Kellanved’s Reach (Malaz: Path to Ascendancy #3) ★★★★☆

kellanvedsreach (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Kellanved’s Reach
Series: Malaz: Path to Ascendancy #3
Author: Ian Esslemont
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 340
Format: Hardcover Edition



Not much of a single plot running through this book. More like the many, diverse threads like you see at the beginning of a very large and complicated weaving process.

Kellanved finds the Throne of Bone and is allowed by the T’lan Imass to “rule” over them. Kellanved and Dancer meet the Crippled God for the first time and it doesn’t go well.

Surly continues to do all the hard work of creating an empire. She also successfully pulls of a coup on her brother, who ousted her in the first place. She is the de facto leader even while making Napan part of the “Malazan Empire”. Her discontent with Kellanved and his methods continue to grow.

The blind girl who can communicate with birds has her journey and she is called to the Northern Wastes to become some people’s shaman (the Jheck perhaps?)

We also follow 2 new characters who long to join the Crimson Guard. One is a mage and the other a battle mage that doesn’t know it. They do a lot of fighting and we get to see how the rift between K’azz and Skinner starts.

Finally, we follow a mercenary general who saves his troops despite their contract holder selling them out. He leads the opposing forces a merry chase and after killing a K’chain Ch’malle (or however it is spelled) is rescued by the Malazans and is introduced as Grey Mane.


My Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this with just a few caveats that kept it from being a 4 1/2star read or higher. First, the lack of a plot running through the book was distracting. The previous 2 books had their own little in book plots and this one should have too. Second, Kellanved finding and using the Throne of Bone was very underwhelming. It was rushed through to make room for everything else. Thirdly, too many various things were happening for such a short book. Finally, this felt “simple” in comparison to Esslemont’s Empire of Malaz series and almost childish in comparison to Erikson’s Book of the Fallen. Mind you, I didn’t want reams of empty philosophy but the dexterous storytelling I am used to from both authors just wasn’t there. This was like Glen Cook in one of his better Black Company books.

I realize that sounds like a lot, but while I complain a lot about Erikson and by extension Esslemont, I still expect some seriously well written stuff from them.

What I liked the best was how Esslemont shows just how humorous Kellanved really is, in a young/old way that just made me grin. The insecurity of youth coupled with youth’s propensity for brashness allied with an old man’s crotchedyness. It was perfect. Dancer very much played the Straight Man in this comedy duo and I could totally see them going up on stage during an Improv Night and doing horrible amateur comedy. And then killing the entire audience for not laughing loud enough!

While I felt there were too many threads being started here, I did really appreciate just how even a glimpse or two of a character was enough to fill in a ton of back story for them form the Fallen series. I knew Skinner, from the Crimson Guard was a real bastard but here we see how he got his name and how much he relished violence and why that would lead him into eventual conflict with K’azz.

Technically this is a prequel trilogy but I would not recommend reading this at all before the Book of the Fallen or Empire of Malaz series. Too much of the revelations in those series would be spoiled and half the fun would simply disappear. I do highly recommend this trilogy though if you made it through the entire set of series and came out alive.



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17 thoughts on “Kellanved’s Reach (Malaz: Path to Ascendancy #3) ★★★★☆

  1. I haven’t read this series or the Malazan series but the thing you said about prequel trilogies is interesting. I’ve been thinking about the prequel books for Foundation and I’m not sure whether they would have been as enjoyable if I had read them before the first book if that makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That makes perfect sense. It’s always a debate if you should read a series in publication order or chronological order. I usually prefer publication order, as reveals and hints are doled out as the author intended. BUT.
      In any series with a large number that go all over the place, sometimes figuring out the publication order is a huge pain in the neck. Then I just go with whatever the general consensus is on the series order.

      For Foundation, it sounds like you’re reading them in an order that works for you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh yes. The Book of the Fallen is not for the faint of heart or those unwilling to put up with authorial bullshit 😉
      That’s why I’m only ever going to re-read Gardens of the Moon from here on out…


    1. Definitely for “real” fans only 😉

      I think you should read the entire trilogy to see if it’s to your taste before buying too. That just makes sense, especially as I haven’t seen reviews flooding the market, at least not here on WP.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve read the previous two and even bought the first 😉 I was quite pleasantly surprised by the two, definitely better than his previous books – but I still prefer Erikson 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. With Erikson having written some SF, I’m hoping he’s learned some good lessons before he writes any more Malazan stuff. Mainly, not everyone wants to read Ayn Rand size rants of nihilistic philosophy. We’ll see though :-/

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Among all the authors of those brooding, dark epics my favorite is – and probably will remain forever – Glen Cook 😀 So I’m only mildly miffed that Erikson ripped off Black Company and Dread Empire, because without The Malazan Book of the Fallen I might’ve never learned of Cook’s existence (whose books are totally underrated and unfairly kept in obscurity, if you ask me :D)

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I concur. I’m already planning on re-reading the Black Company books at some point. Dread Empire, not so much. And I’m having a blast with Garrett PI. Garrett isn’t great literature, but my goodness, so fun.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. On my TBR 😉 I do find Dread Empire dragging though – even though it’s a really good book, A Fortress in Shadow is written in that dry, very succinct prose that I find tiring in huge quantities if it’s not non-fiction 😉 So looking forward to something a bit more fun! 😉

                Liked by 1 person

    1. There is actually a funny part in the book where Kellanved comments on just how uncomfortable it is and Dancer, his partner in crime, makes a wise-ass remark. 😀


  2. Sounds like something nice for fans of the universe. I feel like series like the Book of the Fallen are harder to sell nowadays and trilogies are much more likely to be picked up by publishers unless you’re huge like Sanderson (I mean… his Stormlight Archive series is the only ongoing huge series that I know of… I think).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think people are getting series fatigue. And with authors like GRRM giving the middle finger to fans directly, readers no longer trust an author to actually keep the implied promise of finishing up a series in a timely manner.

      Besides GRRM and Sanderson, I’m not aware of any other ongoing double digit books. Heck, not even GRRM is doing double digits. I am aware of several ongoing series that seem to have no end game in site (Rivers of London and Warlock Holmes) but nothing that is one big story going multivolume.


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