Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Book Review - Memories of Ice, by Steven Erikson

Last summer a friend of mine (Brian Dressner) told me about this new author dude who had been writing some fantasy books, cool ones. I got a bit lost in the details, but it sounded cool, so I bought the first one, Gardens of the Moon, and was hooked from the start.

Enter the Malazan Empire, a huge, cool empire founded by its late Emperor and ruled by his former head assassin, Empress Laseen. The first book was cool, as was the second (besides the many, annoying sex scenes... of which at least 2 didn't add anything to the book), however, the third, Memories of Ice, simply blew me away. I couldn't put the darn thing down!

The book begins where the first one left off (due to an interesting style in which the Author has 3 story lines that are supposed to form a "triangle"). Dujek Onearm and his army have been outlawed from the Malazan Empire, and, in order to fight the evil Ponniom Domin, they must ally with their former enemies, Caladan Brood, and the kicka** Tiste Andii Lord, Anomander Rake (think elves, only this elf can turn into a dragon and has a sword that sucks out your soul and tortures it for quite some time).

The story has real and characterful people, of which my favorite is the Bridgeburners. At times you wonder why they're even part of the army, but once the fight begins, you figure it out, if any of you have read the original Black Company Trilogy (by Glen Cook), these guys are a lot like them.

Of course what would fantasy be without weird fantastic races? The Malazan Empire has plenty. First off you have normal humans, of which there are many cultures and tribes (the Daru, the Malaz, I think the Rhvi though I could be wrong, etc.) and then you have some minor fantasy races (Baghrast, Seguleh) and the cooler, more in depth major races: the T'alle Imass, and undead army of nastiness, the Jaghut, a nearly extinct, yet powerful race, and the coolio Tiste Andii.

The plot is also super good, Gods trying to save the world, and for once having to trust mortals, who simply spit in their face and do things their way, which for some reason, the gods can't understand why. Add to this an evil empire, a desperate and bloody siege, and some cool characters, what's not to like?

Perhaps the only negative aspect of this book, and the rest of the series I fear, is the author’s constant desire to put in mindless sex. I mean, most of the stuff in book 2 was needed for a characters development, but I think all of the sex in this book was unneeded and just plain dumb (on, wait, the Women of the Dead Seed were scary and disturbing, but other than them... nothing).

One thing that my father commented is that it seems really in-depth and epic, a bit too much for him. He prefers the simplicity of Dragonlance and other Swords and Sorcery type books. I never thought of this, but the sheer size and scope of the book could turn off some less, umm, passionate readers, but hopefully not many.

All-in-all, I found Memories of Ice to be sweet. Plain and simple, Erikson, as far as I'm concerned is the Tolkien of the 21st century, only Tolkien is still better.

Final Grade: 9/10

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