Monday, September 27, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 48

This is an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced me as a fantasy author.

The Bonehunters
by Steven Erikson

The Bonehunters [MALAZAN BK06 BONEHUNTERS] [Mass Market Paperback]Other than the occasional read, I pretty much stayed away from fantasy literature for most of the 1990s and early 2000s. But I also wasn't writing much in the early 2000s.

Finally, about 2004 or so, I decided it was time to get serious about my writing once more. But I needed something to get me back into writing. For me, that was screenwriting. It was a new way of looking at writing, and boosted my imagination.

After writing a couple of screenplays, I switched over to prose writing once more. I put together a few short stories, got some sales, and decided it was time to get back into novel writing.

Before then, I had attempted to write two novels in my life. The first one was called The Storm, and it was a horror novel I'd tried writing when I was about 20. I'd gotten to 70,000 words of that novel, then life intruded with college and jobs, and I never got back to it (perhaps I will one day). The second novel was a sort of military thriller titled Project Greenleaf, of which I wrote about 30,000 words, but again, never finished. Maybe I will eventually.

But when I was getting back into writing, and wanting to start a novel, I wanted a fresh start. I wanted a new beginning. So, even though I considered myself more of a horror writer at the time, I felt a fantasy novel was just the thing.

That novel soon turned into a trilogy. Much of the story and it's characters wasn't new to me as I'd had the basic ideas in my head for years.

Since I was writing fantasy, I decided it was time I became familiar again with the genre. After skipping most of fantasy for at least a decade, I had a lot of catching up to do.

A publisher suggested I give Steven Erikson's Malazan series a try.

I did. But instead of beginning at the start of Erikson's Malazan series, I kicked things off by buying and reading the sixth book in the series, The Bonehunters.

To this day, I've been thankful for that publisher's suggestion. And I've gone back to read the first five books in the series, with plans to read more of the novels.

The Malazan books are not simplistic reading. There are tons upon tons of characters, some who don't appear in all the books, some who appear for only a short period, and others who appear in most of the books. The plots are complex, intertwining all the characters and different lands, even continents. Back story can sometimes take up a whole novel, and not all the tales found in the Malazan books are told in sequential order (though most are).

In other words, the reader really has to pay attention and have a good memory when reading these novels.

Obviously, these types of tales aren't for everyone. I've known more than a few readers who can't stand Erikson's long-winded tale.

But I'm not one of those. I love the stories found within, and there's plenty of sword-slinging and magical action for those who enjoy such. There's also sometimes social commentary, and philosophical debates, but this comes rarely and doesn't linger around to bore the reader.

Over all, an enjoyable read for me.

The Malazan series of novels really opened my eyes to the possibilities of modern epic fantasy storytelling. My outlook will never be the same, and as an author I've studied these books to see how the complex plotting works with so many characters (literally hundreds). It can be done. I believe I can even do it, and maybe I'll give it a try with a fantasy series of my own.

Up next: Batman: Gothic

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I've heard good things about Ericson and intend to get into his stuff one of these days. So far I've not managed it, but only because there is just so much good stuff to read.