Review: Deadhouse Landing (Path to Ascendancy Book 2) by Ian C. Esslemont
If you liked Dancer’s Lament then you will love Deadhouse Landing. Featuring the same story-focused narrative, albeit delivered with broader brushstrokes, Esslemont delivers another engrossing tale of the early steps in Kellanved and Dancer’s ascent to legend and godhood. Once again providing a fascinating glimpse at the hithertofore mysterious past of two of the more engrossing and enigmatic figures from the Malazan universe. Equally important is that knowledge of the wider Malazan meta-narrative is not necessary to enjoy the book… although it does add a lot.
Deadhouse Landing picks up the story of Dancer and Kellanved shortly after their disastrous attempt to wrestle power from the Protectress of Li-Heng. Not souls to dwell on past mistakes or failures, they set their sights on a new challenge, the piratical isle of Malaz. Admittedly this ambition is perhaps more to do with happenstance than an outright plan per se, but when has a plan ever survived contact with reality? Especially when these two are involved. So when faced with a small pirate kingdom, rising tensions with the neighbouring sea power Nap, and, let’s face it, Kellanved’s individual approach to reality, Dancer has his work cut out trying to fend off knives in the back, cutlasses in the side, and monstrous teeth in the shadows.
Here we have my very first interview with an author, and I was lucky enough to get Ian C. Esslemont to agree to this. So thank you ICE, and please forgive my unpolished interview technique.
TCD: Your latest novel Dancer’s Lament (Path to Ascendancy Book 1) (currently available in the UK, and forthcoming in the US) is the first book of a prequel trilogy set in the Malazan world. So, if you can forgive the bluntness, I wanted to ask a few questions about it and thought we would get some of the straightforward ones out of the way. So what is Dancer’s Lament about?
ICE: Firstly, many thanks for the opportunity to talk about the Malazan books. One of my main hopes for Dancer’s Lament is that any general fantasy reader who has previously never read anything from Steve or I can pick up the book and enjoy it, and perhaps become interested in the wider world portrayed.
For that reason what I will say about it is that it’s about character. It is really, at its centre, a character(s) study – what choices they make and what the consequences are of those choices; how seemingly innocuous moves can have huge consequences later in life; and further, how the traditional history of “great events” and “great men and women” is to my mind completely misleading.
I will also say that I am very leery of the “prequel” word. Don’t like it. I see this as a new series in the Malaz world – the Path to Ascension – that (could) prove as long as it need be to tell its tale.