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The Malazan Book of The Fallen

by Steven Erikson

4.43 avg rating
Book 1 of 34 in the Best Military Fantasy Books
1391 votes 27 comments
The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting, and bloody confrontations with ancient and implacable sorcerers. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen’s rule remains absolute, enforced by her dreaded Claw assassins. For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, their lone surviving mage, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze. However, the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand. . . . Conceived and written on a panoramic scale, Gardens of the Moon is epic fantasy of the highest order — an enthralling adventure by an outstanding voice. “I stand slack-jawed in awe of The Malazan Book of the Fallen. This masterwork of imagination may be the high-water mark of epic fantasy. This marathon of ambition has a depth and breadth and sense of vast reaches of inimical time unlike anything else available today. The Black Company, Zelazny’s Amber, Vance’s Dying Earth, and other mighty drumbeats are but foreshadowings of this dark dragon’s hoard.” - Glen Cook

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27 comments
Sr4 | 2012-11-01 06:33:05
Very poorly written, a huge cast of characters weakly introduced, confusing to read.
Anonymous | 2014-10-19 08:35:31
One of the best book series I've ever read. Thought that ASOIAF has a large scope? Or WOT? Think again. The scope in either is dwarfed by the one in MBotF. Unlike any other fantasy series I've ever read the events take place all over the whole world, not just one corner of a continent. This of course makes the books slightly hard to follow on occasion as you might have three or even four books when you don't see a certain continent with it's characters. In the end, however, Erickson ties all the threads up (Well, most of them anyway) in an epic finale. The threads that are left haning are partly solved in Ian Cameron Esslemont's "novels of the Malazan Empire" series, and what is still left over will be solved in Erickson's upcoming "Toblakai Trilogy". Currently Erickson is writing the Kharkanas Trilogy, which takes place about 300 000 years before the main series, but is even then relevant to the main story. That's is an other amazing thing in the series. The world huge and it's history is enormous. There are quite a few characters in the series (875, most of whom are quite relevant to the story, unlike in, for example Wheel of Time, where perhaps 10% of it's over 2800 characters has any real meaning in the plot.) so if you're bad with names it might be a challenge.
Anonymous | 2015-03-06 04:55:14
"The scale might be overwhelming for some"? That sounds kind of arrogant boss. Especially so since this series IS poorly written though not in prose. The characterization is dreadful and the plot is predictable and boring. I couldn't make it past the 2nd book.
Anonymous | 2015-04-08 03:35:12
I couldnt make it past page 3 hahha.
Anonymous | 2015-05-17 07:34:35
''the plot is predictable....couldn't make it past the 2nd book '?!! methinks he didnt make pat page200 of the first.
Anonymous | 2015-06-12 03:20:16
If you like easy reads, then this is not the book for you. It took me some time to get into the first few % of the book but was able to finish it real quick and now i have to finish all of them. if you find it overwhelming then i think you should stick to easier reads and more predictable books. No offense meant!
Anonymous | 2015-06-23 12:17:20
Not sure if I should try this series or not sounds good. I loved the WOT is it better?
Anonymous | 2015-06-25 06:11:00
This is by far my favorite fantasy series out there. WoT was good, I'm over ASoIaF, and brandon sandersons Stormlight Archive is shaping up to be a good series. But they dont come close to this series. My favorite thing about this series is how hilarious it is. With characters like Kruppe, Iskaral Pust, and Tehol Beddict. Plus all the other dark humor in here. I couldnt get enough of it.
Anonymous | 2015-06-29 03:14:27
After reading a lot of different fantasy series, I'm really find the first book hard to get into. I feel like I'm reading a history book. Things are happening that I'm not sure if I should care about or not and there isn't a main story or any characters to really get behind or care about. I will at least read the first two, but it just feels like work. I'm hoping something changes my mind.
Anonymous | 2015-07-01 08:22:41
I will start by saying this is the best series i have ever read! I will advise you however the beginning of the first does read like a history book but if you get through it the scope of the story is amazing. and anyone who thinks the story is predictable from the first two books is a fool. simple as that. you who say the characters are poorly introduced they are some of the most genuine characters you're ever likely to find in any story and if you think its poorly written the truth is probably closer to you not having the mental capacity to understand what is being said.
Anonymous | 2015-07-02 07:43:25
Just finished the last book. And I can honestly say, that this is one of the best fantasy series ever written. It is not easy reading, the scope is really huge and you really must concentrate to get the catch. But when you make it to the end, the reward is more then sweet. I really dont understand, how Ericson could create such a complex masterpiece with so much memorable characters (Tehol, Kruppe, Karsa Orlong, Trull Sengar,etc.). They will miss me all.
Anonymous | 2015-07-25 03:45:20
A very good series, not quite as fun as GRRM but a much more awesome, complex and inventive plot. Really the very top shelf above GRRM, Tolkien, Jordan and everyone else. I will criticize the unnecessarily complex language and vocabulary - I get the beauty of the words but there isnt enough depth in many thoughts to demand or even correctly use that complex language. But the complexity is wonderful and it pretty much all comes together at the end of 9000 odd pages.
Anonymous | 2015-07-30 01:21:41
I read the entire series, and for the most part enjoyed it. That being said, he does jump around a lot, and while he does tie it up in the end, it felt very rushed. Main characters start dropping like flies in the end as it seems like he decided to end at a certain amount of books, but simply did not have enough time. He also never really explains why things end the way they do or does not do so in enough detail to give justice to the characters. Kara Orlong gets the shaft and his story pretty much come to and end. Sin, whose inner battle is well explained, goes down in like 3 sentences, Mappo chases Icarium for like 5 books and their ending sucks. Overall liked the series, but reminded me of Wheel of Time towards the middle/end, way too complicated. The only difference is that Erikson did not have Brandon Sanderson to come in and nicely wrap up the mess he made. Again, ok series if you like deep and complex fantasy (which I do), but the ending could have been aloooooot better. A lot of moments of greatness, but also a lot of gaps...and crappy ending. On that note, if you want complex, with better endings, Wheel of Time and Mistborn (though not really that complex) are good options.
Anonymous | 2015-09-11 06:27:20
Really, really,really wish this ended better. For how large a scope this series has, alot of the main characters never really got an ending. I feel like 1-2 more books to close them out would have been much more satisfying. As I flipped to the last lage, and it said "the end", I immediately felt sort of sick as I was thinking about all the story lines that never had closure. Where is Krupp? Karsa and the witch, letheras, darujhistan, so many little things that never got an ending. Amazing series, amazing writing, amazing characters, mediocretc ending.
Anonymous | 2015-10-03 05:34:02
Surprised to see it at the #1 spot for EPIC fantasy but then after considering it a bit - probably well deserved! I read the whole series and it's fantastic! Lots of characters, very unique magic system - everyone is badass so there's not really an unbalance. I LOVE the Bridgeburners and enjoyed following them through this series. You will love them too!
Anonymous | 2015-12-20 03:00:44
Not sure how this doesn't take top spot on the list. A literary masterpiece - and not just in the fantasy genre. I highly recommend reading it alongside tor.com Malazan reread for first timers who are struggling. The commentary and discussion help shed light on the more subtle (but absolutely brilliant) links.
Anonymous | 2016-01-02 09:51:05
I read the entire series and thought it was fantastic. There are a lot of characters to keep straight. In fact, I had to have a website handy to look up who that person was that I was mixing up with another at first, however, it did not take away from any of the enjoyment of the book - added to it I think even. The characters are fantastically crafted by the author letting you know exactly who they were. I read ASOIAF directly before this series and I am not sure which series I liked better. ASOIAF seemed more "knightly" while The MBOTF series seemed more "fantasy" (with a very unique magic system as well). However, both have a similar feel. I have heard this series compared to The Black Company. No...no...no... The Black Company was awful compared to this series. Sure, both had a group of soldiers that were the center of the series, but The Malazan Book Of The Fallen flat out smokes that one. I think people will really enjoy it.
A couple of cents. | 2016-03-28 05:54:41
This series was written to a glimpse inside the empire. No start or finish. Like opening a window for ten books and then shutting it. That's out of Erikson. Albeit not a direct quote, it was something similar to that. Please keep this in mind when you read these reviews that talk about the ending or beginning negatively. It's hard to wrap your head around, but it's a unique format. If you stick it out with that in mind, you'll be grateful.
Anonymous | 2016-05-12 09:55:36
This was a really good story, but there were a few shortcomings. Please don't misunderstand my meaning here; I think Erickson is talented and has created an amazing world with deep characters. But ... I need to get a few things off my chest. The most frustrating aspect of the telling of this story was the strident and almost pompous railing against "inequity" and "aquisitiveness". While these are certainly problems in our society and are magnified in the Malazan world, Erikson's repetitive monologues on the subject become very tiresome and lose any efficacy they may have had. Second, his introductory "exerpts" from the works of Fisher and other Malazan authors are too long and feel like a self indulgent excuse to show off Erickson's poetry/prose. And finally, Erickson seems to choose a word that most people will not know the meaning of and then ride that word into the ground. Some examples include febrile, gelid, actinic, argent, and conflagration. The words are used far too often and, occasionally, incorrectly.
Anonymous | 2016-06-01 04:33:58
The top spot here is well deserved! This is my favorite epic fantasy series of all time. I loved it so much it has ruined all other series for me. The books, plots, world, and characters are massive in scope. It is not a series for the casual fantasy reader. A large vocabulary is necessary here or you may be easily lost. When I flipped to the last page, I wanted to cry. I didn't want to leave the characters. You do become so absorbed in the story and feel so close to the characters that you absolutely will miss them. To those who didn't make it past books 1-2, I feel sorry for your loss. You have no idea what you missed out on. However, the series is for advanced readers, so not everyone will be able to grasp it. For those that can, it will be the best series you've ever tackled. Highly, highly recommend these books.
Anonymous | 2016-08-20 05:53:29
I like pizza.
Anonymous | 2016-08-20 07:40:31
I really struggled with Gardens of the Moon but persevered. I re-read it after I finished the whole series and it made more sense. The series varied a lot in quality. He portrayed some amazing characters, particularly duos but it was often turgid and boring as well. Skimmed the last few books but as a fan of fantasy I think you should at least try it
Anonymous | 2016-10-06 03:10:15
I just finished the series and it was pretty good. Sometimes hard to follow, but by the end if you paid attention to some of the nuances early on, it all came together. There were parts that kind of fell off at the end, so there was a bit of a feeling of incompletness to all of the sub-plots, but still deserves the top spot...maybe #2 behind Wheel of Time.
Anonymous | 2017-04-02 07:50:43
I've read the vast majority of the series listed on this site and the Malazan Books of the Fallen stands apart from all that are listed. No series has the depth, scope of time and history Malazan has not Middle Earth or The Wheel of Time. The characterizations are superbly written and the joy of the prose comes out when characters wax philosophical about their role in the game that is being played out in the story. The amount of different races and the inter dimensional/cosmological components in the story are breath taking. Erikson deftly weaves a story that puts the onus of understanding on the reader. He's often times subtle in his descriptions so much so that if you miss a references to a creatures you end up having no clue what kind of beast he's talking about. He doesn't spoon feed you a clear systematic portrait of the mechanism at work in the world he's created, he deliberately reveals thin layers of information over the course of the story. He gives you enough to make you curious about what more will be revealed. He doesn't rely on typical story telling mechanisms. Hey that thing that character just mentioned didn't make sense lets have a quick flash back in italics to catch you up on what this means......nope doesn't happen in Malazan. This series holds firmly to the "read and find out" paradigm. For those of us who love the books the not knowing and confusion is part of the joy. You don't get to understand or see the full scope of the story until damn near the last book. Its like looking close up at a grand mosaic and only seeing a small few square inch sections at a time. You can appreciate the colors used in those areas and perhaps even enjoy the line work and other aesthetics but your left wondering how the whole painting looks from afar, well guess what you don't get to see that until the end. Until I read Malazan I was a fan of the basic adventure story, typical coming of age tales that have a central character the story revolves around. I read George RR Martin and came to appreciate a revolving cast of characters who don't always do the things you expect them to do. That idea is taken ever further with Malazan. The Characters change from book to book and the deaths are often times glossed over as many tragedies are in life. The failures, machinations, plots and sub plots are the driving force of the story. From gods to non humans, to humans, to ascendents to the undead and tyrants the self interest of all the characters are a central motivation in much of the story. If you prefer writing in the vein of Jordan, Tolkien, Sanderson (who are all great and talented writers) then you might struggle with this series. Its a wholly different style of fantasy and as such it has its detractors. It's not going to appeal to every one but to say it's not good writing or the author sucks is not only disingenuous its dishonest and absurd.
Anonymous | 2017-11-13 09:05:57
One only need only briefly skim the style, expression and tone of those two comments to get a clear picture of just what kind of people enjoy or berate the series :)
Anonymous | 2018-02-22 09:56:42
Brilliant series, breathtaking in its scope, it kind of starts in the middle of things with no introduction, hence my confusion initially. It does become clear if you perservere and good god is was worth it.
Toblakai | 2018-03-12 12:25:04
Glad to see this as number 1. Rating any book is subjective, but this is by far my favorite series out there. Kingkiller Chronicles is pretty amazing too, but much different than this. I loved ASoIaF......14 years ago...:before it started taking George duchbag Martin 7 years a book.
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