Book 1: Malazan Book of the Fallen
Published by Tor Books, 1999
Greetings Brave Adventurers,
I have a confession to make. I’ve been reading this book since March (sorry to Meg at Ruminations of a Fantasy Devotee for taking so long to finish it). Every time I’d pick this book up it would be with many sighs and eye rolls. I’d been told it was a good series, so I pushed on.
In the end, the first 200 pages took me nearly five months to read. The other 450 pages took me two days. Like a rollercoaster, it took a while to wind up, but the downwards plunge was well worth it.
Why the procrastination? Erikson doesn’t give you much to hang on to. He head-hops continuously, through both time and space introducing characters and races and settings and politics and concepts at a breakneck speed. The result is that you feel like you’ve been dropped into the middle of a half-finished chess game and you don’t know any of the rules. Now, I’m a fantasy fan, so I understand the concept of abeyance, but really Erikson, if I hadn’t been told what a good series this was I am fairly sure I would have abandoned this book.
Bang on page 200, this book started to get good. Really good. This was about the time that a) we started to see a few of the same characters emerging in several scenes, allowing the reader to actually get to know one or two and b) the characters started to do things other than peruse body parts on battlefields or discuss politics (yes, I know other things happened, but they were so confusing in the early stages of the book that I feel I can lump the occurrences under those two vast headings).
The scope, depth and detail of Gardens of the Moon is quite amazing, and the battle scenes are jaw-dropping. The world is well-envisioned and epic. This is a world of high magic, gods battling across realms, swords that take souls and chain them to giant wagons; it is a world full of prophecy and doom.
Overall, I enjoyed Gardens of the Moon, but wasn’t blown away, mostly because I am a character-driven reader and I found the abrupt chopping and changing of perspective made this a hard read. I’ve already started Deadhouse Gates, and have the same quibble with Erikson’s style.