Malazan Empire: ASSAIL - Malazan Empire

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ASSAIL Aka ICE 5: The Culminating Convergence SPOILERS!!!!

#161 User is offline   Luperci 

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 04:51 AM

View Postworry, on 21 August 2014 - 10:04 PM, said:

Yah I tend to agree the CG didn't see nearly enough action. Corlo also didn't make this trip for some reason, and it's strange he would ever leave IB's side after SW. Also in terms of legendary CG fighters, we got to see Lazar in SW but we pretty much never see Halfdan do anything.



I didn't understand why Corlo had his leg cut off for seemingly no reason, since he isn't heard from after SW. ICE wrote about his and Bars trouble with the Storm Guards and how Corlo felt bad about lying to him but then nothing. Was Corlo avowed? I can't remember if he was just that he was a mage of Mockra.
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#162 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 02:13 PM

Corlo was second investiture, so not Avowed but he had been with the CGrd for a long time.

He lost his leg in SW when a wall fell on him and that sailor-friend had to cut his leg off to free him.

Which, while not stated in the book, is i assume why he didn't join the group who went to Assail. Assail was enough of a mess without taking along a one-legged mage who had already escaped it once.
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#163 User is offline   tiam 

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Posted 30 August 2014 - 02:54 PM

Was tempted to start a new thread for this but theres not much point.

Obviously the Avowed are Tlan as they vowed and got the whole thing in motion. However what about first investiture, Corlo or Ogilvy (old heavy that appears to have inhuman stamina in ROTCG if he was even 1st), do they get any benefits?

What im getting at is are the newer members of the Avowed eventually set to become Imass while the Empire exists? It was a warping of the Vow admittedly but by simply joining the Guard, vowing against the Empire do they become affected in any way?

Just a thought ive had for a while as Corlo, as First Investiture would surely be in his later years.
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#164 User is offline   benelori 

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Posted 13 September 2014 - 07:36 AM

So I finished it yesterday...what can I say...the first word that comes to mind is 'calm'....this was a very calm read...it was very focused on personal character stories and I think that got in the way of the action that could've been...and the amount of scheming and plotting was more reduced than in other books, but I guess the lack of gods can do that :p

But I'm not complaining, since I like Bars x Shimmer, I liked how Orman became hardened after the loss of Jass, the little moments of coolness from Jethiss, the focus on Fisher, little stuff that made this book more an emotional ride than an action packed one...and for an installment that is supposed to close a series, I think it's fitting...

The convergence was just big enough to satisfy me I think, as I consider that Omtose Phellack unveiling pretty huge, but maybe here we could've seen a bit more complexity and action...Lanas mastermind thingy was a good touch, but the rest was very predictable, as far as the peace treaty goes...

My favourite moment in the book was Crust recruiting at Wrongway...it gave me chills and I was gorging on every scene there..

That's it for initial thoughts, in the end it was a fun read and a good book, but nothing exceptional

This post has been edited by benelori: 13 September 2014 - 07:37 AM

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#165 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 13 September 2014 - 10:09 PM

View Posttiam, on 30 August 2014 - 02:54 PM, said:

Was tempted to start a new thread for this but theres not much point.

Obviously the Avowed are Tlan as they vowed and got the whole thing in motion. However what about first investiture, Corlo or Ogilvy (old heavy that appears to have inhuman stamina in ROTCG if he was even 1st), do they get any benefits?

What im getting at is are the newer members of the Avowed eventually set to become Imass while the Empire exists? It was a warping of the Vow admittedly but by simply joining the Guard, vowing against the Empire do they become affected in any way?

Just a thought ive had for a while as Corlo, as First Investiture would surely be in his later years.


Nope. There are no new Avowed. There were new Guard, and some of them may have had other things going on that meant they were more than baseline human, but only the original Guard who stoo with Kazz were Avowed.
And they aren't Tlan Imass, tho there's a connection and similarity. They're something different.
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#166 User is offline   Studlock 

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Posted 13 September 2014 - 10:25 PM

I think you could called them T'lan Humans though, because the Imass weren't T'lan until the vow, I think it's a reasonable linguistic connection. On top of that I do think the 2, 3, and so on get a little bit of juice from the vow. I believe it's stated in one of the first chapters in RotCG but I'd have to look it up.
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#167 User is offline   Bonecaster 

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Posted 27 September 2014 - 03:12 PM

I'm not very happy with the way everybody showed deference to the Forkrul Assail. It seems like they're the ultimate power. The Jaghut and T'lan Imass wouldn't tell them where to get off? Especially after all the victories over them in TCG? Even if the ones we saw are more powerful than most FA, the Jaghut Big Mama should be a serious character among Jaghut. And a bunch of Bonecasters, including Silverfox, Kilava, Pran Chole, don't want to mess with them. Jethiss couldn't have gotten a sword from the T'lan Imass or Jaghut, or a sword made by both in some combination of powers? Did it have to be the FA, because they're the most powerful? Am I just viewing things inaccurately?
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#168 User is offline   Andorion 

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Posted 27 September 2014 - 04:33 PM

View PostBonecaster, on 27 September 2014 - 03:12 PM, said:

I'm not very happy with the way everybody showed deference to the Forkrul Assail. It seems like they're the ultimate power. The Jaghut and T'lan Imass wouldn't tell them where to get off? Especially after all the victories over them in TCG? Even if the ones we saw are more powerful than most FA, the Jaghut Big Mama should be a serious character among Jaghut. And a bunch of Bonecasters, including Silverfox, Kilava, Pran Chole, don't want to mess with them. Jethiss couldn't have gotten a sword from the T'lan Imass or Jaghut, or a sword made by both in some combination of powers? Did it have to be the FA, because they're the most powerful? Am I just viewing things inaccurately?


You do have a point especially after the almost dismissive way in which Hood dealt with the FA in TCG, but remember, Hood is an undead Ascendant Jaghut with far greater than normal powers, while the Jaghut in Assail is normal jaghut. Again, if I remember correctly the Imass actually had quite a bit of trouble taking out FA in TCG, and that was several Imass to i or 2 FA. Here the FA were present in force, on their home turf. They were a very serious threat.

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#169 User is offline   The Old Guard 

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 09:14 PM

View PostD, on 11 March 2013 - 09:40 PM, said:

View PostAbyss, on 11 March 2013 - 09:10 PM, said:

I think we've seen all we're going to about the Stormriders.


I agree. We'll never learn what their "origin" is because not a single character in the books knows either.


Or maybe Gothos will drop some hints here and there just to frustrate us further...
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Posted 29 September 2014 - 09:26 PM

View PostAndorion, on 27 September 2014 - 04:33 PM, said:

View PostBonecaster, on 27 September 2014 - 03:12 PM, said:

I'm not very happy with the way everybody showed deference to the Forkrul Assail. It seems like they're the ultimate power. The Jaghut and T'lan Imass wouldn't tell them where to get off? Especially after all the victories over them in TCG? Even if the ones we saw are more powerful than most FA, the Jaghut Big Mama should be a serious character among Jaghut. And a bunch of Bonecasters, including Silverfox, Kilava, Pran Chole, don't want to mess with them. Jethiss couldn't have gotten a sword from the T'lan Imass or Jaghut, or a sword made by both in some combination of powers? Did it have to be the FA, because they're the most powerful? Am I just viewing things inaccurately?


You do have a point especially after the almost dismissive way in which Hood dealt with the FA in TCG, but remember, Hood is an undead Ascendant Jaghut with far greater than normal powers, while the Jaghut in Assail is normal jaghut. Again, if I remember correctly the Imass actually had quite a bit of trouble taking out FA in TCG, and that was several Imass to i or 2 FA. Here the FA were present in force, on their home turf. They were a very serious threat.



Also, these FA were 'undiluted' or pure. Their manner seemed to suggest something more elemental or nasty than the borderline human-acting FA from TCG.

And none of those present at the meeting were in Hood's league. Not even close.
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#171 User is offline   Illuyankas 

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 10:09 PM

Finally got around to finishing it. Not quite as bad as I had expected, not nearly as good as I had hoped. Some good scenes, some really dumb scenes, some not bad scenes made worse by clunky writing. Now pretend I wrote that sentence twice more with 'scenes' swapped with 'characters' and 'plot points'.

That said, I enjoyed it enough that I certainly didn't regret getting it at full (kindle) price, unlike Stonewielder or Orb, Sceptre, Throne, and ICE has definitely improved. The names were much, much better (with the exception of Red Clan, because seriously?) which was a major bugbear with me, which is also nice. To be fair, I probably would read it again sometime.

(Wow, what kind of shitty praise is 'I'd probably read it again sometime'?)
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#172 User is offline   Werthead 

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Posted 03 March 2015 - 01:49 PM

My take:

Assail by Ian Cameron Esslemont

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South of Genabackis and east of Korel and Stratem lies the mysterious continent of Assail. It is known for its inaccessibility and hostility, populated by tribes and mage-ruled kingdoms who slay outsiders on sight. Clans of T'lan Imass and companies of the Crimson Guard have disappeared on missions there. It has a reputation for being so unrelentingly hostile that even the formidable Malazan Empire has never tried to conquer it.

That has now changed. Across the world, massive ice floes are melting and new sea routes are opening up. Rumours of rivers of gold being found in the Salt Mountains of north Assail are spreading, luring thousands of adventurers, treasure-seekers and merchants to the continent. Converging on the land are the leaders of the Crimson Guard, the Summoner of the Imass known as Silverfox, ex-Malazan mercenaries and foolhardy treasure seekers from distant Lether. In the heights of the mountains they will find their treasure...and something far more dangerous.

Assail is the sixth and concluding book in the Novels of the Malazan Empire sequence by Ian Esslemont. Set on the world he co-created with Steven Erikson, Esslemont's latest book wraps up story and character arcs he set in motion with Night of Knives and Return of the Crimson Guard (written in the 1980s but only published a decade ago), as well as drawing on elements established by Erikson in his own ten-volume Malazan Book of the Fallen sequence. It's not the best place for newcomers to start, although the primary storyline of the book is contained within this one novel.

Esslemont has a tough job to do here. The continent of Assail is first mentioned in Erikson's Memories of Ice and is reported to be a place of ceaseless hostility where entire T'lan Imass armies are ground to dust in endless battle against remorseless, tyrannical foes. Repeated mentions in other novels only added to its mystique, with even gods and Ascendants urging avoidance of the continent at all costs. As it turns out the reality doesn't quite match up: there are extremely powerful, lethal sorcerers on the continent but they are indolent and not quite up to speed with the magical powers commanded by outsiders. There are fanatically xenophobic tribes who immediately attack outsiders on sight (or after a brief rest-break if they are sufficiently skilled) but who could probably be taken out by a determined-enough Malazan army. Amusingly, Assail not being as quite as lethal as previously hinted feeds into the narrative, with the fact that you can set foot on Assail without dying leading to overconfidence on the part of the invaders. There's also the late revelation that what lurks in the mountains is so potentially lethal to the entire planet that there's certainly a good enough reason to avoid the place.

In terms of longer-running story arcs, Esslemont does a good job here of wrapping up the storyline of Kyle and the Crimson Guard (even if their eventual destiny remains unclear), which has been a consistent thread throughout these books. However, other plot threads are left less clearly resolved. The Malazans now have a diplomatic toehold on Assail and there is still work to be done there, whilst the biggest unresolved plot element is the T'lan Imass. The Imass/Silverfox/Kilava storyline which Erikson kicked off fifteen years ago is still left unfinished at the end of Assail. Hopefully the Imass will return in Erikson's Toblakai Trilogy, otherwise their fate is both underwhelming and unsatisfying.

In other areas the book is a mixed bag. There is a lot of travelogue in this novel, with multiple characters crossing Assail from different directions to get to the Salt Range. However, several groups brave the Sea of Dread (noted for its somnambulist and lethal effects) and, as effective as Esslemont's descriptions of this dangerous route are, it does get a little repetitive. Fortunately, the characters are, for the most part, an interesting bunch. One character in particular, Jethiss, risks cliche by being an amnesiac Tiste Andii who is clearly an already-established character from earlier in the series. When he turns out not to be the character I thought he was going to be, there was a major sigh of relief. Erikson and Esslemont are both guilty of nullifying and cheapening previously powerful death scenes by resurrecting the slain character too easily and they dodged a bullet here by making sure the most iconic character in the series stayed in the ground.

The book ends in a massive convergence, as is traditional, which does two things. First, it establishes a reason for why the whole world has gone to hell in the last few years and how this can be resolved. This does explain what has been a weakness of the series, namely how with so many mages, races and elemental forces rolling around with continent-devastating abilities that the whole planet hasn't been blown up yet. This does suggest that the world will be a calmer place going forwards, at least until Karsa Orlong (not invited to the deal) decides to destroy everything a few years down the line. Secondly, the convergence explains the backstory behind the Crimson Guard's Vow and how they are so amazingly badass. The problem here is that everyone figured this out before Return of the Crimson Guard was done and Esslemont doesn't throw any curveballs into the mix, so this isn't hugely surprising. It also leaves the future direction of the Guard wide open, handy if the authors choose to revisit these characters later on.

Assail (****) is a mostly well-written, enjoyable novel that will satisfy Malazan fans for its resolution of long-running plot threads and its addressing of major backstory mysteries. What it definitely isn't (and it was partially billed as) is the grand mega-finale of the entire combined Erikson/Esslemont series which will out-climax Erikson's Crippled God. With at least three more post-Assail novels from Erikson on the horizon, it never could be this and I'm glad I always took this with a pinch of Salt (Range) as I'd have been more disappointed otherwise. Instead, we have a reasonably good book in the series, although not Esslemont's best. The novel is available now in the UK and USA.

This post has been edited by Werthead: 03 March 2015 - 01:50 PM

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