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Meh

#1 User is offline   Osserc - Lord of the Sky 

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 12:48 PM

I wasn't exactly pleased with Night of Knives. Well this is probably because I was expecting something similar to the works of
Steven Erikson. I was unpleasantly surprised at the writing style of Esslemont...I know I should appreciate the writing, because
after all, the two DID design the Malazan world together. I just don't see the appeal of Esslemont's writing style.
Should I read on? And Continue to Return of the Crimson Guard?
"The red ink had been watered down. He painted wash on the map, covering areas now held by the Malazan Empire. Fully one half of the map...the north half...was red. Baruk jumped, his right forearm jerking out and knocking over the inkwell. The red ink poured across his map. Cursing, Baruk sat back. His eyes widened as he watched the spreading stain over Darujhistan and continue south to Catlin..."
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#2 User is offline   caladanbrood 

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 01:36 PM

His writing does improve, but Return of the Crimson Guard is still mostly about what happens, rather than the writing. Stonewielder is a big step forward in that respect.
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#3 User is offline   Sinisdar Toste 

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 02:03 PM

RotCG has been frustrating to some, with a lot of seemingly disconnected events taking place, and not much explanation accompanying them. a couple characters have tried some readers' patience, but one disappears entirely in SW and the other becomes much more likeable. Kiska is a common thread throughout all three books, and she shows good development imo.

the main difference is in style methinks, erikson's prose is just so high calibre that esselmont can't help but suffer in comparison.

on the plus side, there are a lot of great characters and battles in RotCG, and the CG themselves are very cool. i'd say read on, because they add a lot to the overall malazan experience.
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#4 User is offline   miriya 

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 03:14 PM

I'm with Toste up above; Erikson is almost exclusively our introduction and ringmaster in the Malazan world; in comparison Esslemont sadly becomes the sideline. In writing style, yes, but also by familiarity.

Honestly, I want to see some people who've read (and enjoyed) Esslemont's work before being presented with Erikson; do they feel that Erikson is too overbearingly philosophical and melodramatic? Imagine if Esslemont wrote the main ten and Erikson the side-books, we'd probably hear a lot of that; hell, some of us might even say it. Think of any situation where another great writer took over writing another great writer's baby, and think about how many of those dedicated readers were outraged, despite the fact that the new writer was nearly (if not every bit) as good? Imagine if GRRM keeled over tomorrow and a resurrected Zelazny took over -- or if all those side-stories GRRM writes were suddenly coming out from Rothfuss. I'm not saying your opinion is wrong, or that you're being silly for thinking so, or that ICE is better than SE; I prefer Erikson myself both for the fact that he presented me with the bulk of what I know and love, and the fact that outside the Malazan world my favorite authors are Bradbury, Gaiman and Winterson, which SE is much more in line with; it's just sad to me that Esslemont is in such a hopeless position. Esslemont's books still have a lot to offer; I love the Crimson Guard, and I think they stand as great books as long as you aren't expecting more Erikson from them; if you do, you're inevitably going to be disappointed.
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Posted 24 March 2011 - 05:59 PM

Quote

Should I read on? And Continue to Return of the Crimson Guard?

If you do: please tell afterwards if you liked it, I stopped reading Esslemont after NoK.

This post has been edited by Avatar: 24 March 2011 - 05:59 PM

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#6 User is offline   worry 

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 08:31 PM

Prose preferences aside, just remember that ICE isn't particularly interested in illuminating the reader on secrets SE set up. He's got a bunch of his own secrets, his own seeming master plan, and in a way I think he's even less forthcoming than SE if that's possible. I personally feel they compliment each other well, as two distinct voices covering some of the same time periods in history, and ICE has made it very clear that he's not just picking up SE's leftovers.
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#7 User is offline   MWKarsa 

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 11:13 PM

I struggled through NoK and found it hard to read as I felt it really wasn't written very well especially for such a short book centered around an event was eager to read about. Return of the Crimson Guard was better though I thought it got harder to read and enjoy as it wore on even with the events that played out in it. I was almost through SW but stopped reading it with a little more than 100 pages to go as TCG came out I couldn't resist starting it but I was enjoying it MUCH better than the first 2 books. To me it really showed how ICE is getting better and better as a writer with each entry and I think he will continue that trend with each book he writes. I don't think it's too fair too compare the two writers as their styles are completely different and IMO ICE is far inferior to SE but I really think that gap will narrow as ICE continues to improve his skills.
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Posted 02 April 2011 - 06:26 PM

I guess I am in a minority, but I think Night of Knives is his best work (I thought it refreshing that he chose a smaller number of characters) - for me it went downhill from there. I think Return of the Crimson Guard was okay and it had its scenes, but Stonewielder I found almost intolerable due to its frustrating and disconnected mess of a plot that left me staring at the last page, wondering if there had been a point to any of that.
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#9 User is offline   tiam 

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 07:55 PM

 miriya, on 24 March 2011 - 03:14 PM, said:

I'm with Toste up above; Erikson is almost exclusively our introduction and ringmaster in the Malazan world; in comparison Esslemont sadly becomes the sideline. In writing style, yes, but also by familiarity.

Honestly, I want to see some people who've read (and enjoyed) Esslemont's work before being presented with Erikson; do they feel that Erikson is too overbearingly philosophical and melodramatic? Imagine if Esslemont wrote the main ten and Erikson the side-books, we'd probably hear a lot of that; hell, some of us might even say it. Think of any situation where another great writer took over writing another great writer's baby, and think about how many of those dedicated readers were outraged, despite the fact that the new writer was nearly (if not every bit) as good? Imagine if GRRM keeled over tomorrow and a resurrected Zelazny took over -- or if all those side-stories GRRM writes were suddenly coming out from Rothfuss. I'm not saying your opinion is wrong, or that you're being silly for thinking so, or that ICE is better than SE; I prefer Erikson myself both for the fact that he presented me with the bulk of what I know and love, and the fact that outside the Malazan world my favorite authors are Bradbury, Gaiman and Winterson, which SE is much more in line with; it's just sad to me that Esslemont is in such a hopeless position. Esslemont's books still have a lot to offer; I love the Crimson Guard, and I think they stand as great books as long as you aren't expecting more Erikson from them; if you do, you're inevitably going to be disappointed.


I found SE quite overbearing when I read TTH after ROTCG. Yet on a reread TTH is my favorite Erikson work. I think its just first impressions that cause these responses. After MOI alot of people often comment on the lower quality of HOC me included. Yet this all goes away after a rerad and you can appreciate the book for what it is as it has either already met or failed to meet your expectations. Others hated MT yet this is regarded as SE best work by some.

As it is I loved ROTCG alot more than SW.

 Harvester, on 02 April 2011 - 06:26 PM, said:

I guess I am in a minority, but I think Night of Knives is his best work (I thought it refreshing that he chose a smaller number of characters) - for me it went downhill from there. I think Return of the Crimson Guard was okay and it had its scenes, but Stonewielder I found almost intolerable due to its frustrating and disconnected mess of a plot that left me staring at the last page, wondering if there had been a point to any of that.


Exactly. SW was a terrible read and for all my comment on 'itll be better on the reread' I am dreading reading Stone 'I awoke feeling like I had only had a minutes rest..' Wielder. Still it may hold up to a reread and I might be able to stomach the old 'it was the journey not the destination' bollocks.
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#10 User is offline   Azazello 

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 07:05 PM

I realize that ICE co-created the setting, so it's his as much as it is SE's, but I can help but think NoK gets too many "bonus points" for being a Malazan book.

IMO the best parts are all related to events and characters in the Malazan world that had already been established, if not exactly fleshed out in SE's early books. I like Temper's recollections about Dassem as much as the next person, but ICE's characterization and action were overall noticeably amateurish I thought. With Kiska I felt ICE was overly desperate to get me to like her, to agree that she was this totally awesome character. But there's nothing particularly Malazan about her. The proud urban thief who knows the city's secrets and after getting a taste of the action can't wait to get out is everywhere in fantasy literature. She could have been from Waterdeep or Coruscant and nothing significant has to change about the character itself.

The whole "how many situations can they get out of" thing, particularly given that it made up much of the first half of the book, was also irritating IMO. When your characters walk away from encounters with Claws, Hounds of Shadow, cultists, expert fighters, Moranth munitions, etc. etc. over and over during a single night, it completely trivializes those encounters in the long term IMO. I can find such absurd, plot-protected characters -- like Drizzt -- just about anywhere. SE is far from innocent in this regard, but he set a much higher standard for the Malazan books IMO.
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#11 User is offline   KallorsUnusedMoisturiser 

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 01:28 PM

I thoroughly enjoyed NoK. I thought it was a nice change of pace from the SE books that came before it. Yes the prose was more action based, with less introspection and navel-gazing, and I found it really complimented the short time-span. One night? That's a hell of a lot of plot lines and asides to get through.

And come on, the flashback to Y'Ghatan (sp?) and then the scenes outside the Deadhouse were some of the best written in this series. The immediacy was great.

I'm not saying he's a better writer than SE (obviously), or that I prefer his style. I just like the difference.
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Posted 19 April 2011 - 06:22 PM

Esselmont's writing is more straightforward and less graceful than Erikson's, but this can provide a nice contrast to Erikson's more ponderous style. I will agree that some of his plot development is messy and he isn't able to pull off bringing it all together with the panache and intelligence that Erikson is capable of. His books are thus flawed but are generally good fun.
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#13 User is offline   Ilona 

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 11:25 PM

I really enjoyed NoK. As much as I love and respect Erikson for his extraordinary style, reading SE books requires more effort of me as a reader. More focus. I found NoK a relaxing break from that, a chance to sit back and just see the events happening. I wouldn't want to read the whole series like that, no, but I thought it fit NoK.

(Also, I abso-fucking-lutely loved Temper's flaskbacks of the Sword times. Fighting with a shield equipped isn't generally seen as epic. Really vast majority of these so-called epic duesl/fights in fantasy literature that I can think of are fought with either a huge ass two-hander or double swords/daggers/whatever. But Temper stonewalling the whatshisface warrior dude, that was Epic with a capital E.)
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#14 User is offline   Steel General 

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Posted 09 May 2011 - 06:44 PM

I enjoyed NoK... as noted above it is a much easier read than the Erikson books. So what's wrong with that?
In other threads I've seen comparisons between the MBotF and the Black Company by Glen Cook. I'd say ICE's style is closer to Cook's than SE's.
The Black Company books (except for a couple of the later ones), read very easily.

Was NoK a literary masterpiece, of course not. But I think it a bit unfair to compare ICE to SE.
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Posted 27 May 2011 - 10:06 PM

I always say that a sign of a limited author is the liberal use of "!" marks and, frustratingly, KoK is full of them. I almost gave up reading on this point alone. Coupled with what is a relatively basic prose and sudden leaps of understanding by characters, the book just frustrated me. I have heard that ICE gets better, so I might stick with it. I have also been struggling with many other fantasy authors since reading SE, as most seem to read like children's books now I've acclimatised to SE's style. As such, it is as much my failure to adapt as ICE's delivery.
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#16 User is offline   worry 

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 11:30 PM

All good points!!!
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Posted 28 May 2011 - 10:58 AM

 cuttothequickben, on 27 May 2011 - 10:06 PM, said:

I always say that a sign of a limited author is the liberal use of "!" marks and, frustratingly, KoK is full of them. I almost gave up reading on this point alone.
Exclamation marks in themselves aren't a problem but when they're used in an inappropriate context I agree, they're very annoying. Though I've found it's not literature where they're most annoying but rather academic materials, e.g. "Rasmussen's contributions to the Caeliborium plasmotype were somewhat hampered by his preference to concentrate on ectotype!" Or something along those lines.
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#18 User is offline   Abberon 

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Posted 30 May 2011 - 02:39 PM

I REALLY like NoK. The writing style contrast was VERY nice. I welcomed the focus narrative after so many hundreds of pages of SE's pontificating, particularly in some of the later volumes of the series. Sometimes SE's prose is very good, but then other times I feel like I'm reading a less insightful version of Anna Karenina. You can still be artistic etc in fantasy (see Tolkien), but I think a detailed examination of life and society is better left to more character-based writings.
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#19 User is offline   Kanese S's 

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 09:51 PM

 Ilona, on 20 April 2011 - 11:25 PM, said:

I really enjoyed NoK. As much as I love and respect Erikson for his extraordinary style, reading SE books requires more effort of me as a reader. More focus. I found NoK a relaxing break from that, a chance to sit back and just see the events happening. I wouldn't want to read the whole series like that, no, but I thought it fit NoK.

(Also, I abso-fucking-lutely loved Temper's flaskbacks of the Sword times. Fighting with a shield equipped isn't generally seen as epic. Really vast majority of these so-called epic duesl/fights in fantasy literature that I can think of are fought with either a huge ass two-hander or double swords/daggers/whatever. But Temper stonewalling the whatshisface warrior dude, that was Epic with a capital E.)


I also very much enjoyed NoK. While I'm a fan of SE's prose, I thought ICE's writing style suited the setting. And I agree, the Temper flashbacks were incredibly awesome and I really liked how he wasn't wielding dual swords or anything fancy, just being a really really stubborn, steadfast soldier.

One of the things I liked about NoK is that even though it went into some detail about events we'd all wondered, to me, ICE still preserved some aura of mystery to everything. We don't actually SEE the confrontation between Kel and Dancer, and Surly with her Claws. Rather than actually witnessing the battle in all its detail, we just hear some of it, and see the aftermath. Really goes with the series, that. Even though we got a great flashback to Y'Ghatan, and see Dassem, and the mage cadre that ended up destroyed at the Siege of Pale, we still don't know all that much about most of them.

On the other hand, I really liked getting a closer look at Tayschrenn. Interesting character there. Also, while Kiska's naivete can be irritating at times, overall I really liked both her and Temper as characters.
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#20 User is offline   Whiskey Bass 

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 02:54 PM

I loved it -_-
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