Tuesday, April 19, 2011

MBotF reread: "Dust of Dreams" by Steven Erikson

OK, now we are getting somewhere. I have finally finished "Dust of Dreams" this weekend and I am currently reading "The Crippled God". After more two months of rereading... Not only that this was tiring, it is first time in my life that I have a to-read-pile! And to be worse, four books: "The Crippled God", "Way of Kings", "Empire in Black and Gold" and "The Cold Commands". I think I will need somewhere around two weeks for reading tCG and after that I am taking a brief vacation from reading... I plan to watch some anime, or something.

Now, to the book. It's kind of funny when you catch yourself thinking "What the f*** are they talking about?!?!" while reading a dialog in 9th book in series, between characters that you know for five books. It also tells something about Erikson's writing style: it doesn't spoil the readers. There is no way to completely avoid info-dumps, but he is good at masking them. There are no visible seams in his books. You also how to admire how he is able to turn everything you believe with every new book. But not just that; he succeeds in inviting a faith that he will somehow make everything believable and plausible. Currently, I don't see how he can do it in one book.  I have read one or two spoiler-free reviews where authors indicated that Erikson actually doesn't give all answers in last book, but instead continues with his usual politics: rising three questions for every answer. I have split opinion about this solution. On one side, I will be an angry little and petty fan if I don't get all the answers right now. On the other side, this has long-term advantages. With every reading or discussion about it, your view on things will be able to change and these books will stay fresh for long time. Also, this way Erikson leaves place for seamless sequels or prequels. This makes sense when you consider a fact that he announced some prequels... I see I got little off track. Message I wanted to express was, that as usual, even though in is penultimate book in series, there are no easy answers. It reveals and sketches some new characters, new concepts, new races... I really admire this and think it's very brave.

First part of book is not as usual with MBotF. I wouldn't call it boring, but it's much tamer than we are used to. It is not self-contemplative as "Toll the Hounds", but there are still many monologs and wandering to thought. There are many POV's here, some from old characters, but many from new, temporary (the ones that don't appear in more than one book; at least I don't think they will) characters. We again have many Malazan soldiers, many already know, but also few new ones. There are several Letheri POV's, but they don't appear often and server more to describe Malazans from external point. Malazan are as usual funny to read, but it also interesting how they are starting to show some darker tones. Contrary from previous books, Letheri now look much more likable, even more that Malazans. On the other hand, there are some old and some new Baraghast characters; it was a surprise when they reappeared at the end of "Reaper's Gale". We also have a first K'Chain Che'Malle POV. I must say, although I would expect them to be more alien. I really appreciate blending of fantasy with SF in their case. We again have one journey-POV: Rutt, Badalle and the snake of children. I am not sure how they belong to the great picture, so I will refrain from giving any final thought about them, but they weren't very funny to read. There are also Khundryl and Grey Helms POVs; they are interesting and often funny, complete with the Bolkando's POVs.

As with TtH, you just have to read the ending in one sitting. It takes last 100 or so pages, so be ready. It is very well written, but it doesn't feel so good to read it. You being to question will the series have a happy ending. Also, when I think little about it, I don't see what would have to happen for this series to end happy. We have been following so much confronted sides that it is impossible to have them all (not even the majority) satisfied. During the course of these books, dead rarely stayed dead. I have a feeling that this statement will be in questions after last book.

I surprised myself with the amount of things I forgot. There are whole plot-lines I didn't remember, characters I didn't recognize... There are really important facts I got completely wrong. I have a much more solid picture right now, but sheer amount of information in this series makes it impossible to juggle everything in your mind.

Since "Dust of Dreams" was actually intended as first half of the last book, it is not possible to give a final verdict without reading tCG. But even without it, this book is a very decent MBotF book, with somewhat slower beginning, but very strong ending. I can't imagine that any fan would be disappointed.

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