25 May, 2020

Review - Stonewielder by Ian Cameron Esslemont (Malazan Empire #3)

Stonewielder (Novels of the Malazan Empire) was probably my least favorite of Esslemont's books and Esslemont's are generally lower on the totem pole than Erikson's main Malazan series, so I guess what I'm saying is this might make for my least favorite Malazan book. Luckily for this book, the Malazan series is arguably my all-time favorite series so this book still rates higher than almost all books ever.

There's a lot going on, as usual here, and Esslemont doesn't seem to be able to handle it as well as Erikson does. I like him when he's got more of a straight-forward story and a focus on characters. However, my position has always been that without Erikson, I think we would be praising Esslemont just about as highly as we do Erikson for what this series accomplishes, even here at its worst. 

I'll let you read the blurb, which is easy enough to find, but one of the things that stood out to me and, even though the comparisons with Erikson are inevitable, really made me start comparing the two, was there is a whole Chain of Dogs type campaign (see Deadhouse Gates) in this book that was adequately done, just not as brilliant as in Deadhouse. I mean, it was hard to read in the sense that I personally felt the privations, and I think that's brilliant writing to be able to pull off, but it's a shame to always have the comparison.

In the end, I think this series is in great hands with Esslemont as long as I keep in mind how utterly brilliant Erikson is when he's at the helm and that no one in the world really had a chance to keep up. This review sounds like a railing against ICE, but I swear I'm trying to defend him. ICE has got the chops for this series that is more vast than anything I've ever read.

4 out of 5 Stars (maybe 2 out of 5 compared to the Malazan series, but not compared to other books I'm not hopelessly in love with)