I’m still in awe over this series – The Malazan Book of the Fallen – and I’m trying to understand my reactions. Book Two, Deadhouse Gates, started to make me wonder if the series isn’t a way-in-the-future scenario, one in which humans have destroyed the planet and life has come back with humans not as the only sentient race (and definitely not the dominant one).
A few notes (I think that these will increase as I finish the series, since this series seems to lurk in my unconscious):
- The series is relentlessly grim – main characters die, horribly, and we witnessed thousands of soldiers and civilians die in Coltaine’s attempt to protect them.
- We also had what sounded almost like realistic portrayals of military campaigns, and clever strategies versus cautious ones.
- The mix of races is nuts – there are races that have willingly become undead, races that to have isolate themselves from all but their closest family so that they don’t go on murderous rampages, races that are essentially trees that trap dangerous beings in a prison of sorts.
- It was developed as a game, but I would have no idea how to play it…the number of characters clearly makes it an MMORPG, but all the dying…actually, all the dying would fit right into a game.
- Magic and non-magic deadly force is on an almost equal footing, which surprises me after reading the first chapter of the first book.
I sort of get what writers like Erikson and Abercrombie are trying to do – they’re trying to make fantasy much less dainty and far grittier. In both, though, I don’t get a sense that important characters will actually die (although Erikson is trying to prove me with the folks he kills in the second book). Maybe Martin’s strategy of trying to connect directly to history is the way to go if you want to make folks truly fear for their favorite characters.