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Malazan Book of the Fallen

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posted on Apr, 21 2012 @ 08:28 AM
With the rising popularity of A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) I thought we should have a thread dedicated to the series that is generally thought of as its main competitor and my pick for greatest fantasy series of all-time.

The core of Malazan Book of the Fallen are ten books written by Steven Erickson that are each roughly a thousand pages. There is also another series of five books written by Ian Esslemont that fit in with Erickson's books and help flesh out the universe a bit. Due to how expansive the universe is it becomes a quite difficult to present an accurate synopsis of the series without revealing too much.

At first glance the Malazan world is your typical High Fantasy. There are wizards, magical swords, dragons, and fantastic races. However, it doesn't take long before you realize all of these concepts are flipped on their head. For example, instead of your run-of-the-mill orcs and elves, Erickson presents us with races like the Tiste Andii, a race of extremely long lived (hundreds of thousands of years) people that originally come from a Warren (think of it as an alternate dimension) that is Darkness incarnate and who are led by the son of the goddess of Darkness; or the T'lan Imass one of the first races to emerge who, in an effort to defeat their nemeses the Jaghut, gave up their mortality and now walk the world as undead creatures that have existed for 300,000 years.

As you can see the series deals in time frames much longer than your average fantasy series. However, the primary focus is on the exploits of the Malazan Empire. The Malazan Empire is a human empire that has only existed for 100 years but has already conquered a fair portion of the world. This is where the series becomes extremely complex. You have most of your characters as humans that have their own complex backstories but at the same time they are associating with characters that have existed for thousands of years and whose pasts you can't even begin to comprehend. Then there's the fact that the pantheon of gods is in no way static. For example, in the first book you are introduced to a pair of gods who have only been around for a few decades.

As I said it is very hard to explain. You're dealing with over 10,000 pages and thousands of years of history. So I guess all I can do is say what the series does extremely well. Erickson and Esslemont have created a unique world with a long complex history populated by entertaining personalities that you can't help but care about. Unlike ASOIAF the emphasis here isn't on subtle games of politics. Instead it focuses on the cause and effect of warfare (while using this as a backdrop to explore the concepts of life and death) and as a result you can expect to see a number of well written large scale battles. However, the best writing comes when they look at the aftermath of these battles. As an example all I will say is the Chain of Dogs from the second book.

I would definitely recommend these books to anyone. For fantasy fans these books take the grittiness of ASOIAF and puts it in a High Fantasy world then gets rid of many of the standard fantasy tropes. It's also worth mentioning that while Martin's writing has been inconsistent over the past five books Erickson has produced ten amazing books with no real decrease in quality. As an added bonus since the series is now complete you don't have to sit around waiting for the next book. For those that aren't generally fantasy fans I'd still suggest checking this series out. While the setting may involve battle mages and floating cities this in no way takes anything away from Erickson's well written exploration of such high concepts as life and death and mortality. He also knows how to balance humor with drama and even at the darkest times you can expect some solider to attempt to rationalize what they're experiencing with a dark joke or quip. While 10,000 pages is a commitment I recommend trying to get through it all in one go. Due to the complexity of the narrative if you take any significant breaks between books it can be hard to remember what's going on and who's who.

posted on May, 1 2012 @ 12:02 AM
Oh. Based on this thread. I went out and bought the first book of this series today. So far I learned I cannot read two fiction books at once, as I like to be immersed in the world. I can read a fiction and non fiction book at the same time however. I am currently reading wheel of time, and plan to get to the first book in this series as soon as I finish with that. Look forward to it! Thanks for the heads up!

posted on Jul, 19 2012 @ 01:02 PM
I bought the first book of this series for 75p ($1.18) at a local charity store. The book is in near perfect condition, looks like it has been read no more than once. The RRP of the book in my local 'mainstream' book retailer would be £8 ($12.57). I am just finishing up with Patrick Rothfuss' 'The Wise Man's Fear', then it's on to book one of this series.

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