Reaper's Gale: Book Seven of The Malazan Book of the Fallen Hardcover – March 4, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
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"Extraordinarily enjoyable . . . Erikson is a master of lost and forgotten epochs, a weaver of ancient epics."--Salon.com
- Publisher : Tor Books; 1st edition (March 4, 2008)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 832 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0765310074
- ISBN-13 : 978-0765310071
- Item Weight : 2 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.62 x 1.89 x 9.4 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,141,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Picking up where THE BONEHUNTERS and MIDNIGHT TIDES left off, REAPER’S GALE follows Adjunt Tavore’s beleaguered army as they set their eyes on the apparently-persecuted Letherii Empire. Expecting to find a repressed and ready-for-rebellion-against-the-Edur populace, the Bonehunters et al. land and begin sowing seeds of confusion and chaos. Meanwhile, Rhulad Sengar has become isolated in bureaucratic morass with smooth-talking aides keeping him paranoid and powerless. He has been distracted by a constant stream of unwilling “challengers” whom no matter how skillful, cannot defeat the seemingly-immortal Emperor of a Thousand Deaths. But enter two new challengers, our old friends Icarium Lifestealer and Karsa Orlong. Much of the story here revolves around the coming, possibly apocalyptic, battle between one of these two and Rhulad. Simultaneously, we follow a band of unlikely companions (Fear Sengar, Udinaas, Seren Pedac, Silchas Ruin, Kettle, and Clip) on their journey to recover the soul of Scabandari Bloodeye, and we keep up with Tehol and Bugg as their plot of destabilize the Letherii economy comes to fruition.
Multiple other story arcs fill in the space of this 1000+ page book. One follows another band of travelers (Trull Sengar, Quick Ben, Onrack the Broken, and eventually Hedge) who have been directed by Cotillion towards a not-obvious destination and purpose but end up in a realm of life-restoring magic with still-living Imass. Other story arcs follow the emergence of a new leader for the Shake, the discovery of ancient artifacts with troublesome implications, and the rise of the Errant as a contender for power. One space-consuming arc that didn’t add much to the broader saga surrounded a rebellion of the Awl against the Lether Empire, led by Redmask, a brilliantly done character, but one whose presence and relevance in this book is not clear. His destiny seems of paramount importance during most of the book but then… not much comes of it. This story arc does confirm the reemergence of the K’Chain Che’Malle, who seem to have chosen Redmask as their Mortal Sword, at least temporarily, indicating their intention to once again engage with the world.
The first half of REAPER’S GALE is spent introducing and progressing all of these disparate arcs, gradually bringing them into relation to one another. The second half of the book is rip-roaring awesomeness as Erikson achieves the impossible by taking each story on a headlong rush towards dramatic and complete-feeling climaxes. This made the second half of this book some of the best material to be found in the Malazan series (IMO). Many of the plot lines did not end as I expected (or wanted) them to, especially regarding Trull and Seren (truly torturous) and Icarium (which I am sure I do not understand). On the other hand, the confrontation between Rhulad and Karsa and the ensuing interaction between Karsa and the Crippled God was marvelous.
REAPER’S GALE features almost all the fan-favorite characters from the series, other notables of whom, beyond those mentioned above, include Fiddler, Hellian, Toc the Younger, Nisall, Featherwitch, Hannan Mosag, and Ublala Pung. There are also a few new characters worth mentioning, especially Karos Invictad and Sirryn Kanar, leaders of the Patriotists, the secret police with stability and order as their façade but power and wealth as their true agenda. Then there is Triban Gnol, whose web of lies and successful isolation of Rhulad sends the emperor ever closer to complete madness. The Patriotists and bureaucrats serve as wonderful antagonists in this story, effectively convey the frustration one feels when interacting with corrupt and pointlessly-difficult bureaucracy. Very well done by Erikson.
This book comes across as the continuation of Midnight Tides (Book 5). I really enjoyed that book after the very disappointing House of Chains. Midnight Tides reinvigorated my interest in continuing the series even though I had contemplated abandoning the series after I read Book 4. Subsequently, Bonehunters (Book 6) was so wonderful and kept the momentum going from Midnight Tides.
The character problem continues to rankle on, it just amazes me how much the author loves adding new characters. The author has an insatiable appetite for creating new characters. We still don’t know much about the existing characters who have been around since the first book. I cannot even pick and choose characters I like because they are mostly confusing, unclear, and difficult to figure out and there is not much data about them. I am perplexed by the fact that the editors did not encourage the author to cut down on the number of characters. The great array of subplots can be very confusing. I know the author will contend that he wanted a sense of mystery, I am okay with mystery, but please do not make it too convoluted. We must keep in mind that a lot of people quit reading the series because of those above-mentioned. Many statements go unresolved, and every one communicates the same way. I don’t think a single person has a favorite word they use a lot. The supporting cast seem to overshadow the central characters. The minor plots detract from the main plots. There were many new characters introduced every chapter. A bunch of new characters were added even near the end of the book, which is highly baffling! I noticed the same pattern in the previous book Bonehunters and the others before it. Those characters that were introduced near the end of the book did not add up anything to the story at all! If they were there to bring about a new and dramatic revelation, I would be okay with that, but that did not transpire.
I frequently kept going back to the front of the book to look at the glossary to keep track of who is who. In the Wheel of Time series of books by Robert Jordan (I have read ten of that series)—there are only a few central characters, so it was a lot easier to follow. The David Eddings books also have only a few central characters (shorter books though)--there aren’t inundated with a ton of sub plots, in addition, the minor characters don’t take away from the central characters. Same thing happens with books that were written by Margaret Weis, Brandon Sanderson, Terry Goodkind (read Sword of Truth series, books 1-3), Anne McAffery (Dragonriders of Pern books 1-3), Jim Butcher (Codex of Alera, books 1-3), Glen Cook (Chronicles of the Black Company, books 1-3), Dennis McKiernan (Mithgar series, books 1-3), etc.
Another thing about the Tiste Edur and Lethari is that there are no patterns in the character’s names of each group. Let me give a Star Trek example, I can tell the distinction between a Klingon name and Jem’Hadar (Dominion), it is very obvious. Here are Klingon names, Gowron, Martok, Worf, Duras, Kor, Kang, Koloth and then here are Jem’Hadar names: Ixtana’Rax, Ikat’Ikah, Kudak’Itan, Talak’Talan, Lamat’Ukan, Arak’Taral, Toman’Torax, Omet’Iklan, Yak’Talan; you can certainly discern a certain pattern in Jem’Hadar names that you don’t see in Klingon names, but I cannot say the same of the Tiste Edur and Lethari. Nonetheless, skirmishes between the Lethari and the Tiste Edur were intriguing. I also don’t understand the difference between the Tiste Andi and the Tiste Edur.
Some of the character names are very familiar words—Torrent, Fear, Touchy, Kettle, Wither, Ruin, Grub, Beak, Sort, Bottle, Smiles, Brevity, Bluerose, Hedge, Lookback, Pithy, Fiddler, Stormy, Sands, Cord, Pond, Maybe, Lobe, Tulip, Shake, and on and on. How can you like characters with names like that?! I think the author did that for the sake of humor, I am not laughing! It is okay to have maybe half a dozen funny names, but no more! Very disappointing.
The gods storyline is very confusing and hard to follow and comprehend. The details about historical places is extremely highly detailed, evidently that is because the author is an archaeologist. This story converges a lot of characters and groups together which made it amazing and riveting, but it can bring some confusion with it too. The last third of the book is riveting, and breath-taking, lots of stuff happening. There is a great deal happening, a great deal indeed, frankly, evidently, it is amazing, and makes it a page turner. The story flow is better in this book. Additionally, this is one of the longest books in the series.
I give this book a rating of 4.
Top reviews from other countries
Now it is good to read a complex and intricate fantasy that doesn't patronise its audience. However, Erikson perhaps pushes his luck too far the other way. The first half of this book has dozens of new characters (most of which you just know are on borrowed time), new plot lines, and erratic pacing. There's no doubt such detail flesh out the rich tapestry of this world, especially given the book is set in the Lether Empire, which only really featured in book 5, Midnight Tides. But the intricacy gets confusing in places, especially if you only read in short bursts. Having said that, Erikson has the assurance that if you've made it to book 7/10 then you're going to preserve.
As well as the Letheri and Edur characters from book 5/6, we have some old favourites in the form of Karsa Orlong and Icarium, on their way to cross swords with Rhulad, the immortal emperor, and puppet of the Crippled God. Their scenes are mainly a build up for the inevitable dust-off that you know will be in the usual fast-cut finale chapters. Onrack and Trull also pop up, travelling with Quick Ben, into a pocket dimension with strange effects on the dead.
About half-way through the book, the Malazans arrive in the Letheri Empire. At this stage it's like there's a switch in interest. From that point the book was compulsive. The marines are so well written, with punchy dialogue, shades-of-grey characters, and great humour (Sgt Hellian is awesome) that they drive the narrative along with pace. New characters like Beak are seamlessly brought in, and the plot is full of surprises and twists up until the last pages. Erikson's near casual slaughter of key characters really makes you nervous as you read, and his charismatic bad guys are all the more despicable. The explicit violence pushes new levels, and I wonder if Erikson had bought a new anatomy text book for some paragraphs, especially the scraps at the end with sundered faces, temporal bones and brain lobes!!
Highlights? Quick Ben, Hedge and the dragons. Bugg and Tehol. Karsa and the Crippled God. Beak's candles. Toc's return. And those Moranth munitions.
The next book seems to bring back some old favourites judging by the prologue presented in the rear of this book: so I'm looking forward to Krupp, and Anomander Drake, and hopefully Clip getting a good slapping.
Now though, as we slowly move towards the finale of this epic, many of the characters that have been with us for what seems like ages are beginning the story arcs that will lead towards their own conclusions. It's great to meet many of them again but not so great to have to say goodbye to a few (I'm not spoiling by saying who but I was both surprised and sad).
So immense is the tapestry of this epic tale that I find myself having to refer back to previous books in order to remember the relationships and back stories; more so in fact than with Game of Thrones. If that isn't a compliment then I don't know what is!
Another great read!
fleecy moss, author of Folio 55 (writing as Nia Sinjorina), available on Amazon.
All in all, a very good book. However, a few bits and pieces annoyed me.
How many times can I read the same description over and over again?
"wiped his mouth with the back of his hand"
"spat onto his hands and smoothed back his hair"
Another one was a thinly veiled representation of our society by introducing to us all the nitty-gritty of the Letherii society. I would expect such a blatant trick from Sci-Fi story, but stumbling across it in the Epic Fantasy was a bit too much.
Regardless, I am still fascinated by the universe, characters and the story line.
The next one in the line of The Malazan Book of the Fallen will be Ian Cameron Esslemont's - [Malazan Empire #02] - Return of the Crimson Guard.
The book starts slowly, but you can feel the momentum grow with every page turned. The saga of Redmask and the Awl is not, perhaps, as interesting as it could have been, but the small group accompanying Silchas Ruin, the aforementioned soldiers and, of course, Tehol Beddict all provide more than enough excitement.
The whole thing builds to a fantastic climax of impressive ferocity and body count even by the standards of the series. This book will leave you breathless, shellshocked and thoroughly entertained.