Posts Tagged With: Steven Erikson

Fantasy Blogosphere: March 28, 2010

If you’re looking for a few good book reviews, you’ve come to the right place this week. I’d really like to check out Shadowrise and The Stormcaller when I find some time to fit them into my reading schedule. Also this week, a pair of interviews: video of Raymond E. Feist commenting on his 30 book series, his methods of character development, and how he feels fans have received his work over the years, as well as a transcript of an interview with the great Peter S. Beagle. We continue to follow the development of the Firefly comic series (solely because Patton Oswalt is hilarious), and we cap the week with news about Frank Frazetta and the family feud that has been surrounding his work for years.

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Review: Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

Book review of Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon

Gardens of the Moon

I picked up Gardens of the Moon because of the buzz and success of Steven Erikson’s more recent novels in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. His ninth novel in the ten book series, Dust of Dreams, is the first to chart on the New York Times bestseller list. Erikson’s work is much more popular across the pond with UK audiences, where he lived while writing the series. My expectations coming into this novel were fairly high: it has been compared to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. After consuming the first novel in the series, I can say that it definitely draws comparison with Martin’s series in scope, but unfortunately that is also its downfall.

A novel that is truly breathtaking in its ambition is tragically underscored by a simple issue of mechanics. Reading Gardens of the Moon is a bit like driving a car without brakes. At points you feel as if you’re hurling through chunks of story and trying to slow down to get to know the characters, but when you hit the brakes nothing happens, and you eventually drive right by or in some cases plow over characters you wish you had more time to spend with. The true flaw of Gardens of the Moon is its lack of characterization. Characters are frequently thrown at the reader, with absolutely no introduction, and we’re expected to understand the situation in which they’re participating and even identify with them. Add to this the sheer quantity of characters in Gardens of the Moon and even main ones quickly become flat, unidentifiable, and bland. On the upside, I’m glad I now have a better basis for comparison, and can appreciate novels in which I had previously taken for granted quality characterization.

Character flaws aside, Gardens of the Moon delivers some stunning descriptive passages. Its not clear who is participating, or why the reader should care for them, but Steven Erikson can definitely drive those characters in a passionate and engaging fashion. I desired deeply to identify with the characters and situations unveiling before me in the vast world that Erikson paints, because some of the scenes and events taking place in Gardens of the Moon are very entertaining. Erikson definitely has a gift with description.

Another area where Gardens of the Moon is definitely not lacking is the author’s obvious preparation and world-building skills. This is a highly layered, multi-faceted world where the characters are neither “good” nor “evil”, but real people. You don’t know who they are, what they’re doing, or why you should care, but the time spent developing the world and the hierarchy of characters is evident.

The magic system in Gardens of the Moon is extremely unimpressive. After reading Mistborn, its going to take a lot to impress me. I think the magic system suffers from the same non-explanation syndrome as the characters. What I liked about the magic system in Mistborn was that I understood every inner working of the system, it was all explained to the reader, and above all it was believable. When magic just “works because its magic”, I quickly lose interest.

Mechanical issues aside, I may be back for future novels in this series. I believe that mechanical issues are there to be fixed, and fixing them is something that comes with practice. The subsequent novels in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series are rumored to increase in quality with each edition. I just wish I didn’t have to sludge through almost 700 pages of what seems to be background material in Gardens of the Moon to get there.

You can purchase Gardens of the Moon over at Amazon.com.

Fantasy Book News Ratings

  • Overall: 4 out of 10
  • Plot Originality
  • Setting Development
  • Characterization
  • Dialog
  • Pace

Fan Ratings

Categories: Malazan Book of the Fallen, Reviews, Steven Erikson | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Fantasy Blogosphere: January 10, 2010

I don’t think we’ve ever had a more eclectic brew on the Fantasy Blogosphere. We start this week off with a pair of reviews at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist and Grasping for the Wind, and balance those out nicely with three interviews, including the second we’ve spotlighted in the “Patrick Rothfuss interviews other fantasy authors” series. He’s following up his interview with Joe Abercrombie with a conversation with Brent Weeks. We touch on a new novella by Steven Erikson, give Brandon Sanderson the nod for his work on The Gathering Storm, and round out the week with a lesson on writing from George R.R. Martin, and the icing on the cake: a cage match between Steven Erikson and R. Scott Bakker. Mmm, Tasty.

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Top 10 Fantasy Books for 2010

Here’s my list of the books I’m most excited to read in 2010. The first three are not released yet, and are possibly the most highly anticipated fantasy novels slated for (potential) release in 2010. Picks 4-6 are historical fiction, or some twist on the sub-genre. Books 7-9 are continuations, if not necessarily in the same series, of authors I’ve already read at least once. And my final pick is a classic thrown in for good measure.

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

I know its been five years since A Feast for Crows. But Pat over at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist has this book slated for release in 2010, and he knows George R.R. Martin personally. Coincidence? Hopefully, for legions of A Song of Ice and Fire Fans, its a bit more.

A Dance with Dragons

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

The first two books in Scott Lynch’s fantasy debut series have redefined the meaning of action fantasy. Saying the third book in this seven book series is highly anticipated is like saying Tiger Woods made a boo-boo. In other words, its going to be huge.

The Republic of Thieves

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Patrick Rothfuss delivered a home run with his first novel, The Name of the Wind, and rightfully earned himself a seat among the top dogs in the fantasy novel industry. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that we’ll see this one drop in 2010.

The Wise Man's Fear

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

With a degree in anthropology, Steven Erikson’s ability with characterization should be fantastic. Gardens of the Moon is the first book in the ten book Malazan Book of the Fallen series. With historical fiction gaining traction in the industry and the popularity of the later novels in this series recently, I’m interested to get Erikson’s take on fantasy novels.

Gardens of the Moon

Acacia by David Anthony Durham

Durham has traveled the world, and lived in Scotland for a number of years, before landing in California as a Creative Writing professor at California State University. He’s made a name for himself writing novels involving The American Civil War, Carthage and the war with the Roman Republic. Acacia is his first attempt in the epic fantasy genre, and has made some noise in the industry.

Acacia

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Fantasy Blogosphere: January 3, 2010

Happy New Year! With everyone either on vacation or still in hangover mode, the fantasy book blogosphere is expectantly slower than usual. Still, we’ve got a few reviews including books by Scott Lynch and Steven Erikson, along with a review of the classic first novel in George R.R. Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series, A Game of Thrones. Cheers!

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Fantasy Blogosphere: November 29, 2009

We start this week with a review of Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erickson, which I just picked up to read myself recently. The reviews for The Gathering Storm continue to pile in, and a review from Jim Butcher’s fantasy series makes our cut this week. Throw in an interview with Joe Abercrombie and that’s a healthy full course of holiday fantasy. With arguably the funniest episode of The Guild yet this season, you can keep yourself busy while helping yourself to some turkey day leftovers.

The Guild, Season 3: Episode 11

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Fantasy Blogosphere: November 15, 2009

We’ve got reviews of Servant of a Dark God, Wolfbreed, Dust of Dreams, and And Another Thing this week, mixing up the fantasy reviews with a few sci-fi spices. The Guild is back with another hilarious episode. I can’t wait until next weeks showdown!

The Guild: Season 3, The Return!

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Fantasy Blogosphere: October 18, 2009

We’ve got a very healthy swath of reviews this week, maybe due to the fact that I spent the weekend in Serra do Cipo, so a few of these may reach back to before last weekend.  Either way, you can’t lose with reviews of books by Scott Lynch, Ken Scholes, Janny Wurts, Dan Brown and plenty more.  A pair of interviews with R.A. Salvatore and Andy Remic are featured, with Remic discussing his most recent novel Kell’s Legend.

Ever want to have your name featured in a fantasy novel?  Patrick Rothfuss is giving fans this opportunity.  Check out the link below for more details.

The Guild: Season 3, Episode 7

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Fantasy Blogosphere: October 4, 2009

Plenty of quality reviews this week, including reviews of both books in Karen Miller’s Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series.  I like to follow up my own reviews with reviews by others if possible, in order to give everyone a fair sampling of opinion.  In addition to a few great reviews, of course we’ve got episode 5 of The Guild, which has to be my favorite so far in season 3.  Pong? Frickin’ hilarious.

The Guild: Season 3, Episode 5

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