Orb Sceptre Throne by Ian C. Esslemont
9 March, 2013
In the continent of Genebackis, a lone scholar unearths the burial cave of a long forgotten Tyrant, guarded by a thousand wards, freeing this entity hungry for vengeance. At the same time, the formidable fighting force that is the Seguleh are setting forth towards Darujhistan to answer a call they have been long awaiting. Far away, a Bridgeburner named Antsy is on an expedition to unearth treasure in the remnants of Moon’s Spawn that dot the Riven Sea guarded by mercenaries. And in Darujhistan, a despot manoeuvres himself into a position of power and an ex-assassin named Rellick Nom must stay on top of things in order to save himself and his city from destruction and realpolitik. And as the threat to Darujhistan grows, the alien species that is the Moranth flee the city and prepare themselves to continue a long forgotten war with their ancient enemy, the Seguleh.
This is the second book of Esslemont’s after The Night of Knives which I really enjoyed. Set in Dharujistan, Orb Sceptre Throne, the fourth in Ian C. Esslemont’s Malazan Empire series is probably the closest to Steven Erikson’s style. Part of the reason could be the reappearance of several characters from Erikson’s novels – a bit like old times. The chopped storylines, the myriad plot threads, the creeping tension, all made Orb Sceptre Throne a buzzing read for me.
As with the other Malazan books, summarising the plot is almost impossible and I don’t want to give anything away. I loved that I learnt more about the mysterious warrior cult, the Seguleh, reminiscent of a ninja x Shaolin monk crossbreed. The Moranth are still a mystery to me but I want to know more of this alien species famous for their alchemical weaponry. The only disappointment was the ending which seemed too easily wrapped up and with no loose ends. And we get to spend time with the salty veterans of the Malazan army, the Bridgeburners.
We also meet Kiska and Leoman of the Flails again, who are thrust through a rent into a different dimension in order to search for the Imperial high mage and Kiska’s master, Tayschrenn. Everyone assumed he was dead but what is the real story?
Although many reviews have given this one a battering, I really enjoyed this book although I did feel it ended a little too prematurely. But the buildup is superb and there’s a lot going on in the book and I’m looking forward to the next one, Blood and Bones.
As before, I recommend reading the books in order. Although you can probably read Esslemont’s books alone, you will get a richer reading experience if you read them in tandem with Erikson’s novels.
Malazan books by Ian C. Esslemont:
Night of Knives – this one is set just after the prologue of Gardens of the Moon and before the main events so should be read after the first volume by Erikson.
Return of the Crimson Guard – this one is set after The Bonehunters