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The great Malazan read and re-read

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Fans of epic fantasy are masters of patience. They have to be. There’s something in the nature of the genre that forces its masters — Tolkein, of course, George RR Martin, and, for a long time, Robert Jordan — to create worlds and plot lines of jaw-dropping proportions. But I am not a master of patience and, to a certain extent, I resent the genre for its 20 year production cycles. That’s why, for the past ten years, I’ve been avoiding Steven Erikson, the latest and possibly greatest to enter the fray.

There's a warren inside Steven Erikson's head that hides his second and third brains.

Erikson’s is a different breed of epic fantasy, and he is a different breed of author. Over the course of ten years the Canadian author has penned eight books and four novellas, with each book in the series reaching 600-1,000 pages. That feat alone — the sheer volume of copy he can produce — is astonishing. Yet more impressive, however, is the consistent quality of prose — the richness of narrative, of detail, of character development — that fills up those many thousands of pages. Erikson’s feat — and I’m not speaking in hyperbole here- should be impossible.

Amazingly, the final book in the series, The Crippled God, is scheduled for a January 20, 2011 release in the UK. This means that Erikson, who started publishing his series three years after George RR Martin’s A Game of Thrones was released, will finish his epic before Martin. He will have published ten books to Martin’s four.

What does all this mean? It means anyone who hasn’t started The Malazan Book of the Fallen series should get started today. I’m two books in and loving it.

And you’re lucky. If you start now, not only will you finish in time for the release of The Crippled God (no years of waiting for you), you will also have the advantage of all the internet Malazan resources available. Including the popular Malazan Empire site, the Malazan wiki and, most recently, the Malazan Re-Read of the Fallen blog at TOR, a great way to experience the books chapter by-chapter with one die-hard fan and one totally new fan.

And if you’re a fantasy skeptic — don’t be.  The books discard or reinvent all the cliches of the genre.  Ignore the cheesy cover art and dig into the richness of Erikson’s writing. You will be rewarded.

(image Itkovian by Merlkirby #Malazan-Art-Guild on deviantART. Full image below.)

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