Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson (A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen: Book 2)

9/10 Another fantastic, complex novel from Steven Erikson.

Deadhouse Gates continues the Malazan Book of the Fallen, a story begun in the wonderful Gardens of the Moon.

There are characters that are familiar to us from the first book of this series, Garden of the Moon. Kalam, Fiddler, Apsalar and Crokus have their stories further explored here and we are also introduced to new characters such as the excellent Mappo Runt and Icarium. These two newcomers must be arguably the best characters so far, and that against very stiff competition from Whiskeyjack and Quick Ben.

The House Paran plays a large part in this book again but this time it is in the form of the two sister Felisin and Tavore. Ganoes Paran was a main character in the first book but in Deadhouse Gates it is the two sisters, different in every conceivable way that burst into the narrative. Tavore is the new adjunct to the Empress, one of the most powerful positions in the Empire whereas Felisin has been exiled along with others of noble blood and sent to work in mines in a god forsaken place miles from her home. The plight of Felisin make up a substantial part of the tale and is very well written.

The quality of the writing in Deadhouse Gates is once again excellent and I guess one way to explain it would be to ask the reader to take the best parts of Robin Hobb and Stephen Donaldson and put them together and you would be left with Steven Erikson.

It was one thing to accuse the Empress of murder, it was quite another to predict her next move. If only they'd heeded my warning. Heboric winced as they shuffled forward, the shackles cutting hard against his ankles.
Deadhouse Gates: Prologue

The new characters are again well formed and easily identifiable, the older characters are further fleshed out and the Malazan Empire is further explored. The separate storylines are all interesting and converge as we near the end of the book.

This book is very, very good. Maybe not as good as it's predecessor due mainly to the overlong battle descriptions than can become rather laborious to read. That minor complaint aside, this is another fantastic book by Steven Erikson that further immerses us within the Fall of the Malazan Empire.

Mappo gently laid Icarum down in the soft sand of the sinkhole. He'd rigged a tarp over his unconscious friend, sufficient for shade, but there was little he could do about the stench of putrefaction that hung heavy in the motionless air. It was not the best of smells for the Jhag to awaken to ...
Deadhouse Gates: Prologue

'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, SFX

'Absorbing on a human level and full of magical sublimity ... fiendishly readable'
Adam Roberts,

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14 positive reader review(s) for Deadhouse Gates

155 positive reader review(s) in total for the A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series

Our interview with Steven Erikson

Steven Erikson's ongoing fantasy series, the Malazan Book of the Fallen has brought new life and originality into the fantasy genre. Steven Erikson kindly spoke to Fantasy Book Review in September 2009, shortly after the [...]

Read interview


Steven Erikson's A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series

Gardens Of The Moon

A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen: Book 1

Deadhouse Gates

A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen: Book 2

Memories of Ice

A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen: Book 3

House Of Chains

A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen: Book 4

Midnight Tides

A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen: Book 5

The Bonehunters

A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen: Book 6

Reaper's Gale

A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen: Book 7

Toll the Hounds

A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen: Book 8

Dust of Dreams

A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen: Book 9

The Crippled God

A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen: Book 10

Deadhouse Gates reader reviews

from India

Look, Deadhouse Gates has its flaws and I'm all for constructive criticism but I can't even begin to rationalize some of the negative comments over here. "All the characters wander across a desert for no reason".... Seriously? How much ignorance can someone project? There 4 groups of characters travelling across three separate deserts in the book, and all of them have their reasons. The first group is Felisin and company who are escaping from slave mines. The second group is the Chain of Dogs who are marching across half the continent to survive the rebels who are out to kill them. The third group is Fiddler and company who are searching for the azath house to reach malaz city. The firth group/duo is Icarium and Mappo. Now this is an interesting duo because Icarium wanders the continent in search for his forgotten past and Mappo constantly leads him astray in fear of Icarium awaking his rage which can destroy civilizations. Any 5th grader can discern their reasons for travelling across a desert.

from UK

Fuck Shrivatsa from India, fuck Allan from DK. Fuck Dave from Utah, fuck Matt from San Jose, fuck Tom from Columbus, Ohio; and fuck Ana from Philadelphia. Fuck. Them. All. Theirs are lies and lies and lies. I'm trying not to sound like a false prophet, a right-conservative fucked-up arse or a bureaucratic maniac sucked in a whirlpool of sedition, corruption and crisis. However, it doens't seem to help, does it?. But keep listening, truly. This is a serious statement. Deadhouse Gates is one of the greatest novel out there. The 9.8 rating of this site is slightly pessimistic, but nonetheless, anyone telling you that this novel is anything else but a titan achievement in recent fantasy literature would be a liar. A heretic. A soulless traitor. But... let's be realistic. Of course there is no novel made for everyone's tastes. And just besides, not every reader has the cognitive prerequisites to understand and digest a work of such beauty and grandeur. In other words: Not everyone is intelligent enough. Steven Erikson is a master. The Malazan Book of the Fallen easily surpasses the Wheel of Time in epic and scope (words far too overused, sadly), as it overtowers the Song of Ice and Fire. (by about a foot; and no, I do not live in England) Currently, only Sanderson's Stormlight Archives show any sign of becoming a rival to the Malazan Saga. Deadhouse Gates may not be the greatest installment in the Book of the Fallen, but it is a great work indeed, marvellous, astounding, capital. Praise for Steven Erikson is in this maelstrom like wasted breath, but I do possess a certain need to crush the ignorants who do not understand these books under my feet like vermin, rather to pity them for their tiny brains. (Which would be a problem mostly occuring amongst Americans, logically and obviously) Cheers

from United Kingdom

The only reason this isn't a ten is because it's not the best book in the series. Not sure about other reviews complaining about character development as I love so many characters from this series. Maybe not as strong as A Song of Ice and Fire in that sense but the story is better. The scope blows it out of the water and there're far more characters in these books. The Chain of Dogs will live on in future instalments. If you enjoy this then Memories of Ice will blow you away.

from UK

Just a brilliant book. Incredibly moving and exciting from start to finish, Deadhouse Gates contains a number of fantastic set pieces and concludes several self-contained arcs whilst also laying pieces for much to come. Worth it alone for Iskaral Pust and the Malazan sappers.

from Sweden

Deadhouse Gates is a brutal and at times, utterly horrific read. At the story's core is the plight of a large number of refugees and Malazan soldiers attempting a seemingly impossible retreat from one city to another hundreds of miles away. But this thread, despite being the largest, is only one of many and we also catch up with the characters we first met in Gardens of the Moon as they follow the dangerous path of the soletaken, looking for ascendancy. This massive book (more than 900 pages) unveils more of Erikson's amazing world and magic system that, despite its epic fantasy nature, reads like real history.

from UK

I love the Malazan books but found this instalment the most difficult to get into. I have just completed it for the second time and once again struggled a little but was - as always - ultimately rewarded. There is great reward to be found in re-reading the Malazan series as much is missed and not understood during the first read. A fresh read and knowledge gained from finishing the series made me feel like I was on the inside this time rather a slghtly confused - but completely engaged - outsider. I recommend the Malazan series to all but would mention that this book was the one I found most difficult.

from France

Deadhouse Gates offers a stronger narrative than Gardens of the Moon, for one reason mainly : Erikson has stopped dividing his story in countless point-of-view characters. It was the big flaw of GotM, and the author, evidently, has been warned against this tiring technique. Less PoV, as much action, and a tremendous imagination: this second book is a lot better. Still, there is a lot of things unsaid, unexplained, and this reading is often frustrating (some deux ex machinas, some shortcuts, some flat characters...) But the tragic tone, the depth of the immersion and the terrific ending will make you forget all. Erikson has improved his writing, there's no doubt about that, and DG left me hungry for the following books.

from Canada

Why is it most of the negative reviews are from Americans?

from Cardiff, UK

Being in the late Autumn of my life I find my memory is not what it used to be, so trying to remember the names of all the characters, races, magic etc. made reading the first book in the series - Gardens of the Moon quite challenging. Deadhouse Gates is no less so and having read only 200 pages or so, decided to leave it in the drawer in work after suffering brain overload and thinking I'll read something easier on the brain, only to find I just couldn't wait to get back to it and try again. I'm glad I did! It's a damn tough read, with no spoon-feeding, it makes you think; and by the time you get to the last page, it makes you love it. Erikson IS the fantasy writer of this era; no-one comes close. I could be unfair and give it less than ten stars, but then that's probably my age that makes it hard going and unfair on Steven Erikson for such incredible writing and imagination.

from London

I highly enjoyed the book which I found an easier read than the previous one. Maybe because I'm nore used now to the way Steven writes. The only thing missing is a major event near the end for the readers to have a closure. It's not like the end is boring, but I expected something grander, like the ending of the first book. I will def get the next one of the series and keep on going...

from Newcastle

Amazing book! Couldn't put it down at all. Don't understand the comments complaining about lack of character development as I found every character perfectly explained and felt emotionally attached to each of them in their own way. The sheer scope is incredible and would and have recommended to many friends. Perfect book.

from Cumbria

One of the best books I've ever read.

from Edinburgh

Stunning, as good as the first book, possibly even better. It's a shame that some of the Bridgeburners are missing from the first book but I'm promised that they will reappear in Memories of Ice. Steven Erikson is my favourite fantasy author and this could turn out to be the best fantasy series that I have ever read.

from Rugby

A complex story, the dedication of Erikson is evident in his attention to detail, the history that he has built to accompany the Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen is as good as Tolkien's and more enjoyable to read. The book attempts to reach new highs all the time and this can sometimes make it hard to follow but if you take the time and effort and fully give yourself to the story then you will be richly rewarded.

9.1/10 from 15 reviews

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