• Return of the Crimson Guard

  • Novels of the Malazan Empire, Book 2
  • By: Ian C. Esslemont
  • Narrated by: John Banks
  • Length: 32 hrs and 8 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (682 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The return of the mercenary company, the Crimson Guard, could not have come at a worse time for a Malazan Empire exhausted by warfare and weakened by betrayals and rivalries. Indeed, there are those who wonder whether the Empress Laseen might not be losing her grip on power as she faces increasing unrest as conquered kingdoms and principalities sense freedom once more.

Into the seething cauldron of Quon Tali - the Empire's heartland - marches the Guard. With their return comes the memory of the Empire - and yet all is not well with the Guard itself. Elements within its elite, the Avowed, have set their sights on far greater power. There are ancient entities who also seek to further their own arcane ends. And what of the swordsman called Traveller who, with his companion Ereko, has gone in search of a confrontation from which none have ever returned?

As the Guard prepares to wage war, so Laseen's own generals and mages, the "Old Hands," grow impatient at what they see as her mismanagement of the Empire. But could Laseen have outwitted them all? Could she be using the uprisings to draw out and finally eliminate these last irksome survivors from the days of her illustrious predecessor, Kellanved?

©2008 Ian Cameron Esslemont (P)2016 Random House Audiobooks, all rights reserved.

What listeners say about Return of the Crimson Guard

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The book is good but there is a technical problem

Chapter 27 finishes at page 690 in the book, chapter 28 starts at page 729. The missing 39 pages are in chapter 29 of the audiobook. Otherwise a great book especially for those familiar with the malazan universe.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, one part out of order

Love the book and performance.

However there were 4 minutes way out of order. The last 4 minutes of "chapter 30" are very clearly supposed to be in an earlier chapter, I believe 28 or 29. I was very confused until I checked my hard copy of the book. I can't explain better without spoilers. Still five stars from me though.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Overall great with some caveats

Problem was is missing content. I saw in the reviews that there's a problem around chapter 29 (page 690) but there's a much earlier problem. Around page 483 there are 12 pages missing. The part that's missing is the end of the fifth chapter in book 2 and it's kind of important.

Aside from the technical issues, there is a problem with the pronounciation of some of the terms. Most problematic pronounciations have to do with words that wete made up for this world (like soletaken) but also real words like marquis are pronounced wrong (markwis). It's really annoying and inconsistent with the pronounciations of the terms from earlier books (which were narrated by other peole but still, do your homework). Other than that, i enjoyed the narration. The narrators for the main series (malazan book of the fallen) always do weird voices that often seem wrong for the character (unless that character is meant to sound absurd), and his voice is normal but you can still distinguish between characters.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Poor narration, technical errors, decent story.

This book was better than the last but the narration was incredibly poor. All the characters sound exactly the same which made the dialog-heavy scenes difficult to follow.

So far the ICE books are awful compared to the SE books and if I had listened to these first I don't think I would have finished the series. If I didn't know better I'd think this was fan fiction rather than a genuine collaboration.

The only thing that makes this book worth reading is it's potential relevance later in the series. It does not stand on it's own.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great story, uninspired narrator

The story is awesome and ICE really stand up to Erikson in this book. However the narration didn't work for me, at all. This is literally the first audiobook I had to quit listening and ended up reading on kindle exclusively. I simply could not stand Mr Banks performance for some reason. Coming from the Malazan universe, don't expect anything close to Michael Page or Ralph Lister.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

prepare to be confused.

This book wasn't written by Stevenson but it is just as confusing. The plot jumps all over the place with no warning. The story has so many characters that there are a ton of incomplete arcs. So it kind of Falls par for the course for Malazan.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good Fill Material / No New Concepts

If you are a huge fan of the original Malazan series, as I am, you will understand that this is filling that will enhance your vision of the characters and circumstances of that world. Esslemont understands Erikson’s intent perhaps better than anyone. Yet it is still just fill material in my opinion. No new concepts. This likely is out of respect for the originator. If you are a fan, you will find it interesting but often tedious (and long running). Good for commuting to/from work. If you are not a fan you will be hopelessly lost. I gave it three stars out of respect for Esslemont. I do not recommend it for those who have not been fully absorbed in the original Erikson series. Good stuff,, but I often lost my place and had to backtrack. As others have mentioned, there is a technical mixup of content in a couple of chapters. However that did not influence my opinion.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Hard to keep track of what is going on.

I have, finally, learned my lesson. I have tried, three times, to listen to this guy's books. I just can't follow them. I got to the last hour of this one and, just gave up. I don't have this problem with any other author I listen to and I listen to more than twenty books a year.
It's not worth the effort.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

what story later line

I purchased the first 2 books because after the first 1 I was completely lost so I figured maybe the next book would make some sense of the first but no luck. the second book return of the crimson guard had nothing to do with the first book at all although I will say I didn't finish even half the book I couldn't I simply could not stand it any longer I wouldn't recommend this series to anyone

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Getting better

The narrator is really getting better, I appreciate his voice more than the previous one.