Assail by Ian C Esslemont

(9.0/10) Returning to the Malazan world is as joyous as I could ever have hoped.

Book of the Year 2014 (see all)

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

15+

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

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

Night of Knives

A Novel of the Malazan Empire: Book 1 written by Ian C Esslemont

The empire is named for the tiny island and city of Malaz, now a sleepy, seedy backwater port. Tonight however, a once-in-a-generation Shadow Moon brings demon hounds and d [...]

Published: 2004

Our rating: 7.8 | positive reader reviews

15+

Return of the Crimson Guard

A Novel of the Malazan Empire: Book 2 written by Ian C Esslemont

The return of the Crimson Guard could not have come at a worse time for an empire exhausted by warfare and weakened by betrayals and rivalries.Into the seething caul [...]

Published: 0000

Our rating: 8.0 | positive reader reviews

15+

Stonewielder

A Novel of the Malazan Empire: Book 3 written by Ian C Esslemont

Enter the universe of Malazan, where many a story unfolds and strife is easier to find than water in a well. After finishing their business elsewhere, the Malazan Empire fi [...]

Published: 0000

Our rating: 7.3 | positive reader reviews

15+

Orb Sceptre Throne

A Novel of the Malazan Empire: Book 4 written by Ian C Esslemont

The tumult of great powers colliding has passed and the city of Darujhistan and its citizens can at last get on with what matters: trading, bickering, politicking and enjoy [...]

Published: 2012

Our rating: 8.5 | positive reader reviews

15+

Blood and Bone

A Novel of the Malazan Empire: Book 5 written by Ian C Esslemont

In the western sky the bright emerald banner of the Visitor descends like a portent of annihilation. On the continent of Jacuruku, the Thaumaturgs have mounted another expe [...]

Published: 0000

Our rating: 8.8 | positive reader reviews

15+

Assail

A Novel of the Malazan Empire: Book 6 written by Ian C Esslemont

Tens of thousands of years of ice is melting, and the land of Assail, long a byword for menace and inaccessibility, is at last yielding its secrets. Tales of gold discovere [...]

Published: 2014

Our rating: 9.0 | positive reader reviews

15+

More Ian C Esslemont reviews

Dancer's Lament

by Ian C Esslemont

It was once a land ravaged by war, minor city states, baronies and principates fight for supremacy, and then the rival cities of Tali and Quon formed an alliance and so Quo [...]

Series: Path to Ascendancy #1
Published: 0000

Score: 80

Our rating: 8.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

Deadhouse Landing

by Ian C Esslemont

After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To [...]

Series: Path to Ascendancy #2
Published: 2017

Score: 86

Our rating: 8.6 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

Kellanved's Reach

by Ian C Esslemont

The incessant war between the bickering city states of Quon Tali rages. So engrossed are the warring lords and princes in their own petty feuds that few notice that an upst [...]

Series: Path to Ascendancy #3
Published: 2019

Score: 85

Our rating: 8.5 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

Books you may also enjoy

The Judging Eye

by R Scott Bakker

The Three Seas are on the march under the leadership of Anasûrimbor Khellus. Khellus has spent these last twenty years conquering the various nations and forming the [...]

Series: The Aspect Emperor: Book 1
Published: 2009

Score: 101

Our rating: 10.0 | 1 positive reader reviews

15+

Once Walked With Gods

by James Barclay

The elves have fled to Calius, seeking to escape the overwhelming power of the demonic Garonin. A desperate last stand in their own dimension saved the race, at the cost of [...]

Series: Elves Trilogy: Book 1
Published: 2010

Score: 97

Our rating: 9.7 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

Breach Zone

by Myke Cole

The Great Reawakening has left Latent people with a stark choice: either use their newfound magical powers in the service of the government, or choose the path of the Selfe [...]

Series: Shadow Ops series: Book 3
Published: 2014

Score: 95

Our rating: 9.5 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

The Divine Cities Trilogy

by Robert Jackson Bennett

A special omnibus edition, collecting all three books of Robert Jackson Bennett’s acclaimed Divine Cities trilogy in a single volume. &nbs [...]

Series: The Divine Cities trilogy #1 - #3
Published: 2018

Score: 95

Our rating: 9.5 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+