Midnight Tides by Steven Erikson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Midnight Tides is the fifth novel of the Malazan of the Fallen series.The events of this book are centered at a place called Lether and these events take place before the first book, the Gardens of the Moon.
In the Prologue,we witness an alliance between TisteEdur,children of Father Shadow and Tiste Andii,children of Mother Dark which fights against K’Chain’Chamelle, one of the Founding races. The alliance wins and the leader of TisteAndii, SilchasRuin is betrayed by his own brother ScabandariBloodEye(Father Shadow) and is imprisoned in the House of Azath. The remaining TisteAndii are killed by TisteEdur and the place is frozen and preserved by a Jaghut, as commanded by Mael, Elder God of the Seas.
Years later, the TisteEdur tribes are unified under the command of Warlock King, Hannan Mosag. Trull Sengar of the TisteEdur bears witness to illegal seal harvest by Letherii Ships and reports the same to the Warlock King. Hannan Mosag retaliates by destroying the Letherii Ships by formidable sorcery the like of which the TisteEdur had never known.The sorcery that flowed was not from Kurald Emurlahn,the Edur warren.This happens just days before the delegation between the TisteEdur and Lether.
Meanwhile, the Letherii Slave,Feather Witch cast the tiles of the Holds and gets attacked by a Wyval. The Slave Udinaas saves FeatherWitch, but is infected by the Wyval blood.Hannan Mosag sends the Sengar brothers on a mission to get a sword of power. The Sengar brothers get the sword but are attacked by the soletaken, Jheck. Rhulad, the youngest Sengar dies but holds the sword before dying and will not relinquish the hold. Hannan Mosag is furious as he had said that the sword must not be touched and holds a delegation with the Sengar family to recover the sword.As the slave Udinaas prepares Rhulad’s body, Rhulad comes to life thanks to the Crippled God.Rhulad proclaims himself as Emperor and all the Tiste Edure kneel before him. Rhulad meets the delegation which comprises Hull Beddict (who was previously wronged by the Lether King, Ezgara Diskanar), Seren Pedac (Acquitor), Prince Quillas, First Eunuch Nifadas and Buruk the Pale (merchant) whereupon he declares war upon Lether. Hull Beddict chooses to remain with Rhulad to get his vengeance.Rhulad enters into a pact with the Jheck.
In the meantime, Tehol Beddict, with his manservant, Bugg plans to topple the economy of Lether. He lives like a beggar but in reality controls much of the business in Lether. His brother, Bry Beddict is the King’s champion. Brys under the guidance of Ceda, the king’s mage, journeys into the tiles and meets a forgotten God. He vows to help them and memorises the list of all the Forgotten Gods. Tehol Beddict seeks help from Shurq Elalle, a thief who is dead. Shurq is in contact with a child called Kettle, who is the guardian of the Azath House. Kettle has a Forkrul Assail soul contained within her. The Azath House is dying and is relying upon Kettle to feed it blood to keep it alive.
On the battlefield, Hannan Mosag destroys the batallions of Lether and the Edur enter the city.Buruk hangs himself and Seren Pedac grieved by the loss of Buruk drinks heavily. She is robbed and taken advantage of. She is rescued by Iron Bars, an Avowed of the Crimson Guard.Iron Bars kills the emperor Rhulad. Rhulad again comes back to life with much pain and is soothed by Udinaas,the Slave.Rhulad enters into a temporary alliance with the Ken’ryllah demons for the battle with Lether.The Ceda has seemingly gone mad and the almost the entire mage cadre of Lether is wiped out by devilish sorcery.The Azath is dying slowly, and Kettle fears the release of five creatures from the Azath, which are Tarthenal Toblakai Gods. She is offered help by another being who is also trapped in the Azath.Rhulad kills Moroch Nevath and marches to the Eternal Domicile which is the King’s palace in the capital Letheras.The Wyval in Udinaas awakens and it goes to stop the Jheck from reaching their God.
In the Eternal Domicile, the King Ezgara Diskanar is present along with Brys Beddict,Nefadas, Ceda and a few guards.Ceda traps the chained River God from whom Hannan Mossag has been drawing power. In the ensuing battle of Sorcery between Hanan Mossag and Ceda, the Warlock King gets badly injured and is saved by a spear from Trull Sengar which kills Ceda.Rhulad challenges Brys and loses, but King Ezgara Diskanar had already died of poisoning.Brys is also coerced into drinking the poisoned wine by the Errant (First Tribunal Turubul) and Brys also dies. A guardian comes to retrieve the body of Brys and delivers a merciful death to Rhulad who then comes back to life again.
Azath is now long dead and the five Tobakai gods now emerge from the barrows.IronBars helps the Errant to stop the Jheck and kills their leader B’nagga. IronBars now goes to the dead Azath House along with the manservant Bugg, where he fights the Toblakai Gods.Meanwhile, the half-blood Tarthenal,Ublala, kills Finadd Gerun Eberict. Hull Beddict seeks his brother Tehol, but he is slain on the way. Emperor Rhulad’s wife, Mayen, under her hunger for white nectar stabs herself. The Edur who were chasing Mayen believe that Tehol killed Mayen and begin to thrash Tehol. Tehol, on the verge of being dead is rescued by his manservant, Bugg, who kills the Edur warriors.
IronBars is now helped in his fight by Ublala. Kettle awakens SichasRuin by her blood. SilchasRuin kills the remaining Toblakai and along with Shurq they plan to leave in a ship.FearSengar is deeply troubled by these events and hopes to find ScabandariBloodEye, Father Shadow.He asks the help of the Acquitor,Seren Pedac to guide him. In the meantime, Seren also receives invitation from IronBars to join them in the ship. Together, SilchasRuin, Shurq, Seren, Fear,Udinaas, IronBars and his crew leave Lether in a ship. Rhulad launches a big search for Udinaas. Trull Sengar remains in Lether to try to cure Rhulad and make him sane. Bugg heals his master and reveals to Tehol that he is Mael,the ElderGod of the Seas.Bugg also transfers the list of Forgotten Gods to Tehol’s memory from Brys. He further visits Withal, the maker of the sword that Rhulad wields and makes him escape from the clutches of the Crippled God and proceeds further to fight the Crippled God.Thus the book ends.
For those who thought that the character list was at an end would have been thrown offguard by Erikson.This book is a stand alone novel in itself and introduces a whole lot of new characters. Erikson once again proves why he is the master storyteller. He is getting better with each and every novel.Erikson introduces the duo of Tehol and Bugg, who make you laugh aplenty.The overall plot was handled nicely and slight twists and turns made the novel only better. I also felt that this book was much better compared to the others in the same series. I give it a 5/5.
Verdict: A must read for any fantasy fan (Should be on the top of your list!!!!)