A peerless and jaw-dropping epic installment; I consider myself damn lucky to have witnessed this powerfully evocative tale.
I’ve stated that it’s mandatory to read at least two books of the series in order to truly find out whether you’ll love this series or not. I retract that statement and change it to three books instead. Trust me, if you don’t love Memories of Ice, you might as well drop the series now. And that would be okay because no series can work for everyone. Honestly speaking, I had a bit of doubt about the series but this incredibly mesmerizing installment has convinced me to finally become a fan of the series.
Picture: Memories of Ice by J. K. Drummond
Unlike Deadhouse Gates where the story featured almost completely new characters in a new setting, Memories of Ice is more of a direct sequel to the first book, Gardens of the Moon. The book takes place around the same time with Deadhouse Gates and this time, it continues from where GotM left off. Focusing on the Pannion War, the majority of the characters from the first book once again serve as the main characters here and the setting returns to Genabackis. When it comes to the plot structure, Memories of Ice can be considered quite basic. The plot structure utilized building up to the big battle in the halfway point of the book, then the pace slows down and Erikson repeats the structure by building up the story once again to reach the monumental climax sequences. The most noticeable difference I found in this book that was lacking in the previous installments was how easy it was to digest the content here. This doesn’t mean that the world-building, lore, and history were any less complex; after all, this is Malazan, and complexity is its fetish. However, somehow all the revelations and information in this book seeped into my brain with much more ease. Maybe Erikson’s prose here was better or maybe I’m just used to the series by now; all I know is that it worked wonderfully.
What’s even more amazing is that despite everything—and by this, I mean A LOT of events—that transpired within this book, Erikson left a lot of room to made sure that the reader would still be interested in continuing the series. Memories of Ice shows just how destructive humanity can be through the devastation wrought by their actions. Echoes of destruction trail the paths of mankind; even though their power is severely lacking compared to the Ascendants and other creatures, their thirst for greed, hatred, and tyranny excel above everything. This of course doesn’t mean Memories of Ice is a completely dark book. I found its predecessor Deadhouse Gates to be much bleaker in tone. In this installment, Erikson made sure to display that beneath humanity’s capability for violence, they also have compassion, love, and friendship that goes a long way toward balancing things out, and that’s something I truly appreciate.
“We humans do not understand compassion. In each moment of our lives, we betray it. Aye, we know of its worth, yet in knowing we then attach to it a value, we guard the giving of it, believing it must be earned, T’lan Imass. Compassion is priceless in the truest sense of the world. It must be given freely. In abundance.”
The world-building was once again stupendous. Things foreshadowed in the first book started unraveling slowly with revelations. The importance of the Deck of Dragons continues to delightfully surprise me. Erikson’s background as an archeologist and anthropologist bleeds into the world-building and characterizations here. Right from the prologue, Memories of Ice shows how hundreds of thousands of years’ worth of history has the power to greatly affect the present timeline.
Erikson never stops introducing new characters within each book. It took me three books to finally understand that developing patience with all the characters is a crucial requirement to enjoy the series. Erikson doesn’t waste characters; all of the characters he adds are integral to the storyline in one way or the other. There are so many awesome characters here and it’s crazy that with this gigantic cast, Erikson is capable to make sure each and every character has a distinct inner voice and personality. Most importantly, each character is super engaging and compelling to read. For example, two of the many new characters introduced in this book—Gruntle and Itkovian—were at first boring for me to read. By the end of this book, I’ve come to realize that the two of them stand tall in the list of my favorite fantasy characters. Erikson has truly improved in characterizations and my god the development that all the characters went through in this installment alone deserves recognition. The multitude of characters and their emotionally-packed interactions with each other have the power to make you invested in their fates. Erikson carves a bloody path to your heart with his superb characterizations and palpable tensions building.
Picture: K’Chain Che’Malle versus T’lan Imass by J.K. Drummond
I’ve read only his first three books but I must say, this is Erikson’s prose at its best so far. The prologue itself will show you a glimpse of how well-written this book is. Every sentence holds tremendous weight. The prose demanded my absolute attention and I was very pleased to give in to that demand. The prose was poetic, elegant, engaging, and compelling; I found the images conjured by Erikson’s prose to be so vivid that I’m sure this story will stick with me for a long time.
Was there any part in this tome that bored me? Yes. The entire Barghast storyline in Part Two of the book honestly bored the crap out of me and during this point, I was seriously having doubts that this series may not truly be for me; I was proven completely wrong by the amazingly well-paced second half of the book. Usually, when I have issues with the book I’m reading, I refrain from giving it a full 5 stars rating. However, not only am I giving this book a 5 stars rating, in my opinion this is one of those super rare 6 out of 5 stars read. There has only been one other exception before this book where I gave a 6 stars rating despite the issues I had with the book, and it was for Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson. The main reason behind this regarding Memories of Ice lies within the last 20% of the book. This is where Erikson unleashed his skill to carve a bloody path to your heart with his superb characterizations, palpable tensions building, and exhilarating actions.
I’m quite confident that the last 20% of the book will be the main decisive factor on whether you’ll love this series or not. It was the kind of climax sequence that will remain firmly lodged in your brain. The kind of events that will make you literally suffer if you don’t talk about it with someone. The long battle that actually seemed to pass by fairly quickly was filled with intricate and finely written tactics that are imbued with intelligence. This is the kind of scintillating high fantasy war that you can find only in the best kind of books the genre has to offer. I’m talking about cinematic set pieces of epic proportions with catastrophic results; every character out of every race playing integral parts; a gathering of massive armies of immense power; and a fantastic convergence that holds no limit. I mean it, this is truly epic in both scale and execution. Once you’ve finished reading the book, the mini-epilogue will proceed to seal the deal that you’ve just read one of the most epic and finest high fantasy books of all time.
“The harder the world, the fiercer the honour.”
I’m going to bask in my memories of this book for possibly the rest of my life. Not only this is the best book in the series (so far), this has become one of my favorite books. Memories of Ice is deeply impactful and rich in content. It’s an epic tale of huge proportion that could only be delivered by a master class SFF author; Steven Erikson is definitely one such writer. Out of every book I’ve read, there are currently less than ten books that I consider deserving of a 6 out of 5 stars rating, and Memories of Ice is a welcome addition to that list. I’m completely floored and astounded by the greatness that Erikson created with this installment. The experience of reading Memories of Ice has been frozen inside my brain and not even Elsa has the power to let it go.
You can order the book HERE!