Steven Erikson, Reaper's Gale [Library of Babel]

I still have one Hugo nominee to read, but I needed to take a break between Glasshouse and Blindsight, so I rewarded myself with the latest in Steven Erikson's epic Tales of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, Reaper's Gale. We're still a few books behind in the US, so this is a gigantic UK trade paperback that I got as a birthday present.

There's really not much point in doing a highly detailed entry on this, because it's the seventh book in a series of books that average about 800 pages (this one is 907, not counting the character list and glossary). If you've read this far, you're obviously comitted to the concept, and don't need me to praise or pan the book. If you haven't read these, there's no way I'm going to condense the previous 5000 pages of plot in a way that would make this book make sense. (Somewhat erratic plot summary coverage is available through Wikipedia, of course.)

I wouldn't bother with a public comment at all, but I did want to note one fairly novel element: This book describes at least three different attempts to bring down a corrupt and evil empire ruled by an unkillable Emperor (well, he can be killed, but he doesn't stay dead...). Interestingly, for an epic fantasy, one of these is economic in nature-- one of the characters is hoarding up vast quantitites of gold coins, taking them out of circulation in order to cause a currency collapse that will bring the Empire to its knees.

You don't see that very often.

As for the book itself, well, it's another Malazan book, and like the others, it's fun in a grim and over-the-top sort of way. In some ways, it's a little like the D&D campaigns you get from junior high kids who have just discovered RPG's-- roughly one character in four is a god or the functional equivalent, and most of them don't hesitate to throw their power around. Mass slaughter is fairly routine. It's rare to find a battle in which one side isn't outnumbered at least two or three to one, and that usually doesn't bode well for the side with numerical superiority.

Let's put it this way: as a part of the climactic struggle, a god-level power in the form of a dragon comes swooping in to wreak havoc on the beseiged capital of the empire, and gets swatted aside by one of the warring factions:

Staring after the fast-diminishing dragon, Fiddler leaned his crossbow onto his shoulder.

"This ain't your fight," he said to the distant creature. "Fucking dragon."

And, of course, there are the names, which don't seem to follow any particular pattern, other than that they're all ludicrously grandiose. My current favorite is probably "Silchas Ruin," for one of the many god-equivalents, but it's hard to choose.

Anyway, if you like this sort of thing, well, this book contains more of this sort of thing. If you think you might like it, start with Gardens of the Moon (though the second volume, Deadhouse Gates is better). If this sounds appalling to you, well, go read something else, because if anything, I'm understating things.


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I'm like 350 pages into Gardens of the Moon. So far so good. I like the creepy zombie who the 2nd most badass woman in the empire consistently addresses as "Tool".

By J. Slaunwhite (not verified) on 08 Jul 2007 #permalink

I am annoyed at how far behind the Euro releases we are in the US. I just got my copy of Midnight Tides a few weeks ago, now you're telling me I'm 2 books behind? I sigh with consternation... where do you get these things, Amazon's Euro site or something? It's not like I have a bank account in Euros or English pounds, either... is where I got my copy. They bill credit cards and do the conversion (which undoubtably means you get screwed, but them's the breaks).

Of course, then you realize you still have to wait for the next book to come out...

By Richard Campbell (not verified) on 10 Jul 2007 #permalink

Well, yes, but 1800 pages (2 of his typical books) could keep me occupied for at least... a couple months?



The books are available in Canada as well, you might want to try instead of Dunno if that will save you much grief on exchange/shipping.