Malazan Book of the Fallen has almost a cult-like following. Steven Erikson isn’t quite a household name like Brandon Sanderson or George R.R. Martin, but his series is held in high regard alongside fantasy’s greatest. If this is your first read-through, we’re here to help with the best Malazan Book of the Fallen reading order.
Before we dive head first into a list of Malazan books in order, let’s learn a little bit more about the series and the authors who penned it.
What is Malazan Book of the Fallen About?
There are actually two ways to read the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. There are also two authors that contributed to this epic franchise, but Steven Erikson is the man who started it all.
Malazan is the name of the Empire or world where all of the events in the story take place.
The series began with Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon that published back in 1999. As of the time of this writing, there are 32 books connected to the Malazan Empire written by both Steven Erikson and Ian C. Esslemont.
The original series is comprised of 10 books, and if that’s all the further you want to go, that will tie up the story nicely for you. But for those looking for a deeper look into the world of Malazan Book of the Fallen, there is plenty more to explore.
Many new readers struggle to get into the series because of it’s slow pace, but those willing to stick it out are rewarded in the grandest of fashions.
At its heart, Malazan Book of the Fallen is a massive-scale battle royale between nations and fantasy races all competing to see who can become the most powerful. The core theme of the series is on Convergence as power draws more power to itself.
Malazan features multiple POVs that, at first, seem disconnected, but eventually intersect with the most satisfying of results.
Now let’s get into the two Malazan Book of the Fallen reading orders.
#1 Malazan Book of the Fallen Reading Order by Publication
This Malazan Book of the Fallen reading order separates the books out by series, and then orders them by publication date. This is the recommended reading order for the Malazan books.
Malazan Book of the Fallen
- Gardens of the Moon (1999)
- Deadhouse Gates (2000)
- Memories of Ice (2001)
- House of Chains (2002)
- Midnight Tides (2004)
- The Bonehunters (2006)
- Reaper’s Gale (2007)
- Toll the Hounds (2008)
- Dust of Dreams (2009)
- The Crippled God (2011)
Novels of the Malazan Empire
- Night of Knives (2004)
- Return of the Crimson Guard (2008)
- Stonewielder (2010)
- Orb Sceptre Throne (Feb 2012)
- Blood and Bone (Nov 2012)
- Assail (2014)
Path to Ascendancy
- Dancer’s Lament (2016)
- Deadhouse Landing (2017)
- Kellanved’s Reach (2019)
- Forge of the High Mage (Expected: January 9, 2024)
- The God is Not Willing (2021)
- No Life Forsaken (TBA)
- Untitled Third Book (TBA)
Bauchelain & Korbal Broach
I’ve placed this last in our Malazan Book of the Fallen reading order because these are more like companion stories. They’re all shorter novellas and were written throughout the course of the whole franchise.
- Blood Follows (2002)
- The Healthy Dead (2004)
- The Lees of Laughter’s End (2007)
- Crack’d Pot Trail (2009)
- The Wurms of Blearmouth (2012)
- The Fiends of Nightmaria (2016)
- Upon a Dark of Evil Overlords (2020)
#2 Malazan Book of the Fallen in Chronological Order
This Malazan Book of the Fallen reading order organizes all of the different series into a single list in chronological order as the events happen on the timeline.
I only ever recommend fans read this way if you’re going through the series for a second time. Books that occur earlier in the timeline but we published at a later date inevitably contain spoilers for a first read through.
- Forge of Darkness
- Fall of Light
- Walk in Shadow (Expected: TBA)
- Dancer’s Lament
- Deadhouse Landing
- Kellanved’s Reach
- Forge of the High Mage (Expected: April 6, 2023)
- Night of Knives
- Midnight Tides (Occurs around the same time as Gardens of the Moon)
- Gardens of the Moon
- Deadhouse Gates
- Blood Follows (Novella)
- The Lees of Laughter’s End (Novella)
- The Wurms of Blearmouth (Novella)
- Memories of Ice
- House of Chains
- The Healthy Dead (Novella)
- The Bonehunters
- Reaper’s Gale
- Crack’d Pot Trail (Novella)
- The Fiends of Nightmaria (Novella)
- Upon a Dark of Evil Overlords (Novella)
- Return of the Crimson Guard
- Toll the Hounds
- Goats of Glory (Short Story in Anthology)
- Dust of Dreams
- Orb Sceptre Throne
- The Crippled God
- Blood and Bone
- The God is Not Willing
- No Life Forsaken (Expected: TBA)
- Untitled Third Witness Book (Expected: TBA)
If you’d like an even more in-depth analysis, separating our prologues, epilogues, and even some chapters, having you jump between books for the ultimate Malazan Book of the Fallen chronological experience, check out this Reddit post.
Summary of Malazan Book of the Fallen Reading Order
Now that we’ve listed out the two different Malazan Book of the Fallen reading orders, let’s take a closer look at each book in the main series.
1. Gardens of the Moon
The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations with the formidable Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, ancient and implacable sorcerers. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen’s rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins.
For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, surviving cadre mage of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.
However, it would appear that the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand…
2. Deadhouse Gates
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 . . .
3. Memories of Ice
The ravaged continent of Genabackis has given birth to a terrifying new empire: the Pannion Domin. Like a tide of corrupted blood, it seethes across the land, devouring all.
In its path stands an uneasy alliance: Onearm’s army and Whiskeyjack’s Bridgeburners alongside their enemies of old–the forces of the Warlord Caladan Brood, Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii mages, and the Rhivi people of the plains.
But ancient undead clans are also gathering; the T’lan Imass have risen. For it would seem something altogether darker and more malign threatens this world. Rumors abound that the Crippled God is now unchained and intent on a terrible revenge.
4. House of Chains
In Northern Genabackis, a raiding party of savage tribal warriors descends from the mountains into the southern flatlands. Their intention is to wreak havoc amongst the despised lowlanders, but for the one named Karsa Orlong it marks the beginning of what will prove to be an extraordinary destiny.
Some years later, it is the aftermath of the Chain of Dogs. Tavore, the Adjunct to the Empress, has arrived in the last remaining Malazan stronghold of Seven Cities.
New to command, she must hone twelve thousand soldiers, mostly raw recruits but for a handful of veterans of Coltaine’s legendary march, into a force capable of challenging the massed hordes of Sha’ik’s Whirlwind who lie in wait in the heart of the Holy Desert.
But waiting is never easy. The seer’s warlords are locked into a power struggle that threatens the very soul of the rebellion, while Sha’ik herself suffers, haunted by the knowledge of her nemesis: her own sister, Tavore.
5. Midnight Tides
After decades of internecine warfare, the tribes of the Tiste Edur have at last united under the Warlock King of the Hiroth. There is peace–but it has been exacted at a terrible price: a pact made with a hidden power whose motives are at best suspect, at worst, deadly.
To the south, the expansionist kingdom of Lether, eager to fulfill its long-prophesized renaissance as an Empire reborn, has enslved all its less-civilized neighbors with rapacious hunger. All, that is, save one–the Tiste Edur. And it must be only a matter of time before they too fall–either beneath the suffocating weight of gold, or by slaughter at the edge of a sword. Or so destiny has decreed.
Yet as the two sides gather for a pivotal treaty neither truly wants, ancient forces are awakening. For the impending struggle between these two peoples is but a pale reflection of a far more profound, primal battle–a confrontation with the still-raw wound of an old betrayal and the craving for revenge at its seething heart.
6. The Bonehunters
The Seven Cities Rebellion has been crushed. Sha’ik is dead. One last rebel force remains, holed up in the city of Y’Ghatan and under the fanatical command of Leoman of the Flails.
The prospect of laying siege to this ancient fortress makes the battle-weary Malaz 14th Army uneasy. For it was here that the Empire’s greatest champion Dassem Ultor was slain and a tide of Malazan blood spilled. A place of foreboding, its smell is of death.
But elsewhere, agents of a far greater conflict have made their opening moves. The Crippled God has been granted a place in the pantheon, a schism threatens and sides must be chosen. Whatever each god decides, the ground-rules have changed, irrevocably, terrifyingly and the first blood spilled will be in the mortal world.
A world in which a host of characters, familiar and new, including Heboric Ghost Hands, the possessed Apsalar, Cutter, once a thief now a killer, the warrior Karsa Orlong and the two ancient wanderers Icarium and Mappo–each searching for such a fate as they might fashion with their own hands, guided by their own will.
If only the gods would leave them alone. But now that knives have been unsheathed, the gods are disinclined to be kind. There shall be war, war in the heavens. And, the prize? Nothing less than existence itself…
7. Reaper’s Gale
All is not well in the Letherii Empire. Rhulad Sengar, the Emperor of a Thousand Deaths, spirals into madness, surrounded by sycophants and agents of his Machiavellian chancellor. Meanwhile, the Letherii secret police conduct a campaign of terror against their own people.
The Errant, once a farseeing god, is suddenly blind to the future. Conspiracies seethe throughout the palace, as the empire – driven by the corrupt and self-interested – edges ever-closer to all-out war with the neighboring kingdoms.
The great Edur fleet–its warriors selected from countless numbers of people–draws closer. Amongst the warriors are Karsa Orlong and Icarium Lifestealer–each destined to cross blades with the emperor himself. That yet more blood is to be spilled is inevitable…
Against this backdrop, a band of fugitives seek a way out of the empire, but one of them, Fear Sengar, must find the soul of Scabandari Bloodeye. It is his hope that the soul might help halt the Tiste Edur, and so save his brother, the emperor.
Yet, traveling with them is Scabandari’s most ancient foe: Silchas Ruin, brother of Anomander Rake. And his motives are anything but certain – for the wounds he carries on his back, made by the blades of Scabandari, are still fresh.
Fate decrees that there is to be a reckoning, for such bloodshed cannot go unanswered–and it will be a reckoning on an unimaginable scale. This is a brutal, harrowing novel of war, intrigue and dark, uncontrollable magic; this is epic fantasy at its most imaginative, storytelling at its most thrilling.
8. Toll the Hounds
In Darujhistan, the city of blue fire, it is said that love and death shall arrive dancing. It is summer and the heat is oppressive, but for the small round man in the faded red waistcoat, discomfiture is not just because of the sun. All is not well.
Dire portents plague his nights and haunt the city streets like fiends of shadow. Assassins skulk in alleyways, but the quarry has turned and the hunters become the hunted.
Hidden hands pluck the strings of tyranny like a fell chorus. While the bards sing their tragic tales, somewhere in the distance can be heard the baying of Hounds…And in the distant city of Black Coral, where rules Anomander Rake, Son of Darkness, ancient crimes awaken, intent on revenge. It seems Love and Death are indeed about to arrive…hand in hand, dancing.
9. Dust of Dreams
In war everyone loses. This brutal truth can be seen in the eyes of every soldier in every world…
In Letherii, the exiled Malazan army commanded by Adjunct Tavore begins its march into the eastern Wastelands, to fight for an unknown cause against an enemy it has never seen.
And in these same Wastelands, others gather to confront their destinies. The warlike Barghast, thwarted in their vengeance against the Tiste Edur, seek new enemies beyond the border and Onos Toolan, once immortal T’lan Imass now mortal commander of the White Face clan, faces insurrection.
To the south, the Perish Grey Helms parlay passage through the treacherous kingdom of Bolkando. Their intention is to rendezvous with the Bonehunters but their vow of allegiance to the Malazans will be sorely tested.
And ancient enclaves of an Elder Race are in search of salvation—not among their own kind, but among humans—as an old enemy draws ever closer to the last surviving bastion of the K’Chain Che’Malle.
So this last great army of the Malazan Empire is resolved to make one final defiant, heroic stand in the name of redemption. But can deeds be heroic when there is no one to witness them? And can that which is not witnessed forever change the world?
Destinies are rarely simple, truths never clear but one certainty is that time is on no one’s side. For the Deck of Dragons has been read, unleashing a dread power that none can comprehend…
10. The Crippled God
Savaged by the K’Chain Nah’Ruk, the Bonehunters march for Kolanse, where waits an unknown fate. Tormented by questions, the army totters on the edge of mutiny, but Adjunct Tavore will not relent.
One final act remains, if it is in her power, if she can hold her army together, if the shaky allegiances she has forged can survive all that is to come. A woman with no gifts of magic, deemed plain, unprepossessing, displaying nothing to instill loyalty or confidence, Tavore Paran of House Paran means to challenge the gods – if her own troops don’t kill her first.
Awaiting Tavore and her allies are the Forkrul Assail, the final arbiters of humanity. Drawing upon an alien power terrible in its magnitude, they seek to cleanse the world, to annihilate every human, every civilization, in order to begin anew.
They welcome the coming conflagration of slaughter, for it shall be of their own devising, and it pleases them to know that, in the midst of the enemies gathering against them, there shall be betrayal.
In the realm of Kurald Galain, home to the long lost city of Kharkanas, a mass of refugees stand upon the First Shore. Commanded by Yedan Derryg, the Watch, they await the breaching of Lightfall, and the coming of the Tiste Liosan. This is a war they cannot win, and they will die in the name of an empty city and a queen with no subjects.
Elsewhere, the three Elder Gods, Kilmandaros, Errastas and Sechul Lath, work to shatter the chains binding Korabas, the Otataral Dragon, from her eternal prison.
Once freed, she will rise as a force of devastation, and against her no mortal can stand. At the Gates of Starvald Demelain, the Azath House sealing the portal is dying. Soon will come the Eleint, and once more, there will be dragons in the world.
Looking for more books in order?
If you enjoyed this in-depth look at the best Malazan Book of the Fallen reading order, then check out this list of the Shannara books in order.