It took a long time for me to get through the audiobook, but I finally finished it this morning. First of all, the narrator, Ralph Lister, is absolutely amazing. His voice draws you fully into the story. My one complaint would be that a few of his character voices are a little too similar.
As for the book itself, the lack of a true main character was truly refreshing. No one character took that mantle and instead the book has an ensemble feel to it. You are placed into the ever expanding Malazan Empire which continues on a brutal campaign of conquest. The beginning of the book introduces you to a few different characters and gives you a real sense of how long these wars of conquest have been going on. Moreover, the beginning of the book displays a stark dichotomy between mortal and god while also showing the reader how gods directly influence the realms of humanity.
Most of the book is spent in two different cities, but you never get the feeling that the world is “small”. Constant references to other parts of the world keep it feeling large, but the final city is a sort of bottle episode if you understand that TV reference.
One of the characters I couldn’t stand at first was Cropper. His pompousness and his insistence to speak in third person was a bit annoying, but the man grew on me as the story went on and I credit Erikson with continually giving Cropper new facets. You couldn’t help but want to know more about the man. Rallick Nomme is likely my favorite character. (My spelling of the names could be wrong since I listened to it and didn’t want to google it for fear of spoilers.)
Most of the other characters had great depth and I expect to learn more about some of them in book two. Also, the book had four or five different storylines that while being separate all converged in the end to be intertwined with each other. Erikson’s phrasing was amazing as well. Though, you need to have an extensive vocabulary to fully grasp it.
My only issues I had was that the ending of the book felt a bit rushed and the romance between two of the characters (I am leaving out names to avoid spoilers) was too strong of a bond for such a short time together.
All in all, I am looking forward to reading/listening to book two!