Memories of Ice, by Steven Erikson
“Hood’s marble balls on an anvil…” – Whiskeyjack
Paperback: 925 pages
Series: The Malazan Book of the Fallen (book 3)
While the Malazan Empire was battling the allied forces of Caladan Brood and Anomander Rake for the control of Pale and Darujhistan, a new empire has risen on the war torn continent of Genabackis – the Pannion Domin, and it threatens to devour – literally – everything in its path. Dujek Onearm’s Host and Whiskeyjack’s Bridgeburners, now outlawed by Empress Laseen, are forced into an uneasy alliance with their enemies of old – Caladan Brood and Anomander Rake – against this common enemy.
The events in Memories of Ice, third book of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, take place just after the ones in Gardens of the Moon and in parallel to the ones in Deadhouse Gates. Unlike Deadhouse Gates, this book features lots of characters from Gardens of the Moon, including my favorites – the Bridgeburners, Anomander Rake and, of course, Kruppe of Daruhjistan. By now, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the book keeps true to the spirit of the series when it comes to its breathtaking scale, large number of characters and points of view and incredibly complex plot.
About two thirds into Memories of Ice, I was determined to complain about the ever-slowing pace between each book of the series, and how each installment seems to be getting longer, without having a longer story and, at over nine hundred pages, this book is indeed massive. However, the last two hundred pages or so more than made up for any flaws, as the ending simply blew my mind. Unpredictable turns of events, a convergence of secondary plots and one of the best battle scenes I have read make the patience in getting this far worth it. Perhaps even more important, unlike the previous two books, the ratio between the answered and unanswered questions has finally shifted, to the point where we are actually able to put pieces together and come out of Memories of Ice feeling like we have a sort of closure and a deeper understanding of Erikson’s world, even though the series if far from ended.
Reading some books is like chopping onions, if you know what I mean. When writing about Deadhouse Gates I mentioned that growing fond of Erikson’s characters is not a wise thing to do, as the author is prone to killing them when you least expect it. Well, Deadhouse Gates was child play. I will not spoil the story for you, suffice to say that there are some moments in Memories of Ice that surpass even that scene in George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones when it comes to tear-jerking potential. Yes, that one.
In conclusion, while Memories of Ice could have been substantially shorter at practically no loss to its quality (I was particularly irritated by the long-winded whining and melodramatic inner monologue of the Mhybe, for example), I will definitely continue reading the series.