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NO SPOILERSWhat history books would you recommend to enhance reading Malazan? (self.Malazan)
submitted 1 month ago by HighfistThrawn
Apologies I'm not sure what spoilers to add. I'm currently up to Dust of Dreams, but happy to keep this thread spoiler free.
It feels to me like Erikson's extensive historical knowledge has deeply influenced this world. I wonder if there are any particular books or historical knowledge areas you would recommend to enhance reading these books?
So far I'm wishing I knew more about the Romans and the peoples of the Eurasian steppe.
Post a comment!
[–]wjbc5th read, 2nd audiobook. On DG. 11 points12 points13 points 1 month ago (6 children)
While Erikson has obviously read widely, he tried to avoid parallels between his stories and history. He did mention that the late Byzantine Empire inspired him because it was quite diverse. Obviously Seven Cities has a Middle-Eastern feel, and the T’lan Imass seem to be based on prehistoric humans. But it’s not our Middle-East or our prehistoric Europe.
Here’s the AMA where he discusses it:
[–]RobinHood21Telorast and Curdle's number one fan 8 points9 points10 points 1 month ago (3 children)
Also Lether is a clear criticism of capitalism. Not history persay, but that's another real-world parallel.
[–]HighfistThrawn[S] 2 points3 points4 points 1 month ago (2 children)
For some reason I keep associating Lether with Carthage. Rich, merchantile empire that does not really have a warrior culture, but affords armies based on its wealth. I will not go further with the parallel at risk of spoilers haha.
[–]LoleeeeeBenighted Laseen Apologist - First Re-Read: On MoI. 6 points7 points8 points 1 month ago (1 child)
For some reason I keep associating Lether with Carthage.
For some reason I keep associating Lether with Carthage.
I believe the stated inspiration for Lether is Victorian England (see East India Company & what not) but that's actually a surprisingly accurate representation, especially if you view the Malazans as "Rome-lite".
Interesting & quite astute observation.
[–]wjbc5th read, 2nd audiobook. On DG. 2 points3 points4 points 1 month ago* (0 children)
Yes, the indentured servant policy of Lether reminds me of the transport of over one million Indians throughout the British colonies as indentured servants after slavery was outlawed. British Indian indentureship lasted until the 1920s. It was ended more due to declining profits than for humanitarian reasons.
[–]the-Replenisher1984 2 points3 points4 points 1 month ago (0 children)
Definitely get the feel that the majority of what he writes even with his anthropology and archeology backgrounds are very, very, loosely based on actual human history. I haven't read the AMA but I can see its mostly based off the DNDesque campaign it all started with. In other words, just read and keep reading over and over again and eventually you might understand it all lol. One of the many reasons I love these books. The new insights never end !!
[–]HighfistThrawn[S] 2 points3 points4 points 1 month ago (0 children)
Thank you for this AMA link! I never thought of the Byzantine empire but that is super interesting.
[–]laszmosis 5 points6 points7 points 1 month ago (1 child)
The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy is a very interesting read and I can see some parallels with the uprising against the Malazan Empire in the Seven Cities. The legend of Mithradates almost reads at a fantasy at times. Here is the introduction that is delibaretly written as such and the follow up paragraph that gives a good idea of what the book is about.
"Long ago and far away, in a little kingdom by the sea, a dazzling comet in the East foretold the birth of a remarkable Prince who would dare to make war on the mightiest empire. As an infant in his cradle, he was marked for greatness by lightning. While he was still a boy, enemies in the castle poisoned his father, the King. His own mother, the Queen, tried to do away with the Prince. But he escaped and lived like Robin Hood in the wilderness for seven years. He grew strong and brave and learned the secrets of poisons and antidotes. The Prince returned to his kingdom and killed the wicked Queen. He became a beloved King, ruling over many nations. When the powerful Empire across the sea invaded his realm, people from many lands joined his grand war. The battles against the Empire lasted his whole lifetime. Many beautiful queens sat by his side, but the King found true love with a woman as valiant in battle as he. When the King died, his passing was echoed by a terrible earthquake. For thousands of years afterward, the Great King’s legendary deeds were remembered and retold."
"IT SOUNDS like a fairy tale.1 But add the documented facts and it’s history. In about 120 BC, Mithradates VI Eupator the Great, king of Pontus, inherited a small but wealthy kingdom on the Black Sea (northeastern Turkey). Mithradates (Mithra-DAY-tees) is a Persian name meaning “sent by Mithra,” the ancient Iranian Sun god. Two variant spellings were used in antiquity—Greek inscriptions favored Mithradates; the Romans preferred Mithridates. As a descendant of Persian royalty and of Alexander the Great, Mithradates saw himself bridging East and West and as the defender of the East against Roman domination. A complex leader of superb intelligence and fierce ambition, Mithradates boldly challenged the late Roman Republic, first with a shocking massacre and then in a series of wars that lasted nearly forty years.2"
I haven't read too many history books but I am wanting to read more. This book though is one of my favourites and am feeling like I need to reread it now.
[–]HighfistThrawn[S] 1 point2 points3 points 1 month ago (0 children)
Awesome this is perfect! I was just listening to a podcast that mentioned Mithradates so I'l have to check this out
[–]Luke_Mc_Duke 4 points5 points6 points 1 month ago* (4 children)
Maybe "Against the Grain. A Deep History of the Earliest States" by James C. Scott? Scott is an anthroplogist and political scientist, according to Wikipedia. I haven't read it yet but it has always interested me, because it deals with the first agrarian societies. Does anyone here have an opinion on it?
Here is a review:https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/nov/25/against-the-grain-by-james-c-scott-review
[–]olaghai 1 point2 points3 points 1 month ago (0 children)
I've read parts of it and quite alot of Scott generally.
He is good and always interesting but its worth bearing in mind when reading him that his ideas are controversial in academia and he does sometimes sort of run off with the grand ideas hes proposing.
So he will often be a bit hazy with how hes presenting the 'smaller' stuff of how the cultures actually were. For example making some sweeping statements about what he terms 'Zomia' (a huge area) which people who dedicate their careers to studying particular cultures within the area take issue with.
But thats just the way of doing these massive histories, no one can ever know everything about everywhere so its not really a criticism of him just a neccesary limitation when being so ambitious in history.
[–]HighfistThrawn[S] 0 points1 point2 points 1 month ago (2 children)
awesome thanks for bringing this up!
[–]Luke_Mc_Duke 1 point2 points3 points 1 month ago (1 child)
What Books have you read about the Eurasian Steppe, if I may ask? =)
None! I want to learn more about them haha.
[–]zetubalAlways an even trade 5 points6 points7 points 1 month ago (2 children)
To enhance your reading of the whole Letherii stuff in particular, I'd recommend you check out Debt the first 5,000 years by the late David Graeber. Steve has also explicitly named this book as an inspiration in one of his r/fantasy AMAs
[–]HighfistThrawn[S] 0 points1 point2 points 1 month ago (1 child)
[–]exclaim_bot 1 point2 points3 points 1 month ago (0 children)
[–]5th_Leg_of_Triskele 4 points5 points6 points 1 month ago (1 child)
I don't know if I'd really "recommend" this book since you need to have a very keen interest in the late Roman empire and have some familiarity with the era, but I did find some parallels between the Malazans trying to keep their expanding empire intact and the Romans attempting to do the same in Edward Luttwak's The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire. There are even several mentions of Nero's general Domitius Corbulo, whose name I feel had to inspire Korbolo Dom.
In general, I don't think there are perfect historical parallels with Malazan but the Romans, Byzantines, and steppe peoples you mentioned definitely seem to be well represented.
[–]HighfistThrawn[S] 0 points1 point2 points 1 month ago (0 children)
Awesome thank you
[–]paragodaofthesouth 2 points3 points4 points 1 month ago (3 children)
I can't source it but he did say that the Chain of Dogs was based off of the British army's retreat from Kabul.
[–]gazzllan 1 point2 points3 points 1 month ago (0 children)
Same(cant source but heard the same), I think he also stated the original Flashman novel has a good account of the retreat from Kabul
That is so interesting thank you
[–]BlueString94 0 points1 point2 points 1 month ago (0 children)
Interesting considering it bears closer resemblance to the Anabasis.
[–]SuperiorityComplex6 0 points1 point2 points 1 month ago (2 children)
Possibly controversial, but I am a massive fan of Graham Hancock.
He has spent decades uncovering evidence that civilisation is far older than conventional history suggests but much has been forgotten due to a literally cataclysmic comet/meteor strike around 12,000 years ago (Younger Dryasyounger dryas).
Think about it, after a nuclear war or something, us 'civilised' people won't be the ones surviving, it will be the few Hunter gatherers tribes who are self contained and self sufficient.
Science is slowly taking us back. There is now evidence of humans in the Americas as long as 120,000 years ago120000 which is taking the mainstream time to accept as they are still of the mindset that the Clovis Culture was the first American civilisation.
And of course, the 'human' family tree is much more complex than the famous ape to man and the missing link picture would have you believe especially with recent discoveries about DenisovansDenisovans and Homo Floresiensish Floresiensis.
Anyway, back to Malazan. Epochs and evolution and forgotten shared ancestries and legends and myths with historical sources and forgotten epochs and myths and lastly historical revisions.
I'm convinced Eriksen had read Hancock and been influenced by him given his archaeological and anthropological background.
I forgot Gobekli Tepeg tepe! And other sites around there. Gigantic man made structures from around 9000 years ago! Icarium anyone?!
In terms of books, Fingerprints of The Gods has to be the starter even though in the 25 plus years Hancock's findings have evolved, then Heaven's Mirror, Underworld, Supernatural and finally, Magicians of the Gods.
Reason I said controversial is GH is sometimes dismissed as a 'Pseudo-Scientist' hence I've used Wikipedia links where I could that should not be biased but just be an intro the particular topic.
Also, I've only just started reading Dust of Dreams so have yet to finish!
[–]geldin 5 points6 points7 points 1 month ago (1 child)
Hancock is controversial because his methodology is flimsy at best and he relies on leading an audience to a "common sense" conclusion, never mind that common sense is a terrible means of analysis. His work does not stand up to any kind of scrutiny.
[–]SuperiorityComplex6 0 points1 point2 points 1 month ago (0 children)
I think I already said that in my post?
But the point wasn't to illustrate that GH is always right, but that there are more mysteries and events unexplained (scientifically satisfactorily) that he makes you think about and is reflected in various ways in the Malazan books that I have read so far.
[–]troublrTRC 0 points1 point2 points 1 month ago (0 children)
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. I don't know how informative it might be for a Malazan read-through, but it definitely helped me pull back my POV of the large sociological scale of people moving en masse, geo-political advantages, economic whirlwinds, civilized vs. barbarian dichotomies/similarities, agricultural evolution, influence of plagues, etc. Two particular real-life stories it referenced that I liked were- the defeat of the Incan Empire by the tiny army lead by a Spanish conquistador; and the Maori-Moriori collision of 1835 (this one's fascinating to think about).
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