Assail by Ian C Esslemont (A Novel of the Malazan Empire: Book 6)

9/10 Returning to the Malazan world is as joyous as I could ever have hoped.

For years now we have been teased with the prospect of visiting Assail, writing partners Steven Erikson and Ian C Esslemont weaving hints and rumours into their epic series’ so as to leave us completely hooked on the idea of this threatening landmass. Covered in ice, but home to some of Malazan’s most important figures, ‘Assail’ by Ian C Esslemont was everything I could have asked for.

The Malazan Wiki describes the continent of Assail as being “situated between Genabackis and the Letherii continent and was held to be the most dangerous and hostile part of the Malazan world.” The Crimson Guard had history there, as did the imitable T’lan Imass, and its history was such as to defer even the Malazan Empire’s expansionist aims.

So much could trace roots back to Assail – so many stories had to finish on that terrifying continent. Names like Kyle, the Crimson Guard, Silverfox, and more, all had to make their way to Assail for their stories to reach a measure of conclusion. So long in the waiting, ‘Assail’ by Ian C Esslemont had a lot to live up to.

And boy did he pull it off.

Esslemont has been writing in the shadow of the more popular and successful Steven Erikson for some time now, but managing to grow in his skills with each subsequent book. More and more, now, I’m beginning to find Esslemont’s additions to the Malazan universe as enticing and well-written as Erikson’s. Both have their different styles, which in some ways make Esslemont’s more accommodating and accessible – which can be both a good and a bad thing.

As with all Malazan books, new and old characters act as our protagonists. Characters from both Erikson and Esslemont reappear in Assail, as well as some fascinating new characters, which really make the story such a well-rounded reading experience.

The payoff of returning to Assail is well worth the wait, and by the end of the book it was 4:30am and I was actually shocked by the revelations that confronted me. I had caught some of the clues, and missed a hundred more. And with rumours floating around that Ian C Esslemont has signed a new deal to write three more books, I am giddy with the possibility that some of these Assail characters will return.

Assail by Ian C Esslemont probably ranks as one of my favourite books of the year – albeit also one of the most anticipated. With characters we have come to love, and new ones to love, returning to the Malazan world is as joyous as I could ever have hoped.

Review by

Our interview with Ian C Esslemont

Joshua S. Hill talks to Ian C. Esslemont following the release of Deadhouse Landing, the second book in his Path to Ascendency series which further explores the Malazan universe he co-created with Steven Erikson.JSH: In your [...]

Read interview


Ian C Esslemont's A Novel of the Malazan Empire series

Night of Knives

A Novel of the Malazan Empire: Book 1


A Novel of the Malazan Empire: Book 3

Return of the Crimson Guard

A Novel of the Malazan Empire: Book 2

Orb Sceptre Throne

A Novel of the Malazan Empire: Book 4

Blood and Bone

A Novel of the Malazan Empire: Book 5


A Novel of the Malazan Empire: Book 6

Assail reader reviews

9/10 from 1 reviews

Write a reader review

There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?

Your rating out of 10

More reviews of Ian C Esslemont books

Books you may also enjoy

The Judging Eye

R Scott Bakker

A Little Hatred

Joe Abercrombie

Once Walked With Gods

James Barclay

Breach Zone

Myke Cole

The Divine Cities Trilogy

Robert Jackson Bennett

Shadow Ops: Control Point

Myke Cole

The Poppy War

R F Kuang

The Winter Road

Adrian Selby

Following reviews

The Mall

Richie Tankersley Cusick

The Queen of the Tearling

Erika Johansen

Krondor: The Assassins

Raymond E Feist

The Giant's Dance

Robert Carter

The Sheik's Reluctant Bride

Teresa Southwick and Ayumu Asou

The Language of Stones

Robert Carter

A Gladiator Dies Only Once

Stephen Saylor