Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Deadhouse Gates

[Alright, the time has come for me to bite the bullet and write this review of the second book in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series.  I finished it way back before Thanksgiving and have put off reviewing it...I seem to have this reluctance every time i read one of these fantasies that span several novels.]

Deadhouse Gates (2000) generally continues the story introduced in the first novel of the series, Gardens of the Moon (GotM).  Though the action in this novel takes place on another continent, a few of the characters from GotM are crucial participants in events as they unfold in DG.

To distill an extremely complex story down to its essentials, we follow an apocalyptic uprising known as The Whirlwind foretold by an ancient prophecy (what fantasy epic would be complete without an ancient prophecy?).  We learn the unlikely circumstances behind its leader and some of her motivations for ridding the world of the Malazan Empire.  Much of the novel follows a garrison of Malazan soldiers under the command of a foreign warrior across the desert in their desperate attempt to stave off the rebel force.  There are some fantastic battle scenes where the Malazans use some clever tactics to hold off the vastly numerically superior Whirlwind force.  This being the Malazan universe, there are also a fair number of powerful beings (be they gods or merely so-called "Ascendant" mortals) meddling around in everybody's affairs.

Astute followers of my blog (all two of you) will recall that while I was quite intrigued by the Malazan universe, I had some gripes with Gardens of the Moon.  The most notable being that the reader is thrown head first into an extremely complex plot with close to no context for anything that is happening. Well, I'm glad to say that DG was much easier to follow than its predecessor.  Not only did I have a better grasp of the Malazan world and magic this time around, but Erikson does a more skillful job of building the plot.  The action slowly builds to high tension and is then rips loose near the end of the novel where there are some really memorable scenes.

All-in-all, Deadhouse Gates is a better novel than its predecessor.  Seeing as how I'm currently reading the fourth book in the Malazan Book of the Fallen (told you I was falling behind with my reviews), I would recommend continuing the series!

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