The Bonehunters is the sixth book in The Malazan Book of the Fallen series which I have been reading. It’s been a good few months or so since I’ve read this book so you’ll have to forgive me if my memory of the plot is a bit fuzzy in places. After the previous installment, which took place in the past, this book returns to the present day and a lot of the familiar plotlines. The Crippled God now has a place in the pantheon, causing the rules of the game to be changed. Meanwhile the Malazan Fourteenth Army, lead by Tavore Paran, seek to bring about the end to the last remaining rebel force in the city of Y’Ghatan, lead by Leoman of the Flails. All the while fan favourites such as Karsa Orlong, Apsalar and Cutter return with agendas of their own.
One thing I liked about this book is how it brought the various plot lines from throughout the series together. A staggering number of different plots and story arcs seem to converge in this book, from that of Karsa Orlong to the plot surrounding the rebellion. Perhaps most importantly as well is the plot of the Crippled God entering the pantheon. A lot of complicated stuff goes in here and this is in part the reason why I don’t actually remember a lot of it. The book is a whopping 1200 pages, one of the longest in the series so far, and a lot goes on within it.
Despite this some good characters came back. Ganoes Paran, who is now master of the deck, makes a long awaited return and it feels like forever since he last had a major role in the series. Karsa Orlong goes around kicking ass like usual and overall most of the series’ major players converge into one place during this book. That being said, some seemed to have rather dull slow moving plots, typical of the Malazan novels as a whole. Adjunct Tavore and her associates seemed to have a plot like this, as did the recurring character Icarium. I have always viewed Tavore somewhat fondly so this was a bit disappointing, though with Icarium I have personally always found him a bit dull from the moment he was first introduced. I was likewise disappointed that Tavore never found that she had killed her sister back during House of Chains and I can’t help but feel that the character has been forgotten about. Her death could easily have been milked for drama but instead Tavore simply never learns the truth. This is something true with a lot of family relationships in the book. Ganoes and Tavore are brother and sister yet the matter is never mentioned too much.
The plot suffers from a lot of the same pacing problems as previous books, with the added problem of complexity stemming from the large number of interweaving plots coming together. I understand that the novels have to start doing this at some point since it is now over halfway through the series, with four books left to go before we reach the tenth and final book. Yet this complexity has gotten to the point where even as I read it I found it difficult to actually follow what was going on. I was following a lot of cool characters but as a whole I hadn’t the slightest clue what they were doing or why they were doing it. This may be in part due to my reading style but I feel as though the book wasn’t doing a lot to help out along the way either.
In some ways the novel personifies both the best and the worst parts of The Malazan Book of the Fallen series. There were lots of cool characters and once again the setting is as rich and detailed as ever. Sometimes I wonder if perhaps it is too detailed. So much to put in that it is simply impossible to write a book on it that isn’t going to be horribly complex. There is room for improvement, that much is certain. Yet despite this I feel like the plot is making definite progress. The complexity wasn’t for nothing. I can only hope that now that some of these plots have converged a little, things might start making a bit more sense in the future.
IN A WORD: COMPLICATED