Customer Review

42 of 55 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Losing the thread, February 26, 2010
This review is from: Dust of Dreams: Book Nine of The Malazan Book of the Fallen (Paperback)
I'm a long time fan of this series, and still consider Deadhouse Gates to be one of the best fantasy novels I've ever read. But the downward trend in characterization, coherence, and common sense that has become increasingly obvious the last few books has really become too much in Dust of Dreams.

It's boring. I found I had to skip ahead vast amounts, usually in vain, to find some action to grab my interest, some attempt at humor that was actually funny, or some explanation of why I should care about yet more new characters inexplicably introduced in the ninth book of a ten book series.

It's pointlessly depressing. In past books, characters we cared about often had bad things happen to them for reasons tragic, ironic, or at least serving the plot. Those made me choke up, made me care, and sometimes made me righteously angry at other characters in the book. Good stuff. Here we have a lot of death that seems purely random and serving no purpose at all. Did anyone at all care about the Barghast after their only significant appearance in the third book? Of course not. Was anyone calling out for their reappearance in book nine? Endless pages describing stupid internal squabbles? Their ultimate fate, and the simply disgusting treatment of Hetan? I kept hoping to find something to tie this inexplicable interlude into the larger plot involving the Malazan 14th Army or the machinations of various gods and others, but it's not there. I can only guess Erikson couldn't get an S&M novella about primitive tribal cultures published independently and folded it into Dust of Dreams as some sort of misguided form of "artistic" expression.

It's not well integrated into the overall story. New characters/nations/factions, most of whom are boring and pointless even here and can't possibly be necessary to the completion of the series in the next book; "new" supposedly extinct races, for the 193rd time, with no foreshadowing whatsoever in previous books; and random flailing around by those actors we did know about from prior efforts in the series. I have no doubt whatsoever that I could write a two page synopsis of the events in this book that would enable one to transition smoothly from book 8 to book 10.

No one's motivations make sense. In the middle of this series I developed a strong distaste for the philosophizing that was overly dramatic and masturbatory to aspire to the title "sophomoric," but this books makes me wish it would come back - then at least I'd have some explanation for why anyone would choose to do the things they do in this book, and, even less explicably, why others follow them. (I'm looking at you, Bonehunters.)

This is not the worst book in the world, but it is the worst book in this series so far, a title I sincerely hope it retains after the release of book 10. This series has overall been interesting and sometimes extraordinary. If you've been a fan before, you should still read this book. Just don't feel the need to take it too seriously or read it all. Skimming will lesson your pain considerably.
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Comments

Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 22 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 26, 2010 3:27:57 PM PST
Loslorien says:
"I can only guess Erikson couldn't get an S&M novella about primitive tribal cultures published independently and folded it into Dust of Dreams as some sort of misguided form of "artistic" expression."
I love you.

Posted on Mar 2, 2010 3:52:03 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 3, 2010 4:42:21 AM PST
R. Nicholson says:
Dylan, a well written review. However, I completely disagree with almost everything you've said. As compared to the last book (Toll the Hounds), I found this book easy to understandable and extremely interesting. A joy to read.
Sorry you << had to skip ahead vast amounts, usually in vain, to find some action to grab my interest >>. Maybe you just needed to slow down and enjoy the slowly connecting story-lines that were unfolding before you. And while I agree there was not a physical battle in every chapter, there were other battles...of wits, intellect, deception and intrigue throughout the entire book. Really, a book to be savored and enjoyed slowly, like a fine wine.
<< the worst book in this series so far >>, I think not...instead one of the best Malazan books since 'Deadhouse Gates' and that incredible tale of Coltaine's Seventh Army.
Regards,
Ray

Posted on Mar 16, 2010 12:42:37 PM PDT
M. Paff says:
Dylan, excellent review and valid, spot-on insight. Unlike the multitude of drones which accept whatever drivel they are fed, I'm glad you have the intellect, comprehension and talent to notice listless prose and flat characterization. This book was bad - regardless of the clamoring neophytes that take Erikson's grocery list and proclaim it literature. Bravo!

Posted on Mar 18, 2010 10:39:53 AM PDT
The endless morbid ruminations of every character (at least, every character not placed in the role of token comedic relief sprinkled throughout) have me wishing to tell Erikson to please get over it already, we know its bad. I'm not sure why 90% of the Malazans haven't already committed hari kari.

Too many seemingly pointless storylines to keep up with, a jumbled mess that moves at a pace that would make a snail impatient. Its like the more boring and long-winded parts of the previous novels have been gathered together and magnified here. Once the tenth book has been read, I am done with Erikson. I loved some of the previous novels; obviously, or I wouldn't have gotten this far. But this one is testing me to a breaking point.

Posted on Apr 3, 2010 9:33:52 PM PDT
J. Konara says:
Just wanted to say that I also agree, 'Deadhouse Gates' was one of the most engrossing, best-written fantasy novels (if not the best) that i've EVER read.

Posted on Apr 7, 2010 10:27:32 PM PDT
Just finished slogging through Dust of Dreams, and I hate to say that I totally agree with your assessment. I've been such a huge fan of this series, but this was a real disappointment. There were a few bright spots such as Fiddlers reading in the early going, but there were way too many drawn out passages with characters that I just didn't care about or couldn't figure out why they were being figured so prominently. I would still highly recommend the previous books, but this series is starting to crumble under its own weight.

Posted on Aug 31, 2010 5:29:01 AM PDT
L. M Shea says:
Agreed. What galls me most about this book is that Erikson has proven himself to be writer of depth and capacity far superior to much of the usual generic product produced by so many fantasy authors. He's still exerting this capacity, but it appears misdirected and actually quite aimless in this novel. The novel seems a stop-gap, aimed at leading the reader to the final book of the series, but it's general lack of focus is frustrating and ultimately quite unsatisfying. I bought this book, and I'll buy the next one, but if I hadn't read his earlier work (in my opinion Memories Of Ice and Deadhouse Gates are both truly stunning efforts) I wouldn't bother. The saddest thing is that Erikson's trend has been steady in this direction for the last two books, I wish he'd written an 8 book series instead. Can he bring it back? I hope he can, but I doubt it, sadly I feel the best writing of this series has been done, and read, already.

Posted on Sep 16, 2010 11:52:25 AM PDT
The Barghast served a purpose in the story. That whole plot line wasn't even about the Barghast, it was all about Tool and what led him to what he did in his final scene and on into the next book. Almost everything has a purpose in the series. I'm guessing the last book will be more action packed. That should help since you don't have a great attention span. I also don't know how you can be suprised by the "extinct" races appearing. This entire series has been about ancient gods, powers, and places. The characters dying out of nowhere goes right along with the whole theme of "life isn't fair". I'm not saying that this is the greatest series I have read, because I don't think it is. But you could get more enjoyment out of the series if you paid a little more attention to what you are reading.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 28, 2010 4:59:36 AM PDT
Excellence says:
I hope the people who strongly disapprove of Erikson's treatment of one character also expressed strong disapproval of the endless porn and foul treatment of females George Martin delights in. Culminating in mother and daughter waitering on bloodthirsty pirates naked as slaves in his latest fourth book.

It's easy deride someone's hard written work. We didn't write it.

But remember what else is out there.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2010 7:51:03 AM PDT
L. M Shea says:
'Almost everything has a purpose in this series'?? I won't even bother pointing out the numerous examples that prove that statement incorrect. You can flick through any of the novels of this series and find them for yourself. And I know it's easy to deride someone else's work - it's also easy to give credit where it's due. He's an immensely talented author, but his last novels haven't lived up the standard of his earlier work. Not every artist's efforts are standouts, some are clearly better than others. And who cares about G. Martin? He's not in the same class. And why is it that I should pay more attention to what I am reading as the series continues? Is Erikson's aim to become increasingly obscure and rarefied 'for Malazan nerds only' as the work concludes? I first read Deadhouse Gates cold and recognised it for an absolutely smoking fantasy novel. Why am I now required to consider his latest efforts in the context of the larger series? Why can't he still write individual books with the same tempo, character and plot that drew me to his writing in the first place? If D.O.D was his first novel, who'd buy the next? Not me.
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