Malazan reading order, when should I read this and how does this compare to that?

Frizzo0133

Is a wondrous friend of modest Kruppe
#1
So, this is the thread where you express your opinions, when do you break down and read Night of Knives? Where do all if ICE's books fit in? In most cases it's pretty obvious, but we should totally have a resource of some sort, hence the thread.

My reading order:

Gardens of the Moon
Deadhouse Gates
Memories of Ice
House of Chains
Midnight Tides
Night of Knives (ICE)
The Bonehuters
Reaper's Gale
Return of the Crimson Guard (ICE)
Toll the Hound
Stonewielder (ICE)
Orb Scepter Throne (ICE)
Dust of Dreams
The Crippled God

ICE represents Ian C. Esslemont's books.
 
#2
NOW that I'm almost done reading Erikson's books you are telling me I should read ICE too? But so many people complained about his writing, many said his books are inferior and some of the Erikson's characters are wrong in his hands. I dismissed them completely because I thought reading them would be too weird and kind of spoil the Malazan for me. Am I going to miss too much if I don't read them?
 

Dale

Mixes poisons and sharpens knives with Kylar
#4
NOW that I'm almost done reading Erikson's books you are telling me I should read ICE too? But so many people complained about his writing, many said his books are inferior and some of the Erikson's characters are wrong in his hands. I dismissed them completely because I thought reading them would be too weird and kind of spoil the Malazan for me. Am I going to miss too much if I don't read them?
If you choose not to read Esslemonts books, then you're immediately hindering you're understanding of the many different cultures, continents and storylines that exist within the Malazan world. As I've mentioned in other threads, he's definitely not as good as Erikson, but he covers a lot of things that Erikson doesn't, such as The Crimson Guard, The Stormwall etc.
 

l3gacy

Dr. Awesomesauce
Staff member
#5
Not to hijack the thread, but has anyone LISTENED to the audiobooks of Malazan? I'm curious if they are any good or if the books really require you to read them instead.
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#6
I was thinking of moving onto these after ASoIaF. Knowing the right order of both authors books will be a great help. Does everyone agree with the OP?
 

Frizzo0133

Is a wondrous friend of modest Kruppe
#7
What Dale said, ICE's books cover allot of ground and you see allot of characters you only hear rumors and stories about in the Books of the Fallen.

Obviously some characters are slightly different because it's a different author writing them, but I never really thought any of them did anything completely out of character and still enjoyed reading their continued story from when they stepped out of the Books of the Fallen. ICE is not Erickson, but he gets better with each book. I personally thought Orb Scepter Throne could stand up to almost any of the Books of the Fallen series.

If you're interested in reading about Greymane, Toc the Elder, Dasseem, the Crimson Guard, the Segulah, etc... you have to read ICE's books because that's where the majority of their story takes place.

As for the reading order, the only real question in mind is where do you put Night of Knives, all of the other books have pretty much been established where they occur. Allot of folks put it as the first book you should read, I didn't read read it until after Midnight Tides and thought that it fit there better than it would have if I had read it first as I didn't have a grasp on the scope of the Malazan world initially and would have been confused on how everything fit together or how momentous of an event it actually is.

As for audiobooks, I don't think they've ever made them. Considering the books are over a thousand pages and not big time best sellers I don't blame the company for not doing it, that's a whole lot of man hours you'd have put into something that might not sell so well.
 

Dale

Mixes poisons and sharpens knives with Kylar
#8
I was thinking of moving onto these after ASoIaF. Knowing the right order of both authors books will be a great help. Does everyone agree with the OP?
I don't think there is one correct order for reading the books - the series is too complex to allow for that. There are several branching points in the series, where different books cover the same time period (e.g Reapers Gale and Return of the Crimson Guard). Another problem is that some books (Night of Knives, Midnight Tides) are set well before any of the others (excluding the odd chapter here and there). In my opinion, the book to start with is Gardens of the Moon and the book to end with is The Crippled God. As for the rest, go with the order of publication.
 

Frizzo0133

Is a wondrous friend of modest Kruppe
#9
I don't think there is one correct order for reading the books - the series is too complex to allow for that. There are several branching points in the series, where different books cover the same time period (e.g Reapers Gale and Return of the Crimson Guard). Another problem is that some books (Night of Knives, Midnight Tides) are set well before any of the others (excluding the odd chapter here and there). In my opinion, the book to start with is Gardens of the Moon and the book to end with is The Crippled God. As for the rest, go with the order of publication.
Isn't there a spoiler to Return of the Crimson Guard inside Reaper's Gale? I remember hearing that, hence reading RG before RotCG, not sure if that's right, but if not then it's interchangeable.

I'll be honest though, the only two books in this series you should read back to back are Dust of Dreams and the Crippled God. Both are incredibly difficult to digest, it takes a while for the finale to hit you, but as a whole it's an incredible finale. If it didn't it wouldn't be Malazan.
 

Dale

Mixes poisons and sharpens knives with Kylar
#10
Isn't there a spoiler to Return of the Crimson Guard inside Reaper's Gale? I remember hearing that, hence reading RG before RotCG, not sure if that's right, but if not then it's interchangeable.

I'll be honest though, the only two books in this series you should read back to back are Dust of Dreams and the Crippled God. Both are incredibly difficult to digest, it takes a while for the finale to hit you, but as a whole it's an incredible finale. If it didn't it wouldn't be Malazan.
Not sure about that. I know there's a big spoiler in Toll the Hounds though...
 

afa

Journeyed there and back again
#11
NOW that I'm almost done reading Erikson's books you are telling me I should read ICE too? But so many people complained about his writing, many said his books are inferior and some of the Erikson's characters are wrong in his hands. I dismissed them completely because I thought reading them would be too weird and kind of spoil the Malazan for me. Am I going to miss too much if I don't read them?
I haven't read the series, but according to Wiki:

Esslemont and Erikson collaborated on the storyline for the entire fifteen-book project and Esslemont's novels are considered as canonical and integral to the series as Erikson's own.

Frizzo0133 - any reason why you chose that particular order? I see that most of your order is in line with the publication dates, at least until Toll the Hounds. After that, you have switched up the order a bit. Do you think the story makes more sense this way? Or is it easier to follow?

What about reading them in order of the chronological events of the series? According to Wiki:


  • Night of Knives (1154)
  • Blood Follows (c. 1154)
  • The Lees of Laughter's End (c. 1154)
  • The Healthy Dead (c. 1158)
  • Midnight Tides (uncertain but from internal evidence sometime during Gardens of the Moon and possibly up to ten years before)
  • Gardens of the Moon (1163)
  • Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice (1163–64, these two novels occur simultaneously)
  • House of Chains (Starts a couple of years before Deadhouse Gates and goes to somewhat after.)
  • The Bonehunters (1164–65)
  • Return of the Crimson Guard (c. 1165, just after The Bonehunters)
  • Reaper's Gale (c. 1165 or 1166)
  • Toll the Hounds and Dust of Dreams (takes place simultaneously)
  • Stonewielder (estimated to start roughly half way through Dust of Dreams or maybe a little later)
  • The Crippled God


Would it be recommended to read the series in the above order? I'm guessing not. Probably publication order is the safest way to go?
 

Frizzo0133

Is a wondrous friend of modest Kruppe
#12
Night of Knives has always been the tricky book in the series to me. It's the event that puts everything else in motion, but I can't imagine that being a proper introduction to the series. It's allot shorter than the rest of the books, it only covers one night/event, it's only got two view points, and is essentially a sprint from start to finish. It's also Esslemont's weakest work. You can tell he's trying to write like Erickson instead of just using his own voice to deliver the tale, which he does in his books that follow this one. The whole book is rushed, allot of the characters are never fleshed out and some feel off from when you encounter them again further down the road.

I've always been of the opinion that you should read Gardens of the Moon first no matter what. It's a struggle to get past the halfway point as you get bombarded with names, places, and events with little to no heed at whether you're going to understand any of it or what it all means. Once you get to the point where you start getting as comfortable as you're ever going to get with Malazan books, as I said usually right around halfway through, you'll know whether the series is for you or not as the book takes off after that as everything converges.

After that I say get through Midnight tides as Erickson published them. The first four books essentially introduce you to the world and who all of the major players are going to be. That and if you read Midnight Tides before House of Chains it looses allot of it's emotional impact as you already know the fate of one of the POV characters and seeing the story of how they got where they were is far more tragic knowing the out come.

I put Night of Knives after Midnight Tides because at that point everything is already in it's starting position and you've got a firm grasp on the Malazan world and you can take it for what it is, a fun read that does start the ball rolling, but feels out of place because of how it's written without it affecting whether you will enjoy the rest of the series.

I know there's a pretty comprehensive chronological reading order that breaks it down to what chapters of what books to read in what order and if you've read the series already that might be a neat way to read it, but as someone just stepping into the series publication order while throwing in ICE's books in between to fill in the holes in their proper places is the best way for a newbie to the series.

For example Stonewielder and Orb Scepter Throne HAVE to be read after Toll the Hounds as there are spoilers for what happens at the end of Hounds and you do not want that book spoiled in any way, shape, or form.

I glanced through Reaper's Gale and Return of the Crimson Guard last night and I didn't see the spoilers I thought were there, so those two are interchangeable as they occur at roughly the same time and don't crossover each others' events.

Also you do not want to split up Dust of Dreams and the Crippled God, Erickson makes a point in the forward of DoD that they are two halves of the same book that just got too big so they should be read accordingly.

Erickson's Novellas can be read any time you like, they're fun little jaunts in the Malazan world with little to no impact to the rest of the series.

Hope that answers why I put what I did where.
 

Frizzo0133

Is a wondrous friend of modest Kruppe
#14
Glad to help! I hope you give it a shot at some point, it's a difficult series, but I found that it was worth the investment, both financially, mentally, and time wise.

Like I said though, if you do give it a try pick up Gardens of the Moon first, if you can't make it through GotM don't even bother with the rest of it, it's not for everyone.
 

afa

Journeyed there and back again
#15
I actually do have GotM in paperback. It's been lying around for, oh, must be over two years now.

I even started it once, read about 50 pages or so but then got distracted by something else (I suspect it might have been Abercrombie; it's always Abercrombie.) For some reason, I never got around to picking it up again. I think a part of me is intimidated by the idea of investing what would surely be a significant amount of my time into reading a novel that is by all accounts rather difficult to follow.

Interesting, though, that you say not to bother with the series based on GotM. I have heard that GotM is, in fact, the weakest novel of the series, and that you really get hooked around the third novel or so.
 

Frizzo0133

Is a wondrous friend of modest Kruppe
#16
Abercrombie's new books always take precedence over what ever I'm reading at the moment, hell, rereading his books takes precedence over allot of books that I'm currently reading, lol.

If you get to the point where you get where Erickson is going in GotM and don't like it you probably won't enjoy the series, it is by far Erickson's weakest book, but the terminology is there, the characters, the events, the warrens, etc... It really is one of the most difficult series to get into.

I loved it after I finally got a handle on everything, but almost every book is half set up, half execution to the end, literally at some points.

How many folks have time to get 500 pages into a book to decide if it's for them? And three books? The first four are all individually hard to get into. Your favorite character is likely going to meet their end at some point in those first four, like Martin, but more brutal of an ending.

The cast and crew are different in 4 out of the 5 first books, no familiarity, minus a character or two, you get bombarded with constant view point changes, I still wonder if I know how the magic system works, and you jump between three continents, over the course of the books.

I'm not lying when I say this is a difficult series, you have to have supreme faith in Erickson and to a lesser extent Esslemont as authors that they know where everything is going.

I will admit that that once I got to House of Chains it's an easier read, mostly due to Karasa Orlong,WITNESS! But it's a tough ride to get there. I nearly gave the first book up, but once I read Deadhouse Gates this series took a turn for me, the Chain of Dogs storyline is so heartbreaking and heroic at the same time, I was hooked. This is a series that will make you cry, no matter how emotional you are, there are constant shots at your sensibilities.

If you don't like Gardens of the Moon you probably won't like the rest of it, your favorite character is probably going to die, the magic system gets a little clearer, but not a whole lot, and you're constantly introduced to new characters most of them you'll fall in love with over the course of series, although allot of them are hatable to start with, Hellian comes to mind. It's a really long series as well, so get used to meeting new folks every book

Give it a shot, you've gotten 1/10th of the way through the first book where you'll need to get to know whether it's for you. The series is an investment, but what you get out of it is simply incredible, at least in my opinion.

The more I think about this, does anyone want to do a Malazan Book Club on here?
 

Antoxx

Journeyed there and back again
#17
Abercrombie's new books always take precedence over what ever I'm reading at the moment, hell, rereading his books takes precedence over allot of books that I'm currently reading, lol.

If you get to the point where you get where Erickson is going in GotM and don't like it you probably won't enjoy the series, it is by far Erickson's weakest book, but the terminology is there, the characters, the events, the warrens, etc... It really is one of the most difficult series to get into.

I loved it after I finally got a handle on everything, but almost every book is half set up, half execution to the end, literally at some points.

How many folks have time to get 500 pages into a book to decide if it's for them? And three books? The first four are all individually hard to get into. Your favorite character is likely going to meet their end at some point in those first four, like Martin, but more brutal of an ending.

The cast and crew are different in 4 out of the 5 first books, no familiarity, minus a character or two, you get bombarded with constant view point changes, I still wonder if I know how the magic system works, and you jump between three continents, over the course of the books.

I'm not lying when I say this is a difficult series, you have to have supreme faith in Erickson and to a lesser extent Esslemont as authors that they know where everything is going.

I will admit that that once I got to House of Chains it's an easier read, mostly due to Karasa Orlong,WITNESS! But it's a tough ride to get there. I nearly gave the first book up, but once I read Deadhouse Gates this series took a turn for me, the Chain of Dogs storyline is so heartbreaking and heroic at the same time, I was hooked. This is a series that will make you cry, no matter how emotional you are, there are constant shots at your sensibilities.

If you don't like Gardens of the Moon you probably won't like the rest of it, your favorite character is probably going to die, the magic system gets a little clearer, but not a whole lot, and you're constantly introduced to new characters most of them you'll fall in love with over the course of series, although allot of them are hatable to start with, Hellian comes to mind. It's a really long series as well, so get used to meeting new folks every book

Give it a shot, you've gotten 1/10th of the way through the first book where you'll need to get to know whether it's for you. The series is an investment, but what you get out of it is simply incredible, at least in my opinion.

The more I think about this, does anyone want to do a Malazan Book Club on here?
Wow! Been following this thread and really enjoying your comments Frizzo. Really interested in your comments around House of Chains which I'm about 200 pages into. The funny thing is it was such a different read from the first 3 books it almost felt like it was written by someone else so interesting to see you comment that there was a noticeable difference too. All that said, the books are absolutely amazing and without doubt worth persevering with. My reckoning on the whole magic system is you're supposed to be somewhat unsure about how it all hangs together as it's part of the whole mystery and allure of the books.

Ditto on your Abercrombie comments, the man's a legend.
 

afa

Journeyed there and back again
#18
The more I think about this, does anyone want to do a Malazan Book Club on here?
I wouldn't mind. I think being able to share opinions and read others' take on the books would actually assist in getting a better handle on things for everyone included, as there will always be things you missed that someone else caught.

But I don't how many will be interested in it. I think many who are interested in the series have already read it, or at least started it (like Anthony above, who is already on the fourth), and many others will not wish to tackle what will be a significant undertaking. I just noticed on Wiki that GotM, at 768 pages, is the shortest in the series, and that 7 of Erikson's 10 are well over a 1000 pages. Yikes!