Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Gardens of the Moon Review

I finally finished Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson.

Short Review: Very Good

Long Review: This book started out with an intriguing storyline and lots of good epic fantasy stuff. Then the middle happened. More and more characters got introduced, some of them irritating and many of them seeming so similar that I couldn't keep them straight. There's lots of stuff in the middle that could have been chopped out. But that's OK because then we get into the endgame and everything heats up. The characters that you've begun to care about start doing the things that heroic fantasy demands that they do. It all comes together in a satisfying conclusion and I'll continue reading the series, which is the whole purpose of a first book anyway.

The major problem that the book has is what I shall call 'excess fantasyisms.' There are so many races and magics and gods and things-more-powerful-than-gods and Important Fantasy Style Names that it really does stretch believability. I think the only thing that saves it it that it is so overdone you just accept the mental beating and convince yourself to enjoy it. Oponn, the god of luck, messing about with your scheme to rule the world? No problem, I've got Shadowthrone and his Hounds of Shadow to take care of that. Shadowthrone too much for you? Fine, I got myself a Tiste Andii lord with a Sword of Souls to bitch slap him. Not enough? How about an ancient Jaghut Tyrant brought back to life? Whoops, dude be outta control. Now I needs me a clanless T'lan Imass warrior (300,000 years old mind you) to put the smack down on him. But wait, that's not all. Just for giggles I'll have the Adjunct to the Empress raise up a Galayn Demon while the Queen of Assassins, who's also a High Mage by the way, murders the local Cabal with Dragons fighting over the streets of Darujhistan and a previously unknown but extremely handy Azath grows the Deadhouse and saves the Coin Bearer.

Good stuff.


Howard von Darkmoor said...

I cracked up laughing, but I'm glad you enjoyed it, Jeff. You made it through the toughest section Erikson's writing (said after reading 6 books of the series and the side trilogy), so it's all fun and games after this.

But you're right: if you don't like your magic-users and sword-swingers being all super-human, don't read the series. If you can handle anybody - and I mean anybody - being a god or godlike, jump in with both feet and don't stop running!

This is the best series out there right now in my opinion. I can't get enough of Steven Erikson.

Scriptorius Rex said...

I stopped at B&N today and read some to the prologue to Deadhouse Gates. It does indeed look promising and seems to hint at what you've said; Erikson's writing has improved since he drafted the first book. For now though, I have to finish The Hawk Eternal by Gemmell and then next on the list is Fortress of Ice by Cherryh.