Monday 5 January 2015

Memories of Ice

The action of the third novel from the Malazan Book of the Fallen takes place simultaneously to the second one. In the "Deadhouse Gates" there were some moments when there were glimpses into what was happening to some of the characters (such as Kalam's brief conversation with Quick Ben or goodies delivered to Fiddler) so now it was an opportunity to finally learn of the fates of Dujek Onearm's Second army, Anomander Rake, Caladan Brood, Tattersail, and many others.

The renegade Malazan army forms a shaky truce with the Tiste Andii  from Moonspawn and Caladan Brood's forces. The interactions between commanders were very well presented as each struggled to maintain the alliance while working on their own agenda secretly.This power play was very interesting but what I found even more intriguing was the way Erikson introduces the main enemy - Pannion Seer. Little is known about the nature of the leader of the empire of Pannion Domin. Even the most powerful and influential characters have just a few insights into what awaits them, only knowing that it's something nasty. The author keeps the reader interested and as more details are revealed, it is shown that the main antagonist is a very complex figure.

As the combined forces near the city of Capustan, its defenders struggle against an overwhelming attack from enemy forces. The attacking army consists in the large part of the Tenescowri, a peasant army formed from the starving survivors of Pannion's neighbours.This is probably the most terrifying description of an army I've ever read. These are starved men and women thrown into defenders in overwhelming numbers. They feed on the bodies of their enemies (and their fellow soldiers as well). Fighting against them is extremely unpleasant for the defenders of Capustan as they have to slaughter huge numbers of helpless peasants. At the same time the Tenescowri are driven mad by their plight and no longer resemble normal humans. They actually made me think of zombies from World War Z as the creatures were climbing the walls of Jerusalem. Definitely not a pretty sight.

The other characters include a recurring Malazan soldier who disappeared in tome #1 and now returns to find himself in very unusual company... Thanks to the presence of a very special Lady we get interesting insights into the ancient history connected with the Crippled God. Also, another interesting tribe is presented - the Seguleh, fierce warriors who value battle prowess more than anything else. There is also some comic relied in the person of Kruppe. This character, as usual, brings some humor with his witty dialogues and unlikely situations he finds himself in. He is also still the character I haven't figured out yet. Who he really is, what is his role and what other skills than his considerable intelligence does he posses that allow him to pull so many strings still remains unknown. Speaking of humor, there is also a very interesting duo of two necromancers, Bauchelain and Korbal Broach. The latter in particular brings new meaning to the word "madness".

While reading Memories of Ice I couldn't stop thinking how deep the world created by Erikson is and that it continued to become even deeper as I read through the novel. I like the fact that he gradually reveals past events that affect the world. He seamlessly combines narrative from the past to present events. As a result, new facts about seemingly well known characters emerge regularly and affect the way they're perceived. There are some truly gut wrenching moments here but overall it's a really good read and I look forward to finding more answers (and more questions!) in the next novel. 

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