Goodkind (writing the series for the sole purpose of spouting philosophy) but the sheer amount of it (not to mention how utterly depressing his world-view is) had me skimming lines at some points.

Yeah, there are some downsides. No one is perfect but if you're going to compare it to most other epic fantasy out there, it stands out like a great dane in a yard full of teacup poodles.

If anyone else has read these books, please add your thoughts.
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Re: The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

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I haven't heard of it, but your recommendation makes me wonder if I should try it. I'd be interested in an idea of what it is about.

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Nearly impossible

Post by thegreentick »

A brief synopsis of these books is a very difficult thing but I'll give it a shot. The books follow the story of dozens upon dozens of characters, empires, gods, worlds and periods of history. It chronicles the struggles of a conflict spanning hundreds of thousands of years. If you're looking for an easy read, don't bother. You really have to chew on it and once the last books are published, I am probably going to have to read them from start to finish again. The narrating doesn't take sides. The main characters are on both sides of the conflict and in many cases, you're not too sure who to cheer for, since both sides are rather likeable. The author I can probably liken Steven Erikson to the most would be George R.R. Martin, although this series is on a much larger scale.
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Re: The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

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Thanks, GreenTick. I have an idea about them now.

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Re: The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

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The best compliment I can offer the first of this series is that its ambition is to be applauded. It is clearly epic, by design and necessity. But, as is so often the case with such 'big picture' writers, it seems grand ideas and weaving plot lines replace more worthy notions of characterisation and story.

I admire Erikson for sheer effort of creation but there are many better fantasy writers out there.
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Re: The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

Post by Rojoshom »

I began the first book about a month ago, am still working my way through it (like to keep several books going at once), and I'd have to agree with all the pros/cons mentioned already.
Having said that, I very much enjoy it so far and intend to keep going with the series (yeah, Goodkind kinda fell out of my good graces after 3 or 4 in his series). I do like the fact that the world is not 'spelled out' (system of magic, etc.), it really keeps me anticipating, and I feel Erikson keeps the story and action moving right along - at least in the first book.
Great read, really, if you're looking for epic fantasy.
Question though, does anyone know whether he writes this series with another author? Could've sworn I read something somewhere to that effect...

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Re: The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

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Rojoshom wrote:I began the first book about a month ago, am still working my way through it (like to keep several books going at once), and I'd have to agree with all the pros/cons mentioned already.
Having said that, I very much enjoy it so far and intend to keep going with the series (yeah, Goodkind kinda fell out of my good graces after 3 or 4 in his series). I do like the fact that the world is not 'spelled out' (system of magic, etc.), it really keeps me anticipating, and I feel Erikson keeps the story and action moving right along - at least in the first book.
Great read, really, if you're looking for epic fantasy.
Question though, does anyone know whether he writes this series with another author? Could've sworn I read something somewhere to that effect...
A google search later...

... Ian C Esslemont is his name, and Erikson tips his hat to him in my copy of Gardens. They both developed the world many Malazan moons ago for a role-playing game, before Erikson finally got a publishing deal. Esslement has now followed his friend's lead and released two books (Night of Knives, Return of the Crimson Guard) set in the Malazan world.

It would be interesting to compare to the two, their content and quality. I suspect, what with your average Fantasy reader being overly precious to the concept of changing a winning formula, that Esslemont's books are very similar to Erikson's: epic, plot-driven, clever but lacking heart.

Or maybe, not for the first time, I am being far too presumptuous.
'There's a vampire, dad. It's trying to get me.'
'I know, son,' he said softly. 'I saw it.'
'You saw it?'
'Yeah. I broke its bloody neck. I won't have no vampires in my house.'

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