Forge of Darkness: The Kharkanas Trilogy 1 Hardcover – 31 Jul 2012
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"Forge of Darkness is brilliant and far exceeds any and all expectations that readers of 'The Malazan Book of the Fallen' could possibly harbour...I think we all wondered how Erikson could possibly follow up arguably the best fantasy series of all time. Forge of Darkness will dispel any and all doubters (if any do indeed still exist out there) that Steven Erikson is the best writer on the planet." (SFSITE)
"Forge of Darkness is, quite frankly, remarkable...Erikson should be raised up as a standadrd bearer, representing the best of the best of those books we would love to be more loved - those that are intellctually nutritious as well as artistically delicious." (TOR.COM)
Steven Erikson returns to the Malazan world with the first book in a dark and revelatory new epic fantasy trilogy that tells the tragic story of the downfall of an ancient realm...See all Product description
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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.
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!
I loved the moments of revelation, where we find out exactly how these people met or this weapon was forged, when this split happened and why. Reading it has added so much more to some of my favourite characters, their motivation and origins.
However, there is a lot of philosophical introspection. A lot. Some of it was interesting, but then it was a bit much. It loses its power when it becomes the go-to way of thinking for every character.
Nevertheless, it hasn't toppled Erikson from the top seat. On to the next...
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