An interesting conversation cropped up in the Facebook Malazan Empire group. This opinion was voiced by Kym Baddams (whom I do not personally know):
Unpopular opinion: I find soldier scenes insufferable. Pages and pages of campfire banter with very little exposition, often between characters that aren't properly introduced and rarely heard from again, most of whom are addressed only by a common noun.
This . . . view . . . is insufferable. These 'soldier scenes' are one of the most integral components of THE MALAZAN BOOK OF THE FALLEN. After all -- THEY are the FALLEN! THEY are the titular point of the entire pursuit of the series. THEY are the lynchpins to the concept of compassion Steven Erikson has repeatedly explained as the motivation to delving the depths he and Ian Cameron Esslemont have plumbed. As one commenter observed, these soldier/marine/army members are as a whole themselves a MBOTF character. To remove this character -- THEM --from the equation would lessen the story; in fact, in my opinion, would even drop this series from the high regard with which it is held.
Most of the comments echo my thoughts. Erikson and Esslemont putting us down in the trenches, setting us around those campfires, drawing us into those cynical, blunt, crass, simple conversations eliminates the anonymity and loneliness of these 'common' folk. There's a helluva lot of people dying in this multi-million word story -- and I'm glad I get to know many of them despite the pain it brings. Improperly introduced and never heard from again is far better a fate than that of being a completely unknown number in a overwhelming statistic or a single statement of defeat.
From the opening of Book 1 (GARDENS OF THE MOON) on, these interludes (no matter their page length) inform us everyone matters -- especially when extending compassion. I say the trenches matter, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.