Tuesday 25 December 2012

Updated MALAZAN reading order and map

Updated with info from Orb Sceptre Throne and Blood and Bone:

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:
  1. Gardens of the Moon
  2. Deadhouse Gates
  3. Memories of Ice
  4. House of Chains
  5. Midnight Tides
  6. Night of Knives*
  7. The Bonehunters
  8. Return of the Crimson Guard**
  9. Reaper's Gale
  10. Toll the Hounds***
  11. Stonewielder****
  12. Orb Sceptre Throne*****
  13. Dust of Dreams
  14. The Crippled God
  15. Blood and Bone*** ***
  16. 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.


Shane Willett said...

Thanks for this. These are always helpful references when I'm trying to get someone new to read the series.
Merry Christmas, Adam!

Anonymous said...

Good work Wert, but SW has to be read before OST because of the Kiska arc.

Adam Whitehead said...

Damnit, I'd forgotten that.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this reading list, this is what I am going to go with.I Just finished GotM and found it extremely rewarding. it was difficult to adjust to SE's writing style and content straight after my ASoIaF read. I am now 90 pages into DG. i was using the Tor reread to get me through the initial challenge of the first half of GotM and found it helpful but felt that their reading order was wrong, going on to Knives after GotM. I am up and running with the series now and dont require any hand holding and you put forward a persuasive case for this order so Im going to go with this. After finishing GotM I have been looking into different reading orders and weighing them up and then this post came up. chance?..luck?..or is it Oponn..am i having a convergence??? am i in danger? Hood's breath!

Annabel said...

I don't recall the/any explicit time references for RG and RotCG, but the ending of RotCG occurs after the end of RG, causality-wise. One prominent RotCG character dies but is still called alive by Hood at the end of RG. The epilogue of RotCG also spoils a major event in RG. (trying not to drop any outright spoilers here, hope you know what I mean)

So IMO RotCG should be after RG.

Annabel said...

RotCG should be read after RG:

1) A prominent character in RotCG dies, but is reported still alive at the end of RG

2) The epilogue of RotCG would spoil a major plot development at the end of RG

Nick said...

I agree with much of this. I'm a strong advocate of not splitting DoD and tCG, and I agree the best place for B&B is post-CG. SW must be read before OST due the Kiska arc mentioned above, but I'd reverse the order of RG and RotCG.

Spoilers for RG and RotCG...

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2. Ng gur raq bs ET, jr ner fhecevfrq gb yrnea gung Gbp gur Ryqre vf fgvyy nyvir. Guvf fubhyq gura yrnq gb frrvat uvz nyvir va EbgPT nsgrejneqf (naq fvapr ur gura qvrf, ernqvat ET nsgre EbgPT jbhyq or bhg-bs-frdhrapr).

(Click here for cypher.)

James D. Cormier said...

I've been thinking about reading Malazan for years, but have never quite gotten up the courage. It seems to be rather polarizing and what I've read about the series as a whole sounds intimidating. Am I missing out? Should I just go for it?

Jens said...

Many many thanks for this, Adam, very much appreciated!
I've yet to read these books and have asked myself which would be the best way to read them. I already was very thrilled to see the first reading order on your blog a while back and was hoping for an update for the new books later on.
The Wertzone being the quality blog it is I'm not surprised you just did that! :-D

ediFanoB said...

Thanks a lot for your post which encouraged me to tackle the series in 2013.

I own paperback copies of all the books except Blood and Bone and the forthcoming
Assail (forthcoming)

Sascha Walter said...

Thank you for this! I have been planning to read this series for years, and this helps with planning which books to get when. I am really trying to finally read it this year.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I should forget the ones written by ICE. If Night of Knives had been the first book I'd read I should have not bothered with the rest. I found it so poorly written that I only read half of it before moving on to the Bonehunters to get back to the excellent writing of Steven Erikson. It is my personal opinion that ICE has no writing talent.

Anonymous said...

When will you post the updated map on the malazan wiki site?

Adam Whitehead said...

This isn't an official map or based on one, so should not be used on a wiki.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this i'm buying the books in order following this list. At reapers gale now.

Dyssius said...

thanks, just wanted to know when to add in Esslemont's stuff. was going to read just the main series in publication order without the novellas + Esslemont. But if they add to the story, I'll read them to :)

Matthew Malthouse said...

Personally I'd read the Erikson in publication order first and then the Esslemont.
It's bad enough Erikson giving you clues that become relevant 2 books later without interpolating further distractions. :)

Anonymous said...

What about the bauchelain and korbal broach books? Ae they in any way relevant, or is it us a pointless spin off

Liam said...

I do not understand why you say that Orb Sceptre Throne reduces the amount of time between Memories of Ice and Toll the Hounds. You state that existence of a five-year-old Harllo in TtH must be ignored, and that OST retcons the time elapsed to two years. How, then, to explain that Harllo appears in OST and is described on page 362 as "coming into adolescence". That should make him around ten years old, not two years old! I think that your chronology is good, but that the certainty in dating is less so. Both authors have now used the same child to place a considerable amount of time in between MoI and the events of the later books.

Unknown said...

I am not sure I can face reading any more ICE books. RotCG was such a slog, I am just coming to the end of Toll the Hounds and two more books is about as much as I can take. TtH is a very long book, too long in my opinion.
I don't think I will bother with these mammoth series anymore. I bailed out of the Wheel of Time at about book 8, far too much padding!

Anonymous said...

I am working my way through the series again and am a huge fan. It is is frustrating though. There are a lot of conflicting statements and scenarios given. Not only between authors, but by Erikson himself.

Side note: Night of Knives has to take place before the prologue of Gardens.

Thanks for the list. I'm going to continue with your recommended order.

Suzanne F said...

Thank you for this list. I've just finished the 10th book in the Book of the Fallen series and feel like I missed so much. This gives me a framework for filling in the blanks as I reread the series.

Anonymous said...

Necro: Weird tha Orb Sceptre Throne takes place before Crippled God, as Toll thr Hounds ends just before the end of Dust, and OST states a year has passed since the end of TtH.