Tuesday, 8 March 2011

A Different Sort of Review - Deadhouse Gates

We have reached the final stage of the Deadhouse Gates read in the 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!


  1. I think it gets better with each book. I have to say that I didn't expect to enjoy Deadhouse Gates that much as it's all about war, but it was an incredibly complex and emotional read.

  2. Sappers.

    Always bet on the Sappers.


  3. Oh man....to be on the threshold of MEMORIES OF ICE and not know how it's going to top DG.

    Ah, I remember that feeling.

    Just you wait darlin', just you wait.

  4. The sappers are the cleverest, their wisdom they display here,
    They know that miracles like these, happen every day here.

    Which is to say, Sappers are cool.

  5. What's funny is that I really enjoyed DG, but not as much as others. Then I realized it was because of the desert setting and Erikson does such a good job of transporting you to the desert that I actually felt miserable. Amazing.

    Memories of Ice is still my favorite. Erikson is epic.

  6. I have not read these books by Erikson ... you sure make them sound compelling, especially when you described it as "an intense and utter submersion into another world." (My reading pile is HUGE right now though ... but I'm going to keep this review in the back of my mind so when I do get through all of my reading I can check Erikson's work out.

    A while back, after you posted pictures of the book fort you made, I commented and promised that I'd follow suit. Well, I FINALLY got around to it. Come to Vampire Review to see what I've built (thanks to your very fun and creative example). I even posted a video about it there (and on my YouTube vlog - @Vamchoir).