On Tiu’s recommendation I read “Gardens of the Moon” by Steven Erikson. It also didn’t hurt that it had a recommendation by Stephen Donaldson on the cover (he’s one of my favorites). I picked it up at a bookstore called “Trade-A-Book” that I found while visiting Santa Clara, CA. It was a bit different than other bookstores I’ve been in since it was all fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, horror, and romance, almost kind of a “his and hers” bookstore. Unlike other bookstores I’ve been in, it was all fiction.
Gardens of the Moon is a sword-and-sorcery book in a world of its own, which is a nice change of pace — I’m a little sick of books that rely on things fantasy readers already know about, like Dwarves, Elves, and Ogres and their racial stereotypes. Even so, many “world cut from whole cloth” books tend to be awkward, ill-explained, and not very plausible, and this wasn’t one of them. I guess anthropologists know how to create new creatures and cultures pretty well.
Erikson is a good writer, definitely better than Robert Jordan, George Martin, or any of those other long-winded get-to-the-point-already writers.
There’s really only one thing that bugs me about his style — the way he introduces characters. They tend to come up in a way that their relevance to the story is not at all apparent, and in a way that is disruptive to the flow of the tale. More than once I found myself breezing through the story and then I hit a new character and stumbled in brief disarray before getting back up to speed. Maybe that gets better in his later books.
There are 9 books in the core Malazan Book of the Fallen series, with the 10th coming out this year. I’m hooked, so there’s some work to do…