Thursday, 12 January 2012

Why You Should Read | Steven Erikson

If you've been reading this book for longer than, say, a few minutes, you've probably guessed my secret: I'm a big Steven Erikson fan. The Malazan world is something like - well, nothing like a second home: it's insanely dangerous and has Kruppe in it. But it is a world I like to read about.Steven Erikson can be an acquired taste... But here's my argument for why you should give him a go:

- 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.

9 comments:

  1. I love Steven Erikson. I finished his series a few months ago and feel sad I'm not still living with all those characters.

    The comraderie is so real! I would mention a few of my favorite characters, but it's a pretty long list :-) Fiddler is right there at the top somewhere though.

    I do agree that Erikson is an acquired taste, and alot of people aren't looking for the long-term commitment of a series like this. Well worth the time investment to experience this world!

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  2. That series is definitely one that I've currently been missing out on, and the worst part is that I didn't know it for years! I've got to make the time to at least start the Malazan books at some point soon, so that I don't keep missing out.

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  3. Well said. I tend to argue why people should read Erikson every time I review his books, but with lots of warnings about how to keep going even though you're confused. I still need to read TCG to get ready for Forge of Darkness.

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  4. @Jackie: Yes, that's another great reason! Fiddler and Hedge are one of my favourite duos (although the Hedge side is particularly great - if you've read Dust of Dreams, you'll see what I'm getting at ;) ).

    You're right. He's not perfect for everyone, but this is definitely epic fantasy taken far beyond the norm, both for sheer emotion and scale.

    @ Ria: Oh no! Well, it's easily remedied - and I highly recommend it. Gardens of the Moon, the first book, isn't up to the standard of the rest of the series, so if you don't like number one, at least give its sequel a go, would be my advice to new readers. Let me know how it goes!

    @ Bryce: Why thank you. ;) Same - I have a few caveats I always add, but he's a consistent recommendation. One of my friends just gave up on MOI, though, which I just can't comprehend - it's likely the best novel in the series, in my opinion. Forge of Darkness, I'd forgotten about that. It's out this year?

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  5. I really liked Erickson but the only problem was I didn't have enough time to dedicate to the books... I made it halfway through Book 4 and just couldn't continue. If your going to attempt this LONG series my advice would be to make sure you have enough time. This isn't one of those series that you can just put down for a few months and then pick it right back up, at least that's how it was in my case.

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  6. Another good point there! There are that many plot threads that if you give it a long break... You'll need a reread before the next novel. :)

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  7. Yep, Forge is supposed to be out in the Fall sometime. Wow, giving up on MOI is a terrible idea. The ending is worth a thousand endings of any other book.

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  8. Great! I wasn't a huge Kharkanas fan in TCG, but hopefully I'll like it more with Silchas Ruin. Anything is made better by Silchas Ruin.

    Yeah, I just don't get it. I love the book as a whole, too - but apparently it was too confusing, which I can sort-of-but-not-fully understand. Because the ending is just that good. (I love those T'lan Imass)

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  9. Alright, Alright, I get it Jacob, I should have read the entire book...

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