Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Reaper's Gale by Steven Erikson

Book 7 of Steven Erikson's epic fantasy series, the Malazan Book of the Fallen, is here. Reaper's Gale is a change of pace as it is a direct sequel to both the fifth and sixth volumes, Midnight Tides and The Bonehunters.

The book starts in the Letherii Empire as the doomed Rhulad Sengar, the Emperor of a Thousand Deaths, is quickly spiraling into madness while the Letherii secret police works its own agenda. They are not the only one as conspiracies seethe throughout the palace and the empire edges ever closer to war against its’ neighboring kingdoms. Even The Errant, a fallen god, plays a game to regain his lost power.

Then the great Edur fleet returned. Warriors from countless people were selected to cross sword with the Emperor of a Thousand Deaths. Amongst them are Karsa Orlong and Icarium Lifestealer, two of the greatest warriors in the world. Just to top it all off; The Malazan 14th Army, the Bonehunters, has come for revenge.

As you can see, a lot will happen in this book. So if you had not read the previous books in the series…forget about this one! You will no chance of picking up the story if you have no previous knowledge of the previous books, especially Midnight Tides and The Bonehunters.

Even if you have knowledge of the previous books, this one will STILL be a mess.

Yes, I did not like this one and the list of reasons is long. For one, for a series called ‘the Malazan Book of the Fallen’, the Malazans did not turned up till halfway through the book, 500 pages in. Tehol Beddict's manipulation of the Letherii economy, which was kind of interesting in the earlier books, was getting more boring by the pages here. The grand conspiracy between nations beyond the new Empire's borders was kind of interesting (Redmask was another great character in the series) and it never managed to gather any pace because the story keep jumping from the border to the Empire to the Malazans and then to Silchas Ruin’s group.

Plot-holes are everywhere in this book. I blame this on Erikson trying to squeeze too many things into one book. Even though it is over 1000 pages in length, the book still feel very rushed.

A prefect example is the deaths that occurred in the book. Sheltatha Lore, Sukul Ankhadu and Menandore, 3 goddess/ demi-goddess, were killed in an extremely confusing battle. Trull Sengar was killed by…a blow in the back? This after facing and beating the Mortal Sword of Darkness! Silchas Ruin, one of the 3 sons of Darkness, was beaten by a group of mortal Malazan marines? This after basically defeating a Letherii army by himself!

Silchas Ruin’s group was the biggest problem in this book. The search for the soul of the Edur god, Scabandari Bloodeye, was a strange one to begin with and it just got stranger and more senseless as the story continued. Don’t even get me started on the end when Silchas Ruin used Bloodeye’s soul as the foundation for a new Azath House. How come a mind-reader like Sheltatha Lore would not know of his plans is yet another big blank plot-hole in the book.

I just hope 'Toll the Hounds' will be better.

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