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I really enjoyed this book. take it on its own merits and don't compare it to Steven Erikksons work as nearly any author would pale in the comparison.
I thought this was a worthy addition to the Malazan world. Esselmont's writing style is a bit different to Erikson's but his story did retain the feel of a Malazan book. The plot was suitably entertaining and complex and Esselmont also did a great job with the characters, both the new and familiar ones.
The whole story took place in one city over the course of a single night.The city was Malaz City. Once it was the heart of the Imperial Malazan Empire but in the present day it is little more than a backwater. Not this night! The night of the Shadow Moon. A night where worlds and realms converge. Also a night that will see the prophesied Return. Many expect the long absent Emperor Kellenved to return for his throne. Surly, the Imperial Regent, means to see that never occurs. Theirs is not the only battle that will take place on this night of magic as a Convergence draws in all sorts of powerful creatures to the city.
The story was mainly told from the POV of two new characters. Kiska, a young would be spy who is determined to prove she deserves a place in the Imperial Army. Temper, a world weary war veteran. Once Temper served under the First Sword, but now he is keeping his head down and just trying to escape the notice of the Claw. We got a few others POV's and all served to give the story more depth.
I liked the story. It really did have the feel of Malazan story even if it did lack the witty dialogue that makes reading Erikson's books so much fun. I liked both Kiska and Temper. They were complete opposites but both were likeable and easy to root for. It was great to get a glimpse of the moment that Surly became Empress Laseen and to see both Dancer and Kellenved spin their own plots and seize another sort of power.
We got to meet the usual cool assortment of memorable human and non-human characters and I'm hoping we meet some again!
This was a good story that fell only slightly short of being as good as Erikson's own contributions to the Malazan world. All in all I was happy and impressed by Esselmont's first book and look forward to reading more of his books with the knowledge that he is a capable contributor to this great series.
Audio Note: This was narrated by Jonathan Banks. He had large boots to fill as I think both Page and Lister were excellent in narrating Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen, but I thought he did a decent job with the audio of this one.