Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson

Three Malazan books down, seven to go. I am trying to read all these books this year, and so far am on course. I am, however, finding it hard to write a separate review for each book because the stories have so many intertwining strings. My journal series may just become a reflection of all the books I’ve read to date.

Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 3, Memories of Ice

Memories of Ice, the third book in Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series occurs simultaneously to the second book, Deadhouse Gates. This is a fact that seems trivial at first, but with a moment of thought, I realized that the body count in that timeframe was astronomical. Cities on one continent overrun, and more on another continent devoured. A lot is happening in this world.

But one thing seems a little different in book three than I’ve seen before. In this book we get a lot of history. As an epic fantasy, this story not only spans vast geographic regions, but also vast periods of time. We learn more about the cast of characters and what is bringing them all together, or in fact not. There are characters who are thousands of years old. There are undead characters who are hundreds of thousands of years old. And all their history is rife with war, catastrophe and enough twists to come back to haunt not only themselves but nations. Erikson doesn’t stop there. He goes as far as to bring forth the tribulations of the gods, making them characters as well.

Erikson uses these ancient characters to connect thousands of years of history, interlacing their crises through the lenses of our dear cast of mortal human characters, whose problem it is to survive it all with their meager abilities.

In book three, we are finally introduced to the overarching series antagonist. What he wants will change the world forever, and if he doesn’t get it, what he threatens may destroy the world altogether (still looking at seven books here). Whether distractions from the antagonist or simply coincidences, our characters are occupied fighting intense battles against impossible enemies without sufficient numbers while we are finding out about all of the treachery and deceit of the antagonist.

Now that we know what “the good guys” are up against, Erikson begins the hard blows. The losses are harsh, staggering. Our main characters are left incapable of doing anything but pick up the pieces. And we are left with little hope, but that is better than none.

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