(This review, as TCG is a direct sequel to Dust of Dreams, will inevitably contain some spoilers for the previous book. Be careful!)Well, a brief caveat to this review: I am a fan of the Malazan series, but Erikson is, as always, a love-or-hate author. While I really enjoy his style in general, some readers will simply not enjoy the style of the Malazan Book of the Fallen from the beginning - as as such, I'm not going to cover any of these stylistic aspects, because by this point, either you're not reading or you like his writing anyway. With that said, here's my review!
The tenth book in a series where every volume is over 700 pages, and some over 1000, The Crippled God has had expectations heaped upon it - after all, the Malazan Book of the Fallen has required a huge investment from readers. And after all this? It's worth it. The Crippled God doesn't answer all of the questions, and tying up a number of loose ends will be left for future novels: most notably Ian C. Esslemont's Orb, Sceptre, Throne (set in Darujhistan and scheduled for a December 2011 release). Nevertheless, it's a fantastic novel unmatched in the series since Memories of Ice - and the end is similarly tragic in parts. It's the end of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. It's called that for a reason.
The remnants of the Forkrul Assail hold the heart of the Crippled God, and they have pronounced a final judgment upon humanity. With the blood of a chained god, they will deliver the final adjudication upon humanity, scouring the world clean of its imbalance.
A Liosan army stands ready to breach the boundary between Light and Dark. Upon the First Shore, in a last defense, stand the Shake, the last remnants of the mixed-blood Andii. If they fail, the Liosan will reach Kharkanas and Kurald Galain, taking the path into Shadow.
The K'Chain Che'Malle have returned to the world. Now led by three humans, their Destriant, Mortal Sword and Shield Anvil, they go to war once again.
The Elder Gods are moving once more. Errastas, Kilmandaros, and Sechul Lath plan to free the Otataral Dragon, bringing an end to sorcery and a new era for the Elders.
The Bonehunters, an army on the edge of mutiny, march for Kolanse. They will be forced to cross a desert of burning glass, unaccompanied by their allies, to perform a deed unwitnessed. They strike to retrieve the heart of the Crippled God - but what does their leader, Adjunct Tavore, plan with it?
And the Azath that closes the gate to Starvald Demelain is dying. When it does, the Storm of the Eleint shall begin, and there will be dragons in the world again.
The Crippled God weaves together these disparate threads, with others from previous books - even bringing in elements, like the Spar of Andii, from Gardens of the Moon - into a breathtaking tale. From the despair of some, one of the first messages of the Malazan series is reached: compassion. There are other themes as well woven through - the war of man against nature, for instance, with the dilemma of the Perish. But what I can say is that the conclusion of The Crippled God is epic enough to resolve all doubts.
Erikson brings in other characters, too. In addition to those from Dust of Dreams, some more regulars of the Malazan series are brought back. For me, the best addition was one of my own favourite characters: Ganoes Paran. Other characters appear too, but some take only a cameo role. Karsa Orlong, for instance, and though it might seem like a deus-ex-machina for the cameo characters to fulfil such vital roles, in almost all cases they were orchestrated or alluded to in previous books.
There is some disappointment though: not all plotlines are resolved, and some longstanding mysteries remain just that. Quick Ben's identity, for instance, or the Realm of Shadow, as well as the Azath: all continue unsolved. Nevertheless, enough questions are answered to fulfil me and keep me satisfied that Erikson knows exactly what he's doing.
In conclusion, The Crippled God is a fantastic conclusion to the Malazan Book of the Fallen. In true Erikson style, it spans amusement and tragedy, despair and heroism, and in the end, it doesn't disappoint. I think I'm going to have to give this another 9.75/10!
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