The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations. 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 orderan enthralling adventure by an outstanding new voice.
About the Author
Steven Erikson is an archaeologist and anthropologist and a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His Malazan Book of the Fallen series, including The Crippled God, Dust of Dreams, Toll the Hounds and Reaper's Gale, have met with widespread international acclaim and established him as a major voice in the world of fantasy fiction. Gardens of the Moon was the first novel in the series and was shortlisted for a World Fantasy Award. The second novel, Deadhouse Gates, was voted one of the ten best fantasy novels of 2000 by SF Site. He lives in Canada.
Read an Excerpt
Gardens of the Moon
Book One of the Malazan Book of the Fallen
By Steven Erikson
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 1999 Steven Erikson
All rights reserved.
The old stones of this road have rung with iron black-shod hoofs and drums where I saw him walking up from the sea between the hills soaked red in sunset he came, a boy among the echoes sons and brothers all in ranks of warrior ghosts he came to pass where I sat on the worn final league-stone at day's end — his stride spoke loud all I needed know of him on this road of stone — the boy walks another soldier, another one bright heart not yet cooled to hard iron
Mother's Lament Anonymous
1161st Year of Burn's Sleep
103rd Year of the Malazan Empire
7th Year of Empress Laseen's Rule
"Prod and pull," the old woman was saying, "'tis the way of the Empress, as like the gods themselves." She leaned to one side and spat, then brought a soiled cloth to her wrinkled lips. "Three husbands and two sons I saw off to war."
The fishergirl's eyes shone as she watched the column of mounted soldiers thunder past, and she only half listened to the hag standing beside her. The girl's breath had risen to the pace of the magnificent horses. She felt her face burning, a flush that had nothing to do with the heat. The day was dying, the sun's red smear over the trees on her right, and the sea's sighing against her face had grown cool.
"That was in the days of the Emperor," the hag continued. "Hood roast the bastard's soul on a spit. But look on, lass. Laseen scatters bones with the best of them. Heh, she started with his, didn't she, now?"
The fishergirl nodded faintly. As befitted the lowborn, they waited by the roadside, the old woman burdened beneath a rough sack filled with turnips, the girl with a heavy basket balanced on her head. Every minute or so the old woman shifted the sack from one bony shoulder to the other. With the riders crowding them on the road and the ditch behind them a steep drop to broken rocks, she had no place to put down the sack.
"Scatters bones, I said. Bones of husbands, bones of sons, bones of wives and bones of daughters. All the same to her. All the same to the Empire." The old woman spat a second time. "Three husbands and two sons, ten coin apiece a year. Five of ten's fifty. Fifty coin a year's cold company, lass. Cold in winter, cold in bed."
The fishergirl wiped dust from her forehead. Her bright eyes darted among the soldiers passing before her. The young men atop their high-backed saddles held expressions stern and fixed straight ahead. The few women who rode among them sat tall and somehow fiercer than the men. The sunset cast red glints from their helms, flashing so that the girl's eyes stung and her vision blurred.
"You're the fisherman's daughter," the old woman said. "I seen you afore on the road, and down on the strand. Seen you and your dad at market. Missing an arm, ain't he? More bones for her collection is likely, eh?" She made a chopping motion with one hand, then nodded. "Mine's the first house on the track. I use the coin to buy candles. Five candles I burn every night, five candles to keep old Rigga company. It's a tired house, full of tired things and me one of them, lass. What you got in the basket there?"
Slowly the fishergirl realized that a question had been asked of her. She pulled her attention from the soldiers and smiled down at the old woman. "I'm sorry," she said, "the horses are so loud."
Rigga raised her voice. "I asked what you got in your basket, lass?"
"Twine. Enough for three nets. We need to get one ready for tomorrow. Dadda lost his last one — something in the deep waters took it and a whole catch, too. Ilgrand Lender wants the money he loaned us and we need a catch tomorrow. A good one." She smiled again and swept her gaze back to the soldiers. "Isn't it wonderful?" she breathed.
Rigga's hand shot out and snagged the girl's thick black hair, yanked it hard.
The girl cried out. The basket on her head lurched, then slid down onto one shoulder. She grabbed frantically for it but it was too heavy. The basket struck the ground and split apart. "Aaai!" the girl gasped, attempting to kneel. But Rigga pulled and snapped her head around.
"You listen to me, lass!" The old woman's sour breath hissed against the girl's face. "The Empire's been grinding this land down for a hundred years. You was born in it. I wasn't. When I was your age Itko Kan was a country. We flew a banner and it was ours. We were free, lass."
The girl was sickened by Rigga's breath. She squeezed shut her eyes.
"Mark this truth, child, else the Cloak of Lies blinds you forever." Rigga's voice took on a droning cadence, and all at once the girl stiffened. Rigga, Riggalai the Seer, the wax-witch who trapped souls in candles and burned them. Souls devoured in flame — Rigga's words carried the chilling tone of prophecy. "Mark this truth. I am the last to speak to you. You are the last to hear me. Thus are we linked, you and I, beyond all else."
Rigga's fingers snagged tighter in the girl's hair. "Across the sea the Empress has driven her knife into virgin soil. The blood now comes in a tide and it'll sweep you under, child, if you're not careful. They'll put a sword in your hand, they'll give you a fine horse, and they'll send you across that sea. But a shadow will embrace your soul. Now, listen! Bury this deep! Rigga will preserve you because we are linked, you and I. But it is all I can do, understand? Look to the Lord spawned in Darkness; his is the hand that shall free you, though he'll know it not —"
"What's this?" a voice bellowed.
Rigga swung to face the road. An outrider had slowed his mount. The Seer released the girl's hair.
The girl staggered back a step. A rock on the road's edge turned underfoot and she fell. When she looked up the outrider had trotted past. Another thundered up in his wake.
"Leave the pretty one alone, hag," this one growled, and as he rode by he leaned in his saddle and swung an open, gauntleted hand. The iron-scaled glove cracked against Rigga's head, spinning her around. She toppled.
The fishergirl screamed as Rigga landed heavily across her thighs. A thread of crimson spit spattered her face. Whimpering, the girl pushed herself back across the gravel, then used her feet to shove away Rigga's body. She climbed to her knees.
Something within Rigga's prophecy seemed lodged in the girl's head, heavy as a stone and hidden from light. She found she could not retrieve a single word the Seer had said. She reached out and grasped Rigga's woolen shawl. Carefully, she rolled the old woman over. Blood covered one side of Rigga's head, running down behind the ear. More blood smeared her lined chin and stained her mouth. The eyes stared sightlessly.
The fishergirl pulled back, unable to catch her breath. Desperate, she looked about. The column of soldiers had passed, leaving nothing but dust and the distant tremble of hoofs. Rigga's bag of turnips had spilled onto the road. Among the trampled vegetables lay five tallow candles. The girl managed a ragged lungful of dusty air. Wiping her nose, she looked to her own basket.
"Never mind the candles," she mumbled, in a thick, odd voice. "They're gone, aren't they, now? Just a scattering of bones. Never mind." She crawled toward the bundles of twine that had fallen from the breached basket, and when she spoke again her voice was young, normal. "We need the twine. We'll work all night and get one ready. Dadda's waiting. He's right at the door, he's looking up the track, he's waiting to see me."
She stopped, a shiver running through her. The sun's light was almost gone. An unseasonal chill bled from the shadows, which now flowed like water across the road.
"Here it comes, then," the girl grated softly, in a voice that wasn't her own.
A soft-gloved hand fell on her shoulder. She ducked down, cowering.
"Easy, girl," said a man's voice. "It's over. Nothing to be done for her now."
The fishergirl looked up. A man swathed in black leaned over her, his face obscured beneath a hood's shadow. "But he hit her," the girl said, in a child's voice. "And we have nets to tie, me and Dadda —"
"Let's get you on your feet," the man said, moving his long-fingered hands down under her arms. He straightened, lifting her effortlessly. Her sandaled feet dangled in the air before he set her down.
Now she saw a second man, shorter, also clothed in black. This one stood on the road and was turned away, his gaze in the direction the soldiers had gone. He spoke, his voice reed-thin. "Wasn't much of a life," he said, not turning to face her. "A minor talent, long since dried up of the Gift. Oh, she might have managed one more, but we'll never know, will we?"
The fishergirl stumbled over to Rigga's bag and picked up a candle. She straightened, her eyes suddenly hard, then deliberately spat on to the road.
The shorter man's head snapped toward her. Within the hood it seemed the shadows played alone.
The girl shrank back a step. "It was a good life," she whispered. "She had these candles, you see. Five of them. Five for —"
"Necromancy," the short man cut in.
The taller man, still at her side, said softly, "I see them, child. I understand what they mean."
The other man snorted. "The witch harbored five frail, weak souls. Nothing grand." He cocked his head. "I can hear them now. Calling for her."
Tears filled the girl's eyes. A wordless anguish seemed to well up from that black stone in her mind. She wiped her cheeks. "Where did you come from?" she asked abruptly. "We didn't see you on the road."
The man beside her half turned to the gravel track. "On the other side," he said, a smile in his tone. "Waiting, just like you."
The other giggled. "On the other side indeed." He faced down the road again and raised his arms.
The girl drew in a sharp breath as darkness descended. A loud, tearing sound filled the air for a moment, then the darkness dissipated and the girl's eyes widened.
Seven massive Hounds now sat around the man in the road. The eyes of these beasts glowed yellow, and all were turned in the same direction as the man himself.
She heard him hiss, "Eager, are we? Then go!"
Silently, the Hounds bolted down the road.
Their master turned and said to the man beside her, "Something to gnaw on Laseen's mind." He giggled again.
"Must you complicate things?" the other answered wearily.
The short man stiffened. "They are within sight of the column." He cocked his head. From up the road came the scream of horses. He sighed. "You've reached a decision, Cotillion?"
The other grunted amusedly. "Using my name, Ammanas, means you've just decided for me. We can hardly leave her here now, can we?"
"Of course we can, old friend. Just not breathing."
Cotillion looked down on the girl. "No," he said quietly, "she'll do."
The fishergirl bit her lip. Still clutching Rigga's candle, she took another step back, her wide eyes darting from one man to the other.
"Pity," Ammanas said.
Cotillion seemed to nod, then he cleared his throat and said, "It'll take time."
An amused note entered Ammanas's reply. "And have we time? True vengeance needs the slow, careful stalking of the victim. Have you forgotten the pain she once delivered us? Laseen's back is against the wall already. She might fall without our help. Where would be the satisfaction in that?"
Cotillion's response was cool and dry. "You've always underestimated the Empress. Hence our present circumstances ... No." He gestured at the fisher-girl. "We'll need this one. Laseen's raised the ire of Moon's Spawn, and that's a hornet's nest if ever there was one. The timing is perfect."
Faintly, above the screaming horses, came the shrieks of men and women, a sound that pierced the girl's heart. Her eyes darted to Rigga's motionless form on the roadside, then back to Ammanas, who now approached her. She thought to run but her legs had weakened to a helpless trembling. He came close and seemed to study her, even though the shadows within his hood remained impenetrable.
"A fishergirl?" he asked, in a kindly tone.
"Have you a name?"
"Enough!" Cotillion growled. "She's not some mouse under your paw, Ammanas. Besides, I've chosen her and I will choose her name as well."
Ammanas stepped back. "Pity," he said again.
The girl raised imploring hands. "Please," she begged Cotillion, "I've done nothing! My father's a poor man, but he'll pay you all he can. He needs me, and the twine — he's waiting right now!" She felt herself go wet between her legs and quickly sat down on the ground. "I've done nothing!" Shame rose through her and she put her hands in her lap. "Please."
"I've no choice anymore, child," Cotillion said. "After all, you know our names."
"I've never heard them before!" the girl cried.
The man sighed. "With what's happening up the road right now, well, you'd be questioned. Unpleasantly. There are those who know our names."
"You see, lass," Ammanas added, suppressing a giggle, "we're not supposed to be here. There are names, and then there are names." He swung to Cotillion and said, in a chilling voice, "Her father must be dealt with. My Hounds?"
"No," Cotillion said. "He lives."
"I suspect," Cotillion said, "greed will suffice, once the slate is wiped clean." Sarcasm filled his next words. "I'm sure you can manage the sorcery in that, can't you?"
Ammanas giggled. "Beware of shadows bearing gifts."
Cotillion faced the girl again. He lifted his arms out to the sides. The shadows that held his features in darkness now flowed out around his body.
Ammanas spoke, and to the girl his words seemed to come from a great distance. "She's ideal. The Empress could never track her down, could never even so much as guess." He raised his voice. "It's not so bad a thing, lass, to be the pawn of a god."
"Prod and pull," the fishergirl said quickly.
Cotillion hesitated at her strange comment, then he shrugged. The shadows whirled out to engulf the girl. With their cold touch her mind fell away, down into darkness. Her last fleeting sensation was of the soft wax of the candle in her right hand, and how it seemed to well up between the fingers of her clenched fist.
The captain shifted in his saddle and glanced at the woman riding beside him. "We've closed the road on both sides, Adjunct. Moved the local traffic inland. So far, no word's leaked." He wiped sweat from his brow and winced. The hot woolen cap beneath his helm had rubbed his forehead raw.
"Something wrong, Captain?"
He shook his head, squinting up the road. "Helmet's loose. Had more hair the last time I wore it."
The Adjunct to the Empress did not reply.
The mid-morning sun made the road's white, dusty surface almost blinding. The captain felt sweat running down his body, and the mail of his helm's lobster tail kept nipping the hairs on his neck. Already his lower back ached. It had been years since he'd last ridden a horse, and the roll was slow in coming. With every saddle-bounce he felt vertebrae crunch.
It had been a long time since somebody's title had been enough to straighten him up. But this was the Adjunct to the Empress, Laseen's personal servant, an extension of her Imperial will. The last thing the captain wanted was to show his misery to this young, dangerous woman.
Up ahead the road began its long, winding ascent. A salty wind blew from their left, whistling through the newly budding trees lining that side of the road. By mid-afternoon, that wind would breathe hot as a baker's oven, carrying with it the stench of the mudflats. And the sun's heat would bring something else as well. The captain hoped to be back in Kan by then.
He tried not to think about the place they rode toward. Leave that to the Adjunct. In his years of service to the Empire, he'd seen enough to know when to shut everything down inside his skull. This was one of those times.
The Adjunct spoke. "You've been stationed here long, Captain?"
"Aye," the man growled.
The woman waited, then asked, "How long?"
He hesitated. "Thirteen years, Adjunct."
"You fought for the Emperor, then," she said.
"And survived the purge."
The captain threw her a look. If she felt his gaze, she gave no indication. Her eyes remained on the road ahead; she rolled easily in the saddle, the scabbarded longsword hitched high under her left arm — ready for mounted battle. Her hair was either cut short or drawn up under her helm. Her figure was lithe enough, the captain mused.
"Finished?" she asked. "I was asking about the purges commanded by Empress Laseen following her predecessor's untimely death."
The captain gritted his teeth, ducked his chin to draw up the helm's strap — he hadn't had time to shave and the buckle was chafing. "Not everyone was killed, Adjunct. The people of Itko Kan aren't exactly excitable. None of those riots and mass executions that hit other parts of the Empire. We all just sat tight and waited."
"I take it," the Adjunct said, with a slight smile, "you're not noble-born, Captain."
He grunted. "If I'd been noble-born, I wouldn't have survived, even here in Itko Kan. We both know that. Her orders were specific, and even the droll Kanese didn't dare disobey the Empress." He scowled. "No, up through the ranks, Adjunct."
"Your last engagement?"
Excerpted from Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson. Copyright © 1999 Steven Erikson. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Book One Pale,
Book Two Darujhistan,
Book Three The Mission,
Book Four Assassins,
Book Five The Gadrobi Hills,
Book Six The City of Blue Fire,
Book Seven The Fête,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
While waiting for the 6th installment of the Song of Fire and Ice series I decided to give this series a try. I was pleasantly surprised to find a writing style and story telling ability that renders a picture of the story without bogging the story down with countless details. Too many times I start a fantasy series and the first volume is dry and sluggish due to the over encompassing load of lineage and detail poured down your throat. This book doesn't pit Good vs Evil because the characters remain grey and are faced with moral choices and paths that make them choose between their own best interest and their allegiance to the group they are working with. If you are the type of reader who enjoys a book that draws you right into a story line and doesn't weigh you down with over descriptive narrative then give this series a try If you are the type of reader that needs to know that the assassin that was just introduced to the story hails from generations before him and need all the surnames and accomplishments of his forefathers and enjoy knowing that the grass he just made camp on was a rare mixture of 5 different types of foliage when none of it applies to the story then you probably won't like this series. This series tells you just enough about the characters that they remain light and interesting and a bit mysterious. They are not the all knowing stereo typical maiden in the woods, knights in shining armor or long lost last person of a bereft magical family that must figure out how to use his power to save the world.
Erikson is an amazing author. This book is a bit of a beast to work through, but when you get to the end (and more-so in subsequent books) its well worth the effort. Amazing characters fully realized in a captivatingly detailed world. I'd recommend this book to anyone, as long as they're willing to put up with learning about a lot of characters going in many different directions. One of my favorite authors, and the start to a series that, 9 books in, is still operating head and shoulders above other series in the genre.
Have you read Erikson yet? Have you? Seriously, put down that kiddie fantasy novel. Step away from the Harry Potter section. Move aside from the usual dreck that the 'fantasy publishers' seem to be churning out and pick up Steven Erikson's Gardens of the Moon. We've all read the epic fantasy novels. You were all-in on Jordan, until an Aes Sedai tugged her pig-tail once too often, and you realized that the plot had escaped his grasp, and you were doomed to books that more resembled Dawson's Creek. You read and loved George R.R. Martin. You've found Michael Stackpole. You sit waiting for the next J.V. Jones novel. You sobbed as Tad Wiiliam's 'To Green Angel Tower' crashed his series to a car wreck of a halt. But you never read Steven Erikson... And you should. Quickly. You need him. Fantasy meets Apocolypse Now. Erikson's characters don't just find the Heart of Darkness, they live, die and kill in it. As Tarantino does for movies, Erikson does for the fantasy genre...infuses crackling dialogue, dynamite characters, ironic twists and turns, sharp plotting, and even lets his novels lose some control, and yet, once the climax hits and the destruction comes, everything seems to fall together. You will never meet another author who creates so much, only to smash his characters together with the explosive power of an atom bomb. A mad genius from Canada, this series is already 6 books in. Everyone of them a masterpiece. Book 1 throws you into the mix with one hell of a slam bang ending...but Book 2 launches it into outerspace. Book 3 exceeds even that and that is the level of greatness you stand on when you consider this book and author...and I've read all the stuff you have...so I don't say it lightly. Read it. You might even find it startling and not sure if you like it as you read of mages torn to shreds...battles that make Tolkien seem more like Choose Your Own Adventure. But by Book 2, you'll thank me.
This is a superb book, and is quite challenging to read. But once you get used to the way the writer writes, you will be surprised. This is a book full of action, there is always something happening, and you don't just see it through one persons view-point but several. There are several characters it is based around, not just one main character. The story is a fantastic one and can be quite complex. You try to work out what will happen or why it happens before you are told. The beginning may be a bit confusing but later on you start to understand it more clearly. I would say this is probably one of those books where there are some people who will get hooked on it and then those who may not like it at all. But I would say give it a try. I had loads of fun reading this book and recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy books and it is a challenging one. I would also recommend it to any other book reader. This is my second favourite book of all time, and I can't wait to start reading Deadhouse Gates which is a follow on from this one. Well Done Steven Erickson, keep the excellent work up. Overall: Fast pace, astonishingly detailed, innovative, powerfully engaging, massive, panoramic and highly intelligent. An author to watch out for.
This is a must read series for anyone who's looking for an epic story. The world is extremely details and spans a timeline of hundreds of thousands of years. On par with the stories of Dune, this series is has characters you'll love and hate. Keep in mind that if you're looking for an easy read to keep you entertained, this isn't it. You really need to focus on the story to get the full impact of this series.
Gardens of the Moon is the first book in a ten book series called The Malazan Book of the Fallen. The series is arguably the most epic in scope, the most complex in narrative style, and the most detailed in terms of cultural, sociological and religious aspects. Comparisons to other great fantasy epics will no doubt include The Lord of the Rings or A Song of Ice and Fire or even The Wheel of Time…but a better and more accurate comparison may be to Frank Herbert's magnificent sci-fi masterpiece, the Dune chronicles, and Glen Cook's gritty and character-centric fantasy series The Black Company. Gardens of the Moon starts off much like Dune and the Black Company, in that you are literally thrown into the middle of this fully realized world, replete with an ancient but still living prehistory (in the form of the T'lan Imass and the Jaghut), a powerful but aloof alien species (in the form of the Tiste Andii), and a host of elder gods who are anything but passive and who routinely interfere and direct the lives of the general populace. I remember when i was a teenager and I had heard of a movie called Dune which was apparently based upon a best-selling novel. The premise intrigued me to the point where I read the book and then immediately saw the movie by David Lynch. I did not see the movie alone. I took my cousin with me. My female cousin who knew nothing of sci-fi or fantasy and who probably was looking for a movie like Gremlins or Ghostbusters, rather than a strange sci-fantasy like Dune. And the movie was incredibly strange. If i had not read the book…i don't think even I would have been able to pick up on all of the subtle nuances and grand scope of things without having read the book first. I can't imagine what it must have been like for my poor cousin, who was so confused and befuddled afterwards that all she could do was ask "What is the 'water of life'? and why did he keep saying 'the sleeper has awakened'?" I recount this story only to illustrate a potential problem point: readers who are looking for the standard/typical mode of fantasy storytelling which have become so predictable that many times we're not looking for diversity in narrative, but rather looking at what type of new "power" is being contested or won. No, Gardens of the Moon will be as baffling and mysterious and potentially frustrating for many readers who are looking for something straightforward and simple to explain. Such is not the case with this series. Steven Erikson has created a complex and living breathing world and populated with various races and cultures and countries and thrown them into this story. And what is the story? It's hard to say really. There are so many narrative plot points. But I think the fundamental story is something happened thousands of years before, something so terrible and cataclysmic that the repercussions of the action and decision have reverberated throughout history, affecting the elder races and have now culminated into a series of devastating and world-ending consequences that the modern races and their current use of magic must now contend with the here and now. I having been reading this series for the past few years now, and am on the last few novels. These books are not easy to read, but they yield so much pleasure in terms of epic storytelling and the range of characters. I will point out two things that you may need to know about the entire series: First, Steven Erikson believes that all characters, big and small, matter. You might agree with that viewpoint, but if you think about what that really means, it means that each and every little character gets their share of the page, meaning what would normally be a 400 page book could turn into a 1,000 page book because the lives and dreams of each and every character is detailed and told. hence the massive length of most of Erikson's books. Second, Steven Erikson's prose style is almost as complex and flowery as his story and settings. This prose is as purple as purple can get. But with that said, these books are marvelous. And if you can get through the first book, as dense and complex as it is, then you will be rewarded by the 2nd and 3rd books, Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice, which are about as good as anything i've ever read. The book Deadhouse Gates will break your heart with its grueling story about Coltaine's Chain of Dogs. And Memories of Ice will astound you in its scope and power; it is perhaps Erikson's one Masterpiece, though some may argue that the entire series is what constitutes his masterwork. but if one were to give the word masterpiece to any one of his novels, it would probably have to be Memories of Ice. But in order to get there, you have to go through Gardens of the Moon, which is not his best work, but the beginning of his greatest work.
Gardens of the Moon starts simple enough, like any other book, however that is where all similarity is abandoned. Soon I found myself not wanting to let go of the book I was currently lost in, with ever changing moods and situations. The vast amount of characters that are introduced throughout the novel, is spellbinding, When you realize most of the characters you meet, have reoccurring moments,not a wave and good by, as with most novels. Gardens of the Moon Quickly has you wrapped up in a completely new world with new meaning to the words, Mage, Magic, and Spells. Steven Erikson's writing is an absolute inspiration and gift, bestowed on the reader. I recommend reading the entire series.
The start of one of the strongest fantasy series in recent memory - Good ideas, an interesting world, and superb writing. The comparable series are Tolkein's Lord of the Rings, Martin's Game of Thrones, Jordan's early books in the 'Wheel of Time', and Feist's first Krondor series (Magician Apprentice). While it might not displace Tolkein (what could?), this book and it's sequels are probably stronger than any of the other series mentioned. This series never gets lost by becoming a day in the life of 60 characters. It keeps up the action and consistently brings surprises. Things don't move 'lock-step' to an inevitable conclusion, but neither is there discontinuity caused by inane plot twists or the deaths of major characters. A highly enjoyable and recommended series.
Steven Eriskson's debut novel of the Malazan Tale of the Fallen, is the story of the Bridgeburners, a legendary Army of the Malazan Empire. The Malazans are the fantasy equivalent of the Romans. Just like the Roman Legions, their armies are composed of people from all of their conquered lands. They also capture and use the weapons of their enemies, sometimes better than their original owners. I can honestly say the this series is one of m favorites, next to George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire (If he EVER gets on with it), Joe Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy, Raymond Feist's many Midkemia novels, and Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time (With the help of Brandon Sanderson, whose Mistborn trilogy is quite good also). If you are looking for a great, in depth world, a unique view of magic, and deep characters by the score, then this is for you!
While reading this book, I attended a science fiction convention in Lincoln, Nebraska, where the guest of honor author, Brandon Sanderson, distracted me from finishing this first book of the epic fantasy series Malazon Book of the Fallen in a timely manner. In fact, I stopped reading at the midpoint and asked Brandon during a break between panels, if he had read the series. I explained I struggled to stay focused with the novel because the characters lacked depth and pull. He told me he recommends the series, but advises most readers to start with the second book. With this in mind, I pushed on to the end and enjoyed the last half of Gardens of the Moon. Not only did the characters suffer from shallowness, but the world building paled to smoke and mirrors and rumors. For such a vast empire pushing for world conquest, I felt only smallness and emptiness, large chunks missing from the puzzle of history and geography. Thus, the motivations of key players revealed late in the game, made little sense and lacked punch. For the rest of my review, please visit GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/96801577
I was given the first three books from Erickson's series, The Malazan Book of the Fallen, as a gift because I was in waiting for the conclusion of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and now Brandon Sanderson. I found the writing style strange at first, but grew to enjoy the jumping between perspectives and storylines. I plan to finish the first three books before deciding whether to take on the whole series. My sense right now is that I'm not overly eager to continue on and learn of the characters' further adventures, but I'm also not returning the books for a refund.
I started this series and got to the second book. I just couldn't get into it. It had a well written plot and cast of characters, but it just got to weird for me. Maybe because I grew up on raymond Feist. The idea of a mage turning himself into a puppet/doll was just stupid to me. I didnt care for the series after reading this book.
I came across the book without referance, as the local bookshop made a great offer> boy !! am i hooked....started off slow, but now i have bought the whole seiries and it has a priveledged corner in my little collection...have not read such a complex and interesting yarn in years...definetely up there with the best of the best...strongly reccomend that readers get past the first few pages that start slow
The last reviewer made a lot of comments how this work wasn't like George Martin or Robert Jordan, and so on. Well Good! It's nice to have an author out there who doesn't follow the same conventions of everyone else. I read this book partly to hold me over on the epic fantasy front until Martin gets his next book out, and I was very impressed. The world is beautifully set and rendered by Erikson, and his anthropology background really shows in all the nuanced cultures of the cities, and the people. And he accomplishes this with out striding too much into rote exposition. The world is explained well enough when it's appropriate, and he leaves the reader thirsting for more. Magic is very important in the book, and it is a well-imagined and developed system. What makes this book great is that it's so hard to pick sides - everything and everyone has a shade of gray to it. If you are a Martin fan looking for something else to read, a fantasy fan, or even a reader in general, this book is a MUST.
I picked up this book because the cover of the second book piqued my interest, and I never start a series in the middle. This author is a great writer, but this first novel was difficult to wade through, as the first half was somewhat confusing. Once you've sorted out what's going on, its a great read.
Its a great read. The synopsis made it sound so, but you never know for sure until you pick a copy up. I was overly impressed by what I read. Very different from what fantasy I normally read. Interesting sub plots and swings of current. I did get a little lost as to who had what powers some times, but I believe that might have just been my interpretation. It does jump around a lot and I wish I could have rooted for a couple characters a little more. But the author was too busy setting up the very necessary story line to give time for the reader to indulge that kind of thought. It keeps you on tilt so that you're not sure exactly who you want to come out on top in the end. I liked it a lot.
Mark these words. This series will go down in history. (GARDENS OF THE MOONS, DEADHOUSE GATES, MEMORIES OF ICE, HOUSE OF CHAINS) and still going. How about this: (Whiskeyjack and the Bridgeburners) an elite group of assasins. (Chain of Dogs) an Exodus of 30,ooo Refugees across a continent. Crusification by the thousands and a horrible betrayal. T'Lam Imass, Sorry, Anomander Rake, Daughters Lady Envy and Spite, Ascendents(mortals who attain Godhead) and GODS(who go mortal)... 2 friends of thousands of years, one forgets the death he reaps, the other remembers the pain they share. In the end one shall die and betray an eternal friendship. THE CHAINED GOD AWAKENS......These books are WAY BEYOND the scope of Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind and the like. THE MALAZAN BOOK OF THE FALLEN series is without EQUAL. If you don't believe me then just look up the author on the Internet AND find the reviews.(By the way he comes from Great Britian, the U.K.) TOR has just gotten the rights to the books and released the first one GARDENS OF THE MOON in hardback but the rest can be found in the U.K. (STEVEN ERICKSEN)
Empress Laseen and her Claw assassins rule absolute. However, Anomander Rake, Lord of the Tiste Andii, gives a few bloody confrontations. Through all the blood shed and death, Laseen still looks to other lands, her mind set to conquer. ....................... The High Mage Tayschrenn betrays his troops. He has no idea that Tattersail, the sorceress in command of the Second Army's wizard cadre, knows of his betrayal. She watches her men die, seethes, and plans. At her side, unwanted, is a marionette. Its wooden body holds the soul of the wizard Hairlock. Hairlock is a wild card. He faces even the mule-sized Hounds of Shadowthorne. But Tattersail wonders if he is friend or foe, sane or not. .................. The old Emperor's élite, known as the Bridgeburners, are led by Sergeant Whiskeyjack. The have a 'recruit' named Sorry, around the age of fifteen, whose very presence makes the troop's mage tremble. She is believed to be a pawn of the gods. ......................... **** These are but a few of the characters this novel follows. The plots are many, with even more sub-plots. The story jumps around often, making it difficult to keep up with what is happening and where. Yet each section is full of magical battles, as well as, battles by blade. As things get hot, the book shifts to 'Part Two' with new characters to learn and more plots to view. They will eventually all mesh together for even bigger and more exciting battles. .......................... All-in-all, this is an action packed fantasy, though long-winded at times, that will ignite your imagination as few others. ****
Better then Jordan, much better then Goodkind. The series is already on to book 5 as of this writing, although they are released much slower in the United States. I bought the first one a few years ago in Canada and it has great writing and more importantly a great story and characters. Complex and satisfying. Get it or be saddened.
This book is excellent, as are the other books in this series (there are five in publication so far in the UK and Canada). These books are excellent, with a greater depth than anything else, whilst being readable and (increasingly in the later books) having a real sense of humour. An epic storyline, great characters, brilliantly written and Erikson is producing them at a respectable rate with no detioration in quality. Highly recommended.
I agree with what Jim said. This is some seriously powerful reading! I also got the series, and it has some of the most interesting characters, plots, and majic scenes of any series ever. And the books just keep getting better. After each book, I kept saying, 'That was the best yet!' And then the next one is better. The 5th one is coming out in England in March, and I already have it preordered. It is the most innovative & creative writing I have ever read. get this book, and you will LOVE this series!
If you are into Jordan, Martin, & Goodkind, you will love this new series. I have been fortunate enought to have read the first 4 books of this series, because they were originally published in England. This is BY FAR the best series I have ever read (see above). Steven Erikson's writing style takes getting used to (remember when you first read the Hobbit?), but after you get used to it, you will be hooked. His novels have so much action and detail, and the characters are all amazingly well written. The lands of the Malazan Empire are unlike any you have read so far. Deep in majic, mystery, and battle, these books take you to a land that you can't believe. I don't know how he does it, but Mr. Erikson has created a series that is unlike any other. Do yourself a favor and get this book. Then be prepared for a ride!
Yes you read it right! George R.R.Martin, the man who has written my favorite fantasy series,Song of Ice and Fire has rival to his throne!Who is the Rival you may ask? The rival's name is Steven Erikson and his saga is called Gardens of the Moon. This epic fantasy novel was unforgettable masterpiece! Erikson's world-building skills has launch him into the ranks of Martin,Hobb, Clemens and Goodkind in this novel.Gardens of the Moon concerns a terrible war being waged between Malazan empire under brutal reign of Empress Laseen and immortal Anomander Rake and his formidable Tiste Andi.This war is fought with both armies and magic.This novel concerns the epic battle between these forces for the city-state of Darujhistan. This book is filled with scenes of brutal combat, sinister intrigue and powerful dark magic and sorcery.Unforgettable characters inhabit this wartorn world like Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of bridgeburners who serve the Empress Laseen and not knowing that she plots to betray them and have them killed.Paran, a young nobleman sent by Laseen and her ruthless Adjunct,Lorn to betray the noble bridgeburners and who insteads helps them.Anomander Rake, a immortal being fighting the Malazan empire for his dying race.Crokus younghand, a teen thief of Darujhistan who finds himself unwilling pawn this battle.This novel also has scenes of scheming and menacing gods who possess the bodies of mortals and manipulate the world to the own ends.And did I mention the action sequences? There are fight scenes in here to put the Matrix to shame! Plot twists as you see betrayal and treachery are the norms in this world where noble soldiers are targeted for death by their own rulers and young woman who can become souless killer.Erikson's world is a intricate and complex as our own as he slowly gives you it's history and his magic system is also very unique as he gives you scenes of conjuring of demons and ancient evil to do bidding of various sorcerers, assasins and powerful gods.I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in the series:Deadhouse Gates to see if this series will beat Song of Ice and fire as the best fantasy in print!
I found Gardens of the Moon rather slow going at first, primarily because the world was complex and confusing. Also, there was no clear main plot, but a number of plots that began as unrelated but eventually began to come together.I enjoyed the second half more than the first, as I felt more comfortable with concepts and the scope of the action.Erikson has created a vast and complex world, with some fascinating characters, none of which are either black or white. Alliances shift, actions and choices are limited and confusing for the characters and in the end they have to do what they think best.I fully intend to read the next few books.
This is the first book in a 10-volume series (eight of which are currently published). It's an epic fantasy spanning a world and with a myriad different characters. There are several maps, lists of dramatis personae, and glossaries to help you navigate this intricate world. It would be daunting to someone new to the fantasy genre, and on someone less so to a fan (like me). Until relatively recently, I resisted getting involved in multi-volume fantasy series -- at least those that expand beyond a trilogy. But that all changed when I started George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series (4 published, 3 to come). Got hooked there. I also got hooked on Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series (I've read 2 of 6 so far). Erikson has been compared to Martin because both are not afraid to kill off main characters (both good, evil, and somewhere in between). But these three, Erikson, Martin, and Butcher all have very different writing styles. Erikson's style is less straight-forward than the others. With Martin and Butcher, following the plot and the character's motivations doesn't tax your brain. But there is so much going on in Erikson's world. It's a little much at first but then a third of the way through this book, it begins to get clearer. And his use of sorcery in the story is heavy, detailed, and fascinating. It's a strange place -- maybe not as strange as China Mieville's Bas-Lag, but wonderfully strange all the same. And the characters are wildly diverse as well. But they could use some more fleshing out. Of the two dozen or so that I followed through this tale, I was only getting a clear picture of four or five of them. But I found the whole thing to wickedly engrossing. I love some of the weirdness he puts into this tale, like, for instance, a sorcerer who ends up having his soul transferred into a marionette. Think Chucky with wizardly powers. In this series the Malazan empire is hellbent on world domination but that is neither easy nor assured. Who knows how long it will take me to get through this series, but I'm looking forward to doing so. One thing I gotta add is that Jeez Laweez, but these Malazan covers (US versions) are cheesy-looking! I mean, look at this one, is that guy sporting a mullet?! Sheesh. And, Book 3 looks like it may have the worst cover. I'd be embarrassed if I cared enough.