Update: After finishing this book in May, I can’t stop thinking about the scenes in this book. Upgrading this to a 5 star read. One of my favorite Malazan books now.
In May 2016, I wanted to take a small break from reading many things to just read one thing rather relaxed and that was The Bonehunters. In fact, this was the only book I finished in May(along with some graphic novels). The Bonehunters is a monster of a book and depending on the edition is about 1,000 pages. Coming in at 365,000 words it is no wonder it took me the whole month to read. These chunky fantasy books are where my heart is though and this book was fantastic.
The Bonehunters continues the epic fantasy series by Erikson where the reader needs to work to figure some things out. This book amps up the tension between the different gods and the different mortals. A large theme of this book is whether the gods control the mortals or the mortal’s actions control the god’s. This sixth book in the series brings a lot of the previous plot threads together and intertwines them. This creates a book that really feels completely different than the other books and a visible sign of where the series is heading.
Of all the talk about Erikson’s world building, I think that it is his writing ability that impressed me the most in this book. There are so many points in this book where characters are talking about philosophical and theoretical ideas and Erikson is able to deliver these ideas better than most people in academia. The more I read these books the more I am impressed with just the raw intelligence that Erikson possesses. These are just super smart and high-level thinking books.
Sometimes I get uncomfortable with all the platitudes that Erikson receives so I want to make sure to mention something where I think he really messed up in this book. Many times Erikson hides the details from the reader but it is believable within the scene. Most of the time the reader isn’t cognizant of Erikson pulling the strings on the plot but in The Bonehunters there were moments where it was clearly obvious Erikson purposely kept information from the reader. The biggest example is a scene in which two characters are having a conversation. There is no reason for the author to not cover what the two characters have discussed as their deal with each other but he leaves that part out. I was rather annoyed at this scene and I think it was a slight towards the reader.
The Bonehunters has a very odd structure as well. Like all of his books it is split into 4 different sections. Usually, there is a steady increase of pacing and story as the book progresses through these 4 sections. In The Bonehunters we get a very climatic scene in the second part of the story and then it almost feels like the book reboots itself. Regardless, the climatic scene in the second part of the story is one of my favorites in the series and the ending scene location is fabulous as well. I just think that the ramping up of the story was a little odd in this one.
I just really like these books. They are so imaginative, mysterious, and full of amazing scenes. I’m a little hesitant about Reaper’s Gale because I’ve heard that pacing in that is a little slow. I’m hoping I can power through, though. I think Malazan is one of those series where you compare scenes instead of comparing the different books and this one really had some fantastic scenes in it that are in my top 5. So close to a 5 rating but the string pulling by Erikson brought it down some.
21/25 Possible Score
Plot – 5(Strong)
Characters – 4(Strong)
World Building – 4(Strong)
Writing Style – 4(Strong)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 4(Strong)