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AncalagonTheBlack

Malazan: High House Shadow edition

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Who sees Cnaiur as a hero? Sure, in the first trilogy of TSA, he had some great moments, but beyond that? He started getting old fast.

As for me, I'm 90% done with Memories of Ice and imo, it's the best so far. Then again, there are like, 7 books left. Heh.

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1 hour ago, Dora Vee said:

Who sees Cnaiur as a hero? Sure, in the first trilogy of TSA, he had some great moments, but beyond that? He started getting old fast.

As for me, I'm 90% done with Memories of Ice and imo, it's the best so far. Then again, there are like, 7 books left. Heh.

Oh, back in the day Cnaiur had quite the fan club.

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22 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

Cough cough Cnair cough cough 



I was thinking of Cnair but I was thinking more of Rorsach.

I mean, Cnair is better handled than Karsa in that Bakker never makes him out to be less than a monster. A very confused and pitiable monster but still a monster. I didn't know he had a fanclub except in the 'he's a good character' sense (as opposed to he's a Good character of course).


For a character that has a similar, though less extreme, character path to Karsa that's handled better- Bad Tom from the Red Knight. Lachlan for Aa!

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Not to derail too much but there was definitely a group of people that just plain though Cnair was awesome. And not in the well written interesting character way. :/

 

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Posted (edited)

All I can say is that people are weird.

Mind you I can't say that much, with who my current avatar is.

Edited by polishgenius

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Yeah I mean it’s certainly not a problem unique to Bakker, just when I hear “rapibg asshole barabarian whobreaders idolize as hero wrongly” Karsa abd Cnair come to mind first. 

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Posted (edited)

Brukhalian, Itkovian and Whiskeyjack are real heroes. 90% complete in MOI. And I guess those three are a good example of what happens to heroes or(in the case of Itkovian) what they inadvertently do. Then again, I paused right when Silverfox freaked out and called Itkovian a "Noble Fool".

 

Edited by Dora Vee

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On 8/19/2018 at 11:37 PM, Ran said:

The first three books really stick with me, and I've re-read them a couple of times. I do think they hold up quite well. Gardens of the Moon was a very evocative entry into the setting, so it worked as a hook.

I prefer "Karsa Fucking Orlong", but yeah. I gave up on the books shortly after his introduction. I was not interested in continuing the journey where Erikson wanted to take it.

 

The battle at Pale is still great after 5x rereading.

As for Karsa, my "Yawnsa" nickname for him pretty much encapsulates my reaction to him: just one big yawn. I tend to skim quickly over his parts.

On 8/20/2018 at 3:22 AM, Caligula_K3 said:

I'm rereading Gardens of the Moon now. It's the first time I've touched a Malazan book since The Crippled God and Return of the Crimson Guard when they came out. It's a really enjoyable book; although the writing is maybe weaker than the books from Deadhouse Gates on, it also lacks a lot of the pretentiousness, bloat, and annoying stylistic tics of the later books (I haven't found a single "must needs" yet, and Erikson shifts POVs every 5-10 pages instead of every 1-2). We'll see how far into this re-read of the series I'll get, since I don't think I can handle slogging through Toll the Hounds and Dust of Dreams again, but man, this series was such a cool idea.

Yeah! To me, GotM has that cool factor and less introspection.

On 8/22/2018 at 2:24 AM, Werthead said:

To be clear, the 10-book core series has sold very, very well (3.5 million copies now and rising), enough that at TV company did option the books. Unfortunately, it was Harvey Weinstein's company. Fortunately the last contract wasn't signed, so it got dropped when Weinstein started his "troubles" (as Erikson has said, they dodged a bullet on that one).

The problem was much more specific to the Kharkanas books. Forge of Darkness sold mediocrely, which surprised everyone as it came out only a year after The Crippled God, and Fall of Light sold even worse (perhaps less surprisingly, as it came after Forge of Darkness and after a four-year delay with relatively little fanfare accompanying its release). At the same time Esslemont's sales were continuing and gathering pace, and jumped up a notch between Assail and Dancer's Lament. Apparently, "read this short novel about how the Malazan Empire was formed and the Bridgeburners met and Tayschrenn showed up and you get to see Dancer kicking arse in his prime" was a better sell than "read this dour and introspective tome on the inevitability of cynicism in a race that lives forever" or something.

 Karsa Orlong is a character I think Erikson struggles with, in that he really didn't want to write Karsa as a kick-ass barbarian warrior (Conan turned to 11), but as a psychopathic lunatic no-one would want to cross paths with who gradually becomes aware that that is exactly what he is, struggles with it, and basically leans into it which does save the world but at a dubious cost (which is where the Witness trilogy will pick up). He is a complex and dangerous character. Obviously that didn't happen and a lot of fans wet themselves over Karsa whenever he showed up. He is not a nice guy, but gets mistaken for that because sometimes his goals coincide with those of our more relatable protagonists (that of course is Erikson's fault, having Karsa kill several of the most detestable characters in the series does make you kind of warm to him a little bit).

I do recommend the later Esslemonts. His terseness, structural discipline and ability to better differentiate the characters is a major strength he has over Erikson, and his writing took a big upswing in quality between Assail and Dancer's LamentOrb Sceptre Throne is also an excellent antidote and sequel to Toll the Hounds.

6

Ah, yeah I thought Malazan sold well but the prequel did not. I worded my post wrong.

Theoretically, Karsa should be a very interesting character but I personally feel that it's overdone. I like, roll my eyes whenever he appears.

I do understand why other people would like that character.

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3 minutes ago, Gigei said:

The problem was much more specific to the Kharkanas books. Forge of Darkness sold mediocrely, which surprised everyone as it came out only a year after The Crippled God

Why would that be surprising? In my experience most of the Malazan readers hate the Tiste Andii and their mindbogglingly tedious navel- gazing and non-stop whining.

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1 minute ago, David Selig said:

Why would that be surprising? In my experience most of the Malazan readers hate the Tiste Andii and their mindbogglingly tedious navel- gazing and non-stop whining.

I really wanted to know their story! I thought the Tiste Andii navel-gazing was after their realm was destroyed and they were exiled, cast adrift with no home or purpose or god. I really looked forward to the prequel since I thought it was going to be a sort of non-stop clash of scheming nobles as the Tiste Lioson made trouble... but it was so boring I was never able to finish it.

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Finished Memories of Ice yesterday and I honestly think it was one the best fantasy novels I ever read. So far, it's the best in the series, imo. I just loved it despite some flaws.

Itkovian <3 He does, however, seem to be a bit of a base breaker.

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Release date of The God Is Not Willing (Witness #1) is July 2, 2019:

https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780765323590

https://www.edelweiss.plus/#sku=0765323591

https://www.amazon.co.uk/God-Not-Willing-Witness/dp/0765323591/

New York Times bestselling author Steven Erikson continues the beloved Malazan Book of the Fallen in a thrilling new sequel trilogy.

688 pages.

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20 hours ago, Jussi said:

Unsurprising. Given that Erikson was only writing Chapter 4 (out of at least 20) a few weeks ago, the idea he'd be done in time for July was ridiculous. Even November may still be on the optimistic side.

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On 8/5/2018 at 10:32 AM, Werthead said:

Dammit, Wert. These posts make me want to reread these books and I just don't have the time for it. I haven't even gotten to Esslemont's stuff yet. 

One caveat about Memories of Ice, which is my favorite book in the series: The Mhybe. She may be my least favorite character of the series with her incessant whining and complaining. I can't think of a character I have hated more but then again, I've never read a Goodkind book. 

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1 hour ago, Jerol said:

She may be my least favorite character of the series with her incessant whining and complaining.



I mean, she has obvious reasons to complain but yeah, it's not well handled at all. Thing is that her page-count is actually pretty tiny, but on a first read it feels so long.

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Midnight Tides by Steven Erikson

The expansionist Kingdom of Lether has subdued most of the rival kingdoms and tribes on its continent, establishing a hegemony built on notions of debt and service in the name of the king. Its eye now turns to the northern frontier, where the six tribes of the Tiste Edur have recently been united by the Warlock King of the Hiroth. A delegation sets forth to discuss peace and trade, but the true motives of the kingdom are baser. The Warlock King, aware of the growing threat, sends forth the Sengar brothers on a mission to recover a powerful item for him. When the wrong person finds the item, a sorcerous sword of alien origin, it changes the fate of a continent...and the world.

Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen fantasy sequence is one that continuously delights in wrong-footing the reader. All of the tropes of established fantasy are here, with powerful empires, great battles, impressive magic and monstrous creatures in spades, but there's also intelligent musings on human nature, philosophical asides on the weirdness of existence and thematic explorations of ideas ranging from colonisation to capitalism and family.

The first four books in the series explored the Malazan Empire and its conquests on the continents of Seven Cities and Genabackis. Although each of the four novels had its own focus and conflicts, common threads regarding the fate of the Empire and the gods ran through each book. Midnight Tides, the fifth book, completely upends this structure altogether. We're now not only on the remote continent of Lether (located far to the south-east of Genabackis or south-west of Seven Cities and Quon Tali), but we're also back in time, with the events of this novel taking place some time before the events of Gardens of the Moon. In fact, you could read Midnight Tides as a stand-alone fantasy novel, as its connections to the rest of the series are, at this point anyway, slight.

Midnight Tides is more traditional, in some respects, than the earlier books in the series. We have two factions, the Tiste Edur and the Kingdom of Lether, with protagonists and antagonists in both camps. Our main POV character is Trull Sengar, a Tiste Edur warrior with a conscience who becomes increasingly concerned over what is happening to his people. Trull is also a link to the rest of the series, as we met Trull at a much later place in his life in House of Chains (and the conceit of the series is that the Tiste Edur storyline of Midnight Tides is being told by Trull to his companion Onrack, although this is not particularly clear - or important - in this novel itself). Other major characters include Udinaas, a Letherii slave who wins the favour of the Tiste Edur ruler; Tehol Beddict, apparently a whimsical madman living in the Letherii capital who is far more than he seems; his brother Brys, the King's Champion; Seren Padac, a traveller, scout and trade factor; and Bugg, Tehol's manservant. It's probably Erikson's most vivid cast assembled so far (which is really saying something) and perhaps his most relatable: with one exception (not made clear until the end of the book) these aren't demigods or Ascendants, but relatively ordinary people dealing in extraordinary circumstances.

Midnight Tides is an enormous book (over 900 pages in paperback) and one that is trying to do a hell of a lot. The primary storyline revolves around the clash between the Tiste Edur and Letherii, a clash of ideologies and beliefs as well as military force. The Letherii have been seen - perhaps too simplistically - as a stand-in for the United States or capitalism in general, a self-described "civilised" nation which destroys the environment, eradicates indigenous cultures and makes everyone subservient to the rule of money, where wealth is the only symbol of worth. The Tiste Edur are not shown as being inherently better (Erikson, an anthropologist and archaeologist, thankfully avoids the "noble savage" trope with some skill), particularly their tendency to take slaves and engage in ritual combat at merest hint of disrespect, but there is something to be said for their much more straightforward honesty compared to the two-faced cynicism of the Letherii. Standing outside this is the Crippled God (another link to the rest of the series), who decides to barge in and get involved to manipulate events for his own benefit.

The result is a busy and (relatively) fast-paced book. Some of Erikson's more characteristic tics, such as characters stopping in the middle of a major battle to exchange philosophical one-liners, are present and correct, but there isn't really enough time for these to bog down the narrative, as is occasionally threatened in other volumes. Instead the book keeps building the tension and narrative layer by layer, chapter by chapter, as we rotate between the Tiste Edur frontier, events in Letheras and elsewhere.

Midnight Tides is also a bizarrely funny book. Of Erikson's numerous fantasy cities, Letheras is probably the closest to Pratchett's Ankh-Morpork, with its subsidence problems and slightly preposterous murder rate. The comic elements come to the fore in the story of Tehol and Bugg, as Tehol realises the only way to really destroy Lether is from inside its banking system, and the (apparently) hapless Bugg helps him to this end. Cue lots of financial skulduggery, plans-within-plans, political intrigue and the increasingly unpleasant details of Tehol's diet and wardrobe emerge. Given the story can get quite grim elsewhere, the laughs in this storyline come as a welcome relief. That's not to say that Tehol's story is disposable - very far from it - but it allows for some well-handled tonal variance.

The book does falter with a slightly redundant storyline in which one of the female characters suffers a sexual assault during a battle. Erikson already covered this story in Deadhouse Gates and did a sterling job of it, presenting the ramifications of physical and sexual abuse on a character in a realistic manner that was well-explored and informed the story without it feeling exploitative. Here the story point is handled very briefly, written off quite quickly (with magic used to take away the psychological damage) and feels almost entirely redundant to both the story and character. Erikson is one of the egalitarian of fantasy authors with well-realised male and female characters, so this feels like a (fortunately) rare misstep on this score (the last in the series until Dust of Dreams) rather than a major problem, but it's still a regrettable move.

Beyond that, the book's biggest weakness might be its awkward placement in the series: Midnight Tides sets up the events of The Bonehunters (where the events of this novel come into conflict with the wider Malazan world) and, most especially, Reaper's Gale, and several of its story threads continue into those books. For that reason, I'd hesitate to recommend reading Midnight Tides by itself (as the sequels won't make any sense unless you've read the first four books as well, and if you read this book you'd then have to double-back and read the other books before being able to press on with the sequels) despite it's stand-alone feel.

Midnight Tides (****½) isn't quite up to the standards of the best volumes in the series, Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice, but it isn't far off. It's an epic fantasy novel with heart and brains, an intelligent deconstruction of capitalist ideology but also an action-packed war story with philosophical musings. It is available now in the UK and USA.

Edited by Werthead

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Midnight Tides is where I bowed out on this series. I was disappointed with the fourth book, and the complete switch of locale/characters coupled with the very purple prose of the beginning made me just put it aside... and as all the issues I had with the series (forced humor, inconsistent writing, cartoonish world building that is occasionally ridiculously overblown) seem to get magnified in the later books, according to reviews, I never returned. I've thought about picking up the series now that it's complete, but it seems more effort than it's worth.

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