From Publishers Weekly
In this sprawling fantasy epic of the Malazan empire at war with its enemies and itself, the first of a projected 10-volume series, Canadian newcomer Erikson offers many larger-than-life scenes and ideas, but his characters seem to shrink to fit the story. Perhaps they need to stay small enough for the reader to keep them all in mind. Jumping often between plot lines, the novel follows Ganoes Stabro Paran from his boyhood dreaming of soldiers to his escape from imperial service. Paran travels on journeys of body and soul, going from innocent to hardened rebel against gods and empire without losing his moral core. Other characters may go further, to death and back even, but none is as sharply portrayed. The book features a plethora of princes and paupers, powers and principalities, with much inventive detail to dazzle and impart a patina of mystery and ages past. The fast-moving plot, with sieges, duels (of sword and of spell), rebellions, intrigue and revenge, unearthed monsters and earth-striding gods, doesn't leave much room for real depth. Heroes win, villains lose, fairness reigns, tragedy is averted. Erikson may aspire to China Miéville heights, but he settles comfortably in George R.R. Martin country.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In the first of a projected 10 volumes of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, the Malazan Empire is up to its eyebrows in the intrigues of mage Anomander Rake and his sorcerous minions, the Tiste Andii. The empress Laseen pursues her grisly ambitions with the aid of the Ninja-like Claw assassins, but Erikson focuses on the grunt-level fighting of military engineers Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his Bridgeburners and the field-grade mage Tattersall, who are more than ready to go home, when the empress commands a battle in and around the Free City of Darujhistan. Erikson portrays this hurly-burly--something very like the Lord of the Rings' Battle of the Pellenor Fields--from the perspective of those who had to get out of the way of the charges and exchanges of spells and sometimes died anyway. It remains to be seen whether Erikson's excellent writing will carry through nine more volumes of this gritty, realistic fantasy in the manner of Glen Cook's Dark Company series. Wager on fantasy readers' robust appetites, however. Roland GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved