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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Gardens of the Moon is the first novel of a shelf-cracking ten-volume saga called the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson (pseudonym for Canadian author Steve Rune Lundin) that is as richly storied as J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, as brutally realistic as Glen Cook's Black Company novels, and as thematically intricate as Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time.
Reading the first pages of Gardens of the Moon can be likened to jumping off a cliff into a lake far below; it is sudden and total immersion into a sprawling empire seething with discontent. The Empress Laseen -- who, since the mysterious death of the former emperor years earlier, has solidified her rule with the aid of assassins and spies -- is in the process of expanding her empire. The city of Pale has just fallen, and Dirujhistan, the last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, is next. Leading the strike is legendary military leader Dujek Onearm, a favorite of the former emperor, but the chaotic campaign may just be a means for Laseen to get rid of Onearm and his renowned squad of Bridgeburners. But the leaders on both sides of the conflict are just pawns in a much larger, much more sinister game.
Fantasy fans who are easily irritated by series that stretch on for years without any comprehensible conclusion need not worry here -- although the Malazan Book of the Fallen is by definition a series, according to the author, the ten novels can be better described as historical episodes during the rise and fall of the Malazan Empire, and each can be read as a stand-alone story. Paul Goat Allen