Memories of Ice is a 900+ page epic fantasy novel by Canadian author Steven Erikson. Three-dimensional characters and gritty realism enrich this story.
The plot combines Lord of the Rings battle scenes and the desolation of Mordor, Game of Thrones without the endless graphic sex, and an imaginary world similar to Perdido Street Station.
This is the third book in the 10-book series The Malazan Book of the Fallen, but the only one I enjoyed enough to purchase for a reread.
The main characters are deftly portrayed and compelling: a veteran soldier Whiskeyjack who longs for peaceful retirement; Ganoes Panon, a nobleman trying to avoid the gods and earn the respect of his squad; Gruntle, a caravan guard who becomes much more in the pressure of war; a knight named Itkovian whose compassion stole my heart, and Lady Envy, a vain sorceress with a droll sense of humor.
Struggling to survive when attacked by the religious zealot and his cannibal followers, and the survival of the entire world if they can’t stop the Crippled God’s poisoning of the earth, create compelling stakes. The tension from these high stakes kept me turning pages.
“If he’s smart he’ll quit that contract.”
“Well, none of us are as smart as you, Stonny.”
“Don’t I know it.”
He ignored the mocking challenge in her eyes. “Fine, so lead the way, woman.”
“I always do.”
Stonny is one of many strong and interesting female characters. Although most of the leads are male, the women steal the story when they’re on the page. Here’s more dialogue between (female) Corporal Picker and her scout Blend:
“No doubt there’s a tale there.”
“Indeed, but it’s not relevant.”
“Meaning you don’t know it.”
- The rain was abating, the dawn’s steel smear pushing through heavy clouds to the east, the wind falling off into fitful gusts.
- Midges swarmed the tall-grass prairie, the grainy black clouds tumbling over the faded, wavering green. Oxen bellowed and moaned in their yokes, their eyes covered with clusters of the frenzied insects.
Erikson’s first novel, Gardens of the Moon, was less enjoyable although I did finish it. I skipped the second book, which had an entirely different cast of characters and storyline than books 1 and 3. I tried the fourth book in the series, which featured a young Conan-type character raping and pillaging then wandering in and out of portal worlds. I sent it back to the library unread, and likely won’t continue in the series--mostly because it’s a slog to keep track of so many characters and moving plotlines.