The second novel in the awe-inspiring Malazan Book of the Fallen series. "Gripping, fast-moving, delightfully dark, with a masterful and unapologetic brutality reminiscent of George R. R. Martin." -- Elizabeth Haydon
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, Deadhouse Gates is a novel of war, intrigue and betrayal confirms Steven Eirkson as a storyteller of breathtaking skill, imagination and originality--a new master of epic fantasy.
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About the Author
Steven Erikson was born in Toronto, grew up in Winnipeg, then lived in England for a number of years with his wife and son. They have since returned to Winnipeg. He worked for nearly twenty years as an anthropologist and archaeologist, as well as being a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop.
Steven Erikson is an archaeologist and anthropologist and a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His Malazan Book of the Fallen series, including The Crippled God, Dust of Dreams, Toll the Hounds and Reaper’s Gale, have met with widespread international acclaim and established him as a major voice in the world of fantasy fiction. The first book in the series, Gardens of the Moon, was shortlisted for a World Fantasy Award. The second novel, Deadhouse Gates, was voted one of the ten best fantasy novels of 2000 by SF Site. He lives in Canada.
Read an Excerpt
Book Two of the Malazan Book of the Fallen
By Steven Erikson
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2000 Steven Erikson
All rights reserved.
And all came to imprint
On the path,
To scent the dry winds
Their cloying claim
The Path of Hands Messremb
1164th Year of Burn's Sleep
Tenth Year of the Rule of Empress Laseen
The Sixth in the Seven Years of Dryjhna, the Apocalyptic
A corkscrew plume of dust raced across the basin, heading deeper into the trackless desert of the Pan'potsun Odhan. Though less than two thousand paces away, it seemed a plume born of nothing.
From his perch on the mesa's wind-scarred edge, Mappo Runt followed it with relentless eyes the color of sand, eyes set deep in a robustly boned, pallid face. He held a wedge of emrag cactus in his bristle-backed hand, unmindful of the envenomed spikes as he bit into it. Juices dribbled down his chin, staining it blue. He chewed slowly, thoughtfully.
Beside him Icarium flicked a pebble over the cliff edge. It clicked and clattered on its way down to the boulder-strewn base. Under the ragged Spiritwalker robe — its orange faded to dusty rust beneath the endless sun — his gray skin had darkened into olive green, as if his father's blood had answered this wasteland's ancient call. His long, braided black hair dripped black sweat onto the bleached rock.
Mappo pulled a mangled thorn from between his front teeth. "Your dye's running," he observed, eyeing the cactus blade a moment before taking another bite.
Icarium shrugged. "Doesn't matter any more. Not out here."
"My blind grandmother wouldn't have swallowed your disguise. There were narrow eyes on us in Ehrlitan. I felt them crawling on my back day and night. Tannos are mostly short and bow-legged, after all." Mappo pulled his gaze away from the dust cloud and studied his friend. "Next time," he grunted, "try belonging to a tribe where everyone's seven foot tall."
Icarium's lined, weather-worn face twitched into something like a smile, just a hint, before resuming its placid expression. "Those who would know of us in Seven Cities, surely know of us now. Those who would not might wonder at us, but that is all they will do." Squinting against the glare, he nodded at the plume. "What do you see, Mappo?"
"Flat head, long neck, black and hairy all over. If just that, I might be describing one of my uncles."
"But there's more."
"One leg up front and two in back."
Icarium tapped the bridge of his nose, thinking. "So, not one of your uncles. An aptorian?" Mappo slowly nodded. "The convergence is months away. I'd guess Shadowthrone caught a whiff of what's coming, sent out a few scouts ..."
"And this one?"
Mappo grinned, exposing massive canines. "A tad too far afield. Sha'ik's pet now." He finished off the cactus, wiped his spatulate hands, then rose from his crouch. Arching his back, he winced. There had been, unaccountably, a mass of roots beneath the sand under his bedroll the night just past, and now the muscles to either side of his spine matched every knot and twist of those treeless bones. He rubbed at his eyes. A quick scan down the length of his body displayed for him the tattered, dirt-crusted state of his clothes. He sighed. "It's said there's a waterhole out there, somewhere —"
"With Sha'ik's army camped around it."
Icarium also straightened, noting once again the sheer mass of his companion — big even for a Trell — the shoulders broad and maned in black hair, the sinewy muscles of his long arms, and the thousand years that capered like a gleeful goat behind Mappo's eyes. "Can you track it?"
"If you like."
Icarium grimaced. "How long have we known each other, friend?"
Mappo's glance was sharp, then he shrugged. "Long. Why do you ask?"
"I know reluctance when I hear it. The prospect disturbs you?"
"Any potential brush with demons disturbs me, Icarium. Shy as a hare is Mappo Trell."
"I am driven by curiosity."
The unlikely pair turned back to their small campsite, tucked between two towering spires of wind-sculpted rock. There was no hurry. Icarium sat down on a flat rock and proceeded to oil his longbow, striving to keep the hornwood from drying out. Once satisfied with the weapon's condition, he turned to his single-edged long sword, sliding the ancient weapon from its bronze-banded boiledleather scabbard, then setting an oiled whetstone to its notched edge.
Mappo struck the hide tent, folding it haphazardly before stuffing it into his large leather bag. Cooking utensils followed, as did the bedding. He tied the drawstrings and hefted the bag over one shoulder, then glanced to where Icarium waited — bow rewrapped and slung across his back.
Icarium nodded, and the two of them, half-blood Jaghut and full-blood Trell, began on the path leading down into the basin.
Overhead the stars hung radiant, casting enough light down onto the basin to tinge its cracked pan silver. The bloodflies had passed with the vanishing of the day's heat, leaving the night to the occasional swarm of capemoths and the batlike rhizan lizards that fed on them.
Mappo and Icarium paused for a rest in the courtyard of some ruins. The mudbrick walls had all but eroded away, leaving nothing but shin-high ridges laid out in a geometric pattern around an old, dried-up well. The sand covering the courtyard's tiles was fine and windblown and seemed to glow faintly to Mappo's eyes. Twisted brush clung with fisted roots along its edges.
The Pan'potsun Odhan and the Holy Desert Raraku that flanked it to the west were both home to countless such remnants from long-dead civilizations. In their travels Mappo and Icarium had found high tels — flat-topped hills built up of layer upon layer of city — situated in a rough procession over a distance of fifty leagues between the hills and the desert, clear evidence that a rich and thriving people had once lived in what was now dry, wind-blasted wasteland. From the Holy Desert had emerged the legend of Dryjhna the Apocalyptic. Mappo wondered if the calamity that had befallen the city-dwellers in this region had in some way contributed to the myth of a time of devastation and death. Apart from the occasional abandoned estate such as the one they now rested in, many ruins showed signs of a violent end.
His thoughts finding familiar ruts, Mappo grimaced. Not all pasts can be laid at our feet, and we are no closer here and now than we've ever been. Nor have I any reason to disbelieve my own words. He turned away from those thoughts as well.
Near the courtyard's center stood a single column of pink marble, pitted and grooved on one side where the winds born out in Raraku blew unceasingly toward the Pan'potsun Hills. The pillar's opposite side still retained the spiral patterning carved there by long-dead artisans.
Upon entering the courtyard Icarium had walked directly to the six-foot-high column, examining its sides. His grunt told Mappo he'd found what he had been looking for.
"And this one?" the Trell asked, setting his leather sack down.
Icarium came over, wiping dust from his hands. "Down near the base, a scattering of tiny clawed hands — the seekers are on the Trail."
"Rats? More than one set?"
"D'ivers," Icarium agreed, nodding.
"Now who might that be, I wonder?"
Icarium studied the flat plain stretching into the west. "There will be others. Soletaken and D'ivers both. Those who feel near to Ascendancy, and those who are not, yet seek the Path nonetheless."
Mappo sighed, studying his old friend. Faint dread stirred within him. D'ivers and Soletaken, the twin curses of shapeshifting, the fever for which there is no cure. Gathering ... here, in this place. "Is this wise, Icarium?" he asked softly. "In seeking your eternal goal, we find ourselves walking into a most disagreeable convergence. Should the gates open, we shall find our passage contested by a host of bloodthirsty individuals all eager in their belief that the gates offer Ascendancy."
"If such a pathway exists," Icarium said, his eyes still on the horizon, "then perhaps I shall find my answers there as well."
Answers are no benediction, friend. Trust me in this. Please. "You have still not explained to me what you will do once you have found them."
Icarium turned to him with a faint smile. "I am my own curse, Mappo. I have lived centuries, yet what do I know of my own past? Where are my memories? How can I judge my own life without such knowledge?"
"Some would consider your curse a gift," Mappo said, a flicker of sadness passing across his features.
"I do not. I view this convergence as an opportunity. It might well provide me with answers. To achieve them, I hope to avoid drawing my weapons, but I shall if I must."
The Trell sighed a second time and rose from his crouch. "You may be tested in that resolve soon, friend." He faced southwest. "There are six desert wolves on our trail."
Icarium unwrapped his antlered bow and strung it in a swift, fluid motion. "Desert wolves never hunt people."
"No," Mappo agreed. It was another hour before the moon would rise. He watched Icarium lay out six long, stone-tipped arrows, then squinted out into the darkness. Cold fear crept along the nape of his neck. The wolves were not yet visible, but he felt them all the same. "They are six, but they are one. D'ivers."
Better it would have been a Soletaken. Veering into a single beast is unpleasant enough, but into many ...
Icarium frowned. "One of power, then, to achieve the shape of six wolves. Do you know who it might be?"
"I have a suspicion," Mappo said quietly.
They fell silent, waiting.
Half a dozen tawny shapes appeared out of a gloom that seemed of its own making, less than thirty strides away. At twenty paces the wolves spread out into an open half-circle facing Mappo and Icarium. The spicy scent of D'ivers filled the still night air. One of the lithe beasts edged forward, then stopped as Icarium raised his bow.
"Not six," Icarium muttered, "but one."
"I know him," Mappo said. "A shame he can't say the same of us. He is uncertain, but he's taken a blood-spilling form. Tonight, Ryllandaras hunts in the desert. Does he hunt us or something else, I wonder?"
Icarium shrugged. "Who shall speak first, Mappo?"
"Me," the Trell replied, taking a step forward. This would require guile and cunning. A mistake would prove deadly. He pitched his voice low and wry. "Long way from home, aren't we. Your brother Treach had it in mind that he killed you. Where was that chasm? Dal Hon? Or was it Li Heng? You were D'ivers jackals then, I seem to recall."
Ryllandaras spoke inside their minds, a voice cracking and halting with disuse. I am tempted to match wits with you, N'Trell, before killing you.
"Might not be worth it," Mappo replied easily. "With the company I've been keeping, I'm as out of practice as you, Ryllandaras."
The lead wolf's bright blue eyes flicked to Icarium.
"I have little wits to match," the Jaghut half-blood said softly, his voice barely carrying. "And I am losing patience."
Foolish. Charm is all that can save you. Tell me, bowman, do you surrender your life to your companion's wiles?
Icarium shook his head. "Of course not. I share his opinion of himself."
Ryllandaras seemed confused. A matter of expedience then, the two of you traveling together. Companions without trust, without confidence in each other. The stakes must be high.
"I am getting bored, Mappo," Icarium said.
The six wolves stiffened as one, half flinching. Mappo Runt and Icarium. Ah, we see. Know that we've no quarrel with you.
"Wits matched," Mappo said, his grin broadening a moment before disappearing entirely. "Hunt elsewhere, Ryllandaras, before Icarium does Treach a favor." Before you unleash all that I am sworn to prevent. "Am I understood?"
Our trail ... converges, the D'ivers said, upon the spoor of a demon of Shadow.
"Not Shadow any longer," Mappo replied. "Sha'ik's. The Holy Desert no longer sleeps."
So it seems. Do you forbid us our hunt?
Mappo glanced at Icarium, who lowered his bow and shrugged. "If you wish to lock jaws with an aptorian, that is your choice. Our interest was only passing."
Then indeed shall our jaws close upon the throat of the demon.
"You would make Sha'ik your enemy?" Mappo asked.
The lead wolf cocked its head. The name means nothing to me.
The two travelers watched as the wolves padded off, vanishing once again into a gloom of sorcery. Mappo showed his teeth, then sighed, and Icarium nodded, giving voice to their shared thought. "It will, soon."
The Wickan horsesoldiers loosed fierce cries of exultation as they led their broad-backed horses down the transport's gang-planks. The scene at the quayside of Hissar's Imperial Harbor was chaotic, a mass of unruly tribesmen and women, the flash of iron-headed lances rippling over black braided hair and spiked skullcaps. From his position on the harbor-entrance tower parapet, Duiker looked down on the wild outland company with more than a little skepticism, and with growing trepidation.
Beside the Imperial Historian stood the High Fist's representative, Mallick Rel, his fat, soft hands folded together and resting on his paunch, his skin the color of oiled leather and smelling of Aren perfumes. Mallick Rel looked nothing like the chief adviser to the Seven Cities' commander of the Malazan armies. A Jhistal priest of the Elder god of the seas, Mael, his presence here to officially convey the High Fist's welcome to the new Fist of the 7th Army was precisely what it appeared to be: a calculated insult. Although, Duiker amended silently, the man at his side had, in a very short time, risen to a position of power among the Imperial players on this continent. A thousand rumors rode the tongues of the soldiers about the smooth, soft-spoken priest and whatever weapon he held over High Fist Pormqual — each and every rumor no louder than a whisper, for Mallick Rel's path to Pormqual's side was a tale of mysterious misfortune befalling everyone who stood in his way, and fatal misfortune at that.
The political mire among the Malazan occupiers in Seven Cities was as obscure as it was potentially deadly. Duiker suspected that the new Fist would understand little of veiled gestures of contempt, lacking as he did the more civilized nuances of the Empire's tamed citizens. The question that remained for the historian, then, was how long Coltaine of the Crow Clan would survive his new appointment.
Mallick Rel pursed his full lips and slowly exhaled. "Historian," he said softly, his Gedorian Falari accent faint in its sibilant roll. "Pleased by your presence. Curious as well. Long from Aren court, now ..." He smiled, not showing his green-dyed teeth. "Caution bred of distant culling?"
Words like the lap of waves, the god Mael's formless affectation and insidious patience. This, my fourth conversation with Rel. Oh, how I dislike this creature! Duiker cleared his throat. "The Empress takes little heed of me, Jhistal ..."
Mallick Rel's soft laugh was like the rattle of a snake's tail. "Unheeded historian or unheeding of history? Hint of bitterness at advice rejected or worse, ignored. Be calmed, no crimes winging back from Unta's towers."
"Pleased to hear it," Duiker muttered, wondering at the priest's source. "I remain in Hissar as a matter of research," he explained after a moment. "The precedent of shipping prisoners to the Otataral mines on the island reaches back to the Emperor's time, although he generally reserved that fate for mages."
"Mages? Ah, ah."
Duiker nodded. "Effective, yes, although unpredictable. The specific properties of Otataral as a magic-deadening ore remain largely mysterious. Even so, madness claimed most of those sorcerers, although it is not known if that was the result of exposure to the ore dust, or the deprivation from their Warrens."
"Some mages among the next slave shipment?"
"Question soon answered, then."
"Soon," Duiker agreed.
The T-shaped quay was now a maelstrom of belligerent Wickans, frightened dock porters and short-tempered warhorses. A cordon of Hissar Guard provided the stopper to the bottleneck at the dock's end where it opened out onto the cobbled half-round. Of Seven Cities blood, the Guards had hitched their round shields and unsheathed their tulwars, waving the broad, curving blades threateningly at the Wickans, who answered with barking challenges.
Two men arrived on the parapet. Duiker nodded greetings. Mallick Rel did not deign to acknowledge either of them — a rough captain and the 7th's lone surviving cadre mage, both men clearly ranked too low for any worthwhile cultivation by the priest.
"Well, Kulp," Duiker said to the squat, white-haired wizard, "your arrival may prove timely."
Kulp's narrow, sunburned face twisted into a sour scowl. "Came up here to keep my bones and flesh intact, Duiker. I'm not interested in becoming Coltaine's lumpy carpet in his step up to the post. They're his people, after all. That he hasn't done a damned thing to quell this brewing riot doesn't bode well, I'd say."
The captain at his side grunted agreement. "Sticks in the throat," he growled. "Half the officers here saw their first blood facing that bastard Coltaine, and now here he is, about to take command. Hood's knuckles," he spat, "won't be any tears spilled if the Hissar Guard cuts down Coltaine and every one of his Wickan savages right here at the Quay. The Seventh don't need them."
Excerpted from Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson. Copyright © 2000 Steven Erikson. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
BOOK ONE Raraku,
BOOK TWO Whirlwind,
Book Three Chain of Dogs,
Book Four Deadhouse Gates,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The main players from Book 1, Gardens of the Moon, have split up. And this book follows the two Bridgeburners, Fiddler & Kalam as they go on their 'secret' mission, courtesy of the sly mind of Quick Ben. Along with them is Crokus, our lucky little thief, and Apsalar, the young fisherman's girl who's possession by Cotillion has still left her a cold-hearted killer. We also are introduced to Coltaine, the new fist, who's travails will become legend. And we meet Paran's younger sister, Felisin, who's own tale becomes the heart and soul of this book. This book is gigantic, compared to the first one, but so layered, textured and terrific. Unlike the confusion that some may have had with following Gardens of the Moon with it's lack of set-up and so many characters, this book is much more left to develop plot, characters, and you feel completely along a fantastic ride as 3 tales are told and woven like a great tapestry. Felisin's journey, Coltaine's march, Fiddler/Kalam/Apsalar/Crokus's search...these 3 tales are powerful, riveting, and a more larger tale is beginning to unravel. Book 2, though lacking the slam-bang ending of Gardens of the Moon, is a superior novel because of it's heart and soul. These are complex, troubled souls, admist a war and empire that is beginning to shake, and as the gods play their games, these humans and creatures set the stage of whatis to come...and in fact, seem to control the playing field in more than the gods do.
If you only read one fantasy series, read this one. Better than the wheel of time
If you liked "Gardens of the Moon" you will love this 2nd book in the series. Good writing, excellent plot, 700+ pages to keep you spellbound.
I tried to read this a few years ago but only made it about 80 pages in. The magic/deck of dragons/ascendaents aspect of the book can be confusing. The second time around tho I had read the first book and it definetly helped. The story involves 4 different plot lines which eventually converge at the end. The end was very unexpected but well worth the time invested in it. I definetly recommend this book and the series to anyone who loves military and/or fantasy.
Finaly another good writer that knows how to keep you entertained with a good story that's a lot different from many other books that are out there. This second novel seems to concentrate more on different persons but it al comes back to the same ones from the first novel. Keep them coming!!
I loved Deadhouse Gates. The characters seemed to be more alive in this book, more realized. I loved the historian/soldier Dukier. And I was heartbroken towards the end when it came to his fate and the fate of Colatine. But my faith as a reader was renewed when the cloth was found in Dukier's clothing and a name was revealed. I can't wait for the next one!! And Feslin was among a favorite of mine, and I can't await the unveiling of Kalam's destiny. I hope that the end didn't hint that a few of the starring characters won't reappear in the next installment. I await with barely restrained patience.
This is my second read through of Deadhouse Gates, and I still found the book to be long, boring, and full of whining. I can appreciate the importance of finding out about Laseen's true motivations in outlawing Dujek, and Felisin + the Whirlwind set the stage for Tavore's arrival at the Seven Cities, but the book is still a Felisin/Heboric whine fest. Iskaral Pust, Moby, and the unnamed Toblakai do some to redeem the book, and (with the foresight of having read through this before) Erickson does an admiral job of crafting a large story with elements like the Silanda, but it still does not match the first book.
Once again a really refreshing work by Erikson. There is alot going on and not much time for explanation of things, but I enjoyed that, as it meant the book never felt like it was dragging or bogged down. I also enjoyed the fact that he has introduced a few new elements to the genre. A great read.
Erikson's follow-up to the excellent Gardens of The Moon fell short in many ways for me; much of what made the first book such a breathe of fresh air is missing from its sequel, and all too often I found myself reading a more typical fantasy than I was hoping for. Transplanting the action to a different continent, Erikson traces a long-pent-up rebellion against the empire. The central focus is the General Coltaine's long, refugee-laden march to safety, but - of course - there's many other narratives weaving in and out of the story, too. So why didn't I like this as much as Gardens of The Moon? There's several problems, the first of which is probably the length. Deadhouse Gates is substantially longer than its predecessor and - much to my disappointment - most of it is preoccupied with characters moving from one point to another. This "journey"-style fantasy is a bane of the genre and whilst Erikson - as with everything - is a cut above average, it still largely didn't work for me. The reason is that most of the travelling seems if not aimless, at least arbitrary. The wonderfully motivated and active characters of Gardens of The Moon have been replaced by passive, glum people that things just keep happening to. Even worse is that by the conclusion, it's painfully obvious that outside of the central journey - Coltaine's march - much of the rest could have been skipped and has to be manipulated with deus ex machina to make sense.Part of this is inescapable. Erikson's intense focus on the brutal uprising leaves little room for cheer, and most attempts at leavening the dark tone feel forced and arbitrary whether they're romance, comedy, or optimism. This said, arguably the most brutal and explicit part - Coltaine's march - actually works the best because of its interesting characters and stages.Some of the other characters don't fare so well. Deadhouse Gates falls into another genre trap of having whiny, depressed protagonists with an adolescent and unrealistic dialogue. Coupled with his yen for drama, there are many times the book slips into melodrama, and the knowing, self-important soliloquys delivered doesn't help matters at all. Further, as the mythology grows more tangled, it becomes difficult to know what's real. Erikson delights in pulling the rug from under the reader: "You thought it was X, well it's Y!" This is audacious and thrilling the first few times, but it starts to hinder reader investment due to repetition. I *want* to know things! And sometimes, what I thought was going on was much more satisfying and interesting than what was *really* going on. And yet, the book still gets three stars. After this litany of disappointment, why? A few reasons. One, Erikson gets points for trying to do something ambitious with fantasy. The word "epic" gets thrown around a lot these days but this is the real deal, and if the execution stumbles sometimes, I'm prepared to forgive because I would prefer this to another "safe" fantasy. Two, Deadhouse Gates is a maddeningly large book, but to his credit, Erikson throws a lot in between all the interminable journeys and some of it works really well. There are some good characters here (though I'm a little sick of sassy veterans, I can't lie), good ideas, great scenes. If you don't like one thing, there's probably another three that you will like. The next book will be make or break for me - I need more than this one-note, "gritty", patchy fantasy; Erikson has creativity and ambition in spades, but he needs to bring it under control.
As with the previous Malazan books, Erikson is no slouch at showing the horrors of war. And in pointing out who the true victims are. He highlights the deceit and treachery on all sides and spares no one. What seems to be a fairly straightforward plan invariably turns into utter chaos once the plan is put into motion. And the enemy turns out to be not at all what you believe, or even, quite often, who you believe it to be.The quest for power and ascendancy pause for none, grinding the best into dust even as the worst seem to always survive.You'll find no easy answers, no satisfying outcomes here. Look elsewhere for that sort of comfort.
Most epic and nail-biting downer ending. Coltaine is The Man.
This book is the second in the Malazan Book of the Fallen. I highly enjoyed this book, and this series. The book separates some of the characters from the previous book. The team in Darujhistan isn't mentioned at all, while other characters are added. The characters a rich, complex, and often surprising. In the same style as the first book, this book doesn't care if you don't get it right away. Things are not easily spelled out for you, and that makes it all the richer.Excellent.
This tale continues with only four of the characters from Book 1 (Kalam, Fiddler, Crokus, and Apsalar) and a host of new characters on another continent. The four from Book 1 travel to the Seven Cities area of the vast continent west from Genabackis. The seer Sha'ik launches a war against the Malazans. The Empress Laseen picks the Wickan leader of the Crow Clan, Coltaine to safeguard the Malazan refugees. Coltaine begins a long, hazardous march to the city of Aren. There are several bloody battles, many perilous travels through strange "warrens", and some new interesting characters, notably the Imperial Historian, Duiker (attached to Coltaine's march) and the youngest daughter of House Paran, Felisin. Her journey takes some strange turns. It's epic, strange, dark, and weird. It's also big meaty fantasy with an eye-popping conclusion. I enjoyed it but next up is some lighter fare.
Deadhouse Gates is the second book in Erikson's epic Malazan Book of the Fallen series. We pick up after Gardens of the Moon with an initially confusing tale a half a world away. At the end of book 1, there was worry about something called the Pannion Seer. This is not the Seer's story, which I believe happens in book 3. Instead this story follows a small group of characters that have traveled east across the sea to the Seven Cities with only a few hints to what's going on back on the other side of the world.The continent of the Seven Cities was one of the first conquered by the Empress and the Malazan Empire. This has not sat well with the natives. As the Empire has expanded and the Empress' attention is focused elsewhere, the natives rise up to overthrow the Malazan rule. At the heart of the revolution is the prophesied Whirlwind in the Holy Desert. We see all aspects of this bloody war along the way: hysterical fanatics; fleeing refugees and their protectors; uneasy alliances; the birth of legends.Like book 1, Deadhouse Gates follows a large cast of characters. There are a few familiar faces and even more new ones. The scope is vast. At any one time we're following up to six story threads in alternating sections. Sometimes all six in one chapter, sometimes only a couple. Erikson has an amazing talent for writing battles, right up there with George R. R. Martin and Tolkien. This book is a hard read but very rewarding once you reach the end.
Well, there's good and bad news here.The good? Deadhouse Gates is certainly no less than a decent novel. The bad? It's only a decent novel and having waded through 2000 pages of the Malazan saga I'm still not convinced this is a series worth the enormous effort required to see it through to the end. One feels that Erikson is simply grasping at too much in this series. The main problem here is that there's just too much going on. That's not always a problem but here it is. Events roll on from one to the other and there's no breathing space. There are a few very big revelations in this novel that almost pass by unnoticed given the scant attention devoted to them (for instance, Dujek's rebellion, surely the main point of the first novel is only worthy of one or two lines the entire novel - people in the Seven Cities had more pressing matters, true, but I couldn't believe that there was practically no acknowledgement of the fallout from Gardens of the Moon). Other events of real consequence don't carry the weight they should because Erikson so swiftly rushes on. Even the end of the Chain of Dogs, the only truly harrowing thing in the whole novel, felt slightly underplayed. There's hardly the extended drama of an event like The Red Wedding, say. The entirety of Coltaine's march should be an epic event, yet only the end feels like that. Erikson never pauses to allow his characters, and us readers, the opportunity to experience the march. For instance - no point of view or knowledge is given to us of how the refugees experienced the march. Who chases Coltaine? Faceless armies, the odd named general who we barely, if ever, see. Who is the villain in such a piece? Where can we direct our anger? A story needs good villains as much as it needs good heroes and a big bad guy is noticeably lacking here. Likewise, very little is know about the soldiers' experience on the march except that they went to one place, had a battle, moved on, had another battle, did some more walking, had another battle and kept on doing this again and again. That's not to say these battles aren't exciting but they lack an edge as they're fought by characters developed only to a minimum. By trying to do so much in this story Erikson undermines himself. Action is all well and good but I felt Erikson really gave the story and his characters too little room to live and fill out their experiences.That's another problem with this novel: because so little time is really devoted to the characters almost everyone comes across the same. The uniquely delightful Iskaral Pust aside, everyone seems to be exactly the same in character - unrelentingly grim and serious. True, no-one is really in a good situation but I despaired at how the tone of the novel is completely flat - it is just one long, serious, grim grindfest. Even if Erikson lacks the wit of GRRM he could look to The Black Company (an obvious influence anyway) and see how Cook uses the likes of Goblin, One Eye, Croaker, to change tones and vary the story. The near singular mood of the novel did tire at times and it cried out for another Kruppe (a role Pust doesn't quite fulfil).World building has been a fantasy staple ever since Tolkien but I feel Erikson needs to apply some brakes on this too. I consider the Malazan empire fascinating and I enjoy the depth Erikson provides that aspect of the story (in fact I wish its organization, its ethos and general philosophical underpinnings were given more substance). Yet I find the T'lan Imass and other non-human groups of his world dull and uninteresting. They might be hugely powerful but I fail, yet, to see why they're given so much space in these novels, why they're important. There is so much focus on Icarium in this novel, but why, apart from the fact he could cause so much destruction is he important to the story? No real reason was given, he was just plonked in there as far as I could tell. Similarly, all the sudden emergence of so man
A great series of books. I cannot wait for the next one.
Very intriguing story with many twists and turns, and a lot of head scratching confusion. But you have to take it like one of Stephen King's books, and just accept what he says and move on.
The second of the tales of the Malzan empire. Following the fates of some of the characters from the first book, and introducing some new. The incredabily confusing style continues, not only are there a very large a bewildering cast of characters, places, and races the action chops and changes from one POV to the next within a few paragraphs. The reader does not get sufficient time ot workout who is where and what is going on before being whisked away again. A leser author would have completely lost everyone but Erikson is a true master of the Epic fantasy and the worlds and personality he creates is just, only just but sufficiently, massive to entrall. For those who though Tolkein thin, and want a fantasy that really engages a continent wide, if not worldwide span, as few others can manage, than this might be the series for you.To me it is just too complex. I read to escape, and Erikson drags you into the complexities of a whole world. the various POV are nearly always low rank characters, a historian, a sapper, etc so you get no overview of what is happening. 900 page sof confusing focus is a lot of confusion.Coltrane marches an army of refugees from various sacked cities across a desert, while being attacked by the new revolutionary army. Various other scattered elements of WhiskeyJack's former bridgeburners travel about abit on their various personal goals pickignup odd companions along the way. It helps if you remember all the details from the Gardens of the Moon, but I couldn't face the thought of re-reading that tomb too. Despite all the Epicness, the actual prose is well writen, the characters detailed and alive and the plot interesting. But I'd prefer a 500pg summary instead.
I picked up this book after reading a friend's gift to me, the first book in this series, last year, and I liked it well enough. It had enough going for it that I tracked down the second one, too. Now that, that was a good idea.Deadhouse Gates is a sequel closer to the Diana Wynne Jones style sequel than the George R. R. Martin style one, since you probably can get away with not reading the previous book in the series and still get most of the quality. You'd miss some character points and a couple of connections, but not that much, all around. It's set on a different continent from the previous book, with a largely different set of characters, and a largely unrelated plot setup.The setup is basically the same, though: multi-POV, most of them low-ranking players, and it takes you through the course of a military campaign: one army taking a huge train of refugees through a large amount of hostile territory to try to deliver them to the one remaining safe haven. There are also other plot lines, dealing with journeys of redemption, assassination and discovery.There's a lot to keep track of, but it's not confusing. The descriptions are lucid, if horrifying sometimes, the characters fleshed-out and lively, the scale sweeping and epic, and the plotting very well done, although it's a bit of a slog as everything gets set up; with all the POVs and plotlines, getting all the pieces on the board takes a while, and it's not great until they're all out there. The battles and tactics are well-handled and not monotonous: it's not the same thing twice, and it's all fairly realistic (allowing for the magic of the world, but it's well delineated how that works).The first one felt like he was reaching at points, and that there was a bit of Dragon Ball Z syndrome (he's INCREDIBLY POWERFUL... but not as powerful as... THIS GUY HERE!). The latter is around only once or twice here, but the first is gone completely. Erikson feels in control of his prose and plotting, and the result is a brilliant epic story. I was going to ding it for what feels like workmanlike prose in places, but then towards the end, Erikson really brings something out emotionally; it made me cry, it was so good. I think much of it, because it's supposed to be a history, can come off a bit dry, but it's still the good kind of history.All told: very well done, indeed. If only all the books I read this year are this good, I'll be a very happy man.
Half the pages would have made a master piece.