Malazan Empire: 2020 Malazan Re-read: Night of Knives - Malazan Empire

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2020 Malazan Re-read: Night of Knives Starts Monday, June 1st

#1 User is offline   Aptorian 

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Posted 24 May 2020 - 06:17 AM

2020 MALAZAN RE-READ: NIGHT OF KNIVES

Book description for Night of Knives:

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It gave the Empire its name, but the tiny island and city of Malaz is now a sleepy, seedy backwater port. However, this night things are a little different. This night its residents are bustling about, barring doors and shuttering windows. Because this night a once-in-a-generation Shadow Moon is due and threatens the good citizens of Malaz with demon hounds and other, darker, beings…

And it was also prophesied that on this night the Emperor Kellanved, missing for all these years, would return. As factions within the greater Empire battle over the imperial throne, the Shadow Moon summons a far more alien and ancient presence for an all-out assault upon the island. Indeed, the cataclysmic events that happen this night will determine the fate of the Malaz and of the entire world beyond.



January 1st we began the re-read of the main series of the Malazan books. The plan being to read one book a month. We've now added additional Erikson and Esslemont publications to the schedule, to be read roughly according to the publication order.

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2020
January: Gardens of the Moon
February: Deadhouse Gates
March: Memories of Ice
April: House of Chains
May: Midnight Tides
June Night of Knives & The Bonehunters
July: Return of the Crimson Guard
August: Reaper's Gale
September: Stonewielder
October: Toll the Hounds
November: Orb Sceptre Throne
December: Dust of Dreams

2021
January: The Crippled God
February: Blood and Bone
March: Assail
April: Forge of Darkness
May: Fall of Light


You can read our thoughts from earlier months in these threads:

2020 Malazan Re-read: Gardens of the Moon

2020 Malazan Re-read: Deadhouse Gates

2020 Malazan Re-read: Memories of Ice

2020 Malazan Re-read: House of Chains

2020 Malazan Re-read: Midnight Tides

2020 Malazan Re-read: Bonehunters

June 1st we begin the re-read of Night of Knives, which both serves as a prequel to the Malazan Book of the Fallen series and a kind of prologue to Esslemont's Empire series. Remember we will also be reading Bonehunters this month, Night of Knives coming first in the reading order.

There will be spoilers for all published books. So beware. Spoiler blocks are not mandatory but if people want to use boxes for the latest Kharkanas books or the Path to Ascendance books for example, I'd personally appreciate it.

Are you ready? What do you remember about Night of Knives?

I recall really liking this book. It was shorter and more focused, only featured a handful of character points of view and had a tremendous pace. There's stand out moments that helped flesh out the main series and gave us new info about famous characters. We saw Dassem in action for the first time, tossing a man like a horse shoe, Tayscren reacting to Kelanved's power in awe, Temper stomping around, clashing swords and killing things like a bad ass.

Can't wait!

This post has been edited by Aptorian: 22 June 2020 - 12:53 PM

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Posted 24 May 2020 - 11:38 AM

Really looking forward to this and BH. I recall people jarring on BH because of a shit cover bit I always really liked the book.
NoK got me Hella excited for CAMs work, a lot of his subsequent door stoppers left me a bit cold. NoK is the type of tight narrative that he excells at
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Posted 26 May 2020 - 01:34 PM

I'm going to sneak read a bit of this because there's a lull at work and I'm waiting for a call.

The introduction by Erikson in this book is a great way of both blessing Esslemonts coming contributions to the series and also shedding some light on the makings of the universe.

They began creating the Malazan setting in 1982. I was 1 years old back then!
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Posted 26 May 2020 - 01:39 PM

A realatively short character list, yet so many new names that would become important as Esslemont continued on and Erikson incorporated them in the main series. Are they all Esslemont's creation?

Can't wait to see Edgewalker again.

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DRAMATIS PERSONAE THE MALAZANS
Emperor Kellanved, absent ruler of the Malazan Empire
Dancer, Master-Assassin and bodyguard to Kellanved
Surly, Mistress of the Imperial assassin corps, the Claw
Tayschrenn, Imperial High Mage
Temper, a Malazan soldier
Corinn, a mage, member of the Bridgeburner Brigade
Ash, an ex-officer of the Bridgeburner Brigade
Seal, a one-time Malazan army healer
Dassem Ultor, Champion and ‘First Sword’ of the Empire
Chase, an officer of the garrison at Mock’s Hold
Hattar, bodyguard to Tayschrenn
Ferrule, member of Dassem’s bodyguard, the Sword
Possum, an imperial assassin, Claw

INHABITANTS OF MALAZ ISLE
Coop, proprietor of the Hanged Man Inn
Anji, servitor at the Hanged Man Inn
Kiska, a youth hoping to enter Imperial service
Lubben, gatekeeper at Mock’s Hold
Fisherman, a mage of Malaz Isle
Agayla, spice dealer and mage of Malaz Isle
Trenech, regular at the Hanged Man Inn
Faro Balkat, regular at the Hanged Man Inn
Obo, a mage of Malaz Isle

OTHERS
Edgewalker, elder inhabitant of the Shadow Realm
Jhedel, a prisoner of the Shadow Realm
Oleg Vikat, a scholar of the Warrens
Surgen Ress, last Holy City champion
Pralt, a leader of the shadow cult
Jhenna, Jaghut guardian of the Dead House

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Posted 28 May 2020 - 07:03 PM

I wasn't even a thought back then!
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#6 User is online   Cyphon 

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Posted 30 May 2020 - 06:56 AM

The introduction is ace really and I think does really set out the tone of all of Cam's work.

Given that these were gamed out I dont think I could particularly say throughout the series which characters are whose. I dont think that's a uniformity point but it may way be due to the style of writing and ethos of how characters are portrayed.
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Posted 30 May 2020 - 06:59 AM

The prologue with the Stormriders has a real horror vibe to it. I remember the start of Orb Sceptre Throne having a similar feel. Esslemont should try his hand at writing horror.
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Posted 30 May 2020 - 07:10 AM

Agreed. Do you think a Horror would work in the world of Malaz? I cant quite see it, maybe he'd have to branch out.

I always get confused about Malaz bottling up the storm riders and how that works geographically. Im going to have to look at a map.

This post has been edited by Cyphon: 30 May 2020 - 07:11 AM

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Posted 30 May 2020 - 07:56 PM

P. 15

Quote

At other campaigns on continents far away Temper had travelled on ships identical to this. All carried the emblem on this one’s sails, the upright three-clawed sceptre gripping the Imperial orb. He’d witnessed port assaults during which these orbs glowed like pale suns, blasting walls and mole defences into rubble. During deep-sea engagements the orbs boiled waves, burst hulls into flame, and lashed summoned sea-demons.


If I understand this correctly, Temper is claiming that Malazan Warships are armed with some kind of magical orb weapon.

This is news to me. Never recall reading this before. Nor hearing of it in use.

A NOKism?
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Posted 30 May 2020 - 08:54 PM

I get that at this time in the Empire's history, Malaz Island is considered insignificant and a backwater for the military but you'd still think a soldier like Temper, trying to hide, would pick a less central position than this island.
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Posted 30 May 2020 - 09:12 PM

View PostAptorian, on 30 May 2020 - 07:56 PM, said:

P. 15

Quote

At other campaigns on continents far away Temper had travelled on ships identical to this. All carried the emblem on this one’s sails, the upright three-clawed sceptre gripping the Imperial orb. He’d witnessed port assaults during which these orbs glowed like pale suns, blasting walls and mole defences into rubble. During deep-sea engagements the orbs boiled waves, burst hulls into flame, and lashed summoned sea-demons.


If I understand this correctly, Temper is claiming that Malazan Warships are armed with some kind of magical orb weapon.

This is news to me. Never recall reading this before. Nor hearing of it in use.

A NOKism?


I noticed this too. To be honest I cant think where any of the books describe a naval engagement in any depth for this to come out. Could be unreliable narrator if Temper attributes mage's work to the ship itself?

Edit: Finished chapter 1 such a good set up and the contrast of Temper and Kiska is really well done.

This post has been edited by Cyphon: 31 May 2020 - 07:55 AM

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#12 User is online   Cyphon 

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Posted 31 May 2020 - 04:32 PM

I had totally forgotten that it was the ship from the prelude that does for the old fisherman.
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Posted 01 June 2020 - 05:15 AM

P. 63

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What’s—’ The man silenced her with a wave. ‘Listen to me. My name is Oleg. Many years ago a man came to me. He claimed to be interested in the arcanum of my research. We worked together. We shared knowledge. His prowess and grasp of Warren manipulation astounded me. I, who admit no peer in such mastery. He—’ The old man jammed the heels of both hands to his eyes then let out a wordless scream of rage. ‘He betrayed me! He stole my work and left me for dead!’ His fists slipped down to his mouth. ‘A life’s work,’ he moaned, staring at some scene. ‘Gone. Obliterated. Wrenched from me like a limb. My sight. My power of speech.’ ‘Send me back, Oleg,’ Kiska whispered. ‘Please.’ Throwing his face up to the sky, he yelled, ‘You . . . will . . . not . . . succeed!’ Kiska stared, stunned by the extravagance of his madness. Ignoring her dagger, he took her by the shoulders, stared with eyes like pits in which things writhed. ‘That man was Kellanved, Emperor of Malaz. He returns tonight to this island. The Claws and their mistress no doubt think he returns to reclaim the throne, but all who believe such things are fools. He returns to attempt to re-enter the Deadhouse. They are after another, far greater prize. He and Dancer.’ Oleg’s hands were hot on Kiska’s shoulders. She struggled but he held with a grip like a beast. For some reason she could not bring herself to use the weapon in her hand – perhaps because she did not want to know just how useless it was. Oleg continued, his eyes white all around. ‘Should they succeed, this realm where we stand, Shadow Realm, will be theirs! Long ago Kellanved and Dancer entered that cursed place you call the Deadhouse and there discovered a strange thing. Strange discoveries that have taken him a hundred years to understand.’


There it is again. The implication that Kelanved was a hundred years old. Maybe this mage scholar just didn't know the truth but I get the feeling that Erikson and Esslemont themselves don't always remember the age of the characters and empire.
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Posted 01 June 2020 - 05:50 AM

Kiska's encounter with Obo on p. 83 is fun.

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‘Where are we?’ The old man jabbed her arm with the staff. ‘Are you dense? My tower.’ ‘You’re Obo?’ The old man screwed up his mouth in anger and raised his staff. Kiska snatched it from his hands and threw it to one side. The old man gaped at her. ‘Why you . . . ! That was my stick!’

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 07:58 AM

Started this last night, read the first 200 or so pages.

Agree on the opening, Cam could definitely do a horror. I think, given the amount of awful and nasty in Malazan, a horror would be easy. However it would need to be a standalone.

I've only read NoK 2/3 times years ago, and have forgotten so much.

But as I've always said, the fast paced tight narrative suits Cam so much better than his sprawling door stoppers
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Posted 01 June 2020 - 08:21 AM

That snake lady on p. 121 I certainly didn't recall. I like when weird otherwise uncommon in the Malazan universe fantasy elements pop up.
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Posted 01 June 2020 - 08:57 AM

Half way through. I'm reminded that I don't like Kiska much. She's sort of like Crokus. Too youthful and stupid. I want to see Temper fight.
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Posted 01 June 2020 - 09:46 AM

P. 152

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He sensed he had pushed as far as he dared, had been given all that this man was prepared to give. Besides, what did he know of pacts made in his grandfather’s time? Or of Hood’s murky intentions, for that matter?


Another reference suggesting that the Empire is a hundred years old or more.

Now I'm left to wonder why they'd retcon the Empire's age and the mystery surrounding the Old Guard?

Like the Kharkanas books, the Path to Ascendancy story is stripping the series of the feeling of magic and fantasy.

This post has been edited by Aptorian: 01 June 2020 - 09:47 AM

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#19 User is online   Cyphon 

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 09:57 AM

View PostAptorian, on 01 June 2020 - 05:15 AM, said:

P. 63

There it is again. The implication that Kelanved was a hundred years old. Maybe this mage scholar just didn't know the truth but I get the feeling that Erikson and Esslemont themselves don't always remember the age of the characters and empire.


Yeah it's really inconsistent.

In the reach books it says he's a youth but presenting as old. 100 years old is probably the closest to his real age in Wu timelines as far as we can tell though.

Kiska is as annoying as Temper is badass.

I too had forgotten the snake lady but it was a welcome addition to the story, and another horror element to the book. NoK the Horror-iest of the series. I guess that might make Midnight Tides the romance book of the series...

This post has been edited by Cyphon: 01 June 2020 - 09:59 AM

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 10:50 AM

Those shadow cultists on p. 160 are strange. At first I thought they were Dancer and maybe Kelanved. But their behaviour doesn't quite fit. I'm almost inclined to think they're Nameless Ones.
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