- Complexity. Sometimes, it's a pain - and sometimes, like here, it's a joy. Far from meaningless complexity, the Malazan Book of the Fallen's is rather meaningful (with an exception or two!) - as a reader, it's great fun to spot the hidden links, the allusions; the conspiracies. Especially since Erikson's world is so detailed: there's a lot to discover.
There' also a complex story going on. And the good thing about that? It feels more real; less a superficial story. Real life is rarely simple, and the Malazan series is never so. And that's fun!
Well, most of the time.
- Diversity. A slight tangent: one reason I don't read much comic fantasy is that so much sticks to a single tone; a single focus - humour. Which is great - in small doses! The same applies to any series: for a long term read, you want a mix of tones or characters, many foci, not just one. The Malazan series is perhaps one of the best examples of this. It's so large scale that it's a love-or-hate factor, but it's also very diverse - there's humour, high drama, and tragedy in a single novel. The same applies to its characters, and even its world: elf subversions to the technologically minded dinosaurs, the K'chain Che'Malle...
- Characters. Erikson has some of the most distinctive characters in fantasy - and let's face it, who doesn't love this exchange?
‘I walked this land when the T’lan Imass were but children. I have commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I have spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?’
‘Yes,’ said Caladan Brood, ‘you never learn.’
Kruppe may be yet another love or hate character - a rotund genius who insists on speaking in the third person - but with the sheer size of the cast and series, there will unfailingly be someone you'll love.
- Epic. There are two authors I go to when I want emotion in my epic - tragedy, glorious remembrance, and the rest. These being, of course, Guy Gavriel Kay and Steven Erikson. What can I say? Simply read Memories of Ice and you'll see my meaning. Part of this, of course, is the sheer scale of the Malazan series which enables him to do it. But it's not drama by numbers - you'll genuinely be attached to the characters involved. And if I need to say more than that, you're probably not human.
And those were my top points for why reading Steven Erikson is a very, very good idea! Of course's he's not for everyone. These are literal door- or possibly elephantstoppers, with most around 900-1000 pages in paperback. The cast is huge; Erikson's philosophical narrator in Toll the Hounds can be offputting; and not everyone likes the ending. But for me, these reasons are enough - so why not give Erikson a go? You probably won't regret it.