Tor.com Malazan Re-read, and here are my thoughts about the novel in its entirety:
Oh. Em. Gee. What a bloody ride! I feel absolutely wrung out by this reading experience, completely exhausted, rundown, joyful, hopeful and a myriad other emotions that I have hopefully articulated well enough over the course of this novel.
I did feel worried broaching Deadhouse Gates at the idea that I wouldn’t be spending time with many of those I’d come to love within the pages of Gardens of the Moon - and yet I’ve found even more characters to love. Dear Lord, I think with pity on all those people who put down Gardens of the Moon and never continued through the Malazan series - they would have missed out on Icarium and Mappo, on Duiker, on Pust (whether loving him or loathing him)! What a truly horrible thought.
You know what I appreciate most having now read two of Erikson’s books? The way he has absolute confidence in his readers. DG is a much smoother ride to GotM, in terms of immersing in the world, in terms of the degree of explanation required to help the reader along a little, in terms of the prose. It is a far superior book in every way - and yet still doesn’t try and baby the reader along. We are forced to engage our brain, to remember occurrences from hundreds of pages previously, to note seemingly throwaway lines. We are treated like scholars, and our patience and energetic reasoning is paid back one-thousandfold.
Deadhouse Gates is probably the most fun you can have over the course of a thousand pages, although I do use the word “fun” loosely. Mostly I was cringing, crying like a babe and carolling my fervent joy about events from the novel. Deadhouse Gates is not a “fun” read, rather an intense and utter submersion into another world.
Erikson’s background as an archaeologist certainly comes to the fore in this novel - he explores themes to a lesser and deeper level through the pages, like death and redemption, courage and the reason for being. And his research gives it all a ring of authenticity that allows the reader to trust in what Erikson is saying.
There was a heavy hint of the philosophising that, I am led to believe, becomes rife in later novels of the series but here it merely helped to lend weight to some of the events, such as that final battle between Coltaine and Korbolo Dom and Duiker’s thoughts leading up to it.
My favourite characters? Will it come as any surprise right now that I say Icarium and Mappo - the deeply tragic nature of their friendship provides subtle nuances to every series of dialogue they conduct. The loyalty, the appreciation for each other - all is written perfectly.
My favourite part of the novel? I think the sappers of the Seventh *grins* If not for them, the last few battles would have been unrelentingly bleak and they helped give some hope and humour to proceedings.
All in all, Deadhouse Gates was a tour de force. I honestly don’t see how Erikson can improve on this in later volumes, but I’m chafing at the bit now to go and find out! Simply tremendous!