Martin vs. Erikson

Since Martin always gets brought up in Erikson threads and Erikson always gets brought up in Martin threads, I thought it was time to truly figure out what the qt3 groupthink knows about these writers.

Erikson - Epic-sized world that dwarfs other epic-sized worlds.
Martin - Simply epic-sized. The man just can’t say no to pizza and beer.

Martin - Fantastic characterization. Characters behave in realistic ways that are rarely simply “evil” or “good.”
Erikson - Characters are blatantly fantastic. They might as well have jumped out of an epic-level D&D game (oh wait… they did).

Erikson - Prolific. Novels cover a huge timespan, but he keeps them rolling off the presses.
Martin - Not prolific. When pressed, he keeps rolling back the novels by huge spans of time.

Martin - Is cool with shitting on his characters. No one is an untouchable god.
Erikson - Lots of gods making shit happen because it’d be cool.

Me no like. I like Martin more than Erikson, but do not hate Erikson at all. Which choice am I supposed to select?

You need two more choices Martin > Erikson and Erikson > Martin.

By hate, I mean dislike. Read the first 3 or 4 of Erickson’s books. Deadhouse Gates was good but then he expanded the conflict too much. His writing isn’t much fun for me to read as it’s a bit laborious. I enjoy political intrigue which made for some interesting parts but don’t care as much as all the gods stuff.

I also hate the trend in fantasy of long, long open-ended series where authors let plots spiral out of control and deliver inferior products. People don’t have to be bound by a trilogy but 7+ books is just rather silly. Rather have 3 or 4 books self-contained with a finish and then they can be expanded later (see Black Company, Tawny Man, even LOTR for series that can be expanded and changed)

I get a big kick out of the goofy EVERYTHING EPIC quality of Erikson. It reminds me a bit of that commercial with Michael Bay, where everything in his house is demanded to be awesome. AWESOME DOG. AWESOME POOL. AWESOME TELEVSION. If a conflict can be resolved, it might as well be resolved with a miles-wide wall of coruscating chaos sorcery flensing the flesh from the bones of tens of thousands of unnamed characters. (With named characters watching from a safe vantage point, to wax rhapsodic on how awesome^Hepic archaic-awful said coruscating sorcery is.)

I’m also sure he’ll actually finish out the whole ten book shebang. I’ve lost confidence that Martin can finish Ice and Fire off–on the upside, he did make a great trilogy, albeit one with hanging threads aplenty.

I like Erikson more than Martin.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t like Martin.


(With named characters watching from a safe vantage point, to wax rhapsodic on how awesome^Hepic archaic-awful said coruscating sorcery is.)

Nuh-uh. Plenty of named characters get their asses handed to them from the epic archaic-awful coruscating sorcery in Memories of Ice, and The Bonehunters. Nobody is safe. Except maybe Empress Lasseen. But the clock is ticking for that bitch.

I’ve thought better of adding the spoiler. Just read Memories, you’ll see what I mean.

I like Martin but haven’t read Erikson.

I really don’t know if you could call it a ‘great trilogy’. We still don’t know what happens to Jon, the white haired chick on the other side of the world, the Others, and so on. There’s way too many loose threads.


I don’t really consider it an ass-handing when the “ass-handing” is just a forced rhyme for “Ascending.” I trust no ass-handing to be permanent for major characters in Malazanland until the series is closed.

I love them both, but am now into book four of Erikson’s Malazan series and, for my tastes and needs, with book three he had already surpassed Martin.

So, my poll answer would be 'I love them both, but prefer Erikson, and I don’t care who gets along with whom’.

I don’t like Martin. I find his books dry and boring and filled with stupid unlikeable characters. There is the odd man (or dwarf) out of that list, but the simple fact is that the only interesting stuff in his books is the stuff that so far, he’s completely failed to talk about (ie. what’s happening in the north).

Meanwhile, Erikson made me love fantasy again. Or, at the very least, made me love his fantasy, which is so radically different from anything out there. Great interesting characters, a new take on what magic and gods and undead are, and filled with the moral greyness that I love.

Meanwhile, Martin is all "this dude is Good’ and “this dude is Evil” and “ha ha I killed him because he was stupid and unlikeable” or “ha ha brother sister sex”.

Pass. I tried, I really did. I read at least three of his books, and it was just busy work.

But if you had read three of the books then you would know what is happening in the north…

He is hardly “This dude is good, this one is evil”. To the contrary, the characters are often much more complex than that. Jaime is the perfect example. Hell, even Arya is. Arya may seem good on the surface (and she is generally), she is also out assassinating everyone under the freaking sun. She is murdering people left and right.

Martin and Erikson are at both extremes for me; love for Martin, hate for Erikson. I believe in Martin’s world and characters, while laughing at the ridiculous char/world of Erikson. Martin’s writing is elegant, poetic and smooth, while Erikson seems to have amateur writing skills that make my eyes bleed and make me feel as though it’s written by someone in their teens.

Martin’s writing makes me less tolerant of lesser writers, and Erikson makes me want to reread Dragonlance. Much of my dislike for Erikson came from the hype and suggestions from this board, followed by the disappointment I had after 1/2 of GOTM. Erikson’s works just aren’t for me.


The only thing happening in the north is that the armies are moving south, but that’s not the reason which has been hinted at nonstop.

Arya, Jaime (post-hand), and the dwarf are the only characters I liked. Everything else is a waste of paper, when they aren’t simply walking clichés.

Love Martin and Erikson, but I have to give Martin the edge. Erikson sometimes tries to bite off more than he can write and ends up choking a bit on it. Erikson writes enjoyable, epic fantasy, but Martin will have me turning pages until the sun comes up.

You gave up too soon – GOTM is the weakest of all the books, and it doesn’t pick up until the very last stretch.

I only read up to about halfway through the second book, but Dany was my favorite character in Song of Ice and Fire after Tyrion.

For my money the second book is far worse than the first.

Erickson’s plots are a nightmare. Lots of wandering around talking about things I know nothing about, characters getting bitten by flies and flailing in shit, or fighting nonsensical battles where we discover how much worse it is this time than last time.

I’m not a military strategist so I’m not about to pick apart battles. As for the other stuff, talking about things you know nothing about is something I actually like – it plants seeds that get explained later. I love that kind of layering.

In contrast, Martin’s stuff is so dry that it seems stupid slow and uneventful, and then you expect all the ‘evil’ people to be evil that I’m not surprised when he kills people for being stupid. It doesn’t come across as powerful, it comes across more as “ha ha! you did not expect that, did you!” without much extra meaning to it.

I could understand some critics about the first book, but saying that about the second doesn’t make sense.

The plot is well structured and easy to follow, the writing itself enormously improved compared to the first book, and the mysteries rather straightforward. The complexity is only in a few plot threads that have two meanings, one related to the book itself, and others tying back to the overall story arc.

You can still say you don’t like the book. But objectively this second one is much better executed.

Imho, the writing of Martin is much more accessible and easy. You can definitely say this is an advantage, but dismissing Erikson’s as “written by someone in their teens” is like saying the opposite of how it is. Sometimes it’s laborious, but I doubt someone in their teens can write like that. Quite the opposite.

If that’s written by someone in their teens then what Gene Wolfe is? A five years old?

And while I also agree that GotM lacked in the characters department, I think that characters development in Deadhouse Gates is above excellence. I simply love some characters (Felisin, Heboric, Iskaral Pust) and they are deeply layered and complex. In fact far away from completely likeable.