Home > Literature, Reviews > Review of Memories of Ice (A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen) by Steven Erikson

Review of Memories of Ice (A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen) by Steven Erikson

Whenever Stephen Donaldson is asked about his favourite authors he invariably mentions Steven Erikson and his Malazan books. Being a dutiful SRD fan I got hold of (and read – it helps) Gardens of the Moon, the first in the series … and was confused. But I enjoyed it enough to read book two – Deadhouse Gates – and now this.

The third Malazan tale is the longest (at nearly 1200 pages) and the best of the series so far, but is still dizzyingly complex. Instead of starting small and gradually introducing the principle characters (and thus the reader) to the magic, history and politics of the world (á la The Lord of the Rings or The Wheel of Time), these books start big and make no apologies for doing so. But by Memories of Ice, you know enough to settle in the story and enjoy it without wondering what in Hood's name is going on (more than, say, half a dozen times a page, anyway).

Memories has new characters and old (and one who is both) and a plot that follows on from Gardens and seems more coherent than either of the previous instalments. The book is full of drama and humour, is occasionally moving (particularly Silverfox's meeting with the T'lan Imass) and is consistently readable, making it a very short 1200 pages. I have a few niggles with Erikson's style, however: there's too much relfection on the part of the characters – they're all constantly philosophising on their situations – and their motivations are often less clear than they might be, rendering their actions more dependent on the requirements of the plot rather than their own inner desires. The series is influenced by Vietnam war movies, so the action is immediate and the characters sympathetic, but something about it doesn't quite sit right – it's a little anachronistic – though you get used to it.

These are minor points, however, because Memories of Ice is the kind of book that is a pleasure to pick up and a disappointment to have to put down.

Categories: Literature, Reviews
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