It’s been a few days since I finished Steven Erikson’s Deadhouse Gates (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 2) and I never did review the first book, Gardens of the Moon.
Because I’m just not sure what to say about them. Do I like them? Oh yes, very much indeed. Can I describe them succinctly? Not a prayer of that. Erikson has built an incredibly rich fantasy world, gritty and often dark. And at the start of the first book he drops us in it and we must learn to swim or drown in its complexity. I learned to swim, barely. Not nearly well enough to give you any tips.
Humans are the primary race of the world, but there are others, some incredibly ancient. It’s an old, old world. There is magic, based on “warrens” which each have a name and, one presumes, particular characteristics. There are old gods, and “ascendent” godlings: mortals that somehow shrug off their corporeal bodies and enter the heavens (or the hells). You start reading these books and you’re immediately caught in a whirlwind.
While Deadhouse Gates takes place after Gardens of the Moon, either book stands alone (and I suspect this holds true with the rest of the series as well). Characters are sent ‘off stage’ in Book 1 to take care of a quest, and Book 2 is all about that quest. Characters cross-over mostly in the form of being referred to, reminding the reader that we’re peering at a tiny slice of this huge world.
I personally enjoyed Book 2 more than 1, but I think that might be because I’m slowly understanding the world better. I intend at some point to re-read Gardens
If you like big, meaty fantasy tomes where the good guys don’t always win and bad things sometimes happen to good people, and you don’t need to have everything spelled out for you, then I highly recommend checking out both Gardens of the Moon and Deadhouse Gates.