You are currently viewing “Deadhouse Gates” by Steven Erikson Book Review

“Deadhouse Gates” by Steven Erikson Book Review

Book: Deadhouse Gates

Author: Steven Erikson

Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen Book 2

604 pages, Hardcover

First published September 1, 2000

Price at Amazon

Price at

Full of action and battles, Deadhouse Gates, the second book in the series by Steven Erikson, the master of the fantasy genre, is much more than just an epic book. All the praise and reviews you’ve read about this book so far will seem meager and inadequate once you get a feel for the scope of this series.

At the height of the vortex

The seven free cities rise up in a liberating revolt. The prophetess Sha’Ik gathers her fearsome army to march against the Malazan Empire. Fanatical desert peoples, fed up with being trampled by the trunk of empire.

The story is a chronological continuation of the events in Darujhistan. We have a whole host of characters, including Apsalar, Fiddler, Felisin, Crokus and a few brand new characters. We also follow the journey of the assassin Kalam as he embarks on a mission to bring the book to Sha’Ik and launch the Vortex.

We follow the fates of so many characters. Different perspectives and not for a second did I feel burdened by the jumping between actors.

The new character who quickly gained my sympathy is Coltain, who I won’t give away any details about because there’s a danger he’ll spoil your enjoyment of the book.

A whirlwind of events and battles in “Deadhouse Gates”

The whole book is eventful and super dynamic. It never gets boring, but alongside all the whirlwind of action, Erickson somehow manages to keep building this complex world. He continues to expand the personalities of the characters, making them even more complete and diverse.

I won’t reveal more about the plot and the endless war that is the basis for the Malazan Empire that has been built. The rebellion, called the Vortex, is in full swing and the bloodshed is at its peak. But besides all the death Erikson spews out and the atrocities he presents us with, that’s not what shocked me about this book. It was the fate itself and the stories behind the characters it builds that shook me to the core. The hopelessness that haunts them at every turn. The constant tension, the pressure of the survival instinct. The tension doesn’t let up for a second.

The chain of dogs

While all the characters are haunted by their past and struggle with their present, I found the story of Coltain and his chain of dogs the most poignant and moving. I won’t go into what exactly his drama consists of, because you have to read it and feel it without knowing what to expect.

Throughout the book, Erickson holds out and nurtures a hope. Event by event, he gives us a nugget to hoard and hoard. I firmly hoped things would turn out differently and even thought he couldn’t surprise me with anything. Coltaine’s fate was decided long ago and yet the author finds a way to make it memorable and it culminates right at chapter 21 where it literally blew me away. Erickson ruined and destroyed me without a drop of compassion. My suspicions were shaken to the core by other events and I was more curious about Kalam’s fate and had absolutely no idea what the author had in store for me.

That’s just the kind of master Erikson is in my eyes. He manages to draw the reader in and make them curious to find out what happens to all these players. He weaves, layers up tension and then the next scene suddenly takes you somewhere else and leaves a ball in your stomach. And just when you least expect it, the punch comes.

Don’t think you’ll be spared the cruelty and essence of battles and war. “Deadhouse Gates” is a whirlwind, a tornado of bloodshed and death. But Erikson also manages to weave light humor into the scenes, giving the reader a slight respite, ever so slightly.

I rated “Deadhouse Gates” by Stephen Erickson 5 stars and that’s just a few. There is no other book that has shocked me with its brutality and made me cry at the same time. Anything I can think of as praise seems inadequate. I will definitely read the series to the end and have higher and higher expectations from now on.

“Gardens of the Moon” by Steven Erikson Book #1

“Memories of Ice” by Steven Erikson Book Book #3

“House of Chains” by Steven Erikson Book #4

“Midnight Tides” by Steven Erikson Book #5

“The Bonehunters” by Steven Erikson Book #6

The second novel in the awe-inspiring Malazan Book of the Fallen series. “Gripping, fast-moving, delightfully dark, with a masterful and unapologetic brutality reminiscent of George R. R. Martin.” — Elizabeth Haydon

In the vast dominion of Seven Cities, in the Holy Desert Raraku, the seer Sha’ik and her followers prepare for the long-prophesied uprising known as the Whirlwind. Unprecedented in size and savagery, this maelstrom of fanaticism and bloodlust will embroil the Malazan Empire in one of the bloodiest conflicts it has ever known, shaping destinies and giving birth to legends . . .Set in a brilliantly realized world ravaged by dark, uncontrollable magic, Deadhouse Gates is a novel of war, intrigue and betrayal confirms Steven Eirkson as a storyteller of breathtaking skill, imagination and originality–a new master of epic fantasy.


Hello, my name is Todora, but now also known as Dochka or Docheto. I have two wonderful dragons at home (boys ages 5 and 7) that I am trying to raise in the love of books. I was quite a chatterbox as a kid when I had required reading in school, and now I am trying to make up for it. I love reading fantasy, sweet endings are not my "thing". I love it when there are struggles, intrigue, and surprises in a book that shake you to your core. If I fell into paranoia that all the characters were traitors, my rating would be 5 stars. In short, I love to read and if one day I find a way to make this my sole occupation and get paid for it :D, I will have stumbled into heaven.

Leave a Reply