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Blood and Bone: A Novel of the Malazan Empire by Ian C. Esslemont
Cover Artist: Steve Stone
Review by Steve Sawicki
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765329974
Date: 21 May 2013 List Price $27.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Wikipedia Entry / Show Official Info /

Also by Ian C. Esslemont:
Novels of the Malazan Empire:
* Night of Knives
* Return of the Crimson Guard
* Stonewielder
* Orb Sceptre Throne
* Blood and Bone

The visitor hangs in the sky like the omen that everyone thinks it is--foretelling doom, bad times, hard times, change. No one likes change. On the continent of Jacuruku change is imminent and planned for. But, the thing about change is that it can defy all planning. The Thaumaturgs are about to find that out as they mount an expedition to the wild jungle, planning on changing it once and for all. The wild jungle, the Himatan, is waiting. It is the realm of spirits and earth and it is said to be ruled by a goddess, the Queen of Witches, the ancient Ardata.

Saeng, a jungle tribe girl, grew up under the thumb of the Thaumaturgs and when they came and took her brother to be part of their invasion she vowed that she would bring them down. She's about to come into the kind of power that might allow her to do that. Far to the south, the desert tribes are uniting under a foreign warleader who is about to drive them into the heart of the land overseen by the Thaumaturgs. And in the middle of all of this sits K'azz, captain of the Crimson Guard, the avowed, looking for resolution of so many past decisions.

As is typical in any Esselmont/Erikson book, there are multiple themes and plots running at the same time and the author jumps from one to the other faster than a cricket on a hot tin roof. In the beginning it seems that there is no way that all of these threads come together in any coherent kind of way. And yet they do. And in a way that is soul satisfying and thoroughly enjoyable.

This is a rich world and a world it truly is with places and times yet to be explored. That the characters we have come to know and enjoy move between all these places is less problematic than you might imagine for there are hundreds of characters and new ones pop up all the time so there is plenty of adventure to go around. That character who was mentioned five books ago and had a supporting role last book now is brought to the front to lead the effort.

I really enjoyed this book. As much as I have enjoyed pretty much all of the books. I have to admit that the latest Erikson, Forge of Darkness, also reviewed in this issue, was much less satisfying, to the point where I thought the series might be over, but Esslemont resolved any feeling of impending doom with this effort. If you love the series then this is one more book you will find yourself buried in. Great writing, great characters, great setting. Nothing more need be said.

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