Monday, March 7, 2011

MBotF reread: "House of Chains" by Steven Erikson

Huh... Last week some sudden business commitments fell into my schedule, so I am writing this review more than a week after finishing "House of Chains". Since I've been reading "Midnight Tides" last week, HoC is already fading from my mind. Good thing that this time I made some notes.

Anyway, I was a bit biased before this re-read of HoC, because of Karsa's part. I my last reading I never liked his part, don't know why. This time, I found it great. I was especially surprised by his naivety. I don't know if I didn't notice it first few times or I just forgot it, but Karsa is extremely naive, at least in the beginning. Actually, he is just a over-imaginative teenager, who has heard too much hero-stories, thinks his invincible and thinks that everybody is honorable as he is. The fact that he is a member of race that lives few centuries and considers killing and raping most prestigious acts makes it somewhat hard to identify with him. But if you ignore this, he is similar to many teenage fantasy fans: idealistic, longing for adventures and becoming a hero, wanting to leave his mark in history. He does a tremendous deal of growing up in this book.

So, first part, let's say a quarter, is taken by Karsa's story. Rest of the book is continuation of events from "Deadhouse Gates". I was really impressed how first three chapters do nothing except presenting major characters. We have three sets of POVs. First one is Malazan's 14th army. Here we have Strings (Fiddler's new name) and Fist Gamet to lead us trough events. Next one is characters in Shaik's camp. We have several POV's there: Heboric, Karsa, Felisin Younger, Loric and several others... Finally, there is the mixed set: Crokus (with Apsalar), Lostar Yill (and Pearl), Kalam and Onrack/Trull Sengar. I like all of them. I especially like Fiddler's parts, who is my favorite character. And of course, I adore appearances of Iskaral Pust throughout the book.

In style, this book is much different from DG, whose logical sequel it is. There are no such emotional scenes that marked DG. Can't say that there are no heartbreaking events here (Andarist, Apsalar/Crokus, new from Genebackis, Tavore/Felisin...), but they are much more personal and on smaller scale. This book is more concentrated on plot. It continues trend set in "Memories of Ice" and continues to weave the complicated tapestry of MBotF. Also, there is that feeling of antiquity that comes with every book set in Seven Cities. I must also point out the humor in this book which is great: Karsa, Tiste Liosan, Cynnigig...

So, my impression from this reread is that "House of Chains" can be pictures more by evolution than revolution. This is not one of the most shocking or intense books in the series, but it is still great in more quite way.

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