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Dancer's Lament

(Path to Ascendancy #1)

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  3,652 ratings  ·  265 reviews
Taking Malazan fans back to that troubled continent's turbulent early history. The opening chapter in Ian C. Esslemont's epic new fantasy sequence, the Path to Ascendancy trilogy.

For ages warfare has crippled the continent as minor city states, baronies, and principalities fought in an endless round of hostilities. Only the alliance of the rival Tali and Quon cities could
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Paperback, 416 pages
Published April 21st 2016 by Tor Books (first published February 25th 2016)
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Remy Verhoeve I was thinking about this while reading the prologue and first chapter of 'Dancer's Lament'; at first I thought it would be better to read the epic (a…moreI was thinking about this while reading the prologue and first chapter of 'Dancer's Lament'; at first I thought it would be better to read the epic (and amazing) "main saga", Steven Erikson's "The Malazan Book of the Fallen" (starting with 'Gardens of the Moon').
Then I thought, why not start with 'Dancer's Lament' - it will throw you into the deep end, but so did 'Gardens of the Moon' which, while being the first published Malazan novel, reads as if it is part five or six of an ongoing series (but SOOOOO worth it on a re-read).
So I'd say, yeah, why not?

Personally though I believe it would be a more enjoyable experience to read the series in the order I've listed below (and you may have to restart 'Gardens...' a few times wondering when it's going to click, but persevere and the richest fantasy tale of them all awaits - I can't express enough how great this stuff can be at its best), and I am convinced that meeting some of the characters from 'Dancer's Lament' in the main saga first will color your perception of them in this latest entry in a more entertaining manner.

By the way, there are some absolutely great novellas, too, if you want to dip your toes a bit - Steven Erikson has written quite a few of them, set in the same (Malazan Empire) world, featuring two rascally necromancers. These tales have both a darker tone as well as a sillier tone to them, but also with some profound philosophizing, almost like quick captures of some of the ingredients found in the main saga - and in one case ("Crack'd Pot Trail") going almost literary; despite being short, these tales have amazing depth and are ridiculously entertaining and can be read in one sitting, in any order. They are "Blood Follows", "The Healthy Dead" and "The Lees of Laughter's End" (the three of them collected in the anthology "The First Collected Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach"), the aforementioned "Crack'd Pot Trail", and "The Wurms of Blearmouth".

All right, to the list!

I'd say, go with the order as they were published:
1. Gardens of the Moon
2. Deadhouse Gates
3. Memories of Ice
4. House of Chains
5. Midnight Tides
6. The Bonehunters
7. Reaper's Gale
8. Toll the Hounds
9. Dust of Dreams
10. The Crippled God

followed by

11. Night of Knives
12. Return of the Crimson Guard
13. Stonewielder
14. Orb, Sceptre, Throne
15. Blood & Bone
16. Assail

followed by

17. Forge of Darkness

and by the time you've read all this, the sequel to Forge of Darkness will be out

18. Fall of Light

and then, finally,

19. Dancer's Lament

Man, I wish I had all this goodness to delve into for the first time. You could also check out TOR.com's "Re-read of the Fallen" (but be careful of spoilers, they are basically everywhere) which could give you some inkling as to what this stuff is all about.

It was tough getting through 'Gardens of the Moon', but I am so happy I did. Very few series have gripped me as much as this one.
(less)
Ryan The Malazan Book of the Fallen is my favorite fantasy series, by a long shot. I would highly recommend reading the original sequence by Erikson HOWEVE…moreThe Malazan Book of the Fallen is my favorite fantasy series, by a long shot. I would highly recommend reading the original sequence by Erikson HOWEVER a recent interview with Esslemont has him saying right from the start:

"One of my main hopes for Dancer’s Lament is that any general fantasy reader who has previously never read anything from Steve or I can pick up the book and enjoy it, and perhaps become interested in the wider world portrayed."

I haven't read Dancer's Lament yet (lucky Brits!), but it looks like ICE's intentions are for you to be able to start here - you'll just miss all of the easter eggs.

Link to interview: https://thecriticaldragon.com/2016/04...(less)

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James Tivendale
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: malazan, fantasy
Dancer's Lament is the first of Ian C. Esslemont's Malazan novels that I have read and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. It is the first installment of the Path to Ascendancy trilogy. The book is more linear that the previous series entrants that I have read written by Steven Erikson. It is more story driven and less about the world building, however, it still contains a large cast of dramatis personae and the book is complemented by some amazing and very memorable set-pieces.

The action
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Emma
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
2nd reread edit: full series review out next week🗡

Reread edit: so much love for this on the second read through. Next book out in November so if any Malazan fans haven’t picked this one up yet, get to it....it’s well worth your time.


My experience of this book was entirely that of gleeful absorption and joyful celebration... because it's about Dancer and Kellanved. If you have read Erikson's Malazan books and these two characters aren't on your favourites list, then you need to read the series a
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Michael Britt
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've slept on this rating, and I'm still calling this a 5 star book.

"He was Dancer now, and Dancer from now on."

This review is up at my new blog that I'll be doing with a few friends check it out here

First of all, the Dramatis Personae in this book had me confused in so many ways. The only name I even recognized was Dassem and K'rul. As we find out, not everyone's name that we've come to know had that name in the beginning. With that said, let's get into the review, shall we?

Dancer's Lament
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TS Chan
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, malazan
My first 5-star rating this year, and it's a Malazan book.

I love the world of Malazan, and the Malazan Book of the Fallen stands as my favourite grimdark fantasy series. However, these are not books which one can pick up to read for 'fun'. Not only were the worldbuilding complex and the cast of characters extensive, but the prose was also dense and philosophical. Moreover, the narrative frequently messaged dark and bleak themes. To be honest, it felt like work sometimes to read MBOTF, albeit wor
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Lee
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: epic-fantasy
WOW! Mr Esslemont. Just WOW!
After building me up with Orb Spectre, Throne and then crushing me with Blood and Bone, I am deliriously happy to announce that Dancer's Lament is your finest work yet.

Fantastic being back in the Malazan world and with a history lesson to be had from two of the most interesting characters in the entire series. Dancers Lament, as all Malazan fans will be aware, is the how Cotillion (The Rope) becomes the man he is that we know in MBotF. His meeting with Ammanas and how
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Scott  Hitchcock
ICE has final produce the 5* book I've been waiting for and this is better than some of the Erikson books for the first time.

The differences for me are that for the first time he used empathy for the characters and the people in general. Second he did foreboding and portentous events with the correct leveling. In the past he either over did it beating you in the head with a shovel or did in a way that only confused the issue. Third his general writing style has comes so far since Night of Knive
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Stefan Bach
Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Dancer’s Lament, first book in Path to Ascendancy series, is not a prequel.
It’s the first book of a new series set in the early history of the Malazan Empire.
Distinction very important to indicate less we woke Ian’s ire.
But, in all seriousness, it is my hope that (when finished) people in future will start Malazan Book of the Fallen series from this book instead of Gardens of the Moon, written by Steven Erikson.

While this book stands on its own, without any need of your
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Markus
Mar 30, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: malazan
Sweet Jesus, is this book for real?

Looks like heaven on earth in the Malazan universe to me.
Armina Salemi
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed that. It was a whole new world and I actually enjoyed that, even though it was really confusing.😅
Rebecca
Nov 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dancer’s Lament was one of my most anticipated releases of 2016 and not only was I stunned actually be approved for an advanced copy, I was pleasantly surprised that the book exceeded my expectations. I’ve read most of Esslemont’s other books set in the Malazan empire and thought they were quality stories, but didn’t capture my imagination quite as strongly as the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Erikson. They were an excellent source of enrichment and added depth as well as breadth to the M ...more
Milo
Never read any of the Malazan novels before but really enjoyed this one. Will have to bump them up my to-read list.
Ctgt
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Couple of things. I'm a huge fan of the main Malazan series, loved it. I have read several ICE books and have been underwhelmed. This book is different and reminded me of why I loved the main series. Great characters, great interactions, great dialogue, great action. If you've read the main series you know the great duos and everyone has a favorite. Mine was Tehol & Bugg but you could go with Quick Ben & Kalam, Whiskeyjack & Dujek, Gess & Stormy, Tool & Toc, Icarium & Mappo...the list goes on an ...more
Bob/Sally
While I did have a digital ARCs of Dancer's Lament and Forge of Darkness at one point, I hesitated to read then for two reasons. First, I like being able to hold an epic fantasy, to feel the weight of it, and to flip back and forth between chapters, glossaries, maps, and all the rest. It's a reading experience that no Kindle or Kobo can ever capture.

More importantly, however, I struggle with prequels. Epic fantasy, as a genre, is so story-driven that there's a narrative disadvantage in knowing h
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Chris
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
*copy from Netgalley in exchange for a review*

Dancer’s Lament is the first in a new fantasy series by Ian C. Esslemont. It’s set in the Malazan universe (which he shares with Steven Erikson), a place where gods meddle in the affairs of men, where mages throw fire and vanish into shadows, and where monstrosity and divinity keep remarkably close company.

In this case, the book begins the story of Dancer – a newly minted assassin-for-hire, with a rather high opinion of himself, and a skillset which
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Scott
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Amazing! This was my first book from Esselmont, and it definitely won't be my last. I thought this did such a great job expanding on some of the history from the Book of the Fallen; we get to see the making of the Dancer/Kellenved relationship, which always intrigued me in the main series.

I can't wait for the next book to come out!
Fernando  Martins
This book had everything to be good.

Dancer? Checked.
Kellanved? Checked.
Dassem? Checked.
The beginning of the partnership that would come to change the world? Checked.

It's only natural that it was a great read for me and that I would give it 5 stars.


I NEED MORE.
Jason M Waltz
This absolutely delivered on all cylinders. There is not a single change necessary, I loved every moment. The development of Dancer, of Shadowthrone, and of their relationship is well-drawn, exhilarating and illuminating. So many clever scenes and exchanges appear, the layers presented throughout are intricate and so far-reaching I know there are some I won't fully recognize until a reread or book 2.

Dancer is everything I could image, his background, growth, internalizations, motivations. I can
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Benji Glaab
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5🌟
Enthralling origin story from start to finish. Enough meat for any Malazan fan to sink their teeth into.
Matthew
Nov 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
A glorious excursion back into the world of Malazan. Full review to come.
Bcvs
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The man is obsessed with the Crimson Guard!
Even when he is not writing about the Crimson Guard, he is writing about the Crimson Guard.

This is an excellent book! A great place to start for those who found Gardens of the Moon too overwhelming as the intro to the Malazan world.

Highly recommended!
Maggie K
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow-definitely the best Esslemont so far. So much backstory revealed, especially regarding Khalenved and Dancer and the beginnings of how they formed their 'old guard'. A must-read!
Doug
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very strong introduction to what promises to be a great additional series in the Malazan world.

I am no real fan of most of Esslemont's contributions to the Malazan world. Return of the Crimson Guard was fantastic in my opinion, and Stonewielder was solid, but I really didn't like Night of Knives, Blood and Bone, and Assail.

Dancer's Lament fixes every problem I had with those books, and more.

In addition to being an interesting, well-written, and well-plotted book, it also has given me somethin
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Emily
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This is a reread. I stand by my original review. Loved this book.

____

Wow... this was fantastic. I can't even believe I'm saying it. I have never raved about an ICE novel before. Most of his previous stuff I'd say was just mediocre, although I did like OST and BB. This one though, I loved. In fact, I'll go as far to say that it's better than some of Erikson's books (like HoC and DoD). I loved seeing Kellanved, Dancer and Dassem when they were young - especially knowing what their future was.

Howe
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Emily
Aug 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow... this was fantastic. I can't even believe I'm saying it. I have never raved about an ICE novel before. Most of his previous stuff I'd say was just mediocre, although I did like OST and BB. This one though, I loved. In fact, I'll go as far to say that it's better than some of Erikson's books (like HoC and DoD). I loved seeing Kellanved, Dancer and Dassem when they were young - especially knowing what their future was.

However, the BEST thing about this book? NO KRUPPE. He's not even alive y
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Adam Whitehead
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The continent of Quon Tali is divided into a morass of squabbling city-states, the days of the Talian Hegemony long past. But, in the south, the Kingdom of Kan is on the move. Its armies are moving on Li Heng, the great crossroads city at the heart of the continent. The Protectress of Heng and her powerful (but eccentric) cadre of mages are prepared to stand against them, but they are distracted by the arrival of a bizarre mage, a skilled assassin hungry to make a name for himself and a warrior ...more
Yashima
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you haven't read Malazan this book will read completely different. I have read it and my review will reflect this even though it's been some time. Also, I recommend reading the Malazan books first.

This book is a prequel featuring the young Cotillion and Shadowthrone before they get anywhere near being those two. In this book they are named Dorin and Wu. But they are easily recognizable. Especially Cotillion is among my all-time favorite characters ... ever, so I was looking forward to reading
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Dave
Jun 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I would probably have said 4.5 stars but all in all a great read.

The fact that Esselmont has seemingly distanced himself from trying to emulate Erikson's style and stuck to his own strengths of tight prose and equally tight narrative. So you won't get the intricacy of an Erikson novel but instead you get a complimentary style which works even better when Esselmont isn't forced to play so heavily in Erikson's backyard and interpret his own work.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I don't think it is
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Charles Bronson
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very different Malazan addition. 4.5*
Patrick St-Denis
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
At first, I wasn't sure whether or not I'd be reading Ian Cameron Esslemont's Dancer's Lament. Sure, a prequel trilogy focusing on how an assassin and Kellanved Ascended and became Dancer and Shadowthrone was intriguing. But given how disappointing Esslemont's last three Malazan books turned out to be, I was afraid to get burned again. The advance reviews were quite positive, yet they mostly came from fans who loved everything the author has published thus far. Hence, against my better judgement ...more
Allie
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook, blah
I spent over 16 hours listening to this book and it. did. nothing for me.

I'm honestly surprised I didn't like it. Funny thing is, I don't think I could put my finger on exactly what I didn't like about it. I just didn't like it.

I won't be reading the next book. Fool me once...
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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
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Other books in the series

Path to Ascendancy (3 books)
  • Deadhouse Landing (Path to Ascendancy, #2)
  • Kellanved's Reach (Path to Ascendancy, #3)

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