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Dust of Dreams
Steven Erikson
Bantam Books, 1278 pages

Dust of Dreams
Steven Erikson
Steven Erikson was born in Toronto, grew up in Winnipeg, and worked in the UK for several years until returning to Canada several years ago. He now lives in Falmouth in Cornwall UK with his family. He is an anthropologist and archaeologist by training, as well as being a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop. Gardens of the Moon (1999), his first fantasy novel, was nominated for a World Fantasy Award.

Steven Erikson Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Reaper's Gale
SF Site Review: The Bonehunters
SF Site Review: Midnight Tides
SF Site Review: The Healthy Dead
SF Site Review: House of Chains
SF Site Review: Blood Follows
SF Site Review: Memories of Ice
SF Site Review: Deadhouse Gates
SF Site Interview: Steven Erikson
SF Site Review: Gardens of the Moon

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Greg L. Johnson

The word "convergence" appears frequently in the last third of Steven Erikson's Dust of Dreams, and its use is both appropriate and deceptive, a circumstance which will come as no surprise to long-standing readers of the The Malazan Book of the Fallen, of which Dust of Dreams is the ninth and next to last volume. From the start of Dust of Dreams, everyone from the Malazan Adjunct Tavore to the Letherii King to a group of Elder Gods to the lizard-like K'Chain Che'malle and several other persons and peoples have a plan or plans to pursue. The problem for the reader is that all those plans point to a big conclusion coming up in The Crippled God, the final volume of the series. The problem for the characters is that none of their plans work out the way they expected.

Unlike other volumes in the series, Dust of Dreams does not contain its own stand-alone story, it's actually the first half of an extraordinarily long novel. To his credit, Erikson does manage to end Dust of Dreams not so much on a cliff-hanger as on a long look over a vast precipice, giving everyone a chance to catch their breath before jumping into the apocalyptic vision that looms before them.

Along the way, Erikson mixes characters old and new into a story of the hardships of war, the choices faced by those who practice the deadly art, and the dangers of placing trust in leaders whose motives you may not understand. There are moments of unexpected humor and observations on philosophy, economics, science and the paradox of human behavior that repeats itself despite the lessons of history. It's all wrapped up in the splendid package that is the world of the Malazans, their gods, friends, and foes; a world where a floating city can feel just as real as the dust under a marching soldier's feet.

So we are set up for the final installment of The Malazan Book of the Fallen. Nine volumes in the main series and several more related novels have resulted in a creation that is as complex and deep as any in fantasy or science fiction. The many characters that readers have come to know and appreciate, if not always understand, live in a world that is true to itself, while also serving as a reflective commentary on the lessons of our own history. That's what makes Tavore's vision, Quick Ben's schemes, Tehol and Buggs' banter, Onos Toolan's foreboding, Lieutenant Pores' petty larceny, and Rutt's determination to keep the baby Held alive all resonate. These are real people with real thoughts and feelings, no matter how fantastic the world they live in or the history it contains. Regardless of what happens in the final volume, that combination of real characters inhabiting a thoroughly constructed world is the real, lasting achievement of The Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Copyright © 2010 by Greg L. Johnson

Reviewer Greg L Johnson has not yet gained access to any of the warrens that characterize Malazan sorcery, although he keeps trying. His reviews also appear in the The New York Review of Science Fiction. And, for something different, Greg blogs about news and politics relating to outdoors issues and the environment at Thinking Outside.

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