Night of Knives: A Novel of Malaz Paperback – 1 May 2006
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"Visceral power... telling a story set largely over just one terrifying night, it pulverises you with an economy that's rare in fantasy" (SFX)
"Fast paced storytelling... an enjoyable balance" (SFFworld)
"Hugely promising... a pleasing, entertaining romp" (DeathRay)
"I had a blast reading Night of Knives... I highly recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed the Steven Erikson novels" (Fantasyhotlist.com)
"Esslemont handles action and brooding atmosphere equally well" (Starburst)
The debut novel from the co-creator of Steven Erikson's brilliantly-imagined world of Malaz.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
It's a relatively short book, and easy to read. It only took me half a day. And no, Esslemont isn't Erikson (I'm pretty sure he's sick of people pointing this out). Of course I was aware that there would be differences in style, but the fact that Esslemont explains things was a serious shock to the system. There would be a comment about something mysterious like the Shadow Moon or the Return, and i'd stop reading, tip my head back, close my eyes and try to remember if it had come up before in this book, or in Erikson's. What connections could be made? What could it be? What does it mean? Maybe the TOR reread will pick up something I didn't. Once i'd thought it through, i'd return to the book. Then....next paragraph...the answer. WHAT IS THIS SORCERY? Are you telling me what's going on? Now, I realise it is a bizarre situation when a reader is complaining about their questions being answered. But it's precisely what I like about Erikson's work- I use it as a kind of brain training exercise.
Yet for all that, I enjoyed the book. There were some great characters. Temper reads very much like the quintessential Malazan soldier so vital to this world, and he made a welcome break from Kiska's teen angst. The representations of characters already well known from Erikson were handled well, they were part of the action but still retained mystery.
While I didn't love it, it was good enough to make me read the next. Hardly an enthusiastic review, I know, but I see the potential for improvement. And next time, I'll know better what to expect.
The characters are standard fantasy fair, the young over confident thief and the old cynical soldier, but they are written well and are likeable enough.
The supporting cast contains some from Erikson's series shown in a different light and that would seem to be the point of this as far as the series goes, Esslemont is filling gaps that have often been mentioned but never explored and we get to learn some more about the motivations of certain characters.
The plot is fairly complex with a lot of different conflicts packed into a single night, we are shown a large supporting cast and given a small glimpse of lots of conflicting motivations although we don't get the full picture of anything.
The ending is nice and consistent with all the main plot threads being tidied up although there are a few indications that the conflicts were not as simple as they seemed and the victories may not have been as complete as it appears.
This is a good fun read, I'm not sure if it could survive on its own but as part of a shared world it is a nice expansion.
This story tells how Kellanved and Dancer came about becoming the rulers of house Shadow and how Surly usurped Kellanved to become the ruler of the Malazan Empire, there are some other great characters with different stories, my favourite is Temper who served as a bodyguard to Daseem during the nemours they fought together we also have Kiska, a young woman with dreams of becoming a Claw and mage.
All of these characters find themselves pitted against each other on the night of shadows, a night where the realm of shadow is let loose on the people in Malaz City, anyone caught outside faces certain death from other worldly forces or from the assassins of the Claw who will try anything to stop Kellanved and Dancer from ascending to the throne of shadows.
I really enjoyed this book, it is well written and has a great story, however it just doesn't have the skill and writing style that Erikson's books have, but this book are still well worth reading and will be an able prequel in the Malazan series.
I hope this review was of some help to you.
Night of Knives takes us back in the history of the Malazan Empire, to when the Emperor Kellanved and his accomplice Dancer ascended to the throne of shadow. It also starts a parallel series of stories to Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen.
Esslemont starts a little shakily, and the first chapter or two could certainly be smoother, but soon the story really takes hold and we're swept through an action-packed and exciting story that takes place over a single night.
What is surprising is how similar in style Esslemont and Erikson's writing is. If you've read other Malazan novels, you'll feel right at home here.
And, after Erikson's bloated Toll the Hounds (Malazan Book of the Fallen), Esslemont's more compact book will be a bit of a relief.
My only criticism, and this may well be unavoidable, is that we already know how the big story in this book will turn out, because it's history in Erikson's books. That means the suspense is less than it might be. Hopefully, with his next book, Esslemont will move further away from recorded history and give us something more unknown.
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