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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Those who persevere with this will be rewarded BIG TIME...
"Mane of Chaos...Anomander Rake. Lord of the black-skinned Tiste Andii...who has looked down on a hundred thousand winters, Who has tasted the blood of dragons, who leads the last of his kind, seated in the Throne of Sorrow and a kingdom tragic and fey...a kingdom with no land to call its own." - Steven Erikson, Gardens of the Moon
So Steven Erikson...
Published on Dec 29 2003 by Mario G. Estacio

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I struggled to get drawn into this world.
This world is very interesting, complex and well developed. But, damn you need to pay attention and the energy it took to try to understand what was happening took much of the enjoyment out of the reading of this novel.

Without any real understanding of what was happening I found myself not caring about the characters and for me that is the key to my enjoyment...
Published 9 months ago by J Reader


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Those who persevere with this will be rewarded BIG TIME..., Dec 29 2003
By 
Mario G. Estacio (Boston, MA, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
"Mane of Chaos...Anomander Rake. Lord of the black-skinned Tiste Andii...who has looked down on a hundred thousand winters, Who has tasted the blood of dragons, who leads the last of his kind, seated in the Throne of Sorrow and a kingdom tragic and fey...a kingdom with no land to call its own." - Steven Erikson, Gardens of the Moon
So Steven Erikson introduces one of his major characters. This series is quite simply outstanding, grandiose, magnificent - the word epic is often used as a cliche but if ever a series is worthy of being called that, this is it. It's staggering in its scope.
Erikson's narrative style is to throw you in the thick of the action with minimal background information. This can be quite disconcerting when starting this book - you just don't, and won't, know what the hell's going on. You won't understand how magic works, what a Warren is, where the Malazan empire actually is and what the hell is a Tiste Andii anyway??
It'll be like that for the first hundred pages or so. Keep up or be left behind. You'll find yourself rereading various passages, trying to glean some tiny seed of understanding. It can be pretty frustrating, not knowing a damn thing about anything. But Erikson gives you enough teasing glimpses of quality under the survace for you to feel that understanding is just around the corner if you keep perservering with it, even if you don't initially understand what's going on - Erikson's world is incredibly rich in detail and history, and this is slowly revealed as you get further into the book.
And the more this world - and the storyline set in this world - is revealed the more and more impossible it gets to put the book down. The originality is quite amazing, and it's a MAJOR rush when you start to piece things together. Everything starts to fall into place. It's called approaching comprehension - and it creeps up on you, till you get to the last page of the book and realise that you can't wait to go back to the bookstore to get the second in the series, Deadhouse Gates, just so that you can find out more about this world and the people who live in it. Then when you finish that you'll want to get the third, Memories of Ice. And the fourth, House of Chains. And the fifth, Midnight Tides. And so on and so on...and the best thing? It gets better and better and better as you get deeper into the series - if ever there's a world and a series to lose yourself in, it's this one. Not only that, the rereadability quality of this series is amazing - better than anything else I've read before. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hook-start to the best fantasy series written, July 10 2005
I won't attempt to cover for this novel's flaws; it has many. It throws alot at you, very quickly, just like many other "epic" fantasy novels/series/trilogies. The writing is a bit rough at times, but never bad. The characters are indeed half-assedly hashed out, mostly because they're only followed to further the plot, in fact, many of the characters you meet in this novel die before the end. That's the idea... why waste time to hash out a character that's going to die?
And that's what people don't seem to get about this series in general. They're all written as glimpses of history, showing you pieces of this magnificent world's past. This first book is (brilliantly) designed not only as a hook, but to change the way you think about a fantasy world in general.
The gods in these books aren't singular or all-powerful, there are dozens, and all capable of killing each other. An average human could kill a god in these novels, given the right circumstances.
This entire series is written to blur the black and whites of fantasy into grey. Everyone that is "good" is not entirely "good", and vice-versa. There are alot of new ideas in these novels that as you read on you will become more and more accustomed to, and learn to love. Those with a good imagination will undoubtedly appreciate the images conjured of (spoiler) an entire floating city crashing into an ocean, or of a god raising his soul-devouring sword in the middle of a crowded city street and telling everyone to get the hell out of the way.
Forgive me, I can't collect my thoughts. I have not read the almighty Martin, as many have raved about, but after reading all 5 books in this series, Erikson is my favourite author, hands down. There are some fantastic events that happen in later books that make you go back and read them all again because everything connects so seamlessly.
All the questions you ask in this book are answered in later ones. Heck, what Warrens really are and how they work isn't answered for another 4 books... but by then you will have your own thoughts conjured anyway.
Plainly put, you'll either like this book enough to read the second book and subsequently be hooked, or it's imposing and oftentimes overwhelming idea-dropping will scare you off. If you stick with it, you'll be handsomely rewarded. The series could not possibly get worse.
Oh, and don't even start people -- Jordan drops ten times more names in a page than gets dropped in this whole book. For those of you who gave up on Jordan around books 5-8, come to Erikson. You won't be disappointed!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for the start of an incredible series, March 11 2008
Seeing some of the other reviews, it very apparent that it takes a certain type of person to appreciate the Malazan Book of the Fallen. This is not at all an easy series, and to truly understand and enjoy it, you will have to do some work. This can be simply referring to the glossary or looking back at other chapters. Erikson's style, especially in the first book (Gardens of the Moon), is to release bits of information about a topic, like the magic, and keep us wondering and on our toes. I find this half the fun - because it makes me curious. Some may find this frustrating because they don't understand right now, but I just keep reading until I come to a moment when it all makes sense. This is when it is really useful to do some re-reading, because it will reveal so many little secrets. So it really comes down to if you are willing to put some time into reading this book and this series - if you do, it will be one of the best you've ever read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly intriguing and well conceived., April 2 2004
By 
neoninfusion (Sydney, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
If you like intrigue and complicated, interweaving storylines then "Gardens of the Moon" is the next book you should read.
Set in a land torn apart by an invading empire, "Gardens..." follows a variety of characters, from various groups, who would eventually collide through the interferance of gods, elder races and politics.
Erikson has an excellent grasp of character development (often sorely lacking in Fantasy) as events alter the perspectives of each character. This enables the reader to empathise with these believable characters.
I found the most intriguing aspect of "Gardens..." was the ambiguity of the characters. Never had I read a Fantasy novel which blurred the lines between good and evil so well - the characters are not your typical good guy battling the typical bad guy. Erikson writes from all persectives: the invading army soldiers who are ordered to complete their missions without question. For example, the officers in the invading force not neccessarily agreeing with the job they had to do, but completing it nonetheless. We read the perspectives of various political factions in the targeted land; both for and against the conquest, and also the persectives of civilians caught up in the struggle to save their city. What makes this book interesting is that I can now really envision war through similar perspectives.
I had been told a number of times that if I like George RR Martin, then I would also enjoy Steven Erikson as their style and subject matter are similar. This is true. They both have an excellent technical grasp of the English language; not poetic, like Kay or Wolfe, but like Donaldson, they always seem to write the correct word when needed every time. For this reason, you need to read "Gardens of the Moon", and the whole series for that matter.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent series with a somewhat slow start.., Nov. 1 2003
By 
Doug Thonus (Schaumburg, IL USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The book Gardens of the Moon is enjoyable. It's often compared to both Martin and Jordan, and to be quite honest, if you like both Martin and Jordan (or either), you will love this series as a whole.
There are few great fantasy writers out there that have good enough plots, characters, and intrigue to keep you going, and Erikson is certainly up to the task. This book is difficult to follow at first. You are thrust into the middle of things to an extent, and there is little explanation of all the events going on around you.
My first take on reading this book was that Erikson is a 9 year old dungeon master pitting too many super powers against each other with little control, rules, or thought. However, this illusion dies away as you read on through the series. At the time of this writing, there have been 4 books released, and the wonderful thing is each book brings you new understanding of all the books before hand. If permitted the time, I'd love to read this series a second time, because I'm sure all the books would take on so much more meaning.
Anyway, of fantasy authors I've read (and I've read virtually all of the major ones), I'd say Erikson easily is top 3. If you're into fantasy you've almost certainly read Jordan and Martin, and so you really have little to lose by picking up Erikson. Many people don't enjoy this book as much on first inspection. I emplore you to read through book 2 before making any decisions on Erikson as an author though.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, Fantasy Fiction for People with Jobs and IQs over 9, July 8 2004
By 
James A. Martin "King of the Morons" (Morrisville, PA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
No lost princes or kings (Aragon), no awkward teens who become the greatest warrior of all time, no conflicted reincarnations of mad wizards (I am looking at you Rand Al'thor), no elves, and best of all, NO HOBBITS (sorry Frodo, you were cool when I was six, but come on)...most importantly, we have a fixed ending (ten books, I am told), no endless Wheel of Time nonsense, just fantasy writing for grown ups. It is dark, it is dense, but it is very, very good. Characters actually die. The history is big and dense and there aren't any classroom sections that grate on you. It picks you up and drops you off in another world.
Get the rest of the five from Amazon.ca (with the exchange rate, they almost pay for themselves).
Great book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow start, great finish!, Jan. 28 2012
By 
Stephen Henry (Winnipeg, Manitoba) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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If you are new to the fantasy genre, this is probably not a book for you. This is the most complex fantasy novel I have ever read. There are dozens of characters, 3 or 4 major plot lines, intricate politics, an unconventional magic system, and a highly involved pantheon of gods. It took me about 200 pages to figure out what was happening, but once I did the book instantly became one of the best I've read. Erikson does not spoon-feed information, but respects the intellect of the reader and allows him or her to make their own deductions. This can be frustrating at times, so if you just can't seem to work something out I recommend visiting the Malazan Wiki online, or consulting the glossary at the end of the book (which I didn't realize was there until after I finished the book). Once you begin to grasp the fictional world, Gardens of the Moon is not a book you'll want to put down in a hurry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I struggled to get drawn into this world., Jan. 8 2014
By 
J Reader (CANADA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This world is very interesting, complex and well developed. But, damn you need to pay attention and the energy it took to try to understand what was happening took much of the enjoyment out of the reading of this novel.

Without any real understanding of what was happening I found myself not caring about the characters and for me that is the key to my enjoyment of any book. It took me 3 months to get though, but the characters and the compelling nature of the world kept me going and I'm glad it did. I've outlined my progression through this novel below. To give you an idea as to what to expect.

Page 1-150 Slow going, the geography, characters and magic are hard to follow.

Page 151-300 The characters and locations begin to stabilize and I was able to start to orient myself in this world.

Page 300-end Everything becomes much easier to follow and I had no difficulty understanding what was happening.

Overall the novel follows a fast pace. There are few battle scenes and a couple of fights scenes but the plot, story and characters are very compelling.

I will re-read Gardens of the Moon before I purchase the second of this series. I think now that I have an idea as to the world I'm reading about I will be able to enjoy the story much more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adult Fantasy for the Active Reader; not for the Passive Reader, April 4 2010
By 
BEEKS (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This is outstanding epic fantasy. I was so impressed that when I was half way through Gardens of the Moon, I ordered volumes 2-7 from Amazon.

Deadhouse Gates (Malazan Book 2)
Memories of Ice (Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 3)
House of Chains (Malazan Book 4)
Midnight Tides (Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 5)
The Bonehunters (Malazan Book 6)
Reaper's Gale (Malazan Book 7)

My 2007 paperback edition has a preface by author Steven Erikson. He makes no apologies for his epic being complicated with lots of characters, plots and subplots. Nor should he apologize.

Steven Erikson is an archaeologist/anthropologist. That background will ensure that the created world will make sense and fit together. The Malazan `idea' was a co-production of his and Ian C. Esslemont and began as scripts for television and a feature film. They were rejected for being too ambitious and were advised to `simplify' them...or in other words to strive for the general shallow mediocrity that is portrayed each night on the idiot box and big screen. Erikson refused to `dumb it down' and the result is the Malazan book series. He writes:

"When life took Cam in one direction and me in another, we both carried with us the notes for an entire created world. Constructed through hours upon hours of gaming. We had an enormous history worked out--the raw material for twenty novels, twice as many films...The Malazan world was there in hundreds of hand-drawn maps, in pages upon pages of raw notes, in GURPS (Steven Jackson's Generic Universal Role Playing System--an alternative to AD&D) character sheets, building floor-plans, sketches, you name it."

The criticism that Erikson is `just pulling something out at the last minute...' to resolve a crisis is completely unwarrented. He knows what he is doing and where he wants to go. He is inviting us to figure some things out on our own--to be an active participant in his epic by paying attention--by piecing together the bits of clues that come our way. It is not the for the lazy. Personal revelation is more rewarding than being spoon fed everything. How satisfying it is to have those "Aha, now I get it"; or the "Yes, figured that one out"; or the "Whoa, never saw that coming" moments all in the same book?

Also, for the critic to give up on the book `about halfway through', how can they possibly have an informed opinion that `the ending is possibly the worst part'??? No, the ending is not random and nor are the characters new. Things about the characters we have followed throughout are revealed, however.

The fact the magic system isn't generally explained, but rather gradually revealed is a plus. It saves reams of pages of explanations that in and of themselves are more apt to confuse than enlighten without the context of the story to connect it to. Briefly, sorcery consists of accessing magical Warrens. I simply envisioned a rabbit warren filled with magic, minus the rabbits. The Warrens or Paths are specialized and accessible by humans with the ability. Some can tap into and use the Rashan Warren (Path of Darkness) while another can access the Thry Warren (Path of Light). Non-humans have there own specialized Warrens. Do I really need to know more than this at the beginning? A little info is better in this case. As the epic develops, more info can be revealed and digested.

The gods are akin to the Greek ones. Although in polytheistic cultures the gods are always meddling. They meddle for various reasons: vengeance against another god or a mortal for real or imagined slights; because they can; or even out of boredom. So too the gods in Gardens. Why the gods are sticking their big noses into our character's business will be revealed or not. A little mystery is a good thing. It is of less importance than what they are doing and through whom.

Do yourself a favour when you buy Gardens of the Moon: don't start reading it immediately. (What???) Instead, spend some time reviewing the Dramatis Personae, the Glossary and the Maps. For a week to ten days after buying the book I spent 5 or 10 minutes once a day doing just that. Easily done over breakfast, or at bedtime, or whenever it is convenient for you. (Please, not while driving to and from work...lol) And once I did start reading it, I kept consulting all three when names, places and terms would appear in the text.Understanding blossomed when they were connected to the story. Also, pay careful attention to the poems and statements that begin each book and chapter. They are there for a reason and not just random. There is a surprising amount of background information that can be gleaned from them. They also point to items to pay attention to in the subsequent
pages.

As a result, I did not feel as though I was tossed into the deep end--a complaint that I have read here. An epic story, like history, must begin somewhere. To steal a quote from Robert Jordan, it "...was not the beginning...But is was a beginning."

There is background information sprinkled throughout Gardens of the Moon, but for Erikson it is to serve the purpose of moving the story or the character development forward. A complete history of Malazan, the Empire, or even of this particular world is unnecessary for understanding the story and events, in and of themselves, that are chronicled in Gardens of the Moon. Sure I have questions and confusions after finishing the book. Since I am writing this for potential readers and not for those who have read the book, I will not detail them here. I will, however, confide that one such confusion was cleared up in Deadhouse Gates (Malazan Book 2), the second novel.

Finally, Malazan reflects life as we the reader live it in our everyday lives. For example, when you meet someone for the first time, do you demand from them a complete characterization? Of course not. We learn about the character of those around us by observing what they say and how they act and what they do--a little at a time. I have friends I've known for decades that I still learn new things about. This is how Erikson reveals his characters--little by little. If you want everything wrapped up in a neatly packaged box of complete explanations and characters(with a bow on top) find something else to read because Malazan is not for you. For Erikson then:

"The reader I had in mind was one who could carry the extra weight--the questions not yet answered, the mysteries, the uncertain alliances."

I'm one of them. Are you?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the military minded, Feb. 13 2008
By 
i_read_therefore_i_am (British Columbia, Canada) - See all my reviews
I really liked this book. Mind you, I read the first 70-80 pages at least four times to understand what the heck was going on and who was who. Hey, what can I say, it was a book club selection that I made so I had to persist. Once I "did the time" and figured it out, I really really liked this book. What was so good? The characters, the military characterizations and some of the ideas. After you read enough fantasy, it's really only the characters and the ideas that make a book stand out and this one did it for me. Whiskeyjack (GREAT name), Ganoes, Lorne, Toc, Mallet, Crokus, Rallick, and so many more were goooood characters. Erikson does the military attitude really well. Being ex-military myself, when Ganoes meets the Bridgeburners for the first time, their "who the *beep* are you...yeah, whatever..." attitude and not really giving a darn because they've "SEEN IT man, and you ain't even close to being worth my energy" was spot on. So much happened and I was sad when it was over. You never seem to savour the good ones as much as you should. Granted, it's not a perfect story...not sure that any are, but I enjoyed the ride and promptly went out a bought the rest of the series that's out up to Reaper's. Theft. Assassination. Murder. War. Excellent. 4.5 stars
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Gardens of the Moon: Book One of The Malazan Book of the Fallen
Gardens of the Moon: Book One of The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson (Paperback - May 12 2009)
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