27 October, 2011

Review - Dust of Dreams (Malazan Book 9) by Steven Erikson

In war everyone loses. This brutal truth can be seen in the eyes of every soldier in every world…
In Letherii, the exiled Malazan army commanded by Adjunct Tavore begins its march into the eastern Wastelands, to fight for an unknown cause against an enemy it has never seen.

And in these same Wastelands, others gather to confront their destinies. The warlike Barghast, thwarted in their vengeance against the Tiste Edur, seek new enemies beyond the border and Onos Toolan, once immortal T’lan Imass now mortal commander of the White Face clan, faces insurrection. To the south, the Perish Grey Helms parlay passage through the treacherous kingdom of Bolkando. Their intention is to rendezvous with the Bonehunters but their vow of allegiance to the Malazans will be sorely tested. And ancient enclaves of an Elder Race are in search of salvation—not among their own kind, but among humans—as an old enemy draws ever closer to the last surviving bastion of the K’Chain Che’Malle.

So this last great army of the Malazan Empire is resolved to make one final defiant, heroic stand in the name of redemption. But can deeds be heroic when there is no one to witness them? And can that which is not witnessed forever change the world? Destines are rarely simple, truths never clear but one certainty is that time is on no one’s side. For the Deck of Dragons has been read, unleashing a dread power that none can comprehend…

In a faraway land and beneath indifferent skies, the final chapter of ‘The Malazan Book of the Fallen’ has begun…

There's a warning at the beginning of Dust of Dreams [US] [UK] [Kindle] from the author himself explaining that until this point in the series, there has never been a cliffhanger, but in order to finish this insanely huge series, the penultimate volume in the Malazan Book of the Fallen is the first and only to do so.

Throughout the book, I was prepping myself for lots of buildup with no payoff in the end. Every other ending to every other Malazan book has blown my mind more than anything I've ever read. Erikson's endings are the best in the business and easily make it worth the thousand plus pages it takes to get there.

So, knowing that there would be a cliffhanger, I assumed there wouldn't be any mind-blowingness going on at the end. Well, I'm happy to say that I was wrong. It is epic, tragic, brutal, and lovely all rolled into one. Nothing but the usual.

Now, that's not to say that a cliffhanger doesn't exist, I'm just saying you don't have to go through the entire book not expecting a great ending... like I did.

While I had a bit of a hard time with Toll the Hounds (although I still loved it), Dust of Dreams goes back, mostly, to Erikson's normal style, which really just means Toll sans narration. The philosophizing is a bit heavy-handed, especially coming from EVERY character, but it didn't ruin anything and most of the time, I enjoyed pondering the meaning of existence, etc.

The Bonehunters have been hanging out in Letheras since they rousted the Tiste Edur and Tehol Beddict has been put in charge as king (Awesome!). Brys Beddict, Tehol's brother, is back, and in charge of the Letherii military (More Awesome!). I have to admit, I have a huge man-crush on Brys (great name btw).

Adjunct Tavore has decided the Bonehunters need to head east toward the Wastelands and even further and no one knows why... her usual MO. Their allies, the Perish Grey Helms and the Kundryl Burned Tears, are busy getting things ready in the east of the Letherii kingdom, but things aren't going too well with the Bolkando stirring things up.

We also tag along with the Barghast, led by their Warleader Onos T'oolan (or Tool), who's now no longer T'lan Imass - just Imass now, who are really ancient Barghast ancestors. The Barghast despise his leadership as they prefer their more barbaric traditions to his more civilized way of thinking.

This is a minor spoiler, but: It's interesting to note that Dust of Dreams actually begins before the ending of Toll the Hounds if you were wondering. :)

Why Read The Malazan Book of the Fallen?

The Malazan Book of the Fallen is the most confusing thing you'll never forget. Under the definition of "epic" in the dictionary, you'll find The Malazan Book of the Fallen series. I promise you, IT IS WORTH IT.

Erikson puts you right where the average soldier is, just do as your told and you'll end up all right, you don't need to know all the details just yet.

Add to this the feelings of jubilation when you figure something out, this series will blow your mind. Guaranteed.

4 out of 5 Stars (Compared to the rest of the series)
5 out of 5 Stars (Compared to anything else)

If you need any help remembering some of the characters/races/magics, check out the Malazan Wiki. It's amazing with a WARNING: Don't read too far into anything and especially, DON'T LOOK AT THE DECK OF DRAGONS. Go back to the previous books if you need to.

I started this series before I started blogging, but here are the reviews I've done so far:

The Bonehunters reviewed (MbotF 6) (This is a very early review of mine, don't judge too harshly)
Reaper's Gale reviewed (MbotF 7)
Toll the Hounds reviewed (MbotF 8)

Return of the Crimson Guard by ICE (Malazan Empire 2)


Ryan said...

I applaud you sir. You are a much braver man than I. I'm not sure when I'll work up the courage to read Dust of Dreams.

Bryce L. said...

You can do it! Just two more books (about 5 books worth of pages) and you're done with an epic fantasy series...not something you can say you've done all that often. :)

darkul said...

tMBotF ... best books out there in almost any genre. Period.

Even a 3rd/4th reread will bring new things into the light and it's highly recommended.

All haters should read through Deadhouse Gates and not stop after the first, really confusing book. Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice were in my oppinion simply the best tragic military fantasy books ever written.
And to say it plainly ... the quality persists throughout every book.
Also Esslemonts Malazan entries are going to be remarkable ... I expect a really great "Orb, Sceptre, Throne" next year.
The world, those two authors created is just amazing and way above average fantasy.
Since I read these books everything else has to be compared with it as the peak of what could be written.

Mike T. said...

It's epic! I just finished the last of the 10 books in the series and I can look back fondly on all those hours of time I spent reading the books and think "I can hardly wait for the next one. (the prequel trilogy)"