Back in Darujhistan things are back to normal with a lot of parties competing for power, money, influence, or just trying to stay alive. The rules of the game are simple: all means of achieving a goal are fine. A number of people came back to the city and they have no idea what to do in there, which leaves a lot of time for them to ponder on philosophical questions. Meanwhile, in Coral (Black Coral now) Anomander Rake does ... well... something - I still have no clue what he did there.
I rate this book 2.5 stars rounding down to 2. This was really painful to read. First and foremost, there were a lot of POVs in the book. The author keeps switching between POVs literally on each page which affected my reading pattern the following way: go to the next page, scan it quickly to figure out which POV I read at the moment - it was NOT obvious - go back to the beginning of page and read it carefully to the end. Repeat until finished. Everybody is a philosopher in Malazan universe, which means for every POV switch we have almost full page of deep (or not so deep) thoughts and a couple of lines of action by the end of the page.
I finished the book, and still the motivation of the majority of characters is still a mystery to me. I mean, a lot of inner thoughts, some action - and not a word about what motivated this particular character to act the way he acted. I had to read three fourths of the book to finally get some vague ideas of what was about to happen, which by that time begin to bother me. This is 'Show, do not tell' idea taken to the extreme.
By the time I finished the book I realized the people in the whole series have no clue what preventive measures are. They all know beforehand that the bad things are coming to them, and nobody lifts his finger to do anything in advance, no kind of preparations until shit really hits the fan. As soon as it happens, people finally start acting - in the very last moment, doing great sacrifices; most of these sacrifices could be easily prevented if somebody bothered to do something (fairly obvious and logical things, too) before the crisis started.
Another problem: the whole book is a tale of Kruppe (who, by the way is really boring in this book except for exactly one scene). In each chapter the beginning and the end is told in typical Kruppe manner of speech, but the middle is told in normal way as if the author keeps forgetting is was supposed to be Kruppe who tells the tale.
All in all, one of the weakest book in the series. The only emotion I had after I finished it was relief like one after a great physical effort (which it was - sort of).