Fall of Light is the long-awaited sequel to the first book in The Kharkanas trilogy (which is a prequel to the Malazan Book of the Fallen series) by Steven Erikson. I couldn’t wait to read this book after devouring Forge of Darkness.
Civil war is now ravaging through Kurald Galain, and the Tiste are thrown into chaos, forced to choose sides in a war no one wants – or to reject both sides altogether. The three Purake brothers upon whom shoulders rest the duty of protecting Mother Dark and everyone under her rule are split. Anomander is looking for his grief-stricken and estranged brother Andarist, while Silchas Ruin is forced to rule in Anomander’s stead. And Urusander’s army is moving towards Kharkanas, to mete out what they believe is justice.
One of the things I like about both Forge of Darkness and Fall of Light, but which also takes some time to get used to is the writing style. It’s not at all written like the Malazan Book of the Fallen; it feels a lot more Shakespearian. This is a good choice, I think, because it never lets you forget that not only are the Tiste ‘other’, the stories in both books are told from one poet to another. Both Forge of Darkness and Fall of Light are oral histories told by the Tiste Andii poet Gallan to the poet Fisher Kel Tath.
That is the reason why the speech in these novels is so Shakespearian, why children seem to think and speak like adults, and why there’s so much poetry and philosophising in these books; they’re all narrative flourishes in a story told from one poet to another. It’s definitely a jarring experience if you jump right into this trilogy after finishing the Malazan Book of the Fallen, but it’s a deliberate choice. And for me, at least, it worked.
If Forge of Darkness was the appetizer, the set-up for the civil war and a warning of all the horrible things to come, Fall of Light delivers plenty. The grief, sorrow, suffering, and bleakness in this book are permeating, and there’s very to little sense of hope, of sunshine after a rainy day. There’s also other storylines introduced in Fall of Light that Malazan fans have been hoping to catch a glimpse of, and there’s plenty left to speculate about for the last book (Walk in Shadow) and I, for once, can’t wait to see how Steven Erikson finishes this trilogy. Whether it’s the War on Death, the meddling of the Azathanai and whatever K’rull is up to, Draconus and his family, or the mentions of the High King; I know Erikson will deliver. Whatever happens, it’s going to be big and it’s going to stay with me for days; of that I’m sure.