This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

24 January, 2012

REVIEW: DEADHOUSE GATES

Cover illustration: Steve Stone

DEADHOUSE GATES
THE SECOND TALE OF THE MALAZAN BOOK OF THE FALLEN
BY
 STEVEN ERIKSON

ISBN: 978-0-553-81311-1
Pages: 934
Publisher: Bantam Books
First published: 1 September 2000
This edition published: 1 October 2001


On the cover:

   In the Holy Desert Raraku, the seer Sha'ik and her followers prepare for the long-prophesied uprising named the Whirlwind. Enslaved in the Otataral mines, Felisin, youngest scion of the disgraced House of Paran, dreams of freedom and vows revenge, while the outlawed Bridgeburners Fiddler and Kalam conspire to rid the world of Empress Laseen (although it seems the gods would, as always, have it otherwise). And as two ancient worriors - bearers of a devastating secret - enter this blighted land, so an untried commander of the Malaz 7th Army leads his war-weary troops in a last, valiant running battle to save the lives of thisrty thousand refugees.

   As in Gardens of the Moon this is a complex story. Erikson again presents us with several story threads and a large cast of characters, some of which will be familiar from the first book, but many which are new.
   The different storylines are all part of the whole, and sometimes they weave together - often in unexpected ways. It can be hard at times to follow everything that is going on. There is just so much happening to keep track of. But Erikson is good at rewarding the reader, as the story progresses more and more of the overall events are revealed.
   There's is also a strength in the way it is difficult to get a good idea of what is going to happen, and in some cases it is even hard to get a good grip on what is happening at that moment. I for one was several times surprised by events both large and small, and there are some twists that really will take you by surprise.

   Arguably the main storyline in this novel is the one with the 7th Malaz Army and the refugees it leads. This storyline is a gruelling march through a land that is often unforgiving, not only for the characters but also for the reader.
   Erikson has written some of the best battle-scenes ever put on paper. He really shows he has a knack for pulling you into the action, and you shouldn't be surprised if you find yourself with your heart in your throat as the battle rages on the page.
   This storyline is also a draining one, I found myself emotionally exhausted by the time it reaches its conclusion. In many ways the end is as brutal for the reader as it is for the warriors. If you are at all capable of feeling empathy for fictional characters this is a story that will stick with you.

   The world we are presented here is very real, it doesn't feel as much worldbuilding as it feels like history. The reader will learn a lot more about the setting as the story progresses. And, to me at least, it didn't really feel like it is a made-up world. Erikson has managed to make the Malazan world come to life very vividly, and even with a weaker story it would be a compelling place to visit.
   We also learn more about the magic of the world, and about the ever-present gods. And I liked that Erikson manages to give the reader a lot of information without it ever feeling like he is resorting to infodumping.

   I can't deny that I loved this book. And I see it as a very good example of how Epic Fantasy can be done very well. There's characters and a story here that will drag you in, and complexity and realism that will keep you going.
   But I have to say that this book takes commitment. I had a few days break about 200 pages into, and it took a while to get back into it. So I suggest that you give this book everything you got as a reader, if you do it will reward you and take you on one hell of a journey.

Review: Gardens of the Moon

Links: Steven Erikson  Bantam Books/Transworld Books

2 comments:

  1. I was wondering whether you'll be reviewing the rest of the series? I'm now starting midnight tides and have found MBotF such an incredible journey this far.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, the blog is still in hiatus.
      I'm also not going to start up doing these kind of reviews, I just don't have time for it anymore.
      But I will be mentioning books I read when I restart the blog. (Soon-ish...)

      Delete