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Return of the Crimson Guard: A Novel of the Malazan Empire (Malazan Empire Novels (Unnumbered)) Hardcover – April 13, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Nearly 100 years ago, the Crimson Guard vowed they would not die until they destroyed the Malazan Empire. In this riveting sequel to 2009's Night of Knives, the time has come for that vow to be fulfilled. The empire has been stretched too far, too thin. Empress Laseen is boxed up in Unta, the imperial capital, while the conquered and the conquerors clash on the Seti Plains. At last the call comes for the Crimson Guard to re-form and add their undying forces to the melee. In a long, bloody, explosive-filled battle to end all battles, Esslemont handily outdoes series cocreator Steven Erikson, evoking the gore and grit of the battlefield while cannily expanding the labyrinthine Malazan world and untangling the wickedly intertwined stories just enough to keep readers from feeling lost. (Apr.)
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Top customer reviews
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Well, I'm impressed. After the disappointment that was Night of Knives I did not think that Ian C. Esslemont was going to draw me in to the Malazan world like he did here. I mean there is a noticeable improvement between the two books in pretty much every facet of his writing; his prose, his plotting, his characters. Now, that is not to say that there isn't room for improvement in each of these areas as well, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, right from the beginning even. I am also surprised at the flak this book gets in general. I don't know if it's just because I've been away from the Malazan world for so long, and being thrust back in has scratched the Malazan itch I had been feeling or what, but I have to give ICE props on this one.
Return of the Crimson Guard covers many of the events happening in the Malazan world during Book 7 (of the main series) that Erikson did not touch on. It focuses largely on the political upheaval happening on Quon Tali, and, you guessed it, the return of the Crimson Guard from their mass diaspora following their defeat on Stratem at the hands of Kellanved's forces. Having these events fleshed out that were essentially mentioned in passing in the main series was very satisfying for me, and ICE did a good job of it. As I mentioned before he has room for improvement, but I think he has added a worthwhile story here to the Malazan world.
All in all I was very happy to be immersed in this world once again. ICE has plenty of what I like to call 'Malazan Events' throughout, which are essentially when something you either didn't expect or have felt building up for a long time finally comes to fruition. Be that a meeting between two characters that you never though would happen, a sudden fight between massive powers that leaves you floored, etc. Erikson does these moments exceedingly well, and ICE had some good ones here.
The end could have probably been wrapped up a little tighter, but the battles occuring at the climax of this book were satisfying and succeeded in making me second guess who I should be rooting for (since I wanted individuals on both sides to pull through). Clearly Esslemont has a handle on creating ambiguous characters and situations. I'm excited to see where he goes from here. Stonewielder soon.
for more info see the Malazan wikipedia page here :
The plot was fantastic, as were the characters and dialog and I really like how Esslemont gives us more time with the characters to get to know them better. There is a great mix of completely new characters and the always appreciated appearance of some of the coolest names in the other Malazan series installments.
The pacing is a bit slow at times which may prove annoying for some but I always liked that about the Malazan books, the lulls (for lack of a better word) tend to make the action scenes seem more urgent and dangerous.
Overall, I loved the book and I'm sure any other Malazan fan would too.
Thanks for reading !
It maintained the same slow build up and huge climax as its predecessors, but I just never connected with some of the new characters introduced in this novel.
Did enjoy the read though.