Short & Sweet Audiobook Review: Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

Gardens of the Moon 2Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
Series: The Malazan Book of the Fallen #1
Publisher: Tor
Memorable Quote: “Should you ever outrun the guilt within your past, Sorceress, you will have to outrun your soul. When it finds you again it will kill you.”


TL; DR Review:

Tiara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars. That was interesting. Now, excuse me while I wallow in my Anomander Rake feelings.

Short Sweet

Gardens of the Moon is an ambitious novel that’s not so linear in plot. It’s not really something that can be narrowed down plot-wise. You’re dropped into this world and left to piece together what’s going on through the narrative with very little hand-holding. Some may dislike that and find the story jarring and disorienting while trying to figure out what’s going on, and it can be. Personally, I found it exciting to start the story in medias res without all the padding. However, you’re either going to go into the book with a broader view of the story or you’re not. There’s nothing wrong with either view, but if you have a hard time reconciling yourself with the haziness of the story, you may find it going to your DNF pile. However, things do start to become clearer as you near the end of the book.

This is a complex, dense story. Not something I’d recommend everyone listen to, especially if you have a hard time keeping up with characters and factions without a visual. I found myself having to rewind sections to listen to again to make sure that I fully comprehended what I’d read/listened to. I also had the Kindle book, so immersive reading became my best friend with this book. This book demands your full attention, and it’s easy to lose track of things if you let your mind get off track too often. If you still decide to go audiobook route, Lister’s performance will not disappoint. He’s an excellent narrator. Some of his characters can sound a bit too similar, but not so much that I disliked his narration. My only personal complaint rests in some of the voices he used for characters were not voices I’d attribute to them, such as Kalam who read as if he’d have a much deeper voice than the one Lister used for him. However, his Kruppe is sure to keep listeners amused.

Layers upon layers of story are heaped on here. However, from the beginning, you can see different seeds being sown for future events. You have an empress, a usurper who betrayed the former emperor of Malazan, moving across the lands in an attempt to consolidate her power. Only one city remains after the defeat of the city Pale, a large city named Darujhistan. While her reign seems absolute, cracks begin to stress her goals. Darujhistan fears for itself after the fall of Pale, but there is also a political struggle happening on the local level that is being manipulated by a ragtag bunch of players that includes an alchemist, a playboy, and an assassin. Finally, the gods have decided to play their hand and turn this story over even more. Weaved around these things are numerous characters, factions, motivations, and side stories. More than a few people have some investment in the outcome of the empire.

Erikson really took a chance writing a book that could’ve turned many off to the story. This seems as if it will be the kind of book that will become clearer in retrospect as you move through the series, the kind of book where you’ll remember it as the book where certain threads began. I think, while this story may confuse some, there’s just enough intrigue shining through to keep people hanging on for the next story.

Side Note: This book has awesome covers, but most especially that one with Anomander Rake and his sword Dragnipur, okay. Also, be sure to check out Wendy’s review of Gardens of the Moon!

– Promising beginning to a story that explores both action and intrigue
– An interesting magic system and meddling gods including a god that is actually a pair of “jester” twins
– Anomander Rake and Kruppe, that doesn’t mean much to you… right now… But just remember the names
– Surprisingly more diverse than I was expecting with these characters being more than backdrop

– Can be a bit hazy story-wise
– Parts of the story can feel a little uneven (too fast, too slow, not enough detail, etc.)
– Can feel like not a whole lot is happening despite the massive word count.

Narrator:  Ralph Lister | Length: 26 hr and 8 mins | Audiobook Publisher: Brilliance Audio (October 3, 2012) |Whispersync Ready: Yes

Story: 4-stars



Overall: 4-stars

18 Comments on “Short & Sweet Audiobook Review: Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson”

  1. Oh that cover is gorgeous. Wish Bookoutlet had had that one. As it stands, I’ve gotten the ‘regular’ cover and intend to re-read the book now that I can hold it in my hands and mark up the pages. Listening to the narration was fine–as you say, Lister was very good–but because there is so much going on, this book definitely needs a second look. I’m really glad that I did not DNF it despite the initial temptation. Though I was often confused at parts, there were definitely interesting things going on and his writing style is fantastic. It was such a brave thing for the author to drop you into the middle of all this and I really give him credit for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That particular cover was limited edition and signed. I think many of the books got a (as far as I can tell) limited edition cover like this illustrated by J.K. Drummond, and they’re all absolutely beautiful. If I can ever get my hands on a copy of it (doubtful, at least not without spending an arm and a leg), they’re definitely going on the case. My Kindle edition of the book is all highlighted up. It’s definitely good to have the book on hand. I can definitely see this as being the type of series that calls for you to have the books on hand even while listening.


      • I wonder if Lister does all of the series. Disappointingly, my library doesn’t have it, but I’m glad I got the first from Bookoutlet at least. It seems they were listening to our conversation and got 1 copy in stock just for me.


    • I can definitely see where it can be confusing. I didn’t feel so lost while I was reading it, but it’s definitely got that hazy feel about it. After having so many people saying that it was confusing, I was a little afraid that I started. However, I am glad that I read it now, and I’ll see where some of these different paths this book introduced lead.

      Liked by 1 person

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