Gardens of the Moon
by Steven Erikson
Tor, 2004, ISBN 0-765-31001-5
A book review by Elisabeth Carey
This is Volume One of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, and there are an awful lot of fallen by the time you're fifty pages into the book. There are maps that I did not find necessary, a list of Dramatis Personae which is quite necessary, and a glossary at the end which is not a frivolous addition. The Malazan Empire is either about to swallow the last holdouts against its power, or start breaking up due to imperial overreach and poor personnel management of military class necessary to its expansion. This is a complex fantasy world, with a multitude of different cultures, different species, gods taking an active role in the world, etc. What's more, the characters are reasonably complex, with a plausible mixture of good and bad tendencies in at least all the major ones, and the conflicting interests between cultures and between factions within cultures are reasonably plausible, too. If there are few too many major ones, well, that's a tendency shared by many fantasy series, and at least each of these major characters appears to be worth spending some time with.
All of which makes it especially unfortunate that all these fairly interesting pieces didn't really come together, and left me not caring how many more volumes there are in the Malazan Book of the Fallen.