I have to warn you before I start this review – I’m very biased towards anything Malazan. I’ve devoured every book by Steven Erikson and Ian C. Esslemont. Man, these guys can write. And I mean write. The depth of the universe they’ve created is nothing short of stunning. Assail is no exception.
For diehard fans of the Malazan books even the name of this one will send a shiver down your spine. Assail. A name whispered with fear throughout the Malazan series. A place which takes its name from the deadly elder race, the Forkrul Assail. Their appearances throughout the series have been fleeting but when they have turned up they’ve been terrifying. Add to this the culmination of the millennia-long war between the Jaghut and the un-dead T’lan Imass and the promise of finally discovering the secret of the immortal Crimson Guard and you know you’re in for one hell of a story.
As usual for one of the Malazan books, it’s often hard to figure out what the hell is going on. It’s not an easy read. Lose concentration and you’ll miss some vital plot point. There’ll also be passages of dialogue that will leave you scratching your head and wondering what the hell the characters are talking about. There will be references to other books that will have you wracking your brain to remember the plot. There will be a supporting cast so big you’ll find yourself forgetting who they are half the time.
But for all this, it’s still a gripping read that is sometimes shockingly brutal, heartwarmingly human, and awe-inspiringly epic. I loved it.
Told you I was biased.