I don’t know if there are many fantasy readers here, but I want to spread the word of this series to as many as possible.
Steven Erikson’s Malazan series is by far the best fantasy I have ever read. I know this is just anecdotal, so I’ll try to explain what it is that makes it so great. The world he’s created is brilliant, quite simply. Vivid and gritty, it comes to life like no other in my experience. There is history spanning hundreds of millennia, a large and complex pantheon with conflicts, alliances and intrigue rivaling those on the mortal plane. The take on magic is unlike any I have read elsewhere. Furthermore, and this is probably what I like most, the morality is unclear. Most characters have their own hidden motivations for every action, and alliances are frail and easily shattered.
Erikson writes epic fantasy, and will release book 8 out of a planned 10 books in June. I’ve only read the first six, as I’m waiting for book seven to come out in paperback.
Fair warning: the first book, Gardens of the Moon, is by far the most difficult. The reader is dumped in the middle of what seems to be an ongoing series, with no back story or explanation of the world. This is not only bad though, as I at least have found great pleasure in connecting the dots as each new book offers new insights, sometimes turning your ideas and expectations around completely. Whatever you do, don’t start reading and give up before finishing because it doesn’t make sense. Confusing as it may be, it’s still a damn fine read.
Anecdote: I got books 3 and 4 at the same time, and finished them both in three days. I didn’t sleep much, I can tell you.
Check out some of the reviews on Amazon.
Oh, and don’t mind the ridiculous US covers. Apparently the publisher has no respect for the fantasy genre. I get the UK covers, but it still pisses me off.