Changes To Site

I’ve made a few changes to the site’s appearance. If you’re not a fan, please let me know. I changed the theme completely, added some nice colorful headers, took the “About Me” section at the bottom of the page and moved it to the top where most other bloggers have it (and I re-wrote it a bit). I’ll probably throw a photo on the “About Me” page within a few days. Another change is to the “Books Read/Reviewed” page that appears next to “About Me”. This was formerly called “Books I’ve Read”. Now when you open this page, in addition to the list of fantasy fiction books I’ve read, each title is also a hyperlink to a review for that book if one exists.

I hope you like it!

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Book Review: What Remains Of Heroes by David Benem

what remains of heroesFormat:  hard cover, self-published, 2015

Pages:  396

Reading Time:  about 10 hours

One Sentence Synopsis:  as dark creatures begin to appear and treachery threatens the kingdom of Rune on all sides, a drunken former hero, a bookish acolyte, and a small band of assassins may be all that stands between Rune and ruin.

 

I discovered this book when earlier this year I stumbled across the results of the 2015 Self Published Fantasy Blog Off that were held by Mark Lawrence. What Remains of Heroes advanced into the final 10 before falling short, but it enjoyed a great deal of success and lead to a sequel. Since I liked other entries from that contest (namely The Crimson Queen and The Path of Flames), I thought I would give What Remains of Heroes a shot, especially with a hard cover edition available. My review follows, and I’ll make sure I specifically point out the places where I reveal spoilers on this one. Although I didn’t include it in my guest reviews, head over to The Weatherwax Report for a good plot and character summary that doesn’t contain any major spoilers. On to the guest reviews…

 

Richard Bray of Fantasy Faction writes: “Of all the characters in the book, nobody faces horror equal to what Lannick faces in the book, and his encounters with the Necrists – evil magic users intent on bringing the dark god Yrghul, Lord of Nightmares, back to the living world – are truly harrowing. Those scenes are well-crafted, and you can genuinely feel Lannick’s rising horror as he battles creatures who have stolen the faces of his dead wife and children…Once Lannick sobers up, he handily kills a loan shark and his two henchmen, but we never really meet this great leader of men that we’re told Lannick used to be…(Bale’s) scenes lend us a better understanding of the world’s religious history, but can also be a touch slow in a novel that doesn’t seem to have quite enough action to fit in the mold of Abercrombie or Lawrence. Much of the plot revolves around the religious mythology Benem has crafted. That aspect of the world-building is well done, but a plot centered around the good guys fighting to keep a dark god from returning to wreak death and destruction felt a touch too familiar for my tastes…At times the characters also seemed strangely self-aware…It was almost as though they realized exactly which character archetypes they were meant to fulfill and wanted to make certain the reader didn’t miss them either…There are some good aspects to the book – Benem’s development of the world’s religious history stands out, and the Necrists are as creepy as anything I’ve read outside the horror genre – so if the characters click for you, you’ll really enjoy the book.

Fred Phillips at The Royal Library states: “In all honesty, I thought that some portions of the book could have used a little more polish, but by and large it’s quite well written, and I soon found myself immersed in Benem’s world. It reminded me somewhat of Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series, both in tone and structure, but it grabbed me and pulled me in much quicker than Abercrombie’s story did. I often groan when I’m approached with self-published books. Like most reviewers, I’ve been bombarded for years with poorly written and edited pieces, but every now and then there’s a gem. I’ll go one step further and say that “What Remains of Heroes” is a true diamond. It’s a book that I think could stand toe-to-toe with pretty much any major publisher fantasy out there.

Finally, Aderyn Wood offers this take: “While in the Sanctum, we’re also introduced to my favourite character, Acolyte Zandrachus Bale, who we first meet sneezing in the dusty ancient library. Bale is a favourite, not only because he goes about mumbling about how much he “hates people,” but also because he is a most unlikely hero forced to undertake a quest to find a certain Sanctum elder’s magical remains. Bale’s trepidation is very human and his plans are frequently thwarted, and I liked him a lot…I enjoyed this book mostly because of the close proximity to the characters the narrative invokes. The story is an intriguing one, but it’s the characters who made it so enjoyable for me. I also enjoyed the magic system, which provides an intriguing and compelling ‘reveal’, and will continue to build and fascinate, I suspect, with the next book in the series. The antagonists are certainly there, though there’s room for development and I look forward to learning more about the necrists as well as General Fane’s motivations…What Remains of Heroes is a compelling read that incorporates familiar elements of the genre, without feeling tired or stale. Pick it up when you want a read in which you can trust the author to do his job and take you on an epic tale of grim adventure and magic, with characters you’ll like and a world you can lose yourself in.”

 

I love the points the other reviewers have made – they are spot on. Like Richard, as soon as I read about a dark lord I thought, “oh great, here we go…”, but rather than to play into the “farm boy with a sword trope”, Benem does something very clever. Not only does he take other tropes (bookish priest, assassin, hero-turned-drunk) and put just enough spin on them to make them compelling, it is his ancillary characters such as Fencress, Lorra and Gamghast that steal the spotlight. And like Richard, I thought the first book was definitely lacking in action sequences. The world building was excellent – I love the fading religious beliefs, immortal exiles, and relics of the past – I just think that 400 pages wasn’t enough to introduce the characters and explore the world without sacrificing something, which turned out to be action. From what I read, however, with the characters and world established, the sequel is where the action really picks up, which makes perfect sense.

Despite the infrequent action sequences, I was thoroughly wrapped up in What Remains of Heroes and didn’t want to put it down. I think it is the world-building that hooked me. I really enjoyed reading about the sentinels and the old religion. I would put the world building slightly behind The Crimson Queen and on par with The Path of Flames. And as I mentioned above, I think I liked the supporting characters a lot more than the main characters. Another aspect that Benem does well is create tension, which is far more noticeable with less action present. (SPOILER ALERT – SKIP THE NEXT THREE PARAGRAPH IF YOU MUST!) Scenes such as the assassination of the Lector hold up well early on. Later scenes, such as when Karnag’s band is searching for him in the mist and stumble upon a hut made of body parts, or Bale’s journey to find one of the Sentinels, and the ensuing confrontation with her – these are very compelling sequences and I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Another aspect that Benem explores is that despite the clear distinction of good and evil where it relates to the heroes and the Necrists, Rune is not a great place to live. In the past the High King banished the Sentinels, the protectors of the kingdom, in what the Sentinels call an act of jealousy and power-grabbing; yet, these Sentinels, when they appear in the story, don’t seem entirely empathetic; in fact, they seem to be a little scary and unhinged. This could just be bitterness at having been exiled, or it could be their true character. The High Kings of the past have not always been decent people either, and though one of the plot lines has the reader caring about the Queen and her unborn child, we are often shown the opulence within the castle, while the people outside the castle seem to suffer from the heavy-handedness of their rulers, as well as criminal elements, while living in dirty conditions, with some starving and desperate. Just when you think it wouldn’t be so bad to let the High King’s line die out, the other characters waiting to seize power are worse, and if the High King dies without an heir the dark lord can be freed. That kind of complexity found within the story is really quite excellent. I don’t think we see enough common people to totally empathize with their plight, but we know they are there.

There were a couple of problems I had with the book. Benem’s writing is good, and the book is extremely polished for a self-published novel, but occasionally I felt detached from the characters, and Benem’s descriptions occasionally left me wanting more as I tried to picture the scene in my mind. In a few places I found some words used multiple times in the same sentence that lent a bit of repetitiveness, although it’s not really a problem, just something I noticed, as I do it myself on occasion and an editor tends to catch it. The opening sex scene and the choice of Lannick to participate in it seems a bit gratuitous, out of place, and frankly a little unbelievable. And this leads into the main problem of the book – Lannick is just not a great, compelling character. He has too much baggage, his role in the book is, so far, underwhelming, and his journey to redemption is incomplete. His sequences drag on what is otherwise an excellent read, and I found myself not really caring about what was happening with him. These are all minor criticisms, however, that did not impact my enjoyment of the book.

And enjoy it I did. As mentioned previously, I couldn’t wait to pick it up again once I had put it down, and I blazed through it fairly quickly, which are both good indicators of an enjoyable story. I’m looking forward to the sequel, The Wrath of Heroes, which Benem was kind enough to send to me, with an autograph no less! I typically don’t accept freebies – I want to remain as objective as possible – but in this case Benem says a hard cover may appear down the road, at which point I will buy it. That means I will spend my hard-earned money on it at some point in the future, and I feel that will allow me to maintain my objectivity.

If you do pick up What Remains of Heroes at some point, head over to Benem’s blog to check out this helpful map, which adds a lot of clarity to the story.

Reading Goal Update 8-22-2018

The massive 853 pages of Steven Erikson’s House of Chains gave a huge bump to my reading goal of 12,000 pages this year. However, although it only took a total of 21 hours to read it, that 21 hours was actually spread out over a month and a half of calendar days, so it consumed a significant chunk of the available reading time remaining for the year.

I wanted to reach my “pages read” goal within the 2018 calendar year. To date I have read 9,071 pages, with another 381 of re-reads, for a total of 9,452 pages read. This leaves 2,548 remaining with a little over 4 months left in the year. Below is the list of books that in my previous post were most likely to be read. The books that I did read have now been crossed off of the list.

The Rose and the Thorn = 347
Senlin Ascends = 389
Witch Wraith = 415
The Black Shriving = 499
House of Chains = 853
What Remains of Heroes = 396 (in progress)
House of Blades = 288
The Shadow of What Was Lost = 693
Fool’s Assassin = 667
The Traitor God = 426
The Way of Kings = 1008

After I complete What Remains of Heroes, I’ll tackle The Shadow of What Was Lost. By that time I finish that, I will have received Glen Cook’s Port of Shadows, so it will be read next, followed by Fool’s Assassin. At that point I’ll have another 1,489 pages read (assuming Port of Shadows is 400 pages), with 1,059 pages left and about 2.5 months to finish. The Way of Kings won’t quite get me there, but I’ll mix in a couple of re-reads during that time, which should do it. Still, the margins are shrinking, so hopefully I can pull this off. If I have time left after The Way of Kings, I’ll try to finish The Grey Bastards.

And for next year? Why, the goal will be to top this year of course…

Book Review: House of Chains by Steven Erikson

house of chainsFormat: hard cover, first U.S. edition, 2002

Pages: 853

Reading Time: about 22 hours

One sentence synopsis: A showdown in the Raraku desert between Felisin/Sha’ik and her sister Tavore seems inevitable, while a new character’s actions will have far-reaching consequences.

 

It’s been 7 years since I last read and reviewed a Malazan novel: Memories of Ice. I went back through and re-read that post, as well as my review of Deadhouse Gates, to gain a little perspective into my thought process and compare it to how I feel about House of Chains. I thought I might have some trouble connecting events after such a long hiatus, so I went to the Tor re-read of Deadhouse Gates to refresh my memory (more on that later) since House of Chains is essentially a sequel to that book. My review will contain a few key spoilers, but I’m going to leave out the major ones. First, a few other reviews to give you a some other perspectives:

 

SF Reviews says “But Erikson’s novels are constructed quite often in a sprawling, haphazard way that lends itself to a great deal of confusion when subplot after subplot is introduced and expected to be followed. I mean, it’s great that a writer can build a fan base so dedicated that they’ll launch a wiki in the interests of “putting together the great puzzles, bringing light into the delicious mysteries and helping fellow fans to understand the intricacies of this great work.” But then, if your fans are having to go to that kind of trouble, doesn’t that imply some shortcomings on the writer’s part in the first place? One element that could still stand to be improved in this series, and one whose improvement would elevate the whole, is character. I’m not suggesting for a minute that Erikson is bad at character — okay, he used to be, but he’s improved immeasurably over four gargantuan novels. But it often seems either as if character takes a backseat to world-building, or that Erikson simply has too many players on the board at any one time…Karsa Orlong is as unabashedly archetypal as fantasy characters come. Yet he’s the first upon whom Erikson focuses and allows to grow as a person…House of Chains could have snagged another entire star from me with ease had Erikson let the book focus with ruthless precision on this conflict, and reduced or cut from the book entirely all the subplots that bog down the middle. Arcane doings galore among the Elder races Erikson has created, their magical warrens (which I had to keep looking up), a battle between the Ascendent gods over the Throne of one of these warrens (Shadow)…Played out on the sidelines the way they are, with Erikson’s often infuriating fondness for caginess and keeping too much information close to the vest, the scenes feel like a weak story interfering with a strong story…Maybe a later volume will let House of Chains’ subplots take center stage and coalesce into a tight narrative all their own, as opposed to what they are now: padding that turns what could have been a long but rock-solid military fantasy adventure into an overlong and overwritten case of literary gigantism that’s too easily distracted by its own detours and tributaries.

David Rodriguez of Strakul’s Thoughts opines: “Alas, the sections dealing with the Rebellion are, at first, relatively weak compared to the rest of the book. When we focus on Ghost Hands or L’oric things are cool and feel like they are moving forward, but the rest of the characters seem to drag the story. There is a lot of unrest within the rebellion and when the viewpoint shifts to many of the characters there it feels as if they spend too much time discussing what will be, rather than acting it out. We still learn useful facts, and the story does require such moments, but they feel slower than other parts of the book, that’s all. Near the end, things finally pick up on this arc before everything converges…The one flaw here, though, is that there are far too many viewpoint characters in this book. You have what feels like 20 different viewpoint characters, all of them important, including those who aren’t viewpoint characters. Hence, you get a very broad view of the world, at the expense of the personal development of some of these individuals. Characters like Karsa, which get tons of screen time early in the book, or Kalam, who we know from prior books, come out as strong and engaging, but others like Febryl or Gamet are less so…One of the things that has impressed me in the Malazan series thus far has been the attention to details concerning the military and its soldiers. I don’t consider myself a fan of military sci-fi, but this is actually rather cool, though it can be sometimes overwhelming with all the corporals, sergeants, captains, commanders, fists, etc.

Finally, Tobias Mastgrave of Broken Mirrors offers the following take: “House of Chains is probably the hardest book in the series to get into. Once you make it past the first three to four hundred pages then the reading gets much easier. However, the first two hundred plus pages of the book are a painful introduction to Karsa Orlong, one of the best characters in the series – and one of the best examples of character growth that I have ever seen. That being said, if you don’t hate Karsa in the beginning of this book, then there is something seriously wrong with you. When you have what amounts to a regular size novel all about a character you hate doing horrible things – well, it makes the book hard to get into. Honestly, I almost gave up on the series while reading House of Chains because I hated Karsa so much. Now, in Reaper’s Gale, Karsa has become one of my favorite characters. Like I said, he is an amazing example of character growth…House of Chains also ties up many of the plot threads opened in Deadhouse Gates and/or opens new ones to replace them. All in all, if you are going to read the Malazan Book of the Fallen you have to read House of Chains, and there is a lot to value in this book. However, it is not the most enjoyable book in the series…Alright, let me warn you now. You will HATE Karsa Orlong in this book. If you don’t hate him, then you are a very twisted person – and it’s me telling you this, so that should add a little emphasis to it, because I’m pretty twisted already. However, by the end of this book if you don’t like Karsa, you will at least respect him. Karsa Orlong is one of the best examples of growth in a character to be found in the fiction market. The changes that his character goes through are not only completely real/believable, but also extreme. Add to this the fact that some of the best characters (i.e. Fiddler, Iskaral Pust, and Heboric among others) return in this novel, and you have a win in the character department. While I love Erikson’s characters in general, this novel definitely stands out.

 

After finishing House of Chains I immediately wrote this review, then I returned to the Tor Malazan re-read site to see if I had overlooked something, as I wanted to be accurate in my assessment. After all, I had missed a couple of important facts during my first reading of Deadhouse Gates. I find the Tor re-reads fascinating and an excellent tool to help me refine my thoughts after I initially record them. So what you are reading now is essentially an edit of my original thoughts after exploring the Tor re-reads.

House of Chains begins with a single viewpoint, that of a new character named Karsa Orlong, a “barbarian” race called the Teblor. Something I touched on in an update back in mid-July was how I really struggled with the opening 200 pages that detail Karsa’s exploits, and I’m not alone in that sentiment, as I have seen it expressed in many other reviews. This is largely due to murder, rape, and the arrogance of Karsa. I will admit that when I don’t like a viewpoint character, it is hard for me to remain engaged; my reading pace slows and it is more difficult for me to devote time to reading the story when I don’t really want to go back to it. As Bill Capossere of the Tor re-reads states, Erikson has taken a big risk here. In my opinion, however, it is a risk he can pull off, because readers who have made it this far through the Malazan series aren’t likely to abandon it, and Erikson always has a pay-off ready for those who are willing to trust his process. Later in the book we find out that Karsa Orlong isn’t a new character at all; we have simply read the backstory of an established character who has changed his name…I think in a previous review I complained about characters having more than one name unnecessarily adds to the overall confusion, but here Erikson uses the reveal of Karsa’s identity for maximum effect, although the clues were there all along.

While Karsa shows tremendous growth through the story, it is important to note that he still has much in his past to answer for. While he does feel deceived and shackled by his gods, and it would be easy to blame them for everything bad that has happened to him, Karsa willingly bears the chains of the ghosts of his past that now haunt him, and vows to be worthy of them. And while I haven’t totally warmed up to his character like many others have (yet), that last statement, along with his recognition that (and I’m paraphrasing here) “glory means nothing, while mercy means something”, means I’ll give him a pass for now, to see where his story goes. What I mean is this: he’s not my favorite character in the book, but he has a depth and complexity that’s worth investing in. And speaking of complexity, I believe the best (and my favorite) character in the book is the god Cotillion, who shows an amazing amount of depth as he tries to hang on to at least a little of his humanity, unlike other near-immortal ascendants who grow distant as time passes (Shadowthrone may already be there).

By the next section of the book my interest began to pick up with the addition of two more new characters: Trull, a Tiste Edur (the focus of Midnight Tides) and Onrack, a T’lan Imass. Other reviewers have complained about Trull and Onrack’s adventures as unnecessary or diversionary, dragging the pace and plot down; my own take is that Trull and Onrack’s viewpoints are some of my favorite parts of the story. The two initially have a distance between them, or should I say indifference – many thanks to Bill at the Tor re-reads for conceptualizing indifference (rather than evil) as the true opposite of “good” in the Malazan series. As the two characters spend more time together, they develop a depth and understanding of each others’ character, which turns into banter, respect and then what could be called friendship and empathy. In my opinion, this was fantastic storytelling. Also, in my mind, their journey is what elevates this book to a high level, due to the fact that I began to learn so much of what I was once in the dark about. Warrens, elder races, gods, motivations, interconnections…House of Chains is full of reveals, explained through the viewpoint of these two characters, that give me a better understanding of Erikson’s creation. Granted, I still feel this information should have been explained back in Gardens of the Moon. Still, I feel this book was pivotal in the series and hooked me in a way the previous books did not. And I’m really proud of myself that I was able to figure out who the Whirlwind Goddess was and who the Master of the Talons was halfway through the book, far before the clues began to drop.

Some other minor viewpoints explored – Kalam; Cutter and Apsalar; and a few others old and new – but the meat of the story focuses on the conflict in Raraku between Tavore’s Malazan army,  and her sister Felisin/Sha’ik and her Whirlwind rebel forces.  Like his previous books exhibit, Erikson’s military scenes in House of Chains continue to exemplify his best work. Unlike authors like Terry Brooks, where heroes are the sole focus of the story and we don’t hear or see anyone else (and we wonder why they are worth saving), in Erikson’s books it is often the grunts in the armies that provide not only the most entertainment, but also make us care what happens to them. They also provide some comic relief and once again produced a couple of laugh-out-loud moments for me. With the Bridgeburners having checked out, I liked the new characters in Tavore’s army that were introduced in this book and look forward to seeing more of them.

Additionally, I thought the contrast between the two armies was fascinating. On Sha’ik’s side is a loosely knit coalition, with each faction developing their own agendas, involving distrust and betrayal, which the Whirlwind Goddess ignores (and that of course has consequences); while on Tavore’s side, the forces are more loyal, but are untested, and also are uncertain about their leader’s capabilities. Tavore’s forces re-trace the steps of the Chain of Dogs from Deadhouse Gates, providing an excellent reference back to that book and also a concern (of the reader as well as the army) that history will repeat itself.

Throughout the book there is a big build-up towards these two forces clashing, and yet the end is rather anti-climactic, which many readers were put off by. However, I thought it was admirable that Erikson pulled back the reins. The effect is that it gives the overall story a lighter touch than the darkness we’ve seen in the endings of the previous two books, which I was grateful for. I loved some of the minor yet important tidbits Erikson consistently maintains or newly introduces: a convergence of powerful entities when a new power manifests; spirits who have eluded Hood and fight in battles; the ascendancy of a group of people (as opposed to a single person); the constant reference to chains. Finally, there’s this statement which I made at the end of Deadhouse Gates:

Some characters that you root for are dispatched; others that are pure evil walk away unscathed. Not very satisfying, but it does create a lot of tension as you wonder if the characters you root for are going to survive. Perhaps those evil characters will get what’s coming to them in the books that follow.

To which I say, bravo, Mr. Erikson! Bravo!

I have a few critiques of the story. Besides Karsa and Teblor, I was not pleased to see yet another race introduced: the Eres’al. As if there isn’t enough to keep track of already! I also don’t like the way some characters are overpowered…Karsa, who I think is far too powerful at the end of the book compared to how weak he was earlier when he was chained by Malazans, and Kalam’s unbeatable abilities come to mind. Meanwhile, some Ascendants are surprisingly easy to take down. I found Corabb to be far too lucky – so lucky that Oponn had to have an influence in some way. And finally, though I felt the overall story was lighter, there’s still some gross stuff here: decapitations, spilled guts, rotting flesh, sexual mutilation, rape, and murder. These critiques are minor, however, and except for Karsa’s initial viewpoint, didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story.

In conclusion I must disagree with some of the other reviews I’ve read, and proclaim that despite my struggle with the first 200 pages, I believe that House of Chains is Steven Erikson’s finest work out of the four books that were released in the series up to this point. He just keeps getting better. However, as I’ve expressed in other posts, I’m going to skip the prequel-like Midnight Tides and head straight to The Bonehunters. Although it is likely that I will not read Midnight Tides until some point in the future (possibly my own re-read!), I will most likely check out the excellent summaries of it over at the Tor re-reads site before fully diving in to The Bonehunters, in order to help with any important developments or plot threads that would be tragic to miss.

New Orders 8-13-2018

I’m less than 100 pages away from finishing Steven Erikson’s House of Chains. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m going to skip Midnight Tides and move ahead to The Bonehunters, which I bought last night off of eBay. Finding a hard cover in good condition was a challenge. The U.S. cover art is not great (as detailed in a post on Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist) – it looks like a long-lost Darrell K. Sweet Wheel of Time cover – and although I would have preferred the UK cover, the prices of those are nearly $100, with some asking $300+. Ultimately the cover art is not something I greatly care about when price plays a significant factor.

bonehunters

 

I also wanted to pre-order Glen Cook’s Port of Shadows, so to get free shipping I tied that in with a purchase of Erikson’s Reaper’s Gale. That leaves only Toll the Hounds, Dust of Dreams, and The Crippled God remaining to be purchased in order to complete the road that my Malazan reading path will travel…

Port_of_Shadows_Cover

reapers gale

New Cover Art For Alec Hutson’s The Crimson Queen

crimson queen new cover

CORRECTION: Alec has visited the site and his comment left on this post states that the sequel to The Crimson Queen will be titled The Silver Sorceress, while the name The Shadow King will be the title of third book. And it sounds like The Silver Sorceress will be released soon, so that is excellent news!

 

Original post

I searched for news today on Alec Hutson’s sequel to The Crimson Queen, titled The Shadow King. Although I didn’t find any news on that front, I did find this cool new cover art for The Crimson Queen. If you recall, during the interview Hutson gave me, he mentioned that artist John Anthony di Giovanni was doing the cover art for The Shadow King and was re-doing the art for The Crimson Queen. This is the art for the latter, which looks amazing. I don’t know if it’s actually available in print; although Amazon shows this new cover on the main page, when clicking on “Look Inside”, it shows a photo of the old artwork for the paperback version (the Kindle version shows only this new art). One thing I like about this new layout is that there is now a band at the bottom with the name of the series (The Raveling) and a “1” to signify that this is the first book in the series.

Enjoy!

Status Update 8-2-2018

I’m halfway through Steven Erikson’s House of Chains now. I have managed to clip along at about 5% a day, which represents about 40 pages per day. Carving out even that much time has been a challenge, but I seem to be hitting my stride. The first 200 pages were a struggle, but now the story has picked up the pace with characters I’m more familiar with, and I’m fully engaged, despite there being 7 years since I read Memories of Ice. Although there is still much jumping between viewpoints, I seem to be handling it better than past books…perhaps I’ve grown more accustomed to Erikson’s style? Also some plot points are being explained that are making sense of things I was confused about, which helps immensely.

My path forward in this series will be determined by the following map, which you can find at the Malazan Wiki page

 

malazan 2

malazan 3

The map is challenge to follow, but the 6th paragraph down describes what my approach will be.

malazan 1

It details a good path to follow when reading both Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen and Esslemont’s Novels of the Malazan Empire. The order is as follows:

Gardens of the Moon
Night of Knives
Deadhouse Gates
Memories of Ice
House of Chains
Midnight Tides
The Bonehunters
Reaper’s Gale
Return of the Crimson Guard
Toll the Hounds
Stonewielder
Dust of Dreams
Orb Sceptre Throne
The Crippled God
Blood and Bone
Assail

Now, I slightly deviated from this order when I read Night of Knives after Deadhouse Gates, but that had little impact as far as I could tell. Also, I’m considering skipping Midnight Tides, as it is a prequel of sorts. The events within may be needed backstory for the books that follow, and certainly there are a few familiar characters, some much-needed humor is interjected, and it abounds with social commentary and is described as a fast read. Yet, I can’t bring myself to deviate too far from current events so I will probably jump ahead to The Bonehunters for continuity’s sake.