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 old - the 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. 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.
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Not A Chef. Not A Rock Star. A World-Class Writer!
Reader be warned - I read this novel many years ago, and I've read it more than once. Therefore, I can easily state the following with utter conviction: This, Erikson’s largest work thus far in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, is fantasy storytelling on an epic scale, much larger and yet better than his first two novels in the series.
Yes. Much better. I know I drug many of you kicking and screaming into this series, and you discovered a unconventional and amazing fantasy writer that challenged you, astounded you, and possibly frustrated you a fair number of times. As I warned in my review of the first book in the series, this isn’t light reading. Erikson will task you, and task you HARD.
However, most of you, if not all, are extremely excited for the journey, as was I when read this series for the first time.
But, you ask, how is it better? Hmmm…
(Michael sighs, sips from steaming cup of New Orleans French Market coffee, leans back in comfy leather chair.)
Let’s settle in and get started. It’s going to be yet another longer than anticipated review. First, what hasn’t changed: There is a veritable dramatis personae of Gods, nations, magicians, warriors, priest-kings, both old and new, who conspire, strategize, form alliances, backstab, avenge, love, care for, wage war and even do a few very bizarre things in the name of their causes (No specific here. You KNOW I don’t do spoilers!). Memories of Ice takes us back to Genabackis, where it all began in the first of the series. The south will give up a new menace, with a twisted nightmarish ritualistic religion driving them forward. It’s how these wonderful characters, both good and evil, come together, that is the sheer joy of this work.
What has changed: Erikson has grown as a writer’s writer by this third novel in the series, and it shows. His character definitions are more focused, and I feel, more robust with less weight, if you will. You will engage with them, appreciate their unique point of view and motivation, and even at times, understand why they do what they do and what they sometimes don’t do. While the war descriptions and writing are less than the previous novels, they are rich, descriptive battles that more than make up for their smaller size, in my opinion. Less can definitely be more. As much as I truly love his writing, it was a journey of growth from the first to the tenth novel, and you’ll experience and enjoy that here. He begins to enter his own, and starts to take his place as a fantasy writer of extreme note. His writing is more natural and connected, more unified as a novel. If you have yet to be convinced of this, after reading the first two novels in the series, Memories of Ice should definitely clinch this for you. Solid.
(Michael stops, takes yet another sip from cup, looks at you over cup shrewdly while he does so.)
Now. As Shakespeare aptly penned, “there’s the rub.” This is a LOOOOOOOONG novel. Certain things will take time. A LOT of time. He can be overly descriptive. Remember, he’s still growing, and will still have a tendency to expound, which is one of the VERY few problems with this novel. You’ll be tempted to skip sections or chapters. Do NOT do this. You will regret it. You have to be patient. Keep in mind, dear Audible listener, that there are three things you simply cannot rush: A master chef’s meal, a renowned maestro’s symphony, and a world-class writer’s novel.
What’s that? No…he’s not a chef, he’s an anthropologist. Yes, that’s what I said, an anthropologist…yes, REALLY…No he doesn’t write in the kitchen…Well, he MAY… No, I’m not reviewing his cooking, it’s an ANALOGY, for God’s sake! His novel…NOVEL! And hold on, I…WHAT? No, he's NOT a rock star, and no he doesn’t know Madonna! Well, he COULD… Wait. You’re missing this.
Maybe it’s me.
(Michael leans back in his chair, looks into the steam rising from his coffee, looks back up. Takes a moment, continues review.)
Maybe it IS me. Maybe it’s what Erikson does to me with his writing. It’s expressive, engaging, creative and stimulating. He has zero inhibitions in Memories of Ice. He boldly ventures forward, and makes the previous two tomes in the series seem like a launchpad for this brilliant novel. And that's a VERY good thing. He swept me along on his voyage. And is the voyage with Erikson worth it? Definitely.
(Michael leans forward in comfy leather chair, puts empty coffee cup down, finishes review.)
For your effort and patience, you will receive a writer’s greatest gift: An incredible, and what I consider to be an extremely satisfying ending that…Well, I’ll leave it at that. Again, no spoilers. As I’ve stated in the past, I’m certain that some of you will mark this as unhelpful. Oh well. I’m all about the journey, and what a journey this will be for you, dear Audible listener.
This is a writer on his way to becoming a writer’s writer. No, not a chef. Not a rock star. A world-class fantasy writer. And one of my favorites.
Erikson's Mythology is as deep, perhaps deeper than Jordan's or Tolkien's. So deep, that I didn't feel any sort of grasp on it until halfway through the book. The characters from the first book are all but forgotten for this tale. Erikson again spins 4 storylines bound for a collision at the end of the book. New, vibrant, and complex characters abound as we again see both sides of warring parties. I find myself rooting for morally bankrupt individuals and trying to figure out if this is a story of futility or hope in the face of desperate odds. Erikson takes on a journey of retribution and sacrifice--balance past criminal behavior versus wisdom gained from experience or tenderness brought on by ignorance.
The story is action packed and abhorrently violent. I was entertained and thought provoked throughout, but too depressed at times to take on long stretches of listening.
Ralph is a solid reader--clear and dynamic, however he does not have the vocal range or accents to cover the shear number of characters presented. I would really love to hear a female reader take on the female characters, much like Michael Kramer and Kate Reading in Jordan's Wheel of Time.