Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson– Book Review

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

With a book this large and this filled with… well stuff… I needed a formal way to organize my thoughts. (For more information on how and why I review books read my posts Part 1 and Part 2.)

This will be a spoiler free review.

Characters

I liked

With over 800 pages, this book delivers a staggering amount of characters. Every time I started to get annoyed with a character, the point of view switched.

The characters themselves were fantastically fleshed out. They always felt like they had complex histories and stories. They also felt like a part of their world and invested.

I also have a soft spot of introspective characters that don’t get all angsty.

The character arcs were both beautifully plotted and unpredictable.

I didn’t like

I was really annoyed that the majority of my favourite characters were not in this book. I was really getting to like some of the mains from the first book.

Some of the characters suffer from what I’m calling fantasy race syndrome, in which they are something because their race is that thing.

There’s a lack of diverse women. The women in this book are either there as sensible love interests, broken women, leaders, or background characters.

I really wanted to fall in love with these characters. I knew some would die and I really wanted that feeling of falling in love with a character and didn’t get it.

For characters, I give it 3 out of 5

Writing Style

I liked

The author manages to be both poetic and excruciatingly brief. It’s a style that favours character depth and quick pacing. Every once in a while the author would add a great turn of phrase or a flowery description, but it never turns purple.

All epic fantasy authors have an obsession that shows in their work. Erikson loves history and archeology and it shows in his prose and world.

I didn’t like

There were more than a few times that the author’s love of history and archelogy showed me glimpses of other stories and I wished I was reading that instead.

There are long, walking scenes where the history interested me more than what was going on.

This book’s voice is extremely white, western, academic, and male. It shows the author’s culture and thought process in every description of noble savages and crazed wild men.

For writing style, I give it 4 out of 5.

Story

I liked

I liked the focus on the small punctuated by the grand. The story sticks to characters and not grand concepts. The wars and battles are described in gory detail and not in romantic troop movements.

The world is beautifully crafted and gives a sense of so much history and so many other stories to be told.

I also appreciated that unlike a lot of other epic fantasy, the main stories of this book were wrapped up at the end.

I didn’t like

The gore and horror was a little much for me. I understand that it was needed for the story and for the set up but I’m not a huge fan of babies on pikes and raped bodies. (Aside… why would crazed killers only rape the women?)

If it wasn’t for the author’s wonderful language and compelling style I wouldn’t have read past the 300 page mark.

I give the story 2 out of 5.

Fun

I liked

The magic, history, and engineers were fantastic. The games of gods and ascendants fascinating. Some of the characters were absolutely awesome. The use of language and world building alone are worth the read.

I didn’t like

I’m not a war person. I don’t like the movies, books, or history; it’s not my thing. This book made me uncomfortable at multiple times and not in “out of your comfort zone” way.

I give it 3 out of 5 for fun

Overall

This book is fantastic when it hits all the right notes but when it’s off, you’ll find yourself daydreaming about the history and cultures of that ancient world instead of paying attention to the book.

Like the first in the series it has a huge adaptation period where you’ll WTF all over the place.

Overall I think there’s a lot to love in this book and series but it has some awkward issues and it’s certainly not my style.

If you’d like a shorter and, in my opinion, more balanced writer try S. M. Carrière.

Final score is 60%

 

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Darkness and Angst

Hello Imaginary Friends,

I’m currently reading Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson. This is a huge book but unlike a lot of other huge fantasy books a lot happens. Most of what happens is pretty horrifying.

There have been descriptions of babies on pikes, crucified children, eye balls exploding… Gory and chilling stuff. It’s also extremely well written to only shock and not scar the reader. The emphasis is always on the characters and not on the horrific things that happen.

Arguably the stuff that happens in this book is worse than anything that happened in the Story of Ice and Fire, at least the first 3 books I read, but it’s not done to disturb the reader but instead as part of the world building and realities of the world.

Thankfully, for me, this book doesn’t waste much space on angst. The characters are forced to deal with their scars and horrors as they are shoved from one death defying moment to the other.

Yes the book makes me cringe and some descriptions had my skin crawling but it’s written in such a way that it won’t keep me up at night. (Some of the mythology and story twists might but that’s a good thing.)

So far the book is amazingly written but definitely not my style. I still have a third to finish but military horrors are not my thing. I can see why this would be someone’s favourite series. It takes a lot to keep me reading when it’s so far from my preferred style to read. A lesser story or writing style with the same elements would have me quit two hundred pages in.

Later Days,

Éric

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Can-Con 2017

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

This weekend was Can-Con. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time you’ll know that we’re big fans.

It’s a fantastic convention for two reasons. The first being how attentive and open the organizers are and the second because of everyone who participates.

I spent more time chatting in the dealer’s room than attending panels this year. There are a few panels I wish I had been able to attend, but was either too burnt out or doing something else.

Highlights from Can-Con 2017

Waiting to sign books. Picture from Lesley Donaldson‏

  • The Ottawa Writers community being awesome as usual
  • Listening to Steven Erikson being interview by Black Gate
  • My first signing session (didn’t sign anything but I was sitting next to S. M. Carrière, Steven Erikson, and Robert Sawyer, so I was in fantastic company.)
  • Watching S. M. Carrière geek out about Steven Erikson
  • The Renaissance reading that had a whole lot of people in it.
  • Getting to Pitch Everdome to Kim-Mei Kirtland
  • Having Kim-Mei Kirtland like my pitch for Everdome
  • The Asexuality panel which was so full I had to tuck myself into a corner. It was really interesting and illuminating.
  • The look of pure joy on an audience member when they learnt that Keladry (the Protector of the Small, not the Baby Dragon) was confirmed by Tamora Pierce to be Asexual.
  • Watching Keladry walking around smiling at everyone
  • Learning that Tanya Huff really likes our coffee
  • Meeting people that I’ve only ever interacted with online

Conclusion

Can-Con, for me, is about basking in the love this community has for genre writing and stories. I’m still a fledgling author and I never feel like anyone is judging. They are supportive, loving, and so kind.

 

Thank you to everyone who was there!

Éric

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2015 Book Ranking

Last year I read 32 books. I try to rate and review them all on Goodreads.

I’ve read some fantastic books this year and some absolutely terrible ones.

5 Star Rating (Amazing I highly recommend)

  1. Ms. Marvel, Vol. 3: Crushed  by Wilson, G. Willow
  2. Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal  by Wilson, G. Willow
  3. Touched by an Alien (Katherine “Kitty” Katt, #1)  by Koch, Gini
  4. Pocket Apocalypse (InCryptid, #4)  by McGuire, Seanan
  5. Human by S.M. Carrière
  6. Blood Relations (Family By Choice, #1)  by Frechette, Caroline
  7. Ms. Marvel, Vol. 2: Generation Why  by Wilson, G. Willow
  8. The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who  by Cornell, Paul
  9. Doctor Who: Agent Provocateur  by Russell, Gary
  10. Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More  by DeConnick, Kelly Sue
  11. Captain Marvel, Vol. 2: Down  by DeConnick, Kelly Sue
  12. Avengers: The Enemy Within  by DeConnick, Kelly Sue

4 Star Rating (Great. Read if you like the genre)

  1. Abracadaver (Esther Diamond, #7)  by Resnick, Laura
  2. Gardens of the Moon (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1)  by Erikson, Steven
  3. Rosemary and Rue (October Daye #1) by McGuire, Seanan
  4. The Hunt For Atlantis (Nina Wilde & Eddie Chase, #1)  by McDermott, Andy
  5. Tempest (Tempest, #1)  by Cross, Julie
  6. Something from the Nightside (Nightside, #1)  by Green, Simon R.
  7. Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)  by Andrews, Ilona
  8. Neverwhere  by Gaiman, Neil
  9. Welcome to Dead House (Goosebumps, #1)  by Stine, R.L.
  10. Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, #1)  by Briggs, Patricia

3 Star Rating (Fun but not amazing)

  1. Bloodring (Rogue Mage, #1)  by Hunter, Faith
  2. Staying Dead (Retrievers, #1)  by Gilman, Laura Anne
  3. Deadly Heat (Nikki Heat, #5)  by Castle, Richard
  4. Ghost of a Chance (Ghost Finders, #1)  by Green, Simon R.
  5. The Nymphos of Rocky Flats (Felix Gomez, #1)  by Acevedo, Mario

2 Star Rating (Disappointing)

  1. Gnome Man’s Land  by Friesner, Esther M.
  2. Tithe (Modern Faerie Tales, #1)  by Black, Holly
  3. Night Child (OSI, #1)  by Battis, Jes

1 Star Rating (Terrible)

  1. A Brewing Storm (Derrick Storm, #1) by Castle, Richard
  2. Desperate Measures (Angel’s Luck #1)  by Faust, Joe Clifford

 

Do you agree or disagree with my rankings?

Éric

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