Gardens of the Moon

I can’t remember if it was on these boards or GWJ, but someone a couple of months back recommended the Steven Erikson book Gardens of the Moon, and I wanted to stop back and say Thank You !

What a great read. This is one of the most enjoyable fantasy books I’ve read in a long time. I couldn’t put it down. Partly because it written in such a way that you never are really sure what the hell is going on so you keep reading waiting for the answers that slowly come. I can’t wait to jump into Deadhouse Gates. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys good fantasy.

That would be me–you’re welcome! I’m currently reading the fourth book, House of Chains. So far, my favorite is the third book, Memories of Ice. They’re all good, though. Erikson has a particular knack for writing epic battle scenes.

On a side note, you’ll realise that Gardens of the Moon is a perfect title for that particular book once you’re finished.

Well thanks Ergo. I’m glad to hear that all of the series is good. I actually have had a pretty hard time tracking down the books. Gardens of the Moon especially. I ended up ordering it from a UK book dealer so it tok a while to get the book after reading your recommendation. Glad I did though.

While searching for the other books I read that Erikson had finally found a publisher for his books here in the States and they should start showing up sometime in 2004.

Yeah, I’ve gotten all of my copies through Amazon.uk. The next book is due out at the end of this year.

It was an enjoyable read, but I found it a bit confusing. I’m guessing there’s a lot of background to th world I’m missing as this is the first Steven Erikson novel I’ve read.

The later books fill in a lot of the details that aren’t discussed at length in the first book. Erikson pretty much throws you head-first into his world and assumes you’ll catch up.

Well, I thought I would bumb this thread with an update. I just finished Deadhouse Gates and am just blown away at how good a writer Erikson is. How he is managing to pump these books out at an average of one a year is beyond me. They’re absolutely huge and after the first two I wouldn’t consider any of the writing to be fluff or filler. I’m ready to lay the crown at this guys feet for fantasy writing. Can’t wait to jump into Memories of Ice tonight.

Edit - Thanks again for the recommendation Ergo.

Even better than Erikson: R. Scott Bakker’s “The Darkness That Comes Before”, the first in his “Prince of Nothing” cycle. Despite the gothy titles, the premise is actually quite a bit more interesting and well-explained in the books. Overall, it’s an impressive first novel from Bakker, with great world-building, believable characters, and overall solid epic fantasy. I think it’s a Penguin Canada only release, but you can probably still get it through Amazon.

Thanks, Doug–I’ll give that one a look.

It’s an interestingly amoral series, but the pacing is good, and once you get past the fact that the writer has a serious Tolkein-style fetish for dead languages, it’s easy to get absorbed. Bakker blends a style that reads at times like a historical account with more personal, intimate details. The dialogue isn’t heavy, but what there is is well assembled, and the humor is subtle.

The main character is a totally amoral monk who practices the Logos – a practical mysticism that states that if you know the precise origin for every motive, you can control all the outcomes. Needless to say, this makes Kellhus (the sorta-protagonist) a man who manipulates people with almost supernatural skill, since he can read their history and emotional reactions to a minute degree from their physical and verbal behaviors and thus predict their exact response. “The Darkness That Comes Before” is a reference to the human state of refusing to search for the real motives behind one’s own actions (the Logos is the light that illuminates all causes), and as a metaphor for the events in the story, it is successfully executed within the text.

Some of the best bits in the book are the struggle of a barbarian warlord who was manipulated and betrayed by Kellhus’ father to likewise avoid manipulation by his son (Kellhus), while Kellhus, who is a bit inexperienced with his skills, tries to get a stranglehold on the barbarian and force him to serve his ends. Both characters are fairly unlikable – Kellhus is hideously amoral and deceptive, while Cnaiur (pronounced nay-ur, and there’s an umlaut in there somewhere) is an unusually intellgient and emotionally repressed thug. Bakker writes the bits where each tries to get into the other’s head exceptionally well, although I did get a bit tired of how largely despicable both men were at times.

Fortunately, Bakker counters those two with Achamian and Esmenet – the former is a more traditional magic-user of a school who believes that demons (called The Consult) are behind a fomenting jihad. Nobody takes this school very seriously, and some of the few moments of levity are found in the responses Achamian receives to his purportedly crackpot theories. Magic is very understated (but very powerful) in this series, and its operation is pleasantly left to the reader’s imagination. Esmenet is an aging prostitute possessed of an unusually practical imagination and a resilience to the cruelties of her existence, and while she doesn’t get much air time, it’s obvious that she’s a pivotal character. Both of them are much easier to sympathise with: Achamian is Kellhus’ opposite, and he trusts his his hunches and intuition regardless of the apparent facts; and Esmenet is a survivor who remains oddly optimistic and determined despite a terrible life.

It’s pretty obvious that Bakker is a philosopher and historian, since there’s a lot of heavy pseudo-philosophy underlying the text, and his locations/languages are very reminiscent of the old-world Mediterranean. There’s a lot of good original stuff, though – despite the influences, he puts a good patina of creativity on it without ripping off the cultures outright. The politics are also believably twisted without being ludicrously so, and the martial movements sound credible.

All in all, it’s a great epic pulp fantasy read. It doesn’t revolutionize the genre, but it’s all very well crafted.

I had a canadian friend recommend Gardens of The Moon, and while I was dizzy at the end I told myself I enjoyed it. By the 2nd and 3rd novels I was sure of it, even though it was a complete and total pain in the ass to order them. Still have to read House of Chains, my copy finally came through after 3 or 4 false starts ordering from various oversea establishments.

Now I see a recommendation for R. Scott Bakker’s works, and it seems his novels are equally hard to track down. At least for those in the US, where can I get a hold of it? Amazon is selling it through abebooks secondhand for $38!!!. Ug. Is there anyplace else or is that my best bet?

For Erikson, go through www.amazon.co.uk directly. I got my copy of Bakker’s first book from Half Price Books up here in Seattle, but it looks like theyo longer have it available online. Grr.

I have had these books recommended to me several times as well. Any idea if there is a US publishing deal on the horizon? I already buy a few Terry Pratchett books direct from the UK, but I got hooked on him well before forking over the extra cash for the UK editions. :P

Supposedly they’re going to be published in the US next year. I haven’t heard the specifics.

I’ve had pretty decent luck getting books not published in the states, or just hard to find stuff through these guys.

And thanks for the Bakker reccomendation Doug. I’ll have to give that one a try.

I am about 100 pages into Gardens of the Moon. I am enjoying it quite a bit. I am wondering, how much longer to I have to go before I have some idea of whats going on?

For all of the folks in the US ordering from Amazon.co.uk, you should consider ordering from amazon.ca or chapters.ca instead.

Both of the authors discussed are Canadian, and their books are published either first in Canada (in the case of Bakker) or practically simultaneously with the UK (in the case of Erikson).

I’d suspect that shipping from Canada to the US is cheaper and quicker than shipping from across the pond.

/Eph

PS I, too, discovered both of these series thanks to recommendations found here ages ago, and they’ve helped me get over my cravings for quality Fantasy while RJ has left me wanting and GRRM has plodded along.

You will finish the entire book and will still be not quiet sure what the hell happened. But it doesn’t matter. The book is an excellent read.

Amazon.com seems to be carryign them now.

From this (old) discussion it appears that he has written books in this world before? Or what?

I’ve wanted to read these since somebody first mentioned them in a ‘what are you reading’ thread.

He is up to book 5 in the series. So far, the first two are available in the US. You can buy them in just about any bookstore, not just from Amazon.

At this point I would highly recommend the book, even though I’m not totally sure what is going on. More has happened in the first 100 pages than in most full length novels. The downside is you are given very little context and have to piece things together on your own.