Dust of Dreams: Book Nine of The Malazan Book of the Fallen
by Steven Erikson
Review by Steve Sawicki
Tor Books Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765316554
Date: 19 January 2010 List Price $17.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Steven Erickson, in his forward, notes that he is not known for writing "door stopper tomes." Either he's trying to be funny (which is possible given the humor in his books) or he's simply deluded since most of us would consider 800+ page novels as more than worthy to hold open a door or two. Or maybe it's just that Book 9 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen, the final book in the series, is going to come out in two parts, or two novels. For God's sake Steve, just call them book 9 and book 10, admit that you wrote a ten book series and leave it at that. I suppose it's possible that Erickson is concerned more with ending a novel on what he calls a cliff hanger than anything else, although anyone who has read the first 8 books knows that the endings rarely tie everything together. Regardless of where this is all coming from, the bottom line is that this is not going to be the final book in the series. That being said, it's not a bad thing at all.
I always enter any book that needs three or four pages just to list the major characters with some trepidation. And, if I didn't admit that I got confused by who was who more than a few times I would be lying. This is partly due to Erickson's style of providing narrative in chunks rather than providing a smoother narrative flow which leads you from event to event and where you can follow a character or two or one or two groups of characters without much trouble. Here, in this book, Erickson is running what has to be a dozen and a half narrative trains at least And some of these he moves forward with just a few paragraphs interlaced between major action happening elsewhere. He is bringing it all together though--the Bridge Burners, the Bone hunters, the ascendants, the Letherii, the White Faced Barghast, more dead than you can imagine, three generations of gods and their followers, and everyone else who has played anything like a major role in any of the previous books is here and involved in the machinations around the removal of The Crippled God.
This is one complex book. And yet Erickson is able to maintain his narrative style which mixes dry, dark humor with bravery and simple obedience all spiced with enough horror and death to satisfy any grim reaper. In fact, if there's a character you've particularly enjoyed, chances are they are going to die. Of course, death is not the final ending, not in this world, and many of the major players in book nine have died in one of the previous books. I'm of two minds as to whether I would have liked Erickson to have focused more on cohesive storytelling in order to make the book easier to follow or whether the structure as is provides a more real time feel to events and comprehension be damned for the sake of form.
Either way, Erickson has produced one more book that is incredibly hard to put down as it is full of enjoyable characters with very distinct voices and agendas. So, in the end I have to admit that this is one heck of a book and certainly as good as any of the others in the series, which is to say you should be rushing out to get it right now. The only downside is that it's not the end we were promised and now we have to wait for book 10 to find out what happens and who it happens to. Hopefully Tor won't keep us waiting too long and hopefully Erickson is busy at work on something new because he's just too good a writer to not want to have something from him soon to appear on the horizon. Excellent stuff here.