Adjunct Tavore wants to go east from Lesterii Empire beyond the Wastelands. Nobody (including the reader) has a clue why. In the meantime, two nations in the Wastelands have a war which can only be stopped when one of them is wiped out completely. Oh yeah, K’Chain Che’Malle are back and so are T’lan Imass.
I need to say in advance that I got bored with the series at around book 8 ([b:Toll the Hounds|938544|Toll the Hounds (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #8)|Steven Erikson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1316126179s/938544.jpg|3898730]), so my judgment is somewhat influenced by this, but I try to minimize this influence. My major complains follow.
Usually the structure of Malazan books are the following: an interesting beginning (prolog + first couple of chapters), boring and overly long middle part, and exciting conclusion. Well, the prolog and first chapters of this book were boring, just like the middle part.
We - the readers - are never given any clues about characters' motivations. I am talking about all the characters with POV. This gets really old at this point of the series. We are given instead a lot of philosophical thoughts of all characters with POVs which lead nowhere, except for increasing page count.
Something I noticed in this book: nobody - and I do mean nobody - has a grace to stay dead, everybody comes back in one form or the other. In the prolog of the book one of the character literally annihilated several books earlier appears, and I thought him to remain dead for sure. One of the major characters gets killed in the middle of the book; his self-sacrifice and death is supposed to be very tragic, but he is back twenty pages lately, which cheapens the impact of him dying. Actually, by the end of the book one of the character notices this too: "Does not anybody stay dead here?"
This one is a definite failure on author's part. He fails to make me care about most of the characters. I already mentioned two nations at war; I did not care about any of the nations as well as any of the individuals of these nations. Heck, even most of the Bonehunters are not that exciting as they look almost identical without any individual features except for the names.
So, after most of the book spent on all of the characters inner thoughts and pointless war, we are finally rewarded with exciting last 60 pages of the book. Considering the rest of the book consists of around 900 pages, I have to ask: is the reward worth it?
The book ends in a cliffhanger in sense that it is not clear who lived and who died, but in light of the fact that nobody stays dead I do not care that much.
For all its faults, the book deserves better than 2 stars, so 3 star rating.