Review – Dancer’s Lament

Dancer's Lament (Path to Ascendancy, #1)Dancer’s Lament by Ian C. Esslemont
Synopsis from GoodReads:
For ages warfare has crippled the continent as minor city states, baronies, and principalities fought in an endless round of hostilities. Only the alliance of the rival Tali and Quon cities could field the resources to mount a hegemony from coast to coast — and thus become known as Quon Tali.

It is a generation since the collapse of this dynasty and regional powers are once more rousing themselves. Into this arena of renewed border wars come two youths to the powerful central city state that is Li Heng. One is named Dorin, and he comes determined to prove himself the most skilled assassin of his age; he is chasing the other youth — a Dal Hon mage who has proven himself annoyingly difficult to kill.

Li Heng has been guided and warded for centuries by the powerful sorceress known as the “Protectress”, and she allows no rivals. She and her cabal of five mage servants were enough to repel the Quon Tali Iron Legions — what could two youths hope to accomplish under their stifling rule?

Yet under the new and ambitious King Chulalorn the Third, Itko Kan is on the march from the south. He sends his own assassin servants, the Nightblades, against the city, and there are hints that he also commands inhuman forces out of legend.

While above all, shadows swirl oddly about Li Heng, and monstrous slathering beasts seem to appear from nowhere to run howling through the street. It is a time of chaos and upheaval, and in chaos, as the young Dal Hon mage would say, there is opportunity.

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Review – The Healthy Dead

The Healthy Dead (The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, #2)The Healthy Dead by Steven Erikson
Synopsis from GoodReads:
Things are going all too well in the city of Quaint. So well, in fact, that something has to be done. The zeal for goodness can be catastrophic, and no-one knows this better than Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, two stalwart champions of all things bad. For the innumerable citizens of Quaint, driven to neurotic distraction and overwhelmed with good living, desperation breeds nefarious bed-mates, and before long the two homicidal necromancers — and their beleaguered and substance-addled manservant, Emancipor Reese — find themselves ensnared in a scheme to bring goodness into disrepute, if not utter ruination. To Reese’s bemusement, laudable motivations are, in a bizarre twist, uncharacteristically relevant to Master Bauchelain, although, of course, the payment of a chest filled with gold helps. Even so, sometimes, it turns out, one must bring down civilization… in the name of civilization.

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Review – The Lees of Laughter’s End

The Lees of Laughter's End (The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, #3)The Lees of Laughter’s End by Steven Erikson
Synopsis from GoodReads:
In the wake of their blissful sojourn in the city of Lamentable Moll, the intrepid sorcerors Bauchelain and Korbal Broach — along with their newly hired manservant, Emancipor Reese — have set out on the wide open seas aboard the sturdy Suncurl.

Alas, there’s more baggage in the hold than meets the beady eyes of Suncurl’s hapless crew, and once on the cursed sea-lane known as Laughter’s End — the Red Road in which flows the blood of an Elder God — unseemly terrors are prodded awake, to the understated dismay of all.

It is said that it is not the destination that counts, but the journey itself. Such a noble, worthy sentiment. Aye, it is the journey that counts, especially when what counts is horror, murder, mischance and mayhem. For Bauchelain, Korbal Broach and Emancipor Reese, it is of course just one more night on the high seas, on a journey without end — and that counts for a lot.

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Review – Blood Follows

Blood Follows (The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, #1)Blood Follows by Steven Erikson
Synopsis from GoodReads:
All is not well in Lamentable Moll. A sinister, diabolical killer stalks the port city’s narrow, barrow-humped streets, and panic grips the citizens like a fever. Emancipor Reese is no exception, and indeed, with his legendary ill luck, it’s worse for him than for most. Not only was his previous employer the unknown killer’s latest victim, but Emancipor is out of work. And, with his dearest wife terminally comfortable with the manner of life to which she asserts she has become accustomed (or at least to which she aspires) — for her and their two whelps — all other terrors grow limp and pale for poor Emancipor. But perhaps his luck has finally changed, for two strangers have come to Lamentable Moll… and they have nailed to the centre post in Fishmonger’s Round a note requesting the services of a manservant. This is surely a remarkable opportunity for the hapless Emancipor Reese… no matter that the note reeks with death-warded magic; no matter that the barrow ghosts themselves howl with fear every night; and certainly no matter that Lamentable Moll itself is about to erupt in a frenzy of terror-inspired anarchy….

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Review – Orb Sceptre Throne

Orb Sceptre Throne (Malazan Empire #4)Orb Sceptre Throne by Ian C. Esslemont
Synopsis from GoodReads:
Darujhistan, city of dreams, city of blue flames, is peaceful at last; its citizens free to return to politicking, bickering, trading and, above all, enjoying the good things in life. Yet there are those who will not allow the past to remain buried. A scholar digging in the plains stumbles across an ancient sealed vault. The merchant Humble Measure schemes to drive out the remaining Malazan invaders. And the surviving agents of a long-lost power are stirring, for they sense change and so, opportunity. While, as ever at the centre of everything, a thief in a red waistcoat and of rotund proportions walks the streets, juggling in one hand custard pastries, and in the other the fate of the city itself.

Far to the south, fragments of the titanic Moon’s Spawn have crashed into the Rivan Sea creating a series of isles… and a fortune hunter’s dream. A Malazan veteran calling himself ‘Red’ ventures out to try his luck — and perhaps say goodbye to old friends. But there he finds far more than he’d bargained for as the rush to claim the Spawn’s treasures descends into a mad scramble of chaos and bloodshed. For powers from across the world have gathered here, searching for the legendary Throne of Night. The impact of these events are far reaching, it seems. On an unremarkable island off the coast of Genabackis, a people who had turned their backs upon all such strivings now lift their masked faces towards the mainland and recall the ancient prophesy of a return.

And what about the ex-Claw of the Malazan Empire who now walks the uttermost edge of creation? His mission — the success or failure of which the Queen of Dreams saw long ago — is destined to shape far more than anyone could have ever imagined.

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Series Appreciation – Malazan Book of the Fallen

Gardens of the Moon (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1)I’ve debated doing this for a while.  The Malazan Book of the Fallen is my favorite series.  I keep returning to reread it over and over again, even though it takes forever to do that, and it comes up a lot on my blog, both on Top Ten Tuesday lists and when reviewing other epic fantasy.  But I finished the series for the first time before I started reviewing books here, so there aren’t any reviews for the main ten-book series on my blog, just reviews for the side books as I get to them.

Now that I’ve finished my latest reread of the main ten books, I’ve decided to do an appreciation-post-slash-review of the entire series, as a way to try and show why I love the series.  I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but there will be mentions of series-long themes, some of which might count as spoilers.

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