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Gardens of the Moon (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – December 23, 2004

3.7 out of 5 stars 947 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this sprawling fantasy epic of the Malazan empire at war with its enemies and itself, the first of a projected 10-volume series, Canadian newcomer Erikson offers many larger-than-life scenes and ideas, but his characters seem to shrink to fit the story. Perhaps they need to stay small enough for the reader to keep them all in mind. Jumping often between plot lines, the novel follows Ganoes Stabro Paran from his boyhood dreaming of soldiers to his escape from imperial service. Paran travels on journeys of body and soul, going from innocent to hardened rebel against gods and empire without losing his moral core. Other characters may go further, to death and back even, but none is as sharply portrayed. The book features a plethora of princes and paupers, powers and principalities, with much inventive detail to dazzle and impart a patina of mystery and ages past. The fast-moving plot, with sieges, duels (of sword and of spell), rebellions, intrigue and revenge, unearthed monsters and earth-striding gods, doesn't leave much room for real depth. Heroes win, villains lose, fairness reigns, tragedy is averted. Erikson may aspire to China Miéville heights, but he settles comfortably in George R.R. Martin country.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In the first of a projected 10 volumes of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, the Malazan Empire is up to its eyebrows in the intrigues of mage Anomander Rake and his sorcerous minions, the Tiste Andii. The empress Laseen pursues her grisly ambitions with the aid of the Ninja-like Claw assassins, but Erikson focuses on the grunt-level fighting of military engineers Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his Bridgeburners and the field-grade mage Tattersall, who are more than ready to go home, when the empress commands a battle in and around the Free City of Darujhistan. Erikson portrays this hurly-burly--something very like the Lord of the Rings' Battle of the Pellenor Fields--from the perspective of those who had to get out of the way of the charges and exchanges of spells and sometimes died anyway. It remains to be seen whether Erikson's excellent writing will carry through nine more volumes of this gritty, realistic fantasy in the manner of Glen Cook's Dark Company series. Wager on fantasy readers' robust appetites, however. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 1 (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 666 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Fantasy; Reprint edition (January 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765348780
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765348784
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1.1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (947 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
After reading the reviews, but also talking to some people who have read Erikson's works, I must say I found myself to be an oddity. I neither love nor hate Erikson's works. Or, to be more precise, I love and hate them at the same time.

The problem with this book (as well as the entire Malazan series) is that both the proponents and the opponents are right. That is, Erikson's writing has some excellent points, but it has some major weaknesses itself. It's one of the very rare cases where I'd describe the quality of the writing as "controversial".

First, the strong points. Erikson is an excellent worldbuilder. He's an excellent character builder. He's a great plotbuilder. He's got all the qualities a good fantasy writer needs. If you find a plotline, you're guaranteed to find it well constructed. If you find a well-formed character, you'll find him/her believable and coherent. If you find some world description, it'll surely be breathtaking.

Now, the weak points. It's no coincidence that I started each of the sentences in the previous paragraph with "if you find". The problem with Erikson is, sometimes you get tired of searching. I think the one quality Erikson lacks most is underlining. Even mediocre fantasy authors know that in order to get the reader focused on their writing, they have to let him know what's important in the book and what's not. Erikson seems to ignore this truth - he seems to be constantly poking the reader, telling him "there are no less important parts in the book, everything is equally important".

To show how much this is an issue, a comparison. I find that Martin actually cares for the reader's attention and keeps track of his main characters and plotlines - I don't have such feeling with Erikson.
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Format: Hardcover
Now where do I start? Gardens of the moon is the first book in a series of 10 (5 out so far) based on at least 5 continents and I estimated over 10 different character POV per book. There is also about 300, 000 years of relevant history, numerous different species and a completely different system of `magic' to the regular fantasy fare. With countless mysteries and good number of extremely powerful beings it is quite hard to get your head around it at first. So I will try my best in this review to give you a good idea of what to expect from the series as a whole.

Firstly if you are looking for any of the following, beware!

A young nobody (or lost prince) finds famous sword, hacks up baddy, saves the world

Main characters that never seem to die

A light read i.e. Few brain cells or imagination required (Harry Potter?)

Author spoon feeding i.e. everything is explained immediately

Elves, Orcs, Hobbits, goblins etc

After about 100 pages of gardens of the moon you will be very confused, after about 200 it will be even worse, it was for me when I first read it. The story does pick up, but there are still a number of things that will have your head spinning. Erikson is not the type to give info dumps so the brain cells will have to stay sharp while reading this book since the info is spread through all the books. The first book is the weakest of the 5 currently published simply because it is impossible to fully understand everything that happens since you don't have enough information about the Malazan world. But perseverance pays of tenfold as soon as the second book and there is hardly any filler (WOT?) so it is worthwhile not to skim through.
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Format: Paperback
There's good new and no so good news.
The good new is, Erikson's "The Gardens of the Moon" is a fat, intelligent and wonderfully convoluted fantasy novel. Along with Ricardo Pinto's quite dissimilar but equally intelligent "The Chosen", this is one of the best genre debuts to appear in the last two or three years. (As an aside: Erikson is a Canadian, now living in the UK. Pinto is Portuguese, but also lives in the UK. Hmm, wonder if I should emigrate too? After all, look at Poirot... Quite good for the little grey cells, it seems).
The not so good news (well, the daunting news, at least) is that "Gardens" seems to be the first of a projected 10-volume series. Oh dear! Not again!
Of course, the good news is not going to sound too good if you don't like "military" fantasy. "Gardens" is very much about war, dealing as it does with the Empress of Malazan attempting to conquer, by foul means rather than fair, everything in (and indeed out of) her site. There's a lot of intrigue and a lot of politics, and there's a hell of a lot of (deftly distributed) historical background, but in this first instalment at least, that's what it pretty much boils down to.
Conversely, the not so good news is going to sound very sweet if you're the sort of reader who gobbles up each and every of Glen Cook's "Black Company" books the moment they appear. "Gardens" is not only similar to the Black Company series in that it deals mainly with the often magical struggles between irreconcilable and not quite comprehensible adversaries, but also in that it generally depicts events from the viewpoint of the more or less "ordinary" soldier (sorcerous or otherwise). Erikson is, however, better at this than Cook; he is also rather more ambitious.
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