Greetings TeamLiquid! I thought with all the hype and fuss about Game of Thrones, and the resultant upsurge in George R R Martin's book sales, it might be a good time to start a thread about another great fantasy series, the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson. It kinda suprised me that there was no thread about this series on TL, as it's got a pretty huge following (second only to A Song of Ice and Fire, if I'm not mistaken). Personally, ASoIaF was my favourite book series ever - that is, until I read some Malazan!
Some intro about the books: The Malazan Book of the Fallen is a grand, epic, dark military fantasy series. It follows the movements and actions of numerous armies across several continents, each continent embroiled in several wars. Within the confines of the genre, Erikson philosophically opposes Martin - where in Martin's work, magic is downplayed and the plot largely advances through human plots and plans, Erikson's universe emphasizes magic to the extreme. There is a whole ever-shifting pantheon of gods and demigods, and incredibly powerful mages and warriors each with their own agenda. This creates really dramatic, epic scenes as whole cities and continents are caught up in the powerplays of the mighty.
Erikson's work is, in my opinion, most distinguished by its tone. The series consists of the darkest, grimmest books I have ever read. Again opposing Martin, who zooms in on his different characters and is more concerned about their detailed comings and goings than an overarching philosophy, Erikson embraces the "big picture" - his style is much more thematic. His characters are often seen waxing philosophical, and it is a stylistic mark of the series that Erikson's opinion on the nature of heroism and sacrifice comes across through several characters who serve as his mouthpiece. Erikson (and his characters) relentlessly seek "ultimate truths", and constantly judge the actions of others within the series. The truths arrived at are almost always dark and painful, a reflection of how broken reality is. This creates a moody atmospherical backdrop which accentuates heroic acts and epic moments when they happen in the books. It also creates really memorable grim heroes when they follow and act on their philosophies. If A Song of Ice and Fire is a political soap opera, Malazan is a stage tragedy.
My recommendation for new readers is always to start with the second book of the series, Deadhouse Gates, then go back to read the first book and then complete the rest in sequence. This is because the first book is extremely confusing to get into; also it was written far before the others and is easily the weakest of the books.
Let's get some discussion going! Personally I'm in the middle of Dust of Dreams and can't wait to finish off the series. Unfortunately my reading is sort of set back because I simply can't remember who 80% of the characters are; it's been a long time since I've read the rest of the books, and Erikson really doesn't spell things out for you so a lot of his more subtle stuff can go over my head. I wish we had a wiki as awesome as the ASoIaF one just so I could catch up on the ridiculous number of characters.
For the fans: who's your favourite character? What's your favourite book in the series? etc. etc. (mine are Trull Sengar and Deadhouse Gates respectively).