Deadhouse Gates opens a few months after the events of Gardens of the Moon. Unlike the previous book, which followed different groups of characters in close proximity to one another, the character threads in Deadhouse Gates are frequently separated by hundreds or thousands of miles at a time.
The Malazan Empire is rocked by a cull of the nobility, many being sent to the mines of Otataral Island off the coast of the subcontinent of Seven Cities. However, Seven Cities is being consumed by a rebellion known as the Whirlwind, led by the prophetess Sha’ik from the Holy Desert of Raraku. With the cities being overrun, the Malazan forces in the city of Hissar plot a daring evacuation overland to the Malazan continental capital of Aren. The Malazan 7th Army, under the command of the legendary Coltaine of the Crow Clan of the Wickans, is tasked with escorting 50,000 refugees some 1,500 miles to safety. This legendary march becomes known as the Chain of Dogs and will become part of the legends of Seven Cities. Meanwhile, the assassin Kalam embarks on a dangerous mission and a group of travellers from Genabackis arrive in Seven Cities on their own mysterious errands (wikipedia.org)
Even though I struggled reading Gardens of the Moon, I am glad I read this book. I thought Deadhouse Gates was a fantastic read! It was very complex and long, yet still interesting and engaging. I can’t decide which book of the series is my favorite so far; they’re just so good. I just have to keep reading to find out if one really jumps out at me even more!
As in the previous book, the plot is very complex and there are many different events occurring throughout the novel. I thought the pace was absolutely perfect; however there were some parts I wasn’t as engaged in as I was in others, and that is just because I thought it was uninteresting at that time. I also liked following certain groups of characters more because their part of the story was more exciting. I also didn’t have as hard of a time understanding what was going on throughout the book. I think I am starting to become more familiar with Erikson’s world and his writing style.
The detail within this book is indescribable! I can’t believe how well Erikson can write and the emotions he can portray. Some of the scenes in the book were almost too horrible to read because you can just picture what the characters are seeing and feeling; really empathize with them. Just….wow! I felt the same way with his previous novel.
Also, with a novel of this size I was greatly impressed that there was no repetition from the previous novel. I hope this continues with the others. There are many other fantasy books that would be a lot shorter if everything that was restated was taken out. The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind is a great example of an irritating writing style.
Erikson made character swaps in this book, so we follow a few new characters and some old ones. The others are left for the next book I think. There are tons of characters in the book, but I think it’s important to pay special attention to some of them and there were some I enjoyed more than others.
There are several different threads we are following and the one I found most interesting was with Felisin (Paran’s sister from Gardens of the Moon), Heboric (ex priest and exiled historian) and Baudin who is their companion. I loved following their story because it was exciting and the characters are all very interesting.
The next group of characters are familiar to us. Fiddler, Crokus, Apsalar, and Kalam. There character building was awesome as well and there story. I loved learning more about them and having them become characters who I care about. Kalam separates from the group to go on his own mission and he finds Apt, whom I love! I had some major anxiety at the end of the book with Kalam and his mission. So exciting!
There are also Icarium (Jaghut), Mappo (his Trell companion), and Iskaral Pust who is a High Priest of Shadow. I found their story to be the least interesting of all of the threads. I’m not really sure why exactly. It’s hard to say. I just enjoyed the other groups so much more and not a lot seemed to happen with this group. However, they are important to the story and I loved the relationship between Icarium and Mappo!
There is also Duiker who is a historian. His story wasn’t very interesting at first, but by the end of the book I really liked him as a character and there are some things that happen with him that just left me horrified. I suppose his story wasn’t too interesting for me because it involved a lot of military tactics and the like because he travels with Coltaine’s army. There is just a point when I can’t read about battle strategies, etc. anymore. However, these battles are well described and towards the end left me speechless.
Some other important characters include Coltaine, who you get to know quite well through Duiker, and Korbolo Dom and Kamist Reloe who are opposing Coltaine. You don’t get to read from the point of view of Korbolo or Kamist so you don’t get to know them too well, but they are important characters.
I think that if I re-read the book I would enjoy the characters even more knowing what I know now and pick up on some things I might have missed. I have read many reviews and the people who re-read these books get ALOT more out of them the second time.
I really enjoyed this book and I can’t wait to start the next one. Just like Gardens of the Moon this book is pretty much a self-contained story, but it still helps to read the previous book. Even though it does have a pseudo ending, I believe you will be looking forward to reading the next novel. I think because this series is so complex I should just read them all back to back if I can. Better that way because I won’t forget what was going on. The Malazan Book of the Fallen is such an amazing series so far and is written by an author who has some major talent. I highly recommend reading the series even if you don’t like complex plots. There are tons of summaries available to help you understand. Anyone who loves fantasy books such as The Black Company and Game of Thrones will love these books!
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars!
My favorite companion while reading this book was the Tor.com re-read! Very helpful!
Other reviews of this book:
Review by SF Site
Review by Strakul’s Thoughts
Review by SF Book Reveiws
My other reveiws in this series:
Review: Malazan Book of the Fallen (lisasnyderbookauthor.wordpress.com)
Review: Gardens of the Moon (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1) (nknh.wordpress.com)