After decades of internecine warfare, the tribes of the Tiste Edur have at last united under the Warlock King of the Hiroth. There is peace--but it has been exacted at a terrible price: a pact made with a hidden power whose motives are at best suspect, at worst, deadly. To the south, the expansionist kingdom of Lether, eager to fulfill its long-prophesized renaissance as an Empire reborn, has enslved all its less-civilized neighbors with rapacious hunger. All, that is, save one--the Tiste Edur. And it must be only a matter of time before they too fall--either beneath the suffocating weight of gold, or by slaughter at the edge of a sword. Or so destiny has decreed. Yet as the two sides gather for a pivotal treaty neither truly wants, ancient forces are awakening. For the impending struggle between these two peoples is but a pale reflection of a far more profound, primal battle--a confrontation with the still-raw wound of an old betrayal and the craving for revenge at its seething heart.
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Those with a taste for massive high fantasy epics will welcome Erikson's fifth entry in his Malazan Book of the Fallen saga (after 2006's House of Chains), though it largely deals with the calm between storms. In the north, the Warlock King has united the tribes of Tiste Edur into a formidable realm, though his four feisty sons may yet cause problems. In the south, the still more formidable kingdom of Lether is using both bribery and military threats to intimidate its neighbors and rebuild its ancient empire. Tiste Edur will have none of this, however, for reasons going back to bloody feuds of centuries past. The author has a rare talent for building character by internal dialogue without slowing the pace. The large cast may daunt new readers, but maps and a glossary help fill the gaps. The ending suggests there'll be a lot more action in the sixth book (out of a projected 10).