Top critical review
Disappointing, too complicated, too fragmented.
Reviewed in the United States on May 20, 2020
The ninth book of the ten book series was disappointing and rather fragmented—better than Toll the Hounds, the predecessor though. It has whole set of new characters! Surprise! We are back in the city of Letheras, where we see Bottle, Koryk, Stormy, Balm, Throatslitter, etc. This is obviously a continuation of Reaper’s Gale, which I consider to be the best book in the series (most people consider Bonehunters to be the best). The captivating Reaper’s Gale was followed by the disastrous Toll the Hounds. It was horrible, it wasn’t a page-turner, but I had to turn the pages in order to finish the book in the end of course. It did have a dramatic conclusion, but it was appalling nonetheless! It was too late to make the book a success. It is so good that the Reaper’s gale storyline is being continued in this book. There is a new king called Tehol, what a strange name for a king, “live long and propser King Tehol!” sounds very odd and funny. I have seen some reviewers rate this book as a five star! What? Why? How can you give it such a rating?
This book comes across as a continuation of Reaper’s Gale, needless to say, I am extremely glad that it is and feel that it should have been continued in Toll the Hounds. Like all of his books in this series thus far, this book starts very slowly as well. It never fails, in every book, the tale begins in a boring and uninteresting place filled with uninteresting new characters, vague characters with no background history, or you are thrown into the midst of a battle and you aren’t sure what is going on, and you may not see them in the rest of the book. I remind myself that Reaper’s Gale also started very slowly but improved with time and was a wonderful book to read.
The character problem continues--the author has an insatiable appetite for creating new characters. With every single book I have read in this series, the new characters keep coming at a frightening and alarming rate, it is very inexplicable. The author just feels he doesn’t have enough characters and so he adds more, I know he is doing it because he wants this book and series to be known as epic and to do that you need to have a vast amount of characters to show how vast the world he has created is of course. Steven Erikson seems to give all the characters equal time. Therein lies the problem, the supporting characters almost outshine the central characters. Giving equal time to all characters makes it difficult for us to distinguish who the central characters are. That is why I cannot say who my favorite characters are since there isn’t enough data, most of them don’t even have a background history. The supporting cast should not obscure and convolute the story or overtake the central cast—but that is precisely what the supporting cast have accomplished. Furthermore, the minor plots overtake the major plots. There is no overarching main story that weaves and knits and organizes everything smoothly. Most of the dialogue almost put me to sleep, were boring and were too long. For example, in chapter one, I counted over fifty characters that spoke! That is too much! Was it obligatory for all fifty to talk really?! No it is not! Just like all the previous books, new characters were added near the ending of the book, very mind-boggling! We seem to jump from one conversation to the next without any action or historical outlook to come in between the discussions. In the series, we also see characters who appear in the beginning of the book and disappear for a very long time and reappear much later in the book or near the end of the book. The book reads very choppily, it is very fragmented, and when it is fragmented it is not cohesive and it is not knit together well. You can tell through out the book. It is like putting puzzle pieces that don’t fit together well, what happens, it doesn’t look good!
Once again, we see character names that are everyday words, very exasperating. Here they are: Sort, Kindly, Pores, Fast, Grub, Fiddler, Smiles, Bottle, Stormy, Shortnose, Mayfly, Touchy, Maybe, Tulip, Gullstream, Lobe, Saltlick, Scant, Lookback, Deadsmell, Skanarrow (scanarrow), Skulldeath, Tool, Hedge, and on and on. I have no objections in having a few hilarious names, however, there are too many! Why didn’t he ask his relatives or friends to suggest some names? Why didn’t he come up with names using the Word Scrabble board game?
This book (816 pages) is astoundingly much shorter than the Toll the Hounds (1,259 pages). It should have been the other way--this book should have been longer and Toll the Hounds should have been shorter paradoxically. There was copious dialogue in Toll the Hounds, there was no action for a very long time. Really boring and long, action-free dialogue that was endless. No all-encircling story, nothing to connect with what they were saying, no indication of where all this babbling was headed! Despite of all that, I wasn’t going to let the Toll the Hounds stop me from continuing this epic series called the Fall of the Malazan Empire.
I didn’t comprehend the purpose of chapter 10, it is a non-entity in regard to the Lethari, the Malazan--what is the purpose of this chapter about snake hunters? The snakehunters appear in only chapter 10 and 12, what purpose did they serve? Absolutely nothing! I genuinely believe it distracts the reader from the main story. It isn’t dramatic at all! The snakehunters—there was the bonehunters, and then possibly we will see the houndhunters in the final book I guess! I found that chapter 13 and 14 were meaningless and pointless as well.
In this book and in the others as well, there is an amazing build-up towards an epic clash, but the encounter does not turn out to be as captivating and heart-pounding as the build-up to it! I do not comprehend why Steven Erikson did this repeatedly, for it becomes predictable. I know every time there is a build-up to a confrontation, I know that the actual battle will not be epic or end in a fizzle. Additionally, this book was replete with small clashes/skirmishes that were undeniably unexciting, and mind-numbing, and certainly not memorable. There was a climactic battle at the end of the book, but it was too late by then, there should have been a battle much earlier in the book. The book ended unexpectedly; my suspicions are that the battle will be concluded in the final book. I look forward to it eagerly.
In the title of the book, there is the word “dreams”, I did not comprehend any of that! It was vague and unclear and hard to follow! It was the title of the book, but it was its worst part.
This book and the series are about the fall of the Malazan Empire. I don’t know nothing about how they came to power, when they came to power, that begs for another series to be written, Steven Erikson should seek an author that will compose the Rise of the Malazan Empire series so the reader can understand the empire a lot more. I am not sure if I am cheering for the fall of the empire or the survival of the empire because I don’t know much about the empire in the first place. All of the Malazan characters are vague and you don’t know much about them. Frankly, the empire isn’t fallen yet.
In conclusion, this book was unable to reach the amazing heights of Midnight Tides, Bone Hunters and The Reaper’s Gale! It fell way short of those books. It isn’t as heavy and convoluted as Gardens of the Moon. Nevertheless, Dust of Dreams was better than Toll the Hounds. Looking forward to reading the last book in the series, The Crippled God. Keep in mind, I had almost stopped reading the series after the miserable House of Chains, but I continued, and I am grateful I did.
I give this book a rating of 2.