Orb Sceptre Throne: A Novel of the Malazan Empire
by Ian C. Esslemont
Cover Artist: Steve Stone
Review by Steve Sawicki
Tor Books Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765329998
Date: 22 May 2012 List Price $18.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
An archeological scholar stumbles across an ancient, sealed vault. He opens it and ends up being possessed. At the same time, the merchant Humble Measure is working to drive out the remaining Malazan invaders. The Malazans, no lovers of this part of the world, are of half a mind to just leave and let Darujhistan cope on its own.
Besides, the masked ones have returned and their combat prowess is not to be trifled with. Except for the Moranth, who are more than ready to right old wrongs, even if it means destroying themselves along with the city and their enemies. And, in the middle of it all, the Bridgeburners. When you factor in the ex-Claw, the Queen of Dreams, an old thief, and a few wandering Gods, things are about to get more lively than anyone could care for.
As with any book involving the Malazans, this one is incredibly complex. There are countless characters, working numerous agendas, via varying means, under multiple conditions and contracts. It could be easy to get confused about exactly who is doing what and for what reason. This is even more complicated when you realize that Esselmont is writing in someone else's universe. Certainly, the fact that he and Erikson created the universe that the Malazan's inhabit, makes it an easier task. But, still, he's working with multiple characters who already have histories and back stories.
I like the Malazan books, regardless of whether they have been written by Esselmont or Erikson. I like the universe, I like the characters, and I find the writing of the two authors to be more similar than not. There's also a flavor to the writing, a willingness to let it all lay on the line, never mind who might die and who might end up disastrously changed.
As with most of the Malazan books, this one is big, not as big as the Erikson books but still more than 600 pages. And that much space is needed because these are big stories being told about big characters who are standing at the point where history changes. I can't recommend this series highly enough, and this book fits right in there with the best of them.