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Light Reading…

A few days ago I finished the 9th book in the Malazan series by Steven Erikson – Dust of Dreams.  Unfortunately this is the first part of a two book ending for the series. It will be a sad day when this series ends; but in the mean time it is defiantly one to begin if you have not been following it so far. But writing 10 books of this scale and magnitude I would think Mr. Erikson has one nasty case of writers’ cramp. As with the light reading reference in the title of this posting the story stretches across almost 1300 pages, which is considered pretty much a normal average for his novels. As always one is left in wonder as to how he keeps the story and characters in line. As an example the Dramatis Personae listing is 9 pages long (my wife looks at that and says no thank you too many people to keep track of) But if you can wrap your skull around all that the series entails you are transported into a world that provides more twists and turns than a drive down the Sea to Sky Highway (course that might be fixed since the last time I drove that road as it was well before all the Olympic improvements) One needs to take their time reading this series as the conventional plot and time line one expects is not a reliable element of Erikson’s writing style. He has jumped time, location and characters from one paragraph to the next, so if you’re not paying attention you might have to back track now and then. With such a large cast consisting of mere mortals, Gods, Demigods, Ascendants, Soletaken, ancient races, and undead one can feel overwhelmed at times. Add in multiple levels of magic and one feels they need to plot it all out on a nice flow chart somewhere. But I have to stress the fact that it is all worth it. You get hooked on the characters; you wonder where they are in the world and what they are doing if they don’t happen to appear in the current novel that you may be reading. Then every now and then they pop back up at a critical juncture or you think they are going to show up but then your left hanging once again (Fiddler confronts Errastas, maybe Master of the Decks shows?) These are not-self contained storylines; each book leads into the next or makes reference to what has come before. Characters can just appear with no lead in, their stories are fleshed out over time with flashbacks and hints to past endeavours. If you’re looking for Subject A came from the mean streets sort of character development your out of luck, the characters are developed over time and across novels. You learn more as time goes on; each one is an island unto themselves and snippets of history are dropped now and then so that you can better understand why they are the way they are. Most reviews liken the novels to Tolkien & Donaldson and I agree, but he has gone farther in my opinion. (On a side note: little did I know that Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series had continued from the novels I read long ago, that series is back on the reading list). Mr. Erikson takes the old foundation of Good vs. Evil or Light vs. Dark and tosses in a whole lot of Grey. There are plots within plots, characters that do evil deeds just as well as they do good deeds. It is very much an amorphous storyline; sometimes it will flow along the cracks one expects, other times it will just flood the whole damn area and change its course. The rules change both in the world of fiction writing and within the world Erikson has created. It is hard to believe that this all started years ago with Gardens of the Moon. Do yourself a favor, pick up Gardens of the Moon and begin the journey within the Malazan Empire. Once you get to Dust of Dreams we can compare notes…

So enough for now…as some other sparkly has my attention…till next time…OH SO SHINY…
D.

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