The Malazan Book of the Fallen series (an enormous and worthwhile ten-book series) by Steven Erikson takes place in a fantasy universe that he co-created with Ian Cameron Esslemont. This fantasy world is notable because it deviates in non-trivial ways from traditional fantasy universes. Races are genuinely different from one another. Geography is real in scale. Cultures are vibrant and diverse. The vast cast of characters feel real; they are full of faults and ignorance and bad decisions as well as genuine philosophical thoughts.
Both Erikson and Esslemont have now published several novels each in this universe.
Anomander Rake is perhaps the central pivotal character of the Malazan universe. Here is an incomplete list of his abilities and characteristics:
- he is regarded as being the greatest sword fighter in all the known realms
- he carries with him the sword Dragnipur – which, upon a strike against a being, transports them to a universe of immortal servitude.
- he is among the mightiest High Mages in the world, having traded blows evenly with Tayschrenn.
- he can shapeshift into a dragon. (having drunk the blood of the original queen of dragons herself – and being himself an elder, he is certainly among the mightiest dragons in the world).