The Malazan Book of the Fallen is a series of fantasy novels by Steven Erikson (and possibly also by Ian Cameron Esslemont). I started reading it way back in late 2000/early 2001.
After I finished the first book, Gardens of the Moon, I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. It was interesting and different, but also somewhat confusing, and I couldn’t tell what I thought of the writing style, or of the book overall.
I kept reading the series, however, deciding that there was enough to it to warrant doing so.
I recently finished the sixth book, The Bonehunters, and have now decided that I was right to keep reading them, and that I actually do like them, quite a lot.
They don’t grab me by the throat in the same way that George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books do, but despite that I think that Erikson’s series might be as good. It’s significantly more epic, for one thing, with storylines spanning hundreds of thousands of years.
It’s also one of the most original takes on fantasy that I’ve encountered in quite some time—despite also seeming very familiar. There are some traditional fantasy conventions, like Dragons, High Mages, Thieves’ Guilds, and slumbering horrors of great power. But the approach to magic and to the gods is quite different, and trying to figure out how it all works is something that not only the reader but the protagonists are engaged in. In other words, the books have a fascinating cosmology that plays a compelling part in setting, atmosphere, and plot.
Erikson plans a ten-book series, and so far it seems that there’s enough material to warrant it. Six books in, each one rather large, and I begin to wonder if he can even wrap it up in ten books. The setting is vast enough that it can accommodate a number of different series, each very different—and Erikson has more or less written it that way, except that they do all link up in some rather complicated way.
If you like epic fantasy that’s not afraid to get its hands dirty, you should absolutely read the series.
After the sixth book, I’ve just started re-reading the first one, and this time I’m taking notes.