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4.5 out of 5 stars
Reaper's Gale (Book 7 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen)
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 19 July 2007
There is no better author in this genre, past or present, than Erikson. The Malazan series is prolific for the epic fantasy genre in its scope, integrity, and intellectual value, the latter of which standing as the author's most inspiring quality. To me, what makes a fantasy writer great is their ability to make an entirely new world, with fictitious races and magic, credible and believable; to achieve this and furthermore add the grit of 'real politick', emotional depth, and interesting characterisation makes for an exceptional read. The majority of the fantasy genre suffers from being too simplistic in the way people, be them individuals or races, are cast; crass definitions of good and evil, and sickeningly obvious, righteoeus heros, are the traditional exponents of fantasy. This is not so with Erikson. There is substance to the narrative, oftentimes to a very grim reality, and he writes with an almost philosophical flavour which is at times breathtaking.

The main problem with Erikson's work stems from his ambition. The sheer scope of what he is trying to achieve with this series is almost impossible to clearly commit to the written word - his work has no obvious central plot line, or central character, and therefore it fleets between numerous times, places, and people. This fractures the reader's perception of the many, many details and concepts Erikson is attempting to push upon the reader. I happen to think that this actually lends Erikson's work conviction, as it makes it real. Life tends not follow a clearly defined path, and is often confusing. But Erikson's ability to bring the reader back to his way of thinking, even when you're seemingly lost, is one of unique excellence. The series is testing, and therefore intellectually rewarding.

Reaper's Gale, for me, is the best book in the series since the first, 'Gardens of the Moon'. Whilst 'Deadhouse Gates' and 'Memories of Ice' are certainly credible, and indeed more obvious choices, the strength of 'Reaper's Gale' lies in the pivotal nature of the books substance. It is this book that begins to make extremely important and long plotlines much clearer - the formation of the warrens and relation of magic, the T'lan Imass and Jaghut saga, the reawakening of Master of the Tiles, the re-emergence of Silchas Ruin and his secrets, more insight into the history of the malazan empire including the Bridgeburners, Lasseen, and Kellanved and Dancer - are just several of the main threads attended to in this book. It is also bolder in its portrayal of some of the darker characters in the Malazan series in visceral battles, deeply uncomfortable scenes of abuse, and bitter tragedy. The book is brilliant, the series is brilliant, and I recommend it without reservation to anyone seeking a challenging but deeply rewarding read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2007
Let me just start by saying that I think that this is one of the most intriguing and enjoyable fantasy series that I've ever come across. I hesistate to rate this particular chapter at less than 5 stars, but I will because I believe that it simply does not live up to the standard of earlier installments, each of which would rate 5 plus stars in my opinion. For me, Reaper's Gale was a bit of a disappointment. I thought that it seemed rushed and a bit contrived. Existing storylines were snuffed out prematurely and new ones were created without the kind of careful preparation and depth that Erikson has employed in the past. Don't get me wrong, this is a solid read. In my humble opinion, however, it does not reach the level of earlier installments. (Incidentally, I recently read Night of Knives, a fantastic, highly illuminating story about the early years of the Empire.)
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
If I could sum it all up in two words, it would have to be "hot damn!"

As Malazan fans, we all know how Steven Erikson enjoys using misdirection to fool us. Every single thread of this convoluted, multilayered plot seems to be twisted upon itself, and nowhere is it more apparent then in this novel. One piece of advice: Expect the unexpected. You think you know where the tale is headed? The author will rapidly disabuse you of that notion! There are more surprises in Reaper's Gale than in the rest of the series, it seems. On several occasions, I found myself closing the book, shaking my head, unable to believe that this had just happened.

Although titanic in size (910 pages), the pace throughout Reaper's Gale keeps you turning those pages, eager to discover more and more. There is no sluggish plotline akin to the Mhybe in Memories of Ice, making this one a veritable page-turner. Still, a few storylines at the very end were, at least in my opinion, a little rushed. It doesn't take anything away from the tale, mind you, yet I would have liked for Erikson to maintain the same rhythm from start to finish, as the pace in this one was more or less perfect. After all, when a book weighs in at over 900 pages, what's 10 or 20 extra pages thrown into the mix!?!

The worldbuilding is, once more, grandiose. No other fantasy series, past or present, can match The Malazan Book of the Fallen in vision, ambition and scope. Steven Erikson seems to delight in making us squirm, offering us tantalizing glimpses that make us beg for more. In a series that already resounds with more depth than anything ever written in the genre, the author still raises the bar even higher.

Most storylines grab hold of you and won't let go. In addition, I felt that many scenes bring a new emotional level that had yet to be seen in the series.

Much like The Bonehunters, this novel contains its share of cliffhangers. With so many different threads interwoven together, I don't believe that it's humanly possible for Erikson to write self-contained installments anymore, not with the action occurring on various continents and realms of existence. Having said that, even though the ending doesn't offer resolution of every single plotline, Reaper's Gale is brought to a satisfying conclusion. Unlike The Bonehunters, which ended with a series of cliffhangers, this one does provide readers with closure.

The characterizations play a major role in this one. Erikson has the damnable ability to introduce us to characters on which very little is known and who somehow become fan favorites. Redmask and Silchas Ruin are two such characters. As for the rest of this immense cast, I must admit that character development made me like Quick Ben, Seren Pedac and Trull Sengar even more. A lot has already been said about the bodycount. As the title implies (Hood is the Reaper of Souls), no on is safe in this novel. There are a lot of casualties in Reaper's Gale, especially toward the end, when several important characters die. I think even George R. R. Martin would be impressed by the number of deaths! Now, everyone is dying (no pun intended) to discover who will live and who will die. Please don't ask me, for I won't say. I'll tell you that one death in particular is as important -- at least to me -- as the one that shocked readers in Memories of Ice. For the rest, you'll have to find out for yourself!

Steven Erikson's broadness of vision fills me with awe. Reaper's Gale is one of the best Malazan volumes, second only to Memories of Ice and Deadhouse Gates. It is definitely one of the fantasy books to read this year. If you only have money to buy a single book this spring, this is the one to purchase!

Call me crazy, but for my money The Malazan Book of the Fallen is the best fantasy series around! I know it's early yet, but unless Jordan and/or Martin release something before the end of 2007, Reaper's Gale could well be the fantasy book of the year.

Check out my blog: [...]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 20 February 2010
This series has been ossum, but occasionally comes to bits when Erikson strays from storytelling into more abstract philosophy. In this case here it drags and drags as the immortals reflect endlessly on the accumulated misery and frustration and boredom and unrequited love - so much so that it brought the first three to this reader.

Even when first introduced the meanderings didn't feel like they matched the characters, and as they became repetitive I ended up skipping pages and pages at a time.

Still readable though, if only to place significant events for the next one, which I'm looking forward to. Hopefully this is just a hiccup in the series.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 9 June 2007
So why only four stars? Well, in comparison to earlier works in the Malazan... sequence, RG suffers in comparison to Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice, and to a certain extent House of Chains, as Erikson is now having to deal with so many viewpoints and characters that a satisfactory exposition and narrative for any one plot thread is becoming very difficult.

Given those constraints, the plotting is excellent and the characterisation superb; the development and humour of Hellian in particular stood out for me this time, and any novel featuring a return of the blanket wearing financial genius Tehol Beddict and his Elder God manservant Bugg is going to be good. I was also pleasantly surprised at the sympathetic portrayal of the "villains" of the book - emphasising the important work this series has done to overcome the elves good/orcs bad childish morality of earlier fantasy works (David Eddings, you know what you have done). I was also impressed at the changes in expectation centering around the central duel flagged from the previous book (The Bonehunters).

There are also some excellent surprise returns for characters not mentioned in the last few books (no spoilers!) and although many important characters are affected by Reaper's Gale, at least one manages a welcome return to life...

In short, this is a welcome continuation of what must be the best current (and I would argue of all time) fantasy series, and I await the next book with even more anticipation than I did this (and I thought that would be difficult to achieve...)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2012
An interesting and worthwhile continuation of the great story.
All in all, a very good book. However, a few bits and pieces annoyed me.

How many times can I read the same description over and over again?

"wiped his mouth with the back of his hand"
or
"spat onto his hands and smoothed back his hair"

Another one was a thinly veiled representation of our society by introducing to us all the nitty-gritty of the Letherii society. I would expect such a blatant trick from Sci-Fi story, but stumbling across it in the Epic Fantasy was a bit too much.

Regardless, I am still fascinated by the universe, characters and the story line.
The next one in the line of The Malazan Book of the Fallen will be Ian Cameron Esslemont's - [Malazan Empire #02] - Return of the Crimson Guard.
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on 6 June 2012
A superbly written and well balanced entry into the series. Reaper's Gale brings us back to the Letherii Empire after spending The Bonehunters on Seven Cities. There are numerous surprises to be had in how events have panned out following the dramatic conclusion to Midnight Tides, and the book spends a great deal of time dealing with this situation. Most importantly however, and spoilers abound from here on, Reaper's Gale brings together the beloved Malazan characters with those of the Letherii Empire. The pace of the book picks up greatly from this point onwards and the sections detailing the Malazan guerilla warfare are some of my favourite in the entire series, with particular note to Hellian, as well as Beak (a character who is handled incredibly well).

As with most books in this series there is a phenomenal convergence with the tension ratcheting up and the book becoming impossible to put down. Powerful characters clash and we see all sorts of plot lines and machinations come to a conclusion, with numerous other mysteries remaining unsolved or beginning afresh. Erikson continues to surprise and delight. It is a testament to the strength of the plot, the characters and the masterful writing that this 1200 page book never feels like a chore. A jewel, even amongst such an incredible series as the Malazan Book of the Fallen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 December 2007
As with the rest of the Erikson ooks this one does not dissapoint.Dragging you even more into the world of fantasy that can not even be likened to tolkien, the depth and descriptive language used in all of eriksons books never fails to amaze and you'll find yourself not being able to put the book down. his concept and visualisations of characters and places leaves you breathless and gasping for more. an absolute must buy and if you haven't got or read an of the other books you need to buy them, NOW.
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on 3 August 2014
There is far too much plot going on in Reaper’s Gale to summarise in one review, so I won’t even attempt it. Suffice to say, if the previous book in this series (The Bonehunters) set things up for a convergence of all the various factions and plot strands, then this book is the one where they finally come together.

With a character list over 6 pages long, it is sometimes confusing to keep track of things, and some sub-plots are better than others. Overall, though, this is one of my favourite books in the series so far.

As always with Erikson, the combat and battle scenes are incredibly well-written. The characterisation is better this time - I’m actually starting to feel an emotional connection to characters, and there were some truly moving moments.

Still, Reaper’s Gale could use some editing, as the philosophical musings get a bit much at times, but by Book 7 of this series I’m used to Erikson’s style now and have accepted that there will always be parts of his books I find boring. While no book in this series has been an easy read, I am definitely glad I have persevered, because there’s more ideas in one of these books then in most whole series by other authors. And Tehol, because he’s awesome.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
another great title from erikson, this series has never dipped in its excellence, every novel is a steady progression an end we have known was coming. the scope of Reapers Gale is breathtaking and the twists and turns the plot takes leave you gasping for more. An epic novel and a worthy edition to the tales of the fallen.
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