Gardens of the Moon - Steven Erikson i feel like i'm being pretty generous in giving this 3 stars. okay, it is my good deed for 2011. now don't say i never did nuthin' for you, steven erikson!

the cons: so much, where do i even start. (1) the dialogue is a joke, a sad flailing uncomfortable joke, the kind that just goes on and on and i start to look away from the joke teller in embarrassment. corny corn, beyond belief. (2) and the characterizations - so flat! so trite. and when they weren't trite - just entirely unrealistic. there are literally no stakes to the character of Paran because he literally has no character. the attempt to establish him as a speaks-his-mind kinda guy falls totally flat when you see him act like a jackass to the number 2 most powerful person in the land and then to some kind of Master of the Assassins. he also acts like a jackass to GODS. there is a difference between admirable pluckiness and the kind of bizarre behavior that is a sign of mental unbalance. (3) i hate when non-human species act like humans in costume. that is lazy writing. or unimaginative writing, take your pick. this happens with at least a couple non-human species.

the pros: the imagination on display. except for characterization, erikson's imagination is actually a little breath-taking. this is a fascinating and incredibly complex world. so many fertile concepts, just one after another, almost overwhelming at times. for example: an insane wizard trapped in the body of a puppet, running around various dimensions... about a half dozen non-human species, many of whom seem genuinely alien (the two i mentioned above being the notable exceptions)....a great sense of scope, of so many larger things happening throughout so many places... a floating moon palace! the world took a while to understand, but slowly but surely i was taken in and reading the novel turned from a frustrating experience to, in the last third, a truly pleasurable one. the last part of the novel was read in a big rush - i felt like i read my eyes out that night. in the end, despite my issues, i am now really looking forward to reading more of this series. besides, depth of character & excellence of dialogue are not absolutely necessary for my own enjoyment.

also, the author clearly favors larger women. two big ladies are represented as very attractive, enticing even. that was unusual to read and i loved it. as far as the ladies go, i think erikson must have great taste!