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on 29 September 2011
This book is intimidatingly massive (900 pages), requires about three times the amount of thinking required by normal ficition to fully digest its contents. It's also unrelentingly bleak, tragic and violent. But apart from that, it's a walk in the park!

A huge part of me wants to criticise this book and, indeed, the whole 'The Malazan Book of the Fallen' series. But, I have to be honest, this is mainly because this series has stretched me beyond any other literature I've ever read and I resent the fact that I'm not quite clever, patient or perceptive to grasp these books on one reading. I have to be objective and, objectively, this book is a masterpiece!

The illusion of realism that Erikson creates is second to none. He never interrupts the writing with cliched exposition and so the reader feels like a humble fly on the wall and not an intruder. Of course, this means the reader has actually got to think, to read between the lines and bare a certain amount of uncertainty but, if you are willing to take on this challenge, the rewards are great.

Also, the book is so crammed with detail, it's very very re-readable. It'll take a lifetime to figure out. Go on, take the plunge - it's deep water but there are pearls on the ocean bed!
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on 28 May 2006
Another epic escapade into the world of the Fallen.

This is no Tolkien vision of sweeping glades and smiling elder faces, this is a brooding, brutal and ultimately savage work of fantasy. Really, you can't help but love it.

The question that seems to lie at the heart of so many of the characters is: 'What is preferable, to fall so far that no remnants of your other self are left or to have died innocent, unfallen.'

Battles are fought, wars are waged, yet no distinction is made between the foes. Both are fighting for noble values, both are "good" and yet both have the capacity for evil. Something I've never come across in a fantasy novel before & depending upon your take on originality, a brilliant concept.
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The first book in this series, Gardens of the Moon, was a gloriously complex, action-packed romp of a novel, with a huge cast of entertaining, well-drawn characters and an absolute refusal to bown down to genre cliches or expectations. Book 2, Deadhouse Gates, continues many of these ideals in an admirable fashion. We're wrenched halfway around the world to the continent of Seven Cities, which is about to rise up against the Malazan Empire. A totally new cast is introduced, although a few minor players from Book 1 soon arrive to provide a bridge to the first book. There are three main plots developing in tandem: Felisin Paran's escape from slavery, General Coltaine's epic march across the continent and a plot to assassinate the Malazan Empress. The Coltaine storyline is the heart of the novel and is truly horrific at times, and the conclusion is truly gut-wrenching (the reader is as angry as the characters are at the heartless betrayal that ends the novel, and the poetic justice which rewards it is sweet). Deadhouse Gates is much darker and even more complex than the first book. It reads well as a stand-alone novel, though I recommend you read the first one as it's a slightly gentler introduction to the world. Book 2 is also clever in that many events take place simultaneously with Book 3, providing a link to that novel. Superb.
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on 30 December 2012
I started this book with some trepidation, as I wasn't particularly impressed with Gardens of the Moon, but as many reviews on here suggested the series improved as it went on I thought I would persevere.

Well, it's too early to speak to for the series as a whole, but I'm definitely glad I carried on and read Deadhouse Gates.

To start with, I thought my fears would be well founded, as the book is set on another continent, and introduces yet more characters, races and concepts. However, where GotM seemed to throw new characters and plot points into the mix every few pages, this book feels more focused.

The plot revolves around the revolution known as "The Whirlwind" taking place in the Seven Cities, as they rise up against the Malazan Empire. While there are still several interlinked stories going on against this background, the main thrust of the plot is the epic retreat of the Malazan armies and refugees led by the as-yet untried commander Coltaine.

This lends the book much more of a military and human feel than the previous book, with more focus on battles and tactics than on magic. This really felt like I was reading about an actual historical event, but without coming across dry in any way. And like a real event, the battles and the march are described with brutal and bloody realism, leading to a sickening but all too plausible conclusion.

When magic is used in this book, it seems to be done in a more "realistic" way than in the first. Perhaps this is because I am now more familiar with the concepts of the magic used in this series as more information is slowly dripped in by the author; I now have more understanding of what warrens, otataral and ascendants are!

The characters still aren't as well-drawn as I'd like, the dialogue can seem forced and clunky at times, and the few attempts at humour to lighten the mood don't always come off. However, this book did make me care in a way that the first one didn't, and had an ending that managed to be both moving and unsentimental.

Hopefully the rest of the series will get even better from here!
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on 1 December 2005
This book might easily be the best work Erikson ever published. It definitely is his bloodiest. Throughout the book you ll find yourself on constant edge while the Malazan defenders are trying to achieve the impossible. It s been a while since i read the book but its brutality and horrific realism are not easy things to let go. Against impossible odds simple soldiers will become heroes through massive amounts of blood and gore. Erikson simply wont compromise. As usual there is more than this story in the book: one equally, if not more bloody. Extremely emotional and shocking any fantasy fan should read this. Its not everyday that this kind of books appear. It made me realise that Erikson is the future of Fantasy. Or at least he should be
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on 11 September 2000
Gardens of the Moon was one of the most refreshing, most gripping and most original fantasy novels I have read for years. There's always a slight sense of trepidation involved in starting a brilliant debut author's second novel - knowing that the first may have taken seven years to write and the second only seven months - but I am pleased, nay delighted to report that Deadhouse Gates is a totally worthy successor to Gardens, and indeed, even manages to surpass the first in many respects.
The plot (which I won't reveal), is even more complex, more multi-layered and possesses more plot twists and surprises than you'll find in a dozen run-of-the-mill stock-fantasy novels. If you thought the characters, situations and action in 'Gardens' were gripping in the extreme, you'll be glad to hear that exactly the same level of detail and strength of narrative have gone into making 'Deadhouse' just as good in terms of quality, adventure and drama.
All I'll say to finish with is that anyone who reads and enjoys the likes of David Gemmell or George R.R. Martin absolutely has to try both 'Gardens' and 'Deadhouse', or risk missing out on one of the most utterly enjoyable fantasy reading experiences currently available.
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on 15 October 2001
I discovered Erikson when a friend handed me his first book and said "You'll like him. He out-Black-Company's Glenn Cook." I devoured Gardens of The Moon in 3 days and waited until I could get the paperback of Deadhouse Gates. As in Gardens, Erikson weaves the stories of several compelling characters, including our old friends Crokus, Sorry, and Fiddler, as well as people only mentioned in passing from Gardens, like Captain Param's sisters . . . Unlike most military fantasy authors, Erikson understands that it's the characters that drive a story. And he spins a great one here.
I own 2 copies each of his books--one for me and one to lend. I just wish he was widely available here in the US.
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on 20 January 2004
While the first book in this series is excellent, as is the third book, the second book isn't quite as good.
The first half of the book seems to predominantly focus on the character Felisin. It covers most of her journey from a noble birth to slavery, and escape. Unfortunately, this part of the story seems to drag on for quite a while, and may require some perseverance to get through. It is worth it, though.
The interesting parts of the book occur in the second half, where they focus more on the exploits of Coltaine and the march called the 'Chain of Dogs.' This makes the task of plodding through Felsin's part of the story worthwhile, and is the sort of writing you would expect after having read Gardens of the Moon.
Harder to read than the first book, but definitely worthwhile in the end.
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on 15 June 2007
ok let me start by saying that when i first started to read this book i was a little dissapointed. where was whiskeyjack and the bridgeburners. the only ones to make it were kalam, quick ben, fiddler, crokus and sorry.

but i stuck with it as it seemed unfair to dismiss it so quickly andwas i ever rewarded for my patience. it is almost equal in brilliance ot the gardens of the moon but on a slightly different level.

this book focuses on the rebellion occuring in a differen area of the malazan empire to what we saw in the first book, and contains broadly two story paths. one is the story of a young girl who has been exiled. and the other focuses on a new commander of the armies of the malazan empire in this area and his ability to become a great commander.

of course all hell break loose and then we see the true gem of this story, the struggle for survival in the face of impossible odds. read it and you'll see what i mean also has a truly heartbreaking ending, you know whats gonna happen but you wish somene would do something.

all in al a great book, not quite as great as the original but thats hardly fair seeing as the first was amazing in every way.

wait till you hit book 3. probably the best in the series.
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on 14 November 2015
On an occupied subcontinent, a revolution is about to take place. Long prophesied, and being orchestrated by a shadowy goddess, the entire subcontinent will rise in a whirlwind of violence and fear. The locals, driven on by the legends and by twenty years of occupation set out to kill every single malazan on the continent. The Malazan empress Laseen sees that it can only be a matter of damage control, and dispatches the wickans, lead by the charismatic warleader Coltaine, only surviving leader of the wickans since their own rebellion against the empire. For the malazan deserters Kalaam and Fiddler, and their charges Crokus and Sorry, it's a catastrophic matter of being in the wrong place at the worst possible time. For a wandering immortal and his handler, it's a quest to recover stolen memories, for Coltaine, it's a question of how to march 50,000 unruly refugees across 1,500 miles of desert filled with half wild tribes while every angry native on the continent comes for blood.
As can be imagined, this is not an easy tale to read. Whilst it has one of the simpler plots in the series, it is still headache inducing in it's complexity, and vomit inducing in the sheer brutality. The story's primary focus is on the refugee train, called the "chain of dogs" (As the refugees are near impossible to lead, constantly snapping at Coltaine's heels so to speak) and as can be imagined, it's telling is brutal. Erikson tells that section of the story primarily from the perspective of an ageing historian caught up in the flow of events, and his discomfort and confusion matches our own, and makes us feel like we are ourselves marching along in the chain of dogs. This storyline is so good, that there exists a dutch metal band (who's lyrics I quoted in the title) who named themselves after it. We also have a continuation of crokus', fiddlers' and kalams' stories from gardens of the moon, and see them all greatly fleshed out. We also meet Icarium and mappo, some of my favourite characters in this series, and have a great stint with several new ones such as Felisin and Heboric.
All in all, it's an absolutely great read, albeit an extremely challenging one. The plot is brutal and complex, and the author's writing style is so dense that it cannot be skim read. This is a great book none the less. I had some trepidation about the series after reading the first, but this and it's sidequel Memories of ice proved the extrodrinary depths of erikson's writing... Although a serious warning... if you read this, you will get hooked on the series. budget accordingly
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