Petrik's Reviews > Forge of Darkness

Forge of Darkness by Steven Erikson
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Recommended for: Lover of philosophies.

Forge of Darkness displayed Erikson at the top of his prose but unfortunately, the book was bogged down by too much too much too much TOO MUCH philosophies.

Before I get to that though, let me just say that it’s quite baffling that there’s a list that recommends starting Malazan from Forge of Darkness instead of Gardens of the Moon. I’ve read and loved the main series but this novel took the cake for being the most difficult to get into. If I haven’t read the main series, this would be at best a 2 stars read. I’m not kidding, the saving grace of this novel was Erikson’s prose and the knowledge on what the characters will do in the future, this is only possible if the reader has read the main series, Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Forge of Philosophy Darkness is the first book in Steven Erikson’s Kharkanas trilogy. It’s a prequel trilogy to Malazan Book of the Fallen. The main series is one of my top three favorite series of all time, knowing that I’ll get to learn more about the background of the Tiste Andii truly excited me. But honestly? I’m disappointed with this one. Forge of Darkness is so different than what I thought it would be. I truly thought we’re going to learn about the Tiste race more than anything but this seems to be a book about Draconus more than anything else.

Don’t get me wrong, Draconus and Arathan’s storyline were easily the best perspectives to read out of the entire novel. Their storyline was full of meaningful philosophical discussions, engaging dialogues, well-paced, and most of all crucial in giving even more insight into the main series. The last quarter of the book (chapter 16 and 20 being my favorite chapters) in particular was amazing because we get to see more familiar faces from the main series appearing. It was a joy to read more out of these characters and see some revelations on how they meet and what drove their motivations unfolds.

“We are all interludes in history, a drawn breath to make pause in the rush, and when we are gone, those breaths join the chorus of the wind. But who listens to the wind?”


However, I do wish that we get to see more of Anomander Rake and the Tiste Andii more. Instead, readers are forced to read—again—new characters that totally felt like fillers. I don’t give a damn about most of the new characters, not only they’re not interesting, I’m reading this trilogy to learn more about the characters I have come to love in the main series.

Erikson’s inclusion of philosophies and social commentaries were some of the factors I loved the most about Malazan Book of the Fallen. Sure it can get a bit too much at times but the majority of the times, they were there to add value to the narrative or characters. In here though? Nope, remember that anything that’s too much is never good and Erikson really went out of control with philosophical content and rambling here. The eighth book in the main series, Toll the Hounds is very well known for its colossal philosophical content; the reception towards it was quite divisive among the fans, but for me, that book somehow managed to become one of my favorite installment from the main series. Forge of Darkness philosophical content is at least twice more than the one I found in Toll the Hounds. I started this book highlighting some brilliant passage because my brain was still fresh from starting the book. By the 26% sections of the novel, I was often sick and dizzy by the barrage of philosophical rambling and just couldn’t care less by how smart Erikson was as an anthropologist.

Look, I LOVE reading philosophies and social commentaries in my fantasy read, often times they are some of the aspects that make the book memorable to me. But this was simply too much that most of the times the book felt like reading Erikson giving a speech to me directly about civilization, faith, and how cruel humanity are rather than actually reading a novel. The sense of escapism was gone, characters lose their distinctive voice, and to make things even worse, there were a lot of times where no main POV character’s name was used in five-ten pages of philosophical rambling that it was very easy to forget who was actually talking. The quality and advancement of the main story got lost in the flood of contemplation that doesn’t add any value other than to preach and the pacing also ended up moving at an extremely slow pace.

“There is but one god, and its name is beauty. There is but one kind of worship, and that is love. There is for us but one world, and we have scarred it beyond recognition.”


Erikson has mentioned that Kharkanas trilogy has been selling really poorly, after reading this book I’m really not surprised at all. If it weren’t due to the reasons that Malazan Book of the Fallen is one of my favorite series of all time and I have a strong attachment towards the series and characters, I would’ve rated this book at best a 2 stars. In my opinion, this is Erikson’s weakest work in the entire Malazan world after Dust of Dreams. As I mentioned above though, it’s not all bad. Some of the revelations on how the characters met and how some pivotal events occurred were awesome. I also think that prose-wise, this was Erikson at his top. It’s just a shame that his prose wasn’t implemented into things that actually matter like advancing the main plot, better characterizations, engaging dialogues, action sequences; Erikson channeled all the best of his prose into one thing: philosophical content, and there was simply too much of it that it ends up bringing the quality of the entire book down for me.

Although I sounded more negative than positive within this review, I did enjoy reading the book and the last chapter concluded the book brilliantly. Everything in this novel seems more like a prelude and because of this, I feel like there’s still hope that the sequel, Fall of Light will be superior. With that notion in mind, I will proceed to the sequel immediately with the right expectation.

(Update: I gave Fall of Light a go and I have to DNF it after the end of the first part; just couldn't give a damn anymore. Maybe I'll come back to it one day but for now, nope.)

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You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions
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Quotes Petrik Liked

Steven Erikson
“We are all interludes in history, a drawn breath to make pause in the rush, and when we are gone, those breaths join the chorus of the wind. But who listens to the wind?”
Steven Erikson, Forge of Darkness

Steven Erikson
“When one loves all things of the world, when one has that gift of joy, it is not the armour against grief that you might think it to be. Such a person stands balanced on the edge of sadness – there is no other way for it, because to love as he does is to see clearly.”
Steven Erikson, Forge of Darkness

Steven Erikson
“Peace did not serve order; order served peace, and when order became godlike, sacrosanct and inviolate, then the peace thus won became a prison, and those who sought their freedom became enemies to order, and in the elimination of such enemies, peace was lost.”
Steven Erikson, Forge of Darkness

Steven Erikson
“There is but one god, and its name is beauty. There is but one kind of worship, and that is love. There is for us but one world, and we have scarred it beyond recognition.”
Steven Erikson, Forge of Darkness


Reading Progress

September 5, 2017 – Shelved
November 23, 2018 – Started Reading
November 26, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-44 of 44 (44 new)

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message 1: by Twerking (new) - added it

Twerking To Beethoven Apparently this and the following book bombed bigtime. So much so that Erikson put the whole series on hiatus and moved on to other projects. I, for one, suspected this wasn't on the same level as the MBotF. Well, there you go. 😎


Benji Glaab This was definitely a hard one to get into. You have to be in the zone. I recall struggling with short reading stints, as far as writing quality goes it is still an amazing effort, but not as enjoyable overall I've put off reading memories of light for a few years now...


message 3: by Michel (new) - added it

Michel Avenali Petrik, your reviews have been amazing lately; well they always are, but I have added so many new books to my pile thanks to you. Is 2019 gonna be the year you tackle the Wheel of Time now that you've got the Malazan series completed? :)


Petrik Twerking wrote: "Apparently this and the following book bombed bigtime. So much so that Erikson put the whole series on hiatus and moved on to other projects. I, for one, suspected this wasn't on the same level as ..."

And I'm honestly not surprised that this book bombed big time. I don't even think Erikson will be motivated to continue this one again xD I still have Fall of Light to read, I hope it's at least better than this! By far, it's not up to the standard of BotF. It doesn't even feel like reading Malazan to be honest...


Petrik Benji wrote: "This was definitely a hard one to get into. You have to be in the zone. I recall struggling with short reading stints, as far as writing quality goes it is still an amazing effort, but not as enjoy..."

Exactly, Benji. The prose was still superb, but I think the problem lies with the content itself, like what Erikson used his prose for in here. The right mood is super mandatory here... but I don't know when I'll be in the right 'zone' to read this kind of book. xD


Petrik Michel wrote: "Petrik, your reviews have been amazing lately; well they always are, but I have added so many new books to my pile thanks to you. Is 2019 gonna be the year you tackle the Wheel of Time now that you..."

Thank you so much, Michel! And yes! ASOIAF (I know it's completed yet but yeah) and Wheel of Time are my two priority fantasy series to read in 2019! :)


message 7: by Bea (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bea I liked Forge of Darkness quite a lot actually (and yes, I admit that I skipped some of the philosophical monologues, whoops ;) )
I also liked a lot of the new characters (even though a few of them were a bit unneccessary, I agree)
Besides the philosophy overkill I think the reason why a lot of people didn't like this as much is because it could have been so much more. I mean, you have basically all of the elder ascendants during their youth and then they don't do anything (that's exaggerated, of course, but I expected some more badass things to happen).
I hope you'll have a better time with Fall of Light, however, be prepared that it's probably even more philosophical.


Petrik Bea wrote: "I liked Forge of Darkness quite a lot actually (and yes, I admit that I skipped some of the philosophical monologues, whoops ;) )
I also liked a lot of the new characters (even though a few of them..."


"I admit that I skipped some of the philosophical monologues" this is what I should've done. I actually read through them all, one by one and it drove me mad! I ended up going "bla bla bla human is shit okay bla bla bla" because it was too much!

And you're absolutely right! I expected so much more out of this. I also found (view spoiler)

I hope to enjoy Fall of Light more, at least this time I'll come into it with the right expectation.


message 9: by wanderer (Para) (last edited Nov 26, 2018 07:20AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

wanderer (Para)
But this was simply too much that most of the times the book felt like reading Erikson giving a speech to me directly about civilization, faith, and how cruel humanity are rather than actually reading a novel. The sense of escapism was gone, characters lose their distinctive voice, and to make things even worse, there were a lot of times where no main POV character’s name was used in five-ten pages of philosophical rambling that it was very easy to forget who was actually talking.

A very on-point review. Mix in that several characters have very similar names and you get a mess. I quit a couple chapters into Fall of Light.


message 10: by Bea (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bea Petrik wrote: "Bea wrote: "I liked Forge of Darkness quite a lot actually (and yes, I admit that I skipped some of the philosophical monologues, whoops ;) )
I also liked a lot of the new characters (even though a..."


RE your spoiler: (view spoiler)

wanderer wrote: ".Mix in that several characters have very similar names and you get a mess."

Yes! If I remember correctly there are Gallan, Galdan, Galar and Galas. Seriously, SE, how am I supposed to tell them apart?


message 11: by Michel (new) - added it

Michel Avenali Petrik wrote: "Michel wrote: "Petrik, your reviews have been amazing lately; well they always are, but I have added so many new books to my pile thanks to you. Is 2019 gonna be the year you tackle the Wheel of Ti..."

Awesome, I cannot wait to read that, you always express yourself amazingly in your reviews so they're a treat to read. Maybe someday I'll finish Malazan myself; at least I got a good idea from all your reviews as to what to expect.


Petrik wanderer wrote: "But this was simply too much that most of the times the book felt like reading Erikson giving a speech to me directly about civilization, faith, and how cruel humanity are rather than actually read..."

Thank you, Para! I love philosophies but this was just too much. I forgot to mention the similarity in character names that made them even more indistinguishable then they already were in my review! I'll start Fall of Light tomorrow. I hope I can finish it, I have the hardcover after all! xD


Petrik Bea wrote: "Petrik wrote: "Bea wrote: "I liked Forge of Darkness quite a lot actually (and yes, I admit that I skipped some of the philosophical monologues, whoops ;) )
I also liked a lot of the new characters..."


Yes! If I remember correctly there are Gallan, Galdan, Galar and Galas. Seriously, SE, how am I supposed to tell them apart?

Not gonna lie, I thought they were the same person at several point of the book, they sounds the same anyway.


Petrik Michel wrote: "Petrik wrote: "Michel wrote: "Petrik, your reviews have been amazing lately; well they always are, but I have added so many new books to my pile thanks to you. Is 2019 gonna be the year you tackle ..."

Thank you so much, Michel! Wait for it. I think I'll star it somewhere in March or April! :D


message 15: by James (new) - added it

James Tivendale Read Path to Ascendency mate. Much better than this. I tried this twice and DNF'd it.


message 16: by Gavin (new)

Gavin Fantastic review, Petrik. When I reach this one I'll be prepared for Erikson to be at his rambling worst when it comes to social commentary overwhelming characters and story. I'm very much with you in thinking he is at his best when he gets the balance between the two spot on.


message 17: by Reggie (new) - added it

Reggie Kray I’ve tried this volume twice and both times could not even hit the half way point. I believe that’s why he has postponed this particular series and started on the new Karsa story. It just doesn’t compare to the original series. And I believe the prose to be very inflated. Love yer reviews brother! Keep me coming!


message 18: by Reggie (new) - added it

Reggie Kray Keep EM coming! Lol


Petrik James wrote: "Read Path to Ascendency mate. Much better than this. I tried this twice and DNF'd it."

Will do mate. I will finish Fall of Light first though, I blame my completionist side so hard for this... xD


Petrik Gavin wrote: "Fantastic review, Petrik. When I reach this one I'll be prepared for Erikson to be at his rambling worst when it comes to social commentary overwhelming characters and story. I'm very much with you..."

Thanks, Gavin! Yes yes yes, please remember that FoD rambling is worse than any volume you find in BotF. It's such a shame because I really love the words he chose to use in his books but it was just redundant to put them all in philosophical stuff. Like you, I love it so much when Erikson managed to get that nice balance between philosophies and characters in the narrative.


Petrik Reggie wrote: "I’ve tried this volume twice and both times could not even hit the half way point. I believe that’s why he has postponed this particular series and started on the new Karsa story. It just doesn’t c..."

I haven't read Fall of Light yet, but if it's on the same level as this one, I won't be surprised if he decides to just scrape the third book. The series tanked so hard, I guess readers really know what they want! Thanks, man! LOL I'll keep EM coming! xD


message 22: by Rinaldo (new) - added it

Rinaldo Instead, readers are forced to read—again—new characters that totally felt like fillers. I don’t give a damn about most of the new characters, not only they’re not interesting, I’m reading this trilogy to learn more about the characters I have come to love in the main series.

Ugh this made me really wary. This is a very common weakness in fantasy books with big cast, and as much as I love Erikson's works, DoD and TCG suffer a lot from it. Here's one for hoping that FoL will be better.


Petrik Rinaldo wrote: "Instead, readers are forced to read—again—new characters that totally felt like fillers. I don’t give a damn about most of the new characters, not only they’re not interesting, I’m reading this tri..."

Exactly. You don't get to learn a lot about the familiar characters like Rake, Ruin, Andarist, (view spoiler), at least half of the book were centered around new characters that I couldn't give a damn about. Add that with pointless philosophies and indistinguishable voice, that's what you get from FoD imo. I really hope so, it's my final Erikson's book in Malazan series excluding the novellas! :D


message 24: by Birte (new) - added it

Birte I hope the next one will be better and thanks for the warning. Before you read these I thought I might follow the authors reading order but luckily for me I know better now. XD


message 25: by Petrik (last edited Nov 27, 2018 03:02AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Petrik Birte wrote: "I hope the next one will be better and thanks for the warning. Before you read these I thought I might follow the authors reading order but luckily for me I know better now. XD"

The authors reading order is not spoken by them. Iirc, that was Tor's reading order because they want this book to sell, but seriously it's highly not recommended to start from here. The authors have said to start from Gardens of the Moon!


message 26: by Birte (new) - added it

Birte Wow that's just great. Good to know though from where to start!


Petrik Birte wrote: "Wow that's just great. Good to know though from where to start!"

Yeah! I hope you'll enjoy it when you get around to it! :)


message 28: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Sullivan Thank you for the thoughtful review. I hadn’t read the start of the previous series so I will start there. You actually sold me on the philosophical ramblings, but we will see how patient I am by the time I get to this book. 😳


Petrik Melissa wrote: "Thank you for the thoughtful review. I hadn’t read the start of the previous series so I will start there. You actually sold me on the philosophical ramblings, but we will see how patient I am by t..."

You're welcome, Melissa! Definitely start from the main series, Gardens of the Moon is the first book! There are a lot of philosophical stuff already in the main series, by this point you'll probably be tired of them like I am xD


message 30: by Stefan Bach (last edited Nov 28, 2018 02:41PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Stefan Bach But, but, but... this series is about Tiste Civil War. Rifts that lead to them breaking up into Andii (Dark), Liosan (Light) and Edur (Shadow) casts. Imagine listening about WWI without hearing how and why it started.
There has to be a beginning, imo. It's just that SE went into A BEGINNING, lol.

although, SE warned you at the very first pages of the book:
“It is not Anomander’s tale alone… He is perhaps the least of it.”

But I agree, there was too much philosophy (which is subjectively bad) and too much on the nose (no one likes having their noses rubbed, I know) criticism of our own society.

I think that in his main series he was able to balance philosophy and pathos with healthy dose of humor far better; so that we, while still reading the book, were able to rest a bit from those heavy themes or philosophies and characters personal dogmas.
In this series however even humor is shrouded with philosophy. There's simply no rest.

All in all, hopefully, Fall of Light will suit you better, my friend.


Petrik Stefan Bach wrote: "But, but, but... this series is about Tiste Civil War. Rifts that lead to them breaking up into Andii (Dark), Liosan (Light) and Edur (Shadow) casts. Imagine listening about WWI without hearing how..."

That Civil War is dumb as hell imo. I'm in Fall of Light and it only just happened and it's not even interesting so far. Like you said, the problem about this book was that everything was TOO MUCH. I loved philosophy, I loved when authors spoke of their criticism of our own society, the problem is that imo SE rambled one for way too much about it. I don't need hundreds of pages of reminder that humanity is shit.

"I think that in his main series he was able to balance philosophy and pathos with healthy dose of humor far better; so that we, while still reading the book, were able to rest a bit from those heavy themes or philosophies and characters personal dogmas.
In this series however even humor is shrouded with philosophy. There's simply no rest."

And this is exactly why this series isn't working out for me. The pacing was awful to read.

As for Fall of Light, I sadly have to DNF it. I just can't bare through it anymore... I made it to the end of the first part, the only storyline I care about was Hood, Gothos, and Arathan.. I hope The Witness trilogy will be as good as the main series.


message 32: by Ellis (new)

Ellis Knox I've not been able to finish even one of his books. Take a look at that blurb. He's going to tell a story that sets the stage for tales already told.

Er, what? Give me a writer who at least understands what a sentence says.


message 33: by Gavin (new)

Gavin Ellis wrote: "He's going to tell a story that sets the stage for tales already told..."

That is the wordy way of saying prequel lol!


Petrik Ellis wrote: "I've not been able to finish even one of his books. Take a look at that blurb. He's going to tell a story that sets the stage for tales already told.

Er, what? Give me a writer who at least unders..."


I absolutely loved the main series as a whole. But this is just disappointing. You think's that bad? Read this book and you'll see 700 pages of saying "humanity is shit" and "civil war is coming" in countless different way. I can do that in two short sentences. "Humanity is shit man." and "there's a civil war coming." Done, you don't have to read this book anymore.


Petrik Gavin wrote: "Ellis wrote: "He's going to tell a story that sets the stage for tales already told..."

That is the wordy way of saying prequel lol!"


Hahahahahah so damn true


message 36: by Amr (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amr Petrik, I totally agree with every word you said in the review but i am going to give the book 4 stars because he is my favorite author.


Petrik Amr wrote: "Petrik, I totally agree with every word you said in the review but i am going to give the book 4 stars because he is my favorite author."

Thanks, Amr! You're welcome to do it! It's your rating and review after all! :)


message 38: by Ellis (new)

Ellis Knox It's not wordy wordy, though; it's nonsense. One lays the foundation for something that will be built and, by metaphor, something that is yet to come. By definition you cannot lay a foundation for something that has already been built. It's sloppy writing. And if the author cannot be bothered to tighten up the blurb, then I'm not going to follow that author into a whole novel.


message 39: by Gavin (new)

Gavin Ellis wrote: "And if the author cannot be bothered to tighten up the blurb, then I'm not going to follow that author into a whole novel. ..."

I take your point but I thought the publisher was responsible for dealing with the blurb? I know a lot of authors have had issues over the years with book covers and I thought it was the same for blurbs.


Petrik Gavin wrote: "Ellis wrote: "And if the author cannot be bothered to tighten up the blurb, then I'm not going to follow that author into a whole novel. ..."

I take your point but I thought the publisher was resp..."


This, Ellis. In traditionally published books, usually it's the publisher who's responsible for the blurb and the cover arts. It's different than if you're indie.


message 41: by Ellis (new)

Ellis Knox The author has no say in it? Never gets to review it? I won't doubt it if you say it's so, as I do know that can be the case with cover art. So maybe I give the guy the benefit of reading the sample.


Petrik Ellis wrote: "The author has no say in it? Never gets to review it? I won't doubt it if you say it's so, as I do know that can be the case with cover art. So maybe I give the guy the benefit of reading the sample."

As far as I know, VERY rarely the author get a say in it. But anyway, if you don't enjoy the main series, i HIGHLY doubt you'll enjoy this one. :D


message 43: by Sean (new)

Sean McCann I saw this book in Barnes and Noble today and I’m disappointed that this is the reception it’s getting. The concept of more Tiste Andi and Rake and the setting of their warren is awesome, but I guess the execution was lacking.


Petrik Sean wrote: "I saw this book in Barnes and Noble today and I’m disappointed that this is the reception it’s getting. The concept of more Tiste Andi and Rake and the setting of their warren is awesome, but I gue..."

I really suggest not getting this one immediately. If your place has a library, borrow from it and see how you feel about it first. The sales kinda speaks for itself already, it's not written like the main Malazan series. I actually doubt Erikson will ever get back to this trilogy because the sales of the trilogy is extremely poor.


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