I've just finished reading the third volume of A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. And I'm left utterly speechless. Memories of Ice in an undeniable masterpiece. After reading fantasy novels for well nigh two decades, I can't believe that I can still be awed to such a degree by an author's work.
Steven Erikson set the bar rather high with the first two volumes, Gardens of the Moon and Deadhouse Gates. Yet somehow, the author found a way to outdo himself with this new installment. Without the shadow of a doubt, Memories of Ice is one of the best books I have ever read.
Epic in scope and vision since the very beginning, this addition brings even more depth to a series that is rapidly growing into a body of works that stands at the front of the pack. In worldbuilding and depth, I now believe that Erikson is without equals.
The characterizations are of the first order. Key revelations about Silverfox, Whiskeyjack, Quick Ben, Paran, and many others mark the return of fully realized characters. It's with immense pleasure that we return to the continent of Genabackis, even if what took place in Seven Cities was incredible. This book starts some time after Gardens of the Moon ended. Hence, it marks the return of favorites such as Anomander Rake, Onos T'oolan, Kruppe, and the Bridgeburners. But we are also introduced to a vast array of new characters that breathe new life into the tale. It demonstrates just how talented Erikson has become in that department. Special mention goes out to the Bridgeburners -- the best military outfit in the fantasy genre's history.
Weighing in at nearly 1200 pages, this is a big novel. And that size may daunt some potential readers. Yet the pace never slows down and there is not a single dull moment within its pages.
The myriad storylines weave an ever-growing tapestry which shows the potential of being the best fantasy series ever written. And even better, in Memories of Ice Steven Erikson's saga reaches an emotional and spiritual level that is rarely encountered in works of fiction. Moreover, the author does it all with a grace that left me baffled.
The battle of Coral will likely remain one of the most impressive armed conflicts to ever grace the pages of a novel. Yes, the action scenes are great. But it's during that gruesome conflict and its terrible aftermath that Erikson truly unveils these emotional and spiritual layers which make Memories of Ice such a special reading experience.
To conclude, a bold claim, if I may: If you are not reading A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, you are missing out on what is possibly the most ambitious fantasy series to ever see the light. As for me, chalk me up for the Malazan Reading Cult!;-)
The final verdict: 10/10
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