Monday, February 7, 2011

Memories of Ice

Memories of Ice (2001) is the third volume in the Malazan Book of the Fallen (MBotF) series.  It is a serious whopper of a book with the paperback weighing in at a cool 1,187 pages.  While not as good as its predecessor, MoI carries the main plotline forward in an interesting, if not completely gripping, manner.

MoI is the direct sequel to the first novel in the series, Gardens of the Moon, and the events within happen concurrently with those of Deadhouse Gates.  See?  It is already getting complicated, and I haven't even tried to summarize the plot yet.

We once again join the fellows of Whiskeyjack's company in the Malazan army which now finds itself threatened by the Pannion Domin, a powerful army rising out of the south.  It soon becomes clear that there is something altogether sinister with the power behind the Pannion Domin.  As this tide sweeps ever closer to the Malazans, a desperate plan is hatched to forge an alliance with old enemies.

The majority of the novel describes the desperate struggle to hold Capustan from the Domin and is told from both the perspective of soldiers trapped within the city and the Malazan army racing across the continent to relieve the seige.  The climactic struggle for Capustan is really the high watermark of the novel--I've not read many fictional battle scenes described as vividly (or as well) as here.  Erickson does an excellent job of keeping the mood tense and desperate throughout this section of the novel.

Of course, it wouldn't be the MBotF if this action on the prime material plane wasn't part of some grand, cosmic scheming of the gods.  There is plenty of divine, magical intrigue to add to the plot arc that has been building since the first novel.

Memories of Ice definitely has its high points, but, on the whole, I prefer its predecessor more.  The climactic battle scenes were epic, but, boy, did it take a lot of slogging to get there.  Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if it had been broken up into two shorter novels (in fact, there was a perfect place to do just that).  Nevertheless, I still find myself intrigued by the Malazan world and will read on to (hopefully) find some resolution to the main storyline.

Also:  please don't get me started on the cover art--I would rank it as one of the cheeziest covers I've ever seen.  I was actively embarrassed to be seen reading the book in public.

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