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Publisher's Summary

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.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
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    2,406
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    1,423
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    743
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Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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    492
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Story

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
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Possibly my new favorite fantasy series

This book was incredible. At first I thought it was a little dark, but the main characters actually turn out to be really fun and lovable. It gets really epic even though this is only the first book. I love how magic works in this world. Gonna go download the next book!

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Slow, unorganized and hard to finish

I had 0 interest in finishing this book after getting past the half way point. it was a struggle to even get that far. The narrator wasn't terrible which was it's biggest saving grace, sometimes the story was interesting, but when that happened it shifted to another character with 0 warning and went on about something new and unrelated without any explanation. Time to find something new.

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Deliberately Dense

I picked this up after reading that Erikson's inspiration for this series came heavily from Glen Cook's Black Company series, one of my favorites.

I'm pretty sure that Malazan Book of the Fallen is a good story. Somewhere. The trouble is that Erikson leans heavily on unreliable narration and deep-yet-mysterious world building. As a result, the book winds up very hard to follow. This might be easier with a print copy, but many major characters' motivations were unclear as far as halfway through the book.

There's a lot of innovation happening in Malazan Book of the Fallen. The T'lan Imass are a unique but instantly understandable concept, for example, and manage to fill the "elves" niche while being unique instead of cliched. The implication that evolution occurs on a fantasy world is something that I haven't seen elsewhere and is a welcome...well, evolution of the tenets of fantasy literature.

It's just so hard to figure out what's going on.

Ralph Lister has a voice perfectly suited to a grim fantasy tale, no complaints there.

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kind of a mess

the author is quite skilled at crafting a sentence or even a series of sentences, but everything seems to fall apart when those sentences stretch to paragraphs and chapters. I have no idea why any characters are doing what they're doing at any given point in the story, or why I should care. it's a disjoint mess. you have characters introduced and detailed story following them, and then without warning the next chapter is months later and whatever they were doing is recalled briefly and now they're doing something completely different. It's like there should be a companion book with all the interesting parts in it... the characters come across paper thin, and no amount of exposition can bring a fully fleshed-out character to life.

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A bit weird on transitions, but overall great

when you start, be ready for abrupt transitions between story lines, and a lot of weird names and places, but stick it out, it's totally worth it! I can't wait to get into the next one!

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Lacks charm

Rather poor story, lots of plot holes, I was expecting more. Didn't have the characters of the black company, nor the charm of the witcher series. It felt a little awkward.

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Challenging but well worth the effort!

I've read a lot of fantasy novels over the years and this is by far one of, if not THE, best yet.

This is challenging in that, it will throw you into a world full of names, places and lots of history. Not only that but a world full of grey characters, who are as lost in the goings on as you will be. Things unfold but not hurriedly and a great deal of patience is necessary in sussing out the details but wow, is it rewarding.

I saw many reviews of this book that gave it a poor rating simply due to its complexity and that is unfair. This will require diligent listening and a decent level of comprehension... so if you suffer from ADD, this may be a really tough book for you to get your head around.

Epic fantasy... probably some of the best writing one could hope to read, from an author that never patronizes his audience with all the answers. Ralph Lister does an amazing job breathing life into these characters, each with distinct voicing, phrasing and tempo such that you're rarely left wondering who's speaking.

Amazing...

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Interesting set up, poor execution, rather boring

This books crawls along at a slugs pace. Though Erikson does indeed begin the formation of what seems like an epic narrative, rarely did I find much within these chapters to keep me hooked. My biggest gripes were the characters, the pacing, the narration and the descriptions/writing overall.

The characters were interesting enough, but due to the sheer amount of them we only really get a chance to develop a connection to perhaps 5 or 6 (shallow as those attractions are), out of dozens. Though I will say there is enough development that you begin to enjoy them by the end, though it's very tempered. I experienced certain characters deaths with little to no emotion at all. These events left me wondering why a writer would put so much(little?) work into certain characters only to have them contribute almost nothing to the story and then be gone for good or still be around in a very fickle sense. Of course this being book 1, I will say Erikson certainly has a lot to build on and I am intrigued to see where it goes after the ending of book 1.

The pacing of this story is abysmal. From the start, readers are thrust into a world with not enough context, put on a battlefield and are forced to try and picture a battle that makes no sense and is over very quickly. As the story continues we find that the majority of it is characters walking, with very little in the way of character development, or talking in a room with much the same. Characters will cross great distances over the span of a chapter or two, while other characters take half or more of the entire book to do the same. Often characters will think up stupid questions in there head along the way, voice them to no one, and then continue walking or thinking about the same damn stuff until event A happens which is resolved by event B and then we get more walking or the point of view changes, next chapter. Rinse and repeat. Often when said events happened the readers are given very poor descriptions and details about what is happening and are left in a constant guessing game. If the characters are not walking they are in a room or heading to a bar to talk about events happening elsewhere and then boom the chapter changes. Rarely do we get characters explaining what they are about to do in the immediate or provide a sense of control in anything they are doing., the audience is left guessing on purpose I suppose but it's just to much.
I guess the big point is that the middle of this book drags and by middle, I mean everything from the moment all Characters leave Pale to the moment All characters finally make it to Darujhistan, aka like 70% of the book. Once the end of the books comes we are greeted to some awesome visuals and battles but alas then they are over or cut short and we are left with just enough that I want to read the next book but I'm certainly in no rush.

I'll leave the worst for last, so next are the descriptions or I guess overall writing of the narrative. It truly is not a style I'd think most people would enjoy or understand easily enough. Not only is the immediate narrative slow, but the descriptions of events make is arduous. If your describing a giant floating fortress in the sky, give me more detail then just a quick description of what a characters see's. Give me enough detail so when I read about a place or thing or an event I can clearly see it in my mind. Instead we are constantly bombarded by descriptions that, though they probably sounded cool to write down, make No. Damn. Sense. Half of the events that happened in this book, I HAD TO LOOK UP to understand what was or had happened. For the longest time I thought Tiste Andii had wings, couldn't distinguish between different warrens or event get suitable descriptions on characters looks. They do improve by the end of the novel if that makes sense. Somehow with a 3rd of the novel left, things began to click into place and suddenly I was following along easily enough. But god was it a slow crawl to get to that point.

And finally, the worst part of this audiobook, was the Narrator. Ralph Lister should not have done this book. His voice is dry, his range is weak and limited severely. He can't do female voices and most of the characters all sounded the same. His narration, sorry to say, made this book so much worse than it had to be. His voice is just monotone, often I felt like he put the wrong emphasis on emotions in dialogue or conveyed the wrong one. Kruppe is not pronounced Crapper. Once I found out that is the characters name I thought I was listening to the wrong book. His pronunciation certain of certain words is just irritating. When characters whisper, you don't actually have to whisper or at the very least you don't have to make every character sound menacing when you do. Finally I know that this world is suppose to be dark, but Lister's narration made it seem completely bleak. His narration is primarily what is preventing me from jumping to the next book.

Overall, the groundwork for this narrative is groundbreaking and incredible in scope, this story as a whole has a lot of potential and I will eventually continue with the 2nd novel. This one has its flaws and they are stark but it did have some exceptional moments.

I would probably advocate for one reading the book rather then listening to it.

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Epic scope

I have read through and listened to this serries in full a few times. The characters are fantastic and the scale and scope of the story is exactly what you want from an epic tale.

Highly recommended this series and other books placed in the world of the Malazan Empire.

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Very complicated

This is a very complicated and complex story. Keeping everything straight can be tough. The performance was excellent. Very interesting story but I'm not sure what the plot accomplished by the end. Maybe it's just setup for another book.