Review: Stoneweilder

This post will include my review of the book Stoneweilder by Ian C Esslemont. It is another of the Malazan novels he writes set the world he shares with Steven Erikson. Released May 10 2011.

The text below is taken from the blurb on the back of the book.

Greymane believed he’d outrun his past. With his school for swordsmanship in Falar, he was looking forward to a more settled existence, although his colleague Kyle wasn’t quite so enamoured of life outside the Crimson Guard. However, it is not so easy for an ex-Fist of the Malazan Empire to disappear, especially one declared a traitor.

For the new Emperor is dwelling on the ignominy of the disastrous invasion of the Korel subcontinent. In the vaults beneath the Imperial capital lie the answers and out of this buried history surfaces a single name:

In Korel, Lord Protector Hiam faces the potential annihilation of all that he holds dear. With few remaining men and a stone wall that has seen better days, he confronts an ancient foe. The Stormriders have returned – and the cult of the Blessed Lady which had stood firm for millenia against the sea-borne enemy now threatens religious war instead.

While chaos looms, a local magistrate investigates a series of murders only to find he’s at the heart of a far more ancient and terrifying crime…

Like all the Malazan books there’s a lot going on. Both Erikson and Esslemont write big books with many characters and complex storylines that don’t always find their conclusion in a single book. Esslemont’s handling of these for me seems tighter yet Erikson is better at making characters and places come to life.

In this book we get our first real look at the Korel subcontinent. Previously this part of the world was only mentioned in passing. There was a sense of tradgey and romance about the Korelri Chosen and their millenia long vigil against the Stormriders – their mission to protect humanity at all costs seemed noble yet unappreciated by the people who benefited from their sacrifice. Unfortunately this aspect of their character wasn’t really shown it was inferred and by the end of the book I was actually hoping for them to be overrun. That storyline had the potential for causing a conflict of morality but it never came.

Similarly there was an entire storyline of the people’s rebellion of Jourila. By the end of the book I found myself wondering what was the point of that? I couldn’t really even be sure who won or what they were really hoping to achieve.

The storyline involving Kiska and Jheval never seemed to go anywhere, but I expect that will find some conclusion in a future book. A little frustrating but not surprising given that’s how these stories go.

The central theme throughout was the worship of The Lady. How over the years it had lost its way but why thet happened was never really explained. It could simply have come about as a result of human greed and complacency but again this was never really delved in to.

Esslemont’s previous work “The Return of the Crimson Guard” was in my view a much more polished work. This one was interesting inasmuch as I am curious to find out what I can about the world the two of them have created, but it seemed to simply describe events with no real attempt to make me understand the significance of those events.

If you are a fan of the Malazan world then I am sure that you will find things to keep you interested throughout. It was a solid story with some interesting characters who keep the narrative moving, not the best book in the series but important to the overall storyline.


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