What else can I possibly say!?!
I'm rapidly running out of superlatives and hyperboles when it comes to praising Steven Erikson's The Malazan Book of the Fallen. Indeed, the publishers should print a disclaimer such as: Warning: This series may be addictive.
In terms of vision and imagination, Erikson is without equals. And I'm making this bold claim after reading the first four volumes of this grand saga. I say so because with the completion of House of Chains, the Malazan series is already head and shoulders above any other works of fantasy in print today. I can only imagine to what level reading Midnight Tides and The Bonehunters will bring it.
Steven Erikson has thus far established himself as a master storyteller. The Malazan Book of the Fallen is without the shadow of a doubt the most ambitious epic fantasy ever undertaken. And I have a feeling that, when all is said and done, this series might become the benchmark against which every other "great" fantasy series will be judged. Bold claim once more, to be sure. Yet I sincerely doubt that many people who have read these books would disagree with me. Yes, it's that damn good!
The incredibly convoluted storylines once again hint at a depth that is beyond compare. Yet the author's narrative plows through this complex ensemble of plots and sub-plots with an aplomb that leaves me awestruck.
As we learn more about the cast of characters, we discover just how fully realized a majority of them truly are. How Erikson continues to introduce us to a multitude of new characters in every subsequent novel leaves me utterly baffled. House of Chains begins with the story of Karsa Orlong, one of the violent Teblor warriors. The start of this particular storyline is very atypical of Erikson, and the reader is left wondering more than once. Only till a number of secrets are revealed, that is! The somewhat sluggish beginning would be the only downside to this novel.
Memories of Ice was a tough act to follow. After all, most fans seem to agree that the third volume is Steven Erikson at the peak of his art. I would tend to agree with that assessment. Although if he ever manages to top Memories of Ice, I'm persuaded that few of us will complain! Having said that, let us not forget that Deadhouse Gates was a ripping yarn in its own right. And it's to the subcontinent of Seven Cities that we return in House of Chains.
The events of the Chain of Dogs are past. The Whirlwind has begun, and the Army of the Apocalypse await the arrival of the Malazan punitive forces. In the heart of the Holy Desert of Raraku, Sha'ik Reborn will face Adjunct Tavore. Of course, House of Chains marks the return of many characters which made reading Deadhouse Gates such a memorable experience: Fiddler, Apsalar, Crokus, Iskaral Pust, Leoman, Toblakai, Heboric, Icarium, Mappo and many others.
With thrilling action throughout, this novel has enough twists and turns to satisfy even the most demanding readers. Moreover, it will keep you begging for more!
For all you readers clamoring for something "worthy" to sink your teeth into in between Robert Jordan and George R. R. Martin's books, this series is definitely for you. But beware: You may find yourself reading new installments of The Wheel of Time and A Song of Ica and Fire while awaiting the newest Malazan offering!;-)
The final verdict: 9/10
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