Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson is an unforgettable book that will make lasting impressions.
4/5 19/25 possible score
Plot – 4(Strong)
Characters – 4(Strong)
Setting/World Building – 5(Very Strong)
Writing Style – 3(Fine)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 3(Fine)
The third book in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson picks up where Gardens of the Moon left off, with all the characters not covered in Deadhouse Gates. There is a new threat on the continent of Gennabackis called the Pannion Domin. The Pannion Domin is a group of people led by the Pannion Seer, a sorcerer with powerful magic, that are gradually destroying every city in their path. Not only do they destroy everything in their wake but they feast on the fallen soldiers of their enemies. A make shift truce happens between former enemies that were at war with each other on Genebackis. The now ex-Malazan Bridgeburners, along with One-arm Dujek’s army, have come into an alliance with Caladan Brood and Anomander Rake to destroy this new Pannion Domin threat.
Capustan is in the path of the Pannion Domin army and they must hold the defense of their city or risk the fate of all those that the Pannions have destroyed. They must hold out against the Pannions until the reinforcements of the Malazan and Brood alliance show up. Ascendant beings are mixed up in the struggle, as is the entire world, along with a fallen adversary that wishes to regain power once more. A rich and complex novel that takes Malazan Book of the Fallen to new depths and horrors.
What is good:
Memories of Ice is an extremely complex novel. There are threads going in every direction to dozens of different characters. Erikson does a great job weaving all these threads into the tapestry that is the narrative. Bringing all of most powerful characters together is just a lot of fun to read. Rake, Dujek, Kruppe, Quick Ben, Kallor, Brood, Bridgeburners, Tiste Andii, Rhavi, T’lan Imass, and Barghasts all must work together to bring down the Pannion Domin and their interactions between each other are what make this story so good. The reason it makes it so entertaining is because all of these individuals have large egos to begin with and are used to leading. When they have to humble themselves and follow orders, some of these characters just can’t seem to get it right.
I’ve talked about the world building of Malazan in the previous book reviews and once again it is extremely strong in Memories of Ice. There are very few series out there that can match the complexity that is involved in The Book of the Fallen. Memories of Ice adds even more history to the Malazan world by introducing more ascendants into the mix. My favorite new ascendant is Lady Envy, the daughter of Draconus, an elder god, and the lover of Rake for many years. The introduction of a fallen ascendant from another realm, that all the other ascendants are afraid of makes it even more exciting.
The old characters are great but the introduction of new characters is something Erikson is known for. In the city of Capustan we have new defenders that are the representatives on the world for the god of war. These new characters are defending Capustan with everything they have, with a valor and courage that is remarkable. Erikson also introduces the necromancers of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, who I really like. They are mysterious men that can animate corpses and summon demons. Even though their magic is evil, the things that they do to create their rituals is wrong, I couldn’t help but find them likable. They have a strange sense of humor that I appreciate.
What I didn’t like:
I have to put this out there, I took a long time to read this book. I was having some serious focus issues and I was enjoying other hobbies more. The reason I am mentioning this is because I felt the pacing was off at times. I cannot tell if it was me or it was the book. Regardless there were moments, in between the “cool scenes,” and “dramatic conversations” that just didn’t work for me. I had a hard time reading about the Mhybe and her side of the story. There just was a lot of travelling at certain points without much going on. Deadhouse Gates had multiple point of views of differing events, while Memories of Ice had limited points of view, about the same conflict. It also took me a long time to care about the characters in Capustan. Even though at the end I ended up liking them very much, it bogged down the pacing of the story when the point of view would switch to them.
I am also torn between liking the ability for characters to come back from death and not liking when a character dies, because I’m unsure if he or she is really dead. The sting of death just doesn’t have the impact in Malazan that it does in other books because you never know if they are coming back or not. It’s cool, but then it frustrates me too. I am just so confused about my feelings towards this aspect of Malazan.
The bottom line with these recommendations, is that recommending the third book in a series is silly. I will then recommend the series instead of the book. Malazan Book of the Fallen is one of those fantasy epics that everyone should at lease try. It might not be for you and that is fine, but if there is a chance that you will enjoy it, you should jump on the opportunity, because the adventure of reading these books is something not to miss.