Deadhouse Gates (Malazan Book of the Fallen Series #2)by Steven Erikson
In the vast dominion of Seven Cities, in the Holy Desert Raraku, the seer Sha'ik and her followers prepare for the long-prophesied uprising named the Whirlwind. Unprecedented in its size and savagery, this maelstrom of fanaticism and bloodlust will embroil the Malazan Empire in one of the bloodiest conflicts it has ever known, shaping destinies and giving birth to… See more details below
In the vast dominion of Seven Cities, in the Holy Desert Raraku, the seer Sha'ik and her followers prepare for the long-prophesied uprising named the Whirlwind. Unprecedented in its size and savagery, this maelstrom of fanaticism and bloodlust will embroil the Malazan Empire in one of the bloodiest conflicts it has ever known, shaping destinies and giving birth to legends.
Set in a brilliantly realized world ravaged by dark, uncontrollable magic, this thrilling novel of war, intrigue and betrayal confirms Steven Erikson as a storyteller of breathtaking skill, imagination and originality, a new master of epic fantasy.
In Deadhouse Gates -- the sequel to Gardens of the Moon and the second volume of Steven Erikson's shelf-cracking, ten-volume Malazan Book of the Fallen -- the great empire of Malazan is on the verge of one of the bloodiest revolutions the realm has ever known.
It's been ten long years since Laseen took over the empire's throne with treacherous cunning, but as the Year of Dryjhna approaches, wild portents of anarchy and rebellion abound. One such prophecy involves a stolen holy book and the seeress Sha'ik, the rebellion's foretold leader, who will raise the Whirlwind and lead the soldiers of the Apocalypse in a fanatical war that will topple empires and kill thousands. But as forces converge against Laseen, the empress gathers an army of assassins, sorcerers, and spies to combat the rebellion -- and enlarge her evil empire.
With a cast of literally hundreds (human and nonhuman) and dozens of subplots, Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen easily lives up to its advance hype as "the first great fantasy epic of the 21st century." A word of warning, however: These novels are in no way light reading. Fantasy fans who prefer "fast food" reads -- formulaic plotlines featuring two-dimensional characters -- should look elsewhere for their literary sustenance. Like Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time and Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, reading Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen is like sitting down to a five-course gourmet meal. Thematically breathtaking, powerfully moving, and epic in every sense of the word, these meaty novels are meant to be savored. Paul Goat Allen
"One of the best fantasy novels of the year." – SF Site
"Complex, challenging... Erikson's strengths are his grown-up characters and his ability to create a world every bit as intricate and messy as our own." – J. V. Jones
Give me the evocation of a rich, complex and yet ultimately unknowable other world, with a compelling suggestion of intricate history and mythology and lore. Give me mystery amid the grand narrative. Give me a world in which every sea hides a crumbled Atlantis, every ruin has a tale to tell, every mattock blade is a silent legacy of struggles unknown. Give me, in other words, the fantasy work of Steven Erikson. Erikson is a master of lost and forgotten epochs, a weaver of ancient epics on a scale that would approach absurdity if it wasn't so much fun.
Steven Erikson afflicts me with awe. Vast in scope, almost frighteningly fecund in imagination, and rich in sympathy, his work does something that only the rarest of books can manage: it alters the reader's perceptions of reality.
I stand slack-jawed in awe of The Malazan Book of the Fallen. This masterwork of imagination may be the high water mark of epic fantasy. This marathon of ambition has a depth and breadth and sense of vast reaches of inimical time unlike anything else available today. The Black Company, Zelazny's Amber, Vance's Dying Earth, and other mighty drumbeats are but foreshadowings of this dark dragon's hoard.
One of the best fantasy novels of the year.
Rare is the writer who so fluidly combines a sense of mythic power and depth of world, with fully realized characters and thrilling action, but Steven Erikson manages it spectacularly. The books are reminiscent of Tolkein's scope, Zelazny's cleverness and wit, and Donaldson's brooding atmospherics; yet all combined with dazzling talent into a narrative flow that keeps the reader turning pages. Some writers open windows on worlds, Erikson opens worlds and makes them so real, so magical, you're not sure if you can escape-and I don't want to.
Such is the impact of the first book in Erikson's monumental Malazan saga, Gardens of the Moon, that the achievement of this sequel is doubly surprising. Not only is the vigour and sweep of the earlier book effortlessly captured, the complex plot is simultaneously deepened and accelerated, with a grasp of tempo that has the reader inexorably gripped . . . Roll on, book three!
Read an Excerpt
Book Two of the Malazan Book of the Fallen
By Steven Erikson
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2000 Steven Erikson
All rights reserved.
And all came to imprint
On the path,
To scent the dry winds
Their cloying claim
The Path of Hands Messremb
1164th Year of Burn's Sleep
Tenth Year of the Rule of Empress Laseen
The Sixth in the Seven Years of Dryjhna, the Apocalyptic
A corkscrew plume of dust raced across the basin, heading deeper into the trackless desert of the Pan'potsun Odhan. Though less than two thousand paces away, it seemed a plume born of nothing.
From his perch on the mesa's wind-scarred edge, Mappo Runt followed it with relentless eyes the color of sand, eyes set deep in a robustly boned, pallid face. He held a wedge of emrag cactus in his bristle-backed hand, unmindful of the envenomed spikes as he bit into it. Juices dribbled down his chin, staining it blue. He chewed slowly, thoughtfully.
Beside him Icarium flicked a pebble over the cliff edge. It clicked and clattered on its way down to the boulder-strewn base. Under the ragged Spiritwalker robe — its orange faded to dusty rust beneath the endless sun — his gray skin had darkened into olive green, as if his father's blood had answered this wasteland's ancient call. His long, braided black hair dripped black sweat onto the bleached rock.
Mappo pulled a mangled thorn from between his front teeth. "Your dye's running," he observed, eyeing the cactus blade a moment before taking another bite.
Icarium shrugged. "Doesn't matter any more. Not out here."
"My blind grandmother wouldn't have swallowed your disguise. There were narrow eyes on us in Ehrlitan. I felt them crawling on my back day and night. Tannos are mostly short and bow-legged, after all." Mappo pulled his gaze away from the dust cloud and studied his friend. "Next time," he grunted, "try belonging to a tribe where everyone's seven foot tall."
Icarium's lined, weather-worn face twitched into something like a smile, just a hint, before resuming its placid expression. "Those who would know of us in Seven Cities, surely know of us now. Those who would not might wonder at us, but that is all they will do." Squinting against the glare, he nodded at the plume. "What do you see, Mappo?"
"Flat head, long neck, black and hairy all over. If just that, I might be describing one of my uncles."
"But there's more."
"One leg up front and two in back."
Icarium tapped the bridge of his nose, thinking. "So, not one of your uncles. An aptorian?" Mappo slowly nodded. "The convergence is months away. I'd guess Shadowthrone caught a whiff of what's coming, sent out a few scouts ..."
"And this one?"
Mappo grinned, exposing massive canines. "A tad too far afield. Sha'ik's pet now." He finished off the cactus, wiped his spatulate hands, then rose from his crouch. Arching his back, he winced. There had been, unaccountably, a mass of roots beneath the sand under his bedroll the night just past, and now the muscles to either side of his spine matched every knot and twist of those treeless bones. He rubbed at his eyes. A quick scan down the length of his body displayed for him the tattered, dirt-crusted state of his clothes. He sighed. "It's said there's a waterhole out there, somewhere —"
"With Sha'ik's army camped around it."
Icarium also straightened, noting once again the sheer mass of his companion — big even for a Trell — the shoulders broad and maned in black hair, the sinewy muscles of his long arms, and the thousand years that capered like a gleeful goat behind Mappo's eyes. "Can you track it?"
"If you like."
Icarium grimaced. "How long have we known each other, friend?"
Mappo's glance was sharp, then he shrugged. "Long. Why do you ask?"
"I know reluctance when I hear it. The prospect disturbs you?"
"Any potential brush with demons disturbs me, Icarium. Shy as a hare is Mappo Trell."
"I am driven by curiosity."
The unlikely pair turned back to their small campsite, tucked between two towering spires of wind-sculpted rock. There was no hurry. Icarium sat down on a flat rock and proceeded to oil his longbow, striving to keep the hornwood from drying out. Once satisfied with the weapon's condition, he turned to his single-edged long sword, sliding the ancient weapon from its bronze-banded boiledleather scabbard, then setting an oiled whetstone to its notched edge.
Mappo struck the hide tent, folding it haphazardly before stuffing it into his large leather bag. Cooking utensils followed, as did the bedding. He tied the drawstrings and hefted the bag over one shoulder, then glanced to where Icarium waited — bow rewrapped and slung across his back.
Icarium nodded, and the two of them, half-blood Jaghut and full-blood Trell, began on the path leading down into the basin.
Overhead the stars hung radiant, casting enough light down onto the basin to tinge its cracked pan silver. The bloodflies had passed with the vanishing of the day's heat, leaving the night to the occasional swarm of capemoths and the batlike rhizan lizards that fed on them.
Mappo and Icarium paused for a rest in the courtyard of some ruins. The mudbrick walls had all but eroded away, leaving nothing but shin-high ridges laid out in a geometric pattern around an old, dried-up well. The sand covering the courtyard's tiles was fine and windblown and seemed to glow faintly to Mappo's eyes. Twisted brush clung with fisted roots along its edges.
The Pan'potsun Odhan and the Holy Desert Raraku that flanked it to the west were both home to countless such remnants from long-dead civilizations. In their travels Mappo and Icarium had found high tels — flat-topped hills built up of layer upon layer of city — situated in a rough procession over a distance of fifty leagues between the hills and the desert, clear evidence that a rich and thriving people had once lived in what was now dry, wind-blasted wasteland. From the Holy Desert had emerged the legend of Dryjhna the Apocalyptic. Mappo wondered if the calamity that had befallen the city-dwellers in this region had in some way contributed to the myth of a time of devastation and death. Apart from the occasional abandoned estate such as the one they now rested in, many ruins showed signs of a violent end.
His thoughts finding familiar ruts, Mappo grimaced. Not all pasts can be laid at our feet, and we are no closer here and now than we've ever been. Nor have I any reason to disbelieve my own words. He turned away from those thoughts as well.
Near the courtyard's center stood a single column of pink marble, pitted and grooved on one side where the winds born out in Raraku blew unceasingly toward the Pan'potsun Hills. The pillar's opposite side still retained the spiral patterning carved there by long-dead artisans.
Upon entering the courtyard Icarium had walked directly to the six-foot-high column, examining its sides. His grunt told Mappo he'd found what he had been looking for.
"And this one?" the Trell asked, setting his leather sack down.
Icarium came over, wiping dust from his hands. "Down near the base, a scattering of tiny clawed hands — the seekers are on the Trail."
"Rats? More than one set?"
"D'ivers," Icarium agreed, nodding.
"Now who might that be, I wonder?"
Icarium studied the flat plain stretching into the west. "There will be others. Soletaken and D'ivers both. Those who feel near to Ascendancy, and those who are not, yet seek the Path nonetheless."
Mappo sighed, studying his old friend. Faint dread stirred within him. D'ivers and Soletaken, the twin curses of shapeshifting, the fever for which there is no cure. Gathering ... here, in this place. "Is this wise, Icarium?" he asked softly. "In seeking your eternal goal, we find ourselves walking into a most disagreeable convergence. Should the gates open, we shall find our passage contested by a host of bloodthirsty individuals all eager in their belief that the gates offer Ascendancy."
"If such a pathway exists," Icarium said, his eyes still on the horizon, "then perhaps I shall find my answers there as well."
Answers are no benediction, friend. Trust me in this. Please. "You have still not explained to me what you will do once you have found them."
Icarium turned to him with a faint smile. "I am my own curse, Mappo. I have lived centuries, yet what do I know of my own past? Where are my memories? How can I judge my own life without such knowledge?"
"Some would consider your curse a gift," Mappo said, a flicker of sadness passing across his features.
"I do not. I view this convergence as an opportunity. It might well provide me with answers. To achieve them, I hope to avoid drawing my weapons, but I shall if I must."
The Trell sighed a second time and rose from his crouch. "You may be tested in that resolve soon, friend." He faced southwest. "There are six desert wolves on our trail."
Icarium unwrapped his antlered bow and strung it in a swift, fluid motion. "Desert wolves never hunt people."
"No," Mappo agreed. It was another hour before the moon would rise. He watched Icarium lay out six long, stone-tipped arrows, then squinted out into the darkness. Cold fear crept along the nape of his neck. The wolves were not yet visible, but he felt them all the same. "They are six, but they are one. D'ivers."
Better it would have been a Soletaken. Veering into a single beast is unpleasant enough, but into many ...
Icarium frowned. "One of power, then, to achieve the shape of six wolves. Do you know who it might be?"
"I have a suspicion," Mappo said quietly.
They fell silent, waiting.
Half a dozen tawny shapes appeared out of a gloom that seemed of its own making, less than thirty strides away. At twenty paces the wolves spread out into an open half-circle facing Mappo and Icarium. The spicy scent of D'ivers filled the still night air. One of the lithe beasts edged forward, then stopped as Icarium raised his bow.
"Not six," Icarium muttered, "but one."
"I know him," Mappo said. "A shame he can't say the same of us. He is uncertain, but he's taken a blood-spilling form. Tonight, Ryllandaras hunts in the desert. Does he hunt us or something else, I wonder?"
Icarium shrugged. "Who shall speak first, Mappo?"
"Me," the Trell replied, taking a step forward. This would require guile and cunning. A mistake would prove deadly. He pitched his voice low and wry. "Long way from home, aren't we. Your brother Treach had it in mind that he killed you. Where was that chasm? Dal Hon? Or was it Li Heng? You were D'ivers jackals then, I seem to recall."
Ryllandaras spoke inside their minds, a voice cracking and halting with disuse. I am tempted to match wits with you, N'Trell, before killing you.
"Might not be worth it," Mappo replied easily. "With the company I've been keeping, I'm as out of practice as you, Ryllandaras."
The lead wolf's bright blue eyes flicked to Icarium.
"I have little wits to match," the Jaghut half-blood said softly, his voice barely carrying. "And I am losing patience."
Foolish. Charm is all that can save you. Tell me, bowman, do you surrender your life to your companion's wiles?
Icarium shook his head. "Of course not. I share his opinion of himself."
Ryllandaras seemed confused. A matter of expedience then, the two of you traveling together. Companions without trust, without confidence in each other. The stakes must be high.
"I am getting bored, Mappo," Icarium said.
The six wolves stiffened as one, half flinching. Mappo Runt and Icarium. Ah, we see. Know that we've no quarrel with you.
"Wits matched," Mappo said, his grin broadening a moment before disappearing entirely. "Hunt elsewhere, Ryllandaras, before Icarium does Treach a favor." Before you unleash all that I am sworn to prevent. "Am I understood?"
Our trail ... converges, the D'ivers said, upon the spoor of a demon of Shadow.
"Not Shadow any longer," Mappo replied. "Sha'ik's. The Holy Desert no longer sleeps."
So it seems. Do you forbid us our hunt?
Mappo glanced at Icarium, who lowered his bow and shrugged. "If you wish to lock jaws with an aptorian, that is your choice. Our interest was only passing."
Then indeed shall our jaws close upon the throat of the demon.
"You would make Sha'ik your enemy?" Mappo asked.
The lead wolf cocked its head. The name means nothing to me.
The two travelers watched as the wolves padded off, vanishing once again into a gloom of sorcery. Mappo showed his teeth, then sighed, and Icarium nodded, giving voice to their shared thought. "It will, soon."
The Wickan horsesoldiers loosed fierce cries of exultation as they led their broad-backed horses down the transport's gang-planks. The scene at the quayside of Hissar's Imperial Harbor was chaotic, a mass of unruly tribesmen and women, the flash of iron-headed lances rippling over black braided hair and spiked skullcaps. From his position on the harbor-entrance tower parapet, Duiker looked down on the wild outland company with more than a little skepticism, and with growing trepidation.
Beside the Imperial Historian stood the High Fist's representative, Mallick Rel, his fat, soft hands folded together and resting on his paunch, his skin the color of oiled leather and smelling of Aren perfumes. Mallick Rel looked nothing like the chief adviser to the Seven Cities' commander of the Malazan armies. A Jhistal priest of the Elder god of the seas, Mael, his presence here to officially convey the High Fist's welcome to the new Fist of the 7th Army was precisely what it appeared to be: a calculated insult. Although, Duiker amended silently, the man at his side had, in a very short time, risen to a position of power among the Imperial players on this continent. A thousand rumors rode the tongues of the soldiers about the smooth, soft-spoken priest and whatever weapon he held over High Fist Pormqual — each and every rumor no louder than a whisper, for Mallick Rel's path to Pormqual's side was a tale of mysterious misfortune befalling everyone who stood in his way, and fatal misfortune at that.
The political mire among the Malazan occupiers in Seven Cities was as obscure as it was potentially deadly. Duiker suspected that the new Fist would understand little of veiled gestures of contempt, lacking as he did the more civilized nuances of the Empire's tamed citizens. The question that remained for the historian, then, was how long Coltaine of the Crow Clan would survive his new appointment.
Mallick Rel pursed his full lips and slowly exhaled. "Historian," he said softly, his Gedorian Falari accent faint in its sibilant roll. "Pleased by your presence. Curious as well. Long from Aren court, now ..." He smiled, not showing his green-dyed teeth. "Caution bred of distant culling?"
Words like the lap of waves, the god Mael's formless affectation and insidious patience. This, my fourth conversation with Rel. Oh, how I dislike this creature! Duiker cleared his throat. "The Empress takes little heed of me, Jhistal ..."
Mallick Rel's soft laugh was like the rattle of a snake's tail. "Unheeded historian or unheeding of history? Hint of bitterness at advice rejected or worse, ignored. Be calmed, no crimes winging back from Unta's towers."
"Pleased to hear it," Duiker muttered, wondering at the priest's source. "I remain in Hissar as a matter of research," he explained after a moment. "The precedent of shipping prisoners to the Otataral mines on the island reaches back to the Emperor's time, although he generally reserved that fate for mages."
"Mages? Ah, ah."
Duiker nodded. "Effective, yes, although unpredictable. The specific properties of Otataral as a magic-deadening ore remain largely mysterious. Even so, madness claimed most of those sorcerers, although it is not known if that was the result of exposure to the ore dust, or the deprivation from their Warrens."
"Some mages among the next slave shipment?"
"Question soon answered, then."
"Soon," Duiker agreed.
The T-shaped quay was now a maelstrom of belligerent Wickans, frightened dock porters and short-tempered warhorses. A cordon of Hissar Guard provided the stopper to the bottleneck at the dock's end where it opened out onto the cobbled half-round. Of Seven Cities blood, the Guards had hitched their round shields and unsheathed their tulwars, waving the broad, curving blades threateningly at the Wickans, who answered with barking challenges.
Two men arrived on the parapet. Duiker nodded greetings. Mallick Rel did not deign to acknowledge either of them — a rough captain and the 7th's lone surviving cadre mage, both men clearly ranked too low for any worthwhile cultivation by the priest.
"Well, Kulp," Duiker said to the squat, white-haired wizard, "your arrival may prove timely."
Kulp's narrow, sunburned face twisted into a sour scowl. "Came up here to keep my bones and flesh intact, Duiker. I'm not interested in becoming Coltaine's lumpy carpet in his step up to the post. They're his people, after all. That he hasn't done a damned thing to quell this brewing riot doesn't bode well, I'd say."
The captain at his side grunted agreement. "Sticks in the throat," he growled. "Half the officers here saw their first blood facing that bastard Coltaine, and now here he is, about to take command. Hood's knuckles," he spat, "won't be any tears spilled if the Hissar Guard cuts down Coltaine and every one of his Wickan savages right here at the Quay. The Seventh don't need them."
Excerpted from Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson. Copyright © 2000 Steven Erikson. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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The main players from Book 1, Gardens of the Moon, have split up. And this book follows the two Bridgeburners, Fiddler & Kalam as they go on their 'secret' mission, courtesy of the sly mind of Quick Ben. Along with them is Crokus, our lucky little thief, and Apsalar, the young fisherman's girl who's possession by Cotillion has still left her a cold-hearted killer. We also are introduced to Coltaine, the new fist, who's travails will become legend. And we meet Paran's younger sister, Felisin, who's own tale becomes the heart and soul of this book. This book is gigantic, compared to the first one, but so layered, textured and terrific. Unlike the confusion that some may have had with following Gardens of the Moon with it's lack of set-up and so many characters, this book is much more left to develop plot, characters, and you feel completely along a fantastic ride as 3 tales are told and woven like a great tapestry. Felisin's journey, Coltaine's march, Fiddler/Kalam/Apsalar/Crokus's search...these 3 tales are powerful, riveting, and a more larger tale is beginning to unravel. Book 2, though lacking the slam-bang ending of Gardens of the Moon, is a superior novel because of it's heart and soul. These are complex, troubled souls, admist a war and empire that is beginning to shake, and as the gods play their games, these humans and creatures set the stage of whatis to come...and in fact, seem to control the playing field in more than the gods do.
If you only read one fantasy series, read this one. Better than the wheel of time
If you liked "Gardens of the Moon" you will love this 2nd book in the series. Good writing, excellent plot, 700+ pages to keep you spellbound.
I tried to read this a few years ago but only made it about 80 pages in. The magic/deck of dragons/ascendaents aspect of the book can be confusing. The second time around tho I had read the first book and it definetly helped. The story involves 4 different plot lines which eventually converge at the end. The end was very unexpected but well worth the time invested in it. I definetly recommend this book and the series to anyone who loves military and/or fantasy.
Finaly another good writer that knows how to keep you entertained with a good story that's a lot different from many other books that are out there. This second novel seems to concentrate more on different persons but it al comes back to the same ones from the first novel. Keep them coming!!
I loved Deadhouse Gates. The characters seemed to be more alive in this book, more realized. I loved the historian/soldier Dukier. And I was heartbroken towards the end when it came to his fate and the fate of Colatine. But my faith as a reader was renewed when the cloth was found in Dukier's clothing and a name was revealed. I can't wait for the next one!! And Feslin was among a favorite of mine, and I can't await the unveiling of Kalam's destiny. I hope that the end didn't hint that a few of the starring characters won't reappear in the next installment. I await with barely restrained patience.
When I read "Gardens of the Moon", the first book in Erikson's Malazan series, I was blown away. There was so much going on, so many new approaches to the genre, I knew within a few chapters that I was in for a ride. "Deadhouse Gates" continues the story, following some of the characters from book one and introducing many others, as events unfold on a desert continent far away from the setting of the first book. Mr. Erikson is painting a broad picture, and I am looking forward to the third installment, as I have only two chapters left in this one. I highly recommend the Malazan Book of the Fallen to anyone who is looking for a brilliant, imaginative spin on the fantasy genre.
I love how complex this book is. The whole series has me excited, and I can't wait to read Memories of Ice
Erikson is amazing. This keeps getting better. On to the third book in the series for me.
Highly recommend this story, great characters, thick plots, lots of surprises!
Many names and terms to learn and remember as you read, but interestng complex novel. Like the characters and they are a diverse lot with many witty, humorous and deep personalities. Also, great battle/action scenes. Can't wait to read the next book in the series.
Very deep and well written series that rivals and surpasses the Jordan Series.