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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Consuming
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...
Published on 22 Mar 2004 by Sean

versus
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm stopping here...
Mr Erikson's black humour was the best thing in this novel, I thought, and I was disappointed that, as in No.4, there wasn't the pleasing complexity of plot strands evinced in the first 3 of the series.
Published 17 months ago by sue P


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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Consuming, 22 Mar 2004
By 
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.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars None come close, 16 Mar 2004
By A Customer
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!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great thread to the story, 7 July 2008
By 
Mr. W. Hardy "GH" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Triumph of Fantasy!, 24 Feb 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!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Getting Back on Form, But Still Not the Best, 8 Oct 2005
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An experience, 20 April 2012
In the conclusion of my review for House of Chains, I made mention of the discussion of whether that book was a bridge between the first three novels in the Malazan Book of the Fallen and the last six. I also said that since I hadn't read beyond House of Chains before, I didn't know where I stood in that discussion. After finishing Midnight Tides I can say that at least those last six novels at least start of in a completely different place than where House of Chains ended. Midnight Tides takes us to a completely new continent and a set of completely new characters. In fact the only characters in the book we've seen before are Trull, the Tiste Edur we met in House of Chains, and the Crippled God, who makes a few on-the-page appearances. Even if we're dropped in totally unfamiliar environs, I had far less trouble getting into this book than I had with House of Chains. After the prologue, we start off with the Tiste Edur, seeing how Trull's tribe reacts to a raiding of their hunting grounds by the neighbouring kingdom of Lether. And this is the main conflict in the book, that between the Edur and the Letherii. The Edur are tribal and relatively primitive, while the Letherii are the embodiment of capitalism. They don't have a clear religion other than that of the worship of money and profit.

We start with the Letherii as the aggressor, they raid the Edur hunting grounds, while at the same time sending a diplomatic delegation to renew the treaties between the two, but we end up with Lether being the victim of conquest, when the Edur, under the leadership of their new emperor, conquer Lether in a quite efficient manner. I liked the fact that Erikson kept the points of view switching between these two peoples and that at no point in time it's clear which side is in the right; they both violate treaties and they both commit heinous acts, but at the same time there are characters you want to root for on both sides. In the end, once I closed the book, I still didn't know whose side I was on, other than the side of some specific characters, regardless of their origin.

Another core opposition in the book are the two sets of brothers. On the Edur side we have Fear, Trull, Binadas and Rhulad, on the Lether side we have Hull, Tehol and Brys Beddict. I really liked both sets of brothers, though overall, I liked the Beddict brothers more, mostly due to my fondness for Tehol and Brys. Tehol is the jewel of this book, together with his manservant Bugg. Erikson writes great duos: Fiddler and Hedge, Kalam and Quick Ben, Mappo and Icarium, and Tehol and Bugg are another pairing in this line. While ostensibly they mostly offer comic relief in the dark and tense narrative of Midnight Tides, they actually have some of the most important plot lines and scenes in the entire book. I adored these two, they stole every chapter they were part of and kept surprising me with their hidden depths. Brys is a typical, honourable soldier, of the type that I love and he was a favourite, especially in the scenes with the Ceda, the Lether court sorcerer.

In addition to the worldly story arc of the war between Lether and the Tiste Edur, there is also a story arc with the dying Azath in Letheras, which due to its death and the consequent loss of its power, is loosening its binding on the terrors it held captive. A young, undead girl called Kettle lives in the shadow of the Azath and she needs to help it release its guardian before other horrors escape, so it can eliminate their threat. I loved this story arc, from little, creepy Kettle to the eventual final battle at the Azath.

It remains hard to write full and complete reviews for these books, as there is just so much depth and layering to them that it's hard to include everything without writing a tome yourself. So perhaps I should just keep it to this: Midnight Tides is another great entry into the Malazan Book of the Fallen. It contains epic struggles, but also focuses on intimate, internal conflicts. And it has some great comedic scenes and scenes that made me cry. In short, it's an experience. It is also a book I know I'll have to reread after I finish the series to get the entire nuance from it. But that is the fun and the power of the Malazan Book of the Fallen and Erikson's writing; there is always more to discover. Proof of this can be found in the Malazan Reread of the Fallen, where even the old-timers, who've read the books numerous times still find new things this time around. Right now we're hip-deep into the next book, The Bonehunters and that is proving to be just as engrossing as Midnight Tides.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Both, somewhat disappointing and rewarding read, 16 Mar 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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Can my memory cope? Yes it can, thankfully!!, 14 Feb 2009
By 
D. J. A. Stevenson "yoginda" (home at my desk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I was introduced to this series by a colleague at work, and I'm very grateful for it. Don't read these books if you like simple, single person narrative with only a few storylines and less than dozen characters! You really need your wits about you for this series, there are so many characters, storylines and settings that it's difficult to keep track at times, good for the brain though!
This book is a great continuation of the series, with a whole new set of participants, separate from almost all that has gone before. This in a way made it easier, no need to remember who all of the old names were until the next book. Two of the best characters of the whole series are introduced in this book, Tehol and Bugg. With a series including so many main strands and groups, you always have some you'd like to know more about, and for me, that is now Tehol and Bugg, even above Fiddler and Toc my previous favourites. Their dialogue is sparse and illustrative while being always witty and frequently hilarious. The book does set the scene for subsequent books but is also a fine episode in its own right, well worth reading again.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hugely enjoyable!, 8 Mar 2004
What a really great writer Steven Erikson is. I've devoured this book since Amazon popped it through my letterbox last week, and enjoyed every moment of it. 'Midnight Tides' maintains the standards of the previous Malazan books, but has a stronger vein of dark humour than the others, with some of the byplay between two characters (Tehol and Bugg) being especially good. It's typically Erikson in its multiple but converging plotlines, and as usual the structure of this book is one of its strengths.
While the plot of 'Midnight Tides' is pretty self contained, it refers to the larger conflict which is more centrally addressed to in 'House of Chains' and 'Memories of Ice', so if you've read up the previous four books.. go buy this! NOW! If you havent, you'll be wanting to order 'Gardens of the Moon'. You wont regret it.
To summarise.. Steven Erikson is the writer whos books I anticpate the most, this was great, lets have another one!
Oh... and Robert Jordan? I suggest you read this too, as Mr Erikson gets more plot and meaning into one chapter than you've got in 7 books!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He did it again, 20 Mar 2004
There is no author I know (aside from J.R.R. Tolkien, maybe), that has created a larger, more complicated, more detailed world. And Erikson's books are fun.
The one word that comes to mind when reading his work is: Readability. The story of each book always moves at a nice, always accelerating pace, to culminate in a climax that leaves you glued to the book (I finished Midnight Tides at 4 o clock at night, because I wanted to see what would happen).
Anyway, about the book:
It's great, as the past 4 were. I'd rate it second only to Memories of Ice, I think, tied with Deadhouse Gates.
It start off a bit slow, with much dialogue, and little action, but it's clear right from the start that there'll be plenty of that in its own time.
Once again, the characters are very well developed, and the humour is brilliant, sometimes bordering on Pratchettesque.
We gain insight into the Elder Races, Elder Gods, the Dragons (finally some info on them), and Tiste Edur.
What can I say: The Malazan Empire is a big part of my (reading) life. It never lets down. Go buy it. Now.
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