I began reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen series with initial delight at the scope of the world, at the characters, at the raw creativity Steven Erikson brought to the table.
I remained impressed through the first four volumes. The introduction of the world and the Bridgeburners in Gardens of the Moon remains a highlight for me. Coltaine, Duiker, and the tragic betrayal of the Chain of Dogs in Deadhouse Gates was brutal and beautiful. Whiskeyjack in Memories of Ice. The Karsa Orlong story in House of Chains, and the heartbreaking resolution to the Sha’ik storyline. The scale was grand and the storytelling top notch. Sure, each volume changed the focus of the series, but it all still appeared to tie together.
Then we got to Midnight Tides and Erikson brought in the Letherii. That was a tough book to get through. It was a whole new setting that made little sense for everything that came before. Completely divergent.
My problem now, with Toll the Hounds (book 8), is that I have no idea what the hell is going on anymore. I’ve no objection to Erikson killing off major and beloved characters with a gusto that would shock even George R. R. Martin. Hell, I applaud it.
But you would think by the eighth book in a ten volume series I would have a clue as to what the overall arc is to this series. You’d think, but you’d be wrong. I don’t.
Oh, there are glimmers that this is a confrontation with the Crippled God and that Ganoes Paran will have a role to play as Master of the Deck, and that there will be this great war of Gods and men who are more than men…the clues are there as to what Erikson might be up to. Assuming that I’m even reading the clues correctly.
By book eight of ten, shouldn’t we know where this is going? At this point I’m still trying to figure out who some of the characters are and how they connect.
Basically, I’m wading through pages and pages of sludge to get to the next major action piece that be a signpost of advancing story.
Steven Erikson confuses me.
I’ve invested this much time that I want to finish the series, and Erikson has been popping out new volumes like clockwork, but this has ceased to be simple pleasure or a series I could ever recommend. After House of Chains I would have said that this is a big, bold, complicated series that gets better with each volume and is worth the time investment.
I no longer feel that way. Oh, sure Kalam’s extended fight near the end of The Bonehunters was everything I ever wanted from the series, and I did rather enjoy the March of Hood in this book, but that sort of goodness is few and far between. I don’t feel that Erikson has lost his way, but I do feel that he is over-indulgent as a writer.
This Snickers fails to satisfy.