Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen #1)


This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

Title: Gardens of the Moon
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #1
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 688
Format: Kindle Digital edition


Synopsis: Spoilers!

The Malazan Empire, now ruled by Empress Laseen, is on the path of expansion through total war. The last Free City on the continent of Genabackis, Darujhistan, is the next city in the sights of the Empire. Wracked from within by politics and threatened without by armies and mages, Darujhistan doesn’t stand a chance.

Enter Rake, Lord of Moonspawn, a floating city, sorcerer supreme. Having allied with the Crimson Guard, might mercenaries and mages, Rake allies with the lords of Darujhistan to fight the Empire, but for his own reasons.

To counter this threat, Laseen has set into motion several plans, one of which is to find and unleash an ancient terror, a Jahgut Tyrant, a veritable god of power. Laseen means to pit the Tyrant against Rake and then to take down the weakened winner.

Enter the Bridgeburners. Loyal servants to the Empire and the old Emperor, who Laseen assassinated to become Empress. The Bridgeburners are meant for extinction, as Laseen can’t have anyone around who isn’t loyal to her. But the survivors are crafty, powerful and full of tricks of their own. They are meant to take Darujhistan and die, but they have other plans, plans of their own.

Unfortunately for everyone, there is a veritable cornucopia of gods, ancient powers and beings so old and so powerful that they might as well be gods. When humans can become gods, gods can become extinct and power is all, nobody can predict what will result.


My Thoughts:  Spoilers!

(For clarity’s sake, I read this in June 2008 and again in December 2009. That link contains both my reviews in one review as Goodreads didn’t have a re-read option and when importing to Booklikes I didn’t feel like going through my 2000+ reviews and fixing “little” things like that.)

That synopsis barely scratches the surface of this book. In the forward Erikson tells us straight out that he will not be spoon feeding his readers anything and that he purposefully wrote things so as to make the readers work for connections. There are no obvious connections or explanations, there is Unexplained History of both nations and individuals and you are forced to hold on for your life or be thrown off the ride.

And what a ride this is! With this 3rd read I feel like I’ve finally got a little bit of a handle on this world. Since I have read the whole series, now I can begin to cobble it together. It helped that this time around I wasn’t expecting all the threads started here to ever be finished or to connect. I have also finally accepted that this is The Book of the Fallen, which means that this is about people dying, not people winning or overcoming insurmountable odds. And even if they do win and overcome those odds, odds are they are still going to die.

At just under 700 pages, I believe this is the shortest of this decalogy. In one way it is the hardest of the books, as you have to sink or swim in terms of the world. Everything is new and unfamiliar and you simply don’t know what is going on. In another way I found it the easiest of the books, as the action is relatively straight forward, the plot only slightly convoluted and the scope is kept pretty focused. When reading this for the first time you simply don’t know how big the world is that Erikson has created nor do you know that the various narrators are only telling you what “they” know. Semi-unreliable not because they’re trying to lie to you but because they have a very limited knowledge. Everything you learn in Gardens of the Moon is not necessarily true.

I added the “favorite” tag because this is the 3rd time I’ve read this and I still enjoyed the heck out of it while reading. It was a joy to read Erikson’s prose, because while he is not sparse in his writings, nor is he turgid and bloviated. He walked that razor thin line of not writing to much or to little.

One thing to note. The kindle edition that I read had several noticeable OCR errors. There was a character named Coll, whose name came out as Coil more than a handful of times. Same for a guy named Toc the Younger. He became Toe the Younger half the time. I checked my hardcover and those errors were not there. I also don’t know if those errors exist in the current kindle edition. I bought these when they first came out and promptly de-drm’d them and stuck them in calibre, so any updates would not have touched them. A potential issue if you’re buying digital copies.


35 thoughts on “Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen #1)

    1. I saw your review over on booklikes when I was scrolling through looking for mine. I honestly don’t know if you’d like it or the series with what you wrote. Given, it was a bit ago, but still 🙂

      If you are tempted enough, try this again before continuing with the series. If you do like GotM this time around, then you’ll have a good basis for continuing the series. And if you still don’t like it, then lesson learned 😀


    1. Hahahaha! In all honesty, I don’t know if it is really a 5star or more a 4. But with last month’s fiasco of stars, I figure I can notch a book up a star, especially since I liked it still on read 3.


  1. Oh, you are done with it already, that was quick 🙂

    It’s funny how well the whole series was planned and mapped out.. While re-reading after finishing the whole series, I found so many little hints about what’s to come. And so many things I missed the first time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, with such a successful series you’d think the publishers would pay attention. Oh well, at least it’s not as bad as the first e-copy I bought.
      I spoofed a UK address and bought from Transworld and my goodness, it was a scanned copy [transworld was the publisher at the time] and had all the OCR errors that came with that back in ’09. Thankfully I had read it in paper first, or I don’t know that I would have ever kept on going.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. …THIS is the one with “straightforward action,” “only slight convoluted” plot, and “focused” scope,” you say? Oh, that says something about the rest of the rest of this series. Oh boy, what have I gotten myself into? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, this is the baby of the family. This is Crokus. The other books? They range from Kruppe to Shadowthrone to Anomander Rake.

      Hang in there, it is a fantastic series. I do think that re-reads are necessary to get the full scope of things. I’m finding that out already 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I so want to read this series, even though it will be challenging but then again that’s one of the reasons I want to read it. Your review just made me even more impatient to read it…so many books, so little time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. HELL. YES. The kind of epic fantasy that single-handedly justifies reading epic fantasy! I made a special effort to take notes (especially to write down names and to connect certain characters with others) like you do so that I could maximize my enjoyment and it worked like a charm, so thanks for that! This was indeed one of my most anticipated life-reads ever since you first mentioned it and I first laid my eyes on it and I’m REALLY glad to have FINALLY given it a go. It was beyond satisfying to connect certain dots together by the midway mark but I can DEFINITELY see that there’s SO MUCH to gain from re-reading this book later on, to be able to come back to it after completing the journey, just to identify all those things that I probably missed on, especially when it comes to its rich world history. Maaaan, I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel (do you know how RARE and EXPENSIVE the hardcovers are??? Even paperbacks are expensive for this series!).

    Thanks again for putting on my radar through your eternal love for this series!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to be of service 😀

      The names and connecting of things is the biggest issue in this series. It gets worse when characters get a name change but you’re not told about it and have to re-figure out again who Character X is. If you like puzzles in your reading, you’re going to LOVE the rest of the series 😀

      This series is definitely richer upon a re-read.

      I just went and check and holy smokes, you weren’t kidding about the prices of the hardcovers! That is ridiculous!!!! Best of luck getting your hands on them in whatever format 🙂

      Good luck with the rest of the series. I hope you get a boatload of enjoyment from it!

      Liked by 1 person

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