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House of Chains (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 4) Mass Market Paperback – March 6, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Longtime fans may be surprised by the fourth book in Erikson's masterful fantasy epic that began with Gardens of the Moon (2004), because the long opening section follows a single character, the Teblor warrior Karsa Orlong, and his companions on a gory raid through enemy territory and into the human lowlands of Northern Genabackis. The time-hopping, perspective-shifting, looping story lines typical of this Canadian author return later, as Erikson ties Karsa's actions to the ultimate showdown between the forces of the Malazan Empire and Sha'ik's Army of the Apocalypse. Against a backdrop of brutal power struggles, the stubbornly determined Karsa is able to accomplish more than even he could have imagined. Unusual among fantasy writers, Erikson succeeds in making readers empathize equally with all sides involved in his world's vast, century-spanning conflict. Newcomers will eagerly seek out previous books in the series. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The fourth volume of the Malazan Book of the Fallen takes place some years after the death of the famous Seventh Army commander, Coltaine. Now Tavore, adjunct to the empress, is trying to assemble the army's surviving veterans and a ragtag collection of tribes, wanderers, and recruits into a viable fighting force. Not far away, the seer Sha'ik, Tavore's sister, is trying to organize a successful rebellion out of equally disparate elements, including warlords, sorcerers, and renegades. Despite a fairly complex array of subplots that support the rather dark tone of the story, it is the duel between the sisters and the abundantly detailed world Erikson has built that really carry the book. Indeed, with the help of the glossary and cast of characters Erikson provides, this book is enjoyable even without previous acquaintance with the Malazan tales. So it will please the already acquainted, and may inspire the unacquainted to read its predecessors, Gardens of the Moon (1999), Deadhouse Gates (2000), and Memories of Ice [BKL Ap 15 02]. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
In the aftermath of Coltaine's death, the Adjunct Tavore must lead her rag-tag collection of soldiers into Raraku, the holy desert, in hopes of defeating Sha'ik's dreaded Army of the Apocalypse. Her army is uneasy. They are a patched together group of raw recruits, hoary old veterans and the broken survivors of Coltaine's army and they know nothing of the Adjunct, seeing her as untried and aloof.
In the meantime, Sha'ik is beset within her own army. The wily Korbolo Dom and his triumphant Dogslayers are the backbone of her fighting forces, yet they have their own agenda. The High Mages Bidithal and Febryl can't be trusted but they are necessary for Sha'ik's plans. Betrayal seems imminent from all sides. And Sha'ik herself is in turmoil as the Goddess of the Whirlwind and Felisin battle for the soul of the person they both inhabit.
The two armies meet one fateful night and two sisters will clash. Only one will remain standing.
While the two armies prepare for their monumental clash, we travel the journey of discovery with a remarkable warrior named Karsa Orlong. We watch as Lostara Yil, one of the formidable Red Blades, and a Claw named Pearl set out on a task set for them by Adjunct Tavore only to be horrified and saddened by what they discover.
This is the fourth book of the Tale of the Malazan but it picks up the thread of the story that ends in the second book, The Deadhouse Gates.
I had a hard time getting into this book at first because the first 200 pages details the exploits of a seemingly unknown warrior named Karsa Orlong. The events told actually pre-date the events of the first book of the series. As Karsa's story begins to unfold we start to catch up with the current time in the series. And as this first section ends, we realize that we have already met Karsa Orlong in the previous books, only by another name.
As is his M.O. with this series, Erikson starts slow but kicks into stride as the book moves along and we get to "current" events and the imminent clash of the two armies. Felisin, who had become hard and vengeful in book 2 as a result of her feelings of betrayal by her sister and the horrors she experienced as a slave, seems to be trying to find something of the old Felisin as she struggles with the Goddess. Erikson does a wonderful job conveying the suffocating atmosphere of distrust and imminent betrayal in Sha'ik's army while at the same time allows the slow coming together and gelling of Tavore's army. And there are great moments of soldier humor studded throughout the book.
Winding throughout is a bit more deep background of the beginnings of the Malazan Empire with Kellanved. Rope is portrayed as surprisingly human despite the fact that he's a God. And we get to watch (and mourn again) as people learn about the demise of the Bridgeburners.
Even though this is a good book to read, it was somewhat disappointing following the magnificent drama that was the third book, Memories of Ice. But the ending is spectacular (another of Erikson's M.O.s with this series) and once again is heartbreaking and leaves one with the astonished realization that he has managed to turn your assumptions or expectations of a character completely around and in a very realistic way.
Not the very best of the series, but still very good and better than many other books being written in the genre.
Fans of Jordan and Martin will be wowed by Erikson's epic, sweeping narrative and complex plots. Stephen R. Donaldson is quoted on the back of House of Chains, and for good reason. Comparisons could also be made to Glen Cook's "fantasy-noir" style, and other postmodern fantasy/scifi authors who effectively blur the lines between notions of good and evil.
Erikson's world is endlessly complex, replete with thousands of societies, deep history, vast geographies, and unique magic. There is plenty of humor, a fair amount of gore, and constant action. And an important, unavoidable facet of Erikson's writing style is that he challenges the reader. He doesn't deliver stock characters and cliched, predictable plots on a silver platter.
Start with "Gardens of the Moon," and order from amazon.co.uk if you must. Fingers crossed, Erickson will publish domestically, and all of those weak, poorly written, hackneyed derivative juvenile fantasy books currently choking the shelves of your local bookstore will be swept aside.
For those that would say that the first 200 pages that chronicle the exploits of Karsa Orslong are a weakness to the story, I would have to say that I initially felt the same way. After reading the rest of the book, I have since changed my mind. Although he is not my favorite character (that distinction would have to go to Ganoes Paran or Fiddler), he has become an important part of the story.
Although this is not the best book in the Malazan series (that would have to be either Memories of Ice or The Bonehunters), this book gives important background into the mind of the Crippled God, as well as gives the "humanity" of Cotillion and Shadowthrone.