View Full Version : Book Review: Gardens of the Moon

21st August 2002, 07:54 PM
Gardens of the Moon is written by Steven Erikson.

This book is fantasy.

Gardens of the Moon is Steven Eriksons first fantasy novel (and I presume also his first novel, although he may have written something in anthropology or archaeology). This book is part of a series reffered to as "The Malazan Book of the Fallen" although I have absolutely no idea how many books there will be in this series (or if it is actually a series as such, or simply a collection of books based in the same fantasy world). Gardens of the Moon is followed by another novel ("The Deadhouse Gates") and there is also a third novel available although I can't recall its name. Gardens of the Moon was first published in 1999.

Normally in a review I would try and give some impression of the world in which this book is based. Well, I'll do my best, but if I make a complete hash of it, you'll just have to forgive me. Its a very complex and innovative book.
The story centres on the continent of Genebackis, which is in the process of being conquered by the Malazan Empire. Genebackis formally comprised of a group of Free Citys, who banded together to try and defend themselves from the onslaught of the Malazan legions. Unfortunately all but 1 have fallen, with the city of Pale having just fallen in a bloody seige, leaving Darujhistan to stand alone. However Dharujistan has powerful allies, lead by Anomander Rake, Lord of the Moons Spawn (think of it as a giant magical flying fortress) and the Tiste Andii (one of the Elder Races, and powerful magicians). The Malazan legions have been decimated by the seige of Pale, with the elite Bridgeburners being reduced to a shadow of their former strength, and the all the legions magical cadre barr 1 being killed. In an attempt to weaken Dharujistan, the Empress has sent Adjunct Lorn, head of the Claw assasins, to try and unleash an ancient terror.
The realms of magic in this book are referred to as Warrens, however as well as being a source of magic these warrens can also be travelled through as a physical place. Each mage taps a single warren (with a few notable exceptions), and this warren defines their power. The realms of magic are also tied to the Ascendants in the book, immortal beings representing various houses (Life, Death, Light, Dark, and Shadow) and some unaligned ascendents. In addition to standard magic, there are also higher levels of magic that allow shape shifting, anyone using these abilities is referred to as Soletaken. So to try and give you some idea, Anomander Rake is a Soletaken mage using the Warren of Kurald Galain (the warren of darkness), is also the Knight of High House Dark, is also the chosen lord of the Tiste Andii, is also the wielder of the sword Dragnipur. Confused yet? Read the book - you will be! :)

So, was it worth reading. Well I will confess, the first time I read this book, by the end of it I was totally confused. There was simply so much happening, in so many parrallel story lines, that by the time I got to the end of the book I had lost the plot (literally) for several of them. The second time I read it, I enjoyed it much more, and I could appreciate what was going on. The world in this book is so incredibly rich and detailed, there is pretty much no way you can do it justice in 1 reading. I think the only book I have read recently that compares to it in depth would be The Reality Dysfunction by Peter Hamilton (where it was only on the 2nd reading you could appreciate the last flight of Iassius and what was going on in the first 4 or 5 chapters). I would recommend this book unreservedly for fantasy fans - it is one of the best new fantasy books I have read in the last 5 years.