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Night of Knives

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Night of Knives is the first novel by Canadian author Ian Cameron Esslemont. It is set in the world of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, a ten-volume epic fantasy series by Esslemont's friend and colleague Steven Erikson. Esslemont and Erikson co-created the Malazan world in the 1980s.

Night of Knives was first published in the United Kingdom by PS Publishing in September 2004 as a limited hardcover. A paperback edition followed in May 2006. Bantam, who publish Steven Erikson's Malazan novels, published Night of Knives in hardcover on 7 May 2007 and in mass-market paperback on 5 May 2008. Its first U.S. publication was published by Tor Books in May 2009.

Night of Knives is the first of six novels by Esslemont, each collectively subtitled A Novel of the Malazan Empire. It is followed by Return of the Crimson Guard, Stonewielder, Orb Sceptre Throne, Blood and Bone, and Assail.

The novel is set in the 24 hours when the Emperor of the Malazan Empire is murdered. Chronologically, it takes place after the prologue to Erikson's Gardens of the Moon but before the main body of the novel. Several characters and locations which appear in Night of Knives also appear in Erikson's The Bonehunters.

Publisher's SummaryEdit

The small island of Malaz and its city gave the great empire its name, but now it is little more than a sleepy, backwater port. Tonight, however, things are different. Tonight the city is on edge, a hive of hurried, sometimes violent activity; its citizens bustle about, barring doors, shuttering windows, avoiding any stranger's stare. Because tonight 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...

It was also prophesied that this night would witness the return of Emperor Kellanved, and there are those prepared to do anything to prevent this happening. As factions within the greater Empire draw up battle lines over the imperial throne, the Shadow Moon summons a far more ancient and potent presence for an all-out assault upon the island. Witnessing these cataclysmic events are Kiska, a young girl who yearns to flee the constraints of the city, and Temper, a grizzled, battle-weary veteran who seeks simply to escape his past. Each is to play a part in a conflict that will not only determine the fate of Malaz City, but also of the world beyond …

Drawing on events touched on in the prologue of Steven Erikson's landmark fantasy Gardens of the Moon, Night of Knives is a momentous chapter in the unfolding story of the extraordinarily imagined world of Malaz.

Front matterEdit


This novel is dedicated to
who made the world real


This work's long journey from conception to print has been full of aid from many unexpected directions. It grew out of a collaboration of many years' standing with Steven Erikson that continues to be rich and rewarding, creatively and in friendship. To him must go my greatest thanks for our partnership in creating the world of Malaz. I would also like to thank Simon Taylor for his generosity of spirit, William Thompson for his encouragement and editing skills, my agent, John Jarrold, and Gerri Brightwell for her long-standing support and insightful comments. And finally, extraordinary thanks to Peter Crowther for taking a chance on an unknown.


A short introduction by Steven Erikson.


Night of Knives
Extended DP Prologue
1. Portents and Arrivals
2. Assignations
3. Hounds of Shadow
4. Old Enemies, Old Friends
5. Feints and Fates
6. Resolutions
Epilogue Pagination

Plot Summary Edit

Dramatis Personae (as found in books)Edit

click here for extended Dramatis Personae

The Malazans Edit

  • Emperor Kellanved, absent ruler of the Malazan Empire
  • Dancer, Master-Assassin and bodyguard to Kellanved
  • Surly, Mistress of the Imperial assassin corps, the Claw
KoK End

Scene from 'Night of Knives' Interpretation by Corporal Nobbs

  • Tayschrenn, Imperial High Mage
  • Temper, a Malazan soldier
  • Corinn, a mage, member of the Bridgeburner Brigade
  • Ash, an ex-officer of the Bridgeburner Brigade
  • Seal, a one-time Malazan army healer
  • Dassem Ultor, Champion and 'First Sword' of the Empire
  • Chase, an officer of the garrison at Mock's Hold
  • Hattar, bodyguard to Tayschrenn
  • Ferrule, member of Dassem's bodyguard, the Sword
  • Possum, an Imperial assassin, Claw

Inhabitants of Malaz Isle Edit

  • Coop, proprietor of the Hanged Man Inn
  • Anji, servitor at the Hanged Man Inn
  • Kiska, a youth hoping to enter Imperial service
  • Lubben, gatekeeper at Mock's Hold
  • Fisherman, a mage of Malaz Isle
  • Agayla, spice dealer and mage of Malaz Isle
  • Trenech, regular at the Hanged Man Inn
  • Faro Balkat, regular at the Hanged Man Inn
  • Obo, a mage of Malaz Isle

Others Edit

  • Edgewalker, elder inhabitant of the Shadow Realm
  • Jhedel, a prisoner in the Shadow Realm
  • Oleg Vikat, a scholar of the Warrens
  • Surgen Ress, last Holy City Champion
  • Pralt, a leader of the shadow cult
  • Jhenna, Jaghut guardian of the Dead House


In early versions of the novel, Chapter 4 was mistitled as Chapter 5.

Cover galleryEdit

Notes and ReferencesEdit

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