Steven Erickson is an author who marches to the beat of his own drum. Whereas other authors may try to appeal to the widest audience by simplifying their tales for mass consumption, Erickson said, "F@#$ that, I'm writing exactly what I would want to read: a fearless epic with unbridled depth and complexity." Then, he did it.
The Gardens of the Moon is the start of a series that takes epic to another level. The Malazan Book of the Fallen follows a large cast of grey characters, ranging from normal men to demi-gods. These characters go through sensational trials, often being changed forever, and the sheer scale of the conflicts that take place is mind bending.
Some people have criticized the series for ending weakly, but I do not fully agree. This is dark fantasy with incredible realism, and with dark realism you should not expect a Hollywood ending. I would instead criticize it only for starting a bit slow, requiring a couple thick books to truly convince the reader of its greatness, but anyone who considers themselves a true fan of this genre simply must complete this series.
The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations with the formidable Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, ancient and implacable sorcerers. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen's rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins.
For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, surviving cadre mage of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.
However, it would appear that the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand...
Conceived and written on a panoramic scale, Gardens of the Moon is epic fantasy of the highest order--an enthralling adventure by an outstanding new voice. More on Goodreads.