cover image Forge of the High Mage

Forge of the High Mage

Ian C. Esslemont. Tor, $30.99 (480p) ISBN 978-1-250-78861-0

Esslemont keeps the military and magical action chugging along in his satisfying fourth Path to Ascendancy epic (after Kellenvad’s Reach), which marks a return to the expansive world of his Malazan Empire universe. At the outset, wily mage emperor Kellanved launches a two-pronged campaign to capture the Falaran Isles: Kellanved himself travels in the flagship Twisted, chivying along an assortment of freebooters, while Commander Dujek Onearm leads a sizeable force of regulars and a few mages of the Imperial Cadre overland through uncharted but not empty territory. The Malazan forces first face challenges from the werewolves and werebears of a Jhek tribe, but their greatest test comes when they confront a nest of the Elder race known as the K’Chain Che’Malle. Meanwhile, the priesthood of Mael, the Falaran sea god, musters forces to defend their territory—and it’s rumored they have a secret weapon: the monster known as the Jhistal, which must be summoned with blood. There’s not a dull moment as Esslemont moves from the clashes of powerful mages, to the plotting of corrupt priests, with treasure diving and astonishing feats of swordplay along the way. Series fans will welcome this action-packed installment. (Apr.)