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Gardens of the Moon - Steven Erikson This. This right here. This book is everything I expect from a fantasy novel.

The author's rather intimidating introduction (Bantam edition) notwithstanding, this book has neither a too difficult plot to follow nor does it require excessive reference to the dramatis personae or the maps. Both help, but the plot is straightforward even where it is mysterious, and it hammers along at a pace that sweeps you up and takes you with, whether you like it or not. The worldbuilding is awesome - as you'd expect from a role-player of old.

Erikson displays a knack for names I have frequently wished upon other authors - Brian Ruckley, I'm looking at you - a quality that makes his actors instantly memorable and facilitates following the various strands of the plot without too much difficulty. (I give you Crokus! Uncle Mammot! Sorry!!! Fabulous.)

There's a lot of history in the book - but it's cool history, full of legend and myth and blood and gods, which makes it so much part of the plot that it didn't feel like exposition or the dreaded info-dump to me.

I couldn't begin to summarise it. Suffice it to say that I tore through it and immediately got Deadhouse Gates, which had me at "Prologue".

Many many thanks to my good friend and fellow SFF reader Jana, who is single-handedly responsible for my picking up this series. I owe you!