Even though now, when asked, I always list this as one of the best fantasy series of all time, I actually went at this one a couple of times before I was able to really sink into it. I remember my uncle, the man who introduced me to fantasy in the first place, gave me this as a gift when I was maybe twelve or thirteen years old (and I know, some of you out there are thinking about the sex and the violence in these books and wondering if that’s an appropriate gift for a twelve year old and I just want to say…cool it, okay? The internet exists. There’s dicks and boobs and karate fights everywhere. This battle you’re fighting is already lost). He really recommended it, and I thought he was just the coolest, so I gave it the ol’ college try, bounced off the first chapter a few times, then shelved it and moved on. Thinking back on it now, I’m pretty sure the thing that pushed me away from it the first time, is the same thing that made me love this series when I actually got into it.
It’s completely and totally fucking bananas. It starts off in the aftermath of this huge magical battle, with a flying castle thing and hell hounds being teleported into a wizard’s tent and a marionette doll with a powerful mage (or maybe a demi god? It’s been a while you guys) trapped inside and a whole bunch of other batshit things just flying around. And it just spirals out from there. There’s a whole race of undead soldiers and weird loner sealmen things that can bring on ice ages and four armed giants and gods from different dimensions and just about everything you could think to shove in a fantasy series. I love it. It’s so crazy. As you can probably tell, I’m all about the weird now, the weirder the better, but back then it was a little much for me. And if it’s a little much for you too, I get it. No judgement.
But you guys, you should really stick with it. This series is sooooo big and well thought out and well written and epic and surprising and amazing and weird (are you allowed to put half a dozen conjunctives in one sentence? I guess that’s what happens when you drink a vat of coffee for your morning meal. Looking back on it, this whole post has been a little more Burroughs-y than normal. Ah, the wonders of cheap and readily available drugs for breakfast). I had a hermitty, indoor summer a few years back where I read through all of them and, even though this series has ten books in it and each are around a thousand pages, at the end of it I was still sad. Don’t get me wrong, the ending is perfect, one of the best I’ve read in a fantasy series. The problem was, I didn’t want it to end at all. What I wanted was to spend more time in this world, more time with the characters and the cultures that Erikson created…..After ten thousand pages. If that doesn’t sell you on this series, than I don’t think I really want to be book friends with you anymore.
Great for readers of epic fantasy who are looking for something a little different, history and anthropology nerds (there’s tons of stuff about ethnic groups and races, meaning other than human, migration patterns of people etc. etc.), and people interested in worlds with a deep, well-conceived mythology and history.
Okay, I’m going to go run a few laps or maybe take a Xanex or something.
PS. As a brief side note, I’m aware that there’s somebody else out there writing more stuff in this universe (or was, I haven’t really kept up) but…it’s not the same. I gave it a go a few years back and it just didn’t hit it for me.
PPS. I’m kidding about the book friends. I want to be book friends with all the book people. Even if you don’t like outstandingly written, bonkers epic fantasies. Is there an emoji that I can use that looks like a mildly threatening, sort of joking, sarcastic looking side-eye? You know, that look that you give where you’re like “I’m kidding, but also I’m trying to tell you something”? Asking for a friend.