Malazan Book of the Fallen – Series Book Review

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-By Caleb Jones

1. Gardens of the Moon The Malazan Empire (vast, Roman-like empire) is set to conquer the fable city of Darujhistan. It’s going to be tough, since the city is vast, wealthy and powerful, filled with assassins, demons, and wizards. A crack team called the Bridgeburners must infiltrate the city and prep it for invasion.

This was one of my favorite books in the series, which is high praise considering I had no idea what the hell was going on during the first 50% of the book. Action packed. The characters from this book are the ones I liked the best and were the most excited about whenever they re-appeared in later books.

2. Deadhouse Gates A continent away, several groups fight to support or prevent The Whirlwind Apocalypse. A renegade army must also travel across the desert while being pursued by a desert army backed by an angry goddess.

I didn’t like this book much, mostly because it doesn’t contain very many of the characters introduced in Gardens of the Moon. However, most people seem to like this book a lot. I have a feeling if I re-read it I would like it more.

The really grim stuff starts in this book. There’s a young woman named Felisin, and man, some seriously horrible things happen to this girl during the entire novel. Some other protagonists die in some seriously horrible ways. Wow.

3. Memories of Ice Back to the characters from Gardens of the Moon, the Malazan Empire’s army, now a renegade army, must team up with its enemies to fight a new power in the south, an army of undead-like cannibals.

This is my favorite book in the entire series and one of my favorite books of all time! The entire thing is start to finish filled with fantastic characters, fantastic enemies, deep and rich cultures, and amazing action. Highly recommend it.
4. House of Chains Yet another army arrives in the desert to take on the Whirlwind. Various heroes, villains, warriors, and factions do battle. I don’t know any other way to summarize this one.

This book is fantastic. The first several chapters are devoted to Karsa Orlong, who as I said, is my favorite. There are many other amazing characters including Onrack the Broken, Trull Sengar, and Leoman of the Flails. One of the best books in the series.

5. Midnight Tides – Amazingly, we now go to a third continent and a nation that is oceans away from all the other events in the prior novels. Backed by a tortured god, the Tiste Edur clans from the north invade the Empire of Lether, a capitalistic nation that thrives on money and sorcery. And for some reason, the dead aren’t staying dead.

This is probably the second best book in the series after Memories of Ice. I couldn’t put this book down; I craved more the more I read it. Fantastic.

6. The Bonehunters Back to the original two continents: A war-weary Malazan army returns home, only to find their empire has turned against them. More chaos in the desert too. This book is a merging of characters from the first two storylines.

This book suffers from choppy writing and the flow is poor. It has so much information jammed into it, Erickson really needed a better editor. However! Despite these problems I still enjoyed the book quite a bit.

7. Reaper’s Gale All (or at least most) of the groups of characters from all the continents and storylines converge at the Empire of Lether, now conquered by the Tiste Edur. Battle Royale.

This book was fair but not great. (This is Erikson’s favorite book of the series.)
8. Toll the Hounds Back with many of the original characters from the first and third books in the series, the gods converge onto the city of Darujhistan, including Death himself.

Loved it. This is probably my third favorite book in the series, perhaps equal to House of Chains. I was sad when it was over.

9. Dust of Dreams The renegade Malazan army, now called the Bonehunters, must cross a fast wasteland to the east of Lether to face off against their final and most lethal enemy, the white skinned, immortal, and multi-jointed race known as the Forkrul Assail, who plan to use the heart of the Crippled God to wipe humanity from the face of the Earth.

This book was okay. The ending battle was fantastic, but there were many boring parts to overcome.

10. The Crippled God All of the forces from all the books converge for the final battle. Lots of people die.

Sadly, this was the worst book in the series, and the first three quarters were very painful to get through. Just boring as hell. The final quarter of the book is very fun; hundreds of pages of nonstop action with characters you’ve grown to love (or hate) over the previous nine books. But damn, those first three quarters…ugh.

In summary, I only recommend this series for those of you who really enjoy huge, complicated, long, sweeping fantastic epics. If that’s not you, you should probably stay away. If that sounds like you, you NEED to read this series. Just remember that it’s going to take a serious commitment of time, and that you need to be patient with Erikson’s lack of exposition. It pays off.

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