Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon is the first book in the epic fantasy series The Malazan Book of the Fallen. It was first published in 1999 by Bantam Press in paperback and the series was completed nine books later with The Crippled God in 2011.
The world of Malazan was created by Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont in 1982 for a role playing game and both authors later decided to write their own series of books set in the world that they had built together.
The Malazan Book of the Fallen series is very similar to the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin which was recently translated into the hit HBO series A Game of Thrones, but it takes the complexity and scale up quite a few notches. The cast of characters is huge, plot threads are many and complex, with events in one book sometimes only being fully explained a few books later. Characters’ motives are always hidden not only from other characters in the book, but also from the reader. There is little to no expository dialogue, and you truly have to work hard sometimes to figure out what’s going on. These books are without a doubt a difficult read.
Whenever I finish a Malazan book I feel like I’ve completed a series of difficult mental gymnastics and I have to take a break from reading, or read something much simpler. I’ve read the first four books of the series and decided to it was a good time to take an extended break from the series before I start feeling like it’s too much of work.
Gardens of the Moon opens up in the final stages of a years-long war where the Malazan Army is trying to conquer one of the only two remaining free cities on the continent of Genabackis – Pale. We’re immediately dropped into the middle of the action, getting a quick introduction to some of the characters that will play major parts in the following few books, a quick look at some of the tactics that the Malazan army has been adopting, and a vicious introduction to the magic system (see illustration #2 below). Pale eventually falls, incurring significant losses to the Malazan Army, and the battle then proceeds to Darujhistan where most of the action for the rest of the book takes place.
About the Illustrator – Michael Kormarck
Michael Kormarck has an interesting background – he’s been, at times, a projectcionist, children’s book publisher, designer and Flash animator, all before becoming one of the best fantasy artists working in the industry today. And the most amazing part of it all is that he’s self-taight.
He has a gritty, unique style that manages to look realistic without being overly so, and his compositions and layouts still manage to remain fresh to me after reading and seeing the covers of so many fantasy books. He’s worked for publishers like Daw Books, Pyr, Solaris, Subterranean Press and Tor Books and entertainment companies like Blizzard, Blur Studios and Electronic Arts.
About This Edition
This edition of Gardens of the Moon saw a long delay before finally being published, most of it due to the artwork taking longer than expected. This is something that I really have no issues with when you see what the outcome is: richly textured, highly detailed illustrations capturing some of the key moments in the book. Had the artwork been rushed and of poor quality, we would have been much more upset, so I think it’s a reasonable compromise.
It has long been sold out and rarely pops up on the secondary market, so whenever it does, it sells for a few times the publishing price as there’s always high demand.
Book two, Deadhouse Gates, is available for preorder on the Subterranean Pess website, but I have it on good authority that Subpress is down to the last thirty or so copies, so if you want a copy you’d better hurry.
Illustrator: Michael Kormarck
Paper stock: 80# Finch
Publish Date: June 2008
Limitation: 500 signed, numbered hardcover copies; 52 signed, deluxe-bound copies, in a custom traycase
Pictures of the Signed and Numbered Limited Edition
The following are pictures of the Signed and Numbered Limited Edition from Subterranean Press.