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This is a solid conclusion to Esslemont s Path to Ascendancy trilogy, but its flaws highlight what is worst about his writing.Specifically, the fact that it is apparently impossible for Esslemont to create characters who have interesting backgrounds or motivations We saw this problem even in his first six books before this trilogy, and the fact that the same pattern is repeated here just worsens the problem Esslemont introduces characters who are basically blank slates they want nothing to do This is a solid conclusion to Esslemont s Path to Ascendancy trilogy, but its flaws highlight what is worst about his writing.Specifically, the fact that it is apparently impossible for Esslemont to create characters who have interesting backgrounds or motivations We saw this problem even in his first six books before this trilogy, and the fact that the same pattern is repeated here just worsens the problem Esslemont introduces characters who are basically blank slates they want nothing to do with the past or where they came from all they want is to forge a new identity based on fighting, the one they were good at it in their old tribe or something that just didn t want them.It gets old It got old a while ago, after Return of the Crimson Guard , which was Esslemont s best book for a while but Dancer s Lament was excellent and remains his best book ever and one of the best entries in the Malazan world.The other problem is that this book is mostly about nothing at all When it s about Dancer and Kellanved, it s excellent but there s so much else here that doesn t fit at all with anything else It very frequently reads like pointless, directionless vignettes with no unity at all plot wise, subtextually, thematically, etc It isn t like these vignettes are good and are just lacking unity, either they often feel empty because the characters just have nothing to them at all But There is a lot here to enjoy It never reaches the heights of Dancer s Lament , but the story, when it follows Dancer and Kellanved, is really great and rewarding It feels to me like this should have been their story It s easy to, upon looking back on the series, actually think it was their story after all, it s hard to remember all the other meaningless vignettes and substance less characters so, you might just think that these books are 300 pages of Dancer and Kellanved And it sflattering to think of them that way for sure The dynamic between the two characters is great, and I wish it could have been exploredThankfully, their appearance in Erikson s main seriesthan compensate for that And I hope we get to seeof them in whatever Esslemont writes next 2.5 stars Weak What a letdown At least 50% orof the book is about the origin stories of Crimson Guard characters that I care nothing about The parts with Kellenved and Dancer were great, and I enjoyed those, but the rest was just weak And this isn t really a spoiler I don t think, but Dancer and Kellenved don t ascend by the end of the book I feel a bit cheated. ARC received from the publisher, Random House UK, in exchange for an honest review.Kellanved s Reach was a great continuation to the story behind the rise of Kellanved and Dancer, and the beginnings of the Malazan Empire Judging from the direction of the narrative, I strongly doubt that this would be the end of the series which was marketed initially as a trilogy Compared to the previous books, the number of character POVs in the third book hadthan doubled There were multiple storylin ARC received from the publisher, Random House UK, in exchange for an honest review.Kellanved s Reach was a great continuation to the story behind the rise of Kellanved and Dancer, and the beginnings of the Malazan Empire Judging from the direction of the narrative, I strongly doubt that this would be the end of the series which was marketed initially as a trilogy Compared to the previous books, the number of character POVs in the third book hadthan doubled There were multiple storylines told from the perspective of all the different warring city states within the continent of Quon Tali Arising from these were several new characters being introduced While most of these individuals will have significant roles in the later Malazan books, their respective subplots at in this book seemed largely detached from the main story There was one character whose nickname was yet to be known by the end of the book, and it made me want to tear my hair out I was certain that he s a prominent person in the later books, but his character development at this stage did not provide sufficient clues What I loved most about the two previous books was that it focussed on our two major characters The development of their partnership and friendship and their interaction with one another were always a great delight to read In this third book, however, their story probably took up at most a quarter of the book, if not less The length of the books in this series so far have been relatively short by Malazan standards Given this, some compromise will be required when it comes to handling a broader range of subplots and a larger cast of characters Theambitious scope in Kellanved s Reach resulted in a narrative which I felt was too rushed in places.Despite all that, I still enjoyed reading Kellanved s Reach simply because I loved the worldbuilding in Malazan And there was also the excitement of discovering what happened before all the incidences or events, some earthshattering and some seemingly benign, which would cumulatively lead to what we ve known and seen in the Malazan Book of the Fallen and Malazan Empire Truth be told, I haven t finished the Empire books because I was not particularly enthralled by Esslemont s writing there However, reading this prequel series had sufficiently rekindled my interest to read the rest of his books.The ending had the flavour of the usual epic Malazan climax, but it was also where it suffered the most from the shorter length of the novel I would really, truly loved to have a much longer chapter of the climactic sequence with all the anticipation built up from the deadly assault of the mage cadre and the unleashing of elder powers The last section of the book then served to wrap up some of the loose ends of the various new characters Without any doubt, it opened up the possibility ofprequel stories coming our way Not that I have no complaints if there are If Esslemont keeps up with his current writing style to continue treating Malazan fans withandbooks, I will keep on reading And I definitely wouldn t mind if these books are a tad longerYou can pre order this book fromUK Book Depository Free shipping worldwideYou can also find this and my other reviews at Novel Notions. Book 1 5 Book 2 5 Book 3 3.75 Just when I thought ICE had it all worked out..The problem is you have dozens of legendary characters and you try to wrap things up in a 350 page book If I could describe this book in one word it would be smattering A smattering of Heboric, a smattering of Blues, Skinner, Dassem, Shimmer, Surly, Urko, Catheron, TCG, Silk, Greymane, Dujek, Whiskeyjack, Tool.WTF These are characters who could have their own books I understand he wanted this as a com Book 1 5 Book 2 5 Book 3 3.75 Just when I thought ICE had it all worked out..The problem is you have dozens of legendary characters and you try to wrap things up in a 350 page book If I could describe this book in one word it would be smattering A smattering of Heboric, a smattering of Blues, Skinner, Dassem, Shimmer, Surly, Urko, Catheron, TCG, Silk, Greymane, Dujek, Whiskeyjack, Tool.WTF These are characters who could have their own books I understand he wanted this as a compliment to Empire and to set up those events but he needed to think BotF as well If the first book was Dancer s and the second was an ensemble of the main old guard this was just spread too thinly It was still enjoyable because any Malazan will be but some of the events and explanations were almost YA in feel I did love the throne of Telann scene, the meeting of the Moranth and TCG part So, Ian C Esslemont , why can t you write 1000 pages books this is not enough too good to be this short give room to all these characters to developed and for the plots to come to completion Other than that, this was another great dive in the Malazan world, with extra winks to some of the characters names and origines.. 2.5 stars.Hm This was a weird one I feel like I m one of the few Malazan fans who feel a bit meh about the Path to Ascendancy series.My criticism of this might seem contradictory This book follows a lot of different characters and there were quite a few I did not really care about and whose storylines I found boring.The thing is, the book felt too short to me Huh, she found it too short but boring I feel like the characters and storylines did not have enough room to develop The book often 2.5 stars.Hm This was a weird one I feel like I m one of the few Malazan fans who feel a bit meh about the Path to Ascendancy series.My criticism of this might seem contradictory This book follows a lot of different characters and there were quite a few I did not really care about and whose storylines I found boring.The thing is, the book felt too short to me Huh, she found it too short but boring I feel like the characters and storylines did not have enough room to develop The book often felt rushed and key elements happened way too quickly for my liking This made it hard to really connect to and care for the characters This book could have easily been twice as long.Also, I feel like this book was targeted at readers who have read both MBotF and the Malazan Empire series I have not read the latter and I buddy read this with some of the Malazan enthusiasts at Fantasy Buddy Reads They picked up a lot of things I did not and I think this diminished my reading enjoyment.As for the writing I can t say that Esslemont s writing is bad in this one, but there is something about it that does not work for me I can t put my finger on it, though.There were some great moments and scenes I really enjoyed where I felt the fascination for this world but unfortunately those were muddied by a lot of rushed scenes I wish the book had focusedon those storylines I enjoyed and had spenttime developing them.The rest of the series Dancer s Lament 2.5 starsDeadhouse Landing 3 5 4 stars Oh You ve came out. The enigmatic sorcerer Kellanved has seized control of Malaz Island His cohort and ally Surly plots the conquest of her homeland, the Napan Isles Meanwhile, the mainland of Quon Tali is wracked by war and civil war Purge and Tali are locked in incessant conflict in the west, whilst to the east the Bloorian League is trying to crush the city of Gris Conflict stalks the world but great changes are coming in the warrens as well, as Kellanved seeks the Throne of Shadow and also the First Throne The enigmatic sorcerer Kellanved has seized control of Malaz Island His cohort and ally Surly plots the conquest of her homeland, the Napan Isles Meanwhile, the mainland of Quon Tali is wracked by war and civil war Purge and Tali are locked in incessant conflict in the west, whilst to the east the Bloorian League is trying to crush the city of Gris Conflict stalks the world but great changes are coming in the warrens as well, as Kellanved seeks the Throne of Shadow and also the First Throne of the T lan Imass, the Army of Dust and BoneKellanved s Reach is the third novel in Ian Esslemont s Path to Ascendancy series, which acts as a prequel to both the Malazan Book of the Fallen sequence by Steven Erikson and Esslemont s own earlier Malazan Empire series Following on from Dancer s Lament and Deadhouse Landing, this book continues the story of Kellanved and Dancer, the founders of the Malazan Empire.The events described in this trilogy, and in this single novel especially, are vast, epic and the stuff of myth Kellanved s seizure of the First Throne, his alliance with the T lan Imass and the military campaigns which saw the Malazan Empire start coming together have been referenced in hushed tones throughout the sixteen novels of both of Erikson and Esslemont s original series, so to see those events first hand is thrilling Or rather it should be.If one word comes to mind when reading Kellanved s Reach it is rushed The book is only 330 pages long barely a third as long as some of Erikson s books and Esslemont tries to fit into this modest page count no less than five major military campaigns, a major subplot with Kellanved and Dancer exploring the Shadow Realm and the stories of numerous POV characters There simply isn t enough room to do this justice and as a result we end up bouncing back and forth between characters and stories like a pinball machine Massive, major events like the nascent empire s capture of the strategically vital city of Cawn take place in sentences, let along paragraphs, and the epic final battle which ends with Kellanved s crowning feels perfunctory at best.This is a shame because the improvement in Esslemont s writing and character voice which has been building since Dancer s Lament continues apace here The early chapters, which relax a little to focus on the military campaigns on opposite coasts of the continent, are well written and excellent, and it s fun to see future important characters like Greymane and Skinner arise from the masses to start their own steps down the road to destiny But around the halfway mark the pace accelerates and suddenly major plot events are whizzing by like they ve been shot out of a machine gun.There s still much to enjoy here, of course, even if the later chapters of the book do start feelinglike a plot summary than a novel I suspect it will be evenfrustrating as if as seems possiblebooks in this series follow Path to Ascendancy was contracted for three books but the series has sold extremely well, so it may be extended There s plenty of scope if so the book ends with Kellanved crowned but only a very small part of Quon Tali under his control , and it d be interesting to fill the gaps in between this book and Night of Knives set roughly 100 years later , where Kellanved s plans are finally fully realised.Kellanved s Reach is a reasonably solid addition to the Malazan mythos, with some genuinely exciting, myth making moments It also feels like the novel should have been either twice as long as it is, or its events should have been split over two books As it stands, the brake neck pacing means that the emotional resonance and dramatic power of some long awaited scenes are diluted The book is available in the UK now and next month in the USA Right, I m going to start with some opinions, they re intrinsically linked and maybe slightly controversial, but that s ok because I m up for an argument or two So don t read these books before Erikson s Malazan Book of the Fallen and if you don t have a passion for that series and the big name characters in it that borders on an unhealthy obsession, don t bother with them at all Every part of what makes these prequels worth reading is the chance to experience what comes before seeing where Right, I m going to start with some opinions, they re intrinsically linked and maybe slightly controversial, but that s ok because I m up for an argument or two So don t read these books before Erikson s Malazan Book of the Fallen and if you don t have a passion for that series and the big name characters in it that borders on an unhealthy obsession, don t bother with them at all Every part of what makes these prequels worth reading is the chance to experience what comes before seeing where characters come from, how they meet, the way they get their names nicknames, what they re like before or as they become legend There s a thrill in reading hints about who someone is and guessing or knowing the answer before it s given There s trepidation in registering the fractures that are going to crack wide enough to shatter worlds, shake the gods, swallow armies, and end lives on an uncountable scale There are meaningful, layered conversations that can only be understood in reference to what comes afterwards, and there are silly jokes that work in the same way The seeds of destruction are laid out before the reader here and we know they end For fans, it s hard to resist As for the plot that surrounds it all, it s light and often fun, but limited in what it achieves It s easy enough that it feels like it should be an entry point to a series which some might see as overly complicated or unapproachable HOWEVER, it is not please see above for details The hill I m going to die on start with Gardens of the Moon or just read something else you enjoy.Even though this is still described everywhere as far as I can see as a trilogy, Kellanved s Reach doesn t feel like the end of anything Whether that meansbooks in the Path to Ascendancy or the arbitrary creation of another series title to cover what comes next, who knows, but there s still so much ground to cover There was certainly a hell of a lot of time spent on introducing new characters if there s not going to befrom them soon It was problematic for this instalment in any case, taking away the focus from Kellanved and Dancer They are the glue that held together Dancer s Lament and Deadhouse Landing after all, it is predominantly their path to Ascendancy that we re supposed to be following They fade in and out of the picture in this book see what I did , with a bucket load of new characters taking their place Obviously, many of those were cracking additions, but honestly the structure couldn t take the weight And this is the essential problem with Esslemont s writing and the relative shortness of his books, neither allow for the necessary depth Everything just that bit too clunky and repetitive I m not sure how many times we re reminded that Dancer makes sure to take his trusty length of rope.yes, we get it Once is enough It s part of a general lack of consistency, some things said again and again, others rushed through The ending seemed like it was going to be a proper Malazan style climax, then wasn t So not only is there not enough time to do each of the storylines properly, the time spent on each isn t always utilised that well This is particularly evident in the later part of this instalment, jumping from one thing to the next and barely managing to get the highlights down There s no emotion here save that we carry with us and it s kinda shoddy for the author to rely on that All this sounds like I didn t much enjoy the book, which I did, but it worries me that things are already starting to slide The first two books were unabashed fun, this one tries to do too much with too little and doesn t hit the mark I hope whatever comes next picks that energy back up, because otherwise the impact of all the hugely important stuff just around the corner is going to be non existent It s genuinely going to be sadder to read it like that than it it would be to not have it at all Here s hoping, then.ARC via Netgalley `READ DOWNLOAD ↞ Kellanved's Reach ☛ The incessant war between the bickering city states of Quon Tali rages So engrossed are the warring lords and princes in their own petty feuds that few notice that an upstart mage from Dal Hon has gained control of the southern seas But some powers are alarmed And in the meantime, as Purge and Tali indulge in what seems like a their never ending game of war, a mercenary caught up in the fight between the two states suddenly refuses to play along and causes all sorts of chaos Simultaneously, a pair of escapees from Castle Gris make their way across this ravaged landscape of flame and butchery Their intention to seek out the legendary Crimson GuardAnd then there s Kellanved who could not care less about any of this petty politicking or strategy or war Something other and altogether mysterious has caught his attention and he together with a reluctant and decidedly sceptical Dancer traverse continents and journey through the Realms in pursuit But this ancient mystery that has so captivated Kellanved is neither esoteric nor ephemeral No, it is of an altogether darker and dangerous hue It involves the Elder races themselves, and specifically certainly alarmingly the semi mythic, and universally dreaded, Army of Dust and Bone Surely no one in their right mind would be so foolish as to embark on a journey from which none have returned Well, no one except Kellanved that is Returning to the turbulent early history of what would become the Malazan Empire, here is the third awesome chapter in Ian C Esslemont s new epic fantasy sequence