Reaper’s Gale (Malazan Book of the Fallen #7) ★★★★☆

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Reaper’s Gale
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #7
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 940
Format: Digital Edition



The Edur/Letheri Empire continues to totter on. Rhulad Sengar, instrument of the Broken God, continues to fight against various champions and continues to die and be resurrected. He is cut off from his Edur family and allies by the Letheri beauracracy and it is really the Prime Minister who is running things.

The champions. Karsa Orlong has a plan and he can’t let Icarium get in his way. But after a confrontation in the streets, he realizes that Icarium has his own plans which do not involve fighting with the Emperor. Icarium unleashes an instrument of magic but something goes wrong and we don’t know if he survives the magical conflagration or not. Karsa faces Rhulad, treats like the boy he is, takes the magical sword and with the help of all the spirits chained to him, forces a path to where the Broken God resides. Instead of killing the Broken God, he simply rejects him and has the blacksmith who made the cursed sword destroy it, along with all the power invested in it by the Broken God.

Gnoll, the Prime Minister, has setup a secret police, the Patriotists. Their end goal is to destroy the Edur, take wealth for themselves and become the rulers in the shadow. Much like any secret police, they end up going to far and with all the other events going, the populace rises up and kills most of them.

Tehol Beddict, with the aide of his manservant Bugg who is the elder god Mael in disguise, continues his economic war against his own people. His goal is to bring down the whole economic system so as to bring about something different that can last. Successful in the end, Tehol becomes the new Emperor.

The Awl, tribal plainsmen, are the latest people under seige by the Letheri. With the arrival of a prophesied leader, Red Mask, who is guarded by two K’Chain Ch’malle, the Awl have a chance of not only surviving but of destroying the Letheri army sent after them. It turns out that the Greyshields were allies of the Awl against the Letheri but the Awl betrayed them and left them to die on the battlefield earlier. Redmask fails and his “guardians” turn on him and kill him for said failure. In his death it is revealed that he was an outcast Letheri and was simply using the Awl to get revenge on Lether. A handful of Awl children survive and are taken underwing by the newly arrived Barghast army which destroys the Letheri army. The two Ch’malle return to their matron, their reasons still a secret.

The Malazans, the outcast Bonehunter army, land on the shores of Lether and begin an invasion. Adjunct Tavore is as silent as ever and nobody in the army knows what is going on. Fiddler speculates that she is simply going after the Broken God and not just Lether. The Malazans split up and fight their way to the capital, only to find it already in chaos due to the Patriotists, Karsa Orlong’s killing of the Emperor, Icarium’s machine gone wrong and Tehol Beddict’s plans. They put Tehol on the throne and are set to go elsewhere, whereever Tavore decides.

There is yet another storyline dealing with a disparate group of Tiste Andii, Letheri slaves, Tiste Edur, Imass, Eleint dragons and the birth of a new Azath House. Dealing with betrayals from long ago, it has no direct impact on the overall storyline in this book and as such, I’m not typing up the details. This “summary” is already longer than most of my whole reviews.


My Thoughts:

My “review” from 2010 is a good 1 paragraph sum up of the book. Obviously, as shown by my summary above, there is a bloody lot more to this book.

While I enjoyed the storyline immensely, I have to admit that Erikson’s philosophy once again ruined what could have been a 5star book. Pages upon pages of selfish mutterings and hopeless thoughts and the dwelling upon of pain and hurt real and imagined, past and future. My main problem is that Erikson is great at pointing out flaws, in people, in situations, in institutions, in laws but then he doesn’t have his characters propose any solutions beyond “I will Endure”. He spends a section using his characters to talk about how the whole of existance itself was nothing but a betrayal by forces of chaos conspiring against each other. If Erikson thinks even half of what he writes, how does the man get out of bed each morning? He writes the true Existential Existance. It is pointless. That is depressing and it really brought home to me how much Hope I have being a Christian. Thank God.

With so much going on, I had to simply sit back, enjoy each section as it was presented to me and not try to put it all together. Even though this is book 7 in the series, Erikson is still just giving us pieces of an overall puzzle that has a lot of missing pieces. Erikson knows the whole picture but is only giving the readers some of the pieces of the puzzle and forcing us to figure out what the whole might look like from the little we do know. Forcing each reader to become a literary archeologist or to give up the series in disgust.

Now, with all of that out of the way…

I still liked this a lot. When the various plots were rolling along, I couldn’t put this book down. The Malazan storyline didn’t start until past the halfway mark and I kept waiting for them to be included which I think took my attention away from earlier parts of the book. There was a Segulah woman as a champion but she never fought Rhulad. She escaped, which kind of disappointed me, as I wanted to see how she would have fared against the Emperor. Karsa was just an obnoxious twit the entire time and it was obvious that Rhulad couldn’t defeat him.

The whole Awl storyline almost more about the mystery of the K’Chain Ch’malle than anything else. For a species supposedly extinct for a million years, they’re surprisingly active. So where have they been hiding out? I also wondered who Redmask actually was. I’m sure there are two sentences in one of the earlier books that explains it but I suspect I’ll just go on the Malazan Wiki and find out. Why do all the hardwork when someone else has already done it?

Aaaaaand I just looked. No other references to Redmask. Just one of those loose puzzle pieces that Erikson likes to scatter about.

While the storylines are interesting and engaging, there is almost no point in saying “this was a good part” because somebody dies in every “good part”. Hence the name of the series. And yet I still read this series for a second time. Not sure if that means that Erikson is actually a really good writer or that I’m just a sick reader who needs help.

This was the last book in the series that I rated highly when I read them initially. I have a feeling that the next 3 will be just as bad the second time around. I am girding up my loins for that.





20 thoughts on “Reaper’s Gale (Malazan Book of the Fallen #7) ★★★★☆

  1. Yeah, Reaper’s Gale wasn’t my favorite either. Too much focus on the Tiste Edur and Lether, which is a cutting and well-deserved parody of a certain Western country, but not much else. Of the last three books I very much enjoyed Dust of Dreams (though ‘enjoyed’ might not be very accurate term ;)) and The Crippled God was a pretty decent read – a very good one, actually, if you somehow erase the subplot revolving around Onos Toolan and his family… That part was the lowest point of the whole series for me!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh god, I thought I remembered more of the action here… but it seems like I forgot almost everything. What is an Awl?! 😀 Can’t wait to get to the middle books!

    ‘Karsa was just an obnoxious twit the entire time’ –> 😀 Hahahaha

    Btw.. I read somewhere that Erikson was planning to write more about Karsa.. wonder whether it’s still the plan. A whole trilogy about Karsa killing, raping and grunting. ugh. Maybe not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awls are a plains dwelling group of people.

      Yeah, I’ve heard those rumors about Karsa too. I would have thought that Erikson would have had the stones to finish his Karkanas trilogy, but I’m guessing it sold like lead balloons, considering it made the Malazan series look light hearted. Well, I certainly won’t be reading any new stuff by Erikson. Esslemont is it for me from now on…

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I haven’t seen any updates on the third book and if he’s talking about another set for Karsa and not talking up the finale to Karkanas, then I really have to wonder.
          I should check that out though…

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Shame the philosophical asides were a bit of a downer (had to laugh at the “I Will Endure” line from you though 😉 )
    Also “And yet I still read this series for a second time. Not sure if that means that Erikson is actually a really good writer or that I’m just a sick reader who needs help”- hahaha I’ve been there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After this book, the philosophical begins to overtake the plot in a big way, so in some ways this was the last “good” book in the series.

      Isn’t it funny (in an ironic funny) how readers all end up having the same general problems? Doesn’t matter the genre, or the age of the author or the age of the reader, everyone who reads a lot ends up understanding other readers who also read alot.


  4. This is one of the fantasy series that regularly pops up in reviews, and always with glowing comments, and I’ve been curious about it since first I learned of it, but at the same time downright scared at the level of reader commitment that it requires. Now that i’ve read your comments about the author going on and on and on on certain subjects, I’m also worried about story-bloat… Which makes for an even more difficult decision! The life of a dedicated reader is indeed full of dangers and pitfalls! 😀 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You should be scared. I figure most readers are going to miss about 50% the first time around. It is huge and you just have to accept that you as the reader aren’t going to be able to connect all the dots.

      As for the Existentialism, Erikson seems to think that that is what his readers wanted as time went on and each successive book became more and more mired down with it. As far as I’m concerned, it is what killed Erikson’s prequel trilogy (that he put on hold indefinitely). The lack of Existentialism is also why I think his co-writer, Ian Esslemont, is doing so well with his own prequel trilogy.

      I still love the first book, Gardens of the Moon and consider it one of the best books I’ve ever read. My advice, if you really want to try this series, is to read that one book and see if you like it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Continues to sound awesome. I do wonder how you’ll fare with the next three books though. I feel like anything could happen. And wow at how you were able to review it in 1 paragraph back then. Doesn’t seem possible after reading this review! And how does the puzzle still seem so incomplete after 7 books??? Does the series end by giving readers an epiphany or… disappointment? 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do know that Erikson never really wraps things up. His archeological roots show big time. We all get little bits of the puzzle and have to read between the lines.

      When I first read these I was just plain overwhelmed, so one paragraph was about all I could process. Seems funny now after looking at this review, doesn’t it?

      I might have to take some executive Bookstooge Action and space the last 3 books out a little more. Just to give me enough emotional breathing room. I am preparing for Mega-Existentialism…

      Liked by 1 person

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