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In the vast dominion of Seven Cities, in the Holy Desert Raraku, the seer Sha’ik and her followers prepare for the long-prophesied uprising known as the Whirlwind. Unprecedented in size and savagery, this maelstrom of fanaticism and bloodlust will embroil the Malazan Empire in one of the bloodiest conflicts it has ever known, shaping destinies and giving birth to legends.

604 pages, Hardcover

First published September 1, 2000

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About the author

Steven Erikson

93 books12.8k followers
Steven Erikson is the pseudonym of Steve Rune Lundin, a Canadian novelist, who was educated and trained as both an archaeologist and anthropologist. His best-known work is the series, the Malazan Book of the Fallen.


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,338 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
688 reviews46.1k followers
February 20, 2021
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4.5/5 stars

Coltaine, the Wickans, and the Chain of Dogs. Enough said.

People told me that when you’re starting Malazan Book of the Fallen, it’s mandatory to read at least two or three books in the series before finally deciding on giving up on the series. One of the main reasons behind this is that Deadhouse Gates is considered one of the strongest installment within the series by the fans after Memories of Ice and The Bonehunters. Now that I’ve read Deadhouse Gates, I finally understand why people insist newcomers on continuing to the second book first. However, please do check your expectation. Despite how much I loved this installment, I’m actually slightly disappointed with how it turns out; more detail on this further down below.

Picture: Deadhouse Gates by Marc Simonetti

Deadhouse Gates is the second book in The Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Unlike your typical sequel, this felt more like a standalone sequel featuring almost a completely new set of characters in a totally different continent with a brand new self-contained main story. The story of the book revolves around the rebellion in the Seven Cities; the setting of the first book was in Genabackis. Although this installment felt denser to read—it also has 70k more words—and arguably more complex than Gardens of the Moon, in my opinion, the narrative was more unputdownable than its predecessor. Erikson sang his dark chorus to color the tone of the book with a bleakly crimson tone; his melody of doom never ceases to expand. If you’re in the mood for a hopeful book, this isn’t the time for you to read this one. Deadhouse Gates is a much darker book in every possible way compared to Gardens of the Moon. I honestly feel like this book can be described as a gradual descent into palpable despair and madness.

“Children are dying."
Lull nodded. "That's a succinct summary of humankind, I'd say. Who needs tomes and volumes of history? Children are dying. The injustices of the world hide in those three words.”

My experience of reading this book—especially on reread—was much better than reading its predecessor; I loved it. In Gardens of the Moon, I felt invested only in a few of the characters, but Erikson has delivered what I wanted with the characterizations here. The characterizations were superb; they felt more fleshed out, and their dialogues were great. Although almost all the characters featured in Deadhouse Gates are new—with only a few characters from the first book being featured—to the series, but the new characters—whether you love or hate them—were so damn engaging and compelling to read. We have Icarium and Mappo’s friendship, the complex Felisin, and the best of them all, Duiker’s storyline. Duiker’s POV chapters were easily the best part of the book for me, and anyone who has read this book will definitely know why. Spectacular character developments aside, it was because of the new character inclusion: Coltaine. Without spoiling anything for you, all I can say is that there’s no way you won’t be inspired by Coltaine’s actions. It is very intriguing to me that Coltaine, like Anomander Rake, didn’t even have a POV chapter, and yet he managed to completely steal the spotlight. For the majority of the time, we followed Coltaine’s journey through Duiker’s perspectives, and you know what? That’s totally okay with me. Similar to Duiker and Coltaine’s soldiers, I’m content with being left in awe and astonished at the superhuman feat he’s doing with his Chain of Dogs. The gradual loyalty and respect he achieved through his actions were unforgettable. Actions speak louder than words, and Coltaine proved that elevenfold.

“It is one thing to lead by example with half a dozen soldiers at your back. It is wholly another with ten thousand.”

I’ve mentioned in my Gardens of the Moon review that the climax sequences felt anti-climactic, especially after having such an epic scope to the overall book. However, by Hood’s gates, Erikson’s battle sequences in Deadhouse Gates were bloody awesome and intricately written. Erikson hasn’t shown his capability to write close-quarter combats yet, but when it comes to grand and epic scopes confrontations, he’s top-notch at it. The rain of mayhem, the vivid bloody carnage; it felt like watching an inevitable avalanche happening in real-time. I’m just utterly amazed by the maelstrom of sorcery and the calamity that occurred.

Honestly speaking, I had one minor issue with the book, a few plotlines in the book that involved ships were sluggish for me to get through. However, the main reason why I didn't enjoy this installment as much as I hoped was due to being spoiled. Fans of the series constantly told me that there was one powerful scene in Deadhouse Gates that will break my heart and soul; this didn’t happen to me because I’ve been spoiled on the event itself in detail, MULTIPLE times. Not only that, but it also distracted my reading experience because I can’t stop thinking about the event itself. Thank you to the “extremely knowledgeable fans” for spoiling me even though I didn’t ask any questions. Some Malazan fanatics seriously deserves an award for being the biggest assholes; they lived up to their reputation for shoving their Malazan knowledge down people’s throat without people asking. “Oh, you didn’t ask for spoilers? I’ll still force it down your throat, boy.” Let me say this, I absolutely don’t care about your understanding or knowledge of any series if you’re going to spoil my reading experience. I’ve mentioned this countless times, spoilers have the potential to ruin a reader’s experience. For newcomers to this series, I suggest that every time you see the word Malazan in any kind of discussion, immediately scroll through them. Trust me, most of the time, there will be unasked and unmarked spoilers. Also, DO NOT CHECK the cover art for Deadhouse Gates Subterranean Edition or the Spanish edition. The art director was so ignorant of spoilers that they decided to make sure the cover depicts the most impactful and the biggest event of the book. Genius.

“The lesson of history is that no one learns.”

Overall, though, despite my rant on some of the fanatics of the series, I do have to give the benefit of the doubt to Steven Erikson because even though my reading experience was downgraded due to spoilers, the content of the book was hauntingly vivid, brutal, and memorable. Deadhouse Gates is a truly stunning and bloodily bleak sequel. Erikson didn’t hold back with his punches, and I envisioned any newcomer to this book will definitely feel heart-wrenched and mesmerized. I will continue immediately to Memories of Ice, a book that’s been acclaimed by the fans as the best or the second-best installment of the series, and I certainly hope I’ll feel the same about it.

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Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,538 reviews9,967 followers
January 24, 2019
Reread - I just realized I’m in love with Kalam too. He can be my brother husband with Rake 😉

The prologue was cray!

But I had fun with Fiddler in chapter 1 😂

Kalem's laugh rumbled from where he sat at the tiller. "Fiddler and water don't mix, lad. Look at him, he's greener than that damned monkey of yours"

A sympathetic snuffling sound breathed against Fiddler's cheek. He pried open one bloodshot eye to find a tiny, wizened face staring at him. "Go away, Moby," Fiddler croaked

Then they got chased by a crazy shapeshifting creature that looked like a big centipede!

Fiddler scrambled to the stern, crouching down beside Kalem. The assassin straightened to face the dhenrabi, one hand on the tiller. "Soletaken! Be on your way--we care nothing for your passage!"

I shall be merciful when killing you. The creature rushed the barque from directly astern, cutting through the water like a sharp-hulled ship. It's jaws opened wide.

"You were warned," Fiddler said as he raised the crossbow, aimed and fired. The quarrel sped for the beast's open mouth. Lightening fast, the dhenrabi snapped at the shaft, its thin, saw-edged teeth slicing through the quarrel and shattering the clay ball, releasing to the air the powdery mixture within the ball. The contact resulted in an instantaneous explosion that blew the Soletaken's head apart

Then they talked for a minute and

Fiddler shrugged. "So . . . nothing. Just that." He spat again over the side and slumped down. "The excitement made me forget my seasickness. Now the excitement's faded, dammit."

The one thing I really didn't like about this book is that Rake wasn't in it. And YES, I know he was over there and we were over here.

There were a lot of great characters in the book whether good or bad. But my all time fav was Fiddler! I just loved him.

There were some sad stuff. There always is in these books. But also in these books, people can be brought back! So who ever knows!!

I love Ralph Lister as the narrator because he can rock a book!! I did follow along in my physical copy for the most part. I did zone out on some things but it's okay, that's what re reads are for! 😄

Anyhoo, enjoyed it and that's all that matters.

Happy Reading!

Mel ❤️

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List

Profile Image for Samir.
111 reviews177 followers
November 12, 2018
"We are all lone souls. It pays to know humility, lest the delusion of control, of mastery, overwhelms. And, indeed, we seem a species prone to that delusion, again and ever again."

If you have read The Gardens of the Moon you are aware that it was a complex and somewhat perplexing read, that it had a colossal set of characters and that the unraveling the yarn of story threads was a tremendous reward. Deadhouse Gates follows those footsteps and delivers another monumental tale, a tale that will captivate you right from the beginning and take you on an epic journey you will never forget.

The story picks up right after the events of GotM but we are no longer on the continent of Genabackis, our journey in the Malazan world continues in the Seven Cities of the Malazan Empire.

The Empire is on the brink of rebellion, hanging in the balance of a long prophesied war, an uprising known as Whirlwind, led by the prophetess Sha'ik from the Holy Desert of Raraku, that will free the Seven Cities of the Malazan usurpers. Malazan forces are placed under the command of the legendary Coltaine of the Crow Clan of the Wickans, a warlord who once led a rebellion against the former emperor Kellanved. Events that follow are a part of the story arc named Chain of Dogs.

Chain of Dogs is on another level, it is so strong that it can be perceived as a book within a book. It is a powerful tale that vividly expresses all aspects of war, a tale with outstanding and unique battle sequences and aftermath which will ensure your emotional involvement. It is a capstone of Deadhouse Gates that thrives in delivering scenes of astonishing power and stunning imagery.

Meanwhile, familiar characters from the GotM along with a couple of new faces are on a personal quest of their own, providing more depth to the story and giving a wider scope to the plot whilst moving it forward. Storylines are interwoven in a rich tapestry of seemingly diverse threads, laid before us at the end of the book, as a sight to behold.

The immense detail of Erikson's world-building is sublime; history, culture, religion, artefacts, ruins and atmosphere are all equally represented elements of an intricate painting that is forming in our mind as we read along.

Erikson’s writing and humanizing of characters provokes a full spectrum of emotions. Characters are exceptionally written and they are the beating heart of this book, a heart that will synchronize with yours and form a strong, emotional bond which will affect your state of mind.

This is book is going to take a special place on my favorites shelf, and I will, of course, continue to immerse myself in the epic world of Malazan.

"We are not simple creatures. You dream that with memories will come knowledge, and from knowledge, understanding. But for every answer you find, a thousand new questions arise. All that we are has lead us to where we are, but tells us little of where we're going. Memories are a weight you can never shrug off."
Profile Image for Ira Perkins.
18 reviews38 followers
May 31, 2023
A book that is epic in both scope and narrative - but for me a book where the payoff of the destination, was not quite worth the effort of the journey....

Final Rating: 3.6/5 🌕🌕🌕🌗🌑

I wanted to love this, but overall it was a step down for me from The Gardens of the Moon. While they were both equally complex, I felt that there just wasn't as much of an epic ending in this book as there was in the first. Indeed, when people speak of the "epic ending" in this book I'm still not actually sure which part or storyline they're referring to. Which is never a good sign. That said, I'm still very keen to continue with the series and am just hoping that the next book in the series finally "clicks" for me :)


Plot Summary
"Deadhouse Gates", the second book in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, shifts the action to the continent of Seven Cities, on the brink of a holy rebellion known as the Whirlwind. The plot follows multiple characters, such as Felisin, a young noblewoman sold into slavery, and Kalam, an assassin with plans to kill the Empress. Among the most memorable plotlines is the journey of Coltaine, a Malazan commander guiding a host of refugees through hostile desert lands. The narrative balances numerous threads, diving deep into the rich history, culture, and magic of the Malazan world, culminating in a complex tale of survival and sacrifice.

““Children are dying."
Lull nodded. "That's a succinct summary of humankind, I'd say. Who needs tomes and volumes of history? Children are dying. The injustices of the world hide in those three words.””

Storyline: 2.5/5
When it comes to narrative, "Deadhouse Gates" is no doubt an epic. Erikson spins a yarn filled with countless characters, vast landscapes, and intertwining plotlines. Each storyline carries its own weight, and when they converge, the result can be pretty awe-inspiring. The Chain of Dogs plotline, for instance, is an emotional rollercoaster, a tale of courage and sacrifice that stands out amidst the narrative tapestry.

However, in this instance I found that the complexity of the narrative was a bit too much to handle. There are so many (new) characters and plots to follow that it feels like you're navigating a maze without a map. Erikson certainly doesn't coddle his readers; he expects you to piece it all together yourself. While some might appreciate this approach, I found it a bit overwhelming (even with the help of a readers guide). It often felt more like work than enjoyment to keep up with all the details and connect the dots.

I normally don't mind work in a fantasy book, indeed I kind of expect it as you get the world built out before you, so that it all culminates is some epic payoff. Seeing all those scattered puzzle pieces finally come together, witnessing the evolution of characters, and experiencing the climax of each storyline can be satisfying. But, at least for me, this book got that calculation off by a wide margin. The effort required to reach that payoff was just a too steep. And the narrative while there is certainly a narrative payoff, no doubt, the reward didn't make up for the complexity of the climb. I remember saying to myself through the first 600 pages, it'll be worth it in the end just keep going. Then in the final 200 I kept asking, when is the payoff going to get here? Then in the last 50, I realised that the small narrative climax I'd just passed was not a false peak, it was the actual peak ("Was that the AMAZING ending people that people kept telling me about?"). So in terms of scope, it's a narrative marvel for sure, but I couldn't shake off the feeling that a more accessible path to the payoff (or a epic ending similar to Gardens of the Moon) would have made the experience more enjoyable.

“The lesson of history is that no one learns.”

Characterisation: 3.5/5
I'm in two minds about characterisation in this book. The first part of me thinks that the characters in "Deadhouse Gates" are really out of this world in terms of how they're written - although many of them are very unlikeable. The second part of me though really disliked how we didn't get to follow on with the stories of characters from the first book, because Erikson decided to start a whole new slate of story lines. I think I get why he did it (and that he'll continue to do it throughout this series), but chopping and changing like that really isn't my cup of tea.

If I just look at the characters in "Deadhouse Gates" though, they truly are something else. Erikson rolls out a whole new cast, each with their own unique backstory and motivations. You've got characters like Fiddler, whose quiet determination just grabs you, and Felisin, whose heartbreaking transformation hits you right in the feels. Then there's my favorite, Kalam - he's this enigmatic, deadly assassin but with such a depth of character, he feels real. He's got this tough exterior, but underneath, there's a sense of loyalty and a quest for justice that makes you root for him. Even characters like Coltaine, who could've been just another tough, distant military guy, are way more layered and interesting than you'd expect. Erikson's characters might not all be likable, but wow, do they pull you into their stories. They bring this epic tale down to earth, making it personal. So, they're not just characters in a fantasy book; they feel like real people trying to make it through a seriously brutal world.

Kalam Mekhar

“What makes a Malazan soldier so dangerous? They’re allowed to think”

Writing Style: 4/5
Erikson's prose continues to be a standout. It's dense, lyrical, and often philosophical, offering profound insights into the nature of power, war, and human nature. His world-building is second to none, effortlessly combining elements of fantasy, history, and anthropology to create a unique and immersive universe.

Despite these strengths, the pacing can be uneven. Some storylines move at a brisk pace, while others seem to drag. The book also tends to lean heavily into grimdark territory, which may not be to everyone's taste. While I personally don't mind it, I'm sure some readers would also find the relentless brutality and cynicism exhausting - it certainly feels like the narrative is wallowing in its own misery sometimes.

“We are all lone souls. It pays to know humility, lest the delusion of control, of mastery, overwhelms. And, indeed, we seem a species prone to that delusion, again and ever again.”

World Building: 5/5
Now, let's talk about the world-building in "Deadhouse Gates". Man, is it something to behold. Erikson doesn't just create a world; he constructs an entire universe, overflowing with rich history, diverse cultures, and mystical elements that blow your mind. This book whisks us away from the familiar setting of the first installment and drops us onto a whole new continent with its own unique problems and tensions. It's like stepping into a whole new world within an already massive one. The attention to detail is crazy—you've got distinct societies, religions, even different systems of magic. But what really gets me is how Erikson weaves all these intricate details together to create a world that feels alive, chaotic, and just as messed up as our own.

“It is one thing to lead by example with half a dozen soldiers at your back. It is wholly another with ten thousand.”

Enjoyment: 3/5
There's no denying that it's an impressive book. Erikson's creativity and the sheer magnitude of his world-building had me marveling at the page. Characters like Kalam, who became my favorite, and the memorable Chain of Dogs storyline, added an engaging depth to the narrative. It's a rollercoaster of a read with moments of genuine awe and heartache. But, it's also a tricky beast. The complexity, while impressive, often felt overwhelming, pulling me out of the story just when I was starting to get into it. I found myself working harder than I'd have liked to keep track of everything. So while there were parts I really enjoyed, the effort required to fully appreciate this intricate tapestry took a toll on my overall enjoyment. It's a book that's rewarding to those willing to commit, but be prepared for the hefty challenge it presents. All said, "Deadhouse Gates" is an intriguing but demanding read that delivers a satisfying payoff, even if getting there can be a bit of a slog.

I'll definitely continue with the series, but I'm hoping that the next book (which appears to be the highest rated book of the series) will at least continue with one of the existing storylines and not jump to some different third continent.

Final Rating: 3.6/5 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌗

My favourite books of 2023 in preferential order
1. The Shadow of the Gods - (My Review)
2. The Lies of Locke Lamora
3. The Forgetting Moon - (My Review)
4. Kings of the Wyld - (My Review)
5. Red Seas Under Red Skies - (My Review)
6. The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World
7. Empire of the Vampire - (My Review)
8. Assassin's Apprentice - (My Review)
9. Golden Son
10. Leviathan Wakes - (My Review)
11. The Winter King - (My Review)
12. Gardens of the Moon - (My Review)
13. Deadhouse Gates
14. The Song of Achilles - (My Review)
15. Red Sister - (My Review)
16. Babel: An Arcane History - (My Review)
Profile Image for Choko.
1,221 reviews2,597 followers
March 19, 2022
*** 5+ ***

A second read with the FBR gang!

“Children are dying."
Lull nodded. "That's a succinct summary of humankind, I'd say. Who needs tomes and volumes of history? Children are dying. The injustices of the world hide in those three words.”

Second time around and although I knew what was going to happen, this time I had more emotional fortitude to catch all the little details without freaking out about the action... Strongly recommend this series to everyone!!!

*** 5 ***

A catch-up buddy read with the Grim-Dark Fantasy Fans @ BB&B!

I always write my reviews immediately after I finish reading a book, because I am not a literary reviewer, I am just a book addict who tries to save my overall​ impression of the story right away, while it is fresh in my mind. Having just finished this second installment in the Malazan Empire, I am feeling emotionally wiped out and physically exhausted... I don't believe I can do this work justice!

"..."We are all lone souls. It pays to know humility, lest the delusion of control, of mastery, overwhelms. And indeed, we seem a species prone to that delusion, again and ever again…”..."

There are countless amazing and informative reviews out there, and just as with my other favorite major Fantasy series, I will not even attempt to delve into the plot. The beauty of any Epic Fantasy is in committing yourself to follow the numerous timelines, the astounding amount of characters, and just as many plot-lines and settings, while putting together the pieces of this alien and imaginative world. A world imagined, but oh so real in the way it affects your soul!

"..."For all that scholars tried, Duiker knew there was no explanation possible for the dark currents of human thought that roiled in the wake of bloodshed.”..."

I have always thought of the Fantasy Genre as a canvas which gives you the freedom to reflect the best and worst of humanity in a way in which we can separate ourselves from the villains and try to emulate the heroes. We can see the character weaknesses and try to mold ourselves into something better... It is a genre so far away from us, but yet so close to our humanity, that it is more of a window to our core being only presented in a manner easier for us to swallow... I am well aware that Deadhouse Gates is a Grim-Dark Fantasy and not much is usually expected from the genre apart from blood, guts, and a ton of characters dying. And we have a ton of this here, but I experienced it as much more than that... Maybe I read to much into it, but this is what I feel right now.

"..."When I said ferocity I meant a miasma of chaos. But I will grant you that terror thrives equally well in order.”..."

To me, Steven Erikson, who has created this amazing world of layers of Humans, Elder and Newer G-DS, Ascendants, different Races varying in longevity and physiology, all set in drastically different continents and parallel realities with levels of Magical influence, has written an expose on the human capacity for self-destruction and inability to learn as a group from our previous experiences. Not only inability, but at times the willful ignorance of our history, which makes us victims to our worse nature in perpetuity...

"..."Mortality’s many comforting layers had been stripped away, revealing wracked bones, a sudden comprehension of death that throbbed like an exposed nerve.”..."

The devastation of war and seemingly endless feuds with enemies of long ago, the suffering of those who have no say in their Faiths, the helpless agony of the old, weak, poor, young, disadvantaged, and the seeking of even a temporary oblivion in hurtful ways are all strikingly and vividly portrayed starting with the first chapter... It sets the mood for the book until the end. Just when you think that the sustained pain and anguish have made you numb to it, the author finds more ways to strike at your heart and make you remember every dark moment of dispair you have lived through, just so you can at least partially empathize with a fraction of what the characters are going through. Although the visual effect of some of the more gruesome scenes were shocking, the moments which truly tore at my soul were the very few moments of fleeting vulnerability which were so masterfully placed in the seas of violence, that I don't believe I could ever forget them. I cried! I cried at 3 sentences which were so out of left field, that I could not even stop the tears streaming down my cheeks in order not to upset my housemates. Had to run to the bathroom and sob, wash up and give myself time to compose some semblance of normal upon my person. Having read the first book in the series, I was not prepared for the debt of emotion and substance this book had in its content. And I am grateful for every crumb of it!!!

"..."All those tomes you’ve read, those other thoughts from other men, other women. Other times. How does a mortal make answer to what his or her kind are capable of? Does each of us, soldier or no, reach a point when all that we’ve seen, survived, changes us inside? Irrevocably changes us. What do we become, then? Less human, or more human? Human enough, or too human?”..."

The other thing that really impressed me was having two Historians​ as leading characters. They were not perfect heroes, they were very much as normal as they can be under the circumstances, but boy, do their tales pack a punch! There were whole passages I wanted to quote, but it would be to much and I will encourage everyone who is a fan of Fantasy, Adventure or Military Fiction to find the time to devote to this series and discover it for themselves! It is very dense in prose so it needs some more concentration, but it is totally worth it!!! I can't wait to delve into the next book right away 🙂

"..."Such are memories in full flood. We are not simple creatures. You dream that with memories will come knowledge, and from knowledge, understanding. But for every answer you find, a thousand new questions arise. All that we were has led us to where we are, but tells us little of where we’re going. Memories are a weight you can never shrug off...."

Now I wish you all Happy Reading and may you always find what you need in the pages of a good book!!!
Profile Image for TS Chan.
719 reviews884 followers
February 6, 2020
For those who have read Gardens of the Moon and thought it was relatively tame for a grimdark fantasy series, Deadhouse Gates will change your mind. This sequel took the series to new heights and was also when I begun to wholly understand Erikson's opening quote in the debut. The grimness, violence and brutality in this book made me rethink of how I viewed A Song of Ice and Fire.

The events at the end of Gardens of the Moon saw the Bridgeburners splitting up, with the bulk of squad remaining on Genabackis with Dujek Onearm and Whiskeyjack to face the threat of the Pannion Domin. Meanwhile Fiddler and Kalam headed off to Seven Cities, where the Bridgeburners were forged, and which is on the brink of rebellion as the Seventh Year of Dryjhna, the Apocalypse, approaches. When the Book of Dryjhna is delivered into the hands of the Sha'ik, the spirit of the goddess will embody this prophetess and the Whirlwind together with the rebellion will rise.

Seven Cities portray a landscape of bleakness and despair that seem to seep into the very bones of this ancient civilization. Bones buried so deep and underneath so many layers of cities on top of cities that its very air evoked antiquity and the scent of a bloody history. Amidst this desolate backdrop, and echoing its refrain of grief, loss and regret were five different storylines moving in tandem across this sub-continent as well as the Holy Desert of Raraku. Two of these arcs eventually coincided with the endgame of reaching a gate where the convergence of a host of dangerous shapeshifters was taking place at the same time.

The subplots in Gardens of the Moon appear almost simplistic in comparison to Deadhouse Gates. Fortunately, the writing in this instalment was tighter that in spite of its numerous arcs the narrative was discernibly better and somehow flows more naturally between the different points of view. And while we have the familiar faces of Fiddler, Kalam, Crokus and Apsalar (formerly known as Sorry), we were once more introduced to a substantial number of new characters right from the Prologue. I will refrain from detailing every single subplot or new fascinating characters but instead highlight the ones which made this book so incredible for me.

Icarium, oh, dear friend, I can tell you nothing. My curse is silence to your every question, and the hand I offer as a brother will lead you only into deceit. In love's name, I do this, at my own cost... and such a cost.

The compassionate tale of Mappo and Icarium was one of unbending love and friendship that grew and solidified from a duty set upon the shoulders of the young Trell over a millennia ago. A duty that now seeks to protect a dear friend who is loved as a brother, from the very thing that he has been seeking for thousands of years; cataclysmic lost memories which may well be the undoing of this gentle and wise half-Jhag. Thus it was the search of such knowledge that brought this legendary pair to seek the gate located within the Holy Desert. The ferocity of Mappo's appearance belies his gentle nature and his regretful introspection was just simply heartbreaking.

The Chain of Dogs. Coltaine’s Chain of Dogs. He leads, yet is led, he strains forward, yet is held back, he bares his fangs, yet what nips at his heels if not those he is sworn to protect.

I didn't use to be a fan of military plotlines but my absolute favourite arc in this book was that of the Chain of Dogs. This was told from the POV of Duiker, an ex-soldier now Imperial Historian, who followed Coltaine, war leader of the Wickan clans and newly appointed commander of the Seventh tasked to save the lives of the Malazans from the Seven Cities rebellion. Coltaine’s Seventh and his Wickan clans trudged through the bleak, hot and dry sub-continent of Seven Cities for months under relentless pursuit from the army of the Apocalypse, with an unimaginably vast winding train of Malazan refugees under their protection that just keeps growing.

Duiker, as the Imperial Historian, was meant to record and later recount the events and as such, was many times placed close to the battles’ front lines to witness the brutal and momentous clashes. His ruminations on the savagery of war and the hopelessness of Coltaine’s mission painted a very harsh, cruel and tragic view. War and death just do not discriminate.

I’ll never return to the List of the Fallen, because I see now that the unnamed soldier is a gift. The named soldier – dead, melted wax – demands a response among the living.. a response no-one can make. Names are no comfort, they’re a call to answer the unanswerable. Why did she die, not him? Why do the survivors remain anonymous – as if cursed – while the dead are revered? Why do we cling to what we lose while we ignore what we still hold?

Name none of the fallen, for they stood in our place and stand there still in each moment of our lives. Let my death hold no glory, and let me die forgotten and unknown. Let it not be said that I was one among the dead to accuse the living.

The battle scenes were superbly written with impressive military and sorcery tactics. Erikson’s writing here has a cinematic quality that created breathtaking visuals of contrasting raw beauty and gruesomeness. To top it all off, the important characters in this arc were well-written and had me irrevocably and emotionally attached. Erikson has also yet again created a charismatic character that inspired reverence, in a way similar to Anomander Rake – a leader that was enigmatic, proud, extremely capable and honourable.

And that is, Coltaine.

At its core, the Chain of Dogs was a mighty tale of courage, loyalty, honour, compassion and dignity in the face of futility and hopelessness, and of betrayal of the highest order. The emotions that raged in me while reading ran the gamut from awe and empathy to utter sorrow and despair to stunned outrage and disbelief. This stupendously written storyline has a denouement that was probably among the most emotionally powerful ones I’ve ever read in any book.

With this I can say that from hereon, I’ve been ensnared by the chains of Malazan Book of the Fallen.

You can purchase the book from Book Depository (Free Shipping).

You can find this and my other reviews at Novel Notions.
Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
577 reviews884 followers
October 28, 2019
Epilogue: And I am knocked down to my knees. Or lower.

Chapter 24: Before you knock to the Deadhouse Gates, make sure you are ready for what awaits you there.*

Chapter 23: Again and again, we cling to the foolish belief that simple solutions exist.

Chapter 22: It is not the Empire’s soldiers the Empress cannot afford to lose, it is its memory.

Chapter 21: The roar from Aren's walls had stilled. Now only silence held the air. Let silence tell this tale. Coltaine.

Chapter 20: Hello Uncle Cotillion. Say hi to the good old barkeeper at Smiley’s.

Chapter 19: The Wickans! The Wickans! The Wickans!

Chapter 18: Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Adore who?
Adore to the deadhouse is between us. Open up!

Chapter 17: There are gifts, there’s this that must be earned and there is a big tasty lizard as a bonus.

Chapter 16: It occurs to me that sappers are Erickson’s absolutely favourite formation, and the captainless sapper squad is at least as awe-inspiring in their madness as the Bridgeburners.

Chapter 15: “Words were numbers were codes were formulae. Word her secret maps, the measuring of paces, the patterns of mortal minds, of histories, of cities, of continents, of warrens.”

Chapter 14: Please note that I knew it already in Chapter 3.

Chapter 13: Kalam, let me warren you: Never underestimate a woman in love on your trail.

Chapter 12: This frontline research and wartime participant observation beat any fieldwork I have ever done.

Chapter 11: Claws versus Talons, who do you bet for? A life given for a life taken. And another 1300 lives with eyes like love’s prism.

Chapter 10: unyielding avatars of the impossible. What a battle!

Chapter 9: Mud party. Or perhaps a mad party? Either way, the pain is eternal.

Chapter 8: Pleasures with attachments and powers unattached. I don’t know what is more dangerous.

Chapter 7: The quest for the broom - +10 to prophecy resilience! Beware of the god’s hand in the desert.

Chapter 6: Freedom won at the cost of everything is just another form of slavery.

Chapter 5: An “aha!” moment, but can I say with a smug that I have seen the shadow of this asencdancy already strolling through the gardens of the moon?

Chapter 4: A Kruppesque apparition with a circus of flying monkeys. Also, if writing replaces memory, then reading replaces feelings. Be warned!

Chapter 3: Felisin, I empathise, but an Otataral sword you are not. Only a victim of the apocalypse.

Chapter 2: This book takes us to a lovely land of fanatical dreamers where every meal could be your last and people smile only when they are about to kill you.

Chapter 1: Confused dot com. Who are these people? Wait, I don't care (except for Fiddler with whom I might run adopt a cat cafe).

Prologue: Knock, knock, knocking on Deadhouse Gates.

* I am not going to even pretend that I could in any way give a pale shadow of justice to this book or indeed a whole series in a proper review. There are many better than me, here on Goodreads (and many of those I'm lucky to have among my friends), who managed to grasp and convey the sheer brilliance of what awaits those who open the Malazan Book of the Fallen. All I can give you is a chapter breakdown of my own knocking at the Deadhouse Gates.

The Malazan Book of the Fallen:

1. Gardens of the Moon ★★★★★
3. Memories of Ice ★★★★★
4. House of Chains ★★★★★
5. Midnight Tides ★★★★★
6. The Bonehunters ★★★★★
7. Reaper's Gale ★★★★☆
8. Toll the Hounds
9. Dust of Dreams ★★★☆☆ (and the third star is a testament to my generosity)
10. The Crippled God ★★☆☆☆
Profile Image for Markus.
476 reviews1,565 followers
January 14, 2019
"Seven Cities was an ancient civilization, steeped in the power of antiquity, where Ascendants once walked on every trader track, every lost road between forgotten places. It was said the sands hoarded power within their susurrating currents, that every stone had soaked up sorcery like blood, and that beneath every city lay the ruins of countless other cities, older cities, cities that went back to the First Empire itself. It was said each city rose on the backs of ghosts, the substance of spirits thick like layers of crushed bone; that each city forever wept beneath the streets, forever laughed, shouted, hawked wares and bartered and prayed and drew first breaths and the last breaths that announced death. Beneath the streets there were dreams, wisdom, foolishness, fears, rage, grief, lust and love and bitter hatred."

The Whirlwind is rising in the Holy Desert of Raraku. In the heart of the continent of Seven Cities, Sha'ik the Seer prepares her people for the greatest and bloodiest rebellion in living memory. And the task of protecting and evacuating thirty thousand Malazan refugees falls into the hands of the Wickan warlord Coltaine, handpicked by Empress Laseen herself.

Deadhouse Gates was in most aspects every bit as good as the first book in the series. It was a bit boring on occasion, and could probably have benefited from being significantly shorter, but all in all, it was an enjoyable book. The introduction was great, the journey to a new continent was intriguing, and the last part of the book was definitely the best part of this series so far, even if it left me as an emotional wreck.

All my favourite characters from the last book are absent in this one, but that actually proved to be a positive thing, as some of the new characters being introduced are outright amazing. Here is Duiker the old historian, a character reminiscent of the one and only Croaker (from the Chronicles of the Black Company). Here is Gesler the Malazan corporal, a mysterious soldier who just happens to be wherever the action is. Here is Iskaral Pust, a High Priest of Shadow. And Mappo and Icarium, wanderers on a search for lost memories. And last, but certainly not least, here is Coltaine, the Wickan general who leads the Seventh army in a running battle across a continent.

In addition to that solid bunch, this book also sees several key characters from the last one becoming drastically more interesting. We meet several of the Bridgeburners again, a few intriguing Ascendants are running around manipulating things, and I finally got myself a new favourite character in this series: the ruler of the Malazan Empire herself.

I had a few minor issues with this one that didn't impact my opinion of the book as a whole much, but should at least be mentioned. Firstly, it was ridiculously violent. Some of the things the rebels of Seven Cities did to men, women and children of Malazan origin were so outrageously disgusting you'll want to raze their entire continent to the ground. And it was also really, really tragic. Those of you who thought Golden Son had a horrible ending should try reading this. Be warned, people!

If you can stomach tons of violence and the risk of losing your loved ones, however, The Malazan Book of the Fallen is a treasure waiting to be discovered.


Malazan Book of the Fallen reviews:
#1 Gardens of the Moon
#2 Deadhouse Gates
#3 Memories of Ice
#4 House of Chains
#5 Midnight Tides
#6 The Bonehunters
#7 Reaper's Gale
#8 Toll the Hounds
#9 Dust of Dreams
#10 The Crippled God
Profile Image for John.
356 reviews40 followers
June 17, 2015
Deadhouse Gates is the second book in The Malazan Book of the Fallen series. As I neared the end of this novel, I had this realization: Steven Erikson understands epic fantasy in a unique and interesting way. To understand what I mean, let's consider a few issues. A big decision that any writer has to make involves the point-of-view character. It's important to have someone in this role who is actually going to be present at all important events, a convention which in the past has led to fictional heroes who are virtually the center of the universe--other characters may exist and earn our interest, but everything really hangs on what so-and-so does. Right back to Frodo and the ring (yes, we get into what's going on at Minas Tirith, but we know it's all for naught if Frodo doesn't succeed) and even more so in the early successors (Thomas Covenant and a succession of Shannara brats, for instance). One way to get around this limitation, common in epic fantasy today, is shifting perspectives. This is great, allowing for a larger scope without unrealistic expectations on one character being present for everything and rather more multi-polar storytelling. Erikson (and I don't mean to imply that he's the only one doing this) goes one better--not only do we have a large cast of point-of-view characters, none of them really manages to assume paramount imortance. A question like "who's the main character" loses meaning in The Malazan Book of the Fallen series.

Because of this, when reading Deadhouse Gates, one might conclude that the story is basically independent of the first book in the series, Gardens of the Moon. We have some overlapping characters, but not that many or even really featured all that prominently. Probably, one could jump into the series here without having read the first book and not be all that lost. However, as the plot threads of this novel come together, it seems clear that Erikson is, in fact, weaving a truly epic tapestry in which everything interrelates, but on such a grand scale that we seem at first glance to be reading two almost-entirely-separate stories.

Certainly, a large number of our characters from the first novel are completely ignored and a host of others introduced, but it seems clear that this is all coming together in the form of an epic fantasy of what will end up being thousands and thousands of pages, covering at least two separate continents (this impression is only reinforced by peeking ahead at the dust jacket of the next novel in the series).

So, what do we have here? We have the tale of some renegade soldiers crossing a continent to attempt to assassinate an empress for the good of the empire; we have an uprising against the empire by a prophetess in vast desert; we have an imperial general fighting a desperate running battle for months to save imperial refugees from this uprising; we have a girl who has been betrayed by her sister in an imperial purge of the nobility, and said girl's fight for survival with her companions and her quest for vengeance against the sister who betrayed her. Beyond that are other smaller stories that weave in and out, and even some of these look tantalizingly like they could be developed at a later date (or simply add to the rich fabric of the world Erikson is weaving.

All in all, quite a good read and I look forward to continuing this series.
Profile Image for Orient.
255 reviews211 followers
February 6, 2017
Phew, I did it! I finished “Deadhouse Gates”. For some time I thought I’ll never finish it :D

So if you’re past shock as I am, we can continue :) Like GotM, this book shines with complexity. I found a multilayered story following a couple of story lines, a bunch of new characters and the famous Erikson’s style with unexpected twist, cliffhangers :) A real treat :) In fact I had a small shock as DG left almost all the characters from the first book behind in favor of a different story set on a different continent. I must confess, it was difficult sometimes to sort everything out as a lot of stuff was happening at the same time. I was definitely (and still am) surprised how lot’s of things turned out.

The storyline.

I’m not into the military stuff a lot and I’m glad that this book wasn’t soaked in it. The fighting, the battles and the various forms of fighters were great and detailed with grit and amazing Erikson’s imagination. There were times when I read page after page and thought: Oh wow, cliffhanger after cliffhanger. The storyline was more focused. There were not so many new characters, so I didn’t have to check everybody every five pages. Also the time for the story to unravel is bigger. That helped the characters and the story line. What struck me the most is that the story felt so real with interesting facts, some back stories, great flawed characters, lots of twists, action of course and cool magical aspects (I’ll name the cute deadly butterflies, a cool ghost ship, various mages and a lot more…). The story is mostly great. The last couple of chapters…..wow, it was brutal with some witty spices. If you want to know how I felt, just see the pic above :)

The peculiar thing is that the story is emotionally exhausting a bit. Sometimes I felt like after a long tiring day in an office (I had some tiring work days indeed and it annoyed me a bit ‘cause a book should ease the tension). It left me struggling to keep up. Maybe the problem I had with the book is that I read it a bit pell-mell due to my busy time.

The characters.

I liked the story mostly for the characters as I fell for most of them. Ugh, I know that Erikson likes to butcher his characters, but what I felt in this book….Oh my, great characters died :S Erikson’s skill in creating most of characters and the history to the landscapes his characters must travel, helped a lot to love this book. Of course Fiddler, Crokus, Apsalar and Kalam had my biggest interest!

My Deadly Calm, was the character I liked the most in this book. It was awesome following him, as he incited great changes, met a great BFF, found love and fought some great fights.

Also it was great to know that The Chosen One, reached one of her goals.

I enjoyed meeting The Pokeman, , he’s such a great and unique character. Omg, his struggle with bhok'arala was so funny :D Definitely complex and really entertaining character!

'You two are sick as undercooked pigs. Servant has prepared your chambers. And broths of healing herbs, roots, potions and elixirs. White Paralt, emulor, tralb—'
'Those are poisons,' Mappo pointed out.
'Are they? No wonder the pig died. It's almost time, shall we prepare to ascend?'

The same can be said for Icarium and Mappo, they had witty and intriguing episodes and the tension was great. Also I wanted more of the Red Blade, , I felt like she was left too early.

Heboric was a great character too. I liked his secretive aura and his unique holy personality.

One more character which needs to be mentioned, is Fellows’ sin, . I must confess I didn’t like her from the start and still don’t like her. At the beginning I felt pity for her, then it was disgust time and her mind-blowing time was quite short as I wanted more glimpses to see what kind of person she became.

Oh and Gesler was really funny, too. He’s worth to have his witty star hour more often.

'As you say,' Lull muttered. 'Get on with you now, Corporal, you're almost as ugly as me and it's turning my stomach.'
'Got more than a few spare Tiste Andii eyes if you'd like to try one out for a fitting, sir. Last chance.'
'I'll pass, Corporal, but thanks for the offer.'

'You know, Commander,' Gesler said a moment before stepping into the boat, 'I just noticed – between you and the captain you got three eyes and three ears and almost a whole head of hair.'
Bult swung around to glare at the corporal. 'Your point?'
'Nothing. Just noticing, sir.'

It just the beginning for , so I don’t really mind to wait for my next read in Malazan, I hope the next book will satisfy my need to know more about them and give a great playdate as one of the strongest sides of GotM was the depth of characters and I longed for that in DG.

I had some ups and downs with the kids’ issue in DG. There were such moments as pAt’s and the boys scene, which melted my heart and made me teary (pAt is cool, luv ya girly!) and moments when I disliked Erikson for hurting the kids, ugh.

I’d be a lie to say that I didn’t like this book. I liked it a lot, but it wasn't so mind-blowing like GotM. DG has great features of epic fantasy. It definitely has some great characters and a complex realistic multilayered story that can hook up :)
Profile Image for edge of bubble.
248 reviews155 followers
February 10, 2017
5 bloody stars!

Fair warning; this will be a verra long and sweary and ranty and fangirly review with the tiniest bit of spoilers. But I've scattered delish candies artwork along, as bait. Buddy read with lovely, Sade.

The book opens with ^this^ scene and you know you are in for an interesting ride. Towards the end of the book, you remember that "living in interesting times" is actually a Chinese curse!

After Erikson's causing no deep emotion, a bit on the flat side, not bad but not close to great at all characterisations in the first book, the heroes here were a punch to the stomach. I've formed an attachment for most of them and with some, I've wanted to bathe in their blood! The story is mostly set in a desert land and the flow of it, has absorbed it's setting. Set on destruction -innocence, honour, strength, cowardice, betrayal- no discrimination.

Kalam in Rakaru

Unlike Gardens of The Moon, conversation here felt more natural. I LOVED almost everything about Deadhouse Gates and was not bored for a minute. Which is an extraordinary thing, considering this is a long arsed book with so many things happening. That almost part is caused by two characters; Felisin and Mappo.

Felisin, is hated generally. For me, she was a source of perverted fascination. Finally, we were given a character whose innocence was not turned into sacrifice or angelic bla bla, but twisted into petty cruelty by the fucked up things that happened to her. She had a great potential for mindfuckery but author picked the easy way to deal with her. It was an unexpected path, I'll give that to him, but it just... happened. We didn't even get to see the breaking point.

Mappo was so sweet! Fierce warrior one minute and a doddering old lady another!

mappo and icarium

His musings about "the memories" and Icarium got boring fast. And yet, he kept going with his cyriptic sorrow at his every POV. However, there was nothing obscure about it. You could guess what's what and who's who from a mile back. Malazan never beats you on the head with a plot twist, you barely get your bearings let alone seeing into the future. So there may be something here that could blow my mind in the future books. In case there isn't, I did my bitching.

Heboric was another multifaceted character. I had this feeling that Erikson was building him here for future awesomeness. We shall see. I just want to wipe his last scenes from my mind. Felisin's annoying ways turning him into a befuddled old man is not acceptable.

the bleak shore

Pust... He was one of the humorous points of the book, being a cross between gollum and Dr. House. He reminded me of a childhood memory; there was this ancient man, who'd visit my dad at his store. He was the grumpiest and crankiest old creature, made of wrinkles and a few teeth. He knew my grandpa when he was a child and whenever my dad said something he didn't like, he'd say "I knew your father when he didn't know how to make you, insolent brat". His favourite cuss word was "puşt" which is a turkish swear word... With the name Pust... And his part of the ending! Priceless.


Coltaine. How can you fall in love with a character who only spoke a handful of times throughout the whole book., whose POV we've never got! Yet here I am, deeply and madly book-in-love with him! The rest of what I wish to say about him -except that he is mine and despite of his brilliance, he cannot escape his fate leading him into my harem.- is the biggest spoiler of the book. Don't open it, even if you don't plan to read the book!

'If you promote us, sir, I will punch you in what's left of your face. And Stormy will likely kick you while you're down. Sir.' Gesler then smiled. Bult pushed past Lull and stood face to face with the corporal, their noses almost touching. 'And, Corporal,' the commander hissed, 'would you punch me as well?'
Gesler's smile did not waver. 'Yes, sir. And Hood take me, I'll give the Fist's crack-thong a yank too, if you ask sweetly.'
There was a moment of dead silence.
Coltaine burst out laughing. The shock of it brought Duiker and the others around to stare at the Wickan.
Coltaine's laughter set the dogs to wild howling, the animals suddenly close and swarming about like pallid ghosts.
Animated for the first time and still laughing, Coltaine spun to the corporal. 'And what would Cartheron Crust have said to that, soldier?'
'He'd have punched me in the n...'
Gesler got no further as Coltaine's fist lashed out and caught the corporal flush on the nose.

And of course Cotillion, who had a very short but touching part in this installment. Uncle Cotillion about melted my heart... He was already in my harem but with that scene he made sure he is never ever leaving! Him and Apt were wonderful.

Kalam *his POV was one of the most intriguing ones in this book but I'm not putting his picture here as not to tempt you. Orient called dibs on him =D*, Kulp, Baudin, Duiker and many other characters... Even though there were numerous names to remember, deeds to judge, bonds to form due to Erikson's abundance with the cast, I've had feelies for all of them! I am stopping here not because the names above are the only memorable/lovable ones but because I am emotionally tired. Kudos to you Erikson, for managing to work so many heroes into our hearts within a book!

Last but not least, mallick rel... That little pissant of dickstain must die a horrible death!!! I want someone to pull out his spine off of his body and make him watch while dogs feed on his weasely bones!

malaz island
Profile Image for Jody .
202 reviews141 followers
April 5, 2017
The world's harbingers of death are many and varied.

If I have noticed anything about Steven Erikson's writing after reading the first two books in The Malazan Book of the Fallen series, it's that he doesn't do anything halfway. In Deadhouse Gates we are transported to a new continent, Seven Cities, and an almost entire new cast of characters. There are a few familiar faces from GotM, but not many. Now why would he do that, after such a great first book with characters we are now familiar with and the lovely continent of Genabackis? I will tell you why, because he doesn’t give a shit and he is a freaking genius.

I was a little skeptical for the first 30 or 40 pages feeling like I was starting over, but after that I was so enthralled with the new story and characters it didn't matter. The layout of this book is vast, with several groups of characters with their own agendas and missions. Not unlike GotM, but on a larger scale. I will admit to not completely understanding what was going on at times, but as I learned with book 1, you just have to push through and everything will work itself out.

The various storylines are each unique and take the reader on an epic journey of adventure, heroism, and heartbreak. Erikson has a knack for witty humor and morbid beauty in some of the most unlikely sections of the story. Whether it be out of place jest in a deadly situation or migrating butterflies in a horrendous battle scene, he is the master at turning a scene into a work of art.

“Butterflies mobbed that straining, yearning reach, even as it slowly sank back down, then disappeared. The insects were converging, thousands, and hundreds of thousands. On all sides it seemed that the battle, the slaughter, paused and watched.”

As in GotM, there are a lot characters in Deadhouse Gates, and each one is done extremely well. There are too many for me to include them all in my review, so I will just overview a few of my favorites.

Iskaral Pust – A high priest of Shadow, who is as obnoxious and insane as they come. He reminds me of Kruppe with all his antics, but he is still his own character. Also, like Kruppe there is an air of mystery around him.

“I trust you are killing every spider you spy. You had better be, for it is the path to wisdom. Oh yes indeed, the path!” – Iskaral Pust

Icarium & Mappo Trell – A Jaghut wanderer and his companion. Their history is long, violent, and above all else very sad. I wouldn’t want to bet against either one of these warriors in a fight. I don’t care who it’s against.

“Blood and chaos is the wine and meat of the gods—most of them, anyway. Especially the ones most eager to meddle in mortal affairs. I will do nothing to achieve their desires.” – Mappo Trell

Duiker – An imperial historian and one time soldier. He is probably the most ordinary character in the story, but I enjoyed his storyline the most.

“Without our armor, we would all weep, I think. How else to answer the impending promise of incalculable loss?” – Duiker

There were many more characters that I enjoyed. Kalam, Fiddler, Coltaine, Felisin, and many more. From my interaction with other fellow Malazan enthusiasts I have been told the characters from GotM and Deadhouse Gates begin to intermingle in the coming books. I am eagerly looking forward to this, and all the amazing new characters I have yet to meet.

This was an awesome book that contains everything I love about epic-grim-dark fantasy. It’s crazy to see that I am only two books into this series. There is so much emotion wrapped up into just one of these books it feels like a series in itself. Yes, the end of this book broke my heart, but I have faith Mr. Erikson will avenge those who have fallen. Or my faith may be misplaced!

Highly recommended to all! 5 stars *****
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,109 followers
February 10, 2017
While clearly a superior book, in my humble opinion, to the first Book of Malazan, I'm deeply disturbed by some of the turn of events at the end of the novel. Namely, WTF? Uggghhh. It makes me want to sit in silence for a while and try to digest it a bit, but no. A lot more things happen in this novel than just one man's (or many men's) reversal(s), be it choice and with so-called reason or utter desolation filled with a demon's pity.

I was initially worried that I'd be bogged down in too much war, but no, that wasn't even a concern for me this time. I was too invested in the characters, especially the Assassin and the Historian. The thief was fun and the author's penchant and focus on old dead civilizations and archeology serves him extremely well here. The explorations really got my heart pumping even as my mouth dried.

The refugees and the desperate march was particularly effective, too, but more than anything else, the promise and the fear evoked by the Whirlwind was very good.

Ancient armies fighting endless battles, the dead all around, and the mortal armies of the Empire and the defenders, made this war extremely pernicious and chaotic, even if the gods weren't throwing wrenches into the spokes of everyone's war machines. We even got to travel by sea and pirate with the best of them.

This novel may as well serve as the definition of Epic. The direction and the focus is always clear. The enormous cast, with all their hopeless desires, clash and collude on grand scales, while the plights stay close to the cuff.

Oh yeah, and who loves the dogs? That's right. It's me. And I loved every instance where the Coins of the realm became the downfall of (often extremely literally) of nobles and the other financial ministers; I was laughing with delight, even.

The deaths of the children were hard, but distance made a lot of it bearable. There's one scene with our fearless Historian that I'll never forget, even if I *know* it was a blatant attempt to tug at my heartstrings. It still worked like a freaking charm.

Do I love the series? Yes. I do believe I do. I need a slight break though! Very emotional.

Profile Image for Gavin.
886 reviews400 followers
January 30, 2015
Deadhouse Gates was an enjoyable read that unfortunately did not quite live up to the quality of its predecessor Gardens of the Moon. There was plenty of similarities between the two. It is Erkison writing this after all so we still got the excellent world building, a complex plot, a huge cast of characters each with their own set of motivations and goals, an incredibly cool magic system, fantastic action scenes featuring battles that were both mundane and sorcerous in nature, dragons, demons, strange non-human creatures, and a whole bunch of meddlesome gods! Erikson has an engaging writing style which is also a plus.

Deadhouse Gates picks up shortly after the events in Gardens of the Moon. The action takes place on a new continent as the focus switches to the Seven Cities rebellion, which was hinted at in the first book. We have a whole host of new characters to learn, but luckily we also had some familiar faces in Kalam, Fiddler, Crokus, and Apsalar.

The main negative of Deadhouse Gates is that the new setting of Seven Cities does not match Darujistan. Most of the time our characters were just plodding through desert wastes. Which got boring pretty quickly. Another issue I had was with the rebellion itself. In the first book we cared for characters on both sides of the conflict, but in this book all the member of the rebellion we meet are vile villainous characters. I was disappointed by that as I expected a bit more depth to the situation.

Another slight downside was that the new characters did not quite live up to the ones who did not feature from the first book. Felisin is a terrible replacement for her brother Ganoes, it is almost impossible to like the girl! Her companions were little better. There was times when I dreaded returning to her POV. Dukier and the Chain of Dogs story arc was interesting and tragic, but it was a bit slow paced for my liking, especially in the first half of the book. Iskaral Pust was a fun character, but I could not help but feel that he was a poor mans Kruppe. Mappo and Icarium were the most entertaining and intriguing of the new characters. They were likable and their story arc was never dull. Kulp, Gesler, Stormy, and Truth did not play a significant role in this book, but they showed enough promise that I'll be happy to read more of their adventures.

My final complaint is that we did not see enough of the Ascendants in this installment. They did appear, but I wanted more!

I enjoyed Deadhouse Gates even if it was not quite as good as Gardens of the Moon. Erikson knows how to up the tension and the action in the final stages of his books and as a result the final third of the book did match the quality of Gardens of the Moon.

Rating: 4 stars.

Audio Note: Like the first book this was narrated by Ralph Lister. Lister is OK, but he does take a while to warm to.
Profile Image for Ivan.
436 reviews284 followers
February 10, 2017
Nearly two years late review but everyone else reading it and reviewing it brings back memories and I did read it two times so my memories are rather fresh,first translated version than revisited when I switched to original version on book 3.So this is more of a retrospective.

What can I say, I struggled with Gardens of the Moon and I only gotten through on second attempt. World was overall complex and strange (at that point I was unacquainted with China Mieville so my standard for labeling something strange was LOT lower back than) but I seen potential so I kept on. It didn't take lot of time for that potential to be used as second book blowen me away. After this book I officially joined Malazan cult and after third book I decided that most other fantasy writers should be sacrificed as blood offering to Steven Erikson

Story here is more straightforward (as much that can be said for Erikson) and slower paced. Erikson start getting more philosophical and it became obvious to me that this isn't just another fantasy flick. This is military fantasy but it's also has strong anti-war message. It's brutal and dark but also humane and warm.
As I became more familiar with Malazan world become more appreciative of slow and robust worldbuilding. It's world with long history and diverse cultures. Poems, proverbs and book fragments might not be relevant to the story but they add to world that's not just stage but leaving, breathing world and one of the stars of the show in it's own right. There are so many forces at play in this world and that makes Malazan book of fallen very unpredictable series but twists and turns always felt natural and not added there for shock value and so author can say "I got you didn't I?"(yes Sanderson I'm looking at you).

From that point on series only got better and Abercrombie finally got competition for my favorite fantasy author throne.

Profile Image for Conor.
148 reviews315 followers
December 5, 2014
4.5 Stars

Much like its predecessor Gardens of the Moon, Deadhouse Gates was a dense, challenging read with a complex, multilayered storyline. And like GoTM it's depth and complexity (repetition for emphasis*) made it an extremely rewarding read for anyone with the patience to see it through. This book once again throws the reader in at the deep end. After the arduous process of developing an understanding for this world in the first book, Erikson changes it all up again for this one. A new continent. A new war. New quests. And new characters. This is another book that requires time and effort to enjoy but much like GoTM it was well worth the effort. In fact I think this book was an improvement with a darker tone, more distinct, memorable storylines and old and new characters mixed seamlessly together.

Again I think my expectations worked in my favour with this book. Before even starting this series I had heard from friends that Erikson frequently changed the setting and characters from book to book. So while I can understand the shock and dismay of readers who didn’t see this coming I was able to accept it fairly easily. While this book required patience and effort to really appreciate I found it more accessible than ‘Gardens’. This book had a stronger opening that was more easily understood, more distinctive storylines and the return of some familiar faces. I’ve heard some people recommend starting the series with this book but I disagree. While this one was an easier and somewhat better read I would still recommend starting with Gardens in order to get a better understanding of the world and especially the characters in this one.

Erikson’s training as an archaeologist was apparent in the incredibly deep, ambitious world-building of this book. Erikson subtly hints at the vast history of this world throughout without ever resorting to info-dump’s. One of the best scenes in this book occurs when some of the characters stumble into the ruin of an ancient city and piece together the events that led to its downfall. In contrast I found the obscure magic system frustrating. Magic plays an important role in this story and yet the rules of magic in this world are left extremely vague, and magic often serves as a Deus Ex Machinima. This makes the frequent confrontations involving various magical entities confusing as it's impossible to tell how powerful each person is or what they can do.

The defining arc of this book (and according to some fans, this entire series) was the ‘Chain of Dogs’. This was a brutal, poignant and unforgettable story. Duiker’s opening sections expertly built the tension for the ‘Apocalypse’. And when it came Coltaine’s heroic, doomed march was one of the best plotlines I’ve ever read, filled with brilliant set-piece battles, brutal skirmishes and insightful ruminations on the nature of war. It also produced some of the most moving and memorable scenes I can remember. From the butterflies who's beauty contrasted so powerfully with the carnage of Vathar crossing, to the poignancy of 'The Fall' within sight of the walls of Aren to the unexpected hopefulness of the epilogue. The dry, bleak humour that was present throughout (especially in Duiker’s discussions with Bult and Coltaine) also did a great job of easing the tension. While Erikson sometimes over-did it with the internal monologues and philosophising, in this storyline it felt appropriate. When the other POV’s discussed philosophy it felt strangely out of place (Felsisin's almost schizophrenic switches between being a bratty child and a profound philosopher were especially weird) for their characters, however Duiker’s commentary on war always felt appropriate, both as a historian analysing the nature of conflict and an old soldier who still believed in the ideals of courage, duty and loyalty.

The other storylines were also interesting and enjoyable. From the start of this book Felisin’s story set a bench mark for being grim and brutal in a way not seen in GoTM. I found Felisin to be a brilliantly-written character. While many fans of the series hated her intensely, even at her most cruel and spiteful, I still had sympathy for her. The knowledge of the brutal trials she had undergone combined with her often unpleasant actions made her an extremely complex and challenging character. Some of the best secondary characters I’ve seen so far in this series also appeared in her storyline. Stormy and Gesler were another example of the tough, grizzled veterans that Erikson is so fond of. While they were an over-used trope they were possibly the most brilliantly written example I’ve seen of it. Their instantly likeability and hilarious banter was handled better even than the Bridgeburners. Another standout character was Baudin. Erikson has a tendency to go over-board in establishing how badass his massive cast of warriors, sorcerers and dragons are so it was really refreshing how clever and subtle the establishment of Baudin as a BAMF was.

In the other major storylines some familiar faces from the first book are on a mission to save the Malazan empire…. by assassinating the empress. Meanwhile Icarium, a powerful and ancient being, struggles to remember who he is and what he’s done. It’s the duty of Mappo, his companion and closest friend to protect him. And to protect the world from him. These 3 storylines overlap and separate at different times throughout the book and for the most part they were enjoyable. I was glad to see some familiar faces from GoTM (Kalam, Fiddler, Crokus and Apsalar) although their sections were some of the slowest at the start. I really liked the relationship between Icarium and Mappo and the gradual reveal of Icarium’s past.

Overall the pacing of this book was pretty good and a noticeable improvement on GoTM. The opening was stronger and the main plot-lines were all established early on. The plot dragged a bit during the sections where character were wandering through the desert though. I was also occasionally frustrated by Erikson throwing too many mystical/magical elements into a scene in a heavy-handed attempt to make it 'epic'. I really liked the conclusion of this book though. Unlike GoTM there was no point where every plotline neatlly converged. Instead each individual arc had an interesting and separate conclusion. Also Erikson didn’t try so hard to produce an ‘epic’ climax and instead delivered subtle, well-written conclusions that wrapped up the storylines for this book while making it intriguing to see how the characters involved (at least those who survived) would continue their stories in the books to come.

This was another dense, challenging read that was ultimately well worth the time and effort. The scope of the world and story that was hinted at in GoTM is starting to be revealed in this one and I’m really excited to see where this series goes from here.
Profile Image for Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.).
494 reviews305 followers
June 7, 2016
Deadhouse Gates is the second book in Steven Erikson’s brilliant and uber-epic ten-volume fantasy series, "The Malazan Book of the Fallen" (MBotF). I think this is now the third time I’ve read this book and it still remains one of my favorites. Deadhouse Gates is nothing short of a ‘nail-biter’ from the get-go and the pacing is utterly relentless. I have to say that Deadhouse Gates is an easier read than Erikson’s first book in the MBotF series, Gardens of the Moon, and much of that is because the reader is slowly, but surely, becoming more familiar with Erikson’s writing style and more comfortable with the unique qualities of the Malazan world that he has crafted.

In my opinion, Deadhouse Gates is a fine example of what I truly love the most about the MBotF series, and that is Erikson’s ability to make his readers empathize with the characters in his books. One thing that really impresses me about Erikson’s characters is that they are all typically people that the reader can relate to, and there are really very few, if any, characters that aren’t flawed in one fashion or another. Also, Erikson’s MBotF characters exhibit a strong dose of egalitarianism, as men and women in the books commonly occupy positions of authority and responsibility across all walks of life in the Malazan world.

Much of Deadhouse Gates occurs on the continent of “Seven Cities” and introduces a whole new cast of characters from those presented in Gardens of the Moon. Never fear though, of the multiple story arcs in Deadhouse Gates, one arc does involve a small group of characters that the reader met in Gardens of the Moon and who become quite important to the storyline in this episode. As is typical of Erikson novels in the MBotF series, there are plots and sub-plots galore swirling around throughout this 600+ page book (trade-paperback edition), and each of them is an attention-grabber, and at times contain a powerful ‘punch to the gut’.

Without giving away anything of significance away, Deadhouse Gates revolves around the rebellion of many of the subjugated peoples of the Seven Cities continent. This rebellion is known as “The Whirlwind” and is intended to rid the continent of all of the Malazan occupiers, both administrative and military. The main plot of the novel is one that just takes your breath away—that of the tactical retreat of the Malazan Seventh Army over several hundred leagues from one city to another. The Malazan Seventh is commanded by Coltaine, a Wickan Crow Clan warchief, and now a Fist (General) in the Malazan Army. Fist Coltaine and many of the other Wickan characters are some of my favorites in the entire MBotF series, and the Wickan Clans themselves—with names like “Foolish Dog Clan”, “Weasel Clan, and “Crow Clan”—reminded me of some of the Native American tribes that so effectively battled the U.S. Army in the latter half of the 19th century.

Honestly, the story of the Seventh Army’s retreat across the landscape of Seven Cities is truly nothing short of epic, as Coltaine must try and not only preserve the fighting capacity of the Seventh Army, but protect more than 50,000 refugees that his forces are endeavoring to shepherd to safety. This plot thread that weaves through much of the novel becomes known as “Coltaine’s Chain of Dogs”, a moniker of significant distinction and pride to the members of the Seventh Army, as well as the rest of the Malazan Empire. As a veteran of the military myself, there was something in this story of the “Chain of Dogs” that truly tugged at the heartstrings of my very soul, and I cannot begin to tell you how many times while reading about the desperate attempts of the Seventh Army to survive its horrifying trek across Seven Cities that I had to set the book aside for a few moments and simply let the tears roll down my cheeks. While at times a terribly tragic story, the tale of Coltaine’s “Chain of Dogs” is also one that exhibits the finest qualities of humanity—courage, compassion, comradeship, and Love.

Erikson's description of this epic journey, and the battles fought along the way, rivals any that have been written about in numerous superb non-fiction military histories. Examples that immediately come to mind include the U.S. Continental Army’s retreat from New York to Valley Forge, or Napoleon’s Grande Armee’s retreat from Russia, or Field Marshal von Manstein's strategic retreat of several German armies across the frozen steppes of southern Russia in early 1942 (after the fall of Stalingrad). Erikson’s tale of the “Chain of Dogs” in Deadhouse Gates is some of the best military fiction I’ve ever read, and should appeal to readers with even a passing interest in military or historical fiction or non-fiction.

But wait, there’s even more—So much more! Deadhouse Gates is also chock full of important plot and story lines that really help to begin to open up the full breadth and scope of the Malazan world to the reader. There are significant tie-backs to important events and happenings in Gardens of the Moon, as well as explanations of the fascinating and complex system of magic and sorcery, and loads of new information about the mythology and significance of the pantheon of gods and goddesses who occupy the Malazan world. Deadhouse Gates can perhaps be best characterized as the ‘tale of multiple journeys’, with Coltaine’s “Chain of the Dogs” being the centerpiece, but there are also the journeys of several other groups of characters that are just as meaningful to the overall plot and are very, very important to future episodes in the MBotF series.

I continue to be completely blown away with the sheer quality of the writing, the plotting, the character development, the pacing, the pathos and drama, and the sheer inventiveness and originality of the world that Erikson has created. Mr. Erikson doesn't pull his punches, this is truly some hard, bleak, and dark fiction; and it is at times viscerally tragic and profoundly sad. At the same time though, Erikson soars to heights almost unknown in fantasy fiction with his moments of triumph, success, and the joy of experiencing those fleeting instants of pure and unbridled goodness and humanity.

In closing, I highly and unhesitatingly recommend this series; and, in my opinion, Deadhouse Gates is much more than a quantum step forward from the first novel in the series, Gardens of the Moon. Deadhouse Gates was the book in the MBotF series that cemented my love affair with all things Malazan. Read Deadhouse Gates--you’ll become a believer too!

Profile Image for Graeme Rodaughan.
Author 9 books348 followers
April 30, 2020
This is such an epic story, I figured a typical review couldn't do it justice, so I asked for some help from the characters who always know best.

Felisin: "I was told there would be journeys to exotic locations, that I would meet many interesting people, and that I would be admired and even held in awe. Well, I could tell you a thing or two about such promises..."

Coltaine: "Hahahahahahahh....ahahahahahah - Geez, you really got me there (the sky - it's filled with crows ... so many crows ...)."

High Fist Pormqual: "I'm flying, I'm really flying, I'm weightless, I'm -"

Historian Duiker: "If you have the heart to see and the courage to witness it, you can find wisdom and compassion within the depths of madness and horror. That about sums it up."

Heboric Light Touch: (Pointing into the distance) "See, now really look hard, that's your fate heading toward you with stone driven inevitability - we are but the playthings of the gods."

Crokus the Thief: "Not a big part this time around, but I've put my hand up for more."

Apsalar: "Personally, I thought the overall book was excellent and I was quite satisfied with what I was offered and I'm sure I'll see more of myself going forward, (slaps Crokus' reaching hand), now Crokus you haven't earned that yet..."

Kulp the Mage: "My scenes were for the most part excellent, however I do believe the story would have been strengthened with a couple of small changes, just a smidgen here and there - but does anyone listen to me. No..."

Baudin: "Well damn it. I really wish everyone would understand the difference between a Claw and a Talon. Right? Yes, am I right about that, or do I really have to come over there and demonstrate?"

Fiddler: "I don't know, I've got a Ph.D in Astro-Hyperdrive-Mechanics, and my agent sent me this role. Still- its been a blast!"

Kalam: "I want some nano-ceramic body armor next time."

Icarium: "I went on a long walk with my most excellent friend Mappo. We were joined by several boon companions, and everyone we met treated us with wonderful politeness. However, I have acquired a headache and I wonder if perhaps we drank too much at an Inn last night. I certainly hope nothing untoward has occurred. Perhaps tomorrow I will remember more..."

Mappo Trell: "I won the award for 'Best and most Loyal Friend,' enuf said."

Iskaral Pust: "Despite my amazing best efforts, sad manners of the author has left me with less than the richly deserved Main Character role. Unrecognized talent horribly wasted, miserable despair will be wet foundation for fresh ambitions."

Aptorian: "Click, sheesssh, click, tap tap tap, click, sheeshhh. (trans' 'I'm such a bad-ass chick.')"

And there you have it, clearly an epic, monster of a gut-wrenching story. Strongly recommended, 5 'epic march of doom,' stars.
Profile Image for James Tivendale.
318 reviews1,345 followers
July 19, 2023
My Malazan Book of the Fallen re-read continues with Deadhouse Gates. I was looking forward to revisiting this novel, remembering that it contained great characters, memorable journeys, and soul-wrenching heartache.

After getting to know the characters that were featured throughout Gardens of the Moon, Erikson introduces a mostly new ensemble in Deadhouse Gates. The events of this book take place throughout the Seven Cities, including the Holy Desert Raraku. This continent is occupied by the Malazan Empire yet, driven by the prophetess Sha'ik and the Whirlwind, a rebellion is gaining traction.

Throughout this tale, we follow half a dozen varied characters and groups, focusing on their journeys, agendas, or sorrow. One such band features some returning players from the previous entry, Bridgeburners Fiddler (sapper), Kalam (assassin), Apsalar (assassin), and Darujhistan resident Crokus. Elsewhere, we have the wanderings of two friends, Icarium and Mappo, both formidable warriors, one of whom is dangerously overpowered and has obliterated entire cities. Another main focus is that of Felisin Paran who has been betrayed by her elder sister following the Malazan Empire's culling of certain noble houses. The most notable perspective in Deadhouse Gates and one that is hugely influential to the entire series is the Imperial Historian Duiker's account of the Malazan's 7th army during the uprising. The 7th is commanded by Fist, Wickan Crow Clan leader, war-veteran, and former enemy of the Malazan Empire, Coltaine. The narratives in Deadhouse Gates feel more focused and palatable to what was presented previously in Gardens of the Moon, with each group having duties and motives that we follow, some of which are more obvious than others.

‘No-one who’s grown up amidst scrolls and books can write of the world,’ Kellanved had told him once, ‘which is why I’m appointing you Imperial Historian, soldier.’ ‘Emperor, I cannot read or write.’ ‘An unsullied mind. Good. Toc the Elder will be teaching you over the next six months – he’s another soldier with a brain. Six months, mind. No more than that.’ ‘Emperor, it seems to me that he would be better suited than I—’ ‘I’ve something else in store for him. Do as I say or I’ll have you spiked on the city wall.’

Although I enjoyed following every perspective, there is a lot of travelling and wandering and this led to some segments dragging, therefore, being not that fun to read. With the 7th army, some of the action from the skirmishes blurred and seemed repetitive. This may have all been intentional by the author with the chaos and confusion presented not being crystal clear or easy to follow, it highlights the desperation and ups the stakes as this storyline approaches its devastating conclusion. This all being said, there are frequent moments of camaraderie and wit, in addition to heightened set-piece spectacles. One scene that stands out is a moment where Coltaine wishes to reward a soldier for bravery yet, without intending to, demotes his rank, leading to awkward and comic results. These subtle moments of humanity, confusion, and events not always going a set way, however well-intentioned, add to the dramatic impact of this storyline.

If how Grimdark a book is was solely rated by the levels of violence and tragedy then Deadhouse Gates would feature highly on such a scale. Lots of awful things happen, such as the unpleasant and dark horrors presented to Felisin throughout her fall from grace and the resulting journey. I will also note that I clearly remembered a character death that features in Deadhouse Gates from my first read 8 years ago. It shocked me then and was no less impactful on a second visit. What made this moment stand out is that it was an absolutely unpredictable and underserved death for a likeable, important cast member. This defied my expectations and changed the way I followed and cared for characters in later entries because everyone is expendable and even if a character is a fan-favourite, they will probably not get the spectacular death that their deeds warrant.

"Who in the Abyss has such power? He could think of but two: Anomander Rake, the Son of Darkness, and Osric. Both Soletaken, both supremely arrogant. If there were others, the tales of their activities would have reached him, he was certain. Warriors talk about heroes. Mages talk about Ascendants. He would have heard."

We are presented with more insight into the magic scheme of warrens, mages, ascendants and gods in Deadhouse Gates. I adored the sense of dread, uncertainty, and powerlessness that players faced when finding themselves lost in a warren or fighting against extremely capable magic users. Following on from some of his exchanges in this book, I am already remembering why the ascendant Cotillion went on to become one of my favourite characters in the series

With the conflicts and revolution showcased in this novel, living in this world is difficult enough, and that is before you add into the mix shapeshifters, demons, undead dragons, deadhouses, and a spider-despising priest whose sanity is questionable. These high stakes and immense risks are probably one of the main reasons that I enjoy following and rooting for characters like Fiddler. He is not an overpowered mage or god-possessed assassin, he is a witty and honourable veteran soldier in an extremely dangerous environment.

I had a great time returning to Seven Cities and having the Malazan Empire expanded again to me as a reader. The world showcased here feels gritty, deadly, and dark, making some of the locations and set pieces in Gardens of the Moon seem almost cartoony by comparison. The novel's finale is epic and intense, a tear-jerker that has stayed with me ever since I read it the first time. It does not get any easier to bear the second time. To conclude, quite simply, I consider Deadhouse Gates to be an incredible and impactful epic fantasy read. 9/10.

"Lull nodded. ‘That’s a succinct summary of humankind, I’d say. Who needs tomes and volumes of history? Children are dying. The injustices of the world hide in those three words. Quote me, Duiker, and your work’s done.’"
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,678 reviews5,255 followers
January 6, 2016
and the award for Most Improved Second Book in a Series goes to... Deadhouse Gates! this was an excellent novel and I was fascinated from beginning to end. Erikson's prose and character work and his juggling of several compelling, intertwining narratives did not disappoint. the prior novel Gardens of the Moon felt at times as if it were written by a drunk 17-year-old; Deadhouse Gates was written by an experienced and empathetic adult who has grown emotionally and whose skills on the page now equal the exciting imagination he's clearly had all along.

Erikson's background as an archaeologist is readily apparent in the book. the scenes with various characters unearthing and imagining and becoming affected by past individuals and fallen civilizations were some of the novel's strongest. more importantly, the book itself feels like an archaeological experience. Erikson doesn't infodump, it's like it is anathema to him. the reader must sift and sort through the various clues and details and recollections to build this world up in their mind. Erikson has fully envisioned his world, that much is obvious, but he forces the reader to make sense of the world all on their own (maps and appendices notwithstanding). it is the reader who must build the world because Erikson doesn't deliver it as a ready-made, easily digested package. I love having to work for my pleasures, it makes the end result all the more satisfying.

my first paragraph was actually a comment I made in a review thread. the second comes from ideas that other reviewers have given me. so as long as I'm in a thieving mood, I'll steal some more and just copy, paste, and only slightly adjust my comments from the group that inspired me to pick up this novel (thank you, Beyond Reality):


- one of the things I loved realizing was that despite the richness and complexity of this novel, Erikson still retains a real economy of words. which makes a dense book even denser

- the grueling and intense "Chain of Dogs"is really what makes the book so unique for me. very well done

- warrens remain mysterious but now, due to this book, I feel like I can actually wrap my mind around them. I want one!

- the three child wizards were awesome

- Azath Houses continue to intrigue, such a brilliant concept

- that bit in the beginning with Ryllandaras in his multiple wolf bodies was fascinating and I want to see more of that character

- the horses! love their strong personalities, they almost overshadow their riders

- those dogs had a lot of personality too

- the scene set on the otherworldly ship Silanda was fantastic

- amidst all of the surprising bits of compassion and warmth (so necessary to have within all the slaughter, thank you Erikson), weirdly enough one of the most moving and endearing things to me was the relationship between the demon Apt and her adopted, transformed child Panek. I really want to see more of those two, such an intriguing pair

- Iskaral Pust muttering his sneaky secret thoughts out loud was a running joke that just never got old. loved all of that.

- I like how Erikson plays with tone. the weird comedy of Icarium & Mappo in the Shadow Temple contrasted well with the darkness of Felisin's story

initial thoughts on Felisin, a third of the way through the book:
- poor Felisin. I think Erikson really did a great job with her character, making her very sympathetic and showing how few options she had and why she chose her particular path. I like how he shows her strengths and weaknesses and doesn't just put her purely into a victim role (although obviously she is a victim, the biggest one in the novel so far). her story starts out being tragic and just gets darker and darker but it never felt exploitative, just sad and even realistic

second thoughts on Felisin, two-thirds of the way through:
- she's horrible. I understand how she got to the place she's at and I think it is a strong decision to make a character who has now decided she was in love with her abuser a central, point of view character. but she's still a challenge to read about. so mindlessly spiteful and petty. I probably would have knocked her over the side of the ship if I wasn't aware of her back story.

final thoughts on Felisin:
- her arc is amazing and the power she exhibits at the end is really well-earned. so impressed by how Erikson wrote her, the complexity of her character, her weaknesses and her strengths

- I love that Erikson is committed to diversity in his Malazan world. strong and empowered women, different orientations, and I love how easy it is for me to imagine most of these characters as brown or black or all sorts of other shades. even gray with a slight greenish tone, sure why not, I'm sure that color looks lovely on Icarium


I don't want to give the impression that this is a perfect book. it's not; it has a good number of flaws. but I enjoyed this experience so much that I don't particularly want to even get into them, they're minor anyway. even with its imperfections, this is an amazing book.
Profile Image for Overhaul.
320 reviews706 followers
April 1, 2021
"Todos somos almas solitarias. Vale la pena conocer la humildad, para evitar que nos abrume la ilusión de control, de dominio. Y somos, en efecto, una especie propensa a dicha ilusión, una y otra vez..."

Las Puertas de la Casa de la Muerte es la segunda parte de Malaz: El Libro de los Caídos. Nueva entrega de esta titánica saga, en la que Erikson me deja claro que el mundo que está creando es muy extenso. Con una historia que solo acaba de comenzar a desarrollar. Este es solo un paso más en el camino malazano. Un camino que no se debe subestimar. Pues cada detalle de la trama, personajes y ambientación desde el más grande, al más pequeño, forman a mí parecer algo rico y excepcional.

Para quiénes empezamos esta saga Los Jardines de la Luna fue un arranque lleno de acción y caos desde la primera página, en la que se suelta al lector en pleno Malaz, a su suerte. Sin apenas explicación. Con el riesgo de que muchos lectores se pierden en este caos y deciden abandonar. Para aquellos que decidimos seguir el camino malazano, Erikson nos ofrece su segunda parte. Y nos adentramos en lo que podríamos decir que es casi un nuevo inicio de la saga. Ya que tenemos una nueva localización en el continente de Siete Ciudades, una serie de tramas nuevas y un reparto de personajes totalmente distinto, con contadas excepciones del primer libro.

"¿Qué ves en el emborronado horizonte, que no pueda ocultar tu mano alzada?"

Malaz es una saga de fantasía épica. En la que esta segunda entrega he de decir que me ha parecido más dura y oscura. Le ha dado un toque de brutalidad y emociones que personalmente he disfrutado. Pues nos metemos de cabeza en una historia épica de supervivencia en la que Erikson pone al lector en situaciones tensas. Cargadas de peleas, esclavitud, sangre, con muchos dilemas y cambios por parte de los personajes. Un duro viaje por la supervivencia en la que gracias a esto conoceremos en profundidad a los personajes. Y por supuesto la aparición, voluntad y deseos de los dioses. Que toman parte en el mundo humano.

Los cambios y la evolución que tienen los personajes de capítulo en capítulo sea para bien o para mal. Es lo que consigue que el lector sienta muchas cosas por ellos ya sea amor, odio, pena y rencor. Esto es una de las cosas que más me gusta de Malaz. Sus personajes. Erikson hace un trabajo sublime ya que provoca que el lector sienta diversas cosas hacia los personajes los cuales están muy bien trabajados. Haciendo que incluso te pares a pensar si estás siendo justo juzgandolos. Si algo está bien o está mal. Si es justo o injusto.

"Nos arrastramos como cadáveres animados, condenados a un viaje sin fin. Del mismísimo Embozado"

La trama que más destaca en esta segunda parte y quiero mencionar, es la protagonizada por el puño Coltaine, los wickanos, el historiador Duiker y el séptimo ejército malazano. Una trama en la que nos ponemos en primera fila para ser testigos de una lucha por la supervivencia. Llena de sacrificios, dolor, brutalidad y acción por parte de la Cadena de Perros. Para mí ha sido épico y emotivo. Esos últimos capítulos han sido un gran conjunto de sensaciones, momentos y sentimientos muy variados que me han tenido completamente pegado al libro.

La segunda cosa que más me gusta de Malaz y de Erikson como escritor. Si bien la primera es su capacidad de crear personajes en profundidad haciendo al lector empatizar y sentir cosas hacia ellos. La segunda es su capacidad de crear tramas y no pocas, equilibrando la cantidad de detalles que nos da y manejándolos muy bien. Para llegar a esa parte final en la que desemboca todo de una manera brutal. Tenemos un mundo rico y complejo lleno de detalles y secretos. Desde el misterioso pasado hasta el desconocido futuro. Erickson nos proporciona respuestas, sí. Pero al mismo tiempo nos deja varias preguntas. El sistema de magia de Malaz. Las sendas. Es algo sobre lo que me gusta leer, imaginar y disfrutar. Espero conocer más sobre este sistema. Pues parece abarcar muchísimas cosas.

"Yo vi la saeta del sol, con su infalible arco, en la frente de aquel hombre. Al impacto, los cuervos convergieron como la noche absorbiendo el aliento"
Profile Image for Dana Ilie.
404 reviews351 followers
March 22, 2019
Picking up where Gardens of the Moon left off, Deadhouse Gates reunites a host of old characters and throws some new ones into the fray. This time the action is focused not on Genabackis, but on the continent of seven cities. Of the expansive cast that appeared in Gardens of the Moon, only Kalam, Fiddler, Apsalar and Crokus make a reappearence.

The characters are so well created and interact with their world so affectively, that at times its hard not to feel you're actually experiencing the often hopeless situations that they're constantly enduring. Erikson has woven a great deal of sympathy into this epic.

Deadhouse Gates is just one of those books that stick with you.
Profile Image for Duffy Pratt.
485 reviews136 followers
March 17, 2013
In lots of fantasy, and in series in particular, I get frustrated with authors continually repeating their explanations and descriptions of certain things. For example, how many times does Robert Jordan remind the reader that an Aes Sedai has an ageless face? Goodkind's Sword of Truth series would probably be less than half of its current length if not for all the needless repetition.

No-one will ever accuse Erikson of having this failing? The main frustration I have in these first books is that there is never reminders of who someone is, or what some race is, etc... In this book, one of the main characters is Mappo. He is a Trell. What's a Trell? I still have no idea. It's possible that Erikson told me somewhere in the beginning. But he doesn't distinguish between what's important and what isn't as he is writing, so I didn't catch it, if he did say so. Mappo has a companion named Icarium, who is a Jhag. What's a Jhag? I still don't know. Again, its possible that its in the book, but its not brought out in a way that held my attention. Maybe this is my laziness, and maybe not. My sense, however, is that Erikson prefers to hide information from the reader, and sometimes it feels to me like he's hiding it simply for the sake of hiding it.

So why four stars? Mostly because the book unfolded in a way that was very satisfying. The ending is really great. There are more than a handful of characters that I liked following. And it does now feel like this is shaping up to be a really big story that may be worthwhile when completely told.

ON REREAD: Bumped to five stars. The structure of this book is much tighter than I realized on the first read. And I came to have genuine felling for several of the characters, making the various endings even more heartbreaking than they were on first read.

Looking at my early review, I now know what a Trell is, and what a Jhag is. Does it matter all that much for my appreciation? Hard to say. I think its more important to understand the relationship between Mappo and Icarium, and how touching that relationship is. If I had understood what it meant that Icarium is a Jhag, I might have gotten more the first time around from the stunning reveal in the Azath house at the end of this book.

I no longer think Erikson hides information for the sake of hiding it, or at least not solely for that reason. He's an archeologist, and he's trying to give some of the pleasures of archeology to his readers. But that means that the readers, like the archeologist, must often dig with teaspoons, and must also keep careful track of what they have already found. The job of making the connections is the reader's job, not Eriksons. This can be frustrating, and first go round, it definitely was. But the second time through, it was even more enjoyable. And I still have the sense that I would probably discover more on another reading.

And then for the great stuff: Erikson has a tremendous sense of humor, and its needed, because he also has one of the keenest gifts for tragedy. And this book delivers both on very grand scale. In the Gardens of the Moon there is a passage where a character asks a T'lann Imass what he is thinking about. "Futility." he answers. The questioner then asks if that is what other T'lann Imass think of. He says: "No, they mostly refrain from thinking at all." Why? the questioner asks. "Because it is futile."

This book takes the question of futility and lifts it up for study. The entire Chain of Dogs can be seen as either impossibly heroic, or impossibly futile. Perhaps both. And the same goes for Mappo's "guidance" of Icarium, and for Kalam's quest to assassinate Laseen.
Profile Image for Deborah Obida.
681 reviews620 followers
February 28, 2018
Malazan is nothing like other fantasy books, the world is so broad, I now get why they are but few old characters in it, if all of them were in this , it would have been more complex than the first book thereby making it hard to understand, thus the dividing of the books by characters. The seven cities that The Malazan empire conquered was discussed here indepthly, how the people are regarded by Malazans and how they regard the Malazns.

'Children are dying.'
Lull nodded. 'That's a succinct summary of humankind, I'd say. Who needs tomes and volumes of history? Children are dying. The injustices of the world hide in those three words. Quote me, Duiker, and your work's done.'

The magic system is none like I’ve ever read before, there is literally nothing the magic cannot do, disappearing, teleporting, healing, rebirth, bringing people back from the dead and lots more, its so hard to know who is actually dead in this, even when you can see their dead bodies, they might have Ascended you can never tell, that is Malazan for you.

The diversity in this book is the best I’ve read in my life. Lots of different races, cultures and creatures you’ve never heard of before(made up) which makes it amazing, what is fantasy without made up creatures. Some of the races that I love are the Tiste Andii, Jaghut cause of Icarium, Trell cause of Mappo and human race cause am human, they are also shape shifters and cool creatures like dragons.

I love the way the author depicted the religion in this, the gods and goddesses that keep meddling in mortal life, spirit worshippers, elder gods, Ascendants’ all have their worshippers. This book is not short of romance either, they are a few couples, but its the friendship and loyalty between the characters that I love most.

Only two kinds of people die in battle, Fiddler had once said, fools and the unlucky.

World building and Writing
Like I mentioned earlier the world is so broad and the author depicted it perfectly, there was no confusion or anywhere in the world that was hard to imagine. The world is as big as Brandon’s Cosmere and this is all in one series, imagine the brilliancy of the author. The writing style adapted here is way easier to read than that of the first book, the demarcation between POV shift was made clearly, also the characters with POVs here were only few in number, just five major ones and seven minor ones that have just few paragraphs and some few chapters. The book is written in third person multiple POV.

Characters and Plot
Icarium is a jaghut, a non human race, he has greenish skin, grey hair and is seven feet tall, jaghut are extremely powerful and very hard to kill, despite this Icarium is neither arrogant nor mean, he is very kind and his friendship with Mappo his friend and companion is so adorable.
Mappo Runt is a trell, a nomadic creature, looks more giantish than human, trells are very powerful and are great warriors, just like his friend he is also kind, his loyalty to Icarium is like nothing I’ve ever seen before, its amazing.
The two of them are looking for answers to Icarium’s mysterious past.

Felisin Paran, I liked her at first then disliked her when she became bitter and bitchy, now I like her again because she changed and has become something more, She is also the youngest character in the book.
Heboric light touch former everything, he was once a thief, a priest and a historian, his both hands has been cut off so he is literally handless, but its Malazan an old man with no hands is more than he looks.
Baudin is more than what he looks like, everything about him is a spoiler so go read it 😜.
The three of them are the weirdest companions ever! The circumstances that threw them together is even more bizarre and ruthless.

Duiker is a former soldier turned historian, he goes to battle with soldiers and later document it. His POV is filled with battles scenes, politics and scheming.
Coltaine and his Crow clan are a group of soldiers that did the impossible, Coltaine is the definition of a leader, his Wickan clan all but worship him, the man rarely loose men in battles cause of his great mind and has never lost a battle( come fight me if you count what happen as lost).

Fiddler, Kalam, Apsalar and Crokus are the only characters from the previous book(apart from Cotillion and Shadowthrone), their story picked up where it ended in Gardens of the moon, with them taking Apsalar home, we all know things won’t go exactly according to plan, things happened on the way like a rebellion against the Malazan empire, a convergence of sharp shifters, prophecy and many others.

Shadowthrone and Cotillion just cannot stay away from mortals, but their interference here is only but minimal.

Apsalar blew my mind here...

Apsalar sprang at the other two men, flashing beneath the lanceheads, both knives thrusting up and out as she slipped between the horses. Neither Gral had time to parry. As if in mirror reflection, each blade vanished up and under the ribcage, the one on the left finding a heart, the one on the right rupturing a lung.
Then she was past, leaving both weapons behind. A dive and a shoulder roll avoided the lance of a fourth rider Fiddler hadn't seen earlier. In a single, fluid motion, Apsalar regained her feet and sprang in an astonishing surge of strength, and was suddenly sitting behind the Gral, her right arm closing around his throat, her left reaching down over the man's head, two fingers sinking deep into each eye, then yanking back in time for the small knife that suddenly appeared in her right hand to slide back across the warrior's exposed throat.

She sure is badass and efficient.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,645 reviews1,512 followers
May 2, 2017


I finished and I would give this more stars but it makes me feel like I'm a fantasy idiot. I'm not, I know that I'm not, I usually can really dig in and understand what is going on in most fantasy. But in this series it is so dense that I read all the words and feel like I'm maybe only picking up a third of what I should be.

The world building is immense and Steven Erickson isn't afraid to be brutal and kill everyone in the book you liked. But are they really dead???? Well that is another issue altogether because they could be reborn OR they could have Ascended (become something close to a god) or they are just food for the bloodflies.

As the very lovely Miche suggested in the comments I’m going to try and use the Tor.com Malazan reread forum for the next book and see if that cuts down on my confusion for this series as it feels like I need college level credit to read this.

What I do like about the series is that in a lot of ways it is different from a lot of the fantasy I read. Usually you have the good guys and the bad guys and it is clear who is who. Even when there are shades of grey for character depth YOU KNOW who to root for. I’m still at a loss as to who should get my vote to win.

This book was darker and much more brutal than the last book. Also there is a huge plot line revolving around a military campaign ⇠ Not my favorite thing usually. But reading the story of Coltaine and the army he lead that was trying to help get the Malazan refugees to safety was one of the most heart wrenching things I’ve read and made me hate almost everyone else in the Malazan Empire. The way that particular arc played out pretty well tore me up and I really was glad when a few people got just what they deserved and less glad with the others they seemed to take down with them.

The other line containing Felisin, Heboric and Bauden was also just as brutal but in different ways. I felt so sorry for Felisin and the struggles that she had to go through and how far from the girl she was she fell. Heboric was intriguing to me, a priest/historian that forsake his god. His musings, insights and journey to discover the power within himself was one to pay close attention to. Bauden ended up being one of my favorite characters and I really hoped for trio to have an everlasting bond.

Kalem’s entire story I liked and his was probably one of the more happy arcs even though it too is riddled with death. I’m glad he met a few new people/things during his journey and I’m hoping we see more of him later in the series too.

Sorry/Apsalar was one of my favorite characters in the first book. She is one of the few characters from that to get any page time in this, though through Fiddler’s eyes. She is still quite a mystical force and just this side of creepy sometimes. Still her Journey back towards her home in search of her father was one of my favorites in this book. There was at least some kind of hope in that journey and I was glad to see that she retains some skills from her time under the thumb of Shadow.

Mappo and Icarium’s role in the book was interesting. I liked finding little tidbits out about the duo’s journeys and why they have been together for over 200 years basically wandering the desert. They were almost the comic relief of the book and by the end there story was as hopeful as it was heartbreaking and spoke to the depths someone would go for their best friend and companion.

Overall I struggled with the darkness and misery of this book. There are some funny moments and such but overall 98%, that might be a slight exaggeration but not by much, of the people I liked ended up dead. Also there are some really horrifically brutal scenes in this book that while poignant to the story they also left a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth. That is probably what was intended but it was just a little too much sometimes.

I’m hoping that the next book in the series might have a little happiness in it.
Profile Image for Orient.
255 reviews211 followers
February 21, 2018
Reread: 2018/01/29 - 2018/02/19

A BR with my Malazan comrade, Samir.

Aww, this book broke me again. All those deaths.....

But nonetheless, I was in love with Fid again 💜💜💜💜 or Moby 💜💜💜💜

I found so much anew, also the fact that were missed by me the first time. Like for example, the epilogue!

Let me use and rephrase the joke of wonderful GR girl Mayim (I loved your knock-knock diary, thanks for inspiring me!) to express what Erikson did to me when in DG!

Will I be continuing my reread in Malazan?
For sure!
Then I get back from the dead!

Lots of love,

Purple zombi Orient 💜💜💜

P.S. My new BFF Moby says 'hi'

First read: 2016/12/05 - 2017/01/27

You can see the review there: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Ugh GR
Profile Image for Stefan.
178 reviews223 followers
February 18, 2018
“The lesson of history is that no one learns.”

It’s quite a risk, after Gardens of the Moon, which was a divisive beginning of the series, to follow that up with a story with a completely new cast of characters on a completely different continent, introducing new setting, while disregarding almost everything known from the previous book.
It’s like starting series twice.
Luckily, this second start is with a bang!

Let’s just jump right into it.


Deadhouse Gates picks up immediately after the end of Gardens of the Moon and it reflects on decisions some of the characters (that aren’t necessarily in this book) made in the events of the first book.
As a result, we are leaving continent of Genabackis and we go on entirely different continent, following almost entirely new cast of characters.


Link in case your eyes can actually work in more than 480p


Link in case ant size.

There are three main stories in this book. And I’ll call them Paths.
Path of Hands, Path of Sha’ik and Path of Chained Dogs.

Path of Hands is a story about two species of shapeshifting creatures and convergence they are hurdling to.
Those two species are called Soletakens and D’ivers. The main difference between them, as their name is suggesting, is that Soletaken shapeshifter can change itself into one creature , while D’ivers can change themselves into multiple creatures.
And the reason why they are in such a hurry is because of the promise that while this convergence is happening, at the end of this Path of Hands, one of them will ascend and become a god of both species and have a control over all of them.

This is a story that until the end works as a side story of the book. Although every single character we are following in this book at some point will take part in this story, it’s actually something that no one is paying too much of attention to. It’s always briefly mentioned and lurks somewhere in peripheral vision of both character's and our minds. Its build up is gradual (not to say slow), until obviously, the very end and a crescendo that will blow up in our faces.

Path of Sha’ik is more of a story of a prophecy than of a rebellion. Even though, one irrevocably evokes the other. It’s a story that questions legitimacy of a prophecy and a legitimacy of a rebellion, and all of the atrocities that are committed in it, as a result.

In contrast to story above, this one is more personal story, and not just because we are following major part of it through the eyes of a young girl and witnessing her being shaped into a monster because of the monstrous society that surrounds her, but ultimately because this is a story about vendetta. Vengeance. Be that one nation’s against one occupying Empire or just one sister against the other.

Path of Chained Dogs story focuses more on rebellion than anything else. But instead giving us perspective of ‘always righteous, freedom fighting’ rebels we are witnessing it through the eyes of soldiers who are protecting refugees forced to flee vengeful and blood thirsty faith militants.

This is a story that has everlasting and never-ending crescendo. It starts with one, it lasts through 900 pages of this novel and it ends with it.
It has everything one wishes in militaristic epic fantasy: big battles, skirmishes, diversions, conflicts of different types of magic etc. It has everything that needs to keep you on edges of your seats.
But it has a knack.
It’s excruciatingly emotionally exhausting. It’s painful. And I do not exaggerate.
It doesn’t romanticize conflict. It doesn’t romanticize fighting for freedom and it doesn’t romanticize bravery and sacrifice.


Brief summary:

To me, this is a book about A Soldier. Soldier who enters a conflict – be that a skirmish, major battle, naval battle or simply a conflict within yourself – as a one person, then while fighting their battles – be that with swords, crossbows, words or thoughts – circumstances of reality they found themselves in, mold and shape them, like a piece of clay, only to come out from that conflict as something completely different. And not necessarily a person.
It’s a story about humanity. And what we are capable of doing if we disregard it.

“Does each of us, soldier or no, reach a point when all that we’ve seen, survived, changes us inside?
Irrevocably changes us? What do we become then?
Less human, or more human? Human enough, or too human?”


There’s an obvious difference in quality and progress since first book. And not just in writing a compelling emotional story, but also in far deeper characterization. Those from first book, as well as characters we are introduced to here for the first time.

Felisin Paran, youngest of house Paran. Sister to Ganoes and Tavore.

“There has to be a way to reflect something other than hate and contempt.
No, not a way.
A reason.”

One of the most developed characters of this series.
And probably most hateful.
You see, whenever I would read this book, of those three main stories I have mentioned, I would focus mostly on story of refugees. And regardless of me wanted that or not, it’s already immersive enough and quite exhausting, so I would always ‘dull’ my attention span when it comes to Felisin and her companions.
And without scratching enough under the surface, I would always understand those who didn’t like her character. Even those who hated her with passion.
Now, when my main focus was her story, to all of those who have something bad to say about her – I’ll fight you!
(No I won’t.)

But seriously though, for some reason, I would always dismiss her age. Which is 15.
So, when she was woken up in middle of the night, saw her parents being slaughtered, ended up shackled, escorted to a slave ship by her own sister, forced to work in mines, forced to use her body as a currency to survive a day – all of which happened before her first chapter of this book has even begun – she was 15.
Give this girl a break!

Her entire life was ripped away, she was shoved into an incredibly nasty environment with no preparation and she can't trust anyone because they could kill her, starve her or assault her.
And to be honest, what's the worst thing she's done in this book? She belittled an old geezer and was rude to a grown ass assassin, both of whom treated her like shit in any case.
OK, she's bitchy, she's rude and annoying.

She's 15 and given everything she went through, at that age, how is likely that you'll have enough of life experience to know that you can cope with your pain in other ways other than expressing it by being a little spiteful bitch towards everyone that treats you like shit?
I can understand that.
What's their (Baudin and Heboric) excuse for acting like they did?

But even with all this that I mentioned and all I will leave out from mentioning because of the spoilers, yeah sure, she was annoying.
Sometimes characters are purposefully written like that.
But if she, by the end of this book, or this series, ends up a monster, I’m not going to blame her. Nor will I pity her.
She’s a survivor. And she’s strong as hell. Karsa Olong strong.
She’s an asshole. But, you know…
She is a self-possessed survivor who survives by any means necessary and to call her either a 'victim' or 'cruel' is to completely misread the character.
In my opinion, since I was kinda on the both sides of the spectrum.

Cotillion. Called Uncle by one-eyed, resurrected child of an Apt, Panek.
(Told you this is a heavy book.)

“When I ascended it was to escape the nightmares of feeling... Imagine my surprise that I now thank you for such chains.”

Second best developed character of the series.
Even though his presence wasn’t as big in this book, he was mentioned so many times, and his actions reflected so many characters on so many different levels, that you had to realize how deep his character is. Every action negated his other action, but you realize that there’s a person behind it, who actively chooses to alter his efforts, so that others could live. Or die. Or simply get another chance.
An assassin. Now Ascendant. Assassins are supposed to be efficient and efficiency is by itself brutal. It sacrifices mortal lives for greater need. Like a machine. And could an assassin, even in godlike state, look at himself simply as a machine? Why bother with everything than?

Mapo and Icarium. Or simply called BFF’s.

“We each have our protectors – neither of whom is capable of protecting us. Especially not from ourselves. So they’re dragged along, helpless, ever watchful, but so very helpless.”

Icarium’s endless quest for his lost memories. Because in him thrives hope that with gained memories there will come knowledge. And with knowledge understanding. Who and what he is.
But the curse is such that with every answer he finds, thousands of new questions arise.
Once he created mechanisms which counted time.
It’s a bitter irony, agony and a curse that now, without the knowledge of his past he cannot possibly know where he will go in future. Efficiently stopping him in time.

Coltaine, Duiker, Wickans and 7th Malazan Army

“Pogroms need no reason. None that can weather challenge, in any case. Difference in kind is the first recognition, the only needed, in fact. Land, domination, pre-emptive attacks – all just excuses, mundane justifications that do nothing but disguise the simple distinction.
They are not us. We are not them.”

Yes, I indeed consider them as one character. Spoken through the eyes of a historian Duiker, it tries to show that there’s nothing romantic about battles. That justification for atrocity can be found both in faith and noble battle for freedom. And it delivers. Spectacularly. Painfully.
By the end of this book, you will feel battered and exhausted, same as those soldiers, same as those refugees.

And like theme of the book itself, as I’ve mentioned above, where one enters a conflict only to exit as something else, hopefully, you will enter this book as someone who was simply interested in reading it, only to exit as a full admirer of what Erikson achieved here.



Kharkanas Trilogy
Forge of Darkness
Fall of Light

Path to Ascendancy series
Dancer's Lament
Deadhouse Landing

Malazan Empire series
Night Of Knives

Malazan Book of the Fallen series
Gardens of the Moon

Ultimate Malazan Chronological Reading Order
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews928 followers
April 24, 2023
"You cannot be remade unless you are first broken."

Malazan on Tumblr

Steven Erikson is not content to stay in the world we became immersed in during the first book of this series. Instead, in Deadhouse Gates, his characters are on the march through new places with even grimmer situations than before. It sometimes feels like they are stuck on a really bad road trip with mayhem and death at every turn (and some heart-wrenching deaths at that). Despite that, this is neither simplistic nor a glorification of violence. Deadhouse Gates presents a multi-layered story in the context of a history that is still writing itself out in the backdrop of both new and ancient civilizations. Am I hooked? I am certainly intrigued and will be be continuing the series with the next book, Memories of Ice. At some point as well, I'll be rereading this and perhaps understanding some of what I missed.
Profile Image for Lena K..
62 reviews132 followers
May 1, 2018
Oh this book... It broke my heart too many times!

“Children are dying.” Lull nodded. That’s a succinct summary of humankind, I’d say. Who needs tomes and volumes of history? Children are dying. The injustices of the world hide in those three words. Quote me, Duiker, and your work’s done.”

Deadhouse Gates is the second tale in the “Malazan Book of the Fallen” series, and it takes place after the events of the first book – Gardens of the Moon. Gardens of the Moon was relatively a tough read for me, since it had tons of characters and mainly – many unexplained events; Erikson just tosses you in a whole new world and expects you to deal with it – figuring things bit by bit and placing them together like a puzzle. This book, on the other hand, was much more readable (I guess?), even though Erikson presents a new set of characters on a whole new continent! Things begin to connect here, and the tough start really pays off.

I would say that Deadhouse Gates is the most horrible (in a good way?) and heartbreaking book I’ve ever read in my life. Erikson’s beautiful, sorrowful and precise descriptions made me shed a tear more than once. He dissects the human existence to its core elements and lets us peek inside – to the fear, desperation, despair and most importantly – the hope and the strength of the human spirit in the hardest moments imaginable. He is truly a master of the written word.

“We totter on edges seen and unseen. We are reduced, yet defiant. We’ve lost the meaning of time. Endless motion broken only by its dulled absence—the shock of rest, of those horns sounding an end to the day’s plodding. For that moment, as the dust swirls on, no one moves. Standing in disbelief that another day has passed, and yet still we live.”

Plot (spoiler free)
Deadhouse Gates takes place on the continent of the Seven Cities, which are on a brink of rebellion against the Malazan empire. We have a few unconnected subplots and POVs. Some are more interesting than others. My favorite subplot is that of The Chain of Dogs, led by the talented commander – Coltaine of the Crow clan and told by the Malazan historian – Duiker. It’s the most horrible, heartbreaking and captivating thing you can find in this book (and others as well). Felisin’s plotline was interesting too, and my 2nd favorite. Icarium and Mappo were pretty awesome too. But the Chain of Dogs… Gods, it’s the sort of story that will leave you wordless, unable to communicate with the world outside and CRYING like a baby for days on end. Erikson, you beautiful, ruthless thing!


“We go to partake of death. And it is in these moments, before the blades are unsheathed, before blood wets the ground and screams fill the air, that the futility descends upon us all. Without our armor, we would all weep, I think. How else to answer the impending promise of incalculable loss?”

Where should I begin? The Malazan world is the most complex world I’ve ever read about. There are different and interesting races, each with its unique and broad history. We have magic (which I still don’t fully comprehend), Gods that meddle in mortal affairs, Dragons, Shapeshifters, a whole undead race (and other undead things) and so much more.

Deadhouse Gates gets 5 out of 5 crows from me. Do yourselves a favor and read it!
Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews235 followers
February 16, 2018
While not the emotional mess I was after the first reading of this book it certainly stirred my emotions and empathy. Tied with a few other books in this series as the best ever it held its own on a re-read.

You realize the first time through how many Easter eggs Erikson leaves. The second time around you realize you missed more than you caught. All the subtle little references that sometimes don't come out until books down the road. It was so enjoyable marking them all and knowing what and when they referenced.

In the end it was just as sad as the first time. I felt that same rage at the cruelty and wanted to personally hunt down fictional characters and crush them. Erikson doesn't spare his readers the horrors of the world. Much like his characters you are made to bare witness. You cannot turn away from tragedy and grief.

Original Review
If I said to you an archaeologist and anthropologist wrote a set of books most people would think gee that must be a fun filled snore-fest. Yet it’s what makes Erikson so great.

He starts with the land. What are the characteristics of the land? How did it shape the people, the civilization, and the wildlife. Then he goes deeper. What is the spirit of the land? What lies under the land in past civilizations? How did they change the land? Are their spirits chained to the land? What magic runs through it? I believe given his education everything starts the surface layer and then every and any detail going up, down, left, right and in spiritual or magical directions we cannot see are all factored in and meshed together in astonishing detail where what seems like unrelated all becomes interconnected.

Then he takes the human element into account in the same multilayered fashion. No character is without fault. Every character is bound by motivation. They have failing, triumphs, tragedies, hopes, moments of despair. The push and pull of luck, gods, magic and everything else in the universe guiding them to where they never thought to be.

And that’s without talking about the brilliant prose he uses in describing this incredible world.
When you blend all that together it redefines the term epic. Perhaps the best book I’ve ever read. Better still………I’ve only finished book two!
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