Reaper’s Gale (Malazan Book of the Fallen #7), by Steven Erikson
5 out of 5 (Loved It)
The Letherii Empire is in turmoil. Rhulad Sengar, the Emperor of a Thousand Deaths, spirals into madness, while the Errant, once a farseeing god, appears suddenly blind to the future. Driven by the corruption and self-interest, the empire edges ever-closer to all-out war with its neighbouring kingdoms. And the great Edur fleet draws ominously ever closer. With Karsa Orlong and Icarium Lifestealer among its warriors, that blood will be spilled is certain.
But a band of fugitives look to escape from Lether. One of them, Fear Sengar, seeks the soul of Scabandari Bloodeye, for he hopes that with its help, they might halt the Tiste Edur and so save the emperor, his brother. But another is Scabandari’s old enemy: Silchas Ruin, brother of Anomander Rake. He carries scars inflicted by Scabandari, and such bloodshed cannot go unanswered. There is to be a reckoning and it will be on an unimaginable scale…
Why I loved it:
Great complimentary story lines: Just like Midnight Tides, book seven had character groups and sub-plots that had obvious connections. The Letherii Empire was central to everything. There was the insane emperor who everyone feared, the Letherii, who though conquered, continue to rule behind the scenes of their “masters”, a newly introduced oppressive police force with its own agenda, a small war in the east sparking rebellion from neighbouring nations, and a more serious invasion to the west. Then there was a genius attempting to bring down the Empire’s entire economy from within. The politics of the Empire and the way each of these parts fit into the overall plot was interesting, entertaining, and well done.
Consistent from start to finish: I disliked sections of the previous book. Reaper’s Gale was great from beginning to end, with an intriguing build-up, pockets of action throughout, and a solid finish.
What I didn’t like (again, don’t be confused by the larger negative section. I just like to ramble):
A few too many sub-plots: I did not enjoy Twilight’s story that much, and I don’t think the introduction of The Shake society was really necessary. The other two sub-plots headed by Silchas Ruin and Quick Ben, respectively, were much more interesting but all in all it felt like there was a tad too much happening at once.
There were a few terrible moments when the author added brand new characters into the action. With my many little pet peeves, this was the first time I actually lowered the book and thought “why is he doing this?!” He randomly jumped to brand new POVs within the Bonehunter marine squads during their invasion (there are more than enough main/supporting characters in that army), added their back stories, etc, and ALL of it was pointless.
Jaded descriptions: The author has introduced countless landscapes, cities, provinces, etc, throughout the series thus far. I reached a point where it was difficult to care when a new place was being described by the author, wishing he would just move on. I have not experienced this with other books. For example, the war between the Empire and the Awl rebels to the east was great, but it took place on plains in a new setting. These were not the first fields and plains to be used in the books, and from previous experience it’s probable we’ll never see the place again. It’s not that enjoyable to read descriptions of a 100th ‘temporary’ landscape. More is not necessarily better.
The other rather jaded parts are the intro passages that set the scenes. The characters frequently lament on the injustices of the world, and most of these passages sound like they are coming from one voice. They are interesting at times, but they rarely contain anything relevant to what the characters are actually doing, and are nothing more than ‘head in the clouds’ daydreams.
Long periods apart from some characters: This is more of a personal thing, but I am a little disappointed that the main plot seems to have drifted away from the Malazan Empire and the continents from the first few books. They do appear to return in the next one, but the hiatuses from the plots of say, book three (which is easily my favourite book in the series thus far), have been too long. I don’t understand why many brand new characters and their side-stories continue to be introduced when it’s been four full books without seeing main characters like Anomander Rake, Kruppe, Silverfox, or the god K’Rul (to name a few). Even Paran, who is arguably the main character (if there was one), comes and goes all the time.
NEXT BOOKS: Hunters of Dune, Toll the Hounds. I feel like dropping the Malazan series for other fantasy that I really want to read, but I know that if I do, I won’t return to it for years. So instead I’ve decided to have a go at reading two books at once, a fantasy and a sci-fi novel to keep the variety fresh as I chip away at the final three Malazan books.
© 2013 FOTS Fantasy