If I had one word to describe Deadhouse Gates, it would be this – Wow! Simply amazing. What a delight this book was. So many loveable characters all jammed into this one book! I have to say, Deadhouse Gates was far better than Gardens of the Moon!
Seems like I gave away my entire review in that one paragraph! But this book deserves every single bit of praise. Beware though, my review has some major and minor spoilers. While the spoilers are hidden, I would advise you to not read them till you finish reading the book.
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.” Steven Erikson
The book has only a few characters that continue their story from where the first book left them. We get to see the familiar faces of Crokus, Fiddler, Apsalar and Kalam as they make their way back to Malazan territory. Fiddler and Kalam are stand out characters! Just like in Gardens of the Moon, they are complicated and at times a bit bugging when they don’t do the obvious things! But then a few chapters later you realise why they didn’t.
My absolute favourite characters in this book were Coltaine, Duiker and Felisin. These three are so full of life and so complicated that I felt utter sympathy at what the book was doing to them. Coltaine as the Wickan Fist of Malazan was an absolute gem of a military commander. Utterly ruthless and yet fair and just. Duiker the Imperial Historian seemed like an odd fit at the beginning of the book but he shines at the role he has been given. Felisin is a character we see growing in many different ways. She was shaped by her circumstances, even more so, than the others in the book.
Other notable characters include; Captain Lull, Corporal List, Heboric, Baudin, Stormy, Gesler…well I could keep on going and not reach the end of the list of amazing characters. I applaud Steven Erikson for all the complex characters he has written into a single book.
On the other hand, you have High Fist Pormqual, the Donald Trump of the Malazan Empire. I’m yet to learn how he managed to become a High Fist, being the kind of person he is. Hopefully some of the future books can explain but I wouldn’t want any words wasted on him at all.
I think the weakest characters in this book were Icarium, Mappo and Crokus. Icarium and Mappo are such a strong duo and what the book kept hinting throughout about Icarium was never really delivered. Though, this being Malazan my friends keep telling me that sometimes the rewards come a few books later. I can wait. I have a feeling that Icarium will deliver far beyond my expectations of him. Crokus was also pretty much a side character for this book. After playing a crucial role last book, he was basically benched.
Full marks for being an awesome epic fantasy book with characters that have depth and a world that feels alive!