THE BONEHUNTERS (Malazan Book of the Fallen #6), by Steven Erikson
4 out of 5 (Really Liked It)
The Seven Cities Rebellion has been crushed. Sha’ik is dead. One last rebel force remains, holed up in the city of Y’Ghatan and under the fanatical command of Leoman of the Flails. The prospect of laying siege to this ancient fortress makes the battle-weary Malaz 14th Army uneasy. For it was here that the Empire’s greatest champion Dassem Ultor was slain and a tide of Malazan blood spilled. A place of foreboding, its smell is of death…
But elsewhere, agents of a far greater conflict have made their opening moves. The Crippled God has been granted a place in the pantheon, a schism threatens and sides must be chosen. Whatever each god decides, the ground rules have changed, irrevocably, terrifyingly, and the first blood spilled will be in the mortal world.
Why I really liked it:
1. A return to old characters: There was a relatively smaller amount of brand new content added to this one, and that was a relief. A few added characters as expected, yet the core group introduced in the previous books were nearly all present in The Bonehunters. It also appears this will be the case for the rest of the series, which is fantastic.
2. Excellent first half: I was excited to see action-packed scenes shortly after the book started. The battle scene was great. The three story arcs began to mix together for the first time, and despite the okay ending, I have high hopes for the 7th book.
Why it was not a 5 out of 5 like the first five novels:
I have heard some say that this is one of the best in the Malazan series. When I was halfway done, I decided if it would be consistent to the end, I would place the book as the 3rd best (so far). However, the end half was not nearly as good as the opening, especially from about halfway to the three-quarter mark, and seeing as this was the first book not to achieve 5 stars in the series, it was actually my least favourite, although it was still really good.
There were a couple of long passages that were essentially meaningless, describing scenes that I can 100% guarantee will prove to have no future relevance. Another of Erikson’s “convergences” was present in the ending and at times it was rushed, as some of the characters were – for lack of a better term – teleported to the final scene.
I found it! The most pressing problem with this series: Vast amounts of content with little to no underlining.
I stumbled upon this review on a book site whilst searching for recommended books, and what this one person said was right on the mark.
“Erikson is the first author I’ve encountered that almost completely ignores this crucial piece of storytelling [underlining]. While reading, Erikson takes the reader down every side quest, every rabbit hole (and there are many), without making any distinctions as to which are crucial to the overall plot. In addition, some of the events that take place are so outrageous and otherworldly, that it seems even Erikson cannot completely describe what is happening. Meanwhile, the reader is trying to understand such events while not knowing if what he or she is straining to understand is even relevant to the overall plot.” -Earl’s comment on bestfantasybooks.com
I have found you just have to understand what it is and what it is not. It is a unique work with unmatched complexity and vastness, and it excels in that arena. I will note again that I gave 5 stars to the first 5 books, and despite what must seem like my rambling negativity, I highly recommend this series. Is this an excellent achievement in the fantasy genre? Absolutely. It deserves to be in the top 5 best works of fantasy, ever, for its amazing, imaginative scope. Is it really well written? Not really. The core issue is having so much actually hurts the story. Each character, place, and thing is one of many hundreds. Only so much attention can be given to each, meaning as a reader you may find yourself incapable of having a deep relationship with much at all. Therefore, I would only recommend The Malazan Book of the Fallen to a seasoned fantasy reader.
NEXT BOOK: Heretics of Dune. Finally, after a two year absence, I am going to finish the Dune novels. Looking forward to it!
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