The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting, and bloody confrontations with ancient and implacable sorcerers. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen’s rule remains absolute, enforced by her dreaded Claw assassins. For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, their lone surviving mage, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.
However, the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand....
Conceived and written on a panoramic scale, Gardens of the Moon is epic fantasy of the highest order - an enthralling adventure by an outstanding voice.
©1999 Steven Erikson (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"I stand slack-jawed in awe of The Malazan Book of the Fallen. This masterwork of imagination may be the high-water mark of epic fantasy. This marathon of ambition has a depth and breadth and sense of vast reaches of inimical time unlike anything else available today. The Black Company, Zelazny’s Amber, Vance’s Dying Earth, and other mighty drumbeats are but foreshadowings of this dark dragon’s hoard." (Glen Cook)
Ralph Lister is one of the better readers on Audible, and does a masterful job of differentiating characters without making them sound silly.
The writing style of Gardens of the Moon is complex, with several story lines converging into a single night, the writer intentionally blurs the traditional notions of good and evil; giving each faction reasons for their actions other than rule/save the world. The language is complex and compelling, using a wide range of vernacular that is usually reserved to the intelligence or education and standing of a particular character, adding a depth and complexity to the cast.
The only issue is a rather confusing and slow start. The author starts with several seemingly unrelated plot lines that do not converge until very late. Many names and historical/magical terms tend to sound similar unless a listener is very attentive throughout- in reading on can go back and double check a name of a warren (the name of type of magic) for instance. It's not so easy in hearing, and thus might leave the reader slightly confused, never quite in mental control of the happenings of the story.
Overall, it was a satisfying end, and an entertaining venture. I do not, however, believe I will continue the series.
Great world building, awesome magic, but very hard to follow. I'm not sure I could tell you the plot. The performer is one of the best and I would definitely listen to something just for his voice.
I was about half way through the book before I understood what was going on. you are thrown into a world with no preamble. you get character descriptions long after they are introduced, shattering the image you have built in your mind. towards the end (no spoilers), when it is revealed what is going on, and characters race to inform relevant parties, the other party already, sometimes with no explanation, already knows everything. and I don't know but it is the book or the narrator, but scene transitions are very abrupt. suddenly, a new sentence and you are with a different character in a different situation. quite hard to follow. all that said, I'll give the second book a chance.
From the beginning, the book was confusing to understand. The author writes the story as if you understand the details of the world from the get-go and you don't get to catch up until near the end. Additionally the author and narrator jumps characters so quickly that you don't catch when the narrator is talking with another characters perspective until thirty seconds into the dialogue. The first half is a jumbled mess, with so many characters, places, and terminology to leave you rewinding often to understand what is going on. The only character I felt for was cropper, and his character saved the second half of the book.
ultimately, it's not enough to consider picking up book 2 for me
If I knew what the heck was actually going on!
Even more hesitant. And I WANT to like fantasy more!
He does a good job of reading parts differently for each character. He also does well in his pace when there's action taking place. I fault nothing of this terrible story on him.
The one good thing I can say about this book is that Erikson doesn't have to build the world where his characters reside. He also doesn't take the normal fantasy story tropes which have become so tiresome (aka, every fantasy book is Star Wars plot).
I'm not a stupid person. I like to read books; all sorts of books. I read hard sci-fi and philosophy and fairly advanced theology books. I don't say to be a braggart. I say it to add wait to the fact that throughout this entire book I had no clue what was going on or why anything was happening.
This has, in recent memory, been one of the most awful reads in quite some time. And I've just read Octavia Butler's "Dawn" which was atrocious. For those of you who enjoy this book, I'm sure it is quite fine. But even my friend who recommended it to me said it was a difficult read but it was "epic" and the rest of the books in the series are "epic". I will never find out if they are because the only way I would read them is if I was being tortured by some evil space genie and the pages were laminated so I couldn't eat them.
The one good thing I can say about this book is that Erikson doesn't have to build the world where his characters reside. He also doesn't take the normal fantasy story tropes which have become so tiresome (aka, every fantasy book is Star Wars plot). However, Erikson doesn't do a good job of telling you what's going on, who people are, what's happening, or why I should care.
He has way too many characters and there is no real main character; which was needed to have some focal point for this aggravating story line. I even went to the wikipedia page. You know it's bad when I'm about halfway into the book and I'm reading the plot synopsis and going, "Wait, this stuff has taken place in the book I'm reading?" and that's WHEN the wiki made any sense.
I got literally nothing out of this book. I tried. I tried being solely focused on it. I tried putting it down and picking it back up in small bits. I tried long sittings. This is 666 pages of wasted time that I won't get back. The only good thing I can say is that I understood so little of it that I won't be ruminating on confusion over any part of the book. Final Grade - F
The way Erikson just drops you into this dark and mysterious world is delightfully disorienting. I loved unraveling the lore along with the vast array of people and conflicts.
I'm sure there are people who enjoy incredibly complicated and complex books that require multiple read throughs to properly understand, but I'm not one of them. The first half of the book is filled with random people talking about incomprehensible events that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Some of the things clicked into place a lot later, but since it was such a barrage of information at the time, I forgot most of it by the time it became relevant. It's also not like it's an easy read in terms of language use since there's a ton of fantasy elements mentioned without any explanation and if there is an explanation, it's usually only hinted at. This is probably not a good audiobook, since I suspect if you're reading a print copy, you can stop and think and even page back to the relevant parts, which you can't really do with an audiobook.
There's just way too many characters to keep track of and out of all of them, there are about 2 that get any sort of character development. The rest are one dimensional and barely memorable with confusing names which made me not care for anyone. The writing was all over the place, with what felt liked a mad pasting of mostly dull storylines. It was incredibly hard to follow and things only started to make sense around the half way mark which is when people start to talk about things that you've actually read about already. There was also way too much magical elements introduced, with most of them only used in the scene they were needed and never brought up again. I suspect they'd come up again in the following books, but if you're just reading this one, it really does feel shallow.
The reason it's not a one star for me is because it was quite ambitious and some of that ambition does pay off with some epic scenes that really felt quite grand in the context of the world. Some of the ideas were clever and interesting, albeit usually only briefly touched upon. Can't really think of much else that I enjoyed though.
So if you're a hardcore fantasy nerd that loves complex and vast worlds and is essentially masochistic when it comes to hard to read books: yes, you'll probably enjoy this. As for people who enjoy their books making sense with a single read and characters you actually care about, I wouldn't recommend this. It's quite a lengthy book as well, which you definitely feel, even more so knowing that you have to get to at least the two-thirds point to have any sort of good sense of the book. This was a rough read that made me appreciate well-written fantasy so much more because I can see now how too many good ideas can be nigh impossible to coherently merge into a readable book.
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