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)
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving or riding my bike.
Steven Erikson writes gorgeous prose and passable poetry (some of it disguised as prose). He has a phenomenal imagination--actually an imagination beyond imagining for me. And he has the patience and discipline to pull a huge number of extraordinary creations together into a world and sequence of events which is consistent and which, by the time you reach the end of the book, seems like it probably all made sense. What he does not seem to have, at least in this first book of his gargantuan series, are a couple of the most basic skills of the story teller: the ability to keep his story in control in a way which will allow the reader to understand enough at any given point to want to press on, and the knack of making us care about characters so that we can invest in the outcomes of the journey we share with them. I tagged along to the end of the trip but only because I hate quitting.
Often while I was listening to the book I was reminded of the Emperor's line in "Amadeus." Having just listened to a Mozart opera, his response was, "Too many notes. Just...too many notes." The Emperor was wrong, of course, and perhaps I am, too, but for me there were just too many characters, factions, near death or return from death moments, deities and demi-gods, etc. etc. This sort of thing really appeals to some readers, and more power to them. For me the prospect of jotting all of this down on cards and arranging them on a wall so that I can keep the myriad factions and interests straight in my mind through the continuous process of alliance and conspiracy is just too much.
But what I found most off-putting was the fact that most of what transpired was the result of manipulation by entities lurking in the background about whom I cared not at all--some of whom I never met until the final confrontation. Since all the humans I might have invested in were parts of different and competing factions, I soon felt as though I were sitting somewhere far removed from the action watching history on which I would eventually have to pass a test if I wanted to get into the game. I realize that this manipulation by the powers beyond was the point of much of the story, but to work it needed to allow us to identify much more powerfully with a few of the human players.
Clearly a lot of listeners have found this book and series riveting, so I encourage you to read the best of the positive reviews and decide. As for me, I will not be continuing through the rest of the series.
I have seen this series recommended everywhere and so i thought I might give it a shot.
I completely regret that. I have forced myself through it, because some people have said it gets better, but it really doesn't.
Maybe i'm too used to people like brandon sanderson who build internally consistent worlds and don't rely on the Tolkienesque deus ex-machina school of world building. In this book, everything can happen, everybody is a god, people randomly "shift souls", there are a ton of beings that are multiple millenia old.
The whole world makes no sense, the motivation of the people is completely nonsensical, everybody is magic, but it devolves into a dragon ball z type contest, where the next confrontation is even MORE MAGIC! rinse and repeat.
I'm used to complicated books, I read a ton of fantasy, maybe this isn't a good book as an audiobook (because the narrator constantly sounds out of breath and his constant super emphatic style where everything is super important makes you just annoyed), but I have devoured Anathem by Neal Stephenson as an audiobook and that was far more complex in the topics discussed.
This book on the other hand was basically just magical word salad. And if the character was needed as a plot device in the next chapter a thingamajig kept him alive or not. and then he used a god as a pawn, or not. and then the gods use the mortals as chess pieces except when they don't.
The book is especially bad because I listened to it after words of radiance, which is an absolutely fantastic book.
I enjoy fiction including Sci Fi and fantasy (lots of epic fantasy.) I'm also a big fan of some of the spy genre like the Bourne series and some Tom Clancy.
That is a definite maybe. But probably not. Right now I don't know how I will go on to listen to the next two.
This book had all the makings of a fantastic book. Without the story. So what's wrong with the story? It doesn't really exist. You're pulled into it without context, description, direction or any sense for what anyone is doing beyond their present actions. You have no ability to sense the gravity of the moment or have any emotional attachment to what's going on. At one point there's what seems should be a dramatic scene and he says "The day of the Tiste Andii has come!" It has the same gravity as "DUH DUH DUUHHHHHH... Bob is acutely pissed." Maybe it's different when you can sit down and slowly read it but there are some many seemingly mindless facts, names, places, etc. that when the time comes that those things are important you've completely forgotten what they are or just don't realize why you should care.
There's a dramatic fight scene at one point on the roofs of Darujistan which Anomander Rake joins. You find out he's a bit of a bad@ss. Well, actually you don't. You don't know it's him. Later in the book you find out it was him and then you're like... oh... ok? Well I guess he's a bad@ss.
Frustration. Boredom. I found myself easily distracted and wanting to do something else other than listen to the book.
There are far more enjoyable books out there. If you really geek out on technicals - if you LOVED the Silmarillion.. then maybe this book is for you. Just remember you'd have to love the Silmarillion without reading any of the other Tolkien books first! That would be a similar experience I think.
I recommend "Gardens of the Moon" to anyone who enjoys epic fantasy. This book is fast paced, with great characters. Just as complicated as George R.R. Martin, and Robert Jordan, but with a much faster pacing. The Magic is unique, and you can tell that Steven Erikson was a professor of anthropology.
This is Grade A fantasy at its best.
The pacing of the story, it covers a lot of ground. I also have love for the Bridgeburners.
When Quickben, and Kalem get ambushed by Anomander and company on the rooftops.
Certain characters made me laugh, but it is a serious book.
Please get the other 9 books of the main series on Audible asap!! ohh... and all the novellas of the Malazan world by Steven Erikson, and the ones by Ian C. Esslemont
I am a lifetime devotee to fantasy and sci-fi and I really wanted to like this. This book had wizards, fighters, thieves, assassins, fair maidens, and various sentient winged creatures. It had plots and plots within conspiracies within plots. It had all of the superficial elements the genre demands but somehow the whole never became any greater than the sum of these parts. There were too many characters and they were introduced too fast without sufficient background to "get to know" them. As a result, I spent the first 1/3 of the book a bit confused and I never fell in love with the characters in the way I have with other fantasy series. The narrator was pretty good but a few characters sounded annoyingly like leprechauns.
It's obvious form the other reviews that plenty of other people enjoyed this book much more than I did,but all in all it just never grew on me.
I don't know how I'd missed this, but I had. I actually found the recommendation for it on another, personal review site, which, too, would have been missed were it not for my recent draught of work from known authors. I persisted in my search for a new author, and realized that author might not actually be new. I found him.
The reviewer warned all that the first book would be hard to follow. Indeed, I was told the story might be incomprehensible until well into the second book. I must admit having been put off at first. A great deal was happening. I felt like a styrofoam cup in the middle of a river that had recently burst its banks, a wild, torrentuous ride which could ultimately only affect me by crushing me to pieces.
However, nearing the end, I felt completely in-the-know. Of course, having already generally resigned myself to accepting that which cannot be known, likely had a great deal to do with that. Were there still unanswered questions? Yes. Did I understand the many plots? No. But I was enjoying the story, and I had a firm grip on what was happening *now*, and thoroughly enjoying that I''d no idea what was going to happen next. I didn't actually know how rare that was until this book. I thought I'd experienced it, but not fully.
I'm also told this series is quite large. Normally, that would excite me, but I'm actually a little afraid that I've entered a world much larger than Westeros, and that it might be too big. Right now, I love what I don't know, but it seems highly possible that I won't ever know a great deal.
However, I'm rating this book. This one book, and it was very well done. One could argue the depth of meaning was completely accidental, but who cares how it was designed? A snowflake is a snowflake.
I don't know how I missed Erikson for all these years, but the Malazan books are without par. In the vein of Cook's Black Company, but so much more. George R.R. Martin lost his way as did Robert Jordan building up tales that became so complex they became lost in their own detail. Not Erikson - these tales are action filled yarns with characters you care about.
Deadhouse Gates is a great introduction to this meaty tale. The naration is top notch.
Take it from a lifelong fantasy geek, these books are a great listen.
One caveat, only three of the 10 books are available and Brilliance Audio does not show book 4 available until December 2013.
A little more explanation of the world upfront. I understand that like a lot of hard sci-fi and fantasy that they just thrust you into the world, but I was more than halfway through the book when I realized some basic tenets of their world.
The performance was really spectacular. There are a ton of characters in this book, yet I felt I recognized each by their voice alone as soon as one spoke. Each character's voice really befit their character as well. I feel this is a good introduction to what may be a great series. My only complaint is that it really takes a while for the story to start making sense. He doesn't give much in the way of explanation of what is occurring in the first half of the book, and uses a lot of fantasy words he makes up for the story. I was utterly clueless about what was going on for the first 12 hours of the audiobook, but I am glad I stuck with it. He does eventually pull all those threads together into an impressive climax, and you are left wanting more. That's good, because now I have 9 books to go!
The in depth pervasive environment, history, well fleshed out characters. It's an epic fantasy realm unlike any other.
The kick-off to a great series!
He is probably one of the better readers I've listened to, perhaps the best. The Malazan books are full of different cultures, characters, languages, etc. and I think the reader does a great job at trying to create different accents, styles of speach, and attitudes for each character.
The first 30+ hour movie!
Why did he give Khalam a nasaly voice?! I am seriously holding this against the reader. I imagine Khalam as almost Khal Drogo-ish type of character and the reader makes him sound like British Milhouse from the simpsons.
Written for adults, this book has rich and deep characters. The world is complex and weaves an interesting network of layered machinations upon machinations.
However, given the great maturity in writing style and characters I kept waiting for a more meaningful and develop story arc. Instead it felt like every event and conflict resolved through deus ex machina---which may have been the point, but it left me wanting a story line to get invested in. I may listen to the second book, but I'm not highly motivated to do so as I don't really care what will happen to these characters (that may also have been the point).
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