Dust of Dreams by Steven Erikson
What can you say about the ninth book in a series that you haven’t already said in the previous eight, especially with the tenth and final book currently propped open on your lap. Not much, especially not much if I don’t want to just repeat myself.
So I will break form and say something about the story itself.
Read around and you might end up hearing that ‘Dust of Dreams’ was a little slow. As my compatriot George Roesch commented in his review, “this is my kind of slow.”
In all honesty, I can’t imagine where the book could have been “faster”, sped up in any way. To do so would have skipped past much of what makes Erikson’s writing so similar to Glen Cook’s: the importance of the individual in the trenches.
We’re back with The Bonehunters as they march into the Wastelands on their way towards Kolanse, and early on we know they’re heading for something else, though we – and they – have no idea what. There is unease amidst the companies, and a desire for their leader – Adunct Tavore Paran – to confide in them her fears. They want to be a part of whatever it is she is leading them to.
Elsewhere there are other groups marching inevitably towards a meeting with the Bonehunters. And farther afield still, the Shake finally reach home and awake a greater presence still.
The K’Chain Che’melle play a really impressive part in this book, and the Mortal Sword and Shield Anvil they steal for themselves really liven up the final battle. Some mysteries are resolved, many books later, and we get to see just how brutal these beings can be.
What I was impressed with was the use of the more powerful characters that have been playing it quiet up until now. Quick Ben finally cuts loose, and Guthan Rudd reveals his own secrets. Fiddler’s sensitivities are becoming more apparent and Stormy and Gesler have their moment as well. And one can’t help but wonder at just what is in store for Bottle as the series draws to a close.
Lastly, are the gods. My gosh I don’t think you could find a more squabbling group of misfits if you tried, and the fact that they have the power to rent the world a “new one”, so to speak, just makes it all the more interesting.
Book nine of ten. No, I’m not recommending you pick this up anytime soon. You may as well use the thick pages to smack your head around, it’d be easier on the mind. But what I will say is that this book is the perfect representation of why you want to be reading this entire series. The sheer magnificence of this book is a mirror to the series as a whole. Gods and humans, beings unlike anything we can imagine, power unthinkable and the end of the world. All written down in such a way as you just have to wonder where Steven Erikson is travelling.
Joshua S Hill, 10/10
I don’t know about you, but I was lead to believe by reading interviews that this book was to be a bit slower paced so that everything could be put in order for that concluding push in the final book. Well I’ll tell you, this is my kind of slow.
We’re back with the Malazans marching into the Wastelands to meet up with their allies the Burned Tears and the Perish to head into territory where they believe they will have the final confrontation with the crippled god. But an uneasiness seems to have taken hold of the Malazans as their leader, Adjunct Tavore has grown even more distant and unfocused while crossing the Wastelands. This is added to by the feelings of betrayal from the “sensitives” in the ranks. Definitely a different view of the Malazans to see them so unsure of themsleves.
There are also many subplots that become resolved amongst the other armies and races. Specifically the Shake find a closure to their past, while the Barghast, Bolkando, and T’lan Imass all find their own kind of closure to the present.
And we’re finally given a real look at the K’Chain Che’melle. Throughout the series they appeared enough that we knew they were not as extinct as everyone thought, and that they would have some crucial part to play, but I didn’t expect they had an army in the shadows. Nor did I expect their former slaves, the “Short Tails” to appear and battle it out with them one last time. Though now we see the conclusion of the warren full of sky keeps Quick Ben found in “Memories of Ice”.
As fror Dragnipur, I was surprised that Draconus was the only entity to make an appearance after the sword was destroyed and everyone trapped inside was set free. I was hoping for a little more mayhem than that to result.
As I stated before, a strength of this series is the way in which major characters are eliminated, but I never imagined the scale in which people disappeared this time. I was getting flashbacks of George R.R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords. But for the first time in this series we have a cliff-hanger ending. With the good news is we only have to wait a year to see who survived.
Dust of Dreams is the 9th book in Erikson's Malazan sequence. For those new to the series, it is advised to start at the very beginning with Gardens of the Moon. Believe us, it is worth it.
George Roesch, 10/10
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