Reaper's Gale: Book Seven of The Malazan Book of the Fallen
by Steven Erikson
Review by Steve Sawicki
Tor Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765316530
Date: 04 March 2008 List Price $16.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
This is the seventh book in Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series. In this book, which essentially moves the story forward, continuing parts told in previous books and introducing new characters and plots as well, the story centers around the Letherii empire.
Rhulad Sengar, mad Edur emperor and conqueror, is shut off from the day to day decisions of rule and instead spirals into insanity, his one escape the challenge to take on all champions in personal combat. While the Letherii chancellor embraces the chance to clean the empire of personal problems, the Edur fleet comes ever closer bearing two champions; Karsa Orlong and Icarium Lifestealer, either of whom could kill Rhulad. Yet if one of them does everything ends, for it has been foretold that this will bring a reckoning. The gods, as they have in the past, are up to their interfering ways and one can never be sure just how much influence is being used or where. By the end, a champion will stand, an empire will fall, a people will be freed and the gods will tally the totals to see where they all stand.
Like all of the other books preceding this one, Erikson starts in a very choppy fashion, jumping from character to character and from event to event. So much so that you begin to wonder if any of it will make any sense. Somewhere around the second hundred pages a single theme begins to come together. In this case it is the story of Letherii. By the middle of the book, Erikson is going at full steam and everything is moving together, albeit it's still hard to tell how it will all come together by the end. But come together it all does, and in grand fashion.
This has to be, in my opinion, the best series, if not the best set of books, to have been written and published in the last decade. Jim Minz, then editor at Tor, told me about Erikson when I was asking him what books were coming out in the next month or so that looked interesting. If anything Jim was underselling the books. This is a grand series, made up of big books, most of which come in at over 800 pages. It's also an incredibly complicated story with hundreds of characters. It is the only series that I read as soon as the book comes to me. This is one series to hunt down if you have not read it yet.
I'll be interested to see how Erikson pulls it all together and equally interested to see if there's anything beyond this series. But, forget the future, there are seven of these books out right now and that's where the focus should be. Great writing, great story, great reading.