Book Review – Deadhouse Gates Book 2 of the #Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

I am glad I didn’t give up on this series after my initial wave of vile feelings toward Gardens of the Moon. Wow, what a book! I’m spent! I’ve now learned that I need a few lighter reads in-between Erikson’s works. Please note that I try my hardest to write “spoiler free” reviews. I love comments on my blog – feedback is truly why I write reviews in the first place. Please make sure you don’t post spoilers in your comments or I won’t approve them.

Deadhouse Gates read slower than most fantasy books that I’ve read, but I did not find this to be a bad thing. Instead of being bored, the author enthralled me with his imagery. Erikson’s rich vocabulary coupled with excellent sentence structure produced a work that borders on a poem. It took effort to see what lay beneath the paper and ink, but under that surface I found an entire ocean.

The multiple plot-lines within Deadhouse Gates were vast and it was hard to tell which (if any) were central to the tale. That is a compliment as each of the plots were essential and they all came together neatly at various points within the story. There were several scenes that were downright genius. The one that comes immediately to my mind was a certain “promotion”. If and when you read Deadhouse Gates, you will know exactly what I am talking about.

The characters within Deadhouse Gates were portrayed so much better than in Gardens of the Moon. There were a few characters I never got a good feel for and hence had no real interest in their sub-plot. However, most of the major characters had true depth. I learned in good detail their inner desires and internal conflicts through their outwardly acts and their inwardly introspections.

I started to understand Erikson’s world better as I read Deadhouse Gates. This was something that had completely eluded me in Gardens of the Moon. The world within Deadhouse Gates was a very scary place. I would not want to live in Malaz. Battle scenes were vivid and brutal. Tortured warriors, dying men, and corpses of women and children lined roads that criss-crossed the entire map. The flies that came to feast on their blood were relentless in their pursuits.

The ideas regarding “warrens” and how they exist were totally unique (for anything I’ve read at least). How everything in the world tied to various warrens, from magic and the gods to physical locations intrigued me. The magic systems within the world were mysterious too. Hints were made about how they worked, but like the rest of Erikson’s work, it seems it takes effort (and multiple volumes) to truly understand. The world building that took place to create the Malazan Empire and beyond was truly incredible and has resulted in a work of genius!

Overall I give Deadhouse Gates 5 out of 5 stars. Much better than Gardens of the Moon at 2!

You can buy it here:


Book Review – Gardens of the Moon, Book 1 of the #Malazan Book of the Fallen

Okay, so it’s about time I reviewed a book I read a couple of months ago. Prior to reading it, I had read a lot of reviews and did see some warning signs that book one might be hard to digest for some readers. I also saw that the series had a huge fan-base devoted to the Malazan empire – this devotion is what prompted me to invest my time in the first place. Not wanting to get involved with another long (TEN epic Volumes) series just yet, Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson had been sitting on my shelf for almost a year as I read other books. In August I finally took the plunge out of pure curiosity.

First I will go over what I liked in this novel – the writing. Steven Erikson has a way with words. I had read a couple of reviews saying the opposite – harping on Erikson for using the same few uncommon words over and over. I simply found this to be untrue. His language use was beautifully dark and sinister. At times I felt I was reading an epic poem instead of a novel. His style of writing is not something you can learn so much as it is part of his nature. I envy writer’s with this gift.

What some people may not like, but I can appreciate is the twisting maze full of dead ends, shifting corridors, and nasty traps Erikson guides his readers through. Some folks like this style of writing as it challenges them to stay on their game as they turn each page. Other people tend to want an easy to follow story where they can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Erikson has given us a glossary at the back of the novel which will come in very handy to those falling in the first category. If you fall in the latter, I would not recommend this book.

Now on to what I did not care for in the story – the characters. Erikson’s large list of main characters was quickly introduced to us and all of them (save for one who talked in the third person) appeared exactly the same to me. By this I mean their mannerisms were identical, their language was too similar. Even their thought processes were unoriginal, focused solely around their own survival in a world out to destroy each of them in a very personal way – all the while they were indiscriminately killing other poor souls who crossed their paths. There was no real buildup – fast or slow – explaining what defined the characters and the actions they took throughout the book. I was simply thrust into the middle of the story and expected to pick favorites based on what I still am not sure.

As an aspiring writer myself, reading Gardens has taught me that a great book is nothing without its characters. Prior to reading Gardens, I had been focusing too much of my own plot-lines around the story I want to tell, rather than character development and getting my readers invested which is the real reason they keep turning the pages.

The question now is: “will I continue on with this series?” I believe I will as I have read reviews saying book two is much better than its predecessor. If you have read it, what do you think (see Poll)?

Overall I give Gardens of the Moon 2 out of 5 stars, but who am I to say you won’t love it?

You can buy it here: