This book is the first book in the Malazan Empire which is a companion series to the Malazan Book of The Fallen written by Steven Erikson.
The basic premise of this book is pretty complicated to explain if you have not read at least the first book in Erikson’s series but I am going to try. 😉
This book follows two very different main characters, the first one is Temper a war veteran who is hiding in Malaz City, the old capital of the Empire, from the Claws , an order spies working for the new Empress. The second main character is Kiska, a young teenager whose only dreams are to escape Malaz City to see the real world.
The book mostly takes place during the night of the Shadow Moon, a night on which a prophecy predicts the return of the former Emperor, Kellanved, disappeared for years.
This was a really short book (298 pages) compared to every other Malazan which are more around 900 pages (if not more). It offers interesting insight on events that were just mentionned in the previous books but that had huge consequences of the world. Basically this book takes place just after the prologue of the first Malazan book, Gardens of the Moon, but prior to the rest of the book.
Esslemont and Erikson both have really different writing style. Erikson’s prose is a lot more intricate. He does not offer explanation about what is going on and you have to figure it all by yourself. In all of that, Esslemont’s is really different. First of, it is a lot more fast paced and straightforward and a lot less confusing than Erikson’s. Also, he explains you things. It might not seems like much but when you are used to concentrate a lot to try and understand what Erikson is doing, Esslemont tells you things which is pretty nice for once !
However, I probably won’t recommend to start the Malazan world with this. Indeed, even if it is a lot less confusing than Erikson’s books, events in this book are not going to mean much if you have not at least read Gardens of the Moon. I would recommend reading this after GotM or Deadhouse Gates because I think that it is going to clarify some plot threads. Personally, I read this after Midnight Tides, which is the fifth book in Erikson’s book because I just followed the publication order but I don’t think that you have to wait that long.
I liked this book and if you want to enhance your Malazan Book of the Fallen experience, I would recommend to pick up Esslemont’s books. I will for sure pick up the sequel, The Return of the Crimson Guards once I will have read, the Bonehunters (book 6 in the Malazan Book of the Fallen Series) because I have heard from a lot of people that it is the best place to read it !
Have you read the Malazan Book of the Fallen ? If yes, are you interested in Esslemont’s books ?