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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2011
Wow. Esslemont has improved his writing skills and character development tremendously. Stonewielder is right up there with the Malazan books written by Erikson. In terms of chracter development, the character of Kyle is much more real in this novel than he was in Return of the Crimson Guard. The elements of gray amongst the protagonists is well handled. It would also seem that Stonewielder will have some influence on events elsewhere. Just saying. All in all, this is Esslemont's best novel to date, and I am now looking forward to the next one.
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on March 17, 2011
I am really happy that Esslemont is continuing to write in the Malazan Empire world.

This novel is not quite up to the Return of the Crimson Guard, but it's close. Very good read, and better than some of Erikson's work. No big criticism here: this is overall a triumph of world building and of universe building. My previous reviews reflect this. Love this series overall.

The action here is exemplary. The characters are good. The continuity is better than the recent Erikson novels, although I have not yet read The Crippled God (next on my agenda). I had expected a novel on the internal events of the Malazan Empire, and was surprised that this work was well at the periphery, but the campaign has a significant effect on the overall theme of the two series, the effect of the Crippled God on the world of the Malazan Empire. Some of the characters, as in any fantasy series, are a bit generic, but others, including the Toblakai spiritual leader, are very well drawn and different from the usual hero. The same can be said for some of the defenders of the Stormwall.

Good action, interesting characters, a very good treatment of magic and almost gods, and integration into an excellent fantasy series. Recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon February 17, 2011
"Stonewielder" is the latest edition of extra Malazan books from Ian C. Esslemont. This book is 720 pages in length and the Kindle version is a 1264 Kb download.

*SPOILER*

The book follows several groups of individuals in the telling of two main tales...

1.) A Malazan force returns to the remote island grouping of 'Fist' where a previous attempt of conquest by the Malazan empire many, many years ago resulted in only partial success. However, after being seemingly forgotten, the surviving members of that first Malazan group have gone rogue and have decided to rule the land they occupy, independent of the mother country. This 'attitude' of course cannot, under any circumstances, be allowed to go on unchecked.

2.) In addition, the natural inhabitants of this multiple island grouping have some serious problems of their own (apart from the left-over initial Malazan faction). An alien group of sea-creatures have been attempting to invade the land for several millennium. These attempts have been thwarted by the erection of a towering sea wall built along leagues of shoreline on the northern most coast. But problems are occurring with the wall, for it appears to be rapidly deteriorating and this is due to two main reasons; the repeated freezing and thawing of seawater in cracks has become more frequent and more severe every year and also because the large number of personnel required to maintain and repair this long wall, has fallen significantly of recent times.

*END SPOILER*

The tale has some interesting people, great battles on land, sea and even in some subterranean areas. There are magical items and persons in this fantasy adventure. And importantly to me, the story is generally believable within the context of its genre.

I think this tale perfectly demonstrated the difference in writing technique between Esslemont and Erikson. Both writers tend to follow the story of several individuals or groups; stories that frequently come together towards the end. Where they differ is in the way they present their individual characters...Erikson tends to present the reader with a substantial amount of 'musing' and 'philosophical' opinions from a lot of his protagonists. And while I like Erikson's character depth, there were times I tended to get confused by some of his peoples' conversations, thoughts and even sometimes, their actions...requiring me to try to almost study some areas in an to attempt to glean the right interpretation for what he was trying to describe.

Esslemont, on the other hand, I find easier to read and follow, and subsequently tend to enjoy more because I don't get as tired and weary trying to figure out some obscure passages. He tends to stick, by and large, to the telling of an interesting and compelling tale, with not quite so much emphasis on character development. That is not to say there is no character development because there is, it just tends to be maybe, less 'profound', than his fellow author.

In addition, there are two good maps; one, a global view of the entire 'Fist' complex of islands and the second, a more detailed view of the area of shoreline that encompasses the enormously long seawall that borders the northern-most main island.

If I had one gripe, (and this applies to both Esslemont and Erikson) it would be this: I wish they'd reduce the amount of time spent that deals with someone or some group that seems to spend the entire book traveling through (and frequently lost in) a 'warren' (a warren is a type of worm-hole if you will, that permits certain special denizens of the land to travel, although not necessarily very quickly, from one place to another). I find these areas tend to be less focused (at least to me) and they often seem to break up the continuity of the main story(s).

CONCLUSION:
Another great Malazan fantasy adventure from Ian C. Esslemont. Easy to read, an intriguing plot filled with some interesting people, some great battles and several unexpected twists and turns. 4 1/2 Stars.

Ray Nicholson
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on February 26, 2011
I know this is Esslemont's best Malazan writing work to date. I fell his craft has stepped up a notch, but somehow the action in the book left me unsatisfied. I'm a bit shocked as his previous books are to the point and action packed. It's a good addition to the Malazan series, a book where you get answers.
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on May 29, 2011
This book was awesome. Very good story line and character development.
These side storyline books are great, and give views of some of the other races in the Malazan empire story.
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on October 29, 2014
Great sequel to Rimson Guard. Some new and returning characters make a deeper plunge into the Malazan Empire.
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