14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 14 August 2012
I'm a Big Fan so yes i'm going to be biased, lets get that out front and give the book a big 5 stars. I could wax lyrical about Eriksons prose or world building or Dialogue or philosophy but suffice to say he still rules the roost for Fantasty in my opinion (he can actually finish a series).
Yes this book is dark, infact it starts dark and ends pitch black. With the main characters involved in this book, and the hints of what went on in the Malazan series, you knew it was never going to be a riot of laughs going in. I will admit, that as with his other books, its a very tough read to start with, it may have taken me longer to read the 1st 3rd of the book than the rest of it put together, but he really does make it worth it.
In somewhat reply to a previous review, i find myself comming to Erikson's defense regarding timelines and what has been told/hinted/mentioned in passing in the Malazan series that links with these books. He has always discussed the fluidity of History in his books and i love when he does. I can't do it justice personally, but the fact that his last series of books has an historian as an important character, and this set also does, you should gather Erikson has given it allot of thought.
If you view what is told in the malazan series about the kharkanas series as FACT then you missed Eriksons many points on history. Every god/tiste/jaghut/human has thier own view of history, and any historian can colour the way they record history to suit themselves (sometimes without even knowing). The "history" told in the malazan series is from events many thousands of years ago, and as such this "History" whether from songs or books or even from "gods" alive at the time, has been corrupted many times over. The Kharkanas Trilogy Promises to tell us what ACTUALLY happened or maybe just how it happened, at least according to some characters from thier own point of view....... :)
Anyway if you have read all his other books and loved them, your not going to be disappointed!
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
As a huge fan of Steven I was wondering for a while what he'd hit back with after the completion of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. I shouldn't have worried as in this, the Kharkanas series, he's travelled to an earlier period to bring the tales of that to the reader. Whilst a few of the cast are known to readers of the Malazan series its refreshing as you get to see how their personalities have changed alongside finding out how the events played out that shaped them in the future.
As with Steven's other work it's an epic scale, it has more threads than a tapestry and when added to his solid prose and cracking world building skills, really makes him one of the modern names that will be remembered for a very long time. Finally throw into the mix, a huge cast list, political double-dealing and of course combat on a global scale and all round the readers in for another epic treat. Great stuff.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 March 2013
I loved this book. Possible SPOILERS BELOW!!!
Having read and reread almost everything in the Malazan universe by this point, Forge of Darkness was like balm on my soul. I really really needed some insight into the actual people behind these larger than life characters from the Books of the Fallen series. Who was Anomander before he was this god like Dragnipur wielding Son of Darkness. Why was he so alienated from his Brothers and what happened there. Why did Andarist end up on an island for god knows how many years in seclusion and what drove him to do that. Who are these elder gods, and where did they come from. Hood and Sechul Lath, Errastas, Kalamandaris, Caladan Brood and Olar Ethil.
This trilogy explores where these people came from, and who they were in their "youth" before they became those powerfull yet broken characters in the Fallen series. It also tells gives us more information about the Vitr, very lightly touched on by Erikson before but mostly known from Esslemonts storyline involving Taychreen and Kiska. Forge of Darkness, as the title suggests however, is the tale of a people the Tiste, and how that people and their culture breaks down. It is a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, and of duty and the horrors done by good men. Explaining somewhat how they come to be so broken and caught in their respective roles later on. The most stark example that of Scaba Bandaris, who we meet as a young, noble and good captain in the tiste army. - Nothing to suggest that he would later so betray his honor. (the betrayal of the tiste andi and stabbing of Silchas ruin)
The book explains the creation, yes creation of Mother Dark and the role Draconnis played in this, which somewhat explains why he would be dumb enough to later create the sword that needed such a sacrifice to undo millenia later.
The most important thing about Forge of Darkness is that it treats all these larger than life characters we know from his previous works as real and flawed people. Ordinary in that they all are now sharing stage with eachother and thus are less abnormal in their greatness because they equally shine thus. - You have dinner scenes with father Light before he becomes Father Light, and you are in the presence of Mother Dark and her priestess. You get to see Endest Silann in his youth, and three brothers who love eachother are brutally changed and torn apart by extreme circumstances before you finish the book. - If you read this with the knowledge of what comes after, it is absolutely heartbreaking because you understand the ramifications of their actions and how far into the future those consequences are felt.
I read the book and then reread it. Thought about it for days, and still sometimes think about it. It is not the best storytelling Erikson has ever done, but it is immensely satisfying to read because you finally get to hear how Erikson imagines the birth of the conflicts we still see fought out in WU.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 2013
This book is a solid 4/5 from me. I definitely enjoyed reading it.
It was definitely refreshing and interesting to read of much earlier times, and to start to see the back-story of many characters begin to unfold. I quiet liked the feel of the World (well, Kurald Garain) with its houses and hostages, that felt quite well devised and well portrayed too. The story was definitely enjoyable and I avidly devoured it at quite a pace, but there is still much heavy darkness, malaise and soul-searching amongst Eriksson's writing, that actually (now I have switched back from couple of ICE's books) makes me in some ways hanker for ICE's simpler, 'less-sophisticated' (maybe) or 'less-philosophical' style. Eriksson is still the master though and his world-building and story telling feels very, very polished with a definite rightness to it. But the writing can be heavy going at times and (tellingly) would limit my recommendation of reading this book. Not for the uninitiated, I feel. When I read (say) The Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss) I recommended to any and all of my friends who were into fantasy novels. Forge of Darkness is a much more guarded recommendation - if you are not a fan of Eriksson you may well not get on with his writing style. If you are a fan, then yes, it is darned good and must be read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2014
As ever, Erikson's writing is dense, sometimes rambling, sometimes quite beautiful. Much of the book was interesting, even gripping, and it gave a useful insight into some of the subsequent major characters, and their origins and development. At times, though, it failed to hold my attention, and I found it dull and plodding. Getting through was more of a duty than a pleasure. But it was worth the effort, and I shall doubtless snap up future volumes.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 6 November 2013
This is a typical Erikson Novel, weel detailed and very long winded; great characters but I fee the story takes forvere to get going. I have soldiered through but I need a rest to gather my will to try and finish this one.
on 29 August 2012
This is to be a trilogy and so I wonder at the current pace of events but then the scope of what SE hopes to achieve with THIS series is unknown to me. The book is, of course, well written. This author is simply PEERLESS within this genre, in my opinion. Following the 10-series, EPIC Malazan Book of the Fallen series however, the distant future is now known and that series began with the Tiste Andii decimated and a fallen people, abandoned by Mother Dark with Anomander allegedly the one who turned his back on her.
Well, the current series begins with quite a different picture- no Kurald Galain/Emurlahnn/Liosan wielding Tiste & Starvald Demelain Eleint/Soletaken....certainly not yet! Instead, they cut a very mortal, if long-lived, very prone to vice, given the causes of the resultant divisions to have so divided Kharkanas. As for Mother Dark being that hitherto elemental force that I once believed to have been the case when I read the first series....that she was the very epitomy of True Darkness, as existed before all things....even the coming of Light? Well, we can call it a flaw in the previous series, or we can say it's the genius of the author to have so convincingly portrayed the propaganda touted by the worshippers of Elder Dark in the MBotF series...who will ever know??! :oD But elemental wonder, she is not, it would seem. Also, the plot was a bit convoluted for my liking at times. Personally, there were so many POV characters that it was just tedious at times to follow who was who and what was the plot.
So let's see how far this series takes us...does it end with the destruction and abandonment of Karkhanas and the departure of Mother Dark, followed/preceded by Anomander's exodus with his followers? Or are we taken right to the aftermath of that apocalyptic battle against the K'Chain Che Malle and Silchas's betrayal? That would be a very long journey indeed at the current pace.
In any event, the remaining 2 books should be MUCH faster paced...and that's said with as much hope as expectation! SE remains peerless however, even where he disappoints. ;o)
on 7 February 2013
As a big fan of the Malazan novels I was interested to see where the author went with this new series, set in the Tiste land of Kharkanas. The story centres on the civil strife caused by the various factions of the Tiste legion who are struggling to cope now war is at an end eventually leading to turmoil and civil war. The legion commander and hero of the people, Vatha Urusander, is being promoted by his followers to take Mother Dark's hand in marriage, but her Consort, Lord Draconus, stands in the way of such ambitions.
Forge of Darkness takes us back millennia into the past, before the elder gods, before dragons and the warrens. There are plenty of characters featured who we are familiar such as the Sons of Darkness, Draconus, and Scara Bandaris unfortunately the story is not told from there perspectives but characters around them. Draconus and Anomander have massive 'screen presence' and are two of my favourite characters, Draconus is featured heavily but Anomander not so and he along with Silchas Ruin could have had more part to play in the story but I guess they will feature more in the coming novels. Also nice to meet younger versions of characters such as Spinnock Durav, Sandalath Drukorlat, Osserc and Orfantal.
You have to work hard to follow all the stories and the many characters involved and these books are never a fast read but it is certainly worth the effort, the coming novels certainly promise much and many questions should be answered.
on 26 August 2012
Having read the Malazan book of the Fallen, and Ian C Esslemont's other Malazan tales, I was surprised, and excited, to see Erikson go right back to the very beginning of everything. Anomander and his brothers are some of the best characters in the Malazan books, and so I was very much looking forward to reading what I thought would be a tale of their early years. The book is not that; as with the rest of the Malazan world, the story has much more to it than just one, two, or even three characters. Though, as another review has pointed out the typical humour of the Malazan books is slightly lacking, there are still a few conversations that made me burst out laughing. The book is, in my opinion, gripping mainly because it finally answers so many of the questions I was left with in the Malazan tales (though as always, I now have many many more to replace them). For me the revelation of secrets more than makes up for the fact that characters aren't as witty as the Bridgeburners or the Bonehunters.
If you were hooked on the Malazan books, you HAVE to read this. No doubt you will be as surprised by almost all of it as I was... Erikson once again pulling the rug out from under our feet!
Bring on the next book, I can't wait.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 27 August 2012
While I was reading Erikson's magnum opus, The Malazan Book of the Fallen, even though there were more than enough incredible storylines, my favorite parts were always the prologues offering flashbacks from the tale's distant past. Hence, when the author revealed that he would write an entire trilogy chronicling the story of Anomander Rake and the Tiste people, I was giddy with excitement.
I was looking forward to reading Forge of Darkness, for I knew that it would be a different reading experience. As was the case when we watched the second Star Wars trilogy, we already know how it's going to end. So in a way, we're along for the ride to finally discover how Anakin will turn to the Dark Side and become Darth Vader. And yet, as is Steven Erikson's wont, the novel raises a lot more questions than it answers. . .
The Malazan Book of the Fallen was so vast in depth, scope, and vision, my only true concern was that this new trilogy wouldn't live up to the lofty expectations created by the original book cycle. And although Forge of Darkness may not be as sprawling a novel as the other Malazan installments, it remains an epic and multilayered tale.
Here's the blurb:
Forge of Darkness: Now is the time to tell the story of an ancient realm, a tragic tale that sets the stage for all the tales yet to come and all those already told...
It's a conflicted time in Kurald Galain, the realm of Darkness, where Mother Dark reigns. But this ancient land was once home to many a power... and even death is not quite eternal. The commoners' great hero, Vatha Urusander, is being promoted by his followers to take Mother Dark's hand in marriage, but her Consort, Lord Draconus, stands in the way of such ambitions. The impending clash sends fissures throughout the realm, and as the rumors of civil war burn through the masses, an ancient power emerges from the long dead seas. Caught in the middle of it all are the First Sons of Darkness, Anomander, Andarist, and Silchas Ruin of the Purake Hold...
Steven Erikson entered the pantheon of great fantasy writers with his debut Gardens of the Moon. Now he returns with the first novel in a trilogy that takes place millennia before the events of the Malazan Book of the Fallen and introduces readers to Kurald Galain, the warren of Darkness. It is the epic story of a realm whose fate plays a crucial role in shaping the world of the Malazan Empire.
Forge of Darkness takes us back millennia into the past. The earliest flashback from The Malazan Book of the Fallen takes us back nearly 300,000 years and Forge of Darkness occurs centuries or millennia before that. As the tale begins, dragons are just a legend. It is a time before the Elder Gods, before the Holds, before the Warrens. After a bitter and hard-fought war against a previous incarnation of the Forkrul Assail (or so it seems), there is finally peace in Kurald Galain. The cult of Mother Dark cult is growing in Kharkanas and the Tiste people have grown hedonistic and decadent, and now civil war is looming.
As always, Erikson's worldbuilding is top notch. As Warrens don't exist just yet, Kurald Galain is a land situated in a "real" world. It is unclear if this country and the realms beyond it -- the Thel Akai, the Jaghut, the Jheck, and the Dog-Runners' realms to the west beyond the Bareth Solitude, as well as the Forulkan realm to the south -- existed at one point on Wu or if they exist in another dimension or something similar. It is ambiguous, for there are mentions of the High Kingdom and its High King, and Malazan fans are well aware that before he was cursed by three Elder Gods, Kallor ruled over an empire on the continent of Jacuruku. Then again, it might be a different High King, or it might be that he ruled in another dimension. As far as the Malazan canon is concerned, unless Kallor reached Wu first, the Tiste Invasion took place long before the evolution of humans when the Tiste Andii and the Tiste Edur faced the K'Chain Che'Malle on the continent of Lether. Thus, a lot of questions remain unanswered.
Though Forge of Darkness raises a panoply of new questions and provides very few answers, discovering more and more regarding that distant and mysterious past is utterly fascinating. One thing to remember is that as the tale begins, even though there are factions and dissension among them, the Tiste are a united people. At this point, there is no such thing as the Tiste Andii, the Tiste Edur, or the Tiste Liosan. It's interesting to see and learn things about the previous incarnations of races that populate The Malazan Book of the Fallen. Like the Jaghut, who have put an end to their civilization. Or the Azathanai, the people that were never born. Or the Dog-Runners, the Imass' ancestors.
The characterization is probably the aspect that will disappoint some readers. Sadly, the narrative doesn't feature POVs from Anomander Rake, Silchas Ruin, or Andarist. Forge of Darkness unfolds through the eyes of a great many disparate characters, a lot more than I felt was necessary. But since this is the first volume, only time will tell if such a high number of POV protagonists was required. As was the case with the last few Malazan installments, Erikson's characters go through a lot of introspection. Which at times, it's true, can bog down the narrative.
One would have thought that familiar faces such as the Sons of Darkness, Draconus, and Scara Bandaris would have been the principal POV characters, but the better part of the novel is made up of the POV from new protagonists. Although most of the scenes featuring Draconus are told from his bastard son Arathan's perspective, finding out more about this enigmativ man was great. We are aware that he's at the heart of what's to come, so it's nice to see Draconus feature so prominently in Forge of Darkness. Another factor that readers might find off-putting is that, not only don't we get POVs from Anomander Rake, Silchas Ruin, and Andarist, but the three brothers don't get much "air time" in this book. Still, it is intriguing to follow younger versions of characters such as Osserc, Spinnock Durav, Sandalath Drukorlat, Orfantal, and others.
Although we were told that Steven Erikson's style would be a bit different in this new series, I haven't perceived any difference in style and tone. But it does feel that Erikson writes with a tighter focus. Though epic in scope, it's not as sprawling as The Malazan Book of the Fallen. More structured, also, which at times feels a bit odd, given the style of the 10-book cycle (where everything could happen at any given moment). Having said that, the plot is as convoluted as that of any other Malazan offering.
The pace of the novel is a bit uneven and much different from what we are used to from Erikson. Habitually, the author starts slow, gradually building up the plotlines, and then going all out for a mind-blowing finale. Virtually all the Malazan installments were like that, so fans have come to expect such structure. With Forge of Darkness, it's the complete opposite. The book features a strong beginning, and then an even stronger middle portion. Yet instead of the exciting ending that we have come to love, Erikson came up with a somewhat weaker and anticlimactic ending for Forge of Darkness. I have a feeling that it has a lot to do with the structure of a trilogy. In and of itself, Forge of Darkness is a set-up book. Steven Erikson is laying A LOT of groundwork for the rest of the series. And though it may be a little lackluster, it looks as though Forge of Darkness ends just the way it should, setting the stage for what should be an amazing sequel. Only time will tell if Fall of Light will live up to that potential. As things stand, it appears that Forge of Darkness is a vast introduction that will serve as the opening chapter for what is to come, and as such I'm wondering how well it will stand on its own.
Even with the absence of the sort of convergence that always allowed Erikson to cap all of his novels off with style, there is more than enough secrets, questions, and revelations to satisfy Malazan fans. Forge of Darkness will have you begging for more, which is all we can ask for!
What would be a new Malazan offering without a timeline issue, right!?! And yes, Forge of Darkness features a couple of glaring timeline errors. The first: Sukul Ankhadu was a soletaken Eleint goddess of the Tiste Edur. She was sister to Menandore, and half-sister to Sheltatha Lore. She was the daughter of Tiam and Osserc. At least, that's what we learned in The Malazan Book of the Fallen. Problem is, at the beginning of Forge of Darkness Sukul Ankhadu is already a young woman held as a noble hostage. It is a problem because she appears to be older than Osserc (who could be anywhere between late teenage years and young adulthood). So as things stand, Osserc could not have fathered Sukul Ankhadu. Moreover, at this juncture dragons are just a legend and Tiam remains unknown to the Tiste. The second time issue has to do with Sheltatha Lore. But I can't provide more details without including spoilers, so I'll refrain from doing so.
I brought it up on malazanempire.com and we were told that Steven Erikson is aware of these apparent errors and remains unmoved. Hence, we have to trust the author and see how he will reconcile these errors with the established Malazan canon.
For all of its flaws, Forge of Darkness is a "must read" for all Malazan fans out there!
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