Dancer's Lament: Path to Ascendancy Book 1
by Ian C. Esslemont
Review by Steve Sawicki
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765379443
Date: 31 May 2016 List Price $29.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The king is dead, long live the king. With this book Esslemont surpasses the other 'E' guy who writes in this universe. Those of you who read here regularly know that I am a huge fan of the series. I love the books, really enjoy the writing and the universe, love the hell out of the sense of humor and the humanness of the characters, recommend the books to everyone who will listen, and go out of my way to get review copies so I can get my fix. In fact, this is one of the few series that I have actually spent money out of pocket on and I can count on one hand the books that I have actually bought over the past two decades. And, up until now it has made no difference to me who was behind the writing. Well, no longer. I tried to read the other guy and came up flat. Three times I tried and had to give up. I was very, very sad. But no more. The king is dead, long live the king.
This book is a prequel, starting off with the story of how Dancer got his name and how he came to start being the person who ended up founding the Malazan Empire. It begins simply enough, with a young thief entering a city looking to build a name for himself. But, as with all things involving this series, complexity generates complications and what looked to be a simple path turns into a crooked journey involving gods, the chosen of gods, elder beings, mages, sorcerers, treachery, back stabbing, front stabbing, and more mayhem than you could ever imagine. All of which is exactly why we read and love this series.
Esslemont certainly can weave a plot. And weave is an excellent word for what he's doing here, moving multiple players on a complex yet finite geography, and presented so well that you enjoy every character and every story and keep glancing to the end of the book hoping it will somehow grow longer so it doesn't have to end.
This is an excellent start to what I hope will be another long series set in the Malazan Empire. Or, in this case, set in what will become the Malazan empire. Highly recommended and enthusiastically embraced.