Memories of Ice (Malazan Book of the Fallen #3) ★★★★☆

memoriesofice

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Title: Memories of Ice
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #3
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 945
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Pannion Domin is a threat both martial and magical and it will take the combined forces of the outlawed army of Dujek Onearm, former High Fist of the Malazan Empire, and their former enemies in the guise of the combined might of Caladan Brood’s army and the sorcerous might of Anomander Rake and his floating city of Moonspawn.

At the same time, Silverfox [the fully grown woman encompassing the souls of 3 other mages] has called the T’lan Imass together again for the first time in over 300,000 years. She is the physical embodiment of an Imass magician and has the power to reverse the oath the Imass took in their war against the Jhagut. She refuses and this has fallout for her personally and for the forces of Dujek and Brood who were counting on the Imass to counter the undead forces of a race thought to be extinct, the K’chain Ch’maile.

All through this, the gods continue their own war. The fallen/broken god has declared war on the pantheon and he wants to destroy them all for bringing him to this world. Fenner, the god of war, has fallen and a new risen god, Treach the Tiger, has ascended. Old lost gods are finding their thrones and each god is choosing for or against the broken god. And amid the total destruction and war on the souls of the men themselves, it is revealed that this part of the story is but a small part of the overall narrative.

Now THAT is depressing.

 

My Thoughts:

First thing I noticed was that with this 3rd read, I was able to not focus on all the shiny little bits and put the story together as a whole. In previous reads I found a huge disconnect from the leadup to the battle of Capustan to the final showdown at Corel. This time around there was no disconnect and the story naturally flowed without any jarring. It was really nice to UNDERSTAND the slightly bigger picture.

Erikson shows once again that he is a freaking master of writing. The battle scenes were incredible. Vivid, intense and brutal. You can feel the slippery blood, the complete exhaustion, the fear and the adrenaline rush. The interactions between characters was excellently done as well. There was NO cardboard, only flesh and blood come to life on paper. What’s more, everyone was “distinct”. They weren’t archtypes, or ideas, or variations on a theme. They Were People.

And that leads into the start of my issues. With the characters being so real, the hearbreak and despair and utter desolation that they one and all suffer is wrong. In previous reads, I was taken up with the story, trying to figure out how everything fit together. In being focused on that, the emotional side of things were glossed over. Not this time. The death of main characters hit hard. They weren’t alone but had made connections, so when those threads were cut, it was like a spiderweb quivering all over. No on person was ever alone in their anguish or loss. It hurt to read as it was so real to me.

The second, and far bigger issue for me, was the wholesale injection of existential philosophy in a huge way. Existentialism is one of the most depressing philosophies, in my opinion. In small doses, it provides a way for men to show their true grit against completely overwhelming odds. However, in larger doses, it can overwhelm the reader with utter despair and destroy your psyche.

It is probably apparent which happened to me.

By the end of the book I was dreading every instance where I saw italicized walls of text. That meant that some character was thinking and every thought of every character was nothing but despair and hopeless angst. It wore me down.

On my first read through of the whole series, it took me until Book 8 to feel this way. Since then, I’ve had some “experience” with the hard side of life and reading about despair and suffering isn’t theoretical anymore. Reading about suffering isn’t so fun once you’ve had a taste of it yourself. I think I’m going to be taking an extra cycle before dipping my toes into this series again.

More specifics about the story itself can be found in my Memories of Ice Readalong Updates.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

  1. Memories of Ice (2008 & 2010 Reviews)
  2. Gardens of the Moon (Book 1)
  3. Deadhouse Gates (Book 2)
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Memories of Ice – 100% Update

memoriesofice So I am now done.  Hoping to do the actual review tomorrow, so this is more of a what happened in this section.

The Malazan’s make it to Coral, begin the attack early and are not supported by the rest of the alliance. Which is all due to Kallor’s advice, who has secretly allied himself with the broken god. He also tries to kill Silverfox but is prevented by Whiskeyjack and the two guards, all of whom die. Yep, Whiskeyjack dies. So he’s now out of the picture.

Big battle, LOTS of dying and eventual victory over the Pannion Domin. But he’s not really a bad guy. Just a poor jaghut kid who got “hard used” by a nasty T’lan Imass a bajillion years ago. So he gets a second chance along with his little sister and they start freezing the goddess Burn to slow the infection introduced by the broken god.  Everybody lives happily ever after in fields of daisies and buttercups.

It felt like a lot of the characters were spoiled rich kids. Even an old man like Whiskeyjack. Who’s getting it on with a 14,000 year old unhuman woman. Nobody actually talks about what they are going through, they just talk about it to us the readers and honestly, it was repetitive drivel from an emo 16 year old.

When the storyline, whichever one, actually progressed, Erikson is awesome. The scope, the twistiness, the writing itself, is all great. But once Erikson starts using his characters as mouthpieces it lost me.  I think I’m going to have to either wait longer between these books or read several books between sections as I read these. Existentialism is a philosophy of utter despair and I find that I am very sensitive to issues of hope and despair, more so than I would like.

Cheers!This typifies the Malazan experience. Camaraderie and light heartedness while off on the side are the stacks of the dead, both friend and foe. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die. Ugh…

 

Here are the posts of this reading along by me and by DZ:

Bookstooge’s Updates

DZ’s Updates

 

bookstooge

Memories of Ice – 73% Update

memoriesoficeOk, here’s the quick and dirty.

Capustan is under siege and last for all of 2-3 days. The Grey Swords are destroyed. From a force of 8000 to a mere 300 and most of those 300 are Capustan recruits. They acknowledge that Fenner has fallen and become followers of Tog and Fanderay, ancient wolf beings.

The allied army reaches Capustan and destroys what is left of the Pannion forces. They all then decide to continue on to Coral, where the Pannion Domin has fled. It is revealed that the Domin is either a Jaghut or a man being controlled by one.

Gruntle, former drunk and caravan guard, has become Trake’s Mortal Sword. With Fenner’s fall into the mortal world, Trake has ascended into godhood and is now the defacto god of War. Trake is a soultaken tiger. Gruntle, in protecting Stonny Menackis during the siege, accepted that burden. He must now begin to gather his own group of followers and name them to sacred positions. He, and Stonny, are the characters shown on the cover.

Silverfox, in a fit of pique, does not allow the Imass to give up their vow of war against all jaghut. Silverfox and Paran have moved on their separate ways and are no longer seeking each other as lost lovers.

Paran has accepted his role as Lord of the Deck of Houses. His major decision is whether or not to allow the broken god to become a house within the deck, with all the powers that go with it, AND all the bindings.

Everyone is now heading for Coral for the big showdown, which I thought was supposed to happen at Capustan. Thus adding another 200+ pages to this book.

I have realized that while lots of characters talk about sacrifice and heartbreak and angst and all the sad emotions and they always claim it is for others, not one character has truly shown love yet. Nobody talks to somebody else and even when they do, it is more of a pronouncement and a set in stone “This is what I am going to do. Nobody can change my mind” kind of thing. Everyone thinks that only THEY can understand pain, grief, etc. Only THEY can bear Burden X and woe betide anyone who tries to help. They spurn, they turn away from, they despise anyone who tries to help. Love is humble enough to know when you can’t do it alone. But this is ALL about doing it on your own.

I am having serious thoughts about whether I am going to be able to actually finish this series re-read.

 

33d60dfe97df42e868f694eaa039d84aA T’lan Imass killing someone. Imagine an army, 100,000 strong, of these undead horrors. And imagine that they are tired and want oblivion. Now imagine the one who can give them that surcease refusing it to them. Imagine the depth of despair. Thus you have encapsulated the Malazan Books.

 

Here are the posts of this reading along by me and by DZ:

Bookstooge’s Updates

DZ’s Updates

 

bookstooge

Memories of Ice – 44% Update

memoriesoficeI had “remembered” that this was mainly about the T’lan Imass. So far, the part played by them is miniscule.  It feels like everything so far has been setup for the battles between the Pannion Domin and the forces allied against him. But it kind of made me laugh that the Imass had outlived their own gods.  Now there is irony for you.

The Grey Swords, the mercenaries working in the city of Capustan, which is the next targeted city by the Domin. A whole group dedicated to Fenner. Who we know has been pulled from his warren and is somehow in our world in mortal form. We know this from what happened in Deadhouse Gates. It doesn’t appear that THEY know this though. Must suck to have your god suddenly unavailable and another god [Treach/Trake] of war suddenly making its moves. This is why I like being a Christian. I have ONE God to deal with. There is but One God and His name is Jehovah and He is Great and He is Good. I cannot imagine the uncertainty that would pervade your life if you thought “gods” were just powerful beings all jockeying for power. Ugh.

The barghast discovering the bones of their spirit gods. I don’t understand how finding them accomplishes anything but Erikson waves his hand and says “make it so Number One!”. I seem to remember that things don’t turn out well though for the barghast in this regard.

Toc the Younger going his own way and separating from Lady Envy.  He’s caught and given to the K’chain ch’malle queen. It’s kind of unclear exactly what is going on except he is being continually broken and healed, broken and healed. Now there is hell on earth.

One thing that I miss on these re-reads are confident, heroic, heroes. While someone might appear that way on a first read, Erikson does a thorough job of disabusing his readers of that notion about any of his characters in future books.  First time around, I thought that the Segula would be heroic people, as they are such exquisitely honed warriors living within a warrior hierarchy. Too bad they get most of another book showing just how bad their society is also.

toctoolgarath (Small)Onos T’oolan (First Sword of the T’lan Imass), Toc the Younger & Baaljagg (some sort of ancient wolf god from before time. Or something)

 

envysegulaLady Envy, the 3 Segula (they are considered a whole army unto themselves) and Baaljagg and Garath (Garath is some special animal as well. Once again, not sure exactly of what or why)

 

Here are the posts of this reading along by me and by DZ:

Bookstooge’s Updates

DZ’s Updates

 

bookstooge

Memories of Ice – 23% Update

memoriesofice I have been tearing through this. Part of it is that I don’t want to linger. Erikson has started to move into “every soldier is a philosopher” mode and since his philosophy of choice appears to be Existentialism, it gets pretty fracking tiring hearing about how Hopeless Everything Is. Makes me wish some of the characters would just kill themselves.

Other thoughts, on a slightly more positive note.

This is more of a direct sequel to Gardens of the Moon than anything to do with Deadhouse Gates. The little bits that are mentioned from DHG could simply be glossed over as Erikson writing mysterious stuff that he’ll never explain.  He does that ALL the time.

The number of character viewpoints seems to have shrunk.  Or if they haven’t, at least they’re all in the same army on the same continent doing the same thing. There are 3 rough viewpoints that are separate in geography, so that really makes things easier. So much is happening with the combined armies of Dujek Onearm and Caladan Brood that it keeps us the reader nailed to one main location. I like that better than all the zipping around in DHG.

Paran meets Silverfox, who is the reborn amalgamation of Tattersail (his former lover) and another mage, Nightchill. That whole thing brings up shades of Dune and the pre-born Abomination of Alia and the twins Leto II and Ghanima. I mean, imagine having memories of someone else in your head who IS you while you try to be just you. I’m confused as kashizzle just writing that sentence.

We are introduced to Bauchelain and Korbal Broach. I’ve read several of the short stories/novels with them as the protagonists and I didn’t care for them. Necromancers who do what they want, no  thank you. But if I hadn’t read those short stories, I’m not sure how much of an impression they’d be making right now.

We also find out HOW the K’chain che’malle come back into the Malazan world.  That bit of info was a couple of paragraphs in one chapter. It is no wonder I missed it the other times. Too much going on to take everything in.

One thing is that we are getting a LOT of history this time around. History about the Broken God (which is what the whole series is actually about, in a sideways, roundabout, squint your eyes kind of way), history about the T’lan Imass and history about the world. Not that it does me much good as I doubt it’ll ever be referenced again.

As much as I’m doing nothing but complain, I actually enjoying this read. Erikson can write and his words are not cotton candy. I’m just not in the mood to have to dig out my sword to cut this steak; I just want to eat a bleeding hamburger.

 

K'chain (Medium)

Here are the posts of this reading along by me and by DZ:

Bookstooge’s Updates

DZ’s Updates

 

bookstooge

 

Memories of Ice Readalong Intro

memoriesofice Dragons&Zombies and I have decided to read the next Malazan Book of the Fallen as a buddyread. Unlike our Deadhouse Gates Readalong we have decided that we’re not going to write such copious notes or post so many updates. Rough outline looks like an intro post then 4’ish updates then the final review.

I am reading a kindle edition and it is approximately 945 pages long. This will be my 3rd read of it, as I read it initially in ’08 and then again in ’10.  I do own it in hardcover as well.

There will be a Memories of Ice Readalong tag with each post and I’ll be linking to DZ’s posts once she gets going. My updates will be full of spoilers, so be aware of that. Or maybe I’ll be lazy and hardly have ANY info in the updates. Really going to depend on how I’m feeling when it comes time to do updates.

Previously, this had been my favorite of the MBotF series. We’ll see if that Title is still standing by the end of this. I suspect it will though.

Not much else to say really. I feel like an Olympic swimmer who has already done 2 competitions and is now on his 3rd swim meet. No butterflies, no nervousness, no wondering. Just pure focused will ready to overcome all obstacles and succeed at his goal.

Here are a couple of alternate covers.

 

1memories_of_ice-limited-webThis is the Subterranean Press hardcover edition. This baby starts at $125. Much as I like the SP covers of this series, they are just way out of my price league.

 

89e45675e448b1f596a70396677444341587343No idea what country this one is from. But Hordes of Creatures look pretty cool.