Malazan Empire: The (original) Michelle West Discussion Thread - Malazan Empire

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The (original) Michelle West Discussion Thread A thread to discuss, well you probably worked that out...

#21 User is offline   pat5150 

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Posted 21 April 2023 - 10:03 PM

View PostWhisperzzzzzzz, on 21 April 2023 - 05:17 PM, said:

I would absolutely recommend reading the first 3 books of House War first! They give a depth and background to the world and central characters — Jewel and her misfit family — that is important to fully appreciate everything that comes later. I also like the gradual build of scale and scope across the entire thematic universe that you get from starting with the House War books.


I'm wondering if this was for your first read or a reread? What I love about the Sun Sword is how dense and multilayered and complex everything is. These books echo with depth and feature a multitude of interesting characters. For my money, the Dominion storylines are way more interesting than what happens in the North. And even among the Imperial plotlines, those that have to do with the coming war in the South (Valedan, Kiriel, the Ospreys) are the most fascinating. The first 3 House War books simply cannot have the same sprawling feel to them. Jewel is important, the more so as the story progresses, but she's far from my favorite character.

Here's something that someone wrote on the Westeros message boards:

I wouldn't follow the chronological reading order because The Sun Sword series is much better than the other stuff set in this world and doesn't require the previously written and significantly weaker Hunter duology to understand. The first 3 volumes of the misleadingly titled House War series unnecessarily elaborates on the backgrounds of certain characters that are concisely and sufficiently explained in the Sun Sword itself.

Granted, I haven't read them yet, so I can't comment on this. But I have a feeling that reading the first 3 House War books first would be like watching the Star Wars prequels before the original trilogy, or reading the Esslemont books before reading SE's The Malazan Book of the Fallen. Technically, it works. But why would you want to do that? It's the Sun Sword that gives context to the House War, the same way it's Erikson's novels that provide the context for Esslemont's.

If Michelle West sticks the landing, it's obvious that The Sun Sword will rank among my favorite speculative fiction series of all time.

I know I'll read them all because I've already bought them. But I have a question for you. Can I jump into House War volume 4 as soon as I'm done with the Sun Sword? I figure that when I'm done with the series, I'll want to know what happens next ASAP. And going through 2000+ pages worth of Jewel's origin story doesn't appeal to me that much. I'd rather get back to the first 3 volumes when I'm done with the last 5.

This post has been edited by pat5150: 21 April 2023 - 10:04 PM

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#22 User is offline   QuickTidal 

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Posted 21 April 2023 - 10:44 PM

View PostWhisperzzzzzzz, on 21 April 2023 - 06:14 PM, said:

View PostQuickTidal, on 21 April 2023 - 12:45 PM, said:

...

And for fun, here's who I know is on the cover art to help you all visualize who is who!

Spoilered for size.




For the top right cover, I have a minor correction:
Spoiler



Oh shoot, you’re right! Thanks for the correction!
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#23 User is offline   Whisperzzzzzzz 

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Posted 22 April 2023 - 02:54 AM

View Postpat5150, on 21 April 2023 - 10:03 PM, said:

View PostWhisperzzzzzzz, on 21 April 2023 - 05:17 PM, said:

I would absolutely recommend reading the first 3 books of House War first! They give a depth and background to the world and central characters — Jewel and her misfit family — that is important to fully appreciate everything that comes later. I also like the gradual build of scale and scope across the entire thematic universe that you get from starting with the House War books.


I'm wondering if this was for your first read or a reread? What I love about the Sun Sword is how dense and multilayered and complex everything is. These books echo with depth and feature a multitude of interesting characters. For my money, the Dominion storylines are way more interesting than what happens in the North. And even among the Imperial plotlines, those that have to do with the coming war in the South (Valedan, Kiriel, the Ospreys) are the most fascinating. The first 3 House War books simply cannot have the same sprawling feel to them. Jewel is important, the more so as the story progresses, but she's far from my favorite character.

Here's something that someone wrote on the Westeros message boards:

I wouldn't follow the chronological reading order because The Sun Sword series is much better than the other stuff set in this world and doesn't require the previously written and significantly weaker Hunter duology to understand. The first 3 volumes of the misleadingly titled House War series unnecessarily elaborates on the backgrounds of certain characters that are concisely and sufficiently explained in the Sun Sword itself.

Granted, I haven't read them yet, so I can't comment on this. But I have a feeling that reading the first 3 House War books first would be like watching the Star Wars prequels before the original trilogy, or reading the Esslemont books before reading SE's The Malazan Book of the Fallen. Technically, it works. But why would you want to do that? It's the Sun Sword that gives context to the House War, the same way it's Erikson's novels that provide the context for Esslemont's.

If Michelle West sticks the landing, it's obvious that The Sun Sword will rank among my favorite speculative fiction series of all time.

I know I'll read them all because I've already bought them. But I have a question for you. Can I jump into House War volume 4 as soon as I'm done with the Sun Sword? I figure that when I'm done with the series, I'll want to know what happens next ASAP. And going through 2000+ pages worth of Jewel's origin story doesn't appeal to me that much. I'd rather get back to the first 3 volumes when I'm done with the last 5.


Yep, when you finish Sun Sword, you can jump right in to Skirmish! And I've only read the books the once, so all my comments are from the perspective of a first-time reader. I might think differently on a re-read, but who knows.
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#24 User is offline   pat5150 

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Posted 22 April 2023 - 03:39 PM

Thanks!
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#25 User is offline   champ 

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Posted 22 April 2023 - 05:01 PM

120 pages into The Hidden City and really enjoying the slow burn and tease out of the world.

Tehol said:

'Yet my heart breaks for a naked hen.'
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#26 User is offline   pat5150 

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Posted 22 April 2023 - 08:35 PM

After helping readers discover SFF authors like Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, Naomi Novik, Patrick Rothfuss, and many more, it feels good that my rave reviews have enticed people to give Michelle West a shot! :thumbsup:

Just wish I wasn't like 25 years too late. . . :crybaby:
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#27 User is offline   Tsundoku 

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Posted 22 April 2023 - 08:52 PM

Well, excuse the cliche but better late than never Patto. If your pimping is as successful elsewhere on the intardwebz, it can build real momentum.

I refuse to use the phrase "go v**al". Thanks for nothing Tiktok and influenzas. :(
Oh, and Covid of course. :p

This post has been edited by Tsundoku: 22 April 2023 - 09:29 PM

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#28 User is offline   pat5150 

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Posted 22 April 2023 - 10:23 PM

Sure, we can build a momentum. But I wish I'd read these books in the heydays of the Hotlist, when it racked up about 8,000-10,000 page views per day. That would have put a lot more asses in the seats. I still get about 2,000 page views a day, so it's not bad. And from my Amazon links, I know I sold something like 30 copies of The Broken Crown thus far, so that's that.

If you enjoy the books, make sure to spread the word on other online venues like Goodreads, Reddit, Amazon, etc. The more people talk about it, the more the series will be read.

That's how we got the ball rolling with Erikson, after all.

Many of you remember when SE didn't have an American book deal and you had to pre-order your Malazan novels via amazon.de or amazon.ca. Feels like a lifetime ago, but it was just a few years back. . .
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#29 User is offline   the broken 

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Posted 23 April 2023 - 07:12 PM

Does she also write as Michelle Sagara? Or is that someone else?
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#30 User is offline   Whisperzzzzzzz 

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Posted 23 April 2023 - 07:32 PM

View Postthe broken, on 23 April 2023 - 07:12 PM, said:

Does she also write as Michelle Sagara? Or is that someone else?


Same person
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#31 User is offline   amphibian 

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Posted 23 April 2023 - 08:24 PM

I'm getting close to the end of Hidden City - the writing is keeping me engaged thoroughly at a very busy time in my life. I think that speaks high praise for it and I'll certainly recco this elsewhere.
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#32 User is offline   pat5150 

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Posted 23 April 2023 - 11:43 PM

About 150 pages to go in Sea of Sorrows and that fourth volume truly is next level. If not for a somewhat discordant 200 pages at the beginning of the book, as West needed to backtrack and return to the North to move the story forward up there before she could continue with the Southern plotlines, this one would be getting a perfect score. Might get one, anyway!

One thing that SE never had to do was balance disparate plotlines occurring in various lands simultaneously. Imagine if MoI, HoC, and MT, instead of being three different books, had chunks of each pasted together in three Malazan volumes. This is what's happening with some of these Imperial and Dominion storylines. They're all good, but West is forced to move forward and backward to try to harmonize everything and create a whole that is cohesive.

In any event, this one is already a homerun. Let's see if Michelle West can make it a grand slam!
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#33 User is offline   QuickTidal 

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Posted 24 April 2023 - 12:40 PM

View Postamphibian, on 23 April 2023 - 08:24 PM, said:

I'm getting close to the end of Hidden City - the writing is keeping me engaged thoroughly at a very busy time in my life. I think that speaks high praise for it and I'll certainly recco this elsewhere.


Glad you're enjoying it, and CITY OF NIGHT is ever better. Rath is next level in that one, and Jay really starts to come into her own as a leader.
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#34 User is offline   Chance 

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Posted 24 April 2023 - 03:43 PM

I'm a third into the Broken Crown (close to a regular sized novel) and I'm getting Rage of Dragons vibes. The dominion culture is repulsive and I certainly don't need to read all that much more about dominion harems. I can live with such things but awesomeness to misery ratio is a bit on the wrong side so far will it change? Rage of Dragons pulled off a repulsive culture with high doses of awesomeness and a high lethality ratio for the worst asholes, not so this one yet.

This post has been edited by Chance: 24 April 2023 - 03:51 PM

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#35 User is offline   QuickTidal 

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Posted 24 April 2023 - 03:51 PM

View PostChance, on 24 April 2023 - 03:43 PM, said:

I'm a third into the Broken Crown and I'm getting Rage of Dragons vibes. The dominion culture is repulsive and I certainly don't need to read all that much more about dominion harems. I can live with such things but awesomeness to misery ratio is a bit on the wrong side so far will it change?


You gotta remember, the Dominion was founded on worship of the Lord of the Hells, it's intentionally distasteful....mix this with the basis being Arabic and Feudal Japanese cultures both of which have histories with harems.

As to "will it change"....yeah, there's a reason you're following the women from those very harems and that they are not exactly happy with things, you'll get there.

The next book jumps to the north, with a character who rejects a lot of what the South stands for, so things will improve further...you're in the table setting right now.
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#36 User is offline   Tiste Simeon 

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Posted 24 April 2023 - 08:16 PM

Just remind me, South = Dominion and North = Empire? Then the demon place is somewhere else?

Also,
Spoiler

A Haunting Poem
I Scream
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#37 User is offline   Chance 

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Posted 24 April 2023 - 10:15 PM

I know what the dominion is by now, I just find it rather annoying and a bit infuriating to read about in detail. Its kind of like if someone wrote LotR from the Orc perspective I'm sure we'd feel sorry for the orc's slaves and victims but would it be much fun?

View PostTiste Simeon, on 24 April 2023 - 08:16 PM, said:

Just remind me, South = Dominion and North = Empire? Then the demon place is somewhere else?

Also,
Spoiler



Your geography seems right so far as for the spoiler someone halfway in does mention it in a fairly clear fashion.

The book does take off a bit with the events half way in
Spoiler
but really it just isn't fun. Interesting and well written for sure but not entertaining so far except when outside the dominion or people from outside the dominion do stuff. I'll probably stick with it to the end but so far I'm not sure I'll go for the next one.

This post has been edited by Chance: 24 April 2023 - 10:42 PM

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#38 User is offline   QuickTidal 

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Posted 25 April 2023 - 01:04 AM

View PostTiste Simeon, on 24 April 2023 - 08:16 PM, said:

Just remind me, South = Dominion and North = Empire? Then the demon place is somewhere else?

Also,
Spoiler




Yeah geography is right, and not really a spoiler as I think even the prologue about the baby makes it clear who the Lord is. Kallandras certainly does.

@Chance - depends what you’re looking for in the story. Yeah the first book has a lot of bleak, but I personally felt the final 200 pages made up for it. YMMV though.
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#39 User is offline   pat5150 

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Posted 25 April 2023 - 01:36 AM

View PostTiste Simeon, on 24 April 2023 - 08:16 PM, said:

Just remind me, South = Dominion and North = Empire? Then the demon place is somewhere else?

Also,
Spoiler



Though they don't appear on the map, the Northern Wastes are way up North beyond the Empire.

Near the Canadian border! ;)
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#40 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 25 April 2023 - 03:27 AM

Started BROKEN CROWN.

...this picks up eventually, yes?
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