06 May, 2010

Review - Reaper's Gale by Steven Erikson

Book 7 of Steven Erikson's beyond epic Malazan Book of the Fallen series, Reaper's Gale [US] [UK] continues the events from The Bonehunters and Midnight Tides. That's right, it's the sequel to both and no wonder because it is massive.

I find myself having a hard time with these massive volumes in this series. First, they are incredibly daunting to pick up and I wonder if they couldn't use just a bit more editing down. On the other hand, I am a huge fan of the series and should just be happy with any bit of the Malazan universe I can get right?

Reaper's Gale begins yet again with another people we are meeting for the first time, the Awl. So, just like the rest of the series, Reaper's Gale is familiar, yet still takes some time getting into the story. I really like this about the books because while it does add to the confusion, the series definitely doesn't become stale like some longer epics tend to get.

The Awl struggle with the Letherii who continue to conquer everyone and leave little to no survivors. What the Letherii come to find out is that they are being united by a legend, the famous Red Mask.

While this is taking place, we also continue to follow the surly group of travelers including Silchas Ruin, Udinaas, and others on their quest for the soul of Scabandari Bloodeye.

Now add to this what we've been waiting for since The Bonehunters, the champions, Karsa Orlong and Icarium, are still waiting for their chance to fight the emperor, Rulad Sengar. I promise this DOES get resolved by the end of the book. :)

While attempting not to give too much away, throughout this book, I kept thinking about the juxtaposition of the Letherii and Malazan empires and wondering if Erikson is comparing them to any present day countries. One empire conquers and decimates or subjugates while the latter conquers and makes life better for the people. Take this how you will, it was just something to ponder.

Many people say this is where the series gets off-base and Reaper's Gale is where they quit. While this is probably my least favorite in the series so far, I have to say this is still the same quality and yet another great ending full of pathos.

When Should You Read Malazan Book of the Fallen?

I've come up with a new rule for reading Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen and it goes like this:

First, read all kinds of traditional fantasy, ones where the scullery boy/girl is actually King/Queen/Powerful sorcerer, etc.

Then, once you've gotten to the point where you can't read another "traditional" story, you're ready to get into the world of the Malazan Empire.

I happened to read Feist's Riftwar Saga and Eddings' Belgariad and Mallorean before reading Malazan Book of the Fallen and it did wonders for me. It's something completely different and massive and great.

4 out of 5 Stars (Loved it)

My review of The Bonehunters.


Ryan said...

I'm reading this book right now. Malazan books tend to be an epic journey for me, and take me a long time to read, so I'll probably be reviewing it sometime around the end of the month.

Bryce L. said...

Yeah, this took me a while too. Plus, I was using it as a back up book, so it went extra slow. All in all it probably took me a couple months. :)

Ryan said...

Hopefully it wont take me 2 months. I finished the first "book" yesterday. So far: Needs more Karsa, Tehol, and Malazans.

Bryce L. said...

I don't think this spoils anything, but the third book is when it all starts going down...finally.

Simcha said...

I think it will probably be a long time before I get to this one. Maybe I need to go back to Eddings for a while first :) Though I did actually pick up Book 2 in the series, at a second hand bookstore, so I might actually be moving forward in the series soon.

Bryce L. said...

Definitely recommended. The next one's great although you'll be at square one with most characters. I think Kalam, Fiddler, Crokus, and Apsalar are still in it though. :)

bloggeratf said...

I read this about two months ago. What got me through the book was the fight that has been promised for two (or is it three) books now and that has failed to materialize in any substantive way.

I want to see Iccarium fight Karsa again. I would pay good money for that. A no holds barred fight between the two...

I just started the book after this... whose name escapes me at the moment. You are right that the new perspective keeps it interesting, but sometimes they are a bit hard to get into because there is a whole new culture to learn every time.

Vaughn Alaine-Marshall’s "Uberstar" said...

More fantastic stuff, from Erikson!

Bryce L. said...

@Alec - That's the difficulty with these books as well. Each one you have to add to the already huge cast. I'm still diggin' it, but I know it turns lots of people off.

It was Bonehunters where we were promised the fight and then after 1200 pages we finally get it. :)

Unknown said...

Haven't gotten to this book yet. Way too many on the to read pile but I have always enjoyed Erikson.

Great review and I may have to move the series up in the pile, their size would make the pile smaller in the long run.

Bryce L. said...

@Ty - That is true. What's nice is that you can always go back to 'em and they're always good.