The Crippled God by Steven Erikson

25 June, 2012

Finally, we’ve come to the end. Steven Erikson’s ambitious 10 volume epic, The Malazan Book of the Fallen, ends with The Crippled God.

Following on from the events of Dust of Dreams, the Malazans are driven to the edge of their endurance, and for many, their lives, for they have one last thing to do and one last battle to save the world from the evil that has manifested. For the ancient race of the Forkrul Assail are sweeping across the land meting out righteous justice and nothing can stand against their sorcerous power. The only thing that gives the Malazans hope is that there is one who will prevail. But he is chained and his heart is held by the Forkrul Assail. Adjunct Tavore is taking her Bonehunters across the Glass Desert devoid of magic and water. Will they make it across and reach Kolanse where the Chained God is rumoured to be imprisoned?

Elsewhere, Tavore’s brother, Ganoes Paran leads the Host, the second Malazan Army, as he prepares his soldiers for the coming war. But he is also the Master of the Deck of Dragons and with the help of Quick Ben, they hope against hope that Tavore has a plan and that it will all come together.

And in Kharnasus, the Tiste Andii have a new and reluctant Queen and her followers, the Shake, are fighting against the onslaught of an ancient enemy, the Tiste Liosan who are hellbent on taking back what they believe is theirs. Can they survive the onslaught of dragons?

And finally, the Elder Gods are unhappy with the game that is unfolding. Fearing their powers diminishing, they have unleashed the Otataral Dragon who was chained thousands of years ago so that magic could flourish, for she is the only thing that can negate it.

Will Tavore prevail and her secret plans come together? Will the Malazans survive against the Forkrul Assail? And what exactly is Shadowthrone and Cotillion’s game? For it is they who have set the ball rolling all those years ago.

Wow. Erikson really knows how to write and tell a tale. I love the Malazan books and despite their complexity and humongous list of characters, I persevered through 10 volumes because not only did I want to know what happens but I also happen to care about all the characters.

And yet. Finally finishing The Crippled God, I felt that there really should be one more volume, albeit a shorter one, just to tie up all the loose ends. It’s admirable that Erikson actually did tie up several strands but I felt it wasn’t enough. I was left with a lot of questions. What about Felisin? What exactly happened to Laseen and her role in Shadowthrone and Cotillion’s plot? And what exactly were the role of the people in the House of Chains? And what was all that stuff about jade and Fener? I didn’t get it. I still don’t.

In some ways, the vastness and complexity of the Malazan books makes it inevitable that all the strands can’t be tied up. But I still want to know! And one more grumble, I have to admit I started getting lost with all the characters and was getting a little tired of all that soldierly banter. Of course I was happy when I was reunited with Quick Ben and all the Bridgeburners as well as the T’lan Imass Onos Toolan and Toc the Younger. But I was disappointed at the slight role of the Bridgeburners when I was expecting much more. There was so much build-up in the previous books that it felt a little like an anti-climax when everything was resolved so quickly. I kept thinking, is that all? Where’s the fighting? Where’s the agonising? How can it just end like this?

But, I still laughed and shed tears and held my breath in anticipation for Erikson certainly knows how to keep his readers hooked. And unlike G.R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (which I will be writing about later), I will definitely be re-reading the Malazan books again. It really is the most ambitious and epic fantasy series that is currently around, written with intelligence, compassion and heart.

So I really, really hope that you will give it a try one day. Preferably quite soon so that we can discuss it.

But hold your tears, Steven Erikson is hard at work on a new Malazan trilogy but one set in an earlier age. Forge of Darkness (Kharnasus Trilogy 1) will be out in August 2012. I CANNOT WAIT.

Malazan books by Steven Erikson:
Gardens of the Moon
Deadhouse Gates
Memories of Ice
House of Chains
Midnight Tides
The Bonehunters
Reaper’s Gale
Toll the Hounds
Dust of Dreams

Malazan books by Ian C. Esslemont:
Night of Knives – this one is set just after the prologue of Gardens of the Moon and before the main events so should be read after the first volume by Erikson.
Return of the Crimson Guard – this one is set after The Bonehunters

2 Responses to “The Crippled God by Steven Erikson”

  1. Fëanor Says:

    I’m waaaay behind you on this one. In fact, haven’t started on this Malazan business at all, other than the First Collected Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, which is what I’m reading now. Have you read it? What did you think of these novellas?

    • sakura Says:

      Compared to Erikson’s full novels, the novella’s don’t feel as though they have enough substance. I’d say Erikson’s strength lies in big story arcs rather than short snippets… But I do hope you try his Malazan novels – I really loved them.

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