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