Mobileread
Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen
#1  AndrewH 06-15-2012, 07:41 PM
I started reading Steven Erikson's Gardens of the Moon, the first book in his 10-book epic series Malazan Book of the Fallen, a week ago. So far I'm about about a hundred pages in (which is painfully slow progress for me) and wondering if I should continue.

I'm totally confused on what's happening in the book. I understand this is typical, but at what point will I no longer be confused? By the end of the book? By the end of the sixth book? By the end of the last book?

I feel absolutely no connection to the (ridiculously named) characters. Will I care for any of them by the end of the book, or the end of the series?

What is it, exactly, that people find so great about this series? It certainly isn't the prose, nor the dialogue. From what I've seen so far it can't be the characterizations.

When does it start to "get good"? We've all heard people exclaim about how great such-and-such series is, but that it doesn't start to get good until the third or fourth book. Reading this definitely does not feel like entertainment, so how much further would I have to slog through the series before it starts to get better?

I'm not adverse to complex plots (A Song of Ice and Fire, The Fionavar Tapestry, Gormenghast Trilogy), hundreds of characters (A Song of Ice and Fire), nor meandering stories that take a long time to reach their destination (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell). However, I'm not sure I want to stick with Malazan Book of the Fallen if its saving grace is simply its complexity and that it will require a dozen re-reads to truly appreciate it.

On a completely unrelated note, the editing on the ebooks is horrifyingly bad. Almost every occurrence of italicized text has one or two words that aren't properly italicized. Half the appearances of "Whiskeyjack" appear as "Whiskey jack". By far, the absolute worst edited (retail) ebook I've ever seen.
Reply 

#2  maxiart 06-16-2012, 01:53 AM
They are not ridiculously named, because those are not their names. They are supposed to be in-universe army nicknames. So yeah...

Carrying on, it is often said that Gardens of the Moon is the worst book of the series. However, you have to keep in mind that the confused feeling you are experiencing will never completely go away. Erikson will never stop the story just to give you an info-dump. You'll have to stay alert, and figure things piece by piece as they are mentioned.

I do grant you, Steven is not a master of characterization, however I personally find that while not 'perfect' the characters are distinct enough for the scope.

And this is my first read, I am up to Midnight Tides (#5), have done no re-reads and I am very much in love with what I have read, and what I will read. For me, it is the prose, and it is the dialogue, and the stories about the world told in the book. And the way they are told

I really hope you at least finish Gardens of the Moon~
Reply 

#3  Belfaborac 06-16-2012, 02:03 AM
If it's not to your taste, then it's not to your taste and if you actively don't like it after 100 pages, I'd suggest you call it a day soon and move on to a different book.

Other than that I can't really answer the questions. I loved Gardens of the Moon from page one and found the books in the series to range from just plain good to simply great, but as I'm not in the habit of analysing the books I read I can't really give you a detailed explanation of why. My experience was pretty much diametrically opposite to yours though: I enjoyed the characters, didn't find the names any more ridiculous than in any other fantasy series, found the characterisation more than adequate and above all just loved the world it was set in.

On the other hand I've absolutely no problem seeing that it's extremely unlikely to be to everyone's taste. And if you struggle with it, I'd just chuck it in. Life's too short to struggle with books.
Reply 

#4  mnfe 06-16-2012, 04:51 AM
I have never been able to get past book 7, although I had hopes enough that I bought the next one when it came out. I am trying again now that I have ebooks, and I am finding it much easier going. Yes, there are a few editing errors, but the ability to bookmark and search has come in very helpful. I liked Gardens of the Moon quite a bit, but I found that it got harder to keep track as I went on. And I did like the characters. Tattersail, Ganoes Paran, etc. Some of the books jump around so you are introduced to a whole new cast of characters and a whole new storyline. In the book I am reading, Reaper's Gale, some of those storylines are starting to finally pull together.

I don't know if I could tell you specifically why I like them. I do like epics, and this one makes me use my brain. I can't just skim through and read fast or I'll miss something important. I like the characters. Even the "good guys" are heavily flawed. I find the twists and turns engaging.
Reply 

#5  DrNefario 06-16-2012, 06:25 AM
I say give up. I didn't get it either. I don't understand what people like about it.

I did push through Gardens of the Moon, although I had to stop and read something else half way, and it dd get better in the latter half, but not by nearly enough to make to me read the next one. I never cared about any of the characters, and none of their motivations made any sense.
Reply 

#6  DiapDealer 06-16-2012, 07:31 AM
The promise of "it gets better" has never been enough for me to continue what feels like a slog--book or series. And I simply don't give free passes to whole books in a series; beginning, middle or otherwise. If they can't all be really good, there's probably too many in your series. As others have mentioned, it doesn't really sound like you should continue; there's nothing wrong with "it's just not working for me"... regardless of how many people might sing a book's/series' praises.

On the other hand; I'd also say it would be worth trying it again at some point down the road. There's a lot to when a book's read in a person's life. Many's the time I've found myself thoroughly enjoying a book that I previously had to put down for lack of interest.
Reply 

#7  drofgnal 06-16-2012, 07:55 AM
I recently read Dr. Zhizago. After about 100 pages or so I realized I couldn't just read it like an ordinary novel. The new ebook translation has many footnotes describing particular aspects of Russian culture and literature that also help to make the book make sense. As opposed to just chucking it and going on to something else, I decided to start over and reread the first 100 pages more carefully. When I did that I really enjoyed the book.

That said what you are reading is not Dr. Zhivago. I probably wouldn't feel compelled to start Erikson's series over. I'd probably move on.
Reply 

#8  carpetmojo 06-16-2012, 09:00 AM
Quote DiapDealer
The promise of "it gets better" has never been enough for me to continue what feels like a slog--book or series. And I simply don't give free passes to whole books in a series; beginning, middle or otherwise. If they can't all be really good, there's probably too many in your series. .................................................. ........
Well said Diap ......
Reply 

#9  AndrewH 06-16-2012, 02:06 PM
Quote maxiart
They are not ridiculously named, because those are not their names. They are supposed to be in-universe army nicknames,
Oh! Well, that makes sense. However, this fact could have been mentioned earlier in the novel... 20% of the way through and I'm thinking these people really are named "Whiskeyjack", "Hairlock", "Sorry", "Nightchill", "Dancer", and "Surly". (Sorry, Dancer, and Surly? Sounds like they could fit right in with Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, and Sneezy.)

Quote DiapDealer
...there's nothing wrong with "it's just not working for me"... regardless of how many people might sing a book's/series' praises.
Very true, and I've abandoned plenty of books I didn't enjoy in the past...

Quote
On the other hand; I'd also say it would be worth trying it again at some point down the road. There's a lot to when a book's read in a person's life. Many's the time I've found myself thoroughly enjoying a book that I previously had to put down for lack of interest.
Good advice. I believe I picked up and abandoned The Hobbit half a dozen times over the years before finishing (and enjoying) it, even though I had no difficulty with The Lord of the Rings.
Reply 

#10  maxiart 06-16-2012, 02:56 PM
Quote AndrewH
Oh! Well, that makes sense. However, this fact could have been mentioned earlier in the novel... 20% of the way through and I'm thinking these people really are named "Whiskeyjack", "Hairlock", "Sorry", "Nightchill", "Dancer", and "Surly". (Sorry, Dancer, and Surly? Sounds like they could fit right in with Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, and Sneezy.)
Amusingly, it is only clearly stated on the fourth book, if I remember correctly.
Reply 

  Next »  Last »  (1/3)
Today's Posts | Search this Thread | Login | Register