*Sorry for the typos in the original article regaurding the book name. Clearly I was editing with too little sleep.
Now this is more like it. I am taking this week and the next to review various parts of the Malazan series. This week I am talking about the two most recent prequel books, Dancer’s Lament (reviewed here) and its sequel Deadhouse Landing (both by Ian Esslemont). Next week I will be doing a giant five part post about the original core series. In my review of Dancer’s Lament, I talked about how it was a great book but it didn’t really live up to my expectations of “a start to the Malazan Empire”. It left me desiring a book that gave the story of how Dancer, Kellanved, and all the old guard got together on the isle of Malaz and started a country that would change the world. Enter Deadhouse Landing.
When we last left our intrepid Dancer and Wu (Kellanved), they had messed up and failed spectacularly to establish themselves in the city of Itko Kan and were forced to flee on a raft to the city of Malaz. However, Kellanved has started to show signs of accessing the warren of Meanas and kicked off a race for power to find its throne. Deadhouse Landing picked up pretty much exactly where the first prequel book left off and tells the story of the actual founding of Malazan. The book follows POV’s from Dancer, Tattersail, Tayschrenn, and Dassem – many of the most famous old guard. On top of learning their origin stories you will also get the background on a number of favorite characters such as: Utko, Crust, Surley, WiskeyJack, Dujek, Howler, Opal and more. When Dancer and Kellanved land on Malaz it is a city infested with pirates, hell bent on proving itself a world power, and considered a desolate backwater. The old guard spends the book slowly banding together, cleaning up the city, and slowly building the foundation of what will become the Malazan Empire.
This was the book I was hoping for when I picked up Dancer’s Lament. If you have read the core series you would be doing yourself a grave disservice by not checking out Deadhouse Landing. Watching the foundation of Malazan was extremely satisfying and Esslemont has done an incredible job preserving the personalities that Erikson put to paper in the core series in the prequels. I never was too big a fan of Tattersail in the original core, but Esslemont managed to breath a lot of life into her while feeling true to everything I have already read. In addition, Tayschrenn’s story in Deadhouse Landing feels a little disjointed from the other POV’s, but it still was a lot of fun to hear about his time as a priest of D’rek.
The combat in Deadhouse Landing is still not the best, and I think it is an area Esslemont could use a lot of work. Landing puts to paper on of the most famous fights in Malazan history, Dassum holding a bridge by himself, and I found its writing rather dry. However, the combat is my only real complaint about the book and I otherwise found it a delight. Of all the sidestory/prequel books of Esslemont I have read, Deadhouse Landing was easily my favorite.
So in conclusion, the second Malazan prequel book gave me everything I wanted about the history of its founders. Deadhouse Landing breathed life into familiar faces and helped me learn the origins of heroes. The writing was fun, the dialogue was punchy, and the plot was involving. The book ends with the isle of Malaz secured, but the world ignorant of its change in power. I assume the third and final Path to Ascendency book, Kellanved’s Reach, will cover Malazan entering the world stage, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
Rating: Deadhouse Landing: 9.5/10