“Reaper’s Gale” done, starting “Night of Knives”

“Reaper’s Gale” – Steven Erikson

Well, I finished Erikson’s “Reaper’s Gale”. This review really only for folks familiar with the “Malazan Book of the Fallen” series. I quite like this installment, good stuff. I think that this did a really good job of tying together plot-lines from previous stories. Believable resurrections, deaths, arrests et cetera all coming out to another one of Erickson’s bittersweet mixed blessing endings. He’s got a knack for ’em these not cliffhangers just a lot of talking points, suggestions and so on.

So this is number seven and when any series gets this long one has to ask the question, Is he repeating himself or is there just enough change to hold the interest, i.e. am I reading these just to finish what I started!

My main complaint: There had been a repetition of miraculous escapes for a core set of heros. But that what hero’s do, no? Yes, but it can get wearisome. The escapes are getting more believable and fit within the narrative quite snugly now. Also, yes, many of the his characters who have died then went on to live in other realms and then came back. Previously I felt he rushed these returns but, in this book  these returns are handled quite well and are serving the story, not just an excuse to bring favorite characters back, a sneaking suspicion previously because they just felt convenient rather than the return being part of the story. Story first my friends, story first. Furthermore for every one coming back into the story he kills 3 or 4 other characters, again not needlessly – they die deaths that are needed by the story. Sounds weird I know, but the vast majority of the characters are in combat of one form or another so, somebody has got to die or we reading a video game.

So other than those two now diminishing complaints, I say bravo to Mr. Erikson. This book has done a great job of explaining a lot of back story, completing a few story arcs, and nudging a few on to new and interesting places.

 So onto Esslemont’s “Night of Knives – A Novel of the Malazan Empire”. Well, I kept hearing about this and only saw it in a limited, read expensive, small press editions.  This is being billed as the first installment of the Malazan Series, Erikson inclusive. Wow just heap a ton of expectations on the slim 284 page book. Almost a novella compared to Erikson.

So first impressions.

1. The worlds in the two authors novels are remarkably consistent. This appears to be a result of long standing and on-going friendship and the co-creation/sharing of the Malazan world by the two authors for over 25 years.

2. So after reading seven novels by Erikson I was afraid of my own expectations being too great and asking myself was I just wanting another Erikson novel. Well, I must admit that reading the Esslemont directly after “Reaper’s Gale” served to highlighted the differences between the authors rather than blurring the two authors. Esslemont has established his own voice  and that is just great. Having just the one Esslemont to hand we have to see where he goes as a writer but my first impressions are positive and the important thing is that he is distinct in voice from Erikson.

Well done Mr. Esslemont.

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