Steven Erikson: Deadhouse Gates

The second volume of the ten-book epic fantasy series The Malazan Book of the Fallen, which was begun with Gardens of the Moon, Deadhouse Gates is regarded by many fans (though not me) as the best of the bunch. It’s true for sure that you can see Erikson hit his stride here in a way that is new.

For one thing, the plot feels a lot better controlled. There are still a half-dozen independent threads going on, and in fact they don’t even all end up tying together in the way that they did in the first book, but perhaps it is that independence that lets Erikson take each one to a conclusion instead of trying to combine them all in the last chapter. This book also contains the famous Chain of Dogs sequence, which is pretty wrenching and gives the whole book an emotional weight that was less present before.

Once again, all the stuff going on can seem pretty random, most memorably when a ship of manages to go through a series of weird dimensions in quick succession, each crazier than the last. It is easy to regard this as Erikson just randomly chucking in every weird idea he can think of, but as I mentioned before, if something is introduced out of nowhere that seems to bear no relation to the plot, it is likely to be a call-forward to something in a future book. This can be a little frustrating but it certainly does contribute to the epic feel.

I would say that at this point the dimensions of the larger plot start to become clear, but that’s a lieā€”the most important plot thread in many ways doesn’t even really get hinted at until book 3. But you do start to get a sense of the scope of the thing. That scope will widen even more in the next book…

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One Response to “Steven Erikson: Deadhouse Gates

  1. Touchy says:

    You call it emotional depth but I have heard people say “I did not finish it because that book is one big downer.”. I personally like it but agree with you that it is not the best book of the series.

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