Malazan Empire: An Apt opinion on Dancer's Lament. - Malazan Empire

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An Apt opinion on Dancer's Lament.

#1 User is offline   Aptorian 

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 07:31 AM

Seems like I've been making a thread complaining about Esslemonts books ever since Return of the Crimson Guard, even Assail which I liked left me disappointed. However, after reading Dancer's Lament I am actually really pumped for more Malazan origins material.

Dancer's Lament was a great read. I feel like Esslemont finally found his own voice in this book. Or maybe the right angle is a better description. Lament dispenses with the more romantic philosophical prose of Eriksons books and the hundreds of POVs and strange side tangents. A style Esslemont was aping for most of the Empire books. This book feels more like Night of Knives. Few POVs. A less ambitious but focused prose. Lots of action and progress instead of the pondering, lumbering gait of the later Malazan books.

This book felt more like a Young Adult take on the Malazan world, what with the focus on the very young Dancer and Kelanved. Similarly numerous known characters appear in younger roles.

It's like a super violent coming of age story for Dancer and I think Esslemont for the most part pulled it off well. I liked that instead of the typical YA stories you have to go through a whole book reading about the protagonist becoming strong but Dorin arrives as fully formed killing machine. I love how superbly powerful he is demonstrated to be, without magic, even as Esslemont shows us how young he still is. This was no Crokus/Cutter-like weakling. You always got the impression that while unseasoned, Dancer was supremely skilled. Perhaps Esslemont could have focused the pretty meandering objectives of Dorin a bit but it's interesting to see Dorin's priorities change.

Similarly Kelanved/Wu was handled perfectly. I thought it was smart to not include POVs of Wu's thoughts, since his unpredictability and unhinged nature made for a great foil for the disciplined strong willed Dorin. I like that we got to see a younger Kelanved that, while clearly already very clever, is coming of age. He shows weaknesses at times, becoming angry when people dismiss him, having to admit his lack of knowledge at times, but you can see the man he grew into. How beyond normal thought processes or desires he is, completely focused on some goal a hundred years in the future he doesn't even understand.

The way those two characters play off one another was terrific and I cannot wait to see how those two become rulers of an empire.

Overall I think Esslemont did a great job of retelling the past, dropping in cameos of later characters, connecting older storylines with this new one, shedding new light on old conspiracies, etc. I do think that the book fails to create enough new mysteries for the over all series/franchise to build on, but time will tell.

I still think Esslemont has trouble building convergences and wrapping up his books. I never really felt invested in Li Hengs fate and honestly, that last attack felt pretty undramatic. The only real connection we have to the city's army and the palace are Silks POV and it doesn't succeed in convincing me that Li Heng or the lives there in matter. Much like Wu I am sitting and reading it and I was more curious about what would come after.

I don't like the way Wu and Dorin just leave behind their army of children. I wanted some kind of closure with Ullara. What about Dassem? What about Hood and the Protectress? What about Ho and his clones? I know a lot of this stuff is actually given based on later books but it felt like there were holes in the story.

I sort of want to sit down and read Return of the Crimson Guard after this book. I remember almost nothing about RCG. Silk seemed like a completely different character.

In the end I think this book was a fantastic start to a series about the early empire. I hope Esslemont just stretches the whole thing out and writes ten books about the adventures of Kelanved and Dancer.
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#2 User is offline   Esa1996 

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 09:23 PM

View PostApt, on 03 March 2016 - 07:31 AM, said:

I sort of want to sit down and read Return of the Crimson Guard after this book. I remember almost nothing about RCG. Silk seemed like a completely different character.

In the end I think this book was a fantastic start to a series about the early empire. I hope Esslemont just stretches the whole thing out and writes ten books about the adventures of Kelanved and Dancer.


THrought he entire book I was wondering if I had seen Silk somewhere :D I felt like it but I had no idea whatsoever of where.

I was thinking the exact same thing. A mere three books for the 100 or so years that they take before becoming ascendants feels like too few.
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#3 User is offline   Andorion 

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Posted 04 March 2016 - 01:09 AM

I wanted to read RotCG too after this book. I agree with all the stuff Apt said. As for leaving their people behind, I am not convinced that is the case. Knowing Kell they have some magical communications set up or a fall back plan
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#4 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 04:13 AM

Rheena ends up as Fist of Li Heng and Baudin ends up Talon.... Sure neither of those things work out very well, but even so evidence suggests even tho Wu n Dorin were exiled, at some point they reconnect.
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#5 User is offline   cauthon 

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 09:23 PM

View PostAndorion, on 04 March 2016 - 01:09 AM, said:

I wanted to read RotCG too after this book. I agree with all the stuff Apt said. As for leaving their people behind, I am not convinced that is the case. Knowing Kell they have some magical communications set up or a fall back plan


Given what he did for the army of refugee kids Kalam rescued, he will not leave these behind. Or maybe he then sought redemption from earlier mistakes.
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#6 User is offline   Meese 

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Posted 16 April 2016 - 12:12 PM

I feel lied to - again. I really wish ICE would stop writing altogether. Admittedly I did actually manage to finish Dancers Lament - which is something I've not managed since Return of the Crimson Guard, Its utterly puerile dibble and typical of the very worst of the genre. I promise you , if you take out all those amazingly full deep and powerful characters created and wonderfully developed by SE you are left with a book not fit for 6 year olds.

This I vow! I will never read another ICE novel. ever. AND he said kinky hair again! What the hell is all that about?
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#7 User is offline   worry 

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Posted 16 April 2016 - 08:06 PM

Kinky hair:
Posted Image

Most of the characters in this book were developed by ICE or ICE&SE in concert. Not sure why you'd presume otherwise.

Hope that addresses your presented concerns, and I will note your vow in my official journal of strangers' vows forthwith, so rest assured.
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#8 User is offline   Giantblaze 

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Posted 19 April 2016 - 03:30 AM

View PostMeese, on 16 April 2016 - 12:12 PM, said:

I feel lied to - again. I really wish ICE would stop writing altogether. Admittedly I did actually manage to finish Dancers Lament - which is something I've not managed since Return of the Crimson Guard, Its utterly puerile dibble and typical of the very worst of the genre. I promise you , if you take out all those amazingly full deep and powerful characters created and wonderfully developed by SE you are left with a book not fit for 6 year olds.

This I vow! I will never read another ICE novel. ever. AND he said kinky hair again! What the hell is all that about?


I kind of get where you are coming from, but for the most part I do still enjoy ICE books, there are very few I feel live up to SE. I remember reading somewhere ( I feel like it was on the tor reread thing) where SE said something about how him and ICE didn't/don't really communicate about what they are going to write as well as they maybe should. I would how many times they have kind of stepped on each others toes and what not. I know there are a few plot points forshadowed in SE novels that never get to develop because ICE kills off a character or what not. I think it is Bonehunters that Shadowthrone talks to Tayschrenn in the end and he goes on and on about how he doens't act and how he lied about quieting the cult and what not, then Shadowthrone mentions that Tayschrenn agreed to be Quick Bens shaved knuckle in the hole. Tayschrenn said something about how he would have been disappointed if Quick Ben called on him so soon and then the scene ends. So there is some clear forshadowing and then nothing ever happens because ICE kind of killed him off. I can't help to wonder if they talked about that or if ICE changed the course of later books because of it.
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#9 User is offline   pat5150 

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Posted 28 April 2016 - 03:47 AM

Waited for a couple of weeks to write my review to see if the time would help lessen my disappointment in Dancer's Lament. It did not. . . :)

For those interested, you can read it here.

Now reading Fall of Light and I'm enjoying it thus far! :p

Patrick
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#10 User is offline   amphibian 

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Posted 28 April 2016 - 05:25 AM

View Postpat5150, on 28 April 2016 - 03:47 AM, said:

Waited for a couple of weeks to write my review to see if the time would help lessen my disappointment in Dancer's Lament. It did not. . . :)

For those interested, you can read it here.

Now reading Fall of Light and I'm enjoying it thus far! :p

Patrick

Truly odd to me that you're mentioning RotCG and SW as the triumphs of ICE's catalog so far. For me, these two had the weakest technical display of writing and the worst-handled storylines.

I'm a person that heavily criticized those two plus OST. I very much liked Blood and Bone, Assail, and now Dancer's Lament. I see much technical improvement, greater skill in introducing people/places, and a better sense of when to ease up and when to ramp up.

There was always talent, but the editing/pushing of the writer to take certain sections and improve them wasn't there before. Now it is and I'm of the opinion Dancer's Lament is a really good book as it is for that particular writer and within the SFF world as.
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#11 User is offline   FlynntMillit 

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 07:17 PM

View PostAbyss, on 16 March 2016 - 04:13 AM, said:

Rheena ends up as Fist of Li Heng and Baudin ends up Talon.... Sure neither of those things work out very well, but even so evidence suggests even tho Wu n Dorin were exiled, at some point they reconnect.


I knew I recognized Rheena but couldn't place who she would become. I want to read about the Malzan conquest of Heng now, to bridge DL and RotCG. Especially Shalmanats reaction to them returning. Regret over exiling them perhaps?
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#12 User is offline   RACHEL 

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Posted 21 June 2016 - 04:10 PM

I loved this book. It was funny and I loved seeing the younger versions of characters. I have liked all ICE books so I expected to like this one, but I am always a bit shocked at the hate ICE gets from people. It seems like the biggest gripe people have is that he doesn't write like Erickson, or doesn't pull off his copycat of Erickson. Well NO SHIT, he is a different person so he writes differently. If you don't like his style of writing that is totally fine but if your big issue is his lack of being Erickson then you need to settle down. Why would anyone pick up a book from another author and expect it to be just like the first author? Another complaint that confuses me is people saying that ICE ruins Ericksons characters with the implication that Erickson made this whole world up and ICE just jumped in after the hard work was all done and tried to take some credit. I personally think you are kind of slow if you have read these books and still do not know that Erickson and Ice created this world TOGETHER and that some of peoples favorite characters in Erickson's books were created by ICE and vice versa. I can understand that ICE is not going to be everyone's cup of tea but the above complaints seem silly to me. I am aware that many people are let down by ICE because Erickson's writing is so top notch that anything less is a disappointment and they wish that Erickson had written all the books instead of letting ICE have a hand at some. It feels a little like some people set themselves up to hate ICE's books by getting themselves all built up for his books to be a certain way and they are let down when they aren't. Maybe my expectations are just lower than some but I will gladly read any addition to the Malazan world even if it isn't perfect.

One of the people above made the comment that the dialogue was purile but a lot of the characters in the book are young so how would you think they would talk. I personally find it a bit annoying that almost every character in Erickson's books, no matter their age, talks like a brilliant scholar. It was fun to see some of these characters talking in what I thought was age and life experience appropriate.
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#13 User is offline   Edonidd 

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Posted 09 July 2016 - 01:44 AM

I have pretty much loved SE since I got about 50 pages into GotM 15 or so years ago. And I've been pretty much constantly disappointed by ICE since I finished NoK the day it arrived from overseas before it was even out here. I have over the years bought every Erikson book I could get my hands on, as soon as I could get my hands on them. Esslemont has long been just anot her writer, I read his books and get mad and promise never to read another. If it wasn't for his buddy Steven I wouldn't even bother with his writing even when I had nothing else to read. Somehow I would always convince myself that even bad Malazan was better than nothing. And I would always regret that decision later.

Well that stops now.

Because I can't wait to read as many books as Cam writes in this series, and I'm telling myself I'm not even going to finish the Kharkanas trilogy. ICE flipped the script and his latest work is a far more enjoyable read than FoL.
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#14 User is online   Macros 

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 08:28 PM

I'm on the same page.

NoK was always my favourite ICE book, not that that meant much as I had little time.for his other works.
Now I can't drag myself read FoL but enjoyed Dancers Lament enough to be looking forward to more from ICE.
I think he's found his meter, the doorstoppers from him just didn't work for me, whereas the much tighter story of NoKs did. Same here, this size and scope suits him.
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