Felisin, Captain Paran’s younger sister, rubbed me the wrong way. It wasn’t because she was poorly written; quite the reverse. She was exceptionally well-written. But it was hard to spend so much time in the point of view of a personality I was less than enamored with. While she had my sympathy at the outset, that sympathy was quickly lost. As a character, Felisin made some terrible choices while in a terrible circumstance. That didn’t bother me. It was how she related to others that made me detest her personality. A real person in Felisin’s situation would no doubt act the same way. She was a very well-drawn and believable character. But just as I would not normally keep company with such a person in real life, I had a hard time keeping company with Felisin.
Another source of irritation was how little time I spent in the point of view of my favorite character: Coltaine. I could have easily spent an entire novel in Coltaine’s head, and was very disappointed that I was not given that opportunity. I found Coltaine’s story arc incredibly compelling: for me, it was the saving grace of this novel. I just wanted more of that story arc. A LOT more.
The other arcs unfolded at an absolutely glacial pace. In fact, I had such a hard time reading them, it took me over a month to slog through the book. Which was too bad. I really enjoyed the characters contained in those arcs when I met them back in Gardens of the Moon. Unfortunately, due to the dreadful pacing of the story, I lost interest in most of the characters. The novel does have an incredibly powerful and moving segment: the Chain of Dogs, which culminated in one of the most poignant scenes I have ever read in any story.
In conclusion, Deadhouse Gates is a superb novel with (mostly) exquisite characters and worldbuilding. I have no doubt it is a volume dearly loved by Malazan fans. Unfortunately, it did not resonate well with me.