on October 1, 2009
When i saw that this book was coming out 6 months earlier in the UK than the US, I called my brother in Ireland and told him to pick it up there and send it on to me ASAP. It arrived 5 days ago, and at almost 900 pages it was just a joy to behold. I managed to finish it in 4 days and the reson it took so long ;) was that I just wanted to savor it as much as possible, especially after the foreword warning about cliff hangers. And let me say up front, this book has some nail-biting cliff-hangers!
I absolutely love this series! Sure, it is difficult to follow sometimes and frequent trips to previous volumes are required to jolt the memory of this character and that event (in fact, i am now re-reading Toll the Hounds just to make sense of some things I read in DoD). But the way SE can bring all these disparate story lines together still amazes me.
As I alrady mentioned, this book is a hefty tome, 900 pages of battles, philosophy, plots and betrayals, and I was captivated from the first chapter. Characters that were distant memories suddenly returned, and the story arc of the K'Chain Che Malle was amazing and left me questioning many of my preconceptions. There is a lot of philosophical banter among the characters, but this is a hallmark of SE and I have come to appreciate some of the gems he manages to introduce.
It's hard to say much more about this book without adding spoilers, and I don't want to do that. But suffice to say that this book is everything I hoped for and I await with bated breath for the conclusion of one of the best fantasy series of all time.
on February 26, 2010
I'm a long time fan of this series, and still consider Deadhouse Gates to be one of the best fantasy novels I've ever read. But the downward trend in characterization, coherence, and common sense that has become increasingly obvious the last few books has really become too much in Dust of Dreams.
It's boring. I found I had to skip ahead vast amounts, usually in vain, to find some action to grab my interest, some attempt at humor that was actually funny, or some explanation of why I should care about yet more new characters inexplicably introduced in the ninth book of a ten book series.
It's pointlessly depressing. In past books, characters we cared about often had bad things happen to them for reasons tragic, ironic, or at least serving the plot. Those made me choke up, made me care, and sometimes made me righteously angry at other characters in the book. Good stuff. Here we have a lot of death that seems purely random and serving no purpose at all. Did anyone at all care about the Barghast after their only significant appearance in the third book? Of course not. Was anyone calling out for their reappearance in book nine? Endless pages describing stupid internal squabbles? Their ultimate fate, and the simply disgusting treatment of Hetan? I kept hoping to find something to tie this inexplicable interlude into the larger plot involving the Malazan 14th Army or the machinations of various gods and others, but it's not there. I can only guess Erikson couldn't get an S&M novella about primitive tribal cultures published independently and folded it into Dust of Dreams as some sort of misguided form of "artistic" expression.
It's not well integrated into the overall story. New characters/nations/factions, most of whom are boring and pointless even here and can't possibly be necessary to the completion of the series in the next book; "new" supposedly extinct races, for the 193rd time, with no foreshadowing whatsoever in previous books; and random flailing around by those actors we did know about from prior efforts in the series. I have no doubt whatsoever that I could write a two page synopsis of the events in this book that would enable one to transition smoothly from book 8 to book 10.
No one's motivations make sense. In the middle of this series I developed a strong distaste for the philosophizing that was overly dramatic and masturbatory to aspire to the title "sophomoric," but this books makes me wish it would come back - then at least I'd have some explanation for why anyone would choose to do the things they do in this book, and, even less explicably, why others follow them. (I'm looking at you, Bonehunters.)
This is not the worst book in the world, but it is the worst book in this series so far, a title I sincerely hope it retains after the release of book 10. This series has overall been interesting and sometimes extraordinary. If you've been a fan before, you should still read this book. Just don't feel the need to take it too seriously or read it all. Skimming will lesson your pain considerably.
on January 20, 2015
This was rough to read. It was full of characters I like, and everything was promising to lead somewhere big, and I am excited to see what's going to happen. I am enjoying seeing the Bone Hunters again, and happy that Brys Beddict has a decent sized role in this book.
There were other characters I like, but I was less happy about the direction their story took. Typically, the tragedies in these books have a great deal of meaning. But in this case, some terrible things happen, leading to some failures, followed by more terrible things. It was just painful, and it's why this book is rated three stars instead of four. But I don't think that's much of a spoiler. If you're up to book nine in the Malazan series, you are already aware that bad things happen sometimes.
This story took place on the Letheras side of things, so we did not get to hear from such characters as Karsa Orlong, the remaining Bridgeburners, Kruppe. I also would love to see the Redeemer again, just because I'm quite attached to him. I am wondering what they're all up to during this time. That said, at least the first half of this book took place some time before the end of the previous book. Events from Toll the Hounds are felt by just about everyone, about half-way through.
One of the plot threads I found surprisingly compelling was that of Kalyth, Destriant to the K'Chain Che'Malle. I was surprised to find myself actually caring about those creatures that, up through this book, I've mainly perceived to be just unpredictable killing machines.
There was satisfaction with the ending. Aside from a couple of characters' stories, I really feel everything is happening the way it ought to.
on February 23, 2012
I confess that I began reading this series with the hopes of finding something close to the epic storytelling of George.R.R.Martin or Robin Hobb, and at first it had all the elements for it, interesting plot if you could get through the first 2 books, original characters, amazing world with plenty of very imaginative cultures, and so on.
Sadly he lost his way along the proverbial way, or lost his original editor, or maybe one of his characters decided he had traveled enough for two lifetimes and knocked him in the head with a club, or maybe it was a Warren, after all those things seem to be able to do anything Mr. Erickson wants them to do.
I read the series in a row up to book 9, I think that gives me some perspective about it's chronology and consistency, and here is my rant, not really a review since its so FULL of SPOILERS:
- The magic doesn't have a set of rules that are the base to all its further applications through the books. At first the Warrens were realms completely different from each other with their unique aspects, after a few books Mr Erickson decided they served the plot better if there were extension of elder Warrens, and instead of the extensions being unique, they are flavors of each other's, Tellan being originally de Warren of Time but not really since now it's the Warren of Fire, which in turn its a cousin of Tyr which is also fire, so you don't really have one but two Warrens of Fire, only the single applicationand of Tellan seen in the books transforms the Imass in inmortal, something you would expect a time warren to do. Shadow is really a broken piece of Kurald Emurlah only it travels around (because Warrens can travel, but only some of them) and turns out they can also talk, but none of this matters in any way to the story, it doesn't move the plot forward, and I can't be completely sure of any of this because I'm still missing the 10th book, and perhaps I'll find that by then he has already changed it again.
-There were 7 Hounds of Shadows, this very strong, unique creatures that were particular to the realm of Shadows alone. Then we found out that there are Hounds of Dark, that somehow can be combined with the essence of the Hounds of Shadows? The hounds of Dark were the creation of Dessimbelackis, or maybe he became a Di'ver and that is his actual form, but in someway they superseded the hounds of shadows, which are supposed to be much older. And, wait for it, there are Hounds of Light too, not that it matters in any way to the story, except to create artificial suspense, or the anticlimactic convergences that Mr. Erickson likes to use so much.
-Why did Kallam gave the freaking Apocalypse book to Shaik, knowing all the consequences that it would bring? I know there was a reason but strong enough to justify it? Did he experienced any remorse for being the indirect cause of the Chain of Dogs? Someone like Martin would have capitalized on that but from Erickson all we get is Herboric with pages and pages of internal mononologues about the nature of religion and whether he deserves what he has or not. And do you want a more pointless arc than Felisin and the Whirlwind? After a book of an interesting journey and becoming Shaik, it all kinds of fizzles and ends up being about whether her sister is cold iron and she is hot iron, and cold iron always wins against hot. REALLY? I was expecting an explanation about what the hell that theory was, but there was none.
- Whatever happened to Whiskeyjack and the Bridgeburners after their Ascension, did it served any purpose as far as the story concerns or it was just for kicks? What about the forced love interest between Paran and Silverfox, she completely disappeared after being in one, perhaps 2 books total. There was a First Empire from the Imass, but there was also another from Dessimbelackis, and last but not least ANOTHER first empire, this time from Kallor. Whatever happened to the Grey Swords and Toc the Younger, he spent a whole book lost, then another book being tortured, and another one mostly prisoner to die oh so very pointlessly at the end, which is another example of Mr Erickson introducing characters just for the sake of filling pages, either that or after a while he simply doesn't know what to do with them anymore. What the hell was the Tyrant of Darujistan and why where people so afraid of him in the 8th book? Wasn't Mother Dark crazy from a device that the K'Chain Che'Malle sent into her Warren before their supposed extinction, as a means of vengeance for their total annihilation to de hands of the Andii? I'm pretty sure I read that somewhere in there.
I could go on, but I think this illustrates my point. Somewhere along the way the author forgot that the first rule of any good tale is show, don't tell. This series could be less dense and yes, less boring, if it had fewer character, fewer monologues and specially, an editor that could point out the enormous amount of inconsistencies it has. Why the need to ad superfluos characters at every turn, and why are they all philosophers, from the street thug to the soldier to the priest? Will I ever have a satisfying conclusion to the story that isn't forced or totally anticlimactic? I don't think so. But maybe all this extra fluff is there for a reason, and that reason is that if Mr Erickson wrote exclusively about the main theme of this series, he would never have been able to write even 5 books of the stuff.
on January 5, 2015
I'm in the homestretch now...Book 9, the penultimate book of the series...and it didn't let me down. Erikson warns in the beginning that this book should be considered part 1 of a 2 part finale, and so I didn't expect a big action scene at the end, but OMG... that ending! There's no way that some of those people are really dead...just NO WAY. I'm so tempted to leaf through The Crippled God just to try to spot some familiar names.
A huge surprise for me was that I ended up liking the K'Chain Che Malle in this book and the awesome ending scenes with them. Erikson is amazing at showing us both sides of a story and challenging us as to who the bad guys really are (like the Jaghuts, who are my favorite race now).
The Shake storyline really turned around for me too - I found them really boring in previous books, but Yedan and Twilight seemed a lot more fleshed out this time. Plus, where they ended up...how awesome is that!?!
So much to love in this book:
the Bonehunter/Letherii scenes - among the best parts of this series has been the soldier dialog - Gessler/Stormy, Pores/Kindly, the stupid heavies, Fiddler/Hedge/QB.
As always, I love Tehol and Bugg - probably my favorite people in the entire series (after Anomander Rake).
Ublala is hilarious and his new traveling companion was unexpected.
Silchas Ruin became way more "human" for me in this book. I've always liked him as a character and thought he was bad ass, it was nice to see another side of him. The scene were he found out about his brother's death was heart wrenching.
The snake storyline - it was boring, it was vague, it was long, it was annoying. Ranks right up there on my list of storylines I hated - although none are worse than the whiny Mhybe storyline in MoI.
I have never liked the T'lan Imass, and I didn't care for all the new ones that were introduced into the story. I'm just so over the T'lan Imass - especially the new ones that are with Tool.
So - lots of questions still unanswered, lots of people left to catch up with, lots of bad guys that need to die...on to TCG...
on May 15, 2013
I have absolutely loved this series but this book is taking work to get through. It's moving way too slowly. There are too many new characters and scenes that I can't see any point to. A lot of the scenes just seem to rehash the same theme of despair and futility. We get it, now let's move on. I feel like hundreds of pages could be cut from the book without any great loss. Still, after 1000s of awesome pages in this series, I suppose it's inevitable that Erikson would miss sooner or later. I will still finish the series.
on February 16, 2014
(I'm going to write one blurb and paste it for each of these books that I have purchased through amazon)
I purchased the entire 10 book set in paperback after reading them all on kindle, and as many audio books as I could find to buy.
I also have 3 or 4 of the side novels in kindle/audio format also.
This story has pushed aside the Shanarra saga to become my favorite.
They remind me of the feeling of the first few Shannara novels, lord of the rings, Game of Thrones.
They are vast adventures spanning time and worlds with great characters and stories.
The writing is very good I think (as someone who has read hundreds of fantasy novels and thousands of other books)
Do note that these are for adults. Some of the books are pretty heavy with graphic violence and rape as well as sex and adult language. I'd suggest reading each book before deciding if they are appropriate for you teenager/young adult.
All of it feels correct for the story but I'd thought I should mention it.
on March 2, 2016
A very challenging but deeply satisfying read! From the 1st book Garden's of the Moon till the final in the series, The Crippled God, you will be spell bound and fall in love with this series. It is not an 'easy' read but so worth the time and effort invested. I am working my way through this series for the second time and the insights and breadth of this work just staggers me. Steven Erickson has usurped Tolkien in my heart. I could not recommend this series by this author highly enough. I
on December 4, 2012
The phrase 'These ones' is driving me crazy, it is incorrect grammar, it should be 'this one' ore 'these'.Character introduction is hectic. One would be advised to prepare a list of characters with identifying attributes as they are introduced. This will minimize some confusion as you progress. Often you don't even realize that you're reading about a different character until 2 or 3 paragraphs later. This confusion becomes annoying. Another annoyance is that almost everyone thinks like a philosopher or a poet pondering the vagaries of life. That type of reading requires a thoughtful approach as you try to understand the authors references and point of view. This can become tedious. All the rich are evil and all the poor are good. Please,
did Steven take part in the occupy movement? There are other issues but i don't want to spend that much time on this review. If you followed the series so far you may be a little disappointed in this volume but you'll get through.
on June 15, 2014
After two novels that were rather disappointing for very similar reasons -- too much philosophy and too much time spent on incoherent and boring subplots that did not anything to the story -- Steven Erikson has bounced back and delivered a strong (though far from perfect) story that is the best since "The Bonehunters". While the previous novel spent its time in Darujhistan, "Dust of Dreams" takes place back on the continent of Lether, where the end is finally beginning. The Malazans begin holed up in Letheras after their conquest of the Tiste Edur, but they are quickly beginning their journey east into the Wastelands. Nobody knows what is out there and they do not know the enemy they are supposed to fight, but a reading from the Deck of Dragons tells them all it won't be good. Meanwhile, the story of the Barghast continues as the major subplot (while appearing at the end of "Reaper's Gale", they really have not been featured since "Memories of Ice"). The Shake also have a lot of time spent on them as they continue to try to find their way back home. A dozen other plotlines are also introduced, extended, or completed that feature essentially ever single race of creatures that have had a part in the series thus far -- T'lan Imass, Jaghut, K'Chain Che'Malle, Forkrul Assail, Eleint, Tiste Edur, Tiste Andii, Tiste Liosan, and about half a dozen gods. If there is any question that the story is beginning to wrap up, there won't be by the end.
More than ever, there is a lot of different things to keep track of, but Erikson makes it work as he has complete mastery over the plots and never loses control. Knowing he needs to wrap things up, less time is spent on soldiers sitting by a fire spouting philosophy (but there still is some of that) and more time is used on setting the stage for all hell to break lose. About halfway through the novel there were about dozen different things to keep track of, but by the end the author had narrowed them down to about five. While there is still a lot left to cover, there never is the fear that it won't all be adequately taken care of.
A lot of different important and crucial questions are asked in "Dust of Dreams". More than ever, the Bonehunters are spending time questioning Adjunct Tavore's motivations and leadership ability. There is never a single scene from her point of view, but a lot of the plot surrounds her and what she wants to do. She becomes much more of a fascinating character, a very closed person who doesn't let anyone in, haunted and in despair by -something-, yet altogether cunning and brilliant. Whether or not the Malazans can follow her, and whether or not she can maintain her alliances without any betrayal becomes a crucial part of the plot. A lot is also asked about whether an army can handle saving the world without anybody knowing they actually did it. The answer seems simple, but of course it ends up being much tougher than that. Finally, the novel deals a lot with the theme of extinction, as there are many different characters that are the last of a certain race, tribe, or people, which allows "Dust of Dreams" to be a lot darker than anything else Erikson has written.
As always with Erikson, there are many scenes that wring hollow. It can be very easy to tell when he wants you to feel a lot of emotion, almost as if he is pointing out that certain scenes are really important, and it only serves to make you roll your eyes. There are some subplots that introduce new characters (a bit odd, considering the point we are at in the series) but they aren't quite a dull as in the previous two entries. Once again, anything dealing with the Shake comes across as tiresome and pointless. It's the only subplot not really connected with the rest of the series at this point, and it isn't too interesting either. Erikson has made it more exciting than in "Reaper's Gale", but there isn't much to miss (so far) by simply skipping over those sections. It's a group of people trying to recover their lost past and looking for their home -- there's some promise there but none of it is found.
"Dust of Dreams" ends on a fairly massive cliffhanger, as Erikson warns at the beginning of the book. There's the right combination of wanting to know what happens along with a sense of accomplishment of what has been achieved. Erikson probably could have added another chapter to reduce the tension a bit, but the actual stopping point is as good as any. I think he's earned enough goodwill of not ending on cliffhangers in the first eight novels to get away with it this one time. But it is because of the cliffhanger that this novel doesn't quite reach the level of "The Bonehunters", "Midnight Tides", and "Memories of Ice". For the first time in two thousand pages, though, I felt like I was not let down by what Erikson gave. A combination of being at the point of wrapping everything up and not using his traditional storytelling arc makes "Dust of Dreams" bring back the excitement and wonder in the Malazan universe. If you made it this far and aren't excited by the finale, then you probably never will be.
Malazan Book of the Fallen Book Ratings (from best to worst):
The Bonehunters -- 4/5
Midnight Tides -- 4/5
Memories of Ice -- 4/5
Dust of Dreams -- 4/5
House of Chains -- 3.5/5
Toll the Hounds -- 3/5
Reaper's Gale -- 3/5
Deadhouse Gates -- 2/5
Gardens of the Moon -- 1/5