Following the publication of Blood and Bone, it's now possible to work out a new reading order for the books to best account for the information given by both authors. This list is not the chronological order of the novels, which would likely be very confusing, but a 'best' reading list accounting for publication and chronological orders:
- Gardens of the Moon
- Deadhouse Gates
- Memories of Ice
- House of Chains
- Midnight Tides
- Night of Knives*
- The Bonehunters
- Return of the Crimson Guard**
- Reaper's Gale
- Toll the Hounds***
- Orb Sceptre Throne*****
- Dust of Dreams
- The Crippled God
- Blood and Bone*** ***
- Assail (forthcoming)
The placement of Forge of Darkness remains difficult. It is so full of references to things already-established in the Malazan series that reading it first is hard to recommend, but it does clarify some elements of the world and terminologies that may be much more helpful to newcomers than jumping straight in with Gardens of the Moon.
The side-novellas form a totally separate side-story. Aside from recommending that they be read after Memories of Ice, they can be read whenever.
* Night of Knives introduces several characters who play a role in The Bonehunters.
** Return of the Crimson Guard picks up shortly after The Bonehunters, whilst Reaper's Gale tells us explicitly that a year has passed since the events of TBH.
*** According to dialogue, Toll the Hounds takes place six years after Memories of Ice. According to every other piece of information in the whole series, this is flat-out impossible, and needs to be ignored. Orb Sceptre Throne retcons it to about two years after MoI. The presence of a child born after MoI who is five years old in TTH also has to be ignored.
**** There is an argument for moving Stonewielder after Orb Sceptre Throne, as it shares a major scene with Blood and Bone viewed from an alternate perspective and thus happens simultaneously. This also puts Toll the Hounds right next to its direct sequel, Orb Sceptre Throne. However, there is a subplot in Stonewielder which takes place before Orb (thanks to the time-bending properties of the Warrens) and continues in it, requiring Stonewielder to be read first.
***** According to dialogue and various events, Orb Sceptre Throne takes place before the conclusion of the Dust of Dreams/Crippled God duology.
*** *** Blood and Bone takes place simultaneously with the events of The Crippled God and immediately thereafter.