Jul 14, 2010

Malazan: An Introduction, Part II

...continued from Malazan: An Introduction, Part I

While the conflicts of the four Founding races teared the world, a different war raged in Kurald Galain, the Elder Warren of Darkness. Mother Dark, creator of the multiverse, had committed a sin in the eyes of her children - the Tiste Andii - by giving birth to Light. Anomander Rake, her second son, led a small group of his race into the Malazan world, swearing never to return to the mother that turned her face away from her firstborn. Others followed him later, together with their new cousins - the Tiste Edur, Children of Shadow, born from the congress of Light and Darkness. The Andii and Edur fought a war with the already declining K'chain Che'Malle and won, but a betrayal from within led to the near decimation of the children of Darkness. In the end, Anomander Rake's followers were among the few who survived, while the Edur left for a distant land. The Son of Darkness now dwells in a flying mountain called Moon's Spawn, pledging the help of his people to causes not their own, as even though they can use the powers of Kurald Galain, entry to their home Warren is forever denied to them.

Powerful beings walk the Malazan world. Some of them manage to obtain godlike powers and immortality. The paths to Ascension are many, and the Ascendents assume different roles. Some, like Anomander Rake, lead their people, denying their attempts to revere them. Others grasp at godhood, gathering followers or slaves and feeding off their faith. But just as not all Ascendants are gods, the opposite is also true, for there are gods that were never mortal. Some were part of the forces that shaped the multiverse, while others were called into being by the myriad beliefs of civilizations sometimes long gone.

Many other powers form the balance of the world, such as the shapeshifting Soletaken and D'ivers; the sentient Houses of Azath that sprout at random places to imprison in their grasp everything that threatens the order of the multiverse; the draconean Eleint, children of the dragon goddess Tiam and Starvald Demelain, the First Warren; and a plethora of other creatures, races and groups that wage war on each other, form alliances and play in the games of intrigue that span worlds and centuries.


It is easy to lose oneself in the labyrinth of the Malazan world, with its myriad factions, ridiculously overpowered characters and ceaseless conflicts. What I've spent two posts in describing is never presented in such a synthesized form. Steven Erikson never explains anything outright, and sometimes different points of view present conflicting information. And yet, it is all there, and it quickly starts to make sense. Even when you feel you've been thrust in the middle of an unfamiliar place with its unfamiliar history and a vast cast of characters you know nothing about at the beginning of Gardens of the Moon, the story just propels you forward, until suddenly you realize this grasping for firm knowledge is unnecessary. Because, especially in the first half of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, you become part of this world. And as such, you can't ever truly know the whole picture - not until you've lived through it.

Next: Malazan: The early books - Genabackis

1 comment:

  1. That's a nice wee description of the world, though it doesn't really say much about Erickson's style, which (for me) is the other big draw to the series.

    I just finished Stonewielder, and, boy, do I miss that style...