This is a tricky review for me because I absolutely love this series (books 2, 3 and 4, specifically). But I didn’t love it at first. In fact, I had a pretty hard time getting through it. So here’s the deal: if you read this, you need to treat it as a very long prologue to one of the most epic and huge fantasy series of all time.
The problem is this: GARDENS doesn’t treat itself like a prologue. There is no easing into the world/characters/etc. You’re dropped right into the middle of a very confusing siege with a ton of characters and a magic system that is awesome once you understand it. That’s most of this series: “awesome once you understand it.” And I’m not a clueless reader. I read and write a lot of fantasy, so I can catch on pretty quickly, but the first quarter of this book really threw me for a loop. You’ve been dually warned. 🙂
There is no series with more epic characters than this one. Gods old and new, characters with incredible stories, many *many* converging, intricate plot-lines, and political power-gambles at every turn –the sheer scale of THE MALAZAN BOOK OF THE FALLEN (that’s the series) is mind-blowing. And GARDENS is the start of it all.
So 3/5 for being the beginning of one of my favorite fantasy series. If this book stood alone, it would be a 1/5, but that’s not the case; the novel needs to be examined in the greater context of the series to be fully understood. Parts of that greater connection seep through, just present enough to get you to book 2, where the real magic happens.
One last caveat: this series is *long* (10 books at ~1,000 pages each) but is entirely finished, so you won’t have to wait for the next book to come out.
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