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Title: Deadhouse Landing
Series: Malaz: Path to Ascendancy #2
Author: Ian Esslemont
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Format: Hardcover edition
This time Wu, who takes on the moniker Kellenved part way through the story, and Dancer, set their sights on the Island of Malaz. Their eventual goal is to take over the island proper, but for now they’re settling for taking over and running the black market. They buy a rundown inn as their headquarters and keep the staff on, a group of Napan renegades headed by one woman named Surly. Kellenved is continually exploring shadow and drags Dancer along with him. They tame the Hounds of Shadow, look for the Throne of Shadow and generally cause trouble and action wherever they go.
In the tradition of previous Malazan books, we also follow quite a few other characters and storylines.
Tayschrenn. He is an outstanding priest of D’rek but when his mentor dies, Tay’s lack of political and human interaction dooms him when a corrupt Invigilator takes over. Ends with him fighting ALL the priests of D’rek and taking refuge in the Deadhouse on Malaz Isle under Kellenved’s protection.
Tattersail is the lover of Mock, self-proclaimed Duke of Malaz. But while Mock is quite content with doing a little raiding here and there, or none at all if he can get away with it, Tattersail wants more. So when an alliance with the new King of Napan, Surly’s brother, is proposed and a joint attack against a mainland town is the clincher, it comes as a surprise to all when Mock is gung-ho and Tattersail has deep reservations. And Tattersail is right, of course. It’s a trap. She also finds out that Mock has been sleeping with the help over the years and so she leaves him to go to a battlemage school somewhere.
Surly and Company. They are tied tightly to Kell and Dancer’s storyline but also have their own, as Surly still isn’t convinced that she can’t take the fight for the Kingdom to her brother and prevail. Mainly about them realizing they need to throw in fully with Kellenved and let their own imperial dreams either die or hybernate.
In a surprise to me, we also get a short little arc dealing with the rise of Kallor. That guy is one evil son of a gun!
Two or three issues I had with this book.
One, I tried to start this just reading it at my lunchbreaks at work. I was hoping to draw out how long I could read it so as to lengthen my enjoyment of it. That just wasn’t working as winter is here and I’m not always at the van for lunch.
Two, I ended up binging on this yesterday on Thanksgiving, but even then it was interrupted by cooking and eating and walks and whatnot. So my brain felt as full as my stomach, which let me tell you, was VERY full.
Third, I had read some reviews at various places and they were nothing but fanboys squealing like little girls about how wonderful this book was. My instinctive reaction to that is to hate the item in review even while knowing nothing about it. It’s the “It is popular so I hate it” reaction. Said instinct usually serves me well but sometimes it does lead me astray.
Other than that? SQUEEEAAAAAAALLLL!
Yeah, I’m fanboying with those other losers. Well, except for Powder&Page. She’s not a loser 🙂
This was just awesome. Tons of action, lots of characters who we know from later books are introduced. Almost too many for my taste, but since this is just a trilogy and Esslemont had 10+ books worth of characters to shove in, I’m surprised there weren’t more.
Dancer and Kell weren’t nearly so big a part of this story like they were in Dancer’s Lament. But when we did spend time with them, it was almost ALL shadow related or dealing with the hounds. I am not a dog person, at all. But I’ve always liked the Hounds of Shadow and seeing more of them here was great. We’re also introduced to ototoral and moranth munitions.
In some ways I felt like I was drowning in the non-stop action and go,go,go’ness of it all. Which was a good problem to have. I said it in my review of Dancer’s Lament but I feel that Esslemont has really come into his own with this trilogy. These are different even from his Novels of the Malazan Empire in tone and style and it’s for the better. Erikson might excel at writing lush, super-cryptic and despair filled books, but Esslemont is writing some fantastic action here.
I bought this on release day and have no regrets whatsoever about it. It was that good! Also another contender for Best Book of the Year.