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Title: House of Chains
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #4
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
Plot Line One:
Karsa Orlong, a young Teblor, sets out on an adventure with 2 of his friends. They discover out in the wide world that the Teblor are enslaved and an insular people. Karsa vows to become the warleader his people needs, even if he has to fight each and every Teblor. Along the way he gets involved with Leoman of the Flails and becomes Shaik’s bodyguard. Read Deadhouse Gates to see how that turns out. At the same time, the Teblor gods reveal themselves to Karsa and he bursts the bonds holding his people enthralled. Karsa’s plotline ends with him becoming the Knight of the House of Chains and everyone who knows him saying that the Broken god will regret doing so.
Plot Line Two:
Adjunct Tavore sets out with a green army to subdue Shaik’s Rebellion, not knowing that Shaik is now her younger sister Felisin. The green army has a handful of seasoned warriors, one of which is Fiddler, who is now going by the name Strings. Shaik the goddess is trying to control some bit of magic and in the process control the desert Raraku. The desert rebels and lots of ghosts rise up and destroy Shaik’s army. Tavore’s army does a tiny bit of fighting, but more mop up than anything. Tavore kills Shaik in single combat, never realizing it was her sister Felisin.
Plot Line Three through Fifteen: (actually not kidding, really)
Tisten Liosan, white skinned bastards, are looking for their god Osric/Osserc/etc. They get they’re butts handed to them on several occasions and decide to go home.
Various Imass do various things, like chasing after renegades, fighting with Liosan’s and defending the true Shadow Throne.
Cutter and Apsalar take service with Cotillion and end up going their own separate ways because they love each other too much to hurt the other with the duties they have to perform.
Lots of other stuff that had no immediate import and might not have any at all. Impossible to tell.
I am at the point where I am disgusted at Erikson’s choice of storytelling mode. He is fragmenting his overall storyline just because he can. I can’t assign a real motive to this mode of telling, so I’m going to call him out for just being a jerkwad.
Each successive book that I go into this Malazan re-read it gets harder and harder to overlook how deliberately obfuscated Erikson makes his story. A good story will only go so far and he’s fast approaching that breaking point where I give up in disgust. When I was originally reading this back in ’10, it was at this book that I basically gave up trying to keep track of what was going on for a synopsis because the story fragmentation really started to spread here. I am no longer seeing this approach as a positive thing like I originally did.
This was an engaging story and that is the only thing going for it. Part of that was because the first 23% of the book dealt strictly with Karsa Orlong and getting him from when he was a wee young lad of 100 or so to where we met him in Deadhouse Gates. He’s not a particularly bright or likable fellow but at least I was able to follow one complete story narrative for a long period of time.
I was having a hard time giving a crap about some of the storylines because they were such small fragments of the overall book. How do they tie in? You mean I have to wait for 3 more books to find out? No thank you.
The philosophizing got a little ridiculous. Felisin the younger, an adopted waif by Felisin, is kidnapped by one Felisin’s major allies, a twisted wizard. He destroys her. Sexually, emotionally, psychology. And when she gets rescued and is secretly recovering, she waxes loquacious on the subject of how her mother needs the wizard and so her rescuer’s vengeance needs to be put on hold. And she is 14. I just about threw my kindle on the couch at that. Girls who are raped and tortured don’t calmly discuss why their attackers are justified or how the greater needs of a geographical area outweight their own personal needs.
My main issue now is when does the story no longer outweight the twin sins of soapbox preaching and story fragmentation? I am going to do my best to read the whole series, but will definitely be noting the point where the balance finally does tip.