is the sixth book of ten in Malazan Book of the Fallen
, and it is the third and last book in the Seven Cities arc, picking up where House of Chains
left off. It was released in 2006, and is preceded by Midnight Tides
Now that Sha'ik's rebellion has been crushed, Adjunct Tavore's Fourteenth Army are in pursuit of of the increasingly desperate Leoman of the Flails and the last rebel army under his command. He fortifies himself in Y'Ghatan, a city already infamous for the Malazan blood spilled there, and the Fourteenth prepares itself for a brutal siege. Fiddler, Kalam and Quick Ben, reunited under Tavore's banner, attempt to discover just where the Adjunct's loyalties lie, while Fiddler's squad mage Bottle finds himself the target of an unexpected force reaching forward from the very beginning of history.
Meanwhile, an aimless Apsalar is given a list of assassination targets by Cotillion, and picks up a couple of mysterious but obnoxious ghosts along the way.
Karsa Orlong continues to wander the wastes of Seven Cities, saving the life of a witch, Samar Dev, in the process. Fascinated by the huge Toblakai, Dev becomes his travelling companion, to Karsa's grudging acceptance.
Heboric Ghost Hands, brimming with newfound power as the Destriant of Treach, sets off with his companions to Otataral Island in answer to the cries of the souls trapped in the mysterious jade colossus buried in the sand.
And in Malaz City, Banaschar, a drunken former priest of D'rek, desperately attempts to keep his head above water in the mass of conspiracies and ulterior motives that is threatening to boil over and take the very heart of the Malazan Empire with it.
Followed by Reapers Gale
This novel provides examples of the following tropes:
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Paran kills Poliel, goddess of disease, by stabbing her with a shard of otataral and letting the Deragoth tear her to pieces.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty:
- Captain Kindly has such a strict reputation that soldiers in other armies jump at the mention of his name.
- Surprisingly Sudden Death: Heboric Ghost Hands is killed in a sudden, brutal way by the rogue T'lan Imass, rather abruptly bringing his character arc to an end.
- Title Drop:
Fiddler: We went hunting... through the bones of the damned city. And then, with the captain's help, we crawled outa that grave.
Tavore: Bonehunters in truth, then. Welcome back, soldiers.
- Those Two Guys: The ghosts Telorast and Curdle constantly bicker with each other about the events of the story near them. Apsalar's patience with them does not last long.
- Wham Episode: Leoman summons a firestorm during the siege of Y'Ghatan, trapping or killing nearly all Malazan forces inside the city, sacrificing his entire army, and razing the city to the ground.
- Midway through the novel, Cutter, Scillara, Felisin, Heboric and Greyfrog are abruptly ambushed and cut to pieces by a group of T'lan Imass.
- Over the course of one chapter, Ganoes Paran singlehandedly murders goddess Poliel (thus bringing the continent-wide plague to an end) and inherits Onearm's Host as new High Fist in the stead of the suddenly deceased Dujek Onearm.
- In the penultimate chapter, a barely described Gambit Pileup has Mallick Rel and Korbolo Dom placed in positions of power at Laseen's court. The Adjunct therefore elects to take her army and leave the Malazan Empire forever.
- Wham Line:
Queen of Dreams: Dunsparrow, did you know you were marked? No, I gather you did not - you were but newborn when sanctified, after all. And then stolen away, from the temple, by [Whiskeyjack]. Hood never forgave him for that, and took in the end a most satisfying vengeance, ever turning away a healer's touch when nothing else was needed, when that touch could have changed the world, could have shattered an age old curse.
Tavore: We are leaving the Malazan Empire. And in all likelihood, we will never return.