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Gardens of the Moon

by Steven Erikson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen (1), World of Malaz (Book of the Fallen 1), Malazan Chronology (7)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,6171711,421 (3.75)1 / 255
Vast legions of gods, mages, humans, dragons and all manner of creatures play out the fate of the Malazan Empire in this first book in a major epic fantasy series 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 Moonis epic fantasy of the highest order--an enthralling adventure by an outstanding new voice.… (more)
  1. 120
    A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (majkia)
    majkia: Both feature war-torn landscapes, confusing and conflicting motivations for main characters, and focus on complex characters whose loyalties are strained and oftentimes change.
  2. 80
    The Black Company by Glen Cook (saltmanz)
    saltmanz: If you love the Malazan Book of the Fallen (or even just the Bridgeburners) chances are you'll also enjoy Glen Cook's "Chronicles of the Black Company" series.
  3. 70
    Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson (Donogh)
    Donogh: Recommending the second book of a series based on the fact that you've read the first - that's pretty weak usually. But I think it's worthwhile. Why? Because Gardens of the Moon is a poorly written and confusing book. If I'd not been forewarned and told that The Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice were significantly better I would've dropped this series in an instant. So if the world seemed interesting but you didn't like this, do yourself a favour: stick with it and pick up The Deadhouse Gates… (more)
  4. 30
    Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook (simon211175)
    simon211175: Very similar, although Cook's work is better written.
  5. 20
    The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie (majkia)
    majkia: an equally dark landscape with complex characters
  6. 10
    The Curse of the Mistwraith by Janny Wurts (Konran)
    Konran: Both series have complex characters, epic storylines, and detailed worldbuilding.
  7. 10
    Night of Knives by Ian C. Esslemont (xjurajx)
  8. 00
    Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson (WeeTurtle)
    WeeTurtle: Third in the Malazan Series but acts as the sequel to Gardens of the Moon, specifically. Recommended even if one decides not to continue through the entire series.
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» See also 255 mentions

English (164)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  Slovak (1)  Chinese, traditional (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (170)
Showing 1-5 of 164 (next | show all)
1) Definitely dense, but with a lot of action. I think Erickson did a fine job introducing us to his world without too much exposition. Granted, it was a little confusing in parts, but by the time things really came to a head, I had it pretty well sorted out.

2) His characters are fairly strong, which is good since there are so many.

3) The balance of the "epic" scale was a little skewed. It was really hard to tell which God or God-like being was going to suddenly be more powerful. In this it reminded me a bit of Dragonball Z, with the characters suddenly powering up and showing new hidden strength, but with Malazan, it was harder to tell which was actually more powerful. Perhaps further reading will reveal that balance a bit more.

4) Meh... I'm bored of reviewing. :) ( )
  jamestomasino | Sep 11, 2021 |
I got this as part of Tor.com's free ebook program, and I'm grateful to the publisher for the chance to read it.

This was a real roller coaster of not understanding a single thing going on in this book and then inch by inch by inch getting a minute understanding of the plot and world. I did finally, by the very end, feel like I understood this book but the learning curve was so difficult to get through that if I didn't have a Personal Problem where I have to finish all books I start (yknow for my Total Read count) I absolutely would have given up on it.

It's not offensive, and once we got really going and things started to come together it was tolerable! It's not the worst high fantasy out there, and if you like that kind of thing you might enjoy this more than I did! As it is, it was. Fine but I probably won't continue to read the series. ( )
  aijmiller | Aug 19, 2021 |
”Ambition is not a dirty word. Piss on compromise. Go for the throat.”

You may have heard talk of the ’Malazan Book of the Fallen’ over the years, particularly if you have a keen interest in Epic Fantasy. What you’ve heard may have been somewhat mixed - dense prose, denser plotting, lengthy world-building, to name but a few critiques, amongst reviews praising the depth of it’s character building, world and expansive story. So, what’s the truth? Is it worth my attention? Do I have room in my library for a story spanning 10 novels, several continents and over 3,000,000 words?

Make room.

’Gardens of the Moon’ is the first of Steven Erikson’s 10-novel foray into the world of Malazan. First published in 1999, the Malazan Universe has expanded to cover several divergent series, some written by Erikson alone, some with Ian C. Esslemont, co-creator of Malazan and fellow TTRPG-nerd. Born from an enduring love for D&D, ’Gardens of the Moon’ launches straight into it’s sprawling epic following the assassination of Emperor Kellanved, the accession of Empress Laseen and the Malazan Empire’s campaign to conquer the free cities of Genabackis.

That’s quite a lot of newly-coined names and nouns in one paragraph, right? Get used to it. Erikson is relentless in his dedication to introducing readers to his world, peppering the opening paragraphs with as much new terminology as he could seemingly manage. This sounds ungainly - off-putting, perhaps, and yet he couples it with such masterful world-building that by the time you’ve settled in, Genabackis feels gritty, dangerous and real. Of course, the density of Erikson’s prose and his commitment to defying convention isn’t for everybody - he acknowledges as much in his foreword. That said, if you’re game to tackle this monolith and perhaps re-read a passage every once in a while, then you’re in for a real treat.

Erikson uses multiple character POV’s to give readers a more nuanced perspective on the events that unfold. These character POV’s include a noble-born soldier striving to be more than “another wine merchant”, the mysterious Lord of a city built into a floating rock and a female mage on the frontlines of the Empire’s war, to mention but a few. Whilst the book doesn’t lack for interesting characters, and makes great use of their varying perspectives to flesh out a world subject to circumstantial interpretation, it’s worth noting that Erikson’s debut isn’t his strongest in terms of character development. It’s certainly not devoid of it, by any stretch, but readers who continue on to later books in the series will appreciate the refinement of his craft.

Whilst distinctly an Epic Fantasy novel at it’s core, Erikson subverts tropes at every given opportunity. There are no chosen ones to be found here, no evil overlords or eyebrow-raising plot armour. By and large, character’s are largely painted in varying shades of grey, and their relevance (or continued existence) to the plot ebbs and flows as required by the story. His decision to push the reaches of the genre is quite refreshing, to the extent that it’s even rather difficult to label his magic system as definitively hard or soft. Erikson goes into great detail on the workings of magic in his novels, yet stops short of setting hard rules. Some may find this problematic, but nowhere does it feel like conflict is resolved by Deus Ex Machina, particularly when certain events are further contextualised in future novels. He proves adept at moulding intricate and complex lore without relying on cheap resolutions to crises, such as new and unexplained magics or absurd heroic feats. His characters are distinctly human - fierce, flawed and fragile; significant departures from the norm or newly found abilities are artfully breadcrumbed from beginning to end.

To conclude, ’Gardens of the Moon’ is a monument to the importance of ambition. Erikson’s prose may at times be challenging and unforgiving, but his mastery of structure makes for deep and believable story beats and a conclusion that leaves the reader questioning the cast’s next step. Of course, as is his fashion, Erikson ignores these questions and begins his sequel with an entirely different cast on an entirely different continent. Because…why not, right? If you’re searching for Epic Fantasy done right, this is it. ( )
  DannyFrankland | Aug 15, 2021 |
Finally read this after being pestered for years by friends (wasn't resisting, it just never made it to the top of the pile until now). Great stuff - a rich and compelling world; complex, well-drawn characters; and clear, solid prose that drives along a big story with lots of interwoven threads.

I guess I just wish I had realized how many books were in the series before I read this.

Update 2021: 10 years after my first read, I decided I really should plow my way through this massive series of massive books. And I figured I might as well re-read the first couple to refresh my memory. I love this even more than the first time through, and wow, this world is deep and complex. ( )
  JohnNienart | Jul 11, 2021 |
Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for this kind of book. Too much to keep track of. Many characters, no buildup of events you are dropped right into a war, learning the history of the world, the geography, the the groups of people, years go by between chapters so you lose what's happening during that time and you have to fill it in as you go. Too much. ( )
  richvalle | Jul 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 164 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steven Eriksonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Panelli, LuciaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Now these ashes gave grown cold, we open the old book. These oil-stained pages recount the tales of the Fallen, a frayed empire, words without warmth. The hearth has ebbed, its gleam and life's sparks are but memories against dimming eyes - what cast my mind, what hue my thoughts as I open the Book of the Fallen and breathe deep the scent of history? Listen, then, to these words carried on that breath. These tales are the tales of us all, again yet again. We are history relived and that is all, without end that is all.
Dedication
Voor I.C. Esselmont. Zoveel werelden die wachten op ontdekking, zoveel werelden die wachten op ons.
This novel is dedicated to
I. C. Esslemont
worlds to conquer worlds to share
First words
The stains of rust seemed to map blood seas on the black, pocked surface of Mock's Vane.
Quotations
"Out of your depth, Captain? Don't worry, every damn person here's out of their depth. Some know it, some don't. It's the ones who don't you got to worry about. Start with what's right in front of you and forget the rest for now. It'll show up in its own time ..."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Vast legions of gods, mages, humans, dragons and all manner of creatures play out the fate of the Malazan Empire in this first book in a major epic fantasy series 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 Moonis epic fantasy of the highest order--an enthralling adventure by an outstanding new voice.

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