Problems with the book:
Everybody is a philosopher, every single person with POV. The usual structure of the book is the following: 5 pager worth of philosophical inner thoughts of a character following by 1 page of some action; I do not mean kick-the-crap-out-of-everybody action, just the acts of doing something, like mending a net. By my estimate, the book can be shortened by at least 2/3 by cutting on inner thoughts of secondary characters.
No matter what the author says, this is not a part of the series, this is a standalone book. Only one character from this book appears in the earlier books ([b:House of Chains|55398|House of Chains (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #4)|Steven Erikson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1316729521s/55398.jpg|836472] to be exact). I failed to make any emotional connection with him even after finishing this book despite the fact that this was supposed to be his tragic life story. From looking into the list of characters of the next book, I see that only 3 of them (including the original guy) make it from this one; definitely not enough to warrant 700+ page book. New races, new places, even the magic system is different; so what exactly makes this book a part of Malazan series?
Speaking of being able to connect to characters, I found I could only relate to one of them, and he does not get a lot of screen time (Iron Bars). A lot of people love Tehol, but I found him to be pointless to the story and not very believable.
The book has strong anti-capitalistic undertones. I am not exactly the biggest fan of capitalism, but I really hate then something keeps hammering the message over and over; this is exactly what this book does. I got it already, please stop!
The plot: two races want to start a war with each other. It is not clear what kept them from doing this earlier as there is no love lost between them, plus they want resources of their enemies. So this whole book is basically preparations for the war by these nations, or rather a lot of philosophical ramblings interrupted by the preparations. The actual war takes place in the last two chapters.
2.5 stars; I really hate giving this rating to the series I really like, but this book made me take a break from reading not just the series, but fantasy genre in general.