When I finished reading Gardens of the Moon, I felt like an idiot for not reading that book sooner. Especially since it had been patiently sitting on my shelves for about 5 years. Admittedly, I was more than a little impressed by Erikson's incredible debut. And yet, fans of the series kept affirming that the sequels were even better.
Such hype is always a double-edged sword, for it makes it easy for people to generate expectations that are, ultimately, too high and thus unfulfilled. But have no fear, the sequel doesn't disappoint. Needless to say, Deadhouse Gates is a superb novel. Steven Erikson offers a spectacular virtuoso performance, establishing himself as one of the most gifted fantasy authors to ever see the light.
Fans have compared Gardens of the Moon as a train wreck. Perhaps it is, but what a ride!;-) In Deadhouse Gates, however, Erikson is in perfect control. The narrative is more structured, which makes the tale easier to follow.
Vast in scope and unbelievably imaginative, the Tales of the Malazan Book of the Fallen is a superior fantasy epic. Spanning continents, Deadhouse Gates takes us to the Seven Cities sub-continent, where a prophesied rebellion known as the Whirlwind is about to erupt from the Holy Desert of Raraku. The narrative makes the Seven Cities' landscape and cultures come alive. Erikson's impeccable prose is rich and evocative -- a sweet treat for any aficionados of the genre!
Steven Erikson shows just how much of a master storyteller he is, displaying what can only be described as uncanny control over an immense plot. From what is gradually unfolding as the story progresses, I perceive that this could well be the most ambitious work of fantasy ever written.
The characterizations are of the first order. Although one misses many of the great characters found within the pages of its predecessor, Deadhouse Gates marks the return of a few of them, and introduces us to yet another cast of fully realized characters. And the fact that the Malazan series is the most multicultural work of fantasy out there adds another distinctive touch to a saga which stands head and shoulders above almost everything else on the market today.
Erikson's masterful action and combat narrative should satisfy all battle fans out there. And his sense of humor brings a certain balance to what is a very dark tale.
Deadhouse Gates brings this series to a new level. The sheer scale of the author's vision is nothing less than astonishing. And the ease with which he seems to navigate through this grand epic of mortals and gods never ceases to astound me.
If Steven Erikson keeps this up, by the time I'm through with The Bonehunters, he will certainly rank as my favourite fantasy author. Yes, the man is that damn good!:-) Deadhouse Gates stands on a far higher plane than most fantasy novels. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, it is one of the best fantasy books I've ever read!
I was a complete fool to wait this long to give this series a shot, and I admit it. Hence, my only advice is: Don't be a fool. If my reviews have any shred of influence in your choice of novels, give both Gardens of the Moon and Deadhouse Gates a shot. If those two books don't make you a Steven Erikson fan, nothing on this earth will!
The final verdict: 9,5/10