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  1. #1

    Malazan question

    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?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    I'm a huge Malazan fan, so I am biased. But, I enjoyed every book and felt that they got better up until the end. And if you look at the Amazon and Good Reads reviews they are mostly 4+/5 all the way to TCG. That said, it's all a matter of personal opinion and you'll never know until you read them.

  3. #3
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    Just for completeness sake, here are the many threads tagged with Malazan

  4. #4
    In my experience, the books got worse as they went on. This was due in large part to entire new casts of characters being introduced right through about Book 7. The books focus on characters by alternating at first, A then B then A then B, then new casts of characters are introduced and he never really gets back to the originals for several books. After Book 4 I found them largely hit or miss and found myself skimming hundreds of pages in books 6 and 7 hoping there would come a time when he didn't continue to just introduce new characters. In short, I really enjoyed 1-4 and flew through them, but by 6 and 7 it was a slog. I had invested a huge amount of time in the series, but I actually never even read books 9 and 10 so I can't comment on the last two books, but it kind of felll apart for me.

    Everyone is different, but I'll say this - if you start book 5 and it doesn't seem interesting to you, it won't get any better, even in later books.

  5. #5
    Am currently reading book 10 but I think the series got too big for Erikson. The books lost their focus. I distinctly remember what the first few books are about but by the time you get to book 6 or so they tend to all blend together as Erkison is trying to cover too much ground with every book. Even after finishing a book I couldn't really tell you the point of that book. Kind of like reading later WOT books, except things happpen. The things don't really come together to form a story though.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by phil_geo View Post
    Everyone is different, but I'll say this - if you start book 5 and it doesn't seem interesting to you, it won't get any better, even in later books.
    Book 5 has a slow start but a fantastic second half, so I would recommend at least finishing that book!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alchemist View Post
    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?

    Thanks!
    Books 1-4 of Malazan are about as good as it gets for fantasy for me, just that awesome Unfortunately it then goes downhill and takes a final nosedive for the last 2 or 3. I have rarely been as disappointed with a series than I was with MtF. It gets very disjointed and really quite bland with a huge amount of superfluous and rather boring story arcs, some of which ar resolved and some of which just seem to evaporate into the ether without resolution.

    As for Wot, i've just finished a full read through for the first time ever, like yourself having gave up after 6/7ish and have to say it really did pick up very nicely once Sanderson took over and is heading for a pretty good ending i think. I really surprised at actually enjoying the read and I'd recommend giving them another go. I'll probably reread them on occasion however I, without doubt, will only ever do the first 4 Mazalan books again, the rest for me were just not worth the time input.

  8. #8
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    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.
    1-3 are great, with 2-3 for me being the best epic fantasy books of the 2000s (right up there with George RR Martin's A Storm of Swords). 4 and 5 remain 'interesting' with some really great ideas, but 4 suffers from a lack of coherence and a (deliberately) anti-climactic ending and 5 from some of Erikson's worst prose (though 5 is also as close as there is to being a completely self-contained story in the whole series). 6 is the weakest book of the series for me, with Erikson trying to combine his three primary story arcs and groups of characters, but rather than being an epic moment of revelation it feels instead like a cheap, attention-grabbing DC vs Marvel sort of story that doesn't really work. 7 is reasonably good and 8 is the most artistically and thematically interesting book in the series, but suffers from gross overlength and padding (not to mention being the most Marmite of the books, with people either loving its ending or loathing the whole thing). 9-10 somewhat unexpectedly pull a lot of things together and resolve a lot more of the story than I think people were expecting. They're still suffering from Erikson's typical problems (being way, way too long with unconvincing dialogue and a lack of solid character individualisation, with too many character sharing the same voice) but they do make the journey more or less worthwhile. His new book, a prequel, is also quite strong.

    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?
    Book 1: Genabackis, with the Bridgeburners and Phoenix Inn Regulars as the main characters.
    Book 2: Seven Cities, with the Malazan 6th Army as the main characters.
    Book 3: Genabackis, with the Bridgeburners and Phoenix Inn Regulars as the main characters.
    Book 4: Seven Cities, with Karsa Orlong and the Malazan 14th Army - the Bonehunters - as the main characters.
    Book 5: Western Lether, with Tehol and the brothers Sengar as the main characters.
    Book 6: Seven Cities, with Karsa Orlong, the Bonehunters and several of the Bridgeburners as the main characters, and a couple of the Lether characters showing up as well.
    Book 7: Western Lether, with Karsa Orlong, Tehol, the brothers Sengar and the Bonehunters as the main characters.
    Book 8: Genabackis, with some of the ex-Bridgeburners and the Phoenix Inn Regulars as the main characters and Karsa Orlong in a supporting role.
    Book 9-10: Western and Eastern Lether, with the Bonehunters as the main characters.

  9. #9
    "5 from some of Erikson's worst prose "

    Interesting. I think 5 has some of his best prose. It's not one of my favorites but I thought that was when SE really hit his stride with prose. Forge of Darkness has his best prose to date though, consistently.

  10. #10
    If you like the whole story, you will like all the books. I was loving this series to death while reading. But I am going to have to agree with this statement completely.
    I have rarely been as disappointed with a series than I was with MtF. It gets very disjointed and really quite bland with a huge amount of superfluous and rather boring story arcs, some of which ar resolved and some of which just seem to evaporate into the ether without resolution.
    The whole journey was amazing. But for me, what made it amazing, was this wonderful world that was being unveiled a little bit at a time. I knew(or thought I knew) that if I was just patient he would give me the truth that he has been holding this whole time. And that made me okay with everything in the series. I loved it. ...Then I read the final book. The Crippled God. And he did NOT unveil that truth. He gave a little bit. The story got too big. There was way too many loose ends to tie up. Can't blame him for not doing it in the last book. But you can blame him for creating those loose ends to begin with. IF YOU ARENT GOING TO FINISH A STORY ARC, DONT START IT!! I was recommending this book to friends like crazy while I was reading it. I am no longer doing that. The ending ruined it for me. =/

  11. #11
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    Interesting. I think 5 has some of his best prose. It's not one of my favorites but I thought that was when SE really hit his stride with prose. Forge of Darkness has his best prose to date though, consistently.
    He has some very good prose in 5, but also some of his worst (particularly in the opening sequence with the Letherii merchants amongst the Edur before it all kicks off). Agreed that FoD has probably his best writing.

    I was recommending this book to friends like crazy while I was reading it. I am no longer doing that. The ending ruined it for me. =/
    To be fair, the main story arcs are wrapped up, and a surprisingly large number of sub-plots. Most of the things that were left unresolved were things that, whilst major in their own novels, in the context of the overall series were side-jaunts (like the whole Silverfox storyline) and will be addressed either in the sequel trilogy or in Esslemont's books.

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