Book reviews / Fantasy

Book review: Gardens of the Moon

This book had A LOT going on in it. A lot of it seemed to be like “Ooo! This is a neat idea…” and then it went NOWHERE.

How do I describe the plot:

  • there’s an Empress who is hell bent on expansion, taking over cities
  • there’s a lot of people who don’t like her but are in the military and biding their time until they can rebel
  • there’s people in the last city who are caught up in the machinations of coming war
  • there’s a giant floating fucking city
  • there’s a lot of wizards and witches and mages and sorcerers (they use all the words)

But the main thread, these soldiers who are caught up in the machinations of Empire, go along with almost everything that the Empress wants, even though they hate her (for probably good reason, she’s a baddie). In a couple lines, they explain the reason why (they are hoping for a rebellion, then will take over the city themselves to fight a coming religious war) but given that’s not going to happen in this book it’s a bit lame.

This book has spawned 2 new pet peeves:

  • fucking glossaries
  • fucking set up for other books

You’re writing a fucking novel, explain the history and the characters in the book when it’s contextually relevant, rather than making it really confusing. I don’t want to have to refer to a glossary. That’s just the laziest thing in the world!

As well, you shouldn’t have a pivotal plot point revolve around something that isn’t going to happen in this book. It made everything incredibly anti-climactic. Fuck you and your 5 book story arc, I’m not investing that amount of time.

There’s all this massive build-up for the end, seemingly impossible monsters and elder gods and all this stuff – but it’s like a balloon deflating. It was all too neat, too easy, too happy ending. Sure some people get killed, but no one who actually played a pivotal role or wasn’t a bad guy. It was the equivalent of killing off all the red shirts on an away mission in Star Trek. It was super lame.

Also, it was 770 pages, and given the almost-too-much-happening, it didn’t need to be. There was this ridiculous subplot of a magician having his soul transferred to a puppet so he wouldn’t die. YES, A PUPPET. LIKE A MARIONETTE. And he proceeds to go absolutely mental for no reason, none of his actions made any sense and in the end none of it fucking mattered. THAT ENTIRE SUBPLOT DID NOT NEED TO EXIST.

Maybe it did in some tiny way but not really. All the bits that it related to did not need to happen because none of them made any difference to the outcome of the book. Unless all is revealed to have been terribly important in fucking book three or something. That wasn’t the only ridiculous subplot that didn’t need to happen. I reckon it could have been a cool 400 pages if someone just said to the author, “I like what you’re doing here but it makes no fucking sense and maybe you should stop doing all those drugs and watching puppet shows.”

Finally, about 3/4 through you realise almost everyone is a bad guy. Everyone. There are no good sides. You’ve got:

  • the Empire (a bunch of bastards)
  • the soldiers who don’t like the Empire (still a bunch of bastards)
  • dude with his fucking floating city (has a sword that enchains souls to his sword for all eternity) and occassionally turns into a fucking dragon for no reason that I can discern
  • guys in the city who are all thieves, assassins or in a secret cabal, secretly ruling the city
  • a bunch of meddling gods or other powerful beings who just fuck about innnocent people

No one is nice! Why do I want any of them to succeed (I don’t) and why is all this happening (I don’t know) and why are there more fucking books (I can’t even fathom this).

The one redeeming feature is that it does a reasonable job at passing the test. There are loads of women, many of them super powerful. They are super powerful mages or soldiers or possessed girls who turn into super assassins. That part was good. There is a minimum of bitches, whores and only one mild pass at sexist douchebaggery and he gets a dagger in the eye, so fuck him.

All in all, I want to give it a good rating as I did quite enjoy it all in the end. But it made no sense and I don’t want anyone to read it because it’ll encourage the profligate use of glossaries. But then again, it’s one of the least sexist fantasy books I’ve read in awhile, so 3/5 stars.

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