Orb Sceptre Throne (Malazan Empire #4) ★★★★½

orb sceptre throne (Custom)

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Title: Orb Sceptre Throne
Series: Malazan Empire #4
Author: Ian Esslemont
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 850
Format: Digital edition



A golden mask is uncovered in the plains outside of Darujhistan. It belongs to the spirit that raises Tyrants up again and again. This time it calls the Segulah into its service. They and the Moranth, ancient enemies, duke it out until the Segulah are freed from the Golden Mask’s domination, then they go back to their little Island Nation.

Kiska and Leoman of the Flails are in limbo, looking for Tayschrenn. They find him, restore his memories to him and they all return to do whatever hidden thingamajig Tayschrenn wants to do.

Also deals with various characters attempting to loot the fallen Moonspawn, all hoping to find the Throne of Night.

Plus about 6 other smaller threads dealing with such characters as Coll, Kalam, Baruk, Kruppe and others that we were introduced to way back in Gardens of the Moon.


My Thoughts:

When I initially read this back in 2012, I was not impressed at all. I still hadn’t gotten that Erikson and Esslemont created bigger than life mythos for their characters, whether individuals or as a people, just so they could tear them down. So my thoughts regarding the Segulah were that they were the Pristine Warrior Culture; those thoughts were not only dashed, they were trampled into the dust on my first read and my rating and review reflected that.

This time around, what a difference. I didn’t have those misconceptions about the Segulah and so their story didn’t bother me. The only thing that really bothered me was the fact that there were just so many story threads going on. Some of those threads had nothing whatsoever to do with this book, ie, Kiska, Leoman and Tayschrenn but simply pushed an overarching story forward. I don’t care for that. Other than that, I was pleased as punch.

It was sad to see characters from Gardens of the Moon becoming old or giving up in spirit. Coll turning into an old, wine addicted, fat counselor was especially sad. Baruk’s subsumption by a demon seemed very cruel, considering how much he’d sacrificed for his city. And yet that is what happens to old heroes. They fail and a new generation must step up.

While I complained about the multiplicity of threads, they were tightly woven together and even the thread about Tayschrenn didn’t detract from overall affect. It really was one story being told even if it took awhile for them all to get tied together.

This book is why I like to re-read things. My mind was completely changed from last time and I went from almost hating this book to really loving it. Most of that change was on my end and my perspective and expectations. 17 years of reviewing and I still marvel at how our expectations can shape how we react to a book. I was semi-dreading this re-read but it turned into a jewel instead.

Pretty satisfied this time around.




15 thoughts on “Orb Sceptre Throne (Malazan Empire #4) ★★★★½

  1. Nice review. This is one of those wildly popular series that for some reason I haven’t got into yet. I tried reading the first one a few years ago but then got distracted by some new releases I was overly excited about.

    That is some awesome cover art.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Erikson has stalled out. He’s got 2 books of a trilogy finished but it has been years.
      Esslemont has been pushing out the prequel novels pretty fast and I’m hoping the final one is released next year.

      After that, who knows where they will go. They’ve got a solid fan base who will buy just about anything they sell, so I don’t think they’re going to just abandon Malaz…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s really amazing how a reread can change a book completely. And I do understand what you mean about watching characters grow up over a series and lose a bit of their heroic veneer. But this sounds like a great book overall- glad it ended up being much better than you expected! Great review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pretty amazing how much your opinion of this book changed with just a re-read. Definitely a nice idea to go through some of those series after a couple of years. So much can change in our comprehension and appreciation of things. The whole getting old thing that you notice is pretty cool though. That’s definitely a good sign of the author’s ability to write up stories!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve read this book a while ago and was completely unimpressed. I don’t think there’s a single Esslemont’s book that I prefer to even the weakest Malazan book from Erikson (not counting the short stories ;)). It’s interesting to see how your perception changed in time, though. You’re such a strong ICE’s advocate, I might actually give him another chance 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, to be honest, half of my “rah, rah, rah” for Esslemont is the lack of complete existential despair and angst that Erikson slathers on by the ton. I HATE that. So to be in the same world with some of the same characters, well, it’s rather nice.

      So take all into account before changing your opinion about Esslemont 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Honestly, it won’t matter. The books are not tied directly together or hardly together at all.

        However, I would recommend you read Steven Erikson’s 10 book cycle, The Malazan Book of the Fallen before starting these ones by Esslemont. These “Malaz Empire” novels are more of a sequel, companion, fill in the cracks type books that just won’t make the same sort of sense if you don’t have the Fallen under your belt.

        You can always try, as they are pretty much standalone books. But they’re built on the Fallen, just so you know.


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