Dust of Dreams

The Malazan Book of the Fallen. Vaster in depth and scope than any other fantasy epic ever written, it's hard to believe the series is actually coming to an end. And as this multilayered tale draws to a close, I was quite eager to sink my teeth into the ninth volume of this saga. Indeed, I've rarely been this eager to read a fantasy novel. Fanboy I may be, it's true, but after the uneven read that was Toll the Hounds, I simply couldn't wait to return to the continent of Lether, where everything would be played out.

In the Author's Note, Steven Erikson warns us that Dust of Dreams is essentially the first half of a two-volume novel, to be concluded with the forthcoming The Crippled God. Hence, there are no resolutions to the various storylines, and Erikson had no choice but to end this one with a cliffhanger. And as far as cliffhangers go, it's about as big as they come. Erikson asks readers to please be patient. For the record, I can tell you that there is closure of a sort at the end of Dust of Dreams. Just not what we are used to. . . Be that as it may, Dust of Dreams advances the plot toward the grand finale we have been waiting for, and the book ties many storylines together in surprising fashion.

In my opinion, Gardens of the Moon, Deadhouse Gates, Memories of Ice, House of Chains, and Midnight Tides were meant to lay the groundwork for the entire series. With that established, The Bonehunters, Reaper's Gale, and Toll the Hounds served as transition books to bring all these disparate plotlines together in a complex tapestry of threads and characters. Dust of Dreams and The Crippled God are the climax of this ambitious fantasy saga. Like most fans, I've often shaken my head in confusion, perplexed by the fact that Erikson appeared to be focusing on secondary characters and seemingly unimportant storylines in every single Malazan installment. Well, Dust of Dreams finally provides a number of surprising, even shocking, answers. Past volumes contained an enormoius amount of foreshadowing that we simply didn't get. Yet in Dust of Dreams, a lot of things suddenly make sense. A case in point would have to be the entire Shake storyline. At times, it felt kind of lame and unnecessary in the past, but you won't believe what Erikson has in store for them.

Both The Bonehunters and Reaper's Gale were all over the place in terms of plotlines, which is what I loved about them. Toll the Hounds, although suffering from inconsistent rhythm, more or less followed the blueprint of earlier Malazan books. I feel that Dust of Dreams bears more similarities with the former, as the author has a panoply of storylines to bring together.

The Tiste Edur empire overthrown, the Bonehunters find themselves without an enemy. Morale is low among the soldiers of this exiled Malazan army, and ennui threatens to make things worse, yet Adjunct Tavore won't give the order to march into the Wastelands. They can all feel the threat of what's coming, but still they must wait.

Warleader Onos Toolan is gradually losing control of the White Face Barghast. Clan chiefs continue to abandon the herd, while others now openly challenge Onos Toolan's right to lead them. Hetan knows that an enemy must soon be found, or the White Face Barghast could be fragmented beyond repair.

Foreign leaders seek to take advantage of the Khundryl Burned Tears and the Perish Grey Helms as both armies prepare to rendezvous with the Bonehunters to enter the Wastelands. Indifferent to the fact that the three armies will face a menace that could destroy the world, these nobles plan treachery.

Hundreds of refugees march westward, forced out of their homes, tortured, and murdered by the Fathers, the Quitters, the starvers, and the bone-skinned Inquisitors. Rutt leads them across the Glass Desert, beyond which lies salvation in the form of a mysterious glass city.

Kalyth, last survivor of a tribe on the Elan Plain, has been named Destriant of the K'Chain Che'Malle by Matron Gunth'an Acyl. She is ordered to journey beyond Ampelas Rooted to seek out a Mortal Sword and a Shield Anvil. Obviously insane, the Matron is preparing for war.

With the Omtose Phellack ice fields melting, the water level is rising, threatening the Shake's existence on Third Maiden Isle. Prophecies claim that the Shake, broken, decimated, and lost, are destined to change the world. Twilight and the Watch will take their people upon the Road of Gallan, a journey that will bring the Shake back to the First Shore, as well as their destiny.

Resenting the threat posed by the Deck of Dragons and its mysterious Master, the Errant reclaims his role as Master of the Tiles. Summoning the surviving Clan of Elders, he plans the biggest betrayal of all.

Adjunct Tavore plans to cheat Shadowthrone and Cotillion. The gods can have their war, but she and the Bonehunters won't be used. Though she will order the army to march toward Kolanse, an isolated confederation of kingdoms beyond the Wastelands, the Adjunct is aware that the gods and Ascendants are planning another Chaining of the Crippled God. And though she is seemingly playing Shadowthrone's game by marching to face the new menace which overwhelmed Kolanse, no one knows what Tavore's ultimate plan truly is.

Olar Ethil, the daughter of T'iam who embraced the Ritual of Tellan, has an agenda of her own, and she will compel even the Herald of Death to see her schemes succeed.

As gods and Ascendants hover in the background, a convergence is about to take place in the Wastelands. And to the south, a cluster of jade-colored stars can be seen shining in the blackness of the night sky.

Revelations about the K'Chain Che'Malle, the Shake, the Soletaken, the D'ivers, the dragons, the Tiste wars, the T'lan Imass, yada yada yada, abound. Once again, expect the unexpected!

There is a lot of introspection in Dust of Dreams, mainly from the soldiers, and at times I found it a bit off-putting. As a renegade army on foreign shores, the Bonehunters are aware that they will make the ultimate sacrifice to save the world, their heroic feats unwitnessed. As these unsung heroes contemplate their dismal future, there is a lot of musing about what it means to be a soldier, the futility of war, etc. It adds another dimension at the beginning of the novel, yet it starts to get old after a while. It doesn't take anything away from the reading experience, mind you, but it does slow down the pace in many chapters.

In addition to the usual Malazan, Lethreii, and godlike suspects (Fiddler, Quick Ben, Tehol, Bugg, etc), Dust of Dreams sees the emergence of a host of characters whose importance in the greater scheme of things had not been evident earlier in the series. Yan Tovis and Yedan Derryg immediately come to mind, but the same could be said of Setoc, Grub, Rud Elalle, Sinn, Gesler, and Stormy. Add to that the return of characters such as Silchas Ruin, Icarium, Mappo, Kilmandaros, and more (though not in roles readers may have anticipated), and you have an incredible convergence about to occur.

It takes a while for the proverbial shit to hit the fan, but when it does Steven Erikson caps it all off with a bang. Indeed, the author closes the show with epic battle scenes reminiscent of Capustan and Coral. The very best action scenes since Memories of Ice, no question!

Although it ends with a major cliffhangers, Dust of Dreams furthers the plot and sets the stage for what should be an unforgettable finale in The Crippled God. Believe me when I tell you that this book will have you begging for more! Steven Erikson is a master storyteller.

Dust of Dreams is epic fantasy with a capital E!

The final verdict: 9.5/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

33 commentaires:

Penis Pump said...

Great review. No rating though?

Penis Pump said...

Nevermind I see you updated. Can't wait for this book.

Chris V said...

I can't wait to read this book. I am a huge fan. *crosses his fingers and hopes he is one of the lucky five*

Salt-Man Z said...

To quote T-Rex:


I cannot wait to read this!

Unknown said...

Can't wait for this one. For those in the US who also can't wait until Jan 2010 and are amenable to importing, I discovered that it comes out in the UK August 17 of this year. $25 pre-order from Book Depository with free shipping to the US.

Anonymous said...

Pat. Too many spoilers, I dare not finished reading that thing you wrote!

axe said...

Again - Too many spoilers, I dare not finished reading that thing you wrote!

Ryan said...

Awwwaaggghhhhh WANT IT

Anonymous said...

Why...oh God....Why haven't you sent me a copy?!

Oh wait...I'm anonymous...

Anonymous said...

I never really enjoyed this series, I quit reading after the second book as I found it quite boring. This review did nothing to change my mind

Anonymous said...

Gosh darn it Pat... what is it with you and spoiler filled reviews? I managed to avoid most of them, but is there any way you can put everything from "The Tiste Edur empire overthrown, the Bonehunters..." to "the Tiste wars, the T'lan Imass, yada yada yada, abound." in inviso-text or as an expandable section? The rest of the review is pretty good, but you're giving away too much in the middle there!

Anonymous said...

i really wanted a book to say more about paran. it seems like theres alot going on in the empire.
but the books seem mostly to focus outside the empire
especially after the events in crimson tide. (a book all fans should read)
never the less i think this epic series sets the bar for all epics hence

Dave said...

Can't wait for this book ... wish we had a POV of captain Paran though... hes been gone 4 a few books

tomas said...

well, I'm going to re-read Toll the Hounds right now and I pray dust of Dreams is less convoluted than ttH.

Anonymous said...

Me too - I want more Ganoes Paran!

Jim Shannon said...

Something tells me Erikson has a video game in the works based on this series. I haven't read the books yet but I'll wait for a video game.

Unknown said...

I want this badly.

Shirow66 said...

@.e.Jim Shannon
You will wait for a video game because a video game will clearly be better than a 10 book 10000-ish page series? Or you will wait for a video game before you read the series? (Which will never happen and that could be your way of saying you'll never read the series I suppose.)

Jebus said...

Want, Want , WANT!!! Am thinking I won't re-read the series before this one but will do so before the Crippled God.

And for those complaining about spoilers? How about not reading reviews of books that are sequels you idiot douche bags?

Would you watch or read a review of a sequel movie? No.

axe said...

>> And for those complaining about spoilers? How about not reading reviews of books that are sequels you idiot douche bags?

Charming. We are complaining about the spoilers, not for the older books - which I for one know almost verbatim as I have no life (sob,sob) - but the the ones for the current book which he is reviewing. Everyone here likes the blog, thats why we are here - its just a small critique.

If you think there are no spoilers, good for you. But please, do not resort to such verbiage over such asinine matters.

Tyrone said...

Uh pretty sure the Tiste Edur empire fell in Reaper's Gale so I'm still not sure what you're complaining about. The K'Chain Che'Malle Mortal Sword bits are already in the released prologue. Stop whining and get pumped for an awesome book, for Hood's sake.

Anonymous said...

God almighty, I think its pretty obvious that the poster was not complaining about the overthrow of the Tiste Edur empire info, but with the rest of the text in that section which do contain some spoilers about the events that happen in Dust of Dreams.

All being said, Pat has improved on the Malazan spoiler front. His Return of The Crimson Guard review gave away serious spoilers, the sack of Unta, Skinner and Cowl being "bad" Avowed etc. I was very pissed off after reading that review. For this one and Toll the Hounds he has reigned in his spoilering tendencies.

bigeugene said...

For those of us in the US, just order it off Amazon UK. The air freight isn't that much, and you get it a year earlier. I order all my MBotF on UK. Not to mention, Best Served Cold (Abercrombie), and the Esslemont books of MBotF. Don't wait for it to come out in the US, get it now! :)

Shawn said...

To defend Pat on this one. Nothing in his review is officially a spoiler. It was all from either previous books or in pre-released teaser material. Not having read DoD, there wasn't a thing I was not aware of yet.

Jebus said...

I didn't really see any of the review as containing spoilers for DoD, more hints as to what it contains. The section quoted above (from "The Tiste Edur Empire overthrown...") sounded more like hints and indications of where the book is headed not specific spoilers.

To each their own though, I think if you want to avoid anything being known about a book or film or whatever then the only way is to not read anything about it.

I do however agree that the review of Crimson Guards (or was it an interview question?) contained MAJOR spoilers which was very annoying.

Peter Leonne said...

Great post.
Dude, GREAT blog. This whole site that you have set up is top-notch. Well done. I stumbled across it as I was looking for an article like this.
I’m really looking forward to reading all of your archives. Terrific job, keep it up!

axe said...

>> All being said, Pat has improved on the Malazan spoiler front.

Hopefully - the previous two were less reviews and more a summary. I skimmed over this one as was afraid of a similar review, especially when i saw a few keywords which i was unaware of.

As for getting pumped :
The Malazan are on our shore.

F*** yeah.

Masonity said...

I seriously can't wait.

As for the spoilers, let me stick my oar in here. Anything that could be considered a spoiler is of the type that gets printed on the backs of books all the time, vague "blahblah is half planning a betrayal perhaps?" which is toatlly in their character.

The only things I know now I didn't already know are:
That the book is going to be one of the better ones in the series,
That unexpected old faces turn out to be more important than we realised (could have guessed)
Exactly what the main storylines will be (probably mentioned in interviews anyway, the rest will go to future books or ICE)

Anonymous said...

"Warleader Onos Toolan is losing control of the Whiteface..." How is that not a spoiler?

And for fuck's sake, as I said on a forum, when it comes to Erikson even the Dramatis Personae has spoilers at times. Reviewers are expected to be more careful, is all

Anonymous said...

erm.. didnt warleader Oons appear in reapersgale when they arrived at the end of the battle between the awl and the letharii.... or was i the only one to read tat?

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CroakerBC said...

I have this books in my hands!! I have Dust of Dreams in my hands!! I almost burst out crying when I kissed the cover of the book. Then I decided to put it down and go online to read some reviews as appetizers :)

Yeah, I have it. And soon as I finish writing this, I'm going to read it. Who wanna touch me? I have Dust of Dreams, who wanna touch me? :)

Great review, Pat!! I sure as hell will enjoy all the more (if that's even possible) the ninth volume of this fantastic beyond-this-world series.

Good bye all!! Goodbye world!! I am in the Dust of Dreams now....

Unknown said...

My problem with the Malazan epic has been clear from the beginning: the huge and sometimes seemingly superfluous cast of characters. It is very hard to keep track of them and reading Dust of Dreams I find myself constantly having to check back - or just not bothering and ending up only half remembering what the different characters are about. The fact that many of them so often appear under different names and guises doesn't help.
And I agree, the single most interesting character in the entire series, Ganoes Paran, has remained in the shadows and somewhat undeveloped. I sincerely hope he makes a comeback in the final volume and it will be made clear to us where he has been all this time.