Archive for April, 2011

The Crippled God: In which Steven Erikson is the best some more.

This is not a review. Mainly because then I’ll have to go re-read the entire series again in the light of this book, and I don’t think my stomach can take it just yet.

Also: there be spoilers here. Many. Maybe. I’ve not written ’em out yet, but I did draw a spoiler dragon that I’m dying to put up somewhere.

spoiler dragon

First thing: What a thoroughly excellent book The Crippled God is. Steven Erikson is such a nice man: he doesn’t clear his throat, stick his nose in the air (as well he might, as the writer of many millions of really good words) and be all “Ahem. Here is my existential treatise you guys. It’s full of doom and gloom with brief flickers of hope and some redeeming moments of compassion. Make sure you accord it proper respect.”

Instead he writes it into this tightly-plotted, suspenseful story that’s bursting with strange characters, random machinations, giant battles, creepy bits, funny bits (The first time Tehol Beddict shows up, in a Brys flashback, I giggled so loudly that the auto guy slowed down on the Ring Road so as to turn back and look worriedly at me.) and insanely miserable bits. He even manages to sneak in bits so maudlin Dickens would be iffy about them. And it is fully awesome.

Over the last nine books, Erikson has introduced us to about eight hundred characters, each oozing all kinds of kindness and nastiness and plans and general coolth. Shoving them all into this book’s giant convergence means that whoever your favourite ones are, you probably feel a bit short-changed. I, for one, would’ve gladly skipped most of the other sub-plots if it meant more Quick Ben/Kalam, Hellian/Urb and Shadowthrone/Cotillion. The vast amount of plot also means fewer jokes, and less random sitting around and complaining — I’ve read lots of reviews of Malazan over the years, that are less than thrilled with all the verbal back-and-forthing in the series, but I’ve always loved Erikson’s conversations. He is at his best when he has two characters playing off each other. There’s a reason all my favourites come in pairs. Then there’s Erikson’s sibling thing – eighty percent of everyone’s troubles have to do with their siblings, somehow. I was a bit disappointed we didn’t see Quick Ben’s sister in this book, actually. He’s so loony and untouchable, and she’s one of the few characters who really upsets him, that you know them hanging out together would’ve been priceless.

I was also slightly let down by the great coming together of all the plot points – mainly because I didn’t want them to. I love the way the series is full of these loose canons randomly ricocheting off each other and somehow getting stuff done. The knowledge that some of them were actually, to some extent, controlled, made them much less fun, I thought. The other reason this upset me is ‘cos I liked Shadowthrone and Cotillion being snide, devious, awful people – retrospectively, their greater cause, while noble and all, made every time they appeared in the previous books cackling ominously a little bit childish.

*  *  *  *  *

Kaminsod (the crippled god’s real name) is my new favourite word. It’s a sneeze and an oath. “Kaminsod that cook,” the Duchess might say elegantly to Alice, choking on her soup and shunning her baby. “Why’d she put so much pepper?”

Or: “Kaminsod and bebother those dwarves!” Bilbo Baggins could huff when Thorin and co. invade his house and eat all his food.

Or: “You and your kaminsodden collection!” one could whuffle at one’s favourite dust-connoisseur friend in a moment of anger.

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April 2, 2011 at 3:20 pm 3 comments


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This work by Shalini Srinivasan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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