Hang in there. It took me a couple tries as it's very different than a lot of fantasy I've read, especially G.O.T.M. But...when you "get it" these books become impossible to set down. A truly impressive world.
Dear Publishers Weekly
Oh, How you have Fallen to the wayside. . . No depth? . . NO DEPTH? Don't make me piddle in my pants! Your review of Erickson's first book in his masterwork series makes me want to bang my head against a wall, repeatedly. . .
If you are negative about this series, or this book, you really have no idea about what's going on. This series takes place on an epic scale, involving countless characters, and a whole bunch of different kingdoms and empires. This is the most epic series available today, and I just can't see how people don't like that.
The story has much intrigue and promise. However, the author seems to have focused so much on creating a grandiose universe and neglected cohesion and character development. I read it to end hoping it would get better, it never did. Great story from the outside, no substance on the inside.
Slow beginning--decent mid--great ending
The world building takes awhile, but the book starts getting pretty good in the middle.
Erikson has an odd style in this book where he just continues on as if you know all the terms he uses. Some may like it; some may not. Honestly it was a bit frustrating throughout the beginning--not knowing what he was talking about, but as you read on the picture becomes clearer.
Some of the fight scenes were pretty awesome, though they were a bit short: still good.
I enjoyed the book and have even higher hopes for the rest of the series now that I've finished the foundation.
Definitely worth reading.
Yes, it's hard. Yes, it is worth it.
Finishing this series was the most rewarding literary journey I have ever undertaken. After Game of Thrones reawakened my love of fantasy fiction, I have since read almost all the modern epics --Wheel of Time, Farseer, Acacia, Amber, etc. And every time I took one up, I would try to read Gardens of the Moon first, and could not get past the prologue and first chapter. I mean literally must have been half a dozen times. Too slow, too jumbled, too much this too little that...
Until my last foray. I persevered and trudged through, like a Bonehunter, never quite understanding what the hell was going on, but rejoicing in what tidbits of glory I could gain here and there, laughing and crying and bleeding the whole time through.
This is a hard book. Erikson not only does not spoon feed you the answers to the million questions you'll have as you go, he actually doesn't even endeavor to try to answer most of them. I mean, for the majority of the whole series, I had no idea what the hell was really going on, but whatever it was, I was ecstatic to be part of it.
Like a high fist, Erikson expects you to just do your job and march through the story, btch and moan and jest and kill to your fullest, live it to the fullest, whether you are intelligent enough to follow all the webs, or are just content enough not to get too tangled in them. And if you do just that, maybe you'll see the glory that awaits you when that job is done. And if not, at least you would have made some friends, gained some wisdom, killed some demons, and saved some gods.
And of course, WITNESSED.
What a disappointment
By SS & 4 kids
I have read hundreds of fantasy novels over the last 25 years and this was one of my least favorite. I purchased the book based on some positive online reviews and favorable comparisons to other series that I have read and enjoyed, such as The Game of Thrones series and Joe Abercrombie's The First Law trilogy. Comparing this steaming pile of dung to those epic fantasy novels is laughable.
As hard as I tried I could not finish the first book, Gardens of the Moon, stopping after reading about 80% of the book. The plot is complex, but not written about in enough detail to understand and really become immersed in. Many characters are introduced, but none are very well developed or interesting. I can't say that I gave a rip about any of the 20+ characters introduced in the book. This is just not a very well written fantasy novel-not entertaining, compelling, funny, really nothing other than a test of willpower to finish it (I failed). I would strongly advise against purchasing it.
Epic is an understatement
My wife bought me this book on a recommendation from a guy who worked at Barnes & Noble's because I was in between release dates for Steven Brust's Dragaeran novels.
My initial reaction was that the writing was a little clumsy and cluttered with characters that appeared abruptly and disappeared without being fully developed. The consequence made the book(s), all 10 of them (and yes, I read and enjoyed them all), difficult. At first, I just persevered and used these books as filler while waiting for the "real" story about the Dragaerans to be released. This outlook diminished quickly as I read this first novel and was gone before I had finished it.
The clumsy, clunky writing style started to make sense and I started to develop a nagging suspicion that this writing style was the consequence of something that has little to do with writing and everything to do with fantasy storytelling on a massive scale: Dungeons and Dragons. By the time I had finished the second book, Deadhouse Gates, I was convinced that I was reading the chronicles of an epic fantasy campaign.
The market is flooded with D&D based novels and I've read a few in the last 30 or so years. This is unlike any of those. In fact, if I weren't an old gamer since 1980, I wouldn't have made the connection; the writing is that good and subtle. In fact, I only confirmed the connection long after I finished the final novel because I was so convinced that the confirmation was little more than a formality to satisfy my assumptions.
Even if you hate D&D, this set of novels is so good it is likely to change your opinion about that hobby. The scale of the universe is so massive that it takes a concerted effort to grasp and wrap your mind around it. I can't express the sheer enormity of the scope of this story sufficiently. It must be experienced.
I'll say that again; In order to fully appreciate these novels they aren't read, they're experienced. It's this property that places these novels beyond the reach of what is considered the standard for epic fantasy storytelling. The scope of Tolkien's posthumously published Silmarilion, or Martin's Fire and Ice (aka Game of Thrones) are grand and set the standard but those works are made small when placed alongside The Malazan Book of the Fallen.
Easily The Best
I have made a habit of reading epic fantasy books since I was in middle school. This is the best series by far. Gardens of the Moon is just the first book in a series where the author (Erikson) does a fantastic job creating a world that feels like it could never end. His background as an archaeologist comes in handy when, through out the series, we continuously visit monuments built by extinct people from dead, mostly forgotten parts of civilization.
If you are a fan of political fantasy, this series is rife with governments betraying people, soldiers, and other politicians. To cap that off, there is some tension building between the gods. There are epic mage battles, horrifying acts of war, some love, and just about e everything you could ask for in between.
At the very least, read just this one book. You'll read the next one without me having to ask.
A terrific start!
This is a wonderful blending of the high fantasy of Tolkien, and the dark, gritty distopia of George R R Martin. The middle ground finds you in a world where magic is very much alive, and there's a blade with your name on it waiting around every corner.