What a hot mess of a book.
So here’s the thing: I totally dig the concept. Steven Erikson wants to write a cool fantasy novel essentially viewed from above, with far-removed characters and individual plot threads eventually twisted and pulled together into one place for a climactic battle where All Will Be Revealed. I also usually love books where the author trusts the reader’s intelligence to pick up background through narrative, especially in fantasy/sci-fi novels where everyone has pretty much the same cultural familiarity with the setting.
But Mr Erikson just keeps throwing fresh names (and, I hesitate to say, concepts because proper nouns are hardly deserving of that term when devoid of any attached meaning) at us every three to five pages, and I was starting to feel as if I was sitting in a class with a professor droning on and on and possibly off-topic but no one wants to say anything because all the other students are just as mystified but unwilling to challenge his authority/disturb the status quo. The very many characters are all paper thin; say what you will about George R R Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire — which I love, btw — at least his characters are interesting. And the improbable amount of inexplicable deus ex machina were absurd, almost universally unexplained and finally insulting to the readers’ intelligence. I finished the book wondering what the hell the point of it all had been: certainly not entertainment, because it was boring af. My six year-old tells more interesting stories more lucidly.
And, you guys, I really wanted this to be good because I heard it was based on a roleplaying campaign. I quite enjoyed reading the Dragonlance books as a teenager, and was so chuffed to learn that those were based on a gaming group’s fantasy adventures. While I acknowledge that the Dragonlance series will never be considered high art, I expected Gardens Of The Moon to be better, from the reviews. At the very least, I expected to be entertained! I only finished this book (after starting it last September, good God! Fortunately, I had a break in my work schedule where I could push through completion on this) because I’m not a quitter, but ugh, it was a struggle. I’m certainly more educated about the unfathomable tastes of other sf&f fans after this and will likely never purposefully read anything by Mr Erikson again.
Anyway, I’m going to go clean my brain by re-reading Brandon Sanderson’s The Way Of Kings with my bff, who’s never read any Sanderson before. That’s how you do high fantasy right, y’all.