Fofo’s #CBR4 Review #31: Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
Profile: Epic Fantasy
Gardens of the Moon is a sprawling book, made more so by the in media res start and a veritable ton of unknown jargon/terminology. The book features a cast of no fewer than nine ‘main’ protagonists, (and this is a conservative estimate) twelve (or fourteen) parallel storylines and significant asides to peek into the lives of several antagonists and minor characters. The only shocking thing is that the book is STILL SHORTER THAN REAMDE! Fuck you Neil Stephenson.
These are facts that you should know going into either the book, or this review. Epic fantasy can be wonderful, but there is a small school of writers that take the ‘epic’ to expansive new places. If you’re a fan of Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind or even George R. R. Martin, you’ll probably enjoy the scope of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, even if you don’t like the story being told. These… massive novels reject conventional reviews, partially due to their scope, and partly due to the nature of the series as a whole. The sad fact is that, without their companion books, these bloated tales don’t really hold up on their own, sagging under the weight of too many characters, too many unfamiliar terms and too much set-up for the next book. But once the architecture of the series is taken into account, the reader’s eye can be drawn to the shape of the epic, glossing over the ugly details and just absorbing the world and the major story arcs.
By many benchmarks, Gardens of the Moon is a bad book. The dialogue is sub-par, the storylines are confusing for the first third of the book and it seems to take Erikson a really long time to get to the damn point. Having said this, I’m already three quarters of the way throughDeadhouse Gates, (Malazan #2) and some of the bigger themes have started to force me to reevaluate Gardens. Still, it is hard to forgive Erikson this somewhat lackluster start.