This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

25 January, 2011

MALAZAN BOOK OF THE FALLEN VS THE WHEEL OF TIME

 

MALAZAN BOOK OF THE FALLEN VERSUS THE WHEEL OF TIME

   I'll start by confessing I've not read either of these books before. I've read the New Spring novella in Legends (Edited by Robert Silverberg) but that is it as far as these two series go.
   
   I now plan to do something about that. The two books whose covers you see above are now next to me, and in the next two weeks (I'm giving myself plenty of time to read a book or two in between them.) I will read them both. 
   I usually prefer to read series, or trilogies, when they are finished. And since both of these will be finished this year, it's time for me to start on them. 
   
   The problem I have is that for budgetary reasons, I will not be able to buy both these series at once. And I don't want to commit to reading two such long series in one year, even though I am aware of that there is plenty of time to read the Malazan Book of the Fallen series before the final volume in The Wheel of Time is out. I also have plenty of other books I want to buy, so for this year I'll buy and read one series. And that is where you as a reader of this blog comes in: 

   Both of these series has a huge number of fans, and I want you to share your opinions on the two series with me. I especially want to know if the first book is representative for the series as a whole, or if there are things happening later in the series that makes it better.
    
    I am after what you think is positive about these series, not why you think one is "crap" compared to the other. Please be civil if you choose to comment. I'll leave the comments unmoderated for now, but I may change that later.

    Two weeks from now, Monday 7th and Tuesday 8th of February, I will review these books, and on Wednesday the 9th of February I will do a follow up post on what series I have decided to purchase first. Based on what I think of the two books and your comments.

    So please leave a comment on which series you think is the best, and what makes it so. I will appreciate your input.

41 comments:

  1. Now that is an interesting question. I've read both series, everything that has been published save the latest novella by Erikson. I have very fond memories of Jordan's Wheel of Time series, not only because of the books but also because the huge online presence his fans have. I used to hang out at one of the Wheel of Time fan sites a lot. They were also some of the first fantasy books I read (back in 1999) and more or less set a standard.

    I didn't pick up Erikson's books until much later (I think I read Gardens of the Moon for the first time in the summer of 2006). By then my taste had developed.

    I have enjoyed both series a lot and I look forward to reading the conclusion (don't be surprised if the final Wheel of Time book is published in the spring of 2012 though). I do consider Erikson's series a more mature and challenging work though. Both in terms of the actual story (Jordan is notorious for the infantile relations between the sexes for instance) as well as the way the themes the authors use. Erikson is a lot more graphic as well.

    I don't think I would have appreciated as much as I do without the context of a lot of other fantasy novels, The Wheel of Time included. I never recommend it to beginning readers in the genre because of the way Erikson tends to throw the reader right in the thick of things without explanation and the huge complexity of the setting in those books. Jordan builds his world more slowly, allowing the reader to get settled in before really expanding the story. Erikson doesn't hold back. Ever.

    So if you are asking me which one is the best, I'd have to say Erikson. But make sure you are ready for him.

    As to whether these books are representative of the whole series... that is a difficult question. Keep in mind that both writers have spend decades on these projects. Their writing changes, their talent develops.

    Jordan starts his story small, with a limited scope and fairly few points of view. Not until the fourth book does the series really turn epic and after the seventh it changes again. I'd say The Eye of the World gives you a good idea of what to expect of book 2 and 3.

    The Gardens of the Moon is a different story. This book was written years before it was actually published so there is a bit of change in style between the first and the second book. Apparently some continuity errors slipped in as well (something Erikson's book suffer from if you care about such details). Many of the elements in this first book will return in later volumes. The structure of the books remains more or less the same. Erikson takes his time to set up the story and then works towards a huge climax.

    Did that actually help you decide? ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your comment , Val :-)

    You have helped me understand more about both series, and that helps a lot.

    You also gave me several points I am going to take into consideration when making my final decision :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have read ten of the Wheel of Time books and, as you know, I'm working through the Malazan books slowly for the Tor Re-read of the series. I like both, but for very different reasons.

    The Wheel of Time is very traditional fantasy (this isn't to say bad, by the way!) whereas Malazan is gritty and dark and presents a grim view of a world at war.

    The humour is way better in the Malazan books and the women are written realistically.

    The world building in both is superlative - seriously - and both series have extremely memorable characters.

    Malazan gives you more WTF? moments. You have to pay attention. Tiny snippets in early books become extended plotlines in later books. I did once equate the series to eavesdropping on characters having a conversation, where you only gets bits and pieces of history and never experience any info-dumps to help you out. Having said that, the Wheel of Time presents its own challenges, trying to keep in mind minor characters who step to the fore at a later stage.

    What I will warn is that, in both cases, the first books are NOT all that representative of the rest of the series. Gardens of the Moon was, as Val said, written about ten years before Erikson wrote the rest and it shows. The writing is more clunky and he hasn't quite smoothed out the format and how much information to give the reader. The Eye of the World was quite Tolkien-esque, and is quite simplistic compared to the rest of the Wheel of Time.

    I'm not helping much either! Both series are brilliant, seriously, and deserve a read. Do one this year and one next year. Selfishly I would encourage Malazan this year because you can use the Tor Re-read (and my experiences as a brand new reader to the series) to help you along :-D

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks, Amanda :-)

    I'm going to get one series this year and one next year, without a doubt.
    And it helps to know that these two series don't go "Sword of Truth-shaped" later :-)

    Looks like this could be a difficult choice.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You could just use a library to check both out for free due to your budget.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yes, I could. I did that with the Sword of Truth series. And although it took a while due to only being able to order one book at a time (, because of not knowing if you have to wait when ordering from other libraries and no loan extensions,) that is definitely a solution for those with limited budgets.

    But in this case I already know I want to own these books, and that I only want to take on reading one series this year, so I asked for help deciding which series to get first.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'd go for the Malazan Book of the Fallen, hands down, no contest. Aside from all the points brought up by the people who responded before me, there's also the fact that even die-hard fans of WoT will probably admit that the series has a huge slump towards the middle, starting at book 6/7/8 depending on who you ask. The Malazan books keep putting fresh perspectives, fresh story-lines, surprising twists, new layers with every book. There's no slump. You actually get the idea that Erikson could have written 20 books instead of 10, and you still wouldn't know everything. In terms of world-building, it's on a whole new level, compared to almost any other fantasy series out there. It's challenging at times, but entirely worth it.

    Disclaimer: I'm of course a bit biased - I'm the person who pitched the Malazan re-read to tor.com and was asked to host it with Bill, but had to drop out right when we were getting started because of personal issues early last year. So I'm obviously a big fan! :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I enjoy WoT for what it is, but Amanda tagged the stuff that bothers me about it. It's very traditional, and while that's not bad, it also is rather tired to me. The women in WoT are just annoying and not very realistic. That being said, it's a worthy series to read and really branches out into an interesting story in later books (though it REALLY starts to suck toward book 9 - thankfully Sanderson, from what I've heard, has revived it).

    I'm a Malazan fan hands down. Book 1, and to a lesser extent, book 2 are hard to understand because Erikson kind of throws the reader into the middle of the conflict and lets you sink or swim at will. Book 3, however, is one of the best books I've ever read in my life. That series is... it's just mind blowing.

    Anyway, interesting project.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you Stefan and Sarah for weighing in with your thoughts :-)

    Looks like Malazan has taken an early lead. But I must say that all your comments so far has made me excited about reading both series.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I don't actually have any new points to make, as they've been eloquently made by the posters before me, but I wanted to throw in my vote for the Malazan too, because it's just such an amazing series!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for writing this post! I haven't read either of these series, and have been wondering which to start first, and whether or not I should start them. I've been sent the 12th and 13th of the WoT series, but because I've not read anything else, I was rather torn as to what to do.

    A lot of people have suggested reading the Malazan books over WoT. I think I shall start with Malazan (although, I've got George R R Martin's to read, too).

    Also, I thought Magemanda's comment about realistic women was interesting - I've been finding realistic women rather absent in much of the fantasy I've been reading of late. Is this just me? (I feel a blog post coming on...)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I have not read Malazan, but have heard a lot about it. WOT is much more lighthearted, a more fun read from what I understand. It does have the slump in the middle, yes, but Brandon Sanderson definitely has brought new life to it, and the last two books with him have been astounding. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'll put my vote towards Wheel of Time. Yes, it is more traditional fantasy but I love the characters, the world and the magic system. It's not flawless but I have not found any other fantasy series which grips me the way Wheel of Time does.

    However, Malazan books are also phenomenal but in different ways. I found them to be quite a bit of a harder read. There was a couple of years between when I finished the second book and when I started the third book and I found that I had forgotten who a lot of the characters are. I put aside the third book for when I have time to first reread the first two.

    So, although my vote goes for Wheel of Time Malazan is awesome and I definitely intend to finish the series when I have more time.

    I feel along with you about the budget. I've found quite a few books at thrift stores for a couple dollars a piece so you might want to check that out.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have never read this Malazan series so I'm really biased here :)
    I think you will find this decision comes down to your personal tastes, As will your opninions of the later books.
    So points on WOT:
    Yes TEOTW starts very tolkenesque, but it doesn't stay that way.
    Pay attention to everybody and everything, oh and everything everybody says. There is massive amounts of foreshadowing and world building happening all through the series. If your just racing through you will miss some important things.
    There is that slump in the middle, it helps if you think of whichever book your finding difficult as an extension of the last one, or a bridge between it and the next rather than a book in its own right. Crossroads of Twilight was that book for me.
    I've loved this series since I first picked it up, It's easy to get immersed and involved in it.
    Also, Magemanda, Tor has a WOT re-read going on as well :)
    Now I am off to find out more about these Malazan books.

    ReplyDelete
  15. The important part is not to establish which one is "better", but describe factual differences.

    WoT is much more accessible and readable for a vast public. It is a more straightforward and traditional narration that starts with adventure, then gets more interesting and different, but also more dispersive and with the pacing slowing down to a crawl (of minutiae).

    Malazan is more ambitious and experimental. Despite the sheer awesomeness of some scenes can appeal a vast public, these are more a mean than an end. A less conventional writing style harder to get into and appreciate, and heavy on symbolic meaning, with the consequence that it requires the reader to adapt to it, for example doing characterization almost completely through dialogue instead of description. Demands more to the reader. The scope keeps expanding and tackles some deep human themes.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Some would probably say I'm hopelessly biased on the subject, but I will honestly say that, though WoT and Malazan are very, very different in approach, I haven't read anything that compares to either in sheer depth. Even GRRM doesn't really step into that arena in his four-so-far series, though he is often lumped in by virtue of the 'epic' or 'high fantasy' tag and the shared fanbase.

    As was noted above by others, each has a unique type of depth, but both require more than one read to really have a clue what's going on. And this is where I tend to diverge and suggest to pretty much everyone that they start with WoT. Part of the reason for that is that WoT is designed to be compelling and engaging on surface read - that is, the first read, always for pure enjoyment rather than delving into the many nuances. On re-read, even the most observant of first-readers will have an entirely different experience, but you will not get lost on first read unless you have to wait years between books.

    The same is true to an extent for Malazan - if you don't have to wait a year or more between books, then you should be able to keep up to an extent, but I just feel that it's to a much lesser extent. Part of the reason for that is that Malazan was intentionally designed to be more of an extended RPG session than typical High Fantasy story. The apparent goals of the story are vague and uncertain, and most of the depth of the story is buried in the world-building details, and the interconnectivity is buried fairly deep for the most part. It is still an engaging read, but in many ways it is a struggle.

    Taking a few steps back, others have commented on the WoT books that are considered to be slow, which is generally agreed to be around books 8-10. In that sense, WoT is a struggle for some, but I believe that the hardest part about those books for the engaged fans was the 2-3 years of wait in between them. And the cliffhangerish endings of 8 and 10 in particular (the ending of book 9 was much more satisfactory for most).

    In retrospect I think a lot of fans realize that those books were a bit like the eye of the storm, a period of relative inaction where RJ laid the trails for several converging plotlines that come to fruition in Brandon's books. Brandon gets a lot of credit from the fanbase for stepping up the pace, but he repeatedly insists that it was planned this way by RJ. Supposedly, RJ was going to do in one book what Brandon is doing in three, but RJ was terminally ill when he made the 'one more book' decision. Some speculate that RJ would have done it in four or more, but many fans feel that the one remaining volume can't possibly be enough to finish it all, and think Brandon should split the 'last book' once more.

    (more - I wrote too much)

    ReplyDelete
  17. There are many reasons why I enjoy WoT more than Malazan, and probably the biggest reason lies in the interlocking details of WoT. In Malazan, the approach tends more toward vague hints of interconnectivity that might or might not actually be significant, and in the end I feel that this approach gives the author a great deal of leeway when it comes to continuity. RJ's greatest accomplishment IMO is that he allowed himself very little leeway in this department, and his success is I think unparalleled when it comes to creating a masterfully complex world and plot. His parallels to real world legends, all intermeshed logically and deliberately, the various foreshadowings and prophecies and red herrings...I haven't read anything that comes close to that level of genius and complexity, aside from Malazan. And again, I feel that Malazan falls short.

    Here is where I add the disclaimer that I've only read Malazan once, and I haven't read the penultimate volume yet despite having bought it when it came out. I need a re-read. So it's quite possible that there is a whole world of complexity in Malazan that I am missing, and hopefully one day I will have the leisure to explore the question personally (probably after WoT is done), but when I was current in terms of spoilers, I did not see much sign of it on the Malazan discussion forums (I have been a member there for years, though I have always posted more on the off-topic forums than in book discussion).

    Finally, I'll address the issue of characterization in case you are a character-driven reader. Both WoT and Malazan probably get more complaints in this department than any other books I can call to mind, and for totally different reasons.

    Many find the characters of Malazan to be rather uncompelling for the most part. I know many people who were never able to get into the books (despite making it to 3 or 4 or so) because of a total lack of empathy with the characters. Part of that is simply the fact that each book takes place in a new setting with completely new characters for the most part. The most compelling characters in the first few books are rarely seen while the story visits people that we're not sure we care about at all. One woman I know quit reading after book one due to what she calls 'the eight fatal words' - that is, 'I don't care what happens to these people.'

    That being said, many obviously feel differently about the Malazan characters. Some find them to be more realistic, as was noted above (though I don't really find the women to be necessarily more realistic than they are in WoT, since SE seemed to make an extra-special effort to unisex his world, which hardly reflects reality. More egalitarian? Yes...but not more realistic). Some of the characters are quite compelling in my opinion, but often it seems that the story is not about these people for the most part. That is, of course, because the story is so far-ranging, and the number of 'important' characters is high, and in the early books these 'important' characters are very spread out and often unfamiliar with each other. Of course, in later books they come together in interesting ways (and I am looking forward to having the time for a re-read so that I can see how they come together in books 9 and 10).

    (even more)

    ReplyDelete
  18. WoT characters get criticism mostly because while they are intended to be realistic, they are also intended to be caricatures. They have some very ridiculous recurring quirks (though I feel those quirks aren't really detracting), and they often behave in very stereotypical and/or exaggerated ways. The topic of gender relations in WoT is also a hot one, and many feel that the women in particular are the product of a misogynistic mind. I disagree (because RJ designed the world to reflect its own history, which puts the women in a rather unique position that should not be expected to reflect our world), but I can see how others might come to that conclusion.

    WoT and Malazan are both pretty prudish when it comes to sexuality for the most part, but WoT is undeniably very sexually charged in many ways, most of them quite subtle. For example, one of the facts introduced in the beginning of the first book is that the male half of the One Power is tainted, meaning that it is only safe for women to use. So, all of the magic-wielding women rule the world (more or less) from a huge White Tower, built on a river island called Tar Valon, which suspiciously resembles female genitalia. Quite clearly, this is intended to be a rather huge joke.

    So, many people read the caricaturish behavior of the characters, and ask themselves, 'Really? Is he serious?' And the answer to that question is, 'No, not really.' RJ's approach to gender relations (from the perspective of his generation and his upbringing) is largely intended to be humorous. He mocks our own cultural conditioning, his own cultural conditioning, on a continual basis.

    I've rambled a bit more than I intended to. Hopefully some of that was helpful. :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Okay, so I forgot to address the question of whether the respective first books are representative of the whole. I feel that TEOTW is far more representative of the series as a whole than GOTM is, though the later books get more involved and complicated in both cases. The really fantastic thing about TEOTW is that most of the major events of the series are foreshadowed in very innocent ways in the book. I'm doing a re-read blog at the moment (feel free to check it out when you're done to get the expert experience after only one read! - but each post is full of spoilers for the entire series) and there is quite a lot to cover in TEOTW because of that amazing level of foreshadowing. It's a testament to the fact that RJ had his plot intricately planned from the very first book. But again, my opinion on Malazan is inherently inferior to the opinion of those who have read it more than once.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Malazan.

    Nuff said.

    That series will always kick WOT for quality.

    ReplyDelete
  21. nutter terez -_-

    ReplyDelete
  22. Malazan has Undead space velicoraptors with swords for arms.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Well, minus the "space" part, that is actually a pretty dang good description of the K'Chain Che'Malle.

    Malazan combines an epic sense of scale, coupled with believeable (if not always likeable :P) characters, to form a nice sense of balance.

    Yes.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Malazan all the way!
    But i would say this off the subject

    1) Heroes die, acts of caine series
    2)Malazan
    3)Abercrombie
    4)legends of red sun (charan newton)
    5)GRRM
    6) Prince of nothing
    7)monarchies of god
    8)night angel
    9) mistborn
    10) masterlee series(funny :) but it is not epic)
    11)kushiel's legacy
    12)iron angle - alan campbell
    13)stephen hunt- court of air
    14)sarantine mozaic GGKey

    ReplyDelete
  25. I used to be a huge WoT fan, but will still see the series finished... but Malazan all the way. Erikson's series has this whole world and it's history fleshed out in a way that I've only seen in one other author: Tolkien. And despite the sheer size of the novels, each scene either advances the plot or reveals something about the characters or the history. By contrast, there is alot of dead weight in the Wheel of Time.

    The Malazan series is by far the closest to making it feel like an epic world shattering event is happening. And he also makes it feel like a world made up of multiple continents and many, many different peoples and races and creatures all with their own histories and gods.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Malazan all the way. I have read the Malazan series twice and am currently on my 3rd reread of the WOT series, this time with the aim of finishing it all at once provided the last book comes out in early 2012. Having read so many other fantasy and SF works since starting the WOT in the early 90s, it really is amazing how bad it now seems to me. It had such potential but I feel like I am continuously wading through vast chapters of utter crap to get to a scrap of relevant storyline. Im midway through book 8 at the moment and am seriously considering just stopping or maybe just reading a summary of the next few books so I can reach the point at which the series is supposed to come alive again. I cannot understand how RJ released such nonsense, continuously rehashing the same inane nonsense about men vs women and women glaring at women and smoothing of skirts and tugging of braids....

    Anyway, Malazan series is second to none, so vast and complex and rewarding. WOT if you like being mind numbingly bored for vast periods

    ReplyDelete
  27. Malazan no doubt. I have been telling my friends and fellow admirers of fantasy that this enormous series is indeed postmodern. That other than the subject matter, Erikson has more in commone with say David Foster Wallace and Thomas Pynchon rather than GRRM, Sanderson and Jordan. Myself being a lover of literary fiction first with SFF coming in at a close second, I couldn't have asked for a better combination. By far the Malazan series is the best thing I have ever read.

    Over the years I have heard many people express their discouragement that Gardens of the Moon was just too difficult to get in to, thus ending their experience before they even gave it a shot. That Erikson leaves the reader high and dry right from the start and never lets up going forward. While from a stripped down basis I agree with this, it is also why I love this series so dearly. When I started the series it was like a shock wave of ideas came at me. It was like I was reading a complete reinterpretation of how fantasy could be written. It was fresh, new, insightful, well choreographed and finally it was brilliantly written. No longer did I have to rely on the normal tropes, such as the naive farmboy that knows nothing about the world he lives in, thus needing infodumps to tell him and the reader as to what was going on. Instead Erikson let us figure all of what we needed by simply paying attention and reading with a keen eye. Erikson respects his audience enough to know that we are capable to traverse his world without being held by the hand. It changed the whole paradigm from which I came.

    The best thing I can tell people who are uncertain about the series or like I said started then stopped about 100 pages in, is that you have to throw everything you know about fantasy out the door and really let yourself be open to new approaches. You have to go into it with the thought that you probably will not know what the hell is going for the first quarter of Gardens of the Moon. But if you can get past those anxieties you will come to realize that about half way through answers and understanding start to seep through. You will start to realize that instead of Erikson writing clunky infodumps just to please the audience, he has instead sprinkled an ever increasing amount of information through very natural devices, natural conversations, and natural actions. Now not all of them are obvious and it takes someone who is willing to make good observations. I will not deny that Erikson is challenging because he is, very much so. But if you are willing to go for it the rewards are vast and most will come to realize something very important to the genre has been written here.

    And on one final note to those who quit or do not want to start. If no matter what I or others say you still cannot get past the first book there is still an alternative, and that is book 2, Deadhouse Gates. Deadhouse Gates is more of a complete straightforward book that at the same time retains the originality I have just discussed. It focuses on all of Erikson's strengths and uniqueness while still being able to tell a story most would understand. And the best thing about it is that one can read book 2 first without reading book 1, they have some of the same characters but are different stories. I give this advice to a lot of people. I tell them to read books 2 and 3, in which case after they finish it they will have a great idea as to whether or not they should continue. And after reading 2 and 3 they can always go back to Gardens of the Moon and they will probably have a greater understanding why it is so good.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Just today, I came up with the slight dilemma on which series to read first.

    I've checked other websites as well, searching for "Top Series", and Malazan always comes up higher than WoT.

    With help from Google, your blog came up and just "solidified" the choice for me!

    Thanks again for putting this up!

    ReplyDelete
  29. I was facing a similar dilemma about a year ago, and after reading the comments here I decided to read Malazan first. An incredible series, some of the best stuff I've read anywhere, in any genre. Yeah I was totally lost at the start of Gardens of the Moon. I think I read the first 2 pages about 3-4 times, scanning the map for the places being mentioned and not finding any of them. Had no idea what I was in for. By the time I got to the 4th or 5th volumes I was just blown away-- everything hung together, the author had clearly planned so much of this in advance. I never felt as though he was making it up as he went along, which is so critical. The quality didn't quite hold up through the end, but that doesn't mean it wasn't an awesome read.

    So now I find myself starting Wheel of Time. I just finished Eye of the World, and have mixed feelings. It's a fun read, but overall a shallow one. Characters are largely caricatures compared to the development in Malazan. And there are so many things lifted from other works. People have complained about the length expositions and descriptions, but I actually have the opposite complaint. A lot happens in this book, but many of the climactic episodes are presented with almost no detail. I couldn't help thinking that a better author might have spent an entire novel on the events in Fal Dara, while in this novel things just happen, events fly by, and we're never really given much of a sense of place, history, or personality. Still reading, but not loving it nearly as much as Malazan...

    ReplyDelete
  30. I have read both series and the Malazan series is much better overall than the Wheel of Time. The charaters are much better developed I really enjoyed Erikson's writing. Malazan books are like reading an adult based novel and all of them were a great read. WoT are like reading teen based novels.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I started reading Fantasy with The Sword of Truth. My family was in the middle of a cross-country move, and being stuck in the back of a Ford Explorer with barely enough room to scratch my behind, I needed something to do. My mom actually printed out the first 5 books from some website (not sure where she got them, or even heard of them) for my younger brother. He was your typical Sci-Fi/Fantasy kid... although he wasn't a big reader. More Warcraft 2, drawings, and computers. But I digress.

    The Malazan series (I started with the Crimson Guard novels from Esslemont) has been one of the best I've ever laid hands on. But I really only wanted to comment to point you in the direction of Glen Cook's Black Company series, which was AMAZING. Hands down the best Fantasy I've ever, ever read. But that's just from me. It was my style all the way. It's narrated by the company Annalist, and Murgen (who picks up the job after some bad assery) was by far my favorite. The whole time I felt completely entrenched in the story. That, and maybe Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy. Also a great read.

    These are all similar magic and war novels. But again, I'm off track. I never finished the first book in Wheel of Time. So I don't have much to say about it. It wasn't my style... reminded me a lot of R.A. Salvatore's books featuring Cadderly. (A side note, I am a huge Salvatore/Drizzt fan).

    In conclusion. I've already forgotten what my point was. Malazan > WoT, in my humble opinion. But please, please, check out The Black Company when you get a chance. BTW I can't wait until you get into the Crimson Guard books. Amazing characters, there.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Perhaps Spoilers Ahead

    I have read WoT up to the half of book 4 Shadow Rising and i must say that i cannot go furthermore. I have seen the many threads that say how wondrous a series WoT is etc... but i can find no justification for those claims. In my(humble opinion) the series can be hardly qualified as mediocre at best, both from fantasy and literature aspect. In short not only RJ's world is a not so subtle imitation of a dozen other fantasy works - don't look at me TrollOrc, three peasant boys Frodo and company, prophecy of the final battle etc (that i'm willing to ignore) - but the esteemed author's writing skills are sadly lucking. Painful descriptions of painfully irrelevant shirts, trees, tugging of the braids... (those who have read it know).
    It is ironic therefore that when i put down WoT i found the courage to continue reading Deadhouse Gates which i could not complete in the first try. I must say that i was wholly satisfied at having read the book. Erikson's worlds is interesting and (what i most appreciate in fantasy) unique. The progressing of the story was much more logical (characters did not act based on a prophesy but bended the prophesy) and the description of the journey of Chain of Dogs was simply magnificent; reminded me of Κύρου Ανάβασις, Ξενοφών Cyrus Anabasis, Xenophon. Also as for literature skills i'll say that, when i read WoT not once did i search a word in translation (english is not my native language) in contrast with Malazan.
    So i suggest to anyone to read WoT only if he hasn't read fantasy series (or any book for that matter) before, whereas Malazan should be attempted by those with stronger will than mine. However once you complete the books you will know that it was worthy otherwise you will probably don't finish the book. :D

    That had i to say and i hope WoT fans don't raid my house

    ReplyDelete
  33. I know my response is out of date but here goes...

    Finishing up Malazan now and there have been some great moments but...

    You have no idea what is going on most of the time. As you read the series you will constantly ask yourself "Wait, what? Who is that? What did I just miss? Did I miss a whole book? What ever happened to?..."

    You will also want to pierce your eyes out with hot needles when Erikson gets all maudlin and overdramatic. This is because it simply isn't justified by the amount of character development or interaction. There is just too much going on to get as emotionally invested as the writer seems to think you should be.

    I am also not convinced that a lot of MBotF was not made up on the fly as evidenced by the continuity problems and a lot of unfinished business at the end of it all. I think he has a lot of his fans fooled.

    WoT... is entertaining. The problem is that the main characters are childish and sexist. The humor is childish. Half of what is going on I don't care about. The biggest problem with WoT though is that it feels like it is about 5 books too long. It is as if, at some point, the author consciously decided to drag it out.

    Oh, and that guy in WoT with the wolf-like sense of smell, can tell that you are concerned about your math test next week because you are not comfortable with Euclidian geometry, by the way you smell at this very moment. Yes, his sense of smell is THAT profound. It is nauseating.

    Read both. They are both "good" but both have flaws.

    If you have the time and energy to really concentrate on what is going on, pick MBotF, but be forewarned! If you want something a little more fluffy, pick WoT.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Just came across this post and despite the date and time stamp, I decided to add my two bits.

    I finished reading The Crippled God a couple of weeks back and finally managed to get my hands on Memory of Light, last book of WoT. I haven't started it, but I do hope to do so today.

    In order to actually appreciate the vast fantasy worlds these authors have explored, I would seriously suggest to start with Wheel of Time. As many people have noted above, Robert Jordan takes you in slowly and expands the world at a pace manageable by the reader. Also, the story is very interesting and the nature of magic is interesting as well. There are plenty of goods and bads about WoT, depending upon who the reader is what are his/her preferences, but one thing is for sure that the series is incredibly rich and you can feel connected with the characters (if you manage to ignore the constant braid tugging and all).

    Once you read WoT, only then can you really and actually appreciate Malazan Book of Fallen. This isn't your typical fantasy, in fact this isn't your typical story-telling style. Dropped into the middle with so many characters doing so many things with so much magic that you have no idea off and Gods and their hounds and soldiers, thieves, priests, immortals and what not doing stuff going every here and there with barely any person even described what he/she actually look like. It's like Erikson thought
    "**** looks and all that ****, I am going directly into the action"
    And that is what he did. The whole story line is one action packed punch for all those who have trudged along WoTs storyline, hoping to get past all the useless detail to know WHAT HAPPENED.
    As my friends often enquire what I am reading or my favorite books, WoT's name often come up. When they ask me what it is, I say to them
    "The author is so imaginative that a scene where a person enters a room simply to say there is someone waiting for you outside, takes at least two pages to utter those words"

    Without any doubt both work of fictions are great and each have their own strengths, but that doesn't belittle the other. There was a time when I thought there is no other story more indepth than Harry Potter. When I read WoT, I thought "WTF have I been thinking? This is incredible" and then I went on to read many other series, including Sword of Truth.

    Then, before the final movie of Harry Potter came out, I decided to read the novels once again to refresh it all in order to appreciate the movie. Surprisingly, I fell in love with Harry Potter once again. The world is different and the way it is explained and takes us through is very different as well. Although we only see it from Harry's eyes, the story is very personal.

    In WoT, we see it from various perspectives and get to appreciate the several viewpoints, from good guys as well as the bad guys.

    In Malazan we get to respect that no matter how great a person is, time will not halt for him or her. In the grand scheme of things, even if he is central, things will move on with or without him and maybe his own unwillingness is the cause of perpetual mess.

    All these books have deep meanings and my gradual climb from Harry Potter to Wheel of Time and finally to Malazan Book of Fallen (an apt title from non-other than once antagonist in the book series itself) allowed me to appreciate them all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Just came across this post and despite the date and time stamp, I decided to add my two bits."

      This post still gets a lot of hits, so it is far from dead. So if anyone else reads this, keep the comments coming, be assured people still read this post.

      @wasioabbasi

      Thank's for your input.
      -I'll do a follow-up post on this one of these days. But the short story is I have sort of grown out of 80s Fantasy, and WoT belongs in that category in my opinion. Nothing against Jordan, I really liked his Conan books, but I think he could have used a stricter editing hand on WoT. And I doubt I'll ever continue on WoT, there's just so many other books that I'll prioritize before them.

      Delete
  35. I read the Malazan series a while ago and is now in the middle of the final WOT.
    I think Malazan has some really interesting concepts and is in away much deeper and complex in its charachters. BUT, somehow the series eroded, introducing way too many people, gods and half-gods. Some people regard WOT being to simple, but it has something more catching in the plot. It is a more linear story. Malazan takes place in many parallell worlds and in different ages which loses some intensity for the reader.

    ReplyDelete
  36. First things first, I believe its something of a mistake to attempt a direct comparison between the two series of books as they're both distinctly different works of literature in their own right.

    I first read WoT when I was in my late teens and for the first half dozen books I completely devoured it. At the time and relative to my level of development and taste, the world was vast beyond imagining and the scale of the series really appealed to me. I felt like I was embarking on a huge literary adventure with the author.

    Sadly enough the above sensations seemed to wear a bit thin towards the middle of the series where I found things got somewhat bogged down and in retrospect I feel almost as if the series had grown to envelop a scope that the author wasn't entirely prepared or equipped to manage and floundered for a while, before solidifying his ideas and picking up on the home stretch peformance.

    The Wheel of Time was definitely an engaging read that filled a void in my written entertainment at the time and I came to possess a great deal of knowledge about the world and its going on. It drew me in and, despite some waywardness during the middle, I feel is a worthwhile read for anyone.

    The Malazan Book of the Fallen. Oh boy. I'll come right out and say it, sometimes this series of books makes me feel like an incompetent idiot. As previously stated, the series is very "Sink or Swim" and it starts out in a fashion that is so drastically divergent from basically any other series of fantasy books that it requires a pretty gigantic adjustment in the reader to continue reading and/or enjoy.

    I struggled early on with it. I was constantly re-reading parts of the first three books and felt like I was staggering down a corridor being buffeted from one set of characters to the next. It was almost a bit dazing.

    However, once I had adapted sufficiently to the utterly unique style of writing employed in these books, I thoroughly enjoyed them. I never once during the entire series felt like I had anything but a tenuous grasp on what was really happening and yet as time went by, this uncertainty and lack of knowledge, this being thrown into the middle of things with no backstory or explanation, the entire business of not having things fully fleshed out, of some sub-plots cutting off midstream with no closure, it all became fascinating and enjoyable. I still felt like an idiot, but instead of resenting it and wanting to burn the books, I now felt amazed at the sheer epic scope of the story being told (or half told) and the freedom that Erikson gave his readers to "think about this, or don't, as you choose I'm not going to do it for you" with so many of his inclusions and had the motivation to stop, think harder about things, go back and cross reference with earlier mentions, sit down and actually draw out my own little plot diagrams referencing character interactions and places and timelines. No other series has ever done this for me.

    As a brief aside, in reference to aforementioned continuity issues that arise in Erikson's books, I once read a response from the author that cited he has no problem with the idea of discontinuity in his books and that, whilst it was not consciously intentional, the fact that his books are the narrative of scores of different characters rather than that of a single omniscient entity, actually encourages the belief that these varying accounts don't match up with each other. Differing perspectives, recollections, memories and so forth.

    On the whole, the Wheel of Time was a good read at the time for me, but the Malazan Book of the Fallen has had a much more memorable impact on my experience as a reader, probably due to greater levels of maturity at the time of reading.

    Theyre both great works, but the mistake I see is in categorising them both as "Fantasy". This is true, but its also far too broad for an accurate assessment of both works.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This closely resembles my own experiences.

      Very well written. I commend you.


      Delete
  37. WoT is for boys, Malazan is for men.

    ReplyDelete
  38. what about asoiaf in comparison with malazan?..ive loved the asoiaf series

    ReplyDelete
  39. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete