This is the kind of work I'm looking for. Written for adults, with rich characters, epic sweep of events, complex layers of intertangled personal, political, and mythical story-lines.
A rare book in the category of, and perhaps even better than, Game of Thrones, Name of the Wind, Warded Man, or The Way of Kings.
Can't wait for the next book.
The narrater was great--not one for forcing a variety of voices, but providing a solid, pleasant, and effective read. Like hearing a fireside story read by a master story teller.
Great Book and Performance!
I enjoyed this book and its sequel. Russel could have easily split this book into two or three--but instead creates a great semi-epic work. This is good writing, with an interesting plot that keeps you reading. However, if you are looking for a non-stop action ride this isn't your book.
It has the setting and plot for a 'coming of age' epic adventure, but Russell clearly didn't want to write that kind of book. The main character has the mysterious strength/ability/power and the setting is a multi-layered epic struggle of the characters' personal beliefs, set under the larger struggle between political families/entities, set under the larger epic struggle between nations/peoples, again set under the still larger struggle of ideologies/religions. While at first the setting leads you expect a coming of age story of a mystical warrior--the coming of age is really about the spiritual identity of the character and the nature of his reality--not his physical abilities (although that is developed in the book, too).
There is action in this series (wars, assassinations, fights, kick-boxing tournament, etc.), but they are almost downplayed at times. For instance, the central character competes in a kickboxing tournament, fighting something like a half-dozen matches, but Russell skims over almost all physical the action as if it is entirely irrelevant until the last match.
While I do enjoy a true action packed epic--this was a well written and enjoyable book. As was its sequel.
The narrator is fine. However, he's one of those narrators which would do best by simply reading the book and not trying to push his voice into a variety of characters. His effort to do so is a little comical at times--two of the minor characters' voices are just silly. One is a bad Yoda impression and the other is straight out of good fellas (odd in this feudal Asian society). Luckily these characters have minor roles, so it doesn't get annoying.
Deadhouse Gates is the second book in the dark military epic fantasy known as the Malazan Tale of the Fallen.
Finishing this massive tome feels like you have lived through the war along with the characters. You're exhausted... yet filled with a feeling of accomplishment, and no small sense of awe. The sheer scope of the story that Erikson is weaving is simply MASSIVE beyond anything I've ever read.
This book is the story of a rebellion breaking out in a land controlled by the Malazan Empire, and the brewing war that ensues. It takes about 300 pages to set up, so until then you'll feel like you did in Gardens of the Moon - "What the heck is going on, and why is _____ happening?"
I can see where people say that you need to get to this point before the story really grabs you. That's the nature of this tale, I think. The question is whether you're willing to put this much effort into it, and whether you judge the rewards worth the effort. For me, this was leaps and bounds better than "Gardens of the Moon".
The narration was excellent. The voices matched the dark, hard and gritty tone of the novel.
If you're interested in reading this series, you need to get some notions out of your head. This is a broad canvas that Erikson is painting. This is a milieu story. It is not so much a character story. Yes, there are good characters, and they grow on you, but if you let yourself invest too much into them, you may get hurt.
Every major character will suffer in this book, and some will die. Brutality reigns in this medieval world, and last-minute rescues are so rare that you should never expect them. Innocents suffer. There is some redemption, but I found some scenes hard to stomach. Heroic struggles end in horrid death, and at those times it made me want to scream "WHY DID YOU EVEN WRITE THIS?!" yet it is remarkably well-written. This story is an epic tale of empires.
There is a LOT of war in this book, more than any book I've ever read, up there with "A Memory of Light", and that war took 13 books to set up. I can only imagine what's coming in the rest of this series!
The main drawbacks I found were in the nature of the storytelling - the high learning curve, and at times, the seeming randomness in which plot-pivotal events occur. It's hard to believe that characters just happens to be on the right road, in the right place at the right time, for his/her destiny to suddenly be unveiled, or to witness some ancient prophecy come to pass. Nevertheless, when viewed among the vastness of this tome, such events don't cripple the story itself.
I've got Memories of Ice next, and I'm expecting that to be a turning point. They say you get hooked after that one. I guess we will see!