Monday, November 25, 2013

The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

So you devoured George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire.  You've burned through Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series.  But your appetite for epic fantasy is insatiable.  Titanic struggles.  Political intrigue.  History-dense worlds full of mythology and complex magic.  Where can you look to feed your hunger for fantasy epics?

Fear not, for I bring you: The Malazan Book of the Fallen, by Steven Erikson.

This ten (yes, 10) book series will quench your thirst for grand scale fantasy.

The tale begins with Gardens of the Moon.  The Malazan Empire, a strong nation bent on expansion, has trained its eyes on the last of the Free Cities: Darujhistan.  But there are cracks in the Malazan war machine.  A coup by the new Empress has left loyalties divided and has made enemies of allies.  Will the Empire's relentless expansion falter?  Can you win a war when you can't trust your leaders?

The city-state of Darujhistan is full of wealth and wonders...and intrigue.  Even with the looming maw of the Malazan army approaching, rival groups within the city plot against one another for dominance.  And to make things worse, the gods themselves have taken an interest in the fate of Darujhistan.  What sides have they chosen, and how does the city play into their own agendas?

I love this series for a number of reasons.  Erikson's world-building is second to none.  A deep history resides in the bones of the earth, and the author seamlessly weaves ancient struggles into current world affairs.  The stakes are high in this series, and they only get higher as the books progress.  But even in a world where powerful Ascendants, avatars of the gods, walk the land and shape the course of history, Erikson crafts compelling mortal characters that you want to see succeed, even if they are on opposing sides of a conflict.

So while you're waiting out the next decade for the next Game of Thrones novel, embrace The Malazan Book of the Fallen.  You'll be happy you did.

For other epic fantasy series with over a dozen volumes, check out R.A. Salvatore's Legend of Drizzt.

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