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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 21 November 2015
I first started reading Malazan book of the fallen two years ago. Coming late to the world created by Eriksson and Esslemont has been a blessing. In Return of the Crimson Guard (RotCG) the theatre of action is familiar even if the all the characters are not. The story builds tension and pace to an inevitable climax. The epilogue whets the appetite of what more is to come.

I recommend RotCG to readers new to Malaz, but prepare yourself... you may not return from the Empire for quite some time. For me, onwards to Stoneweilder and beyond, I can't wait!
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on 19 December 2009
This book is a bit disappointing, it has a good premise but just doesn't deliver.

There are too many characters without enough personality to distinguish them.
The stories flick from character to character leaving no real centre for the book and no one you actually care about or empathise with.
There are ageing near ascendant swordsmen everywhere, and there seems little need to distinguish between them and when there is a need it isn't obvious who they actually are.

This excess of characters makes for a very plodding and methodical story where you are never that concerned by the outcome, even the surprises that occur aren't that interesting.

There is also a big irritation in the dealing of the book with "Osserc" (no spoiler), he is introduced in a way that makes a little sense but from there on his actions don't make any sense at all, we are just supposed to accept them and ignore the stupidity since they are presumably needed for plot progression in another Malazan book, that is very bad writing!

Overall its a readable book but it feels hacked together from poorly fitting plot threads.
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on 3 February 2013
Like all the Malazan books before it, this book has managed to take me away to another life, another reality. Fast paced, truly involving, with characters who are not just realistic but who also seem to draw out the reader's empathy.
As ever, like a child at Christmas, the anticipation of the next book is absolutely delicious.
For me 10/10
True escape from real life.
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on 5 March 2014
Esslemont finds his feet in this second book in the series. A large cast of characters contends for rulership of the Malazan empire; like Erickson's books this work is epic in scope, with incredible detail and a intricate and fascinating magic system, which somehow manages to be mysterious and consistant at the same time. I will definitely be reading the next in the series.
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on 8 May 2009
I see people saying above "if you're a fan of the Malazan books then this is essential". Well, yes, it's interesting because we see some familiar characters and some we've only heard about, and that's all well and good. But beyond that this book was, to tell the truth, shocking.

It should be noted that I am very fussy about the books I read, but whilst Esslemont's plot was fine - very Eriksonish, unlike Night of Knives - his writing was frankly appalling. One place in particular that stuck in my mind I have found again - page 237 in my copy, chapter 1 of section II. If you read it and find nothing wrong then you may well enjoy this book. Personally this was simply one of many examples of writing that completely jarred you from the experience of reading.

Characters, too, are a problem. Some of them are simply pointless, some are infuriatingly irritating (Ghelel, for example), and some are simply the same of standard tropes - gruff sergeants, foul-mouthed corporals, and mages that we think are just weak and powerless when suddenly they open the full power of Kurald Liosan upon us! Of all the characters in the book the most interesting were by far Cowl and Skinner, and yet we saw nowhere near enough of these too.

All in all this was a far cry from even Erikson's weaker books, and comparing this to Memories of Ice or Gardens of the Moon is like comparing Lloyd-Webber to Beethoven.

Ed

PS I apologise if this seemed overly aggressive. It's just that I've just read the book and feel the need to vent about it.
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on 18 February 2014
This book is pretty good, definitely worth a read. Explains many things about the Crimson Guard and also important events that occur in the Malazan empire that isn't explained in the books of the Fallen.
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on 25 April 2009
I have read all of Erikson's Malazan books (good to excellent) and Night of Knives (quite good) but I found this a great disappointment. The jumble of characters do not make a coherent whole. Two of the main characters dissappear two thirds of the way through the book and make no contribution to the story. Others similarly are there at the end but have not contributed. Some of the reviewers feels this is OK because they will appear in later books. How do they know? Aren't we supposed to be reviewing this book not gazing into the unknown. The story had great potential but Esselmont lost the plot. It is not good enough for the story to reach a crux and for Esselmont to drag in a character from the Erikson novels to resolve the issue and then disappear after two pages. Its just plain sloppy that he cannot do it with characters developed from his own story.
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on 30 June 2012
Like in Knight of Knives it takes a while to adjust to all the new main characters. Esslemont is definitely at a disadvantage compared to Erikson because he has to fill all the holes that Erikson (deliberately) left in his Malazan Book of the Fallen. Therefore all the main characters are new ones which is quite confusing at the beginning because there's quite a lot of them.
Another problem is that it's rather hard to place the events in comparison to the Malazan Book of the Fallen: For example I was not sure whether Anomander Rake is already dead or not.
Additionally the description of the crimson guard differs somewhat from what I remember from The Gardens of the Moon. Especially the absence of Duke K'Azz and the split-up of the crimson guard for what seams to have been a really long time is odd because K'Azz was leading the Guard in Gardens of the Moon. It also strikes me as strange that Possum who allegedly was in a real high position in the claw has never been mentioned by Erikson.

Apart from these things the book is really great because it fills a lot of the Holes that Erikson left open: For example the fate of the Wickans, Korbolo Dom and Malick Rel and the Crimson guard of course. It also continues partially with the story of the important characters from Night of Knives (as for example Tayschrenn and Kiska, though not very much. And more detailed of Dassem Ultor and to some extent of temper and ferule)
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on 26 February 2009
Quite powerful side story to the Malazan saga, colorful and at times paints breath taking scenes of battle. Characters are presnted as 3 dimension humans with depth and emotions especially the regular grunts. Kind of fizzled at the end. The knots were not tied well.
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on 5 June 2014
Set in the wonderfully imagined Mazalan world it falls within the framework of Steven Erikson's Epic saga & is a welcome addition.
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