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The Crippled God by Steven Erikson
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Member:baroc
Title:The Crippled God
Authors:Steven Erikson
Info:Bantam (2011), Edition: Book Club Edition, Hardcover, 848 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:fantasy, malazan

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The Crippled God by Steven Erikson (2011)

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After a brutal battle with the K'Chain Nah'ruk, the Bonehunters march towards Kolanse, the location of their final battle. To get there they must first cross a desert of glass, agreed by all as an impossible task. Awaiting them at journey's end: Forkrul Assail, the arbiters of humanity. Elsewhere, in the realm of Kurald Galain, is the city of Kharkanas. A mass of refugees stand on its Shore, awaiting the breach of Lightfall and the coming of the Tiste Liosian. This is a fight they cannot win in the name of an empty city and a mad queen. Yet elsewhere three Elder Gods plot to shatter the chains of Korabas, the Otataral Dragon, from her eternal prison. Her release will send a force of devastation across the realms that no mortals can withstand. And if that is not enough the gates of Starvald Demelain are about to open which will release the Elient, true dragons, across the world.

The Crippled God is the tenth and final tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Picking up exactly where book 9 left us, the story immediately takes off and the reader must hang on tight. Everything you have come to expect from a Malazan novel is here: humor, action, magic, philosophy, utterly realistic characters, elder races, gods, heartbreak, joy and more. It amazes me at how set ups from the very first novel are all tied together in this book. Many story threads are given closure. Many important questions are answered. It wouldn't be a Malazan novel if some plot points and questions didn't remain. For me I can't say they bother me at all.

Where Erikson really shines is his representation of the human condition. He is able to dig deep into the heart, mind and soul of his characters to give us an array of views on war, love, hate, pain, sorrow, joy, life, death and all those themes that are the core of what makes us human. And compassion. If there is one theme for this series it is that of compassion. While Erikson forces us to look into the mirror and see all the ugly we wish we could hide he also shows us the beauty of the soul. These are the scenes that will move you.

The Crippled God is a fitting ending to what has become my all time favorite series. I started these books in 2012 and it has been quite a journey. To say that I have enjoyed these books doesn't do them justice. Amazingly complex, overwhelmingly hearbreaking, laugh out loud funny and everything in between this series elevates what it is to be epic fantasy. Thank you Steven Erikson for such an amazing story. I look forward to rereading this series in the future. ( )
  Narilka | Aug 18, 2014 |
We go round and round and this is the story of the world. Do not flee us. Do not flee this moment, this scene. Do not confuse dislike and abhorrence with angry denial of truths you do not wish to see. I accept your horror and expect no forgiveness. But if you deny, I name you coward.

And I have had my fill of cowards.


This is it, the close of what I can only refer to as the best collection of epic fantasy ever created. I don’t want to give a summary or even mention any names which might spoil this book or what comes in its first half, Dust of Dreams. The Crippled God picks up right where DD left off, and I recommend reading it immediately after completing the former. (I chose not to break and read Esslemont’s Stonewielder in between, and am glad I did so.) These last two books together were an emotional roller-coaster, as story-lines come to an end, as characters we’ve known and come to love over the years face their most heartbreaking challenges yet.

Was every storyline and question closed off, answered? No, at least not obviously so. Was there sufficient closure? Yes, I thought so. I was not disappointed by this ending. I cried several times in the last few hundred pages. Erikson is a genius in many ways, but his crowning achievement will always be his insight into human nature – the good and the bad of it, the mixed motivations, the self-doubts and recriminations, the sparks of compassion and the heartbreaking way people can go to the mat for one another.

I first picked up Deadhouse Gates from a used bookstore in the summer of 2005, and was immediately hooked. I backed up to read Gardens of the Moon and since then I have read and re-read the early episodes of this series so many times along the journey, never wanting to forget an important detail from an earlier episode when I'd been waiting for the release of a new one. My final re-read of the entire series began in June, 2011 and it has taken until early 2014 to complete it (with some breaks caused by work and personal events). I will read this series again one day, which is something I can say of very few books, let alone a project as monstrous as this one. I’m so grateful to Erikson for this gift, and have made sure to infect as many people as I could with a love for his books over the years. I will continue to do so. ( )
  philosojerk | Feb 18, 2014 |
This tenth and concluding volume is decidedly true to what's come before, featuring all the flamboyant action and unresolved mysteries we've come to expect. The traditional structure of establishing who-versus-who at the beginning of a series and then building up to a final confrontation has always been manipulated and thrown into disarray throughout, and it would have been unreasonable to anticipate anything changing at this point. Many will question why the villains were not better foreshadowed, or the role of the Crippled God. This tenth volume is almost self-contained in a way we haven't seen since the first five books, even despite the ninth being its "first half". The result is a sort of discordant, asymmetrical ending to the series that does not tie up all threads, answer every question (it even inspires some new ones) or establish all fates. One key element is resolved: I think a very solid case can be made that Tavore Paran is the main protagonist of the series. That was rarely obvious during the prior volumes, with so many competing stories and points of view, but it becomes clearer as the thematic elements address one simple question: who or what is worth saving?

What strikes me most about this book, and what makes it my personal favourite in the series, is that I was made to feel every high and low. I complained in my review of MOI, for example, that it was often like watching the author set up and knock down a bunch of toy soldiers, all too remote. Not this time, possibly because I've finally spent enough hours with these characters and their world and because I knew this was the end. More likely, it's because enough time was spent on the "why" questions. Clearer motivations, more thoughts centered on confronting fate rather than abstract philosophizing, mixed with heartwarming reunions and painful separations or farewells - more heart, more of what was missing in most of the previous books. More real people, feeling and thinking real things like real people do.

Prior to reading this series I scoured the Internet for Erikson's posts where he illuminates what he intended, how much thought he put into what he created, what his goals were, etc. I wanted reassurance that taking on ten thousand pages would be worth it. The author claims it is ultimately about compassion, most explicitly stated in the contrast between Shadowthrone and Cotillion. He also likens reading this series to opening a history book at some random page, reading a hundred years' worth, and closing it again. These observations have proven true and helped me with the reading. I found less illuminating his claim that the reader is sent on a hero's journey during the course of reading, as I can't line that up.

The primary "pros" of the series that stood out to me: incorporating an enormous scale without making the story feel dragged out; demonstrating the significance of soldiers even within the context of massive-scale battles involving incredible magic and chaos, where individual lives still matter; a sharp sense of humour across all forms be it puns, farce or subtle insinuations, equally balanced with tragedy; creative choices in where the story is carried to next with each succeeding volume; a stab at literary aspirations through meta-fiction elements, particularly in the eighth volume (although the tenth I believe is his best work.)

The primary "cons": his bad habit of not establishing setting; a lack of concern with drawing the reader into his tale, like a driver who never inquires how his passengers are faring, challenging us through meta-fiction to blame ourselves if we don't feel properly engaged; being forced as the reader to treat every detail as important in case it becomes significant later and not always being rewarded; the awkward division of writing labour between Erikson and Esselmont, such that major threads are left hanging by one or the other and neither has produced something entirely self-contained.

Erikson succeeds brilliantly on the big-picture macro level, magnificent at marshalling an entire world of characters and peoples, history and geography. The weakness of his approach lies in the micromanaging: he can rarely develop any single character sufficiently for us to care enough about their fate in order for it to have the emotional impact he clearly desires (Coltaine the most glaring example, imo.) Readers' favourite books in the series vary widely, probably tied to who they managed to care most about. I find Erikson's greatest weakness is his portrayal of children, not one of whom I found believable unless I forgot how old they were.

This series has generated more fascinating Internet discussion than most fantasy novels, prompting readers to help one another make connections across volumes as though studying real life history, parsing phrase and line for subtext as I've usually only seen done with classic literature. Malazan earns and deserves more than a cursory scan of its surface - but how much reward does it ultimately provide for the effort? At its heart the story is rather a simple collection of numerous adventures, a sort of "Arabian Nights" except that the stories interweave and influence one another. Its complexity derives more from the manner of its telling than any message it delivers. It is hardly likely to be (or at least to remain) the most challenging literature you ever read in your life, contrary to the hype. I am not even convinced it is the most literary fantasy series (Gene Wolfe? Stephen R. Donaldson? Ursula LeGuin?). Happily I did feel compelled to consider those questions, which says something. My personal rating for the series as a whole would be four stars out of five, and I've no regrets for any of my time spent here. ( )
  Cecrow | Feb 3, 2014 |
The Malazan Book of the Fallen is an epic series, both in page count and in story line. I guesstimate it's about 15.000 pages in my paperback editions, with many story lines, a lot of land covered, many characters, many gods, many people, and in the end it mostly comes down to one war, one battle, one goal. That's what Steven Erikson and we, his readers, have been working towards. And while I am sure he knew what he was doing when he wrote this book, I am not sure that I know how to write a review for part 10 of this epic series, and for this series as a whole.
In this book most of it all comes together. Adjunct Tavore and her Bonehunters, the K'Chain Che'Malle, the Imass, the Forkrul Assail, the Tiste races, the Eleint. Of course the major focus of just about everybody is The Crippled God. The question is, for both the reader and some of the characters, is he evil and should be destroyed, or good and should be rescued. With Erikson you never know.
There is no way I can make a summary of this book. It would turn out to be a "and then that happened, and then that happened" type story, because just so much happened. I could not put this book down, which for me meant that is was a fitting conclusion to a series I just loved. I can't say I am quite sure what happened in the end (but luckily reading online about the book shows that many people are left with the same questions as me). But these are good questions. They aren't open-ended story lines, instead they show that with the world Erikson creates, as within our own world, nothing, no people, no person, no god, is ever truly good or evil. I am so glad this series was recommended to me, and I am glad this was my 'project' series for this year (I tried to commit to reading one part every month). Epic, fantastic, just great. Five out of five stars. ( )
  divinenanny | Nov 12, 2013 |
Three million words later, it's over.

It's been seven months of my life. Mr Erikson, I salute you. ( )
  heterocephalusglaber | Apr 26, 2013 |
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Steven Eriksonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stone, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Many years ago one man took a chance on an unknown writer and his first fantasy novel—a novel that had already gone the rounds of publishers a few times without any luck. Without him, without his faith and, in the years that followed, his unswerving commitment to this vast undertaking, there would be no 'Malazan Book of the Fallen.' It has been my great privilege to work with a single editor from start to finish, and so I humbly dedicate The Crippled God to my editor and friend, Simon Taylor.
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Cotillion drew two daggers.
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Ignorant historians will write of us, in the guise of knowledge. They will argue over our purpose - the things we sought to do. They will overturn every boulder, every barrow stone, seeking our motives. Looking for hints of ambition. They will compose a Book of the Fallen. And then argue over its significance. In the guise of knowledge - but truly, what will they know? Of each of us? From that distance, that cold, cold distance - you'd have to squint. You'd have to look hard .... Whatever we manage to do, it will have to be enough. We will bring this book to an end, one way or another.
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Tavore Paran struggles to hold her army together in order to combat a fearsome alien force, while the gods threaten to once again unleash dragons to destroy the world.

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