The ravaged continent of Genabackis has given birth to a terrifying new empire: the Pannion Domin. Like a tide of corrupted blood, it seethes across the land, devouring all. In its path stands an uneasy alliance: Onearm’s army and Whiskeyjack’s Bridgeburners alongside their enemies of old - the forces of the Warlord Caladan Brood, Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii mages, and the Rhivi people of the plains. But ancient undead clans are also gathering; the T’lan Imass have risen. For it would seem something altogether darker and more malign threatens this world. Rumors abound that the Crippled God is now unchained and intent on a terrible revenge. Marking the return of many characters from Gardens of the Moon and introducing a host of remarkable new players, Memories of Ice is both a momentous new chapter in Steven Erikson’s magnificent epic fantasy and a triumph of storytelling.
©2006 Steven Erikson (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
Erikson's Mythology is as deep, perhaps deeper than Jordan's or Tolkien's. So deep, that I didn't feel any sort of grasp on it until halfway through the book. The characters from the first book are all but forgotten for this tale. Erikson again spins 4 storylines bound for a collision at the end of the book. New, vibrant, and complex characters abound as we again see both sides of warring parties. I find myself rooting for morally bankrupt individuals and trying to figure out if this is a story of futility or hope in the face of desperate odds. Erikson takes on a journey of retribution and sacrifice--balance past criminal behavior versus wisdom gained from experience or tenderness brought on by ignorance.
The story is action packed and abhorrently violent. I was entertained and thought provoked throughout, but too depressed at times to take on long stretches of listening.
Ralph is a solid reader--clear and dynamic, however he does not have the vocal range or accents to cover the shear number of characters presented. I would really love to hear a female reader take on the female characters, much like Michael Kramer and Kate Reading in Jordan's Wheel of Time.
Likes to listen while doing chores; likes to write reviews while he should be doing chores.
I haven't read an author more inclined to have his characters suffer than Erikson. I mused in my review of the previous book in this series (The Deadhouse Gates), with all the starvation, rape, murder, and mass crucifixion that took place in the story, where does Erikson go from there? What does he do to increase the tension and deepen the depravity?
Answer: Cannibalism and Necrophilia!
Well played, sir! But what now? There's seven or so more books. What's left? Holocaust denial and a sub-prime lending crisis?
Despite all the negativity, wow what a story! Erikson has really gained a talent for developing pathos for many individual characters in very short order. He gets you to feel for them all almost instantly. With so many perspective characters, you find yourself rooting for a lot of different people all at once. It makes it hard to determine who's a good guy, a bad guy, and who's just putting in a day of work.
One delightful trait to this series is that while on the surface you have a fairly simple plot - in this case a military campaign involving two successive assaults on fortified cities - you have multiple complex undercurrents that feed the series' longer story arc. It almost makes it seem like the plot of the individual book is just background to the major movements in the epic. Like there are two stories being told, not merely building blocks of one big story. This mixes well with the very large roster of characters. If you have one, or a few, main protagonists, it really matters what they are doing book to book. With so many, only a small part of what an individual does in a given book matters to the whole. With many characters making many small contributions to the epic you end up with a more complex story arc with an extremely broad and momentous scope. The downside is that this arc is harder to follow and takes longer to materialize, but I get the feeling it's worth it.
Lister's reading is once again solid. I will continue reading this series and would recommend it to a friend as long as that friend knew, that even though this is fantasy, not to expect any happy endings.
NOTE: As of this writing, this audio book is the latest available in the series on audible. Print editions are available through the whole series.
This may go down as one of the great epic fantasies of our time.
Truly, this series redefines the word "epic" in fantasy. Compared to this, I don't think we would consider most other fantasies as in the same category - they certainly don't have the same scope at all. This series kind of stands apart, maybe going TOO far... The sheer scale of the undertaking - the twisted, overarching plots that far transcend even this massive volume; an immense cast of characters, both immortal and mortal; a history of over 300,000 years, and characters who have lived out all of those years; myriad races, cultures, and multiple worlds - it's almost impossible to imagine that an author could actually pull this off and make it work. Yet Erikson, somehow, does.
And Ralph Lister doesn't just narrate this book - he PERFORMS it.
This book definitely hits the high point of the series so far - the sophistication of the plot and the elegance of the writing both establish that clearly. In this book, the investment that the reader is asked to make in the first two books finally reaches its pay-off, and it is a massive one. There are heroic moments of awesome, and tragic, heart-wrenching losses. This is not a story for the faint of heart.
The first book was a jumble of unfamiliar names and concepts, a tangled web of plots and events that happen without much context. The second was an epic journey through a hopeless war, a tragedy a thousand pages in the making. The third book is where everything comes together, closing a major chapter arc begun in book one. By now you know the players, and many of the rules. The battles are epic, but not as exhausting as the total war-mentality of Deadhouse Gates.
For me, with this book I believe I have finally gotten a grasp on what the series is. I wish someone had written it out like this to me earlier, so I could understand. Nevertheless, I will try and fill that role for those like me who come after.
When approaching the series, think of Greek Mythology - an endless struggle between gods, demigods and mortals. The gods used to be mortals themselves, and are rife with all the desires, shortcomings, and temperaments that mortals are. There are also ascendants - who were mortal champions, kings, or what have you - who for whatever reason have ascended into a demigod-like state of power and life. Then there are many races - and most of these are humanoid - and with race comes an endless, spiraling cycle of conflict, with each side at times playing brutal aggressor, at others hapless victim. In fact, racism seems to be the initial cause for most of the conflict in this world, and that one would expect. Only the mistakes that are made take tens or hundreds of thousands of years to rectify, before both sides finally admit their faults and ask forgiveness.
Also realize this was borne out of a role-playing game devised by Erikson and Ian Esslemont. Some events probably occur because they just happened in the game. Does this make the plots overly complex? It's a matter of opinion, probably. Some things feel like they get ret-conned in, but it's hard to tell. Many characters' names may strike you as odd, as the Bridgeburners seem to often go by nicknames. Again, sounds like they just came up with some on the fly while gaming, then added backstory and explanation later.
The characters, goals, and motivations are not simple. This is a gray world. Good characters turn evil and evil characters become good, and sometimes justice is not seen. Despite this, death is usually not the final word, as characters ascend, return, or are reborn.
This series requires a lot of investment, more than any I have ever read. It's not perfect, and it's not my favorite fantasy ever. But if it sounds like this is something you're interested in, and you're willing to be patient, then there are some pretty enjoyable pay-offs.
Note: If you read this series and get confused or impatient, and if you don't mind some spoilers, I highly recommend keeping a link to the Malazan Wiki handy - it helped me keep track of who's who and what's what immensely, and the spoilers are few - barring a few major ones you need to be careful of. In fact, for me, the spoilers as they boosted my understanding (and therefore enjoyment) of the book significantly, because I was asking less "what" and "why" and could focus on the "how".
It's hard to believe all that has happened in only THREE books. And there are SEVEN more books in this series...
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.
I will most certainly listen to this book again. There are so many inter connections and characters that I am sure I missed something here or there, Also, I love this series and Audible only has the first 3 so far, so when the fourth one comes out, I'll listen to the entire series over again.
I can't think of another long series in which the third book changes so many things. I was shocked and cannot wait to dive into the fourth book. I won't spoil anything, but I was totally surprised by some of the things that happen in Memories of Ice.
His voices bring a richness and life to each and every character and his pacing is superb.
IF I COULD HAVE, I WOULD HAVE.
Hurry up and get the rest of these, Audible. There are all available on Amazon, and they own you. Please hurry!!
Action, Struggle, Incredible.
Yes. Ralph is always outstanding. I would consider him one of, if not the best narrator I've listened to.
The scenes from Toc the Younger and the description of T'ool and the Seguleh and their skill are really great for me.
So far this book is a front runner for best audiobook that I've listened to. The action and pace is steady even while maintaining the most fleshed out setting, history, atmosphere of any series of books I've ever read.
The last 1/4 of the book is just insane. A rollercoaster of excitement. I've done ASoIaF, WoT, & First Law series, but this book tops them all.
The audiobook is very humorous. I even teared up a few times.
Need the next audiobook available STAT.
I'm sure some fool will post a "it was too confusing / I couldn't get into it / there were too many characters/ what does Moonspawn look like anyway?" reviews sooner or later. Which, of course, will beg the question: Why would you buy a 42 hour long book if you've the attention span of a gnat?
Yes I would listen to it again. Mr. Erikson is a true writer. A step above The Wheel of Time series. Some is truly poetic.
Kroppers (sp?) soliloquies are Shakespearean with a modern twist.
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