The Crippled God
The Crippled God by Steven Erikson marks the tenth and final volume of The Malazan Book of the Fallen. I’ll start off by saying that this is a heck of a book that I enjoyed very much. It is the concluding volume of a particular tale–that of the Fallen, but I should note that it is not the end of the Malazan tale. For one thing, Ian Esslemont has a number of books to write in his ongoing series set in the same universe and Steven Erikson has already announced a prequel trilogy of sorts set in the Tiste Andii world. So, while there are conclusions in The Crippled God it is not a complete conclusion and doesn’t provide all answers to all things. This shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone who has journeyed this far into the tale. The Crippled God itself is also very definitely the second half of Dust of Dreams. While ee don’t get all of our questions answered, but we get a lot of them. When I was done, I had a sense of satisfaction and completeness suitable for a final volume.
I’m going to attempt to side step any spoilers in this first part of the review and make it relatively safe for someone who hasn’t read this far into the series. So the first thing a lonely reader sitting there looking at 10 big books might wonder is–Is it worth it? Does Erikson pull it off?
My answer to that is yes–The Malazan Book of the Fallen is certainly worth it, he does pull it off. It’s a vast journey, fun epic trip across multiple continents (indeed worlds), cultures, species and the human condition. The Crippled God caps off this first part of the journey.
If you have read Dust of Dreams then be assured that many of the questions that are left at the end of that book are answered pretty quickly. There are moments of beauty and moments of despair. You’ll have plenty of moments to pump your fist in approval as long time friends perform acts of epicness. You will also have moments of sadness for those lost along the way. At its heart, The Malazan Book of the Fallen is a tale of tragic compassion. It is a tale of the humanness in the world–both for the good and for the bad.
A final non-spoilery note is that I found it amazing how many events from Gardens of the Moon and Deadhouse Gates are referenced and indeed crucial.
Now, I’m going to venture a little further into the book. I won’t be giving away anything that isn’t in the cover blurbs, but if you really don’t want to know anything at all about the contents, then be happy knowing that it is worth reading.
Very Minor spoilers:
In the first couple of chapters, we have a flurry of threads beginning to come together. The titanic battle at the close of Dust of Dreams certainly left us with a cliff hanger for a year. We find out about some of our favorites within these first two chapters and some people we hadn’t seen for a while. The ground is also set as various people try to catch up to where they presume the main force of the Bonehunters has gotten. Suffice it to say that they do catch up and there is a force with which to catch up.
In the middle portion of the book, we play out a lot of thirsty marching and introspection, but we also see the events in Kurald Galain as the Shake and the Tisti Liosan face off on the First Shore. There is action aplenty in these events, such that the book reaches a medium climax. But wait, there’s more–oh so much more. As the events draw into multiple clashing finales as we move into Kolanse, we find the answer to just what Shadowthrone and Cotillion have been planning.
Ok, now, below the cut I’m going to get a bit more specific. I’m not going to let the whole cat out of the bag, but I’m going to peak inside a bit and talk about a few of my favorite parts and characters.
First off, we find out that Quick Ben survives the titanic bolt of Lizard Doom and that he is standing at the Spar of Andii right next to the realms of chaos. Remember the Spar of Andii from Gardens of the Moon where Quick had a chat with Hairlock? This was my first real fist pumping moment. Quick has always been a favorite of mine. He’s mysterious. He’s sneaky and he’s powerful. We get to see quite a bit of all of these traits in this book. In the end, he’s still sneaky, mysterious and powerful.
One person we’ve always had a limited view of has been Laseen. Going into this book I was quite curious on whether we would get any new info on her. Was she really incompetent or was she in on the plan? Well, she doesn’t enter in at all as far as I can see. So there is a small thread not quite answered. But, not answered is fine too–it lets us make up our own answers.
We do get an answer to what Shadowthrone and Cotillion’s plot(s) are. I’m not going to reveal it here as that would be telling a little too much. I’ll say that it was plan 2 out of the list of plans I thought might be used. For anyone who has read the whole thing I’ll say that I think they planned it down to the final action–if they got that far. And, that final action is one representing compassion.
We get to see Draconus in action. He is indeed a force. I wonder if we’ll get to see just how Anomander took him out in the Kharkanus books?
Icarium is still around. But, mostly not in an active role. Mappo is searching for him. The Mappo/Icarium storyline continues as one of the most touching and deeply tragic lines in fantasy.
Shadowthrone is everywhere. We get some really nice looks at various gods and their motivations.
Now that we’ve reached the end, I guess my final thoughts are–well done Steven Erikson. Pause and reflect in a job complete. Now, get back to work along with Ian. 🙂