House of Chains by Steven Erikson continues my Malazan Book of the Fallen read through. House of Chains is book number four and my initial goal was to read this entire series this year. It is going to be tough, because I’m way behind, but I’m still going to give it a shot. House of Chains continues Erikson’s multiple POV, plethora of characters, insane world building, and stylistic writing that doesn’t give away answers easily. However, in House of Chains, Erikson introduces a character that has a much more active POV than his previous books, in Karsa Orlong, and the character is just completely ridiculous and over the top brutal and fun to read about. In a series full of epic dudes, Karsa might be the most insanely epic.
If you haven’t decided yet if you want to read the Malazan series, here are its strengths: world building that isn’t freely given to the reader but is figured out through conversations with characters over multiple books, ridiculously over the top characters with powers, active gods, assassins that are written really well, mages that are unqiue in the fantasy genre, and even if a character dies it doesn’t mean they are gone for good. Every sentence is packed full of meaning and Erikson has a strong handle of the English language. Here are the series’ weaknesses: confusing at times, you must be an active reader, more characters than most fantasy books, extremely long books, jumping POVs often, and unclear resolutions.
I really enjoyed House of Chains. The story deals with the story from Deadhouse Gates and Deadhouse Gates is my favorite Malazan book so far. Even though I really liked House of Chains with the introduction of Karsa to the series, I didn’t connect to it like I did with Deadhouse Gates. That isn’t to say I didn’t really like it, but it is probably about equal with Memories of Ice for me. House of Chains was all reliant on an amazing payoff at the end of the book. I did absolutely love the end of this book but I think that this payoff could of happened much sooner. There were some strong scenes of interaction and reveals throughout the entire book but it was all a build up for the end. In other words, an 800 page build up is a little long for me.
My favorite part of House of Chains are the assassins. Malazan does assassins the best of any book I’ve read so far. They are mystical, smart, skilled, and so deadly. There are just so many assassins and even the Patron of Assassins involved in this story. This I found fantastic and I love to read about these shadowy figures moving about undetected and their unparalleled way they attack. There is just something about a well placed dagger from the dark that I love in fantasy.
I really enjoyed House of Chains and I can’t wait to continue on with the Malazan series. To be honest, there is a ton of hype surrounding this series, and I need to do a better job at not falling into that hype. When so many fantasy fans tout this series as the greatest fantasy series of all time, I come into the next book with too high of expectations. I need to relax my expectations and just enjoy the ride.
4/5 19/25 Possible Score
Plot – 3(Strong)
Characters – 4(Strong)
World Building/Setting – 5(Very Strong)
Writing Style – 4(Strong)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 3(Good)