Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson
|Book Name:||Memories of Ice|
|Publisher(s):||Tor Fantasy (US) Bantam (UK)|
|Formatt:||Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / eBook|
|Release Date:||August 1, 2006 (US) October 1, 2002 (UK)|
Ahhh, Memories of Ice, Book Three of The Malazan Book of the Fallen, what an enjoyable tropical holiday you are – that is if tropical holidays contained relentless waves of cannibalistic armies, unspoiled (or should I say utterly tormented) elder races and, of course, friendly Bridgeburner staff!
No doubt, a tropical holiday is needed after the emotional wringer that is Book Two of this series, Deadhouse Gates; so it’s time to kick off the flip-flops, lay back on the banana lounge and let the relaxation wash through you. Or, instead, how about another high octane rollercoaster where humanity must stand up and be counted, putting itself between the rock of soullessness and the hard place of too much heartache?
In this instalment of Steven Erikson’s epic fantasy series we get to know some this world’s real movers and shakers a whole lot better; namely Anomander Rake, Whiskeyjack, Ganoes Paran and Onos T’oolan. We catch our first real glimpses of the Crippled God, with whom the entire Malazan Book of the Fallen becomes intimately linked. We are also treated to some serious developments in the stories of old favourites such as Kruppe and Toc the Younger, both of whom play vital roles in the dramatic conclusion to this work. Honourable mentions go to some excellent support characters, namely Gruntle, Quick Ben, Kallor, Lady Envy, Dujek, Silverfox and the ever popular Bauchelain and Korbal Broach.
The book’s title, Memories of Ice, is a strange one given that there isn’t any to be found anywhere in the more than 1,000 pages of the book. Yes – you read that right, over 1,000 – 1,187 to be exact; and for me as a reader, this is when it hit me that this series is not going to back off as so far, Books One, Two and Three have only gotten fatter and the plot deeper than anything I had read before.
Despite the lack of ice, the title alludes to something vast and, quite frankly, terrifying. All of the threads of the immediate action are but consequences of hidden events that will have us on the edge of our reading nooks until the very end of this mega series. These are events where it is nigh impossible to determine “who’s zooming who”, and where your views on who wears the white hat and who wears the black hat will change many, many times. And while this is not exactly strange as far as epic fantasy goes, it is the way that Erikson pulls this off that sets him apart from others; though the book could certainly benefit from a few more chapter breaks.
But let us look passed this backdrop of frozen antideluvia, for Erikson’s real triumph is that he is able to paint a really gripping story around what is in our immediate vision.
The events in this book take place at roughly the same time as those in Deadhouse Gates, giving us the opportunity to catch up with characters we got to know in Book One, Gardens of the Moon. In the war against the Pannion Domin, we are treated to a convergence of ascendants from across the world, and we will also see that there may have been a bitter yet infallible logic behind the betrayal of the Bridgeburners back in Book One. In the growing friendship between Whiskeyjack and Anomander Rake, we are asked to give thought to what each ascendant may have become had the demands of war not been placed upon them, and these are genuinely interesting passages.
Again, there is deep history as well as intense drama around a) the quandary of Silverfox and the T’lan Imass, b) Gruntle’s rise to prominence, and c) the Bridgeburners dash to save a continent from the endless rage of an elder being whose power is fuelled by betrayal, rage, hatred, loneliness and pain.
At the end of Memories of Ice, destiny both freezes beneath the waters of Coral harbour and thaws as a new Master of the Deck rises to power, bringing into focus the Holds, an altogether forgotten layer of memory and power. In fact, the more I think about it, and despite the imminent rollercoaster, Memories of Ice makes the perfect holiday read. Where’s my banana lounge?