17 March, 2008

Erickson's Greatness

Sorry it's been awhile. I've been very busy at work and by the time I get home I'm so wiped I really don't feel like getting on line and posting anything new. One thing I have been keeping up on though is Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Those of you who have been reading my blog regularly know how highly I think of this series. With each book my admiration grows. Last week I finished reading Midnight Tides, the fifth book in the series. I am currently reading The Bonehunters, the sixth. Both books continue to confirm Erikson's storytelling ability and world building genius. I am about a third of the way through The Bonehunters and it already puts me in mind of Memories of Ice (the third in the series and my personal favorite thus far).
So what is it about this series that has drawn in myself and so many others? At the risk of sounding sacrilegious, I believe it is because Erikson is the closest thing to Tolkien since Tolkien. How so? Before Tolkien's epic Lord of the Rings trilogy there had been fantasy but nothing on that scale with that depth. Tolkein created a world that was so rich and deep you could almost believe it existed. He created characters that you truly cared about. I have read a lot of fantasy over the years and enjoyed alot of it but, ultimately, it is all derivative of Tolkien. Until I "discovered" Erikson. He has done the same thing that Tolkien did only he did it without using Tolkien's template. There is almost nothing here that is reminiscent of Tolkien (outside of the existence of magic in both worlds although in very different aspects). My guess is that the next twenty to thirty years will see an abundance of writers seeking to re-create what Erikson has done much in the way that all the years since Tolkien have seen writers trying to emulate Tolkien.
Erikson and Tolkien also share another trait. They are unforgiving to "casual" readers. Theirs are not books that you can read and then just forget. At least, not if you intend to continue with the rest of their respective series. Everything leads somewhere and sometimes seemingly obscure events have unexpected ramifications later in the series. This is especially true concerning Erikson. There have been times I find myself lost for awhile because I have forgotten events being referred to. Ultimately, when the series is complete, I look forward to going back and reading the entire series consecutively and realizing all that I missed the first time. In the final evaluation that may be what puts Erikson in Tolkein's solitary company-the fact that you can re-read both and always discover something new.

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