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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superior slice of Malazan
Thirty years ago the Malazan Empire launched a devastating invasion of the island continent of Korelri. With the north-western approaches denied by the ferocious sea-dwelling creatures known as the Stormriders, the Malazans swung wide to the east and invaded the island of Fist, at the furthest edge of the archipelago. There, under the command of Greymane, a grinding war...
Published on 30 Nov 2010 by A. Whitehead

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascination with secrecy leads to disappointment
Overall the book is enjoyable and worth the money, however the ending is rather badly rushed and, as now seems inevitable in all Malazan books, there is a horrible tendency to deliberately fail to explain things that should be explained. This isn't about revealing future plot, its about answering the most basic questions of why people are doing things, where they came...
Published on 11 Jan 2011 by J. M. Norton


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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superior slice of Malazan, 30 Nov 2010
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stonewielder (Malazan Empire 3) (Hardcover)
Thirty years ago the Malazan Empire launched a devastating invasion of the island continent of Korelri. With the north-western approaches denied by the ferocious sea-dwelling creatures known as the Stormriders, the Malazans swung wide to the east and invaded the island of Fist, at the furthest edge of the archipelago. There, under the command of Greymane, a grinding war of attrition was fought across decades to no end, for the islands of Korelri are protected by a goddess known as the Blessed Lady. Her very presence inhibits the operation of Warren magic, the cornerstone of Imperial tactics. Eventually Greymane abandoned his post and the war effort faltered.

Now things are changing. In the wake of a devastating civil war on Quon Tali, a new Emperor sits the throne of Malaz, and he has determined that the time has come to take Korelri once and for all, despite the power of the goddess. A new invasion force is assembled, its task formidable but its soldiers keen. As war erupts once more, the stoic soldiers of the Stormwall keep to their task, holding the alien Riders back from their shores. Amongst them is a new champion, a warrior beyond compare, a soldier who cannot die...but his comrades are coming for him.

Stonewielder is the third novel by Ian Cameron Esslemont, the co-creator (along with Steve Erikson) of the world of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Stonewielder takes place on that world, slotting into the timeline a few months after the events of Return of the Crimson Guard, roughly around the same time as Toll the Hounds. Familiarity with the Malazan novels is a major asset in reading this book, but only really Return of the Crimson Guard is needed to fully understand what is going on: several character and storylines begun in Return continue directly here. I also strongly recommend reading this novel before tackling Erikson's The Crippled God in a few months, as the ending of Stonewielder appears to be a direct set-up for that novel.

The island-continent/subcontinent (as we learn in the book, different governments and geographers argue as much as fans do about which it is) of Korel/Korelri/Fist (and we get another explanation why the place has so many names as well) has been discussed in hushed terms ever since Gardens of the Moon was published more than a decade ago, but curiously Korelri natives have been thin on the ground in the published novels and every character seems to have heard something different about what was going on there. Stonewielder clears all of this up, exposing secrets the Malazan Empire has been keeping about the place and the original invasion for some time. The first surprise is how small the place is: based on the map at the front of the book, it appears to be less than half the size of Quon Tali, itself a small landmass. Why hasn't the Malazan Empire outflanked and conquered it? As the book continues we learn why, and the frustrations of the Malazan high command become easier to understand.

Esslemont continues to develop and grow as a writer although, pleasingly, not in terms of word-count. Stonewielder is actually shorter than Return of the Crimson Guard and, whilst you'd never call a 620-pages-in-hardcover novel 'short', it's the shortest novel in the entire combined series bar only Night of Knives. At the same time it's as epic and vast as any of Erikson's novels, packing in a huge amount of story, major events and characters and still finding time for moments of comedy (Manask may now be my favourite Malazan comic character) and high tragedy. There's even some amusing metacommentary about fan discussions about the series: at one point two Malazan soldiers get into a discussion not about high philosophy, but about if the Malazans could beat the Seguleh in a stand-up fight, a discussion that feels like it's come right off the Malazanempire discussion boards.

Esslemont's characterisation is strong, stronger than his previous books, with characters like Suth (our resident new 'ordinary soldier' POV) set-up and well-motivated economically and skillfully, whilst Hiam, commander of the Stormwall, is an interesting character whose arc is full of pathos. Kyle, the callow youth soldier POV from Return of the Crimson Guard, has matured into a more interesting protagonist as well, whilst the Crimson Guard are more fully-rounded individuals this time, with better-established motivations. The action is also well-depicted, with both major land battles and naval engagements (featuring the occasionally-mentioned Moranth Blue doing some impressive things against the storied armada of Mare) showing that the Malazan Empire is still capable of kicking ass, even after its recent catastrophes.

On the weaker side of things, there is a lengthy subplot involving Kiska and a sojourn into the Warren of Shadow which is basically just set-up for future events (both in Esslemont's novels and possibly in The Crippled God and Erikson's planned Toblakai Trilogy as well). This section is well-written and features and the unexpected return of a fan-favourite character, but it lacks a defining climax.

Still, Stonewielder (****) is both a gripping, bloat-free military fantasy which further illuminates and explores this intriguing world, and one of the strongest books in the series since the mighty Memories of Ice. The novel is available now in the UK and will be published in May 2011 in the USA.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best of a steadily improving series, 27 Dec 2010
This review is from: Stonewielder (Malazan Empire 3) (Hardcover)
I must admit that I rather rushed to judge Ian Esslemont's Malazan novels, comparing them unfavourably to Steven Eriksons tales from the same imagined world. I initially considered Esslemont's works a bit shallow by comparison, but they've grown on me and they have improved with each subsequent novel.

Stonewielder is the best of Esslemont's books to date, a touch exposition-heavy given the length of the novel, in my opinion, but his style of prose gives the story a good pace. It definitely helps if you're an Erikson/Malazan Empire fan as a lot of those 'unexplored vistas' from Erikson's books are now being expanded upon in Esslemont's.

I've read enough cr*p fantasy novels over the years to recognise chaff when I see it, but this is another solid entry in an interesting series, with just enough musings on The Meaning Of Things to raise it well above the average.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Esslemont gets better with each successive title, 24 Nov 2010
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stonewielder (Malazan Empire 3) (Hardcover)
With previous offerings, Ian's writing has felt that it hasn't quite matched up to par with Eriksons, not that the word building or the characters have felt less detailed but Ian's pace felt a little lacklustre. Here in this title, his writing has gone from strength to strength. The characters are cracking, the dialogue is also wonderful but it's the way that he brings together the threads from previous titles that clearly demonstrates an understanding of the world as well as the deeper machinations of the desires of the players within that make this an epic in its own right.

Add to this some great sense of timing, solid world building and topped off with a masters touch of creativity and you know that Ian's writing is going to be something that fans will just demand in a similar way to Steven. This is a real gem of a title and one that shows the way in which the author is growing with each successive tale. Great stuff.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My Stonewielder experience, 21 Dec 2010
This review is from: Stonewielder (Malazan Empire 3) (Hardcover)
I'm a US resident and enough of a Malazan fan to directly order from the UK in order to get the books faster (plus I generally like the UK covers better).

Stonewielder is generally better than Return of the Crimson Guard writing-wise. I still perceive ICE as being one or two beats off in his ability to write multi-layered passages and the subtle stuff (particularly involving Shadow) without resorting to beating the reader over the head with the intended tone or moral we're supposed to take away from it.

There are some great naval battles here (actually a Malazan first), several strong characters introduced or given more screen time and we get to spend enormous amounts of time in Korel, which has been a zone of mystery for so long.

If you're a Malazan fan, you've gotta get the ICE books. This one improves upon the others.

ICE still needs a better editor though. It's not that he's a bad writer or lazy - he just needs to be pushed to trust the reader more and to refine sections here and there.

Four out of five because ICE is still taking chances and innovating in a very complicated setting and mostly doing it well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really enjoyable outing, 10 Dec 2010
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S. Craig (Uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stonewielder (Malazan Empire 3) (Hardcover)
I am a long time fan of all things Malazan and while i thought Return of the Crimson Guard was fairly good Stonewielder is fantastic. One of the great things about it is the twists and turns so I wont spoil it here. Old favourites are revisited and other characters mentioned are given an outing. I love the addition of Blues and company who are on a rescue mission. While Erikson focusses on a grand sweeping epic Esslemont is more tightly focussed story more akin to Gemmell. Loved it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ICE finds his mark ?, 25 July 2011
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This review is from: Stonewielder (Malazan Empire 3) (Hardcover)
Ok well, as a huge fan of the Malazan Books of the Fallen, I have found Ian Esslemont's 2 previous offerings a bit hard going, something just didn't seem to gel with them, and I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

Knight of Knives was a decent read, but a bit laboured in places, Return of the Crimson Guard plain confused me in parts.

Then we have this. Stonewielder is great, it flows nicely and has all the hallmarks of a great addition to a great series. Nice character development and fleshing out of of ideas and events familiar to readers of the main series. I think with this Ian has found his writing rhythm. Sure it is not perfect, and in places leaves more unanswered questions than it answers, but that can only bode well for future tomes.

The doubter has been answered, keep up the good work Ian, this one is a winner.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascination with secrecy leads to disappointment, 11 Jan 2011
This review is from: Stonewielder (Malazan Empire 3) (Hardcover)
Overall the book is enjoyable and worth the money, however the ending is rather badly rushed and, as now seems inevitable in all Malazan books, there is a horrible tendency to deliberately fail to explain things that should be explained. This isn't about revealing future plot, its about answering the most basic questions of why people are doing things, where they came from and so forth.

Mystery is all very well until it starts to obscure the story, and in this case, as with Erikson more recent books, the story is being detrimentally affected by the fixation with hiding things from the reader.

Many things consequently suffer from lack of detail, especially lack of foundation meaning they become superficial and without proper context. The Storm Riders are the best example leaving the reader clueless as to why they have spent so many years battering themselves against a wall they could go around or over with virtual impunity at any time.
Not too mention who, or what, were they after in any case? Yes, we know some tiny portions of this story, but after reading hundreds of pages it would be nice to know why they were bothering, especially as it appears they had the means to go also go through the wall should they so desire (the stone sword).

All in all the fascination with obscure pasts and secret origins is becoming detrimental to both the world itself and the enjoyment of the books, combined with horridly miss-matched timelines and obviously tacked-on epilogues, disappointment was my strongest feeling.

This could have been so much better with more informative foundations, an un-rushed ending and a little less of an attempt to copy Eriksons' style.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stand the Wall, 11 Aug 2011
By 
David Ford "Genre junkie" (Cheltenham) - See all my reviews
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This is Esslemont's third Malazan novel, and his writing has continue to develop with every book. A host of his previous characters and a whole bunch of new faces clash as we finally deal with the oft mentioned Stormwall.

Kyle, the main protagonist from the last novel, continues his journey together with Greymane, as the Malazans mount another invasion of Korel. The latter in particular is developed in much more depth.

Naval combat has played a minor role in the Malazan books thus far, but here we finally get an in-depth engagement involving the Moranth Blues and a host of sorcery. The battle is excitingly written and one of the best scenes Ian has written thus far.

We also continue the trials of Iron Bars and his comrades as the Guardsmen join the defenders of the Wall; there's a real sense of futile desperation to the neverending combat with the Riders.

As if this wasn't enough, we also get the return of Kiska as she travels with a major Erikson character in search of the lost mage Tayschrenn.

The strands left dangling at the end of the novel left me wanting more; I'm sure Esslemont will deliver.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good indeed, 20 Mar 2012
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C. Jack "colinjack" (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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I read all 10 of the Steven Erikson books but gradually fell out of love with them and with Erikson's writing style. With that in mind I'm massively impressed that Esselmont is creating this complementary series. Its not just that he seems to be a much better writer and story teller, its also that he's writing books that are enjoyable to read. Good stuff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not very good, 3 Feb 2011
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This review is from: Stonewielder (Malazan Empire 3) (Hardcover)
I really didnt like this book much. I thought NoK and RotCG were much better efforts, and the Erikson malazan books in another league.

The only thing going for this book is its setup - find out what the Greymane and the Koreli Stormguard are all about, and in theory what happened after RotCG. The first 2 get wrapped up, but not in an especially satisfying way, and the rest is mentioned (a lot) but doesnt amount to much.

The rest is too dull, with the usual mix of battles and pondering. But the pondering is far too ponderous, and the battles just dont seem to be clear as to what's going on. No real suprises till the end, when there are a couple of interesting ones, and an all to convenient wrapping up of greymane. Most annoying however is the random plot lines which dont seem to serve any purpose, ceretainly not for their length - Ivanar, Kiska, Quint, etc. I also got pretty bored with the 1d minions - Suth, etc.

Worth pointing out however Ipshank and Manask - they were good & set up way, way back in Eriksons work, if you look hard enough.

Would read it, but only for completeness & backstory, probably before Toll the Hounds, certainly before Dust of Dreams.

Bring on The Crippled God is all I say & please try harder next time mr ICE
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Stonewielder (Malazan Empire 3)
Stonewielder (Malazan Empire 3) by Ian C Esslemont (Hardcover - 25 Nov 2010)
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