Yet another Malazan question. Feel free to redirect me to relevant threads, although I am less interested in general conversation than a specific question.
I've read the first three and a quarter or so of the series intermittently over the last decade - the first two books while traveling in Nepal about eight years ago, then I started and stopped the third a bunch of times until finally finishing it about two years ago. I started the fourth book, House of Chains, about a year ago and read through the first part and really enjoyed it, but then had a hard time getting into the second part (once it switched from Karsa). This has more to do with my reading trends of late - I rarely finish books and don't have a lot of time to read fiction; most of my reading is for school (I'm a teacher and student as I just went back to grad school) and I have a variety of other reading interests that make fiction not a huge priority. But seeing the new book out has rekindled my interest and I'm thinking of diving back in, with the hopes of finishing the series (I'm exactly a third of the way!) sometime in the next few years.
So my question is this: How does the series hold up book by book? I've read various reviews that suggest that I've already read the best books, that it declines further into the series. I am one of the many readers who loved the Wheel of Time up through about book five, then started feeling it was declining with six to seven, and never made it through book eight. I really enjoyed the Malazan books but am wondering how they hold up throughout the series.
So that's the first part, the second part is can someone tell me which characters are central to each? Where (and when) does each book take place?