Steven Erikson – Forge Of Darkness

How can one describe the re-invention of a grand and complex mythology created in the massive Malazan Book Of The Fallen series? Because this is what Steven Erikson has done in Forge Of Darkness (2012), the first novel of the Kharkanas Trilogy, an epic fantasy that throws much that was guessed before into disarray.

Erikson shows that all mythology has a core of truth in it but that time warps and twists it into something much grander. What the readers of the Malazan Book Of The Fallen might have imagined has become in a way much mundaner. On the other hand he introduces staggering new ideas and concepts that turn everything upside down. In this first novel we encounter much disclosure. Many secrets are revealed, but as of yet they are incomplete and this will urge the reader to continue onwards to the next installments.

I have been a great fan of The Malazan Book Of The Fallen. Erikson’s writing is of superb quality. He tells a layered story from multiple character viewpoints with a great number of story lines that keep a steady pace and of which none falter or start to bore. He switches between them with ease and anticipation. From the first words on the first page I am captivated and each time I can simply discern to large gap between other fantasy storytellers.

Forge Of Darkness is written in a slightly different style. While the Malazan Book Of The Fallen was somewhat melancholic, with the characters going forward despite the odds and taking life lightly, with comic banter between the characters, this is much different here. There is more drama. There is little banter. The characters look more inward and are of a more gloomy nature. Forge Of Darkness can best be described as a tragedy in the classic sense. It is more heroic and vengeful.

Forge Of Darkness is filled with many familiar characters. Some take center stage while others play minor roles. The world-building is kept more constrained. This is a more simpler universe before things turned far more complex in the ages to come. Someone who hasn’t read any Malazan novels can read this novel as a standalone story but the effect is much greater to read this afterwards.

I had no idea what to expect from this so-called prequel to the Malazan novels. Of course I was intrigued and I had some expectations. Much was however blown away in the early pages of the novel. Erikson did the unexpected and with this simple enchanted me. The only question that now remains with me is where the story will be taken and if Erikson can deliver something much greater than I had imagined. Highly recommended.

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