Thursday, May 1, 2014

"Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen #1)" By Steven Erikson

Gardens of the Moon is not for the fair-weather fantasy reader. It isn't written for those who have only read Game of Thrones, Mistborn, and the odd Harry Potter. This book is for those who have brains of steel, a comfortable chair, and a month to fully dissolve the nuances of this fully-breathed world.

Intrigued? I was too. I have read my curvalicious weight in fantasy fiction, and thought I was fully prepared to digest this Thanksgiving feast of immersive goodness. I was very, very wrong.

I read most books in three days, as I have an excess of free time on my hands. Very long books take maybe a week, but never longer, as if the book took me longer, I might not finish it. Gardens of the Moon took me almost a month to read. I had an excess of pride in the fact that I actually finished the darn thing.

Why did it take me so long?

In the States, we are proud of our humungous portions of food. So much so, we have holidays like Thanksgiving, and Country Fair Contests involving how fast you can eat 50 hot dogs. We also have restaurants that offer "free" giant portions of whatever, if you can eat that portion in 30-60 minutes, without it coming back up. Repugnant, right? Well, the Malazan books are a lot like that.

You read the first chapter, get to the second. Something is mentioned that sounds familiar. You reread the first chapter, then head to the back of the book. The something is there, but isn't quite explained to your satisfaction. You read the entire back-of-book index. That something is never really explained, despite your repeated attempts to solve the mystery of the something. You start the book anew.

This happened to me multiple times, and I consider myself an observant reader. Then you read about something later in the book, that clears everything else you've been pondering the entire time. You reread the entire book, ad nauseam.

If you've started the book, read at least 200 pages in before calling it quits. I thought this book was as bad as rotten teeth the first hundred pages, but once the character of Kruppe is introduced, my opinions changed.

The Plot: (I did myself a favor, and took this from Goodreads.)
"Bled dry by warfare, the vast Malazan empire simmers with discontent. Sergeant Whiskeyjack's Bridgeburners and surviving sorceress Tattersail wanted to mourn the dead of Pale. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities, holds out, Empress Lasseen’s ambition knows no bounds, and the gods intend to intervene." -from Goodreads

What Made This Book Worth Reading:
Have you ever played an Elder Scrolls video game? Or another sandbox-type fantasy video game? This is like playing that game for the very first time: you have no idea who the gods are, why people are using weird phrases while speaking to you, or what great adventure awaits. Imagine if suddenly, a couple of these strange gods decided to meddle with your fate, to avenge wrongs done by other gods, or better yet, simply to cause trouble. Those things happen in this book, and it is both strange and wonderful. This is a world worth delving into. And also, the character of Kruppe makes this book, gaining it tags such as: Like a Boss, and Heroes I Love.

I admit, it'll be a while before I try the next Malazan book- my brain needs some well-deserved rest. This book was akin to being drowned in a vortex- not pleasant, but once accustomed to such treatment, consuming. I usually read two-three books simultaneously, but with this I couldn't. Epic read, not for the faint of brain.

Rating: I have upped the rating to 3 of 5 Stars for Kruppe!

Content: Violence, sex, and meddling gods. Ages 18+.

Page Count: A whopper at 657 pages (Mass Market edition)

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