Kellanved’s Reach by Ian C. Esslemont – Review

Cover- Kellanved's Reach

Published: April 2, 2019

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: Path to Ascendancy #3

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 352 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


The conclusion to Ian C. Esslemont’s epic fantasy Path to Ascendancy trilogy–a prequel story set in the New York Timesbestselling Malazan Empire series–co-created by Steven Erikson.

The incessant war between the bickering city states of Quon Tali rages. So engrossed are the warring lords and princes in their own petty feuds that few notice that an upstart mage from Dal Hon has gained control of the southern seas.

Kellanved could not care less about any of this petty politicking or strategy or war. Something other and altogether more mysterious has caught his attention and he – together with a reluctant and his decidedly skeptical friend Dancer – traverse continents and journey through the Realms. But this ancient mystery that has so captivated Kellanved is neither esoteric nor ephemeral. It involves the Elder races themselves, and more alarmingly, the semi-mythic Army of Dust and Bone.

Surely no one in their right mind would be so foolish as to embark on a journey from which none have returned? Well, no one except Kellanved.

I’m going to be blunt here – I was expecting more out of this book than I received. I’m a huge fan of the Malazan universe and I think the Path to Ascendancy series has been Esslemont’s strongest performance yet. I absolutely loved the first two book, but for some reason this one didn’t resonate as strongly with me.

It felt rushed and I didn’t properly care about the new POVs. Even Kellanved and Dancer’s chapters didn’t give me the satisfaction I expected. This being said, it was still a pretty good book with a cool plot. For those familiar with the Malazan world, the cover gave it away – the wily duo were out searching for the T’lan Imass and the means to control them through the First Throne. An undead army would provide the newly formed Malazan throne the means to become the conquering empire it’s seen as in the Book of the Fallen. A good chunk of this book focuses on the warring Quon Talian city states which I found mostly pretty dull, though the characters were slightly less dull.

Overall, I wasn’t crazy about this book and I wish it were longer so perhaps things wouldn’t have felt so rushed. Some of what considered to be the “main showdowns” resolved incredibly quickly and with minimal fuss. Kellanved’s Reach fell somewhat short of what I had expected after the resounding success of the previous two books.

2 thoughts on “Kellanved’s Reach by Ian C. Esslemont – Review

  1. Bummer. However, I am glad I read your review so my own expectations will be a bit lower. I just pre-ordered the hardcover from amazon so I should have it by next weekend. At least my books will match 🙂

    After this experience, do you think you’ll read any more by Esslemont if he keeps writing in the Malazan world?

    Liked by 1 person

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