At last, the end of this long drawn out The Malazan Book of the Fallen series. What a pain this has been to read. I swear I am not picking any fantasy series longer than five books now that I have finished reading it. The Crippled God, the tenth and final book in this series, is exactly what you would expect from the last instalment of an epic fantasy series. Adjunct Tavore and her allies are preparing for their final battle with the intent on challenging the gods themselves (as quoted from the blurb). In the process though, the opponent isn’t the Crippled God, but rather the mysterious Forkrul Assail, one of the elder races. They have hijacked the Crippled God’s plan and seek to eliminate all of civilisation, and every human in the process. This subsequently leads them into a final battle for all of creation. Like I said, the usual fantasy stuff. The twist is that they aren’t fighting who you’d expect to be fighting.
Despite this the twist wasn’t too great in my eyes, in part because the Forkrul Assail have spent the majority of the series making no appearance whatsoever, instead being mentioned every now and again as part of the background lore. Consequently I knew very little about them except that they were the bad guys and wanted to kill everything, a rather generic motive in itself. Needless to say I wasn’t too keen on them. They seemed to act as a group rather than having a leader, and although they are elder beings they are still a far cry from the Crippled God as far as villains go. I vastly preferred the Crippled God as a villain and while I feel changing things around was the right way to go about it, with the vast number of gods in the setting they should have had a villain with a bit more divinity behind them. It’s an Epic Fantasy series which has been building up to some big epic battle and I felt that the final villains were a bit underwhelming all things considered.
Like I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, the book was so damn complicated that at times I wonder if there was another villain and I just missed it all under the sea of purple prose and complicated subplots which suddenly become relevant out of the blue with little to no foreshadowing in previous books. Sometimes I actually wondered if the author made it up as he went along because a lot of characters in the series seemed to die without warning and a lot of characters seemed to disappear during the course of The Crippled God, including a lot of my favourites. Rather it seemed that he had so many characters the author couldn’t decide which ones were important to the finale. Even when the end came, I found it be be abrupt and did little to help me understand what just happened.
Point is this book was a bit of a mess to be honest, though this was in part because the series was a complicated mass of plots and subplots to begin with. Some people could argue that I simply could not follow such a complicated series, but if you ask me the only reason the ten books are so complicated is because they were badly written to begin with. I know why it was written as it was. It was an attempt to be realistic, why would you start the story neatly at the beginning and hold the reader’s hand? Of course in real life there would be a number of complex plots at play. Yet, I handled A Song of Ice and Fire just fine and that was the same.
To be perfectly honest I thought the books used realism where it wasn’t needed, that throwing the reader into it with no explanation would somehow enhance the reading experience. In reality all it did was make me feel lost and confused throughout the whole ten book affair and I understand the series no better than I did at the start. I can say I’m glad this long trudge is over. I can move onto better things now, hopefully things with a bit less complexity to them.
IN A WORD: COMPLICATED