Though this novel did not sell as well as its predecessor, Forge of Darkness, it is the superior of the two in nearly every way. The only thing I could pin down as a weakness of Fall not present in its predecessor would, possibly, be the length; it’s about 20% longer, with around the same “amount of stuff happening.” That may, however, be another point in its favor for some readers, especially if you’re like me and prefer doorstoppers.
And this is definitely a doorstopper, in more ways than merely page count. While Forge had a consistent tone of inevitability and order in its composition, here a little bit of chaos has leaked into the narrative — moving it closer in style to the original Malazan series from whence it sprang. There is sharp humor and blatant silliness to be found within these pages, a fair balance against the plodding, inevitable tragedy carried over from Forge of Darkness, and still commanding its own impressive heft.
Fall of Light, more than anything else, provides a study in contrasts — both literally, between the followers of Light and the children of Darkness who seem to find no way to avert their inevitable confrontation, and figuratively in its own composition, as I noted before. While there is much to admire in the singleminded vision of the narrative in Forge, I much prefer what we have here in Fall. It makes things . . . interesting.
In summary, Fall of Light picks up soon after Forge of Darkness leaves off. Winter has come to Kurald Galain, and the twin forces of Light and Darkness are eyeing each other across the realm. Civil war is all but declared, and all the machinations of Tiste and older races can do little to stop it. Meanwhile, Hood’s plans are coming to fruition while sundry outcasts from across the world ride to his banner of a war on death (and thankfully the Jhagut continually prove themselves the most amusing philosophers in the series); and in places far removed from either, an elder god begins a curious journey of his own.
There’s a lot here to work with, to say the least. While the pace of Fall of Light cannot be said to even approach “brisk”, far more occurs in this volume than even I was prepared for. The word for such a pace, I think, is steady.
The only thing keeping me from recommending this volume to everyone has little to do with the book itself, and more to do with its place in the series. Erikson has gone on record that Fall of Light was incredibly difficult to write, and he is taking a break from the trilogy to focus on another project. That means, unfortunately, that the plot threads carried through Fall will be long in waiting for their ultimate resolution in the third (currently planned) volume in the trilogy, Walk in Shadow. It could, by my estimation, be the better part of a decade before we get our hands on it.
Still, if you don’t mind a bit of a wait, and want more Malazan in your reading queue, pick this one up.