Monday, May 14, 2007

Reaper’s Gale by Steven Erikson

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
The above quote aptly captures the feeling carried throughout Reaper’s Gale and its many story arcs, sufficiently tantalizing anxious readers. What would have turned out differently? Was it bad? Is this referring to events in Reaper’s Gale or later books? Does someone die? Who was involved? Answers to these and other questions range from yes to no, with the ‘maybe’, ‘I don’t know’ and ‘read and find out’ all found in there someplace.

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.


Patrick said...

Glad you enjoyed it, even though it does appear that I enjoyed more than you did!;-)

Neth said...

Oh I still enjoyed it a lot, it's just that the ultimate convergence was a bit of a let down.

Neth said...

As for the observant types who notice that I scored RG lower than BH and say that I felt RG was the better of the two...well I feel that my score for BH was too high. I also feel that I don't want to get into the practice of changing my scores as they did reflect what I felt at the time of that review - I evolve, as do my tastes and all that (this is an example of a short coming for the scoring system - as much as I try for consistency, I can't always achieve it).

Anyway, if I were to give it a new score, BH would probably get 7 rather than the 7.5-8 shown.

Anonymous said...

I have yet to finish this book, and find it hard, compared to the other ones.. It starts off very interesting and full of anticipation between Karsa and Icarium, but the second half just seems to drag on and on. Redmask is cool just does not compare to other previous characters. Maybe is because I've had not the time to read as much, so I start forgetting who all the new characters are.


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