The ravaged continent of Genabackis has given birth to a terrifying new empire: the Pannion Domin. Like a tide of corrupted blood, it seethes across the land, devouring all who fail to heed the word of its prophet, the Pannion Seer. In its path stands an uneasy alliance: Dujek Onearm’s Host and Whiskeyjack’s veteran Bridgeburners alongside their enemies of old – the forces of Caladan Brood, Anomander Rake and his Tiste andii, and the Rhivi people of the Plains. Outnumbered and mistrustful, they must get word to potential allies, including the mercenary brotherhood, the Grey Swords, whose orders are to hold the besieged city of Capustan at all costs.
But more ancient clans too are gathering. As if in answer to some primal summons, the T’lan Imass have risen. For it would seem something altogether darker and more malign threatens this world. The Warrens are poisoned and rumours abound that the Crippled God is now unchained and intent on a terrible revenge…
Well, three down, ten to go! Time for another book wrap-up over at Tor.com‘s Malazan Reread of the Fallen. Memories of Ice is the fourth book we read, but the third in Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen. Memories of Ice is the book where the painfulness of this series became clear to me. Yes, the Chain of Dogs in Deadhouse Gates is harrowing, but the events here in Memories of Ice broke my heart in pieces several times over and I lost some of my favourites characters so far. It brought home that no one is safe. Where I found Deadhouse Gates an emotional rollercoaster, Memories of Ice – while just as emotionally draining – was far less up and down for me. The tension kept building during the story, only to break after the Siege of Capustan before building back up to crest at the end of the novel.
It’s hard to pinpoint my favourite story arc in this book; while I loved Envy, the Seguleh and Tool and really enjoyed reuniting with the Bridgeburners in the Alliance arc, in the end I’ll have to go with the Grey Swords in Capustan. I loved their valiant sense of honour in the face of inevitable defeat. And they are the source for both my favourite character and my favourite scene in the book. While the final two chapters of the book are filled with clear cut awesome, my favourite scene is one from far earlier in the story during the siege of Capustan. And it’s my favourite because of its epic cinematic qualities and the bravery of its main focus. I’m talking about Brukhalian’s Last Stand of course. You can just see his moves in slow motion on the big screen. But what really impressed me was the courage and faith Brukhalian displayed walking on to that square and accepting he wouldn’t be walking away from this fight. My favourite character from this book was Itkovian. He embodies everything I loved about the Grey Swords and then some: he’s honourable, courageous, and has such a heart it’s unbelievable. He’s also very human as illustrated by his struggles with his fate, his interactions with the Barghast woman Hetan and his grief for his friends. Despite everything he keeps on going, claiming ‘I am not yet done.’ But when he is done, he is truly done and his final act is one that takes the breath away. Itkovian is not just my favourite character from this book but joins the ranks of my most memorable characters so far: Whiskeyjack, Coltaine and Duiker.
Memories of Ice is an amazing book and I wonder how Erikson will go on from here. I’ve already started the next book, House of Chains, and so far (I’m one chapter in) I’m having a hard time with the new characters we’re being introduced to. But hopefully they’ll grow on me! Everyone says that the coming books are just as good as the past two so I’m soldiering on. If you’re interested in the Malazan books and you haven’t checked out the Malazan Reread yet, I advise you to do so, it’s enhancing my reading experience of these books by tons and very much worth investing time in.