Gretna, LA, USA | Member Since 2006
Reader be warned - I read this novel many years ago, and I've read it more than once. Therefore, I can easily state the following with utter conviction: This, Erikson’s largest work thus far in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, is fantasy storytelling on an epic scale, much larger and yet better than his first two novels in the series.
Yes. Much better. I know I drug many of you kicking and screaming into this series, and you discovered a unconventional and amazing fantasy writer that challenged you, astounded you, and possibly frustrated you a fair number of times. As I warned in my review of the first book in the series, this isn’t light reading. Erikson will task you, and task you HARD.
However, most of you, if not all, are extremely excited for the journey, as was I when read this series for the first time.
But, you ask, how is it better? Hmmm…
(Michael sighs, sips from steaming cup of New Orleans French Market coffee, leans back in comfy leather chair.)
Let’s settle in and get started. It’s going to be yet another longer than anticipated review.
First, what hasn’t changed: There is a veritable dramatis personae of Gods, nations, magicians, warriors, priest-kings, both old and new, who conspire, strategize, form alliances, backstab, avenge, love, care for, wage war and even do a few very bizarre things in the name of their causes (No specific here. You KNOW I don’t do spoilers!). Memories of Ice takes us back to Genabackis, where it all began in the first of the series. The south will give up a new menace, with a twisted nightmarish ritualistic religion driving them forward. It’s how these wonderful characters, both good and evil, come together, that is the sheer joy of this work.
What has changed: Erikson has grown as a writer’s writer by this third novel in the series, and it shows. His character definitions are more focused, and I feel, more robust with less weight, if you will. You will engage with them, appreciate their unique point of view and motivation, and even at times, understand why they do what they do and what they sometimes don’t do. While the war descriptions and writing are less than the previous novels, they are rich, descriptive battles that more than make up for their smaller size, in my opinion. Less can definitely be more. As much as I truly love his writing, it was a journey of growth from the first to the tenth novel, and you’ll experience and enjoy that here. He begins to enter his own, and starts to take his place as a fantasy writer of extreme note. His writing is more natural and connected, more unified as a novel. If you have yet to be convinced of this, after reading the first two novels in the series, Memories of Ice should definitely clinch this for you. Solid.
(Michael stops, takes yet another sip from cup, looks at you over cup shrewdly while he does so.)
Now. As Shakespeare aptly penned, “there’s the rub.” This is a LOOOOOOOONG novel. Certain things will take time. A LOT of time. He can be overly descriptive. Remember, he’s still growing, and will still have a tendency to expound, which is one of the VERY few problems with this novel. You’ll be tempted to skip sections or chapters. Do NOT do this. You will regret it. You have to be patient. Keep in mind, dear Audible listener, that there are three things you simply cannot rush: A master chef’s meal, a renowned maestro’s symphony, and a world-class writer’s novel.
What’s that? No…he’s not a chef, he’s an anthropologist. Yes, that’s what I said, an anthropologist…yes, REALLY…No he doesn’t write in the kitchen…Well, he MAY… No, I’m not reviewing his cooking, it’s an ANALOGY, for God’s sake! His novel…NOVEL! And hold on, I…WHAT? No, he's NOT a rock star, and no he doesn’t know Madonna! Well, he COULD… Wait. You’re missing this.
Maybe it’s me.
(Michael leans back in his chair, looks into the steam rising from his coffee, looks back up. Takes a moment, continues review.)
Maybe it IS me. Maybe it’s what Erikson does to me with his writing. It’s expressive, engaging, creative and stimulating. He has zero inhibitions in Memories of Ice. He boldly ventures forward, and makes the previous two tomes in the series seem like a launchpad for this brilliant novel. And that's a VERY good thing. He swept me along on his voyage. And is the voyage with Erikson worth it? Definitely.
(Michael leans forward in comfy leather chair, puts empty coffee cup down, finishes review.)
For your effort and patience, you will receive a writer’s greatest gift: An incredible, and what I consider to be an extremely satisfying ending that…Well, I’ll leave it at that. Again, no spoilers. As I’ve stated in the past, I’m certain that some of you will mark this as unhelpful. Oh well. I’m all about the journey, and what a journey this will be for you, dear Audible listener.
This is a writer on his way to becoming a writer’s writer. No, not a chef. Not a rock star. A world-class fantasy writer. And one of my favorites.
And, I’m hoping, one of yours.
If you follow my reviews, you know that I like to roll the dice, to randomly buy a series on a whim, on the luck of the draw. Sometimes, it's a bust.
This time, it's a definite win, but if you go by how the series was created, you'd probably run in the opposite direction.
Here's one for the books: Jim Butcher is well-known for his "Dresden Files" series, created a fantastic fantasy series on a BET. Yep, a bet. Read on.
To quote the Codex Alera Wiki site, "the inspiration for the series came from a bet Jim was challenged to by a member of the Delray Online Writer’s Workshop. The challenger bet that Jim could not write a good story based on a lame idea, and Jim countered that he could do it using two lame ideas of the challenger’s choosing. The “lame” ideas given were “Lost Roman Legion", and “Pokémon”.
It DOES sound lame.
Well, Butcher makes it work. To the nines.
I've finished this first novel, and I'm enjoying this unique story line of humans with Roman similarities binding with elemental furies. Add unique races, backstabbing, politics, military battles, duels and an interwoven story line that pulls it all together, and you get a fantastic story that's simply put, a VERY VERY good listen.
The whole concept of fighting alongside elemental familiars used here is wonderfully executed. It's deep, well-thought magic-based partnership of man and magical creature is a pleasure to experience.
So, what about the writing?
Again, if you follow my reviews, you know that I love ENGAGING fantasy or scifi writing. Anything less won't do. And this is definitely engaging. There's great characters that plot, backstab, challenge, fight for their beliefs, devour their enemies, and celebrate their victories. You're taken on a great romp of a story, and in the end, isn't that what we all want in a good listen?
I know I do, and I so enjoyed this first audiobook in the series, that I bought the entire series. Yep. And I'm not disappointed with the decision.
Who knew that Lost Roman Legions and Pokemon could knock it out of the park?
Home run, Jim. Home run.
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