Back on the continent of Genabackis, the Bridgeburners—now led by Captain Ganoes Paran—have joined forces with the army of Dujek One-Arm. Split from the Empire that created them, they now fight a war with a terrifying opponent known as the Pannion Seer, and his cannibalistic force, the Tenescowri. Meanwhile, an immortal race gain a new leader, the Deck of Dragons gain a Master, and somewhere in a nether realm, a god, once chained and crippled, breathes again and begins to shuffle out of the darkness. Steven Erikson does it again, crafting a novel of action, violence, pathos, humor and magic, in the third installment of the Malazan Book of the Fallen epic, Memories of Ice.
Welcome back, Bridgeburners
While Deadhouse Gates introduced us to the continent of Seven Cities and the rebellion there, Memories of Ice brings us back to the world of Genabackis, where all our old Bridgeburner friends await us. Whiskeyjack and Fiddler, Quick Ben and Ganoes Paran, and Kruppe and Anomander Rake are all back, this time to take on the dreaded Pannion Seer and his force of cannibals as they sweep over Genabackis. Everyone’s voice is pitch perfect, and many continue to grow and change. Not only do we have the Bridgeburners, but Erikson introduces us to a host of sometimes humorous, most times tragic characters. Gruntle and Stoney, Bauchalain and Korbal Broach, and Silverfox and Itkovian are just the beginning of the new and interesting characters Erikson creates for the world of the Malzan Empire.
The Elder times
One of the more interesting parts of this book is the time and care that Erikson puts into exploring the timelines and lives of the known Elder Races. Those who walked the earth before humans, and still persist even in the present time—the ice wielding Jaghut, the fire born T’lan Imass, and the deadly K’Chain Che’Malle—are brought to the fore in this novel. Erikson begins to peel back the layers on their cultures and their tragic histories. In doing so, he illustrates how far back this epic series really goes, and begins to place pieces that will impact the series many books down the road.
The bigger picture
In Memories of Ice, Erikson begins to finally show hints as to what this series is all going to be about. Secret histories of the Malazan Empire are starting to be told, and the lives of the Elder Races are starting to tie into the main narrative. But mostly the actions of Ascendants and Gods alike are highlighted, as the mistakes they’ve made come back to haunt them in the form of the Crippled God. While much of history is yet to come, his poisonous presence and malignant touch begin to seep through the pages of Memories of Ice, and you’re given a glimpse at how big a role he will come to play in the books to come.
Book of the Fallen
Erikson spells it all out in the main title that this is a series celebrating the heroes who fall in battle, those who give all, and still, they fall. In the previous two books, there was tragedy and there was heartbreak aplenty. But in Memories of Ice, Erikson steps it up a notch and truly gives us some heart-wrenching moments. The action is vicious, the prose is sharp, and the twist of the knife is unseen as some of our favorite heroes fall in the line of duty. Erikson takes the themes of grief, duty, love, friendship, and war, and puts them on display in the hearts and lives of every soldier he writes.
Why should you read this book?
If you’ve read Erikson’s first two Malazan titles, then I don’t need to convince you to keep reading. If you’re new to the series, then read Gardens of the Moon and Deadhouse Gates first to catch up. Many claim this book to be one of the best in the series and there is little reason to doubt them. Erikson’s writing is razor sharp, the narrative moves forward by leaps and bounds, questions are answered, more are raised, and the heartbreak is enormously sad but ultimately worth it. Because this is the Malazan Book of the Fallen, and as much as it grieves me to see certain characters go, it is as they are remembered that we’ll find the beauty of their lives.