The penultimate book of the series comes in the heels of 2 of the finest books in the series , and probably 2 of the best epic fantasy books that I have ever read , creating massive amount of hype and expectations for this book .
What I Liked :
The book started off with the Bonehunters in the Lether empire and that meant, Tehol Beddict and his manservant made a quick return and that was a massive positive as they are the two best characters of this whole series and they elevate the reading experience a hundred times over.
The story in itself really turned dark , and don’t get me wrong , the series had previous dark moments of it’s own , but this book just surpassed the previous level of darkness especially with the whole hobbling ritual .
We were also given a perspective of the K’chain species and that was the first time that this species was explored in such details . This made the world of malazan even more vast and mind you , this is the 9th book in the series and Erickson managed to further give us world to explore.
Needless to say , the archaeological details in the writing style of Erickson , in terms of the world , and the various tribes and their rituals , remain a key ingredient to the whole a series and this book was no different . The military details added in action sequences also continue to paint a vivid picture for the reader’s mind and entertain it’s audiences.
What I didn’t Like:
Generally , I have very little bad to say about a Malazan book , but this time it’s different .
One of the constant gripes of mine with this book series is , it’s introduction and elimination of vast characters , the character list so far has been staggering ,with many characters dying or disappearing , having served very little purpose . This book adds more characters and most of the unknown characters are tedious to read.
Speaking of Tedious reading experience , this book was very tedious . The book , like all the rest of the books in the series , is segregated into 4 parts (4 books) , of these 4 parts , the middle 2 parts were excruciating to read , with characters I as a reader didn’t care about , events that I was not interested in reading and characters delivering tangential speeches and monologues filled with philosophical diatribe for pages at stretch .
Sure , these philosophical speeches show the brilliance of Erickson’s brain and tries to convey to the author about the hypocrisy of the world , both erickson’s Fictional one and the real one , but as a reader , it starts to weigh you down very very soon.
In fact the whole K’chain Che’mel storyline was dull until the very end and I really couldn’t care one bit for the Barghast and the war fought between them and the arynkai , or for that matter the war of the Burned Tears wasn’t necessary either .
This is the only book that has ended in a cliffhanger and before doing so it has left me as a reader very confused (Like , I still can’t understand what the shake are and if they are what I think they are, then , what does that make the Edur ?), many status quo were changed and they came about very abruptly and didn’t sit well with me at all and the number of deaths , just felt , bloated in the end .
In the end , the writing style of Erickson , once again becomes both the blessing and the curse for the book , but sadly this time , I as a reader can’t say I enjoyed the book very much . At near 1300 pages and ending with a cliffhanger , it felt that the book could well have managed 500 less pages . While I started this book with high hopes , I’m now worried that what I previously considered the best Epic fantasy I’ve ever read , could very well ruin that legacy , based on how it manages to end the series.