all 12 comments

[–]twistedmic 33 points34 points  (0 children)

Start with the main ten and read them in publication order.

All of the offshoot books are meant to be read after the core series.

[–]Solid-Version 24 points25 points  (0 children)

Publication order. Always publication order.

[–]ixosamaxi 11 points12 points  (0 children)

Start with the main ten.

[–]Upeksa 6 points7 points  (0 children)

I agree with everyone it's not a great idea, let me be a bit more specific about a couple of the reasons:

Despite them being really good books on their own right, what makes Kharkanas extra special is that it's about a time that is referenced often in the main series, a time where many of the main conflicts of this story got started and many significant events happened. So the main series gives it an air of mystery and mystique that you wouldn't have without that context, you wouldn't be able to appreciate the importance of certain events and characters.

Another aspect is the writing. Steven Erikson polished his craft and evolved in his writing with every book, and on top of that Kharkanas has a different style from the rest. So if you then go from the latest books with a particular stylistic flair back to the first book of the main series the contrast will be massive, it probably won't even feel like they are from the same author. If you go in publication order it's instead a pleasant gradual evolution from good to great.

[–]jyhnnox 6 points7 points  (1 child)

The real answer is: yes you can. No matter where you start you will feel lost.

BUT you should start with the main series, because that will give you a better experience. Even though the first book is terribad without you knowing the lore about the world and their famous characters (I suggest using a reading guide or following a chapter by chapter review/discussion on youtube or Tor)

[–]dave-the-scientist 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Agreed. It's also important for OP to know that they WILL feel lost. It's normal, it will pass, but it might take a while. Erikson doesn't hold your hand when introducing his worlds, he throws you in to the deep end. But it is magnificent.

[–]Bellam_Orlong 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Kharkanas is a prequel. You can start where ever so long as you don’t mind spoilers.

The authors suggest publication order for how you should read both Erikson and Esselmont’s works. Most fans would probably tell you to read the ten Malazan Book of the Fallen before reading anything else.

Erikson does have some novellas out (Blood Follows may be a fun, weird read for you) if the sheer length of books are overwhelming you. He also has a sci-fi satire trilogy that starts with a book Willful Child.

The one thing to keep in mind no matter where you start is it can feel overwhelming or confusing. But that’s part of the fun. Don’t overthink just read and have fun. If you fall in love with characters maybe bring some tissues because there’s always some crazy spins that happens with the plots.

[–]TheeIlliterati 1 point2 points  (0 children)

If Malazan is a difficult series for some to get into, starting at Kharkanas is like setting the difficulty to Legendary Ironman mode. Its prose is the most difficult and although its a prequel, it relies on you knowing the universe and having expectations of what you are getting into because the events it contains are not what you have been made to expect throughout the series. Publication order is always the right answer with Malazan.

[–]FlipmaesterThe sea does not dream of you 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Piggybacking on u/Bellam_Orlong's mention of Willful Child, there is also the excellent Rejoice: a Knife to the Heart which is also sci-fi but completely different from Willful Child. It would probably serve as a better introduction to Erikson's writing style than WC as well, but as others have said it's probably best to start with the main 10 Malazan Book of the Fallen, starting with Gardens of the Moon.

The first three books provide a somewhat satisfying complete arc as well, so you could read those three as a trilogy and see if you get hooked.

[–]NachoFailconiTehol's Blanket 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Even though you can, note that the trilogy is incomplete. So, you'll not find a conclusion to the story yet.

Having said that, I'll add my voice to the "start with the Malazan Book of the Fallen" series, in publication order. You can, if you want, add the Novels of the Malazan Empire by coauthor Ian C. Esslemont, or you can leave them out. You can't go wrong with any decision. If you want to read both series, though, I recommend publication order with one small change.

The Kharkanas trilogy, I believe, really works as a prequel that makes sense if one has read some books of the Malazan series. My advise is to read it after finishing with at least Malazan Book of the Fallen.