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Author Topic: Malazan Book of the Fallen  (Read 477 times)

Consonant Dude

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Malazan Book of the Fallen
« on: February 26, 2008, 08:26:22 am »
Is this fantasy series any good?

I've heard about it a little and was wondering if it was worth picking up. Is it true the books can be read in any order?

I don't read much "modern" fantasy. I stopped at the old classics (Tolkien, Leiber, Moorcock, Vance, Howard, Le Guin, etc...) with the exception of Dragonlance when I was a teenager and Song of Ice and Fire more recently.

Haffrung

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« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2008, 11:23:16 am »
I'm giving the first book a try right now.

Pros:

* Lots of intrigue.

* Setting is richer than your bog standard fantasy world.

* Very imaginative set pieces.

* Gritty and evocative.

Cons:

* Deals almost entirely with military situations, and the military situations are strangely anachronistic. I don't understand how you have front lines and grinding battles of attrition involving 10s of thousands of troops over many months with pre-gundpowder armies. Nor do I understand how they conscript such massive armies, or even what the point of the Malazan Empire is. It reads like WWI with swords and wizards, which doesn't do much for me.

* Characterizations are weak. Everyone is world-weary and sardonic. Halfway through the book and lines like '"You shouldn't be so sure, Captain," he scowled,' are already becoming tiresome.

I'll try to push through it, but it'll be a struggle to finish. The author has an impressive imagination and he's not an entirely shitty writer (though he doesn't  hold a candle to the Vances, LeGuins, and Moorcocks mentioned above), but he tries too hard to make it all so grim 'n tough. I just find the mix of high magic, horrific warfare, and modern military attitudes hard to reconcile.

But I may not be the best person to ask. I haven't found a fantasy novel written in the last 20 years that didn't make me cringe. And the first Malazan book is better than most of the others that I put down.
 

Grimjack

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« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2008, 01:42:07 pm »
Personally, I enjoyed the series, or at least the four books I've read.  I would have a hard time comparing it to any of the authors on your classics list (and a fine list it was) since the stories mainly deal with multiple main characters against a backdrop of large scale military confilicts and lots of magic. The books remind me a lot of Glen Cook's Black Company series or his Dread Empire? books.  In any event, IMO the books are well written and a very enjoyable read.  I'm not sure about reading them out of order though, you could probably still follow what was going on to an extent but you would miss out on some of the more subtle plot points which develop over multiple books.

I do agree with Haffrung about everyone being world weary though.  Of course in that world it is probably understandable given all the wars and the magical baddies out there.

I would recommend giving the first book a try to see if it is your cup of tea.
 

One Horse Town

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Malazan Book of the Fallen
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2008, 01:47:14 pm »
I've tried the first book a couple of times and never got beyond about 70 pages (and i never give up on books). I found it confusing, poorly written and as though the beginning of the book was in fact in the middle of the book after loads of stuff had already been explained (which, of course, it hadn't, because it was the beginning!).

I've been told that it gets better and that the first one is the weakest, which is why i've tried getting into it more than once, but i just can't read it.

Balbinus

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« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2008, 02:36:47 pm »
I have a trade paperback sized copy of the first book, which makes it too large for me to read on the tube, if you PM me your address I'll post it to you.

NiallS

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« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2008, 07:07:51 am »
I pretty much agree with Haffrung. I had read up to the most recent and found they really took a dive in quality at the Bonehunters which had all of the 'world weariness' in spades with no real character development and was just a tiresome re hash of the previous books. Haven't bothered picking up Reapers Gate.

He's at his best is when presenting his high magic and AD&D world and creatures. If you had to read one I would say Midnight Tides which is the most stand alone (other than the 1st one obviously).
 

Aos

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« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2008, 08:36:32 pm »
I enjoyed Bonehunters quite a bit, but Reaper's Gale bored me. The books improve drastically in quality after the first, but I would not go so far as to say the first was poorly written.
You are posting in a troll thread.

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Akrasia

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Malazan Book of the Fallen
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2008, 04:59:12 am »
Hmmm ... I had been thinking about getting into this series, based on all the praise it seems to get elsewhere.

The negative comments here are making me think again ...
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NiallS

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« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2008, 09:25:46 am »
Quote from: Akrasia
Hmmm ... I had been thinking about getting into this series, based on all the praise it seems to get elsewhere.

The negative comments here are making me think again ...


Some of the praise is typical fan boy wank for anything with the slightest spark of originality or imagination (and this does have both in fair amounts) which probably says more about the state of the genre than the series.

Although I have got rid of the books now due to pressures of moving house I certainly consider the money and time of buying and reading them a plus not a loss. I just feel it is beginning to suffer the same fate that say Wheel of Time, Throne of Kings and Harry Potter have, in that its threatening to drown under its own legacy and goal of being 'epic'.

That said I'd certainly place it way ahead of those three in terms of quality, consistency and enjoyability at this stage of its life cycle. Or rather as that might be damming it with faint praise, i would say it still stands to be read on its own merits, which those 3 (esp Wheel and Throne) lost a while back
 

Jason Coplen

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« Reply #9 on: February 29, 2008, 02:11:53 am »
I rather like the series, but as to date I've only read Gardens of the Moon. I don't even know what order the books are in. Could someone please clue me in?
No, this is incorrect. We don't call that Immersion. We call that "being an asshole". It's one of my personal platitudes: "Playing your character is never an excuse to be an asshole to the other players".  - Doctor Jest laying the truth out to someone.

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Consonant Dude

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« Reply #10 on: February 29, 2008, 02:19:01 am »
Quote from: Jason Coplen
I rather like the series, but as to date I've only read Gardens of the Moon. I don't even know what order the books are in. Could someone please clue me in?


As far as I know:

Gardens of the Moon (1999)
Deadhouse Gates (2000)
Memories of Ice (2001)
House of Chains (2002)
Midnight Tides (2004)
The Bonehunters (2006)
Reaper's Gale (2007)

Jason Coplen

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« Reply #11 on: February 29, 2008, 05:35:56 am »
Quote from: Consonant Dude
As far as I know:

Gardens of the Moon (1999)
Deadhouse Gates (2000)
Memories of Ice (2001)
House of Chains (2002)
Midnight Tides (2004)
The Bonehunters (2006)
Reaper's Gale (2007)


Thanks! :cool:

I'll go book hunting come payday and see what I can get my grubby little hands on.
No, this is incorrect. We don't call that Immersion. We call that "being an asshole". It's one of my personal platitudes: "Playing your character is never an excuse to be an asshole to the other players".  - Doctor Jest laying the truth out to someone.

Running: RQ & HarnMaster

KrakaJak

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« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2008, 03:19:19 pm »
My Girlfriend is Knee deep in them right now (she's halfway through book 4 and she's been reading them back to back, in order).

she's really enjoying them, her only semi-complaint is the huge disconnect between novels.
-Jak
 
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Sean

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Malazan Book of the Fallen
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2008, 04:23:49 pm »
I've read the entire series so far and it's the best fantasy saga ever. There are so many well-realised ideas and heart-stopping moments throughout the series. So many riffs on the familiar.

but if you want the greatest stand-alone fantasy novel - well that's 'Tigana'