Its taken me a while to get through this, but thats no reflection on the book. This is the fifth in his series of fantasy novels, and though I haven't got the fourth yet, this might be rectified today. I decided to read it out of sequence because I wanted to see more of his world after Memories of Ice, and this book is set apart from events in the previous volumes to a certain extent.
I wasn't disappointed, though a most of the characters are new, there are enough continuing threads of deeper plot to make you feel at home. Also characters that have been hinted at in previous books make an appearance here, fleshing out the world still further.
The story revolves around the war between the Letherii and Tiste Edur with the narrative alternating between characters on each side. A touch of familiarity is provided by a group of Malazan soldiers who themselves turn out to be a plot twist as they are sworn to depose the Emperor whose subjects have formed the subject of the previous two books. Culminating in a cataclysmic battle for an empire, the book also has something more - humour. Tehol Beddict and his manservant Bugg are a comedy double act who lighten the tone of the book, whilst being integral and necessary to the plot. The humour doesn't detract from the story, it just adds another dimension to it. Its good to see an author developing and experimenting with his style without discarding anything of what has gone before.
As well as this, Mr Erikson has obviously been influenced by Stephen Donaldson, beyond the usual testimonial on the front cover. There are a few very subtle homages to Thomas Covenant if you look closely, but these are kept very discrete and seem almost accidental. Nevertheless it does make me wonder what a collaboration between these two would bring...