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Convince me to read this one?

#1 User is offline   cliftonprince 

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Posted 15 April 2018 - 11:47 PM

So, should I read Return of the Crimson Guard? Convince me! And should I include Stonewielder as well?

Up to this date, I have read in Malazan Book of the Fallen (Erikson) titles 1 through 8. I see from the suggested-reading-order chart that RotCG would fit somewhere roughly between 7 and 8, but I have already read 8. That's partly because I read 8 radically out of order at a time when it was the only new title from these series which I had in the house. I read 1 through 3, then went straight to 8, before reading 4 through 7. Now I have completed 4 through 7, thus making my tally all of 1 through 8 by Erikson. Make sense? I have read no Esselmont (yet?). I now lack no books, for I own all 10 Erikson titles, and I own RotCG as well. They're sitting here in the house waiting for me.

So, do I continue on my Malazan Book of the Fallen trajectory and go straight through to 9 and 10? Or do I take a hiatus from Erikson to investigate Esselmont with the two titles mentioned in the first graf above? I am not really "feeling it" about taking a break, since I'm really in the Erikson mode, barrelling forward through all the plot developments and getting a sense of specific characters. So I don't really want to leave Erikson for a radically unrelated set of people or events. But if the Esselmont stuff comes across as roughly in-league with the Erikson stuff, and won't be too jarring a difference, then maybe I'll do the Esselmont first?

Your suggestions? Convince me! :)

Additionally, may I ask, is there a handy plot-synopsis location for the first 8 that I've already read? I'm a bit confused ... LOL ... no, I'm a LOT confused. I've lost so many threads in so many places, I should have taken notes.

Edit to add the following:

Just saw this thread ... https://forum.malaza...-to-read-rotcg/ ... which seems to address some of the same questions. But it's more about content, factual info. The factual info, and whether or not I need to know it, is something I understand. I would like to know about the style and enjoyment and overall FEEL of the Esselmont book(s). Your thoughts?

This post has been edited by cliftonprince: 15 April 2018 - 11:54 PM

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#2 User is offline   Luv2B_Sassy 

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Posted 15 April 2018 - 11:52 PM

Convince you? Maaaan this fool thinks I work for free.
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#3 User is offline   Esa1996 

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 12:06 AM

Read the first two of Esslemont's books before going on with the main series. The rests of his books can be read after The Crippled God, but RotCG should be read before book 8 (Or at the earliest possible moment as you've already read book 8). Night of Knives should of course be read before RotCG though it doesn't really matter when you read it in relation to the main series as long as it's after book 2.

Some little info on what Esslemont's books are about so you get some little info on how connected or unconnected they are to the main series:

Night of Knives:

Happens roughly 9 years before the start of Gardens of the Moon. If you remember, Gardens of the Moon starts with "9th Year of Empress Laseen's Rule". That should give you some idea what NoK is about ;)

RoTCG:

You might have noticed that there was some strange stuff going on in the Empire at the end of Bonehunters with Mallick Rel suddenly having gained himself a position among the Empire's leaders and the Wickans being blamed for the events of Deadhouse Gates. Return of the Crimson Guard gives a nice explanation on what the heck is going on. It also has one of the best endings in either series. Happens roughly at the same time as Reaper's Gale.

Stonewielder:

Continues from where RotCG ends. Happens roughly at the same time as The Crippled God.

Orb, Sceptre, Throne:

Continues from where Toll the Hounds ends. Happens roughly at the same time as The Crippled God.

Blood and Bone:

Mostly a standalone novel. Happens roughly at the same time as The Crippled God.

Assail:

Continues from where Stonewielder, OST and BaB end. Happens after the Crippled God.


As for the feel of Esslemont's books?

His writing is less philosophical and less fancy; more straight to the point. Generally this is seen as a bad thing. He does improve with each book though. Even so, he is surprisingly good at imitating Erikson's style IMO and writes excellent endings to his books (Apart from NoK which I'd consider only good, not excellent). The scope in his books, apart from NoK which is both far shorter than any other book in the series and has a far smaller scope, is roughly on the same level as in Erikson's books. Perhaps a tad smaller. All in all Esslemont's series is good but not as good as Erikson's series. It is still an essential part of the Malazan world, and reading RotCG before finishing the main series is also quite important IMO as it happens long before The Crippled God.

This post has been edited by Esa1996: 16 April 2018 - 12:12 AM

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#4 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 02:23 AM

Read them or else we come back to your bedroom and this time the implants will be overt and painful.
CHASE: Paw Patrol is ready for action Mr Pust sir!
PUST: *pauses ranting* What does that mean?
ZUMA: It means let's dive in, dude!
PUST: What? What is a dude? WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?????
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#5 User is offline   Puck 

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 08:19 AM

I'm going to disagree with Esa and say no, you do not need to read RotCG if you're not feeling like leaving Erikson at the moment in favour of an author you've never read before. There is, though, one big-ish spoiler in DoD (I think, might be tCG) for the end of RotCG. That said, if you can live with the idea of that, you can absolutely go on to read the last two Erikson books, then circle back and do Esslemont if you want to. The suggested reading order works just fine, but I can say from experience that not reading the Esslemont books between Erikson's also works fine. That's not the most popular opinion hereabouts, though.

As for the feel of Esslemont's series.. Much simpler than Erikson's in all ways, much more standard and trope-y. No philosophizing. They felt disjointed to me, but lots of people think otherwise and feel like they return (return, ha!) to what made the MBotF the MBotF, namely the Malazan Empire, from which Erikson's books have moved away gradually, so the nostalgia is strong with Esslemont's series.
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#6 User is offline   Yllana 

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 09:02 PM

I will add my probably not so popular opinion and say that RotCG is not worth reading. It's a garbled mess.
Esslemont's newer books are better written, but still not half as good as Eriksons imo, but RotCG really is an atrocity. It feels as if ICE tries to desperately imitate Erikson's writing style, but it just doesn't work. He jumps between viewpoints even more than Erikson, but he just can't seem to create a coherent picture. His characters are mostly bland and he even manages to write characters we already know and love from the main series completely out of character so to speak (Iron Bars for example). And his editor must have been on holiday, because there are a lot of sentences that really made my eyes bleed.
You don't need any information from RotCG in order to better understand the last two books of the main series, so I really would recommend you to continue with the MBotF. Don't interrupt this amazing series for that unholy mess.
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#7 User is offline   Luv2B_Sassy 

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 09:17 PM

But this is the main series. They are Novels of the Malazan Empire. MBotF is just a side series about one specific arc.
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#8 User is offline   Yllana 

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 06:24 AM

@worry: I hope you are joking XD.
Without the success of the MBotF, ICE would never even have been published. Not based on stuff like NoK and RotCG.
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#9 User is offline   Luv2B_Sassy 

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 08:23 AM

I never joke. And I don't see what success has to do with anything.
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#10 User is offline   ArchieVist 

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 11:23 AM

And without ICE there would be no MBotF. No Shadowthrone, no Whiskeyjack, no Baruk, no Coll, etc. I get that people may not like his books, but I'll never understand the outrage over them. RotCG is one my favorite Malazan books.

As to the OP, you read the first 8 books all out of order. Why worry about the chronology now? Read what you want.
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#11 User is offline   Gorefest 

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 02:04 PM

View PostYllana, on 17 April 2018 - 06:24 AM, said:

@worry: I hope you are joking XD.
Without the success of the MBotF, ICE would never even have been published. Not based on stuff like NoK and RotCG.


Without ICE there would be no MBotF. Besides, you are judging these books very harshly. Both novels hold up fine compared to a vast amount of other literature out there. It just so happens that SE has set the bar very high. When you get used to ICE's writing, it is actually very enjoyable. NoK is a very easy, enjoyable and quick read compared to some of the MBotF tomes. RotCG has its issues, but there are also some very worthwhile sections in there. I'm not the greatest fan of the other works, but his prequel novels (Dancer's Lament and Deadhouse Landing) are absolutely stellar and must-read material. With the other books in the Empire series, ICE had the drawback that SE had already filled in a lot of the background so he suddenly found himself with certain constraints and expectations that are not always easy to deal with. Keeping that in mind, I think he did a pretty impressive job overall. With the prequel novels those constraints are mostly lifted and he is allowed to write to his strengths. And it shows.

This post has been edited by Gorefest: 17 April 2018 - 02:07 PM

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#12 User is offline   Yllana 

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 05:43 PM

I'm not saying that ICE should not be respected for his part in the creation of the Malazan world and the characters. I'm just saying that I don't think he is all that great an author, especially when compared to Erikson (ok that might be unfair, but then comparing them is kind of logical, right?). I have some issues with the Path to Acendancy novels, but yes, they are better than his earlier novels. How Kellanved got his name was just brilliant. Posted Image
But nothing can convince me that RotCG is a good book. The fact that there might be other books that are even worse doesn't vindicate it.
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#13 User is offline   Esa1996 

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 07:52 PM

It comes down to wether or not OP wants to read just MBotF or if he wants to read MBotF and all the related works. If he plans on moving on from the series after TCG then there's no reason to read RotCG but if he's planning on reading the entire Malazan sequence he should definitely read RotCG before continuing with Erikson's books as basically the single biggest event in RotCG gets spoiled in Erikson's last two books.

This post has been edited by Esa1996: 17 April 2018 - 07:53 PM

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#14 User is offline   cliftonprince 

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 09:56 PM

Yeah now THIS is the kind of squabble I wanted ... Posted Image

I think I get the concept of the various pro's and con's. Glad to have heard it from various veiwpoints. Not going to try to resolve the controversy.

On basis of present information, my decision is ... I'm likely to read the first chapter or so of Return of the Crimson Guard, to see if it "makes my eyes bleed" too much, and then decide whether to continue with it or just to abandon it for Dust of Dreams.

Either way, I am planning on first reading all the chapter synopses from the Fandom Wiki at malazan.wikia.com of everything I have already read (Erikson 1 through 8). I'm finding them helpful so far. I'm concerned that it looks like they aren't completed. It seems that only through chapter 3 of Toll the Hounds has been completed. Well, if everything else is done, that much will certainly succeed in reminding me of most of what I've read up to 95% of the way to complete.

Amazing how much of it I don't remember. My re-reading of the chapter synopses has informed me of some concepts that come as genuine surprises, for example: that I first met Karsa Orlong (referred to as Toblakai) and Leoman of the Flails in Deadhouse Gates, and not as late as in subsequent Raraku events of books 4 or afterwards. Hunh? Really? Also, the synopses have helped EXPLAIN some things that I didn't really know I had misunderstood, for example: that the Mhybe was really miffed at having been "abandoned" by the T'lan Imass when she initially failed to release them at her second gathering, or that the three souls (or identities) within Silverfox are sometimes a friendly blend but sometimes represent one of the more cantankerous characters and then they cause small mayhem; how a Finnest and an Azath House "operate", what's a Hold and a Warren and all that stuff. I kind of didn't get that until the re-reads. also, that Kallor was superannuated and mostly entirely evil and just a pain in the butt. (In fact, I think I still confuse the words with the sound of a K in them -- Korlat, Kallor, Karsa, K'rull, Keneb, Kalam, Korbal, Kurald, Coral, Capustan, Iktovian, K'chain, Kruppe, not to mention Coltaine, Caladan, Coll ... ).
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#15 User is offline   ArchieVist 

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 10:40 PM

I'm glad you're finding the chapter summaries useful. Unfortunately, they are far from complete. In my own experience, they can be some of the more difficult things to write on the wiki.

This link might prove useful as it gives an overview of what chapters are done on the wiki. You might also want to consider the chapter summaries and analysis over at the Malazan Reread on Tor.com. They completed the 10 MBotF books, ICE's 6 book series, and the Bauchelain and Korbal Broach novellas.
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#16 User is offline   cliftonprince 

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 12:11 AM

View PostArchieVist, on 17 April 2018 - 10:40 PM, said:

I'm glad you're finding the chapter summaries useful. Unfortunately, they are far from complete. In my own experience, they can be some of the more difficult things to write on the wiki.

This link might prove useful as it gives an overview of what chapters are done on the wiki. You might also want to consider the chapter summaries and analysis over at the Malazan Reread on Tor.com. They completed the 10 MBotF books, ICE's 6 book series, and the Bauchelain and Korbal Broach novellas.


Awesome thanks! Yeah, I found out that the summaries weren't nearly as done as I first guessed. Most are pretty good, but I can see how they'd be a real chore. I'll check the Re-Read thingummy ...
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#17 User is offline   Gorefest 

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 07:31 AM

The Tor re-reads are definitely worthwhile. Done by a first-time reader and a re-reader, they give a lot of extra information that you might not pick up on on your own. Good comments section as well.
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