Saturday, July 11, 2020
#StayAtHome: Gardens of the Moon
This morning I finished Steven Erickson's Gardens of the Moon. This book begins the seemingly endless series of huge novels by Steven Erickson and/or Ian C. Esselmont about the Malazan Empire. Erickson describes this series as heroic fantasy, and at the same time claims that the book is in the vein of Leiber, Howard, and Cook. He sees heroic fantasy of the kind he writes as an entirely separate fantasy tradition, rather than a response to J.R.R. Tolkien.
I kind of buy that argument and would probably label this as a military fantasy a la Cook, since not too many of the characters are actually heroic in the traditional sense. The Leiber element is the view of the dirty urban streets below where the noble classes live (and the city as character), and the scoundrels who live there. But the novel certainly compares with Tolkien in terms of the epic battles that occur. There's just a lot more grey, and a lot more hearts of darkness than in Tolkien. There's also plenty of elder races, so not entirely outside the tradition of fantasy that Tolkien helped to establish.
This novel took me two weeks to read. Or nearly twenty years, as I have made many attempts to read it in the past, and never gotten much beyond page 125 before. It was a 657 page novel, so considerably shorter than Deadhouse Gates, the next book in the series. That one is 836 pages long.
I have it, so let's see how I do.