Steven Erikson has written a story that is very original and relies very little on Fantasy genre tropes. I can honestly say that throughout the reading, I very rarely predicted what would happen next, and had a genuine investment in the outcome, and that isn't meant as faint praise. This was aided by a fine reading from Lister, who excels at both drama and at a variety of character voices (even if a couple weren't as pleasant to listen to as one might wish).
So, I can say that I enjoyed listening to Gardens of the Moon in its entirety. I won't, however, be listening to the next installment, thanks to a number of aspects that had me rolling my eyes. It often seems as if characters are all teetering on nervous breakdown. Even the hardest, most stoic of these will suddenly appear to be fighting off the loss of their soul and on the verge of crying as soon as they're given a POV passage. Further, a major part in this story is played by a character named Anomander Rake, whom the author goes to so much effort to make out as a strong but silent badass that I was constantly rooting for him to die a gruesome death. The author also has a penchant for flowery prose, which can sometimes border on the absurd 'the must of rotting ice?' and the less spoken of his brief passages of poetry, the better.
I'd say by all means give Gardens of the Moon a shot if you're interested in a sweeping high-magic fantasy setting. Even if you find yourself agreeing that it isn't worth carrying on through the rest of the series, I doubt you'll feel you wasted your time.
The narrator ( Lister) did a fantastic job modulating his voice to give each character their own voice
Kruppe is best
What a great series. This is just the first and they get better from there. I was soooo happy to finally see this in audio form.
If you like epic stories with awesome characters you should like this one. I can hardly wait for Chain of Dogs.
This book series is on my top 10 list. Be careful though as the books are very complex and take some effort to appreciate. Think I started on book one three times before I finally got through to it and it was only around book three that I really started understanding what a gem these books are.
The books are read very good. There is a nice distinction between the characters (which is impressive considering how many they are). I would give it a 4.5 if there was an option for it only because I might not agree with some of the voice/character pairings.
Masters in Fiction from Johns Hopkins, aspiring science fiction/humor writer. Give me the unexpected with a bit of grit and humor, please.
I returned the book.
It is so . . . ignorable? I found myself rewinding most passages several times, but the passages were just too mundane despite the subject matter. The characters are easily forgettable and interchangeable (except for Cropper, who is much like Falstaff, a character borrowed from Shakespeare). There are LOTS of characters and lots of names. But, unlike other authors who make each one memorable, most times the name and profession is all we’re given.
It's like the author is TELLING a story, (SIMPLY telling) and not taking the reader along on the journey. The reader never has a sense of place, never quite knows where he is are or how he got there Things happen, but it's hard to care about the events when the reader has no frame of reference.
Part of the Hero's Journey is establishing what is at stake and the motivations for the characters. I'm all the way through part one and I still have no idea. People fighting for the sake of fighting. That's it. This book is like reading an instruction manual, with lists of dry details. It reads like part II of a series where the reader is already familiar with the background of the characters so the author has no reason to show depth.
Here's an example:
I still don't know what Moonspawn, the floating fortress, looks like. Is it round like an actual moon? Is it a floating hill or a construct of brick? I don't know where I missed it, but looking for a particular description, if one even exists, within an audio book is all-but impossible. I'm leaning toward the assumption that Erikson mentions it in passing long before it had any relevance to the story, as with most of this book. I think it's too much to ask that I memorize irrelevant details in hopes that they may become important later. How am I to tell what’s important and what isn’t?
In my re-reading while looking for what the heck Moonspawn is, a character mentions, "A sapper named Fiddler took me down" (into the tunnels). Fiddler is a character that is described in some detail MUCH later in part I. How is a reader supposed to reference one un-memorable line, seven chapters ago? In re-reading, I have a frame of reference because now I know who fiddler is, what he looks like, etc. This happened again and again and again with many details. It's like Erikson is writing backward.
Character and plot development is bland to the point that, even almost half way through the book, I am unsure of what, exactly, is going on and I don't have a clear enough connection to any of the characters to know if I like or dislike them. To be sure, I have an idea on what is going on, and I know most of the main players, but I don't have a any kind of intimate connection with either the story or any of the characters in the story.
I hate his voices. Many sound very similar and his range of emotion seems limited to a sort of whining or gruff, surely, angriness.
I am a bit confused, at this point, as to how this is so popular. I picked it up because, it was said, that if you liked "ASOIaF", you'd like this. Um, no. Martin, even though he builds a pretty large world, with an extensive history that you learn about along the way, populated with several characters and many concurrent story lines, makes you care enough about the story and characters to WANT to keep listening/reading. With this book, I find my mind wandering while I'm listening; I just don't care what's happening.
Maybe, it is a book that must be read to be enjoyed; I don't know. I'm not impressed at this point.
I'm 24 hours into it and still don't know what's going on or why and I don't care about any character or plot line. People die but are still alive. Wounded but healed but wounded but sort of healed miraculously or sometimes not. Big and mean but impotent. Small and fragile but impotent. But sometimes not. Everyone is against everyone else, or not, sometimes. Yeah, it's like that. There isn't any focus. The writing jumps from one seemingly irrelevant place to another relevant place with no known relevance.
Lister has an incredible array of voices and moves easily from one to another. He is a great reader.
I'm done with this series.
The story is enormous. It eclipses virtually every other work in the high fantasy genera.
The diverse cast of characters yields an atmosphere unlike any other book I have ever read.
These characters could not be better performed. Ralph Lister's style, pace, and huge library of voices is truly incredible.
If you have any love for high fantasy, just click buy.
Erikson starts his stories as if you already know the characters and the world they live in. There is no context setting and you spend the first third of the book just trying to figure out what is going on and who is who. It is really not until you are half way through the story that you can really follow all of the characters and you begin to see how the story is coming together. You would think that would make for a bad review, but the story is absolutely brilliant. Events follow one after another in an unpredictable but very realistic manner. The world he creates is immense. And as you approach the end of the book you are left to wonder how he could have written such a brilliant story. It’s dark, it’s realistic, it’s funny….it is a great fantasy read!
This series is characterized by superior writing, excellent plot and character building, and consistently exuberant world-building. Ralph Lister performs in a professional manner that extracts simplicity and emotionality from complex story-telling. I sincerely hope Audible releases the remainder of this series that regularly appears on top-ten lists of Fantasy/Sci-Fi series.