12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 18 June 2006
Steven Erikson is the first fantasy writer that, after six installments, seems to be able to escape the pitfall into which numerous others (i.e. and foremost Robert Jordan) have fallen. This is probably due to the fact that he knows where his story is leading and that he does not write anything that substracts from the plot and from the prose needed to unfurl his so intricately woven world, which by the way is one of the most epic and large-scaled fantasy worlds up-to-date, barring perhaps Tolkien's Middle-Earth.
The Bonehunters, now , is a perfect example of two of the best traits Erikson, as a writer, has in store for us. Namely dialogue and convergence. The dialogue is not only very natural it's also extremely witty and an excellent way to transfer meaning. Sarcasm, irony, wit, indeed every feeling ever conveyed, it's all in the dialogue. As for convergence, Erikson is a master of it; within each novel but what's more important, and what becomes especially clear in The Bonehunters, within the overall arc of the entire series. It's not for nothing that part 10 is called The Crippled God!
So is there nothing to remark upon? Well, yes there is, but that particular complaint might cease to exist when the entire series has come to an end and things that now seem to have the aura of a Deus Ex Machina might then be entirely self-explanatory (although the term 'self-explanatory' does not really befit the Malazan Book of the Fallen).
So from me nothing but praise for The Bonehunters and as we are returning to the continent of Lether in the next installment, I'll say "Roll on Reaper's Gale!"
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 November 2006
This is part 6 of a planned ten novel story by Stephen Erikson. I was tempted to wait until the final instalment to read these books again, but could not wait so picked up a copy. The story begins with the obligatory ominous beginning where an evil being is unleashed onto the land to commit evil acts.
Once again there are many stories which interlink with each other and the overall storyline.
After the defeat of Shaik, the remnants of the rebel army are being chased across the seven cities by the imperial army. They are lead by the infamous Leoman of the flails who decides to make a last stand at the city of Y'Ghatan. A city which has ominous history for the pursuing Malazan army.
The Malazan army is led by the ever distant Adjunct Tavore. The army are unsure of her motivations and her abrupt manner and closed emotions do nothing to assist this. She is untested in real battle and the murmurs about her allegiance grow in the lead up to the siege. Tavore is an intriguing character in that she is so guarded with her emotion and motives, any flashes of feeling are extremely interesting.
The siege itself is described in detail as both sides take horrible losses. Savage clashes in the city as the Fourteenth try and take the city. Leoman's fanatical followers refuse to fall. Tavore watches on as Leoman's defence plan unfolds. Erikson description of battles, both with sword and sorcery, is easily as good as any other writer I have read. The siege is another fine example of this.
The army itself contains some old favourite characters such as Fiddler, Quick Ben and Kalam. The banter between some of the soldiers is extremely amusing, though never quite touching the comic heights of Midnight Tides.
Captain Ganoes Paran is feeling his was into the role "master of the deck", he was one of my favourite characters from the first book and it is good to see him take up a leading role here. His extremely human reactions whilst in the thick of supernatural events and facing different gods are superb. "Do not mess with mortals" is the warning.
Another side story follows the brutal Toblokai, Karsa Olong. His unrelenting violence and doubtless confidence are back in effect here. His interaction with the `children' as he terms the humans is almost comedic. There is a great scene where he encounters a lizard creature that is almost twice as big as him, his reaction is to charge in and wrestle with it.
Icarium continues his journey in this book, as more of his past is revealed, will he unleash his hidden rage upon the world? His long time keeper Mappo attempts to keep him under control.
The only down point of the story for me is the journey if Herboric and his band. This slowly draws to its conclusion, and I think that it could have been brought to an end earlier without letting down the storyline.
Another thing that Erikson excels at is building up the stories to huge earth-shattering conclusions in the book. This one is the return to the Malazan Empire for some of the characters. They slowly realise that their return will not be welcome as they once thought. The tension builds as the characters ponder on choices they will face, and they will not be easy. In fact I was outraged at the treatment of some of the characters (fans of Deadhouse gates will understand my point) at the end. After the tense build up Erikson does not disappoint with the finish. Action, twists, turns, betrayals and deaths all around.
As a firm fan of the series, it is hard to be objective, however I would comment on the following:
This is a real fantasy book and I do not think someone new to the genre would have the easiest time following the magic systems, large number of characters and races. Additionally, Erikson is not the easiest to read, though he has improved from his first book.
Overall this is a fantastic book, my only fear is whether he can keep up the standard and tie up all of the many loose ends by the tenth book.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2006
What places Erikson at the forefront of the fantasy genre to date, in my opinion, is not just the sheer scale of what he achieves in the most complex plot and character writing I have ever seen, but in the style with which he does it. I am surprised it has yet to be brought to light, but the poetic and philosphical quality with which Erikson infuses his narrative, is simply astounding. Never before have I seen it done with such skill. Simply, there is nothing more tedious than some obscure narrative voice abstractedly droning on about the state of human nature or moral integrity - but what is beautiful with this entire series is the way Erikson employs each character as an entirely unique voice on many enlightening perspectives - many of which contradict themselves as various characters meet certain revelations. The point being is that in doing so Erikson achieves a profound insight into real thought patterns that are affected by the maelstrom of events taking place in the plot - which, as everyone else has asserted, is verging on the incomprehensible, in its quality of craft and scope.
I am intrigued to read some minor criticisms, which I would flatly refute. Yes, 'The Bonehunters' is a transitionary book - but it is also the most pivotal point in the entire series, and as such, the best written. Why? Without giving any plot away, how Erikson interweaves and conjoins disparate plot lines is indicative of immense skill. The Edur's entrance into the Malazan world is not random as the Midnight Tides ends, hinged onto the expansionist intent of the Emperor of Lether - it is one of the many plot lines that I could see coming a mile off. The book also clearly has a plot of its own which is blatantly pointed out in the title (among further sub-plots added to the foray).
In short, there are few respected fantasy authors that I have not read, and in comparison Erikson has achieved a new standard within the epic genre which I can't see being trumped.
Until, of course, the next one is published...
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 25 April 2006
Of course, as is Erickson's wont, there are new characters (most of them introduced in the prologue, but not all).
This is a very catastrophic book. Just like at the end of Book 3. But this one follows that suit throughout. There are major battles that don't turn out so well, and trustful alliances gone awry. The latter, once you get to Seven Cities. Also, the use of propoganda shows its ugly side near the end.
Just about all the characters from Book 4 are back (Karsa, Kalam and QB, Fiddler, Heboric, Cutter, Pearl, etc...). Also, there are Ganoes Paran, Trull Sengar and his Imass friends, and of course, Icarium and Mappo (not just a two second appearance, like in Book 4). Also, this is the book that Shadowthrone is most active in. Something that you've been waiting for one of these characters to do since the beginning of the series finally happens.
As always, there are insights on human nature, and the tendency for war. But in this one, the bulk of these insights are towards the use of the concepts of gods, and what they drive people to do (with many similar tales to things like the crusades).
And finally, there's the one thing that fantasy novels should never go without. A socially conversable demon that also likes to eat people's brains.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 November 2013
The Bonehunters is the sixth novel in the truly epic Malazan Book of the Fallen series, but is the first one to have fallen foul of "middle-book syndrome".
The first four tomes in the series chronicled the Malazan Empire's struggles in Genabackis and the Seven Cities, which have been more-or-less resolved; and the emergence of the new Empire of the Tiste Edur was introduced in the fifth novel, the virtually self-contained Midnight Tides. The Bonehunters therefore has the task of tying together all the many strands of the plot so far, and setting things up for the following books.
In that, it does work, but it doesn't altogether succeed in being a great read at the same time. Yes, there are some great moments, but they are few and far between, and there is a lot of padding in the meantime.
The Bonehunters starts with the Malazan army in Raraku, tasked with mopping up the last of Sha'ik's Apocalypse rebellion, now led by Leoman of the Flails. This leads to an explosive climax at the siege of Y'Ghatan, which has all of Erikson's hallmark brutality and realism. I may not always like his style of writing, but the man does write a good battle!
My problem with the siege of Y'Ghatan is that it takes place about halfway through the novel. It seems to take an age where nothing much happens to build up to it, and then after it's over, it's suddenly like we're in another book, with the plot meandering all over the place. The Bonehunters feels disjointed and bloated at the same time, with simultaneously lots going on at once, but nothing much actually happening.
Still, apart from Y'Ghatan, there are some other gems. Mappo and Icarium are back, and their friendship is one of the highlights of the series for me. Karsa Orlong is also back - as stubborn, arrogant and violent as ever - and any scene with him in is always going to be good. The final section in Malaz City is also a pretty thrilling climax.
Overall, The Bonehunters is not my favourite in the series (so far) by a long shot. I can see how skilfully Erikson has woven everything together, and I am definitely exited about what's to come in the next couple of books - with the possibility of a showdown between Karsa Orlong, Icarium and Rhulad how could I not be? - It's just that this feels more like a novella (the siege of Y'Ghatan) with a lot of extra padding added just to get all the various characters in the right places for Book Seven.
on 7 July 2009
The Bonehunters is the sixth novel in the Malazan Book Of The Fallen series. If you haven't read any of the previous five, do not even think about reading this yet! When I started the first one, Gardens Of The Moon, I found it initially to be very confusing because of the sheer scope of the world Erikson was portraying and also because of the many alien concepts we are introduced to (the warrens, numerous meddling gods, Deck of Dragons, ascendency, Anomander Rake's sword et al) with barely any explanation (Deadhouse Gates, the second one, was if anything, even more confusing)! Eventually, these things just become the norm and I have learned to simply accept them and hope to garner more understanding about the way they all fit together by simply reading on. Experience has now taught me that this works - and may be the only way to handle it!
By the time of this sixth novel, I found that the many characters involved have begun to be more rounded and real. Previously, the story was so epic that I felt it difficult to identify with or have empathy with all but a few of the characters. It was like reading tales from Greek Mythology! In Bonehunters this becomes less so and Erikson devotes many passages to provide background to almost all of the people involved - whilst never detracting from the story or slowing things up to the point of frustration. This novel is perfectly paced and proceeds to a gripping and nervy climax in the heart of the Malazan Empire.
The story takes place mostly on the Seven Cities continent where events continue from The House Of Chains but the backdrop is one of manipulative gods and in particular the designs of The Crippled God - and counter designs of Shadowthrone and Cotillion - whilst all the time following several small groups going about their individual quests. The sinister and mysterious Nameless Ones loom over the story with their own unpleasant agenda, whatever it is. Karsa Orlong travels west and north with the witch Samar Dev whilst Heboric, Felisin Younger, Cutter (formerly Crokus) and L'oric's bizarre demon familiar travel east, heading back to Otatoral with a pregnant woman from Sha'ik's Rebellion. Meanwhile, Apsalar is still doing Cotillion's dirty work but wants out at the end of it. The 14th Army, which now includes Kalam and Quick Ben, pursue the remnants of that rebellion, lead by Leoman of the Flails. Mappo Runt continues to accompany Icarium in his eternal quest to prevent him knowing what deeds he has done in the past. Ganoes Paran has a major thread in his new role as Master of the Deck, whilst various good and bad T'lan Imass appear in one or two important strands of the story.
And that's not even half of it!
All the various threads in the story are interesting and several of them are compelling with the climax being Erikson's best yet, whetting my appetite for the next in the series, Reaper's Gale.
In this books we once again meet Heboric Ghost Hands, Apsalar, Cutter, Karsa Orlong and Icarium and Mappo.
Except for Karsa Orlong and Icarium each character struggles with the way they perceive themselves. Icarium is on a constant search for knowledge while Mappo has to keep him away from it.
Karsa Orlong is confident that he will be able to conquer the world and destroy the humans one step at a time. This time he is stuck in the desert slowly dying from thirst, but that does not cause less confidence. Semar Dev, his companion, wants out but is constantly drawn to Karsa.
Heboric is still struggling with his perceived destruction of his god, while at the same time becoming destriant to the new war god. He is not a willing subject. His goal is to get back to that large finger in the desert in order to set things right again.
Apsalar has left Cutter in what she perceives is a noble gesture and is forced by circumstances to do what she hates most, killing people. Cutter, on the other hand, has changed his name and is embracing the killer in himself. At the same time he is stuck as a protector. He and his companions wander as well.
Steven Erikson weaves a complex and thrilling tale of politics, betrayal, warcraft and friendship. The world in the books of the Malazan isn't the safest. But it does give the reader insight into anthropological and archeological ways of thinking. I love their complexity. I'm forced to think. Highly recommended.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 6 March 2006
This series is just outstanding - the sheer scope of the narrative and the skill involved in seamlessly co-ordinating so many disparate story lines is breathtaking.
This, to my mind, is the best of all the books in the series to date as we see both closure to some earlier plot lines and the introduction or expansion of many more. Tie this together with some tantalising insights into the deck of dragons and more than a few genuine surprises and this book will keep you up all weekend.
Without going into the plot I'll mention a few characters from previous novels that feature in this one :
Karsa, Icarium, Fiddler, Kalam, QBen, Apsalar, Cutter, Heboric, Leoman, Spite, Gesler, Stormy, Deragoth, Hedge & Tavore.
You really want to treat yourself to this - indeed, the whole series if you haven't started yet.
The best I've ever read (and I've read most all of them).
on 1 June 2011
Steven Erikson is a genius. Ok, sometimes a bit of a longwinded genius, but he puts about half of the current fantasy writers to shame with his epic tales of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. If you like fantasy but have had your fill of damsels in distress, dwarves, ogres, elves and dragons a la Weiss and Hickman (aka your standard fantasy cast), and would like to read fantasy written as if it is a Vietnam war account, Erikson is your author.
The Bonehunters is a horrible tale, filled with fire, pain, war, conflict and strife, but it has loads of humour too, if you like your fun dark and somewhat sadistic. I highly recommend this book, and the entire series, actually.
Just be prepared to invest. These stories are neither for the faint of heart nor the lazy. Each book counts roughly 1000 pages, the timeline jumps back and forth, and there are over 100 characters that return again and again. Rest assured, this is no Robert Jordan. The characters are interesting and as real as a punch in the gut. But reading this series is hard work, both because of sheer volume, complicated storyline and characters that live forever and therefore occur both in 'old' and 'modern' stories. But if you persevere, man, you get about 10 times your money's worth!
on 10 August 2011
After the radical departure of the last book, we're on much more familiar territory here, as Erikson takes some of his best characters and puts them through hell.
Readers missing the massacred Bridgeburners will be reassured that their de facto replacements the Bonehunters, introduced in House of Chains, mature here into fascinating protagonists in their own right.
Erikson makes us care for these soldiers, which is unfortunate because what awaits them in the desert is truly horrific. You will be rooting for them to fight through, even as you realise that this is where their legend truly begins.
That would be enough for any normal fantasy book, but not this one. We then head unstoppably for the heart of the empire, and an equally traumatic climactic confrontation.
The book is fabulous in its own right, but for the full effect read Ian Esslemont's Night of Knives first. Certain characters and locations will have a deeper resonance if you do. Even without the companion piece, though, this is fantastic fiction in every sense.