Steven Erikson entered the pantheon of great fantasy writers in 1999 with his debut, Gardens of the Moon. In the span of just 10 years, he completed his epic telling of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, collecting hordes of fans along the way. Now Erikson returns with a place for new listeners to enter the Malazan world, a trilogy that takes place at a time before the events of the concluded series.
Forge of Darkness takes listeners to Kurald Galain, the warren of Darkness, and tells of a realm whose fate plays a crucial role in the fall of the Malazan Empire and surrounds one of the Malazan world’s most fascinating and powerful characters, Anomander Rake. It’s a conflicted time in Kurald Galain, where Mother Dark reigns above the Tiste people. But this ancient land was once home to many a power...and even death is not quite eternal.
The commoners’ great hero, Vatha Urusander, longs for ascendency and Mother Dark’s hand in marriage, but she has taken another Consort, Lord Draconus, from the faraway Dracons Hold. The idea of this union sends fissures throughout the realm, and as the rumors of an inevitable civil war burn through the masses, something emerges from the long-dead seas. The Vitr - an ancient power that shakes the dormant and dying powers of the past. Caught in the middle of it all are the Sons of Darkness: Anomander, Andarist, and Silchas Ruin of the Purake Hold.
It’s a time of great strife as the past and the present of this warren boil with unfathomable alliances, great deceptions, and even greater passions...of both love and hate. This ancient tale within the world Erikson introduced in the Malazan Book of the Fallen should appeal to fans of George R. R. Martin for its characters and intrigue, but goes leaps further in the realm of the imagination.
©2012 Steven Erikson (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
I read. What more is there to know?
I'm a huge fan of the Malazan series and consider Erickson to be one of the best, if not the best, of the epic fantasy authors. I assume you've read some of the Malazan books if you're contemplating this book. This book is similar to the Malazan books in that involves massive world building and development of a huge cast of characters, most with difficult names that sometimes sound like others (an issue that may only be problematic when reading the audio version). While the scale and slow pace of the book is frustrating, it's also very much Erickson's typical approach. That said, this book seemed even harder to follow than the Malazan books. It constantly bounces around between characters and plot lines (again, as is typical), but unlike the Malazan books, the plot lines here rarely do anything interesting and often very little happens each time you re-encounter a character. There's also a dearth of enjoyable or comedic characters, as can be found in most Malazan books. As a result of all this, the book is a bit tedious, but worst of all, it lacks a real pay off. This may be due to the fact that it's the first in a trilogy, but that doesn't absolve it from the need to be enjoyable on its own, and it falls short of my expectation in this regard. I'm sure I'll read the next installment, but if it's the same as book one, I may not read the third. If you read it, I hope you enjoy it more than I did.
Steven Erikson challenges the traditional fantasy genre' with his "Book of the Fallen" series, and again, more so, with this first book in his new precursor Kharkanas trilogy, "Forge of Darkness."
First, a brief review: A stirring, powerful, thought-provoking, wonderful "must read."
Now, a bit more info.
I've read this before I listened to it. It's HUGE. Just as in his "Fallen" works, this requires you to think. AND. It's setting the groundworks for a strong, amazing trilogy down the road. If you liked "Gardens of the Moon," which I've already reviewed here at Audible, you'll love this book. "Gardens" carries it's work somewhat herein, so you'll be comfortable. The descriptions are astounding, the plots and storylines immense, and the fantasy element is superb. A powerful mix of fantasy, machiavellian plots and engaging characters.
No spoilers here, as usual. I WILL tell you to look at my review of Erikson's "Gardens of the Moon," so you can get a better idea, if you need one.
This is EPIC. Strong fantasy at it's finest. And just like "Gardens," it's not a casual listen.
This is fantasy on par with NOTHING else out there. It's unique and refreshing. And again, anyone who knows Erikson's works will agree: He's preparing us in this first book for very great things.
Right at the top. The production is great, the narrator is engaging and consistent. Erikson is at his most philosophical and his prose is deliciously dark, but at times still warm and humorous.
Draconus. He is the beating heart of the book for me.
The most important thing about a narrator for me is that they make it easier, not harder, to follow the storyline. Philpott does this.
Still better than most other books, but the way the story is told is disorienting at first and for a book its size not a lot happens, there's just a lot of PoV's showing the same things. It suffers from prequal syndrome.
I'm a huge fan of Steven Erikson and his mythic, Malazan, decalogy so, naturally, an appointment with Forge of Darkness was on my calendar. His twisting depths of narrative never cease to enthral, and this is no exception. I am an avid reader but thoroughly enjoy the freedom an audiobook can grant.
Wonderful detail, the intricate unfolding of character relationships, with the customary amount of humour, and the beautiful mythic, overall plot. What is not to like?
Well, there is the matter of the continuity and correct pronunciation of names from the previous books, which does seem careless given the amount of loving fans who surely will have noticed this. It would be well worth while obtaining a list of correct pronunciations from Erikson himself to finally end the confusion amongst the different narrators of his works.
I had hoped that in ten years the author would have learned to write a less disjointed plot. He has not. I still found myself forgetting who the characters were and where they fit into the plot. This book, like all of this author's books, demands attention, and getting distracted for a few minutes leaves you lost in a land of square pegs and round holes. Obfuscation is not art.
However, the joy of this book is also its weakness. The command of the English language displayed in this book is stunning. It merits the comparison to Jack Vance's Dying Earth; the very complexity of the language creates a sense of other-worldliness that, combined with imagery, creates a captivating world and a captivating story. Like Vance (or like Shakespeare for that matter), this book is a high-effort, high reward read.
All Tiste are insane, I'm convinced... Reading this thoroughly depressed me, but it gave serious context to all the enigmatic conversations among the Eleint, Tiste and other ancient players in Malazan Book of the Fallen.
I'd only one small problem and that is that this author pronounces some words slightly differently from the previous books. However this was a problem with some of the first 10 books when they changed authors so if you got through that you'll enjoy this book that is the only reason for the one-star off performance.
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