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Book Review: Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson

Title: Memories of Ice

Author: Steven Erikson

Series: Malazan #3

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars

The Overview: The ravaged continent of Genabackis is a terrifying new empire, the Pannion Domin, that devours all. An uneasy allliance resists: Onearm’s army, Whiskeyjack’s Bridgeburners and former enemies – forces of Warlord Caladan Brood, Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii mages, and the Rhivi people of the plains. And the Crippled God intends revenge. -Goodreads

The Review:

It took me three months to read Memories of Ice, but it was worth every single moment.

My favorite thing about this series so far is how expansive and immersive it is. I love good world building in books, especially the kind that continues to introduce new elements, then expand on them as the series progresses. Every single chapter of this book had something mentioned in passing that I wanted to know more about. So many different branches and possibilities that I just can’t wait to spend time with in future books. It’s awesome.

Let’s talk about the characters. All 1000 of them. Actually, this is the first novel where I finally felt like I had a decent handle of all the playmakers in this series. Mind you, I still used the kindle XRay feature constantly to make sure I knew who was who, but I had to use it perhaps a little less often than in previous books. I find all the characters wildly interesting. All of them. And the development of these characters is in line with how everything else is written for the series. You’re basically just plunked into different situations with these people and their depth is gradually revealed through their words and actions. I don’t feel connected to them through deep individual character exploration you can find in other series, but rather in a camaraderiec manner where I feel closer to them because of all the shit we’ve been through together. It’s totally relatable and immersive and unlike anything I’ve experienced before.

This series is so unique. There are elements in here that wouldn’t work for me in any other context. Totally fanciful, ridiculous things that jump the shark left and right, but somehow you just go with it despite that mental twinge of “this is really freaking weird.” I think it all works because of how committed the author is to his trajectory. He immediately builds your trust that he’s taking the story somewhere and everything within exists for a reason. Sit back, shut up, and trust the process. He has my complete confidence in his ability to deliver on his promises, so I’m uncharacteristically willing to give the ridiculous stuff the benefit of the doubt to see where it takes me. I appreciate how fully committed to the vision you have to be to love this series, and I’m all there – totally ready for the next chapter.

Overall, as dense and time-consuming as these books are, I’m enjoying the hell out of them and can’t wait to see where it goes next. Some of the scenes in this book were downright cinematic with drama and excitement, and I’ll be replaying them in my mind for quite a while.

Someone’s off-handed comment (definitely not meant as a spoiler, but I’m really, really good at making inferences) inadvertently wrecked a major plot point for me, so I’m feeling sad about that and trying not to let that disappointment affect my rating and overall satisfaction with the book. I think I would’ve been singing the praises at a solid 5-stars otherwise – this was truly a masterpiece with countless promises of amazing things to come.

Recommendations: this is the most dense, vicious, complex, expansive thing I’ve ever read. I would never recommend it casually because it takes a lot of time and energy to read. But from my experience so far with it, it’s totally worth the effort. Pro tip: get the kindle ebook version if you can so you can flip back and look at character names in context of the story. I would definitely not be enjoying this nearly as much without that feature. The beauty is in the nuances, which are nigh impossible to keep track of without help.

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by Niki Hawkes

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