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.