Reading Time: A long time…
One month and 1000 pages after starting this book, I’m exhausted. And depressed. We’ll get to that in a minute.
I’m not sure what I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said. By all accounts, this is Erikson’s finest work, and I’m inclined to agree so far. The first 800 pages are fascinating, following the journeys of several different characters as they gravitate towards the cities of Capustan and Coral. Although Erikson jumps between different viewpoints as he did in previous books, which I found maddening, here he is much more restrained. With longer sections devoted to each viewpoint, it is easier to follow the storyline. There are some memorable scenes, too, as main characters meet up with one another for the first time.
I still can’t help but feel, though, that I’m missing something. I’m often lost trying to follow Warrens and worlds, gods and spirits and first swords, that all suddenly come into being or are created out of nothing – I just feel like the imagery and explanation required to illuminate these concepts are inadequate. Erikson probably has such things very clear in his head, and some folks seem to pick up such subtleties, but I’m not one of them. Sometimes there are limits on power, and other times power seems limitless.
The last 200 pages revert back to the rapidly-switching viewpoints, and there’s so much action crammed into those pages, that the end gets wrapped up a little too quickly. Characters who once traveled together for weeks, pass each other at the end unknowingly, and some of it comes off as a cheap stunt merely for effect. I can’t explain it more without giving away spoilers, so I’ll just leave it at that.
Finally, don’t these people get tired of fighting? That’s all that happens in these books. There’s no exploration, no adventure, no romance (bedhopping doesn’t count), and friendships are short-lived. We see a lot of characters just so that we can see a lot of characters killed off. There’s so much fighting and dying. Even heroic acts cost multiple lives. It’s rather depressing.
I’m really conflicted on my feelings towards this book. It’s Erikson’s best yet, not having read anything after this one. I liked parts of the story, particularly the early journeys of Toc the Younger. I just don’t know if I will continue to follow the death and destruction that seem to be the only thing these books have to offer.