9 down 1 to go, but this book was the weakest installment in the series. For the most part, I have loved Malazan Book of the Fallen. I have been onboard with the series from the very beginning and even though each book was written in the same way I always thought that as the series ended things would get tighter. Well, it seems I was wrong. Dust of Dreams once again introduces the reader to a slew of new characters and story lines that intersect with the characters we have grown to love. I feel that Erikson and Esslemont wanted to create stories that were true to real life, where people dip in and out of other’s lives, and our “stories” aren’t as nice and neat as fiction. Along with that, creating a world that is constantly at flux and interacting with itself. In some fantasy, the outside individuals to a party are basically in a state of unchanging while the party does everything. This is not the case with Malazan, everything is twisting and turning together. This creates dynamic, intriguing stories, with a sense that anything can happen at any moment but when you are 9 books in, I want to at least see some natural progression towards an ending point.
The reason I didn’t like Dust of Dreams as much as the other books is because this could have been 600 pages shorter because the amount of actual story progression took up maybe 400 pages. Other books like Reaper’s Gale and Toll the Hounds felt overly long but they never felt pointless. A large portion of Dust of Dreams feels pointless. Everything not related to the Malazan army, besides some of Tool’s story, was not needed. Supposedly, Dust of Dreams and The Crippled God is one large book. Dust of Dreams is basically volume one of the final book. This means that we basically get a 1,000 page book that reads like the first two sections of all the other books. If you aren’t a Malazan reader, those first two sections are usually building the groundwork for an interesting and more action-oriented 3rd and 4th sections. Because this is basically a 2,000 page book split in half, Dust of Dreams just doesn’t feel right.
Yes, Erikson gives the reader a warning right at the beginning of Dust of Dreams, telling us what we are to expect, but I’m still surprised that this was the choice made. All along I have had faith in Erikson to give me an ending to this series that was satisfactory but for the first time, I am a bit worried that it will all fall flat for me. That doesn’t take away from the brilliance that are some of the previous books that I loved but I am so used to epic fantasy ramping up the quality as series go on but I have seen a decline in this series since Reaper’s Gale. Toll the Hounds was fantastic but there was a lot of philosophical bloating in that story. With Dust of Dreams though is the first time I thought a lot of things just weren’t needed.
I really didn’t want to give this book a 2 star rating but I had to because it just didn’t work for me. There are some excellent scenes and probably after I finish the whole series it’ll all blend together into one epic story anyways, but right now Dust of Dreams was a disappointment.