Gardens of the Moon

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Not to be confused with Garden on the Moon, the English-language title of a novel by Pierre Boulle.
Gardens of the Moon
Three Gardens of the Moon.jpg
Author Steven Erikson
Country United Kingdom & United States
Language English
Series Malazan Book of the Fallen
Genre High Fantasy
Publisher Bantam (UK & Canada) & Tor Books (USA)
Publication date
1 April 1999
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 712 pp (Bantam paperback) &
496 pp (Tor Paperback)
ISBN 0-553-81217-3 (Bantam paperback) & ISBN 0-7653-1001-5 (Tor paperback)
OCLC 42953978
Followed by Deadhouse Gates

Gardens of the Moon is the first of ten novels in Canadian author Steven Erikson's epic fantasy series, the Malazan Book of the Fallen. It was first published in 1999, and nominated for a World Fantasy Award.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

The sequence details the various struggles for power on a world dominated by the Malazan Empire. It is notable for the use of high magic, and unusual plot structure.[citation needed] Gardens of the Moon centres around the Imperial campaign to conquer the city of Darujhistan.


The novel opens in the 96th year of the Malazan Empire, during the final year of the Emperor Kellanved. A young boy, aged 12, named Ganoes Paran witnesses the sacking of the Mouse Quarter of Malaz City. Paran wants to be a soldier when he grows older. Commander Whiskeyjack disapproves, as does Claw leader Surly (Laseen).


Erikson skips seven years from the Prologue, during which time the Emperor and his ally, Dancer, have been assassinated and supplanted by his chief of the secret police. Empress Laseen now rules with the aid of the "Claw", a shadowy group of assassins whose function is to further her ambitions. The story opens several years into a series of wars by the Malazan Empire to conquer the continent of Genabackis.

The Malazan 2nd Army under High Fist Dujek has been besieging the city of Pale, one of only two Free Cities left in the Malazans' path in Genabackis, for several years. Pale is holding out thanks to an alliance with the powerful Anomander Rake, Lord of Moon's Spawn (a floating fortress), leader of the non-human Tiste Andii.[2] Pale finally falls when Rake withdraws his fortress following a fierce battle. Even then, the Empire suffers severe losses, including the near total destruction of a legendary infantry unit in its 2nd army, The Bridgeburners. Several characters speculate that someone higher up within the Empire may be engineering the elimination of various people who were loyal to the late Emperor.

The Empire then turns its attention to the last remaining Free City, Darujhistan. The few dozen surviving members of the Bridgeburners, led by Sergeant Whiskeyjack, are sent to try and undermine the city from within. Once there they attempt fruitlessly to contact the city's assassin's guild, in the hope of hiring their betrayal. Adjunct Lorn, second-in-command to the Empress, is sent to uncover something in the hills east of Darujhistan, in the company of a T'lan Imass, a member of a race that once dominated the world before humans. Meanwhile Tattersail, one of the few mages to survive the Siege of Pale, and Captain Paran head toward the city to determine the reason for the increased involvement of several gods and other magical forces in the campaign.

At the same time, a group of con-artists and underworld figures within the city work to oppose members of the civic government who are considering capitulating to the Empire; while Anomander Rake offers his alliance to the true rulers of Darujhistan, a secretive cabal of mages. The plots collide when Adjunct Lorn releases a Jaghut Tyrant, a massively powerful ancient being, with the aim of either damaging Anomander Rake seriously or forcing him to withdraw from the city.


A substantial subplot involves a young Bridgeburner recruit named Sorry, who is in fact possessed by Cotillion, also known as The Rope, patron of assassins. When Paran and Rake negotiate The Rope's withdrawal from interfering with the events of war, Sorry is freed and falls in with Crokus, a young Daru thief. As the novel ends Crokus, a Bridgeburner named Fiddler and the Bridgeburner assassin Kalam volunteer to take Sorry (now called Apsalar) back to her homeland of Itko Kan and they depart (their story continues in Deadhouse Gates).[3]

Meanwhile, Dujek and Whiskeyjack lead the 2nd Army into rebellion against Laseen's increasingly monstrous rule. Now called Onearm's Host, the 2nd Army calls for a truce with the Tiste Andii and the Crimson Guard, a mercenary army that has been working against the Empire. Dujek is also concerned about the declaration of Holy War called by the Pannion Seer, whose empire is advancing from the south-east of Genabackis. Darujhistan has evaded conquest by the Malazan Empire, for now, but may be in danger from this new threat. Elsewhere, it is confirmed that Seven Cities has begun a mass-uprising against the Empire. These and other plot developments are continued in the third novel, Memories of Ice.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Walsh, Neil (1999). "Gardens of the Moon: A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen". Sf Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  2. ^ Green, Roland (May 2004). "Gardens of the Moon". Booklist 100 (18): 1604. 
  3. ^ Walsh, Neil (2000). "A Conversation with Steven Erikson". Retrieved 18 July 2009.