Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson (Book Review)

Deadhouse Gates (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #2)Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What this book is about:

This book’s events take place a few months after the first book Gardens of the Moon by the same author. The Malazan Empire is weakened by the happenings in Darujhistan and has been brought to the brink of anarchy. In the Holy Desert Raraku of the Seven Cities, the leader of the Apocalypse, the seer Sha’ik is gathering a massive army and preparing for the Whirlwind, a long-profesised uprising. Meanwhile, the Malazan forces, led by the legendary Coltaine, are planning to evacuate Hissar and seek refugee to the capital of the Malazan continent, Aren. It’s an unbelievable march of 50.000 refugees, known as the Chain of Dogs.

I have to say, while most people seem to have enjoyed Deadhouse Gates more than Gardens of the Moon, I found the first book (GoTM) more enjoyable than the second one (DG). Still, I couldn’t bring myself to giving a lower rating than 4 stars to this amazing book as I was constantly in awe while reading it.

The lesson of history is that no one learns.

The setting and environments of Deadhouse Gates is very different from that of the first book in the series. We see a lot of desert, some sea, a lot of the insides of
various Warrens and only a bit of Cities. This comes in contrast with A Game of Thrones where cold weather becomes something that people fear and brings very difficult times (“Winter is coming”) whereas here we have heat and drought and insects. Lots and lots of insects. Our characters are suffering under the hot, burning sun, their throats aching for the relief of some drops of water. So, that was one aspect of the story that I found really interesting and Steven Erikson did an amazing job in his descriptions of the horrible pains and sufferings that this climate means to people. I do have to say though, that I enjoyed more Genabackis and the story and environment that took place in the first book. But that’s just my personal preference.

It is one thing to lead by example with half a dozen soldiers at your back. It is wholly another with ten thousand.

In Deadhouse Gates, Steven Erikson uses more foul language with an extraordinary inventive variety of, hilarious at times but also tragic at others, curses. There are many raw descriptions in which Erikson does not hesitate to shock or disgust the reader. A step up from Gardens of the Moon (GoTM). In this book, we follow a few characters that we already met in GoTM like Fiddler, Crockus, Apsalar and Kalam, but many of our favourite characters won’t be mentioned in this story. I was a little disappointed about this fact in the beginning, but after I got into this story I didn’t mind it anymore. I met characters in this book that quickly became my new favourites, like Icarium and Mappo, so Steven Erikson makes up for us missing our “old friends”.

We are not simple creatures. You dream that with memories will come knowledge, and from knowledge, understanding. But for every answer you find, a thousand new questions arise. All that we are has lead us to where we are, but tells us little of where we’re going. Memories are a weight you can never shrug off.

What I really appreciate in Erikson’s books is that he really makes the reader think about the story and the events. He doesn’t just present to us the story in simple lines so we can easily get a grip of what is happening and why it’s happening like that. Stories are interwoven and intertwined with each other. You need to remember and think about small parts of the story that might have an enormous impact later. You always need to be concentrated on the writing and follow the narration and descriptions with your full attention otherwise you might miss important details. Erikson doesn’t pamper his readers. He expects us to take on his challenge and succeed. And what a challenge these books are! But so worth it.

It’s the ignorant who find a cause and cling to it, for within that is the illusion of significance. Faith, a king, queen or Emperor, or vengeance…all the bastion of fools.

If you enjoy high/epic fantasy, this is something you will definitely like. I recommend it to anyone who, like me, prefers big volumes and many pages of epic battles, magic, world building and flawed, multi-layered characters. The first book as I mentioned is Gardens of the Moon and the third book is Memories of Ice.

My review of Gardens of the Moon.

I am a BookDepository affiliate. If you buy this book from the BookDepository through this link, I get a small commission:

BookDepository: Deadhouse Gates

BookDepository: Gardens of the Moon

You can also find this book from Amazon here:

Amazon: Deadhouse Gates (Book 2 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen)

Amazon:Gardens of the Moon (Book 1 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen)

View all my reviews

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