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)

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 Book of the Fallen Series[edit]

# Title 1st Publication
1 Gardens of the Moon 1 April 1999
2 Deadhouse Gates 1 September 2000
3 Memories of Ice 6 December 2001
4 House of Chains 2 December 2002
5 Midnight Tides 1 March 2004
6 The Bonehunters 1 March 2006
7 Reaper's Gale 7 May 2007
8 Toll the Hounds 30 June 2008
9 Dust of Dreams 18 August 2009
10 The Crippled God 15 February 2011

Novellas in the series[edit]

Novels of the Malazan Empire[edit]

The Kharkanas Trilogy[edit]



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.[8] 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.[8] 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 [9] making it "among the largest fees ever paid for a fantasy series".[10]

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,"[11] 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."[12]

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).[11]

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."

Characters of the Malazan Book of the Fallen[edit]


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."[13]


  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. ^ Erikson, Steven (2009-08-03). "Midsummer madness!". PS Publishing. [dead link]
  8. ^ a b Introduction to Gardens of the Moon, Special Edition
  9. ^ Moss, Stephen (14 October 1999). "Malazans and megabucks". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  10. ^ Interview with Steven Erikson in SFX Magazine issue #99, Christmas 2002.
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ Edward James. "The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature". Cambridge Collections Online. Retrieved 13 August 2012.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  13. ^ Cilli, Dominic (2011). "The Malazan Book of the Fallen". SF Site. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 


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