Training for Malazan?

sarumaniac

Knows how to pronounce Kvothe
#1
Hi guys!

I'm really interested in starting the Malazan series but I'm a bit put off at the same time. When you hear people speak about it they either love it or they find it too confusing or they love it and find it confusing. So to the people who have read it is it should you be quite "well read" in fantasy before you start? If you could start the series fresh would you approach it in a different way? Or should I just get Gardens of the Moon, get stuck in and quit over thinking it? What advice would you give?

Cheers
 

Danica

Queen of the boards!
Staff member
#2
quit thinking over it haha

grab it, if it isn't your cup of tea move on, you will only know if you dive in.

As for being more well read, i think it's a more an ability to look past writing styles you don't like and see the great parts of the book anyway.
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#3
I picked up the series years ago, before ever participating in these boards. I am pretty stubborn and won't give up on a book (well, except for some self-published stuff I've downloaded lately). I found Gardens of the Moon a bit hard to get through at first. It was really some of the first non-YA fantasy I had read (Thomas Covenant was the other). But at some point, the book just clicked for me, and Malazan is now one of my favorite series.

I think I'd probably start the series the same way, though. I'd say read Gardens of the Moon and maybe also Deadhouse Gates. I realize that's asking a lot! But if you're not into it by the end of those two, you probably won't ever be. And if you ARE into it by then, well, the main series is complete, you've got a handful of Esslemont books, and Erikson is working on some other books set in the same world. So it'll keep you busy for a long time.
 

Amaryllis

Journeyed there and back again
#4
Read the early parts of Gardens of the Moon at the bookstore. The first chapter with Ganoes is a pretty standard prologue-y type of thing. Read the first few PoVs beyond that and decide if it is to your taste, or if you are willing to wait thousands of pages for the things they bring up to be explained in any detail.

There is no 'training' for it, because I can't think of anything written in a similar style (people say The Iliad, but...).
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#5
Just jump in! I'm on my 4th Malazan book now and am absolutely loving them. Deadhouse Gates was hard work, but overall they're so rewarding. I've read quite a bit of the genre and there isn't anything that can quite prepare you for the scale of the Malazan world ...
 

Antoxx

Journeyed there and back again
#6
Totally agree with the jump in approach. Only thing you might want to give some thought to is whether to read Esslemont in the midst of Erikson's works. Not a biggy though as you have 5 books to get through before the first Esslemont book "should" be read. I haven't read any of Esslemont's offerings yet but will probably start later this year so will be interesting to see how disjointed the storylines might be and how significant spoilers might also be when I do.
 

Frizzo0133

Is a wondrous friend of modest Kruppe
#7
Hi guys!

I'm really interested in starting the Malazan series but I'm a bit put off at the same time. When you hear people speak about it they either love it or they find it too confusing or they love it and find it confusing. So to the people who have read it is it should you be quite "well read" in fantasy before you start? If you could start the series fresh would you approach it in a different way? Or should I just get Gardens of the Moon, get stuck in and quit over thinking it? What advice would you give?

Cheers
The Malazan series is an investment, to say the least. It's my favorite fantasy series of all time, and I had to read all of the books multiple times to catch everything. If you think you're going to get an answer before book 10 you probably won't dig what the series is. Hell if you think you're going to get an answer in book ten without puzzling over a ton of details that you get as the series goes on you're probably deluding yourself.

Honestly it's one of the most well developed/heart breaking series of all time, you might only know a character for five pages and then they die, but you will feel it.

It is one of the hardest series to get into, but once you do it's impossible to put down.

I really recommend reading the ICE books as well, he grows on you as an author, each book gets better and rewards you for sticking with the Malazan series.
 

sarumaniac

Knows how to pronounce Kvothe
#8
Cheers guys.

I think I'll quit complaining and get stuck in then. Everyone who has stuck with it seems to really love these books.
 

Laurentius

Super Moderator
Staff member
#9
I'll just throw my opinion in the mix aswell. I read the first 3 books and some of the 4th. I didn't like it. I would say it's an aquired taste, but I am probably wrong, as I seem to be one of the only ones not liking the books/series.

As several have mentioned by now, it's huge in scope (which is good) and there's plenty of characters (also good usually). The dealbreaker for me, is the fact that there's so many characters. I didn't care for many of em, and for the ones I found exciting, I would wait a half or a whole book to learn more. The story seemed fragmented to me (because of many POVs), even 3-4 books in the series. If I could rewind time, I would save the money for something else.
 

Amaryllis

Journeyed there and back again
#10
The problem for me was that there was no real return on the time investment given (having had the major plot ends already spoiled before I read page 1 of the first book may have helped this). This is an even bigger problem than the fact that thousands of things get mentioned and then not explained for entire books. I simply don't care about much of anything happening in the world. The majority of the characters aren't really likable, even in that anti-heroic, grudging sort of way, and so there's no identifying with the crises within the world. It's like reading the history of some obscure country you know little to nothing of on wikipedia, if none of the explanatory links worked, and the only way to find out more was to keep reading one endless article. It would honestly probably be more interesting as a playable setting, or as an appendix you can do a wiki-walk through at your own leisure (conversely, the actual wiki that exists for Malazan is terrible), because there's no artificial bottleneck on your knowledge, or a need to follow threads you could care less about for entirely too much time. Even Romance of the Three Kingdoms didn't wander so much, and I'm pretty sure it had like 800 characters in it.

I don't understand the guy who said Erikson can make you care about a character in 5 pages. I haven't gotten to that point in nearly 2000. Erikson's prose is good (at least at the imagery side of things; his dialogue is meh), but it's not PHENOMENAL, and on the list of fantasy writing cliches, or general writing no-nos, the dude hits about half of them.
 

Danica

Queen of the boards!
Staff member
#11
i read the first one and few pages of the second and haven't picked it up since. I don't remember most of what I read and so a series full of interconnected bits I have to focus on, is too much like work for me. Good job for trying it out! Hope you like it!
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#12
i read the first one and few pages of the second and haven't picked it up since. I don't remember most of what I read and so a series full of interconnected bits I have to focus on, is too much like work for me. Good job for trying it out! Hope you like it!
See, that's what I like about it. But I think my perspective is a little messed up because the first non-YA fantasy I read was Thomas Covenant and the second was Malazan (first 2 or 3 books, picked up at random with absolutely no recommendation one way or the other). So I have certain expectations that aren't met by a lot of fantasy, and I just can't stand some simple stuff like Terry Brooks or the Belgariad.
 

Danica

Queen of the boards!
Staff member
#13
See, that's what I like about it. But I think my perspective is a little messed up because the first non-YA fantasy I read was Thomas Covenant and the second was Malazan (first 2 or 3 books, picked up at random with absolutely no recommendation one way or the other). So I have certain expectations that aren't met by a lot of fantasy, and I just can't stand some simple stuff like Terry Brooks or the Belgariad.
Yea, it's a very much cup of tea kind of book. I don't personally enjoy it but I can see that he is doing something amazing and appreciate it.
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
#14
I wasn't real knowledgeable about the fantasy genre when I started Gardens of the Moon so I am also a very strict judge when introduced to new fantasy books. He makes nearly all fantasy writers (even great ones) look like their writing for children by comparison. This series takes patience to get through and to understand. So if you're not an incredibly patient reader then don't read it. I didn't really start to care about the characters until book 3 and even then most of them are pretty bland throughout. 5 pages is a gross exaggeration. It takes much longer then that to care (there are some exceptions though). Steven Erikson's work is phenomenal. Anyone who disagrees either hasn't read far enough to make that judgment or doesn't recognize great writing for what it is. I didn't realize how great the series is until book 5.
 

Danica

Queen of the boards!
Staff member
#15
Steven Erikson's work is phenomenal. Anyone who disagrees either hasn't read far enough to make that judgment or doesn't recognize great writing for what it is. I didn't realize how great the series is until book 5.
While I agree, I haven't read enough of him to say he is or isn't phenomenal, I don't think someone should have to reserve their judgement of a writer till they are five books into a series. I think he is doing something really clever, and for that I give him props. I don't agree with the comment that he makes other authors look like they are writing for children though. He clearly writes in a different style, but if your suggesting that people have to be 'adult' to read Malazan, or that 'great' authors seem like they write for children because they don't write in the same style ... that makes me laugh out loud.
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
#16
While I agree, I haven't read enough of him to say he is or isn't phenomenal, I don't think someone should have to reserve their judgement of a writer till they are five books into a series. I think he is doing something really clever, and for that I give him props. I don't agree with the comment that he makes other authors look like they are writing for children though. He clearly writes in a different style, but if your suggesting that people have to be 'adult' to read Malazan, or that 'great' authors seem like they write for children because they don't write in the same style ... that makes me laugh out loud.
I never said they had to write in the same style. The reason I made that comment is because of the complexity of his writing. He is ranked above other contemporary fantasy writers for a reason; he took the epic fantasy thing to a new level that has never been touched before. Someone will eventually come along and outrank those who came before. That's what Steven Erikson did. He receives exorbitant amount of praise on every good fantasy and speculative site I've explored. There's a lot of writers out there who write better prose, but as far as complexity is concerned nobody beats him.
 

sarumaniac

Knows how to pronounce Kvothe
#19
A little update if anyone is interested :) The fact that I've gone into the series forewarned about the complexity means I am reading at my slowest pace ever and re-reading some paragraphs multiple times hehe.

I'm about a third of the way through, i'm liking it so far, it's a different kind of complexity to what I imagined but not sure I can explain it. It's like the story is easy to follow but you just don't know what everyone is up too. The Dramatis Personae is my friend. The chapters are BIG! I think this "warren" magic is pretty cool. I guess what keeps me interested at the moment is I want to understand everything more, so I just keep reading :)

epicfantasyfreak - Going back and reading book 1 after 5 is a interesting idea.

Thanks for all your input guys.