Stonewielder is the third novel by Ian C. Esslemont in the world of the Malazan Empire.
Greymane and Kyle – formerly of the Crimson Guard – have taken up positions in the Malazan Empire as High Fist and Adjunct. They are tasked with destroying a former Malazan contingent on Korel that has taken up power for itself. And the new Emperor isn’t happy about that. In Korel, the Stormguard are standing the wall, waiting for the Stormriders to attack once again, and hope for the continued protection of the Lady. But they have no idea what’s coming for them.
Esslemont has really improved his writing and it’s really good. Sure, when compared to Erikson, Esslemont’s just good and not great, but I think he deserves to be judged on his own merits and writing. So this is the last time I’m going to actually compare him to Erikson.
The novel gripped me and held me tight, not letting go until the end. We find out more about the Wall, the Lady and the Stormguard, but not so much about the Stormriders and Greymane. I was hoping for more than the little titbits we got, but hey, there are two books left in this series.
I’ll admit, not every storyline was my favourite. I groaned when not only Kyle – ugh- was in the book, but also Kiska – double ugh – but Kyle has been redeemed somewhat in my eyes. He’s still a bit opinionated, but he’s grown. Kiska….meh, I could still take or leave her. Her storyline also didn’t really end…but, I guess we’ll see her again in one of the other books.
There were some Avowed Crimson Guard in this book as well (Iron Bars! Corlo! Blues!), though their treatment by the Stormguard and certain other characters was a point of rage for me. Those Stormguards make it very hard to like them or praise their cause – especially when you get to the end of the book and their cause is well….explained by the Lady.
As much as I want to hate the new Emperor for what he’s done in the past…he’s actually a good Emperor. (There, I said it. Now I feel bad). And one of my favourite characters from Return of the Crimson Guard, Rhillish, is back! After championing the cause of the Wickans in the last book, he’s back! Greymane’s a dick to him though and that forced me to reconsider my position on Greymane. I mean, I understand why, but jeez…talk about petty.
Esslemont did a good job on giving us a whole new bunch of soldiers to care for (though most of them were sappers and heavies) and it just feels right to spend time with the Malazans again. And boy, did we get some interesting visuals when introduced to the Ruse warren. We never really saw that one before, did we? It was also fun to see some familiar faces that go with assumed names (Warran, Jheval) or their own names (L’oric). Though L’oric didn’t really make his ‘cameo’ very pleasant. Also, the Moranth! Blue and Black!
It was a well written novel and I enjoyed it immensely.