Coltaine and the Chain of Dogs, enough said.
People told me that when you’re starting Malazan Book of the Fallen, it’s mandatory to read at least two or three books in the series before finally deciding on giving up on the series. One of the main reasons behind this is that Deadhouse Gates is considered one of the strongest installment within the series by the fans after Memories of Ice and The Bonehunters. Now that I’ve read Deadhouse Gates, I finally understand why people insist newcomers on continuing to the second book first. However, please do check your expectation. Despite how much I loved this installment, I’m actually slightly disappointed with how it turns out; more detail on this further down below.
Picture: Deadhouse Gates by Marc Simonetti
Deadhouse Gates is the second book in The Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Unlike your typical sequel, this is more like a standalone sequel featuring almost a completely new set of characters in a totally different continent; with a brand new self-contained main story. The story of the book revolves around the rebellion in the Seven Cities, the first book storyline was in Genabackis. Although this installment felt denser to read, it also has 70k more words, and arguably more complex than Gardens of the Moon, in my opinion the story was significantly much easier to follow than its predecessor. Erikson sang his dark chorus to color the tone of the book with a bleakly crimson tone, his melody of doom never cease to expand. If you’re in the mood for a hopeful book, this isn’t the time for you to read this one. Deadhouse Gates is a much darker book in every way possible compared to GotM. I honestly feel like this book can be described as a gradual slow descent into palpable despair and madness.
“Children are dying.”
Lull nodded. “That’s a succinct summary of humankind, I’d say. Who needs tomes and volumes of history? Children are dying. The injustices of the world hide in those three words.”
I found my experience of reading this book to be much better than before; I loved it. One of the things that I wish was done better in GotM was the characterizations; I felt like it was a bit imbalance there. Erikson delivers what I wanted with the characterizations here. The characterizations were superb, feelings felt more fleshed out and well delivered too. It’s true that almost all the characters are new here, with only a few characters from the first book being featured. However, the new characters—whether you love or hate them—were so damn engaging and compelling to read. We have Icarium and Mappo’s friendship, the despicable Felisin, and of course, we have Duiker’s storyline. Duiker’s POV was easily the best part of the book for me and anyone who has read this book will know why. Spectacular character developments aside, it was because of the new character inclusion, Coltaine. Without spoiling anything for you, all I can say is that there’s no way you won’t be inspired by Coltaine’s actions. Coltaine, like Anomander Rake, didn’t even have a POV for the readers to follow and yet he managed to completely stole the spotlight. We follow Coltaine’s journey the majority of the time from Duiker’s perspectives and you know what? That’s totally okay with me. Like Duiker and Coltaine’s soldiers, I’m content with being left in awe and astonished at the superhuman feat he’s doing with his Chain of Dogs. The gradual loyalty and respect he achieved through his actions will be something the reader and I always remember. Actions speak louder than words, and Coltaine proved that.
“It is one thing to lead by example with half a dozen soldiers at your back. It is wholly another with ten thousand.”
I also mentioned in my GotM review that the conclusion of the action felt quite anti-climactic, especially after having such an epic scope. But by Hood’s gates, Erikson’s actions here were bloody awesome and intricately written. Honestly speaking, so far Erikson hasn’t really delivered a great close quarter combat but when it comes to a grand battle and epic scale actions, Erikson is simply top notch. Rain of mayhem, the vivid setting of bloody carnage; the action scenes were like an inevitable avalanche. I’m utterly amazed by the maelstrom of sorcery and all the calamity that occurred.
This paragraph will be a long rant. Do you want to know why this book doesn’t receive a full 5 stars rating from me? There was actually only one minor issue I had with the book, it’s that there was too much Felisin’s POV to read. However, the main reason why I’m not enjoying this installment that much—here we go—was because of spoilers. To the “fans” who have spoiled me on the biggest event of the book, fuck you. There was one memorable scene that I’ve been told to have broken the reader’s heart and soul; it didn’t really happen to me because I’ve been spoiled on the event itself heavily SEVERAL TIMES. To make things even worse, I already know one of the major events coming in the next book; thanks once again to the “extremely knowledgeable fans” for spoiling me, no one even asked any question. Malazan fanatics seriously deserves an award for being the biggest assholes, they lived up to their title for shoving their Malazan knowledge down people’s throat without people asking; here me bestowing the title ‘Malazan mind rape’ to this of kind of action. “Oh, you didn’t ask for spoilers?” “I’ll force it down your throat boy.” Let me say this, I absolutely don’t fucking care about your understanding and knowledge on any series if you’re going to spoil me. I’ve mentioned this countless times, spoilers ruin my reading experience a LOT. For newcomers of this series, let me suggest that every time you see the word Malazan in any kind of discussion, just scroll through it. Trust me, I guarantee you there will be unasked and unmarked spoilers. Also, DO NOT CHECK the cover art for Deadhouse Gates Subterranean Edition or the Spanish edition. To the art director, fuck you too. Yes, the art director is so damn smart and ignorant that he/she decided to make sure the cover depicts the most impactful and the biggest event of the book. Genius, genius, fuck you. End rant here.
“The lesson of history is that no one learns.”
Overall though, despite my rant—once again—on the fanatics of the series, I do have to give the benefit of the doubt to this book because even though my reading experience was downgraded because of the major spoiler, the overall content of the book was hauntingly vivid and memorable. Deadhouse Gates is truly a stunning and bloodily bleak sequel. Erikson doesn’t hold back with his punches and I envisioned any newcomer to this book will definitely feel heart-wrenched and mesmerized. I will continue immediately to Memories of Ice, a book that’s been acclaimed by the fans as the best or the second best installment of the series and I hope I’ll feel the same about it.
You can order the book HERE!