Friday, January 20, 2012
Admitting Defeat - The Malazan Books of the Fallen
When I read Gardens of the Moon (first of Steven Erikson's massive 10 Malazan Books of the Fallen epic series) some months ago my intention had been to gradually read each of the books, finishing up with the final of that particular section of the series; The Crippled God. There are five planned books by Erikson's co-creator Ian Cameron Esslemont, 4 of which are currently out, and Erikson himself has another two trilogies and 6 novellas planned. I was going to confine myself to Erikson's 10 books, and possibly read the Esslemont's if I enjoyed the Erikson's enough.
I found Gardens of the Moon tough going at times, but not particularly hard to follow, as some have said. I didn't find myself getting caught up in the story or warming to any of the characters, although I must confess to liking Kruppe and his penchant for referring to himself in the third person. Various events in my reading life meant that I was delayed from reading the 2nd book in the series; Deadhouse Gates, until December of last year.
Like Gardens of the Moon I struggled with Deadhouse Gates. The ending was spectacular, but again it took a long time to get there, and although I knew this was the case, it didn't make the fact that it followed a completely separate storyline to the one begun in Gardens of the Moon any less frustrating. I did ask myself multiple times throughout the book exactly what the point of it all was. Both books showcased a seemingly endless struggle between warring parties of which the members seemed to vacillate between sides on a whim. In that particular book the cast expanded significantly and Erikson killed off the only character I even came close to connecting with, although I thought he was probably doomed from the start anyway.
I hate giving up on books or series, so I dutifully picked up Memories of Ice this month. Some of what I'd read from various bloggers said that if you had been able to stick with the series through the first 2 books then Memories of Ice provided a payoff of sorts because it was an excellent book, well Kruppe returned and I liked some of the exchanges between Toc the Younger and Lady Envy, but there was still a disconnection for me, and I have to admit I gave up halfway through the book. I haven't given up on a book for years without finishing it, but with Memories of Ice I didn't see the point in continuing. For whatever reason the series just wasn't grabbing me and apart from Kruppe, largely because I find him funny, and Toc and Envy, I really didn't care about the rest of the characters.
The fact that The Malazan Books of the Fallen didn't do it for me is in no way a reflection on the quality of the series. It's actually quite well written, if in my opinion, under edited. I just felt that after two and a half books and near 2,000 pages there should have been something to keep me reading and for me there just wasn't.
So, I have to admit that The Malazan Books of the Fallen have claimed another victim.