Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson – Review

Cover- Deadhouse Gates

Published: September 1, 2000

Publisher: Tor Books

ISBN: 9780765310026

Pages: 604 (Hardcover)

Rating: 5.0/5.0


In the vast dominion of Seven Cities, in the Holy Desert Raraku, the seer Sha’ik and her followers prepare for the long-prophesied uprising known as the Whirlwind. Unprecedented in size and savagery, this maelstrom of fanaticism and bloodlust will embroil the Malazan Empire in one of the bloodiest conflicts it has ever known, shaping destinies and giving birth to legends.


Deadhouse Gates is the second book in The Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson. This is definitely one of my favorite series of all time and this particular book is one of my favorites out of the ten book series. So many emotions rise to the surface as you read through the story, and like a fine vintage or cheese it gets better with age. The impact of the story can really blow you away the first time, and it does not diminish with consecutive reads; if anything it gets better and you begin to see details you missed the first time. Erikson is an absolute master when it comes to building complex, rich worlds with a history that rivals that of our own in terms of detail and depth.

The opening scene of Deadhouse Gates is one that will stay with me so long as I have the capacity to recall it. An indiscriminate culling of the nobility coinciding with the end of the Season of Rot leaves us with a macabre image of a priest of Death shambling towards the prisoners in a none too subtle sign. The priest is layered in the blood of murderers and flies, so thoroughly coated… no, he that once was human is revealed to be nothing but flies. My description puts to shame the actual scene, which should be read and savored as one of the most perturbing and dramatic prologues to be written. This one short segment is an opener to one of the most brutal and heart-rending books I’ve ever read.

There are a number of storylines in this book that converge and diverge throughout the course of the novel and it is nigh on hopeless, or at least pointless, to try and count them all. Needless to say, it is extremely satisfying when they converge and a larger portrait of the events begins to be painted. As it goes, so many questions are answered and simultaneously you gain two more questions. I just can’t get over this series. Give it a chance- the first book is a bit slow for awhile and a bit confusing, but it gets so much better!! In a perfect world this book could be translated to a television series that got every single detail correct and used the exact words and spanned twenty seasons. Unfortunately, we do not live in that world and the budget required to make it decent at best would probably make Game of Thrones look like a bargain.

I’ve got so many good things to say about Deadhouse Gates that I could go on and on and probably repeat myself an embarrassing number of times. I’m just done. Go read the series and maybe you’ll feel the same way. The Malazan book of the Fallen series is not something everyone will enjoy- it is dense and detailed beyond comprehension and the prose is a bit formal at times, but its quality stuff.


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