Malazan Empire: So what do you think of NoK? - Malazan Empire

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So what do you think of NoK?

#41 Guest_Andreas_*

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Posted 01 February 2006 - 05:58 PM

Night of Knives struck me as an average work standing seperately, and as far as I'm concerned, it's main value was in telling a tale that we all wanted to hear. The work showed us an author that is good in his own ways, but sadly he is not in the same league as Erikson. Sadly, because in sharing the world, we grow to have expectations that are unreasonable as they are, in fact, different authors, with (slightly) different styles and abilities.

The language was good, comparable to Erikson's at least, but at times the storytelling seemed strained, and the dialogue lacked the fluidity that we have grown used to through Erikson's Malazan world. Neither does he manage to convey fully the same style as to convergance and confusion that Erikson does. The last objection I have to it, is that the characters seem more traditional that those Erikson portrays. Kiska is, more or less, a typical fantasy heroine, being the local, naturally gifted though heartbreakingly undervalued; smart while simple-minded and slightly naive. Temper is too obviouslt Veteran Soldier, and his character seems nothing like a person. There is nothin distinctive about him; he simply is a function filled. Aunt Whateverhernamewas, Obo (the Ogre) and the "fisherman" was all too much Powerfull Protectors, with the ancient, disrespected wisdom that is needed for humanity to persevere. And it is too easy to simply judge Surly/Laseen to be the Evil Usurper; though there is certainly a necessity to give such a claim credence, this novel failed to provide the credibility to the counterarguments that Erikson has provided and nourished through his books thus far. All these things weaken the ambiguity of the Malazan world we know, and places in its stead a more traditional fantacy-realm (of course, not quite traditional anyway, but much closer to it than Erikson's writing).

The book is really pretty good, and I deem it very much worth aquiring for any fan of the Malazan world. Had I not been doomed to compare it to Erikson's Malazan works, I think I would have enjoyed it much more, however. The comparison leaves Esselmont sadly lacking.
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#42 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 06:25 PM

@Andreas - now, maybe it's my utter fanboy nature for these books, but while i grant you SE's books post GotM are superior to ICE's sole effort we've seen, I give ICE's characters a bit more depth than that...

Consider that Kiska could have been a mage, but her impatience to become involved in the world led her to be a theif and spy instead. That Temper is a far, far better swordsman than he gives himself credit for, and hunted by the Empress' Claw, he takes on a job as a guard in the Empress' own palace. Obo and Agayla are archetypes indeed, but the Fisherman, knowing he was weaker than he could be, knowing his wife would die with him, still went out and challenged the Riders... and failed in spectacular fashion.

I suppose i attribute a fair level of depth to the plot too... the entire scope of Kellanved's diabolical plan, from leaving Surly in charge knowing full well she'd try to kill him upon his return, ad letting her know when that would be, to the various levels of his tactics involving the Shadow Cultists, renegade Claws, ex-Bridgeburners and for all we know, the Jaghut guardian and the Riders, just impresses me more than the average fantasy 'stop-the-evil-forces-from-conquering' type stories.

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#43 User is offline   werewolfv2 

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 09:34 PM

[quote name='Abyss- Abyss' date=' .[/QUOTE']

ye, I kinda agree with all that that wack job named Abyss wrote ;)
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#44 Guest_Andreas_*

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Posted 14 February 2006 - 01:31 PM

Abyss said:

Consider that Kiska could have been a mage, but her impatience to become involved in the world led her to be a theif and spy instead.
And what I consider is the same facts, however, I see that Kiska is a well-meaning thief/spy who of course also have some latent ability in magic. As I see it, that is a variation of a typical fantasy heroine...

Abyss said:

That Temper is a far, far better swordsman than he gives himself credit for, and hunted by the Empress' Claw, he takes on a job as a guard in the Empress' own palace. Obo and Agayla are archetypes indeed, but the Fisherman, knowing he was weaker than he could be, knowing his wife would die with him, still went out and challenged the Riders... and failed in spectacular fashion.
As to Temper, I see him as the Veteran Soldier who doesn't tell people of it (common in fantasy), and who is better than everyone else only doesn't brag about it. I'm not saying everything about him is stereotype fantasy, and neither is Kiska for that matter, but they are too stereotypical to pretend it is just coincidence. Temper also seems to have the character-depth of a rock - he seems to fill a function in the plot, and nothing more.

But, come on: The fisherman isn't traditional "Guardian" because he sacrifice himself? I think I've met that guy several times in fantacy, now last in Ursula LeGuin's Tales of Earthsea. Besides: that the whole think is blamed, eventually, and without dispute, on Laseen, also weakens the ambiguity I love about the Malazan World.

Abyss said:

I suppose i attribute a fair level of depth to the plot too... the entire scope of Kellanved's diabolical plan, from leaving Surly in charge knowing full well she'd try to kill him upon his return, ad letting her know when that would be, to the various levels of his tactics involving the Shadow Cultists, renegade Claws, ex-Bridgeburners and for all we know, the Jaghut guardian and the Riders, just impresses me more than the average fantasy 'stop-the-evil-forces-from-conquering' type stories.
I agree here, and I must point out that I never claimed the storyline to be irreparably traditional. There are aspects of it though, that are, and I think you recognize them as well.

I am also fairly certain that I mentioned that if NoK wasn't doomed to be compared to Erikson's works, I (and probably many others) would have enjoyed it more. It is a fairly good book, in itself, but it lacks many levels to match Erikson's writing. But they certainly show promise, which gives me hope that his other novels will prove to be even better.

don't hate it. I just don't like it as much as I hoped to.
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#45 User is offline   deegee 

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 04:26 PM

Well I am only halfway through it but I have to say I do not like it at all....just something about it that I can't put my finger on....it kinda seems like there is stuff just thrown in there to add to the atmosphere with no apparent meaning to the plot....I find myself skipping lines because I get the general gist of things and just can't wait for it to move on....hmmm...yes the writing style IS similar to erikson's but let us be honest it is NOT SE. But I'll wait till I finish the book until I give a harsh judgement like that...
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#46 User is offline   Falcdragon 

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 09:31 AM

Picked up the trade paperback version at my Universities bookstore the other day NZ$36 (~£12) a bit pricey for the size but not too bad.
Seems pretty decent though some bits seem a bit looser than Erikson's books. It certainly packs in a lot of decent background for the series.
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#47 User is offline   Flawed 

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 09:42 AM

Falcdragon;202453 said:

Picked up the trade paperback version at my Universities bookstore the other day NZ$36 (~£12) a bit pricey for the size but not too bad.
Seems pretty decent though some bits seem a bit looser than Erikson's books. It certainly packs in a lot of decent background for the series.


i think it is a great filler. As you say the writing style is a lot looser but there are so many tit bits there that help us understand a whole lot more that for that purpose alone its well worth it. I think i paid about £12 also.
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#48 User is offline   heron 

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 07:55 AM

Hi all, first time poster here. Great forum you have here.

I'm in the UK and bought NoK off Amazon a few days ago. I couldn't put it down. I loved it, I thought it was actually better than all the Malazan Fallen books, personally, and I much preferred ICE's style of writing over SE's. Just me, maybe :)

I loved the tension, the span of the book (one night in one book) and the characters were examplary. I just thought it was so well written, thought out and developed.

I can't wait for ICE to put out more novels and I'll definitely get them.

I'm actually tempted to run a NoK mini-RPG scenario for my group... Does anyone know where I can get a copy of the Malaz City map at all, please? I don't have access to a scanner, unfortunately.

Cheers all, look forward to chatting.

H
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#49 User is offline   aeryn 

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 10:35 PM

I just finished the book.

I liked the fact it fills us Malazan fans in on an event that was pure mystery to us before. I always wanted to know how Kellanvad got the Shadow Throne, and the story behind Dassem Ultor.
However, some things did bother me.

Kiska - I really disliked her. Her character seemed to go through 180 degree convulsions from scared little girl to stubborn, obnoxious brat, depending on whether she was supposed to seem more human or supposed to move the story along. she kept saying 'I'm not supposed to be here.' Well...no, you're not. I kept skimming her pages to find out what the 'real' characters were doing.

Edgewalker - seemed to be used too much merely as a device to save the protagonists and then go away quickly. But this might just be my impression, since I've always been interested in this mysterious character and I thought I might gain more knowledge here. So I am a bit disappointed.

This book is worth it for anyone who loves this series and wants more background knowledge into it. ICE moves the story along quickly, with plenty of action, but the shortness of the book created, in my opinion, characters with a certain lack of depth.

Still. I'm looking forward to his further contributions to this wonderful series.
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#50 User is offline   shadowsmurf 

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 01:21 AM

Well the price was steep, I found it to be an entertaining and interesting read. The intro of new characters (especially liked Temper) and the fleshing out a bit of some old ones (Tay for one) was nice. Surly is still pretty one dimensional, and Dancer is much less sympathetic here than in Erikson's later books. Liked the Stormrider at the end (why are you trying to kill us, nice touch), showing once again that this is not a simple good vs evil world.
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#51 User is offline   Dolmen 2.0 

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 12:21 PM

I have to agree with the above. The book was really good and I loved the review of Tays character, artan now makes alot more sense. I like Esselmonts style towards the end of the book because he doesn't linger the way I expected but seems to push the build up to the climax with more and more sought after extra pieces of information being dropped into the story I found myself at 3 in the morning savouring the end of the book.

Its been so long since I'd read the characters I had forgotten how increadible they are and how vast the scope of the books is, I would willingly read anything by Esselmont and or Erikson because they've done their homework and as a team are realizing a literary dream that I am thoroughly immersed in.

If this was a review I'd give Esselmont fullmarks for conveying the story very well and adding to the malazn world. Just one question though...Who is Kiska? I couldn't quite place her but I felt I've read about her before (I could be wrong though)
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#52 User is offline   post ender 

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 10:10 AM

Read the book. I didn't think too much of ICE's writing style initially but it really picked up mid way through the book. All in all a good read and a worthy addition to the mythos of the malazan world. I have a feeling (more like a secret hope i think) that Return... is going to be way better than NoK.

I'm also quite surprised at how expensive the book is in some countries. I live in India and picked up the trade paperback Bantam Press version for a little more than 10 dollars which compared to some of the prices quoted on the thread seems positivley cheap.
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#53 User is offline   Seed 

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 02:32 AM

Just finished it last night. ICE's writing style is much faster and looser than Ericksons. Not as detailed in the description but still quite fine. I still prefer Erickson's style over ICE's but I'm happy that there is a second source of malazan goodness now.

I have to give it a second read soon, but I get the impression that night of knives gives a better overall introduction and explanation to warren magic that GotM ever did. I'm pondering getting my friends to start with NoK when beginning the series, but there's alot of stuff in there that just wouldn't impact the same way without first knowing the context that comes from reading GotM et al.

An interesting typo I noticed was Bedurian the giant mage that was in the cadre along with A'Akaronys, Nightschill and Tayschrenn at Y'Ghatan in Tempers flashback. According to GotM it was Bellurdan.
The options include (A) It is actually a typo, or (B) It's a language thing, Bellurdan might literally mean skullcrusher in malaz, while Bedurian could be skullcrusher in Talian or something, or finally © It's another more different giant magus, and Bellurdan rocked up later on in the next 13 years before the seige of Pale.
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#54 User is offline   Aptorian 

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 09:19 AM

Just posted this in Aidans SE vs ICE thread.

my 2 cents seeing as just finished the books yesterday.

It was AWESOME!!!

I'd been hearing differing opinions on the forum. ICE not having the same style, the story being lacking, ICE just not being advanced/experienced enough.

Not true.

It's just as good as SE's work. It's just a different type of book. It's got the tension of the Malazan Books and the same mechanics of telling one story and letting characters memories tell older stories. Thus dropping the good stuff on the fall of Y'ghathan and the Sword. It's riddled with all kinds of hints, and it drops perhaps the best info on Jaghuts and the Azath as of yet.

It's just as gritty and I couldn't find any difference in his protrail of the typical Malazan creature or environment.

What it doesn't have on the other hand, and I don't think this necessarily is a negative (rather possitive), is Eriksons (long winded) poetic/philosofical mussing on anything from architecture, human nature to history, etc. Erikson sometimes get almost achedemic in his analyzes of things, making a degree in philosophy or social econmy a must to get the full understanding of what he's rambling on about.

If there is a difference it's cause of the size. 300 pages against 700-1100 pages of story. 24 hour storyline as opposed to half a year to a year. This creates obvious differences in how the story is told and how generous ICE is able to be.

I loved it, can't wait for RotCG.
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Posted 07 February 2008 - 05:17 PM

Just finished it up this afternoon, late to the party and all that but I figured I'd share a few of my thoughts (in a reasonably unspoilery fashion) on the off chance anyone stumbles in this thread looking for reasons to read.

I'll start by simply saying that on the whole the book was rather entertaining, the plot panned out nicely, the perspectives of our main PoV characters were interesting (a stark contrast really; a veteran in Temper and someone eager to be involved in anything in Kiska), there was information a-plenty, the secondary cast was great, we got some new light shed on a variety of people featured in SE's endeavours in the malaz world and all of that was packed into 300 enjoyable pages.

As a result the pacing is pretty fast, ICE is perhaps less flowery than SE which I think lends itself towards making a slightly easier read (you aren't scrambling for your dictionary every now and then =p) and whilst it might not seem so sophisticated that helped add a gritty/dark flavour to the novel.

I had seen mention of people doubting a few points on ICE's writing because he'd not really exhibited any of the humour that permeates SE's work but I think thats a bit of a strange point. Firstly it doesn't need outright humour to function, sure some light relief is nice every now and then but ICE does drop in a few bits that make you grin. Secondly the novel never called for it, on probably the most hectic night in malaz city you're hardly expecting multiple wisecracks xD

The only minor gripe I had was that perhaps the most important events of the night weren't witnessed directly.

In summation I think it was a pretty damn good first outing from Mr Esslemont and I can't wait to see him in full stride with Return of the Crimson Guard.
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#56 User is offline   Greymane 

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Posted 08 August 2008 - 11:42 AM

I just finished it. Thought it was decent, and showed a lot of promise. Since it is ICE's first novel, I definitely cut him some slack. All things considered I probably liked it more than GOTM or Reaper's Gale, and less than the other Erikson written Malazan tales.
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Posted 18 August 2008 - 06:55 AM

i finished it a couple of days ago.. allround i enjoyed it, and although it was supposed to fill in the gap it just didnt satisfy my hopes and dreams of what it would and could be. it left alot of things out and could have easily been double the thickness. it left me wanting soo much more. and a little dissapointed. im just happy with any addition to the malaz world. good or bad.. and night of knives wasnt bad.
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#58 User is offline   meili 

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  Posted 05 October 2008 - 01:45 AM

I loved NoK. Temper and Kiska are very good characters who are interesting and sympathetic. The plot moved along quite fast and very nicely indeed.

I think the difference between my own experience of it and other people's is that they were expecting so much and got disappointed. Just read it without expecting the "OMG Cotillion and Shadowthrone vs Laseen!"

...because if you do, then you will just get massively disappointed. The two main POV characters are just (arguably) regular people so we don't get the inner workings of the Empire through them.
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#59 User is offline   Ganymed 

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Posted 05 October 2008 - 06:28 PM

Well, I found it better than Reaper's Gale. Which is nothing impressive if you know how I like RG. But that's not all: I think it was quite a good book, fast paced with some good action. Had no complaints with the overall writing style of ICE or understandability (is that even a word?) of the plot. The characters were interesting and in the case of Kiska actually sometimes annoying - IN A GOOD WAY, because she is the youthful and naive counterpart to Temper, the old veteran. That said, it is not a brilliant book, but neither were Reaper's Gale or The Bonehunters for that matter.

So, all in all, I'm really psyched to get on with reading RotCG now that I know ICE is handling his part of the world really well.
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#60 User is offline   Perikles 

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 02:41 PM

Well, I just finished reading this today, and over all, I enjoyed it. I will undoubtedly reread it again at some point in the future, but more for reference than anything else.

The background and events were very interesting, not only relating into the Night of Knives itself, but also with Temper's flashbacks to Seven Cities - a cunning way to fit in more than the single night's murky events. New threads and sparks of interest were generated and I was pleased to see some characters with small cameos in other books being fleshed out a little, as well as some new ones who I'd like to see more of.

However, generally, I felt the writing style was not especially amazing. Neither was it particularly bad though. I feel it does not compare particularly to SE's style, but given he is currently ranked one of my two favourite authors, that's not a huge surprise. Still, even viewed in the greater context of the wider literary community I don't think ICE's performance in NoK stands out in any great way - though neither is it terrible. I do feel there is potential for more and am looking forward to reading RotCG. It was a shame that I couldn't really get much of a feel for the two main characters though. There was no one in the book I loved, or hated, laughed at or loathed.

I think that when considering the book it is important to distinguish between the style of writing, the plot and the background. As already said, I feel the style is rather vanilla. The background though is great and well worth reading the book for. Some might argue that much of this comes from SE's own books, but as the world is such a collaboration between him and ICE, then I think this is probably unfair and to all intensive purposes, anyone who was not a party to their private conversations has to regard the history, background and detail of the world as a joint affair, and as such just as much a credit to ICE as to SE.

Finally, we come to the plot. Seen through the eyes of two characters, Temper and Kiska I think both fell down somewhat. The telling of the story was fine, but I did keep wondering why Temper really was charging around the city, in a largely aimless fashion - though his flashbacks gave a better character motivation than for Kiska. Frankly, despite the idea that she was doing this as he chance to get off the island, I found the continual run in's and misadventures she had more and more annoying - particularly with her inability to actually learn anything from any of them, until finally I was hoping that she would just get eaten by a Hound or even better fall off a cliff or something really ignomious before the end of the book. This was not because I hated her character... I just found her slightly annoying, and the decisions she made playing out like a character in a computerized RPG who constantly ignores any warnings or inclings of danger, as you are the centre of the plot and so will surely survive to the end.

Final summation - 2 and a half out of 5. Worth the read, but don't expect too much out of it. Hopefully we'll see better from ICE in the future.
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