Hood’s Breath! What a ride! (The Crippled God)

The Crippled God by Steven Erikson
The Crippled God by Steven Erikson

The Crippled God
Steven Erikson
Tor, 2011

I remember all those years ago, lurking in the wotmania OF Forums looking for something, anything, to read while I waited anxiously for the next Wheel of Time novel. I remember reading glowing posts about this guy named Steven Erikson and his first book Gardens of the Moon. I remember finally giving in and ordering the paperback from amazon.co.uk. The following years were filled with ridiculous battles, philosophic soldiers, and more powerful beings than any world should ever really contain. Along the way I laughed, I cried (maybe a little when a certain someone died), I cringed, and I occasionally struggled my way through the increasingly massive tomes of Erikson’s vibrant Malazan world. Finally here we are. The “final” volume, the confrontation that everything has been leading up to and the characters, so newer some older, now ready to make one final desperate last stand.

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Some thoughts on re-reading Gardens of the Moon

Gardens of the Moon
Gardens of the Moon (the ok cover, not the stupid US cover)

I first came upon Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series on the old wotmania (RIP) Other Fantasy forums and quickly ordered a paperback copy of Gardens of the Moon from amazon.co.uk.  I blew through the novel in a matter of days and was absolutely floored by what I read.  Sure it dragged in some sections, and focused on a surprising number of characters for an opening novel in a series but there was something special about Erikson’s world.  A world where gods, and beings of great power visit mortal realms and where men and women dip into godly realms with a seeming ease.  Where power comes at a great personal cost.  It was a world filled more with the strange and terrifying than the wondrous and the amazing and for some reason, for me at least, that made it feel all the more real.

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Review: Dust of Dreams by Steven Erikson

Dust of Dreams by Steven Erikson
Dust of Dreams by Steven Erikson

Dust of Dreams
Steven Erikson
Bantam, 2009 [UK] (Forthcoming Jan. 2010 U.S.)

More and more I find that reviewing Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series a difficult prospect.  There is a less of a problem reviewing Ian C. Esselmont’s books set in the same world, they are typically stand-alone novels, but in series as large and sprawling as this one it becomes harder and harder to review as the series has gone on.  Which makes Dust of Dreams, the penultimate volume (really part 1 of a 2 part novel), a bit difficult to review.  Things are even more difficult here because for some reason my heart just wasn’t in this read.  890 pages read in half hour spurts (my lunch break) since I received the book in August means things aren’t exactly fresh in my mind.  Even my co-workers, frequently observant of the near roulette speed with which my lunching reads change, were quick to point out (and chide) at my glacial trek through Dust of Dreams.

As with any late series review I recommend not reading on if you’ve haven’t read earlier volumes.

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Review: The Lees of Laughter’s End by Steven Erikson

The Lees of Laughters End by Steven Erikson The Lees of Laughter’s End
Steven Erikson
Night Shade Books, 2009

The Lees of Laughter’s End is the third novella to star the necromantic duo of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, as well as there hapless (and luckless) manservant Emancipor Reese.  This novella takes place immediately after our “heroes” have escaped Lamentable Moll aboard the ship Suncurl and now make their way towards the city of Laughter’s End.  While its strict chronology might make it a bit of a difficult read for those who missed out on the earlier novellas I felt that this entry was the strongest of the three with the characterization of the three main characters spot on and with the secondary characters sketched with a deft hand.

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A Review in Two Parts: Toll the Hounds by Steven Erikson (FIN)

Wow.  Some major world shattering changes in the final pages of Toll the Hounds amidst a entertaining and tense action packed series of confrontations.  It’s difficult to discuss everything sans spoilers it but the slow build-up of the novel pays off in big ways.  Major changes in the Malazan world are going to really shake up events in the final chapters of the series and I shudder to think what kind of final confrontation Erikson will pull off.

That being said some of the viewpoints in the novel don’t feel quite as fleshed out as they could be and I’m not quite sure what they contributed to the overall plot of the novel.  There is an underlying theme of redemption throughout most of the book and most of the character’s whose head’s we dip into reflect that.  This is reinforced by the final confrontations in the book which, by and large, resolve each character’s own external and internal conflicts in regards to redemption; except in the case of a select few who seem to get left by the wayside.  If you’ve been reading the series so far this won’t stop you now but it was a little frustrating to see characters that I like make little progress in terms of character.  But that is the nature of such a large and diverse cast.

On a related note I think the Dramatis Personae needs some better organization and a return of a glossary/Deck of Dragons listing from earlier books would certainly be appreciated.

That being said this was one hell of a ride and I find myself continually and increasingly impressed with Erikson’s skill as a writer.  I can thing of few, if any, authors that can manage so many viewpoints at once with such a deft hand.  Erikson, unfortunatley, tends to be overlooked in US; which is a shame.  I don’t know where to point the blame for that.  Erikson deserves to, and in my mind does, stand shoulder to shoulder with the respected “greats” of the fantasy genre.

Damn shame I have to wait another year for Dust of Dreams.  At least I’ll have Return of the Crimson Guard (Esslemont’s Malazan novel) and The Lees at Laugher’s End (Erikson’s third Bochalain and Broach novella set in the Malazan world) to tide me over in the mean time.

A Review in Two Parts: Toll the Hounds by Steven Erikson (1)

I am more or less three quarters through Toll the Hounds the eigth volume in Erikson’s massive Malazan Book of the Fallen series.  I find that I need to start organizing my thoughts a bit earlier on this book than in previous efforts.  Never the most concise with words Erikson reaches new heights of verbosity and while the text never feels bloated the entire novel groans and creeks under the ponderous weight of each sentence (see what I did there!).  I find myself both in awe and staggered by the sheer scope of Erikson’s tale, especially the story contained in this latest volume, and yet find myself hesitant to ascribe accolades to the work therein.

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Erikson Explosion!

Do two interviews really constitute an explosion?  I don’t know.  But given my excitement for the forthcoming Toll the Hounds, and my general enjoyment of all things Steven Erikson, my enthusiasm is rather abundant.

Jay Tomio of The Bodhisvatta has an interview over at FantasyBookSpot while Fantasy Book Critic has another interview over at his site.

So read up and get excited about Toll the Hounds.

D&D fans should might be interested in the Tomio interview, where Erikson mentions the early genesis of the Malazan world as a homemade campaign setting for his AD&D game, and talks about his first gaming experience.