Midnight Tides by Steven Erikson is the story of the Tisti Edur and the Letherii civilization, on a continent separated from everyone else that were in books 1-4. If there was confusion before Midnight Tides, there is none now, Erikson is creating a global epic fantasy story. Where a lot of epic fantasy focuses on one particular continent, Erikson has one large world. Midnight Tides might just be my favorite Malazan Book of the Fallen book yet.
More than likely if you are reading this review, you have read this book, or you are about to read this book. The longer in a series you review, the less likely people that have never read any books in the series will read a review. So I am going to skip the part of telling you what to expect from a Steven Erikson Malazan book.
Midnight Tides is a story about two opposing civilizations and two sets of brothers, one on each side. The Sengar brothers are from the Tiste Edur, a more tribal and hunting civilization. These brothers are a part of a family that has some power and they are sent on a mission by a warlord king to bring back a mysterious sword of power to the tribe. The Beddict brothers are from Letherii but each brother thinks about the Letherii civilization differently. A meeting between the two civilizations might be the last peaceful meeting that these two civilizations will ever have and when the gods are involved, who knows what can happen.
The Letherii civilization is purposefully a civilization very similar to the United States in their foreign affairs and capitalism. Erikson is 100% making a comment on the the involvement of the United States in foreign countries. This is not subtle at all and in other books this would have annoyed me but Erikson does it with so much intelligence and imagination that it is fantastically done. It becomes such a strong part of the story that you end up forgetting the social commentary aspect of it but it is always underneath everything.
The strongest aspect of this book is that Erikson builds up to these momentous moments. All the dialogue, complicated world-building, and host of characters is dedicated to the last quarter of this book. Everything is pointing towards this eventual clash between these two civilizations and the taking of the Letherii capital but with all these plot threads with gods and immortals happening within the city itself too. It is just so well done because we get into the minds of the ideology of the individuals involved but also the ideology of the people around them. When an important moment happens that challenges the way these characters see this world they must make a life altering decision in the midst of a battle. These moments of choices by the characters hit so hard for me. When everything that Erikson has built are for these singular moments of absolute perfection, it just blows my mind. This is why I read epic fantasy.
It took me about 200 pages into this book for all the characters and what was happening to snap into place. After that it wasn’t difficult to understand and I found it really readable. This is just a fantastic entry into the Malazan Book of the Fallen series and I cannot wait to read the next books and see how Erikson ties these characters into the already established characters.
One of few perfect score books.
5/5 25/25 Possible Score
Plot – 5(Very Strong)
Characters – 5(Very Strong)
World Building/Setting – 5(Very Strong)
Writing Style – 5(Very Strong)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 5(Very Strong)