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Aug 09 2017

Gardens of the Moon (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1) by Steven Erikson

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.

About the author

Doreen Sheridan

Professional book critic, amateur housewife, full-time polymath. I like a good story.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2017/08/09/gardens-of-the-moon-the-malazan-book-of-the-fallen-1-by-steven-erikson/

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