Weekend Respite: Good Book Review – Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson

Happy Thanksgiving weekend, everyone! Welcome back to our weekend series where we get to talk about some of the good books we’ve enjoyed lately. This time, it’s Book Three of the Malazan series: Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson.

Memories of Ice brings us back to the continent of Genebackis, where the Malazan army lead by Dujek Onearm has been outlawed by the Empress, Laseen. They end up forming an uneasy alliance with their enemies from the siege of Pale, Anomander Rake and the Tiste Andii, to battle the Pannion Domin, a new empire that formed in the south of Genebackis.

Also on Genebackis, we meet some more important characters throughout the series: Gruntle, Harllo, and Stonny Menackis are three caravan workers hired to travel alongside a mysterious trader, Keruli. In their travels, they come across the terrifying Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, two travelers who death seems to follow. Bauchelain and Korbal Broach have their own series that I have yet to read, but they are some of the most entertaining characters to come from the Malazan universe.

bauchelain.jpg

Bauchelain and Korbal Broach. They’re so great. 

We meet Silverfox, The Mhybe, and the Rhivi, a plains people who are fighting alongside Rake and his companion, Caladan Brood. Kallor, once High King who now travels with Brood, finds Silverfox entirely too unsettling. Turns out, she’s a reincarnation of several characters who were killed off in the first book of the series. Silverfox is rapidly aging, stealing the lifeforce of her mother, the once beautiful Mhybe.

Kallor shrugged. ‘[…] I have walked this land when the T’lan Imass were but children. I have commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I have spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?’

‘Yes,’ [said Caladan Brood.] ‘You never learn.’

We meet Korlat, one of the Tiste Andii and Soletaken dragon, who finds romance with Whiskeyjack, leader of the Bridgeburners. We meet the Barghast, especially the White Face Barghast Hetan and Cafal.

“Gods, I wish the world was full of passive women.He thought for a moment longer, then scowled. On second thoughts, what a nightmare that’d be. It’s the job of a man to fan the spark into flames, not quench it…” 

We follow Toc the Younger as he meets up with Tool and start traveling alongside Lady Envy and her companions, three of the Segulah. We meet another traveling group, the Trygalle Trade Guild, who can traverse the Warrens to seemingly magically delivery anything to anyone.

segulah

I seriously love the Segulah so much. Look at their masks. The less decoration on the mask, the more powerful they are. 

We are introduced to the Gray Swords and their leaders, the war god Fener’s Mortal Sword (Brukhalian), Shield Anvil (Itkovian) and Destriant (Karnadas). These three are Fener’s mortal representation on earth, and in latter books we’re introduced to other Mortal Sword/Shield Anvil/Destriants for other gods.

We’re introduced to SO MANY insanely important characters in this series. I was going through the character list and filled an entire page writing down characters I wanted to mention in this, as they or things they did in this novel become incredibly important throughout the rest of the series.

“War has its necessities…and I have always understood that. Always known the cost. But, this day, by my own hand, I have realized something else. War is not a natural state. It is an imposition, and a damned unhealthy one. With its rules, we willingly yield our humanity. Speak not of just causes, worthy goals. We are takers of life.”

We also finally meet the K’Chain Che’Malle. These. Guys. Are. Insane. They’re basically giant dinosaurs with SWORDS FOR ARMS. Yeah, that’s right. DINOSAURS WITH SWORDS FOR ARMS. And they’re fucking brutal. They live in giant colonies and are ruled/fueled by their Matron, like now an ant colony is run by its Queen. In this story, they’re demons hellbent on destroying the Malazans and their allies, ruled by the Pannion Seer. And they’re all being controlled by the Crippled God.

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DINOSAURS. WITH SWORDS. FOR ARMS.

This book, for me, was the first where I really began to understand just how freaking epic this series was going to be. I finally started to get a good feel for the world and started to really begin forming relationships with the characters, only to have that all thrown back in my face at the end of this book. You thought Deadhouse Gates was soul-crushingly painful and heart-wrenching? Memories of Ice makes that seem like child’s play.

I was browsing Goodreads and saw that someone had put together a pretty good list of things that you’ll see in each book of the Malazan series, and it’s pretty dang accurate:

  1. Your favorite character will probably die.
  2. Someone will backstab someone else at a most inopportune time and get a lot of people killed.
  3. Someone from the past will show up with a completely different name and you will have to try to figure out who they are.
  4. A character that you used to like will probably do something that turns you against them or at least makes you question why you ever liked them.
  5. Someone will make a sacrifice that is devastating.
  6. The one relationship that you root for in the book will be torn apart.

Remember how I said that this series makes Game of Thrones look like a cheap joke? You know how everyone thinks GRRM is brutal to his characters? Yeah. Nothing on this series.

I don’t want to give anything away, because I’m honestly really hoping these reviews inspires someone to pick up the series and read it, but SO MUCH HAPPENS in this book that sets up the rest of the series. Some things I found noteworthy:

  • Enjoy every moment you read about the Segulah. I would read an entire series on this race. They’re just so badass and awesome. I loved the three in this book and their constant need to show domination over Tool. I also loved how Lady Envy could put a stopper on all their challenges. The whole side-story featuring Envy, Toc, Tool, and the Segulah was one of my favorites.
  • The Pannion Domin includes a group known as the Children of the Dead Seed. I want so badly to explain my disgust at this group, but again I really don’t want to give anything away. You could probably guess how they’re conceived if you thought about it, even a little.
  • The Domin also includes the Tenescrowri. Basically the entire Domin is about suffering, so these people are those that have suffered the most. They’re cannibals. They’re terrifying.
  • This is the book where I started being able to pick up callouts to previous novels. This is also the book that I found later novels called back to. A lot. I remember reading, I think, book five and having to set the book down at one point because of the callback to this book. It hit me hard. That’s truly a sign of a good story.
  • There’s so much sadness and loss in this book. I again don’t want to give anything away, but think about it. How could there not be so much suffering and sadness and loss when an already ravaged army is battling an insane, horrifying empire?
  • Bauchelain and Korbal Broach are amazing. I really need to read their side series. Soon.
  • The Bridgeburners are still awesome and I love reading their chapters so much. This book introduces you to so many new Bridgeburner characters. It’s hard not to fall in love with all of them. Picker. Blend. Spindle. Mallet. Antsy. They’re all so great.

I LOVE this series. I don’t think I can scream that enough. I have never read something on such an epic scale and have it stick with me this much. Memories of Ice does a great job showing just how powerful this series can be, and honestly, each book from here on out just gets better and better. 

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