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  1. Are the Malazan books pro-military?

    17 April 2021 - 10:20 PM

    This is a question I started asking myself as I progressed through the books, and the reasons are:

    The military characters are often portrayed in the most flattering light, and if they do unforgivably horrible things, Erikson and Esslemont are quick to brush these aside and spend the rest of the story convincing us that they are better than most people. Case in point Tavore, who sent Felisin to the Otataral mines where nothing good was going to happen to her, and worse she is placed under the care of Baudin who doesn't bother at all protecting Felisin while planning their escape, yet Erikson spends the rest of the series brushing that off and by telling us that Tavore is a deeply compassionate woman who does what's best for everyone. Bullshit!

    There are several instances where we learn about military characters who were petty criminals and generally awful until joining the military, and joining the military has made them better people, like that Daru character in OST whose name escapes me who was a petty thug in the streets of Darujhistan, but joining the ranks of the Malazan military has somehow kept his worst traits in check.

    Letherii society is portrayed as awful in general, but even then the Letherii military are far more honourable than than everyone else.

    Stonewielder features a Dal Hon character who spends a lot of time reflecting upon the difference between a warrior and soldier, and how he used to be a warrior but is now a soldier because he has learned to fight as part of a unit.

    Finally the latter books gave me the impression that nothing beats joining the military, and hell, the military should be in charge of everything. I almost expected an afterword from the authors encouraging the readers to join the military.

    Is there a reason for the authors to have such a romantic view of the military? AFAIK neither Erikson nor Esslemont have done any military service, so their championing of the military strikes me as odd.
  2. An opinion on the Malazan series

    01 March 2021 - 10:11 PM

    Greetings everyone. I joined these forums late last year to discuss the Malazan series, and this is my long overdue topic.

    I would like to start by saying what drew me to the Malazan books. Three years ago when the final season of Game of Thrones was going to premiere, I decided that I wanted to read an epic fantasy series aimed at adults that was already concluded, as I'm one of those GoT fans who refuses to read ASoIaF until all books are published.

    One day scrolling through online messages somebody mentioned something called Malazan Book of the Fallen, and I did some googling and found a few online articles hailing Malazan as one of the best fantasy sagas that has ever been written, so I decided to give it a try, acquired all ten main books and the six novels, and spent the second half of the year 2019 reading the entire series all the way through, which took me about six months.

    My opinion on the book series is this: I overall think it's just OK, nowhere near the masterpiece of modern literature everyone is making them out to be online, and book by book the series is a mixed bag. Some of the books are amazing, some I found just plain boring and a chore to read and others have nice moments in between really tedious reading.

    According to Erikson and Esslemont one should always start with GotM and read the books in the order they were published, and up until TtH I did as they say, and the only time I didn't follow the publishing order was when I chose to read Stonewielder after TtH because I knew DoD and TCG encompass one story. Now, while I do agree that one should start with GotM as per the authors' wishes, as they want readers to decide if they want to read the rest of the books based on GotM alone, I don't agree with their recommendation of reading the books in the order they were published. Maybe it worked wonders for many readers, but the constant back and forth between continents and chronology, particularly in the first six books (five if NoK is omitted) created this sense of disruption in narrative flow which I found irritating.

    Now I want to talk about what I liked about the books. First and foremost the discussions about the relationship between the human and the divine, the musings on civilization and how humans alter ecosystems to accommodate our needs, the questions about identity, the world building, the glimpses of civilizations past, the various myths and legends amongst different cultures, unsolved mysteries that illustrate the fragmented nature of history. Those pretty neat.

    What I didn't like about the books is: the idle banter between the Malazan military, dialogue between characters that is so lacking in believability it leaves me wondering "who talks like this", the battles between armies which I frankly considered the most boring part of the books, the way stories diverge and branch out so far and wide to the extent that many are left out and never brought up again, characters who simply disappear from narrative in the most unsatisfying way and are never revisited, and finally there are many times when reading these books feels like a chore.

    In the preface to GotM Erikson claims readers will either love his stuff or hate it, there's no middle ground, and indeed the very few posts I found about people who don't like the books are very negative about them, however I found myself in the rare position of having a middle ground view of the books, of which we are few and far between.

    Regarding the writing style of Erikson and Esslemont, I have noticed many are dismissive of Esslemont and heaping all sorts of praise on Erikson. I will probably be accused of blasphemy, but, NoK notwithstanding, I must say I prefer Esslemont's writing to Erikson's, as Erikson's writing sometimes strikes me as little pretentious and self-indulgent, but that doesn't mean I think he's a bad writer, the Bauchelain and Korbal Broach short stories are proof of that, and I think that's where Erikson's strengths as a writer truly shine, in fact I sometimes feel the Malazan Book of the Fallen would have worked better if it was a compilation of short stories.

    That's all I have to say in broad strokes, so I would do a ranking of sorts of the books I enjoyed, the ones I didn't like and the ones that are somewhere in between.

    Liked: Gardens of the Moon, Midnight Tides, The Bonehunters, Return of the Crimson Guard, Orb Sceptre Throne, Blood and Bone.

    Didn't like: Deadhouse Gates, Night of Knives, Toll the Hounds, Stonewielder.

    OK: Memories of Ice, House of Chains, Reaper's Gale (the final two chapters are awesome and save what is an otherwise tedious book), Dust of Dreams, The Crippled God, Assail.

    I've yet to read the Path to Ascendancy series, and I refuse to read the Kharkanas trilogy until the final entry in said trilogy is published, but frankly I don't feel any urge to read either of them.

    It's been a year since I finished reading the books, and if I had to say where their biggest failure lies with me, it's the fact that they didn't leave a lasting impression in me. Seriously, I haven't given the books any real thought beyond the satisfaction of reading the series all the way through. That's not to say the books are bad, otherwise I wouldn't have bothered after GotM, but I still want to discuss the books, and who knows, maybe this will encourage me to read the PtA prequel series.

    Overall series rating: 7/10.

  3. What do you imagine certain characters, locations, etc., looking like?

    31 October 2020 - 07:30 PM

    Let's have a bit of fun with our imaginations.

    For example, the characters. Here's how I imagine some of the characters looking like:

    Ganoes Paran - Brandon Routh

    Whiskeyjack - Pierce Brosnan

    Emperor Kellanved - Earl Cameron

    Duiker - Paul Barber

    Iron Bars - Daniel Day-Lewis

    Laseen - Jennifer Lopez (with blue skin, obviously)

    Tavore Paran - Julianne Moore (just cut her hair short, plus she has that icy stare that is characteristic of Tavore)

    Kalam Mekhar - Ray Fearon

    Quick Ben - Peter Mensah

    Brys Beddict - a young Brad Pitt

    Those are the ones of the top of my head. Feel free to share your views.


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