on 11 February 2015
Only one character from the previous 4 books features and it takes place on an entirely new continent but it is still excellent. Quite slow to start with as the scene is set but once it gets going it keeps accelerating to an incredible convergence. By the end there was so much happening it was amazing just witnessing it all coming together.
on 9 November 2013
The fifth episode in Erikson's saga doesn't disappoint! In this tale he crafts an entirely new realm, along with an enthralling mixture of Warring races to populate it. Put simply, he is a genius, and these are among the greatest fantasy books of all time.
on 7 February 2015
I'm really enjoying this series; however, everyone of his books requires a painstaking 200 pages to actually get into the book. If you're happy to invest this, then the last half of the book is brilliant! Now for book 6!
I'm getting older and my memory is not as crisp and fresh as it once was, and for that reason i've been trying to ration the Malazan Books of the Fallen. The problem is that if I read all those currently in print, by the time the remaining parts are released I'll be struggling to remember what happened in the previous installments. As a result of all this, I've just completed Midnight Tides.
This novel takes you away from the previous events and characters of the previous four books and introduces another story thread to the whole saga. Initially I was a little disappointed by this, but that feeling soon evaporated once I'd read the first chapter or so.
The thing I enjoy most about Steven Erikson's writing/storytelling is the complexity of the plot involving a huge number of characters. The endings never feel rushed and neither do they drag or meander aimlessly, which is something that other multi-volumed fantasy sagas have been guilty of.
This particular part of the story maintained the complexity and it's possible to see where this will weave into the other story threads in one of the future parts. I read this in under a week, which is pretty good for me these days and it says a lot as to how much it gripped me to finish it in this time. It's not the best of the series so far (that was Memories of Ice for me) but still hugely enjoyable.
If you haven't read any of this series, and you enjoy a well rounded fantasy story, then you really don't need to look any further than this - go and order Gardens of the Moon and get started.
on 22 March 2004
This book had me rivetted. A complexity, detail and imagination far exceeding Tolkien, and I never thought that possible. Do not expect your conventional elves, dwarves, men and dragons (oh but there ARE a few dragons!). Do not expect the dull-witted, worn-out concepts of fantasy found in the Weiss and Hickman Dragonlance Chronicles. This is superlative writing. It had me going back to previous books to re-read exerpts that now fit together in amazing chronology, which is not to say the earlier books were incomplete or impenetrable....quite the contrary.
Be warned though; Erickson knows the true meaning of tragedy. I've learned not to become too attached to any of his characters. In fact, I think that overly emotional involvementwith Erickson's characters can be psychologically risky (I really mean that). In the midst of it all, I've not encountered as much wit and humour in any of the previous books as I did during the exchange between Tehol and Bugg. Moreover, the devastation and tragedy wrought here rival the Chain of Dogs. Sorcerous weapons of mass destruction indeed. Though obviously a fantasy, these books have an exceedingly deep philosophical outlook. Superimpose Gennabackis or Lether on some of our cities and continents in the real world and you find some very insightful comments on human nature (albeit using non-human beings at times). But if you can't be bothered with too much of the deep stuff and you're in it for the excitement, you'll be blown away! Such detailed and convincing descriptions you'll wonder if Erickson actually visited a parallel dimension. The story-line displays stunning imagination and the characters are carefully developed. The plot leaves so much promise for future volumes that you'll dread finishing the series as it is. Paradoxically, you can't put it down. In a sense, you're almost as tortured as many of Ericksons phenominal characters!
This is not a series to be missed. Quite literally, I listen for news of the next book with every passing day.
on 16 March 2004
I have read hundreds of Fantasy books from most of the top authors in the genre and have enjoyed the vast majority of them immensely. Along came Erikson's Malazan Empire Series though and it put a whole new set of standards on what I class as an excellent read. I have never experienced this level of engagement with any other books ever.
I suppose I'd better write a paragraph on the Midnight Tides book just to give my opinion on it as separate from the other books in the series. As has been mentioned in other reviews, most of the story and cast is completely new but it ties in with other occurrences in the story and gives some good background info. on the history of some of the more powerful characters and ambiguous events. I found it as awe inspiring as the other books. Erikson has created a whole host of new characters, some of whose dialogues are extermely funny, clever and (if you care to think about them) very insightful. The usual displays of mindblowing magic wielding/ amazing battle scenes and descriptions are still present. Basically, Midnight Tides kicks ass!
Just to say a small bit more about the series as a whole...Erikson has created a world of such depth and complexity that it will take your breath away. The scale of time (scope) passing between events, the power of some of the characters, the masterful way in which seemingly different storylines tie in with each other...all of these combine with so much more to create a world a lot different and way more engrossing than anything I've come across before. Perhaps the greatest difference noticeable is the lack of a 'hero' or champion of 'good'. There are no clearly defined boundaries in Eriksons world (much like our own). I have read it described as 'Shades of grey' and that's the best way of putting it that I've come across.
Anyway, I could say much much more but to sum it up, Erikson is by far and away my favourite author and all of his books are deserving of 5 stars. Keep them coming!
on 29 January 2012
Following on from book 4.. the events in this book initially took me by surprise, and to begin with I was unconvinced by the whole change in scenery (this book follows events occurring in parallel to books 1-4 on the other side of the world, and the consequences of which are often sourced by Characters throughout).
After the first few chapters however.. I was hooked.. bad..
This book has to have some of the most memorable and enjoyable characters in it. Naemly.. Tehol and Bugg.. their conversations are a delight and utterly hilarious. The action in the book is well described, the humour is excellent, perfectly pitched and all the dialogue of almost all the characters is superb.
In this book you can expect Eriksons usual, well thought out and thoroughly planned narrative where things mentioned in the beginning will often unfurl their secrets towards the end.
In summary, if you enjoyed the previous books, you'll love this one.. might take a chapter of 3 to get into the swing of it as with me.. but trust me, its well worth it.
on 24 February 2006
Its not often that I'm moved to write a review, nor do I often bandy about expressions of extreme praise easily, but I must say that this is one of the best fantasy books I've ever read. I recall thinking as I was reading this, that Erikson seems to have crossed that often too yawning a chasm that seperates genre writing from literature. The world-building is exceptional in its detail and cultural insight - one really gets a feel for the different cultures of Lether and the Edur. The characters are all exceptionally well-drawn and almost universally memorably presented. At different times you understand and sympathise with all the major protagonists in the tale. The plotting is tight, with a fair share of 'gee-wow!' moments, a constant sense of development, even while Erikson takes his time in setting the stage for the tragic climax. All in all, I could find no fault at all with this book. And while the tale had a satisfactory conclusion, there were many plot threads left open for the reader to be left wanting more.
Some readers insist in comparing the different books in this series to each other. While Midnight Tides does not have an ending with the same kind of impact as 'Deadhouse Gates', or reach the breathless climax of the final battle in 'Memories of Ice', I would still rate it as the best one he has written so far. The balance of humour, drama, tragedy and excitement has never been as finely tuned as in 'Midnight Tides', and the cultures and societies never as intricately constructed. Neither has Erikson marshalled as varied and as finely wrought a cast of characters as he does here. I do feel this is his finest book.
I've read all the major fantasy writers of the last twenty years (with the exception of R. Scott Bakker, something I intend to remedy soon) and I would really put Erikson at the top of the list. Thats not something I would have ever said after reading 'Gardens of the Moon', and I would have been reluctant to make such a claim even after reading 'Deadhouse Gates', but I have no reluctance in doing so now.... Mr. Erikson, hats off to you!
on 16 March 2012
It was somewhat disappointing but at the same time a good read. How so?
Disappointing in a sense that there were next to none of the characters I loved from the previous books. Reading this book was almost like reading a stand alone. However, as a stand alone it was quite good.
After Midnight Tides I have been advised to read Night of Knives by Ian Cameron Esslemont.
The fourth Malazan book, House of Chains, was a serious misstep in Erikson's writing, with a weak central plot propped up by far more interesting subthreads focusing on more interesting characters. Arguably the most interesting of those characters was Trull Sengar, the Tiste Edur warrior left to hang on a wall by his 'brothers'. In Midnight Tides we find out his backstory.
It's a couple of years earlier, on a distant continent on the far side of the world to Genabackis, Seven Cities and Quon Tali. The Kingdom of Lether and the neighbouring Tiste Edur tribes are planning a peace conference to resolve their differences. The fearsome Tiste Edur Warlock King is actually keen on peace, having expended his strength and troops on uniting the tribes. However, one of his warriors concludes a dark pact with the Crippled God (the series' primary unifying force and the only 'person' whose presence is felt in all the novels) and is resurrected to become the new Tiste Emperor, equipped with sorcerous weapons of mass destruction, which are rapidly hurled in the direction of the Letheri capital. In the capital various political games come to a head as new characters take centre stage.
Midnight Tides is extremely important to the rest of the series, despite not featuring any of the same characters (bar the Crippled God and Trull Sengar), as it sets up the Tiste Edur as the Crippled Gods' mortal empire on the Malazan world, heralding a possible confrontation with the Malazan Empire later on. As a plot, it's arguably the best in the series, challenged only by Deadhouse Gates and perhaps Memories of Ice. However, there are problems.
As with House of Chains, Erikson is obviously becoming too popular to be edited. Some of the prose (particularly at the start of the book) is self-indulgent twaddle of the highest order. Several of the characters are so pretentious you want to hit them. Luckily, whenever anything gets too out of hand you can rely on Tehol and Bugg to pop up. Their witty sparrings and repartee are more Pratchett than Pratchett and give the book a much-needed lighter edge. The battle for Letheras at the end is also interesting, though completely lacking the epic scale and jaw-dropping horror of the Siege of Capustan in Memories of Ice. The ending is somewhat muddled as you ponder whose side you should be cheering (both sides have valid points of view and sympathetic characters) but that is probably the point.
Midnight Tides is a good novel, readable and deserving of its (extreme) length. Erikson continues to show every sign of being the next great fantasy author. However, until he can get his page-count down and stop philosophising every other page, George R.R. Martin, Gene Wolfe, Paul Kearney and Jack Vance can sleep easy.