2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
From Small Acorns...,
This review is from: Gardens of the Moon (Book 1 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen) (Mass Market Paperback)
I originally picked this book up in a bookshop whilst waiting for the next instalment of A Song of Ice and Fire. I was sceptical at first, but was decided upon reading the blurb; not just wizards and demons but Gods too! Having always liked the debauchery and melodrama that arises with a pinch of polytheism I bought it then and there. I was not to be disappointed.
Erikson starts off with a preface which I suggest is read by all because it really helps you understand what he is trying to achieve. This book, this series, is ambitions, he pulls no punches and throws you right in the deep end, to paraphrase, you may only learn so much of his characters true intentions, just to find it subsumed as part of the plots, counterplots and ancient grievances being played out across a stage that spans continents, millennia and magical realms galore. Yes, be prepared to not know everything straight away; as other reviewers have said, be prepared to have to check up once in a while in the list of characters, but please please don't let this put you off. Erikson is simply a master of his art, something that becomes apparent the more you delve into his works, if it's the little poems and excerpts of lore that preface every chapter that whisper of more and more hidden depths (a mark of so much extra involvement, some will doubtless skip these because the text stands alone perfectly well but I feel it hints of just how invested he is with this world and its history) or his wonderful command of language, his descriptions are rich and varied, his characters even more so.
His is a new take on the fantasy genre (although this may simply be due to limited experience), far be it for me to get political, but his series is the most egalitarian and multicultural fantasy series I have yet read. I recall now charges levelled against Tolkein and (the suspiciously similarly named) George R.R. Martin, that their books were a little monochromatic with, mainly in Tolkien's case, a dearth of well-developed female characters. There's none of that with Erikson, when a soldier enters the picture and my helplessly sexist brain is reading "he", I have to do a double take, no it's a "she", there are plenty of black characters too, and it's not just tokenism, this continues throughout the series.
There may be only one thing I'd say he does poorly and that's romance, I didn't find the romance between Paran and Tattersail at all convincing, springing as it seemed out of the blue, with hardly ten words between them. I simply couldn't believe feelings could really develop in such a short time. It's not even as though he tried to pitch love at first sight, eyes meeting across a crowded room and all that, they just seemed to fall into it.
So, onto the book itself. I mentioned the gods, one of the hallmarks of gods is that they do not like to be crossed, one does so at ones peril, for assuredly...they will exact revenge.
On a lonely coastal road in Itko Kan there has been a massacre, an entire Malazan cavalry regiment along with every other soul for miles around, slaughtered. No sign of who...or what, did so. Lieutenant Ganoes Paran of the Malazan Empire must find out why. In doing so he must enter into a deadly game of gods and mortals, and fight to become more than just a pawn, but to be the master of his own destiny.
Soon he will be thrown together with the likes of Whiskeyjack and what remains of the Bridgeburners, a regiment of soldiers perhaps too dangerous to be left alive, and the mysterious sorceress Tattersail. With the siege of Pale almost over, and likewise the Empire's campaign of conquest on the continent of Genabackis almost at a close, this should be an ending; but betrayal, and a new mission, for the Empress herself, will force them into the field once more. Except this time, it seems, they're not meant to come out alive.
In Darujistan, the last Free City, things are coming to a head, dangerous sorcerous assassins stalk the moonlit rooftops and Elder gods are stirring. The cities fate hangs in the balance and only blood can tip the scales.
I hope this review was helpful and if you read this book I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, it's just the gilded tip of the iceberg, theres so much more to come even if at first it may be hard to see. Good Luck.