Midnight Tides: Book Five of The Malazan Book of the Fallen
by Steven Erikson
Cover Artist: Todd Lockwood
Review by Steve Sawicki
Tor Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765316516
Date: 17 April 2007 List Price $15.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
This is the fifth book in Erikson's The Malazan Book of the Fallen series. As with all of the books before it, this book is a massive work, with almost too many characters to remember and multiple story lines.
Midnight Tides is a fantasy and primarily follows the conflict between the tribes of the Tiste Edur, who have united under the Warlock King of the Hiroth, and the Kingdom of Lether that has expanded and enslaved all but the Tiste Edur. Underlying all of this is an ages-old betrayal and, as in all of the previous books, the mysterious workings of the gods. There are other, smaller, storylines that hold importance and weave in and out of the plot, sometimes seeming to be totally unrelated. These secondary tales often hold important keys to later actions; it is not until the end that everything begins to make sense.
Erikson is a wonderful writer. His ability to balance multiple storylines that all come together is almost beyond belief. Sixty pages into one of these books and you are presented with so many different characters that you fear you will never be able to remember them all or remember what they are about. Yet, by midway it is all becoming clear, and you can start to see how the minor thing on page 50 holds great importance to the action on page 469. I can only imagine the outlining that must go into the creation of one of these books. As well, there are faint echoes from previous books and previous stories since this particular book travels in new territory from the others before it, or at least it seems it does. I suppose we won't know for sure until the entire thing is finished.
I like this series a lot. I think Erikson does an incredible job of telling a rich story full of subplots and side events that all have a way of coming together sooner or later. The characters are well developed and set in a world full of history, conflict, ambition and culture. Erikson's grasp of worldbuilding and story development is rivaled by none. Each time I pick up the next book in this series I find myself unbelieving that it could be better than the last, and yet, that is exactly what Erikson manages to pull off. Highly recommended.