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Gardens of the Moon: Prologue & CH 1

Posted by SamVimes, 17 September 2012 · 1,520 views

Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson
Book One: Gardens of the Moon
Prologue and Chapter One

Whelp, it's here. Time to begin the dive into this series known for its difficult plots and yet filled with good payoffs in return. I hope it turns out for the best and I like the story. We will see.

I originally got a hold of Book Two: Deadhouse Gates before getting this book. I tried a couple times to read it but it kept falling flat once it got passed the beginning. I am hoping that by starting from the start of the series, I will get a better introduction to this world.

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Knick-Knacks at the Beginning

As an aside, I notice the large Shakespeare-esque list of characters at the beginning of the book. I am both worried and relieved to have this. I am relieved that it is there for easy reference. I am worried for the fact that I will need to refer to it at all. It lets you know that this will be a detailed and complicated book.

Also, the first bit of writing we have is a disembodied narrator setting the stage for the series. He talks of opening an old frayed history book to retell the stories of a fallen empire. Very cinematic opening and by the language used the story will be a sad one.

The next thing we read is a bit of an except from an unknown book written by someone named Felisin. It lets us know that the Emperor is dead as well as his most trusted companion, his "Right Hand". It is very poetic. I am not sure about what all the imagery means but it seems important.

On to the Prologue....


The chapter headings with the timestamp and historical info is nice. It helps frame the story and lets you know that it will be a story spanning many years.

We find a young boy standing on the top of a wall observing the riots in the poor parts of the capitol city, Malaz City. Ganoes Stabro Paran of the House Paran is the boy's name. The mention of the House leads me to believe that there is nobility with House Factions in struggle with each other. Also on the wall is a Commander of the elite squad called the Bridgeburners. He seems not to shy away from speaking his mind to the boy, a noble, nor to the other major character who appears on the wall, onetime named Surly (serving wench) now known as Laseen. She appears to be the one in charge after the Emperor is missing and his right hand man is killed for betraying a god.

The series uses magic obviously, but it seems to also have gods who are active in the lives of mortals. They also don't take kindly to being betrayed.

The dialogue here is interesting. The Commander talks to Surly/Laseen as if she were still a bar maid despite the fact that she has some apparently badass dudes at her command. Also since she appears to be taking control of the empire. That tells me that the Commander don't give much rats butt to authority that he doesn't respect.

I am sure there is an interesting backstory to this fiddler guy who carries around a tattered instrument.

The boy announces his intention to be a soldier and the Commander tries to change his mind to no avail. Foreshadowing?

Book 1: Chapter 1: Pale

The names and places in this book are more interesting than Deadhouse Gates. That is a big plus.

More poetry and/or excepts! This sounds like it going to be like Way of Kings and Mistborn where the chapter headings gave information to the plot isn't it? This bit of except looks to be from a history book called the Imperial Campaigns1158-1194. Seems pretty straight forward information on the political situation in Genebakis. It appears the Seven Cities have leagued up with the Moon Spawn army called the Tiste Andii. They are lead by Caladran Brood. And the Crimson Guard, another mercenary army. The language used here makes me think we are in for some major bloodshed.

The next is a Mother's Lament that is pretty much what it says. A mother's perspective on war.

An old hag and a young fisher girl are watching the army march past with two opposite reactions. The old hag despises the soldiers and the empress (Laseen?) and the toll that war has brought on her family. This is direct reference to the opening poem.The young fisher girl is excited and even suggested turned on by the pomp and pageantry of the soldiers.

Take note of the word selection here by Erikson, "The day was dying, the sun's red smear over the trees to her right, and the sea's sighing against her face had grown cool." A lot of times in writing today, people will tell you to hold back - make trim tight prose that only uses the bare minimum words needed to get the point across. Erikson has done the complete opposite in this book so far and to great effect. I'm loving the descriptions so far. Gives it epic feel.

Another thing Erikson does against the "rules" is that he doesn't setup anything. He drops names, places, and facts into the story with no in-story explanation. There is no "As you know Bob, the Empress killed the Emperor...." moments. Which is good in ways, but frustrating in others.

The good will gained by sympathy for the old hag is lessened when she yanks the girl's hair and yells at her despite the justification the woman has for doing so. She reveals herself witch and she gives prophecy about the girl being sent to the army overseas but she claims to have bound their souls together in order to preserve her. Then she is to look to the "Lord spawned in Darkness" because he will save her from a shadow on her soul.

Then she is struck by a soldier who thought the witch was attacking the girl. She is killed.

The army passes and then two warlocks appear, Cotillian and Ammanas.They appear to want to get back at Laseen, possibly for her anti-magic laws in the prologue?Cotillion conjures up some hell-hounds and sends them after the army. Ammanas takes the girl and begins to cast a dark spell on her.

In the end, Ammanas tells her "It's not so bad a thing, lass, to be the pawn of a god." Foreshadow?

The next scene has an Adjunct to the Empress talking to a Captain about something.... hellhounds? Interesting that the Adjunct mentions something called the "purge" that happened when Laseen took power Does this come into play later?

The adjunct name is Lorn.

Ah, Lt. Ganoes Paran.... so he did become a soldier. Seems pretty dutiful. Likes talking straightforward no matter who is in front of him. Kinda like the Commander on the wall?

Seems the hellhounds did their work.

Now he is an Aide to the Adjunct to the Empress. My my how he has grown!

Is there some animosity from the soldiers toward the nobility in the army? the Adjunct's questioning of the captain makes it seem that way.

Next scene has the fisher girl signing up for the marines. She appears to use some magic to get the assignment she wants, in the Genebakis campaign under High Fist Onearm. Why there specifically?

Funny her name is "Sorry". Sorry for whom? Maybe Ammanas was sorry for using the dark magic on her? Is the old witch sorry for what is to come?

Back to Paran going to the town of Gerrom to ask some questions. Dead town and dead guards. Also lots of birds like in the hellhound aftermath. Is this related to the magic?

Next scene has Paran meeting a blue skinned assassin named Topper. He apparantly killed a bunch of warlocks and members of the nobility which does not endear him to Paran.He's come to take Paran back to the capitol. They enter some kind alternate dimension called the Warrens. They travel there but the journey is not a safe one as there are "strangers" there.

They make it there where Paran embarrasses himself a bit. The Empress remembers him from the top of the wall but not in a bad way.

Afterwards, he meets with Lorn again and reports his finding from Gerrom. He specifically mentions the birds this time and it is implied that they are part of the magic used.

Finally, Paran returns home for an awkward reunion with his two sisters, Tavore and Felisin (where did I her that name before? Oh yes, the beginning history.) and his family home.

End of Chapter 1

Hope I didn't bore yall too much! Feel free to comment and share what you know.

I started reading this series recently. I've read Gardens of the Moon, Night of Knives, and Deadhouse Gates so far, and am on Memories of Ice.

I find this series to be very interesting and well written, but somehow the books don't pull me into an addictive reading mode as many others do. (I read a wheel of time book in one sitting, I read The Way of Kings in maybe 2 days, etc)
These books take me a long while. Though typically at some point, usually about 3/4ths of the way through each book, I get that reading bug and tend to finish very quickly.

In any case, I wanted to say that I've been finding the TOR re-read of these books to be extremely helpful--there is one new reader, and one guy who is rereading them.
I haven't found it to be too spoilery for my taste, though they have certainly pointed out things I would have missed (though there are other things I guessed at before the new reader got them).
They also sometimes drop things like "You have enough information now to figure X out", but half the time I can't figure it out anyway.

Gardens of the Moon is a tough read in terms of figuring out what is going on--Erikson does just sort of drop you in the middle of events, and what is going on continues to be murky for a while.
Deadhouse Gates is, I found, easier to follow than Gardens, but it takes place in an entirely different continent--you don't get back to the Garden's plotline until Memories of Ice.

Anyway, I'd recommend this series.

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