Starting the Malazan Series....

I'm now on Chapter 7 of Gardens of the Moon and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I loved the sudden scene switch to Darujhistan at the end of part one, that was unorthodox, completely unexpected and a terrific change of pace.

Now, the last thing I want to do is offend anyone, but I'm not finding this book complex in the slightest. Don't get me wrong it's hardly Jack And Jill Went Up The Hill, it's just no more or less complex than most stuff out there. That is to say: I don't understand why this book's complexities are such a huge issue...

I don't know about complex, but once you get into Deadhouse Gates (my absolute favorite,) the enormous scale starts to become clear. All those books are part of the same story, and while characters come and go, they all contribute to a central narrative that is awe-inspiring. I've read the entire series probably half a dozen times by now, and I keep finding more to love.

Regarding the Esslemont books, I loved most of them, because they tell you about many things that the core books never go into in detail, like the Crimson Guard and the pre-Laseen empire days. I prefer Erikson's writing, but Esslemont's not bad. That said, Orb Sceptre Throne was a massive disappointment that made all kinds of unnecessary changes to the continuity, and certainly lacked the impact of Esslemont's other books. If you have the option, I'd recommend borrowing before buying.
Malazan is the best epic fantasy for me. Probably in the top 3 in everything I have ever read. But still I find it hard to recommend. It is hard to explain. They are so big so I think it is best to just let people find them on their own. A little self-originated motivation isn't at all a bad thing when talking about trying this series out. People are often pondering the starting of this series, it is a big commitment. Usually, a normal reader does not simply read these books. I think series of this magnitude require a certain kind of special affinity from the reader. But on the other hand, before beginning, perhaps it would be wise to just cast aside all thoughts about the bulky nature of this series and just try it out. You will quickly find out if it is for you, and if it is for you, you don't care anymore if the books are door stoppers, or that some aspects in the series need a couple re-reads to fully understand them.

I too this 'casual trying' too seldom. I tend to plan my reading and schedule everything so that I could read it all from the beginning to the end. I know it would be easier to just try a first book before thinking about the series further. But part of the reason I behave like this, is the fact that I like to hype myself and study the inside and outside worlds concerning the series. In case it is a good one, I have everything set up for a bad ass journey.

The Malazan really is a journey. Often it is nice to have someone to talk to when you're going through it. There's so much to ponder and marvel. My friends are afraid of the series because of its complexity and don't easily see through it. Some of my friends don't know English too well either. But when in need of a friend, this forum, and especially the Malazan forum (Malazan empire forums) are the sources for it. Countless are the answers and details I have realized when browsing those conversations.
I have finished Gardens of the Moon. It was good entertaining fun. I may be inviting some derision when I say that Erikson's writing style is hardly exquisite, however I really liked his avent garde plotting. I feel it made the part when Doomsday, sorry, The Jaghut Tyrant appeared much easier to accept without being teed up earlier in the story.

I felt the layers of mystery were cunningly woven with a sufficient number of questions answered to leave me satisfied and also a sufficient number of questions unanswered to leave me wanting to read the next book. Which I am now doing.
Nark, the next two books happen at the same time, so read 2 and 3 for sure.
I fully intend to keep going, part two is thoroughly enjoyable so far. Waiting on tenterhooks to find out what the D'ivers and soultaken actually are, and their significance...
I just read Esslemont's Knight of Knives. It does follow well after Midnight Tides as it makes sense with what you have read of the Azath houses.
KoK is a brilliant read. One of the best of the 6 Malazan novels I have read so far. It may be easier for the writer to keep the action going thick and fast as it is one night with background mostly set before, but it is fantastically done. Also there is little of the grimness seen in Erikson's novels.