Orb Sceptre Throne by Ian C Esslemont (A Novel of the Malazan Empire: Book 4)

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 enjoying all the good things in life. However, not all are ready to leave the past behind. A treasure hunter, digging amongst the burial grounds that surround the city, is about to uncover a hidden crypt. He will open the last of a series of sealed vaults - the one that no other dared touch - and, in so doing, set free something so terrifying that the knowledge of its internment may have been systematically wiped from all history.

Fortune hunters are also at work far to the south. When a fragment of Moon's Spawn, once the home of Anomander Rake, Son of Darkness, crashed into the Rivan Sea it created a chain of small islands. Legends and rumours already surround them. The most potent of these is that here is hidden the Throne of Night, claimed by some to be the seat of Mother Dark herself. Either way, all who seek this ancient artefact - renegade mages, hardened mercenaries, even a Malazan army deserter - believe it will bestow unlimited power upon the eventual possessor. The stakes are high, greed is rife, betrayal inevitable, and murder and chaos lie in wait...

So here is the Fourth Novel of the Malazan Empire from ICE. It didn’t take me long after I started reading to see that this one was different from the previous ones. Stonewielder made me feel that Ian was Steven Erikson’s adoring little brother doing his best to imitate his hero. This one makes me think it was ghost-written by Erikson because he was only contracted for ten books, but still had so much to say, but not enough time to write 1000+ pages.

The timeline is a couple years after the Crippled God finishes and the location Darujhistan so it’s all familiar stuff. And yes, it is full of retired Bridgeburners and all those characters we missed out on from The Crippled God or sooner when their storylines were left hanging. I would say that there were easily ten storylines that I had wondered why they had been unfinished that now have closure for me. Maybe this is the direction of ICE from here on in. Following and finishing off those storylines that Steven has left hanging for us to wonder about.

But all in all this was an excellent read in the Erikson format. When I finished I felt quite satisfied, but not Erikson satisfied, but I put this down to perception because of the name on the front cover, not the content or quality.
George Roesch, 8/10


Growth. It is the one fundamental requirement we as readers are allowed to require from authors. The speed by which one writes, the answers provided and held back, characters and plot lines; none of these are for us to determine or expect input on. However, I believe that every author is required to continue to grow in their abilities.

Which is why I have always been such a fan of Ian C. Esslemont’s writing, because at every stage he has shown growth in his writing.

‘Orb Sceptre Throne’ is the latest book in his Novels of the Malazan Empire, and it is by far the best of them. Such an array of characters and storylines brought together in a near-cataclysmic climax. And to bring all of these characters and plot points to Darujhistan – one of the hallmarks of Steven Erikson’s writing – took a lot of guts, I thought, especially in bring Kruppe back. It is nearly as courageous as returning to Letheras and the relationship between Tehol Beddict and Bugg.

Only one storyline is held on from the previous book, ‘Stonewielder’, and it ties in nicely to everything else happening on Genabackis. In fact, there is a lot happening on Genabackis, and Esslemont keeps a sure and steady hand on all of it.

I was really impressed with how he wrote the various Malazans peppered throughout the continent. Obviously the heart of their stories, Erikson, and to a lesser extent Esslemont, have developed a specific tone to the people of the Malazan Empire. Brave while being cynical, passionate, multicultural, but suspicious as all hell of anything that even hint at authority. Esslemont managed to bring all of that, and still create individuals from within the Empire; individuals we could hold on to and appreciate, root for and mourn.

But obviously the real heroes were the natives to Genabackis, especially those who call Darujhistan home. I loved seeing the Nom’s back in action, as well as Barathol, and in each case their female partners play small, but integral roles in the development of the male characters. The Malazans who now call Darujhistan their home were really entertaining, and it was great to see more of Duiker and Fisher.

The return of one of my favourite characters really kept me entertained, and finally being able to learn more about the Seguleh was wonderful. Focused on the sword to their detriment, the growth they went through as a people, and in particular that of the Seguleh Second, was perfect; a wonderful antidote to the horror of their actions and betrayal.

Orb Sceptre Throne is definitely the best Esslemont has brought to the Malazan table so far, and really heightens my anticipation for ‘Blood and Bone’ later this year. Definitely worth a read if you’re a Malazan fan, though probably a bit beyond anyone who is yet to enter the world.
Joshua S Hill, 9/10

9/10 An excellent read in the Erikson format.

Reviews by and Joshua S Hill

1 positive reader review(s) for Orb Sceptre Throne

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Orb Sceptre Throne reader reviews

from Australia

Actually, this book takes place before the beginning of the Crippled God. The man Rallick wakes in the Finnest house is Kalam, who then rocks up at the beginning of the Crippled God.
9/10 ()

8.8/10 from 2 reviews

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