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Forge of the High Mage

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The author takes us back to where it all began and how the Malazans forge their empire with their ruthlessness.

Into this foray with the Malazan military and navy, Emperor Kellanved has his sights set on the islands of Falar to expand the Malazan Empire. A somewhat rag-tag army, joined by a similarly motley fleet under the command of the Emperor himself. Esslemont continues his early empire Path to Ascendancy sequence impressively with the fourth instalment, Forge of the High Mage.Never the less, it is still a very enjoyable book, and a fun look back at some of the series' best characters. If you haven't read Malazan yet, and you enjoy epic fantasy, history, anthropology and philosophy, you should just read Malazan starting from Gardens of the Moon and come back here after 20 books or so. Learned lots and lots of background on lots of characters, especially the growth of our titular mage.

The great thing is we still have two ongoing series from Erikson and at least another 2 books left in this series. it’s also still just so much fun to see how they interact with each other and that’s actually becoming increasingly more fun which i didn’t think was possible. It shows him coming into his power as he pushes himself beyond what he thought was his limits, only to discover an almost limitless supply of power on the other side of his mental barricades. This series is a prequel to the events of Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen and Esslemont's own Novels of the Malazan Empire, with this entry seeing Kellanved (The Emperor), Dancer (Master Assassin), Dassem Ultor (The Sword), Tayschrenn (High Mage) and their armies advancing into Falar. I think Kellanved having command of the hounds and the T'lan Imass but gaining this off screen was a bit of a shame because these are things that naturally would've been interesting.As ever, the excellent magic system (through the use of warrens) is finely showcased here and, for the most part, I found my reading experience to be extremely rewarding; leading me to score Forge of the High Mage an 8/10 rating.

By the time of a March 2022 interview, the writing was completed and the manuscript was in the hands of his editors. I absolutely loved the first three books from this series and had high expectations from this one but I felt that this was probably the weakest so far in the series. I did laugh at the very end of the book, where a cheeky Kellanved pats Tay on the back and says he’s lived up to the potential Kellanved saw in him.it also does a good job of showing how dark imperialism is, not just in a grander sense but also how ‘good’ people like dujek will allow awful people like hairlock to serve because it helps the ‘empire’.

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