In a world much like our own, wars have started to tear up the Malazan Empire.
Though there are some things that both of our worlds share, such as politics and corruption, most things that occur are beyond our comprehension.
While the empire is at war, unearthly forces are meddling. Gods descend from above to show their influence in the affairs.
“The only sound in Paran’s head, that whirring hum. As if a coin was spinning, endlessly spinning.”
For starters: This book is divided into several parts. These parts contain multiple chapters.
However take this in mind before you start to read this book:
There are lots of characters.
Before you start at the first chapter, there is a prologue. In that prologue you’ll meet Whiskeyjack and the young son of a nobleman, Ganoes Paran. In those few pages, Whiskeyjack gives young Paran some advice:
“You want to live free, boy, live quietly”.
Of course, as you can well imagine, Paran does no such thing and becomes a soldier when he gets older. He gets himself sent to some god forsaken place where he’ll meet one of the other main characters in the story: Adjunct Lorn. But before that you’ll first have to meet someone else.
Chapter one kicks off with some old woman mumbling things. In front of her walks a young girl, ready to go home to her father. However, the woman is not just an ordinary one, she’s known to be a seer. And so that woman gives the girl a warning, a warning she’ll not be able to heed.
Why won’t she just heed the warning?! You might ask.
The answer to that question is an easy one: One of the gods is meddling and because of that the girl will from this point be Sorry. That innocent girl, ripped from everything she knows, to be possessed by the servant of a god.
Also in this chapter, other things are set into motion because Paran meets Adjunct Lorn. She is known as the arm of the Empress. She is the Empress’ will and enforces her wishes. Lorn is not just a known to be the adjunct but she’s also the only one who wields a sword that makes the bearer immune to magic of any kind. When Paran meets her, his entire career changes because he will from then on serve the Adjunct herself. From soldier he rises to be a captain.
The second chapter will introduce you to some other main characters. I will shortly name and summarize them for you:
– Tattersail: A real bad-ass sorceress.
– Hairlock: One hell of a pain, though vital for the story.
– Whikseyjack (yes, from the prologue) Sergeant of the Bridgeburners (more about them in the book).
– Kalam: Assassin in Whisckeyjack’s squad. (ex-claw).
– Quick Ben: Mystery mage. Not much is known about him, just that he is strong.
From this point (after meeting the characters listed above) I’ve decided to stop telling you what to expect. I’ll only tell you this:
You’ll meet more characters in this part that will prove to be vital to this story.
The thing is, if I try and tell you more about this book, I could as well summarize it all for your right here and now. And, be honest, that would take away the fun for reading it yourself, right?
Now I know this all sounds very confusing to you. When I first started reading this book it was quite something to follow, with there being multiple points of view and all.
However when you take your time to read through this book you’ll notice some things:
- The names of the characters are really weird. Their not connected to the appearance of the character or their personality.
- This is not your typical fantasy novel. For example: yes, there are wizards and there is magic in this world but is not the standard; wizards are amazing and all powerful though they have done things they are ashamed of (and blabla).
- Being nobility in the Malazan empire doesn’t mean you have any influence at all. This simply because the Empress kills every last one of them.
- There is some sort of assassin’s guild in the Empire but the men/women in that guild have access to magic, they are called Claws and everyone shits oneself when a claw is near.
- (for you who’ve read my previous review) Every chapter starts with a Gnomic Utterance that doesn’t seem to make sense but it does. Some even give a clue to what happens in the chapter.
- This story actually has a history!
I really liked this book. To be honest I was somewhat surprised even.
From someone well known to me, my father, I heard that this book would not be what I expected. He was right (of course he was, he is my father after all).
Like I mentioned before this is not your really average fantasy story. Yes, there are those elements like magic and battle but Steven Erikson did a good job in creating another perspective. Personally I don’t think that there is an obvious good and evil side in this story. Yes, one could argue about the fact that of course the gods meddling are an evil, or that the Malazan Empire is evil. But it is not really made clear. There is room for your own interpretation in all of this.
I didn’t feel real hatred against any of the characters. Even the characters I felt like I should hate, I simply couldn’t hate. For example:
Adjunct Lorn is not a very nice woman. She serves the Empire (at the end of the book I disliked this empire a lot) ruled by a horrible woman. But at the same time, this Adjunct had been used from the very start of her life. She never had a will of her own.
To wrap up this review:
Most of the characters were well formed to me. Of course there is no way every character had a detailed history etc. but that is not necessary for the story to continue properly. Even though there were a lot of characters I had to follow throughout the whole story, the switching between the characters was no disturbance to me.
The book kept my attention but it can be confusing some times, so dont try to read to fast or you’ll miss things. The detail was great! Erikson has a way with words for sure.
I have really high hopes for the next book in this series. With me being all positive like this and all I’ll give this book four stars because I really like it but I wasn’t (though I was close) blown away.