Blood and Bone is the fifth novel in the line-up of Malazan Empire novels by Ian C. Esslemont and the penultimate novel in the series. It is followed by the last novel called Assail.
On the continent of Jacuruku, the Thaumaturgs are trying to invade the legendary jungle called Himatan, after failing time and time again. Himatan is said to be the home of Ardata, powerful entity, Queen of Witches and goddess. Saeng, a young women used to living under the Thaumaturgs’ rule, is coming into her power. Power she didn’t know she had, and she doesn’t know what to do with. But her power is attracting the voices of the dead and those voices lead her and her brother Hanu into that ancient jungle.
While in the south the tribes are preparing to attack the Thaumaturgs’ lands and steal all they can find, under the leadership of the mysterious man called Warleader. He’s an unknown, a foreigner and yet seems to know a whole lot more about the happenings inside the Thaumaturgs’ lands than he should. And the Crimson Guard are approached for a contract…with Ardata herself.
Hmmm…I must say I’m quite conflicted about this novel and its effects on me. But that might just be because I haven’t had time to really sit down and read (university stuff got in the way) and it took me about two months to finish it, while a book of this size would take maybe two/three days if I had the time. So it might be because of that.
I found the novel to be a bit disjointed at times, I couldn’t always understand why certain actions were being taken and why certain characters were even in the book. Thaumaturg Golan for instance and his entire army. Yes, I got that including them and their struggle to remain alive in the jungle showed just how much of a danger Himatan was, but their ending was a bit of a non-ending. There wasn’t really a resolution; the fact that the whole expedition was futile was hammered into me. I guess that was the point, but it didn’t really add anything for me. I mean, we got that Himatan was dangerous from the whole journey with K’zazz and Shimmer and the rest of the ‘good’ Crimson Guard. And even with some of the moments with Skinner and Mara.
The parts with Saeng and Hanu and the parts with the Warleader (who is actually Kallor, but that’s pretty obvious to a Malazan fan from almost the beginning) were the parts that were easiest to understand and follow. I understood their purpose and even though I’m never going to like Kallor after all that he’s done, I understand what he’s trying to do here and trying to prevent. But boy! He really never learns.
Ardata was….well…the jungle that’s under her control is awesome, and what she did after Skinner refused her gifts once again was bone-chillingly awesome, but I didn’t understand what was going on with her, the Queen of Dreams and her daughter Lek. I understood why she wanted to keep Lek in Himatan, but not why the Queen of Dreams wanted her out of there. Maybe Lek will be important in the last book?
Also, the whole thing with the Queen of Dreams was confusing. She’s talking to all these gods (Mael! Shadowthrone! Cottillon!) who try to dissuade her from her encounter/clash with Ardata, but in the end, that wasn’t really that bad? And they’re sisters? Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the Queen of Dreams come from the Vitr in Forge of Darkness? Ardata was already alive by then, wasn’t she? Or was she speaking more along the lines of sisters, like the Elder Gods called each other brothers and sisters? But the Queen of Dream isn’t actually Elder….I think?
You can see how all this can be confusing, especially when you’re reading the book in sprints and long breaks. And can I just say that Ina – the ONLY Seguleh in this book – is uber lame! She’s really not a good example of a Seguleh at all. I mean, sure the awesomeness factor of the Seguleh dropped a whole lot in Orb Sceptre Throne already, but at least they were awesome fighters. Ina doesn’t even have that. What’s the point of having a Seguleh, if they don’t act like one?
Skinner and his merry men are back, which I wasn’t too happy about, because the Disavowed are a bunch of traitors. But their sections with the priest of the Shattered God were very interesting. And the end kinda made up for the amount of time I had to spend with him.
Also, Osserc and Gothos were in this – well, they were in an Azath and I must say that those sections didn’t really seem to add anything at all to the story, not until Cowl escaped the Azath, we got a glimpse of Temper and Osserc finally decided to leave.
And let us not forget the Malazans! (I finally get to them xD) Murk and Sour, two squad mages in the employ of Sister Spite, who is…very spiteful all the time, and the mercenaries whom they think used to be Malazan soldiers as well. Boy, their parts were a wild but fun ride! I think I bonded most with them, not just because they were Malazans, though that usually helps, but also because it’s another crazy but fun duo! Kellanved/Dancer, Quick Ben/Kalam, Tehol/Bugg and now Murk/Sour. They just work! And through them we can see what happens to a sentient part of the Crippled God which isn’t immediately claimed for evil.
All in all, I’m sure things will start being less confusing once I reread this book without haste.