The structure of the Malazan Book of the Fallen is a bit odd, though nicely original: Book 2 (Deadhouse Gates) follows Book 1 (Gardens of the Moon) but features largely different characters in a different situation. Book 3 (this one) is a direct sequel to Book 1, but takes place simultaneously alongside Book 2 and the ending sets up some events in Book 4 (House of Chains). Got all that straight? Good. Memories of Ice picks up from the end of Gardens of the Moon. The Malazan Empire has failed to capture the city of Darujhistant on the continent of Genabackis due to the defection of the Malazan 2nd Army. The 2nd Army has now joined forces with its former enemies, the Tiste Andii of Moon's Spawn and the mercenary army under the Warlord Caladan Brood, to take on the Pannion Domin, a horrific force for evil which has conquered the south of Genabackis and is now about to lay siege to the city of Capustan. Memories of Ice is, like its predecessors, complex and dense, following dozens of characters across several major plot strands. The undead T'lan Imass warrior Tool (one of the best fantasy characters of recent years) and the unlucky Malazan soldier Toc are reunited in a plotline which is often humourous before becoming tragic and, by the end, bittersweet. In another plot strand, a whole host of fascinating new characters help defend Capustan from the bloodiest siege ever described in a fantasy novel, whilst heroes from the first book are forced to work alongside their former enemies (and discovering, by and large, that they all get on well). Erikson's writing, previously excellent but occasionally disjointed, reaches a new level of maturity here as he deepens the characterisation and detail given to each cast member. The hectic, can't-pause-for-breath nature of the previous books is slightly lessened here, which is a good thing, at least until the highly charged and ultra-violent ending. Memories of Ice is the best book yet in the series, although it is by far the bloodiest (yes, even more so than Deadhouse Gates). Erikson has started tying up some of his plot threads, explaining some odd events from Book 1 and forcing you to constantly re-evaluate your opinions of characters. This time around, the characters feel more human and slightly less like chess pieces being moved around by the gods (ironic, given that the level of interference by the gods in the affairs of mortals is quite high in this book). Also the ongoing storylines that are going to carry this series through another seven books after this one are becoming more fleshed out, with rumours of events on other, distant continents setting up the next phase of the series (Book 5 will take place in a totally new land remote from the three contients visited so far). Memories of Ice is bloody, brutal and audacious. Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin both have some serious competition to deal with.