In Northern Genabackis, tribal mountain warriors raid southern flatlands. Years later, Tavore, Adjunct to the Empress, enters the last Malazan stronghold. New to command, she must hone 12,000 recruits to resist the Whirlwind of her sister Sha’ik in the Holy Desert. The power struggle of the seer’s warlords threatens the soul of the rebellion (goodreads.com).
House of Chains is just as good as all the others so far. I can’t get over how much I love this series, and how after so many books it is still great! Sometimes books fail after the first, but this series just keeps on going. Every book is just as good or better than the last.
I have to say that it gets really confusing because these books are not in chronological order. Just as Memories of Ice was a sequel to Gardens of the Moon, House of Chains is a direct sequel to Dead House Gates. However, events in this book occur during Gardens of the Moon all the way through DeadHouse Gates. I really need to print up a timeline to figure all this out!
Anyway, this is a fantastic addition to the series. Its main focus is the war between Tavore/Malazans and Whirlwind Goddess/Sha’ik. However, the book begins so differently from all the others that it seems completely unrelated to the rest of the story. I felt as if I was reading a different book! We start out by following Karsa Orlong of the Teblor on his journey to bring glory to his tribe by raiding the lowlanders and killing as many people as he can. I just loved how personal this part was and how we see him develop as a character as he learns more about his world. This part was just easy to follow and understand, and there wasn’t that constant switching back and forth between tons of characters. After awhile, we learn that Karsa was a secondary character in book 2, but we just didn’t know his name at the time.
Eventually, we pick up where book 2 left off with Sha’ik and Felisin Younger. For those of you who have read book 2 and 3 you probably remember that there are two Felisin’s, but I didn’t and was completely confused. However, I eventually cleared that up and was able to better follow the story. Felisin adopted an orphan and named her after herself, except she calls her Felisin Younger. I felt like the part about the Whirlwind rebellion was a little slow, and hard to follow with so many other characters, all of whom seem so important. This story picked up by the end of the book, but the final confrontation between Sha’ik and Tavore, was not at all what I expected. I thought after such a huge build-up that there would have been something more. I was a bit disappointed. Not that it wasn’t good, because the entire book is awesome, but this one part was disappointing.
As I said before, there are tons of characters in this book, many are new, but some are returning characters. It was very difficult to keep track of them all, especially when they all seem so important to the story. I felt like I didn’t get to know any of them very well, except of course Karsa Orlong and some returning characters. Instead of a major focus on Ganoes Paran or Felisin Paran as in the previous books, this one has a focus on their sister Tavore. Even though we see a lot of her, it really isn’t from her point-of-view. We see her through the eyes of her soldiers, Sargents, Captains, Fists, etc., which doesn’t allow us to really get to know her. Maybe we learn more later on.
The Gods are beginning to play much more of a role as we see in this book. We actually get to see Cotillion physically materialize (which I believe is dangerous for him) several times in the book. There is also more about Shadowthrone, as well as the House of Chains.
The world building is amazing! In this book we are introduced to a new founding race. We already know about the Jaghut, T’lan Imass, and the K’chain Che’malle, but we finally meet a Forkrul Assail. We don’t know much about them, but they are introduced and probably play more of a role in a later book.
Overall, it was a great book. I couldn’t believe how it all came together and how everything is connected. I also couldn’t figure out who to root for in the final battle because I love both sides! I recommend reading this if you have read the others. Read it now! If you are new to the series I do suggest trying to read them back to back or with little time in between because it can be confusing and there is no way to catch up if you get lost since Erikson doesn’t repeat anything. I had this problem before reading this book, and I now realize I will have to read all the others right away before I forget all those little important details. Steven Erikson is an amazing writer and storyteller and I suggest picking up his Malazan series right away.
My rating: 5/5 stars!
My other reviews in this series
*photo provided by wikipedia.org