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Malazan Book of the Fallen > "The Malazan Book of the Fallen" by Steven Erikson--Introductory Comments

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message 1: by Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (last edited Jan 31, 2011 07:03AM) (new)

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) By way of introduction to this group read of Steven Erikson's magnificent series, "The Malazan Book of the Fallen", I have to tell you that I first tried to read the first book, Gardens of the Moon, approximately ten years ago, shortly after it was first published in the U.S. "Gardens of the Moon" (GotM) is Canadian author, Steven Erikson's, first installment in his ten-volume series. On my first go, I honestly tried to like the book and was stymied. For whatever reason, I just never took to it and it languished on my shelf for a couple of years. Eventually I picked it up again, and gave it another go. Alas, this second attempt was futile as well, and I then packed it off with a box a books to to my favorite used bookstore. At the time I was in the midst of Robert Jordan's massive "Wheel of Time" epic fantasy series, and I wasn't terribly distraught at letting another multi-volume high fantasy series slip through my fingers. I couldn't have been more wrong. Over the past few months I have encountered so much positive feedback about Erikson and his "The Malazan Book of the Fallen" series that I just knew that I'd have to try again.

In my opinion, the first book in the series, "Gardens of the Moon", hurls the reader into a red-hot frying pan face down! As it is so darned intellectually creative, the novel requires a significant amount of work on the part of the reader, but it is ever so worthwhile. The crux of the novel for most readers, including myself, is the first couple of hundred pages; and while clearly dark, and at times bleak, the plot is stunningly complex but absolutely riveting; and the characters are just about the most original I've encountered in fiction, and it just feels so damned realistic. From my perspective, there are also a host of connections to the great literature of the ages in this first book--from the classics of the ancient Greeks and Romans, Arthurian legend, the Norse mythology in the Poetic Edda and the Ragnarok, to the naturalism of Edith Wharton and Thomas Hardy--it is all here.

With respect to this series, let me pose a series of questions for your consideration:

Do you love mythology?
Do you love cultural anthropology and archaeology?
Do you love military history and well-written military fiction?
Do you love political intrigue and nation-building?
Do you love ferreting out clues to a host of cleverly developed mysteries?
Do you love realism in character development?
And you really don't like your plots spoon-fed to you, because you like to think on them and figure them out yourself, don't you?
And you really love your fantasy fiction to be original, not cliche-ridden, and awesomely intellectually stimulating, and
You love the succeeding volumes in the series to get better, significantly better, and not weaker as most seem to be.

If you can answer yes to most of these questions, I think we have a series of books just for you. If this is the case then, pick up GotM and join in the group read. I'll bet we hook you, and hook you deeply! You will be blown away. But I guarantee that you're gonna have to work at it too. Erikson demands full and active participation on the part of his readers.

Finally, one must always keep the 'First Eriksonian Law' firmly at the forefront as one reads--"Pay very close attention to every word read and event described." The 'Second Eriksonian Law' is equally applicable--"Every word read and event described has meaning that may not be initially understood." Those conversations, or the actions of characters, or puzzling events that seem a little odd or inexplicable always seem to reappear as a 'light-bulb' moment later on when all then becomes clear (at least for that moment). The bottom-line is that Steven Erikson really is an enormously clever writer, and his authorial use of the craft of foreshadowing is some of the best I've run across. There just ain't anybody writing fiction like this guy!

My final word--strap yourself in and brace yourself for the ride! Erikson's "The Malazan Book of the Fallen" is an epic fantasy series that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go, not for one second. Honestly, if you like creative and detailed high fantasy that is also amazingly fresh and original, you won't want to miss one word of this series.

Now be careful with the following, but I'm going to provide a link to an extraordinarily valuable website devoted to Erikson's 'Malazan' empire at http://www.malazanempire.com/site/ind... Be mindful though, you can encounter spoilers associated with the various novels, so use it with discretion.

Finally, keep in the back of your mind that the tenth, and final novel in the series is due to be released to all of us 'Malazan' addicts in early March 2011. I, for one, can't wait.


message 2: by Raven614 (new)

Raven614 | 17 comments I also stopped reading it. But will push through it this time. First book with Goodreads. Link seems to be broken.


message 3: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1059 comments Nice intro, Christopher. I marked it as important as requested.


message 4: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 59 comments I read the 1st 6 books as they came out and decided to stop and await the series completion. I was forgetting too much and did not have the time to re-read all the priors when a new one came out. I did that with Riftwar, but that was some time ago.

I too had some trouble at 1st, but somehow the books grabbed me. I have even been considering getting a 2nd copy of all the books, so I can tear them apart and put things in chronologic order. I am only half-way joking here ;-)


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Raven614 wrote: "I also stopped reading it. But will push through it this time. First book with Goodreads. Link seems to be broken."

Thanks, Raven, for the heads up about the busted link. I have fixed it!


message 6: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1059 comments Kernos wrote: "I read the 1st 6 books as they came out and decided to stop and await the series completion. I was forgetting too much and did not have the time to re-read all the priors when a new one came out. I..."

LOL. Wouldn't it be easier to make a spreadsheet of the timeline?


message 7: by John (new)

John | 138 comments I made it through on my first try, but I got more out of it the second time and even more the third time. I've read through the first 8 books and am currently re-reading the series, having just finished Memories of Ice. It's amazing to go back and see the web of connection between the various books, as well as the set-up that one will offer another, though it's often hard to pick up on it.


message 8: by Maggie, The Malazan Queen of Chaos (new)

Maggie K | 1202 comments Mod
John wrote: "I made it through on my first try, but I got more out of it the second time and even more the third time. I've read through the first 8 books and am currently re-reading the series, having just fin..."

This is my first 're-read' and though I KNEW I'd pick up on a lot more this time around, it's still wowing me how much is there!


message 9: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 59 comments John wrote: "I made it through on my first try, but I got more out of it the second time and even more the third time. I've read through the first 8 books and am currently re-reading the series, having just fin..."

This is definitely a multi-read series. I particularly like series or books that require and I desire to read over and over. Sometimes this is so I get it all. But the joy has to be there too. Some series I re-read just for joy.


message 10: by Maggie, The Malazan Queen of Chaos (new)

Maggie K | 1202 comments Mod
John wrote: "I made it through on my first try, but I got more out of it the second time and even more the third time. I've read through the first 8 books and am currently re-reading the series, having just fin..."

I think Memories of Ice is my favorite of these novels..just for the sheer emotional impact-I started crying many times while reading that novel.


message 11: by John (new)

John | 138 comments If it's worked for you before, I would say yes, go ahead and take notes. The dramatis personae is helpful, but you'll probably want more detailed notes.


message 12: by Maggie, The Malazan Queen of Chaos (new)

Maggie K | 1202 comments Mod
Alex wrote: "Can't wait to start! I've heard a lot about how convoluted it can seem at first, and am determined to make it to the second book.

Do you guys recommend taking notes as we read the first book to r..."


If it helps, by all means go ahead. As everyone says it is quite convoluted. There is a list of characters in the front, but going back and forth can get irritating! I made a copy of it so I had it right there, that helped me.


message 13: by Amelia (new)

Amelia (narknon) | 523 comments So, after seeing the schedule planned for this book, and everyone's comments about it, I've decided I'll go ahead and reread this one. It's the only one I've read of the series so far, and that was about a year ago, so a reread should be a good refresher for me. I think I should be able to keep up with this series and the Riftwar series, which I am also reading.

I'll have to pay close attention to the two Eriksonian Laws. At least I can see if they relate anymore to the first book.


message 14: by Maggie, The Malazan Queen of Chaos (new)

Maggie K | 1202 comments Mod
Amelia wrote: "So, after seeing the schedule planned for this book, and everyone's comments about it, I've decided I'll go ahead and reread this one. It's the only one I've read of the series so far, and that wa..."

Amelia- I read something he wrote where he said he considers himself a short story writer who ended up writing a series of novels. And, as a short story writer, there is never an extraneous word.
So, If he is writing about two horses there are two for a reason. If somebody says something about someone else's sword, there will be some sword drama...This book has no paragraphs of description going on, so trust us when we say there NOTHING you want to just skim over!


message 15: by Amelia (last edited Feb 01, 2011 01:37PM) (new)

Amelia (narknon) | 523 comments Maggie wrote: "Amelia wrote: "So, after seeing the schedule planned for this book, and everyone's comments about it, I've decided I'll go ahead and reread this one. It's the only one I've read of the series so f..."

Reading it slow will help with this. Usually I tend to just keep reading if it interests me. (Like with Janny's books, I couldn't stop). Now I'll just see if I can keep to this pace. I remember from my first read of GotM that I was confused a bit by what was actually going on. It wasn't hard for me to keep track of the different characters, but maybe I should keep notes anyway. My mom took notes for Brandon Sanderson's Way of Kings, and it did help refresh me as I read that one. Plus notes would help me to slow down a bit. That's really why I don't like to keep notes, I have to stop reading. LOL.


message 16: by Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (last edited Feb 01, 2011 01:22PM) (new)

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Maggie, I couldn't agree more with what you've just posted at #16! Very well said! ;-)


message 17: by Maggie, The Malazan Queen of Chaos (new)

Maggie K | 1202 comments Mod
yup, Amelia-that makes sense!
The first book, which is what we will be talking about the first week, mostly deals with a battle known as the seige of Pale.
This is an important event because a few different things happen there that set off the chain of events that become this series. Believe me when I say it's not just a pebble in a river, but a big boulder in the stream!
Suffice it to say it's an important scene to have down in your mind as they are referred to many times in the future.


message 18: by Maggie, The Malazan Queen of Chaos (new)

Maggie K | 1202 comments Mod
Christopher wrote: "Maggie, I couldn't agree more with what you've just posted at #16! Very well said! ;-)"

thank you sir! lol


message 19: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1059 comments Gar! Taking notes is too much like school. I can note and highlight on my Nook.


message 20: by Ryan (last edited Feb 01, 2011 03:33PM) (new)

Ryan Mclelland (theryanmc) I have read the first two books in the series recently (the last couple of months) and am currently reading the third book. I didn't take any notes at all during my readings and though it would have helped in a couple of spots. I don't think it is necessary. The cast of characters isn't as difficult to track as say Wheel of Time or Song of Ice and Fire. It helps that the names are easy to pronounce. It also helps that you don't have the Martin problem where four major characters have nearly the same name.

I would suggest paying close attention to Paran's family in the first book, as I missed a connection in the second book for much longer than I should have. Other than that I think notes would be useful, but they are far from necessary.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) I also strongly suggest becoming very familiar with, and continually refer to (1) the maps, (2) the Dramatis Personae, and (3) the Glossary. The maps and Dramatis are always included in the front of each novel, and the Glossary is always find at the end of each. All of these resources are profoundly important to your overall reading experience!


message 22: by Jon (new)

Jon (jonmoss) | 706 comments Christopher wrote: "I also strongly suggest becoming very familiar with, and continually refer to (1) the maps, (2) the Dramatis Personae, and (3) the Glossary. The maps and Dramatis are always included in the front ..."

Does the Glossary change from book to book? In other words, do entries appear and disappear?

That annoys me, but is a quite frequent tactic to confound readers (conspiracy theorists unite! :)


message 23: by Chris (new)

Chris  (haughtc) | 111 comments Yes, they change quite a bit. Erikson only includes the pertinent information for each book in that book. And don't peek ahead in a future book or you'll hit spoilers.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Jon wrote: "Christopher wrote: "I also strongly suggest becoming very familiar with, and continually refer to (1) the maps, (2) the Dramatis Personae, and (3) the Glossary. The maps and Dramatis are always in..."

The Glossary changes somewhat, I suppose. I do believe that Erikson assumes some modicum of familiarity among his readers, and therefore just updates the Glossary with new additions. Obviously, the Dramatis Personae is entirely copacetic with each novel. I would say though, that I have not felt let down by any of the glossaries included in any of the novels.

Finally, I would echo Chris' comment that be very, very cautious in looking at the Dramatis Personae or Glossary in any future novel, as you may well encounter a spoiler that you might regret.

Cheers! Chris


message 25: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 82 comments I am joining this discussion late, and I hope that this is okay (I only learned of this discussion recently, like today. LOL) Let me give some background.

I read the first book, Gardens of the Moon, about two years ago. I wasn't impressed. I didn't hate it, but I was left confused and agitated. After I finished it, I got the second book, Deadhouse Gates, where it sat on my TBR bookshelf until last weekend. After some discussion with another group on Goodreads, I decided to pick the series up again.

Starting with book 2, I've noticed that I like the series much better than the first time around, but I am still somewhat lost.

For some reason, this only makes me more eager to tackle and try to understand these books, so once I learned of this discussion, I wanted to jump all over it. I can read this series along with others, some who understand what's going on. I'm also using the discussion, at least the chapter synopsis and Amanda's interpretations of them, on the Tor.com reread discussions to help with my 'Malazan studies', as I've come to call it. LOL

So, I've decided to stop Deadhouse for now and pick Gardens again for a reread. I'm starting today, and I hope you all don't mind my lagging behind. I hope to catch up within a week.


message 26: by Maggie, The Malazan Queen of Chaos (new)

Maggie K | 1202 comments Mod
Glad to have you on board Jason!

and PS-I was going on and on about it in the other forum about 2 weeks ago so phhhht


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Welcome, Jason! Don't feel like the 'Lone Ranger' on getting started with Erikson. All of us have had significant amounts of angst, bafflement, and sheer confusion at first. Reading the "Malazan Book of the Fallen" series is, I think, kind of like learning to ride a bike--at first you might need some training wheels, and then when those come off you fall down a helluva lot, but then all of the sudden you take to it like a duck to water. Hang in there, and just enjoy the ride, my friend! We'll all be here to help you along too. Cheers! Chris


message 28: by Jon (new)

Jon (jonmoss) | 706 comments Welcome to the group, Jason. You're not alone in lagging a bit. I'm re-reading Gardens and only reached the third chapter today. I'm sure many other readers are at various other stages of the group read as well.

These discussions will be here when you're ready and Christopher, Maggie and all of us will be there to join in the thread.


message 29: by Chris (new)

Chris  (haughtc) | 111 comments Actually, I bet that the Lone Ranger would get along well with Whiskeyjack.


message 30: by Jon (new)

Jon (jonmoss) | 706 comments Chris wrote: "Actually, I bet that the Lone Ranger would get along well with Whiskeyjack."

Kemo Sabe


message 31: by Maggie, The Malazan Queen of Chaos (new)

Maggie K | 1202 comments Mod
lol Chris!


message 32: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 82 comments Thanks, guys!

I'm pretty sure that I'll stick to it. One reason is, I love the world building from what I've read so far. I also love the dark writing style. I also love reading challenges like this. Makes me feel like an armature scholar or something with all this researching and cross references...LOL All in all, it's nerdy fun!

I'm very excited to begin this. And I'm so glad to have found a group that's discussing it.


message 33: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 14, 2011 09:30PM) (new)

Lol...Well heck there's all kinds of folks I know in here. That's comforting :)

I posted in the introduce yourself thread but since I joined this group almost solely to participate in the Malazan series re-read I suppose I should say hello here as well. Maggie, with her considerable wit and charm, talked me into joining the read.

I, like many here, am a huge Malazan fan. I literally have 6 or 7 overflowing moleskin notebooks where I kept copious notes on nearly every character in the series that I'll have to go break out now :)
(personal choice certainly not a necessity)

I'm big on participation as I'm sure you'll come to find out. Lol...Jason, I'm sure glad to see ya here. I'm not gonna lie, I kinda felt like I was cheating on yall in Fantasy Aficiando's by finally joining a second group!


message 34: by Jason (new)

Jason (darkfiction) | 82 comments Hey Grant. Good to see you here!


message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

Thank ya kindly


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Grant wrote-- "I posted in the introduce yourself thread but since I joined this group almost solely to participate in the Malazan series re-read I suppose I should say hello here as well. Maggie, with her considerable wit and charm, talked me into joining the read."

I am so glad that you've joined us in our MBotF project, Grant! I can't wait to hear your impressions, thoughts, and observations! Welcome, my friend! Cheers! Chris


message 37: by Shelley (new)

Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments Grant wrote: "Lol...Well heck there's all kinds of folks I know in here. That's comforting :)

I posted in the introduce yourself thread but since I joined this group almost solely to participate in the Mala..."


Hiya Grant! :) Welcome to the discussion....good work Maggie!!! :)

WOW you have kept a notebook on the series, I'm impressed! :) I had thought about doing the same thing at one point but then thought I might end up with about 10 notebooks worth of notes and just decided to just reread it instead!

Again welcome aboard! Shells:)


message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

Lol well suffice it to say, Shells, that I was rather enamored of the series ;) I think I'll be waiting until Deadhouse Gates(my favorite in the series) before I really dive in to the discussion though. Right now I'm just taking it all in :) Thanks for the welcome!


message 39: by Shelley (new)

Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments Well Grant since Deadhouse Gates' reading starts tomorrow I won't have to wait long to find out what you got hiding in that notebook of yours!!!! LOLLLLL....

As far as being enamored, tell me about it!! I've gone so far as to order my books from England just so I could get them sooner (did this to get my hands on TtH, DoD, CotCG and Stonewielder!)!!!


message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

Lol...I'm with you Shells. I have every novel in all their hardcover forms, paperback and epub as well :) Hell I don't even read paperbacks/trade paperbacks for the most part but it just felt wrong not to have them!


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Grant wrote: "Lol...I'm with you Shells. I have every novel in all their hardcover forms, paperback and epub as well :) Hell I don't even read paperbacks/trade paperbacks for the most part but it just felt wron..."

I have 'em in hardcover and trade paper too! I think we all qualify as somewhat obsessed, eh? ;-)


message 42: by Shelley (new)

Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments DOH! I only have four of them in hard cover, now I have to go out and get the rest in hardcover!! :)


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Shelley wrote: "DOH! I only have four of them in hard cover, now I have to go out and get the rest in hardcover!! :)"

Yes, my dear, you simply must! ;-)


message 44: by [deleted user] (new)

Lol..now I'm rather obsessed with finding first editions of each one. More difficult than one would imagine. Took me forever to finally pin down a first edition of Storm Front and I've yet to get a single hardcover first edition of The Farseer Trilogy *sigh*


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) @ Grant-- "More difficult than one would imagine."

And could be a pricey proposition too! ;-)


message 46: by Shelley (new)

Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments Christopher wrote: "Shelley wrote: "DOH! I only have four of them in hard cover, now I have to go out and get the rest in hardcover!! :)"

Yes, my dear, you simply must! ;-)"


That's like a double dog dear ya, NOW I really gotta get them all!! LOLLLL.... Okay let's see how long it takes me to find a copy of Gardens!! :)


message 47: by Maggie, The Malazan Queen of Chaos (new)

Maggie K | 1202 comments Mod
I can not for the life of me seem to find a trade paperback of MOI


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) @ Maggie--

I kinda hope that Tor will reissue the entire series in trade paperback with new covers. Those would end up being my travel and everyday books, and I'll give my mm paperback set to some deserving new Malazan convert.


message 49: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1059 comments Maggie wrote: "I can not for the life of me seem to find a trade paperback of MOI"

I don't think there is one. I ordered it from a used book store and got the MMP. I'm NOT excited about reading it. All the other books are available for my Nook, which is much easier reading with type size, etc. Can't imagine why they don't have that one.


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