Ian C. Esslemont – Orb Sceptre Throne

If anyone had been searching for a sequel to The Malazan Book Of The Fallen then Orb Sceptre Throne (2012) by Ian C. Esslemont would be it. While Steven Erikson wrote the above mentioned series, Esslemont, his partner in creating the world of the Malazan Empire, has been tackling the so-called side-events taking place in the same universe and exploring parts of the world they created that were only heard of in the epic fantasy series.

This is the fourth book he has written and this one takes up a storyline that has been lingering since the first book of The Malazan Book Of The Fallen and remained unfinished after the eight book of the series, Toll The Hounds. In a way one can see Orb Sceptre Throne as a sequel to that novel. There are a few minor storylines from Esslemont’s earlier books that continue here as well, but most of the storylines in the novel are all related to the central story arc. In that Esslemont keeps up at staying onto fairly standalone  novels, although one needs to have read the books of the Fallen to appreciate them fully.

In more than one way Orb Sceptre Throne wraps up old storylines and brings them to, although perhaps temporary, a conclusion. Some mysteries are finally unraveled. The tragic element that was part of his and Erikson’s books is diminished much. So much has happened already that more would not leave much left. In that sense the ending is rather timid. I had expected a great clash, but it didn’t happen. Matters got resolved without reverting to them. In a way that was disappointing. Nevertheless it is good for a change to see that great destruction and violence is not always the answer so I did appreciate how Esslemont handled it.

The story was well crafted in the typical style we are used to, quickly switching between characters and scenes.  For a change there are less greater powers active which reduces the tone of the events to a more down to earth nature, although plenty of supernatural stuff keeps happening.

Esslemont’s writing style has always been very similar to that of Steven Erikson. Because his earlier novels followed characters that Erikson hadn’t touched it remained hard to really compare them. In Orb Sceptre Throne most of the characters used have been introduced and used much by Erikson. I was thus very interested in how well Esslemont could preserve their peculiar characteristics. I have to say he did so very well. I had only a feeling that there were minor differences, but I couldn’t point them out.  Should two authors be so similar in style? I don’t really mind. Esslemont does have a different voice and the similarity makes his and Erikson’s novels form a greater unity than it might have had.

I had great joy to read more stories taking place in the Malazan universe and Orb Sceptre Throne is a good addition to the series. It closes a number of old open ends which means that the next stories will contain more new things, about which I am in great anticipation. Recommended.


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