Gardens of the Moon is the first novel in Canadian author Steven Erikson's epic fantasy series, the Malazan Book of the Fallen. There are ten books planned for this sequence.
The novel was first published in the United Kingdom on 1 April 1999 as a trade paperback, with a mass-market paperback edition following on 16 March 2000. The novel was published in hardback in the United States in June 2004, with a mass-market paperback edition following in January 2005.
The sequence details the various struggles for power on a world dominated by the Malazan Empire
. It is notable for its grittiness, high and inventive use of magic, and its unusual plot structure. The series is not told in a linear fashion and indeed it is possible to 'enter' the series by reading either Gardens of the Moon
, Deadhouse Gates
(the second volume published) or Midnight Tides
(the fifth volume published) first. However, it is generally accepted that the order of publication is the most efficient way of following the story.
The novel opens in the 96th year of the Malazan Empire
, during the final year of the Emperor Kellanved. Young Ganoes Paran
witnesses the sacking of the Mouse Quarter of Malaz City, where Surly, commander of the Malazan Claw (intelligence organization), is flushing out unregistered sorcerers and executing them. Paran also witnesses a confrontation between Surly (now calling herself Laseen, "Thronemaster") and Whiskeyjack
, commander of the Malazan 3rd Army, where their mutual dislike is confirmed. Paran wants to be a soldier when he grows older, to Whiskeyjack's disapproval.
Seven years pass. We learn that the Emperor and his close ally, the assassin Dancer, have been assassinated and Laseen now rules as Empress. However, shortly after Kellanved and Dancer's deaths two new demigods (Ascendants) have appeared in the pantheon, Ammanas (Shadowthrone) and Cotillion (The Rope), who have seized control of the House of Shadow and are now plotting the death of Laseen. Cotillion possesses a young fishergirl living in the Itko Kan province of the Quon Tali continent and has her join the Malazan 2nd Army, under the name of Sorry, fighting on the Genabackis continent, as part of a long-range scheme to get her close to the Empress. Ammanas unleashes the terrifying Hounds of Shadow to wipe out a nearby Malazan cavalry regiment to draw attention away from the sorcerery unleashed in the area. Adjunct Lorn, personal aide to the Empress, is not fooled and recruits Lt. Ganoes Paran to help her track down the missing fishergirl.
Two more years pass. The Malazan 2nd Army under High Fist Dujek is besieging the city of Pale, one of only two Free Cities left in the Malazans'
path in Genabackis
. Pale is holding out thanks to an alliance with the powerful Anomander Rake
, Lord of Moon's Spawn (a floating fortress), commander of the nonhuman Tiste Andii
race, and his own allies, Prince K'azz D'Avore of the Crimson Guard and the powerful human warlord Caladan Brood and his troops. D'Avore, Brood and their troops have been drawn off to the north by renewed efforts of the Malazan 5th Army to capture Blackdog Forest, leaving Rake vulnerable to attack. However, Tayschrenn, the senior-most mage in the Malazan Empire, takes advantage of a sorcerous attack on Moon's Spawn to kill two of the other High Mages: Nightchill and A'Karonys. Of the mages involved in the attack only Tayschrenn and Tattersail, commander of the 2nd's mage cadre, survive. Unbeknownst to Tayschrenn, the Bridgeburners
(an elite sapping unit, of whom the demoted Sergeant Whiskeyjack
is the commander) manage to save the soul of a dying mage, Hairlock, and transfer it to a new vessel, that of a puppet. Tattersail agrees to help them expose Tayschrenn's treachery.
Moon's Spawn is driven off in the battle and flees to the south. Pale falls and the Malazans' allies, the Moranth (creators and suppliers of explosives), sack the city. Dujek sends the Bridgeburners to Darujhistan, last surviving of the Free Cities, to lay the groundwork for the Malazan attack. The newly-promoted Captain Ganoes Paran arrives to take command of the squad, but is almost immediately killed. Amazingly, Oponn, God of Luck, intervenes and arranges for Paran's resurrection. Tattersail helps Paran return to health. At different times, both set out southwards to catch up with the Bridgeburners. Tattersail is apprehended by Bellurdan, Nightchill's Thelomen lover, but she destroys both him and herself in an outburst of sorcery. In this conflagration Tattersail is reborn in a new spiritual form and is ensnared by the sorcery of the native Rhivi plainsfolk. She is then reborn in a new body, Silverfox (and plays no further role in this novel). Meanwhile, Paran is joined by the skilled warrior and Claw agent Toc the Younger as they head southwards. Toc is wounded in battle with the puppet Hairlock and thrown into a warren (otherdimensional source of magic). Hairlock is killed by the Hounds of Shadow, who then turn on Paran. Anomander Rake arrives to confront the Hounds, slaying two of them. Shadowthrone arrives and agrees to force Cotillion to give up his possession of Sorry. Rake and Shadowthrone depart, leaving Paran with the bodies of the Hounds. He touches one of them and is drawn within Dragnipur, Anomander Rake's sword. Inside he encounters all the creatures Dragnipur has ever slain chained to an enormous wagon, which they are forced to drag until they expire in truth. Within, the Hounds are in danger of overturning the wagon by throwing themselves against their chains. Paran traces the chains to the underside of the wagon, where he summons Oponn. The Hounds charge towards Oponn, diving into the wagon itself and disappearing into the Warren within the wagon. Paran then re-appears in the plains outside Darujhistan, uncertain of what happened.
Lorn arrives in Genabackis on a personal mission from the Empress, which involves travelling into the Gadrobi Hills east of Darujhistan. She is joined on her quest by Onos T'oolan (dubbed 'Tool'), a warrior of the T'lan Imass. An offshoot of the living Imass are an evolutionary precursor to humanity, while the remainder of the race participated in the rite of Tellan, which transformed them into a race of undead. The Imass have vowed to survive long enough to destroy the last remnants of their enemies, the Jaghut, many of whom are still in hiding. The Emperor won the alliance of the Imass but they abandoned the Empire on his death. Tool reveals that many of the Imass have journeyed into the unknown lands west of Seven Cities (a subcontinent north of Quon Tali) to destroy a group of Jaghut discovered there. Another group, hitherto unknown to the Empire, are apparently coming to Genabackis for purposes unrevealed.
, a group of regulars at the Phoenix Inn find themselves drawn into a complex web of events. The local assassin's guild is being systematically wiped out by Tiste Andii
agents determined to deny the Empress her favoured method of conquering a city (hiring the guild to wipe out the government and mages for her). A thief named Crokus becomes enamoured with a noblewoman but fails to win her heart. Another noble named Coll is a washed-up drunk since being betrayed and ruined by his dalliance with a woman named Simtal, who now owns his house and wealth. An assassin named Rallick Nom finds himself enlisted in a daring plan to restore Coll to power. The most eccentric of the group, Kruppe (in reality the head of the city's spies), finds himself visited by the Elder God K'rul in his dreams.
A powerful alchemist named Baruk is visited by Anomander Rake. Baruk agrees to ally Darujhistan to Moon's Spawn (he is an influential member of the city council of mages) in return for handing over mages of Pale who fled the city, thus betraying Rake.
The Bridgeburners infiltrate the city and, disguised as a work gang, start mining the streets with explosives. The group's most disturbing recruit, a young girl named Sorry, enters the Phoenix Inn and ensnares the interest of the lovelorn Crokus. However, she soon vanishes from the city. The Phoenix Inn regulars shortly head out to the Gadrobi Hills on Kruppe's advice that something odd is happening there.
Rise of the Tyrant
It becomes clear that Lorn and Tool plan to awaken a Jaghut
Tyrant named Raest who is imprisoned in the hills east of the city. The plan is that the only person who can kill Raest is Anomander Rake
and his powerful sword, Dragnipur
, but this will weaken him, allowing him to be killed by the Empire
's forces. During the resulting excavations, Lorn badly wounds Coll (whose group has stumbled on the area). Sorry turns up but Cotillion
's possession has ended due to the earlier confrontation with Anomander Rake. Crokus takes the traumatised girl under his wing and they return to the city. Later, Coll is stumbled on by Paran
and they journey into the city as well. Lorn, who has vowed to kill the possessed Sorry and also the chosen of Oponn, Crokus, is injured by Darujhistan by Corporal Blues, a warrior of the Crimson Guard, and then killed by two female thieves who work for the Eel, Meese and Irilta.
Events come to a head at a gala held by Lady Simtal and her current lover, Turban Orr. Turban Orr is killed in a duel with Rallick Nom and Simtal is ruined by revelations exposed to the council. Coll regains his property and wealth. The Bridgeburners realise that they can't blow up the streets since the city uses natural gases as a fuel and such a conflagration would destroy the entire city.
Raest awakens and marches on Darujhistan. However, his formidable sorcery has been checked by Lorn and Tool's removal of his Finnest, a Jaghut object of power in which a portion of their strength and power is held. The two have removed the Finnest, in the form of an acorn, to the garden of Lady Simtal's estate. Raest is attacked by a powerful red dragon named Silanah, a companion and servant of Anomander Rake, accompanied by several Tiste Andii Soletaken (shapeshifters) in the form of strong black dragons. Though he fights them off, he is weakened in a titanic battle and is forced to abandon his physical body after Silanah (the Soletaken, wounded, had retreated from battle) destroys it. K'Rul comes, prepared to take Raest with him into whatever dream world he inhabits (it isn't ever made clear). At that moment, however, Raest senses a mortal wizard opening his warren in the nearby city of Darujistan. It is Mammot. The open warren allows Raest to take over his body, and continue to wreak havoc in the city until his mortal body is blown to pieces by Moranth munitions fired by the Bridgeburner sapper Hedge. Raest's spirit is suddenly imprisoned by a powerful magical force, a force that had risen to contain his fallen Finnest. It is revealed that a House of the Azath has risen in the grounds of Coll's mansion. The Azath is a highly enigmatic force which is drawn to sources of power and imprisons entities threatening the balance of things.
At the same time, Anomander Rake is attacked by a mighty demon summoned by the High Mage Tayschrenn and kept imprisoned in a bottle. Rake kills the demon king with Dragnipur, sustaining only a wound to his shoulder in the fight.
As the novel ends Crokus, a Bridgeburner
named Fiddler and the Bridgeburner assassin Kalam
volunteer to take the former Sorry (now called Apsalar) back to her homeland of Itko Kan and they depart (their story continues in Deadhouse Gates
). Meanwhile, the 2nd Army has rebelled against Laseen's increasingly unrealistic commands. Now called Onearm's Host, the 2nd Army has called for a truce with the Tiste Andii
and the Crimson Guard. 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
Characters in "Gardens of the Moon"
- Whiskeyjack - A Sergeant in the Bridgeburners, former commander of the 3rd Army.
- Quick Ben - Whiskeyjack's powerful mage.
- Kalam - A master assassin in the Bridgeburners, a former Claw agent and friend of Quick Ben.
- Sorry - (a.k.a. Apsalar), fishergirl possessed by Cotillion and member of the Bridgeburners.
- Hedge & Picker - Sappers, or munitions experts in the Bridgeburners.
- Fiddler - A Bridgeburner soldier, sapper and fiddler.
- Ganoes Paran - The new Captain of the Bridgeburners, only son of a powerful Malazan noble family, and assistant to Adjunct Lorn.
- Lorn - Adjunct to the Empress, survivor of Laseen's massacre in Malaz City. Carries an otataral sword.
- Laseen - Empress of the Malazan Empire. Formerly Surly, a serving wench in a tavern and later commander and founder of the Claw.
- Tayschrenn - High Mage of the Empire.
- Topper - The current head of the Claw.
- Toc the Younger - Claw agent and warrior among the 2nd Army.
- Dujek - High Fist of Genabackis and commander of the 2nd Army.
- Tattersail - The commander of the 2nd's mage cadre.
- Calot & Hairlock - Members of the 2nd's mage cadre.
- Onos T'oolan (a.k.a. Tool) - Once First Sword of the Logros T'lan Imass, he is now clanless.
- Tavore Paran - Ganoes' elder sister, living in the Paran Estate in Unta. Hard-edged and contemptuous of weakness.
- Felisin Paran - Ganoes' younger sister, living in Unta. Soft and fond of horses.
- Kellanved - The self proclaimed Emperor and founder of the Malazan Empire,Kellanved was assassinated in a coup by Laseen.
- Dancer - High Assassin of the Empire and Kellanved's companion, he was also slain by Laseen.
- Dassem Ultor - The former First Sword of the Malazan Empire and a servant of Hood, the God of Death. Slain outside Y'Ghatan, Seven Cities, after betraying his god.
- Kruppe (a.k.a. the Eel), a fat man fond of his comforts. Talks about himself in the third person. Ally of the Elder God K'rul. A Phoenix Inn regular.
- Coll, former nobleman fallen on hard times. A Phoenix Inn regular.
- Rallick Nom, a skilled assassin with a conscience. A Phoenix Inn regular.
- Crokus Younghand, a young thief. A Phoenix Inn regular.
- Murillio, a courier and a Phoenix Inn regular.
- Meese & Irilta, regulars at the Phoenix Inn.
- Baruk, High Alchemist and member of the T'orruld Cabal.
- Derudan, a Witch of Tennes and member of the T'orruld Cabal.
- Mammot, a High Priest of D'riss and member of the T'orruld Cabal. Crokus' uncle.
- Travale, a scholar of the Cabal.
- Tholis & Parald, High Mages of the Cabal.
- Turban Orr, Lady Simtal & Estraysian D'Arle, members of the city council.
- Challice D'Arle, daughter of Estraysian, Crokus' beloved.
- Vorcan, head of the Assassin's Guild.
- Ocelot, assassin and Rallick Nom's clan leader.
- Circle Breaker, an agent of the Eel.
- Anomander Rake, Lord of Moon's Spawn, Son and Knight of Darkness.
- Serrat, second-in-command to Rake.
- Korlat, Orfantal (both soletaken in the form of dragons) & Horult, night-hunters.
- Ammanas (a.k.a. Shadowthrone), an Ascendant, the King of High House Shadow.
- Cotillion (a.k.a. the Rope), an Ascendant of High House Shadow, the patron god of assassins.
- Crone, a Great Raven and Rake's courier.
- Silanah, an Eleint (dragon) and companion of Rake.
- Caladan Brood, commander of the Crimson Guard mercenary band. Rake's rival.
- Kallor, second-in-command to Brood, once the High King of a powerful empire, now accursed.
- K'azz D'Avore, commander of the Crimson Guard, a mercenary group of extreme capability.
- Jorrick Sharplance, Cowl, Fingers & Corporal Blues, members of the Crimson Guard.
- Baran, Blind, Gear, Rood, Shan, Doan & Ganrod, Hounds of Shadow.
- Raest, a Jaghut Tyrant.
- K'rul, an Elder God, the Maker of Paths.
- Oponn, the Jester, the dual-aspected God of Luck.
Errors in the Book
Although published in 1999, the novel was written in 1991-1992, eight years before the rest of the series and a number of minor inconsistencies can be found between this volume and the following. Orfantal, one of the Tiste Andii
, changes sex between Gardens of the Moon
and Memories of Ice
, and the pre-ritual T'lan Imass
are referred to as the T'lan, whilst the correct name is Imass. The former error was corrected in the US edition of the novel, but the latter one was not.