All is not well in the Letherii Empire. Rhulad Sengar, the Emperor of a Thousand Deaths, spirals into madness, surrounded by sycophants and agents of his Machiavellian chancellor. Meanwhile, the Letherii secret police conduct a campaign of terror against their own people. The Errant, once a farseeing god, is suddenly blind to the future. Conspiracies seethe throughout the palace, as the empire - driven by the corrupt and self-interested - edges ever-closer to all-out war with the neighboring kingdoms. The great Edur fleet--its warriors selected from countless numbers of people--draws closer. Amongst the warriors are Karsa Orlong and Icarium Lifestealer--each destined to cross blades with the emperor himself. That yet more blood is to be spilled is inevitable... Against this backdrop, a band of fugitives seek a way out of the empire, but one of them, Fear Sengar, must find the soul of Scabandari Bloodeye. It is his hope that the soul might help halt the Tiste Edur, and so save his brother, the emperor. Yet, traveling with them is Scabandari's most ancient foe: Silchas Ruin, brother of Anomander Rake. And his motives are anything but certain - for the wounds he carries on his back, made by the blades of Scabandari, are still fresh. Fate decrees that there is to be a reckoning, for such bloodshed cannot go unanswered--and it will be a reckoning on an unimaginable scale. This is a brutal, harrowing novel of war, intrigue and dark, uncontrollable magic; this is epic fantasy at its most imaginative, storytelling at its most thrilling.
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In this bloody and dour seventh entry in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series (after 2006's The Bonehunters), the Letherii empire is under siege from within and without. The Tiste Edur uneasily rule the Empire of Lether, against the will of the Letherii people. Several factions in Lether seek to overthrow Rhulad, the emperor of a Thousand Deaths, who "is quite probably insane" and sinks further into madness every time he dies in combat and his sword resurrects him. Two forces also threaten Lether from the outside: the tribal Awl, led by the brutal warrior Redmask, force a confrontation, while a flotilla from the Malazan Empire sails toward the Letherii capital. The plethora of characters, attacks and counterattacks, hidden schemes and battling gods will mostly appeal to serious fans of brutal and complex epics, at least those who have fortified themselves by reading the earlier books.