Malazan Empire: Assail is a good book but a bad ending to a disappointing series. - Malazan Empire

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Assail is a good book but a bad ending to a disappointing series.

#21 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 14 October 2014 - 04:49 PM

View Postpolishgenius, on 10 October 2014 - 09:45 PM, said:

The blame for Whiskeyjack's death can only be laid at one person's feet, and that's Mallet.


Such base trollese, it's beneath you.
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#22 User is offline   nonamebutvaguelydescribedclothes 

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Posted 18 October 2014 - 05:22 AM

I pretty much agree with the starter and I just want to add whats on my mind without opening a new thread :)


I really hate about ICE that everything feels artificial... his convergences are not the result of different motives coming together, everything feels like "ahhhh I need more people at the end of the book, who could come to the convergence and do nothing like everybody else"... I mean look at the """motives""" for coming to assail.. most of them come to assail because of a stupid gold rush.... in all books everyone shivered when someone mentioned assail and everyone knew it was the worst place to be and all of a sudden there are rumors of gold and every scumbag tries to get there? come on.. did I miss something or didn't ICE even give a reason for this coincidental rumors of gold? I thought it might be another malazan scheme to have the scumbags do the work and then sweep away the rest, but I thought that in orb sceptre throne, too...... :)
Another great motive is the crimson guard's,,,, they travel endlessly and boring to the heart of jacuruku to hear that they have to go to assail to find out whats behind their vow... then they travel endlessly and fairly interesting to assail just to get an answer that has absolutely NOTHING to do with assail. It's like they went to a government office and tried to get an answer... where is the point in sending them to assail??? In retrospective I really think ardata wasn't referring to the continent assail, but to the book assail Posted Image

I really hope ICE stops writing... I love the universe and don't want to miss anything, so I will have to read everything whats published.... but in the end every ICE book was disappointing...
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#23 User is offline   Gorefest 

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Posted 07 November 2014 - 08:26 PM

I second the artificial feeling comment. With SE the journey of the characters is an important part of the story, it influences their character development and their eventual actions at the convergence. With ICE, most of the time the journeys feel pretty much like a way to get pawn A to location X at roughly the same time as pawns B and C, with some decently enjoyable chopping and maiming thrown in along the way. It is all very decently written and constructed, it is well paced (at times the pacing is actually better than Erikson's, in my humble opinion, who does have a tendency to grate from time to time on internal monologue dwellings), it is enjoyable enough to read, but the overall stories feel underwhelming. The pawn movements regularly don't even feel smooth ("Oh bugger, has Kyle moved that far along the coast of the Sea of Dread already? Better speed those Kerlumn T'Lans up a bit! And let's have the CG hang back a bit."). I mean, what is the point of a Reuth, other than a viewing window? What does he actually contribute to the story? Same for Jute. Nice guy, don't get me wrong, but completely superfluous other than as a POV technique.

And then you get to the ending, which is also underwhelming. A convergence including most of the old races and the Tiste, an end to a breathtakingly long and brutal racial feud, heartwrenching tragedy at the heart of the CG Vow, the unleashing of magics that rival Gothos' freezing of the Letherii continent, wow, surely that should knock anyone over with its sheer ambition. But oh, wait, they have a chat, agree to be friends again; Silverfox walks off with her Imass to supposedly have a part off-screen and send the whole lot to Tellann heaven; the CG are no wiser than they were in RotCG, apart from Shimmer who appears a bit slow to catch on; Mantle gets spared conveniently for er, some reason or other that doesn't really matter apart from giving some sympathetic POV characters a place to survive the Massive Ice; some Jaghut Lights will now live together happily ever after whereas before they kicked each other's heads in for no clear reason (and where is the cut-off between lowlanders and Icebloods anyway? Do you need 60% ice in your blood to be lowlander-plus? 65%? Or just a big magic glowing sword or a harp?); and a Tiste who looks a bit like Rake but is probably Spinnock came back from being killed off-screen to be the new paragon for the Tiste, even though they already have someone perfectly capable of doing that in Nimander.

Yeah, no, pretty good but dissappointing at the same time. It just feels as if there was more in the subject matter than what eventually got wrung out by ICE. It's competent, but it doesn't hit home.

This post has been edited by Gorefest: 07 November 2014 - 08:29 PM

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#24 User is offline   worry 

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Posted 07 November 2014 - 08:43 PM

"Pretty good but disappointing" -- so you're saying ICE captures the essence of life itself.
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#25 User is offline   Gorefest 

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Posted 07 November 2014 - 09:02 PM

In a way. Most of the time you feel you are doing okay, but your dream of becoming professional football player, rock star or worshipped writer never reach beyond a gym membership, ability to play two chords on an acoustic guitar and a notepad scribbled full off nighttime ideas that look disappointingly crass in the cold light of day. I'm thankful for what ICE has given us, but I am disappointed that he doesn't seem able or willing to take the richness that he co-created and that must be vividly raging in his mind, and make it pour out on the pages in front of him. It is right there, he knows it - he must, he bloody well thought it all up - but it somehow bleaches on paper.
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#26 User is offline   Fiddler 

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Posted 07 January 2015 - 05:35 AM

I have something to add to this discussion of why Assail just doesn't have the 'oomph' we all hoped it would.

The book was written by committee I think. We have SE and ICE sitting around a table, gaming, telling stories, coming up with ideas that seem excellent under the light of a few beers and seem like the essential parts of a story.

Then ICE sits down to write that story and instead of being totally free to write it, he's constrained by these details that just *have* to be in the book. Scenes that made sense between two people, or more, who have an intimate interior portrait of the characters and landscape just fail to connect with a larger, broader audience. I used to hate R.A. Salvatore as a writer, I thought he was trite, cliched and everything that was wrong with american fantasy literature.

Then I met him at a comic convention and listened to what he had to say and that boiled down to "I write stories yes, but I am told which stories to write."

That seriously took the wind out of my hate-sail for him. Which is what I think is wrong with Assail, Night of Knives, and most of ICE's books in general, he isn't at the helm really, he's driving and more or less being told which way to go by a backseat driver. Which doesn't work very well in writing. I don't know, but that's just what I feel is the case.

Well, it doesn't work for me, I should say. As a reader this book was a dud for me.

It's just that half of the characters in this book were like Indiana Jones in the first movie, take them out of the plot entirely and nothing is changed.
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#27 User is offline   The_Blind_Scout 

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 03:56 PM

I enjoy the majority of ICE's novels, my favourite being B&B, but I think that 'Assail' feel far short of what he is capable. My main grips can be listed as:


I can only compare 'Assail' to 'The Wizard of Oz', Kyle, now for some reason completely unassailable and infallible, just going on the journey against 2 dimensional characters before meeting the 'wizard' at the end which sorts out all the problems.
Kyle may be ICE's favourite created character, but his expectations of what the character is able are too high. I was much happier when he was an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances instead of what he has now flash-changed into now.


The entire series, the Forkul were alien in understanding, incomprehensible to humans, and fearsome; and choosing them as arbiter could have resulted as a fatally wrong decision. The ending of Assail had them appearing as little more than a minor cameo, drawing up a treaty as if all is determined from that. If they weren't in the book, nothing would have changed.

By reading the previous books, the revelation of the Crimson Guard was already hinted at, and therefore not as surprising as 'Assail' seemed us to think it was, the biggest surprise was how long it took before others realised. I know that in previous books we've had POV from Kyle with K'azz that forced the issue as well, but I refuse to believe no-one noticed, especially Shimmer, before now.
In the other books the were some awesome WTF moments, for example when, in RotCG, a company broke out of the stone prison from the Primogenatrix, but nothing stood out at all in 'Assail'.
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#28 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 07:34 PM

Just so we're all on the same screen, i liked the book, i'm going to disagree with some stuff posted, but i'm not arguing anyone isn't entitled to their own informed opinion...

View PostFiddler, on 07 January 2015 - 05:35 AM, said:

... ICE sits down to write that story and instead of being totally free to write it, he's constrained by these details that just *have* to be in the book. ...R.A. Salvatore ..."I write stories yes, but I am told which stories to write."
... ICE's books in general, he isn't at the helm really, he's driving and more or less being told which way to go by a backseat driver. Which doesn't work very well in writing. I don't know, but that's just what I feel is the case.


Nope.

ICE and SE communicate, but SE isn't telling ICE what or how to write.

Dislike if you do, but Salvatore is writing work-for-hire to support licensed properties, and that's miles away from two parallel writers working in the same world.

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It's just that half of the characters in this book were like Indiana Jones in the first movie, take them out of the plot entirely and nothing is changed.


But that isn't the point of Indiana Jones in RAIDERS, nor was it the point of the characters in ASSAIL.

I could go on at length, but the short version is that it's the characters' perspective on the big mysterious thing that gives value to the story. Now maybe that value didn't work for you, ok, fine, but in Raiders without Indy Marion would have died, and in Assail without... let's say Kyle, a whole bunch of other people would have died, but we also wouldn't have had the perspective of a native who had left and returned, which was what Kyle brought to the story.

View PostThe_Blind_Scout, on 19 January 2015 - 03:56 PM, said:

Kyle, now for some reason completely unassailable and infallibl...Kyle may be ICE's favourite created character, but his expectations of what the character is able are too high. I was much happier when he was an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances instead of what he has now flash-changed into now.


Unassailable and infallible? ...he got his ass handed to him by two teenaged girls.

Kyle spent a few years as a slave, a few more with the Crimson Guard, travelled thru the Shadow warren, got a magic sword from the Son of Light, trained under and then went to war with one of the Malazan Empire's greatest warriors and commanders. Flash-changed.... i disagree. Kyle has one of the most logical and developped arcs of any of ICE's characters.


Quote

The entire series, the Forkul were alien in understanding, incomprehensible to humans, and fearsome; and choosing them as arbiter could have resulted as a fatally wrong decision. The ending of Assail had them appearing as little more than a minor cameo, drawing up a treaty as if all is determined from that. If they weren't in the book, nothing would have changed.


The treaty was a shoutback to something we first saw in GotM... it was pretty damn epic in terms of this series.
And as i read that last scene, if the treaty hadn't followed, they were going to wipe out pretty much everyone on the continent.

Would we have liked more of them? Sure, but they were the primary antagonist in TCG and despite the name of the continent, not the main point of the story. That was the Jaghut/Imass conflict.

Quote

In the other books the were some awesome WTF moments, for example when, in RotCG, a company broke out of the stone prison from the Primogenatrix, but nothing stood out at all in 'Assail'.


Here i somewhat agree with you. The Guard dealing with some of Assail's more powerful inhabitants was pretty awesome, but i would have liked a bigger finish to their story, including more from Iron Bars. That is, i would have liked these things.. i didn't think the book suffered without them.
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#29 User is offline   Fiddler 

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 11:56 PM

Abyss you're managing to do a lot of rebuttal towards peoples opinions. Frankly, you can't tell me how to feel about what I feel is a book that could have been written better. I understand that you really liked this part of the series, but I did not.

Also, unless you stand in the room with SE and ICE and listen to their communications on what does and doesn't go into the book I think all you're putting out is your opinion on that as well. Because seriously, what defines communication? Once a month email asking for rewrites? And frankly, you can't discount my theory-craft as to why this book wasn't that great. Nor do I claim that my theory is fact, quite obviously I speak only for myself.

Aside from your strangely defensive post about The Indiana Jones Problem of this story, you yank Kyle from the story and not a single person who's present at the end isn't there except for Kyle. Same thing for Cartheron Crust. Same thing for the Crimson Guard, all of them, yank them right out and nothing about the ending changes except Pran Chole doesn't welcome a red tribe into the TI and frankly, that was a let down as well due to it's total opposition to everything that the TI have stood for in the past, including how they helped the Empire that TCG is sort of in opposition to. I'm all for interesting plot twists but that one just wasn't interesting.

I could go on, and on but let's just stick to the part about how this is an opinion and I'm allowed to post it. You're allowed to disagree of course, and I'm sure you will, just don't be all fanboyish about it.
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#30 User is offline   worry 

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 12:00 AM

What in blazes.
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#31 User is offline   Fiddler 

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 01:04 AM

View Postworry, on 20 January 2015 - 12:00 AM, said:

What in blazes.


It's a bunch of words.
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#32 User is offline   worry 

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 02:42 AM

Hmm, we'll see about that!
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#33 User is offline   worry 

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 02:44 AM

I checked. You were right, it was words. :p
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#34 User is offline   Spoilsport Stonny 

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 03:39 PM

View PostFiddler, on 19 January 2015 - 11:56 PM, said:

You're allowed to disagree of course, and I'm sure you will, just don't be all fanboyish about it.


That was just mean. This is kind of the place - if anywhere - where fanboys should feel welcome. Anyway I got a bunch of words too.

Complaints about ICE's books that they don't read like SE's work are probably the worst argument for ICE being a bad writer. And its also kind of insulting to assume he's told what to write. You got another chapter in a series of books that you love to read about. It featured characters new and old and tied up threads from the beginning of the series, in ways we didn't quite imagine, but are also familiar devices among the novels: trope subversion, the hero's quest, misunderstood prophecies, magic swords, gigantic scale battles, etc etc. Was it fucking Faulkner? No, it wasn't at all. But it was a damn good story and some of those bigger moments were present.

What I found especially rewarding was something I didn't realize at first. There are several times where the TI attack a group we've previously come into contact with; The Magic Bone Monster, The Sharrs and the Whatevers, Lady Mist, etc.

When we are first introduced to these characters they are in the role of villain, yet when the TI show up, there are all of a sudden feelings of pity for them and their deaths. I appreciated that. It was kind of sentimental, and honestly, its the result of good writing. So stuff yr bad vibes, dudes and dudettes. This was a good book and well worth the read for any MBotF fan.
Theorizing that one could poop within his own lifetime, Doctor Poopet led an elite group of scientists into the desert to develop a top secret project, known as QUANTUM POOP. Pressured to prove his theories or lose funding, Doctor Poopet, prematurely stepped into the Poop Accelerator and vanished. He awoke to find himself in the past, suffering from partial amnesia and facing a mirror image that was not his own. Fortunately, contact with his own bowels was made through brainwave transmissions, with Al the Poop Observer, who appeared in the form of a hologram that only Doctor Poopet could see and hear. Trapped in the past, Doctor Poopet finds himself pooping from life to life, pooping things right, that once went wrong and hoping each time, that his next poop will be the poop home.
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#35 User is offline   tiam 

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 02:53 PM

I agree that the main criticism he gets stem from coming second and that comparisons arent valid. If you have a problem with ICEs writing, and there are some valid points to be made, then they are ICEs fault only not a result of a commitee.

Having said that this book was a let down. Yes it was nice to see old faces and have a few loose ends tied up but the scale of Assail is so much smaller than weve been expecting, coupled with the gold rush plotline from OST as motivation for most of the characters made it insignificant in the grand scheme of the books. As someone (Apt I think) said this is a book that could have been bigger and bolder but instead it pulls its punches in alot of ways. I really didnt enjoy BaB but I do think as a continent building book it exceeds Assail by far with the plot being as hum drum as Assail. Character motivations where slightly more understandable in this book but still it elicited very 'meh' reactions from me all the way through.
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#36 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 30 January 2015 - 06:47 PM

View PostFiddler, on 19 January 2015 - 11:56 PM, said:

Abyss you're managing to do a lot of rebuttal towards peoples opinions. Frankly, you can't tell me how to feel about what I feel is a book that could have been written better.


Go back and read the first line of my post. They're your feelings and you can do whatever you like with them.


Quote

...unless you stand in the room with SE and ICE and listen to their communications on what does and doesn't go into the book I think all you're putting out is your opinion on that as well.


Well, let's see... i have met SE and discussed it with him. I bought him an espresso at the time. It was a nice chat. I have pictures. Also, there are a few dozen posts elsewhere on the forum on the subject. But yes, that's totally just my opinion. Feel free to disagree with it given your clearly superior opinion on the subject.

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I could go on, and on but let's just stick to the part about how this is an opinion and I'm allowed to post it. You're allowed to disagree of course, and I'm sure you will, just don't be all fanboyish about it.[/size]


Where did i say you couldn't post it?


If you want to discuss the book instead of your deeply hurt feelings, feel free to carry on.


If you want to pick an argument with me, do it in PM. Not here.
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#37 User is offline   Salt-Man Z 

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Posted 13 February 2015 - 09:04 PM

View PostSpoilsport Stonny, on 27 January 2015 - 03:39 PM, said:

Complaints about ICE's books that they don't read like SE's work are probably the worst argument for ICE being a bad writer.

Just comparing ICE to SE isn't fair, no. But I think the "You can't compare him to SE!" argument is just as overused: I could easily list 25 SFF authors off the top of my head that I feel to be superior authors when compared to ICE. Now, none of those others (SE aside) write Malazan stories, which is why ICE gets a pass from me.

Having said that, I really do wish he (ICE) would write a non-Malazan (maybe even non-SFF) novel, simply so we as Malazan fans could get a more-or-less unbiased taste of his work. I might go in with low expectations, but I'd happily be first in line.
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#38 User is offline   Werthead 

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Posted 03 March 2015 - 12:35 PM

Quote

That seriously took the wind out of my hate-sail for him. Which is what I think is wrong with Assail, Night of Knives, and most of ICE's books in general, he isn't at the helm really, he's driving and more or less being told which way to go by a backseat driver. Which doesn't work very well in writing. I don't know, but that's just what I feel is the case.


At the risk of re-opening a can of worms, ICE did write NoK and RotCG years before SE even wrote GotM, and ICE actually created several of the most iconic scenes, characters and storylines in the series which SE novelised later on, so I'm not sure this argument holds water. ICE created a whole bunch of the Malazan world and shouldn't be constrained by anything, at least to no greater extent than Erikson is.
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#39 User is offline   Spoilsport Stonny 

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 03:30 AM

View PostSalt-Man Z, on 13 February 2015 - 09:04 PM, said:

View PostSpoilsport Stonny, on 27 January 2015 - 03:39 PM, said:

Complaints about ICE's books that they don't read like SE's work are probably the worst argument for ICE being a bad writer.

Just comparing ICE to SE isn't fair, no. But I think the "You can't compare him to SE!" argument is just as overused: I could easily list 25 SFF authors off the top of my head that I feel to be superior authors when compared to ICE. Now, none of those others (SE aside) write Malazan stories, which is why ICE gets a pass from me.

Having said that, I really do wish he (ICE) would write a non-Malazan (maybe even non-SFF) novel, simply so we as Malazan fans could get a more-or-less unbiased taste of his work. I might go in with low expectations, but I'd happily be first in line.


No I hear you. Criticisms made through comparisons of the two are 100% across the board acceptable. I just meant that people expecting one person to write like another person is unreasonable, no matter what their relationship to each other is.
Theorizing that one could poop within his own lifetime, Doctor Poopet led an elite group of scientists into the desert to develop a top secret project, known as QUANTUM POOP. Pressured to prove his theories or lose funding, Doctor Poopet, prematurely stepped into the Poop Accelerator and vanished. He awoke to find himself in the past, suffering from partial amnesia and facing a mirror image that was not his own. Fortunately, contact with his own bowels was made through brainwave transmissions, with Al the Poop Observer, who appeared in the form of a hologram that only Doctor Poopet could see and hear. Trapped in the past, Doctor Poopet finds himself pooping from life to life, pooping things right, that once went wrong and hoping each time, that his next poop will be the poop home.
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#40 User is offline   Dayspring 

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 08:40 PM

SE's style of writing can be a bit dense and trend toward pathos but he weaves a great story and the weight of history and imagination behind it make for great reading; even after my initial disappointments with HoC, MN, and TtH (because they concentrated on non-malazan stories, even though HoC has since become one of my favorite in tMBotF) rereads have awakened me to their virtues. ICE on the other hand, in my opinion, does not measure up as a writer. I basically read his books because they touch upon the Malazan world that SE has, let's face it, done most of the work fleshing out. And ICE's book, contrary to adding depth and another perspective, almost diminish the Wu and it's inhabitants; Assail is a good example of that I think. Yes, he has a different style of writing, more bare, more present, and tries to give you the perspective at the grunt and non-spectacular level whereas it in SE's can it can seem like everyone is god-like in their powers/abilities/analytical prowess. I appreciate that. But in this book more than any other it seemed like ICE was making a deliberate attempt at putting his own print on the story. The situation at Assail is touched up on throughout MBotF and it portrays a playground for Jaghut and FA tyrants, a mass grave for TI by humans, basically a looney bin of powers. ICE has it down to a handful of Jaghut and Jhag descendants making paltry clans who make civil war with each other. Underwhelming. And whether it is Spinnock or Anomander reborn, it's drawn out and uninteresting for the most part and if it is Anomander reborn I will not pickup another ICE book ever. The ascension of Kyle (ascension in the real sense, not Wu sense) has seemed forced to me, he doesn't do anything to earn it, more being at the right place and the right times and somehow attached to the right people at the right times. He's a tumbling rock getting pulled from convergence to convergence; the single thing of note he's done is befriend Ereko.I read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi books across the board, my favorites being MBotF, SoIaF, and Kingkiller Chronicles, and ICE's books honestly rank very low among what I read.
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