Malazan Book of the Fallen

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The Malazan Book of the Fallen
The cover of The Crippled God, the tenth and final book in the series.
Author Steven Erikson
Language English
Genre High fantasy
Publisher Bantam Books
Publication date
1 April 1999 – 21 February 2011
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 11,147 (UK; all 10 novels in paperback form)
7028 (UK; all 10 novels in UK hardcover)

The Malazan Book of the Fallen is an epic fantasy series written by Canadian author Steven Erikson, published in ten volumes beginning with the novel Gardens of the Moon, published in 1999. The series was completed with the publication of The Crippled God in February 2011. Erikson's series is complex with a wide scope, and presents the narratives of a large cast of characters.[1][2][2][3][4][5] Erikson's plotting presents a complicated series of events in the world upon which the Malazan Empire is located. Each of the first five novels is relatively self-contained, in that it resolves its respective primary conflict; but many underlying characters and events are interwoven throughout the works of the series, binding it together.

The Malazan world was co-created by Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont in the early 1980s as a backdrop to their GURPS roleplaying campaign.[6] In 2005, Esslemont began publishing his own series of six novels set in the same world, beginning with Night of Knives. Although Esslemont's books are published under a different series title – Novels of the Malazan Empire – Esslemont and Erikson collaborated on the storyline for the entire fifteen-book project and Esslemont's novels are considered as canonical and integral to the series as Erikson's own.

The Malazan series is often compared both to The Black Company series by Glen Cook (to whom the seventh book is dedicated) and to George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. By 2012, the series had sold one million copies worldwide.[7]

The Malazan Book of the Fallen Series[edit]

# Title Pages Words 1st Publication
1 Gardens of the Moon 768 203,896 1 April 1999
2 Deadhouse Gates 943 266,260 1 September 2000
3 Memories of Ice 1187 345,755 6 December 2001
4 House of Chains 1021 307,427 2 December 2002
5 Midnight Tides 940 272,724 1 March 2004
6 The Bonehunters 1232 362,804 1 March 2006
7 Reaper's Gale 1280 386,342 7 May 2007
8 Toll the Hounds 1296 391,897 30 June 2008
9 Dust of Dreams 1280 379,326 18 August 2009
10 The Crippled God 1200 412,123 15 February 2011
Totals: 11,147 3,300,026 11 years, 10 months, 14 days

Novellas in the series[edit]

  1. Blood Follows (2002)
  2. The Healthy Dead (2004)
  3. The Lees of Laughter's End (2007)
  4. Crack’d Pot Trail (2009)[8]
  5. The Wurms of Blearmouth (2012)

Novels of the Malazan Empire[edit]

  1. Night of Knives (2004, written by Ian Cameron Esslemont).
  2. Return of the Crimson Guard (2008, written by Ian Cameron Esslemont).
  3. Stonewielder (2010, written by Ian Cameron Esslemont).
  4. Orb, Sceptre, Throne (2012 January, written by Ian Cameron Esslemont).
  5. Blood and Bone (2012 November, written by Ian Cameron Esslemont).
  6. Assail (2014 August, written by Ian Cameron Esslemont)

The Kharkanas Trilogy[edit]

  1. Forge of Darkness (2012), written by Steven Erikson).
  2. Fall of Light (coming October 2015), written by Steven Erikson).
  3. Walk in Shadow (TBA), written by Steven Erikson.

Other works[edit]

  • The Encyclopedia Malaz (forthcoming, to be written by Erikson and Esslemont and published some time after The Crippled God)
  • The Toblakai Trilogy (forthcoming, to be written by Erikson following The Kharkanas Trilogy)[9]



The Malazan world was originally created by Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont in 1982 as a backdrop for role-playing games using a modified version of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.[10] By 1986, when the GURPS system had been adopted by Erikson and Esslemont,[6] the world had become much larger and more complex, approaching its current scope. It was then developed into a movie script entitled Gardens of the Moon. When this was not successful in finding interest, the two writers agreed to each write a series set in their shared world.[10] Steven Erikson wrote Gardens of the Moon as a novel in the period 1991-92 but it was not published until 1999. In the meantime, he wrote several non-fantasy novels. When he sold Gardens of the Moon, he agreed to a contract for an additional nine volumes in the series. The contract with Bantam UK was worth £675,000 [11] making it "among the largest fees ever paid for a fantasy series".[12]

Ian Cameron Esslemont's first published Malazan story, the novella Night of Knives, was released as a limited edition by PS Publishing in 2004 and as a mass-market hardcover by Bantam UK in 2007. The second novel, Return of the Crimson Guard, was published in 2008, with a limited PS Publishing edition preceding the larger-scale Bantam UK release. The third novel, Stonewielder, was released on 11 Dec 2010 in the UK by Bantam, and 11 May 2011 in the US by TOR. Steven Erikson has indicated that the two authors will collaborate on The Encyclopedia Malaz, an extensive guide to the series, which will be published following the last novel in the main sequence.[citation needed]


In a general review of The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, edited by Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn, Erikson fired a shot across the bow of "the state of scholarship in the fantastic as it pertains to epic fantasy,"[13] taking particularly to task James's opening lines in Chapter 5 of that volume. Erikson uses a handful of words from that chapter as an epigraph for a quasi-autobiographical essay in The New York Review of Science Fiction. James's sentences read in full:

"J. R. R. Tolkien said that the phrase 'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit' came to his unconscious mind while marking examination papers; he wrote it on a blank page in an answer book. From that short sentence, one might claim, much of the modern fantasy genre emerged. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (1954–5) (henceforth LOTR) looms over all the fantasy written in English—and in many other languages—since its publication; most subsequent writers of fantasy are either imitating him or else desperately trying to escape his influence."[14]

Erikson writes, "But epic fantasy has moved on, something critics have failed to notice." He goes on,

"One example of this can be gleaned from my own beginnings as a writer of fantasy, which I suspect was commonplace among my colleagues. In my youth, I sidestepped Tolkien entirely, finding my inspiration and pleasure in the genre through Howard, Burroughs, and Leiber. And as with many of my fellow epic fantasy writers, our first experience of the Tolkien tropes of epic fantasy came not from books, but from Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying games ... As my own gaming experience advanced, it was not long before I abandoned those tropes. ... Accordingly, my influences in terms of fiction are post-Tolkien, and they came from conscious responses to Tolkien (Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series) and unconscious responses to Tolkien (Cook's Dread Empire and Black Company series).[13]

Erikson concludes, "So, Professor James, when you say 'since [Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings]...most subsequent writers of fantasy are either imitating him or else desperately trying to escape his influence'—sorry. You're flat-out wrong."


The series is not told in a linear fashion. Instead, several storylines progress simultaneously, with the individual novels moving backwards and forwards between them. As the series progresses, links between these storylines become more readily apparent. During a book signing in November 2005, Steven Erikson confirmed that the Malazan saga consists of three major story arcs, equating them to the points of a triangle.

The first plotline takes place on the continent of Genabackis where armies of the Malazan Empire are battling the native city-states for dominance. An elite Malazan military unit, the Bridgeburners, is the focus for this storyline, although as it proceeds their erstwhile enemies, the Tiste Andii led by Anomander Rake and the mercenaries commanded by Warlord Caladan Brood, also become prominent. The novel Gardens of the Moon depicts an attempt by the Malazans to seize control of the city of Darujhistan. Memories of Ice, the third novel released in the sequence, continues the unresolved plot threads from Gardens of the Moon by having the now-outlawed Malazan armies uniting with their former enemies to confront a new, mutual threat known as the Pannion Domin. Toll the Hounds, the eighth novel in the series, revisits Genabackis some years later as new threats arise to Darujhistan and the Tiste Andii who now control the city of Black Coral.

The second plotline takes place on the subcontinent of Seven Cities and depicts a major native uprising against Malazan rule. This rebellion is known as 'the Whirlwind'. The second novel released in the sequence, Deadhouse Gates, shows the outbreak of this rebellion and focuses on the rebels' relentless pursuit of the main Malazan army as it escorts some 40,000 refugees more than 1,500 miles (2,400 km) across the continent. The story of the pursuit, and the event itself, is referred to as the Chain of Dogs. The fourth novel, House of Chains, sees the continuation of this storyline with newly arrived Malazan reinforcements – the 14th Army – taking the war to the rebels. The 14th's exploits earn them the nickname, 'The Bonehunters'.

The third plotline was introduced with Midnight Tides, the fifth book released in the series. This novel introduces a previously unknown continent where two nations, the united tribes of the Tiste Edur and the Empire of Lether, are engaged in escalating tensions, which culminate in open warfare. The novel takes place contemporaneously with earlier books in the sequence and the events in it are in fact being related in flashback by a character from the fourth volume to one of his comrades (although the novel itself is told in the traditional third-person form).

The sixth book, The Bonehunters, sees all three plot strands combined, with the now-reconciled Malazan army from Genabackis arriving in Seven Cities to aid in the final defeat of the rebellion. At the same time, fleets from the newly proclaimed Letherii Empire are scouring the globe for worthy champions to face their immortal emperor in battle, in the process earning the enmity of elements of the Malazan Empire. The seventh novel, Reaper's Gale, sees the Malazan 14th Army arriving in Lether to take the battle to the Letherii homeland. The ninth and tenth novels, Dust of Dreams and The Crippled God, picks up the storyline on the Lether continent and deal with the activities of the 14th Army following their successful 'liberation' of the Letherii people and the revelation that the K'Chain Che'Malle species and Forkrul Assail species have returned. The 14th Army is attempting to deal with the peril that the Crippled God has caused with his attempts to poison the warrens and to wake Burn.

Ian Cameron Esslemont's novels are labeled as Novels of the Malazan Empire, not as parts of the Malazan Book of the Fallen itself, and deal primarily with the Malazan Empire, its internal politics and characters who only play minor roles in Erikson's novels. His first novel, Night of Knives, details events in Malaz City on the night that the Emperor Kellanved was assassinated. The second, Return of the Crimson Guard, investigates the fall-out in the Malazan Empire from the devastating losses of the Genabackan, Korelri and Seven Cities campaigns following the events of The Bonehunters. Esslemont's third novel, Stonewielder, explores events on the Korelri continent for the first time in the series and focuses on the often-mentioned, rarely seen character of Greymane. The fourth novel, Orb, Sceptre and Throne, revisits Genbackis once again in the wake of Erikson's Toll the Hounds, and features several well known characters seen in Erikson's novels. Further comments by Esslemont and Erikson have hinted that Esslemont's fifth novel visits the continent of Jacuruku and the sixth, set on Assail, will serve as a closing chapter and coda for the entire series.

Characters of the Malazan Book of the Fallen[edit]


The series largely takes place on one planet, although there are extensive sequences that take place within the warrens (other realms or planes of existence) of magic. There are also occasional flashbacks to events in the distant past. This planet is comparable to Earth, although its size has not been revealed and it has been inhabited by intelligent races for much longer. Midnight Tides confirms that there are six continents on this planet, although the series makes frequent use of the term 'subcontinent' which makes it unclear what landmasses are considered continents and which are considered subcontinents.

The major landmasses are held to be Seven Cities, Quon Tali, Genabackis, Jacuruku, Korelri, Assail and the continent that contains Lether and the Tiste Edur empire. The discrepancy between the number of continents and the landmasses named in the series is believed to be explained by the landmasses: Quon Tali and Seven Cities, which are considered one continent, although separate (much as Europe and Asia are considered to be two separate continents). This discrepancy is caused by an error by either the writer or by the character who made that in-text statement, the latter more likely as geographical ignorance is common amongst characters in the series.


Magic in the Malazan series is accomplished by tapping the power of a Warren or Hold, from within the body of the mage. Effects common to most Warrens include enchantment of objects (investment), large-scale blasts and travel through Warren across great distances in a short period of time. Only a minority of humans can access Warrens, usually tapping and working with a single one, with High Mages accessing two or three. Two notable exceptions to this are the High Mage Quick Ben who can access seven at any single time out of his repertoire of twelve (due to his killing of and subsequent merging with the souls of eleven other sorcerers), and Beak who can access all the warrens (although he seems to be mentally handicapped). Certain Elder races have access to racial Warrens, that seem to be significantly more powerful and cannot be blocked by the magic-deadening ore otataral.

Alternatively a cruder, but sometimes more powerful, form of magic can be harnessed by using or capturing natural spirits of the land, elements, people or animals. A form of this is also evident when the power of an Ascendant or God is called upon or channeled, although in most cases this is also linked with whatever warren that being is associated with.

Cards and Tiles[edit]

Cards are from the Deck of Dragons while the elder Tiles belong to the Tiles of the Hold. They are similar in that they are used to get information about present and future events. They are used separately on two different continents and both are not known about contiguously except by very rare people such as Bottle, a squad mage in Tavore's 14th Army. Houses (Deck of Dragons) and Holds (Tiles of the Hold) usually relate to Warrens (Deck) and Holds (Tiles). The difference between these two is marked by the progressive evolution of Magic. As Magic evolves Tiles and Cards become active or inactive. Usually the two do not overlap, but in a few instances where older more primal realms have become active they do (Beast hold, mentioned in Memories of Ice and Midnight Tides).

Deck of Dragons[edit]

The Deck of Dragons resembles a Tarot card deck in that it consists of cards that divine the future. The difference is that a real Deck of Dragons adjusts itself to the changing circumstances of the pantheon. If an entity ascends or dies, the deck will change to reflect this fact. The pictures on the cards reflect the gods/ascendants that each is made to represent. Not all cards are active on all continents; for example Obelisk is referred to as inactive on Seven Cities until partway through Deadhouse Gates.

Tiles of the Hold[edit]

Similar to a primitive version of the Deck of Dragons, the Tiles of the Holds are used for divination. Their use is restricted to the continent of Lether, where the influence of the Jaghut Warren halted the evolution of magic in a more primitive state. The Tiles of The Hold are cast rather than read.

Critical reception[edit]

Reviewing for SF Site, Dominic Cilli wrote, "Steven Erikson's The Malazan Book of the Fallen has single-handedly raised the bar for fantasy literature," praising Erikson's ambition and humor:

"The world building is done on an unprecedented scale and Erikson has left a lifetime's worth of novels on the table in the world of the Malazan Empire. So what is left to talk about? It's simple, the writing. I can tell that Steven Erikson's writing is filled with wit, charm, philosophical brilliance and a sense of imagination that would humble the most creative of authors. You will be hard-pressed to find his equal in any genre."[15]


  1. ^ Bangs, Arthur (14 May 2006). "The Bonehunters by Steven Erikson". Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "What I'm Reading #22 - GARDENS OF THE MOON by Steven Erikson". The Alexandrian. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  4. ^ "Steven Erikson's TOLL THE HOUNDS cover art". Pat's Fantasy Hotlist. 16 January 2008. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Floresiensis. "Reviews - Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson". Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Erikson, Steven (2007). "Preface to the Gardens of the Moon redux". Gardens of the Moon. Bantam Books. pp. xii–xiv. ISBN 978-0-553-81957-1. 
  7. ^ Per the cover copy of the paperback edition of The Crippled God.
  8. ^ Erikson, Steven (2009-08-03). "Midsummer madness!". PS Publishing. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Interview with Steven Erikson". The Breathless Quills. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Introduction to Gardens of the Moon, Special Edition
  11. ^ Moss, Stephen (14 October 1999). "Malazans and megabucks". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  12. ^ Interview with Steven Erikson in SFX Magazine issue #99, Christmas 2002.
  13. ^ a b Erikson, Steven (May 2012). "Not Your Grandmother's Epic Fantasy: A Fantasy Author's Thoughts Upon Reading The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature". The New York Review of Science Fiction (Pleasantville, NY: Dragon Press) 24 (9): 1, 4–5. 
  14. ^ Edward James. "The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature". Cambridge Collections Online. Retrieved 13 August 2012.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  15. ^ Cilli, Dominic (2011). "The Malazan Book of the Fallen". SF Site. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 


External links[edit]