I like this book a lot. The author says he was inspired by Glen Cook's Black Company, and it shows. This is not an easy read. There are a lot of names to keep track of, places, races, etc. The glossary of major players in the beginning helps a lot; my advice for new readers: use it every time you encounter a new name, or forgot who this once mentioned person is. It does not help that as soon as a subplot gets really exciting (fortunately, this happens a lot), the author switches to another, much slower moving subplot. The ending was slightly anticlimactic.
Having said this, the book was impossible to put down, and people say this is the weakest book in the series. A lot of events, action sequences, people, backstabbing, were very memorable.
The Malazan Empire is conquering last of the Free Cities on a continent. Finally, only two of them is left. One has a good army, strong leadership, a lot of high-ranking wizards, and an ally whose ancient forgotten magic is unrivaled. The second city does not have any army except for city watch, the leadership is corrupted to high heaven, and is torn by internal conflicts. The city with good defences fell first. Most of the action of the book is centered on the aftermath of this battle and intrigues related to upcoming conquest of the second city.
The problem is, there are a lot of groups with different interests related to it (I actually lost count of them). Some want this city to still remain independent, some want for Empire to conquer it, some want for peaceful takeover by the Empire, some want to destroy it, yet some want to destroy the whole world starting with (you guessed it) the city. Considering the range of actors - from humble humans to gods (yes, gods play active parts in there), it is extremely complicated affair.
For fantasy fans who are not afraid to tackle complicated plots my advice: read this book now.