Avid book reader. Lover of fantasy, contemporary fiction, short stories and non-fiction. This blog is a work in progress - and it will likely always be that way.
So I finally got around reading the infamous Erikson - finally got around reading the first book that is. This book is definitely not a standalone, but the start of a massive series and, honestly, every paragraph oozes its epicness. You can't miss it!
I had been warned about getting confused and this series being very complicated, but I actually thought it was all right. It's not a fast read, that's true, and you can't skim anything at all. I've also realized that I needed to get my chapters in early evening (or even better: Sunday early afternoon) to make sure I could pay attention. Whenever I tried to read this as 'bedtime-literature' - it just wasn't working. Especially the end is a blur of action that made me go "Wait, what happened just now?!"
But apart from that, I did not get all that confused, but I guess I'm just not the kind of super-analyzing-reader. I just soak it all in and trust that the pieces are going to fit eventually and that everything will 'click' inside my head. And of course - this being the first book not everything is explained, but Erikson's writing style makes me very confident that will happen eventually.
His writing is definitely very good. Sometimes a bit showing off. After reading the prologue I got a bit scared of the amount of words I had to look up in a dictionary after just 5 pages (here's the list: merlon, tithe, vambrace, accoutrement, sappers, shoal, seditious, gauging and conflagration), but it definitely gets better as of chapter 1.
I also like that there isn't going to be any Deus-Ex-Machina here. Just from this one book the amount of foreshadowing has been perplexing - and I'm sure I can only tell about 1% of it right now. It must have been massive work to create the world and all the events before writing the first book!
This is also the kind of 'real' book, where it's hard to take sides. I found myself cheering for so many different people! But my favorite, by a long shot, was Kruppe; he made me chuckle from the very first time we meet him. I couldn't help but adore the little fool who talks about himself in the third person.
"Weren't we supposed to report to Baruk?" Murillio asked, his eyes on his friend.
"All in due time," Kruppe said. "First, we must recover from our ordeals. What if Kruppe were to lose his voice in very mid-sentence of said report? What would avail Baruk of that?" He raised his tankard and drank deep.
Or another one:
"Kruppe admits to his own weariness. Indeed, a camp should be found, and Murillio can construct a small fire, perhaps, and so prepare dinner while Kruppe ponders vital thoughts and such."
Despite it being an epic read, there is a enough humour to lighten it all up. One of my favourite scenes is about Tattersail, one of the mages of the 2nd army:
"I am Toc the Younger," he said smiling, "and you need a drink." He poured the glass full and handed it to her. "Often, when we camped on the march, I'd see you lugging that traveling wardrobe of yours around. Now I finally see what was in it. Sorceress, you're a sight for a sore eye."
A look of gratitude entered Tattersail's gaze. She raised an eyebrow. "I hadn't realized my traveling wardrobe garnered such attention."
Toc grinned. "I'm afraid you've provided a standing joke in the Second. Anything surprising, be it an ambush or an unplanned skirmish - the enemy invariably came from your traveling wardrobe, Sorceress"
I wish I had a traveling wardrobe like that to ponder about while Muriollio constructs a fire and prepares dinner. Dragon fruit scales with moon tear sauce and potatoes shaped like little houses, bon appetit!