Help me read these books!

Jun 19, 2013
I am looking for a new series after completing the wheel of time.

I started gardens of the moon a couple months ago but after 150 pages put it down and I never do that.

At the same time I have this feeling I I cool come to understand and get ino the books I would love them so I'm giving in another shot. I started dead house gates, but decided to go back to gardens.

Is there a website I can use to read some history so when I'm reading I understand the world a bit better.

The problem I'm having is it feels like he is using part English and part another language and expecting me to understand. I know fantasy is fantasy an they create new worlds but the ones I have read describe the world, not just assume I know. Confessors in the sword of truth are explained, new races are described. Does malazan ever do that? Or does it just call someone a jaghut and leave it for me to make something up?
I don't think there is a historically documented piece on the series. I quit after the second book. I could not relate to any characters, the story was just there with no explanation of a beginning or an inclination of an end either. I also failed to see the highly emotional ending of DHG because there was so much going on.
Have a look at the Malazan Wiki:

I would try again to read the books without the help of the Wiki, simply because the sudden understanding of races, and culture, and politics as the story progresses is something that, in my opinion, puts the Malazan series (both Erikson and Esslemont's books) above other epic fantasy series.

To answer your question: yes, the Malazan series does eventually describe everything. It's not until the third book, Memories of Ice, that things start to become clear (and arguably not until the fourth, House of Chains, that you start to really understand everything), but you'll find that you can get a handle on what's going on pretty quickly (even if it's just the immediate events, rather than the whole saga leading up to those events).

Regarding Deadhouse Gates, which is one of my favourite Malazan books, I'd strongly advise not starting with it, as the majority of the storylines within it follow characters from Gardens of the Moon. I started with DHG and liked it enough to go back and start the series proper from GotM, but I suffered far more confusion than if I had just started with GotM.


What's interesting about the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, is that you can actually start it from a few different points. GotM is the obvious first book, because it was the first published, but you can also start with the fifth, Midnight Tides, and then jump back to GotM. The reason for this is that the events in MT happen parallel to those in GotM, and the cast is entirely new. It's possibly an easier book to read, as it doesn't chuck you into the middle of a war, and because it doesn't jump around as much, but you should note that the characters aren't visited again until the seventh book, Reaper's Gale, when some of the major storylines converge.
If you really feel like you need the outside info, I would stay away from the Malazan wiki - you will get way too many accidental spoilers - I recommend after you read a chapter you check out . They break down events in each chapter in every book, and keep it spoiler-free. Also, for some extra incentive, the quality of the writing jumps dramatically up after the first book.
Thanks. I know I'll like it once I get into it. I just keep putting it down. It's not a page turner so far. But alot of books are like that. You can't expect to love the characters right away.
If I remember right, there's a midway point where Gardens of the Moon expands into a new range of characters. It can be a little disorientating, and getting to know the characters can take a little while. However, by the end of that book at least it does feel generally coherent. However, depends on whether you're into high fantasy and magical worlds.
I was thinking. I don't like the Tolkien clones like terry brooks, I feel that they lack originality, so when Ericsson creates a big universe, while it may be hard to understand at first, maybe that is because it is so different than the typical wizardry an it might be the best thing ever.

Even martins books that I like but don't love, are pretty along the lines of medieval fantasy. Malazan seems very original. I've been reading gardens today. It may be growing on me. It also maybe because I am rereading the beginning.
I prefer having to build up the story than have no idea whats happening and expect to understand whats going on. Oh and the 500 (exaggeration :)) characters POV's was also annoying.
I prefer having to build up the story than have no idea whats happening and expect to understand whats going on. Oh and the 500 (exaggeration :)) characters POV's was also annoying.

Read somewhere that there was 1200 characters in Dust of Dreams. Felt like it at the time of reading, but I have to... :)

IMHO Ericson is a genius and one of the truly orginal voices in Fantasy.
When I first picked up Garden on the Moon, I too had trouble getting into it, and put it down about a third the way through. But awhile later, maybe a few months, not sure, I saw it on my bookshelf and decided to give it another try.

I was very happy that I did. The second chance was much clearer and entertaining in my mind and I quickly became a fan of Erikson's works. There is a massive scope to these books, so much that even Erikson has trouble reigning in all the characters, but I definitely finished the series thinking it was worth the read. It is definitely something quite unique.

Memories of Ice is amazing.
I think I wasn't sure what to make of Gardens until the rooftop chase scene in Dharujistan. After that I was invested.
So far at page 179 this book is phenomenally good. I just finishe the chase scene with crokus and I felt like I was watching it. Awesome. I hope they don't kill off crokus, paran, or kruppe.
I can see why people like the series, but after finishing Gardens of the Moon I decided the series wasn't for me. Too much uncertainty, lack of explanation and so forth.

Personally I wouldn't worry about not being into the series if you're, er, not.
IMHO Ericson is a genius and one of the truly orginal voices in Fantasy.

I highly doubt that. Just because someone dumps you into a world without any prior knowledge or build up to a plot and introduces characters left right and centre, then symbolises puppet strings being cut in warrens to kill mages doesnt mean he is a genius, like Stephanie Meyer didnt reinvent vampires by making them sparkle. I want to be entertained, not to sit thru each and every page wondering what the heck is happening and just trying figure out where I am in the book. Mystery and suspense is obviously good but splitting it up across many characters and books doesnt work for me.
I think I wasn't sure what to make of Gardens until the rooftop chase scene in Dharujistan. After that I was invested.
That bit for me, too :) The day after I finished Gardens I went straight out and bought Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice. That was it, I was in for the duration.

I think it's a Marmite series. Obviously, I'm in the 'love it' corner. It's my favourite fantasy series. I loved being thrown into this world in the middle of these huge events and being left to discover it for myself. I loved the sense of history about it, loved the characters, I found it thrilling. It's also rewarded re-reading like no other books I've encountered.

I'm eager to do another re-read at the moment, but I need to get my TBR pile down a bit first . . . :D
I also put down the first book after the first 60 pages or so (ebook format) but recently picked it back up, because then, I say five months or so ago, while I was doing college, decided, 'If I am going to get into an epic fantasy during school, I might as well take notes as I read, so as not to forget anything, or be able to quickly go back to something, noting: the races, names, little tid bits about the plot and characters.' Although it was a daunting effort at first I feel like my memory serves me better as I do this with his universe should I have to take a break again. Don't know why I put it down in the first place, probably because of school, but I tried, and I am gonna keep on now since I haven't read anything fantasy related since then and am do for a fix.
Ok. I have now read the first three and for a while there was hope. But I've got 60 pages left on memories and I just don't care. Here's why.

-I know that's its going to be depressing. It's not going to have a happy ending.
-it is overly dramatic to the point that I'm just rolling my eyes. I mean, when you read about something horrible happening and read for the 20th time. "She new this image would be burned into her mind for the rest of her days". It loses its power. When everything is described as the ultimate horror it becomes just for shock value. Toc being hugged by a big mamma lizard? That's just stupid. And then they kill him. Great.

-the malazans make no sense. First off they are g.i. Joes. I think that's how the author picked their names. Whiskeyjack? Yeah...that's cool if you are 14. And the malazans have way, way fewer troops an talk an act like idiots and somehow they kill wizards and monsters and its explained because they have really good training and discipline. Oh and if they erver need to win the author just gives them more bombs.

- I wanted a universe that was different but this one is stupid. I guess different is t always good.

-overly confusing. Not only does he make up new names for everything. Which is good. But tere are just too many and half of everything has multiple names. Like treach. Just leave it at that. It doesn't have to be trade too. Or cotillion also known as the rope. Also known as dancer. Aka the patron of assassins. Pick one. We get it.

-And there are warrens. Ok. Give me one to learn what those are. But no. Just when you're starting to kinda figure it out before warrens there were holds. But lo! Before holds they migrated! Whatever. It doesn't make any sense anyways.

- the author seems like he could tell a good story but isn't good at coming up with things to tell stories about so he just becomes a shock writer. Over and over trying to come up with something more depressing and horrible. But there isn't anything good that ever happens

- no like able or deep characters. I like to get to know the characters. Like Richard Rahl or rand al Thor. There aren't any good characters. There are way too many so you neer learn much about any. They aren't realistic and have no depth. I think Ericsson just came up with an idea for a personality an rubber stamped them out. Whiskey jack. He is going to be the classic gruff, army type. But there is never anything that makes him unique. He's just a stereotype.
I have about 200 pages left in Deadhouse Gates, I have to say I am with Northocean in many ways, I feel half the time I want to stop after this 850 page volume and at others I feel obsessed that I have to go find a copy of Memories of Ice.

I loved Gardens of the Moon and really had a "Wow! This is great!" feeling during the rooftop 3way battle, partway thru, BUT I feel I only just got to that point in DHG.
I do enjoy the style where everything isn't spelled out for the reader but it does get to be too vague a lot of the time.
Unfortunately I really have no time for rereads, well except when I reread some of David Gemmels books a few years ago.

Thank you guys for your helpful comments and links.
I'm sorry to hear that both of you aren't particularly enjoying them.

I've never been one who was particularly impressed by MoI, I have to say. Sure, there were some incredible battle scenes (and I am still amazed that something like one hundred pages can be given to the taking of a city without it going stale), but the subplots didn't really hold my interest, and to this day, the Mhybe remains the character I most hate reading.

So whilst GotM had me interested from the moment we got to Darujhistan, and whilst DHG is one of my favourites of the series, I wasn't truly hooked on the series until I read the fourth book, House of Chains. HoC, to me, really ties together the first three books, and starts to give you answers and explanations to most of what's already happened. It also sows the seeds for the rest of the series, introducing characters and themes that carry through to the end.

That's just my view. It's a series of ten books (if you don't count Ian C. Esslemont's, which mostly occur within the same period as the final two of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series), and if you don't like the first three, then getting through the fourth is a big ask.


I feel like I should clarify various comments on "re-reads". Those of us who re-read the series do so because we enjoy it. We may go on about how much you pick up on re-reads that you probably missed the first time, but that doesn't mean you have to re-read to get the series - indeed, it's completely possible to read every book in publication order just the once and to come out the other end being able to say, with certainty, what happened, and being able to explain 95% of the various elements that make up the world.

Because the Malaz universe is so fully imagined, earlier books in the series obviously contain elements that aren't described or fully explored until a later book in the series. If you re-read the series, then you can be trucking along through a book you think you knew, only to find something you missed that sheds light on some event, giving you a brand new perspective. There are even times when it gives you a better understanding of something, which then changes how you see events in later books.

Re-reads give us deeper experiences of the series that a single read-through cannot possibly achieve.

For that reason, Erikson and Esslemont are master worldbuilders and storytellers. As much as I love, say, Iain M. Banks' Culture series, you can tell, as you progress through it, that the universe was being expanded with each new book - you won't find something new that was described in book five in book one. With the various Malazan books (including Erikson's new prequel trilogy), the universe is fully-formed, and each book, rather than tacking something new on, takes you deeper into what is already there.
Re-reads give us deeper experiences of the series that a single read-through cannot possibly achieve.

I'm excited about my next re-read for this very reason. It'll be my third read through of the main sequence - apart from Reaper's Gale, which I skipped last time because I wasn't so keen on it first time around, and TCG, the impending arrival of which was the reason for my last read through. As a result, I suspect I'm going to pick up on even more this time through. I'm also going to slot in the Esslemont books at the appropriate places, as I have yet to read Stonewielder, Orb Sceptre Throne, or Blood and Bone.

Shame that others aren't into these books, but it'd be a boring old world if we all liked the same thing. Life's too short to be reading books you're not enjoying - especially doorstoppers like these :)