Earlier this year, I decided I was going to re-read the first 2 books of the brilliant Steven Erikson series Malazan Book of the Fallen before attempting to read all 9 published volumes in a row prior to the publication of the 10th and final volume at the end of the year. My quest is now 2/10 of the way done with the completion of Book 2 – Deadhouse Gates.
For those that haven’t read, Erikson’s Malazan series is fantasy, but this is not your standard Forgotten Realms/R.A. Salvatore light reading fantasy. No, Erikson’s world is much darker, much more complex, and much less well explained. This is not a bad thing though, but it does make the series difficult to get into for many people. It’s like being thrown into a country where people speak your language, but all of the local dialect, customs and rules are foreign to you. You need to work to understand what’s going on, but when you get it … what a rush.
I compare this favorably with my two favorite fantasy authors – George R.R. Martin and Scott Bakker. In fact, I think with the exception of Tolkein and Martin, I don’t think you can find such a richly developed fantasy world. This being my second reading, and the first time I read it back to back with the first volume, Gardens of the Moon, I can definitely say I got more out of it. Not that you need to read them back to back since most of the characters are new, but it definitely helps to fully grasp what’s going on.
While I’m tempted to take a break before the even longer 3rd volume, I plan to start it tonight. I’ll leave lighter reading for breaks at work. My quest must continue.