UPDATE: I've just reread this book so I've updated my review, which you can find at the end of my little lovenote here. :)
Why Read The Malazan Book ofUPDATE: I've just reread this book so I've updated my review, which you can find at the end of my little lovenote here. :)
Why Read The Malazan Book of the Fallen, or A Love Note to Steven Erikson (Okay, not really the latter)
If you've even attempted to read Gardens of the Moon, the first book in the 10 book epic that is the Malazan Book of the Fallen, you'll see very quickly that you're not given much as a reader. It's confusing, it's complicated, it's full of mysteries and myriad of characters and magics that you can easily become overwhelmed. Not to mention, Gardens of the Moon isn't nearly as well-written as the rest of the series.
Not the most ringing endorsement so far, but we're getting there.
The Malazan Book of the Fallen series is easily the most epic series I've ever read. The history is mysterious (and murderous) and vast, the races are plentiful and old, and the magic is as powerful as it gets.
How many times do you pick up a book that sounds epic, but you start to read and it really isn't? This happens to me all the time. Because of a drawback of the medium, there can only really be a focus on so many characters. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but it takes away from the epic-ness. The consequences of a few characters may have far-reaching effects and the history and world may even be vast, but there's still no denying that the scope is limited. It can't really be anything else.
Steven Erikson does something that has yet to be seen in epic fantasy. He has created the standard for what is truly epic. I'll not deny that his characters suffer somewhat from this, many seeming to be essentially the same, but he has truly created a world that is so vast and detailed you won't care.
This is also part of the genius. The characters don't even know what's going on, who's killing whom or why. They rarely even know who's actually in charge. And Erikson puts you right there with them. In addition, they're the ones narrating the story, which means you really have no idea who to trust. This is yet another aspect of his genius because as humans, we tend to want things to go our way, to see things our way, even to tell stories that go our way. Many characters are humble enough to see their shortcomings, but the story is told from very human people... well, and gods.
And like George R.R. Martin, Erikson has no problem killing off main characters. It IS the book of the fallen after all.
Another reason to read this series is what I call the Superman phenomenon. Erikson creates characters who have it all when it comes to magic or military prowess or swordsmanship or you name it. They are all-powerful and when they clash it will blow your mind.
At the same time, he creates tragedy filled with pathos that at one point had me devastated for weeks. This is not a bad thing, not only is it good for the soul, it's powerful writing that evokes emotions in you so strong you feel like you've lost a friend when all you did was finish a book. This makes me wonder how he can possibly be accused of having thin characters when he made me feel like that about them.
Finally, and fittingly, Erikson has written simply the best endings I've ever read. Any bit of confusion, and believe me there's quite a bit in every book of the series, is rewarded ten-fold with an ending that you will never forget.
For most books, you may get a hundred pages as you climax after 500 pages worth of build-up. Erikson gives you at least 200 and in some books even more than this. The Crippled God , the final book in the Malazan Book of the Fallen, starts a part of the climax with 400 pages to go in the trade paperback.
Simply put, read this series. When you're 400 pages in and you still have no clue what's going on, it's okay, I've been there too. It will be worth it, keep pushing on. How many authors really trust you, the reader, to put things together on your own? Have you felt how rewarding that is, have you even been given the chance? Now's your chance.
As Logan Ninefingers always says (or rather, his father), “Once you've got a task to do, it's better to do it than live with the fear of it."
---------------------- Updated Review:
There are few books you put down and immediately want to reread. Gardens of the Moon is one of those books for two reasons. One, it's that good. Two, it's that confusing.
On a reread I already know I missed a lot the first time, but I quickly realized I missed SOOOO much that first time and most of it is because I wasn't used to having to use my brain as much. I was constantly amazed at how much foreshadowing is in this first book. So much is mentioned from the origins of the T'lan Imass and Tiste Andii to the Jaghut and even a little about the Forkrul Assail.
And the epigraphs made sense! They ACTUALLY made sense! I always thought they might, but they are tell quite a bit in fact. Some I was amazed actually give away events in the following chapter, but you have no idea when you first read it. You wily bastard, Erikson!
Hand in hand with the foreshadowing I'm amazed at the level of detail in this book, there's hardly a sentence without extra meanings behind it. But the problem is - you just don't know who to trust when you're going through this on your first time and it's so hard to catch it when so much is revealed in such an offhand manner.
I still remember being so confused the first time and then figuring something out. That's what sold me on the series and why I still consider it one of the best, if not the best out there. A second reading sealed the deal.
Having said that I also saw a lot of why people say it's the least well-written of the series. It's well done, leaps and bounds ahead of most I think, but it can be inconsistent. For most of the series it's told in third person limited, and while that seems to have been attempted for most of this book, there were instances where it drifts to omniscient within a section. The pacing is also a bit off, but that's not really any different from the rest either.
Despite that, I stick with what I said above. :) These complaints are drops in the bucket compared to this vast, epic tale filled with history and magic and plans within plans.
At the moment, The Malazan Book of the Fallen is my all-time favorite series. This may or may not change when George finishes his series (in 2113, zing!), but I have a hard time right now seeing how it will be possible to top. Yes, there's a similar level of detail and even camaraderie you feel with some of the characters, but how do you top this kind of epic? I don't think there's a better feeling in reading than figuring something out that the author withheld, that's what sold me on my first read and what continues to make this my favorite.
5 out of 5 Stars (Not even a second thought)
Note: I also highly recommend reading this with a group, or just checking out the discussions from the group read I've been participating in. Being able to toss around ideas and theories is priceless and having people to explain some of it is also very helpful....more
Great stuff. Hilariously dry. This book was just amazing. The prose was beautiful and the footnotes were just brilliant. I can't believe this was Ms.Great stuff. Hilariously dry. This book was just amazing. The prose was beautiful and the footnotes were just brilliant. I can't believe this was Ms. Clarke's first novel because it was so beautifully written.
It's definitely a pretty slow read, so if you're in the mood for something that builds more on the characters and the magic and less on actual plot movement, this is for you. You really have to be in the mood for it so get your quick reads out of the way and be ready to be stunned....more
----------------- The above was my first review of this and really summed things up quite succinctly. Below is actually a review of the first oAmazing.
----------------- The above was my first review of this and really summed things up quite succinctly. Below is actually a review of the first of the trilogy of movies following The Hobbit (kinda). -----------------
There have been lots of thoughts on this movie already, but I felt I needed to add my two cents, because, well, lots of people are just plain wrong.
Okay, maybe people have good reason to be disappointed with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but I wanted to tell you why you shouldn't be.
I think we all had a bit of an inkling that the film version of our beloved book, The Hobbit, wasn't quite going to follow the book precisely when we learned it was going to be two movies. I mean, each of the books in the Lord of the Rings trilogy got one movie and they're all longer than The Hobbit...so logic already started us down this path.
Then we found out it was going to be three movies.
Slight doubt was replaced with actual knowledge. The movie version(s) of The Hobbit was NOT GOING TO FOLLOW THE BOOK exactly.
So, why are so many people coming out of this movie utterly disappointed the movie didn't follow the book? You already knew this going in! There were no expectations to dash in this regard and if you had any expectations, they should have rightfully been dashed weeks if not months before the viewing of this movie.
The Hobbit delivers with orc-slaying, adventure-having, rock-throwing, breath-taking goodness. What's wrong with that?
Now there are few books I reread, there are just too many to go through once, but The Hobbit is one of the rare books I've read twice. It will always have a special place in my heart and I still loved this movie.
I'm not going to say it was completely devoid of fault. Two things irritated me for a time and they were the handling of the troll scene, which was good in its own right, but COMPLETELY different when it could have been kept the same. The other thing was the use of CGI was a bit (okay really) heavy at times especially for the main big baddie.
If you could only have seen my face as I watched The Hobbit. There was literally a smile ear to ear the entire time. I loved it.
I'm pleading with you, manage your expectations. Think of this as Peter Jackson goes to Middle Earth (with possibly the only goal of staying consistent with his earlier films). You'll be much happier. ...more
I was first introduced to John Marco a number of yearThis is an article I wrote for fantasyliterature.com called "Why You Should Read... John Marco."
I was first introduced to John Marco a number of years ago by a good friend of mine through the first book in his Tyrants and Kings Trilogy, The Jackal of Nar. After that I was hooked. To this day, years later, I can vividly see the cathedral of Nar being frescoed, hear the din of each battle, but most of all I can still feel every bit of pathos written into his books.
And that’s what draws me back to John Marco; his characters are so real you can practically reach out and touch them. They could be any one of us and their struggles are monumental. Marco takes you to highs and brings you down low with a manageable amount of characters with whom you grow unbelievably attached. Their motivations are understandable and their suffering can be heart-wrenching at times, not to mention their exhilarating triumphs.
If you’re looking for gray, Marco pretty much wrote the book on it (hehe). I’m always impressed when authors, like George R.R. Martin, can have you sympathizing for the most dastardly character and Marco does it over and over. Characters such as the Machiavellian Biagio will always stay in my head as a prime example of someone I wanted to hate, but could not help but root for.
I could probably go on for pages about his characters, but I’ll save you that at least. In summary, they’re deep, they’re three-dimensional, and if you don’t love them, you’ll at least be impressed with them.
While I appreciate the fast-paced, run-and-gun novel, Marco employs a much more descriptive style to bring about his reading experience. Through this approach, he paints a picture that stays with you. You’ll find yourself inside the characters’ heads, feeling what they feel and seeing the world how they do.
When I found out about this project, I emailed the man himself, John Marco, and here’s what he had to say about his writing:
“The only thing I might say, however, is that I’ve never undertaken a story I’m not passionate about. Some folks love my books, some dislike them intensely, but I’ve always taken heart in knowing that I’ve done my best and told the stories I wanted to tell.”
Marco has written two trilogies, Tyrants and Kings, and the Lukien Trilogy, and his first foray into the young adult scene Starfinder, book 1 in the Skylords series. He is currently working on another Lukien book. (Don't you just love commas?)
This was a reread on audiobook and it was like seeing old friends again. It was definitely a great time to start a reread what with the final volume cThis was a reread on audiobook and it was like seeing old friends again. It was definitely a great time to start a reread what with the final volume coming out next year (and Sanderson keeps his promises). I couldn't believe how much I missed this amazingly thought-out world, I really felt like I was along for the journey and that's one of the most amazing things Jordan does.
Yes, things get a bit off toward the middle/end of this series, but I still argue that the quality is the same even though the braid-pulling is more prevalent.
Also, on audio is was great to listen to an interview with the man himself, especially after his passing. He talks about how he came up with this fandangled series. Plus, he admits he doesn't listen to audiobooks except for his own, which he doesn't read, but only listens to on audio.
I'll come up with a review for onlythebestscifi.blogspot.com to add more to this soon. :)
I wanted to use this review to keep track of the books because, as I've been finding out, I have a lot of events misplaced in my memory as far as the books go.
In The Eye of the World, we have of course the discovery, but more importantly, the disappearance of Thom, the slow and almost painful the first time through but not as bad the second trip from White Bridge to Caemlyn by Rand and Mat, the first meeting with Loial (which I had placed in book 2 in my mind), the first traveling of The Ways (also book 2), which leads to Fal Dara, which also leads to the Blight.
Just as good if not better than the first time through as I can see all the "threads" (get it) that have been established for lots ofSeanchan, argh!!!
Just as good if not better than the first time through as I can see all the "threads" (get it) that have been established for lots of great things to come. Also, Audiobook is definitely the way to do a reread as I don't have that terrible feeling that I'm neglecting everything else, plus I don't think I'll get worn out when it comes to the middle/slower volumes.
As I mentioned in my Eye of the World review, this is just where I write down a few things so I can later keep track of in what book which events take place.
Lots of time spent in Fal Dara with training followed by Trolloc/Fade/Dark Friend attack on Fal Dara which leads to the Great Horn being stolen. The 3 boys set out with Ingtar to retrieve it, the womenfolk proceed to Tar Valon to begin their training, Egwene and Nynaeve meet Elayne for the first time. While following the Shadowspawn with the Horn, Rand, Loial, and Hurin are transported through a portal stone where they meet Selene/Lanfear and Rand kills Grolm.
They end up in Cairhien finally (days ahead of Ingtar, Mat, Perrin, Verin Sedai and group) where The Great Game is played and where everyone thinks Rand is really good at it. He's eventually invited by every noble in town until finally the King and the Damodreds, the most powerful families around. It is found that the Damodreds are harboring the Dark Friends and have a Way Gate under the premises, which is blocked by Machinshin (Black Wind).
They find another way by using the portal stone in the Ogier Steading. It actually takes them 3 months to get to Falme after a long (and somewhat boring) dream sequence where the dark one always wins.
During this time, the women are training, until they are tricked by Liandrin who takes them to Falme and where they immediately meet the Seanchan who chain Egwene. Nynaeve and Elayne are able to escape whereas Min is not, but they don't care much about her since she can't channel.
They are able to arrange passage away from the Seanchan and about the same time they are about to leave, Rand and party show up, fight off the Seanchan (Rand beats a Herin blade holder), and Rand fights the Dark One in the Skies (again), many see it and are converted to the Dragon Reborn's camp.
I'm continuing my reread, in preparation for next year's grand finale, but I'm sorry to have gotten a bit behind in my reviews.
It's crazy to think thaI'm continuing my reread, in preparation for next year's grand finale, but I'm sorry to have gotten a bit behind in my reviews.
It's crazy to think that the events from this book, book 3 in the Wheel of Time, The Dragon Reborn [US] [UK], were actually supposed to be the conclusion to the first book in the trilogy. With that in mind, it's not too hard to fathom how things have come to be. This is a turn off for a lot of people, but really, you can't go wrong with more is better, not with The Wheel of Time. (We'll see if my mind ever changes in this regard).
The Dragon Reborn was a frustrating book for me the first time around. I obviously didn't know what I was getting myself into the first time did I? :) It really drove me crazy that the main protagonist, THE Dragon Reborn, hardly makes 3 pages worth of an appearance in his own named book. The main character who actually moves this series forward is off in la-la land for the majority of the book. How does that even happen?!?!
And then Rand is what is featured on the cover of the new ebook. Cracks me up, just a bit. The Sweet cover makes sense on the first one, it being a pretty big event, but I really don't get the ebook. What about Perrin or Mat or Egwene, Elayne, Nynaeve... so many more could make such a better cover.
To top it all off, I actually didn't even really like Mat the first time through. Who does that? I think I really just wanted to see the next thing to happen and in the Wheel of Time, you have to be in it for the long run, you have to want to know everything about everyone. I think I'm there... finally.
On reread, it's a whole new ballgame. I've not only grown to enjoy the other characters much more, but it's a good possibility that I like them even more than I do Rand. Learning about their story arcs, their impressions, their place in the grand scheme of things was really fun and I can't wait to see what huge roles they will play in the end. Let's be honest here, there's no way Rand can handle everything on his own. He can't even handle the brewing love triangle.
I've been trying to include a description of each of the books in every review, but I can't really get myself to do this anymore when such a better one can be found at Tor.com, viewed here.
I make a lot of jokes about this series, but it's all in good fun. There are very few books I love as much as The Wheel of Time.