Thread: Ever Struggled with Erikson?
December 29th, 2007, 08:57 AM #61
Everyone has different opinions about Erikson. The general feeling seems to be that Books 2 and 3 are the best and Book 5 is pretty good (but people dislike it for introducing a whole new cast and being set on a completely different landmass) but otherwise Book 1 is very confusing (I didn't find it so) and either Book 4, 6 or 7 is the weakest in the series. There seems to be a very general feeling that there has been a decline in the quality of the series over the last three to four novels, but that overall the series is worth reading for its many high points.
December 29th, 2007, 10:06 AM #62
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It is very hard to find a general consensus when it concerns The Malazan Book of the Fallen, and in any case I don't think Werthead's analyses is entirely accurate. I have discovered no general feeling of decline, for example.
I saw this poll a couple of days back and I would consider its result to be quite interesting and somewhat surprising: http://www.malazanempire.com/forums/...ead.php?t=7722
As you can see the poll doesn't match Werthead's previous analyses. The Bonehunters seems to be much more popular than what I thought (and I have found polls displaying similar results).The only real consensus I can find, after reading many discussions, seems to be that Memories of Ice is the best book in the series. Book one, four and seven seem to be those that people dislike the most (at least, that's what my experience tells me), but the series contains no Crossroads of Twlight or A Feast for Crows, and with that I mean no inferior book comapred to everyone else.
My personal opinion, which differs from day to day, is:
House of Chains
Memories of Ice
Gardens of the Moon
December 29th, 2007, 12:33 PM #63
Well, if you want an unbiased slant on the series you don't just look at the author's forum
From a much broader sample, from here, Chronicles, Westeros, Wotmania, SFX and other boards, I would say that my analysis is more or less correct.
And The Bonehunters is a terribly weak novel. Sorry, but it was just lifeless and uninspired despite the potential for awesome moments. It isn't Crossroads of Twilight by any means, but it is still not up to the standards of earlier Erikson. I was surprised that so many people thought Reaper's Gale was even worse, when for me RG wiped the floor with it.
December 29th, 2007, 02:47 PM #64
Very helpful points indeed.
I will have to read them myself then to contribute to the conversation. Also, I have not read the Prince of Nothing series....I like complex novels that arent easy to understand at first (like Martin, and Im sure Erkison). How does Bakker stack up in light of this?
Last edited by matthuckaby; December 29th, 2007 at 02:49 PM. Reason: spelling
December 29th, 2007, 03:27 PM #65
matthuckaby, I hate to break it to you...but book 3 of Martin's series is probably considered the best in the series, and book 4 is probably considered the weakest. You might be the first person I've seen who said that book 3 (A Storm of Swords) was weak...
As for Erikson, yes the series is incredibly confusing! But somehow, somehow I manage to hang on. I feel like I'm hanging on to the side of a speeding bullet train, and if I let go I will be completely lost in the wilderness forever! But if you keep persisting, Erikson is definitely worth it.
I will go on the record, right now, to say this: Erikson writes the best battle scenes I've ever read. I prefer Martin's work overall, but battle scenes are not his strength. Erikson's battle scenes are truly amazing, especially the battles from book 2 (Deadhouse Gates), book 3 (Memories of Ice), and the crazy battle I just finished reading last night in book 6 (The Bonehunters).
I also wanted to agree with Reborn, here... I don't think the series has dropped off in quality yet (although I'm only on book 6). So far, The Bonehunters has been excellent, and the 100 page battle scene I just read was mindblowing. Erikson truly makes you feel as though you're right there, on the ground, amidst all the action and chaos. Also, I've found that Erikson' writing has improved with each book. Gardens of the Moon was confusing, but only because of his writing style. As the books have progressed, his writing has become more fluid and easier to follow. I especially felt that book 5 (Midnight Tides) was well written.
So far, this is how I'd probably rank the books:
Memories of Ice
House of Chains
Gardens of the Moon
December 29th, 2007, 03:42 PM #66
Yeah, I agree with much of what has been said from Wert, and you too Evil. As I said earlier I was thrown by book 5. Completely. Which isn't to say I didn't enjoy it, I did, once I got past the confusion. Deadhouse Gates is one of the most powerful novels I've read. I remember more little details, and characters, from that than any of the others. My retention rate can really suck unless I reread books, so that alone speaks for itself.
December 29th, 2007, 07:44 PM #67
Lol...and of course I meant the 4th book in the Martin series (mistype).....very true of this book though....
thank you guys for the input of what to expect from Erikson
December 29th, 2007, 09:25 PM #68
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Have I ever struggled with Erikson? Oh my, yes. Yes; I have most certainly struggled with the Malazan Book of the Fallen, though I am not proud to admit it. I imagine I'm repeating some things, but here are some of my problems as someone who's only read (and quite enjoyed) Gardens of the Moon, and parts of DG, MoI, and HoC in various attempts to get back into the tale.
I know that books can often yield more the second time around, but I don't like things that essentially demand a reread; I've got a lot of books to get through.
I'll echo the post that Werthead reproduced here, as well as some of the points he raised himself: Erikson has truly refined the art of not telling people things. In Gardens of the Moon I respected his treatment of the world as something that the characters just took for granted, which the reader had to figure out for themselves. But, following the story in a secondary way and reading bits when I can, it strikes me that we really haven't learned much since then. Erikson seems to dazzle his readers with reams of ever-increasing questions and plot-points, plenty of nifty magic and unique concepts, without actually seeming to deliver a lot of pay-off or explanation. I know he's a genius; I know he has all the explanations; I know that it all makes sense; but if he doesn't elucidate things just a little bit in his books none of that does me much good as a reader.
Erikson's complained in interviews that he dislikes certain stereotypical character and culture types in fantasy, (such as the tendency towards faux-European blond cultures.) That's great; this is fantasy after all, and diverse imagination is part of the point, but I find that in reacting against the stereotypes he hates Erikson has created his own. How many societies of tribal warriors decked out in furs, war-paint and-or pieces of dead people are there? I agree it makes a more realistic cultural basis than a lot of other fantasy societies, but after a while the Barghast start looking a lot like the Edur, who start looking a lot like the Teblor, etc. And I love Whiskeyjack; I really do; I think he's one of Erikson's finest characters, but why does every single other soldier in every division of the Malazan Army want to be him so badly? Again echoing other people who've said the same thing: wise, world-weary veterans are so common in Erikson's books that they start to lose their impact. Also, everybody and their dog, (or soultaken as the case may be), is harbouring some ancient power that can wipe the floor with gods, or is carrying one of said gods around inside them, or whatever. Really, who's normal in this town?
Just as a generality, I'd say that its almost inevitable that readers will start to perceive a drop in quality over the course of a really long series like this one. It happened to Jordan, it happened to Goodkind, and I think that it might happen to Martin as well. Granted, the negative reaction may be of varying severity depending on what the author is doing, but flaws, however minor, in an author's style or way of guiding the story forward will probably look a lot less forgivable to a reader on the wrong end of Book Eight than they did to the same reader eagerly devouring Book Three in days of yore. I'd imagine that Erikson has managed to minimize reaction due to the vast scope of his story, which pretty much makes it inevitable that important stuff goes down in every book, and his superhuman rate of output.
I apologize if I'm making any unfounded claims, but these are some of my sticking points with Erikson. I'd imagine that the cultural sameness issue in particular gets smoothed over later in the series as we learn more about the various societies. Is this so? Should I press on?
Last edited by mjolnir; April 29th, 2011 at 01:54 AM.
January 1st, 2008, 04:46 PM #69
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Everyone who says SE doesn't always give enough away, I totally agree. As much fun as a re-read is (I'm currently on that path, mid-way through HoC) there are still so many questions that are unanswered it becomes more than a little frustrating. We're seven books in and so much remains up in the air that I find it a little hard to believe it will all be solved. Granted that if we've learnt anything from this series, it is that nothing ever has a convenient solution but I think a lot more answers will be required to justify the build-up and thus the series. From what I've heard from test readers of Toll of Hounds (Book 8) a significant amount of pay off happens in it so fingers crossed for the summer Plus after the series finished SE is producing a Malazan encyclopedia with maps and all the information we want - it'll just take another five or so years to come
As for your point on tribes, SE as an anthropologist and archaeologist so is bound to draw on that experience to write these books. Also the books you've read focus on a very small part of the world so I think if you do get up to Midnight Tides then the world will start to get bigger and you'll realise just how much SE is hiding. Of course a tidy series of maps would solve the issue but that'd just be too easy and give too much away now wouldn't it The malazan forum linked to above does have a good 'interpretation' map of the whole world - thanks to Werthead who is also a member here, which is worth a look (may spoil a few small things - be warned) here's the link: http://www.malazanempire.com/forums/...07&postcount=1
January 6th, 2008, 04:46 PM #70
Well, I just fnished The Bonehunters, and it was well worth the effort. As usual, I really only struggled in the first 100 or 200 pages. After that, it really picked up, and suddenly I was sucked in and couldn't put the book down.
I read 600 pages in the last 4 days, which is pretty astounding for me these days. The same page count, with Erikson, has taken me 4 weeks in the past.
I was truly impressed to see Erikson tie together many different storylines with this volume, and it looks like he is definitely on track for concluding this series with 3 more great volumes!
January 7th, 2008, 06:57 AM #71
I also had problems with reading the Malazen series especially book 5. The whole new continent of the Letherii Empire and introduction to a whole range of new characters made the reading slow going.
I'm the same as you Evil Agent after reading the initial 100/200 pages it became almost impossible to put the books down.
It was well worth the effort The Malazen Book Of The Fallen is my favourite fantasy series.
January 7th, 2008, 09:09 PM #72
erikson is definitely a dense read, in the sense that there are a lot of things you need to remember. that said i also think he is a great writer, and when i get to the end of the book things are clearer.
mjolnir i'd have to disagree about all the tribal peoples seeming similar; i think that if you dug in and read the books fully (i'm assuming you didnt), you'd see that the barghast, the edur, the plains people etc are all very distinct from each other in terms of their ways of looking at the world etc...
if you're skimming DG MT etc i can see how they might all seem to be cut from the same cloth, but the opposite is true in some cases.
and for the record, i found bonehunters to be 1 of the best books in the series; it wasthe best written in terms of averall feel, and had some great motifs that carried the story along.... there's no accounting for taste hey?
i think erikson fans like the complexity of the books, and if you're prepared for the slog- and it is a slog when all the books are so damn big(!)- then you'll find the pay off in the gratification you feel when things click into place. its not an easy read, but it is an intelligent 1, and erikson assumes his readers have a brain cell or 2....FANTASY NEEDS MORE LIKE THIS!!
January 15th, 2008, 02:41 AM #73
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After forcing my way through House of Chains, I haven't since felt the desire to continue the series... so yes, you could definitely say that I am in the process of struggling with Mr. Erikson's work... I know its fantasy and all, but everything is so over the top that it really started to wear on me I think. May give it another try down the road.
February 28th, 2008, 02:56 PM #74
Bonehunters was my slowest read from Erikson - took me a month, and i never really got into the mood to read more than a few pages at a time. I guess I'm getting real tierd of the Malazans footsoldiers winning virtually every battle with the help of their inepuisable stock of Moranth munitions, or the timely magical intervention of the mage cadre, only to return afterwards to their endless pathetic attempts at humor.
I'm now halfway through Reaper's gale, and this one went smoothly, [spoiler] up until the ubiquitous Malazan commandoes entered the continent of letherii. [spoiler]
the only way i could get reconciled with Erikson's incoherent magic system and deux et machina plot devices, was to give up any pretense of "realism" in his prose and accept it as a DC / Marvel universe clone in which the ascendants and gods are really X-men or superheroes - each with his uniques set of abilities, magic will do whatever the hero needs, and chaos rules over all. Very convenient for the author, who can bend the rules however he likes, and needs not trouble his mind with coherence. I am beginning to doubt that at the end of the series things are going to be any clearer that in the beginning.
February 28th, 2008, 10:32 PM #75
It's funny... most people seem to have slightly negative comments about the Bonehunters. But I read it in January, and absolutely loved it! I read it in about a week, which is astounding, considering that other Erikson books (i.e. Memories of Ice) took me 10 freaking WEEKS!
However, it might be the fact that I hadn't read Erikson in almost 2 years, and it was really nice to jump back into the Malazan world. I'm looking forward to reading Reaper's Gale when the MMPB is released.
algernonic: I am beginning to doubt that at the end of the series things are going to be any clearer that in the beginning.