34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Reaper's Gale (Malazan Book of the Fallen) (Paperback)
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.