Saturday, April 9, 2011

MBotF reread: "Reaper's Gale" by Steven Erikson

I must say that this whole reread is starting to overwhelm me. I never planned this to drag so long: it is April now, and I still have two more books to read before even starting with "The Crippled God". And due to work, time I need to read a book has grown to two weeks or more. I planned to do this again next year for Wheel of Time, but I am not so sure anymore.

Now, let's get back to "Reaper's Gale". First, Ublala Pung and voyeurs.... Ha ha, one of the best funny scenes in series. I always crack when I remember it. There are numerous jokes and puns in this book, but RG doesn't follow "The Bonehunters" in being a totally crazy book. Instead, jokes are much more moderated and decent; mostly regular bantering that anyone would expect between old friends.

First part of the book focuses on Empire of Lether and their social and moral degradation. I don't think there is any reader who would sympathize with the Patriotist; you really have to admire Erikson when it comes to writing of totally unlikable characters (just remember Jhistal!) that are at the same time totally believable. Also, Erikson never skirted from graphical violence, but physical details of Janath's torture are bit too much even for him. All this makes Lether not very desirable place to live, and without Tehol's and co parts it would be much harder to read. We also follow two traveling parties. One is Udinaas, Silcah Ruin and rest, which are not very cheerful bunch. In some way their plot-line is similar to mhybe's in "Memories of Ice": not clear on what is really happening, believing that is important, but wishing that it ends soon. The other party consists of Quick Ben, Trull, Onrack and later Hedge; they are all nice characters to follow, although after some time Trull's and Onrack's emotionality becomes irritating. Awl part of the story is very nice; I like reading about military campaigns and reappearance of Toc the Younger (on of favorite character in series for many readers) gives it an extra kick.

But the part that makes this book one of my favorites in series is Malazan invasion of Lether, executed my marines. This is a great bunch of characters, consisting of some old stars (Fiddler, Gesler, Stormy...) with addition of younger generations (Hellian, heavies, Bottle...). Their dynamic is always great to read you just have to root for them, after everything they get into. Whole concept of leaving few hundred marines in hostile territory, with no support or real command, without knowledge about enemy, it is impossible not to like. Erikson manages to make their transformation to crazy killers almost sympathetic (e.g. Bottle's chewing on grass).

Sequence with Beak is almost heart-breaking as the night on Malaz island in tBH. This reminded me: Adjunct's speech, although unimpressive and unimposing, nevertheless manages to touch me. I also like how everybody knowledgeable holds Icarium in awe or fear.

I am starting to sound like a parrot, finishing every post with recommendation for MBotF, but that's just the way it is. "Reaper's Gale" and Malazan Book of the Fallen are obligatory read for every fan of complex, convoluted and gritty epic fantasy.

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