To see my previous posts in my series on who influences my writings, click on the links below.
Robert E. Howard
Glen Cook
George R.R. Martin

Steven Erikson is a writer that fantasy readers are generally very passionate about. Either you love him or you hate him. I’m a member of the former group, but I can understand how he might not appeal to some. His books are densely packed with massive intertwining plot threads. Sometimes a point made at the beginning of one book might not pay off until three books later in the series. For many, that can be a lot to keep up with. I however, like the fact that he doesn’t talk down to the reader and trusts us to figure things out. Honestly, I can’t imagine anyone doing as good of a job as he did with his extremely ambitious series Malazan Book of the Fallen. He literally had plot threads spanning hundreds of thousands of years across several continents and countless POV characters.

There are several reasons why I really enjoy Erikson’s writing and as I’m sure readers of my blog have already noticed, I like using bullets when going over these sort of things so, here we go:

  • Lots of sword and sorcery elements interwoven within a giant epic fantasy. What I mean is that many of the characters are on selfish quests with only their own interests at heart, yet their actions will affect countless others.
  • Larger than life characters. There are so many in this series it’s hard to list them all, so I’ll just go with my favorite. Karsa Orlong is a character we don’t really get to know until the fourth book in the series, but he steals every scene he’s part of. In many ways, he is sort of Conan on steroids. Big, strong, fast, arrogant, quick-witted, and full of memorable one-liners.
  • The worldbuilding is just insane.
  • Strong dialogue, especially among the soldiers of the story.
  • Some of the best fight/battle scenes I’ve ever read. Some may only last a couple of paragraphs, others over one hundred pages. Regardless, you’ll want to read every word of them.
  • He is able to generate a lot of emotional impact in his writing. The only author I think can do this better is Paul Kearney.
  • The philosophical mutterings of his characters are quite ingenious and enjoyable when given to the readers in small doses. (Unfortunately, the later books have a bit too much of this)
  • Original and inventive races of characters.
  • A very unique style of prose.

Erikson’s writing and storytelling is so different than anything else I’ve read it’s hard for me to really do his work justice. So, as before on these sort of posts, I’ve found a few examples that might give you a better idea of what to expect from him.

Kallor said: "I walked this land when the T'lan Imass were but children. I have commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I have spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?"
“Yes," said Caladan Brood, "you never learn.”

“Tell me, Tool, what dominates your thoughts?"
The Imass shrugged before replying.
"I think of futility, Adjunct."
"Do all Imass think about futility?"
"No. Few think at all."
"Why is that?"
The Imass leaned his head to one side and regarded her.
"Because Adjunct, it is futile."

“Children are dying."
Lull nodded. "That's a succinct summary of humankind, I'd say. Who needs tomes and volumes of history? Children are dying. The injustices of the world hide in those three words.”

"Wise words are like arrows flung at your forehead. What do you do? Why, you duck of course.”

“Seven Cities was an ancient civilization, steeped in the power of antiquity, where Ascendants once walked on every trader track, every footpath, every lost road between forgotten places. It was said the sands hoarded power within their sussurating currents, that every stone had soaked up sorcery like blood, and that beneath every city lay the ruins of countless other cities, older cities, cities that went back to the First Empire itself. It was said each city rose on the backs of ghosts, the substance of spirits thick like layers of crushed bone; that each city forever wept beneath the streets, forever laughed, shouted, hawked wares and bartered and prayed and drew first breaths that brought life and the last breaths that announced death. Beneath the streets there were dreams, wisdom, foolishness, fears, rage, grief, lust and love and bitter hatred.”

“Such is the vastness of his genius that he can outwit even himself.”

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