This book captured my attention from the first page. We are introduced to a new character, Karsa Orlong. The first quarter of the book introduces him and follows him through his trials. Initially, I am not sure if I love him or hate him, but he grows on you until you really start to cheer him on. The story continues immediately after the events that occurred in Deadhouse Gates with the primary focus on preparing for the upcoming battle between Adjunct Tavore Paran heading the Mazalan army and the Whirlwind rebellion in the Holy Desert Raraku.
Steven Erikson is the author of the Malazan Book of the Fallen Series which comprises 10 books and 4 novellas. House of Chains is the fourth 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) and has made them immortal . There is the Jaghut, a race that was so dangerous the T’lan Imass undertook the ritual to ensure complete annihilation of the Jaghut. 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 has evolved into the seer of Sha’ik. The Whirlwind, in the Holy Desert Raraku, is a rebellion against the Malazan Empire’s rule that is being lead by the new prophetess Sha’ik and is driven by the Goddess. The Warrens have been poisoned by the Crippled God. New characters are initially introduced, specifically Karsa Orlong, and they are the long-lived people of Aryd. They are being influenced by evil beings who have been imprisoned in stone and are known as the stone faced gods.
Karsa’s journey weaves in many directions and it is interesting to learn who his gods really are and to watch Karsa as he grows and changes throughout his trials. Karsa was my favourite character in this book. This story is so large and complex with a huge number of different storylines running at the same time that I sometimes had difficulty following them all.
I also found it confusing the way people’s names changed and the fact that there is now a Felisin the younger. It took me a while to figure out that she is a new character, the original Felisin’s newly adopted daughter. But now that I have waited a few days to digest this story, I am starting to put all the pieces together. I think, I know what happened, but I am not 100% sure, maybe it is just because I waited too long between books three and four, or maybe the story is just too convoluted.
It was interesting how all the events eventually interlocked throughout the story and I am curious to see where the story is going next. Although I thought that some of the writing was pretty subtle and was not completely clear as to what really did happen at the end of the book.
My favourite quote from the book:
“For you, Bidithal. For every nameless girl-child you destroyed. Here. Choke on your pleasure.”
A few questions to ponder:
WTF, what really happened here?
Who or what is the fallen God, who is the chained God and who is the nameless one?