Marking the return of many characters from Gardens of the Moon and introducing a host of remarkable new players, Memories of Ice is both a momentous new chapter in Steven Erikson's magnificent epic fantasy and a triumph of storytelling.
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 oldthe 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.
About the Author
Steven Erikson is an archaeologist and anthropologist and a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His Malazan Book of the Fallen series, including The Crippled God, Dust of Dreams, Toll the Hounds and Reaper's Gale, have met with widespread international acclaim and established him as a major voice in the world of fantasy fiction. The first book in the series, Gardens of the Moon, was shortlisted for a World Fantasy Award. The second novel, Deadhouse Gates, was voted one of the ten best fantasy novels of 2000 by SF Site. He lives in Canada.
Read an Excerpt
Memories of Ice
Book Three of the Malazan Book of the Fallen
By Steven Erikson
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2001 Steven Erikson
All rights reserved.
Memories are woven tapestries hiding hard walls — tell me, my friends, what hue your favoured thread, and I in turn, will tell the cast of your soul ...
Life of Dreams Ilbares the Hag
1164th Year of Burn's Sleep (two months after the Darujhistan Fete) 4th Year of the Pannion Domin Tellann Year of the Second Gathering
The bridge's Gadrobi limestone blocks lay scattered, scorched and broken in the bank's churned mud, as if a god's hand had swept down to shatter the stone span in a single, petty gesture of contempt. And that, Gruntle suspected, was but a half-step from the truth.
The news had trickled back into Darujhistan less than a week after the destruction, as the first eastward-bound caravans this side of the river reached the crossing, to find that where once stood a serviceable bridge was now nothing but rubble. Rumours whispered of an ancient demon, unleashed by agents of the Malazan Empire, striding down out of the Gadrobi Hills bent on the annihilation of Darujhistan itself.
Gruntle spat into the blackened grasses beside the carriage. He had his doubts about that tale. Granted, there'd been strange goings on the night of the city's Fete two months back – not that he'd been sober enough to notice much of anything – and sufficient witnesses to give credence to the sightings of dragons, demons and the terrifying descent of Moon's Spawn, but any conjuring with the power to lay waste to an entire countryside would have reached Darujhistan. And, since the city was not a smouldering heap – or no more than was usual after a city-wide celebration – clearly nothing did.
No, far more likely a god's hand, or possibly an earthquake – though the Gadrobi Hills were not known to be restless. Perhaps Burn had shifted uneasy in her eternal sleep.
In any case, the truth of things now stood before him. Or, rather, did not stand, but lay scattered to Hood's gate and beyond. And the fact remained, whatever games the gods played, it was hard-working dirt-poor bastards like him who suffered for it.
The old ford was back in use, thirty paces upriver from where the bridge had been built. It hadn't seen traffic in centuries, and with a week of unseasonal rains both banks had become a morass. Caravan trains crowded the crossing, the ones on what used to be ramps and the ones out in the swollen river hopelessly mired down; while dozens more waited on the trails, with the tempers of merchants, guards and beasts climbing by the hour.
Two days now, waiting to cross, and Gruntle was pleased with his meagre troop. Islands of calm, they were. Harllo had waded out to a remnant of the bridge's nearside pile, and now sat atop it, fishing pole in hand. Stonny Menackis had led a ragged band of fellow caravan guards to Storby's wagon, and Storby wasn't too displeased to be selling Gredfallan ale by the mug at exorbitant prices. That the ale casks were destined for a wayside inn outside Saltoan was just too bad for the expectant innkeeper. If things continued as they did, there'd be a market growing up here, then a Hood-damned town. Eventually, some officious planner in Darujhistan would conclude that it'd be a good thing to rebuild the bridge, and in ten or so years it would finally get done. Unless, of course, the town had become a going concern, in which case they'd send a tax collector.
Gruntle was equally pleased with his employer's equanimity at the delay. News was, the merchant Manqui on the other side of the river had burst a blood vessel in his head and promptly died, which was more typical of the breed. No, their master Keruli ran against the grain, enough to threaten Gruntle's cherished disgust for merchants in general. Then again, Keruli's list of peculiar traits had led the guard captain to suspect that the man wasn't a merchant at all.
Not that it mattered. Coin was coin, and Keruli's rates were good. Better than average, in fact. The man might be Prince Arard in disguise, for all Gruntle cared.
'You there, sir!'
Gruntle pulled his gaze from Harllo's fruitless fishing. A grizzled old man stood beside the carriage, squinting up at him. 'Damned imperious of you, that tone,' the caravan captain growled, 'since by the rags you're wearing you're either the world's worst merchant or a poor man's servant.'
'Manservant, to be precise. My name is Emancipor Reese. As for my masters' being poor, to the contrary. We have, however, been on the road for a long time.'
'I'll accept that,' Gruntle said, 'since your accent is unrecognizable, and coming from me that's saying a lot. What do you want, Reese?'
The manservant scratched the silvery stubble on his lined jaw. 'Careful questioning among this mob had gleaned a consensus that, as far as caravan guards go, you're a man who's earned respect.'
'As far as caravan guards go, I might well have at that,' Gruntle said drily. 'Your point?'
'My masters wish to speak with you, sir. If you're not too busy – we have camped not far from here.'
Leaning back on the bench, Gruntle studied Reese for a moment, then grunted. 'I'd have to clear with my employer any meetings with other merchants.'
'By all means, sir. And you may assure him that my masters have no wish to entice you away or otherwise compromise your contract.'
'Is that a fact? All right, wait there.' Gruntle swung himself down from the buckboard on the side opposite Reese. He stepped up to the small, ornately framed door and knocked once. It opened softly and from the relative darkness within the carriage's confines loomed Keruli's round, expressionless face.
'Yes, Captain, by all means go. I admit as to some curiosity about this man's two masters. Be most studious in noting details of your impending encounter. And, if you can, determine what precisely they have been up to since yesterday.'
The captain grunted to disguise his surprise at Keruli's clearly unnatural depth of knowledge – the man had yet to leave the carriage – then said, 'As you wish, sir.'
'Oh, and retrieve Stonny on your way back. She has had far too much to drink and has become most argumentative.'
'Maybe I should collect her now, then. She's liable to poke someone full of holes with that rapier of hers. I know her moods.'
'Ah, well. Send Harllo, then.'
'Uh, he's liable to join in, sir.'
'Yet you speak highly of them.'
'I do,' Gruntle replied. 'Not to be too immodest, sir, the three of us working the same contract are as good as twice that number, when it comes to protecting a master and his merchandise. That's why we're so expensive.'
'Your rates were high? I see. Hmm. Inform your two companions, then, that an aversion to trouble will yield substantial bonuses to their pay.'
Gruntle managed to avoid gaping. 'Uh, that should solve the problem, sir.'
'Excellent. Inform Harllo thus, then, and send him on his way.'
The door swung shut.
As it turned out, Harllo was already returning to the carriage, fishing pole in one massive hand, a sad sandal-sole of a fish clutched in the other. The man's bright blue eyes danced with excitement.
'Look, you sour excuse for a man – I've caught supper!'
'Supper for a monastic rat, you mean. I could inhale that damned thing up one nostril.'
Harllo scowled. 'Fish soup. Flavour —'
'That's just great. I love mud-flavoured soup. Look, the thing's not even breathing – it was probably dead when you caught it.'
'I banged a rock between its eyes, Gruntle —'
'Must have been a small rock.'
'For that you don't get any —'
'For that I bless you. Now listen. Stonny's getting drunk —'
'Funny, I don't hear no brawl —'
'Bonuses from Keruli if there isn't one. Understood?'
Harllo glanced at the carriage door, then nodded. 'I'll let her know.'
Gruntle watched him scurry off, still carrying his pole and prize. The man's arms were enormous, too long and too muscled for the rest of his scrawny frame. His weapon of choice was a two-handed sword, purchased from a weaponsmith in Deadman's Story. As far as those apish arms were concerned, it might be made of bamboo. Harllo's shock of pale blond hair rode his pate like a tangled bundle of fishing thread. Strangers laughed upon seeing him for the first time, but Harllo used the flat of a blade to stifle that response. Succinctly.
Sighing, Gruntle returned to where Emancipor Reese stood waiting. 'Lead on,' he said.
Reese's head bobbed. 'Excellent.'
* * *
The carriage was massive, a house perched on high, spoked wheels. Ornate carvings crowded the strangely arched frame, tiny painted figures capering and climbing with leering expressions. The driver's perch was canopied in sun-faded canvas. Four oxen lumbered freely in a makeshift corral ten paces downwind from the camp.
Privacy obviously mattered to the manservant's masters, since they'd parked well away from both the road and the other merchants, affording them a clear view of the hummocks rising on the south side of the road, and, beyond it, the broad sweep of the plain.
A mangy cat lying on the buckboard watched Reese and Gruntle approach.
'That your cat?' the captain asked.
Reese squinted at it, then sighed. 'Aye, sir. Her name's Squirrel.'
'Any alchemist or wax-witch could treat that mange.'
The manservant seemed uncomfortable. 'I'll be sure to look into it when we get to Saltoan,' he muttered. 'Ah,' he nodded towards the hills beyond the road, 'here comes Master Bauchelain.'
Gruntle turned and studied the tall, angular man who'd reached the road and now strode casually towards them. Expensive, ankle-length cloak of black leather, high riding boots of the same over grey leggings, and, beneath a loose silk shirt – also black – the glint of fine blackened chain armour.
'Black,' the captain said to Reese, 'was last year's shade in Darujhistan.'
'Black is Bauchelain's eternal shade, sir.'
The master's face was pale, shaped much like a triangle, an impression further accented by a neatly trimmed beard. His hair, slick with oil, was swept back from his high brow. His eyes were flat grey – as colourless as the rest of him – and upon meeting them Gruntle felt a surge of visceral alarm.
'Captain Gruntle,' Bauchelain spoke in a soft, cultured voice, 'your employer's prying is none too subtle. But while we are not ones to generally reward such curiosity regarding our activities, this time we shall make an exception. You shall accompany me.' He glanced at Reese. 'Your cat seems to be suffering palpitations. I suggest you comfort the creature.'
'At once, master.'
Gruntle rested his hands on the pommels of his cutlasses, eyes narrowed on Bauchelain. The carriage springs squeaked as the manservant clambered up to the buckboard.
Gruntle made no move.
Bauchelain raised one thin eyebrow. 'I assure you, your employer is eager that you comply with my request. If, however, you are afraid to do so, you might be able to convince him to hold your hand for the duration of this enterprise. Though I warn you, levering him into the open may prove something of a challenge, even for a man of your bulk.'
'Ever done any fishing?' Gruntle asked.
'The ones that rise to any old bait are young and they don't get any older. I've been working caravans for more than twenty years, sir. I ain't young. You want a rise, fish elsewhere.'
Bauchelain's smile was dry. 'You reassure me, Captain. Shall we proceed?'
They crossed the road. An old goat trail led them into the hills. The caravan camp this side of the river was quickly lost to sight. The scorched grass of the conflagration that had struck this land marred every slope and summit, although new green shoots had begun to appear.
'Fire,' Bauchelain noted as they walked on, 'is essential for the health of these prairie grasses. As is the passage of bhederin, the hooves in their hundreds of thousands compacting the thin soil. Alas, the presence of goats will spell the end of verdancy for these ancient hills. But I began with the subject of fire, did I not? Violence and destruction, both vital for life. Do you find that odd, Captain?'
'What I find odd, sir, is this feeling that I've left my wax-tablet behind.'
'You have had schooling, then. How interesting. You're a swordsman, are you not? What need you for letters and numbers?'
'And you're a man of letters and numbers – what need you for that well-worn broadsword at your hip and that fancy mail hauberk?'
'An unfortunate side effect of education among the masses is lack of respect.'
'Healthy scepticism, you mean.'
'Disdain for authority, actually. You may have noted, to answer your question, that we have but a single, rather elderly manservant. No hired guards. The need to protect oneself is vital in our profession —'
'And what profession is that?'
They'd descended onto a well-trodden path winding between the hills. Bauchelain paused, smiling as he regarded Gruntle. 'You entertain me, Captain. I understand now why you are well spoken of among the caravanserai, since you are unique among them in possessing a functioning brain. Come, we are almost there.'
They rounded a battered hillside and came to the edge of a fresh crater. The earth at its base was a swath of churned mud studded with broken blocks of stone. Gruntle judged the crater to be forty paces across and four or five arm-lengths in depth. A man sat nearby on the edge of the rim, also dressed in black leather, his bald pate the colour of bleached parchment. He rose silently, for all his considerable size, and turned to them with fluid grace.
'Korbal Broach, Captain. My ... partner. Korbal, we have here Gruntle, a name that is most certainly a slanting hint to his personality.'
If Bauchelain had triggered unease in the captain, then this man – his broad, round face, his eyes buried in puffed flesh and wide full-lipped mouth set slightly downturned at the corners, a face both childlike and ineffably monstrous – sent ripples of fear through Gruntle. Once again, the sensation was wholly instinctive, as if Bauchelain and his partner exuded an aura somehow tainted.
'No wonder the cat had palpitations,' the captain muttered under his breath. He pulled his gaze from Korbal Broach and studied the crater.
Bauchelain moved to stand beside him. 'Do you understand what you are seeing, Captain?'
'Aye, I'm no fool. It's a hole in the ground.'
'Amusing. A barrow once stood here. Within it was chained a Jaghut Tyrant.'
'Indeed. A distant empire meddled, or so I gather. And, in league with a T'lan Imass, they succeeded in freeing the creature.'
'You give credence to the tales, then,' Gruntle said. 'If such an event occurred, then what in Hood's name happened to it?'
'We wondered the same, Captain. We are strangers to this continent. Until recently, we'd never heard of the Malazan Empire, nor the wondrous city called Darujhistan. During our all too brief stay there, however, we heard stories of events just past. Demons, dragons, assassins. And the Azath house named Finnest, which cannot be entered yet, seems to be occupied none the less – we paid that a visit, of course. More, we'd heard tales of a floating fortress, called Moon's Spawn, that once hovered over the city —'
'Aye, I'd seen that with my own eyes. It left a day before I did.'
Bauchelain sighed. 'Alas, it appears we have come too late to witness for ourselves these dire wonders. A Tiste Andii lord rules Moon's Spawn, I gather.'
Gruntle shrugged. 'If you say so. Personally, I dislike gossip.'
Finally, the man's eyes hardened.
The captain smiled inwardly.
'This is what you wanted to show me, then? This ... hole?'
Bauchelain raised an eyebrow. 'Not precisely. This hole is but the entrance. We intend to visit the Jaghut tomb that lies below it'
'Oponn's blessing to you, then,' Gruntle said, turning away.
'I imagine,' the man said behind him, 'that your master would urge you to accompany us.'
'He can urge all he likes,' the captain replied. 'I wasn't contracted to sink in a pool of mud.'
'We've no intention of getting covered in mud.'
Gruntle glanced back at him, crooked a wry grin. 'A figure of speech, Bauchelain. Apologies if you misunderstood.' He swung round again and made his way towards the trail. Then he stopped. 'You wanted to see Moon's Spawn, sirs?' He pointed.
Like a towering black cloud, the basalt fortress stood just above the south horizon.
Boots crunched on the ragged gravel, and Gruntle found himself standing between the two men, both of whom studied the distant floating mountain.
'Scale,' Bauchelain muttered, 'is difficult to determine. How far away is it?'
'I'd guess a league, maybe more. Trust me, sirs, it's close enough for my tastes. I've walked its shadow in Darujhistan – hard not to for a while there – and believe me, it's not a comforting feeling.'
'I imagine not. What is it doing here?'
Gruntle shrugged. 'Seems to be heading southeast —'
'Hence the tilt.'
'No. It was damaged over Pale. By mages of the Malazan Empire.'
'Impressive effort, these mages.'
Excerpted from Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson. Copyright © 2001 Steven Erikson. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Book One. The Spark and the Ashes,
Book Two. Hearthstone,
Book Three. Capustan,
Book Four. Memories of Ice,
Tor Books by Steven Erikson,
Acclaim for Steven Erikson's Epic Series ITL[The Malazan Book of the Fallen]ITL,
Memories of Ice is a very well done book that introduces some exciting new characters and continues the adventures left off in the first novel, Gardens of the Moon. This third book in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series is a great continuation of the series and follows Dujek's outlawed army in their war against the fanatic Pannion Domin. If you enjoy the books by Rober Jordan or George RR Martin then this series is a fine example of epic fiction that I cannot recommend highly enough. It is however not a stand alone novel and builds heavily on the two books that preceed it so Gardens of the Moon and Deadhouse Gates are very much a prerequisite for this book.
I have not finished the book yet, but I am very disappointed with the Nook version, as it's obvious it was OCRed and then not proofread. Italics stop and restart randomly, punctuation is missing in droves, and worst of all, "Mom" is written instead of "Morn" in several places. An obvious lack of quality control means I can't recommend the Nook version from B&N.
Memories of Ice is the third in Erikson's epic Malazan Empire series. Chronologically this book happens simultaneously with events from Deadhouse Gates. We pick back up with Dujek Onearm's host and Whiskeyjack with his Bridgeburners a few months after their failure to take Darujjhistan. The power known as the Pannion Domin is spreading across the continent like a plague, devouring all in its path. The threat is enough that the Malazans unite with their former enemies, Caladan Brood and Anomander Rake, in an attempt to save the continent.This book is easily my favorite of the series so far. There is so much going on at all times. This isn't fantasy for the weak of heart. Things are packed with emotion. Some of the horrifying scenes from Deadhouse Gates pale in comparison to what happens in Memories of Ice. To balance this Erikson has added in humor that helps lighten what is happening without cheapening anything. Beautifully written, many plot twists and he pulls off a multifaceted climax at the end. Erikson has hit his stride with this book.
The best book (so far) of the Malazan series. Former enemies unite to take on a rising tide of fanatics. The war, seemingly limited, turns into something entirely unexpected, and linked to an enemy no one is certain they can defeat, an enemy who is poisoning the land itself.Flashes of humor, in the midst of misery and horror, complex and multi-layered characters, a heart-thudding pace, leaves you exhausted by the ending yet still wanting more.And I soooo want a book about Brood, Rake and Lady Envy's younger day exploits!
I found this to be the most interesting of the series so far. There was no drag unlike the last one which was a little slow at times. It re-introduced and further developed many of the main characters from the first book. I can't say enough about this series it is fantastic. Must say I was a little sad about the end of the Bridgeburners and the death of Whiskeyjack and others. All in all excellen ....On to the next one!
Erickson returns to form with a splash, giving some closure to the story he begun with Gardens of The Moon. Whilst Memories of Ice is not entirely free from the foibles which marred my enjoyment of the previous book, Deadhouse Gates, the positives make up for the negatives. A new, cannibalistic cult threatens to overwhelm the continent of Genabackis. Thrown together in an uneasy alliance, the Malazan empire and their previous adversaries unite to put down the uprising. Of course, such a pithy summary does absolutely no justice to the amount of plot Erikson squeezes into this novel - and discovering (or rather, uncovering) it is half the pleasure of the book. From an already ambitious base, Erikson's ambition balloons yet further, and he's far more generous in dolling out information in Memories of Ice. Many unexplained incidents from prior novels begin to make sense, and this extends beyond the mythic histories, and into character's motivations and emotions. I found the latter in particular the most rewarding part of Memories of Ice when assessing it as an entry in a series. Characters we had heretofore viewed at a remove, inscrutable at best, simply boring at worst, reveal depths and facets which makes them far more three-dimensional, and also inject the book with a large amount of pathos at times. Rest assured, this is all rendered in typically melodramatic style, but I think Erikson has a particular genius for making melodrama work (mostly, I'll get into that in a second). The bombastic, world-bending story and the sometimes pompous, theatrical delivery engender a kind of mythic tone. When coupled to the all-too-clear weariness and desperation of the protagonists, it left me feeling that "it" - the story, the events, whatever - really did matter.Far less successful are most of Erikson's attempts at humour, and the often painfully cliched "soldier banter" that too often rings false, is disappointingly monotonous, and had me grimacing every time someone "drawled" something (there is a lot of drawling. Way, way too much). This aspect of the books owes a very clear debt to Glen Cook, and I think it can be pretty mixed when he uses it, too. Further, the essentially interchangeable characters that mostly give voice to this banter really took me out of the story, and highlighted the constructed nature of so much of it. It felt like a lesser writer penning the wan badinage and really stupid segments involving two necromancers. The same writer is content to fill his novels with many a happy lesbian, but for an army that seems 80% male, Erikson has trouble scratching up a single gay guy. I don't mean to make a big deal of it, but these elements seem very "fan-service" to me, and they show a more juvenile side to both the genre and this series in particular. The only other real weakness to Memories of Ice - and in my opinion the most critical - is, once again, the violence. For someone that clearly understands the impact that interior, emotional journeys can have on a reader, Erikson still seems obsessed with the notion that if one dead body is sad, a million must be a million times sadder. Memories of Ice features literal ziggurats bodies, houses stuffed so full of corpses the foundations are split, and all manner of lovingly rendered torture, cannibalism and massacres. I've read the various defences of these excesses from Erikson and others, and I don't buy them. It's gratuitous, very tiring as a reader, and depressingly undergraduate in my opinion. The _many_ pages devoted to this do not make the book stronger, and the same reality and emotional impact could have been conveyed with far fewer words. Instead, I was left thinking of a scene in Hot Shots 2, with a rapidly growing body counter on the screen showing how many people Topper killed.However, despite these objections, I enjoyed the book. Erikson displays some really masterful pacing here. Writers juggling chapters from multiple viewpoints often have one "true" story, and othe
I am amazed at the amount of emotion that Erikson managed to pull out of me for these characters. From epic battles with epic consequences to personal battles with very dear personal consequences, I was hooked and invested.My only debate was whether to go ahead and read House of Chains next, or to go read something lighter for a while. HoC it is...
I was looking forward to this third volume since many Malazan readers cite it as their favourite. MoI quickly establishes itself as the easiest read of the series so far. Not only is it headlined by a broad assortment of characters we've already met, but the writing style has become less coy. Chapter Three, for example, is a paragon of informing the reader what's happening: we're given all the information we need to understand who the major players are and what the situation is. Erikson has rarely been so forthcoming as that. There's an abundance of character interactions I was intrigued by when two camps of former enemies must unite against a common foe. We begin to see what manner of opposition could possibly challenge their combined strength, and what the true stakes for the series as a whole will be. Through the first half, it really is a book that's difficult to put down and I felt this was easily the most engaging fantasy novel I've read in a long time. This mood carried me into and through the grim battle scenes in the middle that get a bit horrific, but are described in a factual way that prevented them from crossing my tolerance threshold. Similar to my experience with Deadhouse Gates, I wasn't deeply affected by these scenes no matter how grim they became. It might be my having read enough non-fiction about true life horror to make anything fictional pale by comparison. Less promising interpretation: the general 'sameness' of the characterizations shows its downside in these scenes, like watching a child randomly inflict casualties among rows of toy soldiers. Towards the end some of these events were more effective when they hit closer to home.I wasn't always enthused about the use of humour. I like soldier dialogue, but the novel's third quarter has too much of it and the story lags a bit. Dire attention was no longer required when reading every page during the casual scenes with little consequence. Worst for me were the "three stooges" bits: Quick Ben drops Kallor down a hole, Picker confronts Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, Emancipor's toothache. I can't see what purpose Bauchelain and Korbal Broach serve. They're the stars of some short fiction the author's written on the side, but in MOI they are only a sideshow.If the entire series of ten books could be reissued as a trilogy, MOI would conclude its first volume. It builds on everything we've learned about the Malazan's world so far and sets up the series' true framework. There's some great links to the second volume's events which took place simultaneously. Best of all, I'm finally comfortable with the workings of this world (even as I'm sure there's surprises yet to come.) This is my primary enjoyment of the series - being challenged by its scale. MOI as a novel didn't quite impress me to the degree I expected, but it kept me invested in following Erikson's world and characters into the next book.
What to make of the Books of the Fallen? I was rather lukewarm to the Malazan series after the first two volumes. Both Gardens of the Moon and Deadhouse Gates had their moments but were undone in various different ways. I had elected to give the series one final try with Memories of Ice and to give up on the series if it didn't sufficiently impress me. Well, impress me it did: MoI is definitely the best Malazan book so far and I've been persuaded that the series is worth continuing with after all.In a way though, this is a curious affair. It does seem to me that it would be much better to read this book straight after GotM rather than DG. The meat of the story, of perhaps the entire series, seems to have been revealed here and that adds a lot of impetus to the overall story that was slightly lacking from both previous books. Then there are the little details: the Trygalle Trade Guild seemed like a huge deus ex machina in DG, but actually seems much more reasonable in the context of this book. Even the epilogue of MoI seems like a set up for reading DG thereafter. Having finished MoI, I really didn't think that much, if anything, would be spoilt by reading this book before the previous instalment. But that's just my opinion and I'm not sure how many might agree or disagree.As for MoI on its own... It was very good. Not perfect by any means, but very good. I don't think Erikson is quite as good a writer as the likes of Abercrombie or GRRM are, or at least he's not as consistent. Erikson's dialogue can veer from sharp and insightful to clunky, and there are times when events are recounted and explained for us in such an obvious way that it's silly. Yet for all of that the siege of Capustan and the assault on Coral are set piece spectaculars that will live long in my memory alongside other memorable recent fantasy chapters like the Red Wedding. After three books I feel like I'm comfortable in knowing what to expect from Erikson in terms of prose: very solid, capable of the odd misstep but still with an ability to write scenes of great power.Although, for all his many words and pages, I'm still not entirely convinced about Erikson's ability to write nuanced characters or even detail his fantasy world. The likes of Dujek and Whiskeyjack are likeable characters but I'm not sure I could say what type of person they were beyond, honourable and reliable. In fact many of the characters in this novel fall into that sort of category. They're enjoyable to spend time with but they're not all that distinct, something I think seen most obviously in the slightly amorphous unit that are the Bridgeburners. Similarly, although Erikson has given his world a long history some of its more recent aspect feel rather vague, even after some 3000 pages. For me the most obvious example of this is the Malazan empire itself - 3000 pages and I don't know much of its structure, how it came to be or even its motivations for expansion (perhaps I'm supposed to assume that's just what empires do?). This might be fleshed out in future books (and Erikson has certainly answered some of my early criticisms as the series has progressed) but when these books are so long it feels a little frustrating to notice some central parts of the world aren't fully rounded.As ever it's easier to focus on what you don't like than what you do but one thing I must give Erikson special credit for is having woven a story which mixes very well an immediate and low level threat with a greater but further off danger. I think in this area the author has done as well as the likes of GRRM in A Song of Ice and Fire in balancing out the needs for action now with a greater danger further down the line.Every Malazan book is a mammoth undertaking but I'm glad I gave the series one more try. The story came to life this time round and even if the characters aren't all wonderfully multi-faceted I was still gripped by the carnage that unfolded in MoI. I now w
Erikson has got one heck of a word processor, or he's been writing mauscripts for years and just got them all published at once. Continuation of the Mazazan Book of the Fallen, and like its predecessors a major effort of worldbuilding. Well worth it, but start with "Gardens of the Moon."
In some ways this was even better than Erikson's superb, compelling, and astonishing Deadhouse Gates. BUT, I did have some issues with unexplained character actions, and the conclusion of the book left me somewhat unsatisfied. I still believe that Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series is the best of the huge multi-volume fantasy epics in progress. Many of the strengths of the first two volumes remain: a multi-layered and complex world and magic system that are internally consistent, gritty military campaigns, surprises, momentous events, and an interesting mixture of characters and races (human and non-human). Several of the new characters are strong, and we learn much about the fascinating past and present of Erikson's world. As I indicated, most of this book was superb. My disappointment with Memories of Ice comes down to my perception that the plot is driven by curious actions by key characters that are never really convincingly explained. WARNING: SLIGHT SPOILERS TO FOLLOW. . .Things like Silverfox's treatment of the Mhybe, Dujak's efforts to secretly rush his forces to Coral before his allies, or Paran and Quick Ben's lenience with the Seer. And the two necromancers take up quite a bit of plot time, without any explanation of who they really are and why they are here. On the other hand, I suspect that these books might be better the second time around; perhaps these actions made sense and I just missed it, or perhaps they will be explained in later volumes. A very good book, but ultimately not up to par with the best of the series.
Another vast epic piece. In this one we meet mortals, gods, ascendants, see the passing of some, the birth of several others, the vanishing of the bridgeburners, by Dujek's wish.A synopsis is hard - the book is 1200 pages long. Lots is discovered about the nature of the threat still to come. More new peoples and powers are revealed.Yet again this could become massive, wandering and imprenetrable. Instead it remains wondeful, twisting and enthralling. Whilst it's a huge war story, armies, sieges and so forth, there's a hugely tender and affecting love story with a tragic ending woven through the story too.It should have 6 stars really.
This book and so far the series are hands down the best fantasy I've had the pleasure of reading. The missing star is just a layout issue which is a pet peeve of mine. Sometimes when POV changes, there is no break or even a space between the paragraphs. It can be confusing, especially since sometimes a new POV will start off rather vague, not making clear which character it is about for a couple of paragraphs.
Erikson's Malazan books count among my favorites these days. For readers who stick with him beyond the first book, rich treasures await. The stories are compelling and exciting, and the author skillfully, seamlessly weaves several satisfying subplots around the central story. Never a dull moment. I think he also successfully captures, in the Bridgeburners, that insultory esprit de corps found among men and women who fight for a living. If you've invested thus far in Erikson's series you're my kind of reader, and will not be disappointed by Memories of Ice.
Truly awe inspiring.
The Malazan Book of the Fallen series is amazing, if you are reading this review then you already know that, otherwise you wouldn't have made it to book three. What keeps this NOOK eBook from getting a five star rating from me are the punctuation and spelling errors, this is the worst I've seen from B&N so far, and it is little wonder that they lost out to the Kindle and other eReaders. I bought a damn NOOK, though, so I'll stick with it for now, should have done my homework, I guess. Anyway, kudos to Mr. Erikson, I am loving this series and cannot believe it took me this long to run across it.