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Series: Malazan Empire #6
Author: Ian Esslemont
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
Gold has been found in in the land of Assail. This leads a lot of people, in groups and as individuals, to suddenly have an interest. There are also those who are interested with longer term plans.
The natives, however, aren’t going to just sit down and let their lands be over run by foreigners who don’t care about the land and will destroy it in with their gold fever. These natives, also known as Icebloods for the trace of Jaghut blood they carry, are protecting the land from the Assail who sleep in the mountains. If one greedy miner or soldier awakens the Assail, the Assail will cleanse the continent of all life. The problem is, most of the Icebloods don’t believe the Assail are real.
Remnants of the T’lan Imass make their way to Assail, as it is the last bastion of Jaghut magic and in its heyday denied them entrance. Now that it is weakening, they can continue their purge of any Jaghut blood. Silverfox opposes these renegade Imass who rejected the transformation back to flesh and who do not know that there now exists a pocket world protected by one of their own. Silverfox must stop the massacre and let these Imass know that their vow is completed and they can rest.
Fisher Kal Teth, the bard, and Kyle the ex-Crimson Guardsman, who is now known as Whiteblade, are both Icebloods. Fisher meets up with an amnesiac Tiste Andii who has lost his memory but who Fisher suspects is Anomander Rake. Fisher, Kyle, Jethiss (the name the Tiste Andii takes on) meet up with other Icebloods to prevent the awakening of the Assail. In the end they are part of a new agreement between races to prevent the Assail from destroying them all. Jethiss makes a deal with the Assail for a sword and they cut off his arm and use the bones to make him a new legendary sword.
The Crimson Guard make their way to Assail as that is where the 4th Company is hanging on. Kazz, the leader of the Guard and the Avowed, knows something but won’t reveal it to anyone else. By the end of the book it is revealed that the Vow of the Guard used magic from Tellan and the Vow will not allow the Avowed to truly die. They have, in fact, become a new clan of Imass, but one that has not found their own redeemer who can give them final peace in death. So their search goes on.
Several other storylines wrapped around the above fill out the general picture of what is going on in the land of Assail. But these, the Chronicles of the Crimson Guard, are done.
Man, what a difference several years can make. Last time I read this was burnt out on Malaz, disappointed that there was no over-arching storyline and sick to death of existential philosophy. I gave this 2.5stars then. I suspect Life was kicking my butt back in ’14 and when that happens I just can’t handle any kind of sadness or despair things. It gets all blown out of proportion. I think I stated that I was completely done with Erikson and Esslemont?
And look at me now! I enjoyed this quite a bit on this re-read. Whenever a character began waxing philophical (which happened a lot less than I remembered), I just skipped it. Also having realized that these Malazan Empire novels are actually the Chronicles of the Crimson Guard, the ending was much more fitting. I also put Esslemont’s latest books in the running for the coveted Best Book of the Year award last year. And this is why it is good to re-read books.
This book seemed like it went at a slightly slower pace than the previous book, Blood and Bone. Another thing I noticed is that this ebook edition says it is only 542 pages but the paperback edition stands at 782. This felt much more like an almost 800page book rather than a sub600 one. I changed my info to reflect the larger number. Because I can 🙂
This finishes up the Malazan Empire novels and I can see myself reading them again in another 5-10 years. Unlike the Malazan Book of the Fallen, which I suspect my current re-read is my last, these books by Esslemont leave me feeling that I’d like to come back again some day. No rush but I’m definitely considering a third read through in the coming years.
A few things annoyed me and kept this from being a 4.5 or 5 star book. The whole Jethiss/Anomander Rake thing. Fisher suspects but won’t even say his suspicions or say the name Anomander Rake out loud. Also, Fisher is just about the only one who believes that the Assail are real and yet he refuses to name them or tell anyone why awakening them is a bad thing. He just says it is a bad thing and then shuts up and sulks. I just realized, I didn’t like Fisher. He’s an ass actually. Everyone else, I had no problem with but him, he pissed me off. Too bad he didn’t die. Other than that, this was right on par with the other Esslemont books.
I’m still shaking my head at how much of a change I had with this book from the last time. A modern day miracle I guess.