Sunday, October 11, 2009

Book Review: Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson

Title: Deadhouse Gates
Author: Steven Erikson
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Bantam
Publishing Date: 1 Oct 2001
Paperback: 959 pages
Series: Second of ten novels of the epic fantasy series, the Malazan Book Of The Fallen.


In and around the Seven Cities, the wind blowing from the holy Raraku Desert carries the warnings of a rebellion brewing in the whole continent. As Sha'ik unlocks the Whirlwind and sends her followers out on a holy war, the continent becomes a very dangerous place for the Malazans.

Don't Judge A Book By It But...

I must admit that I love Steve Stone's artwork on the covers of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series and Deadhouse Gates is no exception. The warriors spawned by the whirlwind in the desert and the hounds announce a captivating book.


We were in Darujhistan when we turned the last page of the Gardens of the Moon. However in Deadhouse Gates Erikson brings us to the Seven Cities, on a different continent.

As soon as I decided to read Deadhouse Gates, the first question that came to my mind was: "Will I read about the same characters in this book?" Well... If you're asking the same question then let me tell you that the only characters from the Gardens of the Moon that we encounter in Deadhouse Gates are Fiddler, Crokus, Apsalar and Kalam. The story of the first three is told in one of the story threads as Erikson masterfully manages four main story lines in parallel. We find the charismatic Kalam in the second story thread. The third thread is about a trio who just fell into slavery: Felisin Paran, a noble teenager (whose family name should be familiar), Heboric, an excommunicated priest of Fener the Boar God, and Beneth, a brute. The last main story thread revolves around the imperial historian Duiker (whose name was mentioned in the first book) who accompanies the Seventh Army in a perilous journey. Contrary to Gardens of the Moon, though, the characters in each story thread in Deadhouse Gates are most of the time separated by very long distances.

From the first page to the last, Deadhouse Gates progresses as a runaway train that imprisons the reader's attention. The parallel story lines are well crafted and have well balanced weights. These stories pull the reader in different directions, most of the time in different parts of the continent. Furthermore, Erikson continues his world building without overwhelming the reader. He's not afraid of showing gore and blood, and he proves that he is one the best fantasy writers to describe martial action and battle scenes.

I also noticed two things after reading the second book of the series: There is not any deep romance in Erikson's books, at least not in the first two books of the Malazan book of the Fallen. And Erikson seems to be just like George R. R. Martin in that no protagonist is safe in his books. There's something good about being caught off guard that way but it's also sad to see one of your favorite characters disappear.

All in all, in Deadhouse Gates, Steven Erikson raises the bar one more notch. It was an incredible read and I'm definitely thirsty for more. My mind is already set on Memories of Ice. I can't wait...

Rating: 9.5


"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."


  1. I agree, this book was amazing. At times I actually felt like I was slogging through the desert wanting for water. I've always liked your review format (summary, cover, review). Thanks!


  2. great review of a great book - much more engaging than GotM (and that was good).

    Can't wait to read MoI and your review - can you and Erikson both maintain the high standard :-)

  3. Awesome review; could not agree more :)

    For any fans with questions, do check out the forums ( and the wiki ( -- just be real careful about spoilers on the wiki

  4. I couldn't agree more! This was undoubtably one of the best fantasy books I have ever read. The action scenes were brilliant, the emotions are excellently conveyed and the world is so rich with detail. Erikson just put himself high up on my respect scale.