The blurb on the cover says it all: The Black Company has parted ways, and the world may suffer the consequences
. This time I have practically nothing to add without giving spoilers. This can be considered to be a side story as the major part of the surviving main characters do not appear here at all.
Quite a few familiar faces appear though and this book gives a nice final closure to the northern tale of the Company. As such it is better read right after book 3 of the main storyline.
One of the themes prominently featured here is human greed and stupidity. Imagine you have an artifact which sole purpose is to contain an ancient evil. So what is quite human reaction (sadly seen in the real life too often)? Let us poke in it and see what comes out. Steven Erikson uses this trope very often in his Malazan series; people seems to be unable to leave alone stuff that definitely needs to be avoided at all costs. In the best case one steals the said artifact and tries to sell it.
Unsurprisingly this time stupid greedy people bit more than they could chew. The amount of (often innocent) people they had to kill directly and indirectly to save their miserable useless lives boggles the mind.
A lot of readers complained about the development of one of the characters from the first three books: Raven
. For me it was exactly expected and logical development which did not diminish my opinion on the novel any.
The book starts slow but its second half is full of suspense and excitement. While the amount of betrayals is relatively low for a Glen Cook novel, they are still there along with some much unexpected developments. The end is quite symbolic if somewhat bittersweet.