Gardens of the Moon: The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book One
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Sometimes books are big because the author doesn't know how to stop, and writes right over that line where more becomes less. Other books, though, are big because they have to be, because the story, the drama, and the characters are just too large to fit into a compact volume. Steven Erikson's Gardens of the Moon is that kind of big book. Gardens of the Moon, first volume in the Malazan Book of the Fallen, is an epic fantasy story of war, sorcery, politics, and revenge. There is an Empire that must be thwarted, as well as gods desperate to prove they still count for something in the world of human beings. The main story concerns intrigue surrounding the Malazan Empire's coming assault on the city of Darujhistan. Characters include Whiskeyjack, leader of a military band pushed to the edge; Baruk, an alchemist and leader of the mages of Darujhistan; and Sorry, a young woman possessed by a vicious killer.
Erikson brings a gritty realism to his fantasy that sets it apart from most others. Magic is difficult and dangerous, often harming its practitioners. Erikson's world has a long history of violence and struggle: people get dirty and tired, and there are not many lives without suffering. The realism makes the characters that much more sympathetic and their successes and failures more meaningful. Gardens of the Moon amply fulfills the main requirement of a big fantasy novel: the world it creates is so compelling that it pulls you right in and leaves you wanting more. --Greg L. Johnson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In this sprawling fantasy epic of the Malazan empire at war with its enemies and itself, the first of a projected 10-volume series, Canadian newcomer Erikson offers many larger-than-life scenes and ideas, but his characters seem to shrink to fit the story. Perhaps they need to stay small enough for the reader to keep them all in mind. Jumping often between plot lines, the novel follows Ganoes Stabro Paran from his boyhood dreaming of soldiers to his escape from imperial service. Paran travels on journeys of body and soul, going from innocent to hardened rebel against gods and empire without losing his moral core. Other characters may go further, to death and back even, but none is as sharply portrayed. The book features a plethora of princes and paupers, powers and principalities, with much inventive detail to dazzle and impart a patina of mystery and ages past. The fast-moving plot, with sieges, duels (of sword and of spell), rebellions, intrigue and revenge, unearthed monsters and earth-striding gods, doesn't leave much room for real depth. Heroes win, villains lose, fairness reigns, tragedy is averted. Erikson may aspire to China Miéville heights, but he settles comfortably in George R.R. Martin country.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
I should start out by saying that Erikson's prose in this novel is nothing short of astounding. If that's what you're looking for in a novel, I can't recommend this book enough. If you find yourself in a bookstore, just pick it up and read the first few passages of chapter 5. You'll be in absolute awe. Erikson utilizes his vast vocabulary in a fluent and sensible way, and fans who have studied various forms of literature and narrative techniques will be mesmerized from the start. That is, until you realize how bad the other aspects of the novel are...
The first Malazan story is equally as bad as the writing is beautiful. It's disjointed, moves at a snail's pace, and Erikson gives you absolutely no reason to care from start to finish. Not only are you thrown into the thick of it without much to go on, but we're left with this sense of lawlessness in the Universe, like absolutely anything can happen and there's no real fear of death or risk for the characters involved.
The magic system is at the heart of this ridiculousness. Characters come back to life almost as easily as they're killed off, and you can't get a sense of the rules of magic or its bounds because Erikson refuses to explain it to you. There are seemingly no limits to the powers of these "warrens", until a character is faced with one, but you're never told why the limit exists. You're simply meant to accept it and move on. Lazy storytelling, half baked ideas if I've ever seen them.
The characters are another particularly awful part of this novel. There's nothing to tell one from the other, as they all think and speak the same (aside from one, who doesn't really play much of a part in it).Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Interesting fantasy world, although somewhat confusing at times. However, what makes it truly enjoyable is the depth and care that went into character development. Read morePublished 3 months ago by 2eBlue
The book that started an amazing journey.
I got this on a whim because of the name, not one moment have I regretted my choice.
This is a complicated book (and series). There is a long list of characters and the names of the various races are hard to pronounce and remember. Read morePublished 11 months ago by lenwhite
As a long-standing fan of fantasy with a collection dating back more decades than I care to remember I had great hopes for this series of books given the rave reviews. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Willy Eckerslike
He is brilliant and this series is brilliant. Yes, gardens of the moon is challenging to get into at first. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Carl
Overall this book was good and I can see that the series is going to be worth the investment. Thank goodness I read some reviews that said "expect to be thoroughly confused for... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Rick Davidson
A great start to a fascinating and complex world. I especially enjoyed the ingenious magic system and the use of fate and chance in the story. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Antoine Barre