Gardens of the Moon

Steven Erikson was not a name I knew until I picked up Gardens of the Moon, the first of a long series referred to as The Malazan Books of the Fallen. If the series vaguely rings a bell somewhere deep in your mind, it is most likely because the books take up a good deal of space in the typically small fantasy section of every bookstore. But, the mass market paperback has a very bland cover and the summary was written by a publicist who either holds a vendetta against Erikson or simply does not understand readers. Whatever the reason, you often see this series and move along. One faithful day, I saw this series and opened the cover to see a recommendation by Glen Cook, the genius behind The Black Company, and on his recommendation I bought the book.

If you want a light read for the summer, this is not your book. If you are looking for a story that reveals itself to you like a lady of the night, look elsewhere. If you seek a relationship with a novel that makes you work but rewards your work immensely, this is the novel for you. (With ten novels, the relationship you begin by saying “yes” to Gardens of the Moon is sure to last for a while.)

Erikson does not present to you a high fantasy that follows the established rules of high fantasy. Rather, he gives you an entire world to visit filled with its own poetry and artists, with scenery that will establish a foothold as firm as your mental image of your home, and realistic thus unpredictable characters. Erikson challenges you with a story as straightforward as a mountain road and rewards you with poetic prose and story the lingers, months after you have set it down. One day when you drop coffee over your new shirt, you will murmur “Hood’s breath!” and realise just how much Erikson’s world has become part of your own.

-A Bookish Girl

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