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Night of Knives

(Novels of the Malazan Empire #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  10,592 ratings  ·  499 reviews

Malaz gave a great empire its name, but now this island and its city amount to little more than a sleepy backwater. Until this night. Because this night there is to be a convergence, the once-in-a-generation appearance of a Shadow Moon - an occasion that threatens the good people of Malaz with demon hounds and other, darker things.

Also it is prophesied that the Emperor Ke

Kindle Edition, 308 pages
Published December 15th 2010 by Transworld Digital (first published 2004)
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Alphus Rockey definitely AFTER....... or in the alternative, only once you get really into the groove of the malazan world and u dont give a shit what u read as lon…moredefinitely AFTER....... or in the alternative, only once you get really into the groove of the malazan world and u dont give a shit what u read as long as it has elements of the Malazan story Arc in it......... Erickson's style is much better than Esslemont's.... read this only for academic interest... (less)
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Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Just like the main series, I was determined to finish the Malazan Empire this year but I may have to rethink that decision after my experience of reading this book.

Night of Knives is the first book in the Malazan Empire series, a spin-off to the main series that’s written by the other creator of the Malazan universe, Ian Esslemont. A lot of people mentioned that Esslemont is not Erikson (these four words must’ve haunted Esslemont for years by now) and usually, I’ll say that it’s really not reall
James Tivendale
Oct 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, malazan
This is a very good book!

Following two main character point of views. One being Temper - an old school elite yet uncredited serviceman for the Malazan empire and Kiska - a youth urchin spy with 'the talent' of magic somewhere within her. Kiska was very mysterious - a bit whiny and kept getting caught by people throughout her sneaking antics - but I think she was an omnipotent device to show the unfolding events. Temper was just a no fu*ks given veteran. The best parts for Temper was his lack of
Mayim de Vries
This review is dedicated to
who stabbed the world in the back

“His victory will be sealed by his defeat.”

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a ballerina and so I convinced my parents to send me to a professional ballet school. I loved it, down to the last drop of sweat and blood (ever wore pointe shoes?), and the last tear it cost me. But after a couple of years, as I started to change from the girl into an adolescent, it became apparent that the future woman-me is not going to be built o
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-grim
*** 4 ***

"...“The Malazan way,’ he breathed. ‘The murderer’s touch. A brush of cloth. A sip of wine. The gleam of a blade as fine as a snake’s tooth. Your name whispered just as you fall into sleep.”..."

This is the world of Malazan, just as dark and bloody as ever, only told by a different bard. He is not either better or worse than the bard who tells us the story of the Malazan, Book of the Fallen, he just has his own voice and his own way of telling us a story, and I truly appreciate that.
Oct 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2016, malazan
Well, this seems incredibly underrated...

Night of Knives, first volume in the Novels of the Malazan Empire by Ian C. Esslemont, is not a huge brick of equal parts amazement and confusion like the doorstoppers of his friend Steven Erikson. It's a decidedly more standard fantasy novel, and it doesn't distinguish itself in the way of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. That does not mean, however, that it is any less impressive.

Esslemont's style is more simple, both in language and in plot, and in many
Scott  Hitchcock
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grimdark, malazan
Reread Read

First read: 3*
Second read: 4*

I enjoyed this so much more the second time around. ICE does have a weird way of wording things but having read all 8 books published to this point I'm used to it and was able to enjoy the story a lot more. This book still unlike any of the others is more like a fantasy mystery blend with a good dose of horror to give it a truly eerie feeling. While still not SE's level or prose and layers I still think it's well worth reading. The introductions to Temper
J.P. Ashman
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Listened to this on Audible.

Great to delve back into the Malazan world. Massive fan of the original series. This certainly felt the part and the narration was excellent. Action, fairly fast-paced, cinematic, brutal and humorous where you would expect for the setting. I'd give it a 5*, but I felt myself drifting off here and there. Now, that could be me - busy and tired of late - and I still recommend this. There's no need to know the Malazan world before reading this, although it was nice to hea
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I thought this was a worthy addition to the Malazan world. Esselmont's writing style is a bit different to Erikson's but his story did retain the feel of a Malazan book. The plot was suitably entertaining and complex and Esselmont also did a great job with the characters, both the new and familiar ones.

The whole story took place in one city over the course of a single night. The city was Malaz City. Once it was the heart of the Imperial Malazan Empire but in the present day it is little more th
Deborah Obida
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, fantasy
3.5 stars

This book turned out way better than I expected. That was because my expectations were low. I totally understand why some people didn't like this, the plot and world building was okay but the writing was just not it. The author picked two new characters that we know almost nothing about to narrate this great event in the Malazan world. If any of these characters would have narrated this book it would have been way better.


But no he had to pick Kiska
Everything could change in just one night...


“He stared out into the lazy wisps of mist and the strangely dull stars, and he remembered that other night. The night close to a year ago when he and Dassem died.”

You know you are deep into the Malazan Book of the Fallen, when you buy all the books before reaching the series half point, add Forge of Darkness (because the new trilogy is sort of a prequel, duh), and then for good measure you make sure you have Esslemont's books too ...(Because, who
Stefan Bach
It is my opinion that long lasting debate when a person should read this book is finally coming to an end.
As soon as Ian finishes his Path to Ascendancy trilogy, I see no reason why anyone shouldn’t read this book before Gardens of the Moon.
That is, if you have already started Malazan journey with Path to Ascendancy series. Which I highly recommend for people to do.

Now, the main argument why readers are recommending that this book should be read in-between Bonehunters and Tol
Jun 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first few times I did a Malazan reread, I stuck with Erikson, thinking that the books by Esslemont were unnecessary. Plus, it felt a bit mean to be picking up a book, that someone has worked hard to produce, and being completely certain that it would be an average read, or worse. Though I suppose the fact that I consider me Erikson to be best there is in fantasy writing means everybody comes worse off in comparison.

It's a relatively short book, and easy to read. It only took me half a day.
This is a short book set in the Malazan world. It takes us back to a single night sometime after the events of the Prologue for Gardens of the Moon (but before chapter one). The setting is once again Malaz Island on a night of the rare Shadow Moon, when all people of good sense stay in their homes with doors and windows locked. Even so, there are some people moving about playing a high stakes game of power.

There are only two POV characters to take readers through the events of this crazy night.
Jenna Kathleen
I had no expectations (seems to be a trend for me these days) from this installment of the Malazan series as it was the first ICE book I read and there are mixed reviews among my friends with 3 stars being the most common rating, but I really liked it. No, it's not on the same epic scale as the main series, but it's not supposed to be.

Temper was a character who took awhile to grow on me, but I enjoyed his story and it was it interesting to see two vastly different POVs as he is an old veteran a
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
*After reading Return of the Crimson Guard i'm downgrading my score for this. The two books are worlds apart.

After the critical acclaim and outright genius of the Malazan Book of the Fallen i went into Book 1 of Ian C. Esslemonts series with slightly lesser expectations. Not because I’ve read poor reviews but i just doubted anyone could equal Steven Erikson.

Set before Gardens of the Moon, Night of Knives tells the story of Kellenved and Dancers entry into the Shadow Realm to lay claim to the Sh
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: epic-fantasy
As a re-read I am changing my original rating for this and giving it an extra star. On my first read of these, I had just finished reading Malazan Book of the Fallen for the first time and was amazed by Eriksons story telling. I constantly compared ICE to SE and whilst it is fair to compare the way they tell the story, you have to allow them to be different in writing style. They are two different blokes after all.
So 2 years after my second read of MbotF I am absolutely loving being back on the
Mar 24, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Steven Erikson
Shelves: sf-fantasy
As anyone who's looked at my "Read" bookshelf will be aware, I really, really like Steven Erikson's Malazan series. I've had his collaborator's book on my shelf for a long time unread because I was afraid of disappointment.

I'm happy to say that I wasn't.

I wish we had half-stars or more stars to rate these books because this one is really a 3.5, an 8 on a scale of 10.

Esslemont doesn't write with the easy confidence or skill that Erikson exhibits but he does write well; and (unlike Erikson in his
TS Chan
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: malazan
2.5 stars. As much as Kellanved and Dancer intrigue me, this is a prequel that didn't work for me. I was quite bored throughout the entire book, which thankfully is short. It also did not help that one of the two POVs in this book annoyed me. Temper is definitely the more interesting half of the book, especially with his backstory being connected to Dassem Ultor. As for Kiska, the annoying cocky young woman who is determined to prove herself, who then landed herself into trouble time and time ag ...more
Not bad. A much easier read than Erikson's tomes.

Reread: Temper reminds me of Fid. Note to self: Artan....*wink wink*
Jan 26, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Malazan fans
This is a good book. It isn't a great book. It sorta falls in the middle.

What I liked: the pace of the action. It's pretty steady throughout the book. I also like how the plot is centered around a single night in Malazan history, a very important night indeed. I liked the main characters (Temper and Kiska) and thought they were explored fairly deeply. The ending was satisfactory on the whole, seeming to wrap everything up nicely. I absolutely loved Temper's backstory, and his relationship to the
Jun 19, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So this is the first book I've read by Ian Esslemont and it kind of acts as a prequel book for the Malazan book of the Fallen Series by Erikson. There were a few problems I had with the book, but overall I still liked the hints and messages which we were given in terms of adding to the Malazan books and world. This story focuses on two main characters, a young lady called Kiska, and a man called Temper. Both of these characters were just 'okay' characters in my opinion and so even though the boo ...more
It was 2015, and I was waiting in line at a convention for the author to sign this book. Although he had written several novels since Night of Knives was published in 2004, I purchased it specifically for the purpose of being autographed (mostly because I liked the title and cover...I hadn’t read any of his books prior to this).

Mr. Esslemont finished chatting with the fans in front of me, and he had a big smile on his face. I approached, he looked at the book in my hands, and his smile vanished
Jarek "the Mistborn" Dąbrowski
I have read this after reading gardens of the moon and being more than half way through deadhouse gates. I loved it. The writing style of ICE is much different and the scope is not so epically huge which translates into a better flow and easier reading. For me that is:) The prologue did a great job of setting a very dark tone for the whole book. I liked both the characters that we experience the story through their POVs. I loved the shadow warren parts so much it was amazing and Edgewalker is a ...more
Jan 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
Awesome. So much action in one night. I thought Esslemont's first foray into the Malazan universe was a great time. It took me about halfway into the book to get the real Malazan world feel, but it did happen and I was just as confused as I usually am. Not to say that being confusing is the way one feels at home in this world, it's just an added bonus. :)
Duffy Pratt
Aug 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shared-world, fantasy
I came into this book with certain expectations. I thought that the writing would be shoddy and the characterizations poor. I thought the book would mostly be fun because it shed new light on things that were left mysterious in the Erikson series. I thought I was finally going to understand what was going on with Kellanved and Dancer on the night when they became Shadowthrone and Cotillion. But this is a Malazan book, and it thus thumbed its nose at all my expectations.

First, I thought the writi
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-on-shelf
I actually quite liked the story. Sure it is a short story and it lacks the magnitude of Erikson’s work. Yet, it was a great story of many characters and many events I wanted to know more about. And I discovered a lot.
I also truly enjoyed Kiska - I wish I could be her quite frankly to know the Malazan world and events! - and Temper. I loved the additional insight and the beginning of the unraveling of the Malazan politics story (while Erikson keeps working on the Cripple God).
Reseña en español de La noche de los cuchillos en el blog: Click Aquí.

Night of the Knives is the first book written by Esslemont and the first instalment in the Malaz Empire story arc. I read many reviews claiming that Esslemont isn't a good writer and many trashing his series but after finishing this book I can say that these critics are exaggerated, sure his writing is more direct and less elaborate than Erikson's but this isn't by all means a bad thing.

I think that the reason why many people
Maggie K
Sep 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Malazan books by Eriksonare a wondrous adventure to me, and so I was excited to read Esselmont's input to the storyline. Although quite a different writer than erikson, with not as tight and mysterious a style, this foray into Malaz Isle was excellent.

We are sent into the parallel stories of Temper, a veteran of Malazan and part of the famous 'sword' of Dassem Ultor and who is now laying low as a member of the Malaz guard, and Kiska, a talented teenager determined to get off Malaz Isle and h
Jun 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having finished the original 10-book series, I have now turned my eyes on Esslemont's portion of the tale.

An excellent, fast-paced addition to the series. A much different book structure than the Erikson series, but a welcome one. The tone, feel, and characters still feel quite "Malazan" which makes it worth any serious Malazan fan's time.

Second read - Can't say I feel any differently about this book from the first time I read it.
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have got to go up from 3 stars to 4 stars. This is so much better than I remembered!
In fact, it's going to be 5 stars in about a second...
Oh... there! It happened! 5 Stars.
Temper for the win!
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Fantasy Buddy Reads: Night of Knives [Dec 1, 2019] 2 10 Nov 22, 2018 12:33AM  
Fantasy Buddy Reads: Night of Knives [Oct 5, 2017] 73 52 Oct 21, 2018 04:39PM  
Fantasy Buddy Reads: Night of Knives [December 2017] 73 83 Dec 27, 2017 12:08PM  
The Malazan Fallen: NoK - Epilogue & overall discussion 32 40 Sep 25, 2016 10:20AM  
The Malazan Fallen: * NoK - Chapter Six - NO SPOILERS 4 21 Sep 15, 2016 02:38PM  

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IAN CAMERON ESSLEMONT was born in 1962 in Winnipeg, Canada. He has a degree in Creative Writing, studied and worked as an archaeologist, travelled extensively in South East Asia, and lived in Thailand and Japan for several years. He now lives in Fairbanks, Alaska, with his wife and children and is currently working on his PhD in English Literature.

Ian C. Esslemont and Steven Erikson co-created the

Other books in the series

Novels of the Malazan Empire (6 books)
  • Return of the Crimson Guard (Novels of the Malazan Empire, #2)
  • Stonewielder (Novels of the Malazan Empire, #3)
  • Orb Sceptre Throne (Novels of the Malazan Empire #4)
  • Blood and Bone (Novels of the Malazan Empire #5)
  • Assail (Novels of the Malazan Empire, #6)

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“The Malazan way,’ he breathed. ‘The murderer’s touch. A brush of cloth. A sip of wine. The gleam of a blade as fine as a snake’s tooth. Your name whispered just as you fall into sleep.” 1 likes
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