Ah how this journey started!
Before I got started with this book, I knew what I was getting into. But the way people described these books to me, that made up my mind. Even if it took ages, I’d finish reading all these books.Pretty much everyone who recommended the Malazan series said that the first book will be a bit confusing and I have to agree with them.
The story starts in the middle of things and explains little. I think it took me about a 100 pages to get going and feel like I kinda knew what the story is about. This might not be the best way to introduce people to a series of more than 15 books as it can put people off very easily.
“Until you die on a bed of gold,” Paran said.Steven Erikson
To his credit, the author has put a preface in which he clearly says that this will be confusing when you start. While I appreciate the honesty, that preface scared a few people whom I recommended the book to!
Now for the main review!
Like I said above, the book starts off in the middle. A major expansion war is underway and the empire is preparing to invade a free city called Pale. The Moon’s Spawn hovers above and we get to see a clash between the empire mages and the floating city of Moon’s Spawn.
“I want to be a soldier. A hero.”
“You’ll grow out of it.” Steven Erikson
I found myself asking, “What the hell is Moon’s Spawn?!”. Yeah I get that it’s a floating city above another city but still, so many questions! I felt the curiousity this built was excellent. I want to know more.
Powerful empire mages facing an even more dangerous enemy. Slowly you get introduced to a few heroes of the book, the Bridgeburners, and that’s where the story really takes off. The Bridgeburners are an elite company in the Malazan Empire. They also have a lot of key characters that you’ll get to meet in this book and boy are they amazing.
While the book was fairly slow paced, it was rich in details. A few characters had their back stories explained while others died in obscurity. Some characters felt a bit shallow but that may be because they are due for more appearances in other books down the line. There are so many mysteries and unexplained things in this book that it just makes you want to jump to book 2 as soon as you finish.
Each chapter starts off with an excerpt from a book or poem or something. What are these? Who are the people who wrote this? What significance do these paras have? Who the hell is Burn and why is he/she asleep? I have no clue so far but I am keen to find out!
There are A LOT of characters in this book. So very many! Very few of them standout though, and out of those, only a couple shine. I think overall my favorite characters are Kruppe and Anomander Rake. I hope to see more of them in future books!
“Good at dying,” he said. Steven Erikson
Whiskeyjack and the Bridgeburners were a pleasure to read about! I am quite intrigued to find out more about Quick Ben’s past. Like Tattersail says at one point, “I should know who you are Quick Ben. There aren’t enough mages with power like yours for me to not know you.” Well, please fucking tell me too!
Overall, this book was an excellent way to get started in the Malazan series. While it might feel slow and dense to some people, the reward that comes after reading it is definitely worth the slog.