Had [the Elder God] told him then … all might well have turned out differently. [He] would look back on this one moment, over all others, during his extended time of retrospection that followed. Had he spoken true…
Malazan Tales of the Fallen is the ambitiously epic fantasy series by Steven Erikson and Reaper’s Gale is the seventh installment of ten. The series is dark, daunting, and highly addictive – the reader is thrown to the wolves at the start, kept guessing in complex world of differing species, magical aspects, gods and empires, and follows numerous characters through the intricate tapestry of Erikson’s maddening world. Admittedly I am a biased fan, but the series is a brilliant example of what fantasy can achieve.
Reaper’s Gale brings more of the same to the continuing series as Erikson further explores the Malazan world, corruption of power and nations, struggles of the everyman soldier, and a war between gods affecting every corner of land and sea where pawns and kings mix and interchange in a most deadly game. Story lines from the previous six books converge in greater numbers than anywhere before, mingling with newcomers, in a clear improvement over The Bonehunters. While there is still much more to be told, numerous unanswered and yet unasked questions, Reaper’s Gale provides a satisfying conclusion as we wait for book eight, Toll of the Hounds.
This installment offers much to chew on for devoted and casual fans alike, and overall, I loved it despite it falling short in a few areas. The primary shortfall is with the great convergence of power at the end of the book. This is a 900 page book, and with all the set-up from The Bonehunters, this convergence has been much anticipated. The ultimate result falls a bit flat – the most powerful scenes in Reaper’s Gale occur earlier in the book, and some of the moments at the end just didn’t hit me as hard as they should have. With all that set-up the let-down was inevitable. As for other strengths and weaknesses, Erikson writes as he has in the past with no surprises here – he ranges from brilliant to dull as he continues his utterly addictive series.
Reaper’s Gale feeds the beast driving fans of Malazan as the series rushes towards finality. It may not be the strongest installment in the series, but it’s far from the weakest. For those who aren’t reading it yet, I highly recommend Malazan Tales of the Fallen; for fans already engaged, Reaper’s Gale is most satisfying – 7.5/10.