14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Solid but flawed,
This review is from: The Bonehunters: Malazan Book Of Fallen 6 (The Malazan Book of the Fallen) (Paperback)
The Malazan Book of the Fallen remains one of the most interesting and large-scale epic fantasies ever written, with multiple storylines and hundreds of characters sprawling across this ten-volume series. Unlike comparative series like The Wheel of Time, the Malazan Book of the Fallen has a series of storylines that link together rather than one continuous linear story.
The Bonehunters is the sixth book in the series and is the first to combine elements from the three major storylines of the series which have hitherto been separated. The Malazan 14th Army, having defeated Sha'ik's Army of the Apocalypse in Raraku, is now chasing the remnants of that army across the subcontinent of Seven Cities. The rebels' commander, Leoman, decides to make a stand at Y'Ghatan, an ill-omened place where the Malazans have faced devastating losses before. Meanwhile, the Malazan 2nd Army has arrived in Seven Cities from Genabackis to retake the last few cities holding out in rebellion, but it is threatened by the unleashing of a virulent plague. Captain Ganoes Paran soon arrives to help solve the problem in his new capacity as Master of the Deck of Dragons. Elsewhere, strange black ships have been sighed around the periphary of the Malazan Empire, unleashing powerful sorcery, and Heboric Ghost-Hands must undertake a journey back to Otataral Island and his destiny...
The Bonehunters is a huge, complex book with a meticulously structured plot. Many of the characters are compelling, with Erikson successfully bringing alive many characters who were just ciphers in the fourth volume, House of Chains (which in the series' convoluted timeline immediately precedes The Bonehunters), but again his habit of making too many characters similar to one another is jarring. The prevalance of characters answering questions 'with a shrug' is particularly annoying. Unlike many of the previous volumes, The Bonehunters is also a transition book. It doesn't have a self-contained plot itself, it merely picks up the pieces from Memories of Ice, House of Chains and Midnight Tides and mixes them together in preperation for the next two volumes, Reaper's Gale and Toll the Hounds. Also, the book is rather oddly divided in half. The unexpected arrival of characters from Midnight Tides in the second half of the novel happens with no set-up or foreshadowing and feels like a very artificial plot maneuvere, as do events later on in Malaz City which require major players to act seriously out-of-character in order to get the plot moving where the author wants it to go.
So this is a set-up book, but a set-up book with enormous (if unsatisfying compared to his previous efforts) battles, breath-taking showdowns and a concluding section in Malaz City which would make a great action movie.
Sadly, Erikson doesn't fulfil his ambition of toppling George R.R. Martin as the best epic fantasy writer around today with this volume, but he does satisfactorily begin tying the threads of this vast story together for the inevitably explosive conclusion.