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4.6 out of 5 stars
74
4.6 out of 5 stars
The Bonehunters: Malazan Book Of Fallen 6 (The Malazan Book Of The Fallen)
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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.
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on 28 October 2015
The first half of the book of the fallen series feels very disjointed to myself, and I guess this feeling is shared by other first time readers. The second and third books take place at the same time, the fourth mostly deals with elements only from the second, and the fifth appears to be set earlier than the others, although I'm not sure on that part myself. In the Bonehunters, the various narrative threads which have been floating around have finally begun to pull together, and the plot begins to make sense.
After the anticlimax for the 14th, now called the Bonehunters in the holy desert of Raraku, the remnants of the rebellion are being hunted down. They flee to Y'ghatan, a city with a ominous history for the besieging Malazans. And taking the city will only be the start of the Bonehunters worries. Meanwhile, The indomitable Karsa Orlong is unchained from his loyalties, and is seeking more people to upset and get in fights with. Apsalar is fulfilling the wishes of Cotillion by murdering everyone in sight, Crokus and Heboric charged by L'oric to escort a important personage to safety, Mappo and Icarium are roaming around, one searching for his lost memories, the other doing everything in his power to prevent him finding those memories. Paran is also headed for seven cities, with yet another dodgy plan to orchestrate before he vanishes until the final book of the series. Meanwhile, something is stirring in the imperial warren, and the Empire is having internal issues of it's own.
So, If you have read the first five books, you will probably be quite excited for this one, and rightly so. All the characters that we love are back and roaming around the desert, and not just the ones you would expect. The Tiste Edur storyline reveals it's connection to the rest of the plot, and even the first of Esslemont's novels ties into this one (I would actually recommend reading that first, as Kiska and Temper make appearances, and it helps to know who they are). The book is the point where, more than anything the story begins to feel like a series. This also comes at a cost however, as the first couple of hundred pages are for the resolution of the Whirlwind storyline, and the last three hundred set up the rest. Between, there is a ungodly amount of various characters rambling and wandering around the desert. Whilst not quite reaching the level of filler, one can wonder if the book could have been published as two short volumes instead of this doorstopper tome without this section, as whilst it is quite philosophically interesting, not much happens (bar Paran being a badass) and readers who are not fans of reading long philosophical discussions may not enjoy it. Regardless of this, it still remains a great read, and reaches the point where the series finally begins to have a somewhat linear narrative.....except toll the hounds... and anything written by esselmont... and now forge of darkness.... oh dear.
In conclusion, the writing is as good as always, and we to see more and more of the characters who we hopefully love by this point. More of the world, and a setup for the rest of this excellent, and unique series
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VINE VOICEon 26 March 2009
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.
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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).
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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!
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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.
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on 28 March 2006
I have been an avid fan of Steven Erikson since I first read Gardens of the Moon many years ago. Since that time, the series has gone from strength to strength, containing two of my favourite novels of all time: Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice. Erikson was my favourite fantasy author, just ahead of George RR Martin. With Martin's most revent offering being a big disappointment, I prayed that Erikson's wouldn't be the same.
I wasn't disappointed. The Bonehunters is an awesome book in every way. It really gives you the sense that the series is heading towards a massive conclusion, drawing a lot of the disparate plot threads together. Although at times the plot slowed down, those phases were still filled with interesting information relating to the vast history of the Malazan world. One thing I love about Erikson is the way you have to piece the history together yourself, and The Bonehunters gives plenty enough new information to make me need a reread or two to understand it all.
There is also a lot of exhilarating action, too. The Siege of Y'Ghatan contains many great scenes and is really well written. The fight in Malaz City at the end, the scrapes that Paran and Cutter get into are all absorbing and exciting.
There are so many interesting characters in this book that sometimes it can seem overwhelming. Mappo, Icarium, Karsa Orlong, Tomad Sengar, Kalam, Quick Ben, Fiddler (my favourite), Shadowthrone, Cotillion, Apsalar, the Queen of Dreams ... the list goes on. But they all come together to deliver a dramatic conclusion to the book that will leave you dazed.
While the Bonehunters lacked the emotional impact of Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice, I still rank it in the top three of the series. I wanted to reread it as soon as I had finished. If you are a fan of this series, then the Bonehunters will not let you down.
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on 25 October 2014
This series is getting better and better it has so many characters and storylines all heading to a final showdown in which the the final ending has so many different conclusions you don't know which one it will end up being so glad I bought this series of books as they have give me back the love of science fantasy that I'd lost thanks Steven Erikson.
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on 7 October 2010
I originally read this book when I was 18, a random find in the library. It was and still is one of the best written books I've had the pleasure of reading.
A few years later it came back into my mind so I went and researched the series, only to discover ten books and many novellas.
I'm up to this book again in my full read of the series and again it stands out.
The way Erikson creates a world that literally lives and breathes with the reader is astounding, the principles for magic and ascendency again exceptionally well planned.
Its is a stunning read and I will be sad to see the end of the series, I recommend starting at the first novel gardens of the moon and diving in with it.
Definately worth a few weeks of your life :)
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 20 March 2006
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.
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