Return of the Crimson Guard (Malazan Empire 2)
by Ian Cameron Esslemont
Bantam Press Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553824476
Date: 18 June 2009 List Price £8.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK /
The second Malazan novel from Ian Cameron Esslemont, co-creator of this huge and panoramic fantasy world along with Steven Erikson. Both this and Esslemont's first novel Night of Knives were published first as limited editions by PS Publishing. The Return of the Crimson Guard now receives its mass market release from Bantam.
"The return of the mercenary company the Crimson Guard could not have come at a worse time for the Malazan Empire. Drained by constant warfare, weakened by betrayal and rivalries, many see the grip of Empress Laseen weakening. Conquered kingdoms and principalities test their old independence. Into this gathering civil war on Quon Tali - the Empire's homeland - comes the Guard. And with their return comes the memory of their hundred year old vow: undying opposition to the existence of the Empire. Yet rivalries and betrayals stalk the Guard as well - elements of its elite, the Avowed, scheme to open paths to even greater power. Ancient potent entities, Ascendants, also lend a hand exploiting all sides to further their own arcane ends.Meanwhile, a swordsman, Traveller, and his companion Ereko, move from one strange encounter to another in a mysterious dance meant ultimately to bring the swordsman to a final confrontation from which none have ever returned. As the Crimson Guard gathers itself from around the globe, Empress Laseen faces more immediate threats. To feed her wars she has bled dry provincial garrisons across Quon Tali and now regional nationalists see their chance.
Behind their insurrections stand the veteran commanders of Laseen's predecessor, Emperor Kellanved. These generals and powerful mages, the "Old Hands," have lost patience with what they see as Laseen's mismanagement and have selected their own replacement. Yet there are hints that Laseen may be using the uprisings to draw out and finally eliminate these last irksome survivors of her predecessor's rule."