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“Gardens of the Moon is the first book in a ten book series called The Malazan Book of the Fallen. The series is arguably the most epic in scope, the most complex in narrative style, and the most detailed in terms of cultural, sociological and religious aspects. Comparisons to other great fantasy...”see full review » see other reviews »
Didn’t Like It
“Just could not get into the complexities”see full review » see other reviews »
“Just could not get into the complexities”Martha R wrote this review 20 hours ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The Malazan books have been on my list for a long time. Book one, Gardens of the Moon, is an incredibly complex story with many character points of view. I listened to several hours of the audio book before starting over to make sure I was tracking the plot and characters. Other reviews I have read suggest the first book is an investment and that the story is easier to follow as the series progresses.
Sorry, aka Apsalar, seems as though she should be much more important to the story. She is possessed by an evil god of some sort early in the book, but then she becomes nothing more than a annoying (though murderous and scary) side character in Whiskeyjack’s squad. Then, by no doing of her own, she is freed from the possession and becomes Apsalar. Sorry / Apsalar is acted upon and does nothing to make the reader like her or be interested in her story (besides being a truly innocent victim).
New characters are introduced late in the book. Old characters change their goals and allegiance without sufficient explanation.
Despite everything, Gardens of the Moon is an imaginative story with many loyal followers. I was disappointed with the book, but plan to read at least one more in the series, since other readers have promised the writing gets better. Ralph Lister did an excellent job narrating this book, but I think it might have been easier to follow in print.
“This book by Steve Erikson is a complex but detailed tale of the powerful Malazan empire, its inhabitants and its conflicts”Peter H wrote this review Tuesday, February 5, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“2.5”Tommi I wrote this review Thursday, January 31, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“In depth fantasy tale with entertaining characters, but a little confusing and hard to follow all the names of past and present people and places and events. I see that there's at least another 10 books, so perhaps it is just in-depth world building.”Felicity F wrote this review Sunday, September 2, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Gardens of the Moon is the first book in a ten book series called The Malazan Book of the Fallen. The series is arguably the most epic in scope, the most complex in narrative style, and the most detailed in terms of cultural, sociological and religious aspects. Comparisons to other great fantasy epics will no doubt include The Lord of the Rings or A Song of Ice and Fire or even The Wheel of Time…but a better and more accurate comparison may be to Frank Herbert's magnificent sci-fi masterpiece, the Dune chronicles, and Glen Cook's gritty and character-centric fantasy series The Black Company.
Gardens of the Moon starts off much like Dune and the Black Company, in that you are literally thrown into the middle of this fully realized world, replete with an ancient but still living prehistory (in the form of the T'lan Imass and the Jaghut), a powerful but aloof alien species (in the form of the Tiste Andii), and a host of elder gods who are anything but passive and who routinely interfere and direct the lives of the general populace.
I remember when i was a teenager and I had heard of a movie called Dune which was apparently based upon a best-selling novel. The premise intrigued me to the point where I read the book and then immediately saw the movie by David Lynch. I did not see the movie alone. I took my cousin with me. My female cousin who knew nothing of sci-fi or fantasy and who probably was looking for a movie like Gremlins or Ghostbusters, rather than a strange sci-fantasy like Dune. And the movie was incredibly strange. If i had not read the book…i don't think even I would have been able to pick up on all of the subtle nuances and grand scope of things without having read the book first. I can't imagine what it must have been like for my poor cousin, who was so confused and befuddled afterwards that all she could do was ask "What is the 'water of life'? and why did he keep saying 'the sleeper has awakened'?"
I recount this story only to illustrate a potential problem point: readers who are looking for the standard/typical mode of fantasy storytelling which have become so predictable that many times we're not looking for diversity in narrative, but rather looking at what type of new "power" is being contested or won. No, Gardens of the Moon will be as baffling and mysterious and potentially frustrating for many readers who are looking for something straightforward and simple to explain. Such is not the case with this series. Steven Erikson has created a complex and living breathing world and populated with various races and cultures and countries and thrown them into this story.
And what is the story? It's hard to say really. There are so many narrative plot points. But I think the fundamental story is something happened thousands of years before, something so terrible and cataclysmic that the repercussions of the action and decision have reverberated throughout history, affecting the elder races and have now culminated into a series of devastating and world-ending consequences that the modern races and their current use of magic must now contend with the here and now.
I having been reading this series for the past few years now, and am on the last few novels. These books are not easy to read, but they yield so much pleasure in terms of epic storytelling and the range of characters.
I will point out two things that you may need to know about the entire series:
First, Steven Erikson believes that all characters, big and small, matter. You might agree with that viewpoint, but if you think about what that really means, it means that each and every little character gets their share of the page, meaning what would normally be a 400 page book could turn into a 1,000 page book because the lives and dreams of each and every character is detailed and told. hence the massive length of most of Erikson's books.
Second, Steven Erikson's prose style is almost as complex and flowery as his story and settings. This prose is as purple as purple can get. He tends to wax poetic and philosophically on things and may even meander here and there, but the beauty of the series is in the details. And my god, there are some details. Details that you may think aren't much when you first encounter them, but then you realize how they contribute to the overall understanding and appreciation of the entire story.
But with that said, these books are marvelous. And if you can get through the first book, as dense and complex as it is, then you will be rewarded by the 2nd and 3rd books, Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice, which are about as good as anything i've ever read. The book Deadhouse Gates will break your heart with its grueling story about Coltaine's Chain of Dogs. And Memories of Ice will astound you in its scope and power; it is perhaps Erikson's one Masterpiece, though some may argue that the entire series is what constitutes his masterwork. but if one were to give the word masterpiece to any one of his novels, it would probably have to be Memories of Ice.
But in order to get there, you have to go through Gardens of the Moon, which is not his best work, but the beginning of his greatest work. ”
“Not a bad book, but I have to say I agreed with a critic who called it the "Finnegan's Wake" of Epic Fantasy. Erikson creates a great world with quite an interesting story, but his writing style tends to be very tiring - full of unnecessarily complicated names, invented words, and long sentences.
I enjoyed it, however, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to venture into the world of a 10-books-long epic. ”
“Hard going and complicated!”Wolfdancer67 wrote this review Wednesday, May 9, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A bit hard to get into, so many things to understand that are not explained, but the last half of the book is really good.”GadKing wrote this review Monday, April 30, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The author really throws you into the book with no kindly explanations on what's going on, and expects you to figure it out yourself. You've got to be determined to finish this book. But if you like epic fantasy I think it'll be worth it.”AM wrote this review Thursday, April 26, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No