Kiel Van Horn's Reviews > Deadhouse Gates

Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson
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's review
Sep 17, 2012

it was amazing
Read in October, 2011 , read count: 2

Erikson has a talent for writing fast-paced books. He pulls you along through action sequences, teasing you with enough background information to keep you interested, while not making you feel like a scene wasn't given its full due. His novels, so far, read like scripts.

I was a little dismayed when I saw in the frontmatter that the Cast of Characters wasn't including everyone we'd met in Gardens of the Moon. He'd plucked a few characters off, some of whom I barely remembered from the first, others who weren't mentioned more than in passing (Paran's little sister). It could be for this reason I was a little bored with the first hundred or so pages. But I think the aforementioned talent-for-writing-action had really languished in those pages, also. Understandable, given that Erikson was setting the scene for us. I'm not taking off any points for that. He was starting us off on a new continent, introducing a new cast of characters, and building the foundation ... Rome wasn't built in a day. And pretty much immediately after that the action began and the fun started. Shit hit the fan, as the saying sprays.

We finally meet the Empress! That part was a little bit of a let down, though.

I think the friendship between Icarium and Mappo could have been developed more. It mostly developed through asides and flashbacks. That said, I'm not sure how I would have done it differently. I just was left feeling that it could have been done better, more time could have been spent on it.

The characterization of Felisin (Paran's little sister) was kind of a lesson for me. Paint a character as a victim initially, and even after that, the despicable things she does can almost seem forgivable. I guess I'm also left feeling like Erikson should have shown another side of her despicable character; we were left only with her POV and reasoning, thinking that she was doing good as she descended into drug addiction and prostitution. It would have been helpful to see another character's POV on that earlier on, rather than hear about it later.

Erikson plays fast and loose with characterization, but for the most part the characters are three dimensional. I appreciate his ability to kill of a major character in the middle of the book, though in this one it felt like that character didn't get his due. Hey, maybe he'll be back—wouldn't surprise me.

He definitely has a soft spot for iconoclastic/eccentric characters.

The warrens are more prevalent in this book, with more explanations and hints given at what they are. At one point, the characters seem to enter a warren by accident—with some of them emerging in pre-Ascendant states, strangely. In others, a warren that was utterly destroyed comes into play as part of the prehistory. They're one of the cooler devices for magic that I've seen, complex with lots of potential. I for one prefer magic left mysterious and full of possibilities, and he delivers on that.

I like the nonhuman characters that he has, though he rarely makes anything of it. Treats them just like a human character, almost, apart from an occasional reference to a tusk. Trell, a half-blood Jaghut, T'lan Imass, Soletaken and Di'vers. Oh, and flying monkeys!

The history/creation of the Soletaken/D'ivers was briefly introduced, mostly as a teaser it seemed. Definitely curious to see where that goes.

The Ascendants played less of a role in this book, at least compared to Gardens. We didn't see them so often as characters like we did in Garden, though they do appear and have a hand in the plot/saga. Hood is mentioned prominently, and a little bit of the Tolkien slips in where he mentions that only the souls of humans can go through Hood's Gates, not the souls of immortal beasts—I think that could figure prominently. All in all, they were left mostly mysterious again, though with more clues given as to what they are and what the process is. From what I could tell, the shapeshifters were seeking a gate to enter into the realm of shadow, and thereby become an Ascendant, god of the other shapeshifters. Other mysteries are left open ... definitely can't wait to read the next bokos in the series.

Fener's being pulled down into the mortal realm is really not discussed much at all, not nearly as much as it is discussed in Memories of Ice.

I still don't know what the Azath is at this point, but I am excited to find out more.

Read this book for the second time. Much more appreciative of Felisin now, and the difficulty involved in writing a 14 year old girl who's a spoiled brat.

I'm continually amazed at how much each detail, no matter how minute, is nevertheless woven through the arc of the storyline in the other books.


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