Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Steven Erikson”

Fofo’s #CBR4 Review #40: Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson

Target: Steven Erikson’s Memories of Ice (Malazan Book of the Fallen #3)

Profile: Epic Fantasy

I really shouldn’t have started the Malazan Book of the Fallen.  Every book sets me another two weeks behind my reading quota and now I’m in a situation where I have to read 10 books in 6 weeks.  It’s not just that the books are long, though they are.  It’s the nearly insane level of detail that Erikson puts into every single protagonist.  Where Neil Stephenson fills with exposition, Erikson stuffs to the brim with personal narrative.  I do really enjoy the level of detail that he puts into all of these fascinating characters, but it takes me forever to work through the chapters and gods help me if I try to read before bed.

Memories of Ice draws heavily upon the established continuity of the series, picking up a few months after the concluding events of Gardens of the Moon and following the other pack of protagonists that were spun off to fight the growing threat of the Pannion Domin.  It is almost easier to look at the protagonists in terms of the factions they belong to.  The Malazan Empire is represented by Dujek Onearm, exiled commander and former leader of the Genabackis Invasion.  Under him are the Bridgeburners, who we were introduced to in Gardens and a small collection of incredibly powerful supernatural… people.  The armies of Caladan Brood, who had been the Malazan’s most dangerous enemies on Genabackis, make unlikely allies against the Pannion armies, and the Tiste Andii reappear as the third leg of this somewhat unstable alliance.

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Read Fofo’s reviews of the Malazan Book of the Fallen…

Fofo’s #CBR4 Review #32: Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson

Target: Steven Erikson’s Deadhouse Gates (Malazan Book of the Fallen #2)

Profile: Epic Fantasy

Steven Erikson’s second entry in the Malazan Book of the Fallen is a much better novel than its predecessor, Gardens of the Moon.  The characters are more interesting, the plots less confusing and the ending sequence is done with such panache that it’s hard to find fault with it, even if you don’t like the outcome.  Part of the improvement comes from the slow process of learning all of Erikson’s terminology, but Erikson has also tightened his storytelling style.  He also simplified things by killing off a staggering number of principle characters.

Deadhouse Gates picks up almost directly where Gardens left off.  In the wake of the Ascendant Confluence on the continent of Genabackis, members of the Bridgeburners start making their way back to the Empire, but get sidetracked along the way by the threat of rebellion in the Seven Cities region.  In spite of this setup, the core protagonist is probably Duiker, a military historian attached to the Malaz 7th, who experiences the rebellion first hand and crafts a poignant tale of an army desperately defending the Malazan refugees from the overwhelming forces of the Whirlwind Armies.  While Duiker’s story is probably the least critical to the overall shape of the series, it is the strongest narrative line of the books so far, and the most emotionally invested.

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Fofo’s reviews of the Malazan Book of the Fallen… 

Fofo’s #CBR4 Review #31: Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

Target: Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen #1)

Profile: Epic Fantasy

Gardens of the Moon is a sprawling book, made more so by the in media res start and a veritable ton of unknown jargon/terminology.  The book features a cast of no fewer than nine ‘main’ protagonists, (and this is a conservative estimate) twelve (or fourteen) parallel storylines and significant asides to peek into the lives of several antagonists and minor characters.  The only shocking thing is that the book is STILL SHORTER THAN REAMDE!  Fuck you Neil Stephenson.

These are facts that you should know going into either the book, or this review.  Epic fantasy can be wonderful, but there is a small school of writers that take the ‘epic’ to expansive new places.  If you’re a fan of Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind or even George R. R. Martin, you’ll probably enjoy the scope of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, even if you don’t like the story being told.  These… massive novels reject conventional reviews, partially due to their scope, and partly due to the nature of the series as a whole.  The sad fact is that, without their companion books, these bloated tales don’t really hold up on their own, sagging under the weight of too many characters, too many unfamiliar terms and too much set-up for the next book.  But once the architecture of the series is taken into account, the reader’s eye can be drawn to the shape of the epic, glossing over the ugly details and just absorbing the world and the major story arcs.

By many benchmarks, Gardens of the Moon is a bad book.  The dialogue is sub-par, the storylines are confusing for the first third of the book and it seems to take Erikson a really long time to get to the damn point.  Having said this, I’m already three quarters of the way throughDeadhouse Gates, (Malazan #2) and some of the bigger themes have started to force me to reevaluate Gardens.  Still, it is hard to forgive Erikson this somewhat lackluster start.

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