‘Malazan: Deadhouse Gates’ Book Review

Mount Readmore Book Review, 2018 21/200


Deadhouse Gates By Steven Erikson

Audiobook Edition

Finished on 1/6/2018


Description: In the vast dominion of Seven Cities, in the Holy Desert Raraku, the seer Sha’ik and her followers prepare for the long-prophesied uprising known as the Whirlwind. Unprecedented in size and savagery, this maelstrom of fanaticism and bloodlust will embroil the Malazan Empire in one of the bloodiest conflicts it has ever known, shaping destinies and giving birth to legends.

Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Malazan

Fist Coltain must retake the Seven Cities from the Whirlwind Rebellion on behalf of the Pretender Empress of Malazan, all while assassins from the outlawed Bridgeburner Legion hunt down said Empress.

Spoiler-ific review

I will complement this book before I begin discussing it. It’s storytelling style reminds me of the storytelling style employed by From Software in the ‘Dark Souls’ video games. That is to say, requiring you to put together the pieces yourself to understand what is going on behind the scenes.

I came to this book hopeful, having read ‘Gardens of the Moon’ last year and enjoying it decently. This book continues the trend from the previous one of not holding your hands explaining what exactly is going on. Unfortunately I was not a fan of that in the previous book. I like relatively easy to understand plots, and relatively few viewpoint characters so I have more to chew on. ‘Deadhouse Gates’ does a very good job of providing high-quality yet difficult to understand plots and high-quality massive number of viewpoint characters. Which is to say, I do not like this book very much.

I’m afraid I got bored. I had no personal investment in any of the viewpoint characters, and active anti-investment in some of them. The author did not make me care about any of them on a personal level. I did feel bad for some of them, particularly the enslaved ones, the fact that all of them were jerks made it hard to root for them. In an effort to keep this critique short, I’ll say this: I wanted more humanity in my characters. All of them were TOO epic, too bad ass to be believed. I never got the sense of character development for many of them, save Felisin who I just felt bad for.

The book’s mile-a-minute storytelling style just didn’t capture my attention, just as it struggled to capture my attention last time around. The blink-and-you-miss it method of plotting actively clashes with my speed reading style, because I had to rewind the book again and again to catch important bits I missed.

For me at least, this book’s scope was too epic, too grand, the stakes too world ending. While I like reading Epic Fantasy, there needs to be an emotional core upon which to build your castles in the sky. For me, the Malazan books failed to spark continued interest. I suggest that you at least try reading ‘Gardens of the Moon’ and see if you are different.

Stay Sunny.

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