Book Review – “Gardens of the Moon”

It’s a day later than I predicted,
but this review is finally here. Read on to see if
reading the entire book is worth your time.

General Information

Title: Gardens of the Moon (Volume One of Malazan
Book of the Fallen)

Author: Steven Erikson

Original Publication Date: 1999, but it seems that
the first North
American publication was in June 2004. has
listings for
current releases of the first five volumes, and is
taking preorders
for Volume 6 (April 1, 2005) and Volume 7 (no date
runs right up to book

ISBN: 0-765-31001-5

Cover Price: $24.95 US, $32.95 Can

Buy from:
or as a hardcover
or paperback.

Past fiction reviews can be found here.


Various powers are vying for political power in a
world that has
unique and frequent interactions with gods and other
magical powers.

High Point

Kruppe. He’s a very amusing character.

Low Point

The Eel’s identity was a little too transparent.

The Scores

The originality is poor in the big picture
political fantasy epic) but it’s great in the
details. The magic
system is unlike any I’ve read about, with the
wizards and magicians
acting more like conduits than the driving forces.
The forces they
channel play their own politics, too. I give it 4
out of 6.

The imagery is clear when it needs to be,
but sparse any time
the descriptions aren’t crucial to what’s going on.
It saves the
reader’s time, especially since it’s a pretty large
book just to tell
the story he wants to tell, but there are times when
descriptions would have been appreciated. I give it
4 out of 6.

The story is one of the two aspects of this
story that is
truly excellent. There’s a lot going on, with an
attention to detail
and nuance that is accented by foreshadowing and
symbolism. This is
one of the books that’s bound to reveal more upon a
second reading. I
give it 5 out of 6.

The characterization is the other
exceptional area. There
are a lot of characters to balance here, so the
author felt compelled
to include a four page dramatis personae list to help
the reader out.
To his credit, this is the first book with a cast
this size in which I
never wanted to look at the dramatis personae list.
The characters
are defined so clearly by actions, thoughts, and
associations, that
there’s no need for additional help to keep them all
straight. There
are a lot of genuinely likeable heroes and some
rather sympathetic
villains involved here, too. In fact, it took me a
while to figure
out which characters should be considered the
villains; when you view
the world through their perspective, their actions
seem like good
choices. It’s not until a large portion of the book
has passed that
you see where these chosen paths are leading them,
and really
understand what’s at stake and which group should
emerge victorious.
Of course, there’s still time for that opinion to be
undone and
undermined in the rest of the series, but Erikson has
earned my trust
enough that I’m sure I’ll enjoy those twists should
they come. I give
it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response was a bit weak at
first as I was
trying to identify the good and evil sides, but I
found myself caring
about all of the characters long before that was
clear. With a cast
this large, caring about everybody is a hard job to
manage, but
Erikson did it. I give it 5 out of 6.

The editing is good. There’s a lot of
material here, but the
pacing is well balanced, and there’s no wasted time
in the story. I
give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this is a very good book. If you
like epic fantasy
series, give this a look. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Gardens of the Moon receives 34
out of 42.