Midnight Tides - Steven Erikson : I didn't think the last book could be bettered. I was definitely wrong! Erikson is a master crafter of story telling.
The way Erikson intricately weaves his plot is stunningly brilliant. I really do not want to give things away here. A mysterious flooded warren? I thought what on earth. Then later on mind blown. A floating skeletal bone dragon from book 2. Ah starting make a lot more sense, There is so much going on in these books. The series is definitely not for the faint of heart. But if you like a really intelligent good read that is thought provoking then these books are for you.
The Deadhouse Gates is an interesting book and one that is quite the dichotomy. The chain of dogs story as well as Felisin's arc was a tough slog. Then you get gem arcs revolving around two very old and odd travellers as well as a few known characters in Kalam, Apsalar, Fidd and Crokus. So please take heed of the title. Read on friend as the gold pit that awaits you will be special if you pay attention.
Much of the story will give you a few easter eggs of what is to come in the series particularly what is waiting in terms of our friends the Bidgeburners as well as the interesting Anomander Drake and the interesting fellowship in Darujhistan. These interludes can make for some complex reading.
I am not sold on how daft and unconvincing Felisin is. I think I will need to read her arc again and see how convincing she is. I do quite like some of the elements that arise from her arc though but do not want to spoil such for those who have not read the book.
Kalam's story is top shelf and my second favourite part of the book which does pertain to a fair portion of this book.
The biggest gem for me occurs toward the end of the book when the old travellers meet some interesting companions. The moment was a watershed one for me within this series. You realise just how damn big this series world is. Mind officially blown!
On top of all of this, Steven Erikson really is a wonderful writer. He and Sanderson exceed anyone else I have read in the fantasy genre. These guys are master craftsmen. The simple way in which Erikson utilises a paragraph, sentence or phrase to deliciously describe a scene is magnificent and very satisfying. A small smirk can make all the difference in reading a story. Just today whilst reading the fourth installment of this very series I came across a few examples. One simply described a dog's stature comically: "Beside Him lay the scrawny Hengese lapdog that Truth said was named Roach. The bone the creature gnawed on was bigtger than it, and had that bone teeth and appetite it would be the one doing the eating right now."
Hang in there as you will be well rewarded I assure you. I almost lost my s**t and put the series down. Do the series the service it deserves and see it out.
This is not a review. This is me gushing about the fact that The Bonehunters did not disappoint. However, you should avoid reading this series, if you are not interested in the following:
The book had two ghosts who haunted lizard skeletons, were compulsive liars, had a secret agenda, and were actually dragons! This is how they talk:
"Beauteous mistresses, curvaceous, languid, sultry, occasionally simpering..."
An assassin who would be wearing concealed weapons on her person,
"a score of aches from knife pommels and scabbards attested that they remained strapped about her person..."
You'd be reading and suddenly, there'd be words that just make you stop and read them over and over again!
"A single god, no matter how benign, is tortured into a multitude of masks, each shaped by the secret desires, hungers, fears, and joys of the individual mortal, who but plays a game of obsequious approbation."
"And gods run when they see a Bridgeburner."
If you have stuck with this series so far, then you will reap the rewards with one-liners and zingers like the one mentioned above.
This is a world where gods are as good as their worshipers.
"Mess with mortals, Poliel." he said, wheeling his horse round, "and you pay."
Old deities fall and new ones ascend all the time. There are layers upon layers of complications that you won't even grasp at until much much later. This is why, the books can still manage to surprise and delight readers re-reading them for the 7th or 8th time!
Part of it comes from insane situations. To be able to inject humor into situations that'd otherwise leave a reader weeping is one of Erikson's amazing qualities. You might think that a person about to die cracking a joke is unrealistic but this is military humor. As we follow soldiers who see things that would drive any other person insane, they use this kind of gallows humor to keep themselves functional. The other part comes out of love -- or hate -- for the characters.
"Saw your mouth moving -- some kind of spell or something? Didn't know you were a mage..." "I'm not. I was saying, "I hope this works".
Firstly, there are a lot of them. Just in this book, there was the Empress, her Adjunct, the Adjunct's lover, a drunk captain who was bad at her job when sobered up, the trouble-maker soldier who loved throwing knives at people, the deity who was going around possessing people, the assassin who murdered most of the empress' team of elite assassins by herself, and so on. They're just there...within the story, just as you would find them in real life.
Erikson can clue a reader into the significance of what is happening and how it is related to what has already happened with just one sentence. This one made me cry:
"You fight for the Wickans and for the Khundryl Burned Tears this night. We choose to witness."
If you love epic fantasy, then the MBotF is one series that you just cannot miss!
This book is what I think all of Steven Erickson's book SHOULD have been like. Lots of action, a smidge of philosophy and just some down right wicked cool characters.
While Esslemont's Crimson Guard felt like it was just hanging out there all by itself, Stonewielder felt like an integral part of the Malazan Series. Part of it was several characters are from the Crimson Guard, so I wasn't introduced to a completely new set of characters, there was some continuity from CG. That went a long way towards making me more comfortable.
Man, this was just cool! The storm riders, the koreli, the Lady, Skinner the skumbag [at the end]. AND Leoman of the Flails!!!. I had always wanted to know what happened to him, and now I find out. Wicked!!
So basically, I enjoyed this a lot. and look forward now to more of Esslemont as his own writer instead of just an extension of Erickson. Way to go ICE...