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on 2 September 2014
I've read all these novels and also the "main" series by Erikson, the differences in style are interesting: Esslemont has a more approachable, reader-friendly style, but Erikson at his best is considerably better in terms of vividness. This whole series of six books has struggled to get away from being a sort of (disjointed) addendum/"tying up" exercise to the main 10-book series, and hasn't really done so. There's a climax of a sort, which is interesting, but just a little bit of damp squib for a series of 6 or 16 books, and although the getting there in this book was readable, it wasn't often thrilling or exciting. The reader might well wonder why 6 books were necessary: All through these books there are sub-plots and minor characters who appear, have an interesting scene or two, then are never heard from again: the reader might easily assume some of these are padding. What happened to Kiska, for instance? I was looking forward to more of her story.

I decided a couple of books ago in this series that Assail would probably be my last Malazan book, unless it were excellent as in parts of the first few books in Erikson's sequence, or (arguably) ICE's Return of the Crimson Guard. It isn't; being merely adequate, thus I have decided not to buy any more Malazan books. They just aren't getting any better, and I don't want to spoil the memories of the best sequences.
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on 27 November 2014
Reasonable finish to the Esslemont part of the Malazan world. Definitely a big improvement on a few of the other novels in this series (OST I'm looking at you).

More action, more reveals, some good new areas of the world.

On the downside, everything did seem a bit... small. The battles were small, the numbers of people small, the reasons for the supposed flood of people quite small, the hundreds of thousands of Tlan Imass are knocked down to about 12. This is something Esslemont has struggled with in the past - he seems to lack the courage to really tackle the big events. SPOILER - Even the finale is basically just a chat.

Finally he has this weird issue with repeating certain words. In Blood and Bone it was "Cyclopean". Every building or ruin was described as cyclopean, which is acceptable once or twice in a world where there isnt a legend concerning the Cyclops, but he must have used it about 15 times.

In this novel is "pocket army". Not even about just one army. From memory he calls 2 or 3 armies "pocket armies" and might even venture a "pocket navy" at once point. I dont know why this grates on me, but it does...
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on 28 March 2017
I love Steven Erickson's Malazan series, so I am drawn to ICE as his stories are set in the same Universe and cover some untold aspects of MBOTF. ICE's books are woeful and range from extremely poor to average, Assail is below average, full of holes, repetition, short cuts and the end is glib. It seriously needs re-editing. For those of you looking just to read this book, it is fast moving, full of action, but refers to earlier books in the set, this is book 6 of 6. For MBOTF fans, it didn't add anything for me and you just keep thinking 'I wish SE had written this' :-|
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on 1 May 2017
Like all esslemonts books this one delivers the same vivid world he creates in all his book, it is rammed pack with action, drama and twists to keep you reading until the book is finished.
I fully recommend this book and all the other he has wrote. It's a shame erikson can not write the same way and stop trying to be a poet in his latest books. The fall of light was a let down with the way he wrote it. Have a word with him Mr Esslemonts and tell him to stop writing the way he is and go back to the. Way he wrote his previous books
Thank you and God bless
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on 1 October 2017
Great condition.
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on 10 August 2017
Really loved this book, Ian writes as well as Stephen and neatly ties up a lot of loose ends. Real shame it's the last one.
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on 26 April 2017
EXCELLENT!
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on 22 September 2014
Whilst the various character story lines all ending up at the same place (oops sorry minor spoiler) was a nice touch the whole thing seemed a little rushed, and also rather short. I can't say "I don't like it" and give it 2 stars although it probably really deserves it - this supposedly wondrous and highly dangerous place called Assail was just so under done. There were good character threads, and there were very weak ones. Why was Fisher kel Tath there, what about the Forkrul Assail, why (and how) did you know who come back.

If you're reading all this trying to work out what my reasoning is, and what the good and bad parts of this book are - and not finding out anything valuable then congratulations - that's exactly how I feel about this book - very whatever......
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on 9 September 2014
Well, ICE managed to totally emasculate Dassem Ultor in a previous (forgotten) book. And he does it again this time, totally ruining another character, for no reason, utterly pointlessly. He should have just left well alone - shame on him. Must be hard being held up to his Malazan partner's standard, but this book's a mess. If you have an abiding love for Erikson's side of the series, just don't go there with this one.
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on 25 February 2016
After the world shaking events of the Crippled God, the Malazan world is finally able to settle down a bit. Unfortunately, having the world nearly ended by an army of twisted stick men, ghost wolves, jade statues and egomaniacs in white armour has taught no lessons to anybody, and the fact that this was almost entirely unwitnessed by the population at large (although this world is roughly roman in it's technological development) hasn't helped matters. Now that the world is free from the threat of destruction, and Esslemont is free from the main story arc, we get back to a little bit of day to day life. Unfortunately, this involves a gold rush which will obliterate a culture.
Into the fray are drawn a few familiar faces, and a few new ones as well. Kyle "whiteblade", who has been getting the special hobo treatment after Stonewielder, the now reunified Crimson guard (all twenty of them), A familiar bard with a thing for dragon ladies (Both literally and figuratively), a character who is neither silver nor a fox, a rough alliance of Letheri, Malazans and south genbackan pirates who definitely aren't going to end up at each other's throats, a white haired amnesiac tiste and two sailors. There are also a lovely bunch of jhag tribesmen sitting atop mountains in the north, who are faced with blood feuds, bad weather, a character who can't decide whether he's a bear or a man, and the destruction of their way of life.
The plot is what we have overall come to expect from the nameless world inhabited by the malazans. A dozen disparate plot threads are drawn together to a convergence, rambling (In both walking and speaking) through a bizarre world, usually ending in a bloodbath. This is done in a perfectly competent fashion, and all of esslemont's strengths and weaknesses are on display. Accessibility (you can read this without a notebook and a thesaurus, unlike erikson. You can also finish it in a reasonable period of time), a decent grasp on characterisation and dialogue, fair pacing and plotting overall. On the other hand, whilst the characters are there, there isn't much development of said characters, and quite a few get left on the sidelines (But then, Erikson did the same, convincing us that Paran was the primary protagonist then having him disappear for more than half the series), a less poetic style of writing than Erikson, and a less good style of writing overall in truth (but, he doesn't fill four hundred pages with nothing but various characters rambling). As always, a lot of the stories don't really go anywhere, and his phrase for this novel is "Pocket something".. Pocket army, pocket navy, pocket fortress, pocket war... potentially maddening.
But overall, whilst it's no memories of Ice, it's not a terrible book. I personally enjoyed the feel of an old style adventure that gripped it, and the new land was an interesting setting ( although the force that was destroying T'lan Imass was never encountered, the explanation being that most of the population had Jhag blood and a religious fear of them, and even that is never directly attributed to their destruction, but this is a world wrapped in mystery, and Erikson in particular hates spoon-feeding the reader, so it's not necessarily a bad thing). The world and the journey through it may hold it for you, or you may expect something a lot more substantial and deep, for which you will be disappointed. I think it's best to remember that Esslemont isn't Erikson, and has his own style, although, like all literature it is up to the reader to decide whether it's good or bad. Personally, I found it to be a decent read, but then, I am a massive Malazan nerd and welcome any chance to spend time in this world. You may enjoy it, or may hate it. But at least give it a chance if you love the series.
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