19 October 2012: Edited to add: I just re-read the entire series from start to finish, and now I have to revise my 5-star rating and change it to: ALL THE STARS. A MILLION FRIGGIN' STARS to this series. I don't think I'll ever love a world as much again.
I just needed to say that.
And there it is, the end of the best epic fantasy series I've ever read. 5 stars because I love this series so much, it wouldn't be right to only award it the 3.5 I think this particular book deserves.
Tl;dr: It's a good, fitting end to the series you've been enjoying so far (otherwise you wouldn't be thinking about reading The Crippled God, would you). It has some problems, but to me, they're minor and don't take away from the overall awesomeness of the series. Also, and I'm sure you won't mind this spoiler: Not everyone dies!!! Imagine that! I was so scared. Now you don't have to be scared. Yes, I cried continuously for the last 200 pages or so - but remember, there's a LOT of characters. Some of them die. But not all of them do! Yay!
Warning: Here follows a wall of text. It may contain spoilers.1. Plots and stories
Everyone, I mean, EVERYONE is in this book. Characters we haven't seen in years show up (or are at least mentioned) and play their part in the massive convergence that ties together all the histories, all the plots, all the legends, all the character journeys, everything. It's immense
. Whilst it doesn't quite work for me on some levels (see below), I stand in slack-jawed awe at the imagination and the craft that have gone into creating this world and its people.
I think the most satisfying end to a history spanning hundreds of thousands of years is that of the T'lan Imass.
Here, at the end of all things, stuff that happened in some of the earlier books suddenly makes no sense. Why Karsa's loooooog, tedious journeys, when his role in the finale is so small it's hard to believe some other character (like a priest) wouldn't have done?
Why Hetan's horrific
fate, when there are no consequences of these horrors? It makes the entire White Face Barghast story a bit superfluous and Hetan's story in particular gratuitous. And even more sad than it already had been.
Icarium? ICARIUM??? Wherefore art thou, big, loud, ass-kicking pay-off and gift of closure? This was the single most disappointing end of a storyline for me.2. Characters
Bridgeburners: Erikson manages to do that thing where I find myself caring about absolutely everyone. The Bridgeburners are still my favourite characters, and the Fiddler/Kalam/Quick Ben/Hedge dynamic has made me laugh and cry throughout all the books, and here as well.
Tavore: One of the most mysterious, closed-off characters in the series, Tavore has scenes of such vulnerability in this book, my heart nearly broke. I don't pretend to understand what she meant by what she said to Paran at the end, but I'm hoping that re-reading the series (which I'm doing right now) is going to clear up some of the confusion. (ETA: OMG FELISIN! I'd forgotten about her! Well, that makes sense, then.)
Gesler and Stormy: Hard to talk about how freaking amazing these are without crying my eyes out.
Toc the Younger: YAY, TOC THE YOUNGER.
Brys Beddict and Aranict: Awwwwww. (I should like to take this opportunity to thank the author for allowing Tehol to appear in this book, even if only via letter. Tehol is a triumph
. As easily distinguishable in voice as Kruppe, yet without resorting to mangled syntax. Not, I hasten to add, that I have anything against Kruppe's syntax. I love the guy.)
The dragons (all of them): FUCKING EPIC. I love Erikson's dragons, both eleint and soletaken. They're fire-breathing, uncompromising butt-kickers of doom with such a strong sense of duty and necessity that I can't help thinking of them as human a lot of time.
I have to stop here, otherwise I'll be all day. And I've not even mentioned Silchas Ruin.
Karsa Orlong, as mentioned above. Not enough pay-off for all the build-up.
Badalle and the Snake: Gut-wrenching stuff, all these poor children, but...I don't know, apart from a few truly epic scenes, the story of the Snake was a bit boring for me.3. Loose ends
Whatever happened to the Errant? Is Draconus going to kill him? And to Edgewalker? And Silverfox? (I realise that I'm being well demanding here, considering the scale of this undertaking. But I'd gladly, gladly
trade some of the endless introspection pretty much all major players in this tenth book are given to for a little closure on questions I've had since Memories of Ice...)
I'm afraid I didn't quite get the major plot twist regarding the Crippled One. What was THAT all about? And why, oh why was it necessary?