Ryan's Reviews > Gardens of the Moon

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
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Feb 27, 2010

it was ok
Read from February 27 to March 15, 2010

I've been trying to find a new fantasy series to read. Most of the ones that I've been reading since high school are winding down (Wheel of Time), unbearable (Sword of Truth), or else being written once every four years (A Song of Ice and Fire). So I thought I'd give this a go.

Frankly, Steven Erikson's writing is worse than most fantasy writers, but his plotting is unusual. Unwilling to tell a slack-jawed yokel story, the text starts in media res and readers have to start the book determined to catch up. There's a list of characters, but new readers should not be surprised if they find themselves reading this novel's equivalent of a "walkthrough" online.

Having finished the novel, I cannot guarantee that it is worth the effort.

However unusual Erikson's plot structure may be, Gardens of the Moon is unmistakably a sword and sorcery fantasy. In fact, the structure and atmosphere are so recognizable that it's difficult to resist comparing it to similar series. The action is grittier than The Black Company and the intrigue resists good vs. evil battle lines in a way that recalls Martin's "Song" series. Erikson's inspiration appears to be a declining Roman Empire rather than a medieval civil war.

Gardens might recall strong fantasies, but its characters are absolutely dull in comparison. Worse, the "holy shit it's a demon that's more powerful than the one we just defeated and it came out of nowhere!" villains lack punch. Perhaps I've been spoiled, but I expect a little more personality from monsters.

I have the second novel of the series, so I imagine I'll continue the series in a few months. Perhaps it gets better. I've been told it gets better. Much better.

Or maybe I'll find a different fantasy to try out.
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Reading Progress

02/27/2010 page 40
5.32% "This is supposed to be a pretty great fantasy."
03/03/2010 page 230
30.59% "Erickson has avoided the slack jawed yokel trope, but the writing is awful."
03/13/2010 page 520
69.15% "The ending is supposed to be pretty good."
09/17/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Nate Ever check out that second book?


Ryan Not yet, but it's still on my shelf. I've been assured by a lot of people that the series improves.


Nate I've been wanting to start on Gardens of the Moon forever but compulsion is forcing me to barrel through A Song of Ice and Fire until I'm caught up.


Ryan Nate wrote: "I've been wanting to start on Gardens of the Moon forever but compulsion is forcing me to barrel through A Song of Ice and Fire until I'm caught up."

Books one through three are worth reading. After that, it may be more or less a toss up between the two series. A few people in my network insist that Erikson offers a better read because the writing improves while Martin starts strong and loses focus.


message 5: by Tiberius (new) - added it

Tiberius Bones You ever try Sanderson? Mistborn trilogy is excellent. Way of Kings was great, but it looks as if Sanderson will finish it in twenty or so years.


Ryan Tiberius wrote: "You ever try Sanderson? Mistborn trilogy is excellent. Way of Kings was great, but it looks as if Sanderson will finish it in twenty or so years."

I've only read his WOT work so far.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Yeah, I guess I just don't get the deal with this book. I read it. I didn't mind catching up or being put in the middle of the plot. I do, however, mind when the plot is uninteresting, the characters are dull and the prose not very good, all in the same novel. That's when I call it quits. I second the Sanderson recommendation. So great.


Matthew Snider I love the complexity of the book. I like the fact that he gives you a point-of-view, then lets you digest it while he switches to another pov.


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