Amph Steven Erikson - The Malazan Book of the Fallen

Discussion in 'Community' started by Mastadge, Jan 3, 2006.

  1. DRHJ9 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2003
    star 4
    Orb Sceptre Throne, cannot get here fast enough...

  2. Asharak Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2003
    star 4
    TCG spoilers:





    One of the things I really liked about TCG was that we got a war, and not just one final battle. Book 1-8 were so epic that I didn?t see how Erikson could construct a battle that could possibly feel more satisfying than those we had already gotten. It seamed to me that after 8 books of "build up" the overall climactic showdown of the series had to be really big and long lasting to warrant those 8 books. If the Forkrull Assail were to be the great enemy of the series(in hindsight), then they as a force and obstacle had to feel and be much more than the threat represented by The Edur, Pannion and Raraku rebellion separately. The final enemy had to feel much grander than that.

    I therefore though it was a good move by Erikson to have the Forkrull Assail, Tiste Liosan and K`Chain Nah`ruk(and the Eleint supposedly), be allied. It wasn?t just this one group of uber powerful enemies, but pretty much all the bogeymen of the Malazan world joining together. Not forcing this into one final confrontation, but rather having at least 14 separate battles made this feel much grander than anything else in the series, and not so much like a one off incident as it would if it was only one battle. It never occurred to me that in the span of his last two books Erikson would give us as big a war as the War for the Ring(from Lord of the Rings, where a huge amount of battles happened of screen according to the appendices).

    I?m a big fan of the Wheel of Time and ASOIAFs first three books, and their respective authors should take note. WOT has been building to a final battle for 13 books now, and ASOIAF for 5, the conflicts has to match that build up, or the build up wont work. If the war against The Others doesn?t dominate the last 1-2 books of ASOIAF, or the final battle in WOT isn?t particularly big, then why spend thousand of pages building up to it? Erikson has set the bar high, and it will be interesting if the other two great fantasy sagas of our time can deliver on the same level, at least emotionally.
  3. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    Finished The Crippled God.

    I'm quite ambivalent about it.

    In a way it does well represent Erikson with regard to both positive and negative. The positive? Some smart concepts that are well-executed and well-realised characters. The negative? Too fixated on the harsh and mad and bad aspects of life, too pessimistic an outlook.

    The big problem? This isn't actually as much of a conclusion as it's sold to be and the flipping around of the Crippled God from one of the major adversaries to victim in need of salvation and defence is a move I'm not sure really works. If you've read the series from start to finish, there are a good few flapping plot threads that seems oddly untidy. Take for instance the battles at the shore near Kharkanas, it all builds up and then stops. We're told throughout the Liosan have this overwhelming advantage, that it doesn't matter how much they lose and then after the big battle? They've somehow lost. I also found that Erikson's soldier viewpoint rendered the battle incomprehensible and stripped it of any weight. I just never really connected that much to the Shake characters, the Liosan? Cardboard fanatics, but with lots of dragons... Talking of dragons, that's the other big void. We learn that Starvald Demelain holds all the dragons and is sealed, that seal gets bust, loads of dragons get free and then? Dunno. There's no mention of it. No talk of how the realm gets resealed, it's just left.

    The Forkrul Assail worked well as the villains - arrogant, obnoxious, they were perfect. Watching each of them be killed, with the rig pulled out from under them was very satisfying. And I always like seeing Shadowthrone and Cotillion, that those two kicked it all off made a lot of sense.

    In the end, I'm just not at all sure about the series as a whole. I suppose it might be said there are the books by Ian Esselmont, but I can't help but think relying on readers to somehow know of them in order to get the full story, without any signposting to them in the Malazan books, is a hell of a gamble. I'm also wondering if those books will also have the nerve to resolve these and other hanging plots. For some, the untidyness of it all makes it more realistic, but for me, it just looks like an author doesn't know what he's doing, that all the talk of a grand plan was just talk.

    When I got to the end, I thought the book had recovered well from the first 500 pages where nothing much happens. Characters like Fiddler can make up for a good many weaknesses. Although, now I've got to the end, Erikson would probably be better with a far harsher editor to rein him in.

    I'm now no longer sure about whether to get Orb, Sceptre, Throne, maybe I should just bail on this here.
  4. DRHJ9 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2003
    star 4
    ^^

    - The battle with the Liosan...That was only a fraction of the Liosian army. Esslemont goes into more detail on what their main army is up to in SW.

    The Realm of Dark was undefended, since The Andii left. Mother Dark just returned, so it fell to the Shake to defend it. I thought this was one of the best parts of the book. A race that were basically peasants in the realm of Dark, stood up to the enemy of the Race that subjugated them. The Watch was awesome in that last battle on the first shore.

    -This is off the top of my head, but I thought that the battle with Korabas and the eleint sealed the opening....with her death? Man it has been awhile!! I have forgotten more than I should!

    I have to do a re-read.....

    I would definitely get ICE's next book, if you are still interested in the overall series. He goes back to Darujhistan, and SP : The Segulah
  5. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    Thanks, I'm guessing SW = Stonewielder?
  6. JEDI-SOLO Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 12, 2002
    star 5
  7. Garth Maul Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 6
    Just started Stonewielder, actually. I think I enjoy Esslemont more than Erikson, at least in terms of comprehension, and I enjoy the Crimson Guard.
  8. JEDI-SOLO Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 12, 2002
    star 5
    The 1st chapter of Orb, Scepter, Throne is out on the Malazanempire forums if anyone is interested. Yall really should go check that place out. It is just like this place without all the strict lang rules so us adults can be adults. Its really a quite fun place to visit and there are really cool people. Im Briar King there so please take a look at the place.
  9. Garth Maul Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 6
    So far Stonewielder is actually one of the most enjoyable Malazan reads so fr (50% done).

    Esslemont is less philosophical and wildly creative,but also more grounded and I find his prose easier to follow.

    Looks like Jedi Ben had the same reaction to TCG that I did.

    Looking back on the series, I find one of the biggest problems in the series is that there seemed to be no real rhyme or reason to how events played out or even how certain characters became Thor/The Hulk-level superheroes.
  10. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    Decided to get Orb, Sceptre, Throne after all, but it has to get in line behind Night of Knives, Crimson Guard and Stonewielder, so it'll be some time before I get to it.
  11. Garth Maul Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 6
    Finished Stonewielder. Definitely one of my favorite Malazan reads.

    Only problem is that the Lady (heavy plot spoilers follows) turns out to be essentially a part of the Crippled God, right?. Which doesn't really jive, to me, with The Crippled God.

    Again Esslemont, just like Erikson, doesn't always focus on things I would like them to focus on. For a novel entitled "Stonewielder", they sure don't have Greymane in it enough in my opinion.
  12. Asharak Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2003
    star 4

    I got OST yesterday, pretty interesting thus far.




    Stonewielder spoiler:







    Pretty certain "The Lady" was TCG. Not just a part of, but the one and only. You have to remember that SW happend before DOD. Korelri seemed to be basicaly his stronghold in the Malazan world.




  13. Garth Maul Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 6
    What about the whole thing with Burn?

    I kinda felt like the Crippled God was actually the Shattered God, and I'm pretty sure they made reference to TCG being "Shattered" at one point in Stonewielder.

    It's confusing because it seems like The Lady was a separate entity in many ways (from TCG), and to tell you the truth, I'm still not sure I understand who the Stormriders are and why they were set against The Lady.
  14. JEDI-SOLO Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 12, 2002
    star 5
    Damn I really have to read the Isslemont books...
  15. Asharak Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2003
    star 4
    Stonewielder spoilers:






    "The Lady" was just a front for The Crippled God. As Shell said at the end of the book, the Shattered God/The Crippled God had been masquerading as the Lady the whole time. There probably never was a real "The Lady".
  16. Garth Maul Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 6
    No, I get that, just thought it was an interesting...manifestation. When we go back in time to when she/it first appears, it's as a giant female, isn't it?


    now reading Orb, Sceptre, Throne - must be hard for Erikson and Esslemont to make sure their characters stay the same between authors - Kruppe seems a bit off so far, but not enough to bother me.
  17. Asharak Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2003
    star 4
    I think Kaminsod just though it was easier to take control of the inhabitants of that area if he abused their belief in a good and well meaning goddess.



    "now reading Orb, Sceptre, Throne - must be hard for Erikson and Esslemont to make sure their characters stay the same between authors - Kruppe seems a bit off so far, but not enough to bother me."



    I think it?s amazing that he manages to write Kruppe as good as he does, must have demanded a lot of effort. It?s probably because it?s a year since I read TTH, but I really don?t see much difference.

    I?m loving the Seguleh parts.



    So Garth, which characters did you feel suddenly became powerful without explanation? I want a chance at rebuking you.
  18. Garth Maul Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 6
    Huh too many books to remember :p As much as I criticize Erikson, he and Esslemont have done an unbelievable job in world and mythology building.

    I guess to quickly answer your question right now (I'm at work), I really enjoyed the use of tarot in the Deck of Dragons and how certain sides/characters were on the rise or decline at any given time. Of course, we're not told in any way how this works.

    We do see some gods/Ascendants working to increase or maintain their popularity and faith from the masses, which seems to give them power. But we see other people seem to become Ascendants or close thereto, without any particular reason why it has to happen.

    I get that even in human history, there seems to have been "champions" who were basically the Michael Jordans of battle, and some people think that's how we get our myths of Achilles, Heracles, Moses/Gilgamesh, etc.

    So some humans just are supremely talented in battle.

    But when it gets to the level of Yedan(?) the Shake prince who just kills 8,006 Tiste Liosan, it's a little much.
  19. Asharak Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2003
    star 4
    "But when it gets to the level of Yedan(?) the Shake prince who just kills 8,006 Tiste Liosan, it's a little much"



    Yedans power made sense to me for several different reasons:


    1.) It was made clear several times in both DOD and TCG that there was great power in the blood of Twilight and Yedan, because of their royal inheritance they had the potential to be powerful. And the closer they got to the shore, the more powerful they became.

    2.) Yedan is "The Watch", which much like Shield Anvil, Mortal Sword etc. gave him abilities.

    3.) At no point is Yedan shown to be anything but a great warrior. He was never "the young farm boy" that somehow managed to beat "the uber powerful dark sword master", he had trained himself all his life.

    And the most important reason of all:

    4.) He had the "Insanely Laughing Hust sword" that originally belonged to Silchas Ruin (probably the "mother" of all Hust blades). It was described several times that the sword moved on its own in battle and in general gave him power. Sure, point 1-3 clearly mattered to the efficiency of point 4, but the power of a Hust sword was mentioned so many times in the chapters about the battles at the shore, that it clearly was the main reason.


    So what do you think Garth? Feel free to throw me another one. Going back to reading OST now.
  20. Garth Maul Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 6
    Good points all around Asharak.

    But the Hust sword is a macguffin that came out of nowhere, and the other points are like saying "the plate fell off the table because of gravity", without explaining what gravity is. What does a Shield Anvil mean? Why does his blood give him more power the closer they get?

    Eriksson never really gives us the rules of how his world works, and he leaves plot lines hanging. I get he's doing more of a postmodern fantasy series and making it "realistic"in that everything isn't wrapped up in a nice package, just like real life, but that doesn't mean it's a satisfying read.


    I love the world building, he's had some memorable characters and relationships and incredible scenes.

    But I found his overly-bleak viewpoint increasingly difficult to slog through and unfortunately, in TCG, I felt like he had to jam stuff in there and characters like Paran who werent even mentioned literally for books at a time.

    The other problems I had were with the Assail suddenly being the main villain and asking to care about Kolanse when it hasn't been developed at all, and the bait-and-switch with the Crippled God himself, which IMHO was inconsistent with how the character was presented for 9 previous books!

    I think Dust of Dreams was generally pretty awesome, which was another reason why TCG felt like a letdown.
  21. Asharak Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2003
    star 4
    ?But the Hust sword is a macguffin that came out of nowhere, and the other points are like saying "the plate fell off the table because of gravity", without explaining what gravity is. What does a Shield Anvil mean? Why does his blood give him more power the closer they get??



    Anny form of magic in any book or film cold be summed up in ?It works because it works?. You can?t explain magic in ?real? detail, because it?s not real. Why can the Jedi lift things with their minds? They feel and communicate with the force. What is the force? It?s an energy field that surrounds us all, and penetrates us etc. Yes, sure, but what is it? Where does it come from? What made this power? Living beings. But why does living beings create the magic that?s called the force?

    What is a Hust sword? The Hust swords were made by the smiths of Kharkanas, with the power of Darkness 300 000 years ago. What is the power of darkness? It?s one of, or perhaps the original source of magic. Yea but what is Darkness?

    Anyway, your original argument Garth was that some Malazan characters suddenly became more powerful out of the blue without explanation, and you used Yedan as your example. But as shown in my last post, a bunch of reasons were given in the books for his strength. He didn?t suddenly become more powerful from one page to the next without it being pointed out by the author. You don?t have to like the reasons for his ability, but Erikson didn?t ignore the matter.

    The explanation for titles like Shield Anvil and such is that someone decided to call it that at one point, and people continued to use it.





    ?The other problems I had were with the Assail suddenly being the main villain and asking to care about Kolanse when it hasn't been developed at all, and the bait-and-switch with the Crippled God himself, which IMHO was inconsistent with how the character was presented for 9 previous books!?





    Whether you like the Assail or not as villains are a subjective thing I guess, though I thought there mentality as a race had been shown pretty well before book 9. I don?t think we are supposed to think of them as the main villains of MBOTF as a whole though. ?The Forkrull Assail alliance?(Assail, Nah`ruk, Liosan) is the main villain in book 9 and 10, much like TCGs Tiste Edur empire is the main enemy in book 5, 6 and 7. There are continuing storylines in the Malazan series, but each book is a novel on its own, with a story with a beginning, middle and end.

    I don?t think we were ever expected to care for the country Kolanse. The stakes at the end was that the Forkrull were going to kill humanity and every other race, and that TCG had to be freed so that 1) Nobody could ever leach his power again 2) Burn wouldn?t be destroyed by TCGs poison and 3) Nobody, not even a seemingly monster like TCG deserves to continue to suffer like that for all eternity (100 000 years of pain is just insane).

    I disagree about TCG being inconsistent. He is supposed to be suddenly a very different guy when he is reassembled on the barrow. When he was freed from the pain he became who he originally was, a pretty sympathetic guy, but he did say/and remember that the constant pain had turned him into an insane being who mostly wanted to hurt everybody else.

    I will write a response to some of your other points later.
  22. Garth Maul Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 6
    What about the Bridgeburners? They become Ascendants why....because they're really badass?

    And TCG: I understand he was released from his pain, but in every manifestation in the first 9 books, he really seems evil. In his warren/island realm thing with Burn, his manifestation as The Lady in SW, using the Pannion whatever in MOI which were weird zombie cannibals. And the threat against Hood's Realm and the souls trapped in Dragnipur, that was from the Crippled God, right? Because he had poisoned the Warrens?

    You obviously have a deeper appreciation for and comprehension of the series than I do, and some of the stuff I'm sure I'd see more clearly the 2nd time I read it. In my defence, the only time I usually have to read is before bed, so I might have a bit of a gap in my own comprehension. :p I'll definitely re-read the series in a year or two.


    Actually, since you're the expert, question - why did the gods want to chain TCG? Why not destroy him? I'm sure they talked about that before but I can't recall off the top of my head (I realize the Assail had the heart). It does seem that Tavore &the BH at least believe they need to destroy TCG, and I get that the gods were quite frankly scared of risking their necks.
  23. Asharak Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2003
    star 4
    "What about the Bridgeburners? They become Ascendants why....because they're really badass?"


    Paran blessed them in MOI, that?s the main reason, and the Tano spirit walker gave them a song. Whiskeyjack was already worshiped as Iskar Jarak, so he had a little more oomph than the others, and because Hood made him his general he became the head honcho in the realm of the dead after him.


    "You obviously have a deeper appreciation for and comprehension of the series than I do, and some of the stuff I'm sure I'd see more clearly the 2nd time I read it. In my defence, the only time I usually have to read is before bed, so I might have a bit of a gap in my own comprehension."

    :)

    I think the series has its flaws, but I find the series overall is the best fantasy series out there. It?s possibly the only series of its kind out there were the books are long because there is a lot of story to tell. In comparison with ASOIAF after having waited 6 years for "A Dance With Dragons", it was insanely frustrating to discover that GRRM didn?t bother to move the story more than a baby step further. He spent a 1000 pages on wheel spinning, and claims it?s his best book yet. In book 1 of ASOIAF we were told that "The Others" would attack any minute, and that Danny would invade Westeros, 5 books later it hasn?t happened. Erikson spends a lot of time on philosophy about life in his books, but he delivers every time. Every book has tons of huge epic moments and battles, and the status quo has usually changed a lot between the first and last page of his book. Pacing wise he kicks Jordan and Martin easily.


    "And TCG: I understand he was released from his pain, but in every manifestation in the first 9 books, he really seems evil. In his warren/island realm thing with Burn, his manifestation as The Lady in SW, using the Pannion whatever in MOI which were weird zombie cannibals. And the threat against Hood's Realm and the souls trapped in Dragnipur, that was from the Crippled God, right? Because he had poisoned the Warrens?"


    But that?s the point, his pain had twisted his mind. When the pain went away he became "sane" again.

    The Dragnipur/Gate of Darkness stuff had nothing to do with TCG specifically. Chaos is a part of the universe, and it?s been chasing the "Gate of Darkness" for a long long time. Dragnipur was apparently meant to be a temporary solution to protect it. The Kharkans books will probably make the origin of that problem clearer.
  24. Asharak Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2003
    star 4
    Continued:


    ?Actually, since you're the expert, question - why did the gods want to chain TCG? Why not destroy him? I'm sure they talked about that before but I can't recall off the top of my head (I realize the Assail had the heart). It does seem that Tavore &the BH at least believe they need to destroy TCG, and I get that the gods were quite frankly scared of risking their necks.?

    If TCG broke free of his chains, he would try to leave the world on his own, but to do that he would use his power in a way that would damage the world seriously (possibly destroying it).

    Just like the Assail, gods and other powerful beings had leached power from TCG in the past and wanted to continue to do so.


    Stonewielder spoiler:






    My impression on the killing thing: To kill TCG you had to either kill most of his individual parts or possibly the heart. As said in DOD and TCG, the three biggest pieces of him landed on the Korelri continent, and in the disguise of ?The Lady? he had made it impossible for anyone to take them from him. His heart landed in Kolanse where TCG had just like Korelri taken total control of the area, but at some point before the series began the Assail invaded with their armies and took control of the heart. I don?t think killing TCG (outside of Caladan Brood using his hammer on the world), was a possibility at any point before the time of MBOTF.

    It?s not said in the books, but I suspect the Pannion Empire was created to protect pieces of TCG in Genabackis, and The Tiste Edur Empire to protect pieces within the Leatheri Empire.
  25. Garth Maul Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 6
    Yes, I agree with your last point. This is where a re-read would come in handy, although to tell you the truth, I'm not sure how much of MBOTF was made up as we went along. Obviously some of the major plotlines were carefully mapped out. I still think he could have taken some of the plotlines out and maybe cut it down to say 8 books.

    In some ways, he and Esslemont could have split the series up a little more evenly between them, but obviously MBOTF was Erikson's story to tell.


    With respect to Martin, I agree - I honestly only read the first 4 books and when it started to suffer from the same pacing problems as WOT, I stopped. I expect I will read the entire series when (if) Martin finishes it.

    Though I complain about the length, I agree that Erikson was good at developing his plotlines. Ironically the series suffered I think from a lack of character development simply because he had so many different plotlines to deal with. :p

    Y'know, maybe that's my real problem with the series, when I talk about characters "suddenly" becoming super-powerful. Maybe it's that we don't have much character development and internal dialogue with most of the characters.