The sixth book in an epic fantasy ten book series, reading this was a no-brainer for me. I have already read the first five books, and mostly loved them, so how could I not continue?
The Bonehunters publisher’s summary is as follows (spoilers hidden): “The Seven Cities Rebellion has been crushed. Sha’ik is dead. One last rebel force remains, holed up in the city of Y’Ghatan and under the fanatical command of Leoman of the Flails. The prospect of laying siege to this ancient fortress makes the battle-weary Malaz 14th Army uneasy. For it was here that the Empire’s greatest champion Dassem Ultor was slain and a tide of Malazan blood spilled. A place of foreboding, its smell is of death. But elsewhere, agents of a far greater conflict have made their opening moves. The Crippled God has been granted a place in the pantheon, a schism threatens and sides must be chosen. Whatever each god decides, the ground-rules have changed, irrevocably, terrifyingly and the first blood spilled will be in the mortal world.”
I will firmly say that this is my favourite book of the series so far. Erikson’s work is dense with world-building and lore, making it frankly sometimes confusing. But with the world, factions, characters and stakes now finally set, Erikson gets to introduce some payoffs in The Bonehunters.
And those payoffs are great! Every group of characters in this book are interesting to follow, and Erikson does an excellent job with both his returning and new characters (shout out to Bottle!). They remain true to their arcs, and add meaningfully to the narrative. Erikson is a snappy writer, and excels with both dialogue and writing action scenes. I devoured the book, and enjoyed every minute that I spent with it.
However, I want to point out that Erikson does have at least one glaring weakness. Possible trigger warning: his women characters are often put through the wringer, but only in a few very specific ways, and it often seems just as motivation for male characters to save them. It’s gross. Note to (mostly) male authors: if I have to read one more scene of assault, I’m gonna throw the book across the room and rant about you in real life! Thankfully, this was not present in this novel, and hopefully will not be moving forward.
I would 100% recommend this book to any fantasy enthusiast. The series has a definite end, unlike many other prominent fantasy series, and The Bonehunters gives me a lot of faith that it will be a fun ride until then. I do have to caution: these books are long and heavy, and you have to read all of the previous five books in the series to understand and appreciate what happens in this one. But if you have the time, and are craving a “hard” fantasy book, this is one of the best series published in the last 25 years.