Jul 7 2010 11:00am

The Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Gardens of the Moon, Prologue and Chapter 1

Welcome to the first post in what’s sure to be a long and interesting project: the Malazan Re-read of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from readers. In this first article, we’ll cover the prologue and first chapter of Gardens of the Moon (GotM).

A fair warning before we get started: We’ll be discussing both novel and whole-series themes, narrative arcs that run across the entire series, and foreshadowing, so while the summary of events may be free of spoilers, the commentary and reader comments most definitely will not be. To put it another way: Major Spoilers Next Eight Months.

Another fair warning! Grab a cup of tea before you start reading—this post is not the shortest!

Setting: Malaz City

A 12-year-old noble boy, Ganoes Paran, looks down as below him, in the poorest part of the city, army wizards are brutally “cleaning” the quarter at the orders of Surly, the woman who formed the assassin’s cult The Claw and is apparently placing herself as Empress (and taking the name “Laseen”) now that Emperor Kellanved has gone missing. As Paran watches, he’s joined by Whiskeyjack, a commander of the elite Bridgeburner unit who warns him off from becoming a soldier. Ganoes mentions that he’s heard the First Sword of the Emperor, Dassem Ultor, is dead in Seven Cities after betraying a god. Laseen shows up and after a tense conversation with Whiskeyjack, who questions her legitimacy and orders, tells him he and his “seditious” troops will soon be shipping out.

Amanda's commentary on the Prologue:
I'd been warned. Anyone who has read the Malazan books—and even the author himself—states that these books are a challenge. You have to pay attention. No skimming merrily over blocks of descriptive passage. No glossing over the dialogue between characters. Concentration is the name of the game here, people!

So I paid attention through the mere six pages of the prologue, and I'm a little stunned as to what was packed into so short a space.

We meet the young Ganoes, learning some facts about his father (and Ganoes’ poor relationship with same) and of his life ambition to be a soldier (or, rather, a hero—since those aren't really the same thing!) We hear a little about the formation of the Imperial Army, and encounter two Bridgeburners. Finally, and crucially I sense (as a new reader), we are told of Surly—or, as she now wishes to be known, Laseen—who seems to be staking her claim to the throne while the Emperor is away.

Personally, I was left both intrigued and bewildered by the range of questions raised in those six pages. Questions such as: Why should Ganoes be glad of his pure blood? Who is Dassem, why is he important, and did he really betray a god? How much of a role do gods have in everyday life? Do sorcerers lose control of their magic when they panic? Whose original orders are the cadre of mages following? What is a “cadre” of mages? Who is the other person whose orders they might be following? What is the Claw? Why has Laseen instigated a prohibition of sorcery? Who are the Bridgeburners?

Is it just me going “huh?” Did I miss any questions that the rest of you fresh, young things to this series are asking? How about you jaded, experienced folk—are you saying “dude, she totally missed the most important point of the prologue?”

What I did like is the grim edge to the writing, already giving a martial atmosphere of dread. The volatility of the situation whispers through every word of this prologue.

Favorite line?

“One day I'll be a soldier,” Ganoes said.

The man grunted. “Only if you fail at all else, son. Taking the sword is the last act of desperate men. Mark my words and find yourself a more worthy dream.”

Bill’s commentary about the Prologue:
Well, as Amanda has said, this is a series that demands full and constant attention. If anybody thought this was going to be one of those books where they could just skip all those silly poems and rhymes and epigrams at the front of chapters, let me just point them to these few lines from the fragment of “Call to Shadow” that opens the prologue:

The Emperor is dead So too his master’d companion, the rope cut clean. But mark this burgeoning return...

Yes, that’s Erikson putting readers on early notice that those little extraneous bits they’ve been skipping in all those other fantasy books are going to give some important info this time. Throw together that “burgeoning return” with the “dying shadows” a few lines earlier and the “seven” chimes of “vengeance” a few lines later, and you the reader should have a pretty good idea who that mysterious duo in chapter one is when you meet and hear them. Sure, you’ll get the Bridgeburners theorizing about this, more than a hundred pages later, but wouldn’t you have felt so much smarter and condescending at that point if you’d just read the damn poem to start with?

There’s so much I like about this prologue. So much of the entire series’ mood (that “grim edge” Amanda refers to) and themes are set up for us here, beginning with those dates that start the chapter, giving you the sense that this is a book and series that will be dealing in some hefty sense of time. Then we get to the first bits of prose describing a weather vane:

The stains of rust seemed to map blood seas on the black, pocked surface of Mock’s Vane. A century old, it squatted on the point of an old pike that had been bolted to the outer-top of the Hold’s wall. Monstrous and misshapen, it had been cold-hammered into the form of a winged demon, teeth bared in a leering grin, and was tugged and buffeted in squealing protest with every gust of wind.

Hardly a cheery start, but an appropriate one. I like to think of that vane as synonymous with the Bridgeburners: their armor also rusted and stained (albeit with real blood), balancing atop a sharp point (between loyalty to the Empire and defiance towards the Empress), hammered into its current shape by a cruel forging, and buffeted by the winds of war and politics.

In this brief prologue we also get a glimpse of Erikson’s style. He won’t be giving us long info dumps. Instead, backstory will be dripped out here and there in bitten-off conversations. Via the dialogue with Paran and Whiskeyjack, we learn about Dassem Ultor’s death, we know that gods seemingly are real in this world (and don’t like being betrayed), that the Empire is in hot war with someplace called Seven Cities a long ways away, and that knowing too much can be dangerous. Through Whiskeyjack and Fiddler’s discussion, we find out a coup seems to be going on as Surly takes the name Laseen, meaning “thronemaster”—a coup that may threaten the Bridgeburners. We also get some characterization of Whiskeyjack as humane (“protective”) and Laseen as not so much (she considers Whiskeyjack “too” protective). And with just a few words between Laseen and Whiskeyjack, we get notice of the Emperor’s suspicious absence, Laseen’s harshness, and the tension between her and Whiskeyjack’s “seditious” soldiers. That’s a lot conveyed (or not) in just a few words and that’s pretty much how this series is going to go. So no Amanda, you certainly are not the only Erikson rookie to be “bewildered.”







Setting: Itko Kan, a coastal area on the continent of Quon Tali, seven years later

An old woman and a fishergirl watch a troop of soldiers ride by, the girl impressed but the woman cursing that she’s lost three husbands and two sons to the Empire’s wars and reminiscing of when Itko Kan was independent. The old woman, who is a seer, suddenly prophesizes that the girl will travel with the army across the water to the continent of Genabackis and that a “shadow will embrace your soul.” She “links” with the girl just before a soldier riding by hits and kills the seer (thinking, it seems, she was assaulting the girl). Two men then appear—Cotillion (The Rope or Shadow’s Assassin) and Ammanas (Shadowthrone) who agree to use her and her father in some plan of vengeance against Laseen. They send seven Hounds of Shadow after the troop, then disappear.

Adjunct Lorn—personal assistant to the Empress and a mage killer—is sent to examine the slaughter on the coast of Itko Kan, where a mysterious force has killed an entire group of soldiers and a nearby village, save for two huts empty of bodies, one belonging to an old woman, the other to a young girl and her father. Lt. Garoes Paran is already there. After Lorn decides the attack was magical and a diversion, she co-opts Paran to be a commissioned officer on her staff. She then orders a search be made for the missing father and daughter and asks for a list of new army recruits that may fit their description.

The girl from the first scene joins the Malazan Marines under the name “Sorry” and requests to be sent to Genabackis where, according to the recruiter, the campaign is “a mess.”

Paran investigates the town of Gerrom and finds it completely deserted save for the Imperial Constabulary, which is filled with soldier corpses. Records of recent recruits have been destroyed. Paran is met by Topper, head of the Claw, a mage, and part Tiste Andii. Topper takes Paran by magical warren to Unta, the Empire’s capital, where he briefly meets the Empress (who recalls meeting him seven years earlier) and then the Adjunct before heading home. There, he is met by his younger sister Tavore, who tells him that his parents are gone, his father is ailing, and their youngest sister Felisin is at her studies.

Amanda’s commentary about Chapter One:
So, first of all: read the damn extracts! Usually I would just skim over poetry and extracts from historical works to get onto the good stuff, but with Erikson's novels they contain just as much of the good stuff! For instance, in the extract from “Imperial Campaigns” we gain a taste of the events occurring between the prologue and the start of chapter one. We find out that the Malazan Empire has allied with the Moranth and that the Tiste Andii (whoever they are!) have involved themselves in the conflict. At this point that probably raises more questions than are answered. *grin* Also, hands up (honestly now) who else had to look up the term “enfilade”? To start with, I wondered if it was some sort of Mexican dish... (For all you lazy sorts, it describes a military formation's exposure to enemy fire, with regards to a flanking attack!)

The first thing I noted is that we have moved on seven years from the events in the prologue, and Laseen has been Empress during all of that time. I have to confess that I will often skim over the chapter heading information sort of detail in many fantasy novels since it seems superfluous to the plot, but here I am thinking that the chapter headings that Erikson included actually lend weight to the sheer scope of the conflict and timeline we are dealing with here.

So Riggalai the Seer appears to have linked her soul and herself to the fishergirl who is to be known as Sorry. How important will this prophecy prove to be?

“...The blood now comes in a tide and it'll sweep you under, child, if you're not careful. They'll put a sword in your hand, they'll give you a fine horse, and they'll send you across that sea. But a shadow will embrace your soul...”

I suspect we soon see the shadow that embraces Sorry's soul!

Sometimes when two characters are talking—such as Cotillion and Ammanas—I feel as though I am eavesdropping on a conversation that I joined partway through, where they are discussing people I've never heard of! I am realizing, I think, that Cotillion and Ammanas want to take revenge on Laseen (although I don't know why). I am also realizing—with the appearance of the Hounds—that they are sorcerous in nature. What I am sure I won't be able to figure out for a while is whether these two are good or evil, or some ambiguous version right in the middle. I mean, I am thinking Laseen is not a nice person because of her attitude in the prologue, so I quite like the idea of Cotillion and Ammanas taking revenge on her. However, their cold discussion about the possibility of Sorry's death just because the poor little fishergirl saw them is very chilling.

I like this line:

He raised his voice. “It's not so bad a thing, lass, to be the pawn of a god.”

Once again, in the discussion between the unnamed captain (does he ever get a name?) and the Adjunct it feels very much as though I'm beginning a journey when they are already halfway through. Does this scurrying around trying to find scraps of information never end?

I love the realism inherent in the Captain's misery about being back on horseback. In so many fantasy novels, horses are treated as a rather quaint variety of motorized vehicle that can be switched on and off as the plot demands. Having ridden horses myself, I know just how uncomfortable the captain would feel at going back to it after a break!

Erikson does well using throwaway lines to signify how much of a time of turmoil this is:

In his years of service to the Empire, he'd seen enough to know when to shut everything down inside his skull.

Alright, what was the purge commanded by Empress Laseen? I mean, I'm guessing it has something to do with getting rid of all those people who would be loyal to the old Emperor. But then I have no idea why it is mostly the noble-born who are targeted! Mentions of events such as this make me wonder if we'll ever know the details, or if Erikson will decline to make it clearer. I mean, it is very much like joining English history, say, around when Henry II took the throne and people from that time neglecting to explain how he came to power because everyone would have known. It is ultra realistic and shows that Erikson is not going to spoonfeed his readers. One of my extreme pet hates is where two knowledgeable characters in a series will stop and have a discussion about something they BOTH ALREADY KNOW ABOUT just to catch the reader up—this is definitely the other end of the spectrum and I am left wondering if I can cope!

The description of the massacre is grim and leads us to believe that the Hounds were behind it, which lends credence to the idea that Cotillion and Ammanas are not nice people. Interesting that Lorn (the Adjunct) wants to erase all evidence of the massacre occurring. Why would she do this?

The mention of everything going to hell on Genabackis links straight back to the extract from “Imperial Campaigns” (did I mention you really need to read every word of this book?!); the Free Cities of Genabackis have established contracts with a number of mercenary armies to oppose the Imperium's advance.

We also have here the first mention of the magical Warrens, which seem to be some sort of method of traveling from one point to another. It does sound as though the gods have control over certain of the Warrens, and that the Empire is able to use those that haven't been claimed. Not sure though! There are hints later in the chapter that the Warrens are: “Hardly the secure road he'd have me believe. There're strangers here, and they're not friendly.”

I feel a little bit as though every paragraph is hinting at events to come, or those that have passed, and so I need to pay them mind. Thanks to the reputation garnered by this series as a tough read—especially the first book—I am reading it more intently than I might have done if I'd casually picked it up when it first came out. I can't imagine how readers who weren't aware coped with GoTM; I can certainly see why some people would have jumped ship rather than persist.

The events in Gerrom are genuinely chilling:

The chamber was filled with black pigeons cooing in icy calm.

I'm not sure what relevance the birds are, but mention is made of them a couple more times so I assume it is important at a later stage. I like the way that sorcery is imbuing each page, and yet it fits so naturally into the world created—there is no sense of self-conscious usage at this point. Paran's thoughts about the dark sorcery he has seen are exactly as I would have considered it:

The land around him, once familiar and safe, had become something else, a place stirred with the dark currents of sorcery. He was not looking forward to a night camped in the open.

I'm definitely curious as to the mention of Tiste Andii, especially when we meet Topper, Commander of the Claw. And it seems we are filling in some gaps, since there is mention made of the nobility again and the fact that nobles should feel enmity towards Topper. (I feel as though I am adding together two and two and getting five, which, as an accountant, is a little disconcerting to say the least!)

All of the exchanges between various characters seem to be fraught with a lack of trust. There is also evidence from Paran that he is arrogant and willing to antagonize everyone up to, and including, the Empress. In fact, I don't like him much and therefore found it inordinately funny when he humiliates himself in the throne room! Although certainly Paran's contempt for the merchant class of nobility that spawned him is interesting and could prove to be a weakness in the future:

An ancient nobility of the blade, now a nobility of hoarded gold, trade agreements, subtle maneuverings and hidden corruptions in gilded rooms and oil-lit corridors.

Bill’s commentary about Chapter One:

You’re absolutely right about the necessity of reading the excerpts Amanda. That “Imperial Campaigns” excerpt, for instance, is one of the few times we get a nice, neat, clear explanation of what is happening, in this case telling us who the Crimson Guard and Caladan Brood are. Revel in the clarity while you can! Though as I write that, I’m also beginning to wonder if there are more of these moments of startling clarity than I’d thought—maybe I’ve been over-hyping in my own head just how difficult this book was (“and the fish was this, no wait, this big!”). It’ll be interesting to see it from your perspective.

Well, so far I'd say that you were not over-hyping, from the perspective of a new reader! I'm certainly finding this pretty tough going!

I like how the poem “Mother’s Lament” continues the prologue’s tone of bleakness with regard to soldiery and leads us so smoothly into Rigga lamenting her dead men folk and whacking Sorry upside the head for glorifying the soldiers passing (the same “don’t be fooled” warning about soldiering you mentioned we got from Whiskeyjack to young Paran). I enjoy the way this all holds together thematically and tonally with the prologue/poem/opening scene: the sorrow and permanence of war as viewed by those who have witnessed it, set against war’s exterior shine as seen by the young especially.

We also get a sense of war from the fact that the army are trying to recruit from the fishing villages because the people there will still have a glorious view of war, whereas those in the cities have heard about the darkness of events and would not want to join up.

It’s funny what you react to differently upon re-reading. I vaguely recall finding the introduction of Shadowthrone and Cotillion somewhat pleasantly mysterious—I liked their byplay, their sense of oddness. It was ambiguous, as you said, but a more positive ambiguity. This time around, though, I responded more strongly to the menace in them for the same reasons you mention—setting the Hounds on the unsuspecting soldiers and villagers (including children) as mere distraction, the way they argue over Sorry, the quickness with which Shadowthrone offers up the option of just killing her and her father.

Ah yes, warrens. We’ll have a lot more to say on those as we progress. In my first read, I felt pretty smug about “getting them”: oh, wizardly travel portals. Easy enough. Boy, did they turn out to be a whole lot more complex than I’d thought. Wait for it Amanda, Wait for it...

My favorite part of this chapter involving Paran is actually more of a side note. It occurs when he’s returned home and we get the description of the Noble District:

Families traced their lines back seven centuries to those tribal horsemen who had first come to this land from the east. In blood and fire, as was always the way, they had conquered and subdued the cousins of the Kanese who’d built villages along this coast. From warrior horsemen to horse-breeders to merchants of wine, beer and cloth.

I’ve already mentioned how those dates that head these chapters give us a sense of deep time, and this passage did the same for me. In a few quick, almost throwaway lines we get a sense of history, of cycles, of social evolution that adds a feeling of true weight to the story, as well as solid reality to the world the story is set in. Which is why I thought your reference to English history as an analogy was spot on.

As for trust issues, oh, you are so right.

Bill Capossere writes short stories and essays, plays ultimate frisbee, teaches as an adjunct English instructor at several local colleges, and writes SF/F reviews for

Amanda Rutter contributes reviews and a regular World Wide Wednesday post to, as well as reviews for her own site (covering more genres than just speculative), Vector Reviews and Hub magazine.

Paul Weimer
1. PrinceJvstin
What I find is that, seeing this first book through new eyes, now, how much I understand much better, having been immersed into this world.
2. Abalieno
Note @ Amanda: I suggest paying a little more attention at the end of the chapter. The relationship between Paran and both sisters is rather important (and easily forgotten by the time it becomes relevant). In particular you may notice that the very first poem is written by "Felisin". Erikson won't give other insight about Paran's family, but this becomes central later on, so it's important to pick the few hints in those few pages.

It's clever the use excerpts at the beginning of chapters as actual infodumps, or just to give meaningful hints about possible interpretations. Their function will change depending on the situation, but they are always meaningful.

I suggest giving a look at this as well:

By the time you're done with the series he'll be close to the half of the first book, but it shows how much stuff can be missed.
3. ALRutter
@Abalieno: Now these are the sort of hints that I will be requiring all the way through from those who have already read the series - to prevent all those 'huh?' moments when characters and events are re-introduced. Bill has been doing a good job of holding my hand through the first few chapters (as you can see above) but I think I'll need all the help I can get! *grin*
4. Steven Diamond
I find it fascinating to see people's reactions upon a 2nd read-through of this series. Personally, I found it to like I was reading an entirely different novel--what author doesn't like to hear of THAT kind of lasting appeal.

This is going to be a terrific series of blog posts that I'm definitely going to be linking to on my book review blog Elitist Book Reviews.

As Jim Minz is fond of saying, reading GotM is like being thrown into the middle of the ocean...with anvils tied on your feet. It can be a tad overwhelming at first, but the rewards for perseverance are so much the greater.

I met both Erikson and Esslemont at World Fantasy last year (where they were keen to show-off their photos from the Star Trek exhibit). They were quite awesome, and somehow that made their works even better in my mind.
Sydo Zandstra
5. Fiddler
Yay, the Malazan review has started!

@Amanda: I, too, am interested in your views from a first time reader's POV. You are analyzing after every few chapters, while I just read the books from front to end cover, the first time (and missed a lot of things doing so).
Tricia Irish
6. Tektonica
I'm into GotM about 150 pages....I just couldn't stop at Ch.1! I love Ericksons writing...some great turns of phrase. It certainly is jumping into the deep end! Just when I think I've got a handle on someone/what's happening, I'm forced to question all over again.

I like the way you've set up the reread too, with a newbie, like myself, and an old hand. Keep the "pay attention to this" clues coming, please.

Abalieno@2: Thank you for mentioning the intro to Parans' family....there seemed to be some animosity there between one sister, and a deep affection with the other. I do appreciate your hint to pay attention there. I'm hoping that this reread will clue us newbies into things like that, that we should note for the future. That is exactly what I"m looking for here.

I must say I am loving it so far. Dark. Complicated. Magic suffusing everything....indeed, it seems to be part and parcel of everyday life in this world.

I'm sensing Sorry is Evil incarnate...or at least works for him. I'm liking Ganeos Paran, as he is smart, jaded and has a sense of humor....not that there's much to be humorous about. He's cynical and not easily cowed. Maybe that's stupid, but I like that he is not a cookie cutter hero....if he is a hero? Laseen....not a good vibe, given that she and Whiskeyjack seem to have quite a history and she is not sympathetic to him. Whiskeyjack is an interesting and complicated guy and I hope we get much more backstory on him.

Thanks for doing this reread too. I've been wanting to read these books for quite awhile, and was a bit intimidated. This should help get me through.
7. Abalieno
@Tektonica: The writing in the first book is actually a bit rough. Erikson improves constantly as a writer through the series and there's a substantial improvement already between the last page of the first book and the Prologue of the second (there's a gap of 9 or so years in the writing of the two, and it shows).

Erikson himself will give tips on how to approach the series soon enough. It's the part when Paran meets Toc the Younger, I think in chapter 3. Wait for it ;)

The "prod and pull" at the beginning of Chapter one is also another line worth considering.
a a-p
8. lostinshadow
First off, thanks to both Bill and Amanda for taking on this huge project.

I've been wanting to get back into this series (I read the first 3 books years ago when they first came out) but since most of my friends have left sf/fan behind in our high school days, I've got very few people to bounce my ideas off of and this series in particular is really great to discuss with others.

There are so many details, characters, stories, histories, .... to keep track of, it's nice seeing what bits others retain and how they interpret them.

To the newbies, everything is important, in particular relationships, chance encounters.

And it really is great seeing the reactions of a new reader, after all, even when you try, you simply can't pay attention to everything there's too much detail and it's nice hearing initial reactions.

I would say that on my second reread (though I'll be a first timer with some of the later books) I sensed the darkness, the grimness a lot more. The first time I was reading it, I had assumed it would be a more typical fantasy story with good and bad very clearly defined so I read these first chapters assuming the author was setting up THE BAD TIMES BEFORE THE HEROES SAVE THE DAY.

As I got more into the story I realized it wasn't that simple so when I started rereading it again, this sense of darkness is much starker this time round.

So as a general warning to the newbies, nothing is really as it seems and absolutely nothing in this story is clearly good or evil. always expect a trick and a twist, though you might not see it for 2-3 books, it will come.
Chin Bawambi
9. bawambi
I'm loving this series so far (I'm 50 pages into book 3) and I'm glad to be following along with the re-read while the books are still fresh in my mind.
10. Gray fox
Can i assume that reading the summary and the Amanda comments is spoiler free?
11. Abalieno
Yeah, I would suggest the writers to reconsider this spoiler policy.

It seems a lot of readers will read for the first time, and there's already plenty to discuss without spoilering what happens later. Since an aspect of this series is about mystery, revelations and reversals, I think it would be a good idea to discuss the material at hand and only when it's time link back to what was written before.

Even in this first article there's something already too daring to reveal that I think represents one of Erikson most bold moves. It's better if readers get their revelations from the book.
a a-p
12. lostinshadow
Not sure how any reread like this could be spoiler free. Granted Bill and Amanda (well Amanda obviously) could avoid spoilers in their commentaries but the commentators themselves are unlikely to.

For example, Abalieno, you yourself added a warning that readers should pay extra attention to Paran's relationship with his sisters, but that could constitute a spoiler as to how important a role that particular family is to play in the story.

So how could a line be drawn? especially with commentators like ourselves. don't get me wrong, I'm not looking forward to too many spoilers, I've only read up to the 5th book so far, I'm just saying not sure it's possible to draw that line in a way that satisfies most (purposefully not saying all, since that is just not possible).
Thomas Jeffries
13. thomstel
So glad this is getting started, many thanks all around for the opportunity to join in on the discussion of my favorite fantasy series.

- Good banter between the naivete of Paran and the weary experience of Whiskeyjack. Paran thinks he scores a point on the merchant comment, and bungles it further with the abbatoir comment. Whiskeyjack can't bring himself to prick the bubble either time.
- Whiskeyjack is very prickly with Laseen though, bordering on insubordination. As always, the conversation goes to show that's there's a great deal of history, even at the personal level, that we'll need to get familiar with.
- Of note, Dujek works for Whiskeyjack at this point.
- Also of note, FIDDLER! What's up man?!
- For the first timers, we will get to a) find out more about Surly/Emperor/Whiskeyjack's history, but piecemeal, b) we will get to see some of what happened with Dassem in Seven Cities in ICE's novels, and c) initial impressions of characters based on their appearance in this chapter is absolutely intentional by the author. Amanda's impressions of who's good/bad/otherwise align pretty closely with mine on first read...but oh man, does the ride get wild later. :)

Chapter 1, Scene 1:
- There's Felix and Oscar. An impressive display for Shadow's intro. These two degenerate (in a good way) from uber-badass to lovable, fallable, hilarious badass, but for now, they're all serious business.
- HOWEVER, knowing what comes later, I can't help but think that the Hounds activities were meant more as a tweak of Laseen's nose, as opposed to any legitimate effort to upend/distract/etc. My memory is foggy, but I'm not 100% sure what the heck the GotM endgame was supposed to be for Sorry anymore...assassinating Laseen after a mission well-completed on Genabackis? That doesn't seem right...anyone recall?

Chapter 1, Rest of scenes:
- Bloody bits everywhere. Yum. Hated the descriptions here pretty much everytime I read it.
- Paran is still awfully idiotic in these sections. Even some of his inner monologue is pretty high-and-mighty. He thinks that because he's seen _something_, that now he really is worthy of a soldier's respect, and that non-soldiers shouldn't be afforded the same. This entitlement complex is not a becoming trait, sir.
- Hey Tavore, nice to see you. Oh wait, no it's not. At least we don't have to see Felesin yet! (Can you tell House Paran isn't my favorite set of folks to read about yet?)
- Pretty surface-level stuff going on here, just lots of mentions of other people/places going on, of which most of them we'll see or hear about later. Get a good look at Topper though, as this is the lion's share of our time with him from what I recall.
- Warrens. 79 books later and the verdict is still out on these things. There's another explanation of why/how/what each and every book. However, to be clear to this point:

1. (noun) an alternate reality that overlaps with the normal world. Accessible via magical portals in the normal world, travelling through it can allow for faster-then-normal travel between normal world locations.

Yeah, that thing is going to be pages and pages long by the end of the series. :)
Steven Halter
14. stevenhalter
One thing to keep in mind is that no character is necessarily a completely reliable narrator. Even honest accounts are colored from that narrators viewpoint--and that character probably doesn't know all the details.
15. Abalieno
If one doesn't want to know anything at all he would avoid the whole thing.

On the Malazan forums every book has a sub-forum and you are somewhat guaranteed that you do not get spoilers from following books in one of them.

I consider guidelines actually useful. I was looking for them when I was reading the books and I think they enhanced both my enjoyment and understanding. A spoiler is about revealing specific elements of the plot, underlining parts of the narrative included in a chapter should be tolerable.

Another suggestion would be to take the following books and look at the maps. From experience with other readers, there can be confusion about where the events take place, and the inclusion of maps in the books is AWFUL (book 4 has a map that has nothing to do with the book content).

The prologue takes place in Malaz City. You get a map of Malaz City in either "Night of Knives" or "The Bonehunters". For new readers I recommend giving a look at those maps as it helps visualizing Mock's Hold and the city. One should also be aware that Malaz City is part of a very small island south of Quon Tali, another much bigger island (Paran in chapter 1 moves to Unta, in Quon Tali). Up north there's the main continent with Seven Cities. And Genabackis if far away to the east. From Chapter 2 onward the story continues entirely in this last continent, away from the heart of the empire.
Tricia Irish
16. Tektonica
Speaking as a total newbie to this series....

Please drop hints like Abalieno did @2, "pay attention to this"...I think it will make the future books much more interesting, if you note the set up in the early books. It's not a spoiler, in that it explains nothing, it's just a heads up.

Hints about the maps, good. What relationships to note, good. Warnings that what you see isn't necessarily real, good. I don't consider these to be spoilers.

This is dense stuff, with many books and worlds, so a handy-dandy guide is much appreciated! I'm sure the discussions will get much more indepth as we progress and if a few spoilers do pop out, I, personally, won't care.

There may be some of you who have read all of the books and want to discuss the info in these early books as it relates to the later books, which would entail spoilers. How about you just post, "Spoiler Alert" at the top of your post and those of us who wish to avoid them, will be able to easily? Just a suggestion.....

Thanks again for taking this on!
17. chipgoter
This is a RE-READ as noted. Therefore, spoilers are ok. This is a great idea, as it allows those of us who read the books and followed the story to figure out where we may have missed some key points.
If you are new to the series read through it, then check back here if you did not understand something or think you may have missed a point.
18. jj8
@ALRutter :"Thanks to the reputation garnered by this series as a tough read—especially the first book—I am reading it more intently than I might have done if I'd casually picked it up when it first came out".

the funney thing is that this book is so overwealming and thet it start the story in the middle i was realy catious about redaing it , but then when i actualy read it i didnt think it was so bad and so diffrent then the begginig of say ASOIF and got right in to it and enjod it.

another thing, i dont know if this gets clear later(i just started MOI) but i cant for the life of me understand why, if two gods want to kill a mortel empress why cant they just do it! instently?!

(altoug im still not compltly sure if napans are humans)
19. jj8
also, its funney about the hint about paying attention to the relationships in th paran family. beacuse in book two i was trying hard to remember this part and wishing i paid more attention
20. WJD
One thing that is going to be important during this whole GotM re-read is to keep in mind that it was written and published about ten years before the rest of the series.

This results in what have become known as GotMisms, and while they don't affect someone's understanding of GotM, they don't mesh well with the rest of the series. The Itko Kan massacre is the first of these points.

As someone who has read the whole series, I think the most important thing to take away from GotM is a general understanding of the world and hwo it works, as well as the introductions to some key characters and places.
Steven Halter
21. stevenhalter
There are many "gods" in the series. Gods are of varying powers and aspect. They are also often at odds with one another and so cannot act with impunity.
Also, note that gods are not the only powerful things out there.
22. Salt-Man Z
As someone who's read the first 6 books twice, and everything else once, this is looking to be a lot of fun. I'd love to do a full reread of the entire series (along with Esslemont's books) but haven't convinced myself to commit the good chunk of a year it would take me to do so.

Following along with a Tor reread is like the next best thing. And getting it through the eyes of a Malazan virgin is like a breath of fresh air, to boot. So thanks for doing this. You can bet I'll be checking back every week for the next installment.

And, oh. My. Goodness:

"The Emperor is dead. So too his master’d companion, the rope cut clean. But mark this burgeoning return..." ~Call to Shadow

Erikson is a freaking genius.
23. MatCauthonReborn
I think I've read GotM 3 times, the next 4 books twice and all the others only once. My understanding of the books grows every time I read them and am looking forward to learning more from others.


@13 thomstel

I think the endgame for Shadow is not the death of the Empress. They simply want to have an Ace card when the convergence takes place in Darujhistan. That way they are able to take advantage of any weaknesses shown by the other Houses.
Thomas Jeffries
24. thomstel
@23 MatCathourReborn

Sounds reasonable. Since I honestly don't remember, I'm good with that as an explanation. :)

@21 shalter

One could argue that your statement is practically the theme of the series. Whiskeyjack warns Paran to live quietly and beneath the notice of the gods. But throughout the series when a mortal and god interact/conflict, the result is nowhere near what we might expect, given the relative power levels of those involved.

And then, to muddy the waters further, the majority of individuals' (both god and mortal) efficacy isn't explicitly stated. So you can end up with PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER hiding itself in very unassuming packages for several books, and then BAM, right in the kisser! What the WoT-Reread would (rightfully) consider a Crowning Moment of Awesome.

And there are LOTS of them, which is even more awesomer!
Steven Halter
25. stevenhalter
@24 thomstel

Yes, that's pretty much it -- taking anyone, be they gods, mortals or otherwise at face value is a dangerous thing.
Bobby Stubbs
26. Valan
Well I'm psyched about this re-read since I'm loving these books, but I'm only up to Midnight Tides. I'll look forward to catching up on these posts in a couple of months when I finish the thing, because I HATE spoilers.
27. Abalieno

Actually the plan switches on the fly quite a bit, and finally fizzles. For the most part they want to infiltrate in order to get some leverage in imperial matters. The plan switches because they are themselves unaware of what goes on and Shadowthrone begins to respect what the empress is doing (or better, what the empress is doing starts looking convenient). The same pattern that Kalam follows in book 2, and not a case that Kalam is then on Cotillion's service.

Just another instance of people surprising gods, and gods having to readjust their plans.

"The endgame for Shadow" is entirely unrelated to imperial matters. Shadowthrone in this case is only dealing with old grudges, which is why later on he gives up that part of the plan: something bigger comes in the big picture.

Or, if you prefer: Shadowthrone was counting on Dujek's loyalty. Later he discovers that in spite of all ruses, Dujek chose to stay loyal to the empire, and so Laseen, even if what she does isn't perfect. Realizing that he can't take control of a faction within the empire he simply "gives up" for that part of the plan about Sorry.
28. Ian B Manc
I've tried twice to get into this book and gave up after the 1st chapter.

Should I give it another go? I love the Wheel of Time, how does this match up?
Thomas Jeffries
29. thomstel
Malazan is a more difficult, but more rewarding, read compared to WoT.

It is more difficult in the first three books, perhaps intentionally so, simply because of the lack of familiarity with the setting and characters. Once you're past the third's intro of new faces, it settles down pretty well until the new batch of faces appear in the 5th.

But the 5th has Tehol and Bugg, who are the pinnacle of the series thusfar.

Give it another go!
paul Hend
30. tugthis
I am glad to see this re-read as well, and will follow it along with the WOTM re-read. For those starting, get used to the tone it is present in all books. Do not get used to the characters as they will not. That is my biggest disappointment with the series and the reason it does not compare with WOTM.

For those of you reading it will be very helpful if you keep a dictionary by your desk. I often think that Erickson is deliberatly difficult with his word choices. I also do not think there is as much value in the chapter intro errata as others do. It may well make more sense on the re-read but the first time through the regular plot is so dense that this information is really extraneous.

Please, Tor or whoever is responsible for the books get a decent map and glossary published, it would help a great deal.
31. Marc Rikmenspoel
Yay, I wondered when this would get back on track. I look forward to reading these posts for a long time to come. Thanks for getting this going (again).

I am currently half way through House of Chains, and have also read Night of Knives. I have found it useful to read half of a Malazan book, then come back and read the second half a while later, with something unrelated in between. 900+ pages gets to be too much for one long slog, but a 400-500 page read, followed by another a few weeks later, works well for me.

One last observation, "enfilade" is a common term from small unit actions in military history. Anyone unfamiliar with the term needs to play more Squad Leader and other tactical wargames ;-) (Erikson probably picked up the term during his time of reading a lot of Vietnam War memoirs)
32. Christopher Byler
I’ve already mentioned how those dates that head these chapters give us a sense of deep time, and this passage did the same for me. In a few quick, almost throwaway lines we get a sense of history, of cycles, of social evolution that adds a feeling of true weight to the story, as well as solid reality to the world the story is set in.

ISTR hearing somewhere that Erickson was an archaeologist before (or at the same time as) being an author. Certainly the series is really full of ancient beings, ruins, and artifacts having effects on the present.
Chase Collins
33. Quick Ben
Man, what a different experience having read this before. I distinctly remember going huh? every couple paragraphs (or even sentences). Even just within the prologue and first chapter I am gleaning stuff I didn't catch the first time. I don't think I read the entire prologue my first go... What a mistake! The references to the relationship (or hatred) between Laseen and Whiskeyjack is very important. As well as the relations between Paran and his sisters...Definitely pay attention to that. I am reminded as I read this book again of why I loved this series. So incredibly complex and in depth. And Amanda I agree with your comment that he doesn't like to spoon feed information to the reader. It's more like trying to drink from a fire hydrant!
Chuck Holt
34. conspiracytheorywackadoodle
Alright, I'm in. I have a neglected copy of Gardens of the Moon that I can pick up reading at the appropriate point (or maybe I should just re-read the chapters I've already read).

I tossed the thing into a half-forgotten corner some time ago -- not because the story was bad, but because it always felt like somebody had turned the lights out whenever I read it.
a a-p
35. lostinshadow

If you are a hard core fantasy fan, you should definitely give this series another try.

I'm not sure it's really possible to compare it to WoT; to me WoT is the pinnacle of what I would call traditional high fantasy - namely the theme of farm boy prophesied to save the world by finding sword and getting girl. Obviously, it's not that simple, which is what makes WoT an amazing story but ultimately, that's the underlying story.

MBoF is definitely a different trope of fantasy. For one, it is not something that most kids would get into (as they do with WoT), it's characters are more adult, complex, dark and generally hard to figure out and often not particularly likable. But if you are into connections, magic systems, highly different cultures, interconnections and explorations of the gray areas, including some heavy philosophical discussions in the latter books, definitely give this series a try.

In all honesty, because I was much younger when I first started this series, I didn't really get into it until midway through the second book.

And actually, because the whole thing is so complex, it gets better on rereads. So not sure if that will help you out, but if you tried it a long time ago, you might really enjoy it this time round.
36. JJK
Thank you so much for this. I just don't have the time or the energy to start re-read, but this really is the next best thing to it!

Love the series. I haven't actually read anything in the genre after reading Erikson and Esslemont.
Amanda Rutter
37. ALRutter
Gosh, lots to catch up with! That's what I get from being in a different time zone from most of the rest of you guys *grin*

Just going to make a few replies. If I don't reply directly to you, I've still read your comment and I really appreciate you taking the time :-)

#4 @Steven Diamond - Thanks for the future linking love! The more readers we open this up to, the more discussion we'll get.

#5 @Fiddler - Nice handle! Yep, I'd say that the close chapter analyses are the only things keeping me sane during this read - if I went any faster, I'd miss *so* much and feel even more lost than I do right now!

#6 @Tektonica - I'm actually 220 pages into the book *grin*. Me and Bill wanted to get a few of these posts ready to go so we don't disappoint our loyal readers! We were hoping that the presence of a newbie in the driving seat would allow all those other first-time readers to join in without feeling silly for all the 'buh?!' moments - because I'm right there with you! Unlike you, I actually dislike Paran a lot - my favourite character to the point I've read to appears in the next chapter...

#7 @Abalieno - That "prod and pull" line passed me by!

#10 @Gray Fox - My comments are only spoiler free in that I don't pull in information from later books to make connections. If someone hasn't read the chapter, then they are spoiler-full, with comments like 'Wow, such-and-such is dead!'

#10 and #11 and #12 and anyone else who mentions spoilers - In terms of spoilers, we'll be sticking to what is laid out (chapter summaries spoiler free, my comments spoiler free to those who have read the chapter, Bill's comments with spoilers) - and we expect comments to be made without fear of people being taken to task about spoilers. Bill asked me, as a first-time reader, whether I'd have issues with seeing spoilers - but I'm not precious about it at all! I'll be devouring all your comments equally, spoilers or no, and will still enjoy every chapter and book to come. And will no doubt come back to these early commentaries to remind myself of how knowledgeable some of you were in these early stages about what is to come!

I like the idea of people putting 'Spoiler Alert' at the top of their comment if they are explicitly mentioning future events - that way, readers can make the choice as to whether to read it or not. I accept not everyone is weird like me about not minding spoilers.

#13 @thomstel - Great extras to our analysis! I liked reading your thoughts.

#15 @Abalieno - I'm one of those freaky people who doesn't require a map - at all. In fact, it threatens my enjoyment of a read having to flick back and forth to a map. I know Bill is exactly the reverse of me where this is concerned, and I'm sure there will be a similar split in the readers of this post.

#18 @jj8 - Strangely, I found ASoIaF much easier to get onboard with than these Malazan books. I didn't feel so dumped in the deep end. I imagine there are rules about the gods killing a mortal - or she has protection. I'm sure other people can make comment on this in a more detailed fashion (oops, looks like shalter and thomstel in comments #21 and #24 actually did so!)

#24 @thomstel - "PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER" - has someone been watching Disney's Aladdin? *grin*

#28 @Ian B Manc - Give it another go with the help of this project. You'll be in good company with your confusion and, sometimes, dislike of the intricacies and seemingly unnecessary obscure references. Consider it a challenge!

#30 @tugthis - Hmm, I haven't found the language too bad (except with the infamous enfilade!) Certainly is isn't as bad as other genre authors - Adam Roberts, I'm looking at you!

#31 @Marc Rikmenspoel - The most embarrassing part of the enfilade debacle? I do actually wargame. and I still didn't know *shamefaced*

Huge thanks to everyone for commenting - keep it coming :-)
38. Kah-thurak
@Gods Killing Mortals
There are two things, that hinder gods from killing mortals:

1) Some mortals are not much less powerfull than gods. Ascendency is a tricky thing in this world, and not every Ascendant is a god or even easily identified as one. High Mages, and the empire has a few, are also not generally "weaker" than gods, under the right circumstances. Even gods can die...

One of my favorite quotes from the series:
"Dont mess with mortals."
- Ganoes Paran

2) Power draws Power. One god to involve inself invites others too, and things get really ugly really fast.
39. matcauthonreborn

Thought for today:

In the prologue a teenage Paran is possibly having the most memorable night of his life. He gets to meet Whiskeyjack, a man whose reputation as a fighter is second only to Dassem, who is considered one of the top generals in the Empire. He also meets Surly, the second best assassin in the Empire and future Empress. (Could you imagine what would have happened had they decided to fight?)

Meanwhile, Tattersail is down in the city having the most memorable night of her life but for very different reasons. As is Adjunct Lorn.

It's a pivotal moment for all these characters and will go on to influence the rest of their lives
40. Kah-thurak
@39. matcauthonreborn
I guess, from what we see in Return of the Crimson Guard, I guess Whiskeyjack would have lost do Laseen... but those two were really unlikely to fight. Whiskeyjack just didnt have the ambition and Laseen not the need.

But you are right about the pivotal influence of this night on most of the main characters of GotM.
Tricia Irish
41. Tektonica

I'm off to Durujhistan today. Still loving it. Now I have to figure out who your favorite character is. I quite like Tattersail too, and Whiskeyjack and his cohorts. Sorry still terrifies me.

As to spoilers.....I don't mind them at all. I've been known to read the ending of a book before I get there. It allows me read more slowly and in more detail. *shrugs* I think most people hate spoilers, but this is a "reread", so buyer beware.

I find your astute observations enhance my attention to plot detail and give depth to the characters. I'm more interested in understanding the work and discussion. I may be the only other newbie here, so don't worry about me. Let 'er fly.

For instance, matcauthonreborn@39 states this about the prologue....

Meanwhile, Tattersail is down in the city having the most memorable night of her life but for very different reasons. As is Adjunct Lorn.

I had no idea that Tattersail (What was she up to?) and Lorn (destroying mages?) were down in the poor section. Good to know. Information like that is helpful to my read. Thanks!
Mihai Adascalitei
42. Mihai Dark Wolf
I recently started this series, reading "Gardens of the Moon". I am still in awe how dense this book is and how confusing can prove to be on some places. But it definitely deserves the patience of a reader.
The Prologue and the first chapter are a glimpse on the vastness that this novel (and I believe the series) proves to be. From the start we can see into politics, military actions, geography and magic, with interferences from Gods and other planes coming into play already.
Steven Halter
43. stevenhalter
One thing to keep in mind as you're reading this for the first time is that the overall title is "A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen." Take note of the Fallen there.
There's no problem with having favorite characters, but don't become too attached to anyone. Also, note that there is character development (metamorphoses) going on all the time, so don't necessarily hate anyone too much either.
As old character's pass (or change) new ones will come on stage -- lot's and lot's of new ones.
44. Salt-Man Z
For those interested in maps--or perhaps more significantly, all the maps from the series collected in one place, there's a gallery available at the Malazan Empire forums.
Irene Gallo
45. Irene
Thanks for the heads-up, Salt-man Z. I've added the link to our reread index.
46. Abalieno
I've found out this unrelated commentary written by Erikson himself describing the Malazan series.

This is the kind of mood/atmosphere/tone you should expect later on in the books. To keep in mind because in the first book you only get a glimpse of all this (the bleakness may turn off readers later on):

Sometimes my series feels like a ten thousand page requiem for our species, or a long, drawn-out howl verging on utter despair; as I search in desperation for moral gestures of humanity, no matter how small, no matter how momentary, in the midst of self-inflicted carnage.
47. prwatson
For those of you just starting this series, you are lucky!! I had to wait a year or so between each one.

If you are curious about what happens just before the prologue in Gardens, read Esslemont's Night of Knives, oh and don't read Return of the Crimson Guard until after you've read the first 8 books. Return takes place in the period between Toll the Hounds and Dust of Dreams.

hmmm spoilers...
none from me, this series is complex, deep. I have never laughed so hard, and I have wept at some places (one in particular left me both outraged and in tears).

and now I will begin reading it again, because I am waiting now...for the last one.
Thomas Jeffries
48. thomstel
It's because the material, settings and players are so gray/dark that allows for basic decency and friendship to shine so brightly in the story.

And when moments of true courage and selflessness arrive, they are beautiful.
50. Salt-Man Z

Actually, Return of the Crimson Guard takes place sometime after The Bonehunters but before Toll the Hounds. It's generally accepted (and indeed, the authors themselves recommend) that one read NoK before Bonehunters (as NoK-introduced characters appear in that book) and RotCG before TtH.
51. Takim PatronGodofAuthors
I'm an aspiring fantasy author, so Erikson both inspires and demoralizes me.

Anyway, I'm so glad we're doing these posts. Hopefully this will help newbies stick with the series, because it's worth it. I discovered the Malazan books by chance at Barnes & Noble looking for something new, and I'm so glad I finished GotM despite my initial confusion. Now I'm reading Toll the Hounds and loving every chapter, every page, every paragraph, each and every sentence...

The best part of the series is Erikson's archaeology and anthropology background and how this is manifested in his writing. There are so many unique cultures and societies, many of them long gone, but still influencing his world. And don't even get me started on the sweeping geography and personification of the land. These themes begin in book one and continue.

The Malazan Book of the Fallen is the best epic fantasy series of the era.
Tony Zbaraschuk
52. tonyz
I've never fully understood Laseen's purges (of which there are quite a few), unless they're on the general line of Stalin's: kill enough of the people who might challenge you to keep the rest cowed.
Sydo Zandstra
53. Fiddler

Laseen's purges were to appease the common crowd (the mobs). Nobility is an easy target there. And Stalin's general line is served too.
54. Mieneke
This is my third time reading this part of GotM (I started a failed re-read three years ago) and like many of the others commenting I noticed yet different little details than I did last time. And these were pretty 'big' little details, in that I was surprised I hadn't noted them last time. Like Laseen being blue-skinned and Topper being grey-skinned. And no these might not be the most important details, but they are hints of 'other' than just regular humans in the narrative and I missed them.

And I definitely agree with everyone else, read the poems and extracts! They are filled with information, though they made more sense on second and third read than they did the first time.

And I thought I'd read these first fifty pages pretty closely this morning but I think, looking at the other awesome comments, I need to take notes!

@Amanda: I love your 'newbie'-take on the books, you made me smile :D

@Bill: That description of the Noble Quarter jumped out at me too this time. I love that passage!

Question for both of you: In what order are you intending to read the books? Because while we have the Erikson books up to Toll the Hounds, we don't have any of Esslemont's books nor any of the novella's and I want to make sure to get them in time to be able to read along! (If you already posted a list somewhere, I'm sorry for asking. I looked but I couldn't find it!)
55. Abalieno
@53 Relatively SPOILERY

Actually they were not.

There were various influences and the act of balancing various powers. On a general level purges were done because nobility was well rooted into the power/management structure of the empire, and at the same time rotten with corruption. So they were done in order to reestablish control and try to replace them with someone more competent (or controllable).

Basically: Kellanved left for too many years and the empire was starting to collapse and being riven by corruption. Laseen basically step in to try to steer it in the right direction, even if her ways aren't exactly morally acceptable.

"Appeasing the common crowd" was merely a side effect.
Amanda Rutter
56. ALRutter
#54 @Mieneke *waves* Thanks for the comment - with regards to the running order of the books, I am prepared to be instructed by either Bill or those who have read the books a number of times and know the best order. Thoughts on this, people?
57. Kah-thurak
The obvious question is when to insert "Night of Knives". The plot takes place well before Gardens of the Moon, but I think it should not be read too early. It appeared after Midnight Tides, so maybe that is the best spot to read it? Return of the Crimson Guard after The Bonehunters seems to make sense...
58. WJD

Topper states in Gotm that he is a quarter Tiste Andii, so that explains his slightly darkened skin color.

Lasseen however is just a human. She's Napan so her skin has that bluish hue to it (that's the way I view it anyway, not like a smurf or anything) like all people from those islands.


The generally accepted reading order is:

Although Esselmont has a new book (Stonewielder) that will come out before this re-read is finished, and I'm not sure exactly where that will fit into the timeline. Maybe after TtH but before The Crippled God. It'll be interesting to see if that one gets thrown into this re-read.
a a-p
59. lostinshadow
I seem to recall that way back in the days when this reread was first introduced, Stefan said, "We'll initially be tackling the main books of the series by Steven Erikson only. We may refer to the Ian C. Esslemont novels (because they fill in some gaps in the time line) and the Bauchelain and Korbal Broach novellas, but the re-read will mostly focus on the core series."

and Bill gave the order of the books as:
Gardens of the moon
Deadhouse Gates
Memories of Ice
House of Chains
Midnight Tides
The Bonehunters
Reaper's Gale
Toll the Hounds
Dust of Dreams
The Crippled God

If that's changed and we're also reading the Esslemont books, I'd appreciate a heads up since I have to deal with international shipping and customs to get my hands on the books
Amanda Rutter
60. ALRutter
I will discuss with Bill and Irene and we'll let you know ASAP. Obviously we want the re-read to be as complete as possible! But we don't want to inconvenience anyone either :-)
61. Gray fox
Thank you for your reply Amanda.
Of course by spoilers i meant referring to something that will occur further away in the book or the series. By being involved in the re-read you can have discussions in which you already know where things are going to, and so my question was to know if you will comment the chapters knowing the great perspective of things or just hinting in the same way as any other first reader.

For the other concerned re-readers, of course this is a re-read and mostly a place for you to discuss how things will fit together now that you are reading the books again. This is perhaps the series that most beneficts with such a discussion. However, being a first time reader of GOTM i feel that i can also benefict with reading the summaries and the comments of a fellow first reader. I will refrain from reading other comments and never intended to restring the major discussion.

Greetings to all.
a a-p
62. lostinshadow
If you mean me, it's certainly not an inconvenience, just need advance warning because I can't simply pop into a bookstore and get them.
Chris Hawks
63. SaltManZ
The authors have said in the past that the best reading order for their combined series is in publication order, as given by #58.

As for Stonewielder, that would put it between DoD and TCG, which may not be optimal; but then again, it might make for some breathing room between the two parts of the MBotF grand finale. But it also means US readers will have to import.
64. TheLegend
Now I know what I am going to be doing this weekend. Rereading GoTM. Steven Erikson is an awesome read and I am probably in the 3 or 4th read of most of the books.

I am finding it really interesting to see others point of view concerning the novels.

Tek@41. The only way that you could know both Tattersail and Lorn are involved down in the lower quarters of the city during the prologue is by reading a later book. It does make you realize how important that night was for the empire. It shaped many of the central characters who become forces in the world later on.
Sydo Zandstra
65. Fiddler

Basically: Kellanved left for too many years and the empire was starting to collapse and being riven by corruption. Laseen basically step in to try to steer it in the right direction, even if her ways aren't exactly morally acceptable.

"Appeasing the common crowd" was merely a side effect.

Without giving spoilers, the first part of Deadhouse Gate will prove you wrong there. In an even further book it happens again. That shows that this is happening on a structural basis.

I will not go into spoilerific space in here. But feel free to discuss this with me in private. :-)
Tricia Irish
66. Tektonica
I have a feeling that our hostess, Amanda, and I are the only newbies here. I just want to say that I don't want to stifle discussion because I'm a newbie. Amanda has stated that she doesn't care about spoilers, and I don't either.

Just forget I"m here and discuss any questions, connections, whatever. If it gets to be too much for me, I'll go away and come back after reading ahead. Hopefully, in awhile, I'll know enough to ask pertinent questions and you can straighten me out!

--Feeling like a sea anchor!--
67. Abalieno
The "ideal" reading order according to my experience is:

- GotM
- DG
- The first three Bauchelain & Korbal Broach novellas
- MoI
- The fourth novella
- HoC
- Night of Knives

The reason to put Night of Knives there is because House of Chains sheds some light in imperial matters and so it connects very nicely with NoK. It lets you approach that story with details still fresh in your memory, and ideally close that story arc.

The reason to put the 3 novellas before MoI is because it's an excellent introduction to the characters, and because it lets you sample, after DG, the way Erikson's writing improves and how he can switch his range.
68. TheLegend
@Abalieno 67.

Reading the first three Bauchelain and Korbal Broach novellas before MoI probably would have been helpful. I remember reading MoI and going "Who the heck are these guys?". With that being said they aren't exactly essential to the story. Fun but not essential. I however still haven't managed to get a copy of the novellas either so I don't quite know what I am missing.
Thomas Jeffries
69. thomstel
@TheLegend 68:

These are short, sweet and hilarious, second only to the majesty of the Lether comedy crew. Well worth the effort to track down.

I agree that having read them before MoI would have been awesome, since their storyline there feels fairly random without any context. Being aware of their foibles...the off- and on-screen hijinks make perfect sense. :)
Sanctume Spiritstone
70. Sanctume
Yay, a re-read. This will be my first re-read of the Malazan series as I am still in the middle of DoD.
Brad Bulger
71. tatere
"did I mention you really need to read every word of this book?!"

heh! just wait.

what i am looking forward to, eventually, is the wikified massive ebook version of the whole series, so when you see someone's name in book 4 and think, Wait, is that the guy from ... ?? you can click to an index of references.

or would making it easier weaken it in some ways? i wonder. in actual life we have that same experience of semi-familiarity ("i know i studied this once in high school..."). it does add to the sense of weight and realistic historical density.

really looking forward to more here. my own reread will start when The Crippled God comes out...
72. Abalieno

I consider the novellas the best "written" stuff Erikson produced and not some perfunctory side stories. They are simply brilliant. Not necessary for the series, but something that one shouldn't miss.

Before reading them I also thought they wouldn't be anything really relevant, but they give a much better idea of Erikson's range. One wouldn't read them because they reveal or complete the plot of the main series, but because they are extraordinary in their own merit.


What I know is derived from the first four books. As I said the crowd may be involved in the single instances, but the purge has always been put in a bigger context of the power struggle of the empire. Laseen started with Dassem Ultor, his "Sword", the Talons and so on. It's her way to take out the high powers and replace them with men she can control and that are more resistant to corruption. As usual there are more than one factor involved and so the purge can present various facets. Single cases are expendable for the greater good, the empire doesn't make a big fuss if innocents are involved.
73. flyingrobots
Thanks so much for undertaking this considerable effort. Here's hoping we get through all of them with minds intact and encyclopedic knowledge of the Malazan universe.

I'm posting this to request that in future updates, a little reminder be included at the end to signify what chapters will be covered next and when to expect the post. This would be a great help for those of us with limited free time!
Julian Augustus
74. Alisonwonderland
Thomstel @29:
Malazan is a more difficult, but more rewarding, read compared to WoT.

That is highly debatable and, ultimately, a matter of personal preference. For my part, I agree with you that Malazan is several orders of magnitude more difficult than WoT, but I consider it much less rewarding than WoT. To be clear, I have read all of SE (including the Bauchelain and Broach novellas) and read ICE's two books so far. I have read 6 of the first 7 books of Malazan twice and MoI three times. All that is to say that I am not just a casual reader of the series. I like the Malazan world and the breadth and complexity of the story, but (again, this is my own view) WoT is far more rewarding to me.

In part, this may be because MBotF engages me on an intellectual level, while WoT engages me on an emotional level. I know intimately the WoT world, know the characters and their motivations, and understand where they are going. By contrast, I do not have a feel for any of the dozens of uber-powerful gods, ascendants, arch-mages and other assorted characters in Malazan, and have no idea where the story is going. Anything can and does happen in this world, with random previously unknown characters with previously unknown powers being introduced at any time to solve a specific problem. Can you say, deus ex machina? I marvel at the brilliance of the Malazan construct, but I have less emotional engagement in the story than in WoT. I feel Rand's pain and I fell Min's anxiety, but I can only say "wow, that was a neat trick by Quick Ben".I hope I've made the distinction in my mind clear.

Anyway, that is my view of the two series. If I were to rank the three major on-going fantasy epics, I would Rank WoT above aSoIaF and MBotF third. That is just my personal taste.

Incidentally, I found TtH and DoD extremely tedious. TtH has a fantastic last third that makes up for much of the tedious philosophizing in the first two-thirds, but I found DoD unremittingly dull, with every single character doing nothing but just sitting or walking around thinking deep thoughts. I've read each of those books just once, and don't feel the urge to pick either up again. Your mileage may vary.
a a-p
75. lostinshadow

well said, you said what I was thinking but decided not to comment on as soon as I read the comment @29.

As I mentioned in my comment @35, I don't think it's fair (or quite frankly necessary) to compare the two series since they really focus on different things.

As you say, WoT is emotionally much more engaging and satisfactory and MBotF is intellectually more challenging. So it's really more about what a person might prefer as reading material in general or possibly depending on one's mood.

Either way, definitely second your final comment: mileage may vary. :D
Matt LaRose
76. TheLegend
After catching up to the reread and making sure I really took my time with it, you'd be amazed at what I actually have missed in the first few times I have read through GoTM. Steven Erikson leaves hints galore that he makes use of in later books.

I am really looking forward to this reread and all the discussion it is going to formulate. I am excited to say the least.
Catherine Parker
77. cathp
My advice: Always shoulder-surf each character's point of view and whatever you do don't become emotionally attached to a character.
Steven Halter
78. stevenhalter
As you say, "You mileage may vary" -- as a different perspective, I find the MBotF to engage me both emotionally and intellectually. It is a series fraught with danger to both the characters and the readers.

Having warned against becoming too attached to characters, I would temper that with saying go ahead and become somewhat attached--some suffering is good for the soul.
Tricia Irish
79. Tektonica
Does anyone know when the next post will be? And what it will cover? I'm so hooked, I"ve motored onto pg. 300 as of last night. Too good!! If only I had more free time!
Matt LaRose
80. TheLegend
@Tek 79. Not sure either. In the original post they talked about doing 100-150 pages at a go. With that being said Chapt 1 and the prologue isn't anywhere close to 100 pages (at least not in my copy).

I read chapt 2 and 3 in anticipation that it would be those in the next post. Which in my book only gets me too pg 120ish.
Hugh Arai
81. HArai
Tektonica@79: It´s a good sign that you´re really enjoying GoTM. In my experience people have very different opinions about the series and the individual books, but I have yet to meet someone who has finished GoTM and stopped. Finish GoTM and you´re in it for the full ride :)

@new readers:

- To echo some others, never assume even the most directly involved participants to a given event are reliable witnesses.

- Remember _everyone_ has a history and reasons they do what they do. One of my favorite things about this series however is that even those individuals with vast and even epic pasts can still form likes and dislikes, take chances and follow whims.

- Don´t get caught up in measuring relative power levels. They vary depending on situation, past history, external environment, advance preparation, reflex times, just how committed the individuals involved are, and luck, random or sometimes manipulated.

- Enjoy the ride! :)
82. EarthandIce
Hi all, I decided to start reading this series when I saw a post about it over at the Wheel of Time re-read. By the way, hi Tektonica and lostinshadow. I do not post comments over there, most of the time I get around to reading the post and comments what I want to say already has been.

I have to say when I started reading Garden, I had already read the comments on the opening page, about paying attention. I do have to say this series so far is no harder to follow than a Tom Clancy book, one of the ones he wrote, not the franchise he has farmed out to others.

I do look forward to reading comments, but please do not put too many spoilers in. Or if you do, let those of us know by "Spoiler Alert" or some such, please. I will have cookies........
83. Abalieno
I also had a friend who thought the book was rather easy to follow.

The problem is about lots of details and layers that one easily glides over. Lines of text that have various meaning to them depending on how you approach them and what you know.

On the surface, as long someone keeps the various threads separate, the story flows rather well. But you'll have to wait another couple of BOOKS before the actual scope is revealed ;)
Amanda Rutter
84. ALRutter
Hi all!

Loads of bits and pieces to catch up with again - love you all for keeping the comments coming and being so enthused about this re-read :-)

I do believe we are going to the source i.e. Mr Esslemont to find out where his novels should slot into the main reading order! As soon as we have his reply, I shall report back to you guys to let you know what is coming when - and the index will be updated. Y'all know about the fancy Index, yeah? All of the posts will appear here as we go along, so bookmark it up real good...

As to when the posts will be put up, we're working towards a Wednesday release, so this will be a weekly event! I shot chapters two and three across to the Tor guys, so they should appear by magic on this here site at some point tomorrow.

I'm a reader who gets *very* invested and attached to characters, so I envisage some heartbreak ahead!
Tricia Irish
85. Tektonica
Amanda@84: Thanks for the update. I look forward to Wednesday.

This book is great. So far, the plot isn't hard to follow, (pg.400) but I despair that I'm missing all the intricacies that Abalieno mentions! I'm trying to read slowly to savor the excellent writing and some profound turns of phrase, but I hope you guys start pointing out/arguing/discussing connections and foreshadowings, character and motivation, or I fear I'll miss a lot, finish the books, and have to start all over to get the inside poop.

Yeah, Amanda, I'm fearing heartbreak myself! There are some wonderfully complex characters.


Thanks for the shout get over to WOT and Post!!

Edit: For missed letters...
a a-p
86. lostinshadow
Hi EarthandIce@82:
I echo Tek's sentiment... join the fun at WoT too! Abalieno@83 says, plot appears easy to follow until several books later in the middle of another totally unrelated plot you read (or gloss over?) a comment that actually undermines and makes you reevaluate those apparently individiually simple plots.

but still, don't stress too much about it all; otherwise you won't be able to enjoy a truly magnificent story while trying to ferret out plot twists. Let the story take over, it's definitely worth it and if you miss a few thing here and there ::shrugs:: that's what rereads are for. ::grins::
Thomas Jeffries
87. thomstel
@74 Alisonwonderland

Color me embarrassed: you are correct that I very much should have qualified my statement with at least an "IMHO".

When I popped that comment in, I was really thinking of the "more rewarding" part strictly in conjunction with the "more difficult". In other words, I find that when I have an "AHA!" moment in Malazan, the satisfaction is greater by far than that same feeling I would get when I was reading WoT on a regular basis. Some of that sentiment is colored by the decline of the WoT...momentum(?) the last few books, which equates to many years of Real World time. Again, this is all from my POV, not intended as a general statement of Truth (tm). ;)

In addition, there are several key parts of the Malazan tale that are absolute emotional wreckage with me when I read them, no matter how familiar I am with the scenes. Any section from the Chain of Dogs is bad news for me to read in public given that I'm likely to look up and have tears in my eyes. WoT had that capacity for me at one time (A Cup of Sleep cut deep the first couple times for sure), but the magic there is nearly gone for me. Chalk it up to Bitter Old Man syndrome I suppose.

Our Milage seemingly does vary, but I trust we won't hold it against each other too much. The good thing is: WoT is WoT, and Malazan is Malazan, and never the twain need be compared again. :)
Brian Vrolyk
88. vyskol
Awesome! If any book or series ever needed a reread and in-depth analysis, The MBotF is it. After 1 read-through and 1 reread, I still find myself going, "Huh?" and having to immediately reread entire chapters. The last few books almost had me feeling like I was studying a text book rather than reading a novel. And I still don't really "get" the last one.

But the payoff is well worth the extra care and attention required by these books. I am very much looking forward to future installments of the reread.
a a-p
89. lostinshadow

The Chain of Dogs, is some of the best writing ever, definitely not meant for consumption in public.
Robin Lemley
90. Robin55077
I am so excited to have found this blog that I am like a small child on Christmas morning! Everyone has a favorite author and or series and for each of us the reasons are personal as to what marks a particular work as our favotite. For me personally, Malazan Book of the Fallen and Erickson/Esslemont are so far over the top that everyone else has been left in the dust. I say this not to try to convince anyone else that this is the "absolute best piece or writing out there" but to simply let you know that on a personal level, it is for me. Therefore, I am so excited about finding this site and participating in this experience. I am an avid reader of Fantasy and have been for many years, but have no friends (or even acquaintenances) with whom to discuss the Malazan. Life is now good! :-)

I will be re-reading the series along with you at this time and am very much looking forward to it. I did a complete re-read when Dust of Dreams came out and had already planned another re-read prior to release of the next book.

I am so looking forward to this ride!!
91. WJD

Robin, if you are looking for people to discuss your thoughts and test out a few theories on all the books and don't want to wait for this re-read to make it to DoD to do so I'd try and make your way over to the forums. I know being able to talk out my theories and the confusing parts has really helped with my understanding and enjoyment of the series.
Robin Lemley
92. Robin55077

WJD, thanks for your suggestion. I will certainly check it out. I have one character in particular I have never been able to figure out so that may be the forum for me to do so. Thanks so much!
Adam Bodestyne
93. thanners
Ooh, when did this start? (rhetorical -- I can see the date at the top of the post)

I'd bookmarked a search for the "Malazan Re-read of the Fallen" tag, and randomly checked it every so often, so it was a pleasant surprise today when I checked and saw this entry.

It's quite the epic undertaking you've begun, and I'm happy to be tagging along.

Christopher Byler@32: Yes, you can definitely see the influence. It's like having layer upon layer of history, of different cultures and their myths (in some cases the ancient cultures are myths themselves), except they all exist together at the same time!
Robin Lemley
94. Robin55077
I believe what may be the most prophetic line in the prologue occurred when Paran is talking to Wiskeyjack about the death of Dassem Ultor and the fact that Dassem may have betrayed a god. Wiskeyjack tells Paran to heed the lesson. Paran asks what lesson, and Wiskeyjack says:

"Every decision you make can change the world."

Reading that line in hind-sight sent a shiver down my spine. At the age of 12, Paran would have most likely believed that "no" decision of his would matter to the world.

Just remember this line when you get to the later books!
96. Herbefol
@ Robin55077 & Amanda
That line is already impressive but I like it more when the whole line is complete :
"Every decision you make can change the world. The best life is the one the gods don't notice. You want to live free, boy, live quietly."
As the rest of the series will show that was a really, really good advice, to live quietly. ;-)
97. Techmaestro

I just started reading this book again and this just caught my eye:

"'You're the fisherman's daughter,' the old woman said....'Seen you and your dad at the market. Missing an arm, ain't he?'"

Both daughter and father disappeared and until now I had never realised what might have happened to the father. Does he become Dujek?
Tricia Irish
98. Tektonica

No, not Dujek....the time line alone precludes that. But he does appear in Deadhouse Gates. Have you read that? Do you want me to tell you who he is?
Rob Munnelly
99. RobMRobM
Started a few days ago. Up to p. 209. Still trying to figure things out.
Sydo Zandstra
100. Fiddler


Hope you catch up soon. :)
Robin Lemley
101. Robin55077
Re: Kruppe's Dream.......a warren?

I just thought I would add that I am half-way through a reread of Memories of Ice and during a scene between Wiskeyjack and Dujek, Wiskeyjack states as follows:

"And then, at the parley, we all discover who was responsible for Tattersail's rebirth. As Silverfox, a child of a Rhivi woman, the seed planted and the birth managed within an unknown warren."

He goes on to state:

"What Kruppe manipulates is circumstance. Somehow, I don't feel we are fated to dance as he wills. There is an Elder God behind the Daru, but even there, I think it's more an alliance benefit, almost between equals. A partnership, if you will."

Dujek replies:

"An alliance of equals. What, then, does that make this Kruppe? Is he some god in disguise? A wizard of magnitude, an archmage?

Wiskeyjack shrugged. "My best guess. Kruppe is a mortal man. But gifted with an intelligence that is singular in its prowess. And I mean that most literally. Singular, Dujek. If an Elder god was suddenly flung back into this realm, would he not seek out as his first ally the greatest of minds?"

Dujek's face revealed disbelieving wonder. "But, Wiskeyjack...Kruppe?"

Obviously, from Wiskeyjack's point of view, Kruppe's dream is a warren.
Nathan Martin
102. lerris
I just started the series.
I'd recently seen the newer books on the shelf and dismissed it as another series in progress and possibly another significant commitment ( my reading time isn't what it used to be ). That, and it wasn't clear where to start.
This reread pushed me to pick up GotM, and finished chapter 1 at lunch today, after which I then read this post.

So far, enjoying it.
Steven Halter
103. stevenhalter
Cool, should be a good way to start.
Bouke de Boer
104. Bouke
Picked this up from the WOT Re-Read...

::waves:: to all familiar faces

Hmm, looks like I just might have to pick up another series. I'm just beginning to discover that the whole fantasy genre is way bigger (and richer!) than I first imagined. Started off with Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms, worked my way into WOT and onwards from there, adding aSoIaF and Mistborn to the list.

I am definitely going to need more time!
105. Naina Redhu
Oh noes. I thought the Malazan re-reads would be a podcast / audio version. Shucks.
106. Tony Heath
I just picked up this book for the first time on a whim... never having heard of it before... and about halfway through it I just happen to literally "StumbleUpon" this website and review... How fortunate
107. kingryan69
I was just going to read along but felt I should say something.

There are two kinds of fantasy readers that I see post on these...

The " I love fantasy thats predictable" people, these people love Jordan, Tolkien, salvatore, pretty much anything where they KNOW that the hero wins in the end. These are the ones who feel that because its fantasy there should be no really unpleasant surprises. Everything happens the way THEY would like to see it (such as Rand al thor being in a love triangle where the women love eachother rather than try to kill eachother) or how the right person always finds the right knowledge or artifact "JUST IN TIME".

Then there are those of us who enjoy being surprised even unpleasantly and enjoy the building of the story. We like the realism even in a fantasy story and we love when people act like we think they would act in real life. such as the constant betrayals in ASOIF and the plotting and backstabbing in MBTOF.

This why I feel,
1- the MBotF is a far more engaging read than WOT for several reasons.

for me the main ones being that WoT lost its appeal about 3 books ago when it turned into filler to make more books, and the cliche driven plot of WoT gets tedious as does the whole "will he or wont he turn evil" and "will he finally choose one of the many women who love him." WoT started out as an amazing series with a detailed world and a solid plot, but the last few books are so filled with lame filler that I almost put it down.


2- anyone who says that ericksons writing isnt making them feel, apparently didnt read the chain of dogs, the Beak chapters, the death of whiskeyjack, the death of Trull Sengar, the death of anomander, the death of Toc anaster, or the destruction of Tool and his family. some of these moments rival the Red Wedding of George RR martin for sheer emotion. Some of us dont need 10 books to become attached to a character, when its well written you can become attached in a chapter.

Now as for the reread, I do one every time a new book comes out, this series is awesome because everytime I do a reread I find something I missed or overlooked. although I dont really like ICE's writing I read them because they do fill in backstory. RoTG and NoK especially.
108. kingryan69
I was just going to read along but felt I should say something.

There are two kinds of fantasy readers that I see post on these...

The " I love fantasy thats predictable" people, these people love Jordan, Tolkien, salvatore, pretty much anything where they KNOW that the hero wins in the end. These are the ones who feel that because its fantasy there should be no really unpleasant surprises. Everything happens the way THEY would like to see it (such as Rand al thor being in a love triangle where the women love eachother rather than try to kill eachother) or how the right person always finds the right knowledge or artifact "JUST IN TIME".

Then there are those of us who enjoy being surprised even unpleasantly and enjoy the building of the story. We like the realism even in a fantasy story and we love when people act like we think they would act in real life. such as the constant betrayals in ASOIF and the plotting and backstabbing in MBTOF.

This why I feel,
1- the MBotF is a far more engaging read than WOT for several reasons.

for me the main ones being that WoT lost its appeal about 3 books ago when it turned into filler to make more books, and the cliche driven plot of WoT gets tedious as does the whole "will he or wont he turn evil" and "will he finally choose one of the many women who love him." WoT started out as an amazing series with a detailed world and a solid plot, but the last few books are so filled with lame filler that I almost put it down.


2- anyone who says that ericksons writing isnt making them feel, apparently didnt read the chain of dogs, the Beak chapters, the death of whiskeyjack, the death of Trull Sengar, the death of anomander, the death of Toc anaster, or the destruction of Tool and his family. some of these moments rival the Red Wedding of George RR martin for sheer emotion. Some of us dont need 10 books to become attached to a character, when its well written you can become attached in a chapter.

Now as for the reread, I do one every time a new book comes out, this series is awesome because everytime I do a reread I find something I missed or overlooked. although I dont really like ICE's writing I read them because they do fill in backstory. RoTG and NoK especially.
Robin Lemley
109. Robin55077

@ 89. lostinshadow
"The Chain of Dogs, is some of the best writing ever, definitely not meant for consumption in public."

I definitely agree with you there. However, even more heartbreaking for me was the 14th's march from Aran to Raraku in HoC. With every step taken by the 14th I relived the Chain of Dogs (only in reverse). As they marched up Aren Way just the mention of the trees brought tears to my eyes. As they approached the River Vather (and all other crossings), I experienced once again the sights, sounds, smells, and yes, even the fears of Coltain's crossing.

Although Erickson obviously intended that we as readers parallel that trip in reverse as the 14th marched north, he did a great job of not re-writing those scenes into HoC as I think a lot of writers would have been tempted to do. Erickson left it up to us as readers to experience that march north in our own way (exactly as each soldier of the 14th had to find their own way to deal with it), with such emotions (or lack thereof) as we chose. For me, it was every bit as emotional (sad, terrifying, horrifying, etc.) as the original Chain of Dogs' trip south had been. Personally, this is one example (among many) of why this series is so far above any other for me in terms of favorite.

Some readers have complained that they are not able to emotionally connect with the characters. I find that I myself have the opposite problem in that I seem to emotionally connect to nearly "every" character. But that is what makes this read so great for me. It is weird how some writers can draw us in so deep with the characters and some miss at that. And sometimes, there is no rhyme or reason for that. I think we bring our own personalities and experiences with us when we read and as a result we react to the words on the page in our own personal way. I find myself drawn so far into the Malazan world that I forget it is "Fantasy" as I read.

A Jeeves
110. Artur al Yorks
Received the first three books as a Christmas gift, and about to start book 5 of GotM.
Today I searched for and found this re-read page - and must express how grateful I am. Thanks Bill, thanks Amanda, and thank you Tor.
And an appreciative hello to all you fans, your comments and your support. Eager I am to become one of you (not quite a Yodaism).
"I see you"
Tricia Irish
111. Tektonica
Welcome Artur al Yorks! Good thing we're not too far'll catch up in no time. The reread really helped me get started on this series (I was a newbie too) and the posters are very helpful and insightful! (I'm now in book 6!!....can't put it down.)
112. Carolynh
This is my first read of this series, too. I started it once before and almost immediately realized this would NOT be one of those books where you could ignore the poems, etc. at the start AND I would have to give the book a higher level of attention than most other fantasy novels. So i put it aside until I thought I could give it the attention it deserves. I'm starting to read it now, just finished chapter one. I'm really enjoying Amanda's comments. Many of them mirror my own impressions. I'm sort of "afraid" to read Bill's, as I'm not sure I want to know the things he talks about before I experience them first hand.

My favorite line so far is Paran's "The world doesn't need another wine merchant."
Steven Halter
113. stevenhalter
Carolynh:Welcome aboard! For the most part we are doing pretty well in this reread of marking spoilers. So, it's newbie-friendly as long as you don't read them ahead of your book. Bill's comments, in particular, have stuck to the chapters being reread.
114. BrokenFiction
I can't believe I missed this in my Twitter feed, but I just started my first time read of GotM as well. I've never read any Erikson, so I'm really looking forward to it - and this blog is a great way for me to make sure I didn't miss anything important. Great job, all.
Stuart Watson
115. stuman
In the middle of Reaper's Gale atm, very glad I found this blog/re-read!!!

This is the most amazing (and challenging) literary work I've ever read!

Love it, though at times I still get certain ideas and concepts jumbled up in my head lol

The cast of characters, locations and history can be daunting work to digest (at least for me) but I persevere and love every word and drop of newly discovered info I can squeeze out :)

This blog will certainly help me to re-examine and enjoy the subtleties that I'm sure were missed the first time!

Warm Regards & Thank you for taking on such a monumental endeavour for us!

And Thank you Steven Erikson for creating such an amazing world in which our minds can play!!!!

Stuart Watson
116. stuman

Agree 100%

The "Chain of Dogs" sequence was really the point where all my suspicions solidified and I knew/felt that BOTF was a very rare and special creation.

Was one of the most emotional and heart-wrenching literary journeys I've ever taken.

It seems that as a reader, we either "get" Erikson and his style/prose or we don't...

Very glad that it hits home with me :)

In all my 40+ years of exploring works of Fantasy, Erikson's masterpiece takes the top honor.

So very glad I took a chance one day in Borders and picked up Gardens heh

It completely changed my concept of what a "Fantasy" work can be and blew all previous expectations and conclusions out of the water.

Just very glad to be here :)

Kimani Rogers
117. KiManiak
Hey all. So, another newbie joining the reread. Tek has been encouraging me to read GotM and join for awhile, and I’m glad she did.

::waves:: Hey Tek, Fiddler, Amir, RobMRobM, Kah-Thurak and all of my other WoT reread folks!

I’m looking forward to catching up with you all, so that I can hopefully join in on the discussion, and that some of you OGs out there can clarify some of this for me. Cuz, my God, I swear sometimes I feel like 9 things happened in a particular passage and I only picked up on 2 of them.

I echo Tektonica@16’s request to drop those hints (like Mieneke@54 mentioning Laseen was blue-skinned and Topper was grey-skinned; I completely glossed over that) and the warning about Spoilers. Speaking of which…

I also appreciate that you guys look out for us newbies by warning us about Spoilers (Thanks for the Rules, Amanda). I truly appreciate that; I freely admit that I didn’t even read this first post until I had finished GotM for fear that something may have been spoiled (completely unnecessary as it turns out, but GotM was incredibly intriguing and intellectually challenging, and I just didn’t want to take the chance).

Anyway, looking forward to it…
119. Rlynn
I see alot of posts that compare Wot with MBotF when to me the only series even close would be Cooks Black company.
I enjoy both writers very much but Ericson's writing reaches me on a much deeper lvl.
Hugh Arai
120. HArai
Rlynn@119: I think most people are comparing WoT with MBotF in that both series are lengthy and epic in scope covering multiple continents, a host of nations, huge casts of characters and dozens of plot lines winding through multiple books. I think you're right that the MBotF often feels more like Cook's Black Company, but the Black Company series is smaller in scope.
122. Amal
It has been a month since I finished GotM. Reading this post, I am crying out "Hell, did I miss something...!!!"

I was putting off reading Deadhouse Gates, but now i think the sooner i purchase it the better.
David C
123. David_C
I read a lot of fantasy, and discovered GoTM a looong time ago, but this web-site just today.

I wanted to jump in on the MBotF versus the WoT thing.

I think that one thing that makes WoT difficult to write well is that all of the main characters are so incredibly powerful and important. It's to Tolkien's credit that he didn't write the LoTR with elven ring-bearers as p.o.v. characters. N.K. Jemesin (10000 kingdoms) and Elizabeth Bear (All the Windwracked Stars) do amazing things with gods (or godlings) as central characters; but most writers fall flat. I love the writing of Guy Gavriel Kay, but the Fionavar tapestry is my least favourite of his writings, and again he struggles with central characters that are too large. I think that one of the fair criticisms of the later parts of the MBotF is that the metaphysical stakes keep getting jacked up.

I suspect that another big difference that people don't comment on, but surely must influence how we like the books is the completely different social mores reflected in the two series.

To help other readers peg my tastes, I like (perhaps not in exactly this order)

Sean Stewart (in particular Cloud's End)
Guy Gavriel Kay
Sean Russell (in particular the World without End books)
SE and ICE
Philip Pullman
Patrick Rothfus
George R.R. Martin
JRR Tolkein
R Scott Bakker
Robert Jordan
124. Philip Risa
I know I'm about 2 years too late on this thing but I just started reading Malazan because I heard it was awesome, but ground to a halt after the 50th character viewpoint in the first 2 chapters.

I need someone to convince me to read it. Or let me me quickly explain what I like and then you can all tell me how the series is not for me....

My favourite author right now is Brandon Sanderson. I just finished the Mistborn series and Way of Kings and loved every bit.

Obviously because they are amazing stories with amazing characters but also because, after reading Mistborn, I knew I could trust Sanderson to explain later on in the series even though I didnt understand something right when I read it.

There where a few spots in Mistborn where I thought to myself, "Hey that doesn't really make sense, (ie. why can people burning tin see through the mists), but I'm not going to ruin a good story by nitpicking" only to later find out that it didn't make sense, but there was a valid reason for it.

I don't get this feeling from Erikson. I feel like by the end of the series I'm going to be left with a gazillion loose-ends and unexplained pieces of magic that the hero/heroine can do "just because they can".

Am I wrong? Should I just push through the first book to discover an amazing series that is not at all what i think it is?

Please help!
Anneke van Staden
125. QueenofDreams
It is totally worth reading. Just have faith and read it - I just sped through it without thinking too much about it, and I've loved the series. Most of your questions WILL be answered, it's just that Erikson doesn't tend to do info dumps where everything gets spelt out all clear and neat. He lets those explanations gradually come out as you get to understand the world more. The only book I had any trouble with was the 8th book (Toll the Hounds) but even then, the ending of that book still blew me away. If you're having any trouble, I'd suggest reading the posts in these rereads as you go through the books, just to clarify things. Honestly, persevere with this. tMBotF is my favourite fantasy series around for a reason. (I'm with you on Sanderson as well though, love his stuff!)
Gerd K
126. Kah-thurak
If you really need to understand everything that happens and how it works in a book to enjoy it, then the Malazan Book of the Fallen will probably not be your thing. In many cases you will only get an incomplete picture of what is happening and sometimes, the things you read are just the thoughts of a character who simply is flat out wrong. You will also not get a complete explanation of the "Magic System" which is something Sanderson puts very much weight in. The powers of the various characters are diverse and dont allways follow the same rules.

Nevertheless: You will never truly know whether you might not have really liked these books before you finish the first novel. It might be an effort to get into these books, but if they are "your thing", they are the most rewarding fantasy books out there.
Darren Kuik
127. djk1978
I agree with Kah-thurak. It may well be that this series isn't for you, but I think two chapters is not enough time spent for you to make that decision. I would suggest finishing this book and then deciding if you want to read the rest.

But you should be prepared to not have everything wholly explained, and possibly not wholly resolved. Info dumping is rare and when it is done it's done within the context of a PoV of a character meaning it isn't always 100% true.

Keep going, give it a chance. There are a lot of characters and a lot of points of view, but most of us have come to love (or at least enjoy) many, many of them.
128. Alex_W
Hi Amanda and Bill, hi all.

I've started to read Gardens of the Moon this week and surfing through the web, I found this page. I'm quite new to the fantasy genre. My Genre until now was more "crime-fiction". But I've decided trying out something new know. To be honest, the TV-Series Game of Thrones put me on this track :-). Since I don't like to start reading a series which is not finished yet (like ASoIaF), I decided to get into the Malazan series instead.

First thank you Amanda an Bill for this reread. I found it to be very interesting to read your commentaries about the Prologue and the first chapter so far. Also so the comments of other readers. It is my goal now to read the whole series and always, after finishing a chapter, to come to this site and to read what you others think about it.

Usually I dont comment myself on such sites. But this time I just could not resist. I was just too excited after finishing reading the first chapter of the Book and reading all the comments about it here. My few friends don't read fantasy or don't read at all, so I am very happy to see my excitment shared at this page. Thank you all for that.

Last I want to apologize if my English sucks too much. But my mother-language is not English. So excuse the bad writing please. But I've decided too, to read the books in English since I prefer to read them in the language they were written. I don't appreciate a lot translations.

So looking forward to emerge deeper into the Malazan world. Until some other time maybe.

129. Ed Avern
I stumbled upon these posts a few years ago and thought it was interesting. Anyway, recently I began my own Malazan re-read (I've read the early books a few times but the later ones only once) and thought I'd come back here and read along.

Don't know if you guys check the comments this much later, but if you do please accept my thanks - this is a great set of posts.
Sydo Zandstra
130. Fiddler
Welcome Ed.

I do check every now and then. So if you want to discuss things, feel free to add posts :)
Alex P. W.
132. Alex_W
Hi Ed

I'm checking too. I'm on my first read though and now near the end of Deadhouse Gates. I'm slowed down a bit at the moment. But I take my time to read at least a tiny little bit each week :-)

Have fun with your reread and the comments here.
George A
133. Kulp
Still paying attention as well. I envy you the first time reading experience, enjoy.
Sanne Jense
134. Cassanne
I'm also rereading (though slowly), now halfway Deadhouse gates and will occasionally post a thought or two into these old threads. So there's still a small trickle of life :)
135. MayCeeJay
It's been three days since I finished my first read of Malaz series. With kids, work, uni and life in general, it took me a year to read. A YEAR of my life! how good a book must be to suck you in like this. Anyway, three days later...I've just opened Gardens again, I just couldn't resist.
My curiosity about plot satisfied, I plan to savour the all the nuances this time around; also I need to tackle few plots/characters lines that remained a mistery to me. I hope to find more hidden clues on re-read. On top on my agenda - MULES! There is something about them, that drives me crazy. Their relationship with Pust and Kruppe, their significant and never fully explained prowes, I need to get to the bottom of it.

In regards to the above than, has anyone noticed a single mule observing Paran, as he approached the village with Constabulary in it. Single and last living thing in the whole area (even dogs were gone). And on top this mule was LAME! Carefull SPOILERS - is there any merit in an argument that Pust's mule was also his servant (Sorry's father) who was the only person spared by the hounds? From previous description we know Sorry's Dad had only one arm, so is it actually not a random mule but lame incarnation of this single survivor of the purge, watching Paran trod by, before he's off to join Pust in Seven Cities? You think I'm onto something?
Alex P. W.
136. Alex_W
Hi MayCeeJay

Welcome here. It's always nice to see, there are some other late posters here :-)

I'm only on my first read of the Malazan titles. I've only read GotM, NoK (by Esslemont) and DG so far. I don't remember the Mule watching Paran but very good observation of you! :-)

I have no idea if that Mule is Sorry's father. But I tend towards it's not him. But yeah it's nice to see that it survived the Hounds. Maybe when a Hound attacked it, it defended itself so well, they let it go? :-) Or they just did not care to kill it? Since the purge was against the humans in that village not about the animals. The other animals probably were just fleeing the scene with those 7 hounds around?

By the way, I think Ganoes afterwards went back to Unta first to his home and then he went to Genabackis to take command of the Bridgeburners and to watch over Sorry on orders of Adjunct Lorn. Or are you talking here about something in a later book that comes timewise after the three books that I've read until now?

Have you read the Esslemont books as well? NoK was pretty good I think and as people say, they get better with each book.

I needed 3 Month for these three books. Since I'm working 100% and have other things to do in my freetime too then reading of course. I plan to read all the books in the series including the Esslemont ones. My next one will be now MoI of course which I will read together with the reread here on this page as I have done so with the other three books as well. Which slows me down in reading of course too :-). But it's fun going along with this reread here and doing so gives me insights into the story I would have missed and gets my mind going even more. This way I get almost everything important about the story and I won't have to reread everything again later I think, as I am not much into rereading books myself, I have to admit.

So have fun.

Sydo Zandstra
137. Fiddler
It's always good to see new people join up. The more the merrier :)

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