The Bonehunters: A Tale of The Malazan Book of the Fallen
by Steven Erikson
Cover Artist: Todd Lockwood
Review by Steve Sawicki
Tor Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765316523
Date: 18 September 2007 List Price $16.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
This is the sixth book in Erikson's A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series and it is perhaps the strongest book yet. The epic forces have all come to an apparent end as the rebellion is crushed, the bridge burners dead, the gods appeased, traitors laid to rest and honored, and the final mopping up beginning. But the Crippled God is still manipulating events and Adjunct Tavore has been given a most unpleasant task that can only end one way -- badly.
This is a transition book, if one actually needs to label such things. It is a book where things change, where what you thought was one thing turns out to be another. The gods themselves seem to move in and out of plots and plans with relative fluidity. Erikson must have one heck of an outline to keep all of this straight. In each book so far, I've been worried about being able to keep the nearly three pages of characters straight. As if this is not enough, Erikson is weaving no less than eight major plots here -- 10 depending on how you define plots -- along with another half dozen or more minor ones.
There's a lot going on. So much so that it may be hundreds of pages before a character's actions are revealed and new directions taken. If you thought this would be the book to tie things up, forget it. This book raises more questions than it answers, and while it does resolve a number of pressing issues from previous books, it creates nearly as many more. And to top it off, it doesn't really end, not that any of the previous books have really ended.
I have to admit that I think this is the best series being written. Erikson has a unique voice, an ability to create characters that are distinct and colorful, and a style that is incredibly smooth and focused on plot. I always dread being able to remember everyone I've met in the first hundred pages, but the last hundred it's no problem at all to place even the minor characters in their storyline. I've found each book in this series more enjoyable than the ones that preceded, and that's saying a lot because I thought the first book was a real masterpiece.
Perhaps at some future point I'll find myself tired of the whole thing. But for now, all I can say is Steven Erikson can't write fast enough for me. Quite simply, what reading is all about.