Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson

This entry is part [part not set] of 4 in the series Malazan Book of the Fallen

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
Second Novel in the Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series
Publisher: Tor Fantasy; ZZZ edition (February 7, 2005), Mass Market Paperback: 864 pages, Language: English, ISBN-10: 0765348799, ISBN-13: 978-0765348791

The unique and interesting story continues in this second book. It still focuses on the Bridgeburners but it also has some new characters that it focuses on.  In this novel, the Bridgeburners get separated to go onto different adventures. There is the introduction of new characters and new concepts.

Steven Erikson is the author of the Malazan Book of the Fallen Series which comprises 10 books and 4 novellas.  Deadhouse Gates is the second book in this long and complex story-line.  The genre is fantasy and the multifarious story takes place in a non-technological age with the use of magic involving many different peoples. There are the human people of Genabackis who are descendants of the T’lan Imass. There are T’lan Imass a group of people who are one of the founding races that underwent a ritual ( so long in the past that it predated the ascension of humans) that has made them immortal . There is the Jaghut, a race that was so dangerous the T’lan Imass undertook to completely annihilate them and it was this that brought about the ritual. The Tiste Andii, a non-human elder race that is very powerful and has use of magic. There are also Gods, who are called Ascendants. There are others as well. Some individuals have access to magic.  The magic is accessible through warrens which are pathways that exist outside of the world and are believed to have been created by the Dragons. The Deck of Dragons, which is a deck of cards that is associated with the Ascendants, can be used to foretell the future.  Soletaken are humans or creatures that can change their forms into animals.

Felisin Paran (youngest sister of Ganoes Paran, Captain of the Bridgeburners,) is a new character. Previously she was part of the nobility, but with the problems in the Malazan Empire, the Empress decides a culling of the nobility is required and Felisin is one of those who is affected.  Since the previous Adjunct (a trusted person chosen by the Empress to completely give up who she was and become an extension of the Empress) died in the first book, a new Adjunct was chosen who is Felisin’s older sister. Since the only way the new Adjunct can save her sister from being killed is to send her into slavery in the Otataral Island mines, that is where she goes. But she also sends Baudin, a strong warrior, into slavery as a protector for her sister.  A one-handed excommunicated priest of Fener named Heboric also becomes a companion to Felisin. One of the storylines of the book centres around the adventures of these three.

On a different sub-continent known as the Seven Seas, the Malazan Forces are being over-run creating a large number of refugees and the story of their trek being lead by the legendary commander of the Malazan 7th Army, Coltaine of the Crow Clan of the Wickans is quite amazing. We also follow the adventures of the Bridgeburners, although they have separated with different parties going off to do different things. There is a rebellion brewing which causes concern and action.  We learn more of the characters and the story continues. We also learn more of how the warrens work and it is always interesting to see what Quick Ben is up to, he is a Mage in the 9th (one of the Bridgeburners)

The path of the hands has been unleashed which brings out the sole-taken (shape-shifters) and D’ivers (shape-shifters who can take on many different shapes at once) who are looking for Ascension (they want to become Gods.)  We also meet Icarium, a mixed-blood Jaghut wanderer, who does not know what he is and his companion a Trell named Mappo, who are also on the path.

The book has a rather surprising but good ending. Since it is a series, there is lots left to happen and the books definitely need to be read in order, none of them are stand alone. I am curious to see where this is all heading.  If you enjoy reading fantasy and want to luxuriate in a long story then I recommend this book to you.  Keep in mind this is not your typical fantasy, but if you are willing to give it a go, I think you too will be hooked.

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