Audiobook Review: Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

gardens of the moonGardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

Genre: Dark Fantasy

Series: The Malazan Book of the Fallen #1

Publisher: Tor Books (April 1999), Brilliance Audio


Narrator: Ralph Lister

Wendy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

“I have no idea what the hell is going on in this story.”

I picked up this audiobook because it was on sale and it looked interesting. I’m always up for a good dark fantasy read, so why not, right? Little did I know what I was truly getting into. And the truth is, I still don’t know what I’ve gotten into, and yet, I am still here, tentatively wanting more. Normally, when I’m listening to audiobooks, I’m doing other stuff at the same time. Sure there are things that I might miss from time to time, but generally, I can pick up the gist of the story in those moments. Not so with Gardens of the Moon. Pressing play for this book felt a lot like this:
Family Guy
Unlike most epic fantasies, this series does not gently let the reader ease into the cold pool. It shoves you right into the middle of battles and kidnappings and assassinations and political scheming and mage hunts and prophecies and various other stuff, with a myriad of characters popping up in every chapter, each playing a key role in a story that …does… stuff…
Galaxy Quest
After about nine hours, I decided that maybe this book wasn’t for me. I figured my brain was just not in the right place to handle everything that was going on. That’s not unusual, and while I dislike not finishing a book, I just don’t have enough time on my hands to justify pursuing something I’m not enjoying. And yet, that’s just it. I was enjoying it. Ralph Lister’s narration was amazing (well, except for his breathy and indistinguishable female characters) and certainly helped alleviate some of my confusion. And the writing really is superb. The battle scenes–especially ones featuring mage battles–are incredibly detailed, and yet so fluid and fast-paced. There are dragon and killer puppets and sword fights and then all these gods turn out to be involved…

And all these characters seem like they should be awesome and I’m sure they totally are but hol’ up.
ThranduilI still don’t know what’s going on.
confused-idk-steve-harvey-stunnedLike I said, I almost gave up after nine hours, but after a chat with Tiara and a look over the other reviews, I see that my concerns are not unique. Many of the reviews express concern over the way Erikson drops the reader into the middle of a vast world of rich lore that he does not spell out for us. I’m not a fan of info dumps and show don’t tell is great, but this is definitely a huge risk for an author to take in a first book.

The other reviews and fans of the series agree that the first book is troublesome for this. There is a suggested reading order, but ultimately, the recommendation is to read it as the author intended, which is the publication order. I decided to continue, taking it on faith that everything would fall into place. But every time I thought I was hitting an epiphany moment, I was denied.
classic-simpsons-doh-chipAnd yet, I am still going to give this book five stars because dude, I not only listened to all of it, in spite of my continued ignorance over what the hell is happening and who is doing what for whom and why, I have full intention of continuing the series because surely it will all make sense to me by the next book, right? Right?
Kenzi Lost Girl39dec-5stars

15 Comments on “Audiobook Review: Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson”

  1. I felt the same way while reading the first 5 books in the series. Massively complicated, massive list of characters,massive word count… it’s almost too much to handle. But the writing is so good, and you do get invested in certain characters. Been meaning to pick the series back up.


    • Wheel of Time bored me to pieces. It was ridiculously predictable and followed the typical fantasy tropes. Gardens of the Moon is definitely something a little off the beaten path.


  2. I feel like I’m going to need an adult when I finally read this and I plan to read the books written by him and the other author that writes in the universe which is only like a million books. I like completion. You know this.


  3. Pingback: Audiobook News & Reviews: 07/16 | ListenUp Audiobooks

  4. I read the book years ago, when it came out. I liked the titles and the ideas and the cover.
    I didn’t like the book.
    Not because I was confused, but because it felt like people were doing a lot of stuff, but nothing really happened anytime. By the end, I was so bored I never picked up another of Erickson’s books.

    I don’t mind being thrown into things. Normally I can navigate muself, sometimes sooner, sometimes later, but this book… I don’t know… it was just frustrating.


  5. Pingback: Short & Sweet Audiobook Review: Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson | The BiblioSanctum

  6. Pingback: Audiobook Review: Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson | The BiblioSanctum

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