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The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson and Ian Esslemont


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I doubt it will be translatet to Polish as quickly as I would like (i.e. NOW!).

After struggling through to the finish of House of Chains (I really didn't care for that book), I took a few months off and returned to the series. At about the 60% mark, I've enjoyed the Bonehunters. It feels much more like the first two books in the series.

I intentionally skipped Midnight Tides. The story didn't look very appealing to me, and coming off of House, I figured I'd give up on the series if I tried to power through Tides.

I'm looking forward to Crimson Guard. I really thought that Night of Knives was a high point in the series, even though Esselmont's writing style is a bit stuffy.

The "depth" of this series is extremely impressive.

Grand Lodge

I think you're doing yourself a disservice by skipping Midnight Tides. Initially I had the same disinterest towards it, but once I gave it a read through it became one of my favorites. Plus some of the characters introduced in MT have significant parts to play later on.


Yeah, I wil read Midnight Tides after Crimson Guard. Then back on track with Reaper's Gale (or whatever that one is called).

Fair warning - Dust of Dreams (I think it's book 9 in the main series) surprised me with how brutal and graphic a significant number of scenes were - particularly those following the Barghast and their practice of "hobbling". The books have been getting progressively more explicit in general, but I thought this in particular was needlessly gruesome and that it crossed a line. As is always the case though, YMMV.


They do this to women. First they lop off the front half of her feet, then press the flats of glowing hot sword blades up against the stumps to sear the wound. The hobbled woman is then a)unable to walk and forced to crawl and b)treated as communal property for the men and animals to have their way with sexually whenever they please until her mind is completely broken.

Just a head's up if you're bothered by such things. Personally, I really struggled with getting by it.

I have been put off with the graphic nature of the series. I almost gave up with the priest of the whirlwind who did those things to young girls. Ugly stuff.

Grand Lodge

Its pretty gruesome stuff, but its not meant to be the Forgotten Realms or family friendly Jedi adventures tbh. Its fantasy as written by an anthropologist, and human history is infinitely more brutish than anything I'd be comfortable reading about as 'entertainment'. I'm glad he doesnt dwell overmuch on those facets the way some other authors do.

I am now two-thirds of the way through Esselmont's Return of the Crimson Guard.

I've now read five of Erikson's books and the first two from Esselmont. I prefer the latter's books. His writing style is very different (which is kind of jarring when you've read over 1,700 pages of Erikson back to back), but it's still fluid and I really like his story telling.

And in conjunction with the last couple of comments in this thread, it's not as gruesome as Erikson's.

I'm really liking the whole 'Avowed' thing in this novel.

I am going back to read Midnight Tides and get 'in order' next, but I am really impressed with Esselmont's work so far and look forward to getting to Stonewielder.

HolmesandWatson wrote:

I am now two-thirds of the way through Esselmont's Return of the Crimson Guard.

I've now read five of Erikson's books and the first two from Esselmont. I prefer the latter's books. His writing style is very different (which is kind of jarring when you've read over 1,700 pages of Erikson back to back), but it's still fluid and I really like his story telling.

This is encouraging! I'm nearly done with Dust of Dreams and will then wrap up my Erickson reading with The Crippled God. I wasn't sure if I'd return to this setting with Esslemont's works or just be done with it, as I'd heard his style wasn't fluid and that it was actually a tad stunted.

@Dal - I struggled a bit with Esselmont's writing style in the first book (again, had just read a couple of Erikson's mammoth tomes). I think I even posted here it was a bit disjointed and his word selection was..different. But I felt like I'd kind of gotten the pattern by the end. Don't be put off as you read the first one.

Crimson Guard flows much better. Hasn't jarred me at all.

I thought that the story of Night of Knives was a nice change of pace from Erickson. Same with Crimson Guard. They absolutely DO NOT feel like filler to the series.

Updated potential reading order for the combined series (also, an updated world map):

Following the publication of Blood and Bone, it's now possible to work out a new reading order for the books to best account for the information given by both authors. This list is not the chronological order of the novels, which would likely be very confusing, but a 'best' reading list accounting for publication and chronological orders:

1. Gardens of the Moon
2. Deadhouse Gates
3. Memories of Ice
4. House of Chains
5. Midnight Tides
6. Night of Knives*
7. The Bonehunters
8. Return of the Crimson Guard**
9. Reaper's Gale
10. Toll the Hounds***
11. Orb Sceptre Throne****
12. Stonewielder*****
13. Dust of Dreams
14. The Crippled God
15. Blood and Bone*** ***
16. Assail (forthcoming)

The placement of Forge of Darkness (and the forthcoming two other books in the Kharkhanas Trilogy) remains difficult. It is so full of references to things already-established in the Malazan series that reading it first is hard to recommend, but it does clarify some elements of the world and terminologies that may be much more helpful to newcomers than jumping straight in with Gardens of the Moon.

The side-novellas form a totally separate side-story. Aside from recommending that they be read after Memories of Ice, they can be read whenever.

* Night of Knives introduces several characters who play a role in The Bonehunters.
** Return of the Crimson Guard picks up shortly after The Bonehunters, whilst Reaper's Gale tells us explicitly that a year has passed since the events of TBH.
*** According to dialogue, Toll the Hounds takes place six years after Memories of Ice. According to every other piece of information in the whole series, this is flat-out impossible, and needs to be ignored. Orb Sceptre Throne retcons it to about two years after MoI. The presence of a child born after MoI who is five years old in TTH also has to be ignored.
**** According to dialogue and various events, Orb Sceptre Throne takes place before the conclusion of the Dust of Dreams/Crippled God duology.
***** Stonewielder has moved due to it sharing a scene with Blood and Bone (told from different perspectives), which also re-dates it to taking place simultaneously alongside the Dust of Dreams/Crippled God duology. This also places Toll the Hounds and its direct sequel Orb Sceptre Throne next to one another, which is beneficial.
*** *** Blood and Bone takes place simultaneously with the events of The Crippled God and immediately thereafter.

Blood and Bone by Ian Cameron Esslemont


Jacuruku: an island-continent located south-west of Quon Tali and west of Stratem. Separated from the rest of the world by large ice floes, Jacuruku has long existed in isolation. The peoples of western Jacuruku lie under the dominion of the Thaumaturgs, mages of tremendous power, whilst the eastern half of the continent is dominated by the jungle of Himatan, domain of the goddess Ardata.

Now the Thaumaturgs have launched an invasion of Himatan, determined to find the fabled city of Jakal Viharn. But even as their army drives deep into the jungle, so their homelands come under threat from the desert tribes of the far south, now united into a formidable army by an invading foreigner...who may not be as foreign as he first appears. Also newly arrived in Jacuruku are the Crimson Guard, summoned to bring to justice their renegade warrior Skinner and those sworn to his service. For K'azz D'Avore and his Avowed, this is an opportunity to heal a painful schism...but at a cost.

Blood and Bone is Ian Cameron Esslemont's fifth novel, taking us to the hitherto unexplored (but oft-mentioned) continent of Jacuruku. The setting is the key to the novel, with the reader soon feeling the humidity and discomfort of the jungle terrain. It's actually rather unusual for geography to be so integral to a Malazan novel (normally it's incidental), and it's a new approach that Esslemont handles well.

In terms of character, the book has a substantial cast taking in Jacuruku natives, Thaumaturgs, demigods, Malazan mercenaries and Crimon Guardsmen. Esslemont takes the time to establish story arcs which are contained within this one novel (such as Saeng's journey) as well as furthering long-running storylines established in earlier books, such the Crimson Guard looking for a new purposes in the aftermath of the Quon Civil War. There's also some excellent use of the established backstory (Jacuruku was once the site of Kallor's empire, the one whose destruction resulted in the Fall of the Crippled God) to drive forward the storyline. Unusually for a Malazan novel, I felt I had a pretty good handle on what was going on throughout. Newcomers might be tempted to jump aboard due to the main storylines being more or less self-contained in this book, but will likely be lost by references to past and simultaneous events (the novel takes place simultaneously alongside Stonewielder, Orb Sceptre Throne and The Crippled God).

Esslemont's prose is readable and compelling (and more accomplished in this novel than ever before), but a little lacking in artistry compared to Erikson's. However, it's also far more concise and approachable. Esslemont handles his large cast and his complex, multi-layered plot quite successfully. In fact, Blood and Bone just about nudges it as his best book to date.

Blood and Bone (****½) is available now in the UK and will be published in May 2013 in the USA.

After jumping ahead to The Bone Hunters and Return of the Crimson Guard (Esslemont deserves more recognition for his books in the series), I went back to read Midnight Tides.

It's been better than I expected. And I absolutely love the Tehol storyline. It is something completely new and compelling. Which, since there's been some 4,000-5,000 pages already read in the series, is quite impressive. I read the other plot line, and it's fine, but I find myself wanting to get back to Tehol's scenes.

Really enjoying this bit.

I finished Midnight Tides. I think this turned out to be my favorite Erikson book so far. I enjoyed almost every thread in his tangled skein of plots, and overall, I thought it wasn't quite as dark as the others (it is not sunshine and flowers, of course). The Tehol situation continued to be interesting to the end.

Getting ready to start Reaper's Gale. I have read all but the last two books of the Wheel of Time. During the early books, I thought that Robert Jordan was as good a writer as any fantasy author I'd read. That was certainly no longer the case by the time I read Crossroads of Twilight (a one star review on amazon).

I don't believe that Steven Erikson has had a weak entry yet through his first six books. There has been no tailing off or padding. Excellent!

Side note: I've been reading fantasy since the mid-seventies. My vote for best author in the genre goes to Robert E. Howard. The fact that he wrote what he did before the field really even existed makes his Conan tales all the more impressive. And the El Borak stories are pretty darn good as well.

I recently started the tenth book, The Crippled God and I am having a tough time getting through it. There is one particular plot thread that shows up in the 9th book, following a bunch of strange kids in an unforgiving desert that for some reason I just can't stand. That thread continues in the 10th book, but I've not found any other threads engaging enough to really motivate me through the portions with the wierd kids. I'm stalled at a part right now where the antagonists are talking about their plans and I'm finding that I just simply don't care. It's kind of a let down at this point to suddenly lose so much narrative steam at the culmination of such a huge series.

Hopefully if I press on for a few more chapters things will pick up again.


Regarding Tehol, he is, by far, one of the most fun and enjoyable characters throughout the series. I'm also particularly fond of Ganoes Paran, Quick Ben, Bottle, Mappo & Icarium, and Anomander Rake. I'm also a big fan of Iskaral Pust, but he doesn't show up with nearly the frequency of these others.

I did however, give up on the Bauchelai/Broach/Reese books before I finished them. Those things are creepy.

HolmesandWatson wrote:

I finished Midnight Tides.

Getting ready to start Reaper's Gale.

Aren't you forgetting Bonehunters?

@Sunderstone - I skipped Midnight Tides because I didn't like the blurb. I read Bonehunters and Return of Crimson Guard. Then went back to Midnight. Would have helped with a few things in Bonehunters, but didn't do any damage.

REAPER'S GALE is the direct continuation of simultaneously both MIDNIGHT TIDES and THE BONEHUNTERS, so it does kind of work whichever way you approach it.

MALAZAN is pretty good in its flexibility on how you approach it.

For those who have finished the series (or, if you include Esslemont's books and the Korbalain & Broach novellas, the series of series), the first of a very-prequel-indeed Kharkanas Trilogy is out now.

The Forge of Darkness is a tale of Anomander Rake and his brother Andarist and Silchas Ruin, back when the Tiste Andii lived in Kurald Galain and Mother Darkness was all in charge and stuff.

It is in my queue, haven't had a lot of reading time recently, so I probably won't get to it for a month yet.

The Forge of Darkness, not how I imagined the origins of the Tiste. It also has one interesting part about Assail.

Assail, the final Esslemont Malazan novel (for now), is currently listed for release in November. Blurbage:


The final chapter in the awesome, epic story of the Malazan Empire.

Tens of thousands of years of ice is melting, and the land of Assail, long a byword for menace and inaccessibility, is at last yielding its secrets. Tales of gold discovered in the region's north circulate in every waterfront dive and sailor's tavern and now countless adventurers and fortune-seekers have set sail in search of riches. All these adventurers have to guide them are legends and garbled tales of the dangers that lie in wait -- hostile coasts, fields of ice, impassable barriers and strange, terrifying creatures. But all accounts concur that the people of the north meet all trespassers with the sword. And beyond are rumoured to lurk Elder monsters out of history's very beginnings. Into this turmoil ventures the mercenary company, the Crimson Guard. Not drawn by contract, but by the promise of answers: answers to mysteries that Shimmer, second in command, wonders should even be sought. Arriving also, part of an uneasy alliance of Malazan fortune-hunters and Letherii soldiery, comes the bard Fisher kel Tath. And with him is a Tiste Andii who was found washed ashore and who cannot remember his past life, yet who commands far more power than he really should. Also venturing north is said to be a mighty champion, a man who once fought for the Malazans, the bearer of a sword that slays gods: Whiteblade.

And lastly, far to the south, a woman guards the shore awaiting both her allies and her enemies. Silverfox, newly incarnated Summoner of the undying army of the T'lan Imass, will do anything to stop the renewal of an ages-old crusade that could lay waste to the entire continent and beyond. Casting light on mysteries spanning the Malazan empire, and offering a glimpse of the storied and epic history that shaped it, Assail is the final chapter in the epic story of the Empire of Malaz.

And yes, he's resolving the Silverfox storyline after Erikson left it dangling twelve years ago :-)

I hated the way Erikson left so many dangling threads..Silverfox was one of the most egarious

Assail by Ian Cameron Esslemont


South of Genabackis and east of Korel and Stratem lies the mysterious continent of Assail. It is known for its inaccessibility and hostility, populated by tribes and mage-ruled kingdoms who slay outsiders on sight. Clans of T'lan Imass and companies of the Crimson Guard have disappeared on missions there. It has a reputation for being so unrelentingly hostile that even the formidable Malazan Empire has never tried to conquer it.

That has now changed. Across the world, massive ice floes are melting and new sea routes are opening up. Rumours of rivers of gold being found in the Salt Mountains of north Assail are spreading, luring thousands of adventurers, treasure-seekers and merchants to the continent. Converging on the land are the leaders of the Crimson Guard, the Summoner of the Imass known as Silverfox, ex-Malazan mercenaries and foolhardy treasure seekers from distant Lether. In the heights of the mountains they will find their treasure...and something far more dangerous.

Assail is the sixth and concluding book in the Novels of the Malazan Empire sequence by Ian Esslemont. Set on the world he co-created with Steven Erikson, Esslemont's latest book wraps up story and character arcs he set in motion with Night of Knives and Return of the Crimson Guard (written in the 1980s but only published a decade ago), as well as drawing on elements established by Erikson in his own ten-volume Malazan Book of the Fallen sequence. It's not the best place for newcomers to start, although the primary storyline of the book is contained within this one novel.

Esslemont has a tough job to do here. The continent of Assail is first mentioned in Erikson's Memories of Ice and is reported to be a place of ceaseless hostility where entire T'lan Imass armies are ground to dust in endless battle against remorseless, tyrannical foes. Repeated mentions in other novels only added to its mystique, with even gods and Ascendants urging avoidance of the continent at all costs. As it turns out the reality doesn't quite match up: there are extremely powerful, lethal sorcerers on the continent but they are indolent and not quite up to speed with the magical powers commanded by outsiders. There are fanatically xenophobic tribes who immediately attack outsiders on sight (or after a brief rest-break if they are sufficiently skilled) but who could probably be taken out by a determined-enough Malazan army. Amusingly, Assail not being as quite as lethal as previously hinted feeds into the narrative, with the fact that you can set foot on Assail without dying leading to overconfidence on the part of the invaders. There's also the late revelation that what lurks in the mountains is so potentially lethal to the entire planet that there's certainly a good enough reason to avoid the place.

In terms of longer-running story arcs, Esslemont does a good job here of wrapping up the storyline of Kyle and the Crimson Guard (even if their eventual destiny remains unclear), which has been a consistent thread throughout these books. However, other plot threads are left less clearly resolved. The Malazans now have a diplomatic toehold on Assail and there is still work to be done there, whilst the biggest unresolved plot element is the T'lan Imass. The Imass/Silverfox/Kilava storyline which Erikson kicked off fifteen years ago is still left unfinished at the end of Assail. Hopefully the Imass will return in Erikson's Toblakai Trilogy, otherwise their fate is both underwhelming and unsatisfying.

In other areas the book is a mixed bag. There is a lot of travelogue in this novel, with multiple characters crossing Assail from different directions to get to the Salt Range. However, several groups brave the Sea of Dread (noted for its somnambulist and lethal effects) and, as effective as Esslemont's descriptions of this dangerous route are, it does get a little repetitive. Fortunately, the characters are, for the most part, an interesting bunch. One character in particular, Jethiss, risks cliche by being an amnesiac Tiste Andii who is clearly an already-established character from earlier in the series. When he turns out not to be the character I thought he was going to be, there was a major sigh of relief. Erikson and Esslemont are both guilty of nullifying and cheapening previously powerful death scenes by resurrecting the slain character too easily and they dodged a bullet here by making sure the most iconic character in the series stayed in the ground.

The book ends in a massive convergence, as is traditional, which does two things. First, it establishes a reason for why the whole world has gone to hell in the last few years and how this can be resolved. This does explain what has been a weakness of the series, namely how with so many mages, races and elemental forces rolling around with continent-devastating abilities that the whole planet hasn't been blown up yet. This does suggest that the world will be a calmer place going forwards, at least until Karsa Orlong (not invited to the deal) decides to destroy everything a few years down the line. Secondly, the convergence explains the backstory behind the Crimson Guard's Vow and how they are so amazingly badass. The problem here is that everyone figured this out before Return of the Crimson Guard was done and Esslemont doesn't throw any curveballs into the mix, so this isn't hugely surprising. It also leaves the future direction of the Guard wide open, handy if the authors choose to revisit these characters later on.

Assail (****) is a mostly well-written, enjoyable novel that will satisfy Malazan fans for its resolution of long-running plot threads and its addressing of major backstory mysteries. What it definitely isn't (and it was partially billed as) is the grand mega-finale of the entire combined Erikson/Esslemont series which will out-climax Erikson's Crippled God. With at least three more post-Assail novels from Erikson on the horizon, it never could be this and I'm glad I always took this with a pinch of Salt (Range) as I'd have been more disappointed otherwise. Instead, we have a reasonably good book in the series, although not Esslemont's best. The novel is available now in the UK and USA.

That "mostly accurate" map on the encyclopedia malazica is yours?

Might be one of the old ones. This one is now the most up-to-date and best one. It's the work of a poster called D'rek at but I moved the continents around a little and put the names on.

Good stuff. I was already thinking about getting the first 3 books at least and based on all the posts above I think I will probably like it so went ahead and ordered them.

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