Gardens of the Moon

This is the first book in another large Epic Fantasy series, similar to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time or George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire.  This series is Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series.  It’s kind of interesting that Erikson started – and finished – this series without nearly as much fanfare as either of the two other series I mentioned.  I’ll get to some of my thoughts as to why it’s not as big during the review, so on we go.

Book StatsGardens of the Moon

657 pages

Fantasy

First book in a series.

Plot

Yes, I’m starting with the plot first, because in some ways the plot was one of the more difficult parts of the book.  The learning curve for this series is very steep because you’re basically thrown into the middle of a long and ongoing war perpetuated by a tyrannical empress who is trying to take over the world.  Or at least taking over the free cities of a nearby island.  There is a very short prologue section where you’re introduced to one of the main characters, but otherwise you’re thrown right into the middle of the siege of a town.  After the Malazan army successfully overtakes the city of Pale they move on to their next target, the city of Darujhistan.

Setting

I don’t recall what the name of the world as a whole is, but you can tell that Erikson has done a lot of worldbuilding for his story.  Erikson has a huge mythology built into the backstory, as well as the history of the individual characters as well as the gods of the world.  This world is deep, and you could write innumerable stories based on this mythology, it’s wonderful.

Characters

There are a variety of characters throughout the course of the novel, but part of the problem with the book for me was that it didn’t seem focused on any single character.  That said, all of the characters in the book were very well written and came across as real people, which is always a good thing.

Enjoyment

I enjoyed the book, but here’s the biggest problem with it for me.  The learning curve is so steep that it almost feels like you’re starting in the third or fourth book of a series rather than the first.  It takes a little while to figure out who everyone is and what they’re trying to do.  At the same time that you’re trying to learn all of that, you’re also having a unique (and very interesting) magic system thrown at you, as well as a huge pantheon of gods who directly impact with the people living in the world (similar to greek mythology in many ways).  This is a big barrier to entry for most readers, and in some ways it threw me off as well.

A large portion of this book is political intrigue, with different parts of the Malazan Empire’s army bickering back and forth and trying to counter what the other factions are doing.  Erikson excels in writing all of this, and the majority of the book is fantastic as Erikson is playing to his strength’s.  But of course with any book where you’re dealing with a war, there is going to be a large action sequence, and that ended up being the last 40ish pages of the book.  The ending of the book fell a little flat for me, but overall I’m still interested in checking out the next book in the series.

Overall Grade

A very steep learning curve means that the book won’t be for everyone, and some of the action sequences towards the end fell a little flat for me, but it’s an interesting story with a very deep world.

6/10

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3 Comments

  1. hannahrose42

     /  October 7, 2013

    That is originally why I tried to get into the Wheel of Time series. I still pick it up now and then, but it’s such a deep read that my attention has been diverted by shorter works. I am getting back into reading graphic novels a little bit, and they’re much smaller commitments. This does sound intriguing though — I do love series with depth; they just take me a little longer to get in to.

    Reply
    • I’m a fan of deep novels and series, I’ve read through most of The Wheel of Time 3 times now, and I could easily see myself going through and re-reading the entire series again in 2 or 3 years. When I first started reading WoT, I got about halfway through the first book and then went out and bought the next 5 or 6 books in the series. With this series, I’m going to pick up only the second book for now, and we’ll see what happens with the rest of the books after I get through that one.

      Reply
      • hannahrose42

         /  October 8, 2013

        I found books 1-6 of WoT at Goodwill and bought them each for about a quarter a piece, I believe. Well worth it. I like the first one; I just haven’t had time to sit down and really enjoy it.

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