Book Review: The Bonehunters (Malazan Book of the Fallen)

I’m fast becoming a major fan of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson. Before this, my favorite was easily Rober Jordan’s  The Wheel of Time, but now I’m not so sure anymore. The sheer grandiosity of the books, the forces at play, the characterizations, humor and action sequences are more brilliant than anything I’ve ever read.

The Bonehunters - Malazan Book of the Fallen

The Bonehunters - Malazan Book of the Fallen

“The Bonehunters” is the sixth book in the saga. This is usually the time when other such epic stories start to lose their way. It happened with the Sword of Truth books which ended in total disaster and even Jordan’s stories began to meander with nothing much happening. On the other hand, the sixth book of Erikson’s tale seems to have as much plot advancement as the first! There aren’t many slow moments.

I think this is because unlike the series’s, we don’t know what the end game is. In The Wheel of Time, we all know that Rand has to face down the Dark One. In the Sword of Truth, we knew who the final villain was – so everything else seemed a waste of time. Even good book chains like The Runelords had a final antagonist who needs to be dealt with. Not so with the Malazan books – there are too many things going on and though I can slowly begin to see how the key storylines are coming together, I don’t know where it’s headed – and that allows a lot of room for free play.

There’s a depth to this tale which no other series possesses. Perhaps it has something to do with Erikson’s training as a geologist which gives him a perspective of time and humanity’s insignificance above all the others. This isn’t just fiction. It’s like an alternative history.

We begin to see how The Bonehunters meets up with the previous book “Midnight Tides” and there are some epic moments – like when a Malzan fleet confronts the Tiste Edur  – the first contact between the two civilizations. We see the devastating power of the Edur…and the equally intimidating response by Quick Ben and a new character called “Bottle” whose talents seem to match Quick’s.

Then we finally get to understand why Icarium is such a dangerous figure in his wrath. His little tussle with the Toblakai Karsa Orlong was barely indicative of his abilities. Another showdown between Icarium and Karsa seems to be in the works and won’t that be just grand? I’m licking my lips in anticipation…

*Spoiler Begins*

Icarium in his rage almost kills Trull, and decapitates Aptorian – a tragic end for the monster whom I really got attached to…very sad. And Kalam – please show that you’re not dead! That would be awful. Quick Ben might murder Shadowthrone not allowing him to be there when Kalam needed him most. And the Adjunct finally shows something of what she’s feeling.

*Spoiler Ends*

This is truly an action packed book. I’m itching to start on the next. What a ride it’s been!

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  1. I’m starting to read this serie, I’ve similar opinions on WoT and GoT so I think I’ll probably like it.

    Just wanted to tell you to give a try to Robert Sanderson’s books, I’m surprised you didn’t yet, the Mistborn trilogy is quite good, and has the best plot revelation at the end that I’ve ever seen.


  2. Brandon Sanderson, not Robert …


  3. I stopped the Malazan series at book 5 since I just feel over whelmed with the story. I went back and reread the earlier books and still wonder what I missed.

    I do want to continue onwards. Did you feel overwhelmed?


    • In reply to Mikey

      They are massively overwhelming books, im at the same stage as you, book 5, but I can’t wait to carry on. Such an amazing story


  4. Ha! You actually saw the post. From April. :)

    I ended up re-reading the first couple of book, mainly focused on House of Chains. And I am going to move onwards eventually. Being such massive books, they do leave me a little exhausted so I need little faire. ;)


  5. Rereading prohibitions should not apply to malazan, this is what I have realised after completing the series again. I have discovered completely different facets, the conversations are much more meaningful, the otherwise simple gestures are full of gravitas, the characters are much more familiar and the pain is much more excruciating.

    Having said that there is another kind of pain which has to be suffered, people try to recommend me works like the Immortals of Meluha and are convinced that it is one of the greatest epics. It tears me inside that I cannot recommend Malazan to them, somewhere I know that these particular set would be bored and confused by the first book itself and that would be a grave insult which is simply unacceptable.

    I wish the malazan would get the recognition it truly deserves. It may be popular in the west but has a long way to go in India.


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