Thursday, July 29, 2010

There's A Sorrow in Catching Up (Malazan)

A few days ago, Steven Erikson announced the completion of the Malazan series:

GASP! That would be me, coming up for air. How long was I down there? About twenty years, from conception to completion. The Malazan Book of the Fallen is done. Sure, editing and all that crap to follow. But ... done. I don't know who I am. Who am I again? What planet is this? Three months of butterflies ... maybe this double whiskey will fix that. Hmm. No. Delayed reaction going on here.

It was an announcement that acquired both celebration and scorn, but my perceptions of the event were dulled by an 816 page (trade paperback) barrier. Now, however, I’m finally starting Dust of Dreams, nine months after reading Gardens of the Moon. It’s an odd time for melancholy, but I find that my desire to dive as deeply, and as quickly, into the book as possible is tempered by hesitation.

Once I finish Dust of Dreams, I’ll have read all of the published Malazan novels and will have finally caught up to Erikson. I won’t have to feel somewhat inferior whenever I talk about the books with someone who’s finished the series, always having that little but what if the next one’s shit, and they’re right voice.

Still, it marks a shift in how I perceive the books. Up until now, Malazan’s felt endless, the series seeming as vast as the world it portrayed. After this, though, I’m only going to be able to experience it a hit at a time, each new experience altered by the fact that I’m going to have to wait afterwards. What was once depthless, there to be experienced whenever I dared immerse myself in it will have a multi-month wait to mark its artificiality, and, during those months, the thrills of experience will turn to anticipation and prediction.

It’s not a huge change, probably not even a significant one, and undoubtedly an inevitable one, but it’s something that struck me as I turn the pages and revisit familiar characters and greet new ones.

Ah well, time to get on with the reading.

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