4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A new style of fantasy...,
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This review is from: Gardens of the Moon (Book 1 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen) (Mass Market Paperback)
...Gone is the grandiose of Tolkein, Jordan, etc. The Gardens of the Moon feels very different from the onset: whereas the classic fantasy stories are slow, descriptive and start instantaneously spinning weaves of grandeur by slowly layering history and lore on the reader, Erikson instead opts for a much more fast paced, action orientated writing style. Little is explained, with characters often conversing over plot points that the reader won't be aware of until later. Character/Race/Place names are constantly thrown at the reader, which can be a little daunting, yet it unarguably prevents the characters from "going stale" as the reader has so little time to acquaint oneself with them before they're either dead or have started plotting with/against yet more hitherto unknown characters. Characters constantly feel as if they know more than the reader does, often speaking of things that make little or no sense and which the reader must try to analyse and guess on the fly. The magic system, despite sounding vastly complex when fleetingly mentioned is not clearly defined at any one point (though as the characters themselves profess not to know everything I think I can forgive them.) Magical combat is simplistic - X strikes at Y, Y avoids/blocks/survives - there is little deeper intricacy, and although the types of magic described are varied and interesting (necromancy, "Elder magic", Pyromancy, Entropy, etc.) there's little that a true fantasy fan won't have come across before. The chronology is speedy - I think by page 100, two years had passed since the beginning of the tale (though the tale really has no defined beginning.)
Re-reading this review, even I find myself thinking "well these don't sound like brilliant qualities?" But there's something about this book. Maybe it's the rawness of the book which makes it likeable? Even I find myself unable to give a definitive reason, having nervously shuffled over from deep trenches in the Robert Jordan world. The book is too fast, too zealous, too political (oh boy is it political - every character seems to have a plethora of possible agendas, and few are clearly explained or even known to the reader/characters alike.) But there is something appealing about the book. Maybe it's the writing style, which despite being hyperactive (or utilitarian shall we say) is enjoyable, making good (and constant) use of metaphor and simile to thread strong images. Maybe it's just the amount of content crammed into each page? Maybe it's the realistic and likeable characters or unpredictable plot that shuttles its way along regardless of whether you're holding tight, often threatening to leave you behind completely if you don't grip on and pay attention. Regardless of what it is, this book does have a raw, primal beauty to it, and though I wouldn't rank it up there with the best of the genre, I do think it's worth a foray just to season oneself in a different environment and try something new.
I would've awarded it 3.5/5, but it deserves rounding up rather than down.