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)
If I recommended this book to a friend, I would warn them of its complexity and uneven writing. The world building is impressive, but there are too many view points that are confusing. The plot wanders.
Ralph Lister did an outstanding job reading this book.
I have heard the books get better.
I love fantasy, and I like listening to complicated and dry things. Honestly, I found this book kind of a slog, and I can't decide whether I'll tune in for book two.
Interesting, well drawn world. Unique and compelling use of the supernatural. Tons of promise in the relationship between deities and mortals. Potentially interesting story. Really comes alive in the third act, and by the end I completely believed that a lot of the foreshadowing and hinting will bear interesting fruit in future books. A few characters were well drawn and interesting (loved Kruppe, like Tool).
I don't believe the society at all. It feels like an excuse to house various fantasy tropes.
I don't believe the motivations of any of the characters, seen or unseen. The author doesn't seem to know how to write for deep emotions, or how to realistically grow relationships among characters. Sometimes, bam, they're in love. Sometimes, bam, they're angry at each other. Bam, angst that we're supposed to relate to somehow. It's just out of the blue more often than not.
Often, characters simply deduce things they could not possibly know to advance the plot. This could just be me missing things, but I feel like the book doesn't always take the time to explain things when it should. For example, we hear the word "Otataral" as an adjective for several hours before anyone tells us it's a special mineral. Took me forever to figure out that a Jaghut Tyrant was not a Jaghut that happened to be a tyrant. Is a hound bad? What's a finnest? What's a Bridge Burner, and why do I care? What's a Tiste Andii? Could we spend a little time on how warrens work, and what a path is? Things like that. Robs many scenes of drama until you can piece together what's what. Some of this stuff would be easier if you could read what was capitalized.
Writing is sometimes suspect.
On the reader side:
One major problem here. The book shifts from character to character without headings. Instead, there's an extra line between paragraphs marking the end and beginning of a character perspective. The reader does not pause at all at these transitions (in fact, he goes a little faster), and so it's easy to miss them.
Separately, sometimes, I think the reader is unsure of what the character is feeling when it talks. I don't think he pulls off "Sorry" for this reason.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
"We are history relived and that is all, without end that is all." So goes the first epigraph to Steven Erickson's Gardens of the Moon (1999), the first book in his ten-volume The Malazan Book of the Fallen. The epigraph is an apt introduction to his massive work of history-infused epic fantasy. The novel explores history, identity, free will, chance, and empire. The plot involves the attempts of the Empress of the Malazan Empire to annex Darujhistan, a city-state "built [3000 years ago] on rumor," the attempts of the legendary but decimated Bridgeburners unit to survive yet another suicide mission, the attempts of the hidden rulers of Darujhistan to protect their city, and the machinations of some gods to influence events one way or the other. Rather than trot out Tolkien-esque elves and goblins and typical conflicts between Good and Evil, Erikson creates his own world with a long, rich history and varied gods, races, and cultures, all with their own agendas.
Erickson writes great characters, like Whiskeyjack, the grizzled Sergeant of the Bridgeburners; Tattersail, the plump, 200+ year-old mage with a conscience; Anomander Rake, the jet-skinned, silver-haired, 7' tall Son of Darkness and leader of the immortal Tiste Andii, who live in a floating black basalt mountain; and Kruppe, a rotund, sweaty mage-thief who refers to himself in the third person and tells tall tales of his absurd exploits. The main characters are convincing and appealing because they have personal histories and are struggling to stay human in intense situations, especially when being used by external forces like gods or empire. Adjunct Lorn, the arm and voice of the Empress, suppresses her identity to fill her role and nicknames her T'lan Imass guard and guide "Tool," but there are many other tools in the novel, like Ganoes Paran, a young captain who as a boy wanted to be a soldier-hero and ended up making the mistake of getting noticed.
There are plenty of treats to savor in the novel:
--Cool artifacts, like the tarot-like Deck of Dragons that characters consult.
--Potent epigraphs for the novel's books and chapters, taken from different genres, eras, and writers of Erikson's world.
--Great scenes, like when the buffoonish, cherub-masked Kruppe meets the sublime, dragon-masked Rake at a party.
--Much impressive writing, as in this description of Rake's sword: "From the weapon bled power, staining the air like black ink in a pool of water. As his gaze rested on it, Baruk almost reeled, seeing, for a brief moment, a vast darkness yawning before him, cold as the heart of a glacier, from which came the stench of antiquity and a faint groaning sound."
I liked the complexity of the situation, which had me rooting for both the Malazan Bridgeburners and Darujhistan's protectors. Is the Empire a promise of peace or a devouring beast? The vision is bracingly bleak. One character wonders, "What is this human urge that brings us to such devastation?" One race/culture called the Jaghut decided over 300,000 years ago that community breeds tyranny and tried to escape the endless cycle of war and empire by isolating themselves from each other.
In Erikson's world of endless war the redeeming things are loyalty (like the Bridgeburners trying to help Whiskyjack), free will (like Paran trying to act freely), sympathy (like Tattersail feeling remorse over a massacre), ethical action (like Rake involving himself in human affairs), and impossible hope (like Sorry--who has killed many people while god possessed--yearning for the gardens of the moon: "And we'll live in those gardens, warmed by the deep fires, and our children will swim like dolphins, and we'll be happy since there won't be any more wars, and no empires, and no swords and shields. Oh, Crokus, it'll be wonderful, won't it?")
And the novel is full of humor. Some situations are ironically funny, like that of the innocent thief Crokus, who picks up the spinning coin of Oponn (the jester God of Chance), and unbeknownst to him becomes the lucky (or unlucky) "Coinbearer," attracting powerful protectors and assailants. Kruppe constantly spews comical, pointed verbiage. The Bridgeburners play a never-ending and ever-changing gambling game with the Deck of Dragons. The conversations between the Adjunct and her jaded 300,000 year-old Tool are funny and moving. Sorry, the name given the teenage girl possessed by an assassin God, is cited in situations of apology. I can't remember another heroic fantasy novel that so made me chuckle and smirk.
I did notice some flaws in the novel.
--Too often Erikson either artificially increases suspense by withholding information from us that his characters should mention or think about or tediously lets us know what's going on early enough and then writes scenes of characters struggling to figure things out.
--Magical travel, powers, artifacts, and gods lead to a bit too much deus ex machina (literally), so that at times Erickson does Anything He Wants. Admittedly, his characters mention "convergence" (by which power attracts power), but that may be a bit too convenient.
--Some of the fighting is unbelievable if you pause to think about it, as when an assassin-mage, a mage-assassin, an alchemist, and a brick-throwing thief engage in an absurd action-movie-fight.
The base narration voice of the reader of the audiobook, Ralph Lister, is fine, and he tries to differentiate among the many characters of many races, cultures, classes, and genders. He's great with gruff Whiskyjack, nice Tattersail, cool Rake, buttery Kruppe, deliberate Tool, and malevolent Jaghut Raest, but he makes Quick Ben and Kalam too nasal.
The novel recalls Homer, Glen Cook, Michael Moorcock, Stephen Donaldson, and Fritz Leiber, but with its humor, historical and cultural bent, and elaborate system of magical Warrens and Ascendant Houses, Erikson's work is his own. Fans of epic fantasy who haven't read his fantasy yet should give it a try, for it puts most examples of the genre to shame.
this was a struggle. I kept hearing how great this book was and I gave it 3 attempts. I finally finished it. it was ok at best. the jumbled confusion isn't a sign of complexity as it is a sign of poor writing.
Book Addict and a Fantasy Fanatic!
I can't finish this book. I've started reading it 4 times. On this last try I even got to Chapter 6... 2 hours into the audible version. But it's so extremely boring that it literally puts me to sleep.
The story jumps around from characters and in time. There was a spark of interest when the hell hounds first appeared but it died quickly and was lot in a lot of meaningless conversation.
I've heard this is a great series... and I'm sure if I could finish the book it will make up for the slow start... but I cant. Forgive me Book Goddess, but I just can't force this pill down
I can't believe anyone with any sense of craft would ever give these books a good rating. I read two of them. Both are rife with bad writing, lazy storytelling, ridiculous characters and tired tropes. Its not as bad as the Twilight series, but its pretty close.
No I would not
Be a talented writer
Rich, slightly grizzled
Disappointment, slight anger
Just another in a long line of boring, massive fantasy series. All characters are disengaged, poorly described, and interchangeable. If you like the Wheel of Time series, or A Song of Ice and Fire, you may like this. But rest assured you will encounter the same character types, Capitalized Important Words of Significance, and self-serious military theorizing from someone who has obviously never met a soldier before.
Sometimes the appropriate response to reality is to go insane. Reviewer at BiblioSanctum.
Gardens of the Moon is an ambitious novel that's not so linear in plot. It's not really something that can be narrowed down plot-wise. You're dropped into this world and left to piece together what's going on through the narrative with very little hand-holding. Some may dislike that and find the story jarring and disorienting while trying to figure out what's going on, and it can be. Personally, I found it exciting to start the story in medias res without all the padding. However, you're either going to go into the book with a broader view of the story or you're not. There's nothing wrong with either view, but if you have a hard time reconciling yourself with the haziness of the story, you may find it going to your DNF pile. However, things do start to become clearer as you near the end of the book.
This is a complex, dense story. Not something I'd recommend everyone listen to, especially if you have a hard time keeping up with characters and factions without a visual. I found myself having to rewind sections to listen to again to make sure that I fully comprehended what I'd read/listened to. I also had the Kindle book, so immersive reading became my best friend with this book. This book demands your full attention, and it's easy to lose track of things if you let your mind get off track too often. If you still decide to go audiobook route, Lister's performance will not disappoint. He's an excellent narrator. Some of his characters can sound a bit too similar, but not so much that I disliked his narration. My only personal complaint rests in some of the voices he used for characters were not voices I'd attribute to them, such as Kalam who read as if he'd have a much deeper voice that the one Lister used for him. However, his Kruppe is sure to keep listeners amused.
Layers upon layers of story are heaped on here. However, from the beginning, you can see different seeds being sown for future events. You have an empress, a usurper who betrayed the former emperor of Malazan, moving across the lands in an attempt to consolidate her power. Only one city remains after the defeat of the city Pale, a large city named Darujhistan. While her reign seems absolute, cracks begin to stress her goals. Darujhistan fears for itself after the fall of Pale, but there is also a political struggle happening on the local level that is being manipulated by a ragtag bunch of players that includes an alchemist, a playboy, and an assassin. Finally, the gods have decided to play their hand and turn this story over even more. Weaved around these things are numerous characters, factions, motivations, and side stories. More than a few people have some investment in the outcome of the empire.
Erikson really took a chance writing a book that could've turned many off to the story. This seems as if it will be the kind of book that will become clearer in retrospect as you move through the series, the kind of book where you'll remember it as the book where certain threads began. I think, while this story may confuse some, there's just enough intrigue shining through to keep people hanging on for the next story.
Probably easier to read than listen to because of the complexities of character names and number of strange story lines but for someone who listens to 500 plus hours of audio books every year thus is one of the few I need to drop from my device and just move on. I gave it 6 hours before giving up wishing I could get a refund.
Someone who likes a confusing story line and keeps a dictionary at arms reach cause he likes to show how smart he is. I wanted something a little lighter but for some this could just be the thing.
Made it more simple and not jumped around when puting the book together this shouldn't be this hard to fallow because if I wanted that I would pull out my text book.
He put me to sleep.
He is good add writing but he needs to write for the common person and map his story better.
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