Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MBotF reread: "Memories of Ice" by Steven Erikson

I must say I was unfair to "Memories of Ice". It looks like few times I have read this book were not enough to realize how great this book is. When I thought about it, I would remember only boring Mybhe sequences and too-emotional Ithkovian. I don't understand why is that, did my preferences changed in these two years since I last read MoI, but Ithkovian parts were great this time.

First to mention is curious jump this book represents. We have "Gardens of the Moon" and then "Deadhouse Gates", which is a causal (although a bit unexpected) sequel to it. And then MoI resets the timeline to one parallel to DG. We have several instances where these two books reach between them. And even though both deal with world-changing events and they happen at same time, it wouldn't do to swap their places. MoI deals with events that are much closer to the center of things and explains few questions among those that there were left unanswered in DG. MoI starts the main sequence of the book, fight against "the main enemy". First two books served to sketch the world and establish some of main players, while this one now begins to unravel the real mystery.

As I said, MoI continues the plot started in GotM, although with a new twist, meaning that much of the characters from the former are now present. But interesting, former enemies are now allies. In Erikson's books there are no intrinsically evil characters (although, Jhistal IS a candidate for; just joking, he is not evil per se, just from the perspective of every other character and fan), so introducing POVs from characters formerly shown as "the others", "enemies" or "evil" is common.

I wouldn't go much about plot, especially since this book will so be a subject of "Malazan Re-read of the Fallen" on soon. I will just mention few my observations. While Mybhe's parts are still far from my favorite, I found Itkovian's great. He is not a quarter of emo I remembered him. I like how this book establishes Quick Ben's supremacy, but also shows that he is not omnipotent. I also like Whiskeyjack's POVs; it is curious how his relatively short part looks much longer that it is, considering the whole series. There are characters with much, much more coverage, but Whiskeyjack is one of the most important characters for most fans, I think.

I was surprised when I read the explanation of Pale-events in this book. I completely forgot about it! Also, it is interesting how some of the facts sound different now, after reading almost whole series plus Esslemont's books.

After this reread, "Memories of Ice" has suddenly jumped from a MBotF novel to one of the best books in the series for me. Even though some people will argue that Erikson's writing got a bit unfocused in later books, with this one you can't miss. Really a treat for all fans.

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