Book Review – Gardens of the Moon, Book 1 of the #Malazan Book of the Fallen

Okay, so it’s about time I reviewed a book I read a couple of months ago. Prior to reading it, I had read a lot of reviews and did see some warning signs that book one might be hard to digest for some readers. I also saw that the series had a huge fan-base devoted to the Malazan empire – this devotion is what prompted me to invest my time in the first place. Not wanting to get involved with another long (TEN epic Volumes) series just yet, Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson had been sitting on my shelf for almost a year as I read other books. In August I finally took the plunge out of pure curiosity.

First I will go over what I liked in this novel – the writing. Steven Erikson has a way with words. I had read a couple of reviews saying the opposite – harping on Erikson for using the same few uncommon words over and over. I simply found this to be untrue. His language use was beautifully dark and sinister. At times I felt I was reading an epic poem instead of a novel. His style of writing is not something you can learn so much as it is part of his nature. I envy writer’s with this gift.

What some people may not like, but I can appreciate is the twisting maze full of dead ends, shifting corridors, and nasty traps Erikson guides his readers through. Some folks like this style of writing as it challenges them to stay on their game as they turn each page. Other people tend to want an easy to follow story where they can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Erikson has given us a glossary at the back of the novel which will come in very handy to those falling in the first category. If you fall in the latter, I would not recommend this book.

Now on to what I did not care for in the story – the characters. Erikson’s large list of main characters was quickly introduced to us and all of them (save for one who talked in the third person) appeared exactly the same to me. By this I mean their mannerisms were identical, their language was too similar. Even their thought processes were unoriginal, focused solely around their own survival in a world out to destroy each of them in a very personal way – all the while they were indiscriminately killing other poor souls who crossed their paths. There was no real buildup – fast or slow – explaining what defined the characters and the actions they took throughout the book. I was simply thrust into the middle of the story and expected to pick favorites based on what I still am not sure.

As an aspiring writer myself, reading Gardens has taught me that a great book is nothing without its characters. Prior to reading Gardens, I had been focusing too much of my own plot-lines around the story I want to tell, rather than character development and getting my readers invested which is the real reason they keep turning the pages.

The question now is: “will I continue on with this series?” I believe I will as I have read reviews saying book two is much better than its predecessor. If you have read it, what do you think (see Poll)?

Overall I give Gardens of the Moon 2 out of 5 stars, but who am I to say you won’t love it?

You can buy it here:


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Nate says:


    Okay. So I HATED Gardens of the Moon. I mean, I would have given it one star, except for the author’s beautiful writing style. The lack of any character depth, and too many of them with which we never grow to enjoy reading about is probably why I didn’t like it most. The storyline still escapes me. I honestly can’t remember much of it.

    I took a year and a half before I decided, what the hell. SO MANY people said this series is great and that I have to continue on after getting through book 1. Many of you even admitted that GOTM was the worst book in the series by far. It was this honesty, coupled with your encouragement and enthusiasm for the rest of the series that gave me the will to continue on.

    Anyway, I wanted to just say “you all were right” and that “my doubts have been proven for naught”. I am not very far into Deadhouse Gates, but man is this book awesome. I am actually growing attached to all of the main characters, and Erikson’s writing style and dark story-line are very intriguing and are keeping me reading feverishly and daydreaming when I’m not.

    You can read my original review of Gardens, which I will not revise because I still do feel that book lacks an awful lot. Perhaps going back to it AFTER I read the rest of the books will prove enjoyable.

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