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“Gardens of the Moon” by Steven Erikson Book Review

Book: Gardens of the Moon

Author: Steven Erikson

Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen Book 1

Year: 1999

666 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published April 1, 1999

Gardens of the Moon by Stephen Erickson Book Cover

In the first part of this review you can read Theodora’s review (black.swan.blog), and then (almost a year later) ours, written by Dochka

Gardens of the Moon
So… “Gardens of the Moon”. The first novel by Steven Erikson and the first book in the multi-volume fantasy series Malazan Book of the Fallen.

The book was published on April 1, ’99 – no kidding, no cheating. It’s another thing that for the first 100 pages or so I wondered if someone was taking the piss.

But once you get over the initial shock of the enormity of the world with all its characters (number unknown), you don’t just feel like you’ve stumbled across something. But that you have stumbled over something

The plot of Gardens of the Moon

At first glance, the plot seems very well developed to me. Planned, developed and presented in a compelling way (again, I say it’s important to get past the initial trap…). So… the atmosphere is magical to say the least. Imagine all the fantasy models you know from books in this genre – there’s a little bit of everything! And lots of it! Politics, different cultures (and races), religion, love, divine and demonic intrigue, human drama and revelations, action, a plethora of all kinds of magic and its derivatives, and whatever else I can think of (heck, everything!).

The multitude of characters and names may confuse you at first. But you’ll get used to it. No, the book isn’t “heavy” or complicated or so deeply philosophical that you can’t handle it.

The characters in Gardens of the Moon

Yes, there are more characters, but that’s not a problem either.

The story is what’s important here. And it’s divinely captivating. By the end, I couldn’t put it down, and to think how slowly and carefully I proceeded.

I guess needless to say, it keeps on reading, doesn’t it?

Many thanks to our friend Theodora , who shared her review with us. If you liked what she wrote, you can follow her on Instagram black.swan.blog

Almost a year later…
Here I (Dochka) join the people who proudly declare that they have been touched by Steven Erikson’s work. “Malazan Book of the Fallen” has been on my to-read list for over a year now, and I even started adding it to my collection because I was convinced I couldn’t help but enjoy it. Here is my first review of book one in the Gardens of the Moon series.

The story

The story revolves around the Malazan Empire and its campaign to conquer all free cities. On the throne sits the ruthless Empress Laseen, who, before ascending the throne, was commander-in-chief of the elite Imperial Assassins. Imagine a protracted and bloody battle with lots of intrigue and games behind the scenes, because that’s all I can tell you about the plot without risking giving anything essential away.

I was warned repeatedly that the scale of this book would throw me full force into a wall, head on. No kidding. “Gardens of the Moon” doesn’t give you the slightest chance. It literally pulls you in from the first page and throws you in at the deep end. That sounds scary, but after a few chapters some things made sense to me, others didn’t, but I’m sure that will change with the next book.

The fantastical creatures in Gardens of the Moon.

Aside from the large-scale world, the fantastical creatures, and the jumble of gods and wizards, Erickson also impresses with the number of main characters. I’ve never come across a book with so many likable  protagonists. I followed with interest the story of Whiskeyjack and the Bridgeburners, Crokus, Son of Darkness, Sorry and even the Hounds. And without exaggerating, you’ll be amazed at the names the author came up with, it’s called imagination. And because I can’t hold back, I’ll tell you that my favorite is the Soletakens.

I find Steven Erikson’s writing style very appealing. Again, I find a balance between humor and aggression. A few colorful lines to add to your vocabulary for sure.

Dochka’s review!

“Malazan Book of the Fallen” struck me from the moment I read the title. “Gardens of the Moon” entangled me in its web and I know this is just the beginning and I’ve only seen a fraction of what the author is capable of. Hand on heart, I say that all the great reviews I’ve read are justified. I count the series and the author among my best.

“Deadhouse Gates” by Steven Erikson Book #2

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“The Bonehunters” by Steven Erikson Book #6

The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations with the formidable Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, 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 dread Claw assassins.

For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, surviving cadre mage of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.

However, it would appear that 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 new voice.

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