Tag Archives: 4

Orb Sceptre Throne

Ian C. Esslemont’s fourth novel in the Malazan world is titled Orb Sceptre Throne referencing the three central artifacts of power in the plot of the book. This novel finds itself on better footing than its predecessor, Stonewielder, almost from the first page. The book is helped by the geographic density of the plot. Where Stonewielder sprawled a continent, Orb Sceptre Throne finds itself largely located within the confines of the city of Darujhistan.

The addition of the Malazan deserters including Blend, Picker, Antsy and Spindle makes for a familiar set of faces and relationships. Esslemont handles the characters deftly and, as former Bridgeburners, they provide equal parts comic relief and brutal efficacy throughout the novel. It was fortuitous or prescient that Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon centered on the Bridgeburners as they have been the most consistent performers throughout the series. Nuanced and varied, even when they diverge, they consistently become the most interesting characters in the novel. Continue reading

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The Kingdom Beyond the Waves

The second novel set in Stephen Hunt’s Jackelian World, The Kingdom Beyond the Waves, is a clear improvement from its predecessor The Court of the Air. Both stories, while they share a common setting, are self contained despite the presences of overlapping characters in both novels.  (I actually read The Kingdom Beyond the Waves first by happenstance.)

Professor Amelia Harsh, who made a brief cameo in The Court of the Air to rescue  Molly Templar from the criminal undercity, opens the book on an archeological expedition searching for clues of an ancient civilization called Camlantis. Representing an era of peace and prosperity in the distant past, Camlantis is regarded as heretical by the senior university officials throughout all of Jackals. This leaves Professor Harsh bereft of school funding and forced to engage in questionable personal adventures to try and find tangible proof of the Camlanteans.  Unsurprisingly, the questionable personal adventure she is currently on contains questionable people who betray her once the treasure is found. She is left limping back to Jackals further disgraced and marginalized.

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Norwegian author Jo Nesbo is better known for his detective series featuring alcoholic but persistent detective Harry Hole. In Headhunters, Nesbo brings to life a surprisingly self-aware character who is equal parts pragmatic and amoral. Part mystery, part thriller, the novel takes a series of unexpected turns that are often only fully realized in the retrospective.  The extreme rationality of the main character, Roger Brown, will be in strong contrast to the visceral reaction that most readers will have to him.

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