Spanning two authors and twenty-one books and counting, the Malazan series defines EPIC. With an awesome magic system, fantastic characters and world-building, and more than a couple of very angry gods, it’s a fantasy editor’s dream series. But when there is so much Malazan out there, new readers can’t help but ask “where do I start?”
And that is an excellent question, dear reader. So, I thought it would be best to take this question right to the source. I set out and asked the creators of the world of Malazan, Ian C. Esslemont and Steven Erikson, what they thought was the best order to experience the series. Keep in mind that what they provided is by no means definitive. So with the authors’ and editor’s stamp of approval, here is the best way to get the full Malazan experience.
1. Forge of Darkness: Where to start? With the first book in the Kharkanas series, which takes place millennia before the events of the Malazan Book of the Fallen and introduces readers to Kurald Galain, the warren of Darkness. It is the epic story of a realm whose fate plays a crucial role in shaping the world of the Malazan Empire.
2. Fall of Light: Next up is book two in the Kharkanas series, which continues to tell the tragic story of the downfall of an ancient realm.
3. Dancer’s Lament: What comes after the downfall? The founding of a new empire. Esslemont’s Path to Ascendancy series focuses on Dancer and Kellanved, the founders of the Malazan Empire.
4. Deadhouse Landing: Go deeper into the founding of the Malazan Empire with the second book in the Path to Ascendancy series.
5. Night of Knives: Drawing on events touched on in the prologue of Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon, Night of Knives is a momentous chapter in the unfolding story of the extraordinarily imagined world of Malaz.
6. The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, Volume One: Get to know the famed necromancers Bauchelain and Korbal Broach before they turn up in Malazan Book of the Fallen!
7. Gardens of the Moon: The first book in the famed epic fantasy series Malazan Book of the Fallen. The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand.
8. Deadhouse Gates: The Whirlwind is coming. Unprecedented in size and savagery, this maelstrom of fanaticism and bloodlust will embroil the Malazan Empire in one of the bloodiest conflicts it has ever known.
9. Memories of Ice: Marking the return of many characters from Gardens of the Moon and introducing a host of remarkable new players, Memories of Ice is a momentous new chapter in Steven Erikson’s magnificent epic fantasy.
10. Midnight Tides: Ancient forces are awakening as two sides gather for a pivotal treaty that no one wants in another tense and exciting tale in Malazan Book of the Fallen.
11. House of Chains: House of Chains marks the beginning of a new chapter in Malazan Book of the Fallen, as raiding parties, raw recruits, warlords, and more collide in the aftermath of the Chain of Dogs.
12. The Bonehunters: The rebellion has been crushed. But elsewhere agents of a far greater conflict have made their opening moves…
13. Return of the Crimson Guard: The return of the mercenary company the Crimson Guard could not have come at a worse time for a Malazan Empire exhausted by war. But it comes at the perfect time for Malazan readers.
14. Reaper’s Gale: The Lethrii Empire has sprawled beyond its Mad King’s control and a god of the ancient Holds roams the streets unchecked. Fate decrees that there is to be a reckoning, for such bloodshed cannot go unanswered—and it will be a reckoning on an unimaginable scale.
15. Stonewielder: There is a new Emperor on the throne of Malaz, and he is dwelling on the ignominy that is the Empire’s failed invasion of the Korel subcontinent. In the vaults beneath Unta, the Imperial capital, lie the answers to that disaster. And out of this buried history surfaces the name Stonewielder.
16. Toll the Hounds: Anomander Rake, Son of Darkness, rules the city of Black Coral, the spoils of his war alongside Dujek’s host. But all is not well in the city, and the wages of ancient crimes are finally going to be paid.
17. Orb Sceptre Throne: Darujhistan, city of dreams, city of blue flames, is peaceful at last; its citizens free to return to politicking, bickering, trading and, above all, enjoying the good things in life. Yet there are those who will not allow the past to remain buried.
18. Blood and Bone: On the continent of Jacuruku, the Thaumaturgs have mounted yet another expedition to tame the neighboring wild jungle. Yet this is no normal wilderness. It is called Himatan, and it is said to be half of the spirit realm and half of the earth. And it is said to be ruled by a powerful entity whom some name the Queen of Witches, and some a goddess: the ancient Ardata.
19. Assail: Casting light on mysteries spanning the Malazan Empire, and offering a glimpse of the storied and epic history that shaped it, Assail is the final chapter in the epic story of the Empire of Malaz.
20. Dust of Dreams: The Bonehunters are an army without a nation and their Adjunct clearly has a plan, it’s just a matter of surviving long enough to see it all come to an end.
21. The Crippled God: The climatic end of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. As all the forces race to try to take control of The Crippled God and stop what could possibly be the end of the world.
This article was originally published on the Tor/Forge blog.